National Youth Boys’ U16 Cup final: GHA streak to victory over new kids on the block Ellon

GHA were convincing winners against Ellon in the National Youth Cup U16 Final. Image: Colin Robinson
GHA were convincing winners against Ellon in the National Youth Cup U16 Final. Image: Colin Robinson

GHA  74

Ellon 24

ALAN LORIMER @ BT Murrayfield

GHA showed why they had been the dominant force in the National Conference at under-16 level by retaining the National Youth Cup at this age-grade with a comprehensive win over Ellon on the international pitch at BT Murrayfield. 

The Braidholm side put on a display of total running rugby showing pace in a powerful back-line and throughout the team, an ability to pass out of the tackle and intelligent support play, all adding up to a formula that Ellon found difficult to combat.

GHA’s coach Shane McElhinney revealed that the way his side play is down to hard work and a brand of training that focuses on ball transference. “We try not to focus too much on positions and numbers on the shirts,” he said. “It’s ball skills first and foremost. We play a lot of touch rugby where everyone is involved. Today our fitness showed in the second half and of course the dry conditions helped as well.”


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In all, GHA ran in 12 tries, five of these scored by powerful and quick centre Zac Darroch, who benefitted hugely from the pin-point accuracy in passing of stand-off Ben MacDougall. GHA’s other tries came from full-back Keiran Robinson (2), second-row and skipper Hamish Bruce (2), No 8 Lloyd Moncrieff, flanker Euan McGovern and wing Ben Hughes. Scrum half Duncan Campbell kicked five conversions, the other two coming from MacDougall

On another day, Ellon might have fared better but against the National Conference champions it was always difficult for the north-east club who played in a much lower level league this season. “It was a tough experience for the boys,” admitted Ellon’s coach, Scott Johnston. “We played some good rugby to get here, beating Hawick in the semi and Mackie in the quarters. I think the boys competed pretty well in the first half but they kind of fell away in the second half when we wanted to everyone on the pitch.

“The boys are delighted to have played on the pitch and I think enjoyed the experience. It’s the first time Ellon’s ever been to a national final. Physically we were okay up front but the big difference was in the backs. They were big, fast and skilful. It was chalk and cheese as regards the back-lines. Overall we stuck in well in the first half and scored a couple of really good tries”.

Ellon, who had good performances from full-back Sam Davidson, stand-off Malachy Mannion and second-row Dylan Jakeman were still in the game at half-time when they trailed 31-19 after scoring tries by No 8 Liam Davis, Mannion and Jakeman, plus two conversions from Liam Leiper.  But in the second half, GHA’s dominance limited Ellon to only one further score, a second try for Jakeman.

 

Teams –

GHA: K Robinson; B Hughes, Z Darroch, J Henderson, C Fitzpatrick; B MacDougall, D Campbell; B Carson, J Ratter, F Faulds, H Bruce, H Brown, J Robinson, E McGovern, L Moncrieff. Subs: A Allan R Bennie, R R Grimwood, E Moore, G Grant, G Johnston, R Morrison.

Ellon: S Davidson; R Hanton, L Andrew, R Martin, F Godsman; M Mannion, L Leiper; J Rennie, W Ferguson, L Brown, M-J Nicholas, D Jakeman, J P Friiel, R Brazier, L Davis Subs K Nicol, K Webster, F McHugh, K Taylor, K Simpson, L McCullagh R Petrie

Referee: Ciaran Stark

 

Scorers –

GHA: Tries: Darroch 5, Robinson 2, Bruce 2, Moncrieff,. McGovern, Hughes; Cons: Campbell 5, McDougall 2.

Ellon: Tries: Davis, Mannion, Jakeman 2; Cons: Leiper 2

Scoring sequence (GHA first): 5-0; 10-0; 12-0; 12-5; 12-7; 17-7; 19-7; 19-12; 19-14; 24-14; 24-19; 29-19; 31-19 (h-t) 36-19; 38-19; 38-24; 43-24; 45-24; 50-24; 52-24; 57-24; 62-24; 67-24; 69-24; 74-24.

 

  • Meanwhile, Stirling County beat Peebles RFC 45-29 in the Boys’ under-16 Shield Final.
Image: Bryan Robertson
Image: Bryan Robertson

National Youth Boys’ U16 Cup final: GHA streak to victory over new kids on the block Ellon

About Alan Lorimer 369 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.

32 Comments

  1. You have to ask yourself why GHA dominate at all age groups up to and including under 16, then struggle to field an under 18 team. Is it because at U18 they play their matches on a Saturday (I.e. the same day as the school)?

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    • No. A player can’t play for club and school in the same weekend so under 18s playing on a Saturday makes absolutely no difference.

      • Well no, they’re not meant to! A GHA coach once told my partner that they “get round it because the school don’t always register the players”. Though that was a few years ago to be fair.

        However that said, this is not to detract from what was clearly a class performance by the this GHA team who are reaping the rewards of hard work and good coaching!

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    • Often kids (or rather their parents) choose school again at U18 cause that is two years combined (so strong) and thus GHA U18 this year had to combine with Alan Glens and compete at lower cup divisions – whilst several the boys who won U16 Cup with GHA then went and won U18 Shield with St Al (look it up). It is the parents who drive this. Can’t face being in a weak U16 so pick option A then switch to option B at U18. It is a mess and it puts pyrich victory, not team unity (a personal development) in adversity or success and ALL player development first. There were so many unfulfilled fixtures at U16 schools and then a walkover in Youth U16. It is not a great look.

  2. There’s clearly a big issue with youth rugby in Scotland. Club sides and Private School sides should co-exist and co-compete more. We need more opportunities for players to play. GHA cannabilising players from a local Private School in the 2021/22 youth cup semi-final deprives state school players from playing club rugby…..it’s not helping the National game. Boroughmuir is a great example of a club getting it right. They’re providing opportunities for players who don’t go to Private School and they are developing players who are going on to represent Scotland at U18 level. Scottish rugby has an opportunity here to sort out this mess. If not….we’ll fall further behind on the world stage.

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    • Players can’t jump between club and school and have to make a choice. Why should attending a private school preclude you from choosing to play for a club. I just don’t get this enmity that GHA youth are getting for producing a team full of wonderful, talented young men.

      GHA don’t go round club sides offering rugby scholarships to talented players depriving clubs of players.

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  3. Reading some of the comments here I feel sorry for the boys who played in the finals and those who coached them. I also feel anger at the SRU for creating an environment where uncertainty about the rules and eligibility criteria seems to take precedence over the rugby and nobody even knows if the youth teams are of similar standard to the schools teams. Would this happen in Ireland ? Is it any wonder our international youth teams struggle (to put it mildly) when the players come from this background. I assume the SRU incumbents have given up on the schools / youth set up because there is no way the best play the best regularly and that’s the first building block.

    • The Schools National Conference is at a high level and teams there have no issues playing against international touring sides and when on tours abroad.
      Of course the best club teams in Scotland are not there and that is definitely unfortunate for all concerned as I am sure they could compete.

      The problems begin when players move into the U16 and U18 set up.
      It should be a step up in terms of coaching, analysis and set up….. But it’s actually the opposite.

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    • There’s no uncertainty about eligibility. The SRU rules are clear and unambiguous when it comes to National competitions.

  4. It would be nice to see some of the best club teams playing the equivalent in the schools national conference post Xmas. Surely it can’t be that difficult to arrange – or is it??

  5. Stephen how does wearing a pair of shorts mean they have represented that school in a cup competition?

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    • Because it says so on the schools website, I’ll even quote it for you

      Congratulations to GHA Rugby Club U16s in their win against Peebles in the U16 Cup Semi-Final. 9 of our 4th year Aloysians played with GHA. After a strong 14 point lead, the team worked hard to widen the gap after Peebles brought themselves up to a 14-14 game. With strong coordination and tactics, the team worked together to walk away with a 24-14 win. Captain of the GHA U16s is our very own Nicholas T. (S4), who offered some insightful commentary on the game and how it feels to be heading to Murrayfield for the final against Stirling.

  6. I’m pretty sure this happened last year. If you competed in the schools cup you are not allowed to play in the youth club cup. Yet it seems it’s one rule for GHA and one rule for everyone else. When are you going to get this sorted and let them play on an even playing field.

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    • Stephen you are accusing a club and more specifically a team within that club that they have cheated. A breach of such rules can lead to teams being thrown out of such competitions. I sincerely hope that you have evidence of such cheating rather than making baseless accusations. If you have no such evidence, which I doubt that you have, then I would hope that you correct your mistake as it takes away from the hard work of coaches, parents and the boys who played so well yesterday.

      Boys are allowed to chose what team they play for. I think it is a credit to GHA and their coaches that boys have chosen to represent them rather than the more established school system. Looking forward to hearing your evidence 😄

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      • I think the evidence is on the U16 semi final YouTube clip of GHA vs. Peebles. There were GHA players wearing their St Aloysius shorts and socks….nuff said’

        Nobody in the world gets madder or more upset than people being accused of something they definitely did.

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      • Well this is awkward it says so on the schools website, I’ll even quote it for you

        Congratulations to GHA Rugby Club U16s in their win against Peebles in the U16 Cup Semi-Final. 9 of our 4th year Aloysians played with GHA. After a strong 14 point lead, the team worked hard to widen the gap after Peebles brought themselves up to a 14-14 game. With strong coordination and tactics, the team worked together to walk away with a 24-14 win. Captain of the GHA U16s is our very own Nicholas T. (S4), who offered some insightful commentary on the game and how it feels to be heading to Murrayfield for the final against Stirling.

      • It’s not awkward Stephen, it’s no secret that some players at gha attend St Aloysius college. The club is called Glasgow Hutchesons Aloysians. These players play for the club from P1 in many cases and don’t actually attend St. Als until they go to secondary school. If they choose to play for their club what’s the problem? Those that did so and continue to do so have to abide by the same rules as everyone else does on their eligibility. Leave the boys alone and worry about your own club rather than trying to drag down others.

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    • Stephen you are accusing a club and more specifically a team within that club that they have cheated. A breach of such rules can lead to teams being thrown out of such competitions. I sincerely hope that you have evidence of such cheating rather than making baseless accusations. If you have no such evidence, which I doubt that you have, then I would hope that you correct your mistake as it takes away from the hard work of coaches, parents and the boys who played so well yesterday.

      Boys are allowed to chose what team they play for. I think it is a credit to GHA and their coaches that boys have chosen to represent them rather than the more established school system. Looking forward to hearing you evidence 😄

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    • Stephen I merely asked to see the evidence you had as this was such a serious accusation so I assumed you had proof. You are the one who seems upset about 15 year olds winning a rugby match not me.
      On another note St Aloysius did not have an under 16 team this year so find it amazing that the boys managed to play for them in a cup competition this year….I know they are good but they aren’t that good. If that’s the basis for your statement I think that translates to ‘I don’t have evidence’. I wore a Scotland shirt recently doesn’t mean I was playing in the Six Nations

    • Stephen I merely asked to see the evidence, that I presumed (wrongly) you would have before making such an accusation. St Aloysius did not have an under 16 team in cup competitions this year so I find it amazing that the boys managed to play for both them and GHA…I know they are good but they aren’t that good.
      On a side note I recently wore a Scotland shirt recently doesn’t mean I played in the six nations

    • Stephen I am not the one accusing a group of 15 year olds of cheating; if anyone is upset, I think it is you. I merely asked to see the evidence that I (wrongly) presumed you would have before making such an accusation. St Aloysius did not enter an under-16 team in any cup or conference matches this year, so I find it amazing that some of the GHA team managed to play for them in the cup…I know they are good but they aren’t that good.

      I think some players wear shorts from another team being the sole basis of your evidence that they played for the school in the cup directly translates into you having no evidence. I recently wore my Scotland shirt but did not play in the Six Nations.

      If you want some real evidence, the team sheets are available for your perusal but unfortunately, the facts don’t care about your feelings. Come back to me with proper evidence, I can’t wait to hear it. You better get researching

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      • Stephen – I think it’s terrible that people played in the semifinal that shouldn’t. I’d like to know what the Peebles players were doing in the semifinal given that it was between GHA and Dumfries. Evidence? Flimsy? Just saying! Weapons of mass destruction anyone?

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    • As the grandparent of one of the boys I read with happiness the balanced article above.
      Then I read your comments…..these are a disgrace to you and whatever school/club you are connected with.
      These are 15 year olds who have given everything for eachother, not to mention the best coaches I have witnessed at amateurs level and because one of their team mates packed the wrong kit one day you call them cheats….shame on you.

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  7. Well done the boys of both sides.

    Coaches though what were you thinking?

    Winning by 50 pts in a show piece final having won every game in the regular season (aside from vs Marr when actually tested) with a select super squad assembled from various clubs and schools (who then do not have sides at all) diminishing game time for all others – including your own bench. Very slow hand clap.

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    • What a sad bitter life you must lead. Congratulations to the players involved in a cup final played in a really good spirit.

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  8. Well done the boys of both sides.

    Coaches though what were you thinking?

    Winning by 50 pts in a show piece final having won every game in the regular season (aside from vs Marr when actually tested) with a select super squad assembled from various clubs and schools (who then do not have sides at all) diminishing game time for all others – including your own bench. Very slow hand clap.

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