Hodgson's path to pro
Having today re-signed with his boyhood club, Jamie Hodgson took another step forward in his journey from an often-overlooked school XV captain, to a first-team pro player, making waves in both the Guinness PRO14 and Heineken Champions Cup.
It’s been an extraordinary journey for Hodgson, 22, who has taken a less traditional route to professional rugby, having ‘learned his trade’ at club level for both Stewart’s Melville and Watsonians.
The tough-tackling lock earned age-grade honours with Scotland U20 during the 2018 U20 Six Nations and World Rugby U20 Championship, but it was at FOSROC Super6 club Watsonians where he has learned the ins and outs of senior rugby en route to making a splash with his hometown team.
To get a better picture of Hodgson’s path to BT Murrayfield, we spoke to three of the lock’s former coaches, who discussed his development and rise through the ranks, sharing insight on how the lock paved his own path to Edinburgh Rugby.
Bryn Lockie – Stewart’s Melville College First XV Coach
“My first impression of Jamie as a young man in S5 was the fantastic attitude he had and the importance he placed on the team doing well as opposed to just himself. He originally came in for an injured S6 boy but once in the 1st XV never looked back.
"By the end of his first season we were so impressed with his him as an individual and his obvious leadership skills that we made him captain for his final year at school.
"Like a lot of young Scottish players, he grew a lot in height over a short period and it took time for him to grow into his body with regards strength and power.
"He worked incredibly hard on this and along with his natural ability on the field started to really show signs that he could play at a higher level.
"Being a reasonably late developer we got in touch with the Edinburgh U18 coaches to say they need to have a look at Jamie.
"Like his journey into the school 1st XV he took his opportunity, played well, resulting in him breaking into the National U18 team by the end of the season.
"His journey into the professional game was probably quite similar so when he eventually got his chance it didn’t surprise us he grabbed it with both hands.
"From a school point of view we are very proud and delighted to see Jamie doing so well and representing Edinburgh Rugby.
"He is an example we often use for some of our younger players that they may not get District or National representation at a very young age but if they continue to work hard and have a great attitude then they can still get there eventually.
"I am also happy to see his rugby is going a lot better than the huge slice he employs off the golf tee!"
Jimmy Moran - Stewart’s Melville College First XV Coach
"He was totally committed at school. He always took feedback well and wanted more info on how to improve his own performance.
"Whether it was small technical detail in performing a skill, or in how to develop his conditioning, he always wanted to know what he could be doing to get better.
"He would regularly ask for feedback on specific things (e.g. his tackle performance), rather than waiting for information from coaches. He was totally dedicated to improving himself.
"But it is clear since leaving school that he has continued to make huge progress to get to where he is now. He came down to P7 rugby training a couple of years ago, and it was clear that he had the same focus.
"Despite being a professional with Edinburgh Rugby, he still saw himself as someone very much learning the game, and I think that is one of his great strengths. He is always looking for an opportunity to learn.
"If you had asked me in S2 whether Hodgey would turn pro, I definitely would not have predicted it.
"But by the end of his S6 year, with him playing District U18 for the first time and then Scotland, he was progressing at a rate of knots. But he is definitely what you would class as a relatively late developer as far as standing out at school was concerned.
"I think he won the most improved player award and by S6 he was an absolute standout performer.
"He captained the side brilliantly. His hard work and attitude were absolutely outstanding. He had his sights set on where he wanted to go and was willing to work incredibly hard to get there.
"It’s fantastic to see playing for Edinburgh Rugby. Having a fairly recent leaver achieving what he has, and playing at the top level of the game, is a great example to the boys at school.
"There is always a sense of excitement when one of our boys gets the chance to play at the top level. It is brilliant for the boys at school to have role models like him to look up to and see what can be achieved."
Fergus Pringle – Watsonians Head Coach and former Edinburgh Rugby lock
“When I arrived at Watsonians in 2019, Hodgy had already been capped by Edinburgh, but I didn’t know too much about him.
“My first impressions of Hodgy were that he was a mature and articulate guy. He just came across as focused and determined to prove himself as a player.
“As a player, Jamie is a hard grafter. He made more tackles and hit more rucks than anyone else in our team, by some distance.
“He was our most dominant defender. I thought he was the best second-row in the FOSROC Super6.
“His lineout detail is good and he’s always keen to share ideas that he picks up from the Edinburgh Rugby environment.
“He doesn’t get ahead of himself, he knows where he needs to improve as well and he works very hard.
“It’s great to see Hodgy getting good game time this season with Edinburgh Rugby. They’ve had a few injuries and he has stepped up.
“There’s a big difference for a front five player to dominate FOSROC Super6 compared to Guinness PRO14, and Hodgy is still young in second row terms.
“He’s very well coached at Edinburgh, and that’s why he’s improved so much over the last couple of seasons.
“We don’t actually get to coach him much at Watsonians because he’s in with Edinburgh! But he’s learning from top players and coaches in that environment which is invaluable to his continued development.”