Knights to remember for Melrose trio

From left, Southern Knights' Grant Shiells, Criag Jackson and fraser Thomson.
From left, Southern Knights' Grant Shiells, Criag Jackson and fraser Thomson.

Melrose Rugby today (Monday) announced the captain and co-vice captains who will lead the Southern Knights in the Super6 semi-professional league. 

Centre, Craig Jackson, will head the team in the competition, which commences in November. 

He’ll be joined in the leadership group by co-vice captains, Grant Shiells and Fraser Thomson.

On his appointment, Jackson said: “I feel privileged to captain the Southern Knights in the Super6 competition. 

“I’m very excited about being involved in the leadership group in this exciting new competition.

“The new league structure will bring a new challenge, and one we are looking forward to. Our player and coaching groups are looking strong, with a good mix of experience and youth. The boys are raring to get into training in September.”

Taking up one of the co-vice captaincy roles is fullback, Fraser Thomson, who said: “It’s an exciting time for rugby in the Borders. I am honoured to be part of the Southern Knights’ leadership group.

“What we’ve built at Melrose is special. The new branding looks great and there’s a terrific buzz around the club. I can’t wait to see both familiar and new faces when we start training in September.”

Loosehead prop Grant Shiells completes the leadership group as the second co-vice captain.

The Scotland ‘A’ cap explained how the changes at the club had made the players more excited to get started.

“The coming season has brought lots of changes to the club, both on and off the pitch,” he said. “The branding is looking on point and it’s great to see the progress in the 3G pitch.

“It’s an exciting time to be involved in the leadership group at the Southern Knights. With a few new recruits adding to an already very strong group, the squad is looking in great shape.”

Head coach Rob Chrystie said the club was happy to have Jackson as skipper for 2019-20, adding: “As well as being an outstanding player, Craig has

been an influential leader both on and off the park since returning from his time down

south. 

“Fraser and Grant, as co-vice captains, have years of experience behind them. Along with Craig, they will form an inspirational leadership group that will set the highest standards for all Southern Knights’ players.”

Jackson began his rugby career at Melrose, as a rugby-mad five-year-old, progressing through the youth rugby set up to lift the Ladies Cup at Melrose Sevens at the age of 18 in 2011, before earning Scotland U20s caps in the age grade 6 Nations and World Cup.

Although he left the area for further education, his rugby career blossomed at Hartpury College and London Scottish before returning to his home town club and has now played over 100 games for Melrose, while earning three Scotland Club International caps and a call-up to the Scotland 7s

2018 World Cup squad in San Francisco, eight years after his first cap in 2010.

Thomson, who came through Gala’s youth system, has played over 200 games for the club, scoring over 115 tries in the process. Known for his lethal step and attacking flair, he earned a professional contract with Glasgow Warriors in 2012 and scored the winning try against Newport Gwent Dragons, to seal the league record for the Warriors.

Thomson returned to club rugby, cementing himself as part of the squad at Melrose and earned himself 15 Club International caps, as well as

captaining the squad to win the Dalriada Cup over their Irish counterparts in 2018.

After an illustrious career in the front row. Shiells’ rugby talent was spotted at his home town club of Kelso, which earned him the opportunity to play for Newcastle Falcons, Edinburgh and Bath before making the move back to the Borders for his young family, in 2017, to play for Melrose.