Scotland scrum-half Ali Price

Rugby World Cup 2023: Ali Price on butterfly tattoos, beating Ireland and becoming a dad

Scotland scrum-half Ali PriceAli Price was one of the try scorers in last weekend’s demolition of RomaniaRugby World Cup: Pool B – Ireland v ScotlandVenue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Saturday, 7 October Kick-off: 20:00 BSTCoverage: Listen to live commentary on BBC Sounds, BBC Radio 5 Live & BBC Radio Scotland; follow text updates on the BBC Sport website and app

Ali Price has a tattoo running up his left arm that shows the various stages of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. “It’s for the growth of me as a person,” he explains.

Spending time in the scrum-half’s company in the lead-up to Scotland’s defining World Cup Pool B match against Ireland in Paris on Saturday, that personal development quickly becomes evident.

It’s not been an easy couple of years for Price – “frustrating and disappointing” is how he characterises it – since the career-high of the Lions tour in 2021.

He was selected by Warren Gatland for the tour of South Africa ostensibly as the third-choice nine behind Ireland’s Conor Murray and Wales’ Gareth Davies, but played his way to the front of the queue and started the first and third Tests in a 2-1 series defeat.

Since then, Price has found his playing minutes restricted at Glasgow Warriors by the form of George Horne, and at international level by the emergence of Ben White.

Going from Test Lion to bit-part player in short order would be enough to send many a player into a sulk, but Price has been here before and found his way back.

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When Gregor Townsend replaced Vern Cotter as Scotland head coach in 2017, he looked to ease aside the reliable figure of Greig Laidlaw for the more dynamic presence of Price. He started in a famous victory over Australia in Sydney that summer and a record thrashing of the Wallabies at Murrayfield that autumn.

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Price was flying. That was until a personal and collective nightmare in a 34-7 defeat to Wales in Cardiff in the opening game of the 2018 Six Nations. He was subsequently dropped to the bench and would remain as back-up to Laidlaw for the rest of the tournament.

“It’s happened to me one or two times in my career when maybe I’ve not played as well as I would have liked or the situation has just not gone my way,” Price tells the BBC Scotland Rugby Podcast.

“You can mope, be negative, keep yourself down, or you can contribute, you can train well, you can help the guys that are playing. You can only control what you can do and sometimes you have to accept that others are playing well

“All you can do is focus on yourself and that’s the switch I’ve had in the last couple of years. That’s how I view it, bigger picture, there’s more to life and I’m still doing what I love – and then take the opportunity when I get given it.”

Scotland ‘ready to go’ against Ireland

Having had “good fun” in the 12-try rout of Romania last time out, Price hopes that opportunity may come for the big showdown with the Irish this weekend.

White came into the tournament carrying an ankle injury and has not quite recaptured the stellar form that he showed in the Six Nations, while Horne seems to be viewed by Townsend primarily as an impact sub rather than starting nine.

White could yet get the nod, but whether it’s starting the match or having an influence off the bench, Price is desperate to be involved in the Scots’ push to reach the quarter-finals.

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“Saturday night in Paris, basically a knockout game against the world number one to see who qualifies, it would be one of the biggest games of my career,” says the 30-year-old.

“It’s a pretty cool opportunity for us all. It’s not the knockout stage yet but this is a knockout game. It should be some occasion. We’re ready to go, everyone knows what’s ahead of us.”

What also lies ahead for Price is impending fatherhood, with he and partner Annie expecting their first child early next year.

So has his friend and former flatmate Finn Russell been offering any parenting tips, having become a father himself for the first time just under a year ago?

“He says it’s quite easy, though I’m not sure if his missus would agree with him,” Price laughs. “He says it’s chilled, they just sleep all the time apparently.

“Annie and I are so looking forward to it. At the same time it is quite scary. We found out a couple of months before this tournament kicked off and when we finish up here – whenever that is – we’ll find out if it’s a boy or girl.”

Whenever that is depends entirely on events at the Stade de France on Saturday. You get the feeling Price would be happy to delay the news at least one more week.