Jack Hocking – Home is where the heart (and Scottish Rugby) is
Jack Hocking has had to make some big moves to make his rugby dreams a reality, but they are definitely paying off.
Jack’s already jam-packed rugby career began on the other side of the world in Queensland, Australia, where he moved to from Edinburgh at the age of three.
“[I] started playing rugby league when I was six and I played four years of rugby league.
“Then I started playing rugby union because my dad really loved rugby union and he grew up in Scotland, so he always wanted me to play union.”
When he was thirteen, Jack received a scholarship to study at Queensland based Ipswich Grammar School where he continued playing through the years until eventually making his break into the first XV in his penultimate year. It was then in his last year of senior school that he got the call to continue his rugby career in his birthplace.
Earlier this year, the eighteen-year-old was selected as part of the Scotland 7s team to compete in the 2023 Youth Commonwealth Games in Trinidad and Tobago. His team made history as the first ever team to not only secure a medal at the event, but take home the gold.
“It was probably the best rugby experience I’ve had.
“The whole environment of it was such a good opportunity, we got to play against some really good quality teams.”
“A lot of memories for all of us. We had a really good squad there, a really great bunch of boys, our coaches as well really helped us.
Head coach Craig Dods led the team during the campaign and Jack recalls that despite being there to compete, his coaches put emphasis on making the most of the experience.
“They knew when to push us and when to relax and chill over there.
“It wasn’t just rugby focused, even though that was what we were there to do, they also wanted us to have a really good time.”
Before his summer of success in the Caribbean, Jack was named as one of Edinburgh Rugby’s contracted academy players for the 2023/24 season.
“It was a big change coming over from Australia.
“I was only ever playing with school and age rep teams and then coming over getting to play with players I’ve been watching since I was kid who have a lot more experience than me has really opened my eyes.”
“I’ve really told myself that I need to push harder and prove myself to get to their level.”
Moving to a new country and joining a new club would be a nerve-racking experience for anyone, but Hocking found solace in those who have had a similar journey to himself.
“Charlie Savala was really good to me when I first came because he’s from Australia as well, he took me for a coffee and made me feel really welcome.
“I was really nervous not knowing anyone, but he made me feel really welcome and I settled in a lot better because he plays around the same position as me.
“You can ask anyone really, all of the boys are open to helping us improve and telling us what we need to work on.
Alongside training with the pro team, Jack also competes in the FOSROC Super Series Championship as part of the FOSROC Future XV. So far he has made six appearances for the team and scored a try during their Round 5 match against Heriot’s Rugby.
“It’s been really enjoyable getting to play senior rugby.
“Obviously physically it’s a lot harder but I think we’ve all got the skillset to be able to compete at the level but it’s been a really good opportunity for us to showcase ourselves, especially with the U20 [Six Nations] coming up, it gives us a good challenge against older boys and show ourselves to the coaches.
“We know everyone thinks we’re underdogs and underestimates us so we’ve just got to come out and show them that we shouldn’t be underestimated.”
Jack may have spent most of his life in Australia, but says his loyalty lies with Scotland. When asked what team he supports, he said: “Scotland all the way – my family’s from Scotland and I was born here so I’ve always supported Scotland.”