THE jungle drums have been beating and the rumour mill has been grinding with extraordinary tales of Borders players moving here, there and everywhere, writes Stuart Cameron.
Largely we take it all with a pinch of salt, but by the time you read this article, we will be just over three weeks away from the first local competitive matches of the season.
Clubs are beginning to show their hands, so a picture is developing of who we may be seeing wearing what colours this season.
The Young twins from Jed-Forest have been the subject of much interest in the close season. Gregor was named as captain of Jed a few weeks ago.
Brother Lewis has a two-year Scottish sevens contract which will take him all round the world, but when he’s not donning the navy blue of Scotland, he is expected to be wearing the royal blue of Jed.
Andrew Nagle has gone from Jed to Melrose, while Garry Elder returns from the Greenyards to Riverside Park. Centre Kevin Aitcheson will go back to Duns because of work commitments.
Roy McFarlane has left Berwick to play for Jed while James Brown from New Zealand will be a welcome import.
Gala’s Gregor Hunter has departed for Currie, while at Melrose, Graeme Dodds has been named as captain for a second year. Former Heriot’s fly half Richard Mill, who played for Esher last season, is joining the club and while Fraser Thomson and Bruce Dick have elite development player contracts with Glasgow Warriors, there is no doubt that they will make themselves available throughout the season if called on.
Melrose have an exciting signing to announce shortly, so watch this space. In the meantime, they welcome Lewis Mallin from Kelso – the forward has become a winger – and prop Colin Arthur from Biggar has been signed up. Hooker Wayne Mitchell is back in the fray and raring to go for yet another season.
Kelso have seen several of their players depart including Mark Chester, Stef Carnegie, Gareth Riddell, Alistair Marsh, James Stevenson and the retired Kevin Utterson, but welcome Michael Robertson and Sean Linton from Hawick and Jamie Pick from Berwick.
Hawick have lost their captain Bruce McNeil and Rory Sutherland to Biggar as well as the two off to Kelso, but Rory Scott is moving across the fence from Hawick YM to join the Greens. There will be others inevitably joining Hawick from YM to fill some gaps, so the knock-on effect will hit YM hard.
Former Kelso back Graeme Kellington has agreed to wear the Redskins jersey this season but both Glyn and Shaun Desport have quit rugby for athletics and among the retirements from the National League champions is Wullie Blacklock.
Matt Douglas has joined the Academy at Newcastle Falcons. The Greens captain this season will be scrum half Greg Cottrell while Bruce Campbell will lead YM.
Selkirk are delighted to have the services again of the loyal Fraser Harkness while Gavin Craig takes over the captain’s arm-band.
Elsewhere Edinburgh Rugby has confirmed that former Jed stand-off Greig Laidlaw will return as captain for the season ahead.