HERIOT’S FP are set to parade some of the brightest young stars on the Edinburgh rugby scene when their annual 15-a-side tournament for the Mansell Cup launches the new season on Saturday week.
The draw for a competition, now in its fourth year, was made today, when it also emerged that the Goldenacre club have been active on the recruitment front.
Co-director of rugby Donald MacDonald said central to Heriot’s hopes of laying strong foundations were a trio of up-and-comings from the Capital representative age-group ranks who have all been signed.
Nick De Luca, a full back or winger, has moved from Edinburgh Academicals while prop Chris Sinclair and hooker David Linton played in the district side which captured the Scottish Under-21 title last season.
Sinclair joins from Murrayfield Wanderers while Linton turned out for Edinburgh Acads and the pair will be resuming a partnership formed in Portobello youth rugby.
While the newcomers are sure to figure in the BT Scotland Premiership, where Heriot’s aim to improve on last year’s third place, more experience is on offer from other acquisitions, the most notable of whom is Nick Armstrong.
A former captain of Currie, Armstrong turned out at centre for Edinburgh in the 2001 inter-district series before dropping out of rugby for a year.
Competition looks to be particularly intense at scrum half where David Short has also returned after a spell on the outside while Graham Calder has arrived from Dalziel. In addition, Steve Grant has completed studies in Aberdeen and returns to his roots.
Back rowers are also thick on the ground with Jamie Syme pitching up from Kirkcaldy to compete alongside David Turner, one of two Australians who have indicated they will be pulling on the blue-and-white jersey.
The other, Andy McIntosh, is a second row also with considerable club experience Down Under.
"We highlighted areas we needed to strengthen and looked for young Scots who had potential to benefit from our back-up which includes a new fitness and conditioning coach, Neil Potts," said MacDonald.
"Now the aim is to encourage these players to go forward with Heriot’s."
Meanwhile, MacDonald said that in looking to advance their preparations for a campaign that kicks off on Saturday against Gala in a conditioned game at Goldenacre, Heriot’s had been forced to turn down an approach to compete in the Mansell Cup by Orrell.
"It was flattering to receive a request from an English Division One side like Orrell to be included because it shows the word is spreading about the quality of our entry but the decision had to be that the Mansell Cup was for amateurs only," he added.
Full-time involvement will be provided by Edinburgh Gunners, who will take on English Division One outfit Rotherham at the conclusion of the club 15-a-side tournament (kick off 4.15pm) in an encounter designed to showpiece the best of Capital professional and amateur rugby.
"Rather than have Edinburgh playing elsewhere in the city on the day of our tournament last year we invited the Gunners to stage their opening pre-season friendly at Goldenacre," said Heriot’s secretary Douglas Bruce.
The draw for the Mansell Cup, where matches take place on a 15 minutes each-way basis commencing 11am, includes newcomers Glasgow Hawks and Aberdeen Grammar, who replace Musselburgh and Murrayfield Wanders.
Group A: Watsonians, Glasgow Hawks, Edinburgh Academicals, Heriot’s FP. Group B: Boroughmuir (holders), Stewart’s/Melville, Kirkcaldy, Aberdeen GSFP.