Men’s U18 6Ns Festival: England too strong for young Scots

Ross Miller's side will hope to finish three-match campaign with first win against Italy on Sunday

Defeat to England was a valuable learning experience for Scotland Under-18s at the Stadio Lanfranchi in Parma. Image: Federico Zovadelli/Actionpress/6N
Defeat to England was a valuable learning experience for Scotland Under-18s at the Stadio Lanfranchi in Parma. Image: Federico Zovadelli/Actionpress/6N

Scotland 6

England 28

ENGLAND marched on to their second win of the Six Nations u18 Festival after decisively defeating Scotland at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma with a performance that showcased their strength in defence, their power in the forwards and their ability to use possession effectively against which the young Scots tried their best to counter but which in the end added up to a winning formula. 

Scotland did well to limit England to four tries, much of that down to brave defence particularly in midfield where Alex Bryden and Campbell Waugh put in committed displays. The Scots, however, had little chance to show their skills in attack, such was the meagre amount of quality possession with which they operated. When Scotland did try to move the ball they were met with a ferocious rush defence by England which frequently strangled creativity in attack.

Amongst the forwards Ollie Blyth-Lafferty held his own against a powerful England front-row unit, Christian Lindsay played consistently in the second-row and Rory Purvis once again proved himself a useful and versatile back-row performer. Elsewhere, Hamish McArthur tried to inject tempo into Scotland’s play, Harry Provan showed glimpses of his attacking skills and Henry Armstrong again showed his potential as a No 10 when he came off the bench early in the second half.

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Overall, though, this match merely reflected the vast difference between the two countries in the depths of their respective playing pools which, probably, at a conservative estimate, ratios out about 60:1, and which underlines the need for Scotland to increase the quantity of more skilful youth players, sufficient to attain the critical number necessary to compete at his level.

Speaking after the match, Scotland head coach, Ross Miller, accepted that playing against a strong England side was difficult but nevertheless part of the necessary learning process. “For a number of the guys this was a first time they were exposed to a game at this level,” suggested Miller.

He added: “What was new to many was the tactical aspects of the game. This can challenge a team under pressure. We did really well in parts and created opportunities but were unable to turn these into scores. Much of it’s about control of possession.

“I thought our line-out defence was effective and limited their possession. Christian Lindsay, who is still under 17, managed the line-out attack and had some good steals.

“We’ve now had two good experiences, against Georgia and England, and I think that once we’ve gone through our recovery the appetite will be there to take on Italy on Sunday – but we have to learn quickly.”

Scotland looked competitive in the opening minutes of the game but their attacking play was eagerly snuffed out by England’s aggressive defence. Then, when England were awarded a penalty five metres from the Scotland line, the ball was worked through several phases before back row Seb Kelly plunged over for the opening try, converted with ease by stand-off James Linegar.

England, having made that initial breakthrough ,used their growing dominance in the game to strike again, this time with skilful approach play by scrum-half Lucas Friday and a clever offload by second-row Aiden Ainsworth-Cave that put wing Finn Newton in for try number two, again made a seven pointer through the boot of Linegar.



The Scots did well in containing England for the rest of the half to go into the break trailing 0-14. Two penalties in quick succession by McArthur narrowed England’s lead to just eight points, but any hopes of a second-half fightback were quickly dashed after England brought on several key subs, among them winger Tyler Offiah (son of  rugby league legend, Martin), who made his presence count with his side’s third try from a basketball-style offload by centre Fraser Rawlins.

Linegar converted from wide out before completing a masterclass display off the tee by making it four from four, adding the conversion points to a try by Rawlins, the best score of the match and one originating close to England’s try line after Scotland had missed a penalty kick to the corner.

Scotland tried to raise their game in the dying minutes but a combination of inaccuracy and England’s resolve to keep their line intact meant the Scots completed the game without scoring a try, a matter they will try to resolve when they face Italy on Sunday in the final round of this u18 Festival.


Teams –

Scotland: H Provan (High School of Glasgow/Glasgow Warriors); J Thomson (George Watson’s College/Edinburgh Rugby), C Waugh (Hutchesons’ GS/Glasgow Warriors), A Bryden (Dumfries Saints/Glasgow Warriors), N Moncrieff (Gala/Edinburgh Rugby); R Wolfenden (Peebles HS/Edinburgh Rugby), M McArthur (Merchiston Castle School/Edinburgh Rugby); W Pearce (Collegiate School/Bristol Bears) J Roberts (Robert Gordon’s College/Glasgow Warriors), O Blythe-Lafferty (Currie Chieftains/Edinburgh Rugby), C Lindsay (Loretto/Edinburgh Rugby), M Rutherford (Gala/Edinburgh Rugby), S Byrd (Rugby School/Leicester Tigers), H Wood (George Watson’s College/Edinburgh Rugby), R Purvis (Dollar Academy/Glasgow Warriors). Replacements: S Leweni (Watsonians/Glasgow Warriors) for Moncrieff 22, H Armstrong (Morrison’s Academy/Glasgow Warriors) for Wolfenden 42 , B Curtis (Howe of Fife/Glasgow Warriors) for McArthur 60,  L Hodge (Highland/Glasgow Warriors) for Pearce 38, M Kesson (Stirling County/Glasgow Warriors) for Blyth-Lafferty 68, D Halkon (RGS Worcester/Midlands Academy) for Rutherford 38, N Thompson (Sedbergh/Glasgow Warriors) for Bryden 68, O McKenna (St Aloysius College/Glasgow Warriors) for Roberts 62.

England: G Pearson (City of Oxford College/Midlands Central); F Newton (Haileybury/Saracens), F Rawlins (Haileybury/Saracens), F Bateman-Chapman (Worth School/Harlequins), R Witheat (Stowe School/Northampton Saints); J Linegar (Kingswood School/Bath Rugby), L Friday (Trinity School/Harlequins); J Miller (Whitgift School/Harlequins), G Knowles (Hereford Cathedral School/Midlands West), O Streeter (Gordon’s School/Harlequins), E Williams (Gordon’s School/Harlequins), A Ainsworth-Cave (Bedford School/Northampton Saints), P Hogg (Durham School/Newcastle Falcons), S Kelly (Kirkham Grammar/Sale Sharks), O Allport (Dean Close School/Gloucester Rugby). Replacements: J Staples (Seaford School/Harlequins) for Knowles 48,  J Mann (Truro College/Exeter Chiefs) for Miller 50, S Graham (Durham School/Newcastle Falcons) for Streeter 46, C Treacey (Beechen Cliff/Bath Rugby) for Ainsworth-Cave 34, S Shand (Hartpury College/Gloucester Rugby) for Allport 61, N Lilley (Exeter College/Exeter Chiefs) for Linegar 60, T Offiah (Wellington College/London and South Central) for Witheat 50.

Referee: Julian Caulier (France)


Scorers –

Scotland: Pens: McArthur 2.

England: Tries Kelly, Newton, Offiah, Rawlins; Con: Linegar 4.

Scoring Sequence (Scotland first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14 (h-t) 3-14; 6-14; 6-19; 6-21; 6-26; 6-28.


Yellow cards –

England: Williams (66 mins)

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About Alan Lorimer 349 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.


  1. Miller says that the players were weak or not use to game management. How long have the coaches had them training do they not do scenario training video analysis unit skills ie game management training in and off pitch if they don’t why the helm are they coaching at this level. Stop the excuses and take some ownership. The players are on a journey at this age granted but the coaches should have the knowledge to cover all basis before any tournament.

    • Ownership? Saving face more like? England had two good tries disallowed in the first half so, the final score doesn’t paint a true picture. What’s the point in subs being used with a few minutes to go when the game was lost ten minutes into the second half?

  2. No shame in losing to a big better side and in the modern game that is not a huge deficit to turn over with a bit more accuracy and rub of the green. Sounds like some good performancies in lineout and scrum which are traditional English strengths so that is impressive. Great to hear the guys stuck in with their defensive chores. Well done all.

  3. Whilst England had bigger older players, more used to playing in regular competitive elite pathway at academy or club AND chosen from a vastly bigger playing pool, we matched them in most areas. Big “weakness” was lack of gain line success in carry. Our way is fast though and with ball in play circa 20 mins with an (on the day) excruciatingly fastidious official that played into England hands even more. Clearly the better, bigger more experienced side won but I see green shoots in our player pathway. Well done everyone.

    • “England had … older players”?
      What do you mean – I presume everyone was using the standard “1st January” cut-off date?

      • Well Mike. Given their depth England’s squad were near universally from the older (eligible) catchment age whereas Scotland had a second row who was yet to turn 17. Happy to go through some further counting exercises with you if required. All best. Ed

      • I also watched England under 19’s at Doncaster last Saturday… another full squad different to the u20’s and u18’s their resources are unmatchable by us however many people think getting some extra lads from comprehensive schools will do the trick it won’t we have basically 18 year olds in u20’s, folk need to realise it’s a production line Scotland can’t hope to match. I’m full of hope for the A teams idea, but the <20 ages need competitive action on their own level to learn then they can be thrown in 🤷‍♂️

  4. A commendable all-round performance against a big, powerful English team whose players obviously regularly play at a far higher level. The boys will gain great lessons from this game, including experiencing the fine margins & how minor errors are ruthlessly exploited. Similarly to the Scottish senior team, more offensive tactics need to be developed for countering blitz defences, but this is a coaching/ tactics issue. Well done to the whole playing squad who will only improve with highly competitive game time like this.

    • 100% agree. I would question how the SRU coaching setup coach the transferring of pressure onto the opposition. From national team, to representative, to pro teams, there is a lack of understanding for how to best put an opponent under pressure.
      This post isn’t necessarily about the U18s, but the game highlighted areas seemed all too familiar in how we choose to play the game.

    • Some great rugby but the coaches need to get these boys playing more competitive matches. I know its an unpopular opinion but I do think some of the lads are struggling. To say its the first time some of the lads have played at that level – well bloody hell sort it. Dont lead them into the six nations like lambs to the slaughter. Get them better prepared. The English lads play regularly at a higher level and it shows. Playing more competitive matches will also give the coaches a better insight into who is ready and who is capable to play at this level.

  5. Congrats to all involved in the U18s team – stayed in the fight to get it back to 14-6. Good luck in the next match. Enjoy the experience.


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