DAVID MCADAM, an avid supporter of Scottish rugby at all levels, and reader of The Offside Line, gives us his take on the 2021 Super6 campaign.
Super6 has lived up to its name. It’s been a super competition. A short, sharp season in good weather, has produced good quality rugby, with 192 tries scored over 33 games at an average of 5.8 tries per game. The TV coverage on Premier Free Sports and BBC iPlayer has been good, giving the 203 players who appeared in the competition good exposure.
There is a wider debate to be had on whether the competition is beneficial to rugby as a whole in Scotland, and expressing appreciation for the product on show this year does not foreclose that debate. It is still possible to enjoy it wherever you stand on those wider issues.
So, having said that, who has stood out in the competition? In picking a team of the tournament I have used three main criteria. Firstly, appearances. This is one indicator of a coach’s appreciation of a player. Secondly, selection for the ‘The Offside Line’s Team of the Week’. This is a little more subjective, but tends to highlight players who have made an impact on the watching public. Thirdly, try scoring. When it comes to the substitutes I am going to give myself a little more leeway, in picking players who have excited me personally for one reason or another.
A very competitive area of the team. Steve Hamilton and Harvey Elms started every game for their respective teams. The experienced Tom Brown and Jamie Forbes both had three nominations for Team of the Week. Logan Trotter and Robbie Nairn both looked good before injury hampered their selections. But I am going for a back three of Matt Davidson (nine + one appearances; three TOW selections), Jordan Edmunds (11 starts, three TOW selections, five tries) and Jacob Henry (five tries in four games, with three TOW selections). Irishman Tom Roche scored seven tries for Stirling County so makes my bench.
Nyle Godsmark and Archie Russell both got four TOW selections, and Russell scored four tries, so they are my centre pairing. Robbie McCallum improved steadily through the tournament and is unlucky to miss out, while 18-year-old Duncan Munn only came into the Bears squad as an injury replacement but ended up making himself almost un-droppable and surely has a big future ahead of him. Grant Hughes started every game for Stirling County and looked at home at both scrum-half and centre, so makes my bench.
Kaleem Barreto was the stand out scrum half. He started every game for Boroughmuir Bears, scored five tries, and with five nominations had more selections for TOW than anyone else. Stand-off is a much more difficult choice. Jason Baggott was top scorer in the tournament with 89 points, Tom Pittman looked an accomplished kicker scoring 67 points in just eight games, before he left for Jersey. But Tom Jordan gets my vote for his 49 points, four TOW selections and his MoM appearance in the final.
With Roche covering the back three, and Hughes the midfield and scrum half, I am allowing myself a free choice for the third back on my bench. Christian Townsend looked promising in his cameos, Cameron Scott showed good versatility for Southern Knights, as did the exciting Martin Cimprich for the Bears, but in the end I’ve picked Marc Morrison the Scottish qualified South African who seems to have a maverick quality which can turn a game on its head when he is on song.
George Thornton and Euan McLaren both had three selections for TOW, more than any other props, so get my selection. Personally I thought the Bears props Ross Dunbar and Dan Winning both showed up well before getting injured, but they didn’t get the wider recognition I thought they deserved. Fraser Renwick, with four TOW selections and four tries, gets my nomination at hooker, with five try Reyner Kennedy, backing him up from my bench. With such an experienced hooker on the bench I am allowing myself two younger props as back-ups. There are a lot to choose from with Michael Jones, Murphy Walker, Shaun Gunn all showing improvements, and Dan Gamble returning strong after injury. But I’ve picked two young unsung props who appeared in every game for their respective clubs – Michael Scott and George Breese.
Tom Everard and Michael Badenhorst started every game for their clubs with Badenhorst picking up four TOW selections and Everard three. They would make a good hard working pair. However, Everard’s reckless red-carding in the final sees him dropped to my bench to be replaced by the hard working Angus Runciman of Southern Knights who had three TOW nominations from his 10+1 appearances. I liked the look of Euan Ferrie and Daniel Suddon got some good reviews so both are unlucky to miss out
There were some big try scorers among the back-rows. Blair MacPherson with eight, was top try scorer in the whole competition. Sam Daly scored five, while Yaree Fantini and Iain Wilson both scored four. Connor Gordon and Ryan Sweeney both started every game for their respective franchise and were models of consistency. In the end, I’m selecting MacPherson and Gordon, and putting Harry Borthwick in the No6 shirt. He had four selections for TOW, and his explosive pace impacted most games he played. For the bench, I am opting for a young player who excited me hugely and looks destined for big things – Rhys Tait, who made nine appearances for the Bears and got two TOW selections.
15. Matt Davidson (Ayrshire Bulls)
14. Jacob Henry (Southern Knights)
13. Archie Russell (Stirling County)
12. Nyle Godsmark (Southern Knights)
11. Jordan Edmunds (Boroughmuir Bears)
10. Tom Jordan (Ayrshire Bulls)
9. Kaleem Barreto (Boroughmuir Bears)
1. George Thornton (Ayrshire Bulls)
2. Fraser Renwick (Southern Knights)
3. Euan McLaren (Southern Knights)
4. Michael Badenhorst (Watsonians)
5. Angus Runciman (Southern Knights)
6. Harry Borthwick (Southern Knights)
7. Connor Gordon (Stirling County)
8. Blair MacPherson (Ayrshire Bulls)
16. Reyner Kennedy (Stirling County)
17. Michael Scott (Ayrshire Bulls)
18. George Breese (Stirling County)
19. Tom Everard (Ayrshire Bulls)
20. Rhys Tait (Boroughmuir Bears)
21. Marc Morrison (Watsonians)
22. Grant Hughes (Stirling County)
23. Tom Roche (Stirling County)