As the sun rose on an extremely blustery November Saturday morning, few would have been brave enough to call the outcome of the two Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools’ Cup Finals that were to take place in the afternoon.
Two teams in the finals made it was a very special day for the Watson’s family. With palpable excitement a ‘Maroon Brigade’ of pupils, former pupils and parents marched on Murrayfield from throughout Edinburgh to join the supporters from Dollar Academy and Edinburgh Academy, as well as rugby fans keen to witness Scotland’s future rugby talent. In total a crowd of over 4800 amassed and they were rewarded with two highly competitive matches. The crowd
was entertained by the pipes and drums from all three finalist schools.
Meanwhile in the dressing rooms the teams were given their good luck message from Sir Chris Hoy (Class of 1994) who had taken time out of his busy schedule preparing for the 2012 Olympics to send his best wishes to them. Chris was not the only FP who helped with some pre-match motivation, as former head boy and rugby captain and current Edinburgh Rugby player, Stuart McInally (Class of 2008) attended one of the boys' training sessions to pass on some of his experience.
Watson’s started as favourites in the U16 match, but with the wind constantly changing direction the conditions were challenging. Ben Robbins (S4) scored the first try of the match, converted by centre Adam Hastings (S4). Six minutes later prop Dugald Berezford (S4) to increase the lead to 12–0.
Dollar continued to defend strongly yet Watson’s scored twice more before the break – from Fraser McMillan (S4) and another by Ben – and Adam converted both to make it 26–0 at half time.
Dollar started well in the second half, however Ben saw a gap and took advantage down the wing to score this third try of the match, again converted by Adam to increase our lead to 31–0 after 42 minutes.
Watson’s pace continued in the last 15 minutes of the match resulting in another try by stand-off Calum Young (S4) successfully kicked by Adam. Substitutions not only provided respite for tired legs it also allowed all our boys to play on the Murrayfield pitch.
Dollar’s determination even in the dying moments of the match almost led to them scoring, but the final score remained at 38¬–0, with the six tries providing an unassailable target for Dollar. Ben Robbins was awarded ‘Man of the Match' which was presented to him by Scotland player, Graeme Morrison.
Iain Brown, GWC Director of Sport and U16 head coach, said, “We have worked really hard this season and our main aim was to get to the final, so I’m delighted that we won. We moved forward well and took our opportunities early in the game, which created a firm foundation and made it very hard for Dollar. But full marks to them they came back at us in the second half and dominated the territory but we closed them down. I thought the whole team performed well, they were nervous but they executed our game plan to create space out wide and everyone played their part in doing that. We had a solid scrum and I thought our back-row was just outstanding; they put in a huge amount of work and tackles and created the base for Ben Robbins and the backs to score.”
The good-natured crowd awaited the U18 match with mounting excitement and supporters far and wide were watching the match via Twitter as the scores were 'tweeted' direct from the Royal box by the Principal.
The U18 Edinburgh Academy team, unbeaten so far this season, was the favourite going into the match – but the GWC team was not going to let that deter them. In the end the Academy won by the narrowest of margins, one point.
Intense from the kick-off the match was exciting and the pressure from both teams was maintained until the final whistle.
Watson’s led from the second minute of the game, thanks to a penalty from Andrew McMillan (S6). This made for a double celebration in the McMillan household following on so quickly from brother, Fraser’s try in the U16 match. At half time the score remained 3–0.
The turning point in the match was the appearance of the yellow card. The Academy capitalised on their numerical advantage scoring 12 points while Watson’s team was down to 14 players.
Watson’s continued to fight and had received several penalties, which they began to kick despite the blustery conditions and which began to cut the point deficit. Andrew brought them back to 12-6 down. Then Will Brown (S5) went over the line. Unfortunately this try was not converted and the team was left just one point adrift.
Our boys continued to push throughout the final ten minutes but the final score remained 12–11. 'Man of the Match' went to Academy Captain, Chris Dean.
In summary, Gareth Edwards, Principal, said, “This has been a magnificent weekend for Watson's rugby. The U16s players were deserved winners of the cup, playing with great assurance and skill. We are all delighted for the boys and immensely proud of their achievement. As for the U18s, at the start of the season the team was not predicted to go so far and, indeed, the team went into the final as the underdog. The passion they showed was outstanding and, as is always the case in sport, the margin between winning and losing was narrow indeed. All who witnessed the team's spirit, skill and endeavour could not fail to have been proud of them too. Well done to all the players and to their coaches, who have worked hard too and shown their outstanding pedigree.”