Scoring a try is a feat that demands precision, speed and a touch of magic, and white-line wizard Darcy Graham is blessed with all three.
As Scotland readies for a pivotal clash against Ireland in the 2023 Rugby World Cup, the Edinburgh star is poised to shine brightly.
The lightning-fast flyer is a sensation in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship where he fashioned 12 tries in just nine appearances during the 2022-23 season, and his knack for somehow turning a sticky situation into five points has made Graham an indispensable asset in Scotland’s quest for World Cup glory.
At 26, Graham has evolved into an elite finisher, a magician capable of turning the tide of any match with his jolting pace and uncanny try-scoring instincts. His remarkable second-place finish on the Vodacom URC try-scorers list during a truncated 2022-23 campaign underscores his extraordinary skills and a reputation elevated by performance.
Graham’s journey to becoming Scotland’s try-scoring sensation was cultivated through his development at Edinburgh Rugby and shaped by the experience of representing Scotland at U18, U20 and in Sevens.
One of Graham’s most significant partnerships on the field has been with fellow Scotland and Edinburgh teammate Duhan van der Merwe. In a dynamic backline orchestrated by the mercurial flyhalf Finn Russell, Van der Merwe serves as the bulldozer, battering opponents and creating opportunities for Graham to exploit. Their seamless synergy has been a key ingredient in Scotland’s attacking prowess, further enhancing Graham’s reputation as having a ball in one hand and a wand in the other.
As the 2023 Rugby World Cup unfolds, Graham continues to produce one attacking spell after the other, resulting in five tries.
“Darcy is someone that is going to create opportunities for scoring tries, a lot of that is his willingness to get on the ball,” Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said of Graham’s four-try performance against Romania. “He called a lot of the balls because he got back off the ground to be in position, he saw space.
“He is a great finisher, his footwork for his fourth try was incredible. He had a few assists there too. It was brilliant to see. The last two games he has really gone for it, we have seen that in training. He is flying.”
Graham has logged an impressive total of 24 Test tries, a reflection of his ability to consistently deliver on the biggest stages. His sights are now set on Stuart Hogg’s Scotland record of 27 Test tries, and the upcoming clash against Ireland presents the perfect opportunity to close in on this milestone in a match that Scotland have to win to be a play-off’s consideration.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) October 1, 2023
The magnitude of the task is reinforced with the cold statistic that Scotland has not won against Ireland in their last eight matches, and defeat would equal the longest Ireland winning streak dating back to 1955.
“He was outstanding,” said Scotland lock Grant Gilchrist. “I have played a lot of games with him at Edinburgh and Scotland, you know exactly what you’re going to get week-in, week-out. Some of the tries he scored tonight were truly world-class. I’m sure he will keep doing that as long as he plays.”
However, Graham is keeping his eye on the ball and not getting distracted with talk of breaking records.
“A couple more will be nice,” he said. “It will come when it comes.”
Beyond his try-scoring prowess, Graham’s value to Scotland’s World Cup aspirations extends to his elusiveness and unrelenting work rate off the ball. He sets the tone for his team, despite his relative youth.
“We speak about how we can get into the game as wingers rather than standing on the wing waiting for the ball to come to you, because sometimes it doesn’t happen,” Graham said.
“You have to go looking for the ball, running off nine, getting inside 10. There are loads of ways we can get into the game and we are always looking for ways to improve.”
Graham’s ascent from Edinburgh Rugby’s ranks to Vodacom United Rugby Championship stardom and his crucial role in Scotland’s World Cup campaign are just reward for his exceptional talent and fierce determination.
As he prepares to settle into the starting blocks in Paris, poised to overtake Hogg, all Scottish eyes are on Graham to conjure moments of magic that power the Bravehearts into the quarter-finals.
Photo: ©INPHO/Craig Watson