With the 2017/18 Pro 12 season well underway, ENRG Sport takes a closer look at the impact made by Edinburgh Rugby’s Jamie Ritchie and Jason Harries in the first of our ‘Under the Spotlight’ series. By Erin McRitchie
Jamie Ritchie is an up-and-coming blindside flanker, and his ever developing talent has seen him appear in four out of five of Edinburgh’s regular season games so far this year – with a man of the match award coming in the game against the Dragons.
Ritchie is a product of the acclaimed Scottish Rugby Academy, having represented them at under-16, under-18 and under-20s level. It was at the 2014 European under-18 Rugby Union Championship that he took on the role of captain, and it would only be a few short months later that he made his debut for Edinburgh, off the bench against Leinster.
He can now boast to having 34 Edinburgh caps to his name, with more sure to come after he signed a three-year deal with the club at the start of the 2016/17 season.
Forceful and unrelenting in tackling, determined and proficient at ball carrying, and clinical in his lineout involvement, Ritchie is an impressive figure on any field he graces. Testament to this is the fact that, at the end of this season’s second round, Pro 14 stats stated that Ritchie, with five, led the league in turnovers won.
Ultimately, fans will be hoping to see Ritchie in an Edinburgh jersey for many years to come. This is a club in development, under a new head coach, striving for new goals . Surely it is in times like this that young talents such as Ritchie come to prominence.
Jason Harries meanwhile, can attest to being a top try scorer for his former club, London Scottish, in the 2016/17 season – a season which also saw him named in the Championship Dream Team. Harries made 45 appearances for the club, scoring 22 tries in total.
Harries is a versatile wing, with skill that has seen him represent Wales at both age-grade and sevens levels.
Upon the news of his joining the capital club, Harries made clear his intentions; “I can carry the ball hard, run hard and will come looking for work off the wings. I’ll be looking to bring that versatility to the team.”
Harries’ sheer talent has certainly been evident in his first appearances for Edinburgh. Apart from some small errors, which affect every player, Harries has been dependant – always available to make the tackle or receive the pass. So, it was only a matter of time before he snagged his first try, a feat which he achieved away to Scarlets in the third game of the regular season.
With his abundance of skill, and his presence in the squad seeming to be a good fit, surely it would only be natural to assume that this won’t have been the last Jason Harries try that Edinburgh fans will witness.
All in all, Edinburgh in it’s new direction under Richard Cockerill, will benefit from the younger frame of thinking provided by Ritchie, and the quick-thinking nature of Harries. There are still areas of the club’s game that need to be improved upon, but if players such as these two continue to excel, then perhaps the dream is not as far off as once thought.