Scotland U18s have announced their 23-man squad to face England at Hamilton RFC on Sunday.
The squad is the same as that which defeated a Scotland U18 Districts XV two weeks ago by a huge 53-0 scoreline, and Head Coach Eddie Pollock was happy to admit that that performance played a big part in his thinking for the midday kick off:
â€œWeâ€™ve reselected the team following a strong performance at Murrayfield. Itâ€™s a very talented group of players and weâ€™re now just looking forward to playing England.â€
â€œItâ€™s a great opportunity for them to show us what they can do.â€
Pollock was also effusive in his praise for England, proclaiming them the best side in Europe at U18 level. He also stressed the importance of his players getting some game time together ahead of the FIRA/AER Championships in Poland over the Easter break:
â€œEngland are the top team in Europe at this age-grade, and have been for the past three or four years.â€
â€œWe always look to play them first as part of our preparations for the FIRA European Championships because, not only is Scotland v England a massive fixture, it allows us to take on the biggest challenge available to help us get up to speed as quickly as possible.â€
We want to get the players to realise the level they need to be at if they want to play international rugby for Scotland.â€
England are yet to announce their squad for the game, but like Scotland they also warmed up for this game with a fixture a fortnight ago, beating Leicester Tigers Academy 19-12 at Welford Road. It might not have been the 53-0 morale boosting victory that Scotland U18s took, however given that the Tigers Academy beat Wales U18s 28-17 this weekend it serves as a useful indicator as to the quality that England will likely possess.
There are plenty in the Scotland side that will be well aware of the English threat though, as they play much of their rugby with their schools south of the border.
Queen Elizabethâ€™s Hexham forward, Callum Sheldon, St Paulâ€™s AASE back, Reuben Norville, MPWâ€™s Rory Hutchinson, and Millfield Schoolâ€™s Adam Hastings all play their school rugby in England, while the many George Watsonâ€™s College, Loretto, and Merchiston Castle players in the squad have all played plenty of rugby against English opposition.
It promises to be a fascinating encounter.
Scotland U18 v England U18, Sunday 9th March, Hamilton RFC, 12.00
Forwards: Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Hawks RFC),Â Murray McCallum (Strathallan/Dunfermline RFC),Â Callum Sheldon (Queen Elizabeth School/Newcastle Falcons),Â Gary Robertson (Gala Wanderers RFC),Â Lewis Anderson (Marr College/Ayr RFC),Â Jake KerrÂ (George Watsonâ€™s College/Watsonians FC),Â Stephen Ainslie (Loretto School/Berwick RFC),Â Andrew Davidson (Kelvinside Academy/Glasgow Hawks RFC),Â Jamie RitchieÂ (Strathallan/Howe of Fife),Â Ally MillerÂ (George Watsonâ€™s College/Watsonians FC),Â Lewis Wynne (Stirling County RFC),Â Scott Burnside (Heriotâ€™s FP RFC),Â Matthew Smith (Stirling High School/Stirling County RFC).
Backs: Hugh Fraser (Merchiston Castle School),Â Andrew Manson (Stewart’s Melville College),Â Adam Hastings (Millfield School),Â Rory Hutchison (MPW Cambridge/Shelford RFC),Â Josh Laird (Strathallan School/Kirkcaldy RFC),Â George Taylor (Loretto School/Melrose RFC),Â Ben Robbins (George Watsonâ€™s College),Â Reuben Norville (St. Pauls CC/London Irish),Â Robbie NairnÂ (George Watsonâ€™s College/Currie RFC),Â Ruari Howarth (Gala Wanderers RFC).