Max on the up and up

Max on the up and up

There are easy parallels to draw between second-rows on the pitch and embryonic careers, namely that both, with a bit of luck and no shortage of application, should follow an upward trajectory.

For Scotland U20 lock Max Williamson, his is a journey that is still in its infancy, although the FOSROC Rugby Academy player is gaining valuable experience all the time. Training on a consistent basis with such luminaries as Richie Gray, Rob Harley and Scott Cummings at Glasgow Warriors will only stand the former Dollar Academy pupil in the best of steads as he embarks on a second age-grade Six Nations campaign.

The 20-year-old has also featured in the FOSROC Super6, with Bridgehaugh providing a familiar surrounding for him: “My rugby journey started when I was around four or five at Stirling County, where I played all through until second year, when I joined Dollar Academy, and I played there until finishing school. I then went back to Stirling to play adult rugby – and through that I did Scotland U16s all the way up to U20s. And then last year I started at Glasgow, where I’ve done about a year and a half with them,” Max explained.

Some stellar performances at club and age grade level led Max to be invited to train with the Scotland squad during last year’s Guinness Six Nations, an experience he was understandably thrilled to be a part of: ‘’Last year when I was invited to train with the Scotland squad, I came in for a day on a Saturday or Sunday I think, so a lot of players were away playing for the pro teams, and they needed players into train,” he added. “So, I trained for that day, and then Gregor and the coaches said they wanted to keep me in for the week, as they needed a second row; it was a really good experience to see how the Scotland camp was run.

‘’Some of the learnings that I took away where: a large part was recovery, they put a big emphasis on full recovery or getting massages or even stretching. I think it was massively important because they had such short turnarounds between each game. Also, the training they did was very short but intense, they got what we needed to be done in a short period of time, which is needed to be able to perform on a Saturday.’’

Scotland U20s, under the tutelage of new Head Coach Kenny Murray, take on England this evening in their championship opener. It’s a far cry from the 2021 calendar, when Covid restrictions put paid to any semblance of normality for the players, as Max explained: ‘’Last year’s experience was tough at points, we were all stuck in a hotel, not really allowed to leave for a month. It was a good bonding experience, but it would’ve been nice to be able to get out and experience other things. Overall it was a good learning experience, I learnt a lot, we all did, we were very young and I think that’s going to be a good thing for this year, as we’ll have the experience from that to take in.

‘I learned a lot last year about managing the game when things aren’t going your way to sort of limit the damage, especially for someone like me in my position in the line outs.

‘’I wouldn’t say I feel more senior, but I think there are certain points, like if people are losing composure a wee bit I can see that and try to talk about that. Also, from being there last year, and lots of others being there last year, we’re all just a lot more comfortable with each other now, which makes it a lot easier for us to go and have that chat rather than being a bit questionable on whether you want to go speak to people.”

He doesn’t turn 20 until August of this year but Max has already spent time with the senior national squad and Glasgow Warriors, with plenty more to come from the towering second row. In the here and now, he will be focused on helping Scotland U20 continue their own development over what promises to be a competitive Six Nations championship.

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