Whyte’s alright as his rugby journey continues to take him to new heights

GH Media midweek interview

When Ciaran Whyte grew up playing rugby on Mull – a picturesque island off the west coast of Scotland – he did not know where the sport would take him.

Fast forward a few years and the 23-year-old back has now made an appearance for Northampton Saints Wanderers in the Premiership Rugby Shield having made a few interesting stops on his way southwards too.

“Everyone on Mull loves rugby,” Ciaran said.

Ciaran Whyte Mull

“From a young age I played at the local club [Isle of Mull RFC] and went right up from the mini section and through to the senior section.

“It was great fun and there is a great atmosphere and community spirit at the club led by a fantastic group of volunteers.

“Due to the distances the team need to travel to play away games the senior team have to put in a hell of a lot of effort to get to those fixtures, but everyone gives it their all when available.

“And anyone who has been will tell you that the annual Mull Sevens is certainly one not to be missed, I always head back home for that weekend and it is what rugby is all about.”

For his last two years of senior school, Ciaran moved to Glasgow and was a pupil at the Glasgow Academy.

Whilst there he played a good level of school rugby and still played the odd away match for Mull when he could.

A move to Edinburgh followed to study PE teaching and, with his former school coach Dave Wilson coaching at Murrayfield Wanderers, Ciaran went there for a season.

He enjoyed the step up to regular senior rugby in the shadows of the national stadium and then spent the next two years at Stewart’s Melville.

“It seemed like the natural progression and quite a few of my friends were playing at Inverleith, it was a very sociable club and I had a good two years there,” he recounts.

“There are big connections between Selkirk and Mull, John Rutherford [the former Scotland and British & Irish Lions stand-off] was there at the start of the club in Mull [in 1978] and, as a result, I knew a few people at Philiphaugh so my next stop was there.

“John was keen to get me to Selkirk and I loved my year there, it is a great community club and one of the places that feels closest to home and I’d like to play there again at some point in my career.”

Ciaran Whyte Selkirk by Grant Kinghorn

A good season with Selkirk brought Ciaran to the attention of the top flight club sides and he went on to play for Boroughmuir mainly at full-back during 2017/18.

That was under the watchful eye of head coach Peter Wright, the former Scotland and Lions prop, and Ciaran formed a pretty useful back three with Jordan Edmunds and Grant McConnell when all fit.

“I was keen before I left Scotland to go and play elsewhere to give the Premiership a crack and with Peter at Boroughmuir and me still studying in Edinburgh it made sense to go to Meggetland,” he explained.

“I enjoyed testing myself against the top teams and then I started to look elsewhere to try and experience a different type of rugby.

Ciaran Whyte Boroughmuir by Dave Patterson

“With my studies ending the chance came to head south to Ampthill and play a good level of rugby and do some teaching so I was keen to take up that opportunity.

“We are playing in a pretty competitive National League Division One and my first few months have been good, finding my feet and getting to know the boys and the place.

“Ampthill is pretty close to Bedford and the club has links with both Saracens and Northampton Saints with some of their guys coming on loan to us and such like.

“If they are needing extra numbers for their reserve team fixtures they sometimes see who is available and it just so happened that Northampton needed some cover on Monday night.”

Ciaran and his Ampthill team mates Jack Culverhouse and Karl Garside were on the bench for the match away to Newcastle Falcons with Tom Wood leading the team and Scotland under-20 cap Devante Onajaife also featuring.

“We lost 41-15 in the end, but it was good to get on for about 15 minutes and get a taste of rugby at that level,” Ciaran said.

“I am really just enjoying my rugby at the moment and when you do that you tend to get the best out of yourself so I am looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Ciaran Whyte Northampton

Thanks to Ciaran himself, Grant Kinghorn and Dave Patterson for the photos

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