Strong partnerships and initiatives are key to the success at Shawlands and Biggar

The 2018 Girls Schools Cup finals saw a clash between Biggar High School and Shawlands Academy occur in both the U15 and the U18 finals.

Here we look at what has brought success to these two schools. Shawlands have dominated the U15 Girls School Cup Finals in recent years and on 27 November they claimed their third consecutive title. In the U18 Cup, it is Biggar High School who have been the team to beat having appeared in the last three finals and taking home the silverware on two occasions in 2016 and 2018.

Both schools are committed to their rugby programmes and thanks to the success in recent years in the Girls Schools Cup, the popularity of the sport has risen. 

Shawlands U15 Captain Anna Jenkin said, “Since we won in the first year,  a lot more people have joined due to the success. That has made it harder to pick the team but has made us a stronger team as well obviously because you have more choices. We train more and harder because we want to maintain our title.”

Both Shawlands and Biggar say that the strong link to their local clubs have helped to strengthen the school teams. 

Shawlands Head Coach Robbie Renwick said, “The link with Cartha has been a massive help in both ways. The girls often join the School of Rugby programme at school and are then encouraged to join Cartha. Having Alex Donaghy working in the school is brilliant as he is also Cartha coach and it’s a seamless link between club and school. With so many girls playing at the club, it gives them the opportunity to further improve their skills. It’s fantastic being affiliated with a great club.”

Biggar’s U18 player Lucy Blackie explained they enjoyed a similar relationship, she said, “We always play together as a club, we always play together as a school so we are all incredibly close.”

Another contributing factor to the success of both of these schools is the School of Rugby programmes that they both run at their schools.  

Robbie Renwick explained further, “Initially we had 15 boys and two girls participating so it was so difficult to give the girls meaningful training. As the years went by word got out how much fun the School of Rugby programme was and more girls joined. 

“Then one year group had 20 girls join who were all super talented and this gave us an amazing base to build on. The School of Rugby programme has done so much for these pupils, it gave them confidence, they met new friends, had a pride in representing the school and fun and enjoyment. They like proving it’s not just a boys sport!”

Head Coach at Biggar High School, Megan Walker added, “The girls train twice a week, and then they have the School of Rugby programme that runs at Biggar High School for first and second years. This is an extra hour and 40 mins that they get per week so really helps with their rugby development.”

Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Development, Sheila Begbie said, “It is fantastic to see the success from the School of Rugby initiatives come to fruition for Shawlands Academy and Biggar High School. 

“The success that these two schools have had over the last few years and the increase in players is testament to the hard work of the players, coaches, teachers as well as the growing partnerships with their local clubs. My hope is that this will inspire more girls to take up rugby at their schools so that we can grow the game across Scotland.”