Hawick lose two stars to Biggar as president-elect stands down

HAWICK RFC have not had their problems to seek ahead of the upcoming rugby season.

Still reeling from the news that captain Bruce McNeil and fellow forward Rory Sutherland have opted to join big-spending Biggar, the Mansfield Park outfit were dealt a further blow at the weekend when vice-president Michael Aitken revealed his intentions to stand down due to “personal reasons” two weeks before he was due to take over as president.

Aitken was due to take over the presidency from Alister Pow at the AGM on Monday, July 9.

The club are currently finalising a replacement to be approved at the meeting.

On behalf of the club, Hawick RFC secretary John Thorburn stated: “The club would like to take this opportunity to thank Michael for all his hard work over the last two years and wish him well in the future.”

The departure of McNeil, originally from Stranraer, brings to an end a nine-year stint at the Greens that was diluted only by a short spell at Edinburgh Rugby and Heriot’s.

It is rumoured that Ayr and other top-flight clubs had made moves to bring the 27-year-old in over recent weeks, but ambitious Biggar won the race. McNeil can play prop or back-row, and Biggar will hope that he can play a big part in their promotion push in what will be an ultra-competitive division.

“I just wanted pastures new and financially it suited me as the best option,” said McNeil, a farm worker at Kelso.

“It was a big decision to leave Hawick. It’s a great club and the boys down there would do anything for you.

“But for my family and myself it was right to move. I wish them all the best, that goes without saying.

“But this is a new challenge for me, a chance to freshen things up and progress my game.”

Also heading to Hartreemill from Mansfield Park is 19-year-old forward Sutherland, who was impressive for Hawick last season and is an age-grade international.

The RBS National League gets under way on August 25 and Hawick and Biggar meet on September 22.

z The Borders rugby season will start a day earlier than announced – Friday, August 17 instead of Saturday, August 18 – as Jed-Forest will play Selkirk in a 7.30pm kick-off Border League match at Riverside Park.