Edinburgh Academy snap 12-year hoodoo against Merchiston in 'wonderful showcase' for schools rugby

Edinburgh Academy defeated Merchiston Castle at under-18 level at the weekend in a match the former’s director of rugby Chris Martin called “a wonderful showcase for Scottish schools rugby”.

The Edinburgh Academy under-18 squad lifted the Sesquicentenary Trophy at the weekend with the win over Merchiston Castle
The Edinburgh Academy under-18 squad lifted the Sesquicentenary Trophy at the weekend with the win over Merchiston Castle

The Academy came out on top 29-26 away from home on Saturday, spirited defence holding out the home side at Colinton Road in the closing minutes and allowing the visitors to lift the Sesquicentenary Trophy in the capital.

It is the longest running fixture in world rugby and this is the first time in 12 years that the Academy has won it, while it was played in front of an enthusiastic crowd of around 1,000.

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“It really was a great morning, not just because we won the game, but because of the real interest that was created by the fixture,” Martin said.

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“Overall, it was a wonderful showcase for Scottish schools rugby and it got me thinking how all schools can perhaps look at working closer together to really promote fixtures like this, engender more interest and really help grow schools rugby.

“I have watched highlights of one of the biggest school games in New Zealand – Auckland Grammar against King’s College – on the internet and the history and the quality is there for all to see, but we also have history and a lot of talented players over here in Scotland that we want to show off to a wider audience.

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“More interest from a wider audience might also in turn help increase school playing numbers for both boys and girls as rugby is a great sport to be a part of.”

The victory at the weekend for Edinburgh Academy came off the back of previous wins earlier in the season over Dollar Academy and Strathallan School.

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It means that, for that age group, the Academy are well placed in the Inspiresport boy’s National One Schools Conference heading into their October break.

“Myself and fellow coaches Andy Gallacher and Ross Young really enjoy working with this group of boys,” Martin continued.

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“Charlie Lamond is the leader of the team from centre while No.8 Ollie Duncan has been involved with Scotland under-18 lately and fellow back-row Toby Edwin makes a lot of tackles and carries, but it is a real squad effort.

“It has been good to get three wins so far, but there is a lot more rugby to be played and we are keeping our feet on the ground.”

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Lamond, Duncan and Edwin all scored tries for the victors along with scrum-half Thomas Whyte and full-back Eddie Murray. Whyte converted two tries too.

Elsewhere on Saturday in the same Conference, George Watson’s College defeated Stewart’s Melville College 26-12 and Dollar got the better of Fettes College 17-3.

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Full-back Jack Brown led the way for unbeaten Watson’s at Myreside with a try and three conversions while winger Fergus Ferguson, No 8 Harrison Wood and centre Max Clark also scored tries.

Centre Benjamin Roger scored two tries for Stewart’s Melville with stand-off Jamie Cain converting one.

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We were happy with our performance after a poor outing against Strathallan last midweek [they edged that one 19-17],” Watson’s coach Mike Ker said.

“The attitude and mindset was much stronger and it showed in the performance.”

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Stewart’s Melville coach Hayden Lingard said: “We made too many mistakes under pressure from a well-organised Watson’s defence.”