Schools rugby: Earlston hold on to reach Plate semi-finals

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Earlston High School became the second team to reach the last four in the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools under 18 Plate competition following their 19-12 win over Kelvinside Academy last week and join Linlithgow Academy in the semi-finals.

Earlston used the wind in the first half to build a 14-0 interval lead, but had to fend off Kelvinside’s determined second half effort that produced two tries.

“This was an excellent advert for schools rugby,” said Earlston coach Malcolm Changleng, whose opposite number at Kelvinside, Iain Leighton, was making a return to his alma mater. Leighton won a Scottish Schools cap back in 1990 while a pupil at Earlston High School and was one of a number of players from town to win honours during what was a golden era for the Borders school.

Earlston’s distinguished list of Scotland players include Kelly Brown, Craig Chalmers, Graham Shiel, Carl Hogg, and Steve Brotherstone. It will be difficult for Changleng to bring Earlston back to such past glory years but the former international referee is determined to achieve results.

Changleng, however, thinks that what is holding back rugby at junior age levels is the time of year at which the game is played. “I think that April, May, June, August, September and October would be far better months for rugby in Scotland,” he said. Everyone would benefit and I think in better weather you would find that a lot more staff would buy into it.”

Meanwhile, there has been another twist to the tie between Peebles High School and The Royal High School. The Scottish Rugby Union had adjudicated that the tie be awarded to Peebles High School and Royal High School had pulled out on the day of the game.

That decision has now been rescinded and the two schools have been ordered to play. The winner will then have a quarter-final match away to Carrick Academy to compete for a place in the semi-final.

The other quarter-final between Aberdeen Grammar School and Madras College, due to have been played last Wednesday at Rubislaw, has been rescheduled for Thursday. Elsewhere, Merchiston travel to Northern Ireland for a game against Campbell College, Belfast.