Rugby: Di Rollo slams SRU policy on top young players' development

FORMER pro Marcus Di Rollo has blasted Scottish rugby bosses for demanding top academy and age-group internationalist prospects sit out premiership matches to undertake extra conditioning and rest periods.

The 32-year-old has used his return to the Watsonian club set-up to draw on experiences of being attached to the crack Toulouse outfit at the end of his 21-cap career and says: "Young guys need to play. When I was in France the young guys played every single week.

"Whether it was for the under-18s or the full squad they needed to play rugby. If we (Watsonians] had had our academy guys this year it would have boosted the club.

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"It is a shame for the club game because if you want it to aspire to a decent level you have to have the best young guys playing.

"They can go on and play for Edinburgh and Glasgow but (first], if they play week in, week out in the premiership, that is good for their development."

There is no doubt that the infrequent appearances of academy players had a huge bearing on the outcome of the premiership including at the bottom end where relegation issues have just been decided.

It was noticeable that for Saturday's crunch matches a string of players were released back into the club scene including Stuart McInally, the Scotland under-20 captain, who scored an individualistic try to help Watsonians beat Melrose and avoid the drop.

Edinburgh Accies, with Tom Brown, David Cherry, Lewis Niven and David Denton among those released, were not so fortunate and lack of continuity was perhaps a factor in their defeat by Heriot's which consigned them to Division Two.

"When we got Stuart back, as was seen against Melrose, it was a huge boost," said Di Rollo, tipped to take over the coaching reins from Bruce Aitchison, who is standing down and, referring to the implications of surviving in the club top flight, Di Rollo added: "If we'd gone down, our youngsters would have been looking to play elsewhere."

SRU bosses have repeatedly defended the need to withdraw players for extended rest and conditioning in a policy that appeared at least partly borne out by recent victories for the under-19s against Italy and a French side who had earlier beat South Africa's under-20s.

However, that could change with Di Rollo claiming: "I have heard on the grapevine that the young guys will be playing more for their clubs next season."