Scotland XV under-18 put an impressive 53 unanswered points past a Scotland Districts under-18 select on the Murrayfield back pitches this afternoon.
The fixture was the last opportunity for coaches to assess the age-group's top players in a competitive context before the start of the international campaign against England next month.
Those picked to play for the Scotland XV were believed to have one foot in the side to face the ‘Auld Enemy’, with today’s nine-try showing doing their cause no harm.
First and foremost we achieved what we wanted to achieve from the game, especially in the opening half hour, which was to get an intense, physical match.
-- Scotland under-18 head coach Eddie Pollock
“The districts team put them under a lot of pressure and defended well, and asked a lot of questions.
“All in all it’s been a very useful exercise, particularly looking further ahead to FIRA where you pick a 26-man squad.
“Quite a few people in the districts team put their hands up for selection and showed they’re ready to play at that level. It’s very encouraging.”
The under-18 programme began back in July with the national side’s conditioning camp in Valladolid to take those progressing from the under-17 squad into the new age group, as well as introduce new faces who have earned selection.
With all that work complete, Pollock is happy with the progress made, both by those picked for next month’s international squad, and the greater training squad that’s pushed them all the way.
However his optimism was marked with caution ahead of what will be another major step up in the young players’ development.
“Going through the regional programme to here, gives us a clear picture of the strength of the squad. We’ll now see how quickly we can get these guys up to speed for international rugby”, explained Pollock.
“That was a good and more intense match they [the players] would normally play at club or school level, but it’ll be up another level when it comes to play England in two week’s time.
“We’ll continue to develop the intensity in training as well as their technical ability, but really the next best step for these players is to go on and play international rugby.
We’ve got five internationals between now and the end of May and the big thing is to make sure we keep improving every time we take to the pitch for Scotland.”
Matthew Smith (Stirling High School / Stirling County RFC), Robbie Nairn (George Watson’s College / Currie RFC)*, Ruari Howarth (Gala Wanderers RFC) Adam Hastings (Millfield School).
Adam Hastings (Millfield School), Reuben Norville (2) (St. Pauls (London) / London Irish), Lewis Wynne (Stirling County RFC), Ben Robbins (George Watson’s College).
Scotland under-18 programme
Forwards: Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks RFC), Murray McCallum (Strathallan / Dunfermline RFC), Callum Sheldon (Queen Elizabeth School / Newcastle Falcons), Gary Robertson (Gala Wanderers RFC), Lewis Anderson (Marr College / Ayr RFC), Jake Kerr (George Watson’s College / Watsonians RFC)*, Stephen Ainslie (Loretto School / Berwick RFC)*, Andrew Davidson (Kelvinside Academy / Glasgow Hawks RFC), Jamie Ritchie (Strathallan / Howe of Fife)*, Joseph Hughes (Whitgift School), Ally Miller (George Watson’s College / Watsonians RFC)*, Lewis Wynne (Stirling County RFC), Scott Burnside (Heriots FP RFC)*, Matthew Smith (Stirling High School / Stirling County RFC).
Backs: Hugh Fraser (Merchiston Castle School)*, Andrew Manson (Stewarts Melville College), Adam Hastings (Millfield School), Rory Hutchison (MPW Cambridge / Shelford RFC), Josh Laird (Strathallan School / Kirkcaldy RFC), George Taylor (Loretto School / Melrose RFC), Ben Robbins (George Watson’s College), Reuben Norville (St. Pauls (London) / London Irish), Robbie Nairn (George Watson’s College / Currie RFC)*, Ruari Howarth (Gala Wanderers RFC).
Forwards: Lyall Archer (Highland RFC)*, Adam Nicol (Queen Anne High School / Dunfermline RFC), Tom Scalio (St. Aloyius College), Angus Erskine (Sedburgh School), Fraser Renwick (Hawick High School / Hawick RFC), Charlie Moffatt (Uppingham School), Harry Borthwick (Gosforth High School / Berwick RFC), Calum Hunter-Hill (Stewart’s Melville College), Alex Afuakwah (High School of Glasgow / Glasgow Hawks), Grant Neilson (Daziel RFC), Zach Mercer (Merchiston Castle School / GHA RFC)*, Christopher Jollands (Dundee High School)*, Fraser Christie (Stewarts Melville College).
Backs: Struan Hutchison (Longridge Towers / Melrose RFC), Andrew Munro-Lott (Truro School), Tom Galbraith (Glenalmond School / Kelso RFC), Dom McKenzie (Bath RFC), Alec Coombes (Millfield School), Sam Trowbridge (Wellington College), James Couper (GHA)*, Stuart Jordan (Wasps RFC), Jon Price (Madras RFC / St Andrew’s University), Gavin Parker (Exeter University).
* sportscotland institute of sport supported player