Top Scots rewarded with prestigious New Zealand scholarship

Top Scots rewarded with prestigious New Zealand scholarship

A pair of Scotland's brightest prospects are to embark on a life-changing rugby experience in New Zealand as part of a prestigious scholarship award. BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy players Patrick Kelly (Glasgow Hawks and former Scotland under-20) and Ross McCann (Stewart's Melville RFC and Scotland under-19) have been awarded the coveted 2016 John Macphail Rugby Scholarship and will spend 15 weeks immersed in the nation's renowned rugby culture and high-performance training.Kelly and McCann take off for Canterbury this Saturday (9 April) where they will join the Crusaders High Performance unit, and team up with local club sides to assist with their development.Centre Kelly, a product of Highland RFC, captained Merchiston Castle School to the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Cup final in 2012.He occupied the starting inside-centre berth in all of Scotland under-20's five games of the 2015 Six Nations Championship, playing a key role in side's victories over Wales, Italy and Ireland. He was then selected for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy, and made starting appearances in four of the five games, before joining Scottish Rugby's new Academy programme.He said: "I'm absolutely delighted to get this opportunity. I had an operation on my shoulder last August, returning around Christmas, so I haven't played as much rugby as I'd like this season, so it'll be good to get out and get playing regular fixtures.This year I've been studying at Glasgow University as well and, while it's good to have a balance in life, I'm looking forward to having a really intense 15-week period to develop all aspects of my game. It's really exciting. Prolific wing McCann scored four tries in his three appearances for Scotland under-16, and replicated his try scoring form for the Edinburgh age-grade side, crossing the whitewash twice in his four appearances.The former Royal High School pupil captained his school to Brewin Dolphin Plate success in 2014 and made his international under-18 debut as he came off the bench in the 21-13 defeat of Ireland Schools at Mayfield, Dundee.He featured twice for a Scotland under-18 development squad, scoring as many tries, and scored four tries in his five appearances for Edinburgh under-18.Outwith rugby, Ross played for Hutcheson's Vale Football Club, and was a runner-up in the Youth Scottish Cup in 2011.He said: "I'm really looking forward to it. I wasn't expecting to get the award and am really excited to be heading out. It's an amazing opportunity.Personally I'm targeting two main areas. On the rugby side I want to work on some technical elements, like my breakdown work and high-ball catching, while living away from home means I'll have to learn a bit of self-reliance and responsibility, which is also a big part of the experience."The John Macphail Rugby Scholarship will mark its 12th year after being established in 2004 in memory of the former Scotland hooker, John Macphail.The initiative, which is funded by the Robertson Scholarship Trust, provides young and upcoming rugby prospects with the extraordinary opportunity to travel to New Zealand to benefit from first-class facilities and specialist coaching at the Canterbury RFU International High Performance Unit in Christchurch.Previous recipients include a host of current Scotland internationalists, including John Barclay (2005), Kevin Bryce (2007), Grant Gilchrist (2011), Jonny Gray (2012), Finn Russell (2013) and Adam Ashe (2014).Two of last year's recipients, lock Callum Hunter-Hill and wing Ben Robbins, returned to play a part in the Scotland under-20 2016 Six Nations campaign, helping the side to an historic win over England, and away win over Italy.Mark Laing, Chairman of the Robertson Scholarship Trust, said: "For 12 years, the John Macphail Rugby Scholarship has assisted in the development of some of Scotland's brightest rugby prospects.It's with great delight that we welcome Ross and Patrick this year. Both are talented individuals and have a real opportunity to follow in the footsteps of those professional and international players who have used the scholarship as a springboard for future success."As you would expect and given their own proud links to the sport, the Macphail family will take a close, personal interest in the development of both players. All involved with the Scholarship wish them all the best for their time in New Zealand and look forward to seeing how it impacts their skills and future careers."John Macphail Rugby Scholarship recipients: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 Gillies2009: Lewis Niven2008: Roddy Grant2007: Kevin Bryce2006: Graham Hogg2005: John Barclay 

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