The official start of Selkirk’s Tennent’s Premiership campaign might still be over two months away.
But new head coach Scott Wight has already had the club’s players hard in training for the past fortnight – and has been delighted by the response.
“I’ve asked for commitment, whether that’s on the field when boys come and train, or whether that’s phoning to let me know they can’t make training,” said the former Scotland sevens captain.
“I’ve been out of rugby for the last 18 months but I watch a lot of rugby and I’m competitive – I’m still probably the most competitive one training at the moment!
“That’s me, I’m a winner, and that’s what I’m trying to establish here – a winning culture.”
The 33-year-old can certainly back this up, having already achieved a string of successes in club rugby.
During his playing days with Melrose, Wight captained the Greenyards team to an impressive haul of Premier 1, Border League and Melrose Sevens titles, as well as turning out for Scotland’s Club XV.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work under some great coaches, so I dare say I’ve cherry-picked the bits that I liked as a player. I’m trying to bring high energy, high tempo and play a nice brand of rugby, albeit sometimes you can’t in Scottish weather.
“We called a meeting a couple of weeks ago to set the stall out and talk about what standards are expected. There was a good turnout of 31 players, but 16 others messaged to let me know they couldn’t make it. Those are good numbers, so that was a really pleasing start.
“I’ve now sat down with 42 players on a one-to-one basis to get to know them individually, to learn a little bit about their background, what positions they play in, what went well last season and what areas we can improve on.
“To date, the response has been brilliant – not just from players, but from the club’s committee members and people behind the scenes as well.”
One thing Selkirk do each year is take the young boys stepping up to Philiphaugh out for a meal to welcome them to the club. “I think this is a really positive thing, helping to make these players feel part of the set-up and see the management team at first hand,” added Wight.
As well as the players’ positive attitude, Wight has been impressed by the facilities he’s found at Philiphaugh. “Having been involved in the professional set-up for the last six or seven years, I haven’t really been across at Selkirk at all.
“I hadn’t realised just how good the set-up here is. The new changing rooms are great, as is the aerobic suite out the front. This is a proper stretching area for the guys, so come Saturday morning before games it will be an area we’ll make good use of.”
Selkirk’s season begins at Peebles Sevens on August 3, followed by Hawick Sevens on August 10.
The following Saturday, the players will take part in some abbreviated ‘match’ sessions at Philiphaugh which will feature combined 1st XV and ‘A’ XV line-ups in opposition.
Selkirk’s two teams will then take on Hamilton at Philiphaugh in a double header on August 24, with the ‘A’ XV’s game taking place before the 1st XV match kicks off. “This will hopefully get supporters down early in the season to see what we’re trying to achieve, then the following weekend (August 31) we go down to Kelso for a Border League fixture,” said Wight.
Selkirk’s first Premiership match is at home against Glasgow Hawks on September 7.
A project manager with Galashiels-based Fjordhus Construction, Wight is certainly laying down solid foundations at Philiphaugh. It’s now up to Selkirk’s players to show they’re ready to build a bright future for the club in the new-look Tennent’s Premiership.