Pre-season is a hectic time, whichever way you look at it. Players switch clubs, coaches scrap systems and start again, teams take stock of the season ahead of them.
It is rare that you can talk to someone who has’ been there and done it’. Indeed since the era of professionalism it is rare to even talk to someone regarding the inner workings of sport and get a straight answer. So when Frank Hadden starts telling you about the magic of the 6 Nations you know you have to sit up and listen. A.D. caught up with him earlier in the week.
The 6 Nations are intense.
In a short period of time you have to play the very best the Northern Hemisphere has to offer in the gruelling arena of test match rugby. Training is physical. Matches are punishing. The coaches’ demands are unrelenting. So perhaps it is strange that, on a day of sightseeing in a windy Stirling, young pretender to Dan Parks’ throne Ruaridh Jackson laughs about the seriousness.
The life of a professional rugby player is harder than they would have you believe. Sure, they are doing what they love – and there are hours of Xbox to play – but sometimes it gets a wee bit gritty. At least that’s according to Scotland’s starting number 8, Richie Vernon.
In the high pressure world of professional sport guys can ‘lose the heid’. Indeed, with every success story there is an Atlas-like struggle to achieve, while facing the crowd and the money-men. You only have to look at the fall of Tiger Woods and Wayne Rooney to see what pressure and conception can do. So when Edinburgh selected 23-year-old flanker Roddy Grant to be their captain some wondered if he could handle the pressure.
On the 21st of November 2009 Scotland recorded a magnificent result. A win against Australia thought to be nigh on impossible in the days leading up to the fixture. It was some day. Yet while this day was special for everyone lucky enough to see such a spectacle it held extra significance for one young man.
When one looks at Rory Hutton, he’ll be the first to admit, he doesn’t look like a rugby player. Tall and slender, slight with a lazy gate you could be forgiven for thinking he was an electrician, or something! Then you put a ball in the kid’s hands.
When Rory played against Cardiff on the 9th of January rugby viewers in the Celtic regions sat up and took notice. While easing into the game in a way natural to his insouciant spirit, it was his feint and dart that made spectators catch their breath. Twice he unlocked the Cardiff defence and made seasoned pros and British Lions follow imaginary passes. If he gets on this Friday he could do it to Munster.
He’s been doing this for years. Just ask anyone from Hawick. He’s got 5 7’s caps to prove he is a talented ball player. Even in his fleeting forays into this season’s Scottish Hydro Premier 1 matches for Heriot’s he has shown glimpses of something special. Is he ready for a professional contract? Most likely. Is he going to be the answer to Scotland’s problems at 10? We will have to wait and see. One thing is for sure; Wherever Rory plays, he will be doing so with a smile on his face.
A.D. briefly caught up (‘Countdown’ style) with Rory this week;
AD: Alright, Rory! How do you feel your season has gone so far?
RH: It’s been ok. A bit stop start with injuries but I’ve had a game with Edinburgh and on the whole it’s going pretty well.
Being, ostensibly, an Academy player stepping into your first pro. game, how did you feel before the Cardiff game?
I did feel a little bit nervous. Training had gone well, though, and I was more excited at the chance, rather than anything else.
Having made an impact on that game how have you coped with the increase in recognition and notoriety? A lot are calling for you to get a contract next season/play for Scotland, after all!
Ha-ha it’s been fine! I’ve not noticed it too much to be honest. I try and just get on with my rugby.
Has it changed your outlook on games?
No I always take every game the same. It’s important to perform at whatever level I’m involved in.
What is your normal match preparation? (Day before: food, sleep, cinema, swimming etc)?
I try and eat well and regularly. Other than that I just chill out, usually with the girlfriend.
How lovely…Away from rugby, what is your Nickname?
For some reason I have now become known as ‘The Eel’ at Heriot’s.
What is your drink of choice?
I am prone to an Irn Bru.
What’s a perfect Saturday night for you?
I like to go out have a good laugh with the boys. Always being sensible, though…
What is your ‘Dream Job’?
I wouldn’t mind being a musician.
If you could be a kingpin in any other sport, who would it be?
Easy. Usain bolt. Superstar.
Which 3 people, dead or alive, would you love to go for a pint with?
Frankie Boyle, Peter Griffin from family guy…and your lovely self!
And finally…Scarlett Johansson or Beyonce Knowles?
Look out for Rory in Edinburgh’s colours this Friday as he lines up on the bench against champions Munster. He could also feature for Heriot’s in their upcoming British and Irish Cup games. It could be an exciting 6N period for the youngster.
I will hopefully be back soon with a quick word with another up-and-coming Scottish prospect…