Gala pull out of rugby’s Border League to focus on promotion challenge

Gala have followed Peebles in pulling out of this year’s Border League competition, leaving only five teams involved and just three with a hope of making it to the final of the oldest rugby contest of its kind in the world.

Scott Peffers in action for Gala against Biggar last month (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Scott Peffers in action for Gala against Biggar last month (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Peebles withdrew last month due to injury problems and Gala have now done likewise to focus on their Tennent’s National League Division 1 title challenge and ease the fixture congestion they face due to coronavirus-induced postponements.

That leaves only Hawick, Kelso, Melrose, Jed-Forest and Selkirk involved and the latter two are already out of the running.

Hawick’s pool now being reduced to two teams after Gala’s exit, they automatically go through to the final by dint of their 53-12 victory against their Jedburgh rivals last month.

The 49-times winners’ opposition in the final will be determined by Selkirk’s rescheduled home game against Kelso this Friday, kicking off at 7.30pm. If Kelso win, they’re in with a chance of their sixth title, but if they’re beaten by their hosts at Philiphaugh, it will be 20-times winners Melrose that go through.

Gala had been due to play Hawick on Saturday, March 19, and Jed-Forest at a date to be fixed.

Explaining their decision to pull out, announced on Tuesday night, a spokesperson for the Galashiels side said: “Gala have regrettably decided to withdraw from their Border League fixture against Hawick scheduled for March 19.

“This decision has not been taken lightly and has arisen for a number of reasons, but much of it is to do with previous Covid league cancellations and a much heavier schedule for Gala than had been anticipated when the fixture was agreed last year.

“From the end of February until almost the end of April, the club will have completed eight games of competitive first-team XVs in nine weeks and a sevens tournament.

“The withdrawal of Peebles from the Border League competition and our cancelled game against Jed-Forest in December reduced our Border League pool and hence our interest in it, and given our opportunity for promotion to the Tennent’s Premiership, we have decided to concentrate on our remaining National League Division 1 games from now until the end of our season, as it stands, on April 23 away to Dundee.”

Gala are currently third in their division with 69 points from 17 games, just three points behind league leaders Heriot’s Blues and with a game in hand.