Scotland: Jack Dempsey’s love for rugby reignited after allegiance switch in Test rugby

Dylan Coetzee
Scotland star Jack Dempsey looks on before his Test debut.

Newly-capped Scottish international Jack Dempsey is looking to repay the faith given to him after switching allegiance from Australia.

Dempsey was capped 14 times by Australia and is the first player to use World Rugby’s new eligibility rules to play for and against Australia.

Did not expect a Test return

The star moved to Glasgow Warriors in 2021, assuming that his Test rugby career had ended. However, with the changes in laws and solid form for Glasgow, the former Wallaby earned his first call-up to Gregor Townsend’s squad just in time to debut against Australia.

“Look, I’m not going to lie. I came over here (to join Glasgow in 2021) thinking my Test career was probably over,” he said.

“I didn’t come over here specifically to play Test rugby. At that point, the rule didn’t exist. It was unplanned and a bit of a curveball, but I’ve loved every moment of it.

“After I got my cap, I said to the lads that I came over here in a bit of a weird place in my career. I wasn’t loving my rugby as much as maybe I used to.

“I’m just thankful that I made this move. Not only to Glasgow, but to Scotland. The way the city and country have accepted me has just re-lit that fire inside me over the past 14 months or so.

“I said to the boys that I hope I can repay this faith over the next few weeks, months or years – whatever it may be. I’m happy with the decision I made.”

Dempsey believes he can add value at Test level in whatever role. He also believes that Scotland’s style of play suits him as a player while also saying that Townsend is a coach he could get behind.

“I wouldn’t have made this decision if I didn’t think I was up to it,” he said. “Not only playing at this level, but making a statement.

“The way that Scotland play, I feel like it suits me well. Whether my role is to come off the bench and add impact, or add experience, I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve only been in camp for about a week. I’ve only heard Gregor speaking in training for a week. He’s saying all the right things and he’s the kind of coach you can get behind.

“I’ve enjoyed meeting all the boys. There’s something brewing here, which I want to be part of.”

Strange debut

The Scotland star admitted it was “strange” to face his former country and in particular Michael Hooper whom he had played a lot of rugby with in Australia.

“There was obviously a big build-up during the week,” he said. “There was always the possibility of this happening and I’d play against Australia, so I kind of readied myself.

“Even when the moment came, it was very strange. At one moment, on the other side of the scrum, was Hoops (Michael Hooper). I’d played every pro game with him before I moved over here.

“It’s good for the plot, that one – to play against your old team. I was just happy to get out there, get my first cap and be welcomed by all the boys into the family.”

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