Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors today confirmed the Scottish Rugby Elite Development players who will be aligned to them in season 2012/13.
The players are part of a 26-strong National Elite Development programme, with 11 players aligned to each pro-team and four to Scotland 7s.
Five of the Warriors group are new entrants to a programme from which RaboDirect PRO12 Young Player of the Season Stuart Hogg emerged in terrific fashion last term.
Centre Bruce Dick and full-back Fraser Thomson (pictured) have both been brought into the fold after impressing in Premier 1 with Melrose, as have Falkirk stand-off Finn Russell and Hamilton lock Jonny Gray.
Gray, the younger brother of recently departed former Warrior Richie, is currently training and playing in New Zealand having been named as one of the recipients of this year’s Macphail Scholarship.
Also coming on board is Currie hooker Fergus Scott (brother of Matt), who this week departs for South Africa where he will be representing Scotland under-20 at the IRB Junior World Championship.
Hogg’s meteoric rise was one of a number of successes for the Warriors’ Elite Development operation last season.
Hooker Finlay Gillies also impressed in the first team and won a full professional contract, while Nick Campbell produced a number of eye-catching displays in the second row and scored a vital try in the historic away win over reigning European champions Leinster.
Campbell, who progressed through the club game with Allan Glen’s, Cartha Queens Park and Glasgow Hawks, will be part of the Elite Development programme for the first part of season 2012/13, before turning fully professional at the turn of the year.
Centre James Johnstone, another Currie product, will be engaged on the same terms.
Scrum-half Murray McConnell and tight-head prop George Hunter, both of whom have captained Scotland under-20, will also be involved in the programme again in the coming season. McConnell made his RaboDirect PRO12 debut away to Scarlets in January, while Hunter has been part of the match-day 23 on three occasions.
The other two Warriors Elite Development players for 2012/13 are Adam Ashe, a back-rower who was part of the Scotland 7s squad last term, and 18-year-old Callum Templeton. The lock/loose forward, originally from Dumfries, plays his club rugby for Ayr.
All Elite Development players will benefit from training with the full Warriors squad as well as one-to-one guidance from Elite Development coach Iain Monaghan and a variety of specialist coaches. They will also be available to play club rugby subject to their Warriors commitments.
Meanwhile Edinburgh Rugby have added four new players to their elite development programme for the coming season alongside 7 returning players, with the new arrivals drafted in to take the place of those promoted to the senior ranks.
This season Matt Scott (centre), Grant Gilchrist (lock), Harry Leonard (stand-off) and Alex Black (scrum-half) have all earned full-time contracts through the development programme and will be replaced by a pair of scrum-halves and pair of props.
Sean Kennedy (21, Stirling County) and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (18, Heriot’s) arrive with Scottish age-grade and Scotland 7s experience and will undoubtedly take inspiration from last years’ notable out-field graduates while at 6’2” and 17 stone each, newcomers Alex Allan (20, Loughborough Students) and Phil Cringle (18, Kirkham Grammar School/Douglas) have the physical credentials of front-row quality in the making.
In the 30 games played by the club last season, nine elite development players shared 109 individual appearances, with Gilchrist and Scott forcing their way into regular contention, the latter becoming the first to be capped for Scotland while still in the programme.
Easson, said: “The day-to-day operation and integration of the players with the squad is key to its success, as is their commitment to training and playing for their club when not selected for Edinburgh Rugby.
“Combined with that is the open-mindedness of head coach Michael Bradley who has given a lot of youngsters a shot at a series of games, not just one game and out.
“Matt Scott’s been capped, Harry Leonard has played Heineken Cup rugby at stand-off aged 19, Grant Gilchrist has been an unsung hero of the programme, starting all of our European matches, while Robin Hislop has been involved in 12 games – impressive for a prop aged just 19.
“The boys have worked exceptionally hard. Every day they can compare themselves to Scotland’s best and, when they get the chance to play, they inspire the rest of the development players to keep working for their shot at senior rugby.
“This season’s group has set the bar very high. The opportunity and expectation now rests with a new group of players who fully understand what is required and what can be delivered by this programme.”
Edinburgh EDP Players (2012/13)
Robert McAlpine (Second-row, Stirling County RFC)
Robin Hislop (Prop, Boroughmuir RFC)
Dougie Fife (Centre, Currie RFC)
Gregor Hunter (Stand-off, Gala RFC)
Hamish Watson (Back-row, Edinburgh Accies FC)
Jamie Farndale (Wing, Edinburgh Accies FC)
George Turner (Hooker, Stewart’s Melville RFC)
Sean Kennedy (Scrum-half, Stirling County RFC)
Sam Hidalgo Clyne (Scrum-half, Heriot’s RFC)
Alex Allan (Prop, Loughborough University)
Phil Cringle (Prop, Kirkham Grammar School/Douglas RFC)
Glasgow EDP Players (2012/13)
Adam Ashe (Back-row, Stirling County)
Nick Campbell (Lock, Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks)
Bruce Dick (Centre, Melrose)
Jonny Gray (Lock, Hamilton)
George Hunter (Prop, Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks)
James Johnstone (Centre, Glasgow Warriors/Currie)
Murray McConnell (Scrum-half, Glasgow Warriors/Ayr)
Finn Russell (Stand-off, Falkirk)
Fergus Scott (Hooker, Currie)
Callum Templeton (Lock/back-row, Glasgow Warriors/Ayr)
Fraser Thomson (Full-back, Melrose)
UPDATE: the 4 Sevens EDP players for 2012/13 are:
Rory Hughes (Scotland Sevens)
Neil Herron (West of Scotland)
Chris Dean (Edinburgh Academy)
Alex Glashan (Edinburgh Academy)