Lenzie qualify for Warriors Championship semi-finals

For the second consecutive year Lenzie Academy are safely through to the semi-finals of the SP Energy Networks Warriors Championship after round two of qualifying yesterday.

Lenzie lost just two of their 12 matches on their march through to the knock-out stages in a high quality day of rugby on the main pitch at Scotstoun Stadium.

Five schools took part in the qualifying day with Lenzie Academy up against Maxwelltown High School, Cumnock Academy, Falkirk High School and Oban High School.

A total of 204 tries were scored during an entertaining 30 matches involving an S1 and S2 boys' team and an under-15 girls' team from each school.

Creative attacking rugby was needed to penetrate some passionate defence shown by boys and girls in equal measure.

It made for a brilliant atmosphere throughout the day and credit should be paid to all 210 players competing and the spectators on the touchline.

This year is Lenzie Academy's second appearance in the SP Energy Networks Warriors Championship and their coach Colin Gemmill was pleased to get through qualifying again.

He said: "We're really happy, especially with the performance from the players.

"The S1 team and girls that played last year were so much better this time around which is a credit to how much they have improved over 12 months.

"It was great to watch. All the players love this event and are mad keen on their rugby which helps build the sport in school and player numbers on a Saturday morning."

He added: "There's so many more pupils wanting to play rugby now which means we need to think about who we select for this competition. That's a great problem to have.

"The sport is still building at Lenzie Academy and it's good to see all our efforts paying off.

"We got to the semi-finals last year and hopefully we can go one better this year, although we know there's some top schools still in the competition." 

Oban High School pupils once again made the long journey down the west coast to compete this year and their S1 captain Finlay Brown said the trip south was worth it.

The 12-year-old said: "We have a really great team and I enjoy the camaraderie of playing in this competition.

"I also like the challenge of competing against all the other schools and trying to work out how we beat them."

He added: "I remember my mum asking me if I wanted to go to a rugby session when I was in Primary Two and I said yes. Straight from then I loved rugby.

"I really enjoy the contact and team work involved.

"I play full-back and like tackling and running from full-back like Stuart Hogg.

"I'm also a fan of Magnus Bradbury because he is from Oban and I used to know him when I was younger."

Stuart Hogg took time out from his injury rehab to watch Finlay and some of the other players in action on Wednesday.

He was joined on the sidelines by fellow Warriors DTH van der Merwe, Ryan Wilson and Huw Jones.

Jones said: "Watching all the girls and boys today reminds me of my past and when I started.

"Seeing them having so much fun brings back some fond memories.

"My two older brothers played and my dad was a rugby coach when he was a school teacher.

"We had rugby balls lying all over the house and garden so I was playing from a very young age.

"I think my rugby debut was in a Lincoln under-6 team when I was four-years-old.

"I played football, cricket and other sports but when I got to 16 I decided rugby was my favourite out of all of them.

"It was the sport I was best at and I would simply say to the kids today, if they enjoy playing rugby, then keep playing."

DTH van der Merwe started playing rugby in kindergarten when he lived in South Africa and his first birthday present was a rugby ball.

He recalled: "The biggest thing I remember was playing in South Africa in bare feet.

"Sometimes we would kick off at 8am, occasionally playing in towns in the mountains where there was frost.

"So you would be warming your feet up with the car heater before running out!”

He continued: "At 17, the family moved to Canada and the day after we landed, I played two rugby matches for the local high school.

"Straight away I was integrated into the rugby system and loved it.

"I enjoyed the team spirit, being around a bunch of mates and having fun."

ABOUT THE SP ENERGY NETWORKS WARRIORS CHAMPIONSHIP

- At the beginning of the 2017/18 season Glasgow Warriors announced a landmark three-year partnership with SP Energy Networks which saw them become the club’s Official Community Partner.

SP Energy Networks, which operates across central and southern Scotland, are working with Glasgow Warriors on a wide-range of community initiatives, including the SP Energy Networks Warriors Championship.

More than 1,000 girls and boys from 25 schools are competing in this year’s competition which will give a platform to grassroots talent to display their skills at Scotstoun Stadium.

Q3 - Wednesday, February 27: Balfron High School, Auchinleck Academy, Queen Margaret Academy, Kirkcudbright Academy, St Andrew's RC Secondary School (Glasgow). 

Q4 - Wednesday, 6 March: Kyle Academy, Coatbridge High School, Largs Academy, Ayr Academy, St Paul's High School   

Q5 - Wednesday, 13 March: Marr College, St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, Jordanhill School, Boclair Academy, Wallace High School.

Semi-finals: Wednesday 27 March.

Finals day: Saturday, April 27 (Prior to Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh Rugby).