Scotland Under-19s experience steep learning curve against Australian Schools

Rolling maul earns two penalty tries for Ben Cairns' side, but they generally struggle to cope with pace and accuracy of tourists

Lachlan MacKay
Scotland Under-19s prop Lachlan MacKay. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

Scotland Under-19s   14

Australian Schools 46


HAS the demise of Wallaby rugby been greatly exaggerated? It might seem so judging by the performance of the Australian Schools side against Scotland Under-19s at Heriot-Watt University’s Oriam indoor stadium this afternoon.

Against the young Scots, the Australian Schools side were ahead in just about every area of the game, not least in their physicality. Ostensibly drawn from schools rugby in Australia, the visitors had some massive citizens, notably in the front-row where their two props might have attracted the interest of pro coaches.

Behind the scrum, the Australian side ran with pace, skill and not a little power, showing fine technique in off-loading and in how to confuse the defence with dummy runners. Moreover, their front eight players also had pace as lock Max Douglas demonstrated when he finished off a length-of-the field try.

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For Scotland, there was little pre-Christmas cheer.  A positive of their play was the ability of the forwards to maul effectively, earning the young Scots a couple of penalty tries. But behind the scrum, save for one break by stand-off Nathan Chamberlain, there was little threat to an Australian defence that was palpably quick in reorganising.

“The Under-19 programme is designed to give boys exposure to international rugby,” said Scotland coach Ben Cairns. “We have to learn from that. It gives the guys a really good measure of where they’re at. Over the piece of the two games [Wales last Sunday and Australian Schools] we rotated a few positions to give other guys exposure.

“There is not doubt that they’re a very good team at the end of a good tour. They’ve played three games in Ireland and then here. It’s their fifth game together as a group. They also had a tri-nations schools competition with New Zealand and Tonga. They play some terrific rugby. They’re very talented.”

Easy points

The tourists had to wait seven minutes before registering their first points which came a bit more cheaply than Scotland would have wished. From the ruck Australia moved the ball right, their dummy runners creating a clear route to the line for flanker Carlo Tizzano, stand-off Reesjan Pasitoa adding the easy conversion goal.

Then, when wing Viliame Lea, who had caused problems early in the game, skipped through a couple of tackles, scrum-half Spencer James was in support to take the scoring pass, Pasitoa again extracting maximum points.

Not long later, Australian Schools added a third try, this time clever offloading setting up the score for number 8 Will Harris. Pasitoa then made it a hat-trick of conversions.

Despite leading 21-0, Australian Schools opted to kick at goal when they were awarded a penalty, either for practice off the tee or simply to get a breather from the fast pace game they had set. In the event Pasitoa justified the decision by supplying the three points.

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With half time approaching, Scotland kicked to the corner, drove the ensuing line-out. The Australians were penalised. resulting in a yellow card for lock Jeremy Williams, and when the Scots repeated the exercise the visitors again illegally stopped the maul. Referee Charlie Gayther awarded a penalty try to give the Scots some comfort at the end of a punishing first half.

The visiting antipodeans did not have long to wait for another score and this time it was the sheer power of loosehead prop and skipper Angus Bell that provided the additional five points, Positoa again adding the extras.

Scotland appeared to get into a scoring position with a line-out five meters from their opponents line only for an overthrow to give Australian Schools the opportunity to attack from behind their own posts, the length-of-the-field move ending with Douglas taking the scoring pass.

Strangely, Pasitoa missed the straight-on conversion kick, but it mattered little, as from their next attack wing Daniel Ala used good footwork to skip over for his side’s sixth try.

What had been a sparkling performance by Australian Schools was blemished by a red card shown to their pacy full-back John Connolly following a fracas.

Scotland’s spirits were immediately lifted and when they set up a maul close to the Australian line, the visitors again gave away a penalty try. But from the restart Australian Schools obtained quick possession for replacement Thomas Lambert to stroll in for the final points of the match.


Teams –

Scotland Under-19s: O Smith (Ayr); J Blain (Heriot’s), A Mitchell (Hawick), R McCallum (Complutense Cisneros), C Hudson (Loughborough University); N Chamberlain (Hartpury College / Bristol Bears), R Frostwick (Currie Chieftains);  L MacKay (Stirling County), E Ashman (Sale Sharks), A Pleasants (Henley College / Wasps), K Watt (Watsonians), C Henderson (Stirling County), J Timony (Hartpury College), G Wilson (Glasgow Hawks), J Hill (Durham University). Subs: R Jackson (Edinburgh Academy / Edinburgh Accies),  S Fisher (Falkirk), M Wilson (Melrose), J Barker (Leeds Beckett University), C Brown (Kelso), K Kay (Glasgow Hawks), C Bell (Merchiston Castle School / Watsonians), M Stewart (Biggar).

Australian Schools: J Connolly; D Ala, A Bell, J Walton, V Lea; R Pasitoa, S Jeans; A G Bell, B Pollard, Z Hogan, M Douglas, J Williams, L Reimer, C Tizzano, W Harris Subs T Kopua, H Vella, T Lambert, T Van der Schyff, J Pugh, L Albert, C Gordon, B Jimenez.

Referee: C Gayther (RFU)


Scorers –

Scotland Under-19s: Tries: Penalty Tries 2.

Australian Schools: Tries Tizzano, Spencer, Harris, Bell, Douglas, Ala, Lambert; Cons Pasitoa 4; Pen: Pasitoa.

Scoring Sequence (Scotland Under-19s first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-19; 0-21; 0-24; 7-24 (h-t) 7-29; 7-31; 7-36; 7-41; 14-41; 14-46.


Red cards –

Australian Schools: John Connolly


Man-of-the-Match: Australian stand-off Reesjan Pasitoa guided a fast backline with skill and moreover kicked a bucketload of points

Talking point: Bit of a tough one to take. Australian Schools looked very talented and played exceptionally fast attacking rugby. Perhaps the mistake was playing the match at The Oriam , which was a bit like an indoor Sydney Cricket ground for the Australians, and not in the mud and cold of a standard Scottish club in winter.

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About Alan Lorimer 360 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.


  1. Wake up call for how well the academies are preparing these boys for senior rugby.

    This is an Under 19 team well beaten by an Under 18 touring team, who were themselves beaten earlier in their tour by Ulster.

    I wonder how much impact Super 6 will help close this gap.

    • Problem is deeper rooted than you think.The academies pick boys at the age of 15 for a supported role,pick them dont pick them boys waiting on emails not getting emails etc.Then the sru invest aload of money and time in these boys in the supported role,Then some of the boys dont get picked for representative games and in the end give up.The structure works for some boys but doest work for others,We keep picking all these new coaches for 18.19.20 age group.These coaches dont know the boys, They rely on clubs and academies putting boys forward.There are alot of other talented boys in scottish rugby that never got the chance to play in these 2 international games.The academies are good, but they are not perfect there needs to be a review of performance from academies, players and coaches.The game is changing in scotland with super 6.The bottom line is
      Club rugby is where these boys will make there name in rugby.I know the boys that have come through the academy system but how many have been lost.

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