Borders youths head south

SOUTH Schools seem unlikely to field the talented Hawick back Matthew Douglas in their squad the historic game against Rugby School on the hallowed Close pitch, reputedly the birthplace of the oval-ball game, tomorrow, writes Alan Lorimar.

Injured Douglas, who is in the Newcastle Falcons Academy, was not available for the warm-up match against Dollar Academy two weeks ago when the combined side lost 38-55 to the Clackmannanshire private school. The South side will be captained by Hawick High School’s Scotland under-17 hooker Ross Graham.

The invitation to play on the Close – few are given – was originally to Hawick High School, with whom Rugby School has a scholarship link. That was established through the Arnold fFoundation, which supports pupils from less privileged backgrounds, and through Rugby School’s headmaster, Partick Derham, who originates from Hawick.

Three Hawick boys attend Rugby School and this session they have been joined by two Hawick girls.

“I’m sure all the Hawick pupils will be on the touchline supporting this match,” said Alan Williamson, who is managing the squad.

“We didn’t think Hawick High School would be strong enough to play Rugby School so that’s why we suggested South Schools. We had a good warm-up game against Dollar. The boys were blown away a bit by the pace in the first half but when we got our shape in the second we outscored them.

“That second half performance against Dollar should give the South boys a lift, but there remains the challenge of playing against a side whose average age will be slightly older.”

South Schools squad: Forwards ‑ Gavin Blair (Hawick HS), Callum Crookshanks (Earlston HS), Angus Runciman (Earlston), Ross Graham (Hawick), Richard Harrison (Peebles HS), Cole Lothian (Jed GS), Gary Robertson (Gala Academy), Finlay Simpson (Hawick), Ryan Gibson (Jed), Charlie Woodhouse (Eyemouth HS), Murray Kerr (Earlston). Backs: Sam Bandeen (Hawick), Harry Cooper (Kelso HS), Sam Cuthers (Kelso), Matt Douglas (Hawick) tbc, Scott Halliday (Peebles), Jack Harrison (Peebles), Ruairi Howarth (Gala), Jack Elliot (Selkirk HS), Cameron Pye (Peebles), Iain Sim (Berwickshire HS), Kyle Stillie (Selkirk).

On Saturday, the local senior teams and Gala and Melrose take to the road to play Currie and Aberdeen respectively.

An all-Borders mid-table National League tie between Kelso and Hawick should be an entertaining clash while Jed-Forest and Selkirk are away to Glasgow Hawks and Watsonians.