SELKIRK Rugby Club members were in confident and defiant mood on Friday as around 100 celebrated a season which promised much, but ended in relegation.
The Philiphaugh clubrooms were packed – and the Selkirk Sevens trophy sat alongside ex-British Isles and Scotland star, Doddie Weir, in his familiar tartan trews, at the top table.
And it was Weir, giving the Toast to Rugby Football, who sparked most debate as he blasted the demise of the Border Reivers which ‘had taken the heart out of Borders rugby.’
He added: “I do not understand why (closing the Reivers) was necessary. It was a stepping stone for guys like Fraser Harkness – although it is great that he is staying at the club next season.
“Sometimes money is not the answer and the Scottish Rugby Union should do more for clubs.
“We played for the jersey and that is something that is missed today. The enjoyment is not there as it was when we played.”
Weir, who now stays at Blainslie, said that Selkirk, for the size of the town, had a fantastic record with, for example, five Border League finals in a row, winning three, and four successive sevens successes at its own tournament.
Club skipper Fraser Harkness, who missed out on the IRB Sevens in London due to injury, said that it had been a great honour to lead the club and praised the players for their efforts during the season.
“It has been a tough year, but the [departed] coaches, Graham Marshall and Rodney Pow, and the players were committed. I was proud of their efforts and I hope that we will do better next year.
“Last season, we were often outmuscled by bigger teams, but we had heart and guts. Let’s hope we are heading to different things.”
The dinner was chaired by president Donald Macleod, who hands over to Eric Forster, taking over in the hot-seat, with John Rutherford nominated as senior vice-president. Mr Macleod said that all teams, from firsts, seconds and Stormers to Youth Club and Rhinos, had performed well.
“We are a community club and the envy of others when we travel because of our support,” he said, and he went on to thank everyone for that support, including the fans, through “thick and thin”.
The toast to Our Guests was given by Rob Forrest and Alex Telfer, of Broadmeadows, replied with Mr Forster giving the vote of thanks.
There was a special surprise presentation of a tankard to coach driver for the past 10 years, Andy Blyth, and member Alan Turnbull presented a crook to the club. The singer was Alan Pearce.
The 2011 Player Awards were – Stormers: Brian Roden Cup (most improved player), Scott Tough; Players’ Player of the Year, Scott Tough.
A XV: Neil Redpath Cup (most committed player), Martin Murray; Players’ Player of the Year, Craig McDougall.
1st XV: Oliver Lawson Quaich (top try-scorer), Fraser Harkness (14). Tom Henderson Trophy (special achievement), Ciaran Beattie; Players’ Player of the Year, Simon Willett; Boag Cup (Player of the Year), Neil Darling.
Open: Bell Cup (best tackler), Ewan MacDougall; Gary Selkirk Cup (best trainer), Nyll Godsmark; Wat Henderson Quaich (most outstanding performer in his first season), Ryan Godsmark.