Chris Paterson has said that Jamie Ritchie’s commitment to Edinburgh is “the most important signing in Scottish rugby,” after the back-row penned the longest contract in the club’s history.

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This comes a week after the 24-year-old’s Edinburgh and Scotland back-row teammate Hamish Watson also prolonged his stay at Murrayfield, despite speculation that both would be leaving at the end of the season.

With 23 caps to his name, Ritchie is a mainstay in both Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh side and Gregor Townsend’s Test team, and the former Scotland captain is one of many who have shown their delight at this piece of business.

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“I would go as far to say that it is probably the most important signing in Scottish rugby,” Paterson said on the Scottish Rugby Podcast alongside former international Al Kellock and current star Rachel Malcolm.

“I rate him that highly. Hamish was an incredible re-signing last week and the pair of them together is brilliant news.

“Because Jamie’s younger, he’s only 24, he’s committed for a long time, has so much experience for a 24-year-old, not just in his number of caps but his life experience, his hardness, his desire, the example he sets, and because of his ability and his personality, that’s the most important signing in Scottish rugby.”

“There’s nothing he can’t do. Initially he was very good over the ball but he’s actually a brilliant ball carrier, he links play, he can catch, he can pass, he can play across the back-row. His one criticism he said a few years back was that he gets penalised far too often, but he’s completely eradicated that in his game in terms of understanding the importance of having a rapport with the referee.”

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“If you can work on your weaknesses and eradicate them in a short space of time, that’s a sign of a special player.

Kellock was in agreement with Paterson, adding: “You see what he does for 80 minutes, he works relentlessly and is incredibly talented. His off-field character is as big as what he does on the field.

“You can build that squad around him. You look at him and Stuart McInally and Hamish, key guys in the spine of the team that are going to be there now for a long time and will make a massive difference on and off the field.”

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