Rory Darge is “very determined” and “full of energy” as he prepares to lead Scotland under-20s into the Six Nations opener away to Ireland on Friday evening.
Having grown up in North Berwick, Darge played firstly for this age-grade side in 2018, but missed last year due to injury.
The back-row, now playing for the Southern Knights in Melrose in the Super6 competition, is highly regarded and as a stage three member of the FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy trains regularly with Edinburgh Rugby.
The Scots head into the encounter in Cork on the back of a very poor 2019 when they disappointed in this event and then were relegated from the World Championship.
As a result, the young guns have a point to prove this time around.
And if they are to have any chance of beating last year’s Grand Slammers on their own turf then the breakdown area and physicality will be key.
Darge, at No.8, skippers the side and will form a back-row unit with in-form Watsonians man Connor Boyle and Durham University’s highly thought of Jack Hill.
“Rory is an impressive young man who has had a few injuries in the past so for him to come through that adversity is great and he is held in high regard by the group,” head coach Lineen said on the newly appointed leader.
“He is really well balanced, really reliable in terms of what he does on the field and is very determined.
“While Connor did a good job as captain [last year] and he is a really determined man too, now he can concentrate on his own game and still be a massive leader and support Rory on the field.
“Having two guys like that one the field makes a big difference, they are full of energy and full of that will and desire to win. It is god having competitive animals like that.
“Jack is the bigger lad in the back-row and has been going well in training, he compliments the other two well.”
Dan Gamble, the 18-year-old Heriot’s tighthead prop, also has a big job on his hands and he will have to summon all of the knowledge gained from training with WP Nel and Simon Berghan at Edinburgh Rugby this season in this one against a big Irish front-row.
“As a tighthead prop predominantly it has been amazing to train with guys like Scotland caps WP Nel and Simon Berghan and Italy cap Pietro Ceccarelli when I have been in with Edinburgh,” Gamble, who is studying agriculture at SRUC based at Edinburgh University’s King’s Buildings, explained.
“You can learn so much about scrummaging from them whilst in my first Super6 competitive match with Heriot’s I found myself scrummaging against [loosehead prop] Gordon Reid of the Ayrshire Bulls.
“It was effectively my second game in men’s rugby and I was up against a guy who had just come back from Japan and the World Cup with Scotland!
“That was quite surreal, but I feel like I am learning all the time and I am looking forward to taking my chance with the under-20s.”
Scotland under-20 team to face Ireland on Friday at Independent Park, Cork (kick-off 7.15pm):
15 Ollie Smith (Ayrshire Bulls)
14 Jacob Henry (Southern Knights)
13 Matthew Currie (Watsonians Rugby)
12 Robbie McCallum (Boroughmuir Bears)
11 Jack Blain (Heriot’s Rugby)
10 Nathan Chamberlain (Hartpury College/Bristol Bears)
9 Roan Frostwick (Watsonians Rugby)
1 Alex Maxwell (Stourbridge)
2 Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks)
3 Dan Gamble (Heriot’s Rugby)
4 Kieran Watt (Watsonians Rugby)
5 Cameron Henderson (Stirling County)
6 Jack Hill (Durham University)
7 Connor Boyle (Watsonians Rugby)
8 Rory Darge (Southern Knights, C)
16 Rory Jackson (Watsonians Rugby)
17 Mak Wilson (Southern Knights)
18 Thomas Lambert (Sydney University)
19 Jamie Campbell (Biggar)
20 Gregor Brown (Boroughmuir Bears)
21 Kyle McGhie (Boroughmuir Bears)
22 Cameron Scott (Boroughmuir Bears)
23 Rufus McLean (Boroughmuir Bears)
Thanks to the Southern Knights for the main photo of Rory Darge
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