New Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie might just work a treat this November

New Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie might just work a treat

Ahead of Scotland’s four upcoming autumn international tests, head coach Gregor Townsend has named a 40-man squad that includes a new face in the leadership role; in the shape of freshly elevated Scotland captain, Jamie Ritchie. 

The Scots welcome Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and Argentina to BT Murrayfield over the next four weekends and it is now in the hands of Ritchie to lead his side to a successful November autumn series. 

Jamie Ritchie takes over from previous captain Stuart Hogg, and now has a chance to write himself into Scottish Rugby history. Townsend seems to have full faith in him, so why should Scottish rugby supporters?

Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie – Strong Relationships

Within the Scotland squad, and Scottish rugby as a whole, Ritchie is well respected. Since Gregor Townsend took over in May 2017, he has given 53 different players their first international caps for Scotland – from Nick Grigg in June 2017, right up to Glen Young just three months ago. Among those 53 players is Edinburgh man Jamie Ritchie, who was handed his first Scotland cap in June 2018 in a 48-10 win over Canada in Edmonton.

Ritchie has gone on to feature 32 times in total for Scotland since that summer series match and as such, has become a key asset in Townsend’s development plans. He has been ever-present in the squad and has played a big role in some of Scotland’s most recent triumphs, including numerous Calcutta Cup wins and putting in a man-of-the-match performance in the 2020 Six Nations that saw Scotland beat Wales away from home for the first time since 2002. 

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Ritchie also has a good relationship with the players in the current Scotland setup. He is one of 14 Edinburgh players in the squad for the next month and has worked with the vast majority of the 40 players that have been called up this time around. At just 26 years old, Ritchie has the perfect balance between the experience of international rugby in his 32 caps and raw, young energy that comes from a willingness to improve in every session.

Consider this: Ritchie has seen 41 debutants come through the squads since he made his debut, including the likes of Luke Crosbie and Rory Darge, and has been there throughout to help them grow their games and progress as rugby players.

As a flanker, Ritchie can act as a strong link between the forwards and the backs, meaning possibly more team cohesion than what Stuart Hogg would be able to achieve from the fullback role. That call might just work a treat this autumn.

One of the most important parts of a successful rugby team is the way in which they gel together as a unit both on and off the pitch. As an example, a tight-knit, well-organised, and friendly group which works together and gets along can be the key ingredient to winning International rugby games. And Ritchie, who has strong relationships throughout, can provide that.

Experience in Scotland and Edinburgh colours

Many may not have expected Jamie Ritchie to be named Scotland captain when the squad was announced, but he is someone that fits the mould well when you think about it. Despite some quite serious injuries that have seen him sidelined in recent times, Ritchie has worked his way up through the ranks at Edinburgh Rugby and is now a very well-respected member of their captaincy team.

Alongside Grant Gilchrist, Ritchie is co-captain at Edinburgh and has been an integral part of the leadership team that has seen the side from the capital do very well in both the United Rugby Championship and European Professional Rugby Club competitions for the past few seasons. 

The 6-foot, 4-inch flanker has spent his entire career at Edinburgh, having played almost 100 games now since his debut as a teenager in 2014. This not only shows his importance to the team but also the loyalty that he has for those around him and the love that holds for rugby in the capital. BT Murrayfield is somewhat of a second home for Jamie Ritchie and this admiration he has for the game in Scotland will mean he will wear that armband with immense pride every time he pulls on the blue jersey. 

He has done a great job of nurturing the likes of Connor Boyle, Jamie Hodgson and Ben Muncaster at Edinburgh and now has the chance to do the same on a wider scale in the Scotland camp. The Dundee-born man starts almost every game for his club when he is fit and more often than not, he lasts the full 80. Showing his dedication to the cause goes ‘right to the final whistle’. 

New captain shows his own ‘Style of Play’

Scotland has always been a strong and physical side that is never afraid to carry the ball into contact and get at the opposition. Under Townsend, however, they have developed a lot as a side and have been able to implement faster and more skilful play into their game in recent years. This is, in some parts, thanks to players such as Jamie Ritchie. 

Ritchie is one of those modern forwards that not only likes to carry hard and break the gain line, but also has good footwork and handling skills that make him a very useful asset in a layered attack.

His fast feet and quick hands allow him to identify space and, if needed, drop the ball out the back to the likes of Finn Russell and Adam Hastings to launch effective strike plays. This willingness to put himself at first receiver, matched with the ability to either carry hard or play out the back, gives Scotland options in attack and makes them much harder to predict.

The former Strathallan boy’s biggest strength, however, comes in defence. Game in, game out, Ritchie puts his head down and works hard for his team, especially when it comes to putting his body on the line and making the tackles that count. Last season in the URC, he had a tackle success rate of 96%, missing just three tackles in his entire season. Ritchie, along with his flank partner Hamish Watson, has made Edinburgh a hard side to break down. Not only that, but Ritchie also made nine turnovers last year, and has made three in his three games this year.

The most impressive weapon in his extensive arsenal is his ability to get over the ball and win those massively important penalties that might just be the difference to swing the game. 

Richie plays with his heart on his sleeve and has been through a lot for both club and country since bursting onto the world rugby scene, giving him every chance of being a great captain for Scotland. Coming off the back of a series loss in Argentina, new Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie has a job on his hands to turn the tide, and give Scotland fans a ‘happier autumn’ in 2022.

And considering their opening match coincides with the weekend of Halloween, it might just work a treat and produce some new tricks from Scotland against the four Southern Hemisphere sides.

Scotland fixture list – BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh

v Australia – Saturday, October 29

v Fiji – Sat, November 5

v New Zealand – Sunday, Nov 13

v Argentina – Saturday, Nov 19


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