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Reds seen as blueprint for Glasgow regional side

THE recent revival of the Caledonia Reds regional team has led to a similar initiative for the Glasgow area gathering pace.

George Breckenridge, who has coached Scotland Under-18s and West of Scotland, is leading the development of a regional club side, which would serve as a stepping stone between the Premiership clubs, Glasgow Hawks and Ayr, and the Glasgow Warriors.

"I know the players want it and, if it's what the players want, why aren't we listening to them?" said the Lenzie coach. "The big stumbling blocks are the Scottish Rugby Union and the clubs - both say there are no windows - but they need to get together and find a solution to move forward. Whether it's midweek, pre-season or end-of-season, there are options.

"Having played for Glasgow, I know what a great honour it is to pull on that jersey. Regional rugby offers an oppor­tunity for squads of 22 - a total of 88 club players - to play more competitive games, to experience a higher level of training and to have a chance to be scouted," said Breckenridge.

"There are always talented individuals in the club game who are capable of stepping up and this exposure would help more homegrown talent progress to the professional teams, while also acting as part of the selection process for club internationals.

"We plan to use the Reds as a blueprint. The first step is to find a big-name head coach to galvanise support, just as Reds did with Jason White, and grow the campaign organically through social media. If we get it restarted, we can take the games round the clubs. It would be a real spectacle which supporters and players would love."

This week a 'Bring Back the Inter-District Championship for Scottish Rugby's Sake' Facebook page had received more than 1000 likes on the day of its launch.

Those behind the Reds campaign intend to take their plans for regional rugby, which include the possibility of an inter-district championship, to the SRU but Murrayfield officials stopped short of saying a return of a regional tournament among the four districts of the early professional years, is the way forward.

"Scottish Rugby's focus remains to develop the academies detailed in our recently published policy initiatives. These acad­emies will offer opportunities for rugby players to play further inter-district fixtures," said an SRU spokesman.

Plans to rekindle the districts of Edinburgh, Border Reivers, Glasgow and Caledonia Reds have high-profile supporters in the club game. The Ayr winger Craig Gossman is both a Scotland club and sevens internationalist, but has so far been unable to make the jump to Glasgow Warriors or Edinburgh.

"I would obviously want to be involved if an inter-district championship took place. A bridge to the professional game would make the transition for club ­players much easier and as a whole improve the quality of rugby in the club game," said the former Glasgow Hawks back.

Jamie Dempsey, coach at ­Glasgow Hawks, said that while the concept is appealing, the potential fixture pile-up would need to be resolved if an inter-district championship was to realised.

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