Academy trio awarded Macphail scholarship

A trio of Scotland’s brightest prospects are to embark on a life-changing rugby experience in South Africa as part of a prestigious scholarship award.

BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy players, Angus Fraser (Dundee HSFP), Andrew Jardine (Melrose) and Guy Kelly (Biggar) have been awarded the coveted John Macphail Rugby Scholarship for 2017 and will spend five months immersed in the nation’s renowned rugby culture at the high-performance training facility at Stellenbosch University.

The programme funded by the Robertson Trust – now in its thirteenth year – previously sent emerging players and coaches to Canterbury in New Zealand for a 15-week programme.

The change to South Africa for 2017 sees the Scholarship take a different approach which is designed to explore new relationships and enable players to benefit over a longer period of time and keep alignment with the northern hemisphere season.

Previous recipients of this unique rugby opportunity include Scotland captain John Barclay (the first recipient in 2005), Kevin Bryce (2007), Grant Gilchrist (2011), Jonny Gray (2012), Finn Russell (2013) and Adam Ashe (2014), with last year’s recipients Ross McCann returning to play a prominent part in Scotland U20’s record-breaking finish in the World Rugby U20 Championship, while Patrick Kelly earned a senior professional contract at Glasgow Warriors.

Hooker Angus Fraser (17) came through the ranks at Dundee, playing mini rugby with Dundee Eagles while at Liff Primary School before moving to Dundee High and representing both the high school and the club side, ultimately earning selection to the BT Sport Academy and Scotland U18.

He said: “The call totally came out of the blue that I had been put forward and accepted to go South Africa for five months as part of the scholarship. I phoned my mum and dad straight away as I was shaking with excitement.

“It’s absolutely outstanding, I can’t wait to get out there make the most of the opportunity to really work on developing my rugby.”

Centre Andrew Jardine (18) played at Biggar from the age of four until 18. He earned selection for the Scotland U18 training squad last year before injury foiled his attempts to secure a place in the final teams.

After his first season of senior rugby at the South Lanarkshire side he moved to current BT Premiership leaders, Melrose, where he currently plays.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted. The first thing I thought when I heard was just how exciting it is. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and opportunity, to develop myself and my rugby. I’m just so grateful to Scottish Rugby and the Robertson Trust for giving me this chance. I can’t wait.”

Prop Guy Kelly (18) first played rugby at the age of five in Qatar and later Dubai before moving to the UK. He represented his club, Biggar from U15 to senior level and has since earned a call-up for Glasgow and The West U18.

He said: “The opportunity to improve myself as a player and experience a new culture and set-up is incredibly exciting. I’m absolutely delighted to be heading over to South Africa for five months and can’t wait to work on my rugby.”

The Macphail Scholarship was established in 2005, as a partnership between The Robertson Trust and Scottish Rugby.

Created in memory of John Macphail ex-Scotland Internationalist (1949-1951), the scholarship was initially developed for talented young players however, since 2011, it has been extended to support coaches with Iain Monaghan, Ben Fisher and Chris Paterson being recent recipients.

Scottish Rugby Technical Director, Stephen Gemmell, added: “Thank you to the Robertson Trust and Macphail family for their continued support of Scottish Rugby and in helping us send some of our most promising young players to other parts of the world to further their development in new environments, with different coaches, fresh challenges and at world-class facilities.

“The Scholarship has played an important role in a number of our current professional and international players’ careers and will provide a launch pad for Angus, Andrew and Guy to accelerate their development as part of the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy.”

Kenneth Ferguson, Director of the Robertson Trust, said: “Guy, Andy and Angus have exceptional potential and I’m in no doubt all three will prove to be worthy recipients of the scholarship.

“The launch of the new programme makes this year’s announcement particularly exciting, and I, along with the Macphail family and all at The Robertson Trust, look forward to hearing about the players’ progress throughout their time in South Africa and beyond.

“Through the John Macphail Scholarship, The Robertson Trust has assisted in the development of some of Scotland’s brightest young rugby talent for over 13 years. We are proud of this legacy and believe the programme’s new setup, and all the experiences it will bring, will help to accelerate the development of even more professional and international players going forward.”

John Macphail Rugby Scholarship recipients:

2017: Angus Fraser, Andrew Jardine and Guy Kelly

2016: Patrick Kelly, Ross McCann, Mike Blair (coach) and Calum Forrester (coach)

2015: Callum Hunter-Hill, Ben Robbins, Ben Cairns (coach) and Duncan Hodge (coach)

2014: Adam Ashe, Ewan McQuillin, Don Caskie (coach) and Kenny Murray (coach)

2013: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Finn Russell, Shade Munro (coach) and Alex Duncan (coach)

2012: Jonny Gray, Gregor Hunter, Chris Paterson (coach) and Ben Fisher (coach)

2011: Grant Gilchrist, Harry Leonard, George Turner and Ian Monaghan (coach)

2010: Finlay Gillies

2009: Lewis Niven

2008: Roddy Grant

2007: Kevin Bryce

2006: Graham Hogg

2005: John Barclay