Written by Zack Wilson
Photo by Photo courtesy of SRL
Scotland ended their European Championship campaign on Saturday evening against France in Carcassonne.
The Bravehearts lost the game 28-10, meaning that they lost all three of their games in the competition this season.
Although that looks like a bad campaign in terms of results, coaches Chris Chester and John Duffy can take plenty of positives from the way their squad performed.
Shorn of much of the Super League and NRL talent which has featured in squads in the recent past, the coaching team had to dig deep into Scotland’s thin resources just to get a team out on the park.
One positive thing to see was several players from the Scottish domestic game in action throughout the tournament.
Lewis Clarke turned in some sterling displays at hooker, coming on from the interchange bench.
Centre Craig Robertson showed some real ability too, improving with every game he played. It was the Edinburgh Eagles man who took a pass from fellow domestic player Matt Hogg in the game against France.
Robertson then showed speed, footwork and determination to score a fine try in Carcassonne.
The importance of these domestic players is a massive positive.
It shows that there is talent North of the Border if clubs can be bothered to look.
Robertson certainly looked a player who could contribute in the semi-professional ranks, and the other domestic players looked to have potential too.
That is a testament to the way that the work done by the Scotland Students set-up, who have contributed massively to the development of many domestic players.
Being able to hear Scottish accents talking about the game on Scottish media reports is a significant thing, too.
It gives the team more validity in the eyes of the general public, and helps to give the squad the feeling of a proper national side
FINAL SCORE: @FFRXIII 28 Scotland 10. France are European champions, Scotland go into next years @RLWC2021 qualifiers. Proud display by a Scotland squad without a single Supet League player. Some tremendous emerging talent giving their all for the Bravehearts.
— Scotland RugbyLeague (@scotlandrl) 10 November 2018
One surprising omission from the squad was Sam Herron, though.
The Falkirk man played for Red Star Belgrade this year, and caught the eye with his performances.
A fast forward who can go past threequarters with his pace, Herron would have made a solid addition to Chris Chester’s squad.
Whether anyone in the Scotland coaching hierarchy was actually aware of the player is uncertain, but Herron is developing an interesting career, outside of the usual development pathways, and he has at least as much to offer as the three domestic players who played against Wales.
There is a lot of potential for rugby league in Scotland. The number of rugby players is growing, thanks to the resurgence of the union side.
What is really needed is a proper professional pathway for players now, though.
A semi-professional club in Scotland still seems to be many years away from happening, so links with English clubs need to be built.
Or players can do what Herron has done, and go overseas to Europe to find more rugby league.
The French pyramid might also offer some good possibilities for Scots who are prepared to travel.
But the neglect with which the RFL and RLIF have treated Scotland has been shameful.
Far too few opportunities to develop have been handed to Scots, and progress has been choked off at key times.
Whether the new international calendar, released to great fanfare by the RLIF this weekend, offers anything positive to Scottish rugby league remains to be seen.