Hamilton Hails New State-School League

Scotland and Edinburgh Rugby players Jim Hamilton and Tim Visser hailed the development of school rugby in Edinburgh at the launch of the new Edinburgh and Midlothian Regional School Leagues at Currie High School – which coincided with the official opening of the school’s new rugby pitch.

The new under-14, 15 and 16 leagues represent a significant stage in developing rugby in the city and have been brought in to act as a stepping-stone into competitive rugby from the ad-hoc 10 and 13-a-side rugby festivals used to introduce some of Edinburgh’s state schools to the game for the first time.

Currie High School in action in their first school league match vs Penicuik High School

Despite the long established school rugby structure in the city, the Edinburgh Rugby pair believe that there is much more scope for the school game to grow.

“This is great news for rugby in Edinburgh because, not only are more young people playing the game, they’re now at the stage where they can step up their game and compete in a more structured competition,” said Hamilton.

“The leagues take some of the schools that have now ‘emerged’ away from the 10-a-side competitions and introduce them into the new regional XV-a-side leagues to give them more structure, more fixtures and something to show for their season-long efforts while those still emerging continue to compete at an emerging level.”

A new beginning: Currie High School's new pitch for the new league

Midlothian development officer, Alex Edmonstone, has worked hard with schools to develop the leagues.

He said: “Currie High School is a great example of the successful development of state-school rugby. It has three teams in each of the regional league age-groups and two teams in the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools’ Cup – all this from a school that had about seven players and was borrowing players in the 10-a-side competitions a couple of years ago.

 “Most of these schools have only been playing rugby for the last five years so, at the moment, it’s still a case of developing their rugby knowledge and skills and to do that we need to get them playing as much rugby as possible while all the development officers get out to the schools to deliver extra sessions and up-skill the coaches who want advice.”

Fundamental to the development of the leagues has been the Scottish Widows Bank Rugby Champions scheme; the school staff who have volunteered their time to take extra-curricular rugby and Scottish Rugby’s Youth Coaching which has seen the senior pupils take charge of the junior pupil’s coaching.

The Rugby Champions scheme aims to increase the number and amount of rugby played in Scotland’s state secondary schools while rewarding the dedicated school staff who give up their spare time to take rugby out of hours.

The programme operates by rewarding the school’s registered rugby champion with personal coaching kit, and provides the school with specialist rugby equipment for coaching and training; additional equipment is then provided as rugby develops at the school in accordance with levels of participation through bronze, silver and gold award scheme.

Hamilton helps at the school session on the new pitch

Geography and modern Studies teacher, Clint Lanyon, is Currie High School’s Rugby Champion.

He said: “Rugby in Edinburgh needs this because the leagues bring together the emerged schools, who now have their Rugby Champions in place, to formalise a structure where the boys can then see their progression throughout the season which will help the schools develop the standard of rugby across the city.

“The boys are very proactive in their participation in the leagues. They’re always asking if they’ve got a game this week and who their next game’s against so there’s a real buzz amongst the players and hopefully next season we’ll have a girls’ competition in there as well.”

EDINBURGH AND MIDLOTHIAN REGIONAL SCHOOL LEAGUES

UNDER-14

LEAGUE 1
Balerno High School
Craigmount High School
Firhill High School
James Gillespie’s High School
Newbattle Community High School 
LEAGUE 2
Currie High School
Lasswade High School
Leith Academy
Portobello High School
Royal High School 

UNDER-15

LEAGUE 1
Balerno High School
Beeslack High School
Firhill High School
Portobello High School
LEAGUE 2
Currie High School
Penicuik High School
Royal High School
Queensferry High School

UNDER-16

LEAGUE 1
Boroughmuir High School
Craigmount High School
Newbattle Community High School
Royal High Schoo
LEAGUE 2
Currie High School
Firhill High School
Leith Academy
Portobello High School