A tale of two scrums with Murray McCallum

A tale of two scrums with Murray McCallum

Ahead of this Saturday's Dentons Capital Classic against Harlequins, we caught up with Murray McCallum whose own experience of the European match was one marked by two fixtures and 17 minutes of action.

The prop - who was just 19 years old at time (October, 2016) - was named in the Heriot's squad to face Stirling County on the same day of the Challenge Cup match-up, but when Rory Sutherland suffered an injury in Edinburgh's warm-up, McCallum faced a race against time to make it onto the capital side's bench.

"I don't think there are too many boys who have played in a club match, and then a few hours later scrummaged against Harlequins!"​

The then-Academy prop McCallum wasn't expecting to be anywhere near the Edinburgh squad with WP Nel back in action at tighthead, and so he took his place with Heriot's none the wiser that he'd soon be flung into action at the other side of the city.

"I wasn't originally selected for this game," explained McCallum. "I'd only made my debut two week's before at home to Benetton, which was a really good day. It was unexpected, but injuries came about and I ended up getting my shot which was great.

"I then played the next week away to Timisuara Saracens, then WP Nel returned for the Harlequins game. Of course, WP returning, no questions asked as I was still a 19 year-old academy player at the time, so I was back playing for my club team Heriot's that week."

"We were playing Stirling County that day at Goldenacre which was a 3pm kick-off. Edinburgh versus Harlequins at BT Murrayfield was a 3.15pm kick-off."

Having only moved to tighthead earlier that season, McCallum was still finding his feet in the scrum in the early stages of the fixtures, but after crossing the whitewash to give the Goldenacre club the lead, the prop soon settled into what he though would be a run-of-the-mill league encounter.

"It was nothing out of the ordinary for me. The game kicks-off and it was a good start for the Nails. I actually scored a try quite early on.

"I was still quite new to tighthead at this point, so I was pretty chuffed that I had won a scrum penalty, and then we actually gave away a scrum penalty. I kind of got my pants pulled down on one which wasn't great.

"As they are lining up to kick the three-points, I get a message from the touchline shouting: 'Muzza, you're coming off!' I just thought to myself, you're kidding?

"It was actually Stevie Lawrie (now Assistant Forwards Coach with Edinburgh) who was Forwards Coach at the time, and I said 'you're surely not binning me already here?'

"I come over, and he has been speaking to Heriot's Head Coach Phil Smith. He has been on the phone to Duncan Hodge at Edinburgh, who has explained to him that I need to get myself to BT Murrayfield for the 3.15pm kick-off as soon as I can."

From there it was a race to make it to Scotland's national ground for the Challenge Cup match-up with the star-studded London side.

"My dad was waiting in the changing room to take me across town from Inverleith to BT Murrayfield. I get there, Rory Sutherland was supposed to be starting and Allan Dell was on the bench.

"Delly is a bit slimmer than me, especially back then, so his strip was one size too small for me - but there was no messing about, I just had to squeeze it on"

"I wondered out onto the bench, and everyone was just looking at me thinking 'who is this kid again?' But that was it, I sat down on the bench with the rest of the boys.

"Allan Dell ended up going 73 minutes, so I got my 10 minutes for Heriot's and seven minutes for Edinburgh. But the boys pulled out an absolutely amazing shift, and I hopefully didn't mess it up too badly.

"That started a nice European run for us, but to be honest my head was all over the place, even though I played 17 minutes in total. I don't think there are too many boys who have played in a club match, and then a few hours later scrummaged against Harlequins."

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