JACK FISHER is a shining example of what Super6/Super Series rugby was set up by Scottish Rugby to do. The part-time professional competition is there to bridge the gap between the club and the professional game by giving opportunities to aspiring club players to make a step up and test themselves.
When Fisher, the now 23-year-old second-row, took a call from Boroughmuir Bears head coach Graham Shiel two years ago, it was a bolt from the blue.
“Graham just said to me ‘you should come down to the Bears and give it a try for the 2021 Championship season’,” Jack recalls. “At the time we were just coming out of the pandemic, I had played all of my rugby at local club Preston Lodge at the Pennypit and had not played much representative rugby at all, so it was a big jump to make from the National Leagues to Super6, but I really wanted to give it a go.
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“There was a big difference in intensity in training right from day one, while I hadn’t played any competitive matches since 2020 and was getting to know a whole new bunch of guys, some who had played at a very decent level before.
“That could have made me nervous, I guess, but what made it easy for me was that everyone at PL had sent me off with their best wishes while Graham, the other coaches and the boys at the Bears all made me feel welcome straight away.
“At first, it took a bit of getting used to the physicality of back-to-back Super6 games, but in that 2021 season I felt like I was learning with every training session and with every match.
“After that season I had a really good feeling about the Bears and where they were going, so I signed on again and having played through the Sprint and the Championship in 2022, I am still here and loving it.
“Graham and the senior players like captain Craig Keddie have created such a good culture at the Bears and the club is not afraid to give young players and players from lower leagues a chance.
“We are a close-knit bunch now and that really helps when you are involved in a short, sharp tournament like the current Sprint one while working with coaches like Graham, Alex Toolis and Davie Wilson is good as they all bring something different to the table.”
With the Sprint Series running until late May, the first two rounds of the campaign earlier this month were tough for the Edinburgh outfit, involving a 31-15 loss to Stirling Wolves on the road and then 54-11 loss to Glasgow Warriors A at Meggetland.
Heads did not go down, though, and last Friday, on home turf again, they turned round a 21-15 deficit at the break to defeat previously unbeaten Ayrshire Bulls 29-21 with a bonus point.
“It was great to get the win over the Ayrshire Bulls,” said Fisher, who was named man-of-the-match in that one and has since been selected in the TOL round three team-of-the-week.
“Obviously the first two weeks of the season were pretty tough for us. We had put the work in leading up to those games and played well in patches, but things didn’t quite go for us on the park.
“We had a hard week of training last week and the pack really worked a lot on maul defence and attack.
“Graham pointed out the importance of taking our chances when they came along against the Bulls, so it was a tough few days of training, but worth it in the end when we got the win and our game-plan worked.
“The performance gave us a lift and has given us something to build on going forward, starting at home to Heriot’s this Saturday, which we know will be another tough game.”
He’s clearly settled in well at Meggetland, but Fisher has no doubt about the importance of having a firm rugby grounding from his formative years playing rugby in East Lothian.
“I was a ‘one club man’ before the Bears came along and PL was always the club I was likely to be involved with given my family links,” the commercial banker with RBS who played for Edinburgh Rugby under-20s when they won the junior 1872 Cup a few years ago said.
“My dad Mark used to play for Preston Lodge and is still heavily involved now at the club, so I was down there playing from the minis right through the juniors – which went alongside school rugby – and then into the senior set-up.
“I really enjoyed playing with my mates all the way up and then in my last year at Preston Lodge High School it became a School of Rugby and that allowed me to focus that bit more on my rugby.
“The club’s senior section is made up of a large core of local guys who all want PL to do well and I was no different.
“When I finished with the under-18s I played second team rugby for about a year and, in the season just before the pandemic [2019-20], I was awarded the most improved player award for the 1st XV.
“That was a big boost for me, but I could not have imagined that just over a year or so later I’d be playing Super6.
“As I said before, the move away was made easier by everyone at PL supporting me and wanting to see one of their own do well, while I am still down at the club a lot and watched the 1st XV versus Berwick last Saturday.”
- Boroughmuir Bears host Heriot’s in round four of the Super Series Sprint at 3pm on Saturday. Click HERE for ticketing enquiries.
- To view the TOL’s stats centre for this Super Series Sprint, click HERE.