Rugby: BATS on the ball as Accies see the benefit of successful youth system

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Saturday’s single point defeat away to Aberdeen Grammar may have been an agonising experience for Simon Cross but, despite the outcome, the Edinburgh Accies coach could take consolation from seeing the fruits of the club’s youth development policy in action.

The BATS set-up involving Accies, Broughton and Trinity Accies also works in schools, colleges and youth clubs in the north of the Capital, with Accies centre Iain Berthinussen as its development officer and fitness coach Andrew Walker as director of rugby.

The BATS club, created seven years ago, has enjoyed a rise in numbers for the current season compared with previous years. Its success meant that, of the 20-man squad that faced Ayr at Raeburn Place ten days ago, nine had graduated from BATS.

Eight of that group made the trip north to the Granite City on Saturday, which also underlines the benefits of harnessing the talent at an early age.

Another product of the system, which aims to provide an avenue into the game for children aged 10 to 18, is Jonny Else, who cut his teeth as a coach with BATS and is now in charge of the Accies backs.