Hopes are high of heralding a revival of inter-district rugby

The long-cherished reappearance of inter-district rugby in the Borders on Tuesday night has invigorated hopes of frequent matches.

Thursday, 10th November 2016, 10:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 2:53 pm
Bruce McNeil of Hawick, vice-captain on the night, was one of the South of Scotland try scorers on Tuesday night in Jedburgh (picture by Stuart Cobley)

The size of the crowd – around 1200 – and the number of guests at pre-match hospitality – over 110 – surpassed many expectations ahead of the game between South of Scotland and Caledonia at Jed-forest’s Riverside home.

Now the bidding has begun to expand the spectacle and hopefully get other districts on board.

The match was the first of its kind for five years and saw South win 33-7.

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Border League president Billy Grieve explained talks would be under way soon and there were already plans for a return match between Caledonia and the South next season, possibly in Fife, and possibly around this time next year.

This week’s occasion had been very well supported and there was a good deal of enthusiasm from the rugby community, he added.

Border and South would be trying to get agreement from Edinburgh and Glasgow, among others, for further district matches.

“I think rugby followers are wanting it, and the players certainly are up for it,” said Mr Grieve.

Tuesday’s match itself witnessed South using their experience both to contain a Caledonian side which played the more entertaining rugby, combining precision passing and continuity in attack that tested South’s defence to near breaking point.

“Our defensive performance was very good,” said South’s forwards coach Kevin Barrie.

“Caley had a lot of ball and a lot of territory but we were more desperate in defence.”

Reds coach Colin Sangster suggested South were a bit more streetwise.

“We had a lot of possession and a lot of territory,” he explained.

“They were just a bit more clinical and that was the difference between the teams.

“I’m proud of the way the boys played for a team that’s just had one session together.”