U18 Schools Cup Final: success for Merchiston Castle over Stewart’s Melville

Loretto romp to a 43-8 win over Queen Victoria School in the Under-18s Shield Final

Merchiston Castle celebrate their Scottish Schools Under-18s Cup success over Stewart's Melville. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Merchiston Castle celebrate their Scottish Schools Under-18s Cup success over Stewart's Melville. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Stewart’s Melville 7

Merchiston Castle 20

ALAN LORIMER @ Murrayfield

MERCHISTON CASTLE SCHOOL are this season’s Scottish Schools Under-18 Cup champions after defeating title holders Stewart’s-Melville College by a 4-1 try margin in a quality match that showcased the extraordinarily high standard of skill levels these two schools have reached. 

Conference winners, Stewart’s-Melville came into the match as slight favourites, but on the night Merchiston’s exciting backs displayed pace and accuracy in attack complemented by a brave and determined defence that kept the Inverleith side at bay and which, over the piece, looked to have the edge in fitness.

Merchiston were also able to withstand the close range attacks from Stew Mel’s potent forward pack among whom No 8 Gregor Thomson, skipper and hooker Elliot Young and prop Aidan Symes were impressive. But Merchiston, too, carried threats up front, notably from their outstanding No 8 Tom Currie, the younger brother of Edinburgh Rugby’s centre Matthew, and tight-head prop Robbie Deans.

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Behind the scrum, Merchiston’s Isaac Coates posted a polished performance with a display of astute kicking from hand and clever distribution to his outside backs among whom Lachlan Ferguson was incisive at inside centre.

Merchiston’s head coach, Roddy Deans, praised his side for an excellent performance, saying: “I’ve been involved in many games of rugby but that was the best yet. We came in as underdogs because Stew-Mel had won the conference and were unbeaten all year, and they beat us earlier in the year.

“We knew that if we could get someway quick ball we could play and we did that tonight and scored some incredible tries. We came here to play and that’s what we did. We wanted to get the ball wide. We’ve been working on our attack for weeks and weeks and were lucky that it’s paid off.”

The feelings of Stew-Mel’s coach Stuart Edwards were understandably less ecstatic but he was quick to praise his victorious opponents. “We’re disappointed but absolutely no complaints,” he said. “Merchiston deserved that win. They just fired a bit sharper than we did. We just never quite got going.”


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Stewart’s-Melville looked the hungrier in the opening exchanges and it was they who created the first scoring chance with a break by Benjamin Roger and support from scrum-half Jake Burns ultimately leading to a penalty. They opted for the scrum only for the backs to spill the ensuing possession with the line beckoning. From the resultant scrum, Coates removed the danger with an elegant 50 metre touch finder.

Then, from a penalty-created line-out, Merchiston moved the ball wide, using their blindside wing to create extra space and then showing clever handling skills to send Amaan Raza over for an unconverted try in the corner.

Having scored on the left flank, Merchiston applied their attacking skills to the opposite side, again with slick back play and then a forceful run by flanker Glen Crawford that set up a try for Alex Callaway, sending his side into the half time break with a 10-0 advantage.

Clearly rattled by ending the first half in arrears, Stew-Mel imposed their powerful forwards on the game and came close to scoring when Young was held up over the line. Then, having worked out where their advantage lay, Stew Mel used their heavy ordnance once more, this time resulting in a try for Symes with the conversion by James Lewis.

Merchiston quickly quelled any sense of a Stew-Mel surge by again moving the ball cleverly for Ferguson to score wide out for his side’s third unconverted try to put the Colinton school two scores ahead again.

It was becoming clear that Merchiston were dominating the battle of the backs as yet another wide handling move brought a further reward with a second try in the corner for Raza.

Merchiston then suffered what might have been a game changing moment when Currie was shown the yellow card for a tip tackle, ruling the outstanding back-row out of contention for the man-of-the-match award.

In the event, Stew-Mel tried to make their one man advantage tell and looked to have scored when replacement wing Isaac Johnston touched down in the corner only for the final pass to be ruled forward. It proved to be their last chance of staging a come-back and as the clock showed 70 minutes it was Merchiston who were celebrating a deserved victory.

Meanwhile, Loretto romped to a 43-8 win over Queen Victoria School in the Under-18s Shield Final.

Teams –

Stewart’s-Melville College: M Dunlap; R Henderson, L Le Sueur, B Roger, G Macfarlane; J Lewis, J Burns; A Symes, E Young, J Limb, R Pratt, A Maitland, C Burns, F Douglas, G Thomson. Subs E Waugh, C Harte, J Spencer, K McMillan, C Ross, J Gordon, I Johnston.

Merchiston Castle School: B Riley; A Callaway, L McCarroll, L Ferguson, A Raza; I Coates, M de Villiers; A McGregor, J Sibbald, R Deans, O Palmer, J Blair, T McGregor, G Crawford, T Currie Subs M Gray, G Stephen, C Macdonald, M Brown, J Wight, T Robertson, D McCall Smith.

Referee: J Perriam

Scorers –

Stewart’s-Melville College: Try: Symes; Con: Lewis.

Merchiston Castle School: Tries: Raza 2, Ferguson, Callaway.

Scoring sequence (Stewart’s Melville first): 0-5; 0-10 (h-t) 5-10; 7-10; 7-15; 7-20.

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About Alan Lorimer 339 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. Thanks for all of those unappreciated pieces of information with regards to what i’m assuming to be your son’s achievements in and outside of school. To my knowledge, he has played more than 5 matches as a sub for this team so i’m unsure as to how reliable your source of information is if you are so certain that he has NEVER been played as a sub. As someone who is familiar with Joseph Farquhar’s rugby prowess, i would appreciate if you didn’t completely discredit all the hard work he has put in throughout the entire season as a STARTING winger. I also strongly feel that it would be much easier for the publisher to resolve his unintentional error (which isn’t his mistake as the starting winger suffered an unfortunate injury prior to the final) if you didn’t write a full email-like response to the article and throw around endless flaunts with attempts to make him appeal to SRU scouts or whatever it may. I understand that the boy is widely regarded as something of a ‘pace merchant’, but being fast will only get you so far in the sport of rugby and with that being said, your statement about him playing for Scotland someday is a little far fetched. Surely you have noticed how many ‘dislikes’ your egoistic and frankly, unneeded comment has managed to get.
    I wish you have a nice rest of your evening, and hopefully you can take the time to not only read this, but reflect dearly on it.

  2. Is there a link to the Loretto v QVS game (as per the header to the article) – would be great to read that one too ? Many thanks

    • The strap-line doesn’t say we have written an article on that game. It was provided to inform the reader of the score in the second-tier competition.

  3. Dear Mr Lorimer,
    Please could you kindly correct the name of the 2 Try scorer, (no.11 Wing) for Merchiston Castle School was Amaan Raza and not Joseph Farquhar. There’s obviously been a misprint as Amaan played the entire game and has never played as a sub for the First XV. Amaan has competed as a sprinter for Edinburgh Athletics at the Glasgow Arena, and is well known for his pace in Scottish Schools Rugby. Incidentally, Amaan was Man of the Match when Merchiston Castle School won the U16’s Scottish Schools Cup Final held at Murrayfield Stadium in 2019. He has his sights firmly on a career in Rugby (hopefully for Scotland) and plans to continue playing at the highest level possible while at University.
    This is why it’s important that any coverage he receives must be accurate.
    Many Thanks and hope you can correct the article.

    • Hello,

      This has been corrected. We were unaware of the late change to the starting XV due to the injury suffered by Joseph Farquhar during the warm-up at the time publication.

      Sorry for any confusion causes.



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