SCOTLAND prop Jon Welsh talks to The Scotsman’s Chief Rugby Writer David Ferguson at the national side’s training camp in South Africa.
The Glasgow Warriors prop, who made his debut against Italy last year, talks about the national side’s prospects against the Springboks and how he had to chose between boxing and rugby as a career choice.
Welsh’s game comes with a hard edge that was honed partly in the amateur game, partly in the boxing ring, where he was something of a prodigy.
“When I was 13 I was second in the Scottish championships and the next year I won it,” he says. “I won the Scottish title aged 14 when I was at the Bad Apple Gym in Kinning Park, but I boxed at a lot of gyms – at the ABC Gym in the Gorbals, in Woodvale Street in Govan, all over Glasgow.
“I started boxing when I was eight years old and stopped (at 14] when my boxing coach told me I had to choose between rugby and boxing. In boxing you’ve got to be as light and as nimble as you can be, on the other hand a good prop forward has got to be a big bruiser, and the two don’t go hand in hand.
“But that experience has been vital because boxing stands you in good stead for life: the discipline it gave me has helped me in every area of my life, and it’s come in handy on the rugby pitch when you need to get aggressive. There were always lots of scuffles and tussles, and there were times when I had to think and act fast. When I was at Whitecraigs (where he started playing aged 12] you always knew you were guaranteed a bit of scuffle with clubs like Ardrossan and Dalziel. Happy times.”
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