THERE’S no rest for the wicked, or, it seems, for Currie Cup final heroes. Less than 48 hours after scoring two tries for Western Province in their 33-21 success over the Sharks in South African domestic rugby’s flagship competition, Huw Jones was doing his level best to keep his tired eyes open and his exhausted mind engaged as he faced the Scottish rugby media at the national team’s training camp at Oriam high performance sport centre in west Edinburgh yesterday.
Asked what he had been up to since the final whistle of that final match of his four-year adventure in South Africa, the 23-year-old smiled and confirmed that he had made the most of the occasion.
“Celebrations – firstly in the changing rooms and then back to the hotel,” he said. “They carried on into the night. We flew back to Cape Town the next morning, then it was straight home for me to pack my bags and get back to the airport. I landed this morning around 7.30am.”
So there hasn’t been much time for sleep then?
“Little to none. I slept a bit on the flight but the night before I can’t say the same,” he confirmed.
“The jet lag isn’t too bad. I’m still a bit tired from the weekend and the post match activities, but to be in camp nice and early is good. I could not have wished for a better send off from Western Province, getting on the end of two tries and winning the trophy,” he added.
Jones can hardly be blamed for savouring those final few hours with his Western Province team-mates. He arrived in Cape Town on a gap year after finishing his schooling at Millfield in Somerset. Whilst working at a local prep school, he signed up to play club rugby for False Bay, and quickly climbed through the ranks to the Stormers squad for their 2015 Super Rugby season.
A year later, the Edinburgh-born centre made his Scotland debut off the bench in the second match of the tour to Japan in the summer of 2016, and he got his first international start last November against Australia. Having torn his hamstring during Scotland’s final Six Nations match against Italy earlier this calendar year, he missed out on visiting Singapore, Australia and Fiji during the summer, meaning Jones has only eight caps to his name – but such has been his impact in the navy blue jersey in a relatively short period of time that he is already well established as a key man in at the side.
He is due to link up with Glasgow Warriors after the November series and is clearly looking forward to the next chapter in a remarkable rugby story, but it is only natural that leaving South Africa was going to be a bittersweet experience.
“I’ve been looking forward to this but Western Province will always have a place in my heart. It was very emotional leaving Cape Town, but it was the perfect ending really – the first piece of silverware I’ve won in South Africa. It was nice to get that before I left and a good performance as well,” he says.
“If I hadn’t been called up here it would probably have been a week-long celebration.”
Jones has two weeks to get over the excitement of the Currie cup success and the exhaustion of moving back to Britain, before Samoa provide the opposition at Murrayfield.
“I’m very much looking forward to it. I’ve seen what Gregor has done with Glasgow and what he did in the summer [with Scotland]. Having spoken to the Glasgow boys they only have good things to say about him and how he coaches. I had a couple of days up in St Andrews. I’m very excited to work with him,” he says, before acknowledging that he feels he still has something to prove, despite the excellent start he has made to life as a Scotland internationalist.
“I don’t want to be the one-season wonder. I’m hoping to keep building and improving,” he concludes.