Glasgow’s Jackson will relish return to Northampton

BACK IN TOWN - Glasgow Warriors' Ruaridh Jackson
BACK IN TOWN - Glasgow Warriors' Ruaridh Jackson

Type the name of Glasgow Warriors and Scotland fly-half Ruaridh Jackson into Wikipedia and you’ll discover that his place of birth is in fact Northampton.

Having spent the first six months of his life in Olney, Jackson’s family relocated north of the border due to his father’s work in the oil industry.

And he hasn’t been back since.

But this Sunday he gets the chance not only to return to his place of birth, but to strut his stuff at Franklin’s Gardens as his Glasgow Warriors side take on Saints in the Heineken Cup.

It will be a special occasion for Jackson, who grew up idolising the likes of Paul Grayson and Carlos Spencer as they made a big impact at Northampton.

Now the man with 13 Scotland caps to his name will look to make a big impression of his own on hallowed Gardens turf.

And Jackson admits the excitement is building ahead of an inaugural appearance in a town close to his heart.

“I was born there but only really lived there for six months or so and moved up north to Aberdeen,” explained the 24-year-old.

“My dad was working there for a time and I just so happened to be born there and it will be interesting going back.

“I’ve never actually been back since we moved away but I’ve always sort of followed Northampton growing up and it will be good fun playing there.

“I’ve always wanted to play at Franklin’s Gardens so I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.”

After the game, Jackson will hope to come face-to-face with the man he watched kick Saints to Heineken Cup glory back in 2000.

Former England star Grayson is now assistant coach at the Gardens and depending on how the result goes, Jackson hopes to have a few words with his idol.

“He’s still there, a firm fixture, so he’ll have a lot of work to do with their 10s in (Stephen) Myler and (Ryan) Lamb,” Jackson said. “Hopefully I’ll catch a quick word with him after.

“I watched him for a number of years when I was younger.

“Hopefully it will be a happy chat for me and he might not be in the best of moods, but we’ll see when the time comes.”

But Jackson will banish all sentiment to the back of his mind in preparation for a full-blooded 80 minutes of action this weekend.

Glasgow and Saints will be desperate to kick their pool four campaign off in style, with the Scots setting their sights on a spot in the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier competition for what would be the first time.

Jackson recognises that won’t be an easy task, but he knows at win at the Gardens would provide a big boost to his side’s hopes.

“Northampton have been going really well in the Premiership so it will be an extremely tough game for us,” he said.

“It’s always fun getting into the Heineken Cup and it’s always a good atmosphere. All the boys are gearing up for it this week and we’re pretty excited so we can’t wait for Sunday now.

“We’ve never qualified from the group stages and it’s something we’ve been looking to improve in recent seasons. We want to stamp our mark in Europe.

“Edinburgh did extremely well in Europe last year and we want to follow on from that and do something special ourselves.

“If we can go away and get a good result that will boost our chances and give us a really good start in the competition.”

And if he impresses, Jackson could just be on Saints’ radar for a permanent return to his birthplace in the not too distant future.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said, “but never rule it out I guess.”