Rugby: Young Accies star says club is perfect fit for progression

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One of the hottest prospects in Scottish rugby is hoping for the chance to parade his skills on home turf tonight.

Jamie Farndale, 18, is expected to play at least part of the annual match between the North Edinburgh youth select side BATS (Broughton, Trinity and Accies) and Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools’ Cup winners Edinburgh Academy at Raeburn Place (kick-off 5.30), fresh from scoring two tries at Glasgow Hawks on Saturday to help ensure Accies’ seniors remain in the Premiership top flight.

The winger’s brace were his first scores for the club to add to a similar number this season away to Wales for Scotland under-20s, for whom he is eligible until 2014, and clearly they meant a lot.

Farndale explained: “I started rugby with the Edinburgh Academy and have been involved before with BATS which was also really helpful in getting me to this stage of my rugby career.

“[So], when I left school and got offered a [youth] contract with Edinburgh Rugby the only choice for my club outings was Accies so far as I was concerned.”

One implication of retaining top-club status in 2012/13 is that up-and-comings such as Farndale – who scored a try when Scotland under-18s beat English counterparts last season – are more likely to be farmed out by the pro-teams to the elite.

Farndale added: “It means so much whenever I pull on an Accies jersey because they helped get me into Scotland under-20s, which I really enjoy.”

A common link is the coaching of Simon Cross who is in overall charge at Accies and organises the under-20s defence.

“Crossy has been involved with school, Scotland under-18 and under-19 teams I’ve been involved with and has been a mentor for me,” Farndale continued, then added: “Bryan Easson [Edinburgh Rugby’s Elite Development coach] also goes through my game performances during one-on-one sessions and he really is there for me, too.”

Farndale, reputed to be an accomplished bagpiper, certainly isn’t one to blow his own trumpet, but the pace which saw him notch two tries at Hawks owes much to a useful athletics career.

Pressed on the subject, he reveals: “I do athletics every year and run both 100 and 200 metres. I’ve been timed at 11.2 seconds for 100m but that was a while ago and I’ve been involved in the Scottish Pentathlon squad for internationals against England, Ireland and Wales.

“Accies play a very wide game and that is another reason why they are such a perfect club for me and it was great to be the one to put the ball into touch just before the final whistle at Hawks for our 31-24 win because they were coming back so far at us.”

Earlier, Farndale ran a superb line to be on the shoulder of stand-off Ruaridh Bonner for one of his tries, while he latched on to a kick from sub scrum-half Michael Campbell for his second try. Typically, he maintained: “For that first try I just stuck out my hand and the bounce landed perfectly for me.”

The previous weekend, Farndale had helped Scotland under-20s score two late tries to overhaul Italy at the death and he admitted: “I’m developing a tendency to figure in tight games!”

Edinburgh Rugby might, however, face competition from along the M8 to retain a player who won Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools’ Cups at under-15 and under-18 level as well as finishing runner-up in 2010 giving him two victories from three appearances at Murrayfield.

Says the former Edinburgh Academy Head Boy: “I have a place at Glasgow University next year and I am deciding whether I can balance that with rugby.

“I am aware, though, that there are a lot of quality young players at Edinburgh and would like to follow the example of Matt Scott, Dougie Fife, Tom Brown and others out of the academy and into the senior team.”

Meanwhile, for tonight’s match for the annual Ed Saunders Cup, which honours the contributions of a former Edinburgh Academy PE teacher now working in England, the BATS will cast their net wider to include youngsters from Drummond and Craigroyston Community High Schools as well as Fettes College.