Unveiled: TOL’s Inter-District Championship Team of the Tournament

Jae Linton of The South is at No 8 in the Inter-District Championship team-of-the-tournament. Image: John Durham
Jae Linton of The South is at No 8 in the Inter-District Championship team-of-the-tournament. Image: John Durham

KIRK FORD’s value as a tactician with an excellent kicking game was evident throughout and particularly so during The South’s opening weekend comeback win over Edinburgh at Stoneyhill, when his educated boot pinned the capital side back deep inside their own half during the crucial third quarter of the match. Meanwhile, Connor Faulds injected real pace from back field and cut some really nice angles for Caledonia Reds. But Edinburgh skipper Charlie Brett gets the nod at full-back on the back of his devastating broken field running game, with his is behind-the-back flick to lay on the capital side’s second try scored by Rory Hindhaugh against Glasgow a moment of sublime magic.

Highland provided Caledonia Reds with a twin threat in the wide channels though the agile Adriu Muritoke and the hard-running Magnus Henry (who scored a brace against Glasgow & The West), so that pair are unlucky to miss out on selection. Instead, the two wing berths go to Callum Anderson of The South (a full-back who grew throughout the tournament whilst playing out of position, culminating in two tries, an assist and a man-of-the-match award in the final game against the Reds) and Ryan Daly (who was always a threat with ball in hand for Edinburgh, scoring a try and making another against The South, whilst solid in defence throughout the campaign).

Robbie Kent sat out the vast majority of this Premiership season with Edinburgh Accies through injury and showed what a big miss he was for the Raeburn Place men with sublime footwork, deadly intent in ion space and intelligent defence. so he wears No 13. His midfield partner is the tactically astute, incisive running and ever-reliable Conor Bickerstaff of Glasgow & The West.


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Callum Beckett earned praise for his tactical acumen and his razor-sharp sidestep for Caledonia Reds so he edges out the shrewd Colin Sturgeon of Glasgow & The West, who won man-of-the-match in defeat against The South for his prowess off the kicking tee in treacherous conditions at Poynder Park which kept his team in the contest.

Doug Crawford started only the last game of the campaign against Caledonia Reds and played well, but he was a game-changer off the bench in the earlier two matches to help The South finish strongly to claim the spoils against Edinburgh and Glasgow, so he gets the nod at scrum-half ahead of Harry Russell of Caledonia Reds, who is on the bench, and Robbie Baird and Grant Baird of Glasgow.

The South captain Shawn Muir led from the front as always, so teams up alongside his equally reliably excellent Hawick club-mate Fraser Renwick at hooker, in a front-row which also features Struan Cessford of Caledonia Reds, who showed all of his experience as a powerful scrummager to win some big penalties and as devastating maul defender.

Keith Melbourne was vital to The South’s line-out, carried hard and impressed throughout the campaign with his work-rate and physicality, so he lines up in the second-row alongside the impressively mobile and equally relentless David Andrew of Glasgow & The West. Michael Badenhorst of Edinburgh is cut from the same cloth and is named on the bench. This means Dalton Redpath, who was man-of-the-match versus Glasgow but unavailable for The South’s final match against the Reds, is very unfortunate to miss out.

Malachy Keough was primarily deployed in the second-row for Caledonia Reds but is a genuine six who tends to get pressed forward because of his size. He was a consistent high performer throughout this Inter-District Championship, as he was for Heriot’s Blues in the Premiership this season. The fact that Connor Sutherland – yet another ferocious competitor with a huge engine out of Hawick missed the first game for The South against Hawick was a consideration in the tightest of calls. Meanwhile, Rohan Pottie of Glasgow & The West is worth a mention for his opening round defensive heroics against

Newton Stewart’s finest, Mark McCornick  as he did last year  proved that bulk and league-ranking does not preclude a player from excelling in the Inter-District, twice being selected within the Glasgow & The West squad as their man-0f-the-match. Scottish Rugby’s media team should think about producing a 90 minute highlights reel of the openside flanker’s defensive endeavours as they seek to impress upon aspiring players the value of ankle tackling. His excellent work both sides of the ball, means he gets the nod ahead of the always impressive Callum Renwick of the South, who runs perhaps the best support lines in the club game.

Jae Linton put in  three massive 80 minutes for The South at No 8. His ability to ride tackles and consistently contribute at the moments when his team most need it was key to his selection ahead of Jamie Sole  who was central to Edinburgh’s late surge to victory against the Caledonia Reds in round two – and the always rumbustious Blair Jardine of Glasgow & The South.

Rory Kirkpatrick  who was a top performer for Edinburgh in all three games as source of line-out ball, a thorn in the opposition’s side defending the maul and all-round workhorse both sides of the ball all over the park – can be relies upon to make an impact off the bench.

 

 

15. Charlie Brett (Edinburgh/Currie Chieftains)

 

14. Callum Anderson (The South/Selkirk)

13. Robbie Kent (Edinburgh/Edinburgh Accies)

12. Conor Bickerstaff (Glasgow & The West/Marr)

11. Ryan Daley (Edinburgh/Currie Chieftains)

 

10. Callum Beckett (Caledonia Reds/Currie Chieftains)

9. Douglas Crawford (The South/Melrose)

 

1. Shawn Muir (The South/Hawick)

2. Fraser Renwick (The South/Hawick)

3. Struan Cessford (Caledonia Reds/Heriot’s Blues)

4. Keith Melbourne (The South/Kelso)

5. David Andrew (Glasgow & The West/Marr)

6. Malachy Keough (Caledonia Reds/Heriot’s Blues)

7. Mark McCornick (Glasgow & The West/Newton Stewart)

8. Jae Linton (The South/Hawick)

Replacements 

16. Paul Cairncross (Glasgow & The West/Glasgow Hawks)

17. Ali Rogers (Glasgow & The West/Marr)

18. Alex Apthorpe (Glasgow & The West/Marr)

19. Michael Badenhorst (Edinburgh/Musselburgh)

20. Rory Kirkpatrick (Edinburgh/Heriot’s Blues)

21. Harry Russell (Caledonia Reds/Falkirk)

22. Max McFarlane (Glasgow & The West/GHA)

23. Kirk Ford (The South/Hawick)


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26 Comments

  1. Andrew Acton formerly of Marr Rugby called out KQ fairly seeking positive contributions resolving the toxic culture. Fair doos pal, but are you best placed to offer advice given you cheated and found guilty for taking steroids by the SRU ?

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  2. It is a good question about how the Pro A teams will be constituted and what scope there will be for club players to be involved.

    The SRU has said that the A teams will most likely be U23 players. Looking at the Pro teams, they both have around 23 players, 15 from the Pro academy and 8 or so on Pro contracts. So, on paper, they could both field a team from their own resources.

    However, they have gaps in some positions and not all of their players will be available due to injuries or call ups to the Pro team. So there should be a number of places available for club players to get a shot.

    This is how the English Premier A teams worked, primarily the academy boys, with some Pro players and some club players called up to fill the gaps. It was a sound system, gave the coaches a chance to look at some of the young club players who were standing out in club games.

    I doubt there will be all that many A fixtures, due to costs and player availability
    The URC A games, which involved the 8 Irish and Welsh teams, were played at the start of the season and post season IIRC, they got 7 or 8 games. The Premier As got about the same.

    It would be great if it was a full fixture list, like the French academy teams, but I don’t think that is financially or practically feasible for the Pro teams.

    But half a loaf is better than nothing. The young academy boys need to be progressing by playing competitive games against their 6N peers, rather than just doing S&C and gym stuff all season.

    The chance to call up some club players is a good opportunity to find some additional talent that can step up to Pro academy or Pro team level.

    Now we just need to find some other Pro teams able and willing to field A teams!

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  3. I think we can celebrate with the guys chosen for their districts their achievements. No one compelled them to play – all those selected opted to play so it obviously meant something to them. It’s great that players like McCornick from Newton Stewart, or Rendall in Orkney, who maybe don’t have time to travel to train and play top level rugby every week, can commit to a short sharp series and show their ability.

    The questions around the comparative level of SS and IDC are pretty pointless because they were attempting to do different things.

    What would be interesting – and is maybe an idea for a future round table discussion for TOL – is to get some players together who have played Super Series, Club Rugby and IDC and have a conversation about how the standards compare, what each level offers, where they could learn from each other, and how player development might be served by each of them appropriately. I’m thinking of players who played a fair amount of super series like James Coupar, Struan Cessford, Fraser Renwick and Grant Shiells, along with people who maybe joined super series with pro ambitions but find themselves in club/IDC rugby for now – Tom Lanni, Callum Beckett, Ali Rogers. Someone like Gregor Christie or Michael Badenhorst who have come from other countries and ended up playing at all these different levels in Scotland would also be great contributors to that kind of discussion.

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  4. @AngryGala2

    There is a great opportunity for you to be involved at the sharp end of Scottish Rugby. The SRU Vice President role is available this year. Given your robust views on how everybody seems to be getting it wrong, put yourself forward with your manifesto and see how you get on.

    I look forward to engaging with you at the hustings.

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    • No need for comments like this. Whats the point other than to ridicule someone and drive them out of the forum? This is a discussion forum, not an echo chamber, people should be allowed to have opposing views without others resorting to bullying, name calling and snide comments.

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      • The funny thing is Opinions – I’m the one called the bully by these people! Its a classic tactic of his. You need only read the articles this week to see the abuse hurled my way for having an alternative viewpoint (at times) which threatens theirs. It is sad really.

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      • If that’s directed at me, I’m not being snide or bullying.

        It’s a genuine request. We need more voices and differing opinions in public. Not hiding behind monikers on a webpage.

        Sadly it’s really easy to have pot shots at others. AG2 seems to have a particular thing for Keith Wallace and uses petty name calling as well.

        Pot meet kettle.

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      • Just because Keith ‘Dodson’ Wallace is your quote ‘personal friend’ does not mean he is immune from criticism Ward. He is a public figure now with a lot of responsibility, in one of the biggest roles at the SRU, and should (rightly) be challenged and held to account.

        Talking to members of clubs throughout the country on how the leagues have been restructured, not to mention the other stuff! – he has started off poorly.

        Genuine request my arse – your fooling no one pal. But hey, you never know – i may need to take up the VP role and set our house back in order the way things are going!

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      • Not only thin skinned but able to attribute intention. What a guy!

        It is a genuine request. You have your views on how the game should be organised in Scotland. Put yourself out there and stand for office.

        As has been pointed out to you previously, if you are going to reply to messages at least use grammatically accepted terms when referencing the contributor.

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        • Angry Gala: If you can’t converse like a grown up on this platform then you are going to be blocked.

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      • What i find amusing in all this Mr Barnes – is that you don’t call out the inexcusable above it all behaviour highlighted by ‘Opinions Please’ which has many upvotes suggesting this is not an isolated opinion!

        Why are you also not calling out the behaviour of others who have been hurling abusive language in the previous articles towards me and a few others of different thoughts? Its very much comes across as a ‘what fits my narrative’ moderation.

        Be unbiased, this is all i ask. I will refrain my language from now on – providing it applies to everyone!

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        • Perhaps consider the standard and tone of your own comments and reflect on why these things keep happening to you?

          13/01/2024 – Angry Gala commented: “You think the bumpkins on here will consider that?”
          08/04/2024 – AngryGala2 commented: “Aye he won’t be responding to that Jim! He is clueless.”
          10/04/2024 – Angry Gala commented: “Shut up – you idiot”.
          12/04/2024 – AngryGala2 commented: “Genuine request my arse – your fooling no one pal.”
          At various points recently – AngryGala2 commented: “Keith ‘Dodson’ Wallace” (whatever that is meant to mean)

          Take personal responsibility.

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    • AG2 – As far as anyone is aware, the Inter District Championship was never considered a bridge into the professional game, so your question lacks relevance.

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      • I have seen many, many comments on this forum over the years demanding that Super Series be replaced by the IDC. So clearly some people are eager for this to be the case CheerUp!

        Tell me – why should the IDC not be considered an avenue now that it is the highest available option to be seen?

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    • You know when you blindly defend S6 and make comments like this you should really check to see how many S6 players were involved. It’ll help you making a total laughing stock of yourself.

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    • I am merely asking the question ‘RugbyFan’ why is it so difficult for someone to answer yes or no, and if yes, who? Where have i mentioned S6 in all this?

      These defensive responses from yourself are telling. This is the furthest a player can reach before the pro game now – i’m curious why you think it is unreasonable to ask which players can make the step up – this is after all what happened before semi-pro rugby.

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      • That’s factually inaccurate. We were told during the male pathway review update that they expect club players to get game time with the professional A teams. This will have to happen given the inevitable squeeze which is coming on pro squad sizes.

        In fact, a significant number of players from the IDC have been invited to be part of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors squads for the upcoming Super Series Sprint.

        Whether this approach will prevent the club game becoming detached from the performance pathway is a live question. But you can’t have that conversation if your starting position is wrong.

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      • Thank you for a genuine response TOS.

        A sides for Edinburgh & Glasgow are professional opportunities imo, and therefore this is the leap from Amateur to Professional i refer to.

        Which players have been invited up? How many is a significant amount?? Where will these opportunities to get game time for aspiring amateurs come from once the super series ends? At the moment i see some very half-baked plans for ‘A’ sides planned by Keith ‘Dodson’ Wallace and co.

        However this reminds me of some original plans for the super-series sides to play against Welsh and Irish sides. Its all coming across as extremely amateur and to the detriment of young Scottish players once the A sides inevitably fall through.

        If the A sides are the way this is going to go, i hope to see extreme scrutiny from TOS. Will the A sides be getting the same number of competitive games that a super-series side currently receives? How will they decide which players will get the call-up? Will it be age-capped to provide our youth with more opportunities? Will there be attempts to build a fan-base around the A sides and grow the game around the country, or is it purely performance?

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      • TOL from memory, and I may be wrong, they weren’t sure how they were going to select from the club game into the A teams. They admitted they didn’t have the staff to scout the premiership teams and Nat games and the notion of relying on clubs to put players forwards got a mixed response. So how will that direct route from club into pathway A teams happen? Hoping for more detail on this soon.

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      • The Super Series Sprint starts next week so the Inter-District Championship can not be considered to have replaced it and it wasn’t presented as such in the pathways strategy update. The two tournaments have different functions so no point in measuring the Districts against the stated objectives of Super Series especially when Super Series is still ok existence. Whether it can play a roll in future is a different question.

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  5. Did the people who selected the team actually watch the games? I think they have just ran through the names they recognised and chucked them in.

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    • Asked all four head coaches for their nominations from their team and from the opposition teams, and all 15 starters here were nominated by at least two of the coaches.
      Also canvassed the reporters from each game, who tended to have the same recommendations as the coaches.

      Please feel free to post your selection here so that the guys can learn from a real expert 👍🏻

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