Scottish Rugby’s Head of Community Rugby, Colin Thomson, spoke confidently about the increased participation in the sport at the launch of this season’s National Youth Cup at Murrayfield Stadium today.
A further 20 teams have been added across the national competition’s three ages grades (under-15, 16 and 18) with 147 sides taking part from Selkirk to Stornoway.
National Midi final (under-15 and under-16) – Sunday 21 February, Murrayfield
National Youth Cup final (under-18) – Monday 26 April, Murrayfield
“This is an excellent illustration of the work by clubs and volunteers, in partnership with the governing body, to increase the popularity of the game among today’s young people,” said Thomson.
Last season Gala girls’ coasted to under-15 glory in the first of three back-to-back National Midi Finals at Murrayfield before Stirling County retained their under-15 title with an emphatic 52-5 win over Ayr. Then Musselburgh won a well contested under-16 final with an 18-14 win over Dumfries.
Stirling County went on to confirm their reputation as one of the prolific nurseries of domestic talent when their under-18 side lifted the National Youth Cup with an impressive 34-13 victory over the Currie Colts.
Thomson was joined by playing representatives from current holders Musselburgh (under-16) and Stirling County (under-15 and under-18) who now step up to the task of defending the title won by their age-grade elders.
Thomson said: “The clubs here today represent the many who commit a considerable and commendable amount of time and effort to developing youth rugby, ensuring that youth development is an integral part of the club. I’d like to thank them for making the Youth Cups such a vibrant competition.”
Stirling County under-18 back-row, Scott Thomson, added: “I think the National Youth Cup is part of County’s history, be it getting to the final or at least getting far – it’s almost like a tradition.
“The Cup’s very important to rugby in Scotland because it gives every player something to play for, rather than just playing for the fun of it.”
Musselburgh under-16 forward, Thomas Gracie, agreed: “It’s quite a big thing to be part of really, I feel confident but slightly nervous. The chance to play on the national pitch in the final would be just brilliant.”
The final of the National Midi Finals (under-15 and under-16) and National Youth Cup Final (under-18) will take place on the international pitch at Murrayfield on Sunday 21 February and Monday 26 April respectively.
UNDER-18 CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND DRAW - REGIONAL
To be played on/before Saturday 7 Nov
Preston Lodge v Edinburgh BATs
UNDER-18 CUP ROUND 1 DRAW - REGIONAL
To be played on/before Saturday 19 December 2009
Musselburgh v Forrester
(Currie or Portobello) v Ross High
Lasswade v (Preston Lodge or Edinburgh BATs)
Livingston v Boroughmuir
Murrayfield Wanderers v Biggar
Cambuslang v Haddington
West of Scotland v (Kilmarnock or Irvine)
(Ayr or Dalziel) v Dumfries
(Greenock Wanderers or Waysiders Drumpellier) v GHA
(Grangemouth or Perthshire) v (Kirkcaldy or Angus County)
Stirling County v Dunfermline
Forth Valley v (Dundee or Alloa)
Glenrothes v Aberdeen Wanderers
Mackie Academy FP v (Banff or Aberdeen Grammar)
(Ellon or Deeside) v Moray
Highland v (Stornoway or Caithness)
UNDER-16 CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND DRAW - REGIONAL
Ties to be played on/before Sunday 20 Sept
Musselburgh v Hawick Albion
UNDER-16 CUP ROUND 1 DRAW – REGIONAL
Ties to be played on Sunday 4 October 2009
(Haddington or Boroughmuir) v (Linlithgow or Clackmannan Colts)
(Musselburgh or Hawick Albion) v Biggar
Murrayfield Wanderers v (Livingston or Edinburgh BATs)
(Dalkeith/Penicuik or Dunbar) v Peebles
(Melrose or Selkirk Youth Club) v Currie
(Gala Red Triangle or North Berwick) v (Kelso or Preston Lodge)
GHA v Dalziel
Paisley/Whitecraigs v Garnock
Uddingston v (Glasgow Hawks or Argyll)
(Dumfries or Ardrossan Academicals) v (Marr or Annan)
(Cartha Queens Park or Cambuslang) v (Hamilton or West of Scotland)
(Carrick or Ayr) v Hillhead/Jordanhill
(Dundee Eagles or Angus County Colts) v (Forth Valley or Kirkcaldy)
(Perthshire or Glenrothes) v (Mackie Academy FP or Orkney)
(Ellon or Moray) v (Highland or Aberdeen Grammar Rugby)
(Fife Southern or Stirling County) v (Howe of Fife or Dunfermline)
Ties to be played on Sunday 20 September 2009
Forrester v Livingston