Sixteen Borders rugby players have been included in the first wave of inductees in the SRU’s new academies initiative.
Eighty-seven of the nation’s most promising male and female players will attend one of four academies based in the Borders and East Lothian, Caledonia, Edinburgh and Glasgow and the West.
Last week, Hawick’s Ross Graham joined the Borders contingent that travelled to BT Murrayfield where they were presented with their new academy jerseys.
“The offer to be one of the first involved with this new initiative was simply too good to turn down,” said the 20-year-old hooker.
“I didn’t waste any time thinking it over and accepted it pretty quickly.”
“It’s a one-year deal and the plan is to work hard and make the most of this opportunity.
“I’ll be training with Edinburgh Rugby over the summer, then when the season begins, I’ll be based at the Borders academy Monday to Friday and on the weekends, if available, I’ll play for Hawick.”
It has also been confirmed that the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy, Borders and East Lothian will operate from the Netherdale Campus, in Galashiels.
This has been made possible through a partnership with Heriot-Watt University, Borders College, Gala Junior Rugby Council and the Borders Sport and Leisure Trust.
Chris Dewsnap, the Borders and East Lothian Academy Manager, and his staff will have access to state-of-the-art gym facilities at TriFitness and the 3G pitch at Fairydean, while Heriot-Watt will provide office, rehab and medical space, with the Hayward Pavilion hosting changing and on-field medical facilities. Borders College will provide access to the gym and will offer additional office space.
Dewsnap said: “The partners that have come together across the region have allowed us to produce the required facilities that will support players towards their ambition of professional rugby and playing for Scotland.”
Meanwhile Graham is confident the academies scheme can produce a long line of Scottish talent.
“The initiative definitely looks like a positive way to help bring on more home-grown players who could possibly go on to make it professionally.
“It’s a great step forward for Scottish rugby and I’m thrilled to be involved with it.”
BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy, Borders and East Lothian: Harry Borthwick (Melrose/Lock); Lewis Carmichael (Melrose/Lock); Tom Galbraith (Melrose/Stand-off); Darcy Graham (Hawick/Full-back); Ross Graham (Hawick/Hooker); Grant Huggan (Hawick/Stand-off); Craig Pringle (Melrose/Centre); Fraser Renwick (Hawick/Hooker); Gary Robertson (Gala/Tighthead Prop); Chloe Rollie (Melrose Ladies/Full-back); Daniel Suddon (Hawick Wanderers/Hawick Lock); George Taylor (Melrose/Centre); Lisa Thomson (Melrose Ladies Centre).
BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy, Edinburgh: Ruairi Howarth (Gala/Full-back); Ally Miller (Melrose/Number 8).
BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy, Glasgow and the West: Lana Skeldon (Hillhead Jordanhill/ Hooker).