Demanding training regimes and hectic playing schedules mean that Scotland scrum-half Ben White and tennis star Jodie Burrage have not spent much time together during the last year – but absence makes the heart grow fonder and they wouldn’t want their relationship to be any other way at this moment in time.

Both athletes are on a hot streak in their respective sports. Burrage has climbed from 218th to 94th in the world rankings since the start of last summer, reaching her first WTA Tour final at the Nottingham Open in June, and making it through to the second round at Wimbledon at the end of that month. Meanwhile, White has gone from surprise call-up to the Scotland training squad for the 2022 Six Nations to near automatic choice at scrum-half in Gregor Townsend’s side.

Both are now looking forward to breaking even more new ground in their careers during the next month, with Burrage entered in the main draw at the US Open in New York for the first time, while White really just needs to stay fit in order to experience his first World Cup as a player, which kicks-off for Scotland against South Africa in Montpellier on 10th September (the day after the US Open women’s final).

The clash in timings means that they won’t be able to support the other in person – but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“I get pretty nervous watching her, I don’t enjoy it, I’d rather be playing myself to be honest,” explains White. “I don't think she likes watching me either. Her and my mum are probably the worst! They worry about whether I’m going to get up from every ruck.

“I did get to see her at Wimbledon this year, it was crazy and pretty special,” he adds. “To be there for her first win in the main draw was really cool, and then to see her on Centre Court was brilliant as well.”

While circumstances mean that the couple often have to support each other from a distance, their shared sense of purpose clearly helps to rationalise the situation. This was particularly evident when White was offered an opportunity earlier this summer to join Toulon in the south of France after the demise of London Irish at the end of last season left him without a club.

“Jodie helped make it an easy decision," he revealed. “She just said: ‘If that’s what you want and you think it’s going to make you better, just do it’.

“We’ve always been very supportive of each other in terms of our careers. When we started going out, she was 300-odd in the world and I was basically third or fourth choice at Leicester Tigers. So, to be where we are now is quite different, but I can’t complain.

“Her being on the road the whole time – being in the top 100 – is a good thing, and me being in Scotland camps is a good thing, so we just support each other and enjoy the ride. We’re both living the dream, I guess, and we’ll have plenty of time when we retire.

“Besides, living next to Heathrow, it’s not going to be too hard to visit, and I hardly feel sort for her coming to the south of France, to the Cote d’Azur! There are plenty of places for her to train, so it’ll be good.

He continues: “Moving to the south of France will be a change but something like this is thrust upon you, you’ve got to have a step back and think: ‘Right, what do I want to do? What challenge is there next? How can I better my career? How can I improve as a player?’

“I think this was one [chance] that stood out: go learn a new language, go invest in a new culture and a new way of playing, and try to get better as an individual. I’m 25, and I want to go there to improve my career and get better as an individual. I don’t have a crystal ball but, fingers crossed, it will help me to do that and help me come back and be a better player for Scotland as well.”

After sitting out Scotland’s win over Italy last weekend, White is one of 13 players swapped into the side for tomorrow’s second (of four) World Cup warm-up matches, against France at Murrayfield, when he is looking forward to reviving his half-back partnership with stand-in captain Finn Russell.

“Finn does help me relax because he’s so calm,” says White. “I remember in some of my first matches, he’d tell me: ‘If you’re ever in trouble, just chuck the ball to me, it’s fine, I’ll take the pressure and sort it’.

“Having a 10 like that outside you who is not afraid to make mistakes or take the ball under pressure is something that makes my job easier given I’m not as experienced. He’s an amazing player.

“We’ve worked together a lot in training and watched a lot of footage. I understand a lot more now about the way he likes to play and where he likes to position himself.”