Scottish Rugby’s Youth Cup reaches its semi-final stages tomorrow (Saturday 24 January). Holders Stirling County are at home against GHA in one tie, while West of Scotland will entertain Currie at Burnbrae in the other. Both kick-off at 2pm.
County, who have seen off Perthshire, Boroughmuir and Haddington to reach the semi-final, have five players back from the squad that defeated Musselburgh in last year’s under-18 final.
One of them, centre Danny Gilmour, man of the match in that final, will be playing for the Stirling County first XV tomorrow in their Scottish Hydro Electric Premiership Division 1 match against West of Scotland, fresh from scoring a try in County’s crucial12-10 win against Glasgow Hawks last weekend.
Bob McGowan, Stirling’s head coach, said: “It would have been good if Danny could have played for us but we wish him well as he has great potential.”
McGowan reports that County have consistently had around 30 players training at this age-group and in addition to playing other clubs with youth sides they have also acquitted themselves well against some of the top school sides – Merchiston Castle, Robert Gordon’s College and Stewart’s-Melville College.
GHA, drawing the bulk of their team from schools on the south side of Glasgow, are coached by Iain Biggin, Brian Tracy and David Landsburgh, and defeated Dalziel, Strathaven, Dumfries and Musselburgh en route to the semi-final.
Team manager Peter Mathieson said: “A lot of our boys have only been playing for three-four years and to get on to the final would really be a dream come true.”
Mathieson explained that one of the most pleasing spin-offs from youth rugby at GHA was that it had contributed to the revival of competitive rugby at Williamwood High School, where current Scotland prop Euan Murray was educated. “As we’d got more and more boys down to the club that created the impetus to put the school team together again,” he said.
West’s coach, David Pugh, won’t be able to see their tie against Currie, as his duties as doctor with the Scotland under-20 squad mean he’s at a training camp in Edinburgh. “I’m sure I’ll be getting updates by phone!” he said.
“I’ve coached by far the majority of the team from when they first came to the club at Primary 3 and our ethos has remained to get the ball in the hands as quickly as possible and spread it.”
West’s passage to this stage has seen victories over Cartha Queens Park, Hamilton, Highland and Greenock Wanderers.
Their opponents, Currie, have accounted for Edinburgh BATS, Angus Colts and Aberdeen Grammar Rugby and their spokesman, Bob Ormiston praises the support they’ve enjoyed from the senior club with back-row forward Mark Cairns, elder brother of Scotland international centre Ben, leading the pre-season fitness training; and Sean Scott and Campbell Reynolds in charge of the coaching.
Already, one of the Currie XV, stand-off Matthew Scott, has been promoted to the senior squad and others are keen to follow in his footsteps with Alan Whittingham taking over the captaincy in the centre and six players involved in Sunday’s Edinburgh under-17 training session.
It’s a busy weekend for a good few of the Currie boys as after the cup tie on Saturday and the Edinburgh training on Sunday, some of the players will be representing a joint Balerno Community High School/Currie High School team in a Bell Lawrie Scottish Schools Bowl quarter-final against Tain Royal Academy next week.
Our picture shows Stirling County players celebrating after their victory in last year's final