New day dawns for Southern Knights as rugby returns after Covid-19 lay-off

A new day is dawning for rugby’s Southern Knights as they return to action after a lay-off lasting almost a year and a half.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 6:46 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd August 2021, 5:13 pm
Southern Knights hosting Ayrshire Bulls at the Greenyards in Melrose on Sunday (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Saturday, July 24, saw the Melrose-based club play their first game since the coronavirus pandemic led to the 2019-20 Fosroc Super6 season being abandoned in March last year.

They won that pre-season friendly against Ayrshire Bulls at the Greenyards in Melrose 31-28 just days ahead of the start of the second Super6 campaign this Saturday, July 31, away to Stirling County, with kick-off at 3pm.

Almost 500 rugby fans were there to see the Borderers come from behind to get the better of their visitors from Ayr.

Dalton Redpath gets to grips with an Ayrshire Bulls opponent on Sunday (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Grant Shiels and Neil Irvine-Hess cancelled out scores from Bobby Beattie and Yaree Fantini to leave the scoreline at 14 all at half-time.

Come the second half, Tom Everard and Scott Clelland put the Bulls 28-14 in front, but Struan Hutchison got over the line to get the Knights back into the game midway through the second period and Ben McLean added two late tries to complete the hosts’ comeback and secure victory.

Head coach Rob Chrystie was heartened by that fightback by his ring-rusty squad, saying: “It was great to eventually get back out on the Greenyards in a meaningful fixture.

“The atmosphere before the game was brilliant and the players showed excellent character and togetherness throughout the game.

Patrick Anderson in the thick of things for Southern Knights yesterday (Pic: Bill McBurnie)

“We have clearly got areas of our game that need worked on, but it was a great day all round, and we are all looking forward to getting started next weekend against Stirling County.

“There was good character shown by the whole group, and probably the most important thing if I’m being honest is that the whole squad got a really good hit out there. We used all 27 players, and there were a couple extra that came in there as well.

"It was a proper hit and a proper game and you can’t replicate that in training.

"We’re not far away. Physically we look pretty good, but when guys don’t play rugby for over 16 months, it’s difficult.”

Neil Irvine-Hess getting up high for Southern Knights against Ayrshire Bulls (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Talking to Borders Rugby TV after the game, captain Craig Jackson added: “It’s only seven days away. We’re privileged to play and it’s all starting. It is an exciting time for Scottish rugby and Super6.”

To see highlights of Sunday’s game, go to