Welcome from Jim Mallinder, Head of Performance Rugby
Good afternoon, and a very warm welcome to everyone in attendance at the DAM Health Stadium today for the FOSROC Super6 Final between Watsonians and Ayrshire Bulls.
It is a fantastic setting to showcase the last match of this year’s championship, between two sides who strive to play attractive rugby, and who have been stand-outs throughout the 2022 competition.
Both Watsonians and Ayrshire Bulls have delivered a level of consistency, and no shortage of quality, in separating themselves from the rest of the Super6 pack during the regular season, with both sides winning nine of their ten fixtures.
In the meetings between the pair, honours were shared with Watsonians winning 34-23 in an August 13 game at Myreside, before Bulls redressed the balance in a 24-17 success at Millbrae two weeks later.
With today’s finalists having amassed some 685 points over the course of the regular season, and then gone on to win their respective semi-finals 31-12 (Watsonians against Heriot’s) and 17-0 (Bulls over Boroughmuir Bears), today promises to provide an exciting end to the 2022 FOSROC Super6 competition.
Scottish Rugby would like to say thank you to our title sponsors FOSROC for their continued support of the competition, and all the best to both finalists as they compete to be crowned 2022 FOSROC Super6 champions.
Enjoy the game.
Head of Performance Rugby
READ: Lomond MacPherson – 2s to 1s to Super6
Oban-born Lomond didn’t have the typical beginning to his rugby career, in fact it didn’t even start with rugby at all.
Growing up, Lomond had a passion for football, a sport which he, despite playing at the pro youth level at Dumbarton FC, decided to swap for the oval-ball game. He said, “I had the option to sign with the U17s [at Dumbarton] but decided against it and give rugby a shot.”
“I’ve always loved rugby and loved watching it. I love Scottish Rugby, it’s probably the time I’m most passionate about any sporting team.”
In his last couple of years at secondary school, Lomond moved to Edinburgh-based Merchiston Castle School where his love for rugby only grew. The 23-year-old recalls being heavily influenced by Scotland Internationalist Magnus Bradbury and his brother Fergus Bradbury, both of whom went to the same school and are also from Oban.
After leaving school, Lomond started studying Business at Edinburgh Napier University, a degree which he graduated from this year. It was this move from school to university that prompted his move to Watsonians FC. He said, “I was playing the second XV when I first started off and then towards the end of my first year, I started training with the first XV.”
It wasn’t until 2019, two years after Lomond joined the club, that FOSROC Super6 came into fruition, and he started training as part of the part-time professional side. He said, “My journey has been quite cool on reflection. I’ve come in, played in the second XV and kind of worked my way up into the first XV and eventually into the Super6.”
Lomond has played 34 games with the Edinburgh based club since the campaign’s inaugural season and has started for the team 10 times in the current championship. He said, “Super6 gives you more of a taste of what it’s like to be a professional, I think the campaign’s really good.
“I’d like to see more teams added in and if a solid level of competition remained throughout, 8-10 teams would be exciting.
“When the professional players [who occasionally play for Super6 teams] actually buy into it and buy into the team culture it’s really beneficial.”
During his first year at Watsonians, Lomond received the call telling him that he was selected for the Scotland U20 Six Nations squad. He said, “It was probably one of my greatest achievements – it was really special.”
Despite the team not getting the result they hoped for, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the winger.
“It’s such a task coming up against teams like New Zealand and South Africa and Australia who are so established and have such a massive pool of players to choose from.
“It was a massive challenge and we obviously didn’t do the best but there was definitely a lot of positives to take away from the experience.
“And representing your country is pretty special.
“We played All Blacks in the group stages so being a 19/20-year-old coming against The Haka was quite cool.”
With the 2022 FOSROC Super6 Championship Final on the horizon, Lomond and his team are preparing for what should be an epic clash, despite having some last-minute nerves in their semi-final match against Heriot’s Rugby last Friday. He said, “I wasn’t nervous before [last] Friday’s game, I was more worried at the fact that because we had such a good season, if we slipped up here, not getting to the final would be a massive disappointment.”
“I think the pressure is still on us to win, but the pressure’s off to some degree because we are in the final.
“If we get it right for the full 80 [minutes] or the majority of the game then we’ll hopefully get the job done.”
READ: Jamie Shedden – Learning with every jump
Progressing through the rugby system means learning every day – and Jamie Shedden is taking this in his stride.
Ayrshire Bulls centre Jamie Shedden began his rugby career at Kilmarnock RFC, the club he played for from the age of eight until senior level. Despite playing rugby from a young age, Jamie didn’t grow up in a family full of rugby fans, like so many others do. He said, “None of my family actually played any rugby, I think it was just one of those things I liked the look and sound of when I was a wee boy and the more I played it, the more I liked it.
“When I got into rugby, my dad was learning about it at the same time as me which was good.”
Whilst playing for Kilmarnock, Jamie was invited by one of his friends at Marr RFC to start training with the Troon-based Tennent’s Premiership club. The 22-year-old said, “I played the season with Marr and had a really good season. I’d say that’s where I had some really good improvement.
“I liked the step up [from Tennent’s West Region League Division 1 to Tennent’s Premiership] because I was able to push myself. We also won the Premiership [in 2022] – so that was great.
“It was quite hard to leave all the boys I had played with at Kilmarnock, but they understood it as well.”
It was during his successful stint at Marr RFC that Jamie received a message from Ayrshire Bulls Assistant Coach (at the time) Pete Horne asking if he would like to join the FOSROC Super6 outfit. He said, “[Horne] had come down to watch a Marr game and I had a pretty good game.”
The centre was in the right place at the right time as he admits, “I think he was actually down looking for one of the props, so I think he just spotted me when he was looking at another player.”
Jamie has made seven appearances for Ayrshire Bulls over the 2022 FOSROC Super6 Championship and has scored two tries during this shift. His talent has not gone unnoticed as he was awarded FOSROC Super6 Player of the Match in his teams Round 4 clash against Watsonians.
“I’ve just been learning with every jump I’ve made. But it’s always challenging getting used to [playing at a higher level].
“It was a big step up but when you’ve got boys around you who have more experience and are a bit older than you, they keep you right.
“You make mistakes, but you make them once and you know what you have to do next time.”
“The guys from the pro teams bring even more knowledge – you learn as much from the coaches as you do the other players.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, Jamie thinks his team is ready to take on their Edinburgh-based rivals. He said, “We’ve done enough preparation, it’s just about putting it into the game at the weekend.
“Physicality will be a big part of it, we’ve played Watsonians before, so we know what they bring and we know how physical they are, so we know what we’ll need to be on point.”
READ: FOSROC Super6 Commentators' Team of the Championship
We asked seven of our commentators from a year of live broadcasting of the FOSROC Super6 Championship to pick the best of the tournament. Here’s who they picked and why:
1 – Harrison Courtney – Watsonians (Nominated by Dale Clancy)
“A player who has been formidable in the scrum and tireless in open play, his work rate is exceptional, as is his positional play in defence and attack. His inclusion in the Watsonians’ side is close to having another loose forward on the pitch.”
2 – Cal Davies – Watsonians (Nominated by Jamie Lyall)
“A tireless ball carrier and leader, who has spearheaded his team’s run to the FOSROC Super6 Final. He’s been a key cog in Watsonians’ set-piece menace.”
3 – Michael Scott – Ayrshire Bulls (Nominated by Dale Clancy)
“Another player who has produced consistent performances centred around his impact at the set piece. A vital weapon in the Bulls’ arsenal who uses his size and power in defence to great effect too.”
4 – Ed Bloodworth – Ayrshire Bulls (Nominated by Jamie Lyall)
“A hard-nosed, dependable, excellent set-piece operator, with a massive engine. Everything you want from your number-four lock. Another fine season for the Ayrshire Bull.”
5 – Jamie Berrisford – Watsonians (Nominated by Jamie Lyall)
“Berrisford complements Bloodworth’s grunt with flourishes of skill in open prairie. A try haul of five, and some brilliant line-breaking carries and offloads.”
6 – Rudi Brown – Southern Knights (Nominated by Hugh Dan MacLennan)
“Rudi is one of Scottish Rugby’s brightest young prospects who has quickly established himself at age-grade rugby and has, this season, played outstandingly well in a Southern Knights team which has often been playing on the back foot. His aim is to become a full international and with his skillset, work ethic and recognition already as Player of the Match at FOSROC Super6 level, there are very few who would bet against that.”
7 – Iain Wilson – Heriot’s Rugby (Nominated by Hugh Dan MacLennan)
“A club legend and former captain, Wilson deserves his place for his outstanding contribution as an individual and also as a team player with superb vision, pace, dynamism and opportunistic contributions in open play in particular, all of which he has achieved despite the fact that he lost a considerable amount of playing time to serious injury some years ago.”
8 – Blair Macpherson – Ayrshire Bulls (Nominated by Hugh Dan MacLennan)
“Blair must be a coach’s dream with his consistency, outstanding leadership qualities and all round dynamism, setting a very high standard for his fellow forwards and the rest of the squad every time he dons the jersey. A terrific leader and would be an asset to any club.”
9 – Jordon Lenac – Ayrshire Bulls (Nominated by Stuart McAvoy)
“The heartbeat of this Ayrshire team, has also been a calming influence for young Richie Simpson at 10. He has great variety in his kicking game and is very smart when picking the correct moment to look for a break. His support lines have been very impressive throughout the campaign, and he made team of the week in round two. Himself and Cam Jones have played a pivotal role in getting the Bulls to the final.”
10 – Jason Baggott – Watsonians (Nominated by Stuart McAvoy)
“He has taken the ball flat to the line over the last few months and been instrumental in making the Watsonians’ back line tick. His short kicking game has caused all sorts of problems for defences and his decision-making always seems to be on point. It excelled in round 10 against Heriot’s. He’s not afraid to score tries himself like he did earlier on in the season against the Bulls, and has also managed 45 points in the competition so far and been pretty reliable from the kicking tee.
11 – Eli Caven – Ayrshire Bulls (Nominated by Bruce Millar)
“His try-scoring record speaks for itself. He is fast and powerful, with a great work ethic. He regularly pops up in the midfield where his exceptional footwork and lightning acceleration get him through spaces other players simply can’t.”
12 – Robert “Bobby” Beattie – Ayrshire Bulls (Nominated by Stuart McFarlane)
“Bobby Beattie’s return from injury for the play off semi-final match with Boroughmuir saw him play at 13 for the first time this season, but he produced some really strong performances at 12 in the early part of the competition.
He scored a brace of tries against Heriot’s which helped the reigning champions start their defence in strong and decisive fashion and has had strong competition for that 12 jersey in the form of Andy Stirratt.”
13 – Lewis Berg (Watsonians)
Nominated by Stuart McFarlane who said: “Lewis Berg has been a consistently high performer during the course of the season with only once absence from a Watsonians side who finished the regulation season top. He’s scored tries against Southern Knights, Heriot’s and Stirling. A powerful break away runner he has always looked comfortable and a danger in the 13 jersey.”14 – Aidan Cross – Southern Knights (Nominated by Bruce Millar)
“He is always willing to back his pace and take on his opposite number on the outside, and is deceptively strong when running off his centres in the tighter spaces in midfield.”
15 – Dom Coetzer – Watsonians (Nominated by Paul Mitchell)
“An easy choice at 15 for his work over the whole season, Coetzer has been near faultless in both attack and defence throughout the season. He brings a solid presence at 15 in attacking terms and a comfort blanket when it comes to defending.”
16 – Jerry Blyth-Lafferty – Boroughmuir Bears (Nominated by Jamie Lyall)
“One of the youngest players in the tournament with a very high ceiling. The teenager is a ferocious carrier and tackler. He looks a safe bet for a professional debut within the next few seasons.”
17 – Andrew Nimmo – Ayrshire Bulls (Nominated by Dale Clancy)
“Nimmo has played a starring role in a competitive front row for the Bulls. He has regularly provided a solid platform to launch attacks from, as well as getting on the scoresheet at important times”.
18 – Euan McLaren – Heriot’s Rugby (Nominated by Dale Clancy)
“The top two sides have not provided all the stand-out front-row forwards this season. McLaren has helped provide a robust scrum at Goldenacre as well as being an anchor in their well drilled maul!”
19 – Benedict Grant – Stirling Wolves (Nominated by Hugh Dan McLennan)
“An explosive player who rarely fails to catch the eye and is often a game-changer, his combative and rumbustious style make him a fans’ favourite and opposition nemesis, although the medical team might like to be seeing less of him as his approach to the game inevitably leads to various knocks and bumps.”
20 – Kwagga Van Nie kerk – Watsonians (Nominated by Stuart McVoy)
“Excellent earlier on in the season against Stirling Wolves on a try scoring player of the match performance. Whether he starts or comes off the bench he adds something different. He can play across the back-row with his versatility and has been effective when carrying ball in recent weeks.”
21- Andy Stirrat – Ayrshire Bulls (Nominated by Stuart McFarlane)|
“For me Andy Stirratt just nudges it, but credit should go to the likes of the ever-reliable Ross Jones of Heriot’s who has played well during his time in the Goldenacre side.”
22 – Lomond Macpherson – Watsonians (Nominated by Bruce Millar)
“Another busy player with great footwork and pace, his ability to attack from deep always guarantees excitement.”
23 – Liam McNamara – Ayrshire Bulls (Nominated by Paul Mitchell)
“McNamara gets the nod from the bench: a solid full-back all Championship, he’s created a good few of Bulls’ tries.”
Referee: Ian Kenny
AR1: Jonny Perriam
AR2: Ruairidh Campbell