Youth & School Competitions 2022/23 | Preview
Youth and Schools competitions return this weekend!
Last season’s programme of competition facilitated playing opportunities for more than 7,200 players from U13 to U18 level, from 72 rugby hubs (schools, clubs or rugby communities).
This season Youth & Schools rugby looks to be even bigger.
Following a period of review and consultation conducted by Scottish Rugby a number of changes have been implemented into the Youth & Schools structure for the 2022/23 season, so this feature will detail everything you need to know ahead of the new season.
Welcoming the return of the Youth and Schools game, Gav Scott, Director of Rugby Development said: “I’d like to firstly thank our clubs and schools who engaged and supported the review of our competition structures, allowing us to create an enhanced player-centred, development-driven programme for the future.
“The new structures in place will allow Scottish Rugby to facilitate regular competitive and meaningful playing opportunities which is key for attracting, enthusing and retaining players for the future of our game in Scotland.
“Our competitions will provide a real focus for players, coaches, volunteers and parents, and it’s great to see clubs and schools joining the competitions and moving through the structure to seek out a fresh challenge and meet the needs of their players.
“I’d like to wish everyone who takes part in this year’s conferences and leagues the best of luck, but most of all to enjoy themselves.”
All fixtures for the upcoming season can be found on the Scottish Rugby website, HERE.
This year there will be six key structures in which competitions are played: Club Conferences, Schools Conferences, National Girls’ Competitions, National Schools and Youth Cups and Regional Youth Cups.
Within the Club and Schools Conferences there are two levels: National and Regional.
Following on from the announcement in January this year, international schools and youth sports touring company inspiresport are the title sponsor of the Scottish Rugby’s Schools and Youth Conferences including: the Boy’s National & Regional Schools Conferences, Boy’s National and Regional Club Conferences and Leagues, and the Girls’ U18 and U16 Leagues.
Some of these fixtures will be played mid-week as well as during regular weekend slots.
Outcomes from the inspiresport Schools Conference fixtures, Girls National leagues and Boys Club Conferences will determine progression to the National Schools and National Youth Cup competitions set to take place in November and December 2022.
This season a U16 and U18 Cup and Shield competition will take place in the club youth game, and the schools cup structure will include a Cup, Shield, Plate and Bowl.
These competitions follow a knock-out format first playing in a quarter-final, with winners progressing to a semi-final and final respectively.
All National Club and School, plus Regional Conferences and Leagues will be played between August and December, with Regional Youth Cup competitions set to take place in the second half of the season alongside traditional friendlies and block fixture arrangements.
Two new National leagues have been created for Girls at U18 and U16 level. Based on final positions in the league table, teams will progress to a three-tiered National Cup structure which includes Cup, Shield and Plate.
Two Aspiring Leagues’ for U16 and U18 Girls will deliver playing opportunities for emerging teams and have been created to support their preparations for joining the competitive leagues in future seasons. The top teams from the Aspiring Leagues will progress to a National Bowl competition.
National League Teams:
U16: Boroughmuir, Dundee, Dunfermline, Glenrothes and Tayside & Fife
U18: Dunfermline, East Lothian, Lenzie, Murrayfield Wanderers and West of Scotland
Looking ahead to their first run out in the Aspiring Leagues, Dunfermline Girls’ coach Rowan McNeil said: “Dunfermline Girls Teams are incredibly excited for the coming season. After putting in the hard work through the cup competition last season, as part of a Fife & Tayside team, the girls are keen to show what Dunfermline can do - taking to the pitch under the club badge in a competitive league for the first time in their history!
“The teams have grown since their last outing, with increased numbers across the section, so it’s not just our U16’s and U18’s who are keen to play. Dunfermline’s U14’s and U12’s will also be getting involved and playing in a series of festivals through the season, continuing to grow and develop their skills and experience before moving on to the older age groups.”
In addition to this, there will be a U14 Girls Glasgow South Club v Club league encompassing Stewartry, Wigtownshire, Cumnock, Moffat, Dumfries Saints, Ayr, Carrick and Annan.
inspiresport Schools Conferences
The upcoming season for the school game includes Conferences for boys at U13, U14, U15, U16 and U18 levels.
The inspiresport Schools Conferences will now be split into a National 1 competition alongside two regionally aligned National 2 competitions (East and West), plus regional Conferences.
Following on from the application process to Scottish Rugby’s competitions team, Fettes College, Strathallan School and The Edinburgh Academy will join Dollar Academy, George Watson’s College, Merchiston Castle School and Stewart’s Melville College in the National 1 competition.
George Heriot’s School, Glenalomond College, High School of Dundee, Loretto School and Robert Gordon’s College will participate in National 2 (East).
The Glasgow Academy, The High School of Glasgow, Hutchesons’ Grammar School, Kelvinside Academy, Marr College and St Aloysius’ College will participate in National 2 (West.)
Edinburgh Harlequins, a youth setup comprised of five Secondary schools in the South of Edinburgh will compete in the East Schools Conferences this season.
Looking ahead to the start of the season, Harlequins Development Officer Eric Jones said: “We’ve had a good pre-season with our players and we’ve seen a really good number of new S1’s for the season ahead. After our first year in the Conference playing under the Edinburgh Harlequins banner we are looking forward to building on last year as well as playing some different opposition this season.
“We really saw the benefits of playing in the Conference last year where we could set goals for the return fixture later on in the season and review, as individual teams, as well as a whole programme, where we are on our development journey.”
inspiresport National Conferences (Boys)
Following on from the consultation with clubs, the Boys Club Conferences have undergone a restructure, forming a structure with a National Conference and three Regional Conferences (Borders Town, Caledonia and West).
Playing in the National Conference are: Ayr/Wellington, Boroughmuir, GHA, Mackie, Stirling County and West of Scotland.
inspiresport Regional Leagues and Fixtures (Boys)
The inspiresport Regional playing programmes in the Caledonia and the West include U18 and U16 Leagues, and regular playing opportunities for all U15, U14 and U13 players.
A number of clubs will field teams across their age-grades, including Deeside who are fielding teams in U13, U14 and U15 Caledonia North leagues.
Newly appointed President Bruce Strachan looks forward to seeing the teams return to the pitch, saying:
“I am sure there are many coaches throughout Scotland in the same boat as many of us here at Deeside, some of us are convinced that pre-season started before last season finished or maybe it just seemed like that.”
“We had a big sigh of relief this week as the U13s, U14s and U15s came back to training in full squad numbers after the first two weeks of pre-season looking a bit sparse through the school holidays.
“The U15s had three 20-minute games last Sunday against a great bunch of lads from Aberdeen Wanderers and that certainly blew away a few cobwebs.”
Bruce, who coaches the U15 Boys team added: “The focus this year is simply to have fun, allow every player to get on the ball as much as possible and develop game intelligence. No matter the results, this season is one we are all looking forward to getting stuck into, and we wish everyone well in their competitions.”
Borders Semi Junior League
The Borders Semi Junior league will get underway this weekend, and includes teams from South of the Border.
Playing in this league are: Alnwick, Carlisle Colts, Duns, Gala Wanderers, Hawick Youth, Jed-Thistle, Kelso Harlequins, Earlston HS/Melrose Wasps, Morpeth, Peebles, Selkirk Youth and Tynedale.
Selkirk Youth coach, Craig MacDougall is looking forward to seeing his player in action this season, saying: “We have a good core of players who are training well and are looking forward to the season. Although we are a relatively young team, I am pleased with where we are at this point.