Silver Saturday: Edinburgh Accies stalwart Jamie Sole looks to bow out in style

Capital side face formidable challenge against double-double chasing Hawick but veteran back-rower believes they can cause an upset

Edinburgh Accies stalwart Jamie Sole will hang up his boots after Saturday night's Scottish Cup Final. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Edinburgh Accies stalwart Jamie Sole will hang up his boots after Saturday night's Scottish Cup Final. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SATURDAY’S Cup Final between Edinburgh Accies and Hawick at Murrayfield will mark the end of one remarkable career. It’s rare for anyone to reach the ripe old age of 35 before binning their boots, it’s even rarer for a player to have stuck with one club his entire life but that, with one small exception, is what Accies’ breakaway Jamie Sole has managed.

In truth, he spent one season at the Falcons’ Academy before deciding that a 9-5 in real estate was preferable to the uncertainty of career on the periphery of the professional game. He threw in his lot with Accies and insists, more than once, that the DNA of Raeburn Place runs in his blood.

He first ran about the place in nappies, just old enough to catch the tail end of his father David’s illustrious rugby career, although details may be sketchy. Jamie made his first team debut for Accies as a teenager, while still at school, and playing on the wing. The old original, somewhat decrepit, club house was still open for business which gives you an indication of just how long ago the love affair started.


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“It feels like the right time,” he answers when I ask him why now? “I have a young daughter Penelope who is keeping us very busy, two years old and a bundle of energy. I am not sure she wants me to retire because I think her favourite place is Accies. She loves running around there. And just with parenting and work commitments.

“Also my wife Keri is probably due some weekends with me as well. She has been very patient over the years, always supported me. I am grateful for that but it’s about time I gave her some time back.”

He jokes about one other potential reason for retiring … FOFF (fear of front-five). Having started on the wing and moved to the back-row he is acutely aware that older forwards gravitate to the front-five, sure as water circles the plug hole, and he seems keen to avoid the fate shared by so many ageing flankers.

If you must quit the game it’s as well to do so at Murrayfield and against the best club side of the current era. Hawick may be under new management but they are still chasing the double, double, with Saturday’s Cup Final quickly followed by a Premiership Final against Currie at Mansfield Park come 4th May. There is just the one hiccup; Accies finished the season in seventh place having won just seven of their 18 league matches and no one gives them a snowball’s on Saturday.

“It is a dream way to finish, a game at Murrayfield,” Sole insists. “And you want to play against the best and Hawick have been the front runners in the cup and the league for the last couple of years. So to have the final in that setting is pretty special.

“I think everyone will look at us as the underdogs but I think we play a brand of rugby that is exciting to watch and one that can challenge Hawick.

 

 

“There is definitely a belief in the team. We underperformed in the league this year. There were a few games we lost by a few points in the last play and we were hard hit by injuries, but we have a few key guys back (he mentions Robbie Kent, Jake Mills and Cal Davies) and have had a winning run of a couple of games now. It’s cup rugby so it’s all about who turns up on the day.

“We have some young guys who have come in and really stepped up like Ross Cadzow at scrum-half, he’s come into the team and shone, a really exciting prospect for the future.”

Despite dad’s heroics, the fact that Sole chose rugby at all is something of a mystery because his two brothers, Chris and Tom, have both represented Scotland at cricket. Sister Gemma has done the same in netball. Sole explains this in simple terms: “I think I was probably the daft one.” Unassuming off the pitch, he certainly isn’t shy on the field, bringing some much needed steel to a frustratingly inconsistent Accies pack.

Sole argues eloquently in favour of summer rugby in Scotland and, while acknowledging the benefits that come (or came) with the Super Series, he also insists that the Premiership was “a great competition” prior to Super6’s introduction in 2019, while conceding it has become a little less physical now.

He also argues that Scottish Rugby needs to grow the grassroots of the game to ensure that places like Walkerburn can survive; or at least offer them a fighting chance. As Iain Milne puts it, Scotland needs far more bad rugby players. Sole played the Walkerburn 7s and bemoaned the loss of another potential nursery for Scottish players.

Is there anything he would like to get off his chest before his final final?

“I just want to thank my family for being so supportive,” says Sole.  “My dad got me into the game but my mum was the one that took us to training and supported us all. My brothers and sister, they are the ones that have inspired me. And obviously my wife Keri for the hidden sacrifices she has made to allow me to play rugby. She will likely be sick of me one month into next season but I am grateful for all her support.”

Sole has no regrets. He played for his childhood club, with his best friends and has left Accies in a much better place than when he started, with excellent facilities, a settled coaching team and a growing squad.

He pulled on the thistle when representing the Scotland Club XV against Ireland in 2020 and, while Sole has won nothing with Accies (except promotion) he does still have one last, long-shot at silverware on Saturday. Win or lose he will celebrate or commiserate with those closest to him back at a place he has called ‘home’ for over 30 years.

  • Purchase your ticket for Silver Saturday, including the Men’s Scottish Cup Final at 7.15pm HERE.

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About Iain Morrison 146 Articles
Iain was capped 15 times for Scotland at openside flanker between his debut against Ireland during the 1993 Six Nations and his final match against New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. He was twice a Cambridge ‘Blue’ and played his entire club career with London Scottish (being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2016). Iain is a lifelong member of Linlithgow Rugby Club. After hanging up his boots, he became rugby correspondent for The Sunday Herald, before moving to The Scotland on Sunday for 16 years, and he has also guest written for various other publications.

5 Comments

  1. Good luck to Jamie, that’s an impressive innings he’s had as a player so all credit to him.

    I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that Accies will pull off a shock and bring the cup back to Scottish rugby’s true spiritual home, Raeburn place.

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