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Boroughmuir proud of the strides club youth product Ollie Blyth-Lafferty is making

Gary Heatly

Boroughmuir as a club that has always produced young talent – and they are rightly proud of their latest young gun Ollie Blyth-Lafferty.

Tighthead prop Ollie only turned 18 on April 6, but he is one of the most talked about players in Scottish rugby circles right now.

The former Firrhill High School pupil came through the ranks at Meggetland, playing from the Minis right up to the under-18s before he joined Edinburgh Rugby last summer as a full-time Academy member.

He is currently preparing for Scotland’s big match versus Japan in the men’s under-20 World Rugby Trophy at 7.45pm at Hive Stadium in the capital on Friday.

It is the Pool A decider and will determine who tops the group and goes through to next Wednesday’s final.

Also, in the Scotland matchday 23, Ollie’s brother Jerry came through at Boroughmuir as did captain Liam McConnell while Andrew McLean played for Boroughmuir Bears in Super6/Series.

Kerr Johnston, who has also played for the Bears, has just been called up to the wider squad for the tournament due to an injury to Ludo Kolade too.

Neill Wood, the Boroughmuir director of rugby, said:  “We are proud of all our young players and it was recognised at an early age that Ollie was going to be a special player.

“Working with our performance manager Alex Toolis and Academy head coach Richie Lockhart, Ollie developed through our Player Development Programme. Our Academy continues to produce players that can transition into a performance rugby environment and Ollie and his brother Jerry are testament to that.

“I am sure all the credit does not lie with Boroughmuir and Ollie’s dad Billy has taken a lot to do with his development. We are all delighted at Boroughmuir that Ollie is getting his chance at such a young age at international under-20s and we are sure he will go on from there to earn a lot of success at this age level and beyond.

“We wish him all the best from Boroughmuir and hopefully he will find his way back to the club at some point and play a part in the club’s continued success.”

Ollie said:  “I loved my rugby at Boroughmuir coming through the youth set up and with my dad coaching us when we were really young myself and Jerry were never away from Meggetland!

“I have so many friends there and it is a good place for young players to learn and grow up for sure.

“It’s great that myself, Jerry and others can represent the club while playing for Scotland.

“I feel like it has all been quite fast for me this last year, I came out of the under-18s with Boroughmuir and instead of doing another under-18s year I went straight into adult rugby.

“I started playing for Currie Chieftains and I was lucky enough to win the Premiership with them, beating Hawick in the final down at Mansfield, so that was a great experience getting to do that in my first year of adult rugby.

“I came into the under-20s having played a bit of Future XV stuff in the Super Series as well and while we didn’t get the results we wanted with the Futures it was definitely a good learning experience before coming into this environment.

“I was quite frustrated [a few months ago to miss the under-20 Six Nations] because I had done all the prep work and I felt like I was up to the standards and the same as everyone else.

“I was in the starting team for the Wales game and it was just before our jersey presentation down in Colwyn Bay.

“The coaches pulled me aside and told me that I could not play due to World Rugby rules around my age and my position as I was just 17 then.

“I was frustrated, but then I looked at what I could do instead. I went back and kept playing for Currie and I was also away with the national 18s to Parma for the Six Nations Festival. We beat Georgia, we lost to England but it was still good experience and then we managed to beat Italy on their home turf.”

As well as learning from people like Alex and Richie while he was at Boroughmuir, Ollie has been learning from his childhood icon WP Nel in the last year.

“From a young age I looked up to WP Nel, I remember going to Edinburgh games, watching him play and thinking ‘I want to do what he is doing and be like him’,” he explained.

“WP is a great guy to learn from. When I first went into Edinburgh last summer he was away on international duties, but once he came back from the World Cup I instantly wanted to learn from him and he took me under his wing straight away.

“He showed me lots of things that he does while a lot of the work we have done together has been focused on the things I can get better at.

“He was 37/38 when I was working with him while I was 17/18, so I just wanted to learn all of the time and he has been such a good mentor for me, the time I have spent with him has been invaluable.

“He made it clear to me that all tightheads are different and that you have to use the skills you have – such as your height and size – to your advantage.

“I am miles away from where I want to be yet, but his help and support has given me confidence.”

Ollie will take that confidence into this big Japan game while his and Jerry’s parents will be the proudest people at the Hive.

“As I say my dad coached me and Jerry from quite a young age at Boroughmuir and then once we left junior rugby he became our biggest fan and he comes to all our games,” Ollie said.

“We would come home from training and he would always want to talk rugby and he has been a massive support to us.

“Mum is also such a great support and they are so happy seeing us play in the same team for Scotland and in the same front-row, it is special.”

The Scotland-Japan under-20 match will be live on BBC ALBA – with three other games on at the Hive throughout the day to bring the pool stage to a close – and many folk with Boroughmuir connections will be watching on with great interest.

Any young players or senior players interested in joining Boroughmuir should contact director of rugby Neill Wood via directorofrugby@boroughmuirsports.co.uk or visit the club website boroughmuirrugby.co.uk for more information.

Thanks to Boroughmuir, N50 Photography and James Parsons/Edinburgh Rugby for the images of Ollie