National Youth Boys Under-18s Cup Final: Boroughmuir power past Stirling County

Power and precision key as Meggetland side build unassailable early lead

Boroughmuir celebrate their win over Stirling County in the National Youth Boys Under-18s Cup Final. Image: Bryan Robertson
Boroughmuir celebrate their win over Stirling County in the National Youth Boys Under-18s Cup Final. Image: Bryan Robertson

Boroughmuir 36

Stirling County 17

DAVID BARNES @ Murrayfield

IT was a fair old contest to which both teams contributed fully, but in the final analysis there was always only ever going to be one winner. Boroughmuir’s impressive physicality allied to an accurately executed game-plan meant that they were in control throughout. Stirling made them work for it – and the young Bridgehaugh side deserve huge credit for battling all the way through to score their third try in the last play – but they were punching above their weight.

Boroughmuir walloped County 50-0 when these two sides met in the Conference at the start of September, so the fact that this game was even tighter than the scoreline suggests is a sign of a development programme at Bridgehaugh which is doing what it says on the tin … and that, as both coaches highlighted, is ultimately what this level of rugby should be all about.

“That was a great game, really physical and proper contest all the way through,” said Boroughmuir head coach Richie Lockhart. “We probably dominated for a spell in the second half which stretched the scoreboard a bit, but Stirling are a very good team. They are much stronger than the team we faced earlier in the season, which we expected because they are well coached and well organised.


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“So, I am just delighted that the boys put in the sort of performance they did, especially defensively. We scored some cracking tries but the big thing was that every time Stirling came at us we were able to stop or slow them.”

This is the third consecutive success for Boroughmuir in this competition since Covid and further evidence that the Meggetland masterplan is bearing fruit year-on-year, with Lockhart quick to point out that the performances of the under-18s is a product of a whole club approach.

“I’m lucky, I’ve inherited something here – this isn’t down to me coming in and coaching for the last two years,” he stressed. “We’ve got an ethos and actually some solid process and documentation at the middle of it which the coaches follow and the boys buy into.

“For instance, we don’t go into the season saying ‘we’ve got to win the cup’. That’s not what it is about for us. As head coach of the under-18s, I see my job as: How many boys can we keep involved in rugby when they move out of this age-band into the senior game, ideally at Meggetland? Last year it was 16 with other guys moving away to uni, and this year we are looking at 12, so that’s the real measure of success.”

Meanwhile, Stirling head coach Stuart Imrie was philosophical about the result, generally encouraged by the progress his charges have made in the last few months and generally optimistic about what the future holds.

“We stuck in. The forwards stepped up really well, five of them are under-17 so it is a young pack. The two youngest boys who have only just turned 16 – Daniel Casserly at seven and Layton Bryce at eight – were outstanding. But I think we made three or four mistakes in the first half in terms of missed tackles or missed kicks to touch which let them get a lead which was too much in the end,” he said.

“We got a bit of pressure, got back into it, but we were always chasing the game and tried to go too wide too quickly instead of earning the right, But everyone played really well and is a credit to the club. The better team won. Boroughmuir were phenomenal on their day.

“Forwards-wise it looks good for next season, although we could probably do with some props like everyone else in Scotland,” he added. “Then our under-16s are pretty sharp who were unlucky not to get past Currie and into their final, and they have some game-breakers in their backline, but the issue is keeping them at the club because a few of the private schools go fishing with their scholarships. I think five of the backline have received offers so it is whether they accept it for three months of rugby.

“But getting to Cup Finals like this will help us. Stirling haven’t been in a Cup Final since 2018 so it is great to be back, great experience for these boys going forward, and hopefully the younger ones can be back here next year.”

 

A shuddering early hit by Stirling centre Robbie Truesdale on Boroughmuir stand-0ff Kyle McMillan served notice that there was going to be no quarter asked or given in this contest, but the real tone setter came a few minutes later when blue and green scrum-half and captain Ossian Hollins-Kirk collected a clearance just outside his own 22, shaped to kick but then stepped inside the onrushing defender to launch a coruscating 30 yard break before releasing a glorious backhanded offload which sent Hugo Stewart over for the opening try.

In truth, the first 10 minutes were more scrappy than either team would have liked, as they acclimatised to the cavernous Murrayfield surroundings and the pressure of the occasion.

That was until Boroughmuir sparked the game into life again with Hollins-Kirk once again the catalyst, turning scrappy possession into an attacking opportunity with an offload round the back of the tackler which sent eventual man-of-the-match Fergus Jones rampaging up the left touchline. Hollins-Kirk was on hand again when his centre was eventually halted five yards from the line, and patted scrappy ball back towards winger Sam Webb, who did well to pick up and power over in for the try, which McMillan converted to make it two from two off the tee.

Stirling had a period of pressure inside Boroughmuir’s 22, but couldn’t; translate that into points and then gave their opponents an easy out when they conceded a ruck penalty followed by 10 yards of territory for insolently kicking the ball away.

Boroughmuir, in contrast, were deadly when they next got a sniff, bustling through several sharp phases to take play from halfway to five yards from the line before hooker Flynn Mooney got is body position low and propelled himself home.

County finally got a foothold in the match when flanker Casserly provided the finishing touch to a five-metre line-out maul, and Tom Nodes‘ conversion left his team facing a steep – but not insurmountable – hill to climb in the second half.

 

There was no such profligacy at the start of the second half when Alex Grohmann – who formed a formidable centre partnership with Jones – collected the ball in midfield and motored through two defenders then outpaced the cover defence on his way to the line.

But County weren’t ready to wave the white flag yet and, after again kicking a penalty to the corner, they muscled over for their second try of the night which was finished off by No 8 Bryce.

Stirling huffed and puffed, but struggled to make inroads with ball in hand against their powerful and well-organised opponents, and Boroughmuir delivered the knock-out blow on 56 minutes when replacement winger Hayden Leitch on the left and No 8 Harry Jackaman in the middle both made good ground, before Stewart grabbed the ball from prop Ben Malcolm when he was stopped in his tracks and dived over for his second.

It had been an exhausting contest and there was multiple cases of cramp on both sides during the final 10 minutes, which perhaps impacted the fluidity of the rugby but not the intensity of the game, and a try apiece in the final two minutes provided testament to the unrelenting work-rate, with Leitch muscling over from close range for Boroughmuir following a slaloming run from Luke Whitaker, and Andrew Fleming racing in to score off Baillie McGinley‘s well-judged diagonal.

 

Teams

Boroughmuir: H Stewart; L Whitaker (S McCann 36), F Jones, A Grohmann (L Whitaker 65), S Webb (H Leitch 36); K McMillan, O Hollins-Kirk (K Ritchie 36); B Malcolm, F Mooney (K Ritchie 36), E McAree (L Small 36), W Kurisaru (D Freeborn 51), W Lockhart, O Deane (J Regan 51), L Calder, H Jackaman.

Stirling County: A Banks; A Lawrence, F Dempsey (R Truesdale  62), R Truesdale (L Gova 42), A Pollock (R McDonald 46); B McGinley (E O Cinneide 51), T Nodes (B McGinley  62); M Kesson, L Robertson-Jack (A Cumming 46), J Mitchell (R McKay 27), T Mackin, C Stanners (L Gray 36), K Mooney (C Clayton 36), D Casserly, L Bryce.

Referee: Ciaran Stark

 

Scorers –

Boroughmuir: Tries: Stewart 2, Webb, Mooney, Grohmann, Leitch; Cons: McMillan 2, Armstrong.

Stirling County: Tries: Casserly, Bryce, Fleming; Con: Nodes.

Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 19-5; 19-7 (h-t) 24-7; 24-12; 29-12; 34-12; 36-12; 36-17.

 

Player-of-the-Match: Boroughmuir openside Lewis Calder was compared to the Terminator after the match by head coach Richie Lockhart because “he just will not stop”. Full-back Huge Stewart took his tries well, and Alex Grohmann has a bit about him at inside-centre. But powerful outside-centre Fergus Jones was a big contributor in both attack and defence so he gets the nod.

Talking point: Boroughmuir have proven in recent years that it is possible to emulate what the big private schools regularly achieve in terms of developing physicality and skill-sets in young players. An absolute priority in the 10 year plan currently being developed for Scottish Rugby must be the creation of multiple similar programmes at clubs across the country. As Boroughmuir head coach Richie Lockhart says: “Scottish rugby is a numbers game. The more boys and girls you’ve got playing, the wider the base of the pyramid is, and the more people you can push up that pyramid.” It’s as simple as that.


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About David Barnes 3820 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

13 Comments

  1. This year’s cup teams was based on last year’s league positions which was a disaster.From a Gala wands position we ended up in the cup based on last seasons successes with a young team consisting of at least 11/15 starting moving up from U16.Next year might be favourable nut this format only helped the multi school teams dominate again.

  2. The 4 semi-finalists in the club cups
    Currie, Peebles, Hawick and Ayr (U16)
    Boroughmuir, Stirling, West Of Scotland and Dumfries.

    Where do you think these teams would stand against their respective school teams?

    Watson’s, Stewart’s Melville, Edinburgh Academy and Merchiston.

    • For the U16 games between the club and school teams, I think Currie would have good games against Watsons and Stew Mel. I think they’d be too strong for EA and Merchiston. I don’t think the other U16 club teams would be up to much but could be wrong. Stirling have a good U16 team but just met Currie earlier in training he first knock out round.

      I’d like to think that B’Muir U18 would also compete against their school opposition but again, think that they might be the only club that would.

      Anyway, these are just my opinions and I’d love to see the games happen. Doubt they will, but you never know.

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    • Be good to see the games – cant see a valid reason for it not happening. There is hardly enough rugby played at this age groups.

      Extend beyond the Cup and well get the schools shield and plate teams to play each other as well – top 4 play each other in some form of league format first and second play in a final. Play finals day at Hive/Dam where you would get a cracking atmosphere. Lets make it happen.

  3. Congratulations to Boroughmuir. The hard work and commitment going into the youth teams in the form of the Academy is clearly paying off, well done.

  4. Congratulations to all the club youth teams who took part in finals day. Now would this not be the perfect time that the brain trust at the SRU Academy department would now organise games between the winners and runners up of both the Youth club teams and the Schools winners and runners up at both 16s and 18s or is that to forward thinking. Both clubs and school players and coaches would be very excited to have meaningful games after the holidays this would also help with the international age grade program as it would allow players to play at much higher levels before any international tournaments.

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    • Surely that’s what will be happening with the rest of the season?? Or is it?? Genuinely no idea why else the conference and cup games would be squashed in pre Xmas.

      • Pretty sure its crammed in to accommodate schools who only play one term of rugby. Which doesn’t make sense to me why, a rugby season needs to be longer than 8 competitive games if we are wanting to improve.

    • I think this would be a great idea and can’t understand why they wouldn’t want to see the best playing against each other.

      What I would say to your comment re helping with age-grade selection etc; this is assuming the best players are playing for the best teams – which isn’t always the case. Plenty of players at U16 Edin wouldn’t be involved if Currie played Watsons (as an example). But I understand the point you’re making 👍

      I also think all teams (schools and clubs) at different age groups should be seeded and placed into leagues to compete with other teams at their level. This shouldn’t be done at Club / School level like the Conference is just now for clubs. I think this would be really good for all involved to be playing competitive games week in, week out.

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