Mckelvey Reflects On Productive Festival

Scotland under-18 head coach Grant McKelvey congratulated his 26-man squad on a productive U18 Six Nations Festival in Cork even though the team ended up losing their final match 32-5 to England at Musgrave Park. After England had chalked up a huge 27-0 half-time lead, Scotland responded through a try from hooker Alun Walker. Nevertheless following wins over France and Ireland during the three-game tournament, McKelvey believes the group of teenagers have benefited from the whole experience.

McKelvey said: "The Festival is development based and I think all 26 players have developed over the course of the tournament. Some have coped very well while playing under this level of scrutiny while others have not.  But that is how this programme allows us to expose and develop players to an intense level of rugby. All 26 players will have left this programme having learned a lot.

“I think in the first half we really struggled with our accuracy and that gave England a lot of possession to keep us in the corners. We struggled to deal with the physicality; they were very well drilled in the contact areas and line-out. England out-muscled us in the first 20 minutes with driving mauls.  The first half was a real learning curve for the boys, but I'm delighted to say they came around and in the second half it was 5-5.

“We can take a lot of positives out of that and the players learned a lot about the level of physicality needed and also about the need for accuracy; one missed tackle is absolutely crucial at this level."

Scotland: Sam Hughes (Merchiston Castle School), Max Learmonth (Berwick), Alex Blair (Edinburgh Academy), Alex Dunbar (Annan), Tom Brown (Edinburgh Academy)*, Ross Aitken (Bell Baxter/Howe of Fife)*, Alex Black (Prince Henry’s School); Nicky Little (Hawick)*, Alun Walker (Musselburgh), Craig Owenson (Musselburgh)*, Grant Gilchrist (Stirling County), Robert Harley (West of Scotland)*, Jason Hill (Stirling County), Michael Maltman (Musselburgh), Stuart McInally (George Watson’s College)* CAPTAIN

Substitutes: Mungo Strachan (Fettes College), Luke Pettie (Gala Wanderers), Andrew Fraser (York), Callum Connor (Bradford Grammar), Ross Sutherland (Sandbach), Michael Fedo (Bell Baxter/Howe of Fife), Russell Weir (Merchiston Castle School), Michael Tait (Kelso Quins)*, Jamie Harris (Merchiston Castle School), Seumas MacKenzie (Murrayfield Wanderers), Rory Drummond (Bell Baxter HS), Jamie Harris (Merchiston Castle School)

*Member of Scottish Rugby’s National Junior Academy and supported by Area Institute of Sport.