A Super Series Legacy

A Super Series Legacy

After four years and seven months, seven competitions and 209 games, FOSROC Super Series rugby has come to an end.

From the first game on Friday 8 November 2019 to its last on Saturday 8 June 2024, we look back at the 1675 days of Super Series rugby, the people who progressed into the professional game as well as reflecting on the tournament itself.

The Tournament
FOSROC Super6 rugby kicked-off under Friday night lights at Meggetland on Friday 8 November 2019 as Boroughmuir Bears hosted Stirling County in a six-try thriller which ended 24-27, the visitors coming away with the victory in front of a crowd of 1521. The first season of competition was called to a close in March 2020 after 30 games and 10 full rounds owing to the Covid-19 pandemic with no winner declared.  

Part-time professional rugby resumed in July 2021 with all six teams playing each other home and away before the finals weekend where top of the regular season Southern Knights hosted Ayrshire Bulls at Edinburgh Rugby’s home, DAM Health Stadium, on Sunday 17 October 2021 where Bulls overcame the league’s most consistent side to etch their name in the history books as the first ever winners of the FOSROC Super6 Championship, final score Southern Knights 16-26 Ayrshire Bulls. 

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 17: Ayrshire Bulls are crowned FOSROC Super6 champions during a FOSROC Super6 Final between Ayrshire Bulls and the Southern Knights at the DAM Health Stadium, on October 17, 2021, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

In 2022 a new format was introduced to provide more playing opportunities and competitive environments. A Sprint competition in the Spring from April to June and the traditional Championship running from August to November.  

After playing every team either home or away over seven rounds of competition, Watsonians earned a place in the play-off to determine the winner by hosting Stirling County at Meggetland where the men from Myreside won by three points 24-21. It was a very competitive tournament with an average points difference per game of only 8 points.  

In the 2022 FOSROC Super Series Championship there was a total of 32 games played, which included knock-out rugby with semi-finals which saw Watsonians and Ayrshire Bulls progress to the final, held once again at DAM Health stadium. Watsonians clinched the double that year and saw off Ayrshire Bulls in a 10-try thriller which went to extra time.  

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 30: Watsonians celebrate with the Super6 trophy during the FOSROC Super6 Final match between Watsonians and Ayrshire Bulls at the DAM Health Stadium, on October 30, 2022, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

FOSROC Super Series rugby in 2023 saw the introduction of a total of three new teams. Edinburgh A and Glasgow A joined the competition for the first three rounds with Ayrshire Bulls (29-12) and Stirling Wolves (34-31) both recording wins over Glasgow A. Bulls went on to win the 2023 FOSROC Super Series Sprint after a consistent performance throughout the seven rounds and sneaking the win 19-15 against Heriot’s at home in the play-off final.  

The FOSROC Future XV joined the 2023 Championship to make seven teams contesting the sixth competition. With the introduction of another team there were 44 games played with an average of eight tries per game with 2433 points scored. Bulls, once again, made it to a Championship final but there was a new name on the trophy when Stirling Wolves showed their dominance winning 19-29.  

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – NOVEMBER 18: Stirling Wolves lift the Super Series trophy at full-time during the FOSROC Super Series final match between Ayrshire Bulls and Stirling Wolves at Hive Stadium, on November 18, 2023, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

The 2024 Sprint once again saw Edinburgh A and Glasgow A involved in the competition. In the play-off final Ayrshire Bulls hosted Stirling Wolves in a re-play of the 2023 Championship, only this time it was at Millbrae. Bulls produced a dominant performance on the night to over power Wolves 33-19 and win their third competition in the FOSROC Super Series. In 2024 there was 1356 points and 209 tries scored just 23 games averaging 9 tries per game.  

Across the seven competitions only 12 players have played in all seven competitions for the same Super Series team they are:
Blair McPherson, Alex McGuire (Ayrshire Bulls)
Martin McGinley (Boroughmuir Bears),
Chris Keen, Josh Scott, Ronan Seydak, Ruairidh Leishman, Michael Liness (Heriot’s)
James Pow (Stirling Wolves)
Lomond MacPherson, Murray Scott, Kerian Watt (Watsonians) 

Most appearances made by a player in FOSROC Super Series Rugby
Blair MacPherson (Ayrshire Bulls) 65
James Pow (Stirling Wolves) 59
Michael Liness (Heriot’s) 56
Lewis Berg (Watsonians) & Alex McGuire (Ayrshire Bulls) 55

Most points scored by a player in FOSROC Super Series Rugby
Jason Baggott (Knights) 122 and (Watsonians) 218 = 340
Marcus Holden (Stirling Wolves) 327
Lee Miller (Watsonians) 276
Bruce Houston (Heriot’s) 227
Blair MacPherson (Ayrshire Bulls) 200

Most tries scored by a player in FOSROC Super Series Rugby
Blair MacPherson (Ayrshire Bulls) 40
Ross McKnight (Stirling County) 27, (Watsonians) 2, (Glasgow A) 2 = 31
Iain Wilson (Heriot’s) 27
Cal Davies (Watsonians) 23
Jamie Sheddon (Ayrshire Bulls) 20
 

FOSROC Super Series stats Friday 8 November 2019 – Sunday 9 June 2024
Total number of FOSROC Super Series games played: 209
Total number of points scored in the seven FOSROC Super Series competitions: 10,512 
Average number of points scored in a FOSROC Super Series game: 50
Total number of tries scored in all FOSROC Super Series games: 1484
Average number of tries scored in a FOSROC Super Series game: 7
There were 25 penalty tries awarded across all games.
Total number of successful conversions in FOSROC Super Series games: 1011
Average number of successful conversions in a FOSROC Super Series game: 5
There were 249 penalties kicked at goal with an average of 1 per game.
Bruce Houston (Heriot’s), Jason Baggott (Watsonians), Tom Pittman (Boroughmuir Bears) and Marcus Holden (Stirling Wolves) were the only 4 successful drop goals.
Across all 209 games there was an average points difference of just 12 points.  

Players stepping up within Scotland
There are seven players who were registered in a Super Series squad at the start of a competition who have gone on to earn full Scotland international caps. They are:
Jamie Hodgson (Watsonians) Cap #1117 Scotland debut 30 October 2021 v Tonga
Marshall Sykes (Ayrshire Bulls) Cap #1123 Scotland debut 30 October 2021 v Tonga
Ross Thompson (Ayrshire Bulls) Cap #1124  Scotland debut 30 October 2021 v Tonga
Rory Darge (Southern Knights) Cap #1130 Scotland debut 12 February 2022 v Wales
(the only Super Series player to become a Scotland captain)
Ollie Smith (Ayrshire Bulls) Cap #1134 Scotland debut 16 July 2022 v Argentina
Murphy Walker (Stirling Wolves) Cap #1137 Scotland debut 5 November 2022 v Fiji
Harry Paterson (Heriot’s/Watsonians) Cap #1219 Scotland debut X February 2024 v France  

From November 2019 to June 2024 there were 40 players who were registered in one of the six registered Super Series squads (including Academy & Partnership contracts) to have made the step up and played professional rugby for either Edinburgh Rugby or Glasgow Warriors, 32 of them have signed professional contracts with one of the two Scottish sides.  

23 FOSROC Super Series players made appearances for Edinburgh Rugby:
Roan Frostwick (Watsonians)
Jamie Hodgson (Watsonians)*
Dan Nutton (Heriot’s)*
Marshall Sykes (Ayrshire Bulls)* 
Dan Winning (Boroughmuir Bears)
Jack Blain (Heriot’s)*
Connor Boyle (Watsonians)*
Rory Darge (Southern Knights)*
Sean Gunn (Southern Knights)
Sam Grahamslaw (Watsonians)*
Cameron Hutchison (Heriot’s)*
Sam Kitchen (Ayrshire Bulls)*
Harri Morris (Southern Knights) 
Harry Paterson (Heriot’s/Watsonians)*
Rudi Brown (Southern Knights)
Jamie Campbell (Heriot’s)*
Harrison Courtney (Watsonians)*
Paddy Harrison (Watsonians)*
Angus Williams (Watsonians)*
Cammy Scott (Southern Knights)*
Nathan Sweeney (Southern Knights)*
Mike Jones (Boroughmuir Bears)*
Jake Henry (Heriot’s/Southern Knights)*

17 FOSROC Super Series players made appearances for Glasgow Warriors:
Caleb Korteweg (Stirling Wolves)
Gregor Brown (Boroughmuir Bears)*
Jordan Lenac (Ayrshire Bulls)
Ollie Smith (Ayrshire Bulls)*
Ross Thomson (Ayrshire Bulls)*
Sean Kennedy (Stirling Wolves)*
Murphy Walker (Stirling Wolves)*
Euan Ferrie (Boroughmuir Bears)*
Tom Jordan (Ayrshire Bulls)*
Alex Samuel (Ayrshire Bulls)*
Jack Mann (Heriot’s)*
Angus Fraser (Stirling Wolves)*
Eli Caven (Ayrshire Bulls)
Max Williamson (Stirling Wolves)*
Duncan Munn (Boroughmuir Bears)*
Gregor Hiddleston (Stirling Wolves)*
Ben Afshar (Stirling Wolves/Ayrshire Bulls)*
*players who signed contracts with either Edinburgh Rugby or Glasgow Warriors 

MELROSE, SCOTLAND – APRIL 23: Knight’s Ben Afshar during a FOSROC Super6 match between Southern Knights and Watsonians at The Greenyards, on April 23, 2022, in Melrose, Scotland. (Photo by Simon Wootton / SNS Group)

Murphy Walker is one of seven full Scotland Internationals who were in registered Super Series squads before progressing into a professional team before the national side. 

Walker played in six of the seven FOSROC Super Series competitions (four competitions with Stirling Wolves and two with Glasgow A) appearing 21 times and scoring two tries. He said: “Personally, Super Series provided a solid foundation for me to kick-start my career into the professional program. I learnt a lot of skills coming out of school, which have been great in terms of transferring to how I operate now, specifically with scrummaging as a tight head. In terms of developing players, it’s not only helped me, but others reach the international stage and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities it provided.”

Cammy Scott Edinburgh Rugby stand-off/centre played 32 times in the tournament, whilst a supported FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy player, before signing his first professional deal with Edinburgh in March 2023 and is now a constant in the capital sides match-day squad.  

He said: “The Super Series has been massive for me and my development. It was my first time regularly playing against senior players, so it helped me a lot physically, as well as being able to implement things we had worked on in training with Edinburgh Rugby.” 

Coaches moving up to club and country
Super Series Head Coaches at each of the licence teams have all been full-time since January 2019. Most teams built a part-time assistant coaching group around their Head Coach skillset with a number of coaches moving into the professional game throughout the five years.

There have been 17 Head Coaches in Super Series rugby. Across head and assistant coaches, 8 have progressed into high-performance full-time coaching environments; they are:
Pete Murchie (Ayrshire Bulls to Glasgow Warriors March 2021)
Pete Horne (Ayrshire Bulls to Glasgow Warriors June 2022 to Scotland Men November 2023)
Stevie Lawrie (Watsonians to Edinburgh Rugby February 2019)
Rob Chrystie (Southern Knights to Edinburgh Rugby Academy November 2021 and Edinburgh Senior team)
Ciaran Beattie (Heriot’s to Scotland and GB 7s 2019)
Fergus Pringle (Watsonians to Scotland U20 December 2022)
Chris Laidlaw (Boroughmuir Bears assistant 2019-202 to Scottish Rugby Academy October 2020 then Scotland Women and performance pathway)
Scott Lawson (Stirling Wolves to Scottish Rugby Specialist Skills July 2022) 

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 12: Coach Peter Murchie during Glasgow Warriors media access at Scottoun Stadium on October 12, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

One of the first coaches to step up to professional rugby after his time as a Super Series Head Coach was Ayrshire Bulls Pete Murchie who joined Glasgow Warriors as Assistant Coach in March 2021. He said: “Super Series rugby provided me with the opportunity to develop my coaching full time on a pathway to the professional game at the Warriors, something that has been invaluable to me as a coach starting out on my professional journey.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunities and platform that the competition provided, as it allowed me to learn and improve before making the step up to the professional environment.”

Fergus Pringle led Watsonians from the first competition in 2019 through to their Championship win in November 2022 before making the step up and into Scottish Rugby’s High-Performance Department as Scotland U20 full-time forward’s coach. He said: “The experience of being there at the start of Super6 was invaluable and building a rugby programme that was more aligned to a semi-professional model both on and off the field was a great experience.  

“Being my first full-time coaching role, it gave me more time to develop my on-field coaching & off field analysis across the areas of the game. I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity given to me by Watsonians, hopefully I repaid that with a bit of success over the years I was there.” 

Pete Horne was Head Coach at Ayrshire Bulls before returning to Scotstoun as an Assistant Coach at Glasgow Warriors and moving up to Scotland ahead of the 2023 GUINESS Six Nations and Rugby World Cup. He said: “As a full-time Head Coach I was able to put a time into planning and preparing things properly which allowed me the practice valuable things that I could take into the professional game.

“I was so impressed with how professionally the players conducted themselves with working or studying at the same time, they were lifting weights and training three nights a week. It was run not far off how I was used to training at Glasgow Warriors.

“I loved it, I really did enjoy my time at Ayr and it will hold a fond place in my heart forever.” 

Match Officials
The 209 matches in the FOSROC Super Series were each officiated by a dedicated group of match referees, two assistant referees, number four, number five officials, and a timekeeper, per game.  

There was a group of 17 match officials who refereed the game in the middle of the park with Ian Kenny making the most appearances as referee. There were 36 match officials who made appearances in the FOSROC Super Series with Ruairidh Campbell making the most appearances in the tournament officiating in almost a quarter of the total games played.  

Match Official appearances as a match referee in the FOSROC Super Series:
Ian Kenny 32
Ruairidh Campbell 30
David Sutherland 30
Jonny Perriam 26
Finlay Brown 22
Hollie Davidson 12
Keith Allen, Rob McDowell 10
Ross Mabon, Graeme Ormiston, 9
Michael Todd, Mike Adamson 6
Sam Grove-White 5
Ben Blain 3
Sam O’Neil, Ciaran Stark and Keane Davison (IRFU) 1

All referees listed above (apart from Ciaran Stark) have gone on to officiate in the United Rugby Championship (URC) and/or the EPCR. Iain Kenny, Keith Allen and Hollie Davidson progressed from Super Series rugby to referee in the URC.

Both Hollie Davidson and Chealsea Gillespie have been involved in the GUINNESS Women’s Six Nations following their officiating in Super Series rugby whilst Finlay Brown has made an impact on the HSBC SVNS Series over the last few years leading to his selection to the officiating team for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. 

Match Official appearances (including match referee, AR 1 & AR2) in the FOSROC Super Series:
Ruairidh Campbell 55
Bob Nevins 54
Michael Todd 51
Jonny Perriam 49
David Sutherland 39
Ian Kenny 37
Ali Watt34
Finlay Brown 34
David Changleng 34
Sam O’Neil 33
Ross Mabon 30
Rob McDowell 20
Graeme Ormiston 17
Ciaran Stark 16
David Young 15
Keith Allen 14
Neil Muir, Hollie Davidson12
Mike Adamson 9
Sam Grove-White, Calum Worsley, Chelsea Gillespie 7
Stephen Ward, Digby Thomas 6
Ben Blain, John Smith 5
Fergus Hollins, Brian McGuff, Grant Stephen, Craig Clark, Calum Lazenby 3
George Pounder, Allan Parry 2
Willie Anderson, Colin George, Mike Milner 1 

David Sutherland was the match referee in the very first FOSROC Super Series game between Boroughmuir Bears and Stirling County in November 2019. He also refereed the 1 v 2 FOSROC SUPER SERIES SPRINT final between Ayrshire Bulls and Stirling Wolves in June 2024. He said: “In the competition, the standard has gone up every year I think. The players are well coached, they understand a game plan, they’re pretty well conditioned. For me, I’ve just really enjoyed being part of it. Certainly having the Sprint in the spring time and the main competition summer to autumn, you’ve got guys who are playing on good pitches with a dry ball who want to play quick, attacking rugby. You’ve seen games with really high scores, lots of ball in play time, lots of tries, which is ultimately what the fans want to see.   

“I haven’t done it, but I imagine if I looked back to that first game to where I am five years later, I just feel a lot more rounded as a referee. Just having those experiences have definitely helped, being put under pressure more often. Ian Kenny is a great example, he refereed with me at the start of Super Series and has gone to referee in the URC this season and has done really well. In terms of my own development, I’m night and day compared to where I was at five years ago. I have more confidence to go out and perform at a more professional level than what I did previously.” 

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – SEPTEMBER 30: Bears’ Ruairidh Swan and referee Ruairidh Campbell during a FOSROC Super6 match between Boroughmuir Bears and Stirling County at Meggetland, on September 30, 2022, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Analysts
There have been seven performance analysts who have progressed from Super Series rugby to full-time analysts in the High-Performance department at Scottish Rugby working within programmes such as Scotland Men, Scotland Women, Scotland U20, the male performance pathway as well as with Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors. 

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – AUGUST 20: Watsonians staff during a FOSROC Super6 match between Heriots and Watsonians at Goldenacre, on August 20, 2022, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Simon Wootton / SNS Group)

What’s next?
In February 2024 a new plan for the Male Performance Pathway was announced which confirmed that the Super6 licence agreements held by the six teams would not be renewed beyond November 2024. The new plan sees the reinstatement of Scotland A fixtures and a move for the two professional teams to play more A games as well as expanding the Scottish Rugby Academy to work with players up to the age of 23.   

 

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