Melrose, Currie and Ayr all opened their British & Irish Cup campaign this weekend, taking on professional or semi-professional opposition in Bedford Blues, Leeds Carnegie and Plymouth Albion respectively.
As if the pro-team wins weren’t enough to give us a little fillip here in the world of Scottish rugby, Melrose and Ayr both fought back to secure last-gasp victories as they edged past their respective opponents 19-17 and 18-17.
Ayr were boosted by the addition of Johnnie Beattie and Jon Welsh with the former grabbing a try in the closing minutes after the Scots were down 17-5 at half time, while Melrose were down 17-0 at halftime and fought back for the win at the Greenyards.
It wasn’t all cheery though, as Currie were defeated 16-31 at Headingley. London Scottish were in action too, going down 63-0 to Llanelli who must be building a fair bit of depth, the Scarlets having also been in Heineken Cup action this weekend winning 31-23 (Sean Lamont dotted down for a try).
In the Borders rugby is a significant part of the region’s rural makeup. In almost all rugby clubs down there you will spot a wall with a framed mural on it, commemorating glorious years gone by. There is a rich heritage of match-ups between boroughs and towns bursting with civic pride. For many years these small towns have defied logic as they continually produce teams of rugby players from small groups. This ‘Us against Everyone’ feeling that all the clubs have is one that perpetually regenerated their own league, the oldest in rugby history, the Borders League.
A few months back, before this whole sordid World Cup thing started, I was at the Scotland team hotel to do some interviews alongside the rugby writers corps. After all of the official stuff, I tried to get as much free coffee as I could, being a student who cannot afford a Starbucks or a packet of Custard Creams myself.
A lot has been made in recent days of the renewed proposal for restructuring the leagues in Scotland. The ‘Season Structure Working Party’, comprising of representatives from Premier 1 to the Regional Leagues, has put forward its proposal (pretty much identical to that tabled in 2010) and is hoping to implement changes as early as next season.
Since Melrose won their own 7s Ayr have beaten them to the Scottish Cup 25-21. Highlights here.
However, Melrose are still chasing the Treble of the 7s, the Borders League and the Premier One title while Ayr are looking to come from behind in the title race and claim a Double. This means that Saturday’s match at the Greenyards is a huge one. Can Melrose hang on and avenge the Cup defeat? Kick-off is at 3pm.
In other news, keep your eyes on SRB for our own ‘End of Season Awards’ and a series of ‘interesting’ interviews as we build-up to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.