JAMIE LOOMES’ first Premiership campaign as Edinburgh Accies captain started badly when he was injured just seven minutes into their 2022-23 opener. Fast forward a few months though and the stand-off is fully fit, feeling positive and looking forward to leading his charges into the play-off semi-final versus Currie Chieftains on Saturday.
The highly anticipated Malleny Park clash between the capital sides who finished second and third in the top flight regular season table is a repeat of last year’s last four clash. In that game Accies pushed Currie all the way – being down just 18-16 at half-time and 31-26 behind heading into the closing stages – before a late converted try by Charlie Brett got Mark Cairns’ men through 38-26.
“We played well for parts of that game and really took it to a Currie team who had been flying all season and who had finished top of the regular season table,” 27-year-old Loomes recounts. “Looking back on that season in general, I think we did well to finish fourth and make the play-offs because we were rebuilding the squad post-pandemic and things were taking shape nicely.
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“I think it gave us all – coaches and players – a glimpse of what we were capable of if we stuck together heading into this season. Another few new faces joined and we had a good pre-season. The team then started the season pretty well before a couple of poor results around October-November time.
“In recent weeks we have been playing some good rugby and there is a lot more competition for places in the 1st XV matchday squad nowadays because we are putting out a strong 2nd XV each week and a 3rd XV when they have opposition.
“The buzz around the club is really good just now off the pitch while the team spirit on it is great and we are looking forward to the play-off semi-final.
“Currie are a good side and a strong one at home, but we believe that we are a good team as well who can cause other teams problems, We are focused on putting in a solid performance and seeing where it takes us.”
Loomes grew up in the west and began his rugby playing journey in the mini section at Cambuslang with Jonny Gray in the year above and Duncan Weir a few years above that. He then moved to Glasgow Hawks to play junior rugby before a couple of seasons with Glasgow Accies, and je also turned out for Strathclyde University whilst studying for an economics degree there.
“I moved to Edinburgh in the first half of 2018 and finished that season with Glasgow Accies,” the stand-off who now works as an investment manager for RBC Brewin Dolphin explains.
“One of the guys in the office, James Pearse, was playing for Edinburgh Accies at the time and so I headed down to pre-season training ahead of the 2018-19 season and haven’t really looked back.
“I was on the bench for the firsts for the first few games of that campaign, but then I tore the rotator cuff in my shoulder and that was pretty much my season over, only getting back for a couple of games at the end.
“It was good for me to get a taste of Premiership rugby at that stage because it was a big jump up in standard from what I was used to.
“I then played more regularly in 2019-20 and although the team were struggling, I benefitted from a regular run of games.
“That season was never fully completed because of the first lockdown and, as I said earlier, when the first full season post-Covid came around we were rebuilding and getting things back on track.
“It is a really good club to be a part of with such history, so to be asked to be first team captain this year was an honour that certainly was not lost on me.”
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Unfortunately, Loomes’ captaincy stint got off to a bit of a false start when he was forced from the field just minutes into their opening day 36-7 triumph over GHA at Raeburn Place in late August.
“It was unbelievable timing really and very frustrating,” he said. “I have often had injuries or niggles during pre-season, but I had just completed my first full pre-season in years and was feeling good until I damaged ligaments in my ankle seven minutes into that game.
“I’m terrible at watching from the sidelines too, so it was a long three months out until I came back in time for the Currie double header [at the end of November].
“Since then, I have had a consistent run of games throughout the second part of the season and it has been good to see the growth in the squad and guys putting their hands up for selection as things have gone along.”
In the two regular season league meetings this term, Currie beat Accies 50-18 at Malleny Park before a last gasp conversion by Loomes of Lewis Wells try gave the Raeburn Place men revenge at home, 22-21, seven days later.