TWO rising stars of the youth rugby scene in Helensburgh have been hailed for their efforts – after catching the eye on the same patch of turf trod by Scotland’s Six Nations stars.

Joy Fletcher and Lucy MacRae have been playing rugby since both were in their early days as pupils at Hermitage Primary.

And while the pair have since moved on from the green fields of Ardencaple, they’re still very much part of the Helensburgh rugby family – and they returned home recently to show off the results of their efforts after both enjoyed a triumphant day at Murrayfield.

Joy and Lucy both now play for Stirling County – and both won trophies at the national youth cup finals day on the main Murrayfield Stadium pitch at the end of March, Joy at under-16 level and Lucy at under-18.

And a memorable season for Lucy was capped when she was named in the 26-strong Scotland women’s squad for the under-18 Six Nations Festival, with matches against Wales and Italy on Saturday and Italy again on Wednesday as the Advertiser went to press.

The duo also brought the two trophies won by the Stirling squads at Murrayfield recently back to Ardencaple for Helensburgh’s annual youth rugby prizegiving – in the hope they might inspire the Greens’ own youth squads to greater things in future.

A spokesperson for Helensburgh RFC said: “Both girls really enjoyed their time playing mini rugby at Helensburgh coached by Paul Reaney.

“But when the girls left Hermitage Primary they had to find alternative clubs as mixed rugby is not allowed at secondary school age grades.

“Lucy went to Hillhead-Jordanhill under-15, following in the steps of current Helensburgh’s Scotland cap, Anne Young, while Joy decided to go to Stirling County as they had an under-12 team.

“Both girls continued to thrive in their respective environments.

“As lockdown occurred, playing numbers at Hillhead depleted, so Lucy too decided to join Stirling under-18s.”

The girls have travelled all over Scotland, from Dumfries to Thurso, to name a few places, to play through the course of this season – and there were plenty of family members and friends from Helensburgh cheering them on among the 3,000-strong crowd at Murrayfield for the national youth finals.

Joy and her Stirling U16 team-mates recovered from the loss of two tries against their East Lothian opponents early in the second half to turn a 17-10 deficit into a 32-17 win with plenty of resilience, teamwork and great, structured rugby.

Lucy’s final wasn’t so close, as a strong County team U18 set the pace against Edinburgh Harlequins with a try after only 48 seconds.

Stirling went on on to win 69-5, with Lucy nailing several conversions from out wide.

For more from the Helensburgh club’s youth awards night, turn to pages 22 and 23.