CLUB XV | Scrum-half Shiel relishing the Dalriada Cup challenge

Scotland Club XV are set to play their home fixture against Ireland Club XV at Netherdale on Friday 16 March (kick-off 7.30pm).

The match will decide the winners of the Dalriada Cup and the game is still all to play for after the Irish Club XV won the first leg 26-23 a fortnight ago, with a simple points aggregate determining the winner.

The men in dark blue lifted the silverware on the last two occasions, 2015 at Netherdale and 2016 at Temple Hill, and will be looking to bounce back for the win on home territory.

Newly signed Edinburgh and Currie Chieftains scrum-half Charlie Shiel earned his first cap for Scotland Club XV in the first leg at Dubarry Park and will start again tomorrow as part of Head Coach Rob Chrystie’s side in Galashiels.

Shiel is a livewire of a scrum-half, known for his pace and dynamism club level, and could be leading the charge of the next generation at Edinburgh Rugby from next season onwards.

The Shiel household has produced a number of notable names over the years. Shiel’s father, Graham, earned 18 caps for Scotland at centre in the 1990s and captained Edinburgh for two years, and his grandfather, Dougie Morgan, who also played for Edinburgh, represented Scotland 21 times and toured with the 1977 British and Irish Lions.

The 20-year-old, who has played for Currie Chieftains since 2015, represented Edinburgh at U16, U17 and U18 levels before signing a two-year professional contract with the capital outfit last month. He became a BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy stage three player in 2016. These players are aligned to a professional club and given regional support by the Scottish Rugby Union, and has represented Scotland at U16, U18 and U20 levels.


When did you start playing rugby?

“I started playing rugby at primary school, playing for Stewart’s Melville because my dad used to play there so it was an easy way in. Then at secondary school I played for Royal High School before moving on to senior rugby in 6th year with Royal High Cougars which helped my development.

“After school I moved to Currie, this is now my third season there. Throughout all that I was doing the age-grades - U16, U17, U18, U19 and U20 as well. I’ve been with Edinburgh now since the start of the season and it’s been really good at giving me an insight into what pro rugby is about and obviously has led to me getting a pro contract with the team.”


How was your Scotland Club XV debut?

“Playing club rugby in the BT Premiership, you kind of get an idea on what it’s going to be like. It’s been a really cool experience, I’ve really enjoyed it.”


You’re a barber as well, how do you juggle work life and rugby?

“I learned how to become a barber at the start of last year when I did a 15-week course with a class once a week. It fits around the rugby schedule but I always put rugby first and work around it. I qualified June last year and so far, I’ve just been messing up a few of the guys’ lids on the team. It comes in handy on away trips, when I went away with U20s to Georgia, the boys seemed to quite like it then, whether they looked good or not is a different matter.”


Who have been the great influences in your career so far?

“Obviously, my Dad. He has pretty much coached me from primary 1 to the end of secondary school, and still probably coaches me a bit now at home. My Grandad too. I didn’t manage to see much of him but he has had his input and what he achieved has had a big impact on myself.

“Growing up, there was quite a lot of boys I watched on TV like all the big name scrum-halves such as Aaron Smith and Greig Laidlaw. You just try to take as much as you can on as a young player from all these people.”


What are you expecting this time round against Ireland?

“There’s not been a huge amount of time to prepare for either team but we’re not expecting massive changes from the first leg. From the amount of sessions, we have done, we’ve come together pretty quickly but we’ve got a lot to improve on from reviewing the game.

“Last time, Ireland were pretty physical and they have a lot of good runners in their backs so the focus is on trying to shut that down as much as possible and play our own game as well.”


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