ONE of the unfortunate casualties of the covid-terminated rugby season in the spring of 2020 were GHA, who, having cleared the penultimate hurdle in the Youth League Under-18 Cup, were left frustrated by having to miss out on contesting the final against Jed Thistle at BT Murrayfield.
So, it would be just compensation if the current crop of under-18s at the Braidholm club were able to emulate their predecessors of two seasons ago by replicating their success. Cup rugby, which will not start until the January, is, however, still some way off, but solid conference performances now could point to good times ahead in the Cup.
Certainly, there are signs that the Braidholm youngsters are showing good form in Pool A of the national league that suggests a challenge for Cup honours. This season they have achieved wins over Currie Chieftains and current leaders West of Scotland, who have played one game more than their rivals and have three wins from four thus far.
The other club in the mix is Ayr/Wellington, currently lying second in the table, after wins over Chieftains and Biggar following an opening weekend setback against West.
In Pool B, Boroughmuir are dominating the under-18 age group having won four matches from four rounds with sumptuous wins over Highland, Stirling County, Mackie and Perthshire. But perennial producers of quality players, Stirling County, are looking strong at under-16 level, notably having defeated Boroughmuir at this age level.
Also undefeated this season are Peebles Colts, Hawick Youth and Kelso Quins who share the honours in the Borders Semi Junior League (BSJL). Peebles and Hawick top the BSJL table with four wins from four matches while Kelso, having played one game less, have won all three of their games thus far.
Peebles’ latest success was a 27-7 win against a physical Tynedale side at Hay Lodge Park, the result of a positive approach this season. “The lads are training hard and playing some exciting rugby,” says team manager Jamie Lawson. “What is more encouraging is that we are building a real strong team ethos. It’s great to see lads playing rugby again having not participated for a couple of years.”
For their part, Hawick Youth had a comfortable away win over Carlisle Colts last weekend while Kelso were victors in their contest against Alnwick. And after a hesitant start, Earlston HS/Melrose Wasps are showing their strength, recording a 50-23 win over Selkirk YC with a brace of scores from Finn Douglas and Ben Weir, plus single contributions from Robbie Robinson, Felix McLean, Morgan Oliver and Chris Carter, with Luke Townsend converting five of his side’s touchdowns.
In schools rugby, the East Division produced wins for Dollar Academy and Stewart’s-Melville College over respective opponents Strathallan and George Watson’s College. At Dollar, tries by Aonaich Peden, Fraser Gallagher, Leo Cheng and Lyle Hunter gave the home side a 21-19 win over Caledonia rivals Strathallan, who had touchdowns from wing Kyle Robertson and centres Johnny Morris and Alex Thom. At Myreside, Stewart’s-Melville College emerged winners by 17-14 with tries from hooker Elliot Young, full-back Monty Dunlap, and centre Louis le Sueur, with one conversion from stand-off James Lewis.
This coming weekend, Strathallan face another stiff test when they play Merchiston Castle School while Dollar are matched at home with Edinburgh Academy, appearing in their first Conference game this season. Also playing their first game of the tournament is George Heriot’s School who face George Watson’s College at Goldenacre. The fourth fixture is at Inverleith where Cup holders Stewart’s-Melville take on Fettes College.
In the west of Scotland, Glasgow Academy lock horns with St Aloysius College, Marr College are at home to Glasgow High School, and Hutchesons’ Grammar School host Kelvinside Academy.
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