Scotland U20s: Ones to Watch

Scotland U20s: Ones to Watch

Scotland U20 take on France U20 at Hive Stadium in Edinburgh this Friday, before they host England U20 in a fortnight (Friday 23 February).

Ahead of the U20 Six Nations kicking off, Scotland’s record points scorer Chris Paterson and former Peebles captain Dale Clancy have been keeping a close eye on most of the players selected through their involvement in the FOSROC Super Series.

Here they give us their thoughts on U20 rugby and the lowdown on who to look out for over the coming weeks in the Scotland U20 set-up.

What do you think of the standard of the under 20s game as a whole right now?

Chris Paterson said: “It is generally very high. There are more and more international under-20s players playing top level rugby, certainly across Europe, in England, in France and in the URC as well.

“It almost replicates professional ruby in a lot of ways because you’ve got individuals who have been playing professional rugby, also the structures, game play and game plans are trying to replicate the [professional] game.

“I think that’s a reasonably good thing but I’m not 100% sold on it. I quite like to have that fluidity, to have that ability to target space when you see it, learning on the job a little bit.

“It’s difficult for the under-20 players because they are being coached almost as professionals, but not all of them are professionals, so they must fit into the system where they must be super attuned to all the different strategies and structures, but still maintain that raw enthusiasm for the game that some of them play at club level.

“Across the board it is a really high standard and I think the time that our U20s have spent together this year and towards the end of last season will really help them prepare, but it’s a big ask it’s a big challenge.

“The results haven’t been as good as we would have liked over the last 18 months or so, but there are still excellent individual players within the squad that have progressed through to the professional ranks.”

Where do you think Scotland sit in the natural order of under-20s right now?

Chris Paterson said: “I think we are still producing good individual players; I think we’d like to produce more.

“Even over the last two or three weeks coming into the URC with Max Williamson and Alex Samuel. It was only a two or three years ago that Rory Darge was in the U20 system. Now, these players didn’t win a huge number of games in the under-20s, but they learned a lot and improved as players.

“When I played it was at Under-21 level a long time ago and when World Rugby changed to become under 20s, I think we struggled a little bit in that transition; now this is going back more than 20-odd years. We played Under-18, Under-19 and Under-21 and I always felt that we would develop physically that bit later than the other nations so that being in under 21s I think we were where stronger by that age of 21, rather than the age of 19 or 20.

“I think the French team will be particularly strong as always. Ireland have shown over the last couple of years that they’re particularly strong, so our lads have got their work cut out.”

Kerr Yule

Chris Paterson said: “It is not surprising that he is the size and physically developed player that he is given that his dad is an S&C coach and a former weightlifter. He is a fit strong lad.

“He is a strong ball carrier and he is the type of player you can build systems and game plans around. He has Super Series experience with Ayrshire Bulls as well. What I mean by building a game plan around is the fact he has that attacking edge, his distribution is excellent as well.

“The threat that he holds in defence can open opportunity for himself and others on the pitch. It’s quite different in your second year at U20s compared to your first year. He missed only 39 minutes last year in the U20 Six Nations and was just 17.

Jerry Blyth-Lafferty

Chris Paterson said: “He almost runs like a 12 but he could get over the line his footwork is explosive power sets him apart the work that he puts in, his throwing his scrum engine he’s doing reasonably well.

“He’s what you call a classic rugby player. He understands the game he has that rugby knowledge.

“The thing that sticks out most is that explosive power and his work-rate. Being a hooker is a very competitive spot.

“He has an amazing story, he spent six months in a spinal brace as he grew into his make form. That says a lot about his mindset, that he’s had this setback and came out stronger.”

Amena Caqusau

Chris Paterson said: “Amena is an x-factor talent. He’s really quick, but it’s his want to counter-attack. Counter-attack is as much about decision making as it about the ability to then find the space, but you have to have that ability that you want to attack, that you want to get in behind and the ability to finish it off.

“He picked up one Under-20 cap last year and he’d probably have wanted more. But he has been a real stand out in the FOSROC Super Series through the Sprint and through the Championship.”

Dale Clancy added: “He’s one of those players you’d pay money to go and see. You think of players who have come through over the last few years, in terms of wingers, Darcy Graham to name one. He’s the same ilk, you want to go and watch him because he’s box office.”

Tom Currie

Dale Clancy said: “He’s a player that has been well nurtured through the school system.

“He’s a really attritional, hungry forward and he likes the physical confrontation. He likes to make his tackles and he likes to be accurate at the breakdown.

“He makes a nuisance of himself, which slows play down, which we’ll need at times.

He’s physical over the ball and he’s a big specimen for a young individual, so he’s going to be pivotal in that backrow.”

Liam McConnell

Chris Paterson said: “He’s a real hard edge. He has fourteen U20 caps already and captained last year as well.

“I don’t want to say he’s a throwback but he’s an old-fashioned forward in terms of his values, his hardness and his desire to do the basics really well. He does the hard work first.

“Yes, he’ll practise his offloads and his softer skills, but he’s leading by example. He’s a really hard, competitive opponent.”

Tickets for Scotland U20 v France and England are available here.

Spread the word

Newsletter Sign-up

Sign-up for our newsletter today to receive the latest updates, content and releases from Scottish Rugby.


Principal Partners