Kyle Steyn: BT Murrayfield appearance capped great journey
In a year like no other, Kyle Steyn can look back with a great deal of pride at what he’s achieved in his short association with Scottish rugby.
Sounded out about his availability through qualifying to represent his country a little over two years ago, the Glasgow Warriors back has since taken advantage of several opportunities in the sport, culminating in a first international cap against France back in March.
Steyn quite literally went from being in the crowd to playing in front of them in a short space of time, as he explains how a professional career in rugby got off the ground.
Speaking on this week's Official Scottish Rugby Podcast, he said: “It came out of the blue. I was at the Cape Town 7s as a student, had a couple of drinks in the stands and woke up with a croaky voice on the Sunday, and got a call from Scott Johnson [then Director of Rugby].
“He and John Dalziel had been told that I was Scottish qualified through my Mum but the first thing he asked when he heard my voice was ‘were you in the stands last night?!’ which I said I was!
“That was December 2017 and JD [Dalziel] was really good at keeping in contact with me to set up almost a month’s trial in February 2018 with the 7s squad, and I did the Las Vegas and Vancouver legs [of that year’s World Series circuit].
“JD kept in touch with me and said there was an opportunity for a 7s contract which I probably signed around July.”
After impressing as a core squad player in the abbreviated format of the game, Steyn signed permanently with the Warriors in February of last year, his progress continuing to the extent he was named in Gregor Townsend’s extended Rugby World Cup 2019 squad, before just missing out on selection for the Japan showpiece.
He never strayed from the national coaches’ thoughts though and came off the bench in Scotland’s 28-19 win over France during last season’s Guinness Six Nations, in doing so realising a dream. On that memorable day, he recalled: “I didn’t make the World Cup squad but I think that whole experience meant I came into the Six Nations way more settled, almost with a bit more confidence as to what to expect and what was going to go on.
“I wasn’t involved in the first two or three games but I kept trying to put my foot in the door and everytime I’d gone off with Glasgow I was just trying to make sure I was making a pest of myself for the coaches.
“Eventually I irritated them enough!”
“The first thing I felt was massive relief, looking around and thinking ‘I’m on’. I was real nervous in the stands before that. As you come out after half-time you’re probably looking up at the clock every 15-20 seconds. I said after the game, it got to a patch around 60 minutes where France were camped down in our 22 and the rain started picking up and the game started evening out a lot more.
“I probably had two or three minutes to get ready, my heart-rate shot through the roof and then got the first involvement on the pitch and it was just awesome. I think the best part of the day was that I got to make my debut at BT Murrayfield.”
With more international recognition the target, and still only 26 years old, Steyn has joined his Glasgow Warriors teammates in a gradual return to training ahead of the resumption of professional rugby.
And the utility back says he’s thrilled to be back, even if that means having to do contact training with one of his more excitable fellow Warriors.
He added: “It’s the first time we’re allowed to have any sort of contact, and I think they’ve put us in groups of four and it’s just on the bags.
"I’ve got Squiggsy (Nick Grigg) who loves the contact more than anybody else, he comes barrelling in there; other than that I’ve got Huw Jones and one of the young boys, Ollie Melville, that’s coming through so it’s just the three of us against Squiggs to try and calm him down!”
Listen to the full interview with Kyle Steyn on this week's Official Scottish Rugby Podcast, which will be available to download on Thursday.