Rugby now to the fore in St Andrews

Better known for its world renowned golf courses, St Andrews will this summer put itself at the front of Scotland’s rugby preparations.

By Scott Inglis
Thursday, 17th June 2021, 12:00 pm
Jamie Ritchie will skipper Scotland in this summer's tests. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Jamie Ritchie will skipper Scotland in this summer's tests. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The area has helped produce two of the most outstanding young rugby players in the entire country.

Jamie Ritchie, who started his journey to the full national team with St Andrews club Madrascals, and then Cupar’s Howe of Fife, hails from Strathkinness, a few miles from the town, and will skipper a 37-man Scotland squad in this summer's tests against England A, Romania and Georgia.

Still only 24-years-old, Ritchie played in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and was vice-captain during the 2021 Calcutta Cup success against England at Twickenham.

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And his footsteps are being followed by another rugby starlet from the same area.

It was announced this week that the town’s Alex Samuel will lead Scotland in the under-20 Six Nations, which starts this weekend.

The 18-year-old second-row is aligned to Super6 side Stirling County and trains with Glasgow Warriors full-time.

Samuel, who went to school at St Leonards, also began his journey with the Madrascals, the youth section associated with Madras Rugby.

Club president Colin McAdam says Madras, who will next year celebrate their 150th anniversary, couldn’t be happier to see two former players doing so well on the national stage.

McAdam told the Citizen: “As a club are very proud of these men and of the role we have played in their development and love of the game.

"We are always pleased that they reference this in their media responses.

"Also, as a club, we are equally proud of all of our players and volunteers even though most never get the wider recognition and playing honours that Jamie and Alex have.”

Samuel has already had a taste of life in the senior squad, one of several young players given the chance to train with the side by head coach Gregor Townsend during the Six Nations in February and March.

The teenager will get an early chance to savour the big occasion when Scotland open the under-20 Six Nations on June 19 at 2pm against Ireland.

The match will be played at Cardiff Arms Park and shown live for fans on the BBC iPlayer.