Edinburgh’s newest young star Jack Blain chats to Gary Heatly after creating history last weekend.
In April 2000, Duncan Hodge scored 19 points as Scotland famously defeated England in the first ever Six Nations.
A couple of months earlier Jack Blain had been born - and now Hodge, the Edinburgh Rugby backs coach, has played his part in handing Jack his professional rugby debut.
Time sure does fly……
And Jack, now 18, has revealed he is still pinching himself after he became the first player born in the 2000s to turn out for a Scottish pro side last weekend.
When Edinburgh Rugby’s team to take on Bath in their first pre-season friendly was announced last midweek, fans’ eyes were immediately drawn to the new name wearing number 14.
However, it was not one of Richard Cockerill’s big summer signings, but a local youngster who had only left school a few months ago who was to be playing against the English giants at Meggetland on Friday evening.
“I started playing rugby when I was in primary school with the Stew Mel Lions and then began also playing school rugby around P4 age at Stewart’s Melville,” Blain said.
“Like a lot of youngsters growing up, I tried to get involved in as much sporting activity as possible an also liked cricket and athletics.
“Rugby then kind of took over in recent years once I was lucky enough to play regional under-16s which moved into Scotland under-16s.
“I then played Scotland under-18s for the last two years while the school first XV were also doing well so it was a busy time.”
In 2016/17, Jack was one of the try scorers as the school’s first XV won the Scottish Schools Cup at under-18 level, beating Dollar in the final at BT Murrayfield.
By my calculations (maths never was my strong point) winger Jack Blain (18, DOB 21/2/00) will tomorrow become the first player who was born this century to turn out for either @EdinburghRugby or @GlasgowWarriors when he starts for the former v @bathrugby - take a bow young man ??— Gary Heatly (@G_HMedia) August 16, 2018
And by 2017/18, his last year at school, he was a stage two player as part of the Edinburgh Rugby Academy, meaning he had access to some extra coaching and facilities.
“I left school a few months ago and have been lucky enough to become a stage three player with Edinburgh which means I am full-time in the Academy based out of Napier University’s Sighthill Campus,” he added.
“For three weeks over the summer I did pre-season with the other Academy players and then I was invited along to a couple of Edinburgh sessions.
“I was then told I would be heading off with the full squad to St Andrews for a training camp.
“That was amazing and I learnt a lot because we were fully focused on rugby and I was able to get to know a lot of the players better.
“I must admit it was weird at first running out onto a training pitch with guys who I have watched on the TV growing up!
“Once I got used to it, everything was cool though and then it came as a massive surprise last Wednesday when the coaches read out the squad for the Bath game and I was starting.
Here is your Edinburgh team to face @bathrugby at Meggetland tomorrow night.— Edinburgh Rugby (@EdinburghRugby) August 16, 2018
Tickets are still available for the pre-season encounter which is being staged in partnership with Principal & Prosper: https://t.co/kDvwaPqbIr #AlwaysEdinburgh ???? pic.twitter.com/bKK0CkV7io
“I had to pinch myself really to believe it was true and, even now, I still feel like it is all a bit of a dream.
“Leading up to the match on Friday, I was feeling pretty nervous, but once I got out there I just tried to get involved as much as possible. I didn’t see much of the ball, but hopefully I did well enough in the 40 minutes I was on.
“My phone has been going pretty mad with messages over the last few days, I think I have heard from everyone I have ever met!
“A few folk have mentioned about being the first player born after 2000 to play for Edinburgh and it is a pretty cool stat to have.”
Edinburgh lost the pre-season match 12-10 and are next in action this Friday down at Newcastle Falcons. Jack’s parents and brothers were at Meggetland to watch and are excited to watch his career progress.
“After the game in the changing room it was really surreal thinking ‘I have played for Edinburgh’ and letting it sink in, but now I have to get my head down, work hard and move forward,” Jack, who will be playing his club rugby for Heriot’s this term, concluded.