SCOTLAND Under-20s will had across to the USA for a week-long pre Junior World Championship training camp in Washington DC at the end of May, which will include an ‘exhibition’ match against Old Glory DC (on the 27th).
“The camp follows the announcement that Scottish Rugby has taken a minority stake in the MLR [Major League Rugby] expansion side Old Glory DC, with the opportunity to focus U20 preparations State-side the first example of the relationship in action,” said a statement issued by the SRU this morning. “Old Glory is playing the first professional rugby in the history of the Washington DC market through a five-game exhibition season this spring, with the Scotland U20s as a cornerstone of that schedule.”
Old Glory’s other four matches are against All Ireland League side Shannon on 19th May, USA Rugby South on 1st June and Ontario Blues on 9th June (all at the Cardinal Stadium base on Catholic University’s campus), plus an away match against New England Free Jacks on 15th June.
A fairly aggressive recruitment drive is going to be required during the next six weeks. According to the Old Glory DC website, they currently have only three players on their books: local club player Josh Brown;recent Penn High School graduate and USA Under-20s training squad member Will Vakalahi; and former Toronto Wolfpack and Barrow Raiders (on loan) rugby league utility-back Ryan Burroughs. The club hosted an open trial on Sunday, with hopefuls paying $25 for the opportunity to win a contract.
“This is a great opportunity to get an extra week’s worth of preparation in a fantastic facility, and the added benefit of a good hard hit-out against the newly formed Old Glory,” said Scotland Under-20s head coach Carl Hogg. “This excellent match opportunity in a venue much closer to the Argentina time zone will give us a great springboard into the world championships.
“The learning and togetherness brought from working in an intense, performance-led residential camp will add a great deal to our preparations for two very tough games to start – New Zealand and South Africa – so it’ll be good to go into those games off the back of a good camp.”
Old Glory DC Chairman Chris Dunlavey said the Under-20s match will be the key fixture in the club’s exhibition season.
“We’ll learn a lot about the players we’ve pulled together by testing them against the best, and we hope we’ll give the Scotland U20s a good contest before their pursuit of a world championship,” he said. “What a great way to launch the relationship with our Scottish Rugby partners.”
Scotland Under-20s face a daunting pool schedule in the Junior World Championships which kicks off in Argentina at the start of June, having been matched up against six-time champions New Zealand, last year’s bronze medallists South Africa and an increasingly-impressive Georgian age-grade side.
SCOTLAND U20 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Tuesday 4 June: South Africa v Scotland (kick-off 10.30am)
Saturday 8 June: New Zealand v Scotland (kick-off 3.30pm)
Wednesday 12 June: Georgia v Scotland (kick-off 10.30am)