Hawks ask for Niven's release
April 21, 2000

Glasgow Hawks coach Bill MacDonald has pleaded with the Scottish Rugby Union to release young flanker Robert Niven for the BT Cellnet Cup clash with Boroughmuir.

The promising Scotland Under-19s star is currently playing in the FIRA World Junior Championships in France.

MacDonald named him in his side for the Murrayfield final on Saturday but he faces an anxious wait to see if he will be able to take part.

The Glasgow club are hopeful as Niven has not been in the first team and have even offered to pay the fare to fly him home early from Lyons.

MacDonald said, "Having encouraged him to play for Scotland, get his cap, and do as well as he can, he will now hopefully return, because we need him for this game.

"We hope the Under-19 management are co operative. They didn't play him in the first two games and have only brought him in for the third game.

"So while we want them to have their best side available, obviously, for the boy's sake, he wants to play for his club in the cup final.

"We have been co-operative with the SRU and so far the indications have been good from them.

"Playing for Scotland is always special but he has had the opportunity now, so hopefully the say okay, you've been part of the squad, now go home and play for your club. It's important to play in the cup final.

"If he had played in all three matches over there I would be concerned about playing him again so quickly, but hopefully having missed the first two matches, a day and a half will be sufficient for him to recover."

Should Niven be held back in France, MacDonald must decide whether 18-year old Greg Francis or 21-year-old Paul Reid will replace him.

Boroughmuir coach Iain Paxton insists that even if his side lose at Murrayfield they will be able to hold their heads up high.

The Edinburgh side have won promotion to the Second Division this season and also won the Royal Bank of Scotland League and are looking for the treble.

But Paxton said, "Even if we don't win on Saturday we've got to look at it as a successful season because we have achieved the main objective we set out to do."

East Kilbride coach Steve Blair admits playing at Murrayfield will be a new experience for most of his side but he feels they can rise to the occasion.

They face Glasgow Southern in the BT Cellnet Shield final but Blair has no worries that they can handle the atmosphere.

Blair said, "It's going to be, and lets no kid ourselves, a new experience for 99% of them apart from Craig Redpath and maybe an awesome occasion.

"But I think once they get in the game and get involved I think it's like everything else when you play at that level and that sort of stadium you've got a job to do.

"You get on with a job and you think about everything else after so I would like to think that the guys will really be up for it."

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