Kerr Johnston: Senior rugby success to top tier RWC training
Super Series, Glasgow Warriors, Scotland U20 campaigns and training with the Scotland Men Rugby World Cup squad are all paving the way to a bright future for Kerr Johnston.
Like many, Kerr started out playing football but was swayed when his friends started playing rugby. The 18-year-old had been a one club man all through his youth, finding his passion for rugby at Gala RFC and playing the way up through their age grades.
Kerr decided to progress his rugby career in the form of the FOSROC Super Series and made the move to Edinburgh-based outfit Boroughmuir Bears at the start of 2022.
Not only was Kerr making the move up into senior rugby, but also to the part-time professional landscape. However, he said his move was made easier by his teammates.
“It was difficult because I hadn’t really played any adult rugby, but I guess because I was around some really good players, it wasn’t too bad.”
It was only a matter of time before the young back made his way into the Scotland U20 sphere. He made his debut for the age-grade side only last year against Wales U20 during the team’s trip to Italy in the U20 Summer Series competition. Since then, Kerr has made appearances during this year’s Under-20 Six Nations campaign and during the World Rugby U20 Trophy in Kenya in July. He scored one of the 13 winning tries against Samoa in their bittersweet 3rd/4th place decider at the end of the summer competition.
“I’d definitely say that was a bit of a step up with the speed and learning different things – I’ve had to learn a lot.
“From when I first started in the U20s to now, I feel like I’m a lot better physically and my skills are a lot better.”
At the beginning of this season, Kerr was named as one of the FOSROC Contracted Academy players that would align with pro-team Glasgow Warriors. This alignment allows the young players to accelerate their development by being immersed in the pro-team club environment earlier and benefit from professional coaches and support staff.
Kerr’s involvement with the pro-team began in their preseason training, something he recalls being “tough” and “something [he] wasn’t really used to”. However, this exposure to the professional environment is something Kerr knows is imperative to progressing his rugby career.
“Their standard of training is a lot better, there weren’t as many mistakes and your detail has to be right as well.”
In September, Kerr was called up for an opportunity most people dream of and one he would never forget.
He, alongside fellow Scotland U20 and former Boroughmuir Bears teammate Liam McConnell, received an invitation to spend a few days out in Nice, France, training with the Scotland Men Rugby World Cup squad.
The two young players gained the invaluable experience of being immersed in the World Cup environment, benefiting from top-tier training and getting a feel for what it’s like to be in camp for such the high-profile competition.
“It was pretty cool, also a bit intimidating but it was good to see what they do.
“The coaches were good as well, they gave me and Liam [McConnell] quite a few tips. It was just a really good opportunity.
“It was also cool to be in the meetings to see what they speak about and then see what the boys do at training.”
Most recently, Kerr’s rugby journey has led him back to the FOSROC Super Series, but this time as part of the newly introduced FOSROC Future XV team. He has been a frequent face throughout their inaugural campaign, starting in seven out of their ten FOSROC Super Series Championship fixtures so far. Kerr has had some standout performances throughout the tournament and has scored two tries.
Despite what the scoreboards may portray, it would be wrong to deny the improvement of both individuals and the FOSROC Future XV team as a whole throughout the Championship. Just last weekend the young side came out with all guns blazing against Ayrshire Bulls, giving the 2023 FOSROC Super Series Sprint Winners a run for their money in an exciting and competitive match that saw the hosts win by only seven points.
“It was difficult at the start I’d say, just because we had the different coaches, different players week in week out but I think now we’ve got a lot of boys back into the team, so I think we’re getting there, we’re almost there.
“I think it’s good for us, it gets the young guys exposure, it gets them game time and I think these next few weeks you’ll see a lot of improvement.
“We’ve had the same group training the past couple of weeks so we’re gelling together, and we should be pretty strong the next couple of weeks.”