Stepping into the role of captain at Aberdeen Grammar is something Nat Coe always aspired towards.
After five years, he is now getting the chance.
With Sam Knudsen stepping down this year due to work commitments, Coe was offered the opportunity by Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor.
🏉OUR NEW 1ST XV CO-CAPTAINS🏉
Aberdeen Grammar Rugby is delighted to announce our 1st XV co-captains for season 2021/22…
Nat Coe and Tom Aplin💪
— Aberdeen Grammar Rugby (@ABDNRugby) August 30, 2021
He has not had it easy from the start. With their first Premiership game of the season in sight, a number of positive Covid tests shut down training and forced the postponement of the game against Edinburgh Accies.
While it was an unhelpful hindrance, it did not take the shine off Coe getting the opportunity to lead Grammar from the front.
“I’m really excited about that,” he said. “I’ve been at Grammar for five years and being captain was always something I aspired to.
“I feel really comfortable with the guys that we’ve got. It’s testament to Sam; he’s put a huge amount of work into Grammar over the last few years. Everyone’s situations change and he’s said he wanted to step aside.
“I’m excited to see him contributing as much as he can for Grammar as we would miss him if he disappeared completely.
“I think at our level, it’s about enjoyment. We’re a team that enjoys it most when we’re putting good performances out.
“I would say I’m pretty approachable and I’m able to get the best out of everyone.”
Working alongside him will be Tom Aplin, who will be his vice-captain this season.
“Tom is a great guy. We’ve played together for a number of years and compliment each other pretty well,” added Coe. “We get on so well, it’s a good image for the rest of the team.
“I would honestly say the squad is the closest we have had since I’ve been involved at Grammar.”
Training resumed as normal this week after the brief Covid shutdown. The trip to Glasgow Hawks on Saturday is unaffected, with O’Connor expecting to have a strong squad available.
“It’s nothing we weren’t expecting and I’m sure it’s going to happen again down the line,” said Coe, on the Covid positives. “It’s about dealing with it as best you can.
“I would imagine it’s going to happen across the leagues and all the clubs need to get together and support each other, to get as much rugby played as we can.
“The boys are delighted to be back and I think the week off has been used well. We were gutted about missing last weekend but we’ve got a really strong squad to go down with.”
After an absence of 18 months from competitive rugby, most clubs are starting from ground zero this season. The extended period without league games means expectations – about their own fortunes and other teams – have to be reset.
“With the long lay-off we’ve had a huge raft of young and new players coming in,” added Ellon Academy teacher Coe.
“It’s definitely the most competitive squad I’ve been part of, in terms of quality and quantity. There’s changes every year but because it’s been nearly two years, the changes will be bigger.
“I know a lot of clubs are struggling for players and we’ve been fortunate we’ve not lost any players to the Super 6.
“We’re playing against Premiership teams and it’s going to be a challenge. We’re focusing on ourselves and we think we’re in a good place.”