Andy gets a warm welcome on return

Selkirk's Fraser Harkness, Dubai and South Africa rugby.
Selkirk's Fraser Harkness, Dubai and South Africa rugby.

It’s been a bit doom and gloom around the region’s rugby pitches recently thanks to the weather, writes Fiona Scott.

But last week Gala were able to spread some festive cheer by coming to the aid of Newcastle Falcons (v Exeter Chiefs) and Sale Sharks (v Brive) by providing a playable pitch for the Amlin Challenge Cup matches on Sunday and Monday respectively. Both games attracted sizeable crowds who braved the wintry conditions to travel from outwith the Borders to support their teams.

And there was more than a wee bit local interest in Sunday’s clash which saw the return to Netherdale of former Gala flanker Andy Miller, who now plays with Exeter.

The Sandy Park outfit went down 26-24 to the Falcons, who are coached by Kelso’s former Union and League international Alan Tait.

For 28-year-old Miller, Sunday’s game was something of a homecoming, although he was obviously hoping for a better result.

“It was great to be back, it was just disappointing it didn’t go quite as planned,” he said. “I had a few friends and family there and it was nice to catch up with all of them.”

Even Miller, who is used to cold weather, growing up in Stow, was surprised by the amount of snow that had fallen.

“I have never known it to snow for a month at a time.” he added. “We were lucky to get the game on Sunday – it wasn’t as bad as it has been in the last few weeks.”

On Saturday the big Premier B game between Gala and Peebles also went ahead, thanks to the undersoil heating system, and went Gala’s way. A full report can be found on page 26 and you can watch video highlights at www.BordersRugby.net.

Unfortunately, the British and Irish Cup game between Melrose and Ether, which was due to take place on the Gala pitch earlier that day, was postponed as the visitors were unable to travel due to the closure of Gatwick airport.

Elsewhere, Edinburgh decided to play their game against Castres behind closed doors at Murrayfield, stating health and safety as their reasons.

The decision, however, did not go down well with some.

Border Rugby TV’s Stuart Cameron told TheSouthern: “Presumably they were afraid they may be sued if someone falls and injures themselves. I cannot get my head round this decision.

“Surely in motor sport spectators attend at their own risk, and if you go shopping when it’s snowing there are similar risks.

“I don’t see shops closing because of this. If someone wants to attend a match at their own risk they should be able to do so. After all why should the media be any different to spectators? They are also attending with the same risks attached.”