After losing the Scotland captaincy before the Six Nations,  then finding himself in and out of the team, Jamie Ritchie is focusing only on what he can control this championship.  

The Edinburgh man took over as captain from Stuart Hogg in October 2022 and led the team through last year’s Six Nations and the World Cup.  

However he was replaced by co-captains Finn Russell and Rory Darge, with head coach Gregor Townsend citing competition for Ritchie’s spot in the back-row as the primary factor.  

When asked if it had been a tough time, Ritchie said:  “Yes and no. I’m a firm believer in worrying about things you can control yourself, and for me Gregor makes the decisions that he thinks are best for the team and I fully support him in that. 

"Things around captaincy and selection don’t change who I am. Rugby is a subjective beast, and if I can be happy with how I am in myself, then hopefully things like selection will eventually take care of themselves.” 

Ritchie said he still feels he is in good form despite Townsend saying he hadn’t been at his best in the lead-up to the Six Nations.  

Scotland Rugby News: Jamie Ritchie and Gregor TownsendJamie Ritchie and Gregor Townsend (Image: SNS)

"I felt like when I came back from my injury, playing for Edinburgh, I played really well the first few games.  

“I ended up with a week off, then played well again, and then the Glasgow games - because of the nature of them - we end up being quite quiet anyway. 

“So I think that’s what Gregor was looking at, but I didn’t feel like I was playing badly.

"I feel like I’ve played well for a number of years and that stood me in good stead in terms of selection. But it’s a credit to the other guys who play a similar position that they’ve raised their level. And that ‘all right’ for me isn’t good enough.  

“So I will strive to be as good as I can be, and I feel like I have been doing that. I feel like I have played reasonably well when given opportunities to play this year.” 

Ritchie was relieved of the co-captaincy duties at Edinburgh for this season partly to allow him to focus on national team duties. 

While he’s been unburdened of his official leadership duties, he’s still committed to leading whatever side he plays in.  

He added: “It’s quite nice - I don’t have anything to worry about now! 

“Captaincy is something I really enjoy, and I relish any opportunity I get to do it. But it's not something that defines who I am. It doesn’t change how I am around whatever squad that might be:

"I still like to think I bring a reasonable amount of leadership and experience. And these are things that don’t change with or without the armband." 

He said he has not discussed the possibility of reclaiming the Scotland captaincy in the future.  

“I was vice-captain against Wales, so I feel like I still contribute in terms of leadership within the group, and obviously I have a little bit of experience from the last 18 months having captained the side. So I help Dargey and Finn as and where they need me.”  

After playing in the win against Wales, then missing the defeat to France before being parachuted back in ahead of Matt Fagerson for the Calcutta Cup triumph Ritchie will be hoping to retain his place for the trip to Rome.  

READ MORE: Jamie Ritchie praised for response to losing Scotland place

While delighted with a “special” fourth consecutive win over England, Ritchie knows the challenge that awaits Scotland at the Stadio Olimpico.  

He said: "They are obviously hurting off the back of the last couple of weeks, but they’ve shown bits of really good performances putting Ireland, England and France under pressure.  

“They’ve got some really talented guys in the team. For us, its about concentrating on what we do well and imposing our game.”