Scotland under-20 stand-off Ross Thompson says he is ready to take on the challenge of the upcoming World Championship “head on” – and it is perhaps unsurprising that he is a determined character given the sporting stock he comes from.
The 20-year-old is currently in Argentina as Carl Hogg’s side prepare for their Pool C opener in the showpiece event against South Africa in Rosario on Tuesday.
Thompson’s grandfather Eric Thompson, who passed away in 1992, was recently inducted into the Scottish Cricket Hall of Fame after a stellar international career between 1965 and 1977.
One of only two Scotland players born in the Orkney Islands, he was one of the very best seam bowlers ever to come out of this country.
He took 107 wickets for Scotland.
And Thompson’s cousin Kirsty Gilmour, 25, is a double Commonwealth Games medallist in badminton.
Neither Thompson or Gilmour were lucky enough to meet their grandfather, but last month they were both at The Grange in Edinburgh as the cricketer was rightly added to the Hall of Fame during the first Scotland v Sri Lanka One Day International.
No doubt Thompson, who is playing in his second World Championship, will take a lot from what he has learnt from his grandfather and Gilmour’s careers into this showpiece event with the Scots in a tough pool also including New Zealand and Georgia.
“We talk a lot about playing at speed and being smarter, they are the two things we have focused on since the Six Nations,” Thompson, the Glasgow Hawks man, said.
“So, much like the full national team we need to be physically fit and have good skills to be able to do that.
“You can play the most expansive game, but if you can’t land a five yard pass then it just won’t work so we think a lot about playing under fatigue and under pressure.
“The hardest thing about a World Championship is going straight from a game to a three day rest and then to another big game.
“The turnaround is tough between such physical games, you have to be able to recover quickly and not over train.
“We have to be able to hit the ground running, these are once in a lifetime experiences and I am ready to face it all head on.”
Last year in the World Championship Scotland were coached by Bryan Redpath, but now the man at the helm is his former Melrose and Scotland team mate Hogg.
After the event he will leave Scottish Rugby to take up a role with the Ospreys in the Guinness PRO14, but there is no doubt he has had an impact on the young players he has been working with this year.
“I think Carl Hogg has instilled quite a lot of confidence into us, certainly for myself when I was struggling with my confidence ahead of the Six Nations he helped me greatly,” Thompson, who is studying for a part-time law degree in Glasgow, said.
“We all buy into the style of rugby that he wants.
“When you think about playing at speed you can overcomplicate things, but really it is just about doing the basics and the easy things well repetitively.
“Ball presentation is key so the nine can get the ball away quickly and hen everything else stems from there.
“We have made massive progress and to play South Africa and New Zealand back-to-back is exiting as a young rugby player, if you can’t get excited for games like these then you never will.”
Scotland v South Africa takes place in Pool C of the under-20 World Championship at 10.30am local time (2.30pm UK time) on Tuesday, June 4 – the match will be streamed live on world.rugby/u20
Thanks to Scottish Rugby/SNS, the Thompson family and Donald MacLeod for the photos