WHEN the Super Series Sprint gets back underway this weekend, Heriot’s scrum-half Cam Jones will be keen to build on the good form he was exhibiting before the break. With two fixtures of the regular season to go, the Goldenacre men sit third in the table and are still in with a strong shout of making the final which will be played in by the top two on the weekend of May 26th/27th.
In round four of action in late April, 22-year-old Welsh-born, Scottish-qualified Jones was named man-of-the-match when Heriot’s won 28-19 at Meggetland against Boroughmuir Bears. He also played for Ben Cairns’ men in week one against Edinburgh Rugby A and then, in week’s two and three, actually turned out for the pro team’s reserve side before they dropped out of the competition.
And he has been in The Offside Line team-of-the-week on three occasions out of four so far in this short, sharp competition.
“I’m getting pretty used to playing for different teams in the Super6/Super Series,” Jones smiled. “When I first moved to Scotland in 2021, I played for the Southern Knights in the Championship and then, in 2022, I was with the Ayrshire Bulls for the Sprint and the Championship.
“This year I played a couple of games for Edinburgh Rugby A and I have enjoyed all of the different environments I have been in, but for the next few weeks my full focus is on Heriot’s.
“It is enjoyable working with Ben Cairns and the other coaches at Heriot’s because the way they like to play the game suits my style of play. At Heriot’s we like to get on the front foot and attack and we have shown in patches so far in the Sprint what we can do when we play that way. Hopefully we can kick on in the next few weeks and end the competition on a high note.”
Jones’ Scottish roots come thanks to his grandfather Eric Paterson and the livewire – who has earned under-18 caps for Scotland and has had spells with both Edinburgh Rugby (twice) and Glasgow Warriors – says he owes him a lot.
“My grandpa is an inspiration to me when it comes to rugby,” Jones explained. “He was born in Glasgow and moved to Wales when he was 11. He played top level rugby for Swansea way before the pro era and he was a scrum-half too, so I guess that’s where I get my love of the game and playing nine from.
“Over the years he has been a great mentor for me, he has always pushed me on and even now he’ll try and travel up to matches or will watch the live stream and then give me a call to tell me what I did well – and maybe what I didn’t do so well!
“In terms of my own sporting story, I played a lot of football when I was younger and was part of the Cardiff City academy at one point, but I was in the juniors at my local club, Maesteg Harlequins, playing rugby too.
“My family are pretty big on rugby, so things just naturally progressed down the rugby route and I kept going with it through my teens, being aligned to the Ospreys and eventually earning Wales under-16 honours for two years.
“I then moved to England to go to Hartpury College when I was 16. I was there for two years, was involved with Gloucester and really enjoyed that time.”
After playing against Scotland at under-16 level for Wales, Scottish Rugby’s exiles performance manager Rob Brierley latched onto the fact that Jones had eligibility to wear the thistle.
He was invited to an exiles camp when he was aged 17 at Hartpury and then he headed up to Scotland, did well in trials and earned Scotland under-18 caps.
“Having played for Wales at under-16 level against Scotland , I was then playing for Scotland under-18s in Wales, so it was quite funny the way it all worked out,” Jones said.
“I really enjoyed playing for Scotland at that level and my grandpa was proud, but soon after I decided to take a bit of time out of rugby.
“At the time I was questioning ‘is this for me’ and I wanted to take a step back, so I went home and played club rugby for Maesteg just to get some senior rugby under my belt.
“I loved that time and I’m so glad I did it because I regained my love for the sport and wanted to see where things could go after that.”
After returning to the game with Bridgend Ravens, Brierley suggested to Jones that he might want to head up to Scotland and play part-time professional rugby at the Super6 level, and Tim Stevenson at Hartpury, who has connections north of the border, put him in touch with then Southern Knights head coach Rob Chrystie so he was invited up to the Greenyards for a a two-week trial.
“It was great to come up and work with a former scrum-half like Rob at the Knights, he really helped me during the 2021 Championship season and he has been a good sounding board for me ever since,” Jones explained.
“When Rob moved to Edinburgh [as the lead academy coach] at the end of that Super6 season I was lucky enough to be given a chance in the Edinburgh set up and it was good to be in a full-time environment.
“I trained mostly with the senior academy and sometimes trained with the full squad before I joined the Ayrshire Bulls
“When Pete Horne was head coach at the Bulls during the Sprint he was great to work with and I was then brought in by Glasgow Warriors to train with them during the summer and pre-season [ahead of the ongoing 2022-23 campaign].
“I was with Glasgow in total for around five or six months, played in the Championship with the Bulls and was then brought back into the Edinburgh Rugby fold [late 2022 into 2023].
“Having Rob [Chrystie] to work with again was excellent along with fellow ex-scrum-halves Mike Blair and Gareth Baber, so I just tried to learn as much from them as I could.”
Jones’ second spell with Edinburgh has recently ended and he knows the next move in his career is an important one. He could end up in Scotland, Wales or elsewhere, but all his attention right now is on the short-term and helping Heriot’s in their quest to win the Sprint competition.
Next up is the Bulls at Millbrae on Saturday, a team he knows well and a win could see Heriot’s go top (depending on how Watsonians get on against Boroughmuir Bears on Friday night) with one round of the regular season left to play.