New father Stuart McInally looks forward to return to action with Edinburgh

Hooker missed Scotland's game in Dublin to attend birth of first child but is back in the fray and ready for Champions Cup action

Stuart McInally
Stuart McInally trained with Scotland last week but took no part in the match against Ireland. Image: © Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

STUART McInally has represented Scotland with distinction since making his debut in 2015, and has always displayed an exemplary commitment to the cause. Like most players, he has missed a fair few matches through injury, and has always been deeply disappointed to do so.

Last week, however, the Edinburgh hooker was delighted to pull out of the Scotland squad after getting as far as Dublin, as it meant he got home in time to witness the birth of his first child. He was due to be on the bench at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday for the Autumn Nations Cup third-place play-off against Ireland, and had flown out with the Scotland squad as planned on Thursday afternoon. But he had cleared a contingency plan with team manager David Edge, and when the call came he sprang into action.

“I was in Dublin when it all started to happen,” McInally explained yesterday. “The due date was last Friday, the fourth, so I had a conversation with my wife about going. We knew there would be flights back if I needed to, so she was happy for me to go, in the hope that the baby would be a couple of days late. 


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“So I flew to Ireland on the Thursday. And then on the Friday about 2am Natalie phoned me to tell me her waters had broken and there was a flight home at 6.30am.

“But I remember I was still really tired and thinking I would phone James Robson [the Scotland team doctor]. And she’s asking me, ‘Why are you phoning James? You need to come back!’ So I phoned Edgy to let him know and got to the airport.

“Just before I got on the flight Nat’s dad called to say he’d taken her to the hospital. So I landed and went straight to the hospital. I got straight into the labour room and at 1120 on Friday morning we had a baby boy, Oliver. It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I made it back. What a day and what a story!

“I’ve found the whole experience to be amazing. From the whole labour side of it and seeing what Natalie went through, I was just so proud of her.

“That’s proper stuff when you get to delivering babies. If I had missed the birth, I would have been really sad. I was just so pleased I could be there for her.

“The not sleeping – that’s no joke. It’s true: you get absolutely no sleep. We’re still trying to figure it out. When we’re holding him he’s OK, but putting him down is a nightmare.

“There are so many boys at the club who have got young children at the moment. Everyone has got similar stories, so it’s reassuring to know that’s just the way it is.

“I find myself not actually needing as much sleep now, because I’ve still got the buzz to get home and see him. He definitely puts a smile on my face.”

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After a very brief break from his professional duties, McInally is now back training with Richard Cockerill’s squad as Edinburgh prepare for their home Champions Cup match against La Rochelle on Saturday night.

“Cockers has been really good about it,” he continued. “He just said me to take whatever time I need. I’ve not played loads recently with the Fiji game being cancelled, so I was desperate to come back into the fold at Edinburgh. With Nat’s permission I went back into training on Tuesday and it’s great to be back.

“December is always a really exciting time for Edinburgh, especially now we’re back in the Champions Cup and with the derby games to come. I’m really glad to be a part of it but now I’ve got something else exciting at home to get back to. That puts everything into perspective. I couldn’t be happier.”

The French league leaders will be tough opponents, and won by 10 points in the Challenge Cup on their only previous visit to Murrayfield three years ago, but with McInally and the rest of their international contingent back in the squad, Edinburgh are hopeful of getting off to a winning start. “We have to be realistic as we’re just back in the competition and we’ve got a tough run of fixtures, but we have a great history in this tournament against French and English teams.

“And we’ll back ourselves to win any game. If we could get to another quarter-final, then how good would that be? From past experience we know it can happen.

“December is always a really exciting time for Edinburgh, especially now we’re back in the Champions Cup and with the derby games to come. I’m really glad to be a part of it, but now I’ve got something else exciting at home to get back to. 

“That puts everything into perspective. I couldn’t be happier.”


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About Stuart Bathgate 1392 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.