Stuart McInally: Life in the Front Row and the Front Seat

stuart m

I always wanted to be a Pilot when I was younger, something my parents thought I’d grow out of. My favourite part of going on holiday as a kid was arriving at the airport two hours early and watching the planes take off and land.

There was just something about it I find hard to describe. The way the planes could float so seamlessly mesmerized me, and I knew that one day I had to be at the controls of one of these incredible machines.

However when the opportunity to play professional rugby presented itself, I knew this was the beginning of a whole new kind of dream.

After 3 seasons with Edinburgh Rugby, amassing 58 caps, I am currently undergoing a positional change to Hooker.

There were many reasons for deciding to switch. The main one being the rewards it could bring if successful. But also, the opportunity to challenge myself in learning the very technical skills of throwing and scrummaging excited me.

In the initial few months I spent many hours a day down at Inverleith Park in Edinburgh practicing my Lineout throwing. There is a perfectly sized tree there for me to abuse with rugby balls in my hunt for ten thousand hours, and at times it was positively mind numbing.

However I knew that mastering any skill whether it be throwing or kicking in Rugby, a 1st serve in Tennis or the perfect ‘180’ in darts took major dedication. I enjoyed this part of the process as it was totally in my control, and I knew it would all pay off in the long run.

After a few games for the Scottish club sides, Currie and Edinburgh Accies, I have been given the opportunity to head down to Bristol to continue my development.

Andy Robinson has been great with me, challenging my skills in training while allowing me game time in the Green King IPA Championship to develop into a competitive Hooker. So far I have played 3 league games for Bristol, and I am learning so much from playing in a hugely physical league.

Bristol’s Forward coach, Matt Ferguson, is a master of the Scrums and the benefits I am enjoying from working closely with him have been fantastic.

Never before have I enjoyed learning something new in every session I complete, and I’m enjoying my rugby more than ever.

I’m hoping to continue my transition to Hooker down here in Bristol until the end of the season, helping the club to gain promotion to the Aviva Premiership. After that I will be returning to Edinburgh in June for the daunting ‘Pre Season’ Training.

Alongside my rugby I am currently pursuing my other dream of one day becoming an Airline Pilot. I am 10 hours into my PPL (Private Pilot’s Licence) training at Tayside Aviation and it’s been a great alternate focus for me. Some days the throwing doesn’t go as well as others, and its great to be able to forget my troubles and take to the skies.

The weather at Fife airport was pretty dodgy over the winter months, but I’m hoping to fill my logbook with hours over the summer, taking advantage of the sunny days/slightly overcast days with no wind or rain!

For now though, all the focus is on doing all I can to help Bristol Rugby in our hunt for promotion.

Stuart McInally



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