Down Inverleith Way 7
Tuesday 22nd December 2016
Last Saturday (17th December) proved a very busy one for Stewart’s Melville Rugby as Under 13, Under 14 and Under 15/16 Academy teams played Ayr in the morning; the Senior 2nd XV set off to “Weegie” land to play West of Scotland; the Mighty 3’s braved the perils of the Inch to renew rivalry with Lismore/Portobello; and the Senior 1st XV prepared to take on league leaders, Marr Rugby, on pitch 1. Throw into the mix a lunch to honour the College 1st XV’s success this year in both the Under 18 Conference and Cup and there was a real buzz around Inverleith.
Four Stewart’s Melville Players in the Scotland Under 18 Squad
Talking of the of the College 1st XV, 4 players have been named in the Scotland Under 18 training squad for December. Ross Thompson is included as a stand-off option alongside teammates Cammy Symes and Jack Blain in the backs and Connor Boyle in the forwards.The Scotland U18 squad will also gather twice in February for training camps in preparation for an away fixture against England on Sunday 12 March 2017 and the inaugural 5 Nations tournament in April 2017. With names being added throughout February and March there must be high hopes that even more Stew Mel players can force their way into the reckoning.
The College 1st XV are also very much looking forward to their first fixture of the New Year (7th January) when Royal Grammar School, Newcastle visit Inverleith. The Geordies are the only team to have beaten the RBG in the first half of the season and the boys are hoping a full strength team can be fielded to put matters right!
Stewart’s Melville Academy versus Ayr
Well done to all 3 teams who played on Saturday. There were 60+ Academy boys playing, which is superb and the clubhouse was buzzing with activity afterwards. Whilst on this occasion Ayr might not have been as strong as expected, the Academy players maintained a decent standard of rugby, played with great spirit and at times showcased a high level of skill.
However, the coaches have identified that tackling across the board could have been better, (albeit this may have been a reflection of spending so much time in attack) and this is something that will have some priority in the second half of the season.
Congratulations to Ross McNulty, the Academy Director, his team managers and the coaches. This along with the Lions and the School is the lifeblood of the club.
The Mighty 3’s versus Portobello/Lismore 2nd XV
At the final whistle the Mighty 3’s had lost (32-29) but after a steward’s enquiry, an arithmetic lesson and a re-count they eventually were declared winners by 30-29! As ever, information about the match is shrouded in mystery but rugby was undoubtedly the winner! There are rumours of an amazing intercept try by the Stew Mel captain but any detail has so far failed to filter through!
The Senior 2nd XV versus West of Scotland 2nd XV
The 2nd XV have not have an easy time of late, especially with injuries to the front row and their coach undertaking a deserved nuptial sabbatical, but an interesting squad was put together to make the journey through to Milngavie. Problems continued when Jack Calder failed to get through the warm-up but Eubo stepped up to the plate at fly-half and proved to everybody his competence and flair to control the game. Equally Ollie, moved from hooker to prop out of necessity and impressed a British Lion no less! Well done to the boys who stuck in and came away with a 29-5 victory. Fin’s usual unique report is on the website.
The Senior 1st XV versus Marr Rugby
On this evidence one is tempted to say that Marr are the best team we have faced in the league (although I am sure that the men from Raeburn Place and Riverside might beg to differ). As Gavin says, in his usual excellent match report, they played expansive and controlled rugby which was enjoyable to watch (if you were a neutral!). From a RBG point of view, the most encouraging thing was that we lived with it —— and in many ways more than matched it. After 15 minutes of continual defending, we forced our way into the game and, gaining some kind of parity up front, started to really threaten our visitors. The backs undoubtedly put Marr under pressure and had them employing their scramble defence on many occasions. For a young side, physicality is always going to be a problem and so it proved with three of the Troon side’s tries coming from one of the scourges (in my opinion!) of modern rugby, a rolling maul. To be fair they were excellently executed but, as an ex-coach and a spectator, it is not clear how they can be defended legally —and they are not the most exciting thing to watch especially if you are on the receiving end! However, we have to continue our fast learning curve and put lessons into action.
It is testament to our progress that there was genuine disappointment, if not to win, to at least take two bonus points from the encounter. A 4th try was definitely on the cards and fortune did not favour the brave in trying to finish within 7 points. What do Stew Mel take from the game? That we should not fear anybody in National 1 and survival is in our own hands!
A Big Thank You as the Year Ends
It was good to experience the positive vibes at Inverleith on Saturday (even though the 1st XV lost). This does not happen without an amazing amount of enthusiasm, effort and support from many people and organisations. It is impossible to mention everybody but Stewart’s Melville Rugby would like to say a huge and heart felt thank you. You know who you are! The senior club, in particular, still needs more helpers and if you would like to get involved please get in touch with our dynamo Chairman, Colin Rigby.
Please have a great festive season and Stew Mel Rugby looks forward to seeing you at Inverleith in 2017.