We turn the clock back to November 1963 when the New Zealand All Blacks played the South of Scotland at Hawick’s Mansfield Park.
It was something of a home match for nine players drawn from the Hawick club. The South had gone six games without a defeat, while the Kiwis had – by the time they played the South – been held just once, through a drop goal by Newport.
But the South were denied a historic victory, going down 8-0 to the tourists.
The South line-up was Jim Gray (Hawick); Scott Amos (Gala), Christy Elliot (Langholm), Elliot Broatch (Hawick) and Douglas Jackson (Hawick); Dave Chisholm (Melrose, captain) and Alex Hastie (Melrose); Norman Suddon (Hawick), Ronnie Grieve (Hawick), Dick Paterson (Gala), Billy Hunter (Hawick), Jim Telfer (Melrose), Rob Valentine (Hawick), Oliver Grant (Hawick) and Derek Grant (Hawick).
Facing them were D. B. Clarke; W. L. Davies; P. F. Little; B. A. Watt and I. S .T. Smith; M .A. Herewini and C. R. Laidlaw; W. J. Whineray (captain), D. Young; K. F. Gray, D. J. Graham, C. E. Meads, R. H. Horsley, K. R. Tremain and K. E. Barr.
Referee: A. C. Luff (Notts., Lincs and and Derby); linesmen: Robin Charters (Hawick) and I. R. Macrae (Hawkes Bay).
Despite losing, there was praise for the South.
Match reporter John Franklin (John Dawson in real life) wrote in the opening paragraph of his report in TheSouthern: “The New Zealanders might have delighted the large crowd on Saturday with their ‘native dance’, the traditional opening of any of their games, but they must have felt a lot less like dancing at the end of 80 minutes’ struggle against the South XV which proved to be the ‘piper who called the tune’ on the green turf of Mansfield Park.”
And journalistic colleague Bill Keddie was also full of praise for the Borderers, writing: “The 8-0 win by the 1963 All Blacks touring team will go down in the annals of rugby history as one of the fiercest, most exciting, thrill-a-minute rugby football seen in the Borders for years.”
The New Zealanders opened their account with a try (then worth three points) by Graham on 25 minutes, converted by Don Clarke.
Four minutes from the end scrum half Laidlaw (seen kicking the ball in our picture) sent home a dropped goal to complete the scoring.
Drama was to follow later that weekend with confirmation Hawick and South player Rob Valentine had signed professional papers with Huddersfield where his brother Dave was club coach. The rumoured fee for the 22-year-old electrician was £4,000.
He followed in the footsteps of Brian Shillinglaw and Bill Hollan (both Gala); Ron Cowan and Oliver Lawson (Selkirk), Alex Cassie (Melrose), Ally Ford (Kelso) and Hawick team mates Drew Broatch and Glen Turnbull.