The Bill McLaren Foundation Correspondent
Gary has had a love for both rugby and writing for as far back as he can remember.
Having cut his teeth in the ‘real world’ of journalism at the Midlothian Advertiser local newspaper for a couple of years between 2005 and 2007, he has since been kept busy covering sport, mainly rugby.
He was a member of the editorial team at SCRUM Magazine for 11 years until recently and now provides regular rugby content to various national and local newspapers, magazines and websites via his company GH Media as well as hosting a podcast.
BMF BLOG - October 2018
Mind over matter:
Diminutive Darcy is determined to make it to the very top
By Gary Heatly
We all remember just how much delight Bill McLaren took in watching players who could light up a game of rugby and do something out of the ordinary with the ball in hand like David Campese.
Well Bill, who would have turned 95 on Tuesday if he was still with us, will now be watching on from above and taking delight in seeing a youngster from his beloved Hawick starting to get Scottish fans’ out of their seats with excitement.
Darcy Graham was invited along to next week’s Scotland training camp on Wednesday by Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, clearing seeing him as a very good talent.
When winger Darcy signed for pro side Edinburgh Rugby from the Greens back in the summer of 2017 then acting head coach Duncan Hodge said he was “one of the most exciting prospects in Scottish rugby”.
He burst onto the Scotland under-20 scene during the 2016 Nations campaign and played his part as the age-grade outfit defeated England in their opening match.
As a result of that solid display he kept his place for the rest of the tournament and then was named in the squad for the World Championships in England that summer.
He started the opening pool match against Australia and helped the side to another victory with an absolute cracker of a try, taking the ball on a great angle and running in for the score from 50 metres out.
The former Hawick High School pupil was unfortunately injured later in the same game and missed the rest of the tournament.
However, he bounced back and is now showing a wider audience what he can do for Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh team.
For years Wales and British & Irish Lions winger Shane Williams was constantly asked about his size - or lack of it - and used to reply: “just remember, it's the size of the smile that counts”.
The five foot seven inch tall flyer also answered his critics by scoring tries by the barrowload at all levels.
Darcy, the latest talent to come out of the Hawick factory and who is of similar stature to Shane, is now in his second season as a full-time pro.
And having had a taste of top level action and played brilliantly for the Scotland Sevens team last term he is now keen to push on.
A quad injury - he tore it twice - during pre-season held him back a few weeks, but he has started the last two Edinburgh matches against the Cheetahs and then Montpellier on the wing.
Ahead of Saturday’s crucial second pool five Heineken’s Champions Cup match against Toulon at BT Murrayfield the 21-year-old said: “I want to prove a point that there is still room for these small boys in the game.
“You have to go out and play each game as it comes and just enjoy the experience. It is kind of difficult [going up against bigger players], technique comes into it a lot as these big boys run flat out and it is very hard to stop them, so you just get there and get your body in front of them.
“Sometimes I have heard people saying ‘oh he will be too small’ and ‘his defence will be weak’, but I just go out and try and do well. Defending has been the main thing I have been working on of late, trying to get more dominant in tackles, trying to get off the line quickly.
“I came into Edinburgh in my first year and I was 77 kilos and I am now 84 so it is fair bit of weight to put on in just over a year.
“When I did my quad it was good because I could get into the gym for two sessions a day and build up my strength, it was brutal for four or five weeks, but really worth it.
“It has helped me with carrying, getting over the gain line and breaking tackles. It has not slowed me down, I am feeling really sharp now.
“You can do as many ups and downs as you want on the back pitches, but real fitness only comes right back with games.
“I have made no secret about it, my dream is to play for Scotland and that is what I am always striving for.”
Photo credit: Scottish Rugby/SNS