National Youth Finals Day: Stirling County out to break Boroughmuir’s winning streak in Boys U18 Cup

Hawick Youth and Currie Chieftains prove there is talent outside the top tier Boys Conference by reaching U16 Cup Final

Boroughmuir and Stirling County will meet in the Boys U18 National Youth Cup Final at Murrayfield on Sunday. Image courtesy: Boroughmuir Facebook page
Boroughmuir and Stirling County will meet in the Boys U18 National Youth Cup Final at Murrayfield on Sunday. Image courtesy: Boroughmuir Facebook page

DEFENDING champions Boroughmuir return to the international pitch at Murrayfield on Sunday seeking a fourth successive National Youth u18 Cup title when they face Stirling County with a 6pm kick-off.

The Meggetland side come into this match with an unblemished record this season, having finished their top tier conference campaign unbeaten, and following this with three wins from three of the first stage of the Cup in a group that contained tough opponents in Ayr/Wellington and Peebles Colts.

A quarter final win over Gala Wanderers took Boroughmuir to the semi-final where they had to work hard before overcoming an impressive Dumfries Saints side at Meggetland to book their place on the big stage at Murrayfield.


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Reflecting on the development of his squad up to this point, Boroughmuir’s head coach, Richie Lockhart, said: “The attitude, energy and focus of the boys across the whole squad has been first class this season.  They’ve looked even sharper over the last couple of weeks – whether in the 22 for the final or not.

“The boys who are playing know the whole squad got them there and they’ll run themselves to a standstill for their pals,” suggested Lockhart, whose side will be without their pacy wing, Caleb Thomson. “Caleb suffered a bad hamstring injury and is currently recovering from an op,” he explained.

As to the match itself, Boroughmuir will go with the tag of favourites and fuelled on high octane confidence derived from a constant diet of wins and eager to finish on a high. “We’re looking forward to the occasion, the chance to play on the big pitch and to play against Stirling.  We know it’ll be a fantastic match with two strong and highly motivated teams going at it,” predicted Lockhart.

As a club, Stirling County are no strangers to appearing in Youth Cup Finals at Murrayfield over the 40 odd years that the competition has been in existence, reflecting the Bridgehaugh Club’s consistent position of strength in age-grade rugby achieved through a system that was once regarded as the perfect template for youth development.

The likelihood of Stirling making it to this season’s u18 Cup final, however, looked unpromising, such was the shaky start to their competitive programme. But they were able to turn matters around and in recent matches have looked the real deal.

That’s a view with which County’s u U18 head coach, Stuart Imrie, concurs, saying: “We had a sluggish start to the season,  but have really found our rhythm the past couple months.

“We are excited to be back in the finals and are ready to face a powerful Boroughmuir team. I expect the boys will be ready to make up for lost time and show everyone what they can do,” suggested Imrie, who knows that his charges must blank out of their minds a rather one-sided conference match against Boroughmuir early in September.

Since that game Stirling’s young squad has steadily improved, showing their real mettle in their semi-final win against West of Scotland, the club that came closest to challenging Boroughmuir in the Conference after losing just two points in a 19-21 defeat at Burnbrae.

The 34-33 win for Stirling at Burnbrae was not, however, the shock it seemed as County had given notice of their rising confidence in the quarter-final round with a  60-12 demolishment of GHA at Bridgehaugh.

Stirling know that playing Boroughmuir is another level up but if they can continue on what has been an upward trajectory in the last few weeks then stand by for an exciting contest, the result of which is certainly not a given.

 

Boys U18 National Youth Cup Final 

Venue: Murrayfield Stadium

Time: Sunday @ 6pm

Teams –

Boroughmuir: H Stewart; L Whitaker, F Jones, A Grohmann, S Webb; K McMillan, O Hollins-Kirk ©; B Malcolm, F Mooney, E McAree, W Kurisaru, W Lockhart, O Deane, L Calder, H Jackaman. Substitutes: K Ritchie, L Small, D Freeborn, J Regan, H Leitch, M Armstrong, S McCann

Stirling County:  A Banks;  A Lawrence, F Dempsey, R Truesdale, A Pollock; B McGinley ©, T Nodes; M Kesson, L Robertson-Jack, J Mitchell, T Mackin, C Stanners, K Mooney, D Casserly, L Bryce. Substitutes: A Cumming, R McKay, L Gray, C Clayton, E O Cinneide,  L Gova, R McDonald.

 

It may not have the glamour of being played on the international pitch but the U18 Shield match at The Hive between Hawick Youth and Ayr/Wellington has the makings of an intriguing contest, not least because the two teams play their rugby in different leagues/conferences.

Hawick Youth are an integral part of the Borders Semi Junior League which several seasons ago was expanded to incorporate four North of England clubs, each of whom has offered different challenges to their Borders opponents, all familiar with each other’s style of play.

Based at the Volunteer Park in Hawick, the town’s youth team has had the advantage of playing on a 4G surface and that has encouraged a fast style of game that suits the young Greens, whose backline contains considerable pace.

Hawick’s U18 head coach, Garry Douglas, appreciates that his side will have to front up against an Ayr team used to playing in the top tier national conference.

“Ayr are defending the Shield after an excellent win last year. We know that they will bring physicality up front and some serious threats in the backline” warned Douglas.

“Our own preparations have been going well. The lads know how big a test this will be and the big stage can bring added pressure. Hopefully, once they step into the Hive arena, we will have them ready. I’m sure it will make for a very entertaining final,”  predicted the Hawick coach.

Ayr will field a near full-strength team that includes several players who have represented Glasgow & the West. Moreover, their prop, Jake Shearer, has played senior rugby this season and was involved with the Future XV during the Super Series. But despite some stellar players being in the line-up for Sunday, Ayr will have to make sure they bring their top game to the Hive.

Ayr’s coach, Colin Duck, is respectful of Hawick, despite his side not having faced the young Greens. He said: “We know Hawick have a big pack and good backs. Their outside backs seem to score a lot of tries. I also know their coach, Garry Douglas, is outstanding and will have them well prepared.

“For our part, except for one player, our full squad is available for the first time in months and it feels like the boys are peaking at just the right time.  We just want to perform and fight hard and if we do that the boys can hold the heads up and will make the the club proud.”

Ayr reached this Final with with a 36-18 win over Mackie at Stonehaven in one of their better performances this season and then in the semi-final they expressed themselves to a greater extent with a 46-12 win against Highland at Millbrae.

 

Boys U18 National Youth Shield Final 

Venue: Hive Stadium

Time: Sunday @ 6pm

Teams –

Hawick Youth (versus Ayr Wellington at Hive Stadium in the Boys U18 National Youth Shield Final on Sunday @ 6pm):: G Cartner; J Vevers, F Kubiki, Luke Scott, B Hughes; R Muir, A Common; A Cannon, J Brown ©, C Crawley,  E Dirom,  H Bryson, K Wilson, M Swailes, W Donaldson. Substitutes: J Wood,  D McGuiness, R Muir, F Casson,  Z Stewart, Stuart Delaney, E Henderson

Ayr/Wellington: D McKinlay; D O’Brien, J Mcilory, S Hay, Scott Cox; A McLaughin, C Graham; S Rodden, J McAughtrie, J Shearer, T Lambert,  T Campbell, E Doak ©, J Mann, J Paton. Substitutes: S Gamble, F Bradley, D Wright, F Kellett, C Alexander, L Duncan, X Shaw

 

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At the younger age level, the U16 Cup will be between Currie Chieftains and Hawick Youth.  The appearances of both teams in this match says much about the success of both clubs this season and their determination to climb the rankings.

Hawick Youth have steadily improved over the last few months and showed their worth in the semi-final with a 30-5 away win over Ayr.

For their part, Currie, whose U18s have also been impressive this season, the improvement in youth rugby has been part of an overall plan to produce homegrown players. Like their opponents this weekend, Currie looked impressive in the semi-final where they inflicted a 45-3 win over Peebles Colts.

The Shield version at U16 competition is between Gala Red Triangle and GHA but for both teams there will be disappointment that a trip to Murrayfield does not translate into playing on one of the two show pitches. Instead this final will go ahead on one of the back pitches, much to the displeasure, one might conjecture, of parents and supporters.

 

Boys U16 National Youth Cup Final 

Venue: Murrayfield Stadium

Time: Sunday @ 1.30pm

Teams –

Currie Chieftains: B Fraser; E Gettinby, B McDonald, J McLay ©, S Beaton; T Rankin, L Forge; A Pearce, F Hanning, J Taylor, G Thomas,  B Smith, B Young, H Hunter, J Elliott. Substitutes: L Bowman, F Struthers, E Phillips, L Young, H Robertson, F McCool,  A Barnett

Hawick Youth: R Oliver; J Garcia, S Parr, C McLeod, L Beukes; H Wear, J Yallop; C Cannon, C Szoneberg ©,  H Khoury, D Lewis, N Vevers, L Gourley, O Robson, K Wydro. Substitutes: N Samson, J Wight, T Oliver, J Donaldson, E Rall, H Common, A Rutkowski.

 

Boys U16 National Youth Shield Final 

Venue: Murrayfield Back Pitch 1

Time: Sunday @ 1.30pm

Teams –

Gala Red Triangle: E Gullen; N Trayner, M Warner, O Beard,  W Cross;  H Seggie, F Paterson; A McIntyre, C Watt, R Smith, C Luptak, S Graham, D Grabowski, M Murray, Sam Scott ©. Substitutes: J Wallace, J Szott, E Bryan, A Johnston, B Paterson, F Hughes, B McColm.

GHA: C Fitzpatrick ©; D Devany, K Boyle, D McCluskey, A Dale; C Howieson, C Masterton; C Graham, D Logan, D McCallum, L Davis,  L Douglas-Kellie, M Dobbin, R Palmer, R Baxter. Substitutes: G Grant, J Cairnduff, H Ahmad, A Price, R Morrison

 

Meanwhile, for logistical reasons, the remaining boys’ finals, the Plate and the Bowl at the two age levels, are going ahead at venues away from Murrayfield.  On Saturday at Poynder Park, Kelso Quins and Selkirk YC meet in the U18 Plate Final which will follow the Premiership game between Kelso and Marr, and the U18 Bowl final between Kirkcaldy and Hamilton/Strathaven is being played at Kirkcaldy.

The two U16 finals at Plate and Bowl level will be played on Sunday. Deeside make the long journey from the North East to the Borders for the their Plate showdown against Jed Thistle while Aberdeen Wanderers take to the road for their shoot-out with Falkirk in the Bowl Final.


Youth Finals: Kelso and Selkirk roll back the years with Plate showdown

About Alan Lorimer 370 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.

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