Cam Redpath’s decision to pick Scotland instead of England this year had a double whammy – Bath team mate Josh Bayliss, poised to make his Scotland debut this weekend.
Bayliss, like Redpath, is set to tie himself to Scotland in a match against England, in his case this Sunday’s A international at Leicester. It was discussions between the close friends that opened up a path to international rugby the 23-year-old back rower hadn’t imagined would be there.
His grandmother Frances from Aberdeen was the necessary link, and he casually mentioned that to Redpath when they were discussing his decision to play for the country his father Bryan captained.
“I was always aware of my Scottish heritage, but international rugby wasn’t on my horizons,” explained rangy and pacy back row forward. “I’d done age group for England, but after that went back to Bath and I was just battling away there. It was a complete surprise to get the call from Gregor, but a really good surprise.
“Cam must have mentioned something when he came up. When he was sort of deliberating and deciding what to do, we are quite close so we spoke quite a lot and I guess I mentioned to him that my grandmother was born in Aberdeen.
“Obviously after Gregor contacted me, I spoke again to Cam. He told me about the camp and told me that he loved the environment and the brand of rugby that Scotland are looking to play. It all just seemed like something that would suit my game.”
‘It wasn’t a tough decision, it felt like a great opportunity’
He was called straight into the Six Nations squad the week of the original date against France, but then was concussed after that game was postponed.
“That ruled me out for a little while which was gutting for me, but I’d already been in and met some of the guys,” he said. “It meant that when I came back in this time they weren’t all new faces and I knew a few people.
“As soon as I came into camp I felt comfortable and definitely felt like I’d made the right decision.
But it wasn’t really a difficult decision. I saw it as a massive opportunity for me and I thought I’d regret it if I didn’t take it.”
The only downside is that Redpath is available to join up with Scotland, after the ACL injury that rules him out of rugby until the New Year.
“He made such an impact, and we were all so happy for him at Bath,” said Bayliss. “So it was gutting that this season had to end with surgery.
“It’s really tough, but knowing the type of character he is he’ll definitely bounce back stronger. Having gone through the rehab process he’ll be itching to get back and get stuck in.”
‘The whole group is incredibly exciting’
Look at these afterburners 💨
Great turn of pace from Josh Bayliss to score for @bathrugby ⚡
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) November 12, 2018
In the meantime Bayliss wants to make the most of his opportunity, even if back row is an area of the team loaded with quality, including the captain of the squad for this coming tour.
“I’ve spoken to Jamie (Ritchie) quite a bit and he’s been so welcoming,” added Josh. “Obviously he’s an incredibly talented player and a real leader, you can see that right away.
“He leads from the front and sets an incredible example for the boys to follow. Having him play in a similar position means I can learn as much as I can from him and try to get up to speed.
“The whole group is incredibly exciting. There’s a mix of really young guys and guys that have experienced a lot at the highest level.
“It’s honestly been a great week and a half of training. A lot of hard work has gone in and I can’t wait for the boys to showcase what they can do in these games. It’s a very exciting prospect.”