A YOUNG rugby player has captained Scotland at U16 level - just months after switching disciplines from union to league.

Hexham's Mathew Ferguson proudly led the national side out against Wales in a home nations match at Wigan's Robin Park Arena.

The fixture ended in a heavy defeat for Scotland, but for Matthew, just crossing the line onto the pitch marked a significant achievement.

The 16-year-old has been associated with Tynedale RFC for a decade, having first got involved with the rugby union club at U6 level, and working his way through the ranks.

The former pupil at Hexham's Queen Elizabeth High School captained Tynedale U15s, and the Northumberland U16 team last season, at rugby union.

"When the season ended I didn't want to stop playing rugby," said Matthew.

"I switched disciplines and started playing rugby league with Cramlington Rockets, really just so I could keep on playing during the summer, and to retain my fitness levels, because it's a long time between seasons."

Mathew then had the opportunity to attend training sessions with the Scotland squad in May, and wasted no time in making an impression.

He qualified to play for Scotland because his dad, Brian Ferguson, is from Fife.

"It was quite a thing just to be selected, and when I found out I was going to be captain it was a great feeling."

The call-up has led to a further opportunity for Matthew, a centre, who played at half-back in the match against Wales.

He is now preparing to link-up with Newcastle Thunder, which competes in the Kingstone Press League One.

It is part of an academy scholarship, during which he will study a sports science BTEC qualification, which is the equivalent of three A-levels.

"It's brilliant for me because I enjoy sports science, and I can continue my education work while developing my rugby," said Matthew.

The teenager hasn't ruled out playing futher rugby union, having been involved with Tynedale RFC for most of his life, and developing a strong affinity with the club.

Matthew is from a rugby family. His dad Brian moved to the district in the 1970s, and was involved with the junior teams at Tynedale RFC as a youngster.

He went on to play for Annan in Scotland and also enjoyed a spell in South Africa, before hanging up his boots.

His brother, Carl Ferguson (22) played rugby union for Newcastle Falcons at U16 level.