Last week three out of four Scottish amateur sides won in the B&I Cup, with the pick of the games coming at Netherdale where Gala defeated London Scottish by the narrowest of margins.
Winning 27-23 the Maroons showed that they had the beating of a Championship outfit, while Melrose were doing the same by besting Doncaster Knights. With Stirling County also trumping Neath, it was a great weekend for the club sides. Only Dundee HSFP yielded after suffering two full-pitch interceptions against Swansea, eventually losing 43-17.
Now the Caledonian side are keen to get in on the winning act.
“The main thing learned from our first B&I Cup venture is that we must believe in ourselves far more,” director of rugby Ian Rankin told Scottish Rugby Blog. “The doom and gloom merchants who talk down the club game in Scotland tend not to come and actually watch club rugby.”
Looking towards Championship stalwarts Cornish Pirates, who are the first ever team to play at Mayfield in the B&I, the former Edinburgh head coach was stark but defiant.
“Pirates, who lost out so narrowly in gaining promotion to the [Aviva] Premiership last season, will have our total respect but we will not be in awe as we cannot afford to take one step back. Until recently the Pirates had a bigger budget than Edinburgh and are an extremely ambitious outfit who will not know what to expect from a Dundee squad that are realising this massive challenge.
“We are expecting 200 in hospitality as well.”
Dundee will be boosted in their game by the presence of Glasgow’s Taylor Paris on the wing. Gala will again have James King, although he now starts on the bench against Llanelli at the Parc Y Scarlets.
The biggest name to drop into the B & I this weekend will undoubtedly be former Edinburgh club captain Roddy Grant, who starts on the flank for Melrose this weekend.
Craig Chalmers of Melrose told Scottish Rugby, “We have Roddy Grant available from Edinburgh Rugby and he will start on the flank with John Dalziel going into lock and Ross Ovens dropping down to the bench.
“After last week’s great win at Doncaster, we welcome Llandovery who are sitting top of the Welsh Premiership with six wins and six bonus points and who also had a great win over Nottingham at home last week in the British & Irish Cup.”
County are on the road, as they take on the Bedford Blues. Despite clocking a lot of points last week they face a famous side who currently sit second in the Championship. If they are to repeat last week’s heroics, they must excel themselves defensively.
Meanwhile, London Scottish face more familiar foes as they take on the Championship’s Moseley. Many expected Scottish to allow themselves some slack in the Cup, but they have selected a full-strength squad to take to the Richmond Athletic Ground tomorrow.
Will there be another spate of wins from the club game, and will London Scottish bounce back? No one will be underestimating the clubs after the last round.