The High School of Dundee’s Under-16 team are heading to the big pitch at BT Murrayfield after they impressively won their semi-final of the Scottish Schools Cup away at Fettes College in Edinburgh.
The team, coached by Christy O’Donnell and Colin Sangster, scored five tries to overcome their hosts 29-12 and book a place in the final on December 5 against another Edinburgh school, George Watson’s College.
Backed by a vocal travelling support and with former pupil and Scotland captain Andy Nicol among the spectators, the young High School team raced to a 19-0 lead after half an hour’s play with scores from flanker Dougray Smith, centre Zach Boyd and full-back Ross Clark, two of the scores converted by Innes Chalmers.
Two tries from Fettes either side of half-time brought them back to 19-12, but further tries from scrum-half and skipper Hamish Finlay and the clincher from tight-head prop Adam Flynn with five minutes to go secured the place in the final.
“The boys are over the moon and for us it hasn’t quite sunk in that we’re going to Murrayfield,” said head coach O’Donnell. “I think that third try just before half-time was a key one as it gave the boys just that bit of confidence to go on and finish.
“Adam’s try at the end just made sure because you’re never quite sure at this age group as the rugby is wide open, but the boys were able to enjoy the last few minutes without pressure.”
This will be High School’s first-ever appearance in the Under-16 final, although the school has reached the Under-18 final on four occasions, the last in 2013.
“It’s not a surprise to myself or to Colin, who coaches the FP team and helps me with the Under 16s,” said O’Donnell.
“Around 18 months ago we saw the potential in this group and felt they were capable of being as good as this, and our goal has been to get to the Under-16 final this year and hopefully go on to win it.
“Every session has been working towards this goal and it’s a fantastic achievement by the guys to get to the final.”
The team has plenty of players stepping up to representative levels, with Adam Flynn thought to have an excellent chance of a Scotland call-up at under-16 level when the squads are announced.
He, Angus Neville and Zach Boyd are already part of the Glasgow Warriors Under-16 academy squad while six players have been in the Caledonia Under-16s, including Malachy Keough as captain.
“We’ve got great representation across the board and it’s been great to see these young guys come through as a group together,”said O’Donnell. “Murrayfield was always our target and it’s going to be a great night for the boys, their families and their supporters.”