Following the huge success of the tour 6 years ago Heriot’s Rugby Club was invited back by the Serbian Rugby Union to play in the Belgrade Winners 7s sevens tournament to celebrate 100 years of Serbian Rugby. The game having been founded in Edinburgh during WW1 when a team of Serbian boys educated at George Heriot’s School played a British Dominion side at Inverleith on 11 April 1918 winning 8 v 3.
Following the war the Serbian boys took the game back home, developing the game and developing the clubs.
During the ceremony marking the centenary the tour party met with some of the descendants of the Serbian boys who spoke passionately about George Heriots’s School and Edinburgh and what a difference it made to their lives. They enjoyed hearing from the boys on present school life and the sport played at Heriot’s and they were treated to a rendition of the school song and the presentation of gifts.
The U18’s sevens squad was made up from 6th year boys who had been part of a very successfully George Heriots School 1st XV and captained by Ross Simpson whose grandfather Jimmy and father Grant had been stalwarts at Heriots for many years.
The U18’s won their won their tournament comfortably beating teams from Greece and Serbia, however, it was the opportunity to experience rugby on an international stage and to coach under 12 players that had the biggest impact on the boys.
While Heriot’s senior team was hit with early injuries to Rory Carmichael, Michael Liness and John Semple there were excellent performances across the board with the team finishing second to a spirited and highly determined Romanian outfit who went through the tournament unbeaten. The tournament was well organised, the tour party were treated royally and the Serbians could not have done more to make this a fantastic week end.
With Jason Hill appearing on prime time Serbian TV, Michael Liness presenting the awards, the Under 18s acting as fantastic ambassadors at the centenary celebrations and all the players helping out with coaching sessions, Heriot’s left a lasting impression on a Serbian rugby community which is vastly underfunded and requires significant levels of funding in order to compete on the international stage.