LEWIS MCNAMARA has made quite an impression in his first few months at Glasgow Hawks – and the Northern Irish No 8 is loving life with the Balgray outfit.
Last Saturday’s 40-26 home win over Selkirk was Hawks’ fifth of the Tennent’s Premiership campaign to date and they go into this weekend’s away clash against Edinburgh Accies sitting in fourth place in the table.
They will want to end the opening half of their campaign with a win at Raeburn Place on Saturday which will keep them ahead of their opponents in the table, and head coach Andy Hill be mindful that when McNamara, 24, plays well then Hawks seem to play well too.
So, how did the Belfast-raised player end up in Glasgow?
“I spent four years living in Dundee between 2016 and 2020 and loved my time there before I headed home to be with my family for a spell during the various lockdowns,” McNamara explains.
“With my girlfriend coming from Glasgow I was keen to try and move back to Scotland again and I managed to secure a job in the city in recruitment which started in the summer.
“I was also looking to continue with my rugby once I got settled here and one of my former Dundee Rugby team mates was heading down to pre-season training with Hawks, so I joined him and have not looked back since.
“Straight away I was greeted by a great bunch of boys at the club and everyone made me feel really welcome. Having a former back-row in Andy Hill as the head coach also helped me settle in quickly and he has just asked me to play my natural game, and get the boys on the front foot when I get the chance to carry ball.
“He gave me the No 8 shirt early on in my time here and I have enjoyed that responsibility, I just try and do my bit for the team and I think as a pack – and as a squad in general – we have been pretty pleased with the start we have made to the season.
“This is my first season in the Premiership and the challenge of tough games week-in and week-out is something that I am relishing. The great thing is that Hilly, Gary Strain [player/forwards and contact area coach], Alex Reid [backs and skills coach] and the others who are working with us are pushing us and helping us learn each week.
“And as a group we feel there is more to come from us and we want to kick on from now until Christmas.”
Season Appeal 2021 - 2022
We hope you are enjoying our unrivalled coverage of Scottish Rugby. While mainstream media continues to reduce its interest in the rugby family in Scotland, The Offside Line does its very best to make sure all levels of the domestic game are reported.
Our commitment to the game and sharing its stories means that we do not have a paywall, so we would ask you (only if you can!) to support The Offside Line, either with a one off donation, or with a monthly contribution.
We have been keeping Scottish rugby in the news since 2016 and will have 3 million page views this year, making The Offside Line first for Scottish rugby.
McNamara’s rugby journey began when he was 11-years-old and a school pupil at The Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI). He loved the sport from the off, but by his own admission was one of the smaller members of the school team until a growth spurt when he was around 15. Originally, he was a hooker who then converted to the back-row and in his last two years at school he played a big part in the 1st XV.
Indeed, he captained them in his final year to glory in the 2015 Danske Bank Schools’ Cup when they edged out The Wallace High School 14-10 in a dramatic St. Patrick’s Day final at Ulster’s Kingspan Stadium.
“What an amazing occasion that was, to lead my team out at such a famous ground in front of around 8,000 people is something I will never forget,” McNamara, who played blindside that day and scored a try, said.
“The School’s Cup is one of the oldest rugby competitions in the world and is very well known back home. I knew we had a good squad that year and thankfully we all worked hard together and got our rewards.”
McNamara’s performances for the school team led to him being selected to represent Ulster in the age-grade inter-pro series.
He was hopeful of securing an Ulster Academy contract off the back of that regional exposure, but it was not forthcoming and so he spent a season with local club Instonians.
“Next up I decided to head to Dundee University to study History and at that time I just wanted to play social rugby and enjoy it,” McNamara explains.
“I had a great year in my first year with the university rugby team and then I decided to join Dundee High [now known as Dundee Rugby and currently playing in Tennent’s National League Division One] and test myself in the club rugby scene in Scotland.
“Looking back, I am so pleased that I made that move because there I was able to gain exposure to senior rugby at a young age, play regularly and learn from a very experienced and highly thought of coach in Colin Sangster.
“Colin and myself built up a really good relationship and he helped me a lot with back-row play and worked with me on parts of my game.
“As a result, I feel I am a better all-round player and I just want to keep contributing with Hawks.”