National Youth Boys Under-18s Shield Final: Ayr/Wellington too strong for Hawick Youth

A physical mismatch created a big scoreline but beaten side deserve credit for staying in the fight

Ayr/Welington won the Boys U18 National Youth Shield Final against Hawick Youth. Image: Susan Hay
Ayr/Welington won the Boys U18 National Youth Shield Final against Hawick Youth. Image: Susan Hay

Hawick Youth 27

Ayr/Wellington 64

ALAN LORIMER @ Hive Stadium

AYR/WELLINGTON retained the National Youth Boys Under-18s Shield title by outgunning Hawick Youth at The Hive in a game that produced a total of fifteen tries spread unevenly in a 2:1 ratio favouring the west coast side and from which hooker Jamie McAughtrie laid claim to five of the Millbrae side’s tally.  

Seen from the off-pitch view point, this was very much a mismatch from the physicality aspect. Ayr were able to field a powerful forward pack among whom prop Jake Shearer had been involved with the Futures XV in Super Series rugby,  and as such dominated the muscular side of the game.

Hawick despite struggling to cope with Ayr’s bigger forwards looked dangerous at times behind the scrum where inside centre Luke Scott constantly threatened. For Ayr, full-back Daniel McKinlay looked dangerous on the move but their principle threats were in the forwards and notably their intelligent back-row.


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Retaining the Shield certainly compensated for Ayr’s difficulties earlier in the season as Colin Duck, their head coach explained, saying: “It was a very satisfying win. From our point of view, from where we were in July until now there has been a steady progression and the boys did today what we’ve wanted to do all season.

“I think the scoreline flattered us a wee bit but I felt we did well. We kept our structure simple and resisted the temptation to play sevens. We never felt comfortable with our lead as Hawick always looked capable of breaking away and getting a try.

“I felt that we were fortunate to have a few powerful players available today. Jamie McAughtrie and our captain Euan Doak have just found out they have been called into the Scotland U18 training squad and, of course, Jake Shearer is one of the physically strongest individuals in U18 rugby just now. They make a huge difference and are a big advantage no matter who are are playing. Physicality and power makes a huge difference at U18 rugby and with our full squad available we have a lot of it.

“That said, the other players did what we’ve been working on for this game. Our midfield defence was excellent and that’s the key thing we’d been practicing as we know how good Hawick’s backs are. We put them under pressure and, mostly, kept them at bay. It was very satisfying to win by playing the way we have been training towards.”

For Hawick, it was a hard ask.  They had reached the final of the Shield with a bye in the quarters and then an easy semi-final against what their own coaches admit is the weakest Melrose Wasps team for years.

Although well beaten in points and aware that it was something of a men against boys contest, Hawick were not downhearted. Their coach Garry Douglas conceded it was a difficult game saying: “The physicality was huge but the way we tried to play and get round them was great. We could easily have been ‘nilled’ today. It didn’t happen because we stepped up a bit.

“What I genuinely feel is that I’m really proud of the boys. Every one of them who stepped on the park put themselves on the line out there. One thing that sticks in me, however, is the safety issue. We had a guy playing against us who’s been playing in Super Series. I don’t think it’s really fair that he’s playing against guys who could be as young as 16. It’s not sour grapes but I really think there is a safety issue there.

“But that’s to take nothing away from Ayr. I know Colin Duck well and he’s a very good coach. They were well drilled and am sure would have done well in the Cup. We must move forwards now. We’ve got a great group of coaches and as we’ve got the majority of these players for next season we’re going to go somewhere”.

 

Somewhat belying what was to come, Hawick made a brisk start to the game, scoring within the opening two minutes after Ayr failed to secure the ball at the kick-off allowing the young Greens to launch an attack that ended with Luke Scott, the son of former Scotland hooker Steve Scott, to dash over.

But it was a false dawn for Hawick who were put on the back foot immediately as Ayr used their greater physicality to make ground from a tap penalty allowing McAughtrie to crash over. The conversion was missed but kicker Cole Graham was on target after  Ayr’s second try this time from a powerful run by back-row and skipper Doak.

Matters became worse for Hawick Youth when Ayr attacked from deep through scrum-half Cole Graham to gain a foothold in the Borderers’ red zone and inevitably Ayr’s physicality produced a try, this time by No 8 Jake Paton, converted again by Graham.

Ayr were punching holes in the Hawick defence all too easily and after the Ayr forwards had made ground, the backs were given their chance to show their potency, with slick handling producing a try for centre Jamie McIlroy.

Then, after Hawick had been reduced in number by one, following the sin-binning of lock Ellis Dirom, Ayra again used their greater physical advantage to pressure their opponents, and from a breakdown in Hawick’s handling centre Sandy Hay gained possession before surging in for his side’s fifth try.

Ayr’s hunger for points was undiminished and when they attacked from a line-out on the five metre line, their forwards did the damage to create a second try for McAughtrie converted by Graham.

Fortunately for the game, Hawick had not given up and got their reward for endeavour with a close range try by stand-off Riley Muir to go into the break trailing 10-36.

Ayr continued where they left off in the first half with a try from deep by wing Dan O’Brien, Graham adding the extras but Hawick showed their determination to show their skills with a clever try made by a reverse pass and intelligent and swift running from try scorer, Harley Bryson.

Hawick were immediately punished for their scoring audacity when, from a penalty created line-out, Ayr set-up an unstoppable maul, resulting in McAughtrie competing his hat-trick, Graham’s conversion goal bringing up the half century of points.

But from a quick tap penalty Hawick showed more fighting spirit to grab their fourth try scored by Mikey Swailes.

Ayr soon returned to business as usual with a tap penalty try and a fourth for McAughtrie, Graham’s conversion extending the west side’s advantage to 57-20.

Again to their credit, Hawick Youth were able to make a further statement with a try by outside centre Filip Kubik , this time Hawick succeeding with the conversion kick .

Ayr, however, had the final say with tenth try – from close range – by McAuchtrie to bring his tally for the match to five. Appropriately, man-of-the-match Graham kicked the conversion goal to sign off a polished performance both by himself and his team.

 

Teams –

Hawick Youth: G Cartner; J Vevers, F Kubiki, Luke Scott, B Hughes; R Muir, A Common; A Cannon, J Brown, C Crawley,  E Dirom,  H Bryson, K Wilson, M Swailes, W Donaldson Replacements: J Wood,  D McGuiness, R Muir, F Casson,  Z Stewart, Stuart Delaney, E Henderson

Ayr/Wellington: D McKinlay; D O’Brien, J Mcilory, S Hay, Scott Cox; A McLaughin, C Graham; S Rodden, J McAughtrie, J Shearer, T Lambert,  T Campbell, E Doak, J Mann, J Paton Replacements: S Gamble, F Bradley, D Wright, F Kellett, C Alexander, L Duncan, X Shaw

Referee: M Pratt

Scorers –

Hawick: Tries: Scott, Muir, Bryson, Swailes, Kubiki; Con: Gartner.

Ayr/Wellington: Tries McAughtrie 5, Doke, Paton, Hay, McIlroy, O’Brien; Cons: Graham 7.


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About David Barnes 3821 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. Not taking sides on this one but I do recall Stirling County making a similar comment about a Hawick player in an under 16 cup match in 2020. The lad in question was playing under 19 Scotland at the time. What is it hey say about pots and kettles?

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  2. The S6 issue is NOT the players fault who should get to play with his team mates – if needed. The issue is only when a whole side are stacked with 18 year olds come December. Which ONLY happens with the 7 schools in N1 conference. You will see sides (as happened this year) actively lose their “cup” round to get to the “shield” as in cup it really is young men against boys. Long story short some coaches are a bit sad.

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    • I have now seen coachpotato make this comment about the N1 teams being stacked with 18 year olds on a number of threads on this site.

      He doesn’t seem to bother about his opinions getting in the way of the facts.

      Have a look at a number of posts made by N1 school coaches throughout the year on this site and in particular comments about this year’s finalists Stewart’s Melville and George Watson’s.

      There is mention of a number 16 year olds playing key roles in Watson’s Under 18 cup winning team and also the fact that 10 of the current Stewart’s Melville U18 team played in last year’s under 16 cup winning team.

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  3. I fully accept its not the player fault. The fault fully lies with the SRU. we can’t wait for accidents to happen players. We must protect them and allow an even game. The bast team won on the day. That a fact. But SRU must be so glad no-one was injured.

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    • Not sure how the SRU would address that?

      There’s a simple 2 year eligibility period based on birth date, one year on the preceding age grades until U18. There’s a clear difference in physicality across most youth teams, my own lad never being anywhere near “one of the big lads” but having to compete with them, that’s the nature of our sport. With Ayr’s hooker scoring 5 tries, it’s clearly a team that has worked on having an attacking and physical pack.

      The competition itself pits teams from multiple conferences against each other and those teams earn the right to compete and get to the final, which is what has happened.

      Just how you then regulate who’s big and strong and create rules around playing on that basis, that’s opening a can of worms.

    • No problem with the guy from Ayr who played super 6. The problem lies with the SRU. If you can meet requirements to play adult rugby. So be it, to then drop down to under 18 is an accident waiting to happen the SRU have learnt nothing, on player safety. You can’t play super 6 and premiership in the same season. But you can play at youth level. Wake up Sru.

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      • Keith, let’s be clear here. The player in question didn’t “drop down” to U18, he is a legitimate U18 who got the opportunity to PLAY UP for a little bit of the Super Series as part of the Futures squad to help develop home grown talent.

        Appreciate the facts can get in the way of a good story so let’s keep it in context and celebrate youth rugby and those talented individuals that graft for the love of the sport.

        What a shame it’s the sour grapes negative comments that are the headline to this article on the website 🙁

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      • What would you suggest? These young players have no formal development pathway in place for them to offer the experience and game time they need in order to maintain the standards they’ve reached or achieved before they leave the 18’s club set up. Why no U19’s or U20’s at club level? Currently, if they are picked up by a club to play senior rugby that’s great but there just aren’t enough of these teams. Not all talent is noticed by the time they’re 18 and some drop away from the game. Same applies for those who have been noticed… where does this young man go now? Hence, why we do so poorly against our counterpart nations, who have alternative development pathways available to their 18.19,20 year olds. The main ‘sour grapes’ issue here is that a youngster was noticed and given an opportunity, but these opportunities are short lived unless they’re given the chance to play with senior teams for full seasons. What do they do once their opportunity is over, they’re still only 17 or 18 and most clubs wouldn’t consider them as seniors, so they have nowhere else to go but back to their age grade clubs.

        No wonder SRU produce such dismal results. Being short sighted is only an excuse they can use for so long before issues like this arise and they have no ready solution. Isn’t that what they’re paid for? Meantime we have coaches out there adding to the issue by labelling these young men as unsafe players? Would they have preferred that he sat on the sidelines for the next few years?

  4. I’m not sure what Garry Douglas would propose in order to avoid any ‘safety issues’ where young men of 16 could be playing against young men of 17 or even those who happen to be 18 at the turn of the year, since age grade rugby – which this is – doesn’t differentiate between those who are more physically able than those who aren’t. I’m pretty sure if these young men were in his team there wouldn’t be a problem. But I read on here regularly how coaches need to be developing the boys earlier, stronger, faster and more able to compete. I guess it’s a case of damned if we do and damned if we don’t?

    If the Ayr coaches are at fault for having encouraged and supported their boys over the years to help them develop into potential front rowers, then surely they’re doing what Scotland needs and SRU has been asking of them for years? Isn’t it a pity Garry Douglas hasn’t taken up that task as a coach himself.

    And, these comments coming from a coach; it’s not a good look.

    It was a good game to watch but from the stands where I was sitting, hearing the downright abuse that was being hurled from grown men on the sidelines towards these young men was ridiculous.

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  5. Well done Hawick Youth .
    Tremendous effort from all to get to final .
    Onwards and upwards .
    Many of you could be pulling on the famous Green jersey in the future .

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