Glasgow & The West lift FOSROC Academy District Series title

Caledonia play a full part in an entertaining contest at Netherdale

Glasgow Under-18s were crowned champions of the FOSROC Academy District Series after beating Caledonia at Netherdale on Sunday. Image: Scottish Rugby
Glasgow Under-18s were crowned champions of the FOSROC Academy District Series after beating Caledonia at Netherdale on Sunday. Image: Scottish Rugby

GLASGOW & THE WEST clinched the Under-18 FOSROC Academy District Series title with a deserved 40-27 win over Caledonia in the final round of the competition played at Gala’s Netherdale ground on Sunday afternoon.  Both sides were weakened by the absence of call-ups to the Scotland Under-18 squad, currently training and gaining match practice in Wales, but in the event Glasgow and Caledonia were able to plug the gaps with younger and exciting talent. 

The show of quality rugby produced by both Glasgow and Caledonia certainly gives hope for the age-grade game further up the chain in the future, albeit it could take some time to effect what is needed to change the fortunes of what has been a disastrous set of results for Scotland at under-20s level.

With so many first choice players away with the Scotland, both sides were able to offer opportunities to under-17 players, and in the event many seized the moment to show that there is a treasure trove of talent at this level. That the two age levels, u17 and u18, were able to fuse together almost seamlessly was no fluke as Glasgow’s head coach, Millan Browne, acknowledged, saying: “They do a lot of training together, a lot of 15 versus 15.  Today showed the amount of work these guys have put in, not just in the last six weeks, but over the last fourteen months.


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“The improvement after being in this environment is immeasurable. We’re exposing a lot of players to this training. We go from under-16s where there are 100 players to under-18s where it reduces to 60. There were a lot of lads out there who started months ago and today really showed how much they’ve improved by playing in this environment.  If you bring the best players together they get better,” added the former Scotland A prop.

All of which begs the question of why more young players do not benefit from the Academy experience? And, moreover, why the under-18s don’t replicate the under-16 match programme by fielding two teams per district Academy? That’s something Browne would like to see happen but he more than most appreciates the main barrier. “It all depends on funding,” is his realistic reply.

Glasgow’s victory was very much about being able to play at pace straight from the gun. “We do a lot of this in training. It’s all about playing quick. We’re not encouraging them to kick to touch: we’re wanting them to play as much as possible. Basically it’s about high speed and high skill levels. We’re trying to push that into them from a young age,” avers Browne.

“You really see it light up when they move from 16 to 17. Glasgow Warriors try to play that way and so do we. For me it’s the enjoyable way to play.  The boys really like playing this way,” he adds.

In all about 50 percent of the Glasgow & West side were under-17, among whom, several seriously impressed, including stand-off Gregor Johnston, who showed real talent both with ball in hand and with ball off the boot, the Kelvinside Academy/GHA fly-half capping an excellent performance by converting five of his side’s six tries.

Among the Glasgow forwards, hooker Jamie McAughtrie showed mobility around the park in addition to performing his specialist duties with aplomb, and there were eye-catching performances too from fellow front-rowers Dominic Thumath and Matthew Hind.

Glasgow & The West led 19-10 at the break after scoring tries through wing Daniel McKinlay, centre and skipper Alex Bryden and Thumath, to tries for Caledonia from prop Luke McKenzie and wing Oscar Baverstock. The Glasgow & West side then built on their first half performance to add tries by second-row Elliot Weir, replacement back-row Logan Hendrie, and a second for Bryden. Caledonia always remained in touch with second half tries from prop Jamie Ritchie, second-row Dylan Jakeman and replacement centre Rio Arbuckle, with scrum-half Tom Nodes kicking one conversion goal.

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Afterwards Caledonia’s head coach Kris Burney admitted: “If you were a neutral it was probably a good game to watch. I thought Glasgow played really well. They probably identified a few of our moves. Glasgow put pressure on us consistently and we probably didn’t defend as well as we should have. But what was was impressive was our ability to adapt. We  came out after half-time and got ourselves back into the game. We had quite a few under-17 boys in the game. Overall a good game of rugby”.

For Caledonia, both second-rows, Jakeman and Findlay McIntosh impressed, Nodes was lively at scrum-half and Henry Armstrong put in another assured display in the 10 jersey .

Earlier on finals day, Borders & East Lothian took the honours in the 3rd/4th place play-off, running out 49-40 winners at the end of a thrilling and high scoring contest.

Borders’ first half tries came from scrum-half Oliver McClymont, wing Myles McLaughlin (from a perfectly placed cross-kick by stand-off Ross Wolfenden), wing Gregory Hoggan, second-row Callum McRobert, and the impressive under-17 full-back, James Hamilton. Then, in the second half, Borders & East Lothian added two further scores from flanker Zander McTaggart and replacement Robbie McDonnell. All seven of Borders’ touchdowns were converted by Wolfenden, who, but for a big gap in his training schedule, would surely have been with the Scotland under18 squad in Wales.

Edinburgh, who trailed 0-35 five minutes before the break, edged themselves back into the game with a try before half-time by hooker Ed McAree. The capital city then built on new confidence by adding tries through full-back Theo Thom, centre Murray McCowan, stand-off Munro Lawrie, replacement stand-off Sandy Renwick and a second for McCowan.  Five of Edinburgh’s six tries were converted by Thom.

Commenting on his side’s dynamic start to the game in which they built up a 35-0 lead, Borders & East Lothian head coach, Robert Grigg said: “The first 25 minutes were tremendous for us – we were five tries up. Conceding a try just before half-time was a bit frustrating. That kind of set the tone for the first part of the second half. Edinburgh got a few easy scores. We had a lot of changes from last week and played a lot of youngsters for this game but these players got some valuable experience. However, it was the same for Edinburgh.”

Edinburgh were hugely affected by both the Scotland under-18 training camp and three schools, Stewart’s-Melville College, Fettes College and George Watson’s College, being on tour. In the circumstances, the capital side were compelled to play a new-look team but one which proved to be more than just competent once the players gelled with each other’s styles.

Stevie Leckey, the Edinburgh head coach, acknowledged the difficulties that faced his side and accepted that his team’s hesitant start to the game was perhaps down to the enforced changes. He said: “We were a bit slow out of the blocks in the first half. But that’s a completely new squad compared to last week and we’ve had only two training sessions. It takes time for new players to settle and get used to the combinations. Maybe the first half was a bit of rabbits in the headlamps. But credit to the Borders; they threw the ball about very well and won every collision. What’s been exciting is the number of under-17s in the squad because they get two years at this”.

 

Glasgow & The West:  R Watson (Kelvinside Acad/Biggar); D McKinlay (Ayr), J Henderson (GHA), A Bryden (Dumfries Saints), L Shaw (GHA); G Johnston (GHA), C Louden (Wear of Scotland); M Hind (Dumfries Saints), J McAughtrie (Ayr), D Thumath (Loch Lomond), E Weir (West of Scotland), S Neil (Biggar), E Smith (Lenzie), E Woods (Allan Glens), L Monrieff (GHA). Subs: J Graham (Dumfries Saints), J Easton (Marr), A Young (GHA), E McGovern (GHA), L Hendrie (Kilmarnock), H Gracie (Biggar), A Currie (St Columba’s School), B Hughes (GHA), C Murray (Biggar).

Caledonia:  B McGinley (Stirling County); O Baverstock (Strathallan), O Stoops (Dundee Rugby), A Howat (Dollar Acad), L Macgregor (Mackie); H Armstrong (Morrison’s Acad), T Nodes (Stirling County); G Smith (Glenalmond), C Duncan (Perthshire), J Ritchie (Dollar Acad), D Jakeman (Ellon), F McIntosh (Howe of Fife), E Bunney (Robert Gordon’s College), H Steed (Dundee Rugby), A McMichael (Strathallan). Subs: J Hulme (Dollar Acad), L McKenzie (Highland), B Cooper (Stirling County), M Almond (Highland), F Thompson (Strathallan), A McKenzie (Huntly), D Barrie (Perthshire/Dundee HS), R Arbuckle (Dollar Acad), A Evans (Garioch), B Shearer (Dollar Acad).

Edinburgh: T Thom (Merchiston); A Muir (Linlithgow), L Mathieson (Merchiston), M McCowan (Loretto), S McCann (Boroughmuir); M Lawrie (Edinburgh Academy), M Armstrong (Boroughmuir); S Forster (Currie Chieftains), E McAree (Stewart’s-Melville College), F Phillips (Currie Chieftains), M Marshall (Edinburgh Academy), T Kirkpatrick (George Heriots School), O Finlayson-Russell (George Heriot’s School), J Riach (Edinburgh Academy), H Bowe (Lasswade). Subs: J Harrison (George Heriot’s School), O Deane (Royal High School), F MacGregor (Edinburgh Academy), H Jackman (Boroughmuir), O Hollins-Kirk (Boroughmuir), S Renwick (George Heriot’s School), L Calder (Boroughmuir), J Calder (Edinburgh Academy).

Borders & East Lothian: J Hamilton (Jed Thistle); M McLaughlin (Merchiston/Peebles), F Milne (Loretto/North Berwick), C Fyfe (North Berwick), G Hoggan (Preston Lodge); R Wolfenden (Peebles), O McClymont (Selkirk YC);  M Duxbury (Loretto/Musselburgh), J Talac (Musselburgh), R Hardie (Peebles), C McRobert (Peebles), F Smith (Selkirk YC), Z Mactaggart (Merchiston/Jed Thistle), D Martin (North Berwick), J Utterson (Kelso Quins). Subs: H Ross (Kelso Quins), C Grant (Peebles), A Cannon (Hawick Youth), E Hastie (Selkirk YC), K Maciver (Peebles), S Wardlaw (Peebles), T Elliot (Edinburgh Academy/Selkirk YC), R Mcdonnell (Selkirk YC), F Kinnaird (North Berwick), B Burton (Kelso Quins).


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About Alan Lorimer 370 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.

9 Comments

  1. “…With so many first choice players away with the Scotland….” it would appear the second and third choice players performed pretty well at a domestic level.

    How did the first choice players get on in Wales at a much broader level and how is our system working by comparison, should be a good baseline from which to measure? As the famous Scot Lord Kelvin said “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind: it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be”

  2. “… With so many first choice players away with the Scotland…” how did those players get on?

    Was great to see the “not first choice players” by implication competing at a domestic level but how did we fair on a broader level?

  3. And the u18 7’s team beat a decent Canada side, South Africa and Fiji to win the commonwealth gold! Their boys were all bigger and faster but Scotland played outstanding tactical sevens and beat them at their own game. There is a future hope

  4. Millan Browne is an excellent coach, the best I’ve personally seen for player/team development in youth rugby. It would be good to see him as part of the u20’s set-up.

    • Agreed Scotia. Excellent coach and bang on in his point about having two teams in each region at the u18 age group. Some of the players involved will be dropped in the next couple of weeks and others later in the season. Seems a shame when there are so many quality players but not enough funding to support them all. Another team would also give players who have to play out of position a chance to properly shine and show their real talent, playing in the position they usually play at their school or club. Those players have a tougher job proving themselves and are often dropped without having the chance to show their best skills.

  5. Beg to differ but the criticisms of the SRU include their failure to nurture and support the club game which through mini, midi and age group coaching are responsible for producing the players who graduate onto District sides who have produced such an entertaining tournament showcasing their skills in playing the game that we all love.
    It is what happens to these players, when they move onto the national age group sides, where there is a clear drop off in competitiveness that the governing body has failed to address.

  6. I think it’s doing Glasgow a disservice saying they were depleted with their Scotland boys being away, maybe depleted in number but not in skill and talent. Of the 6 games in the u18 championship, Glasgow V Caledonia by far demonstrated the best quality rugby. Glasgow improved their game across the board from the previous two weeks, better lineouts, better back line passing and handling, moving the ball more and executing quality team tries, finished skilfully. They looked like a well gelled team. Caledonia deserve similar praise for their skilful play. Well done to all the players and coaches involved, it was a pleasure to watch and a testament to the strength and quality of players in both of these regions outwith the Scotland squad.

    • I thought the game was dying in Scotland,

      So whats happening here? Perhaps the usual bunch of commenters here are incorrect in their ‘analysis’.

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      • Coach himself admits more players should be retained and that the only reason for dumping 40% of players is cash related not to ability or potential. It’s literally showing up what’s wrong with the current system. It’s never been lack of players it’s the way they are treated.

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