Rugby starlet to represent Scotland

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Shetland-born rugby player Erlend Oag will be playing for the Scotland Club International side against Ireland tonight. Photo courtesy of the Press & Journal

Shetland-born rugby player Erlend Oag will be playing for the Scotland Club International side against Ireland tonight. Photo courtesy of the Press & Journal

A Shetland-born rugby player has been chosen to represent the Scotland Club International team in tonight’s annual match against Ireland in Cork.

Winger Erlend Oag, who plays for Aberdeen Grammar, is the son of Hamish, originally from Orkney, and Fiona (née Vine), from Scalloway.

Oag was born in Shetland in 1989 and went to Sound Primary School for a couple of years until the family left Shetland in 1995. His aunt Margaret still lives in Trondra.

He began his rugby career with Perthshire RFC before heading to Aberdeen University where he is in the final year of his studies in medicine.

He has turned out for the past three years in the RBS Premiership, the highest standard of rugby in the country outside the professional ranks, where he has become known as a free-scoring winger and the possessor of scorching pace.

Although Grammar are lying in last position in the division, winning just three of their 15 matches, most of the defeats have been by no more than a handful of points. The team have twice beaten Hawick, once the greatest team in the country, and have also won against Stirling County.

In the RBS Cup knockout competition, meanwhile, Grammar are through to the last eight, having won the Caledonian Cup qualifying tournament.

Oag scored two tries in December as his side defeated Dundee High in the Caledonia Cup, where he was described in the Press & Journal report as “Grammar’s most lethal attacker”.

He followed that up with a hat trick against Aberdeenshire last month, after which the coach of the defeated side said: “The difference was Grammar’s Erlend Oag who had a fine game on the wing scoring three sparkling tries.”

Speaking to The Shetland Times this week he said he was proud to be representing Scotland and very much looking forward to the inter­national match against the Irish.

It is a tough challenge as although Scotland won last year’s encounter at home, their first victory in four years, they have never tasted victory in Ireland.

Oag hopes to qualify as a doctor in autumn this year, and as it is his fifth and final year he is combining his studies with working on the ward at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Obviously his academic career takes priority but he would not rule out joining the professional ranks of rugby in the future if the chance arose.

He said: “A lot of the guys in the Scottish Club team are on de­velopment courses with either Glasgow or Edinburgh.

“Rugby has always been a big thing with me. I started off playing for Perthshire when I was eight or nine and returned to play for them during the first two years I was at uni. I travelled back [from Aber­deen] to play for Perthshire.

“The last three years I have played for Aberdeen Grammar in the top amateur league, playing against teams such as Ayr and Melrose.

“I would never say no to a chance of playing professional but I’m looking to get my degree first. It’s a long time to spend at uni.”

The Club International match kicks off at 7.30pm tonight at the Cork Constitution ground and Oag is one of 10 players making their debuts in the Scottish side.

About Jim Tait

Jim Tait is news editor at The Shetland Times.

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