Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie is determined to get his hands on the Doddie Weir Cup on Saturday and make the former lock’s family proud by leading the national team to victory over Wales in their first home match since his death.
Weir lost his six-year battle with motor neurone disease on November 26, a week after the Scots’ last outing at BT Murrayfield against Argentina and just a fortnight after he had presented the match ball ahead of the showdown with New Zealand.
The first Test match in Edinburgh since his passing is this weekend’s Guinness Six Nations showdown with Wales, a fixture for which the Doddie Weir Cup has been contested since 2018.
“And especially in this game, the first one back at Murrayfield since he passed, it would be a nice one to get our hands on.
“We found Doddie, and we find his family, truly inspirational in the work that they’ve done and we want to make them proud of us.”
In addition to the emotional aspect surrounding Weir’s memory, Saturday’s match offers Scotland the chance to kick off the tournament with back-to-back victories for the first time since they won their opening three fixtures in the old Five Nations in 1996.
On that occasion a 25-year-old Weir and current head coach Gregor Townsend played their part in defeating Ireland away, France at home and Wales away.
The Scots pulled off a rousing 29-23 victory over England at Twickenham last Saturday and all week in the lead-up to this weekend’s Wales match they have been stressing the importance of not undoing all their good work from week one by falling flat immediately afterwards.
“The mood’s good,” said Ritchie. “I’ve not looked at much of the media stuff so I’ve not seen the expectation. The group know there’s a challenging game coming up, but for us it’s about improving on our performance from the England game and making sure we get all our bits right.
“After the game on Saturday, we got together in the huddle and said, ‘Look, this is a great win, enjoy this moment, but it’s about backing it up next week’.
“We knew we needed to make the right decisions around how we recover and things like that, and we needed to get everything out of training, making sure we did all our due diligence on Wales and making sure that, come tomorrow, we’re ready to start well.
“We know that winning one game is not enough for us. We want to do well, and like I said in press before last weekend, what does a strong tournament look like for us? It’s five good performances.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made five changes to the side that lost 34-10 to Ireland in Cardiff last weekend.
“It’s a different Wales side to last week and it will probably be a slightly different game,” said Ritchie. “The scoreline in that game probably doesn’t reflect the rest of it because it was obviously a really fast start from Ireland, but Wales certainly came back into it.
“Looking at the stats, there wasn’t much between the two teams. We need to be aware of that but also look at the opportunities within how they play for us and make sure we can exploit that and impose ourselves on them.
“I expect them to be up for it. They’ve picked (Tommy) Reffell and (Jac) Morgan, who are obviously threats over ball, so they’ll be looking to try and slow us up.
“They obviously see our speed as a threat, so we’ll be looking to try and bring that into the game.”