Six Nations: Jamie Ritchie says he is happy with form as he battles for Scotland back-row slot

Former captain has taken demotion in his stride

Jamie Ritchie celebrates with hat-trick hero Duhan van der Merwe during Scotland's Calcutta Cup victory over England on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Jamie Ritchie celebrates with hat-trick hero Duhan van der Merwe during Scotland's Calcutta Cup victory over England on Saturday. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

DEPOSED Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie says he is reasonably happy with his performance after being recalled to the national team for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup win over England, and added that he believes his recent selection struggles has more to do with the form of his back-row rivals rather than any drop-off in his own standards.

“When the game came to me, I feel my contributions were good,” said the 27-year-old flanker immediately after Scotland’s 30-21 victory over the Auld Enemy at Murrayfield, before explaining how head coach Gregor Townsend broke the news ahead of the Six Nations that he was going to change the captaincy so that Ritchie could focus on regaining his best form.

“When we had that conversation I asked what games he was talking about specifically. Not going into too much detail, but I felt like when I came back from my injury, playing for Edinburgh, I played really well the first few games. I ended up with a week off, then played well again, and then the Glasgow games … because of the nature of them … we ended up being quite quiet anyway.


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“So, I think that’s what Gregor was looking at. But I didn’t feel like I was playing badly. I feel like I’ve played well for a number of years and that stood me in good stead in terms of selection. It’s a credit to the other guys who play a similar position that they’ve raised their level, meaning that ‘all right’ for me isn’t good enough.

“So, I will strive to be as good as I can be, and I feel like I have been doing that. I feel like I have played reasonably well when given opportunities to play this year.”

This is the first time since Ritchie broke into the Scotland team back in 2018 that he has not been virtually guaranteed a place in the starting XV when fit, and he says he has managed to take that uncertainty more or less in his stride.

“I’m a firm believer in worrying about things you can control yourself, and for me Gregor makes the decisions that he thinks are best for the team and I fully support him in that,” explained Ritchie.

“So, for me – and I’ve said this before – things around captaincy and selection don’t change who I am. Rugby is a subjective beast, and if I can be happy with how I am in myself, then hopefully things like selection will eventually take care of themselves.

“And I think giving Finn [Russell] and Dargy [Rory Darge] the armband is a great opportunity for Dargy to get some experience as captain, and also we know that Finn leads the team in the way he plays.

“Obviously, I was vice-captain against Wales, so I feel like I still contribute in terms of leadership within the group, and obviously I have a little bit of experience from the last 18 months having captained the side. So I’ll help Dargy and Finn as and where they need me.

“That is something I did before I was captain and something I’ve continued to try to do afterwards.

“It is just trying to contribute the best I can to the team’s performance, whether that be through individual moments or executing my role. Doing that is really important to me, and always has been whenever I’ve played in any team.”

Ritchie played 51 minutes for Scotland on Saturday before being replaced by Andy Christie of Saracens, who was lively during the last half hour. With the experienced Hamish Watson and the relentless Matt Fagerson also in the mix, it is anyone’s guess which way selection will go for the next match away to Italy in two weekends’ time.

“Going to Rome is one of my favourites. They are obviously hurting off the back of the last couple of weeks, but they’ve shown bits of really good performance putting Ireland and England under pressure,” concluded Ritchie, who was speaking before Italy had fought out an epic draw against France away on Sunday afternoon.

“So, there is moments in the game where they can do things and they’ve got some really talented guys in the team. For us, its about concentrating on what we do well and imposing our game on them.”


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About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

7 Comments

  1. Need to know where Jamie was born, where his parents and grandparents were born and what country he went to school in before deciding whether he deserves to be in the squad or not……..

  2. Unfortunately not currently good enough. Shouldnt be in the 23 especially if Crosbie was fit. Christie a much better option at present but not one of GTs favourites.

  3. Jamie had another quiet game v England. Given the possession stats, his tackle count was very low especially compared to his 2 back row mates.
    No jackals but did slow some of thier ball TBF, but his ball carrying isnlt up there for an international 6. I agree he is a 6/7, and on form a top player

  4. I do think it was that the pressure not to give away many penalties kept our jacklers at arms length at the weekend, and therefore made Ritchie s contribution less obvious. I think he did a very good job.

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  5. I think that both Ritchie and Bradbury haven’t quite reached the level of performance many thought they might in their younger days. They are both decent test players…but we should be looking at the next wave and do a better job of developing them imo.

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    • Your bang on RuggersB. However, like Bradbury neither he or Jamie I feel have been coached in how they could reach potential. Could that night on the tiles by Bradbury be the night he wished he hadnt had? Had he remained Edinburgh captain would Cockerall influenced him to have achieved better things at international level. Does Bradbury simply need an opportunity in a Scotland Jersey to show whats been missing?

      I am a big believer as I have posted often before on how much psychological coaching is a huge part of the professional game missing in Scotland…

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  6. Jamie isn’t the out and out fetcher that Darge is, nor the hard carrying 6 that say Fagerson is, but he’s an excellent player and I do think he’s playing quite well. His best performances have never jumped off the screen.

    It just comes down to what you want from you player. He’s a 6/7

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