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U20 Rugby Talent Harris McLeod: Some Of The Best Times Of My Life Were At Strathallan

Published by Strathallan School on Tuesday 28th of March 2023

Harris is back in the second-row for Friday evening’s Scotstoun clash with Ireland.


“Some of the best times of my life were at Strathallan,” says up-and-coming rugby talent Harris McLeod


The Strathallan School wider community was glued to BBC iPlayer on February 3 to watch three former pupils turning out for Scotland in the under-20 Six Nations rugby opener versus England.


The Scots gave their hosts at the Twickenham Stoop a very good game before losing out 41-36 and tighthead prop Callum Norrie, second-row Harris McLeod and No.8 Jonny Morris showed up well, the latter two doing so before injuries forced them off.


Looking back on the game, 19-year-old Harris, who left Strathallan in 2021, said: “Last year I was involved in the wider Scotland under-20 squad and didn’t quite manage to get a game, but this year coming into things I was feeling a bit more confident and to get picked to start against England was pleasing.


“In the couple of weeks before it I had really got my head down and worked hard because playing away against England in the Six Nations is one of the biggest games we have at this level.


“In the first few minutes we gave away some soft points, but then I managed to get a try and we started to come back into things.


“After about 20 minutes I went into a ruck and my leg just kind of twisted and caused my hip some pain. I tried to play on, but I had to come off.


“It was obviously disappointing, but these things happen in rugby and hopefully I can get back to playing towards the end of the tournament.


“In the end we didn’t get a win down there, but the way we played gave everyone a lot of confidence and it was good to be in the stand at Scotstoun in Glasgow for the Wales game [on February 10] and see the guys win [18-17].


“It was a pretty special feeling and shows a glimpse what we are capable of going forward.


“The group of boys in the under-20s squad this year are great, everyone gets on and we are all friends which makes camp a good place to be.


“We just want to keep building and getting better as we have a busy time coming up with the World Trophy [in Kenya] this summer, too.”


Harris grew up in Kirkcaldy and began his rugby journey at the local club in the town as a youngster.


“I loved playing for Kirkcaldy with all of my mates and it was there that I got hooked on rugby, so I want to thank all the junior coaches there,” he said.


“When I began senior school I was at Buckhaven High School and then when it merged with Kirkland High School and Community College [from 2016 onwards] to become Levenmouth Academy I was there until my final two years of school.


“Some of the best times of my life were at Strathallan for the two years I was there.


“Obviously the pandemic got in the way quite a bit, but I enjoyed all aspects of school life and rugby-wise Andrew Henderson [former Director of Rugby and now Head of the Rugby Academy at Strathallan] really helped me to focus on a few things and become a better player.


“In my first year at the school [2019/20] I played a run of matches for the first XV and we were going pretty well until the pandemic came.


“Covid was then a big factor in my final year [2020/21] at Strathallan, we managed to get a couple of games at the end of the year, but it was a pity we never got a good run at things as we had a good squad.


“Still, we made the most of it and I made some good friends and memories.”


In 2021/22, having left school, Harris played senior rugby for Kirkcaldy in the National Leagues before joining Stirling Wolves in time for the Super6 Sprint Series starting in April 2022.


That summer he was awarded an Academy contract with Glasgow Warriors, so he moved to the city and before the ongoing Six Nations was training day in and day out with the full squad and tapping into the knowledge of the likes of Richie Gray and Scott Cummings.


“Being in the Academy has been really good for me,” Harris explains.


“You can’t help but learn from Scotland caps like Richie and Scott and they are really good at helping the younger players out while head coach Franco Smith is also really good with the Academy boys and wants us to train as much as possible with the pros.


“For now, my focus is the under-20s, but whenever I’m back in the Warriors environment I enjoy it.”


The under-20s followed up the aforementioned England and Wales games with a 54-12 loss away to France in Agen in front of 10, 411 supporters on February 24.


Harris missed out on that one with his injury rehab still ongoing at the time, but he is back in the second-row for Friday evening’s Scotstoun clash with Ireland (7.15pm, live on BBC iPlayer).


Of the other former pupils, well, sadly Callum’s tournament looks set to be over with a shoulder injury sustained versus Wales, but Jonny started against France after missing the second game and he starts again versus Ireland.


The last game of the tournament for Scotland is at Scotstoun against Italy on March 19.

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