Having had a rapid rise through Scottish Rugby’s previous academy system towards the professional ranks, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne knows the first inductees into the new academy structure have only just reached base camp in their climb to the top.
The Edinburgh Rugby and Scotland scrum-half was at BT Murrayfield as the governing body officially launched their new development pathway, the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy. There will be four bases for the Academy: Edinburgh; Borders and East Lothian; Caledonia; Glasgow and the West; and the 87 male and female players who will be part in it during 2015/16 have been unveiled.
“I think there is a lot of talent coming through in Scotland. It seems every year that the young players are getting better and better and that comes from the set-up that Scottish Rugby are putting in place which is great,” said Hidalgo-Clyne who was an elite development player with Edinburgh from 2012 to 2014.
“The biggest piece of advice I would give to these young players is never to take anything for granted. The hard work starts now for them and I know myself the rewards that putting the hard work in can have.
“I always worked hard, but when I went to New Zealand in 2013 on the Macphail Scholarship it really started to pay off.
“I had great coaches around me at the time, but it was down to me and how much I wanted it if I was going to be able to progress. When I was out in New Zealand I borrowed a camcorder, made up specific sessions and constantly watched myself back on film so I could get better.
“Games were not the biggest thing out there for me, the best thing for me was during the week when I could learn properly about how to become a scrum-half. I would go to the Crusaders matches out there and take a pen and paper with me so I could take notes. As I say it is all about putting the hard yards in and I look forward to seeing these academy players coming through in the future.”
The Edinburgh academy will be run out of Napier University’s Sighthill Campus and the rugby manager appointed to the lead role is former Scotland scrum-half Graeme Beveridge.
Fourteen male players and four female players will be working with Beveridge and he cannot wait to get started.
“It is really exciting. There has been a lot of work behind the scenes to get to this stage, but now the players are in the venue and it will be exciting to see them come in for the first time and to see the coaches working with them,” he stated.
“Our job is to take a look at the skills that they already have, help them polish them up and then push the players on to be the best that they possibly can be. Obviously we have a wide age range in the group and it is made up of boys and girls so once the coaching staff get to know them properly they will identify their strengths and weaknesses and develop programmes that fit for them.
“I think the players really need to make the most of this chance.
“When I was coming through as a young player we did not have programmes like this in place, but now these guys are getting to work with top-class coaches often while they have a great support network around them – I am looking forward to seeing their progress.”
As well as the 18 players based at the Napier campus, there are a number of players from Edinburgh at some of the other bases, for example former Stewart’s Melville player Callum Hunter-Hill is aligned to the Glasgow and the West academy.