CHARLIE JUPP is determined to make up for lost time after shoulder issues dogged a large chunk of his early senior career and he is set to be an important man for Heriot’s throughout this Super Series Championship.
A fortnight ago, the 24-year-old back-five forward was wearing six on his back and scored a try while putting in a man-of-the-match showing in a bonus point victory at Boroughmuir Bears. Heriot’s did not play in week two, but they will be back in action this Saturday when they host Stirling Wolves at Goldenacre (5pm).
Having reached the Sprint final before the summer break, things are on the up for the Goldenacre men under head coach Ben Cairns – and Jupp is enjoying the ride.
“There is a really good feeling around the squad, a really good work ethic and I think we are building quite nicely,” Jupp stresses. “There is quite a lot of experienced campaigners in the squad who have been at Heriot’s a while and that combined with guys who have top level sevens experience like Grant Hughes and Matt Davidson, and a crop of younger guys who have professional aspirations makes for a good mix.
“The coaching team are clear in the way they want the team to play and as a player in my position it is great to be able to learn from someone like John Hardie who really focuses on defence and goes into a lot of detail.
“We were pleased with the win over Boroughmuir as a starting point, but we can be better and we know it’ll be a tough match against Stirling this coming weekend.”
Jupp moved to Edinburgh after leaving Wellington College in Berkshire in 2017 and linked up with Heriot’s. He was part of the wider Scotland under-20 squad during the 2018 Six Nations and was involved again in the Junior World Championship squad which competed in France a few months later.
“I was on the bench and came on in four of the five matches in the World Championship while I was given a start against England and that was quite a big thing for me because I had played with and against some of their squad when I’d been at school,” he recounts.
“In 2019, I played for the under-20s throughout the Six Nations, but then missed the World Championship in Argentina because the shoulder problem that had been going on for a while needed sorted and required surgery.”
That labrum repair happened just as Jupp was promoted from Stage Two to become a Stage Three Academy player at Edinburgh ahead of the 2019-20 season, and he couldn’t shake off his shoulder issue over the next two years, with an AC repair also required and numerous trips back and forth to a specialist surgeon undertaken to try and get to the root of the problem.
There was also an infection which affected the shoulder and it meant that Jupp was never really able to show the Edinburgh coaches what he could do.
“I left the Academy in July 2021 and when your goal for the previous few years had been to go on and be a professional rugby player it was tough at the time,” says Jupp, who has an international business degree from Heriot-Watt University.
“Rugby life is also different to other parts of life, you miss being around all of your mates every day when you step back from the pretty much full-time environment that I was in.
“However, I moved on with my professional career away from rugby and it gave me something new to focus on and new skills to learn.”
A third shoulder operation followed meaning that Jupp missed the 2021 Super6 Championship season and the 2022 Sprint.
By the time the 2022-23 club season came around he was fit once again and, having stepped back into action with the Heriot’s Blues 1st XV, he played a key part for Phil Smith’s men as they managed to avoid relegation in their first year back in the top flight after promotion.
“I really enjoyed that season,” Jupp said. “We really had to scrap to stay up, but when we managed to get the win we needed down at Selkirk towards the end of the season it was a great feeling and a number of players in the squad will have learnt a lot over those months. I look forward to seeing how they do in the upcoming season.
“I then came back into Super Series rugby for the Sprint earlier this year and I am still just taking one game at a time and really enjoying my rugby rather than feeling the pressure that I maybe did in the past.”Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 60)
Before spending the last few years in Edinburgh, Jupp grew up in England and began playing rugby at four-years-old at local club Windsor where his brother already played.
It was when he went to Wellington College aged 14 that his love of the game really ramped up and he began to play at a good schoolboy level for the next few years.
During his last year at school he was linked into the London Irish Academy and spent a few months with them until an ankle injury stopped him in his tracks.
“That injury was frustrating at the time, but I just tried to reset and with Rob Brierley [Scottish Rugby’s performance manager in England] having already found out that I was Scottish qualified through my maternal grandfather from Glasgow, I was already becoming a part of things north of the border,” Jupp explained.
“My first real insight into the Scotland under-18s set up had been stopped by the ankle injury, but I was able to move up to Edinburgh just as I was coming to the end of my rehab for that, and I joined the Academy as a Stage Two player originally on the long-term injured list.
“I started university at the same time and Jack McLean [then a Heriot’s player] was a few years older than me, but a fellow Wellington former pupil, so that connection saw me ending up at Heriot’s and beginning to play for them in the Premiership.
“A lot has happened since then, but I am glad to still be connected with Heriot’s, it is a really welcoming club.”