Alex Harris not only Accies pupil fulfilling potential

Alex Harris with Mark Appleson and Alex Glashan pictured below
Alex Harris with Mark Appleson and Alex Glashan pictured below
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Edinburgh Academy’s class of 2012 are coming of sporting age.

As Alex Harris signs a contract extension with Hibs, at least two of his former class-mates continue to make their mark elsewhere on the athletic firmament.

This week rugby prospect Alex Glashan is in Las Vegas with the Scotland Sevens team carrying with him the memory of how he once sent Harris in for a try at Murrayfield as Edinburgh Academy won the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Cup.

Later this month scrum-half Glashan’s former half-back partner, Zander Muir, flies out to help Scotland contest the Under-19 cricket World Cup in the United Arab Emirates .

Add in the fact that currently injured Chris Dean has also represented Scotland’s rugby seven-a-side team and Jamie Farndale was the overall top try-scorer in the 2012 Under-20 rugby World Cup and it is easy to see why the boys’ PE teacher Mark Appleson is filled with pride.

However, Appleson, pictured, revealed: “When I arrived at the school, one of the things I felt I had to do was try to persuade Alex Harris to stall Hibs and come on the school rugby tour to South Africa instead. I failed!

“There was no doubt, though, that Alex was an outstanding all-round talent; as well as making his mark in rugby and football he was a terrific athlete.

“He won the annual school sprint in a dip finish from Jamie Farndale and was part of a successful relay squad. So far as Zander was concerned, I umpired him twice in school cricket matches and on both occasions he scored a century!

“I’d never seen anything like it; Zander was a natural gifted ball striker. Just amazing ability.”

In helping Scotland Under-19s claim the one qualifying place that takes them into a tough section with India, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea, Muir went through the group matches without losing his wicket. That takes a determination Appleson was quick to spot in the young adolescent.

“What also made Zander stand out was his mental strength. That came through in rugby where he was a brilliant stand off but more so in cricket.

“From school he want to the Grange club where he faced bowling never previously experienced week in, week out, but he coped with it because he is so tough. My one reservation about Zander concerns the fact he really loves his rugby as well as cricket. At some point he’ll have to make a choice.”

This is acknowledged by Muir, who says: “At Leeds University I’ve resisted a bit of pressure to play rugby because of the Under-19 World Cup. I’ll decide which sporting direction to travel after that.”

Looking back, he recalled: “Alex Harris and I grew up together in the Murrayfield area playing all sports and whatever he attempted involved fantastic vision.

“In the schoolyard football games everybody wanted to be in his team.

“Once I was injured and there was some apprehension about him moving from wing to take my place at stand off in the rugby team because he was already heavily involved in football and tackling might have been a concern.

“Alex sailed through because of his awareness and tremendous pace.

“I was in Australia playing cricket when he scored for Hibs in that Scottish Cup semi-final and my mum sent me a video on my phone. She said there was a lump in her throat at the wee boy I’d grown up with doing so well at Hampden Park!”

Meanwhile, Alex Glashan sees this weekend’s sevens tournament in Las Vegas followed by a similar event in Wellington as possible springboards to Commonwealth Games glory and a professional rugby career.

“School rugby is where it all started for me and provided a love of the game.

“It’s great to see all four of us now pushing forward and the big target for me is a medal in Glasgow. As a squad, we feel it is achievable as progress is being made. We need to get out of the group stages a bit more often and this weekend we tackle New Zealand, who are also opponents in Glasgow, but we feel a medal is achievable. Progress is being made and I’m relishing being part of a professional 
environment.

“Perhaps there will be an opportunity to play for Scotland under-20s as well in justifying setting studies aside for a while.I’m basically having a sporting gap year as it is a one-off opportunity.

“There has also been the chance to have a few games for Edinburgh Accies which contributed to getting a bit of extra sharpness.

“Las Vegas is a long way from Newfield where I started and Mark Appleson has undoubtedly been a big influence on all of us. It wasn’t like school rugby when he was in charge and we were reaching Murrayfield 
finals winning two out of three.

“As well as having a professional approach, though, Mark was realistic and that shaped the way a lot of us viewed our sport.”