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The High School Low Down with...Mr Gillies

The High School Low Down with...Mr Gillies

To kick off the High School Low Down we are spotlighting Mr Finlay Gillies, our Head of Rugby.

Mr Gillies was appointed in session 2017/18 as a PE Teacher and he’s played an instrumental role in the development and success of our school rugby teams, from Junior 6 all the way through to the 1st XV. He has recently been appointed as Head of Rugby so we took time out of his busy timetable to ask him a few questions…


Give us the low down: what was your path to the High School?

I was a professional rugby player, playing for Glasgow Warriors, Edinburgh Rugby and the Scotland Sevens team. Unfortunately, I had to retire due to an injury which brought my professional career to a close earlier than planned.

Luckily, I was able to keep my studies going throughout my pro days and when I retired I was given the opportunity to realise another dream: teaching. I completed the 1-year PGDE at Strathclyde University, finished my probation year at St Thomas Aquinas and have been at the High School ever since.

When did you know rugby coaching was your calling?

I’ve always loved playing rugby and the next best thing is coaching. Teaching others the skills to grow, progress and reach their potential is so rewarding.

My coaching career started at Hawks when at age 25 I became the Player Coach, becoming Head Coach after that. In addition to coaching rugby at the High School, I’m Assistant Coach at Heriot’s Rugby Super6 team. Recently I completed my UKCC Level 4 (PGDip & MSc) and I’m looking to start a PhD in the New Year.

Rugby is a sport that is steeped in the same values that The High School of Glasgow prides itself on. It’s more than just a sport at our School, it’s one of the important building blocks to producing successful all-round individuals within our community.

Tell us your biggest highlight at the High School so far?

There’s been so many. This session, the 1st XV winning the Minerva Cup against Kelvinside Academy was a real highlight because the season up to that point had been a challenge. It was an incredibly close match but the boys were able to remain on the front foot and edge to victory displaying resilience and determination. The Cup itself is a special one as many FPs from the High School and Kelvinside go on to play for GHK Rugby Club.

Looking back across a few sessions, our teams have had some brilliant wins including beating Merchiston and Stewart’s Melville. We’ve won the last four Whole School Conferences, and two years ago we won The High School of Glasgow Sevens tournament for the first time in a while!

Describe yourself in 3 words

Impetuous, happy and thankful.

What’s your go-to motivational song for pre-match moments?

Marc Cohn, 'Walking in Memphis' or some Stormzy!

Who inspires you most?

My Mum.

What’s one thing you hope to never forget?

The day my son was born.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone?

Whatever you do in life, be the best at it.

And finally, give us your low down of the High School

The High School is a one-stop-shop for whatever you want it to be. If you want to be a musician, it will make a great musician out of you. If you want to debate, you’ll be given the chance to hone this skill and speak confidently and with authority on many topics. If you want to be an athlete, you will become an athlete with expert coaching.

We are so lucky to be able to offer everything under one roof and I remind myself often of the privilege it is to be a part of this community which is full of opportunities for students and staff alike.