SEAN LINEEN has gathered a 30-man Scotland Under-20 squad for a three-day training camp at the Oriam high-performance training facility in west Edinburgh this week (Monday 9 – Wednesday 11 January).
This signals the beginning of the build up to the 2017 Six Nations Championship, which starts with a home game against Ireland at Broadwood Stadium (Friday 3 February, kick-off 8.30pm).
The camp will conclude with the first of the squad’s warm-up games against Glasgow Warriors A, before they play Scotland Club XV later in the month.
John Dalziel coached the under-20 side last year but has now been seconded to London Scottish as part of the strange one-way partnership deal the Scottish Rugby Union currently has with the English Championship outfit to share players and resources.
The SRU have not yet announced a replacement for the under-20 job, but the smart money is on Lineen, who currently oversees the programme as the governing body’s Head of Age-Grade Rugby, taking charge on a caretaker basis during the Six Nations, with Dalziel returning to the job for the Junior World Cup in Georgia at the start of June, after his sojourn in London concludes at the end of the season.
“We’ve had a look at a lot of players over the course of this season – whether that be in the BT Premiership, or through the BT Sport Academy and Exiles programme – and feel that we have brought together a strong squad for this training camp,” said Lineen.
“It’s all to play for over the three days, with a chance of making the cut for the Six Nations squad in the offing.
“Firstly, it’s imperative that those involved can learn to play as part of this team. We’re also looking for character, grit and a real desire to play for the jersey, along with a good working attitude and willingness to learn as there’s a lot to get through during this camp.”
Over half of the selected squad are affiliated to the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy, with ten of those on stage 3 player contracts. Eight members of the squad picked up caps for Scotland U20 in last season’s Six Nations and Junior World Cup campaigns.
“It’s great to see the Academy lending so much talent to the age-grade programme. These players are better conditioned than ever to play at international level, but they must now show they can transfer the hard-work on the training paddock on to the pitch,” said Lineen.
“A lot of the boys have already played at international age-grade level and we want to see them step-up and lend their experience to the players around them, which should help drive the standards of the group.”
TRAINING SQUAD –
Hamish Bain (Currie)*
Fergus Bradbury (Stirling County)*
Alex Craig (Gloucester Academy)
Luke Crosbie (Currie)**
Tom Dodd (Worcester Academy)
Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks)**
Bruce Flockhart (Glasgow Hawks)**
Thomas Gordon (Currie)**
Jonny Grant (Stewart’s Melville)
Shaun Gunn (Edinburgh Accies)
Calum Hunter-Hill (Stirling County)**
Adam Nicol (Stirling County)
Fraser Renwick (Hawick)*
Jack Samuel (Cardiff Metropolitan University)
George Thornton (Northumbria University)
Jamie Ure (Boroughmuir)*
Daniel Winning (Boroughmuir)**
Ruaridh Dawson (Newcastle Academy)
Paddy Dewhirst (Ayr)
Connor Eastgate (Wasps Academy)
Darcy Graham (Hawick)**
Ali Greig (Bristol University)
Josh Henderson (Glasgow Hawks)*
Cameron Hutchison (Currie)**
Staffard MacDowell (Ayr)
Ross McCann (Melrose)**
Robbie Nairn (Bristol University)
Craig Pringle (Stirling County)*
Charlie Shiel (Currie)**
Andrew Simmers (Heriot’s)
*BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy Stage 2 player 2016/17
**BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy Stage 3 player 2016/17