On 29th June 2015 the first intake of players to the newly inaugurated Scottish Rugby Academy were announced. There were 28 names on the list of those at the most advanced Stage 3 level. So two seasons down the line and with contracts having been awarded for 2017/18 how have the SRA: First Class got on?
20 players from that initial group have signed professional contracts with a first or second tier club. In fact adding in the 2 other subsequent SRA graduates who are with the pro teams full-time this season there’s not far off a complete matchday squad of players who have been part of the Academy setup.
(Darcy Graham is with Edinburgh – he was a Stage 2 player on that first intake before moving up a level and was joined at Stage 3 in 2016/17 by Jamie Bhatti, who is playing for Glasgow in 2017/18).
- 10 signed their first pro contract for Glasgow
- 9 signed their first pro contract for Edinburgh
- 3 signed their first pro contract for clubs outside Scotland
Current and former Academy players combined for more than 12,000 minutes of playing time in the first or second tier during 2016/17:
- Pro 12 – 4,974 minutes
- Champions Cup – 433 minutes
- Challenge Cup – 361 minutes
- Championship (+ Anglo-Welsh Cup) – 6,176
- Super Rugby – 278
The SRA has already seen its first full men’s caps in the compact shapes of Ali Price and Nick Grigg.
The system has also produced a number of 7s caps – Nick Grigg, George Horne, Ben Robbins, Ally Miller, Darcy Graham and Robert Beattie (Stage 3 in 2016/17).
Here is a team made up of those who have signed full-time professional terms with a first or second tier club:
15. Tom Galbraith
14. Robbie Fergusson (1)
13. Nick Grigg
12. Patrick Kelly
11. Darcy Graham
10. George Horne
9. Ali Price
1. Jack Cosgrove (2)
2. James Malcolm
3. Murray McCallum
4. Scott Cummings
5. Lewis Carmichael
6. Lewis Wynne
7. Matt Smith
8. Ally Miller
16. Ross Graham (3)
17. Jamie Bhatti
18. Andrew Davidson (4)
19. Callum Hunter-Hill
20. Kiran McDonald
21. Cameron Fenton
22. Hugh Fraser
(1) Played with London Scottish for the last 2 seasons. Will be with Scotland 7s for 2017/18.
(2) Signed his first pro contract with Edinburgh but moved to Bristol for the 2017/18 campaign.
(3) Leeds Carnegie
(4) Newcastle Falcons
The side would certainly not be short of locks and centres but there’s maybe a bit of a gap in a couple of positions with some crossover in terms of skillset – stand off and full back. Will Jason Baggott (Edinburgh) and Josh Henderson (Glasgow – but currently on loan at French side Stade Nicois) who are both Stage 3 for 2017/18 be among the players to help fill those gaps?
There were no women at Stage 3 in the first intake of the SRA but within a year Jade Konkel had stepped up to that level, becoming Scotland’s first ever full-time female player. Since then Jade, Chloe Rollie and Lisa Thomson have all graduated from the Academy to play professionally for Lille Metropole Rugby Club Villeneuvois in France. Sarah Law was recently announced as the fourth Scottish full-timer and she will be a Stage 3 player in the Edinburgh branch of the Academy for 2017/18.
Along with the 4 women mentioned above Rachael Cook, Katie Dougan, Mhairi Grieve, Louise McMillan, Lisa Martin, Lucy Park, Lisa Robertson, Eilidh Sinclair, Lana Skeldon and Emma Wassell have also won international honours with Scotland Women as supported players within the SRA system.
Picture courtesy of Adrian Henry for the excellent Rugby People.