Former Scotland captain Al Kellock believes the Scottish Schools Under-16 squad about to head off to Japan on tour are in for an experience that will last them for life, writes Duncan Smith.
The state school select will play two games against Nagasaki, the city with which the SRU signed an agreement two years ago and will host Scotland’s pre-World Cup camp next year. The 24 boys, aged 14 to 16, arrive in Nagasaki on Tuesday and return a week later on a tour supported by the Scottish Government, the Bill McLaren Foundation and Friends of Scottish Rugby.
The players have been drawn from the CashBack Schools of Rugby programme, which supports schools in some of the most deprived areas of Scotland.
Kellock, who will lead the tour in his role as SRU ambassador, said: “The schools were asked to nominate players, we held a trial in May and from that we’ve gathered a great group.
“We’re asking them to go to Japan and be ambassadors for Scotland, for Scottish rugby, for their schools and their families.”
Kellock cited a state schools tour to Ireland run by Sean Lineen when he was 16 as a key moment in his rugby life but stressed this trip will go beyond just sport. “It’s about teaching these boys as much as possible about Japan. We’ll be there for the Peace Ceremony on the anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped [9 August] and we’ll actively be a part of that ceremony. That will be an incredible life experience.” The captain is Alasdair Rogers of Auchinleck Academy and includes Elliot Stanger of Hawick, the nephew of 1990 Grand Slam try hero Tony Stanger.
TOUR SQUAD: Nathan Field (Ayr Academy), Frazer Littlejohn (Auchinleck Academy), Jack Lorimer (Auchinleck Academy), Jo Paterson (Auchinleck Academy), Alasdair Rogers (Auchinleck Academy, captain), Lewis Young (Auchinleck Academy), Luke Donald (Cumnock Academy), Connor Haining (Cumnock Academy), Jack Chelley (Hawick High School), Stephen Cook (Hawick High School), Elliot Stanger (Hawick High School), Connor Sutherland (Hawick High School), Logan Hunter (Levenmouth Academy), Harris McLeod (Levenmouth Academy), Logan Aitken (Lornshill Academy), Ethan Palmer (Lornshill Academy), Alexander Summers (Lornshill Academy), Robbie Warnock (Lornshill Academy), Billy Douglas (Maxwelltown High School), Thomas Jones (Maxwelltown High School), Ryan Steele (Maxwelltown High School), Szymon Szewczyk (St Andrew’s Secondary School), Brodie Buchanan (St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School), Luke Cameron (St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School).