Melrose are poised to join the new elite of Scottish Rugby after they were granted a franchise for the new Super 6 Series, due to begin in 2019-20.
The BT Premiership champions and BT Cup holders, perhaps unsurprisingly, were one of the clubs whose application to join the new semi-professional set-up was confirmed on Tuesday by Scottish Rugby.
The others were Ayr, Boroughmuir, Heriot’s, Stirling County and Watsonians.
However, bids by two other Borders clubs, Gala and Hawick, were overlooked.
Applications were assessed by a review panel, which conducted a “rigorous assessment” of each before making a recommendation to the Scottish Rugby Board on which bids should succeed. The recommendation was unanimous and fully supported by the board.
The bids were all assessed across consistent criteria which were rugby, vision, governance, ground and facilities, partnerships and links, and financial sustainability, with consideration also given to the people behind the bid and its deliverability.
The six successful bids were those considered to be the most robust and which best met the criteria.
Scottish Rugby chief executive, Mark Dodson, said: “The successful applications will, I believe, enable Super 6 to achieve our ambition to raise the standard of rugby at the top of the club game in Scotland and also create strong, sustainable franchises in their own right.”
In a statement expressing delight at being chosen, Melrose said: “This opportunity to support bridging the gap between the club and professional game is something Melrose Rugby has worked tirelessly to do since the game went professional in 1997.
“Edinburgh Napier University will play a pivotal role in further bridging this gap and we are delighted to be working in conjunction with it. Both its expertise in elite sports performance, along with world-class facilities, will foster the environment to help the Melrose Rugby franchise flourish.”
Gala responded: “We are obviously disappointed not to have been selected, but would like to congratulate those who have and wish them every success in this new venture for Scottish rugby.
“Given the facilities that Gala Rugby can offer, we hope to be involved at some time in the future.
“We sincerely hope the ‘partner’ to Super 6, Agenda 3, can stimulate and sustain amateur club rugby in Scotland in parallel with the development of the Super 6.”
Hawick wished success on the chosen clubs and said: “Throughout the process, the club has been enthused by the direction the game is going in Scotland and, although disappointed that a club with the history of Hawick is not part of it, we will support those successful clubs to make this the success it deserves.”