Melrose chief slips into rumour control mode

ONCE again the touchline tattlers have been hard at work this week and once again Melrose RFC is the main focus of their attention, writes Fiona Scott.

Since the game at The Greenyards on Saturday, when the championship contenders lost a 26-point lead to Dundee HSFP, the local bongo drums and social media sites have been broadcasting tales of post-match bust-ups between the coaches, with talk of Craig Chalmers moving down south to take up a coaching position in England as well as him being offered a contract with the Romanian national side.

Forums on various websites are rife with faceless people making personal remarks and director of rugby Mike Dalgetty, for one, is a bit fed up with the whole thing.

He said: As far as we are concerned we do not wish to make any further comment as the stories are nonsense and we have no desire to give them credibility.”

He did concede, however, that Chalmers had recently turned down a three-month opportunity to be the backs coach of an international side who competed in the 2011 World Cup.

Both Melrose coaches have a busy time ahead, Chalmers has recently been named as the backs coach for Scotland A, who take on their English counterparts at Netherdale on Friday, February 3, while John Dalziel is working alongside Peter Wright with the Scotland Under-20s squad.

On Saturday, all Borders Premiership sides have a chance to take a breather due to a free weekend put aside by Scottish Rugby Union as a stand-by date which, surprisingly, no team needs to make use of. Kelso and Hawick have arranged a friendly fixture at Mansfield Park, while Gala have done likewise and travel to Hamilton.

On the competitive front, however, they come no bigger than the National Division One top-of-the-table clash at Mansfield Haugh between Hawick YM and Musselburgh.

The Stoneyhill outfit head into the game as league leaders with a five-point advantage over the Teries. However, the Redskins have a game in hand and a win on Saturday would put them in a great position.

Last time out, Musselburgh edged the victory with a narrow 26-25 victory, but this weekend Jammy McFarlane’s outfit have the advantage of playing on home territory in front of, what is hoped to be, a large home crowd, not to mention coming off the back of a 36-0 victory over Linlithgow last week (see report on page 25).

McFarlane told TheSouthern: “No doubt about it this is a hugely important game, but we still have seven games to play after this one and Musselburgh have six, so it is by no means a title decider. Both teams still have some tricky games to come, but to go into those games heading the league will definitely be an advantage.”

On the international front, supporters of Chris Paterson will be able to pay tribute to the Gala great at the Calcutta Cup on February 4, when he will be presenting the match ball on the pitch at Murrayfield.

A massive wave of appreciation from all corners of the ground will inevitably greet the popular Borders internationalist when he steps out onto the pitch that means so much to him.