Thistles ‘can compete with the biggest sides’

Melrose are Scottish club rugby champs after beating Currie 26-10 at the Greenyards and Gala were narrowly beaten 34-33 by Ayr at Netherdale. Coach John Dalziel and his team have an anxious wait to hear if his team has won the title.
Melrose are Scottish club rugby champs after beating Currie 26-10 at the Greenyards and Gala were narrowly beaten 34-33 by Ayr at Netherdale. Coach John Dalziel and his team have an anxious wait to hear if his team has won the title.
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As Scotland’s senior squad conclude their high-altitude training camp in the Pyrenees in preparation for the World Cup, their Under-20 counterparts returned home this week from scaling peaks of their own at the World Championships in Italy.

The Thistles navigated tricky contests against favourites New Zealand, Ireland, Argentina and Australia to finish eighth, the highest achieved by a Scotland Under-20s side at a World Championships.

“Looking at the season as a whole, we’ve had a really successful 2015, which hopefully bodes well for the future of Scottish rugby,” Melrose head coach and Scotland Under-20 assistant John Dalziel told The Southern this week.

“Although we didn’t get the results we wanted, the quality shown was impressive, and to qualify for 5-8th finish was really pleasing.

“We had the best line-out completion rate (93 per cent) of any side in the tournament and came second to only South Africa in scrum success, so there is clear evidence that we’re competing and holding our own against the biggest teams.”

Dalziel hopes the Under-20s’ success this year can propel the age-grade side to greater things in the future and hopes the foundation pieces laid in 2015 can be the beginning of a possible production line of top-drawer talent ready to drive the future of Scottish rugby.

“The aim now is to maintain this progress.

“There is a lot of work still to be done, but with the new regional and national academies starting this year, the hope is we can close the gap further on the top rugby nations sooner rather than later.

“What we’ve managed to achieve this year, along with the Under-16s and 18s, will hopefully be the first step in creating a new generation of Scottish rugby professionals and internationals,” added Dalziel.