Scotland face France in the second round of the Six Nations Under-18 Rugby Festival in South Wales tomorrow with confidence following their thrilling 32-27 win over England on Saturday.
It was an extraordinary victory for the Scots who, less than a fortnight ago, had lost 64-0 to the Auld Enemy on the international pitch at BT Murrayfield.
Head coach Iain Monaghan put much of their triumph down to the inclusion of key personnel in back rows Rory Darge and Conor Boyle and second row, Cameron Henderson.
Former North Berwick High School back row Darge, and Stewart’s Melville College flanker Conor Boyle, gained valuable experience as part of the ScotlandUunder-20s squad during the Six Nations Championship.
Moreover, both these players have had experience of senior rugby, Darge with Melrose and Boyle with Stewart’s Melville.
“The boys had a real belief and were fired up,” Monaghan said. “We were able to maintain an intensity late in the game. Some of the England players tired towards the end of the match.
The other player coming into the side for the first time was the Strathallan lock Henderson, who missed the warm-up games because of injury.
Henderson was outstanding for Strathallan in the later stages of the Scottish Schools Under-18 Cup and already looks a player for the future.
Two-try scorer and wing Jack Blain is another to have benefitted from playing senior rugby with Stewart’s Melville this season.
Scotland’s other wing, Rufus McLean, who normally plays at full back for Merchiston Castle, was the man of the match.
Meanwhile, this season’s National Youth Under-18 Cup champions Stirling County opened their short tour to Italy with a resounding 64-0 win over Italian side Biella.
Full back Calum Campbell scored 34 of his side’s points with four tries and seven conversions.
The other tries for the Bridgehaugh club were scored by flanker Derek Sneddon, prop Lachlan Mackay, scrum half Adam Shaw, stand-off Mattie MacKinnon (2) and second row and skipper Finlay MacDonald.
County’s coach Matt McGrandles said: “We introduced some younger players into the team in preparation for next season.”