Chrystie confirms Southern Knights squad for second FOSROC Super6 season
Southern Knights Head Coach Rob Chrystie has today confirmed his 32-man squad to compete in the second season of the FOSROC Super6.
The Greenyards team, which represents the rugby-heartland region of the Borders, will get their campaign underway away to Stirling County at Bridgehaugh on Saturday 31 July – kick-off 3pm.
The 32-man squad is made up of the 27 players signed by Southern Knights and five players aligned to the club who are contracted to the FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy.
Southern Knights have signed a number of players, 16, who want to experience Super6 rugby and have joined from clubs across the Borders to test themselves at that level this season. Five other players have played their senior rugby at Melrose since leaving school.
Chrystie has named centre Craig Jackson as captain for a second time, although in the first season of FOSROC Super6 he was side-lined with a pectoral injury for all 10 rounds.
Melrose-born Jackson brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the Knights squad. The centre, who is a cousin of former Scotland international Ruaridh Jackson, was first called up to the Scotland 7s squad for an event in Las Vegas at just 18-years-old after he impressed as part of the 2011 Melrose squad who won their own sevens tournament earlier that year.
After spells at Hartpury College, for further education, and London Scottish he returned to Melrose and was named BT Premiership Player of the Season in 2018. He impressed so much that season he was once again selected for the Scotland 7’s squad, eight years on from his debut, this time for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco
Jackson said: “I’m delighted to captain the Southern Knights for a second season, although hopefully I’ll be able to provide more leadership from on the pitch this time!
“There are some really exciting young players who have come into the squad and really bought into what being a Southern Knight is all about.
“As a playing group, we are raring to go and can’t wait to get up to Bridgehaugh on Saturday and show what this group can do on the pitch.”
Jackson’s teammate from the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, Nyle Godsmark, returns to Melrose after earning 31 Scotland 7s caps, during which he scored 11 tries.
Making the step up to the FOSROC Super6 is exciting 18-year-old full-back Keiran Clark. Clark, who has impressed in the Borders sevens circuit in recent years, was part of the Scotland U20 extended Six Nations squad earlier this year.
Also making the step up is Scotland Club XV centre Andrew Mitchell. He has impressed in the Tennent’s Premiership in recent years with hometown club, Hawick, with his direct running and hard ball carrying.
Former Edinburgh Rugby stand-off Jason Baggott signs for the Knights on a full-time basis whilst he pursues a new career in finance.
Former Scotland U20 prop Mak Wilson, who hails from Berwick, returns to The Greenyards on a loan spell from Harlequins, where he was signed as part of their Academy off the back of the inaugural FOSROC Super6 season.
Tighthead prop, and Scotland U20 cap, Euan McLaren, has also returned to Scotland after a season in Hong Kong with Kowloon RFC. McLaren, who hails from Paisley first took up rugby whilst at an international school in Dubai before returning to the UK and attending Dollar Academy.
Bolstering the pack are three young forwards. Second row, Daniel Suddon, who hails from Hawick, Allan Ferrie (openside flanker) from Newton Stewart and back-row Harry Borthwick who previously played for Gala.
Alongside Wilson, who joined Harlequins, the Southern Knights had two other notable player progressions from the first season of FOSROC Super6.
Young backrow, and former Scotland U20 captain, Rory Darge made his professional rugby debut for Edinburgh Rugby against Leincester in November 2020, after signing his first professional deal with the capital outfit in the summer of 2020. He made a move along the M8 to Glasgow Warriors in March 2021 and was named as McCrea Financial Services Warrior of the Month in June 2021.
Also joining Glasgow Warriors from the Southern Knights inaugural squad was tighthead prop Ewan McQuillian who made his debut for the Scotstoun club in February 2020 against Newport Gwent Dragons.
Three of the Southern Knights Contracted FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy players have just recently returned from representing Scotland in the Under-20 Six Nations in Cardiff.
Flanker Harri Morris made his professional rugby debut for Edinburgh Rugby against Ulster in June 2021 at BT Murrayfield. Hooker Patrick Harrison, West Linton (Peebles), scored three tries for Scotland U20 whilst in Cardiff. He made his Edinburgh Rugby debut in March 2020 and became the youngest hooker in the club history.
Also representing Scotland U20 earlier this month was stand-off Cammy Scott. Scott scored 22 points for his country through eight conversions and two penalties.
There are two further backs allocated to the Knights from the FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy. Scotland U18 cap Nathan Sweeney is a full-back, whilst Jacob Henry is a winger. Henry (ex-Highland) was named in the 2020 Scotland U20 Six Nations squad, in 2019 he was a recipient of the John MacPhail Scholarship to Stellenbosch University in South Africa.
As well as playing talent the Southern Knights are delighted to have two notable Assistant Coaches in Ross Ford and Lewis Carmichael.
Former Edinburgh Rugby second row Carmichael, who retired from rugby last month, had previously played for The Greenyards side. He has now returned to help the part-time professional team with lineouts and kick-off reception.
The most-capped male Scottish international of all time, Ross Ford (110 caps), assists former Border Reivers teammate Chrystie with the forwards and the squad’s strength and conditioning.
Southern Knights Head Coach Rob Chrystie said: “The squad have had a tough 18 months, but they are a resilient team. In the first season of FOSROC Super6 we took a few games to get going, a lot of this squad were involved then, so they now know the level that they need to play at to win.
“I’m delighted that we’re able to offer the opportunity for so many players from right across the Borders to play in the part-time professional league. It will give them the chance to play at that next level before crossing that bridge to the professional game.
“We’re building something special with this squad, you could see that in the ‘friendly’ we had with Ayrshire Bulls at the weekend. We are looking forward to seeing how hard and far we can push this young exciting squad."
Southern Knights squad to compete in the 2021 FOSROC Super6
Craig Jackson - CAPTAIN
Billy Vilikesa Wara
*FOSROC Contracted Academy Player