Dan King – Striking the perfect balance
With a bright rugby future ahead and a university degree in progress, Heriot’s Rugby’s Dan King is trying to find the perfect balance.
Dan began his rugby career at eight years old when he joined Stewart’s Melville College and was taken to rugby training by his dad to get to know his classmates. After progressing through the mini’s section, he continued his journey within the school, playing for the first XV teams throughout. He said, ‘[The school] create an excellent rugby environment.
‘Some particular highlights were the U16 Shield Final which was a good win and then the U18s School’s Cup which was an excellent experience to be included in.’
After leaving school, Dan started studying Economics and Finance at the University of Edinburgh and along with his studies, joined the Edinburgh based club Currie Chieftains. He said, ‘[Currie is an] excellent club and very family orientated.
‘It’s a whole collective club and they’re all ‘as one’ which is a great experience to have in my first year of men’s rugby.’
However, after playing one match for the club, Dan picked up a shoulder injury that set him out of play for almost nine months. Despite not being able to represent his club out on the pitch, the 19-year-old said they made him feel welcome.
In addition, Dan has also been involved with the FOSROC Scottish Rugby Regional Academy system for almost three years. He said, ‘[It] has been an excellent experience, [it’s] obviously a great honour to be selected in a group of boys like that.’
‘[The other players] have been great and it’s an excellent working environment to be in where you’re constantly trying to get better. It’s a great mentality to have where you have boys around you who are trying to do the same thing.’
It was then at the start of the 2022/23 season that Dan was invited to play for Heriot’s in the FOSROC Super6 Championship. He said, ‘[Heriot’s is] exactly like Currie where it’s very family orientated and the club is ‘as one’.
‘All teams will go to each other’s matches and you all celebrate each little victory together.’
‘After that first win away at Stirling, every lad was in such a great mood. Having that experience with a group of guys that I’ve not had in a while and to get back to winning rugby [was great] because I had been out for so long with injury.’
Having played at school level and then only one match in the Men’s Tennent’s East Reserve League Division 1 prior to his injury period, Dan had to “overcome a bit of a mental barrier” when it came to training with the part time professional outfit. However, the full-back stresses that ‘having the confidence of the team who are so friendly and behind your back made the transition a lot easier.’
‘I think [the FOSROC Super6 campaign is] really beneficial and I think it’s a really good transitional league for boys aspiring to go to that professional level.
‘[Also being] involved with the professional guys who step down every once and a while, you learn from them and also learn from playing against them.
‘It’s also excellent having the boys who have finished their professional careers and want to continue that high level rugby as well.
‘It’s the little things you learn from them – the minor details that they get right. Even watching them in training, you learn so much.’
Along with his already jam-packed rugby schedule, Dan is in his second year of his university studies. He said, ‘It’s a busy life but I think I’m balancing it pretty well at the moment.
‘I’m trying to focus on getting both parts right at the same time – performing as well as I can as well as completing my studies.’
He said the prospects of a professional career isn’t out of the picture, but he also doesn’t want to give up achieving his degree.
‘I know it’s not easy to choose but I’m sort of balancing it up in my mind at the moment. I’m having pretty in-depth conversations with my parents about completing my studies and then maybe trying to go professional.
‘If the opportunity comes then it would be a bit silly to let it slip.
‘I’m hopeful for opportunities but I’ve got my studies in the back of my mind that I really want to complete.’
Despite keeping his feet firmly on the ground, Dan still has eyes for next years Under-20 Six Nations campaign. He said, ‘With it being my last year [that I qualify] I really want to push for it this year.
‘That’s my goal for this season to be selected for one of the games.’