After regrouping last week for the first time since their age grade’s 6 Nations (March), head coach Sean Lineen has selected a squad of 28 for June's IRB Junior World Cup in New Zealand.
A mix of experience – winger Jamie Farndale is selected for his third tournament – and youth – in the shape of this season’s Scotland under-18 captain, back row Jamie Ritchie (above) – the team have been pooled with the hosts, South Africa and Samoa.
Lineen said: “We selected the squad on what was best for Scottish Rugby and the development of the under-20 programme – we have to look back at the 6 Nations and we’ve learnt from that. I think they’ve improved a huge amount, on and off the field.
“It’s great to be able to call on the Scotland 7s guys. Neil Herron played in a couple of 6 Nations games and Chris Dean came on and scored a great try – he’s a quality player – and Alex Glashan we know as he’s played for us before. Then from the under-18 boys we’ve got Jamie Ritchie, and Zander Fagerson has so much potential – bringing in those guys just freshens up the group a bit, helps us be as competitive as we can.”
Lineen is quick to stress the improvements, both on and off the field, shown by the entire squad since the first selection camp back in October.
He said: “The core of the group is really young guys who hadn’t experienced that level of analysis, of training, day in day out, and they found that quite difficult for their bodies. The difference in conditioning – from the guys who are playing at EDP level to the guys who are playing second team club rugby – was huge. It was tough to try to get that level of intensity but they never gave up and they never lost faith.
“I think the biggest difference [since October] is how much they’ve learnt and how much more they understand about where you have to be, physically, to be able to challenge at this level.
“We’ve got a tough group [in New Zealand] but it’s a hugely exciting opportunity – to play New Zealand in their back yard, and South Africa and Samoa too. We have to make sure we go out there as well prepared as we can be and just try as hard as we can – and surprise them.”
Squad members have been training every Wednesday with the Glasgow and Edinburgh Elite Development Players, since a challenging 6 Nations ended in mid March, prior to last week’s camp. Next week they’ll be decamping to the army base at Penicuik to be put through their paces before continuing to Peebles for some team building.
Lineen said: “That’ll be great to bring the group closer together and find out what makes them tick because they’re going to be in each other’s pockets for a month – they’ve got to get on and know when to back off.”
Preparations continue on Sunday 11 May with a match against Ireland at Murrayfield (kick-off 11.30, back pitches), prior to travelling to Wales for a further fixture against their counterparts. The squad sets off for the southern hemisphere on 24 May, arriving in Auckland two days later.
Lineen said: “What an opportunity for them – travelling to the other side of the world, to a country that’s just steeped in rugby.
“For a number of these guys it’ll be the pinnacle of their rugby career, so they’ve got to grasp it. My job is to ensure they’ve got the most professional environment possible and that they also enjoy the experience. They’re there for the rugby, first and foremost, to train hard, but when there’s down time I’m keen that they take that in as well, to be able to switch on and switch off, get that balance right.
“Everyone wants to do as well as they can, representing Scotland in a World Cup. It’s a fantastic opportunity and we’ll do everything we can to help them.”
Scotland under-20 squad for IRB Junior World Cup
Magnus Bradbury (Boroughmuir/Edinburgh Rugby) **
Lewis Carmichael (Melrose) *
Ben Chalmers (Melrose)
Gabriel Carroll (Loughborough University)
Jack Cosgrove (Worcester Warriors)
Andrew Cramond (Aberdeen Grammar)
Philip Cringle (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh Rugby) **
Chris Dean (Edinburgh Accies/Scotland 7s)
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks)
Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh Accies/Edinburgh Rugby)
Cameron Fenton (Strathallan School/Howe of Fife)
Alex Glashan (Edinburgh Accies/Scotland 7s)
Neil Herron (Glasgow Hawks/Scotland 7s)
Damien Hoyland (Melrose) *
Rory Hutchison (Northampton Saints)
Blair Hutchinson (Loughborough University/Melrose)
Neil Irvine-Hess (Edinburgh Rugby) **
Sam James (London Wasps)
Gavin Lowe (Glasgow Hawks/Glasgow Warriors) **
James Malcolm (Ayr) *
Gavin Parker (Exeter University)
Sam Pecqueur (Edinburgh Accies)
D’arcy Rae (Ayr/Glasgow Warriors) **
Jamie Ritchie (Strathallan School/Howe of Fife) *
Tommy Spinks (London Scottish) (captain)
Ben Vellacott (Hartpury/Gloucester)
Glen Young (Newcastle Falcons)
Ruairidh Young (Edinburgh Accies)
* member of Scottish Rugby’s Regional Academy supported by sportscotland Institute of Sport
**Elite Development Player 2013/14
The IRB Junior World Cup 2014 will be held in Auckland, New Zealand. Scotland’s pool games are against South Africa (Monday 2 June, k/o 3.35pm local); Samoa (Friday 6 June, k/o 3.35pm local); and New Zealand (Wednesday 10 June, k/o 7.35pm local). Further fixtures on Sunday 15 June and Friday 20 June are dependent on results. Last year, Scotland finished in 10th place in the tournament.