Preview: National Youth Cup Finals
This Sunday, 17 December, sixteen boys and girls club teams will be heading to Scottish Gas Murrayfield for the National Youth Cup finals.
Games will be held across the Hive Stadium, Scottish Gas Murrayfield back pitch and in the Scottish Gas Murrayfield Stadium bowl. Eight games will take place, including Plate, Bowl, Shield and Cup, all at U16 and U18 level.
Girls U16 Cup: Biggar v Stirling County, KO 11.30am
Biggar and Stirling County reached the final of the Girls U16 Cup by finishing in the top two of the pool stage.
Biggar won all of their games leading up to the final, topping the group.
Co-Captain Lilly Clarkson said: “We are extremely excited that our season of hard work has culminated in an opportunity to play in a National Final at the Hive.
“Stirling are an excellent team and we are looking forward to playing them in the final, we are anticipating a hard-fought game. We hope that the two teams put on a display of dynamic and entertaining rugby which acts as a great advert for girls’ rugby.”
Meanwhile, Stirling County’s route to the final saw them pick up three wins, losing only to their opponents this weekend with Biggar picking up a narrow 21-17 win.
Head Coach Ross Haddow said: “The County U16 Girls are hugely excited to be playing in the Cup Final at Murrayfield, on the Hive pitch, where so many Scotland stars play their rugby. We’ve already had a couple of hard-fought, narrow losses against what is a very good Biggar team. Now’s the time for the win that counts!”
Captain Emily Sansom added: ‘We have had a great season, with every game we’ve played, we have grown stronger both individually and as a team. Thank you to all the teams we’ve played, and I wish you luck for future seasons.
“Thank you to all who put in the effort to help grow the girls’ game and thank you to everyone who has helped us get here this weekend. Your support has been invaluable. Good luck girls!”
Girls U16 Shield: Annan v Dumfries Saints, KO 11.30am
Looking now to the Girls’ U16 Shield, Annan and Dumfries Saints made the final after finishing third and fourth in the pool stages.
Annan were 51-34 winners of the earlier tie between in the two in competition.
Annan Head Coach James Cable said: This has been a team effort on every level; players, coaches, team manager and the support from all the girl’s parents, without any of them we wouldn’t be here.
“Regardless of the result, this is an experience that the girls will never forget and each and every one of them deserves it. The effort and commitment the girls have shown to get to this final is truly inspiring.”
Dumfries Saints Captain Islay MacKenzie Wilson added: “We are so pleased to be representing our club, team and families at the cup final.
“Looking back to the start of the season it’s fantastic to see how much we have achieved and grown as a team, and I hope we can all impress and show why our brilliant team has made it to the final on Sunday.”
Boys U16 Cup: Currie Chieftains v Hawick Youth Rugby Club, KO 1.30pm
Currie Chieftains secured their plays in the Boys U16 Cup final with a 45-3 win over Peebles in their semi-final three weeks ago.
Head Coach Gareth Gettinby said: “I am absolutely delighted for the players to have made the final of the Scottish Youth Cup. The players are excited to be playing at Murrayfield and the experience of playing in front of a big crowd.
“Our aim at the start of the season was to reach the final, and the players have worked hard to achieve this, playing in some competitive games. It has been a real pleasure coaching this talented bunch of players, who have always strived to improve, and they will undoubtedly do the club proud on the day.
“It should be a fantastic final, as Hawick are a really strong team, and we will need to be at our best to compete with them. This one’s for you Scaley!”
Captain Jack McLay added: “The boys have developed well as a team throughout the season, and we are excited to play at Murrayfield. Hawick are a really good side and we are ready for a tasty game!”
Hawick secured their place in the final with a 30-5 semi-final over Ayr/Wellington, having gone undefeated and topped their group in the pool stages.
Captain Caden Szoneberg said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to play at Murrayfield and we are delighted to get into the final. A lot of our team have played together since we were very young and are developing really well as a team.
“It will be a great chance to showcase what we can do. Thank you for the support from our coaches, committee, family and friends who will be travelling up from Hawick. We hope to do everyone proud.”
Backs Coach Davie Newman added: “What a season so far! We are all so proud of all these lads involved in this final today and to the wider squad. It has been a pleasure coaching them all.
“I’m really excited for this game, as are the other coaches. The boys have been working so hard in training and bringing their learning to the field. Their sheer desire to work and play together as one is so rewarding to see.
“The whole club and town are right behind us and we want to win this cup for them all… TERIBUS!”
Boys U16 Shield: Gala Red Triangle v GHA, KO 1.30pm
In the Boys U16 Shield, Gala Red Triangle came out on top of a close semi-final against Boroughmuir, winning 22-19.
Co-Captains Sam Scott and Hamish Seggie said: “We are excited and privileged to be playing at Scottish Gas Murrayfield and representing our community, town and club at National Youth Finals Day.
“To come through the group stage and perform well against National Conference 1 sides was really encouraging and challenging for us as players, as all our cup games have been on the road. The whole squad would like to thank the club committee, sponsor and supporters that have travelled every week to cheer us.”
Head Coach Peter McCartin said: “I’m really proud of the players and how they have developed this season.
“It’s a fantastic achievement for the club, town and community to have a side represented at Scottish Gas Murrayfield in National Youth Finals Day. It’s amazing and one that will live long in the memory of the squad.”
GHA also came out winners of a tight semi-final, winning 21-17 against Highland.
Head Coach Grant Howieson said: “Our brand new team have shown great team spirit and have welcomed all new players and now look like they’ve played together for years. Every player is valued by the team.
“We have made it to the final which is an outstanding achievement. The journey this session has not been easy so I am proud of every player in this team and the coaches.
“The final is going to be a hard game but it will be played in the correct spirit and our players have shown great team spirit, positive mindsets and will play to the final whistle.
“Thanks go to all the players, coaches, management and parents, as together we have built something special, and I look forward to our GHA U16 community growing from strength to strength. No matter what the result, we will be proud of their achievements and know the fans will get behind our team. “
Girls U18 Cup: Biggar v Stirling County, KO 4pm
Biggar were undefeated in the pool stage of the Girls U18 Cup, earning them a spot in the final at Scottish Gas Murrayfield.
Captain Imogen Spence commented: “Throughout the season, our aim has been to build the team to become the best we can possibly be. This is a very important game in making that possible. I have full belief in the team and what we have to offer, it’s now down to delivering on the day and coming away with the results that we have all worked hard for.
“I just want to use this opportunity to thank everyone behind the scenes in making everything possible, your work doesn’t go unnoticed. Let’s go out and smash it Biggar, leave it all out there!”
Stirling County’s only loss in the pool stage came at the hands of their opponents on Sunday, with wins against Dumfries Saints and Garioch.
Head Coach Mark Reid said: “I am delighted to be back at Murrayfield with the squad in what should be a great advert for Girls youth rugby in Scotland.
“I would like to congratulate the girls for their hard work throughout the season and for getting us here today. They are a fantastic bunch, who on their day play with the flair that you expect from Stirling County. It is a pleasure for myself and the coaching and management team to be involved in their rugby journey.”
Co-Captains Gemma Thomson and Emily Forsyth added: “We have had a difficult and challenging season, with some tough loses and some tight wins, but have strived to develop our struggles into strengths and are prepared and determined to take on the challenge of the Final.
“Our team have a strong bond and are driven by each other to leave everything on the pitch to make our supporters, coaches, and ourselves proud.”
Girls U18 Shield: Dumfries Saints v Garioch, KO 4pm
Dumfries Saints and Garioch will contest the Girls U18 Shield final, having finished third and fourth in the pool stage.
Dumfries were the winners in the earlier meeting of the two in the competition.
Saints Captain Daisy McFegan said: “We are really excited to play at Murrayfield again giving us another chance to represent our great club in a National final.
“As a team we are eager to make not only our club but our coaches, friends and family proud.
“This season our team has really come together and developed into a much stronger side and we are desperate to drive forward and gain more success on the pitch.”
Garioch’s Megan Riach added: “This season for us, as a team, has been such a huge growth and learning curve for us all; for both players who had barely even touched a rugby ball and players who have been playing for years.
“We’ve created a strong unit of forwards along with snappy backs who add excitement in the wide channels as we play as one with attacker mentality.
“Any mistakes made are because we are trying our hardest to be creative and apply the skills we all have.
“I’m very proud to call this group my team. We are ready to put in a strong shift and play for ourselves, our club and each other.”
Boys U18 Cup: Boroughmuir v Stirling County KO, 6pm
Boroughmuir will be looking to record a third consecutive U18 Cup title on Sunday as they face Stirling County in the Final.
The Edinburgh side booked their place at Scottish Gas Murrayfield with a 26-8 victory over Dumfries Saints in the semi-final in late November.
Head Coach Richie Lockhart said: “I’m really proud of the way the boys have played so far this season, and delighted they’ve got to the final.
“Our sole focus is on performing to the best of our ability, and training has been excellent over the last couple of weeks, so I know the boys are ready for the game. We’re really looking forward to it and I hope both sides enjoy and remember the day, and everyone attending provides really positive support for the club youth game.”
Captain Ossian Hollins-Kirk added: “The boys are really excited for this final at Murrayfield. We have prepared really well the past couple of weeks and are confident we can play a great game and express that on the field.
“We would all really appreciate it if you could get down on the weekend and come support us as we try to retain the cup for Boroughmuir U18s for a third time in a row.”
Stirling County booked their spot in the final in the tightest of manners, winning a high-scoring affair 34-33 against West of Scotland.
Head Coach Stuart Imrie said: “We had a sluggish start to the season but have really found our rhythm the past couple months. We are excited to be back in the finals and are ready to face a powerful Boroughmuir team.
“I expect the boys will be ready to make up for lost time and show everyone what they can do. As a squad we would like to thank all the parents, supporters and volunteers who have helped us get here. Without them none of it is possible.”
Boys U18 Shield: Hawick Youth v Ayr/Wellington, KO 6pm
Ayr/Wellington will be looking to defend their Shield title as they take on Hawick Youth this Sunday.
Ayr/Wellington booked their final spot after defeating Highland RFC 46-12.
Hawick Youth secured a final berth after defeating Earlston HS/Melrose Wasps 43-5 in the semi-final.
Hawick Youth Head Coach Garry Douglas said: “Ayr are defending the shield from an excellent win last year. We know that they will bring physicality up front and some serious threats in the backline. Colin Duck will have the lads well prepared for today.
“Our own preparations have been going well. The lads know how big a test this will be and the big stage can bring added pressure. Hopefully once they step into Hive Stadium we will have them ready. I’m sure it will make for a very entertaining final.”