Super Series Sprint preview: Stirling Wolf Kyle McGhie ready for Watsonians challenge

Scrum-half and competitive coffee barista says Bridgehaugh men are ready to build on positive start to season when they take on reigning champions

Kyle McGhie on the ball for Stirling Wolves during last weekend's win over Glasgow Warriors A. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Kyle McGhie on the ball for Stirling Wolves during last weekend's win over Glasgow Warriors A. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

IT has been a busy few weeks for Kyle McGhie but the former Scotland under-20 cap would not have it any other way. On the rugby front, the 23-year-old scrum-half has been in Super Series Sprint action with his new club, Stirling Wolves, and has been watching his 19-year-old sister Francesca playing for Scotland in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations. And away from rugby, he took part in the UK Barista Championships in London after coffee became a passion during the pandemic.

“It has been a busy time, but a very rewarding time and I have really enjoyed the last couple of months,” McGhie, who scored a cracking try as the Wolves defeated Glasgow Warriors A last Friday night, said.

“Joining Stirling Wolves has been a great thing for me. The culture that [interim head coach] Eddie Pollock, the other backroom staff and the senior players have created at Bridgehaugh is excellent and I think there is something special happening here.


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“I am really enjoying my rugby and learning and feeding off those around me and two wins from our first three games is a pretty good return. I think we showed people what we are capable of by beating Glasgow A, especially in the first half, and it is up to us now to keep those standards up going forward for the rest of the Sprint, starting against Watsonians at home tomorrow [Friday] night.”

Less than 24 hours after the Wolves had recorded their 34-31 bonus point Bridgehaugh triumph over Pete Horne’s men, McGhie turned supporter to cheer on his sibling in the Scotland Women team’s win over Italy at the DAM Health Stadium in Edinburgh.

“Francesca has done very well in the Six Nations, I am really proud of what she is doing right now,” McGhie said about the teenage winger who now has four caps under her belt.

“She is a natural athlete who has real pace and when she puts her mind to something she is very determined, she always has been. In her first four caps she has faced two of the best teams in the world – England and France – away and Wales and Italy at home and the challenge has not seemed to phase her.

“It was great to see the squad defeat Italy and the spirit within the group seems really welcoming and strong, similar to what I have found at the Wolves.

“Francesca and myself often talk about rugby and it is just so great to see her following her dream.”

 

Kyle McGhie with sister Francesca after Scotland's win over Italy at the DAM Health Stadium last weekend.
Kyle McGhie with sister Francesca after Scotland’s match with Wales at the DAM Health Stadium recently.

 

Meanwhile, being in London for the UK Barista Championships at the end of last month was a bit of a dream come true for McGhie. The ‘premier coffee competition which showcases barista perfection’ may not have been on his radar a few years ago, but after a professional rugby contract in Romania fell through in early 2021 he became obsessed with coffee.

“It was the story of the beans and the process that captivated me,” he explained. “I began to explore the flavour profiles and it changed the way I thought about coffee.

“I moved to London to immerse myself in that world, but it’s since being back in Edinburgh and working with Cairngorm Coffee that things have gone to another level.

“Everything happened pretty quickly, but it was amazing to be at the UK Barista Championships recently and I finished 14th”.

McGhie began playing rugby with the North Berwick minis in East Lothian and continued the game in his teens at Loretto School in Musselburgh. He was at the school at the same time as guys such as Robbie McCallum (London Scottish, former Scotland under-20), Ben Muncaster (Edinburgh Rugby and Scotland tourist) and Nathan Sweeney (Edinburgh and former Scotland under-20) were there.

As he moved into the senior ranks, he enjoyed a spell with Musselburgh and played Scotland under-20s in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

“I got two caps in my first year but missed out on the World Championship [in the summer of 2019 when Scotland were relegated] due to a concussion,” McGhie explained. “In 2020 I played in all of the Six Nations games, including the one in Wales just around the time the pandemic was beginning [when Scotland recorded a historic 17-52 win], with Roan Frostwick being the other scrum-half.

“We were due to play in the World Trophy that summer, but obviously everything was cancelled and rugby for me was put on hold for a while like everyone else.

“At that time I had already been playing for the Boroughmuir Bears in Super6 and in January 2021 I headed out to play professionally in Romania, but was back by that March due to Brexit causing visa issues.

“I played for the Bears after that before a spell with Tonbridge Juddians down south, even playing centre for them.

“There was then time with the Southern Knights and now I am with the Wolves and really feel at home here.

“You can learn so much from guys like Eddie, Duncan Hodge, Sean Kennedy and Scott Lawson while S & C coach Luke Guerin has been excellent too at getting the guys feeling really sharp.”

After the Romania opportunity disappeared, does McGhie still harbour hopes of playing professionally one day?

“One hundred percent, yes,” he said, matter-of-factly. “I have moved about a bit, but coming to the Wolves and seeing my sister playing for Scotland has reignited that flame within me to play at the highest level that I can.

“We were playing against a lot of fully pro players the other night against Glasgow A and I feel like the team and myself individually showed up pretty well in that one.

“I just want to keep playing well for the Wolves in the next few weeks and then see where things go.”

 

Stirling Wolves v Watsonians

Venue: Bridgehaugh on Friday @ 7.35pm

Teams –

Stirling Wolves: G Bryce; S Hamilton, B Salmon, M Holden©, L Jarvie; C Jackson, K McGhie; G Breese, G Hiddleston, M Tomasaitis, H Ferguson, J Pow, R Knott, C Gordon, B Grant. Replacements: A Fraser, L Quarm, TC, H McLeod, J Spurway, E Davey, C Jardine, G Smith.

Watsonians: L Millar©; R McKnight, G Pringle, L Berg, A Guthrie; J Baggott, M McAndrew; C Davidson, C Davies, G Scougall, L Ball, J Berrisford, S Cecil, C Wilson, N Irvine-Hess. Replacements: F Duraj, R Deans, R Bratton, J Morris, F Thomson, H Paterson, S King, J Brown.

Key battle: Marcus Holden versus Lewis Berg

Coaches comments –

“I was delighted by the quality of our performance last week in all areas of the game. Our ability to attack in a variety of ways has kept the opposition guessing at times and we hope to continue to ask searching questions of a physical Watsonians defence. Defensively we have been much better this season due to a targeted improvement in work-rate and physicality in the tackle. The players put in a huge shift last week in this regard and we will need to go again in front of another large Bridgehaugh crowd. We’ve made several changes again from last week but the quality of the overall squad means we expect to lift our levels of performance again….”  – Eddie Pollock (Stirling Wolves)

“We head to Bridgehaugh on Friday to play a good Stirling team who have started the Sprint Series well. They have a good back-row and good decision-makers throughout the team so we know we’ll have to be at our best. We made too many errors last week in all aspects of our game, however we still managed to score 33 points, but conceded the same amount. The boys responded well to the review and trained well off the back of it …” – Stevie Scott (Watsonians)

Teams news –

Stirling Wolves: Ben Salmon and Logan Jarvie return from Glasgow Warriors A to make their first starts in place of the injured Ryan Southern and Korie Winters. The experienced Gregor Hiddleston, James Pow and Ruaridh Knott all return to the pack and Angus Fraser the Glasgow Warriors pro will be looking to make a big contribution off the bench.

Watsonians: Craig Davidson comes in at loose-head to start having developed through the club team and Scotland Under-20s. A couple of injuries sees a reshuffled backline with Lee Millar moving from 10 to 15, Jason on Baggott moving from 12- to 10, Lewis Berg moving from 13 to 12, and George Pringle starting any 13. Ross McKnight returns to the wing following a spell with Glasgow Warriors A, Scotland under-18 captain Jack Brown is named on the bench for the first time alongside Bobby Bratton who returns from a spell at Doncaster.

Verdict: Home advantage, winning momentum and the return of several academy/fringe pro players all plays in Wolves’ favour. Home win.


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About Gary Heatly 457 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.