Borders League and BT Charity Shield appetisers

Peebles, in scoring form here last season against Aberdeenshire, host Jed-Forest on Saturday in a Borders League clash (picture by Stephen Mathison)
Peebles, in scoring form here last season against Aberdeenshire, host Jed-Forest on Saturday in a Borders League clash (picture by Stephen Mathison)

With the new rugby season distinctly visible on the horizon, there’s a selection of very attractive fixtures this weekend featuring Borders clubs.

Selkirk host Marr as part of their Rugby Force Weekend, while the Booker Borders League continues with a Pool A clash at The Gytes between Peebles and Jed-Forest.

Over at Millbrae, the top two teams in Scotland, Melrose and Ayr, meet at Millbrae in the BT Charity Shield.

This is the first big pre-season test for Melrose, who finished as runners-up last season to the west coast side in the BT Premiership play-off, but beat them in the BT Cup final.

The season’s two other league meetings between the sides resulted in one win apiece.

Melrose president Douglas Hardie said: “We will be putting out as strong a side as we can and looking forward to getting the season started.

“Pre-season has been on the go for about a month now and I think the lads concerned will be desperate to get on the field in earnest.”

Melrose had a settled squad from last season and their main new arrival was front-row Grant Shiells, from London Scottish.

Also, at The Greenyards, there’s another eye-catching game at 6pm tomorrow (Friday), with Edinburgh Rugby taking on Newcastle Falcons.

Ali Campbell, Jed-Forest’s director of rugby, said the young squad was very much looking forward to their game with Peebles, who made a creditable challenge last season in BT National League Division Two.

Playing a local team in the Border League was an ideal platform for Jed’s BT League One opener against Kelso next weekend, he added.

Jed enjoyed a 14-5 pre-season win down at semi-professional Sale recently, which was a very worthwhile experience, added Campbell.

The side had recruited hooker Cameron Mackay from Melrose, plus local lads Darren Gillespie and Ewan Scott, as Campbell explained: “These three boys alone bring a wealth of experience to the squad.”

Coaching duties at Riverside are being shared following head coach Jammy McFarlane’s departure after two years for work reasons.