Return to Rugby – Club fixture list here

Club rugby is planned to return on Saturday 4th September. The 1st XV are due to entertain Whitecraigs RFC in National League 1. The club led the league when matches ceased in March 2020. It’s start again from scratch in September. Look out for news of the Clubhouse re-opening and any applicable regulations remaining.

Rugby – Four FPs selected for Scotland’s Summer Test Squad

Their selection for Scotland’s 37 man squad (absent British Lions) prior to full cap matches v Romania and Georgia and another match with the England A squad signals to former Stew Mel pupils second row Jamie Hodgson, full-back/winger Jack Blain and stand-off Ross Thompson that their pro careers are heading in the right direction. Our fourth Stew Mel representative hooker George Turner with 17 full caps already and a having played a starring role in a Twickenham win is in a slightly different place being one of the more experienced selections. Congratulations to all four – the club members will be taking a keen interest in their participation.

More on the tour on the Scottish Rugby website

https://www.scottishrugby.org/news/scotland-name-37-players-for-summer-fixtures

Head injury assessment helmets – Interview with FP rugby club’s Euan Bowen

Suzi Squires – school development office

Today we are speaking to Euan Bowen who plays for the FP Rugby Club despite not being an SMC FP!

He’s been working on some new technology that will assist with assessing head impacts in sporting environments and took time to speak to us to tell us more:

  • How long have you been playing for the Stew Mel Rugby Club? How did you get involved with the club ?

I’m originally Haddington based and moved up to Aberdeen for University, I changed degrees and ended up moving back to Edinburgh to study Product Design. At the time a few of my former team-mates from Haddington RFC and Aberdeen were either starting and/or were playing for Stewarts Melville FP RFC. So, I moved to and have been playing for Stew Mel since the 2013/14 season, 7 years.

  • We’ve heard about your device in development from your dad who works in the ESMS Product Design department at the Mary Erskine School.  We understand your aim is to track head impacts during sporting activities.  What was your motivation to address the issue of head injuries on the rugby pitch and in sporting arenas?

In my final year of University, I had the opportunity to create my own brief.  Through my own rugby playing, I recognised there was an issue with identifying head injuries that can be missed by observation alone. One of my team-mates at the time was suffering from concussion issues resulting from multiple concussions in a short period of time, where they had to make the hard decision of deciding between their rugby vs. their life career. I wanted understand if, by identifying these smaller impacts and the frequency in being able to catch the risk early enough to check and remove players early, would we be able to protect and minimise the injury rate in players from grassroots up to the pros before the hard decisions had to be considered. This was the moment HIT was born with a goal to protect the game and the players from traumatic brain injuries, starting in rugby and blooming out into multiple sports and activities for all ages.

  • How did you go about developing the device?  How did you test it?

We started by creating a proof of concept and researching concussion levels and trends, so that we were fully informed of what was being done, what wasn’t, and what research had been conducted into the concussion issue that was happening in sports across the globe. We, a couple of members of the FP’s team, tested the observation method by attending a Stewarts Melville Lions vs. Stirling County game as a member of the coaching team under guidance from Bruce Ruthven. The aim was to look for players throughout the game that we felt had received a large impact to their head or body. Our testing method was to mark on a player graph with their playing number and wrap a small piece of tape around their wrist for every time we felt one of these impacts occurred. We noticed straight away that getting access to the pitch constantly to wrap tape on the player was difficult by way of having to stop the game and players reacting differently, doubting our observation skills, so we abandoned this method straight away. We continued to note impacts on our player list and created feedback forms for parents to fill in and give back to Mr Ruthven at school.

We identified a tech solution to monitor, notify and log impacts throughout use as a solution. For world rugby standards we utilised the rugby headguard as a host of the device and went about testing the device functionality when we graduated by moving into the Heriot-Watt university incubator. We tested the accuracy, durability and functionality of the device within the Heriot Watt Engineering department and the Oriam Facilities. This allowed us to see how wearable, unobtrusive and functional the device was in test and pitch conditions.

  • Are there industry bodies that will approve its safe use?

For use on any hard-shell helmet, we have adhered and sought certification with a CE (European standard) mark for electronics and wireless safety as well as an FCC mark for north America through TÜV SÜD.

We have sought world rugby approval for which we can say you can happily use the device in training and elsewhere however we are looking to run trials post Covid restrictions for approval to use in a competitive game refereed under World Rugby Laws. The headguard adheres to Law 4 Reg 12 around wearable clothing.

  • What exactly is it – a helmet to replace existing protection or something to go under existing protection? How easy is it to integrate into existing sports kit?

HIT Impact is a device that monitors impact force. We have developed a universal cap that attaches the device to any existing hard shell helmet you may own or buy for cycling, skating, horse riding, skiing or other.

For use in sports or activities where a helmet is not worn, we developed our own HIT headguard and Halo Headband hosts that can hold the device into an integrated pocket design. This allows the device to be worn flush against the head so that the impact force the device registers, is that which is being sustained by the head.

  • How do you plan to take this to the next stage of development?  Do you have plans to use the data from the devices for further research i.e. determining sources of injuries and making changes to this?

We are currently crowdfunding and taking pre-order offers of the device via Kickstarter with plans to launch at a later date on Amazon. The data collected is collected anonymously, based on the sport, position and age. No personal info pertaining to the user beyond this can be transferred or held by HIT Ltd. This data has plans already in motion to be monitored and understood by researchers at Heriot Watt & Edinburgh University which we hope will help us understand more about hard impact trends in game scenarios/position frequency. Impact force relating to suspected concussions and more. The more people that use HIT the more data that can be used to make more informed decisions about law changes in sports, Head injury plans and accuracy. The research and findings will be invaluable in both protecting the games we love but also the users that wear and get notified by HIT early.

  • How do you plan to encourage youngsters to wear the device?

From a youngster’s perspective they just want to play. HIT allows them and their parents to play with the confidence that their long term and short-term health can be monitored with use of HIT Impact. We are finding that the numbers of youngsters playing contact sports are dropping year on year for ‘less risky’ sports or activities and for this reason we want to encourage parents that these unseen injuries and the risk is lessened by monitoring via the HIT Impact device. We hope that with the impact monitoring device, playing numbers will increase and kids can be kids. Knowing they can play, get bumps and bruises but the severe risk of brain injury is minimised by the monitoring of early sub concussive impacts allowing them to be diagnosed and removed early should they occur.

  • What difference do you think this will make to young people in the game?

We think that the next generation of youngsters in their respective activities will be more educated to the risk proposed by Traumatic brain injury and what to look out for. The understanding and knowledge around what a concussion is, and what it means will be far greater and the young people in the game will push that change as they grow, whether through use of HIT and or the research that comes from the data we collect.

  • Have you encountered any setbacks along the way?

Of course, its very rarely just plain sailing for start-up businesses and introduction of new ideas, we are constantly looking to develop and optimise our product range and optimise the products we have in development, which ultimately sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, but we are constantly challenging ourselves at HIT to push the boundaries of innovation. Covid along with many other businesses were forced to adapt. We are happy to say that we are in a stronger place because of it, by pivoting and bringing future market ideas forward, we developed the device to be universal and attachable to any hard shell helmet, making it more inclusive of all activities and sports. Not just a team solution for rugby, hockey or football, HIT can be used individually and for any age with the exact same device. Because concussion is not a sport problem it’s an everyday issue that has no boundaries happening to anyone.

  • How can the school community assist with the next steps?

To drive change you need voices and support. We’ve launched on Kickstarter to raise funds for consumer stock and funding trials with Heart of Midlothian Football club and World Rugby. We want to gather support, opinions on the device and our goal for collecting data in grassroots sport where no trials or research is being dedicated. The best way to support is by backing us and/or pre-ordering a HIT Impact device allowing you to review and let us know what you think. Comment on our social media or Kickstarter campaign with your thoughts and have a say in how we tackle the concussion issue across the board.

Thanks very much for speaking with us . I wish you every success.

Club’s Beginnings – Early Playing Field at Ravelston

In 1886 former pupils of Stewart’s College induced the Merchant Company to lease for recreational purposes ground at Ravelston known as Honeyman’s field from the governors of Trinity Hospital at what is now the junction between Queensferry Terrace and Ravelston Dykes. In 1894 the Merchant Company acquired grounds at the present Inverleith before integrating Scottish Rugby’s next door “Union Field” in 1926.

Much more on this subject will appear in the club’s coming FP News.

Intimation – Paul Caton, MBE

We are sad to announce the death of Paul Caton on Friday, 22 January 2021. 

Paul arrived as a Teacher of Mathematics at Melville College in 1964 and was soon appointed Head of Department. Following the merger with Daniel Stewart’s College, Paul was invited to become Head of Middle School of Stewart’s Melville College.

In addition to his responsibilities for the welfare of the younger boys who only a few months before had been members of rival schools Paul played a very significant role in the wider development of the ‘new’ school. He was given the task of timetabling all the senior school classes and allocating teachers to duties, always a challenge but much more so at a time when decisiveness, clarity of thought and empathy were essential as two staffs began to work together in an environment which was unfamiliar and in which the wheel really did have to be reinvented. Cherished traditions were altered and new ones introduced. Everything had to be fair, and everything had to be seen to be fair if two proud schools were to become one even prouder school. Paul was fair and Paul was seen to be fair and that made all the difference. He was totally committed to his responsibilities and the most loyal of colleagues, respected equally by those with whom he had worked at Melville College and by those with whom he was working for the first time.

At the time of the merger Paul had epitomised all that was good about Melville College but, as soon as the schools merged, he became Mr Stewart’s Melville, admired and personally liked by colleagues, boys and parents. Nothing was ever too much trouble for Paul and no one could have worked harder than him to ensure that within a few years the new school proved itself to be worthy of the name Stewart’s Melville College, loved by its pupils and teachers and respected throughout the city of Edinburgh as a beacon of excellence.

It was no more than Paul deserved when he was appointed Deputy Principal in 1987 of the family of schools which by then included The Mary Erskine School. Unsurprisingly Paul had by then played a very significant role in bringing to fruition the plans to amalgamate Stewart’s Melville with the Mary Erskine School, a move which was the inevitable and necessary precursor to today’s ESMS.    

In addition to his school leadership role, Paul was an accomplished rugby coach who enjoyed great success with the SMC 1st XV for almost 10 years and who also somehow found the time to coach the SMC Former Pupils 1st XV for a number of years.

It is, however, probably his deep and lasting commitment to the CCF which will forever be Paul’s legacy and which is how many will remember him.   Paul was an absolute stalwart of the CCF, leading the contingent for many years.  It was under his leadership that girls were first invited to join, and the influence he had on thousands of cadets since is remarkable.  In the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2002, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Anthony Caton was awarded the MBE for services to cadets.

Paul retired from both the CCF and from Stewart’s Melville College in 1996 although typically he continued to support the FP Rugby Club and to attend and help at school residential camps – Paul loved outdoor education, he loved weekends away with groups of pupils and he loved helping at school camps. He was equally at home with both senior pupils and much younger girls and boys in Primary 6 whose annual camp he supported for many years after he retired.

Paul leaves behind his devoted wife, Sue.  An obituary for Paul is available here.

As a result of the current restrictions, only a very small number will be able to attend Paul’s funeral at 1.00pm on Tuesday, 2 February.  However, those who wish to join the online service which will take place at 1pm can do so by contacting Suzi Squires on development@esms.org.uk who will send you a link on Monday 1 February via email. 

The cortege will travel along Ferry Road, passing Stewart’s Melville Sports Grounds at Inverleith at about 12.45pm en route to Warriston Crematorium.  If you live locally and would like to pay your respects, please do feel free to stand along the route.

At his widow’s request any friends and colleagues who wish to make a contribution in Paul’s memory are welcome to donate to the Eric Liddell Centre here instead of flowers.  Sue Caton is a Patron of the Centre and a niece of Eric Liddell.

Among the tributes to Paul received by the school since we learned of his death is this one from Willie Coupar who was a close friend of Paul from his earliest days at Melville College.

“Paul Caton and I joined the staff at Melville College in 1964, he to teach Maths, me English. We soon became good friends, our main area of joint interest being the CCF, commanded as it then was by Major (Chunky) Bain. Although I was a passionate TA officer and Paul hugely enthusiastic at whatever he turned his hand to, we always had to remember that we were under the command of a chap who had served at Arnhem! I know not what he thought of our tactical antics but he was very patient with us both.

I left Melville College in 1966 to join the Regular Army, but Paul carried on to carve out a splendid career at Melville and then Stewart’s Melville College, where my two sons subsequently boarded.

A fine man and an excellent team player, Paul was one of these all too rare people whose contributions to his pupils, his school and his colleagues are probably close to irreplaceable in the current age.

Thank you for permitting me to say these few words.” – Willie Coupar

Rugby Club – Letter from Finlay Calder

Dear Members and Friends of Stewart’s Melville Rugby Football Club

We are now back in training at Inverleith and numbers are strong with anticipated warm up games against our nearest neighbours Heriots and the Accies set for October.

But whilst Covid remains a threat, Leagues have been scrubbed till September 2021 so we make do within a small local competition with Berwick, Lasswade, Preston Lodge, Peebles and Kirkcaldy. Ten matches in total and if we win, we qualify for the Cup. It’s the best of a bad project but we run with it.

Pre-match lunches may happen but on a limited basis so fund raising opportunities will be very limited.

In light of a much-reduced season we will not be buying kit for the players this year which eases our overheads of course however the Club still needs funds to cover so many other essentials including coaches, physios, medical support, administration costs, Covid protection, Ground rent etc etc and so I write to ask if you would consider sponsoring a player for £200 to keep us going?

I fully appreciate that money is tight but if you can see your way to steer funds our way it would be most welcome. Here’s a deal! If you sponsor a player this year and we don’t play, I won’t put the begging bowl out for next. Can’t be fairer than that!

Further information and payment details are attached.

Thank you in advance.

Finlay

Membership & Sponsor Information

Dougie Morgan

It was with great sadness that the club learned of the death of Dougie Morgan yesterday, Saturday 4th April after a lengthy period of ill health. Elder brother of Alastair and Colin he attended Melville College from 1952 to 1965 being school captain in his last year. On leaving school he continued to play his club rugby at Ferryfield for Melville FPs remaining loyal to the club when others eyed his talents. It was with Melville FP that he won his first cap for the Scotland rugby team in season 1972-73, the last season before the merger with Stewart’s. He went on to win 21 caps for Scotland captaining the side in 1977-78 having won selection for the 1977 British Lions tour of New Zealand playing in two of the four test matches. He was the driving force behind the rugby club’s ascendancy from its initial placing in Division Two of the Scottish Rugby leagues to competing with the leading clubs in the top division. He was a tremendously competitive and inventive scrum half always leading by example, an inspiring captain in the dressing room and an amazing goal kicker frequently winning games or running the opposition close with long range penalty kicks. The Stew Mel sevens team of the day regularly reached the latter stages of Border tournaments culminating in winning the Twickenham Sevens in 1982. After he finished playing he began a distinguished coaching career first with the club, then Edinburgh and subsequently Scotland from 1992 to 1995 and latterly team manager in 2002-03. He was an accomplished cricketer also being 12th man for Scotland in a match v MCC at Lord’s in 1968 (taking a catch when on the field) and in August 1972 he scored 154 not out against Brunswick, an East League record at the time. He was a member of the Royal Burgess Golfing Society and participated in the FP Golf Club’s competitions with the same competitiveness he showed on the rugby field. Throughout his rugby career he practised as a chiropodist from Jenners store in Princes Street. Our sympathies are extended to his wife Doreen, a regular attender at Ferryfield and Inverleith over the years and his family.

Big win for 1st XV before lockdown

Saturday 14th March

Stewart’s Melville RFC 45 Newton Stewart 8

In the last game before the SRU prescribed Coronavirus shutdown the 1st XV consolidated their top of table position with a convincing win over visitors Newton Stewart by 45 points to 8. A pretty turgid first-half performance saw Stew Mel lead by only 7-3 at the break playing with the wind behind them after an early try by Willie Malcolm converted by stand-off Euan Bowen.

Willie Malcolm goes through for the 1st try

The second half saw Stew Mel turn up the heat with a succession of tries interrupted only late on by a Newton Stewart try while down to 14 men. No 8 Scott Alldritt, watched by his “other” brother Tom over from France led the way with two tries. With the win secured Stew Mel top the table with 15 league wins to 3 defeats and a total of 71 points ahead of Dumfries 64 points from 18 games and Peebles 64 points from 17 games. Who knows if and when the final four matches will be played.

Scott Alldritt (with scrum cap) gets his 1st try

1st win at Dumfries to head league table again

Saturday 29th February

Dumfries 10 Stewart’s Melville RFC 19

Well done to the Rugby Club’s 1st XV who returned a vital win from their trip to play Dumfries in now familiar monsoon conditions. After going behind to an unconverted try Stew Mel replied with two converted tries through prop Chris Baikie and James Ferguson converted by Euan Morrison to lead 14-5 before Dumfries came back with another of their own, 14-10 before a third Stew Mel try by Darren Miller secured the win, 19-5.

The win has us back on top of the table although there is virtually nothing between the top four. We have 61 points from 16 games, Dumfries 60 from 17; Peebles 59 from 16 and GHK 56 from 15. With up to 5 points available in any game and 22 to be played there is quite a bit of nail biting to be done before matters are resolved. We are however well placed in that our remaining matches are against lower placed sides and the next two weeks are at home – 7th March v Whitecraigs and 14th March v Newton Stewart, both at 3pm.

1st XV due to take on leaders Dumfries

Friday 27th February

Action from our home win over Dumfries on 25th January

Weather permitting the Stew Mel 1st XV take on Dumfries tomorrow at Park Farm in a match vital to both teams promotion prospects. With a 31-19 win at Whitecraigs last week while our fixture with Falkirk was a victim of the weather Dumfries took over at the top of the league with 60 points from 16 games against Stew Mel’s 57 points from 15 games. GHK with 56 points and Peebles 54 points both from 15 matches follow closely behind. There are seven games to go for Stew Mel and six for Dumfries.

On Saturday week, 7th March, we are home to Whitecraigs at Inverleith (3pm) while GHK and Dumfries go head to head against each other at Old Anniesland.