SPORT runs in the family, but Glasgow Warriors flanker Rory Darge has picked a different path from the rest of his clan.
And the 21-year-old flanker – who has made the Warriors No 7 jersey his own since moving west from Edinburgh at the tail-end of last season – has no regrets about choosing rugby.
It is a career path which is certainly on the right trajectory, with Darge – who is originally from North Berwick – twice making it into the senior Scotland training squad during the last six months, only to miss out on a first cap due to Covid and then an ankle injury.
However, as one of the most exciting prospects in Scottish rugby, there is no doubt that his time will come.
Meanwhile, younger brother, Arron, is forging his own path playing football.
“He’s been on the books at Hearts since he was 16 and he’s turning 19 in April,” explains the proud older brother. “He plays centre-back and is on loan at Gala Fairydean at the moment, so he’s getting some adult football, which he’s really enjoying.
“My dad played football and there’s a lot of footballers in the family, but I was never really that interested,” he added. “I played very little when I was young, boxing and swimming were the two other sports that interested me, as well as rugby.
“I stopped boxing when I was about 15 and it has just been about rugby since then, and I’ve no regrets.”
Darge’s rugby journey will take him to the Stade Mercel Deflandres in France this afternoon, as Warriors kick-off their Champions Cup campaign against last year’s beaten finalists, La Rochelle.
“It’s probably the biggest game of my career,” he says. “It’s my European debut, I’ve never played in this competition, so I’m excited about that, and it’s La Rochelle away so it doesn’t get much tougher.
“There are some massive units in their team, but as well as that they’ve got a skilful, sharp nine and ten in Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Ihaia West.
“So, they have a bit of everything, but we just have to go there and put our game on them and see where that takes us.
“I honestly don’t know what to expect because I’ve never played in a game like this before. I’m just looking to do what I can on the pitch, get all my bits right and work hard for the team.”
While Darge has been tipped as a player with huge potential since his early teens, the former Scotland Under-20s captain has only really flourished in the adult game since joining Warriors in April.
Having struggled for game-time under Richard Cockerill at Edinburgh, he was thrown in the deep end with Glasgow and proved that he was ready for the challenge by producing a string of man-of-the-match performances during a strong end to the season for the club.
That form earned him a call-up to the Scotland squad for their summer schedule which included an ‘A’ match versus England and two full-cap games against Georgia and Romania. But, unfortunately, a Covid outbreak in the squad meant that series of games had to be cancelled
He carried on his good form into the current season and looked certain to feature for his country during the Autumn Test series, only to be side-lined by an ankle injury picked up against Leinster the week before the international window opened.
“We got to the stage with my first involvement where it was the day of the game, so that was tough to take,” he recalls. “But nobody’s entitled to be playing international rugby and I obviously got myself to a point where the coaches were going to give me an opportunity so it’s exciting and I’m not too gutted.
“I’m delighted to be playing for Glasgow Warriors as much as I am and to be facing La Rochelle away in the top club competition in Europe is exciting.”
The Scotland coaches will be watching today, so it will be a big opportunity to impress in a game which will not be far off international intensity.
If he shows up well then it will be a big step towards making it third time lucky when the Six Nations kick-off on 5thFebruary.