Talented duo win scholarship chance

Two of the most promising young talents in Scottish rugby will have the chance to follow in some famous foot-steps this summer.

Prop Ewan McQuillin (Edinburgh Rugby) (pictured above left) and back-row forward Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors) will spend 15 weeks in Christchurch, New Zealand playing for local clubs and profiting from first-class coaching and facilities through the Canterbury RFU International High Performance Unit.

McQuillin, 22, and 20-year-old Ashe have this golden opportunity as they are named today as the latest recipients of the prestigious John Macphail scholarship.

Previous Macphail scholars include Scotland caps John Barclay, Grant Gilchrist and Jonny Gray – a roll of honour that encourages Ashe.

He said: “It’s certainly inspiring. I’d probably have to admit I’ll be nervous going out there but I’m really looking forward to it.  It’s a bit of a fresh start for me as I’ve had quite a run of injuries this season.

“I’d felt I was ready to push on and try to get some games at Glasgow and it was frustrating to be out with hamstring problems. “

Ashe, who has represented Scotland through the age-grades and Scotland 7s, is a product of Alva Academy and played club rugby for Hillfoots and Stirling County.

He added: “Scotland 7s was a big influence in my development, playing in front of big crowds, such as a full-house at the Wellington tournament in New Zealand.”

McQuillin, who has played for the Scotland Club International side, was nurtured by Galashiels Academy, Gala Red Triangle, Gala Wanderers and the senior Gala club and his scrummaging strength has impressed coaches including former Scotland caps Stevie Scott and George Graham.

He said: "I'm really privileged to get this chance. It's a really good opportunity for me to learn from some of the best player in the world, like All Blacks prop Owen Franks.

“I've spoken to quite a few of the Edinburgh Rugby boys who have been on the scholarship and they all spoke of how great an opportunity it is to work on your skills in another country and to spend the whole summer focussed on getting a good bit of game time under my belt before coming back fit for the new season in the UK.”

Kenneth Ferguson, Director of the Robertson Scholarship Trust, said: "It gives me great pleasure to announce the recipients of the 2014 John Macphail Rugby Scholarship.

"This is our tenth year now and, as ever, we are very much looking forward to witnessing the impact on the players’ skills and overall development from their stint in New Zealand this summer.  If they seize the opportunity, just as previous recipients of the scholarship, then we have no doubt both they and the game of rugby in Scotland can benefit.

"Along with the Chairman, Mark Laing, the Trustees and members of the Macphail family, who are here today, we will follow avidly the progress of the two players both this summer and in their subsequent careers."

The Macphail Scholarship was established in memory of former Scotland hooker John Macphail, who died in 2004. In his business career, he was chief executive then chairman, of Edrington, a private company that is owned by the Robertson Trust. John Macphail was a trustee of the Robertson Trust for 28 years and chairman for 19 of those years.

Stephen Gemmell, Scottish Rugby's Head of Performance Development said: “Congratulations to Ewan and Adam on being chosen for the scholarship.

Famous former scholars

“While the headlines may be taken, rightly, by John Barclay, Grant Gilchrist and Jonny Gray, all of whom have used the knowledge they acquired to further their rugby to such an extent that they have played for Scotland, we should also remember gifted professionals, for example, Roddy Grant, Kevin Bryce, Finn Russell and George Turner, all of whom are striving to step up.

"Once again, on behalf of Scottish Rugby, I would like to thank the Robertson Scholarship Trust for their support in helping us to enhance the development of some of the best young players in Scotland and we are grateful, too, to the Macphail family for the backing they give the individuals."