Scotland’S Rugby Greats To Mentor More Stars Of Tomorrow

Scotland’S Rugby Greats To Mentor More Stars Of Tomorrow

Some 16 of Scotland’s most promising rugby players are to join the second-year of the ground-breaking Winning Mentors programme. They will link with 19 players who were part of the inaugural programme last year – an initiative that’s aimed at equipping Scottish rugby players with the vital edge to produce winning performances. The programme was launched in October 2008 by Winning Scotland Foundation – in partnership with Scottish Rugby and with the support of The Famous Grouse – with the aim of ensuring the country’s most talented rugby players can benefit from the guidance, knowledge and insight of former internationalists, including some of the game’s all-time-greats.  Winning Scotland Foundation aims to use sport as the catalyst to create an environment where all young people in Scotland can develop a positive winning attitude.  The Foundation is an independent charity supported by some of Scotland’s most energetic and successful business, community and sporting leaders. Winning Scotland Foundation Chairman, Sir Bill Gammell, said: “The role of Winning Scotland Foundation is to be innovative and catalytic and that is why we are delighted to be working in close partnership with Scottish Rugby in developing the Winning Mentors programme. “That the programme has been strengthened for year two is a testament to this partnership. Mentoring is about enabling others to learn from those who have achieved at the highest level of sport, and it’s great to see so many icons of Scottish rugby committed to helping the next generation of players.” Scotland’s attack coach, Gregor Townsend, co-ordinates the Winning Mentors programme.  He said: “I’m amazed by the willingness and enthusiasm the mentors have invested in this programme over the past year. “It’s clear that the players who have driven the relationship forward are the ones who are reaping the benefits in their performance and their overall learning.” Last year, Roger Baird, the former Scotland and British Lions wing, mentored the Glasgow Warriors and Scotland wing Thom Evans.  Baird explained: “I saw the first part of this programme as concentrating on the rugby and not trying to be all things at once. “I’ve been lucky in that Thom is intelligent, enthusiastic, wants to get better and he realises that if I can give him anything then it has been a success.  It can be one thing that can turn a game, save a try or create one, then it’s been a worthwhile experience.” Evans acknowledged: “It’s good speaking to someone that has been there and played the game at the highest level.  I speak to lots of people about rugby but no-one that has been in the particular position at that level and done what Roger has. “From my perspective it really helps with my understanding of the game.  He’s got a lot of good advice from his career, which he’s passed on, such as how he prepared for games.  Things that he found helped him.  It’s been a massive help . . .  and I want to continue.” Among the new mentors this season is John Jeffrey, the White Shark, the former Scotland and British Lions back-row forward.  He will be mentoring another product of the Kelso club, Edinburgh, Scotland 7s and Scotland A back-row forward Scott Newlands. Jeffrey said: “My philosophy on the programme is that it’s very much driven by the player.  I can offer things from my experience, act as a sounding board, give Scott position specific advice, or talk about leadership. “But it also has to be relevant and beneficial to him.  I’m absolutely delighted to be asked to become involved and, as former internationalists, if we can help develop players to win for Scotland, then that’s something we can also take pride in.” Newlands, 24, welcomed his involvement in the programme.  “I’m pleased I’m being mentored by JJ.  I know him quite well from my time at Kelso and with the Scotland age-grade sides and he is a Scotland legend. “As I see it, it’s up to me to make the most of JJ’s experience. If he can help me produce the level of consistent performances he was renowned for in his career then that has to be to my advantage.” One of the key elements of the programme is aligning current professionals with players who are part of Scotland’s National Academy.   Glasgow Warriors captain and Scotland lock Alastair Kellock is paired with Robert Harley, 19, the West of Scotland and Scotland under-20 lock/back-row forward. Kellock said: “It’s always good to speak to guys that are a bit more senior than you and play in your position.  When I was a youngster in the Edinburgh team, there wasn’t a formal mentoring programme but I was fortunate that the other locks that were in the squad at that time – Todd Blackadder, Scott Murray and Nathan Hines – all had international experience and were prepared to share that with me.” Harley added: “What I’m most looking forward to is learning from Al on how to prepare for the fully professional game in all its aspects – not just the technical and physical side, but living as a professional, week in, week out and maintaining a focus throughout the season.” The mentors and their protégés for this season are: Ian McLauchlan – Moray Low David Sole – Kyle Traynor* George Graham – Lewis Niven* Sean Fitzpatrick – Ross Ford Gordon Bulloch – Finlay Gillies* Colin Deans – Fergus Thomson Kenny Milne – Fraser Brown Stuart Grimes – Richie Gray John Jeffrey – Scott Newlands* Graham Marshall – Alan MacDonald* Finlay Calder – Chris Fusaro Jim Calder – Richie Vernon Rob Wainwright – Johnnie Beattie Stuart Reid – Stuart McInally Fergus Wallace – Calum Forrester* Cameron Mather – Roddy Grant* Andy Nicol – Greig Laidlaw Roy Laidlaw – Peter Jericevich John Rutherford – Alex Blair Jim Renwick – John Houston Scott Hastings – Ben Cairns Ian Jardine – Rob Dewey* Tony Stanger – Max Evans Iwan Tukalo – Mark Robertson* Roger Baird – Thom Evans Rowen Shepherd – Jim Thompson Andy Irvine – Rory Lamont Mentors for Academy players Chris Cusiter – Murray McConnell* Phil Godman – Gregor Hunter* Allan Jacobsen – Colin Phillips* Allister Hogg – Grant Gilchrist* Alastair Kellock – Robert Harley* Graeme Morrison – Danny Gilmour* Ross Ford – Robin Hislop* Chris Paterson – Tom Brown. *= New protégé Notes to editors  Winning Scotland Foundation, a business led charity working to create a positive winning attitude throughout Scotland, is behind the development of these initiatives.  The Foundation believes winning can be learnt and that sport is the best training ground to give young people skills which are applicable throughout their life.  The charity is working closely with business, government, education and sport in its vision to set young people on a path to self-fulfilment. Winning Mentors is now in its second year.  The Foundation has committed£80,000 to this programme over two years.  This has been supported by sponsorship from The Famous Grouse and donations from a number of private individuals. Gerry O’Donnell, director of The Famous Grouse, said: “The Famous Grouse has been involved in supporting Scottish Rugby for 19 years and we are proud to continue this association as the Official Spirit of Scottish Rugby. “The Winning Mentors programme is a great initiative and gives us the opportunity to help support Scottish rugby in ‘the Spirit’ of developing the future of the game and Scottish talent.” Find out more about The Famous Grouse at

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