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A new school of thought for rugby in Dundee New youth team promises to end FP exclusivity and unite the city, says Kevin Ferrie

this weekend could prove one of the most significant in the history of rugby in Scotland's fourth city, regardless of the result in today's BT Scottish Cup final.

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Tomorrow brings the launch of a new youth venture, the Dundee Eagles, and although the team will be based at the city's top club, Dundee HSFP, it is being marketed to the entire city in a bid to shake off the exclusive image associated with the fee-paying Dundee High School. The idea of one leading team representing Dundee is not new. Some 17 years have passed since David Leslie, the former Scotland captain, attempted to form a Dundee Rugby Club - he is believed to have retained copyright on the name - which would have drawn on the six then national league clubs, creating one powerful entity. Friendly matches against the likes of Kelso and Heriot's demonstrated the potential, but the venture foundered, with Morgan FP and Dundee HSFP believing they could go it alone. With Leslie to drive them, the latter went on to greater success. Such was the quality in a side led by Andy Nicol that, a decade ago, the youthful Tom Smith was frequently unable to force his way past the notorious Tillicoultry Trogs - John Manson, Budgie Cairney and Danny Herrington - and into the first XV front row. Meanwhile, Dundee Juniors, a youth side formed in 1989, was churning out talent. A 12-year-old Scott Murray first experienced rugby there and fellow cap Jonny Petrie also played for them, as did several future professional players including Gav Scott, Chris Black and Graeme Kiddie. Several current Dundee HSFP players also came through Dundee Juniors, but in recent times, pressure has grown upon them to affiliate to the Morgan FP club, whose facilities they used. That led to some acrimony and the five men central to the running of Dundee Juniors - Gwyn Rees, Stuart Hutt, Alan Kyles, Duncan Scott and Ron McHoul - have now thrown their weight behind the new organisation, which might also have been named Dundee Phoenix, such is its potential to be an improved version of what has gone before. Having just missed out on promotion to division one this season, while their involvement in today's cup final is another promotional opportunity, it is ideal that Dundee HSFP have taken the lead. However, strong financial backing from the local businessman, Dougie Bett, another who played for Dundee Juniors in his youth, has ensured that this is no mere FP side. From the other side of the rugby tracks, Stobswell, formed by ex-pupils of one of Dundee's now defunct junior secondaries, were also asked to become involved. Suspicion of that invitation was understandable in a city with a legitimate claim on being the least pretentious in the English-speaking world, where the High School is the only major, fee-paying school. Let's face it, when reduced to initials, even Dundee High School itself could be mistaken for a branch of the buroo. Low on playing numbers, Stobbie have chosen to embrace the concept and an opportunity has presented itself. Where the Dundee Eagles differs from Dundee Juniors is in the added value of the host club operating close to the top of the domestic game. Some of the city's top rugby people have agreed to become involved, not least Sandy Hutchison, the former DHS schoolmaster, who was an exceptional backs coach working with David Leslie in the division one days. Consequently, Gwyn Rees, previously regarded as the heartbeat of Dundee Juniors, believes a policy of equal rugby opportunities is achievable. ''What is crucial about the Eagles is that it follows the principle that it is an open club,'' he said. ''A lot will depend on how forceful the Stobbie people are to make sure that happens and I would also like Dundee Juniors to survive with Morgan, but the most important thing is for the concept to survive.'' Who knows, while it would be complicated given that they use the school's grounds, the Eagles moniker may catch on and could become established at senior level too. Glasgow Hawks - in name at least - have shown the way in leading Scottish rugby out of the FP era and towards a policy of community rugby. Tomorrow, then, could offer new hope for the future of Dundee rugby in every sense. what they said . . . Andy Nicol ex-Dundee HSFP, coached by Sandy Hutchison: ''This is important. It has come at an opportune time. We are looking at taking rugby forward in Dundee and I hope that other places follow this lead. There are a lot of kids playing rugby in the city and then we lose them, so this is a way of keeping them in the game.

David Leslie former Scotland captain, who had previously tried to organise an open club in the city: ''The principle is a good idea. It is another way of attracting youngsters to the game and that is encouraging. Sandy Hutchison is taking this forward and creating another avenues for people to get involved in the game and that can only be good.

Jon Petrie current Scotland international, former Dundee High School pupil and HSFP player: ''There has been a lot of rugby talent coming out of Dundee over the years, yet I am sure there is a lot more untapped talent up there. It's been difficult to keep people interested in the past, but this will provide a channel for players to stay involved after school, at an age when it is hard to keep young people's interests up.''

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