Largs Academy progress in Warriors Championship

It's third time lucky for Largs Academy who have secured a place in the knock-out stages of the 2019 SP Energy Networks Warriors Championship after day four of qualifying on Wednesday.

The North Ayrshire school got the better of St Paul's RC High School, Ayr Academy, Coatbridge High School and Kyle Academy to qualify for the Warriors Championship semi-finals, having narrowly missed out in the past two seasons.

Each school had three teams competing, an S1 and S2 boys' team and an under-15s girls' team, with Largs losing just two of their 12 matches throughout the day.

The 210 players taking part deserve enormous credit for braving the tough conditions at a damp Scotstoun and maintaining an attacking intent from the opening whistle.

Remarkably over the course of 30 matches, 242 tries were scored, the highest try count of any of the four qualifying rounds to date.

Largs Academy PE teacher Jamie Murchie said: "It was tricky to play rugby out there but well done to all the players for sticking at it until the end.

"It's a competition we enjoy and we're delighted to have qualified this year.

“I'm sure it will be a noisy coach journey back to Largs.

"We had a tough couple of games to begin with and our teams managed to win them.

"That helped their confidence grow for the rest of the day.

"If we had lost the first couple of games the weather may have become an issue but when you are winning games it really helps morale.

"Defensively our players were good which was key and they were all desperate to make tackles.

"They worked really hard and I'm glad to get through to the semi-finals. It's great for the kids and the school."

He continued: "Rugby is getting bigger at Largs Academy.

"There's 90 kids who are in the School of Rugby and we have seven teams from S1 to S3.

"So we are beginning to turn Largs Academy into a rugby school.

"It's all very positive and we have 16 girls now playing.

"They have all been going down to Ardrossan Accies RFC who have a strong girls section.

"That certainly aids their development."

Coatbridge High School pupil Abbey McDonald was one of the most impressive players on show yesterday and proved why she’s recently had trials for the Glasgow West region.

The 14-year-old has been playing rugby for nearly seven years and follows in the footsteps of her dad and elder brother who both played.

She said: "I competed in this tournament last year. It's a good experience, especially for the new girls who are now playing.

"There was just two girls playing rugby when I first started and now there's 17 of us.

"So it wasn't a normal sport for girls to play when I began. It was something different and that's what I liked about rugby.

"Some of my friends now play and it's a good sport to start up because you also make new friends.”

She added: "I have been to some Glasgow Warriors games and like to see what the professionals are doing so I can improve my game.

"Finn Russell also plays in my position so I try and get tips from watching him as well."

In contrast to Abbey, Ayr Academy pupil Jack Bingham, 12, only began playing rugby at the start of the school year.

He was persuaded to pick up the oval ball by some of his rugby playing friends.

"My coach and teammates are really encouraging which helps boost your confidence," he said.

"If you make a mistake we are just told to keep going and try it next time which is a good approach.

"You don't need to be the best player because we are a team and rugby is all about fair play and sportsmanship.

"People should come along and try rugby even if they are not a big fan. If they stick at it they will get into it.

"I would definitely like to keep playing when I'm older."

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.

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).