SRU president Ian McLauchlan has said the Borders is “more important than it ever was” to Scottish rugby, despite the current World Cup squad containing the lowest-ever number of players from the region, writes Kenny Paterson.
Just four members of Andy Robinson’s 30-man squad – who are currently training in Australia – are from the area.
That compares to 11 in the 1991 squad, while 12 were involved in the Scotland side which travelled to New Zealand the last time the World Cup was hosted there in 1987.
But speaking at the launch of Selkirk RFC’s new all-weather sports pitch, McLauchlan told us: “I think it (the Borders) is more important now than it ever was.
“We need to strengthen all the areas that are playing rugby, but I watched club games in the Borders last year and they are right up there with the best form of entertainment.
“Everyone in the SRU is trying very hard to give every kid the opportunity to be a professional and it is up to them to do that.
“As the years go on, the system will open up and there probably will be more Borders boys playing in a Scottish jersey,” added McLauchlan.
The former Scotland and British Lions prop admitted that Borders talent had seeped out of the area in recent years, such as Melrose stand-off Scott Wight to Glasgow, but believes that should not be attributed to the loss of the Border Reivers professional team in 2007.
He added: “With a drifting population of players it is always difficult, but when you lose one of your key players to a professional team you just have to say ‘Good luck’ and someone else will take his place.
“You never know (if Wight would have been selected by the Border Reivers). There are lots of guys who might have got in before him if there was still a Borders team.
“But he got his chance and seems to be enjoying professional life, so good luck to him.”
Meanwhile, this weekend’s club action will see Gala aim to make it two wins from two games on their return to Premier One at home to Ayr.
The Maroons were thumped 32-0 in their last meeting with the west coast club in 2010, but should run their visitors close at Netherdale.
Gala’s opening day victims Currie travel to Melrose, who will hope Wight’s replacement Andrew Skeen continues the good form he displayed in their victory at Aberdeen.
Hawick are also at home to Boroughmuir in Premier One, while the Borders quartet of Premier Two sides – Jed-Forest, Kelso, Peebles and Selkirk – require a change of fortune this weekend after all four lost their first matches.