Hawick’s McNeil adds voice to calls for summer rugby

Bruce McNeil wants out of the muddy mire

Bruce McNeil wants out of the muddy mire

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Following the latest round of flooding in Hawick, Mansfield Park is set for extensive surface repair work to ensure proper drainage at the famous Borders ground.

But speaking after last week’s Premiership tussle with Boroughmuir, Hawick skipper Bruce McNeil said that the only answer to the kind of pitch problems experienced this season is to move rugby out of winter.

“We got to Christmas and we were aiming for the top four and we felt we had got ourselves into a good position,” he added. “Then various things happened, not least getting flooded twice.”

McNeil believes that outdoor training is paramount in terms of performance and has the backing of both his teammates and the wider rugby community.

He said: “Ninety-nine per cent of the guys at Hawick go out and work during the day in trades or on farms. When you work outside five or six days a week and you have to train in exactly the same kind of weather and play in it on a Saturday it just gets to you.

“There’s a lot of boys down here shouting for summer rugby. I think it’s certainly got to be looked at. We’ve got talented players who want to play rugby and express themselves. It’s just impossible in these conditions.

“It’s not just our pitch that’s bad. We go to other pitches in the BT Premiership and it’s just the same. I was speaking to guys from Ayr and they say they haven’t got the facilities to cope with their numbers. Their pitches are just getting a battering.

“It’s not great for the supporters, either. It’s cold and it’s miserable. If it was summer you’d have families down and there could be a really good atmosphere.”

“You only have to look at the success of rugby league’s move to summer to realise that this would be right for our game.

“Yes, we’d have to water the pitches, but that’s a lot cheaper than the cost of floodlights and, in some cases, undersoil heating. So let’s go for it.”

Hawick have a chance to dry out this weekend with no fixture due to the 6 Nations finale.