HE might hail from one of the great Edinburgh rugby clans, but it is fair to say that Adam Hastings’ capital city legacy is not concerning him unduly as he prepares to wear the number 10 shirt for Glasgow Warriors in Saturday’s 1872 Cup clash at Murrayfield.
The 22-year-old was born the year after his father, Gavin, played his last game for Scotland in the 1995 World Cup quarter-final defeat to New Zealand, following which the walls came tumbling down on the amateur era and pay-to-play changed the face of the game.
The great man played only one representative match during the professional era before hanging up his boots, captaining the Barbarians against Scotland in August 1996, two months before the birth of his eldest son.
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During the next few years, the structure of the game in this country mutated beyond all recognition from the days when top players would turn out for their club in the domestic leagues on one Saturday, their district the next Saturday, then perhaps play in a national trial, before being selected for the national team at the start of the Five Nations [as it was then].
So, the youngster – who has signed a two-year contract extension with the Warriors – can be forgiven for being a bit foggy about where his old man played his rugby when not in the national team jersey picking up 61 caps during a glittering career.
“I don’t think my Dad ever played for Edinburgh – he played for Watsonians,” replied Hastings junior when asked if he had any thoughts about going up against his father’s old team this weekend.
The stand-off was then as quick with his reply as he is with a change of direction on the rugby field when informed that Gavin had actually played and captained Edinburgh many times over the years. “Oh, did he? Well he doesn’t talk about it,” he quipped.
Hastings [senior] also had a couple of years as Edinburgh’s chairman between 2007 and 2010 as the SRU sought to use his reputation to help heal some the wounds caused by the bitter spat which derailed a short-lived attempt to franchise the team to an outside consortium led by the pugnacious Bob Carruthers.
Needless to say, that episode in his dad’s rich and varied career also passed young Hastings by.
“Ach, I couldn’t tell you. He does a lot of ventures,” he retorted. “We weren’t die-hard Edinburgh fans or anything like that. But, yeah, I’m sure a lot of my family and friends will be there [on Saturday], so it’ll be good.”
Forging his own path
Young Hastings is absolutely right to be living in the here and now. He is forging his own path in this game – which is almost completely unrecognisable to the sport this line of questioning is alluding to – and making a pretty decent job of it.
He arrived at Glasgow Warriors from the Bath Academy set-up in the summer of 2017, with burgeoning reputation based on his performances in the previous year’s U20 World Championship and a handful of senior appearances for the West Country club – but there was also a lot of pressure to live up to his surname. It can’t have been easy, but he has taken it all in his stride, and within the space of 17-months has established himself as a credible rival to Finn Russell for the Scotland number ten jersey.
During his first season he played 11 competitive games for the Warriors as Russell’s understudy, and this year he has been the main man at stand-off, playing in six of ten games so far in the PRO14 and every minute of all four matches in the Champions Cup.
“What’s happened this season has been kind of unexpected for me,” he said. “I was obviously hoping to play as much as I have but wasn’t sure if it would actually happen – so, I’m thrilled to be staying.
“In the first game of the season, I thought I had played horribly,” he added. “I was thinking to myself: ‘Oh God, that’s my chance’. But Dave Rennie has backed me since then.
“He encourages us to have a crack but, on the flip side, if we’re doing too much of that, he will rein us in a little bit. The big thing with the coaches here at the club, though, is that they want to reward you for an attacking style of rugby. They don’t want to hold you back too much.
“I probably have surprised myself a little bit with it all, but it’s been really good fun. I’m certainly not taking anything for granted. I just want to keep pushing.”
The challenge in the east
And, so, attention turns to Murrayfield on Saturday evening, and that appointment with Edinburgh. The opposition come into this match on a bit of a roll after back-to-back wins over Newcastle Falcons put them in the box-seat to qualify for the last eight in the Champions Cup, but Hastings points out that his team’s form has also been pretty impressive.
“They are in good form, but we’ve just had a couple of good wins against Lyon,” he said. “We scored over 40 points in France then got a good win at home last weekend in some really difficult conditions. We’ll take great confidence from that.
“We’ve been doing a bit better than them in the league, but they’re a quality side and it’ll be a good game. There’s a lot of Scottish boys in their team, so it’ll be good to go up against them.”
Meanwhile, Rennie welcomed the news has put pen to paper on a deal which will keep him at the club until at least the summer of 2021.
“Adam is hugely competitive, extremely fit and has grabbed his opportunity with both hands this season,” he said. “He’s confident, is prepared to challenge and is an important member of our leadership group here. He’s working really hard on developing his skill-set and game management and we’re rapt that he’s committed his future to the club.”
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