Supporters left out in the cold at Under 18s trial match

George Taylor. Photograph: Heather Runciman
George Taylor. Photograph: Heather Runciman



Whatever the Scotland U18 selectors gained from watching two combined district sides slogging it out in atrocious conditions on the Murrayfield back pitch last Friday is anyone’s guess.

It must have been of minimal value and begs the question why such an important part of the selection process was not postponed until a later date.

In driving rain and high winds, accurately forecasted by those clever people at the Met Office, the match became a forward battle characterised by one-pass rugby and won by the side with the heavier forwards. Hopefully the return match in Glasgow on January 5 will provide different conditions to give the backs in particular the stage on which to strut their rugby skills.

The losers were the faithful band of parents, supporters and others interested in age-grade rugby who were subjected to an inhospitable spectator experience that left all of them cold, wet and miserable. Not for the first time, it seems, the Scottish Rugby Union has treated such loyal supporters with disdain by refusing to stage such matches in places other than the back pitches at Murrayfield when surely an approach to one of several recognised grounds in Edinburgh should have been made.

Impressive among the Border players in the Edinburgh side was Shane Armstrong, the Jed Thistle flanker, whose high work-rate and skill on the ball could gain him a place in the Scotland squad. Elsewhere in the forward battle the Jed Thistle props Cole Lothian and Ryan Gibson grafted well in the front row, Hawick Wanderers’ hooker Fraser Renwick had game time off the bench as did the Berwick lock Harry Borthwick. At lock Stephen Ainslie, who a week earlier played at number 8 in Borders 45-17 win over Edinburgh, staked a claim for Scotland inclusion.

Behind the scrum Melrose centre George Taylor had virtually no chance to show his skills, Gala Wanderers’ Ruaraidh Howarth too was minimally involved while off the bench Hawick Wanderers’ Grant Huggan did enough to suggest that he is one for next year’s Scotland under-18 squad.

Edinburgh led 3-0 at half time from a penalty by scrum half Hugh Fraser but with the strong wind behind them Glasgow dominated the second period of play with dynamic forward play that brought its reward with a try for Kelvinside lock Andrew Davidson after skipper Lewis Anderson had driven at the line.

Glasgow then signed off in spectacular style with a break by replacement stand-off Graeme Docherty that gave the Catha QP half back a try and conversion to seal his side’s win.

Edinburgh/Borders U18S: R. Howarth (Galashiels Academy/Gala Wanderers); R. Nairn (George Watson’s College/Currie), M. McPhillips (Dunbar GS/Dunbar), G. Taylor (Loretto/Melrose), B. Robbins (George Watson’s College); T Galbraith (Glenalmond College), H. Fraser (Merchiston); R. Gibson (Jedburgh GS/Jed Thistle), J. Kerr (George Watson’s College), C. Lothian (Jed Thistle), S. Ainslie (Loretto/Berwick), C. Hunter-Hill (Stewart’s-Melville College), S. Burnside (Heriot’s), S. Armstrong (Jed Thistle), A. Miller (George Watson’s College). Subs: F. Renwick (Hawick HS/Hawick Wanderers), R. Linton (Hawick Wanderers), D. Berezford (George Watson’s College), H. Borthwick (Gosforth HS/Berwick), F. Christie (Stewart’s-Melville College), A. Manson (Stewart’s-Melville College), C. Pringle (Loretto/Melrose), G. Huggan (Hawick HS/Hawick Wanderers).