Jack Dempsey ready to repay Scottish rugby for resurrecting his career

"The way the city and country have accepted me has just re-lit that fire inside me."

Jack Dempsey wants to repay Scottish rugby after resurrecting his career at Glasgow Warriors. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Jack Dempsey wants to repay Scottish rugby after resurrecting his career at Glasgow Warriors. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

HIS second international career did not get off to the flying start he had hoped for against the country he represented 14 times in a previous rugby life, but Jack Dempsey remains certain that he made the right choice in switching allegiance, and he has vowed to repay Scottish rugby for helping him rediscover his love of the game.

The 28-year-old No8, who became the first player to switch between two tier one nations through World Rugby’s recently altered eligibility laws when he came off the bench for Scotland against Australia on Saturday, acknowledged that it was a strange feeling to line-up against some of his oldest and best friends at the weekend – but he insists that the whole experience reinforced his conviction that throwing his lot in with Scotland was the best rugby decision he has ever made.

“It’s good for the plot, that one … to play against your old team,” he said. “If we had got that kick at the end, it would have been the cherry on top. But I was just happy to get out there, get my first cap, and be welcomed by all the boys into the family.

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“There was always the possibility of this happening and I’d play against Australia, so I kind of readied myself, but when the moment came, it was very strange,” he conformed. “At one moment, on the other side of the scrum was Michael Hooper, who I’d played every pro game with before I moved over here. I’m very close with a lot of those boys so they know my story and my journey, and it’s all love there.  To win my first Scotland cap against them is something I’ll never forget.”

Dempsey – who qualifies to wear the thistle through his Glaswegian grandfather –  thought long and hard about whether to make himself available for Scotland before ultimately reaching the conclusion that it was the right thing personally and for his adopted country.

“I wouldn’t have made this decision if I didn’t think I was up to it in terms of not only playing at this level but making a statement,” he said. “The way that Scotland play, I feel like it suits me well. Whether my role is to come off the bench and add impact, or add experience, I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve only been in camp for about a week. I’ve only heard Gregor speaking in training for a week, but he’s saying all the right things and he’s the kind of coach you can get behind. There’s something brewing here, which I want to be part of.”

“I’m not going to lie, I came over here thinking my Test career was probably over,” he continued. “I certainly didn’t come over here specifically to play Test rugby because at that point the rule didn’t exist. So, it was unplanned and a bit of a curveball.

“For me, Test rugby is a secondary of your club form, and it’s no secret that we had some really rough years at the Waratahs.  That went hand-in-hand not only with my form, but also my fitness and going through injuries, so I struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“That’s why I needed that drastic change – and moving from Sydney to Glasgow is about as drastic as you’ll get. Not only rugby-wise, but lifestyle-wise. And the way the city and country have accepted me has just re-lit that fire inside me.

“I’ve loved every moment of it and after I was presented with my cap [on Saturday evening], I said to the lads that I came over here in a bit of a weird place in my career. I wasn’t loving my rugby as much as maybe I used to, and this has re-lit that fire under me again over the past 14 months or so.

“I’m just thankful that I made this move. Not only to Glasgow, but to Scotland. I said to the boys that I hope I can repay this faith over the next few weeks, months or years – whatever it may be. That’s where I’m at. I’m happy with the decision I made.”

While Dempsey is clearly content in his new surroundings and committed to the route he has taken, he does admit to feeling a bit like fish out of water at times.

“I grew up on the North Shore of Sydney, so very much spent a lot of my childhood on the coast,” he explained. “I’m not at Michael Hooper level of surfer but somewhere in the middle there, and that’s maybe the biggest thing I’ve found since moving to Glasgow.

“Going to Loch Lomond in the middle of winter isn’t quite Manly Beach, but I’ve found some other things about the culture and lifestyle in Scotland I enjoy.”

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About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. The new rule is not worse than the residence of 3 years (now 5 if i’m right)
    My country (France) does not feel ashamed to go to the market of teenagers in Fiji.

  2. From what a friend has been telling me about the rain pelting Sydney recently, Glasgow is drier. Yes, even Glasgow.

    It’s good to have players of Dempsey’s dedication and ability available to Scotland, even if it’s a consequence of well-intended rules being exploited.

  3. I really enjoyed this article. It confirms what is obvious week by week at Scotstoun that Dempsey gives it all and leaves nothing behind on the pitch. His attitude and commitment are brilliant and set the tone for others. I know there are concerns about the rule but this guy is not a mercenary and he didn’t come here to exploit any loop holes. So it would seem to me daft to leave JD out when he is so ready and keen to put in a big shift.


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