Cherry on top after Six Nations dream
Rugby is a sport that has been blessed by a number of sporting fairytales over the years, and Dave Cherry’s journey to Six Nations stardom is right up there - writes James Parsons.
A product of Merchiston Castle School, the 30-year-old has had an unconventional rugby journey - with stops in the English Championship and French Fédérale 2 - en route to becoming a Scotland Internationalist.
Cherry moved back to his hometown club in 2018, and has cemented himself as a key member of Richard Cockerill’s side. A string of impressive performances for Edinburgh led to Cherry’s first call up to the Scotland team in 2019, and having not played that year, the Merchiston-man was desperate to make the team the second time around.
“It’s one thing being called into the squad, and another thing playing in the team,” said Cherry,
“I got called up to the squad in 2019 and didn’t play, so it’s in the back of your mind that it might just be the squad. You’re always wanting the next thing, so I was a bit nervous that I wasn’t going to be involved in the team.
“I honestly never got ahead of myself, I took every moment as it came. It was a huge honour to be part of the squad, but you can get caught up in worrying about things you don’t need to, so I just got my head down.”
Cherry’s hard work paid off, as he made the Scotland squad for the Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham back in February.
The combative front rower then joined an elite club of Scotsmen to lift the cup in their first appearance, when Stuart Hogg handed Cherry and fellow first cap Cameron Redpath the trophy after Scotland’s historic 11-6 victory.
“It was an amazing moment, I couldn’t really believe it. It had taken so many years to get that point, and then for it to finally be there was amazing.
“The whole lead to the game went so quickly, as did the match itself, and then to lift the Calcutta Cup was a moment that I’ll never forget.
“I don’t think there are many Scotsmen who have done that away at Twickenham in their first cap!
“The support has been amazing, I’ve been really thankful for that. I’ve had a lot of people congratulate me, I even had a few letters come through, and someone from London Scottish wrote a poem which was quite amusing!”
Cherry didn’t rest on his laurels after his victorious first outing, instead building on the momentum of his maiden cap to have a barnstorming Six Nations, scoring three tries, including a vital score in Scotland’s dramatic win in Paris in the final round of the tournament.
“Scoring in a Scotland jersey for the first time was unbelievable, I went from not being involved at all to then scoring and starting for the team.
“It was an amazing campaign for me, and to cap it off scoring in the win Paris. I think I was the only person in the stadium that thought it was a try at the time, but it was an unbelievable ending to what has been a fairytale Six Nations for me.”
The fairytale moment is one that has been well earned by Cherry, having plied his trade with London Scottish in the English Championship, before a move to French Fédérale 2 side Stade Niçois.
“I’ve played a lot, and had to graft away. I’ve got a fair amount of stubbornness in me, which has led to good things.
“A few people around me gave up along the way, but I said that I want to achieve what I set out to achieve. It’s been a long and hard road, but it’s made everything all the sweeter.
“It wasn’t easy going into the championship, and I didn’t actually play a huge amount in my first year there.
“Some people are really lucky and get into the pro environment early on, but that didn’t happen to me, so I kept on plugging away with the hand that had been dealt to me.
“I actually played for Mull rugby in my time as well! I then moved out to France, and I loved living there, but I was quite frustrated by the rugby, it wasn’t really where I wanted to be, but coming back to Edinburgh and the pro-environment was huge for me.”
It has been a phenomenal year for Cherry on the pitch, and he’s looking forward to being able to celebrate the special moments and historic wins when restrictions allow.
“It’s hard with Covid, not being able to celebrate the moments with friends and family, I think that’s when it will all kick in really.
“I had a bet with my dad when I was younger, he gave me a bottle of whisky, and I said I’d only open it if I got a cap. So I think we’ll meet up for a dram of that soon!”