SCOTLAND Under-18 talents pushed their cases for involvement in the new season with a comprehensive 57-7 win over their Leeds Academy counterparts in Peebles.
Scottish rugby has enjoyed a long-time relationship with the Yorkshire club, strengthened through the association of Scottish coaches Ian McGeechan, Carl Hogg and Tony Stanger, and matches against youngsters from the area have proven to be valuable stepping stones for Scottish sides en route to full national competition.
The UK’s third largest city, Leeds boasts a population of around 800,000 while the club’s rugby academy, as the main pro union academy in Yorkshire, draws on players from across a population of more than four million, so has parallels with rugby levels in Scotland.
However, they are still in pre-season while the Scotland Under-18 select, playing as Scottish Districts XV U18, faced Leeds on Sunday without a number of the players who had taken part in a two-week training camp in Valladolid. But after two days of training in the Borders, the Scots were by far the more cohesive side and produced a fine display to run in nine tries. Gala Wanderers pair Ruari Howarth and Gary Robertson grabbed a brace each, and James Coupar, Scott Cummings, Hugh Fraser, Josh Laird and Reuben Norville all touched down, with Adam Hastings slotting six conversions.
Head coach Eddie Pollock acknowledged that the real tests will come when Scotland face their international counterparts during the season, but praised them. “It was a team performance from all our players, one to 23. The quality of the forward ball was very good and some of the tries were out of the top drawer. We’ve got a lot of competition now.”
SCOTTISH DISTRICTS XV SQUAD: L Anderson (Marr/Marr College), S Burnside (Heriot’s FP), F Christie (Stewart’s Melville College), J Couper (GHA), C Cowan (Jed Thistle/Jedburgh GS), S Cummings (Glasgow Hawks/Kelvinside Academy), D Elkington (Newcastle Falcons/Sedbergh), M Emmison (Ellon/Ellon Academy), Z Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks), J Francis (Harlequins/Epsom School), H Fraser (Merchiston Castle School), A Hastings (Millfield School), R Howarth (Gala Wanderers), R Hutchison (Shelford/MPW Cambridge), C Jollands (High School of Dundee), J Laird (Kirkcaldy/Strathallan), A Manson (Stewart’s Melville College), R Nairn (Currie/Currie Community HS), R Norville (London Irish/St Pauls), G Robertson (Gala Wanderers), C Sheldon (Newcastle Falcons/Queen Elizabeth School), M Smith (Stirling County/Stirling HS), L Wynne (Stirling County).