SCOTLAND’S under-18s will experience the realities of international rugby when they face England at Billingham RFC this afternoon in the their only warm-up match at this level before playing in the Six Nations Festival next month.
“It will be the first time they will be playing a full international match, so there will be a lot of challenges and a lot of learnings involved.” said head coach Ross Miller, who has delayed naming his starting team, instead announcing a squad for the match. “This squad was finalised after matches against Welsh opposition two weeks ago and against a composite Club XV comprised of players from the four semi-finalists in the Scottish Youth Cup last weekend,” he added.
At any age-grade level England will always possess power, pace and physicality such is the huge number of quality players they have to select from, not to mention the sheer scope of their development machine. Except for the two London Irish players all the England squad involved against Scotland are attached to Premiership clubs that guarantees a high level of rugby on a regular basis in the Premiership Academy Under-18 league.
Moreover, the England starting XV includes six players who toured South Africa with the national Under-18s programme in the Aon International Series last August, playing against France, Wales and South Africa Schools.
So, Scotland can be in no doubt that they will face a severe test against England in Billingham but irrespective of the result what is important is that they perform well and crucially learn from the match even if it is a school of hard knocks.
And it is as well to recall that last year Scotland lost heavily to England on the back pitch at BT Murrayfield in a one-off match and then just a few weeks later achieved a memorable turnaround with a win against the auld enemy in the Six Nations Festival.
Note: One of he London Irish player is Philip Cokanasiga, the younger brother of England senior team wing Joe.
Scotland Under-18 (squad v England at Billingham RUFC, Sunday, kick-off: 2pm): Forwards from: B Mace (Stirling County), J Drummond (Marr), S Clelland (Ayr), J Johnstone (Preston Lodge / Preston Lodge High School), C Lamberton (The Royal High School), D Gamble (Merchiston Castle School), A Samuel (Madras / St Leonards / Madras Rugby), S Whittaker (Edinburgh Accies), G Brown (Robert Gordon’s College), J King (Queen Victoria School / Stirling County), R Jackson (Kelvinside Academy), B Muncaster (Rugby School / Leicester Tigers), E Allan (Preston Lodge / North Berwick High School), H Morris (George Watson’s College), R Tait (Sedburgh School); Backs: J Dobie (Merchiston Castle School), C Scott (Preston Lodge / Preston Lodge High School), C Scott (George Watson’s College), A Harley (George Watson’s College), S King (Heriot’s), M Currie (Merchiston Castle School), T Jones (Bristol Bears / SGS Filton), F Callaghan (Hillhead Jordanhill), N Sweeney (Lorretto School), H Paterson (Fettes College), C Furley (Saracens).
England: G Worboys (Bath Rugby/Beechen Cliff); J Browning (Leicester Tigers/Denstone College), L Hillman-Copper (Gloucester Rugby/Cheltenham College), P Cokanasiga (London Irish/St Pauls College), T Roebuck (Sale Sharks/Wirral Grammar); T Curtis (Sale Sharks/Sedbergh School), J Van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers/Oakham School); H Fry (Gloucester Rugby/Hartpury College), S Riley (Harlequins/St George’s Weybridge), J Boughton (Gloucester Rugby/Hartpury College), G Martin (Leicester Tigers/Brooksby Melton College), A Benson (Gloucester Rugby/Dean Close School), J Gray (Gloucester Rugby/Dean Close School), X Hastings (Bath Rugby/Bishop Wordsworth’s), N Merigan (Bath Rugby/Beechen Cliff School). Replacements: J Stewart (Bath Rugby/Beechen Cliff School), L Green (London Irish/St Paul’s Catholic College), F Baxter (Harlequins/Wellington College), E Richards (Bath Rugby/Millfield School), W Trenholm (Harlequins/Cranleigh School), R Quirke (Sale Sharks/St Ambrose College), O Bailey (Bath Rugby/Beechen Cliff School), J Williams (Wasps/Caterham School).