Jed-Forest in the money as bank hands out £4,000-plus to 14 rugby clubs in Borders

Jed-Forest Rugby Club have been given a £1,000 boost and a chance for younger players to chat to three of the country’s sporting heroes.

Online Q&A session participant Blair Kinghorn, pictured, centre, playing for Scotland against France the weekend before last. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Online Q&A session participant Blair Kinghorn, pictured, centre, playing for Scotland against France the weekend before last. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

That £1,000 gift is part of a £4,000-plus handout by the Royal Bank of Scotland to 14 clubs in the Borders.

Payouts of £250 are going to Jed Thistle, Kelso, Melrose, Peebles, Selkirk, Duns, Gala, Gala YM, Hawick Harlequins, Hawick Linden and Hawick, as well as Selkirk and Hawick’s youth clubs, as part of the annual Royal Bank RugbyForce initiative.

They’ve all been given what’s billed as legend status as part of that support package, but Jed-Forest and their minis teams have landed hero status, earning them a four-figure payout and an online question-and-answer session with Scottish rugby internationals Blair Kinghorn, Emma Wassell and Stuart McInally.

The Jedburgh club are one of only two nationwide to get that designation, the other being Loch Lomond.

The RugbyForce programme, launched in 2009 to support amateur clubs across Scotland by providing funding to improve facilities and attract new members, usually splashes the cash in August to coincide with community events staged by beneficiaries, but this year’s payouts have been brought forward to help ease the cashflow issues clubs are facing due to the coronavirus pandemic leading to this season being scrapped.

Jed-Forest will spend their handout on improvements to facilities at their Riverside Park ground and on observing covid-19 safety protocols once games are allowed to resume after next spring.

The Royal Bank of Scotland – now running just three branches in the Borders, at Galashiels, Kelso and Peebles, after pulling out of Jedburgh, Hawick, Eyemouth, Duns and Selkirk in 2018 and Melrose last year – is also offering advice to grass-roots clubs on how to balance their books in the absence of any gate income from spectators.

On top of that, it’s providing social distancingkit, directional signage and sanitation products – along with new bibs, balls and cones – ready for when rugby games are allowed to resume.

Jed-Forest has welcomed the bank’s support, with minis convener David McKay saying: “We were delighted to be chosen as one of two Royal Bank RugbyForce hero clubs this season.

“Whilst the covid pandemic has delayed our RugbyForce weekend, the cash award of £1,000 is welcome.

“The funds, tools and expertise that RugbyForce brings to grass-roots rugby is a massive boost at such a difficult time, and the club are hopeful that we’ll be able to deliver a RugbyForce weekend in the future that encourages everyone back to Riverside.”

Malcolm Buchanan, chairman of the bank’s board for Scotland, said: “We are delighted to award Jed-Forest Rugby Club with funding and hero club status as part of this year’s Royal Bank RugbyForce initiative.

“The sheer determination of grass-roots clubs, even in the most testing times, demonstrates their resilience and passion for the sport in the communities they serve.

“We’re proud that we can continue to support clubs across the country to help them to get back on their feet and safeguard them for the future.”

“The Royal Bank of Scotland has a long-standing commitment to rugby in Scotland.

“Over the 12 years Royal Bank RugbyForce has been running, we have witnessed first hand the huge difference the programme has made to clubs, their members and the communities in which they play.”