Jedburgh Grammar School completed the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools under-16 quarter-final line-up after squeezing past North Berwick High School 27-26 in the Borders and East Lothian regional final.
It was a hard blow to take for North Berwick, one of the few state schools that excels in rugby, and especially so after losing out to Galashiels Academy by 7-5 in the under-18 Plate regional final.
North Berwick opted for the Plate instead of the Cup this season after being regulars in the top-tier competition. “We’ll go for the Plate next season. We’ve enjoyed the competition,” said North Berwick’s head of PE, Ronnie Jeffries, adding: “The only aspect that I’m not happy about is having East Lothian lumped together with the Borders.”
Saturday’s regional final played at Peffermill would have made a good final, such was the quality of rugby on view. In the event Jedburgh came from behind to run in four scores with a hat-trick of tries from scrum-half Gary Munro and one from outside centre Joe Amos – Munro providing the winning points from his boot.
Kevin Barrie, the Jedburgh coach, said: “We defeated a very good Hawick High School side to reach the regional final. What delighted me on Saturday was that we included four S3 boys in our squad who all got game time.
“We’re really punching above our weight. The school has a roll of only 400, so it’s very difficult to compete against bigger schools. But even though we’ve got only 37 boys in S1 and 32 in S2 we’re still putting out a team in each year group”.
A former Jed-Forest and South hooker, Barrie is the development officer at Jed-Forest, overseeing rugby in the Grammar School and at Jed Thistle. Reaching the national quarter-finals of Plate at under-16 level adds to the success of Jed-Thistle under-16s who wrapped up the Border League two weeks ago.
Jedburgh Grammar will travel to Glasgow today to play their last-eight tie against a Bearsden/Douglas Academy composite. Elsewhere in the under-16 competition Balfron High School became the first side to book their place in the semi-final at this age level after defeating Portobello High School 17-15 on the 3G pitch at Peffermill. The match winner was Gregor Cooper who converted the equalising try from outside centre Tom Chandler. Balfron’s other tries were scored by flanker Neil McCallum and hooker Jonathan Eckersley.
Also scheduled for today in the under-16 Plate quarter-final is The Gordon Schools, Huntly v Bell-Baxter High School but the postponed quarter-final tie between Kirkwall Grammar School and Wellington School must wait until next term.