South set to make history with a Close encounter
RUGBY: South Schools side will enter a new chapter in their history this Friday when they face Rugby School on the hallowed ‘Close’ pitch at the famous English public school, reputedly the birthplace of the oval-ball game.
The invitation to play on the ‘Close’ was originally given to Hawick High School, with whom Rugby School has a scholarship link, and which has resulted in five pupils from the Borders town completing their school studies at the alma mater of Matthew Arnold.
“We didn’t think we would be strong enough to play Rugby School,” said Alan Williamson, the rector of Hawick High School, and a former first-class referee. He added: “South Schools have had only one game and, although we lost to Dollar Academy, we did reasonably well. The boys were blown away a bit in the first half by the sheer pace of the game and by the fact they weren’t used to playing together. But when we got our shape in the second half we outscored Dollar.”
Williamson is passionate about South Schools, reincarnated this season after a five-year gap, and believes that the combined side could be the way forward for state schools to compete in the Brewin Dolphin Cup. “Unless we do something along these lines, the Cup will be for private schools only. And that’s not healthy for Scottish rugby. I’d certainly support a composite side taking part, but we’d need to have four of five warm-up games.”
That could present a potential clash with the Borders semi-junior league, which provides competitive rugby at under 18 level. While the semi-junior league offers rugby right through the season, its weakness is that, apart from the Youth Cup, it never reaches out beyond the Borders, with the consequence that its players are not exposed to the (arguably) higher levels of rugby played in the private schools.
Meanwhile in Edinburgh, George Watson’s College extended their unbeaten run with a 71-0 win over George Heriot’s School and will hope to add another victory this weekend when they take on Hutchesons’ Grammar School.
Also undefeated are Edinburgh Academy, who achieved a 25-0 win over Dundee High School at New Field on Saturday with tries from Tom Salisbury, Duncan Swanson and Ruaraidh Smith. This weekend, Academy face Stewart’s-Melville College, who are in action today against Fettes College.
Another unbeaten side is Merchiston who had a 32-23 win over Dollar on Saturday to lift confidence for what will be a demanding match against Sedbergh this weekend.
Elsewhere, both Glenalmond and Strathallan, who each pulled out of their cup ties because of injury problems, have games against Dundee High School this week, Glenalmond playing their match on Thursday and Strathallan on Saturday.
In the Plate competition, North Berwick High School are through to the next round with wins over Preston Lodge High School at both under 18 and under 16 levels.
Last week in the under-16 Cup, Dundee High School, Strathallan, Merchiston and Stewart’s-Melville College all achieved quarter final qualification with high-scoring results against Loretto, Hutchesons’, Glasgow High School and St Aloysius respectively, but, at New Field, Edinburgh Academy had to work hard before emerging 17-12 winners against Glenalmond College. The other quarter finalists are Robert Gordon’s, who knocked out Heriot’s, and George Watson’s College who received a bye.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west