Club captain and centurion Gilchrist extends capital stay

Club captain and centurion Gilchrist extends capital stay

​Edinburgh Rugby has been handed a significant boost ahead of this Friday night’s crucial EPCR Challenge Cup match against Brive at DAM Health Stadium with the re-signing of Scotland internationalist, club centurion and captain, Grant Gilchrist.

Gilchrist, 31, pens a new long-term deal that will see the lock enter his 13th season in the Scottish capital, having made his Edinburgh Rugby debut in 2011 aged 20.

The one-club man has so far made 167 appearances in the capital side’s engine room – the most ever by an Edinburgh lock – while the Alloa RFC product is currently fifth on the club’s all-time appearance list, two games shy of Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach, Mike Blair [169].

Capped 48 times by his country, Gilchrist featured in all four of Scotland’s Rugby World Cup 2019 matches, with his most recent international appearance coming in November’s 29-20 Autumn International victory against Japan at BT Murrayfield.

Gilchrist said: “I’m absolutely delighted to sign a new deal. The club means so much to me. I’ve been at Edinburgh over a decade, so to be given the opportunity to stay and continue to play my rugby here means everything.

“The club has and continues to play a massive part in my life. It feels like we’re in a really good place, so I’m delighted to be part of it going forward. We have a brilliant group of boys here and I feel privileged every time I pull on the jersey and represent the club I grew up supporting.

“This season has been brilliant so far. It’s as good a start as I’ve been involved in – and that’s testament to the hard work being done across the club – but we’re aware it’s a process and we’re still learning.

“I’ve always believed in what we’re doing at the club. A lot of the foundations we set over the last four or five years are standing us in good stead and it’s good to see those foundations of set-piece and defence help us win games. We’ve also added excitement to the way we’re playing and I’m loving being a part of that.

“As a group of players, we can’t wait to once again represent our supporters. It will be special to have them back at the DAM Health Stadium this Friday night, where they’ve made our new home a real fortress in the early stages of the season.”

Gilchrist started his rugby journey at Alloa RFC, where he followed in his grandfather and father’s footsteps by representing the club’s 1st VX, before moving on to play for Stirling County RFC.

In 2008, he played in all of Scotland’s six U18 matches, including the three in the Six Nations Festival in Cork. He then went on to captain Scotland’s two U19 internationals in 2009, against Italy and France, scoring a try in the latter match.

A MacPhail Scholar, Gilchrist earned further Scotland age-grade honours at U20 level before joining Edinburgh Rugby’s Academy in 2010 - the club he had grown up supporting.

The lock made his professional debut against Cardiff in 2011 before going on to make 23 appearances in his inaugural season, helping the club reach the Semi-Final stages of the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time in its history.

Gilchrist made his 50th appearance against Dragons in 2013, while his 100th match for the club came against the same opponents in 2017. The lock made his 150th appearance in the then-PRO14 Semi-Final against Ulster at BT Murrayfield in 2020.

Stellar performances for his club side saw Gilchrist earn full international honours in 2013, making his Scotland debut against France in the final game of that year’s Six Nations Championship – while, despite his formative years, the lock was named captain of the 2014 Autumn Test squad.

Gilchrist has since gone on to make 48 appearances for his country and the club captain will be hoping to be named in this week’s Scotland Six Nations squad after an impressive start to the 2021/22 season, where he has started eight Edinburgh Rugby games in all competitions, picking up a nomination for October’s Scottish Building Society Player of the Month.

Head Coach Mike Blair shared his delight that the popular figure in the dressing room and among the capital support will remain at the club.

He said: “We’re absolutely delighted to see Grant extend his current deal. He’s a hugely important player and leader for us and has been for the better part of a decade.

“Not only has he put in some huge performances on the pitch for us this year but, alongside Stuart [McInally], his leadership and experience have been integral in helping develop our game, while providing me with a sounding board and experienced voice among the playing group.

“Despite all that he’s achieved so far in his career, Grant continues to work on and develop his own game, while striving to get better each week. That’s exactly what you want to see in a leader.

“Whether it’s in a match, meeting or training, he leads by example. That leadership is vital to this club, and it shows in the respect he commands across the squad.”

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