Scotland hooker Dave Cherry is delighted to be back at a special place in his heart as he savours the “magic” of his first World Cup at a time when he is due to become a father.
The 32-year-old spent the 2017/18 season with French lower-league club Stade Nicois, whose stadium Stade des Arboras is being used by the Scots as a training ground for the majority of their time at the tournament.
Cherry met his wife-to-be, Olivia, while playing on the Cote d’Azur and he is thrilled to be getting the chance to enjoy the pinnacle of his career in this part of the world.
“It’s great to be back here, it’s a home from home,” he said at a press conference at his old stomping ground on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s been nice to see familiar faces, it’s really friendly and welcoming. I love coming back here.
“Nice has a special place in my heart. I met my fiancee here, I got engaged here and now we’re based here for the Rugby World Cup so it’s three pretty big things in my life that have happened in Nice.”
Cherry was playing for Nice when France were announced as hosts of the World Cup back in November 2017.
At the time, the prospect of representing his country at the showpiece seemed like a pipe dream, but after making his international debut in 2021, the Edinburgh front-rower managed to force his way into Gregor Townsend’s 33-man squad last month at the expense of his club-mate Stuart McInally.
To add to the emotion of going to the World Cup with his country for the first time, Cherry will do so at a time when he and Olivia are due to welcome their first child into the world.
“It’s the pinnacle for me and it’s an extra special tournament for me because my partner is due in 20 days,” he said. “It’s magical, I dreamt of it when I was here (playing for Nice) and it was in the distance.
“There’s a little part of me that hoped I would be able to go but it probably wasn’t the most realistic (hope) when you’re playing that low down in the French leagues.
“It just got closer and closer and more and more realistic as time went on. Now I’m finally here, it’s a pinch-yourself moment.”
Cherry’s fiancee is due to give birth towards the end of September, around the time Scotland face Romania in their third pool match in Lille. He is focused on being available for every fixture and will travel home to Edinburgh when possible to meet his new child.
“It’s in the back of my mind,” he said when asked if impending fatherhood was causing him any additional stress amid his preparations for the tournament. “My partner’s got her mum coming to help her and she’s handling it incredibly well.
“She’s putting me at ease rather than me putting her at ease. She’s handling it amazingly. I’ll go back when I can, fitting it around games. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Scotland team manager David Edge was in a similar situation in Japan four years ago.
“We had a little chat about that earlier but thankfully we’re a bit closer to home and there’s direct flights,” said Cherry.
The Edinburgh forward appears to be vying with the less-experienced Ewan Ashman for a place on the bench in Sunday’s opening match against South Africa, with George Turner expected to start in the number two jersey.
“I’d absolutely love it if I’m involved, but the bigger picture is the team and getting the team prepped,” he said. “If I get the opportunity, brilliant. But if I don’t, I’ll play my part in prepping the team as best we can.”