Summer’s over ... before it really got started

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IT ONLY seems a few weeks ago when we were breathing a sigh of relief at the end of a gruelling rugby season, yet here we are about to do battle again, writes Stuart Cameron.

One man, Fraser Harkness of Selkirk, has scored five tries in two pre-season games, so he’s in good shape.

But with pre-season training starting for many two months ago, rugby has almost become a year-round sport in Scotland.

This year’s Border League has once again been sponsored by Booker of Galashiels and has two fewer teams competing, with Langholm and Berwick sensibly realising that the one-way cricket scores from last season did nobody any good at all, and they will be taking part in a very competitive and worthwhile Shield competition with other local sides.

Haddington are no longer in the Border League, while Hawick YM, thanks to their back-to-back wins in the National League, have been invited to join the party.

While they may find the going tough they are there on merit.

New Border League president, Eric Forster of Selkirk RFC, said he was honoured with his new title.

He told us: “It’s a prestigious position. The Border League has a long and proud tradition and it’s overwhelming to be part of it.

“We are delighted that Booker has agreed to stay with us and all the clubs will enjoy working with them during the season ahead.”

The Booker Border League kicks off tomorrow (Friday) at Riverside Park with an intriguing local derby between Hawick YM and Gala at Mansfield Haugh.

For the Redskins, the match will be historic – it will be their first time playing in the Border League, and their first time facing the Maroons.

Over at Riverside Park, the equally appetite-whetting clash between Jed-Forest and Selkirk also takes place tomorrow night.

Both Friday fixtures are Pool B games, while in Pool A Kelso will host Hawick and Melrose welcome Peebles to the Greenyards, both on Saturday.

Elsewhere this week, the draft has taken place to align Glasgow Warriors, Edinburgh and Scotland 7s players to Premiership clubs for the new campaign.

First-year professionals and elite development players, including Glasgow Warriors’ Fraser Thomson and Bruce Dick, will remain with the clubs they came from, in this case Melrose.

The draft was done on a geographic basis so Borders clubs Gala and Melrose were associated with players from Edinburgh.

Gala have been assigned James King, Stuart McInally, Tom Brown, Mark Robertson, Allan Jacobsen, Nick De Luca and Ross Ford, while Melrose have Alun Walker, Roddy Grant, Lee Jones, Sean Cox, Netani Talei and John Yapp.

Finishing as champions last season, Melrose have ended up with six players in the draft while Dundee HSFP have 10 and Aberdeen (who have Scott Wight in the draft) have been assigned 11.

Stirling and Ayr have 10, while Heriot’s, Currie, Gala, Boroughmuir and Edinburgh Accies all have seven.