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Welsh Clubs XV to take on Scotland

5th February 2008

The first of the four Welsh teams who will face Scotland over the weekend will include two electricians, a bricklayer, a welder, a shop manager and a benefits clerk. And that's just the forwards.

The Welsh Clubs XV kick-off the international action at Caerphilly's Virginia Park on Friday afternoon (2.30pm) when they play their second home game since forming two years ago.

The Under 25 side, chosen from National League Division 1 downwards, will meet the Scots for the first time at this level and will be hoping to make home advantage tell once again having beaten the French Amateur XV in Caerphilly last season.

The starting line-up includes eight Scarlets Clubs XV players who lifted the Regional title from the Dragons, twice title holders. And with ten uncapped players in the starting line-up, the side has a young feel to it.

Head coach Gerry Roberts said, "There is a good mix in the squad and we are looking forward to playing Scotland. We feel better prepared than last year as we've had more preparation time. Having said that, I'm sure Scotland will be a tough challenge with the players coming from traditional rugby clubs like Kelso, Boroughmuir and Curry.

"The Regional Clubs XV Championship was strong this year, with players now eager to put their hands up for regional and international selection."

Some of last year's squad like skipper Anthony Lott, are now playing regular Premiership rugby - Lott is first choice prop at Ebbw Vale. Others made the step-up only to return to Division One rugby after deciding it wasn't for them, such as Bargoed's Darren Humphries and Ross Jones who spent time at Neath and Ebbw Vale respectively.

"Most of these players could step up to Premiership rugby - if they have the inclination and desire to put in the hard work," added Roberts. "Mostly, it gives club players something to aim for. It gives them a taste of what it takes to be a professional sportsman which is something the boys take back to their clubs."

Builth Wells and Blues Clubs XV centre Matthew Lewis captains the side, but a year ago, Lewis had something else on his mind.

"I was selected for the training squad, but unfortunately, there was a bit of a diary clash. I had recently got married and my wife Gemma and I had booked our honeymoon in Cuba which clashed with some important training sessions and I don't think I'd still be married a year on if I had chosen the rugby boots over the Bermuda shorts!

"However, I was selected again this year and to captain this Wales side against Scotland on Friday will certainly be the pinnacle of my rugby career.

"Hopefully we'll get support from all our local clubs - I know quite a few people from Builth Wells and Brecon will be travelling down to support us.

"This set-up provides extra opportunities for players who may have missed out on age grade honours - or simply development later in life.

"The training is quite intense and we're able to take something positive back to our clubs."

Other games over the weekend are the RBS Six Nations clash at the Millennium Stadium, (Saturday 2.30pm) Wales Women v Scottish Women at Taffs Well (Sunday 1.00pm) and Wales Under 20 v Scotland Under 20 at Rodney Parade (Friday 7.10pm)

Wales Clubs XV v Scotland, Friday February 8, 2.30pm, Caerphilly RFC

Wales Clubs XV: Thom Botwood (Blues /Llantrisant); Thomas Bonnell (Scarlets /Narberth), Steve Martin (Scarlets / Narberth), Matthew Lewis (capt, Blues / Builth Wells), Andrew Mead (Ospreys / Llangennech); Emyr Williams (Scarlets / Whitland), Andrew Davies (Scarlets / Narberth); Alun Davies (Scarlets / Whitland), Gareth Jones (Scarlets / Pembroke), James Huntley (Blues / Rhiwbina), Chris James (Scarlets / Narberth), Lee Williams (Dragons / Newport Saracens), Lee Edwards (vice-capt, Dragons / Newport Saracens), Andrew Packer (Dragons / Newport Saracens), Colin Davies (Scarlets / Cardigan)

Replacements: Andrew Pettit (Dragons /Caerphilly), Anthony Payne (Dragons / Caerphilly), Kyle Coulter (Ospreys / Bridgend Athletic), Shaun Miles (Scarlets / Ammanford), Glenn Holloway (Blues / Llantrisant), Michael Thomas (Blues / Llantwit Fadre), Gethin Davies (Blues / Brecon)