Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors announce Pro-Academy intake

With several players being retained from last year, both teams will have squads of 15 next season

Ollie Duncan
New Edinburgh pro-academy signing Ollie Duncan. Image: Edinburgh Rugby.

GLASGOW and Edinburgh have both revealed their academy intake for the coming season, with the Warriors recruiting 10 players and the capital club making 11 new signings. Five players have been retained at Scotstoun from last season, and four at the DAM Health Stadium, so each team has a full academy complement of 15. 

Of the newcomers to the Warriors’ academy, three have graduated from GHA: winger Amena Caqusau,  centre Johnny Ventisei and back-row forward Jonny Morris. Stand-off Matthew Urwin, centre Kerr Yule and back-three players Fergus Watson and Kerr Johnston complete the new intake of backs.

The three recruits to the pack are loosehead prop Callum Smyth, lock Ryan Burke and back-row forward Ruaraidh Hart.

The five who continue for a second season in the Glasgow academy have all been members of the Scotland Under-20 squad. They are: props Tom Banatvala and Callum Norrie, lock Harris McLeod, centre Ben Salmon and back-three player Logan Jarvie.

“It’s a really exciting time of the year for these young players, and in particular for those of them that will experience regular involvement in a professional environment for the first time,” said Kenny Murray, who as well as being in charge of Scotland Under-20s is also the SRU’s head of player transition.

“The fact that once again a number of the players from last year’s group have gone on to sign professional contracts here in Scotland shows there is a reward for continued hard work.  We’re really looking forward to seeing these players in the FOSROC Super Series Championship later this summer, and with so many of them eligible for Scotland U20 they have another platform to kick on and test themselves at a high level.”

Edinburgh’s new arrivals include brothers Jerry and Ollie Blyth-Lafferty, who join from Boroughmuir. Scotland Under-20 cap Jerry is a hooker, while Ollie, a tighthead prop, has been a member of the Scotland Under-18 squad. In fact, the bulk of the new intake comprises national under-18 caps, with the other forwards being lock Euan McVie, who has joined from Heriot’s, flanker Freddie Douglas from Stewart’s-Melville, No 8 Ollie Duncan, who captained Edinburgh’s Under-18s recently, and Tom Currie, a back-row forward.

Currie is the younger brother of Edinburgh centre Matt, and in addition to his academy duties will be a member of the Fosroc Future XV that is taking part in the Super Series Championship which begins in late July.

One key signing behind the scrum is Scotland Under-20s and Stirling Wolves scrum-half Finlay Burgess, who joins from Glasgow Warriors. Under-18 cap Hector Paterson, also a scrum-half, was part of the Hawick side that was unbeaten in domestic rugby last season. Stand-off Isaac Coates, centre Jack Hocking and full-back Jack Brown all have national under-18 experience too.

Edinburgh will have a total of 15 players working under academy coach Rob Chrystie. In addition to the 11 newcomers, four have been retained from last season: loosehead prop Robbie Deans, back-row forward Liam McConnell, winger Finn Douglas and hooker Harri Morris, who will be on a season-long  loan at Doncaster Knights.

“It’s an exciting set of players that are joining us this summer from around Edinburgh and the Borders,” Chrystie said in an Edinburgh press release. “All of them have experience in a Scotland age-grade environment, with the majority having played senior rugby at a very young age.

“A number of the players impressed while playing for Edinburgh ‘A’ and for their respective clubs in the FOSROC Super Series Sprint, so we’re excited to see how they all develop while at the club.”

Glasgow Warriors Pro-Academy 2023-24 (club and school of origin in brackets):

Forwards – Props: Tom Banatvala (Watsonians), Callum Norrie (Howe of Fife/Strathallan), Callum Smyth (Selkirk / Bedford School). Locks: Ryan Burke (Glasgow Hawks/Douglas Academy), Harris McLeod (Kirkcaldy). Back row: Ruaraidh Hart (Glasgow Hawks/Glasgow Academy), Jonny Morris (GHA/Strathallan)

Backs  – Stand-off: Matthew Urwin (West of Scotland/St Aloysius). Centres: Ben Salmon (Hillfoots/Dollar Academy), Johnny Ventisei (GHA/St Aloysius), Kerr Yule (Glasgow Hawks/Boclair Academy). Back three: Amena Caqusau (GHA/Queen Victoria School), Logan Jarvie (Cumbernauld/Lenzie Academy), Kerr Johnston (Gala), Fergus Watson (Biggar/Biggar High).

Edinburgh Pro-Academy 2023-24:

Forwards: Robbie Deans (loosehead), Harri Morris (hooker), Jerry Blyth-Lafferty (hooker), Ollie Blyth-Lafferty (tighthead), Euan McVie (lock), Tom Currie (flanker), Liam McConnell (flanker), Freddie Douglas (flanker), Ollie Duncan (No 8).

Backs: Finlay Burgess (scrum-half), Hector Patterson (scrum-half), Isaac Coates (stand-off), Jack Hocking (centre), Finn Douglas (wing), Jack Brown (full-back).

 

About Stuart Bathgate 1438 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

9 Comments

  1. What surprises me are the names that are either not there, or who have not signed pro contracts. We knew about the Edinburgh boys, but am I right in thinking that the co-captain of the U20’s in the six nations (Duncan Munn), and the co-captain for the Kenya tournament (Ben Afshar) have nothing after the summer? Alongside others like McKnight and Stirrat?

  2. I’ve seen the majority of these lads play several times, some of them many times. I don’t think there are any real standouts amongst them – a couple may well well make it as professional players. Several of the selections are frankly baffling, they are just decent club players.

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    • Got to disagree I have seen a couple of these guys many many times and I think they have right attitude and determination to make it to pro level. They’re a sone I have seen a few times whose selections I am baffled with though – have to think that coaches are justifying their programmes and jobs.

      • As I said, I also think there are a couple that could make it as pros. There are a few though, that weren’t even in the top 5 players in their u18 club sides 12-18 months ago, but are now in pro-Academy set-ups, without having really pushed on at all. There would appear to be a quota that needs to be met, but I think this had probably led to many being given false hope as part of a numbers game.

  3. ‪Yes a lot of great players have signed pro contracts contracts this year but none of them were developed under Murray’s expert tutorage. Good luck to all the boys who were picked. But this is a really sad day for the future of Warriors and Edinburgh. There was a lot of really promising talent kick out to make way for Murray’s ego picks.
    You couldn’t trust him to pick his nose let alone an U20’s squad now he has the say who gets into the Warriors and Edinburgh academies. This is really shameful empire building by one of the most worst coaches in Scottish rugby and a testament to how seriously the SRU are taking the development of our age grade players.

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      • Hmmm lets see someone with a proven record, knowledge and personality to develop young talent. Here goes no particular order Andy Hill at Hawks either of the Cairns bros, Pat McArthur. What about Peter Horne or there’s probably some really great SA/Kiwi coaches if we want to think outside the box.

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    • I count 3 or 4. Johnston, Patterson and Douglas, plus Smyth who moved up to Selkirk a couple years ago.

      Still not great, but not as bleak as 1.

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