Club season preview, Part 1: Duncan calls for SRU fast-tracking of district centres of excellence
ABERDEEN Grammar coach Alex Duncan believes the SRU should follow through with tentative plans to create ‘centres of excellence’ in each of the four traditional rugby districts.
The idea has been discussed within Murrayfield for the past two years and the ten Premiership clubs are broadly in agreement at the idea of having such centres attached to them, with two in the Borders, two in Caledonia, two in Edinburgh and two in Glasgow.
There has been much debate, however, over which clubs would house the centres, whether other clubs in the districts would have access to them to help develop their own players and whether the plan, funded by the SRU, could lead to a breakaway of the eight clubs designated for centres in the future. As a result, the plans remain at the discussion stage.
Duncan, however, has no doubts. “The SRU should push on with the plan and we should have a centre of excellence situated in Aberdeen now,” he said. “We see the Scottish map changing a bit now and for the good of the Scottish game as a whole that map at the top level of the game has to be balanced.
“You can argue where Scotland’s traditional rugby talent comes from, but when you look at Jason White, Chris Cusiter, Ruaridh Jackson, Moray Low and many others, the north-east has developed a fantastic number of talented players. The commitment they put in to get opportunities, many travelling regularly to the central belt, is amazing, but I think we owe it to boys across the north to give them the chance a bit closer to home.
“We have great facilities with the Aberdeen Sports Village, the university, Rubislaw, the institute and already a good community spirit across the north so we’re moving in that direction anyway, but it’s important that the SRU back us and ensure a good geographical spread of centres of excellence in all the regions, through the Premiership clubs.”
Preparing to launch the new season in the ten-team Premiership on Saturday with an appetising Caledonia derby away to Dundee, Duncan says he is not looking for anything on a plate. He agrees that his side have to justify their Premiership status and that means staying among the top ten in what is expected to be a hotly-contested league. Looking at the number of summer recruits, it is no surprise that he has confidence in that objective being achieved.
Among the new recruits is Fijian Peceli Nacamavuto, who serves at RAF Kinloss, ex-Glasgow forwards Andrew Wilson and Stuart Corsar, former Scotland U21 cap James Knight, Matt Reid, back from Heriot’s, Ade Hales from Rugby Lions and Kiwi Cam Eyre, a No8 from Northlands and former Crusaders Academy player.
Duncan added: “At times have struggled with the depth of the squad, but now we have boys all with experience of Premier One level or above, and a squad of 40 players good enough to really give it a go.”
Head coach: Alex Duncan
Co-captains: Stuart Corsar and Rob Aloe
Players in: Stuart Corsar (Doncaster Knights), Matt Reid (Heriot’s), Cam Eyre (Northland, NZ), James Knight (La Villa, Spain), Ade Hales (Rugby Lions), Peceli Nacamavuto (Shelford, England), Mark Ryan (Ellon)
Players out/retired: Fraser Lyle.
Players to watch: Murray Douglas (lock/flanker) and James Knight (centre).
Last season: 7th in Premier A
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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