Jamie Stevenson is relishing his return to London Scottish and the scrum half is determined to make his mark as the Exiles prepare for a season of derbies in the Greene King IPA Championship, writes Sebastian David.
London Scottish will start life off with an away trip to Nottingham but the Championship campaign will be eagerly watched in South West London, with near neighbours London Welsh, Ealing, London Irish and Richmond also involved in the competition.
Stevenson returns to London Scottish after a season at Wasps, where the 23-year-old made six appearances for the Coventry-based club, including scoring a try against Northampton Saints at the Ricoh Arena.
The Scotland A scrum half will return to the club he first signed for in 2011 - his form in London Scottish’s 2014/15 campaign securing him the Players' Player of the Year award, before signing for Wasps.
Not that Stevenson or London Scottish needed any more ammunition to prepare for the new campaign, but local derbies against Welsh, Irish, Richmond and Ealing have heightened anticipation and the scrum half is desperate to finish top of the London pile.
“It’s going to be exciting to have so many local derbies – obviously playing London Irish will be special as they have come down from the Premiership but London Welsh, Richmond and Ealing will all also be big and important games for us,” he said, speaking at the Greene King IPA Championship season launch at the St Margaret’s Tavern in Twickenham.
“Derbies are always important to a club like London Scottish – they bring more people through the doors, there’s always an edge, they are probably closer than they should be and they always create a real buzz.
“There’s nothing better than having that edge and playing eight derby games – you don’t even have to try to get up for the games because it’s so important and you’re naturally pumped.
In the thick of it: Jamie Stevenson in action for London Scottish before a switch to Wasps
“I am very excited about the new Championship season, it has been a long pre-season but now we’re ready to go.
“The boys have been working hard and now we really can’t wait to get stuck into our first game and to put down a marker for the season.
“We have had a number of new arrivals and so pre-season has been important in getting to know the guys and form partnerships and understand each other’s games.
“Pre-season is always very difficult and this summer has been no different. The finishing line is now in sight and it’s important to put into practice everything we have been working on in games now.”
For Stevenson it is like he has never been away; he returns to a youthful London Scottish that still possesses many familiar faces.
It has been an easy reintegration for Stevenson and now the scrum half is determined to get cracking when it matters most in the opening day of the season against Nottingham.
“I know a few of the guys from when I was here previously, it has been really good fun and it’s interesting to see how things have moved on and improved. I have thoroughly enjoyed being back at my old club,” he added.
“We’ve got a youthful squad this year and I think that should hopefully breed an exciting new brand of rugby we want to play.
“The facilities have changed and moved on, which can only help and the club are clearly going in the right direction. Now it’s about performances out on the field and we’re determined to start the season well – I can’t wait to get started.”
*Formed in 2009, the Greene King IPA Championship is the second tier of professional rugby in England. To keep up to date with the latest news, follow @ChampRugby on Twitter.