BY his own admission, Roan Frostwick was learning on the hoof during last year’s Under-20s Six Nations, when he started every game for Scotland in a campaign which saw them pick up just a solitary win against Wales to finish bottom of the table.
The scrum-half was fresh out of North Berwick High School and had spent the first half of the season struggling to get Premiership game-time as second-fiddle to Charlie Shiel at Currie Chieftains, so it really was a sink-or-swim situation. It is to his credit that he had the rugby fundamentals and mental fortitude to do the latter – emerging as a more mature all-round player as a result, who is now a key man in the squad as the young Scots look to trump last year’s modest Six Nations record.
“At times, my [lack of experience] probably showed last year with a bit of immaturity and lack of game understanding and management,” he reflects, as he looks back on the player he was 12 months ago. “From where I was last season, it’s just kicked on massively.
“I was lucky enough to be invited to pre-season with Edinburgh during the summer which kicked on really well, and I’ve stayed on to train pretty much full-time with them since then,” he continues. “Being in a professional environment with the likes of Henry Pyrgos and Nic Groom – old boys who can pass on their wisdom and knowledge – has been huge for me.”
It also helps that Frostwick has been a key player for Watsonians this season as the Myreside men have led the pack through the inaugural Super6 campaign.
“Having Lee Millar and Joe Reynolds outside me at 10 and 13 [respectively] – passing on their knowledge – has been massive,” he says. “I’ve definitely noticed that certain aspects of my game have really improved, such as game management, which is something I’ve really focused on this year.”
Watsonians are in action tomorrow night [Friday] when they host Southern Knights at Myreside in the final match of Super6’s regular domestic season, knowing that a win will see them finish top of the table, but Frostwick won’t be there. He will be 35 miles down the road at Netherdale, helping Scotland Under-20s take on France in round four of this year’s Six Nations campaign.
He is as much of an old hand as it is possible for a 19-year-old to be, so the scrum-half wasn’t too despondent when he was dropped to the bench by the Scotland Under-20s coaching team for their Six Nations clash against Italy a fortnight ago, with Kyle McGhie of Boroughmuir Bears starting in the No 9 jersey in his place.
“That’s the way squads work, you’re presented with different challenges,” shrugs Frostwick, who is taking a year out to focus on rugby before starting a business degree at university after the summer “All credit to Kyle, he’s a good nine and in both the previous games he came on and made a difference, so he deserved his shot.”
With the shoe on the other foot, it was Frostwick’s turn to add energy towards the end of the game against Italy – and that’s exactly what he did, as the young Scots battled back from 29-18 down going into the final quarter to secure an excellent last-gasp win thanks to late tries from Robbie McCallum and Connor Boyle.
As assistant coach Shade Munro acknowledged earlier this week, Scotland Under-20s are very fortunate to have two strong options at scrum-half this season, and it was a toss-up over which one would get the nod for the France game, with Frostwick’s extra experience ultimately edging it. “Roan is more of a leader and against France we thought that was important, but there wasn’t a lot in it,” was the explanation Munro gave for the final selection call.
Scotland have never beaten France in 14 previous encounters at Under-20 level, but Frostwick believes this crop of players have it in them to get that monkey off the back.
“We had a good go at them last year, so I think it’s on the cards,” he says. “If we come out the gates firing, France will be shocked and then we just need to carry on the momentum.”