Scotland’s under-20 squad may have found a beachfront view for their first trip away from home this season but the similarities to a summer tour ended there as they arrived in North Wales for their second match of the RBS 6 Nations championship.
With the backdrop of a familiar bite to the weather, Peter Wright’s side are looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat against England under-20 in similarly bitter conditions last week at Firhill.
(Scotland under-20 squad on the promenade at Llandudno, North Wales)
With more than 3500 tickets already sold for the encounter and their hosts also smarting from defeat, to Ireland, in their first game of the RBS 6 Nations championship it’s likely to be a lively affair.
Happy to join the heat of battle is Boroughmuir back-rower 8 Jamie Swanson, who revelled in the physical confrontation with the English pack in Glasgow.
Jamie, who will be winning his 6th cap for the under-20 side, having been part of the squad for last year’s Junior World Cup said:
“Last week against England I wanted to make sure the crowd were behind us and the England pack knew we were up for it, but it’s certainly not the only part of my game.
“I think it was a steep learning curve for some of the boys in the squad, the step up from having beaten England at under-18 level, which is a fantastic achievement, to under-20 is something else. It’s a different level.
“On the videos we’ve seen and through past experience, the Welsh are big lads who love a bit of confrontation. They’ll run straight and be physical, we’ve got guys in this squad who will stand up to that and front up.
“But there’s a real confidence in camp having gone through that experience and a confidence in the game-plan we have for Friday night.”
Wales under-20 squad, all of whom bar one play their rugby in Wales, have made Parc Eirias their home base for the entire tournament and expect a noisy crowd.
Swanson said he was looking forward to showing what he and the team good do.
“The Welsh are fantastic supporters and I’ve no doubt it will be a great atmosphere. For me there’s nothing better than coming out to an opposition crowd who are trying to intimidate you, I really draw on that.
“I didn’t get to the 6 Nations last year through injury and coming into the World Cup squad last year I felt a bit behind but we are now a really tight knit group and looking forward to the challenge.”
There are three changes to the under-20 side that faced England last week but the bulk of the squad remains unaltered.
Robbie Fergusson plays in the centre having recovered from a hip injury, Michael Crawley moves back to his preferred position on the wing and Tom Steven drops to the bench.
In the forwards, George Turner replaces the injured Fergus Scott and Jamie Bhatti steps into the front row position vacated by last week’s captain Robin Hislop. Both Hislop (Edinburgh) and Murray McConnell (Glasgow Warriors) have been recalled to their professional club sides.
Stand-off Harry Leonard will now wear the captain’s armband.
On the bench, hooker Russell Anderson, prop Gavin Robertson and scrum-half Matthew Torrance come in for their first chance to get a taste of under-20 international rugby.
The Scotland under-20 team to play Wales under-20 on Friday 10 February at Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay (KO 7.35 pm) is as follows:
15 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Scotland 7s / Heriot’s)
14 Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Rugby / Edinburgh Accies)
13 Robbie Fergusson (Ayr)
12 Tommaso Allan (Western Province)
11 Michael Crawley (Boroughmuir)
10 Harry Leonard (Edinburgh Rugby) (captain)
9 Scott Steele (Leicester Tigers)
1 Jamie Bhatti (Stirling County)
2 George Turner (Edinburgh Rugby / Stewart’s Melville)
3 Alex Allan (Loughborough Students)
4 Adam Sinclair (Stirling County
5 Jonny Gray (Hamilton)
6 Mitch Eadie (Bristol Rugby)
7 Will Bordill (Sale Sharks)
8 Jamie Swanson (Boroughmuir)
16 Russell Anderson (Gala)
17 Gavin Robertson (Dundee HSFP)
18 Andrew Redmayne (Dundee HSFP)
19 Callum Reid (Edinburgh Accies)
20 Struan Cessford (Heriot’s)
21 Finn Russell (Falkirk)
22 Matthew Torrance (Ospreys)
23 Tom Steven (Glasgow Hawks)
Scotland under-20 RBS 6 Nations 2011/12 fixtures:
Friday 24 February 2012
Netherdale - Scotland under-20 v France under-20, 7.30pm (Admission Free)
Friday 9 March 2012
Dubarry Park – Ireland under-20 v Scotland under-20, 7.05pm
Friday 16 March
Calvisano – Italy under-20 v Scotland under-20, 6pm