Youth/Schools rugby: Scots sides gear up for Rosslyn Park sevens

Peebles Under-16s were runners-up at Merchiston Castle Sevens.
Peebles Under-16s were runners-up at Merchiston Castle Sevens.

NEWLY crowned Scottish Schools under-18 champions, Merchiston Castle School, and under-16 Cup winners, George Watson’s College, are among several Scottish teams travelling to London to take part in the prestigious Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens next week. 

It is a huge event event that requires meticulous organisation, such are the numbers involved at the south west London ground. In the under-18 Vase competition alone there are 192 schools competing; add in other age groups and you can appreciate the scale of the logistical task in running this annual tournament.

Merchiston will go into the Rosslyn Park Sevens under-18 Vase competition with the added confidence of having won their own sevens at Colinton on Sunday, where they defeated Watson’s 31-5 in the final. In London, Merchiston are grouped with English schools, Bloxham, Reading and Taunton, while Watson’s face The King’s School Canterbury, Mill Hill and Belmont, and Birkdale School.

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The two other Scotland representatives in the under-18 Vase competition are Dollar Academy, who are pooled with Birkenhead School, Canford School and Gower College Swansea, and Glenalmond College, who are alongside Leicester Grammar, Nottingham High School and St Peter’s RC High School Gloucester. There remains a possibility that Loretto School could also be involved. The Musselburgh-based school is on the reserve list and is waiting to find out if they will take part.

At under-16 level, Watson’s, who are in the same group as Abingdon School, Brighton College and the London Oratory School will be hoping that they can carry their recent good form.

Before they travel to London, Watson’s under-16s will be aiming to add the Goldenacre sevens title this Saturday to their list of wins this season. “We have worked hard this year on making sure the boys enjoy the challenges that the [sevens] game brings,” explained the school’s 1st XV coach, Mike Ker, himself a stylish sevens exponent in his playing days. “It’s a different skillset to 15s and we are pleased to have performed well across all our 7s sides this year from S1 to seniors.”

Runners-up to Watson’s in the Merchiston Sevens under-16 tournament was Peebles High School, who took the opportunity to show that state school/club rugby has strength even in a world that tends to be dominated by the private sector. In the pool stage, Peebles HS had wins over Dollar (22-10) and Durham Cathedral School (26-14) and then in the semi-final the Borderers defeated Stewart’s-Melville College 24-21 in a thrilling tie before coming up against the outstanding Watson’s side.

In the west, Glasgow High School showed their strength by winning the Hutchesons’ Sevens but were thwarted in their own tournament by eventual tournament winners St Aloysius College in the semi-final.


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Meanwhile, in fifteens rugby, Kelso Quins scored a 34-17 win over an out-of-sort Melrose Wasps in the Borders Semi Junior Cup with tries from Mitchell Laing, Archie Barbour, Ashton Asante (2), Ryan Gibson and Brodie Donovan and two conversions from Angus Utterson. For Wasps, Robbie Gunn, Arran Kennedy and Dylan Cockburn scored tries.

“No complaints re Saturday’s result,” admitted the Melrose coach, Nick Alston. “We were well beaten by Kelso who thoroughly deserved their victory. We posted our worst defensive performance of the season and have a lot of work to do before Murrayfield [Youth Shield Final versus Gala Wanderers] in a couple of weeks.”

Kelso will now be hoping that they can reproduce this form on Sunday when they face league winners Hawick Youth in the final of the Borders Semi Junior Cup at The Greenyards. Hawick reached the final with a 20-17 away win over Morpeth with tries from hooker Fergus Bell, stand-off Owain Gray, and wingers Rory Stanger and Finlay Douglas.

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About Alan Lorimer 358 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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