Zak Redgrave out to make a splash in Scottish Varsity match

The University of Edinburgh players celebrate their victory over their St Andrews counterparts in last year's Scottish Varsity match. Picture: SNS/SRU
The University of Edinburgh players celebrate their victory over their St Andrews counterparts in last year's Scottish Varsity match. Picture: SNS/SRU
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Zak Redgrave’s famous father achieved Olympic glory on the water but the University of Edinburgh student is looking to make waves of his own in a different sporting arena.

Second row Redgrave will take to the BT Murrayfield pitch with his Edinburgh team-mates in the Royal Bank of Scotland Scottish Varsity match tomorrow.

University of Edinburgh forward Zak Redgrave says his dad, Olympic hero Sir Steve, is a great sounding board.

University of Edinburgh forward Zak Redgrave says his dad, Olympic hero Sir Steve, is a great sounding board.

The capital students face their counterparts from the University of St Andrews at 4pm after the respective women’s teams do battle at 2.45pm.

And with a crowd of more than 10,000 expected to be in attendance it is perhaps unsurprising that Redgrave has been on the phone to his dad this week asking for advice on how to deal with pressure situations.

That is because dad – or Sir Steve Redgrave to you and me – is a man who knows all about big crowds and pressure, having rowed his way into the history books by winning five gold medals at five consecutive Olympics for Great Britain from 1988 to 2000.

Sadly Sir Steve, who also won a bronze in the 1988 Olympics as well as Commonwealth Games medals for England and World Championship honours, will not be there to see it as he has a pre-arranged function to attend.

Nevertheless, Zak is chuffed to be in the team having played in the second XV fixture on the back pitches at the national stadium in 2016 and 2017.

The third year chemistry student is aiming to help Edinburgh retain the trophy they won 12 months ago and said: “When I was growing up down south the main sports I tried were rugby, basketball and, perhaps unsurprisingly, 
rowing.

“Maybe others thought I would go into rowing, but dad certainly never pushed me down that route, he just wanted me to stay active and enjoy my sport.

“I went to Wellington College for secondary school and the rugby coaching there was really good so I think I just naturally migrated to that sport and have loved it ever since.

“Although dad has retired for quite a few years from sport now he still has a great eye for detail when he watches and if he comes to see me play in a match he will always see things that perhaps others can’t and be critical when he needs to be to help me get better.

“People always ask me what it is like having a famous dad, but I was only two when he won the last of his Olympic medals so it doesn’t affect me too much.

“In general it is just great to have sounding boards like him and mum [Ann, who won Commonwealth Games rowing medals for England] around and I am excited about this Varsity match.”

Edinburgh will be looking to retain the silverware they picked up in 2017 after a 31-7 victory, but before that 
St Andrews had won the showpiece clash four times on the spin. The Fife outfit also now have former Scotland hooker Scott Lawson on board as director of rugby and it has all the makings of a tight contest. Lawson said: “It is easy to see why university rugby is growing in Scotland. We have really strong men’s and women’s teams here at St Andrews and that is hugely impressive for the programme. Their effort and hard work in pre-season has been excellent. No-one likes pre-season and I know that more than most from my long career, so we are eager to play some rugby at the weekend now.”

Edinburgh have had the upper hand in the women’s match in recent years, but 
St Andrews are a team improving all the time.

The second and third XVs from the men’s clubs also play on the back pitches at 12.30pm. Before all of that, this evening the University of Glasgow take on the University of Strathclyde at Old Anniesland at 7pm in the Glasgow Varsity men’s match.

Strathclyde edged this one 11-10 last year and their skipper Ross Thomson, 21, said: “We are expecting another tough match this time around.

“Varsity matches can sometimes be played at 100 miles per hour and we have to try and play our own game.”

His opposite number from Glasgow, Kerr Stoddart, added: “It should be a really good game and we are expecting a crowd of around 2,000 down to watch which is great.”