Plans to bring back South under threat by fixture chaos

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Maybe it’s wishful thinking that suggests that winters were never quite so hard, but in fact there have been many seasons where a bit of despair crept in after Christmas and doubts arose as to whether the cards could ever be completed.

That they were so often wrapped up before the summer was a credit to the organisation and commitment of the clubs and players concerned.

nextyre, Westfield Graeme Stevenson Supervisor.'Photo by Paul Mc Sherry 21st Jan 2011

nextyre, Westfield Graeme Stevenson Supervisor.'Photo by Paul Mc Sherry 21st Jan 2011

How this season will work out is still far from clear, but there have to be questions already about the spring sevens programme ... and this year, of all years, no fewer than 10 tournaments are scheduled to run from April 3 to May 14.

Not much slack there to fit in delayed Premiership or Border League matches, to say nothing of the Cup and associated competitions which could have a critical effect on clubs’ futures.

The SRU’s scheduling of Scotland A games for Netherdale won’t interfere with the club programme, but hopes that the South might continue its revival with games against Northumberland are on hold at present.

This is a major disappointment to those fans who were looking for a rerun of the series of games staged by the South and the Scottish Border Club (the South in another guise) which took place so frequently 30 years ago.

Grand crowds turned out for these matches, which provided a good warm-up for the South in the days when touring sides were colourful guests on Borders grounds.

It had taken a good few years for the South of Scotland to get regular games against overseas visitors, despite having the proud achievement of drawing with the 1931 South African side at The Greenyards.

In the post-war years the South drew on their traditions and on a wet afternoon late in 1966 defeated the touring Australians by 13-0 in Hawick. Then they squared the game with the touring Argentinians in 1973, again at Hawick, before losing in the same decade to Australia and New Zealand.

In 1982 the South, back again at Mansfield, saw off a strong Fijian side by 23-17, and two years later created their own bit of history by their second victory over Australia, winning 9-6 over Australia. Gala’s Peter Dods kicked the three penalty goals which saw them through, again in Hawick, a ground he much favoured.

The South had a number of failures along the way, including a massive thumping by New Zealand at Netherdale, but the district side has, over the years, provided some exhilarating displays against the best the rugby world has to offer.