Player Focus: Nic Groom
It’s easy to lose track of how many changes have come Nic Groom’s way in 2019-20.
From joining a new club, moving to a new city, country and continent, turning 30, as well as being named vice-captain in his debut season, there’s not much that the scrum-half can’t claim to have dealt with in the past year.
However, outranking all those decisions and moments in 2019-20 has undoubtedly been the arrival of Nic’s first child, who was born during October’s 46-7 win over Scarlets at BT Murrayfield.
The scrum-half of course missed that match as he proudly joined a chapter known as dad life – a period he describes as ‘simply awesome.’
“My son was born during a game and then I got injured straight after that, so I was lucky enough to be around a lot for his first few weeks on this earth,” said Groom.
“My wife has been unbelievable with how she’s coped with everything. In this profession, there’s so often times when you’re away from home days on end, or you’re away all day.
“Dad life is amazing and it’s probably gone to a new level when you’re confined to the house and you realise how full on it is. But everything you do, you do with a smile on your face because there are so many incredible moments that you get to be a part of.
“I’m just happy that he’s healthy and growing every day. It’s definitely been a huge change in my life, and you can never quite be ready for it. Being a dad is awesome though and there’s nothing that I would change.”
As Bob Dylan once wrote: The Times They Are a Changin’. For Groom, this rings truer than most, as he has been forced to adapt quickly to joining a brand new club, and one he describes as ‘clearly being on a rise.’
His time in the Scottish capital got off to the best possible start when he scored a try on his PRO14 debut – a flying effort in the 50-15 win over Zebre – while some early displays from the bench secured impressive road victories against Cardiff Blues and Munster.
Although Groom suffered a hamstring injury midway through the season, he came back stronger than ever prior to the league campaign being suspended amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Yeah, if I look back at it, it seems like it’s flown by,” continued Groom. It’s been a great year for the club so far and I’ve been delighted to be a part of that.
“I’ve been happy with the way I’ve played and what I’ve brought to the team. I’ve obviously struggled with injury a little bit.
“At one stage I missed about six weeks. It was frustrating in some ways, but yeah, it’s been great to be involved and I’ve got some brilliant memories from this first year.
“Beating Glasgow at home in the 1872 Cup is something I’ll always remember and just seeing the club go from strength to strength has been amazing. If I look back, it’s clear that the team has come a really long way. We’ve grown and done some really great things.”
Although Groom was a newcomer to the club – joining from South African Super Rugby side Lions - Head Coach Richard Cockrill wasted no time in naming the coolheaded scrum-half as vice-captain alongside Henry Pyrgos.
Cockerill recognises the importance that the team’s No. 9 has in leading the XV, and Groom’s exceptional communication skills and ability to read the game make him the perfect fit as on-field coach, linking the forwards and backs units.
“At times, it was odd. There’s some stuff that come comes naturally to me like talking or communicating. Even just clarifying information and being a link between the coaches and the players.
“And then there’s some of if that’s quite tough, like not having a background with a lot of the guys and not having a close relationship with more of the senior guys.
“But everyone has been great to me, they all seem to trust me and at least believe some of the stuff I’ve been saying!
“But to be honest, I’ve been lucky enough to have some good guys around me – some really experienced guys who really stepped up and helped me – and it was great to be able to bounce stuff off them.”
Although Groom has been an instant success both on and off the pitch, there’s no doubt that part of his lasting legacy with the capital club will be bringing some lyrical mastery to the changing room.
Groom’s new club tune – sung in the changing room after every win – has been belted out plenty of times this season, with the scrum-half leading the charge on vocals.
It was something that Groom feels is hugely important for any club as the players cherish those moments together after a big win.
“Yeah there were a few things that I wanted to change when I arrived at the club, and probably the main thing was around the fact that we didn’t really have a song.
“When we had played amazingly well and really beaten a team, the coach would often have the last word and we would get showered, changed, have our food and head on home.
“That was really odd to me having played the game for so long. You need to learn to cherish the good moments, winning patches, big wins and good memories. I kind of stuck my neck out a little bit and said we need to come up with a song here when we win.
“Every song I’ve sung has had a spin on the team. It’s really cool how it’s come from the players and everyone has bought into it and maybe it will evolve and get better one day!
“It’s so important that you enjoy your victories in this game. It’s so much more than just about winning games, it’s about cherishing those minutes with the guys around you.
“I didn’t write the song – it’s tailored from many different things – but if there’s one thing I can leave behind, that’s it!”