Rugby: Brendan's boys Brewin up bid for cup history

BRENDAN McKERCHAR is only two wins away from making Brewin Dolphin under-18 Scottish Schools Cup history as the tournament reaches the semi-final stage on Saturday.

Back in 2001, McKerchar, pictured below, captained Merchiston Castle to victory and now the former scrum half is back at his old school teaching rugby and hoping for success as a coach.

"That would certainly be a nice touch" said Myles Paterson, a centre, who will captain Merchiston Castle in their semi-final with Stewart's-Melville which goes ahead at 2pm – three hours after Edinburgh Academy entertain Watson's College at Newfield.

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For Merchiston, success in the tournament would enable them to surpass the achievements of Galashiels Academy and St Aloysius, who have also won five times.

So far as Stewart's-Melville skipper Michael Crawley, also a centre, is concerned this year's tournament is the most open in years.

"This will be our first fixture of the season against Merchiston but we did beat them last year," said Crawley, whose side have lost only to Dollar Academy. Neither Watson's or Edinburgh Academy have won the under-18 Cup and Watson's captain Malcolm Peacock is wary of tempting fate.

"We're not looking any further ahead than this Saturday" said the flanker, who is hoping second row Alexander Middleton, who broke an elbow in an earlier tie against Boroughmuir, will be fit to be included in the squad.

As for Edinburgh Academy, their captain, stand off Fraser Gillies, is keen for victory to repay the coaching provided by former pupils Mike and David Blair as well as the vision of the teaching staff in organising a pre-season bonding trip.

"We had a week in Limerick at the training facility used by Munster where we met with (Lions captain) Paul O'Connell," said Gillies, adding: "With Mark Appleson taking charge of the first XV it was a good way of letting him get to know the players and we've also had training supervised by (Scotland captain) Mike Blair and his brother David, who is also part of the Edinburgh squad."

The under-15 tournament is also reaching its climax with the following semi-finals scheduled for Saturday: Edinburgh Academy v Stewart's-Melville (New Field, 10am); Hutchesons' Grammar v Watson's (Auldhouse, Glasgow, 10.30am). The finals are due to take place at Murrayfield on Thursday, 11 February.