South showcase is a sad casualty of the weather

SOUTH of Scotland’s match with Northumberland, due to be played at Netherdale on Wednesday, December 29, has been postponed, writes Fiona Scott.

Since the recent severe wintry weather, Northumberland’s clubs have been told that they are required to play rearranged league matches and player availability is now a concern. It is hoped that the fixture can be played next season.

The South’s team manager Richie Gray said: “While the news is disappointing for the players, particularly after the success of last year’s fixture, we can confirm that many exciting things are going on behind the scenes with regards the South of Scotland, and details will be announced very soon.

“The weather is an ongoing problem which is bound to affect teams from the SRU and RFU, but we are in this to make sure the South concept has a future.

“It is important to keep the momentum of the initial game going for players and supporters alike.”

This weekend, clubs are praying that the thaw which began earlier in the week will be enough to allow their fixtures to go ahead.

Following a momentous effort to clear their pitch of snow and get their opening British and Irish Cup game against Munster played last weekend (report on page 18) Melrose face Surrey outfit Esher at the Greenyards in the same competition.

Melrose president Mike Dalgetty was full of praise for his club’s efforts both on and off the field last week despite the final 47-14 scoreline and is looking for his team to up the stakes on Saturday.

He told TheSouthern: “I really believe this is a game we could win if we learn some of the lessons handed out by our Irish friends.

“The effort to allow Saturday’s match to go ahead was quite simply unbelievable. Did we get the reward we deserved for our efforts?

“Yes, I believe we did. A decent crowd, a packed clubhouse, and a first-half performance that I personally thought, under the circumstances, was breathtaking. The physical effort from our players against what the Munster coach described as one of his strongest ever teams was very evident.

“So we try again this week, weather permitting, against Esher, who also lost at home last weekend.”

In the Scottish Premiership last weekend, the weather again triumphed as, one by one, all games were called off.

The outlook for this weekend is not favourable, but local clubs are doing all they can to get their matches played.

In a crucial Group B clash, Peebles travel to Netherdale to play the rescheduled fixture with Gala.

Peebles committee member John Swanson told us: “Games between these two teams have been keenly contested over the last few seasons and, interestingly, the away teams have actually fared better, so let us hope that trend continues on Saturday.”

Over at Philiphaugh, Selkirk are hoping that the return of Lee Jones (Scotland A) and Fraser Harkness (Scotland 7s) will inspire the team to a much-needed Group B victory over West of Scotland.

Elsewhere, Hawick travel to Dundee for a Group A tie, while in Group C Jed take on Kirkcaldy at Riverside Park and Kelso travel to play Falkirk.