Heading into its second full operational year, 30 new faces are included in the 91-strong selection of male and female players across the four regional academy centres, with 11 players joining the top “contracted” tier of the structure to replace those who graduated into senior professional rugby last season.
Daniel Winning (Boroughmuir), Glasgow Hawks pair Sam Thomson and Robert Beattie and Jamie Bhatti (Melrose) come in to the top tier of the set-up, while the progress of Luke Crosbie, Charlie Shiel, Cammy Hutchison, Thomas Gordon (all Currie), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks), Jade Konkel (Hillhead Jordanhill) and Ross McCann (Melrose) is rewarded with promotion to the same, fully-contracted stage.
A Scottish Rugby spokesperson explained: “A further 26 players have been selected into the earlier ‘supported’ stages (one and two) of the programme to take the spaces vacated by those promoted through the system and others who, for a variety of reasons, are no longer included.”
Scottish Rugby head of academy and performance programmes, Stephen Gemmell, said: “Each of the BT Sport Regional Academies were required to provide evidence-supported nominations at a series of selection meetings over a period of months. The players were then considered within a national framework to finally arrive at the 91 announced today.
“Obviously the here and now plays a part in selection, such as the individual’s skill set and match performances, but we also need to select players we think can play the game of tomorrow.
“It’s about future-proofing the game in Scotland. That’s what makes the academy vital.
“It’s about continually producing players who can go on and be influential in professional and senior international rugby in years to come by displaying a point of difference – be that physical, mental, technical or tactical – alongside their core rugby competencies.
“There are a whole range of factors that are taken into consideration but, ultimately, it’s about who we think can follow in the footsteps of the nine players who graduated from the academy last year into the senior professional ranks.”