RHC Cougars put their Trust in teenage pair

Charlie Shiel, left, and Ross McCann
Charlie Shiel, left, and Ross McCann
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A member of a notable Scottish rugby family is tomorrow expected to play a further part in Royal High and Corstorphine Cougars’ push towards promotion from National League Division Three when they entertain leaders Lasswade at Barnton.

Scrum-half Charlie Shiel, 18, made a first start for the club as Cougars won 28-17 at Preston Lodge last weekend and laid on a first club try for fellow Scotland age-group cap Ross McCann, 18, who is also finding his way in the senior game.

The win took Cougars up to fourth in the table and, watched by dad Graham, the former Scotland World Cup centre, and grandfather Dougie Morgan – ex Scotland and Lions – schoolboy Charlie claimed man-of-the-match honours. Both Charlie and Ross attend Royal High School and have been given clearance to play at adult level after undergoing a testing programme devised by Scottish Rugby strength and conditioning staff.

Club president Dougie Cross believes the teenagers’ emergence underlines Cougars’ especially bright future based on a new Development Trust that has just been formulated.

“We have set up the Trust outside of the club to focus on fundraising for our development team who are delivering to nine primary schools in north-west Edinburgh,” said Cross, adding: “We have partnered with the Bill McLaren Foundation to run a gala dinner dance at the end of April at Murrayfield with all money raised being dedicated to this. We are also seeing the benefit of work already done with Charlie and Ross capped at under-16 level and hoping to add to the representative honours in the under-18 squad.”

While Cougars lie six points off a promotion spot Cross remains optimistic.

“Tomorrow is a huge game against Lasswade but we also have fixtures remaining against the two other teams ahead of us – West of Scotland and Dumfries,” he said.

“Promotion would help maintain momentum at our club where coach Stevie Leckie also heads up youth development.

“Getting charitable status for our Trust is a big help in attracting funding to provide assistance for Stevie as we have taken responsibility for all rugby at Royal High School which, in recent years, has produced other talented youngsters such as Andy Cramond, now with Toulon, and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne who later moved on to Merchiston Castle.”