New Academies backed to grow Scottish pool
The first of four planned Academies will boost the international side and may pave the way for a third pro-team, according to Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson.
At the opening of the Caledonia Academy in Aberdeen, Scotland head coach Vern Cotter said the area had "great potential" to provide a new team.
"We know we have to have a third outlet somewhere," Dodson told BBC Scotland.
"This is a fantastic start to growing players to feed another franchise."
Dodson has already held talks about the possibility of setting up a new professional team in Aberdeen, with Aberdeen Asset Management having expressed an interest in supporting a team to rival Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors.
"We've always said we would listen to discussion around a third pro team," explained Dodson, who plans to oversee Academies for young talent in the Borders, East and West by season 2015-16.
"The difficulty is around the sustainability of a £7m-£8m a year investment and where would that team play? We have the Pro12, not a Pro13."
Dodson described the new facility at the University of Aberdeen's Hillhead campus as a "one-stop shop for any developing player across the north of Scotland".
Scottish Rugby plan to invest £1.2m a year in the the four academies, with Dodson saying they would be "the cornerstone of our determination to create a new era".
He added: "This is an amazing day for Scottish rugby, a real step forward for developing a pipeline of home-bred players."
The Academies will eventually be open to male and female players from the age of 14.
However, the initial focus will be on 16, 18 and 20-year-old age-groups and the top tier of the Academy, stage three, will replace the current Elite Development Player strand at the pro-clubs.