Ollie Blyth-Lafferty: Young tighthead seeking strong finish to U18 Six Nations campaign

Ollie Blyth-Lafferty: Young tighthead seeking strong finish to U18 Six Nations campaign

Ollie Blyth-Lafferty has started both games for Scotland U18 so far in their Under-18 Men’s Six Nations Festival in Parma, and the promising prop is aiming to finish the tournament on a high.

An opening victory against Georgia was followed by defeat to England, with one final fixture against Italy to come on Sunday. 

“The Georgia game was a big physical test for us, they were very strong up front with their carries and difficult to attack against because of how good they were at getting double tackles on us. England were much the same but they had a lot of variety in their attack, they like to play the ball with speed and they have a really good kicking game as well.” 

Rugby may be where his focus lies now, but it wasn’t the only sport Ollie took an interest in when he was younger. 

“I started rugby at Boroughmuir RFC in Primary 1. I did a lot of sports when I was younger such as boxing, judo and swimming but I ended up enjoying rugby the most. I focused on rugby, and it became more of a passion, and I kicked on and ended up getting a lot better at it. 

“I did judo at primary school, and the skills have stuck with me. Things like in a ruck when you need to get into a strong, low body position. It helped me improve my rugby, it teaches you how to be strong and dominant.” 

Having a familiar surname to many in Scottish rugby, 17-year-old Ollie is the younger brother of Scotland U20 hooker Jerry Blyth-Lafferty. Both still living at home, they spend much of their time together away from training at Edinburgh Rugby, with Ollie explaining that they regularly play pool as well as watching rugby and a number of others sports. Jerry also learned his trade at Boroughmuir, but the two years between the pair meant they never took the field together.

“I never really had a chance to play with Jerry growing up because he’s older, but now that we’re both at Edinburgh together and we’re closer to being able to potentially play with each other, I think it’s quite special and something I’ve always looked forward to. Learning off him and the experiences he’s had with Scotland U20, Super Series and adult rugby in general, it’s helped me kick on and develop.” 

This season, Ollie has had adult rugby experience himself, playing with Currie Chieftains in the Premiership. 

“Currie are a great club. They were really inviting and welcoming when I first came in. Mark Cairns and Ally Donaldson were really good to me, giving me a lot of game time, helping me out and also showing me areas that I need to improve. I’ve got a lot to thank Currie for, giving me experience at Premiership level.” 

Ollie Blyth-Lafferty playing for Scotland U18 against England. Credit: Federico Zovadelli/Actionpress)

Weighing in at 133kg, it’s no surprise that Ollie enjoys the physical side of the game. But he has a desire to improve across the board, able to identify his strengths but also the areas he is hungry to improve. Keen to keep progressing as a tighthead, Ollie identifies Zander Fagerson as someone he admires and looks to learn from. 

“I really enjoy the set-piece side of things. I do see myself as quite a good scrummager. I’ve always enjoyed getting better at what it takes to be a good tighthead, so my scrummaging, my lineout lifting, my mauling and just set-piece in general, I see that as a strength of mine. What I’m looking to improve is just being able to go at a high intensity for longer. If you look at Zander Fagerson, he’s amazing at just being able to go for a long period of time, he’s a powerful ball carrier and that’s something I’d like to add to my game as well. 

“I look up to a lot of different tightheads, guys like Frans Malherbe from South Africa because he’s such a good scrummager and so consistent. Uini Atonio from France, he’s just a massive human and so powerful! I watch Zander Fagerson for how powerful he is and the fact he’s Scottish and a British and Irish Lion as well.” 

Looking ahead to the Italy game, the former Firrhill High School pupil is hoping for the late birthday present of a complete performance the day after he turns 18. 

“Going into this last game against Italy, we’re just trying to combine the good things we’ve done with working on the negatives to put into one performance in the last game.” 

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