It may be an unlikely “feeder” club for one of Scotland’s professional teams but Alloa RFC can take pride in the fact that four products of its youth set-up, two of them full internationals, will be in Edinburgh’s senior squad for the forthcoming season.
The Caledonia Division 1 (Midlands) outfit helped nurture the young talents of lock Grant Gilchrist and scrum-half Sean Kennedy and, this season, they will be joined by another Clackmannanshire pair in the shape of the Bryce brothers – prop Kevin and full-back Glenn.
The siblings both agreed to make the move from Glasgow this summer and the Alloa contingent means they already feel very much at home in their new surroundings after reporting for pre-season training on Monday.
Elder brother Kevin, 27, said: “Alloa had a really good youth set-up when we were young and they still do through [former Scotland A coach] Henry Edwards. We all grew up together, our dads coached and were involved so there was family connections to the game.”
Dad is the former Heriot’s prop Jock Bryce and Kevin had a stint at Goldenacre too.
“Integrating with the squad has been pretty easy,” he added. “I’ve got my brother here obviously, and Alloa boys like Gilco and Sean and I also know lots of boys from the Scotland set-up.”
Following his late call to the World Cup squad, when he replaced the injured Stuart McInally, it is a fresh start in more ways than one for Kevin as he embarks on yet another positional change, this time to tighthead prop following a previous switch to hooker from back-row.
“Back when I was a No 7 there was lots of good ones coming through – Roddy Grant, Chris Fusaro and such like. When I got to 18, 19 and the way my body was developing it was time to make a decision.
“Hooker turned out to be a good opportunity as I ended up making the World Cup squad, which is something I never dreamed would have happened.
“While I was at the World Cup, [Scotland coach] Vern Cotter suggested, with good hookers around like Rambo [McInally], Fraser [Brown] and [Ross] Fordy, that there might be more opportunity in future at tighthead. I had to think about it because it’s not the easiest position to move to. It’s very technical. But the more I thought about it the more it appealed and I decided to go for it.
“There are still a lot of good tightheads around – WP Nel, Moray Low, Jon Welsh, Zander Fagerson and D’arcy Rae – so I’ve got my work cut out. Here at Edinburgh I’ve got one of the best in the world in WP, he’s tipped to be a Lion. I’m obviously not just going to come and take the No 3 jersey off him overnight.
“I’m hoping to learn from him. He starts every game for Edinburgh and plays 80 minutes week in, week out, and the same for Scotland sometimes. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Glenn, 25, has versatility too, across the outside backs, and is looking to build on an excellent season which saw him score five tries in 12 appearances for the Warriors before playing his part in Scotland’s historic sevens success at Twickenham. “Full-back is my main position but I can play a few positions,” he said. “It was great to get so much gametime with Glasgow last season.
“There was an opportunity when the international boys were away and towards the end of the season I was getting games too, a few 80 minutes. Then it was good to be involved with Scotland Sevens at the end of the season too. So I am looking forward to carrying that on into my time here.”