Hawick looking to up their game despite going entire rugby season unbeaten, says captain Shawn Muir

Going an entire Scottish Premiership rugby season unbeaten and notching up their first winning double for 21 years might be a tough act to top but that’s the target Hawick will be setting themselves next term, according to captain Shawn Muir.
Hawick captain Shawn Muir believes his team have potential to improve further despite being unbeaten since spring 2022 (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group/SRU)Hawick captain Shawn Muir believes his team have potential to improve further despite being unbeaten since spring 2022 (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group/SRU)
Hawick captain Shawn Muir believes his team have potential to improve further despite being unbeaten since spring 2022 (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group/SRU)

“It’ll be a massive challenge to do what we did last season again but we’ve set our aims in-house and we’ve just got to take it like we did last season, one game at a time,” said the 30-year-old, named as skipper for the campaign ahead last week, with Kirk Ford and Fraser Renwick as vice-captains.

Their 31-13 Scottish cup final victory against Marr at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium in May earned the Greens their third piece of silverware in the space of a year, following on from March’s Tennent’s Premiership play-off final win against Currie Chieftains by 21-18 and April 2022’s 18-14 Border League final victory against Kelso, and extended their ongoing unbeaten run to 25 games, having won 19 league and play-off fixtures and four cup matches since, with only one draw in the league, 20-20 at home to Selkirk in August, denying them a 100% record.

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A few of those results – such as wins by 13-12 at Edinburgh Academical in September and 15-13 at home to Glasgow Hutchesons’ Aloysians in February, as well as their play-off final victory at home at Mansfield Park – were too close for comfort for Muir, however, and he reckons his side can do better.

“We’ve just got to keep working away and looking to get our performances better at the beginning of the season than they were last time as we didn’t start off too great,” he told us.

“I know that sounds pretty mental as we didn’t lose a game but we weren’t too happy with some of our performances.”

“There’s no hiding from the fact that there were probably two or three games last season that we didn’t deserve to win.

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“There was the Edinburgh Accies game away and there was our match against GHA at home when they missed a kick in the last couple of minutes that would have beaten us.

“There were games last season when we rode our luck and kind of dug in to win.

“We know the challenge we’re up against this year and we’ve now got a target on our backs.

“We’re just looking to get a good pre-season in and then, come September 2 against Glasgow Hawks, hit the ground running.”

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It’s the loosehead prop’s second stint as skipper, having captained the Greens for three seasons on the trot ahead of rugby’s Covid-19-enforced shutdown in 2020.

Muir and Andrew Mitchell were vice-captains to Matt Carryer, now back at Peebles, last season and the former took on team captain duties for much of the campaign.

“I’ve done it before so it’s nothing really new to me but it’s still a huge honour and not something to be taken lightly, especially as it’s the club’s 150th year as well,” he said.

Muir was also captain of the South of Scotland side that contested the revived inter-district championships in May, losing out by 32-30 to Caledonia Reds in the final in Glasgow.

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“That was a huge honour as well, captaining the district,” he recalled.

“It was just unfortunate that we came up short at the end – that was a tough one to take – but it was a great experience and I loved the few weeks I had with the boys.”

Muir is now on 213 appearances for Hawick, his most recent one being their Scottish cup victory, and he can’t wait to add to that tally come the start of next season with a visit from Glasgow Hawks to Mansfield Park on Saturday, September 2.

“I can’t wait to get started,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting back involved with the boys and hopefully making it another memorable season.”

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Muir’s brother Gary, previously team manager, replaces John Hogg as director of rugby for next season but the Greens’ coaching line-up is unchanged, with Matty Douglas continuing in charge. He’ll be assisted again by Graham Hogg as backs coach and Lewis Bertram as forwards coach.

“It’s good that there’s a lot of continuity, and I think that bodes well for us,” said Muir.

“A lot of the boys from last season have signed up again, so there’s not much change in the squad and there’s no change in the coaching set-up.”

Though they’re now about to defend their premiership title, as well as the Scottish cup, Muir’s seen lows as well as highs during his 13 years of playing for Hawick’s first XV, recalling: “The second time they got relegated was my first season at Hawick, so my first season wasn’t the greatest, but then I was involved in the squad that got promoted as well, so I’ve been through the mill a bit during my time here and last season was the icing on the cake.”

Away from the rugby field, Muir works in planning at Hawick firm Barrie Knitwear and is a parent, with partner Leah, to three-year-old Oakley and two-week-old Mara.