Over the last few years Stewart’s Melville College has produced a number of players who have gone on to play age-grade rugby for Scotland. And one of those is second-row Callum Hunter-Hill who is currently captaining Scotland in the prestigious under-20 Six Nations event. “I learned a lot from the various coaches at Stewart’s Melville College and we had a lot of time to dedicate to our rugby which helped,” he said. “The staff and my team mates at the school were so focused on rugby and there were so many people around who you could ask for advice or who would put in the extra hours to help you work on parts of your game.”
Callum, who left school in the summer of 2014, represented Scotland under-18 10 times including at the Rugby Europe event in France. Scottish Rugby were clearly impressed with what they saw from him in that tournament when he was captain.
In the summer of 2015 he was selected to go on the Macphail Scholarship trip to New Zealand with another young talent Ben Robbins. The scholarship was established in memory of former Scotland hooker John Macphail, who died in 2004. And at the time Callum was following in the footsteps of the likes of current Scotland caps John Barclay, Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Finn Russell who had made the same trip. “I worked as hard as I could while I was in Canterbury, learning a lot about second-row play and building on the things I had worked at with Stewart’s Melville College over the previous few years.”
Since that experience Callum’s career has gone from strength-to-strength and this season he is a member of the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy. He has also been playing for Stirling County in the BT Premiership, made a professional debut for Glasgow Warriors and been on loan at London Scottish in England’s second tier. And now he is captaining Scotland in the under-20s in this showpiece event.
To date Scotland’s youngsters have lost to Ireland and France, but the age-grade squad is full of talent and 19-year-old Callum is up for the challenge with three tournament matches still to go. “To be made captain of your country is a great honour. I did it with the under-18s, but obviously it is a bigger stage with the under-20s,” he said. “I have a bit of experience already at this level because I started three out of five Six Nations games in 2016 and then played in the World Championships last summer. “A lot of the guys have played together for a few years so I think we have good core unit to build from.“I have learnt a lot with Stirling while having so many internationals around me when I have been with the Warriors has been great.
“Having a stint at London Scottish has definitely improved my physicality. You’re playing against bigger guys week-in and week-out, so you have to be ready for it mentally and physically, and being part of a new team and getting used to new systems is really good.”
During the Six Nations, Callum is working with former Scotland cap Sean Lineen who is the head coach of the age-grade outfit. “Sean has been brilliant with me and the other guys in getting us ready to be involved in this tournament and what he expects from us as a unit,” he explained. “I enjoy captaincy. Sometimes when I was younger you feel you have to do everything yourself, but that’s not what captaincy is about - its leading on the pitch and working hard off the pitch and being a good team leader.”
Next up Callum and Co will take on Wales at Broadwood on February 24 and there will be a lot of people from Stewart’s Melville College cheering him on.
Article by Gary Heatly @G_HMedia