MERCHISTON CASTLE SCHOOL emerged from the weekend’s prestigious two-day St Joseph’s College Rugby Festival in Ipswich with their reputation enhanced after a third overall finish in the sixteen-team tournament.
It all started well for Merchiston, who finished second in their pool having defeated John Fisher School by 18-15 and Eltham College by 29-5, before losing to the ultimate tournament winners Brighton College by 7-0.
That put the Colinton school into one of two groups of four contesting for the Cup, and Merchiston began their title quest on a strong note with a 10-0 victory over the hosts, St Joseph’s College. But in their second game Merchiston lost to the eventual tournament runners-up, Millfield School, before drawing with Royal Grammar School, Newcastle to secure an overall third equal finishing position.
“It was an amazing effort, when you consider that overall we finished third behind Brighton College and Millfield School, two rugby giants,” said Roddy Deans, head coach at Merchiston, who picked out his side’s win over the hosts St Joseph’s as a highlight of the weekend.
“We silenced a big and vocal crowd by playing mature and clinical rugby. I also think that losing by only 7-0 to the overall winners, Brighton College, was an immense performance,” suggested Deans, whose full0back Rufus McLean was voted player of the tournament.
“In my eyes he was the best player on show. He is going to be a star. It was a huge team effort from us and especially as we had thirteen young players in the squad,” added Deans, who picked out Dan Gamble, Jamie Dobie, Matthew Currie and Tyler Thomas as others who had contributed massively.
Just how much of a boost the third placing at the St Joseph’s tournament will be for Merchiston will be measured when they play their Scottish Schools Under-18 Cup quarter final against George Watson’s College.
Sensibly the two schools have agreed that they will double up their Conference and Cup matches and play it on the morning of Saturday 11th November at Myreside, making it the ideal pre-international treat for Scotland fans attending the opening autumn test match against Samoa.