A PROMISING rugby player is hoping to follow in his great-grandfather’s footsteps and represent Scotland.

Harry Wanless has been selected for the Scottish Qualified programme, which is designed to support and develop eligible players living outside of Scotland.

The teenager, who is a 1st XV player at Dame Allan’s Schools in Newcastle, has been playing rugby union since the age of seven.

He has already competed at school, club and county level before being selected for the Scottish Qualified (SQ) pathway.

More than 90 years ago, Harry’s Scottish-born maternal great-grandfather, William Swan, played in the first XV at Dunbar RFC and gained two caps for Scotland during his rugby career.

“He always was, and still is, a huge inspiration to me,” said 16-year-old Harry.

“He gained his caps for Scotland playing as hooker and when I was selected onto the U16s squad for an SQ fixture I also played hooker!”

East Lothian Courier: Harry Wanless's great grandfather William Swan (middle row, second from left) represented both Dunbar and ScotlandHarry Wanless's great grandfather William Swan (middle row, second from left) represented both Dunbar and Scotland

Both Harry’s paternal and maternal grandmothers were born in Scotland, making him eligible to play for the country.

SQ first stage training sessions are held across the country, with upcoming North East division training events taking place at Dame Allan’s Schools’ grounds next month and February.

Harry added: “Playing for SQ is a great experience – it puts my skills and my confidence to the test.

“Like my great-grandfather, I’d love to achieve a cap for Scotland.

“I know the competition to play international rugby is incredibly high, so I intend to keep working hard at both the game and my studies.”

Harry’s grandfather Peter Swan, who is in his late 70s and living in Stakeford, Northumberland, said: “I am extremely proud that my grandson has been able to start to follow in my father’s footsteps in rugby. It is a great privilege to see Harry grasping the opportunities he has been given.”

Harry joined Morpeth Rugby Club almost 10 years ago and began playing rugby at Dame Allan’s Junior School in Year 4.

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In 2021, he was selected for the county’s Developing Player Programme (DPP) – a programme overseen by Newcastle Falcons Academy to provide enhanced opportunities for the best young players across the region.

He has also represented Northumberland in U15 and U16 county fixtures and recently joined Tynedale Rugby Club.

The teenager juggles his rugby with his school studies.

Harry, who is also working towards the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award and a super-curricular Sports Leadership Level 3 qualification at Dame Allan’s, hopes to study pharmaceutical medicine.

His mother Katrina said: “We are thrilled with the way Harry has relished every opportunity given to him within school and beyond.

“It is through his own hard work and determination to make himself and his family proud that he has achieved the targets he has set for himself.”