National Schools Cup final 2022/23 | Preview
This Wednesday 7 December, sixteen school teams will be heading to BT Murrayfield for the Scottish Rugby National Schools Cup finals.
Games will be held across the DAM Health Stadium, BT Murrayfield back pitch and in the BT Murrayfield Stadium bowl. Eight games will take place, including Plate, Bowl, Shield and Cup, all at U16 and U18 level.
U16 Schools Shield Final: Howe of Fife/Bell Baxter High School v North Berwick High School – 11am, BT Murrayfield Stadium Bowl
Wednesday’s action kicks-off at 11am when Howe of Fife/Bell Baxter High School play North Berwick High School for the U16 Schools Shield in the BT Murrayfield Stadium Bowl.
Howe of Fife/Bell Baxter High School’s quarter final against Robert Gordon’s College was one to remember when they trumped the Aberdeen side 36-7, securing their spot in the semi-finals against The Edinburgh Academy. Despite this game ending in a closer score of 29-35, the six-point advantage was what Howe of Fife/Bell Baxter High School needed to be in the running for the U16 Schools Shield.
North Berwick also had a corker of a quarter final, claiming a 42-19 victory over their opponents The High School of Glasgow. Another healthy win of 12-33 in the semi-finals, this time against George Heriot’s School, guaranteed North Berwick their place in the highly anticipated final.
Fergus Kinnaird, North Berwick High School U16 Captain said: “As a squad we have gelled well together this year and our game has grown from strength to strength. We used our teamwork to help us win all our conference games, with our final two games being the toughest.
“Our highlight was the quarter final against High School of Glasgow. We were nervous as we knew nothing about them but a tremendous home support who got behind us, helped us to victory. Our semi-final against Heriots was predictably tough as both teams fought hard for their place in the final.
“We are proud to represent North Berwick High School in this year’s Shield Final at Murrayfield.”
U16 Schools Bowl Final: Berwick RFC v Knox/Haddington – 11.15am, BT Murrayfield Back Pitch
The next U16 clash will begin shortly after the first match kicks off, when Berwick RFC and Knox/Haddington go head-to-head on the BT Murrayfield back pitch at 11.15am.
A solid 12-26 quarter-final win over Lenzie Academy made sure Berwick RFC secured their place in the semi-finals, where they outdid themselves with a 15-54 point triumph over St Leonards Madras Blues.
It may have been a one-try-difference final score in their quarter-final match against Dalkeith RFC (19-14), but Knox/Haddington pulled out all the stops in their semi-final to pick up a 41-29 victory over Morrison’s Academy.
U18 Schools Bowl Final: Lomond & Helensburgh v Morrison’s Academy – 1.15pm, BT Murrayfield Back Pitch
The first U18 clash will take place on the BT Murrayfield back pitch at 1.15pm, when Lomond & Helensburgh take on Morrison’s Academy in hope of securing the U18 Schools Bowl.
Lomond & Helensburgh had a try-scoring frenzy in their quarter-final, when they managed to secure a 7-50 final score over Dalkeith RFC, and a place in the semi-finals. Despite playing against a more competitive Preston Lodge High School side, their 29-34 win was enough to get them to the finals.
Robbie Devenny, Lomond & Helensburgh U18 Captain said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us and the boys are all looking forward to the game. We all feel we’ve earned this chance to play at Murrayfield as we’ve made a great start to our season and have been playing some attractive rugby along the way.
“The culture within the squad this year has been phenomenal and I’m really proud of the boys already and whatever the result on Wednesday we have done ourselves and Helensburgh & Lomond proud.”
Paul Reaney, Lomond & Helensburgh U18 Head Coach added: “This is the third time in six years that Lomond & Helensburgh have reached the Schools Finals and this is testament to strength of the ongoing partnership between Lomond School and Helensburgh Rugby Club.
“Our current U18s are a tight knit bunch and the bulk of the squad have been playing rugby together since their mini rugby days. This year the U18 squad have worked to develop three core values; getting the basics right, building a positive team culture and perhaps most importantly enjoyment.
“These values were defiantly displayed in our Semi Final against a well drilled Preston Lodge side. All involved with Lomond & Helensburgh U18s are looking forward to the Final against Morrisons Academy, it looks set to be a cracking match.”
Morrison’s Academy had a closer stint in their quarter-final when they managed to pull a six-point advantage over their opponents Lasswade High School, resulting in a final score of 20-26. The semi-finals were the Crieff-based outfit’s time to shine when they obtained an impressive 48-14 triumph over Knox/Haddington.
Mike Blackie, Morrison’s Academy U18 Head Coach said: “The Morrison’s Academy 1XV have been a great group of players to work with. We only have 22 senior players, but they have worked incredibly hard at their core skills and game play which has resulted in great matches with the likes of Glenalmond, Edinburgh Academy and Queen Victoria School.
“This has prepared them well for the tough cup run which has ended with us competing for the Schools Bowl against Lomond/Helensburgh. The squad are very excited about the challenge ahead!”
U16 Schools Cup Final: Strathallan School v Stewart’s Melville College – 1.45pm, BT Murrrayfield Stadium Bowl
Next up, Strathallan School and Stewart’s Melville College take to the BT Murrayfield Stadium Bowl where one team will lift the coveted U16 Schools Cup.
A waterlogged pitch meant Strathallan’s quarter-final clash versus Fettes College had to be postponed. However, the Perth-based team didn’t let this get in their way when they picked up a 14-0 win over their competitors in the rearranged match. Their semi-final against Marr College was a nail-biter, but Strathallan came out on top with a final score of 18-20.
Fergus Thomson, Strathallan School U18 Captain said: “It is such a privilege to captain these boys. Strathallan’s rugby values are hard work, humility and having fun. We have put in so much hard work this season to get to the finals and all the boys are excited to play.
We will play as hard as we can this Wednesday and be humble in victory or defeat but most importantly, we will take the chance to have fun and enjoy ourselves.”
Mid-November saw an Edinburgh derby when Stewart’s Melville College and George Watson’s College met for their quarter-final. Stew Mel managed to pick up the spoils against their neighbours (36-24) and progressed to meet their semi-final opponents Dollar Academy. Both teams put up a good fight, but ultimately a 10-21 win for Stew Mel meant they were on the road to BT Murrayfield.
U18 Schools Shield Final: St Aloysius’ College v The High School of Glasgow – 3.45pm, BT Murrrayfield Stadium Bowl
The games continue when St Aloysius’ College and The High School of Glasgow meet at 3.45pm in the BT Murrayfield Bowl to see who will take home the U18 Schools Shield.
Back in mid-November, St Aloysius’ College hosted Fettes College in their quarter-final match, where the home side managed to secure a 20-12 advantage over their visitors, and a place in the semi-finals. There was no stopping the Glasgow-based outfit in their semi-final when they picked up an incredible 34-0 win over North Berwick High School.
Johnny Ventisei, St Aloysius’ U18 Captain said: “Throughout the season we have shown great progress as a squad, and that’s been particularly evident in the last couple of games we have played. Everyone is very excited and looking forward to the experience of playing at BT Murrayfield and it’s a great achievement for the school. We will represent the school proudly and we look forward to the challenge ahead.”
The High School of Glasgow began their play-off stint with a bang when they earned a 40-0 quarter-final win over their visitors Glenalmond College. Their success continued in their semi-final against Kelvinside Academy, albeit with a slightly closer, but still commendable, final score of 17-10.
Toby Sim, The High School of Glasgow U18 Captain said: “We have fought hard to get to this point in the tournament and want to complete our underdog story by beating close Glasgow rivals St Aloysius College.
“The boys are really excited to get the once in a lifetime opportunity of playing at BT Murrayfield and we feel that our focused preparations for this game will be shown. I’m confident in our team to put out a great performance under the pressure which we have handled so well this season to prove our place in the final.”
U16 Schools Plate Final: Loretto School v Linlithgow Academy – 4.30pm, DAM Health Stadium
Next is the U16 Schools Plate Final, where Loretto School will take on Linlithgow Academy at the home of Edinburgh Rugby, DAM Health Stadium.
Despite their quarter-final match against Ross High School being rearranged due to waterlogged pitched, Loretto used this to their advantage and managed to secure their spot in the semi-finals with a 48-17 win over their opponents. The semi-final was not one to turn your nose up at either, as they earned a final score of 10-32 over their hosts Glenalmond.
Max Outram, Loretto School Head Coach said: “I am delighted for the boys who have reached the Plate Final; they have worked hard over the season and I am excited to see how they play on Wednesday.
“It’ll be a great experience for the team to play at the DAM Health Stadium. The captain and the other senior players have led the team well with a couple of the under 16 players taking the step up into the 1XV.”
Linlithgow were another team who had to rearrange their quarter-final match due to waterlogged pitches, but a final score of 12-17 against their hosts Hutchesons’ Grammar School meant they were one step closer to the trophy. Another impressive performance and an even more impressive final score (0-19) against St Columba’s (Kilmalcolm) was what Linlithgow needed to secure their place at the DAM Health Stadium.
U18 Schools Cup Final: The Edinburgh Academy v Merchiston Castle School – 6.30pm, BT Murrrayfield Stadium Bowl
The penultimate match will be back in the BT Murrayfield Stadium Bowl, where The Edinburgh Academy and Merchiston Castle School will compete to be either the new owners, or defending champions, of the U18 Schools Cup.
The Edinburgh Academy’s quarter-final against Loretto School ended in a 10-all draw, however the National Competition Rules states that in the result of a draw, the away team will progress, meaning The Edinburgh Academy earned their place in the semi-finals. The capital-based side showed exactly why they deserved their place as they ended their semi-final clash with a score of 19-26 against their hosts Stewart’s Melville College.
Chris Martin, Director of Rugby at The Edinburgh Academy said:
“It’s been quite the journey since we got together for our pre-season camp in August. We set out some very clear goals as a team and getting on the bus to Murrayfield was one of them that the players have totally bought in to and fully deserve their opportunity.
“I’m incredibly proud of the entire squad. Only 21 of them get to be part of the final, but it’s been a 40 person effort to get us here and I want to acknowledge the commitment of every player. It’s a special group to coach and I’m looking forward to seeing them all under those lights.
“We had a fantastic game with Merchiston earlier in the season and we are anticipating a very exciting final against a team who are experienced on this stage.”
The Edinburgh Academy captain, Charlie Lomond added: “Our journey began in St. Andrews where we were faced with the challenge of recreating the image of school rugby at The Edinburgh Academy.
“Throughout the season we’ve definitely become a lot closer and feel that we’ve succeeded in this challenge. One real turning point this season was when we played Loretto in the Cup Quarter Finals, and due to the boys hard work and determination, we were able to progress in our cup journey.
“After beating Stew Mel in the semi-final the boys and myself are extremely excited to play at BT Murrayfield and couldn’t be more prepared for the final.”
It was another memorable performance when Merchiston Castle School grabbed a 11-33 quarter-final win over their hosts George Watson’s College, confirming their progression to the next play-off. The semi-finals saw a closer score between Merchiston Castle and their hosts Strathallan, but the one-try-difference final score (14-19) was what they needed to get to the final.
Roddy Deans, Merchiston Castle School Director of Rugby said: “We are delighted to be returning to Murrayfield and competing for the Schools Scottish Cup. Our whole School attends and the Boys absolutely love the experience of supporting their peers. The lucky 22 Boys out playing are extremely grateful and feel privileged to play at BT Murrayfield. It will be a cracker of a game and wonderful occasion.”
Tom Currie, Merchiston Castle School U18 Captain said: “I can speak on behalf of not just the team but the whole School to say how excited we are for this event. I’ve played with this group of Boys for years and it’s a real honour to run out together at our national stadium.”
U18 Plate Final: Heriot’s School v Marr College – 6.30pm, DAM Health Stadium
The DAM Health Stadium will hold the final competition of the day, where George Heriot’s School take on Marr College in the hope of securing the U18 Schools Plate.
In their quarter-final, George Heriot’s School didn’t let The Glasgow Academy home crowd get the better of them when they managed to walk away with a 15-22 win over their hosts, and a place in the semi-finals. The Edinburgh-based side seem to succeed under the pressure of being away from home as they secured a 5-26 semi-final win against High School of Dundee and their spot to play at the DAM Health Stadium.
The crowd were on the edge of their seats during the Marr College v Linlithgow Academy quarter-final, which ultimately ended in a one-point win for the hosts (14-13). However, the semi-finals saw Marr succeed with a more comfortable win of 26-5 over St Columba’s (Kilmalcolm), keeping them in the running for the U18 Schools Plate.
Colin Sturgeon, Marr College Head of Rugby said: “We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to be involved in Schools Finals Day at BT Murrayfield. After some mixed results early in the Conference Season the boys have really developed and hit some form just in time for the Plate Competition.
“A couple of really impressive wins over Linlithgow Academy and St Columbas School have given the group a huge amount of confidence and belief going into Wednesday nights clash with George Heriots.
“The boys know it’s going to be a real challenge but are super excited to get out there and represent their School and Community.”