Rugby: Teams forced to play catch-up after the big freeze

IT APPEARS the Christmas rush will extend to rugby this year as efforts are made to fit in a number of Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools under-18 and under-16 matches at both Cup, Plate and Bowl levels before the end of term.

Already Merchiston, now on their Christmas break, have had to put back their outstanding pool match with Robert Gordon's College until January, and it may not be the only game to lag behind the timetable.

At Inverleith, Edinburgh rivals Stewart's-Melville College and Heriot's will attempt to play their remaining round two Pool 1 under-18 Cup match to decide which side will go into the quarter-finals as group winners. The prospects of the game going ahead will, however, depend on how much frost there is in the ground, but host school, Stewart's-Melville, are reasonably confident of the match being played.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We trained at Inverleith on Saturday but frost will remain the problem," said coach Bryn Lockie, whose side haven't played since mid-November.

Heriot's lost to Stewart's-Melville earlier in the season but are confident they can improve on that performance. "It's a huge game for us," said coach Matt Mallinson, appreciating that a win would give his side a favourable draw in the quarter-finals.

The other under-18 Cup match scheduled for this week in the East of Scotland is in East Lothian, where North Berwick High School are due to play Hutchesons' Grammar School tomorrow. At stake is the runners-up place in Pool 2 behind winners George Watson's College and, with it, qualification for the quarter-finals.

North Berwick High School also have a massive interest in the Brewin Dolphin under-16 Cup, and are due to play Stewart's-Melville College at Inverleith next Monday in the game to decide the Pool 2 winners, both schools having already booked their places in the quarter-finals.

In Pool 3 of the under-16 Cup, both Edinburgh Academy and Marr College have already qualified for the last eight and will play each other for top spot in the pool on 8 January.

Meanwhile, in Pool 4, George Watson's College advance to the quarter-finals as group winners, but the other qualifying place will not be determined until after today's match between Robert Gordon's College and Banchory Academy.

There is an all-Caledonia clash, too, in Pool 1 of the under-16 Cup, with Dundee High School, who lost narrowly to Hutchesons', facing Madras College tomorrow at Station Park, a ground often playable when others are frostbound.

Elsewhere, St Columba's under-18 Plate match against Banchory Academy has been put back to January and, according to the Kilmacolm School's coach, Eric Milligan, it may have to played at a neutral venue. "Our pitches are unplayable at the moment and could be for some time yet," he said. "We're exploring the possibility of playing the game at a club ground, possibly in Perth or Dundee."