Ex-Howe of Fife flanker Jamie Ritchie can’t wait to return to international action ahead of Rugby World Cup
The Scots’ next game is a summer international versus Italy at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday, July 29, and head coach Gregor Townsend’s side will be picking up where they left off as that’s a re-run of their last match, a 26-14 home win against the Italians in the Six Nations in March.
That 3.15pm kick-off fixture is followed by two more home warm-ups for this autumn’s world cup – against tournament hosts France on Saturday, August 5, also at 3.15pm, and Georgia on Saturday, August 26, at 5.30pm – and former Howe of Fife flanker Ritchie says he can’t wait to skipper the national side again.
“We’re excited to get out there and play because that’s what we do it all for – to get out there and play in front of our fans,” said the 26-year-old.
His squad, also featuring ex-Howe scrum-half George Horne, started off their preparations for the cup at Nice in France to acclimatise to the conditions they’ll be playing in come September as that’s where they’ll be based for the competition’s pool stages, but they continued their training closer to home last week, spending three days in St Andrews – home to Madras Former Pupils, Ritchie’s first club – before moving on to Edinburgh on Friday for an open training session watched by 2,000 fans.
“The boys are in good shape,” said Ritchie.
“We’ve had our first block of training and everyone kept ticking over in their time off, so we went into the first week flying and started where we left off.
“That extended time together gives the guys that natural ability to connect and become better acquainted.
“We’re all really close as it is, so that extra time together has been improving on that connection as a squad. I think the squad are super-settled.
“Going to Nice meant the guys could get comfortable with the surroundings that we’re going to spend time in and they know what to expect around the food, the rooms, what the hotel is like and get to know some of the hotel staff, which is going to be important for us.
“It’s about just making that as seamless as possible, as comfortable as possible, because if we’re happy off-pitch, then hopefully we can perform on it.”
Ritchie, capped 41 times since making his international debut in 2018, says he’s hoping to see Murrayfield packed for his team’s summer internationals to spur them on ready for their world cup pool games against Ireland, South Africa, Tonga and Romania, adding: “It means the world to us.
“There aren’t many better feelings than walking into Murrayfield and hearing that crowd and knowing that they are behind you.
“It gives us a real lift, especially when there are big moments in the game or the crowd feel like there’s something building. You can really feel that energy and that noise.”