Scotland Rugby League will return to the Borders and stage another international at Galashiels when it takes on Ireland in the European Championship on Friday 23 October, kick-off 7.30pm.
Scotland were crowned European champions for the first time last season despite losing to France at Netherdale, the first time a rugby league international has been held in the Borders.
The stars of Super League will again descend as Gala RFC host the Bravehearts again in their only home fixture in the defence of their European title.
“We are very pleased to be staging our European Championship fixture against Ireland at one of the best known rugby grounds in Scotland,” said Keith Hogg, chair of Scotland Rugby League.
“The Netherdale ground at Galashiels is known throughout rugby and it is fitting that we return there and to the Scottish Borders.
“Gala RFC are great people to work with and they helped us put on a great event when we played France there last October. We had over 1500 people watching the game and we are hoping to attract even more for the Ireland game. The support from rugby fans in the Borders is fantastic and we look forward to putting on another great spectacle this year.”
Last year, Scotland made a spirited second half comeback following a first period capitulation that almost saw them lose their grip on the title. As it was, they had to wait two days to see if Ireland were going to snatch it from their grasp, Scotland winning the championship by a couple of points difference.
Scotland will feature several Super League stars and a host of up and coming young players given their chance by head coach Steve McCormack, who was in Melbourne last month with the New South Wales squad, as they won their State of Origin clash with Queensland in front of a record-breaking 91,000 crowd at the MCG. The deciding game is this morning (Wednesday). McCormack, and assistant Dave Rotheram, visited several top rugby league clubs in Australia to help prepare for Scotland’s biggest test yet: games against England, Australia and world number one side New Zealand in the Four Nations in the autumn of 2016.
“Places in the Four Nations squad are up for grabs,” reveals McCormack. “A lot of players performed superbly well last year as we won the Europeans for the first time. They will have a chance to prove they deserve a place against the best in the world and there will be some serious competition for places from players injured last year, and those who have come on a lot this season.
“Last year was amazing at Gala. We looked dead and buried at half-time but the crowd got behind us and roared us home. Netherdale was rocking that night and I can’t wait to get back there and do it again.”
McCormack will be at Gala RFC later this month for the Wigan Warriors Junior Camp as local S1-S4 rugby players are invited to take part on 30-31 July, with a Coaching Clinic on the Thursday evening for local coaches of either union or league.
Scotland will open the defence of the title at Wrexham against Wales on Friday 16 October before closing their campaign in Avignon against France on Saturday 7 November. Ticket details for Scotland v Ireland at Galashiels will be announced later in the summer on www.scotlandrl.com and via Twitter @scotlandrl.