With just a week to go until they fly to South Africa for the IRB Junior World Championships, Scotland’s under-20 national side have been given a message of good luck from youngsters at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.
The banner, decorated by youngsters at the hospital, was presented to six of the team by nine year-old Noah Duncan and twelve year-old James Jack, both avid rugby fans.
Noah and James, both from Fife, quizzed the squad members on going to play in South Africa and about the hardest games they’ll face in the tournament.
The squad have just a few days left of training at their home base before heading to the southern hemisphere but their visit to the hospital provided them with some perspective on the rigours of playing rugby at the highest levels.
Scotland under-20 captain, Edinburgh stand-off, Harry Leonard said: “It’s good to get an afternoon away from what has been a pretty gruelling training regime up to now and it’s been a real eye opener.
“We’ve been talking about how hard training is, having to run the famous dunes at Gullane, doing circuits but this puts it into perspective.
“The kids, despite what some of them are having to go through, are so positive it makes you realise how fortunate we are and how we can’t really complain.”
The young Scots fly out to their base at Stellenbosch before taking on Australia, France and Argentina, all with in the first two weeks of June
Leonard said: “We’re excited but we know it’s going to be a really good challenge.
“We are targeting a couple of games and although, for example, France beat us in the 6 Nations this year, we outplayed them for long periods at Netherdale so we can take a lot of confidence from that.”
“This is a tight knit group and we’re going into a pretty intense period and I know as captain I have to help maintain that focus through the whole tournament. We can’t afford to relax.
“A lot of the lads in the 6 Nations struggled to get to grips at first with the step up in intensity and quality but we took a lot of confidence from winning our final game (against Italy) and we’re in good shape for going to South Africa.”
Scotland under-20 squad for the IRB Junior World Championship:
Backs – Tommy Allan (Western Province), Mark Bennett (Clermont Auvergne), Keith Buchan, Michael Crawley (both Boroughmuir), Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Rugby/Edinburgh Accies), Robbie Fergusson (Ayr), Sam Hidalgo Clyne (Scotland 7s/Heriot’s), Harry Leonard (Edinburgh Rugby/Boroughmuir) CAPTAIN, Murray McConnell (Glasgow Warriors/Ayr), Finn Russell (Falkirk), Tom Steven (Glasgow Hawks) and Matt Torrance (Ospreys)
Forwards – Alex Allan (Loughborough Univ), Jamie Bhatti (Stirling County), Will Bordill (Sale Sharks), Mitch Eadie (Bristol), Gary Graham (Gala), Alex Henderson (Boroughmuir), Robin Hislop (Edinburgh Rugby/Boroughmuir), Andrew Nagle (Jed-Forest), Andrew Redmayne (Dundee HSFP), Callum Reid (Edinburgh Accies), Gavin Robertson (Dundee HSFP), Fergus Scott (Currie), Adam Sinclair (Stirling County), Stuart Smith (Aberdeen Grammar Rugby), Jamie Swanson (Boroughmuir) and George Turner (Edinburgh Rugby/Stewart’s-Melville FP)