McGeechan and Robinson heading for Netherdale

24/11/2012,  TSPL, Scotsman, Sport, Rugby, EMC Autumn test, Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen, Scotland v Tonga. Scotland coach Andy Robinson pictured before kick off.  Picture Ian Rutherford
24/11/2012, TSPL, Scotsman, Sport, Rugby, EMC Autumn test, Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen, Scotland v Tonga. Scotland coach Andy Robinson pictured before kick off. Picture Ian Rutherford

Sir Ian McGeechan and Andy Robinson lie in wait for Gala as the draw for the British and Irish Cup threw up an intriguing group.

The Maroons face Leeds Carnegie, Bristol and an as yet unnamed Welsh side in the competition.

Lions legend McGeechan is chairman at Leeds, while former Scotland coach Robinson is now director of rugby at Championship club Bristol.

Robinson’s squad includes Nicky Robinson, the Wales fly-half who signed from London Wasps this summer, as well as former Border Reiver prop Bruce Douglas and Argentine lock Mariano Sambucetti.

Gala president George Marshall said: “You want to compete against the best and I think we have got two sides who will be going for promotion to the English Premiership this season.

“Leeds got into the play-offs last term and Bristol have recruited some good players under Andy Robinson.

“It is great to test ourselves at that level and you saw with Lee Millar last season (moved to London Scottish) that the cup can create opportunities for players.”

Marshall said a number of players from the Borders and further afield were training with the club as Gala looks to boost its squad.

He added: “We have the nucleus of a good team. Obviously Lee Millar will be a big miss, but that opens the door for another player.”

Teenager flier James Parker has left Netherdale to return to Hawick, while Bruce McNeil is back at Mansfield Park after a season at Biggar.

Wullie Blacklock has also signed, while coach Phil Leck is hoping to recruit a prop from the Newcastle area.

Leck told us: “We are not a million miles away from our final squad.”

Meanwhile, Melrose have announced Fraser Thomson as their new captain for the 2013/14 season.

The 24-year-old left Glasgow Warriors last month and is looking forward to leading the Greenyards side.

Thomson said: “I am very honoured and excited to be captaining a successful club like Melrose. After spending a year at Glasgow Warriors I feel I have matured both on and off the field, and hopefully this will help me over the course of the season.”