Fields of Athenry and crowd noises piped into training in bid to replicate match atmosphere

Winter has truly bitten this week and Scotland’s Under-20 rugby players have taken their training indoors at the Oriam centre in Edinburgh where they have had an interesting soundtrack blaring in their ears.

Scotland U20 coach Sean Lineen hopes the crowd noises in training will help his players cope better with match situations. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS
Scotland U20 coach Sean Lineen hopes the crowd noises in training will help his players cope better with match situations. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

Sean Lineen, their coach, revealed that crowd noises had been piped in during sessions so the youngsters can become accustomed to the sort of atmosphere they have yet to experience in their short careers.

“We have been trying to replicate the crowd noise, we have done that twice now and it really gets them going,” said Lineen ahead of tonight’s U20 Six Nations clash in northern Italy.

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“We did it for the Ireland game [a 38-26 loss in Cork], with Fields of Athenry and lots of Irish noise and we have done it for Italy too.

“You can see how nervous they get because that is mental pressure.”

Scotland’s Under-20 players, who also put in a spirited effort at home to England, losing 21-17 at Myreside, are more used to playing for clubs and academy sides.

“They don’t play in front of big crowds a lot, the French youngsters play in front of 25,000 while we don’t,” continued Lineen. “So we have to replicate that and make sure they learn, it would be great to learn while winning.”

The coach and 1990 Grand Slam hero, who will take charge of tonight’s match before flying back to New Zealand on Monday for the funeral of his father Terry – the former All Black, who died this week at the age of 84 – believes the match in Italy is a great chance to register a first win in the championship since their solitary 27-20 home win over Wales last year.

“Yes it is, but Italy have improved over the years,” he cautioned. “They have a good academy system now and a lot of players to choose from. We haven’t beaten them the last four times we have played them at under-20 level but we are going there to win. We need to get out there and do our talking on the pitch. Narrow pitch, north of Italy, passionate, it’s going to be a tough and loud game.

“They have to enjoy it, but it is tough. Some of the defence against England was great against a very good England team, but I’d love to see them experience a win in a Scottish jersey and get over the line.”

Age-grade rugby has always been a tough school for Scottish lads coming through but Lineen, pictured, is convinced things are heading in the right direction. “The systems that we are developing, the physical and mental pressure will improve, try to give them environments where they will be challenged, but enjoy it too.

“We have good coaches here, [former Scotland and Edinburgh prop] Al Dickinson has come in, Pieter de Villiers [the new Scotland scrum coach], they are starting to put their stamp on it.

“We have had scrum coaches before, but I think the lads are getting fitter definitely. We have never been endowed with massive props. There might just be six or seven scrums a game, but they have a massive part to play in the game, especially in the eyes of the referee.”