Darcy Graham – a cut above the rest
Scotland and Edinburgh Rugby wing Darcy Graham has endured a rollercoaster of a season. There have been the highs: back-to-back tries in Scotland victories against Georgia, both in Tbilisi and BT Murrayfield, lifting his Scotland record to five touchdowns in 11 games.
The display of scorching pace and panache to score Edinburgh’s final try in their home 1872 Cup triumph over Glasgow Warriors, one of the victories that has helped Edinburgh to the top of GUINNESS PRO14 Conference B.
Then bagging four tries in the 36-0 romp against Agen as Edinburgh secured their European Challenge Cup quarter-final. The timing of that haul – lifting his Edinburgh tally to 15 tries in 30 games for the Capital club – seemed to bode well for the GUINNESS Six Nations Championship campaign.
Now to the lows.
“Not to play a role in the Six Nations was really disappointing, all because of a training accident,” 22-year-old Graham said from his family home in Hawick this week.
A collision with fellow winger Bryon McGuigan at a Scotland squad session saw Graham damage his knee and miss out on Scotland’s opening two games in the Championship against Ireland and England.
He worked diligently on his rehab and, at one stage, there seemed the possibility of being back in the frame for the Italy game.
“I pushed to get back for the Italy game. I was just really keen, and it had been plain sailing in my rehab but I managed to re-aggravate the knee so that was that.”
The fact the country has been in lockdown since mid-March, means that Darcy has been able to concentrate on his recovery without feeling that he is missing out on game time.
“So, in that respect, it has been ok for me. But it’s a pretty stressful time for so many people and it can be hard to keep motivated,” he said.
During the season, Darcy won selection for his first Rugby World Cup – though he had experienced a world championship before with Scotland Under-20, where his typically audacious try had helped Scotland to a 15-10 victory over Australia in Manchester in June 2016.
“The World Cup in Japan seems so long ago now. It was a great trip but disappointing on the field. Personally, I was just going out there to work hard and show the world what I could do.”
Scotland’s defeats to Ireland and Japan, meant there was no prolonged exposure of Graham’s talents for the global audience. How does he cope with sporting loss?
“After a game, things can play on your mind. You know ‘I should have done that. I should have done this’. I expect myself to be perfect. If I’ve done something wrong, it will play on my mind.
“But, if it’s a Saturday game, you have the Sunday to reflect and then you will be back on Monday for the review and go through your clips. I’ll always look to be better.”
This season has seen Edinburgh adopt a more expansive approach. Having forged a reputation, under Richard Cockerill’s tutelage, of being a very hard side to play against, Graham has enjoyed how they have developed from those solid foundations.
“Last season we had a big focus on improving our defence and this season we have had a lot more attack focus and that’s shown with some of the tries we’ve scored, which have been unbelievable,” he reasoned.
Work-rate and a desire to go looking for opportunities have always been part of his rugby.
“My first and second year at Edinburgh, if I had just stayed out on the wing, I would not have seen much of the ball.
“I believe you have to go looking for it. I think when you watch world-class wingers, you’ll see them working off their wing and going hunting for opportunities and that’s something I am keen to keep working on,” he added.
Like many of us, the coronavirus pandemic has meant new routines have had to be established.
“It could be easy just to lie in bed,” he joked, “but there’s seven of us in the family house so there’s plenty to keep us all going.” Such as?
“Well, I’ve maybe got an idea now about a job after rugby as I’ve cut my brothers’ hair. So maybe set up a barber’s shop in Hawick!”
We have asked for the photo of Darcy’s handiwork on the follicles of brothers Brodie and Clark but, so far, there’s no evidence! But we wouldn’t be surprised if Darcy Graham excelled with the clippers too.
After all, he’s shown again this season that he’s a cut above many other players.