It is always an exciting time when the under-20s Six Nations gets underway – and 2019 is no different.
We get to see the stars of the future playing together at this level for the first time and the Scotland age-grade journey begins on Friday evening st Netherdale in Gala against Italy (7.30pm).
They are now coached by three former Scotland caps in the shape of head coach Carl Hogg and his assistants Scott Lawson and Nikki Walker.
So, who are some of the players in the young squad who we should be watching out for in this event that mirrors the main Six Nations, sees Scotland with three home game and runs until mid-March?
Five to watch
Having been a stalwart member of the under-20s programme in 2018, the stand-off is now a year wiser and more mature and knows how to ry and pull the strings at this level. The Glasgow Hawks man has a good running game, but also has a good boot on him which is key.
Having made his way through the ranks at North Berwick High School and the North Berwick club, the scrum-half is now at Currie Chieftains where he has learnt a lot alongside under-20s graduate Charlie Shiel. Quick off the mark, he is sure to get this team moving with ball in hand.
For a young tighthead prop to come into the under-20s while still at school last year and not look out of place says something about this character. Since leaving Strathallan School he has played well for Stirling County and he will bring a strong presence to this team at scrum time.
Kwagga Van Niekirk
Born and raise in South Africa, he qualifies for Scotland through a Scottish grandfather. He came across pre-Christmas and impressed for the under-19s against Wales with Hogg saying of him: “Kwagga brings a physicality that’s different, I think he brings a really good balance to our back-row.”
The back-row has been named captain of the side despite not turning 19 until later in the tournament. He got a taste of rugby at this level while still at Stewart’s Melville College last year and his form for Watsonians has been superb in recent months while he has trained with Edinburgh Rugby.
15 Ollie Smith (Ayr)
14 Rory McMichael (Heriot’s)
13 Cameron Anderson (Wasps)
12 Robbie McCallum (Complutense Cisneros)
11 Jack Blain (Heriot’s)
10 Ross Thompson (Glasgow Hawks, V-C)
9 Roan Frostwick (Currie Chieftains)
1 Sam Grahamslaw (Leicester Tigers)
2 Finlay Scott (Jed-Forest)
3 Murphy Walker (Stirling County)
4 Ewan Johnson (Racing 92)
5 Charlie Jupp (Heriot’s)
6 Kwagga Van Niekirk (Lions)
7 Connor Boyle (Watsonians, C)
8 Jack Mann (Edinburgh Accies)
16 Euan Ashman (Sale Sharks)
17 Andrew Nimmo (Glasgow Hawks)
18 Euan McLaren (Ayr)
19 Cameron Henderson (Stirling County)
20 Ross Bundy (Stirling County)
21 Kyle McGhie (Musselburgh)
22 Nathan Chamberlain (Bristol Bears)
23 Rufus McLean (Watsonians)
Thanks to Scottish Rugby/SNS for the photos
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