THERE are few places where Scotland’s fragile resources are revealed more clearly than in France, but as Sean Lineen’s bid to deepen the talent pool continues, his Scotland under-20s are determined to finish the Six Nations spring by claiming a piece of history with a first win over the French at this level.
It is a rare opportunity for players such as Robbie Fergusson, the Ayr centre, locks Jonny Gray and Adam Sinclair, and fly-half Tommy Allan – still looking for a club with which to break into the professional game – to prove on a big stage that they have the potential to make the step up to professional rugby.
With two wins from their first four matches, the under-20s will tomorrow bid to finish in the black, but they know it will take a mammoth performance against a French side packed with youngsters who have been playing and training for top-14, sides having spent for a few years in a multi-million pound academy system around its state-of-the-art Marcoussis coaching facility.
The Scottish system has space for only a handful of teenage players in its professional set-up, with just two clubs compared with 14 in France’s top league and another 14 in the second division. So Scotland rely at this level on exiles brought in from England and French clubs and local talent at amateur clubs.
That does not diminish the sense of determination, however, in a talented Scottish squad eager to leave its mark.
Scotland U20: R Young (Edinburgh Accies); D Hoyland (Boroughmuir), R Fergusson (Ayr), M Bennett (Glasgow), R Hughes (Scotland 7s); T Allan (unatt), A Price (Bedford Blues); J Bhatti (Stirling County), R Anderson (Gala), D Rae (Ayr), A Sinclair (Perpignan), J Gray (Glasgow, capt), T Spinks (London Scottish), W Bordill (Sale Sharks), A Ashe (Glasgow). Subs: R Kennedy (Stirling), Shawn Muir (Hawick), P Cringle (Edinburgh), R Leishman (Stirling), A Henderson (Boroughmuir), S Steele (Leicester), C Auld (Gala), S Pecquer (Edinburgh Accies).