2024 Super Series Sprint: TOL Dream Team unveiled

David McAdam casts his net beyond the usual suspects to name his team of the final Super Series campaign

Heriot's flanker Sam Wallace has been named in the 2024 Super Series Sprint Dream Team. Image: Malcolm Mackenzie
Heriot's flanker Sam Wallace has been named in the 2024 Super Series Sprint Dream Team. Image: Malcolm Mackenzie

THE thing about sprints is that they are over almost before you realise they have started. A slip on the starting blocks, a missed stride here, or a failure to dip for the line can cost you dearly, so upsets are not uncommon. However, in the final Sprint of Super Series rugby, there weren’t really any surprises – Ayrshire Bulls won, and confirmed their place as the most consistent team across the seven series that have taken place, while Stirling Wolves, backed up their Championship win with another final appearance.

But what of the players? It was a difficult sequence for them. They knew it was the end of road for their current teams and their current competition. A significant number of players from previous series had jetted off to seek different rugby experiences in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA. Could those who remained maintain their motivation?

When it came to attacking play the answer was yes with lots of tries and high scoring matches. Defensively, there was maybe not quite the resolve of previous series. Sure, the ‘big’ players turned up again – Blair Macpherson and Bobby Beattie at the Bulls; Marcus Holden and Glenn Bryce at Wolves; midfielders Scott Robeson, Matt Davidson and Lewis Berg continued to demonstrate excellence for the Edinburgh clubs, while Allan Ferrie was his usual consistent self for the Southern Knights .


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We could easily pick a team of the tournament filled with these familiar names. But there is a team of the whole Super Series to be selected [tune in tomorrow for that] so instead we have gone for a team of players who have made their mark in this series who have never been selected in a team of the tournament before.

At full-back, Euan Muirhead was like a spark plug who seemed to ignite most things creative in the Boroughmuir Bears game. He found himself in a completely new back-three, with Rowan Stewart and Matt Reid joining him, but across his six starts he showed leadership and generated excitement in equal measure.

Jack Blain of Heriot’s and Jamie Shedden of Ayrshire Bulls have been around Super Series rugby for most of the competitions, and they have always made their mark, but neither had made a team of the tournament. This time, with six tries apiece, they claim the two wing berths. Ross McKnight and Finn Douglas also scored lots of tries, but with previous Dream Team appearances, they miss out on this occasion. It was terrific to see Matt Reid fully fit and improving week on week for the Bears, while Freddie Owsley has x-factor pace which was perhaps under utilised by Watsonians.

In the centre, the pocket size Ryan Southern of Stirling Wolves was consistently creative, proving himself an adept finisher and creator of tries. Beside him we’ve plumped for Duncan Munn, who was plucked from schoolboy rugby in the second series by Boroughmuir Bears and despite his light and lean figure made an immediate impression. He then disappeared from Super Series rugby to focus on Scotland under-20s, and was unlucky with injuries, but this season, having significantly bulked up, he had two fine appearances for Glasgow ‘A’ and two more for the Bears at the end of the sequence where he looked to be back to his best.

Also claiming a place in the line-up after playing for two teams during this campaign is Richie Simpson, also of Glasgow A, but performing as the stand-out stand-off in the tournament for his home team of Ayrshire Bulls. With 51 points across 6 games, including three tries, and two man-of-the-match performances, including the final, Simpson looks ready to step up to a full pro contract.

It was a quieter tournament for No 9s with most squads rotating their scrum-halves to give them game-time. Ruairidh Swan gets the berth in our selection, holding off the strong claims of Heriots’ Aussie recruit Seamus Smith who played every game and was hugely influential. On the bench, Smith is joined by Callum Grieve of Southern Knights who demonstrated great versatility in starting in three different positions for the Knights across his seven appearances, as well as good leadership in piloting a back division that changed around him every game.

 

 

In the forwards, it’s fair to say the competition’s finalists dominated scrums in most games so all their props win positions in our squad. It would depend on who was coaching, as to who started and who benched, but in our squad we have opted for Lliam Quarm to start on the loose-head  after he stepped into the shoes of the departed George Breese, and in his third campaign of Super Series rugby showed the real benefits of Eddie Pollock’s coaching with a strong and consistent sequence of performances. On the tight-head, Calvin Henderson of Ayrshire Bulls wins the starting berth. Henderson has been at Millbrae since the second series but has rarely been first choice prop until this sequence of matches when he dominated one opponent after another, and topped it off with a try in the final. Their propping partners – Jamie Drummond and Marius Tamasaitis – are on the bench.

In the middle of the front-row the experienced Jamie Malcolm cashed in on the current tendency for maul tries with a rich harvest of six scores for Ayrshire Bulls. But in open play, Patrick Harrison showed terrific pace, skill and potential in his three starts for Edinburgh ‘A’, and surely he will be back-up for Ewan Ashman for the Edinburgh pro team next season. Schoolboy Joe Roberts, the Scotland under-18s captain, started every game for finalists Stirling Wolves, and never looked anything other than at home.

Wolves; James Pow is one of 12 players who has played in every one of the seven series of matches, and he has done so alongside young bucks who have accelerated into the pro ranks like Cameron Henderson and Max Williamson. He wins a starting lock position for us for his sheer consistency … on both sides of the ball, as is commonly stated nowadays. Beside him we’ve gone for the Edinburgh giant Rob Carmichael. He arrived in the capital mid-season from Leicester, and has yet to make a 1st XV appearance, but in the three Super Series victories their ‘A’ team recorded, he stood out handsomely and looks a terrific prospect.

Two exiles who have played for Scotland under-20s were brought north for this series – Jake Parkinson at Watsonians and Jare Oguntibeju at Stirling Wolves. Both showed decent pedigree and have potential to go further in the game, but if someone like Jamie Campbell can’t secure a pro contract in the limited opportunities Scotland provides, what hope do they have to make that future in professional Scottish rugby?

In the back-row, Lewis McNamara of Ayrshire Bulls and Kwagga Van Niekerk of Watsonians were consistent performers across the series.  Both are versatile forwards who have developed to the point that they are undroppable to their respective teams. Alongside them we have opted for the pocket rocket, Sam Wallace of Heriots. If anyone has an open-side’s nose for being in the right place at the right time to support the ball carrier, it is the Dollar Academy graduate. Sadly, his size will almost certainly make Super Series the pinnacle of this rugby career. But then they said the same about Chris Fusaro and Donnie Macfadyen in previous eras and both went on to have fine pro- careers.

On the bench we have opted for Glasgow ‘A’ forward Johnny Morris, who had two good games for his side, and who will surely be a key player when Scotland U20 attempt to win the World Trophy on home soil later in the summer.

 

 

15. Euan Muirhead (Boroughmuir Bears)

 

14. Jamie Shedden (Ayrshire Bulls)

13. Ryan Southern (Stirling Wolves)

12. Duncan Munn (Glasgow Warriors  ‘A’/Boroughmuir Bears)

11. Jack Blain (Heriot’s)

 

10. Richie Simpson (Glasgow Warriors ‘A’/Ayrshire Bulls)

9. Rauridh Swan (Boroughmuir Bears)

 

1. Lliam Quarm (Stirling Wolves)

2. Patrick Harrison (Edinburgh ‘A’)

3. Calvin Henderson (Ayrshire Bulls)

4. James Pow (Stirling Wolves)

5. Rob Carmichael (Edinburgh ‘A’)

6. Lewis McNamara (Ayrshire Bulls)

7. Sam Wallace (Heriot’s)

8. Kwagga Van Niekerk (Watsonians)

Replacements –

16. Joe Roberts (Stirling Wolves)

17. Jamie Drummond (Ayrshire Bulls)

18. Marius Tomasiastis (Stirling Wolves)

19. Jake Parkinson (Watsonians)

20. Johnny Morris (Glasgow Warriors ‘A’)

21. Seamus Smith (Heriot’s)

22. Callum Grieve (Southern Knights)

23. Matt Reid (Boroughmuir Bears)

 

 

Tomorrow: The Offside Line’s All Time Super Series Dream Team will be announced


 

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Super Series Final: Ayrshire Bulls defeat Stirling Wolves to bow out on top

About David McAdam 21 Articles
David has been watching club rugby round Scotland for more years than he can remember. Currently working for a charity supporting people returning to community after time in prison, Saturday afternoons are time to himself, standing behind posts, somewhere in the West of Scotland watching the progress of young Scottish players & enjoying the banter of local rugby people.

6 Comments

  1. It’s crucial that the best young players are closely monitored while they’re playing club rugby. For me that means continuously working with head coaches to get feedback on any prospects they feel should be given a closer look. There is absolutely no way all of the best players are currently in the academy set up. It would be negligent to ignore club rugby and focus purely on the academy lads, especially as young players can improve significantly in a short time. I note that one of the lads named in the Sprint Series Dream Team above couldn’t get a start for his Prem Club 18 months ago.

    • As a beleaguered Watsonian. I watched in suprise as the team grew and learned to play this last season there was a little tinkering around the edges early on however when it eventually clicked we played some great rugby fast backs and a very dominant scrum and maul and if it wasn’t for a couple of games we let get away we could have finished 2nd. I was really looking forward to see some of our boys given a chance in the sprint. And disappointed to find that most of the boys hadn’t been selected or at the bequest of the SRU had to warm the bench for some U20’s who needed game time. I can tell you JBL is no Matt Pritchard and the boy Deans is not a quality prop by standards. Given the results of the U20’s boys like these should have been cut loose and new talent brought in. It’s important to give talent young players to develop but the SRU academy philosophy seems to about flogging dead It’s common practice in nearly every team sport to give boys a chance if they can’t handle it then drop and replace them why should our academy system be any different. Going forwards What’s worrying from a Watsons perspective is if we are forced to play more academy boys who aren’t up to it. This next season will be about survival and we will need to play our strongest team and strongest bench.

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      • Many of the academy/u20 lads have featured in three very disappointing competitions in a row, but are still there, apparently unchallenged by ‘outsiders’. Of course the same Head Coach has also been in charge for these poor campaigns, and he’s still there, which is a joke in my book.

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  2. Just for the record…
    A mention to the many players who do the unseen hard graft and never get a mention on game reports, team of the week/series etc. Not enough highlighting of quality defenders and those players who assist, not necessarily in this report but across all the Series. All seems to be about try scorers.
    Also to those with promise who have had a horrendous time with injuries throughout the Super Series and the younger players who should have had more game time, as this is what this ‘project’ was for. I’m sure your times will come and your names will get a mention again.
    So my team of the last 5 years and I tip my hat to the Southern Knights, at least they consistently promoted the young lads as much as possible.

  3. Enjoyed the super six but it was not what it was supposed to be it was to develop players to go on to play for the pro teams and hopefully Scotland guys at thirty and beyond are no what it’s all about. Now the SRU have pulled the plug what are the promising youngsters to do the pro teams are full of foreign players yes I understand that so the teams can compete so the promising talent have been dumped what a mess

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    • And the near 30 years of short termism has produced one trophy for Glasgow no success at all at RWC and no better than 3rd in whole of 6n. We would have been as well to actually let the young Scottish players get game time for all the success the imports have brought.

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