Former star Fraser Harkness back at Selkirk as youth coach

Former Selkirk star Fraser Harkness has been welcomed back at Philiphaugh after taking on a youth coaching role at his old stamping ground.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 4:09 pm
Fraser Harkness with young players at Selkirk (Photo: John Smail)
Fraser Harkness with young players at Selkirk (Photo: John Smail)

The 36-year-old has teamed up with the club’s director of rugby, Ewen Robbie, to help coach their under-15 and under-16s team.

“Ewen phoned me one night as they were struggling a wee bit for coaches,” Harkness told the club’s website, selkirkrfc.com

“He asked if I’d like to come down and get involved, especially since Craig MacDougall had joined the fire service and wouldn’t be able to help on a regular basis.

“I always wanted to put something back into the club, and right it now it suits me from a family point of view.

“The boys train from 6pm to 7pm, so it means I can get home to the children for bathtime.

“It’s also very rewarding to have seen the growth in these young Selkirk players over recent months, and I’ve really enjoyed working with them. They’re a great bunch of young lads. It’s a good age to catch them at, working on their skills and preparing them for going on to the youth club and then stepping up to senior rugby at Philiphaugh.”

in his playing days, Harkness captained the youth club side that won the Border Semi-Junior League title and Youth League Cup final at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield in 2003 and went on to captain Selkirk’s first XV in 2010.

The full-back made 268 appearances for Selkirk between 2002 and 2011, scoring a record total of 143 tries and helping them win Kings of the Sevens titles in 2007 and 2008.

Harkness was named Scottish Rugby’s Premier 2 player of the season in 2009 and Premier 1’s best player the following year.

He picked up two Scotland Club XV caps alongside Philiphaugh team-mates Lee Jones and Gavin Craig in 2009, and between 2010 and 2012 he made nine appearances for Scotland’s sevens team, scoring 10 tries.

Another career highlight came in 2014 when he was selected for the Barbarians to play against Dublin side Clontarf.

In 2015, he left Philiphaugh to join Jed-Forest for three seasons, including a stint as player-coach.

“I’d played 11 seasons at Selkirk and got to the point where I felt I wasn’t giving enough any more,” he recalled.

“I needed a change and a new challenge.

“Their players had a totally different attitude to certain aspects of the game, and my time there gave me a whole new perspective.

“I was 30, I’d just broken my leg and Selkirk had some great young boys coming through, like Josh Welsh.”

Now happily back at his home-town club, Harkness is glad to be able to offer the benefit of his experience to up-and-coming players there.

“I enjoy the banter, and, to be honest, I’ve missed being involved with rugby,” he said.

“A lot of ex-players take up new sports like golf to keep their competitive edge, but I like to come down and run about with the young lads now and again in match situations, and the boys definitely like trying to get one-up on me.

“The most important thing is that they’re all keen to learn and want to get better.

“If you can help them develop and move on into the under-18s’ set-up and then up to the seniors, then it’s a pathway that’ll benefit Selkirk Rugby Club in the future.”

With coronavirus lockdown restrictions now being eased, Harkness hopes the youngsters will soon be able to play some meaningful rugby.

“The lads have shown great commitment to come down on Tuesdays and Thursdays when there’s nothing happening on the Saturday. I know as a player how hard that can be,” he said.