Rugby’s Southern Knights to face two new opponents next season
The previous Super6 name has been dropped as there are going to be seven teams contesting the championship and an extra two taking part in the sprint series preceding it but international construction chemicals company Fosroc will continue as title sponsor.
The Fosroc Super Series Sprint will start next month, followed by the Fosroc Super Series Championship from July.
The sprint competition will kick off on Friday, April 7, and it will see new head coach Alan Tait’s Knights take on an Edinburgh A team as well as their five previous opponents – Heriot’s, Watsonians, Ayrshire Bulls, Boroughmuir Bears and Stirling Wolves.
A Glasgow Warriors A side will also be involved, playing games against the Bulls, Bears and Wolves.
Explaining the rejig, a Scottish Rugby Union spokesperson said: “The new name for the part-time professional league signals a structural change, with the addition of new teams into two competitions.
“These additions provide more high performance-focused environments for players and increase high-level performance game-time opportunities for the current cohorts of professional players, and next generation of aspirant professional players and coaches, in Scotland.
“Having teams from both of Scotland’s professional sides involved in the Fosroc Super Series Sprint will provide an opportunity for the current six licence teams to test themselves against full-time professionals, supported by their contracted academy players.
“It will also provide a closer alignment for the Fosroc Super Series teams with their respective professional teams and an opportunity for Super Series players to perform in front of pro team coaches.”
The championship will follow in the last weekend of July and it will be contested by seven teams this time round, the new kids on the block being a development team made up of current and future Scotland under-20 players.
Explaining that addition, the SRU spokesperson said: “The development team has been added to the Fosroc Super Series Championship to better prepare Scotland’s young players for the challenges of under-20 rugby and to help ensure our players can better compete, and improve performances, against higher-quality opposition in the Under-20 Six Nations and World Rugby Under-20 competitions.”
Jim Mallinder, Scottish Rugby’s performance director, added: “It’s a hugely exciting time for those involved in Fosroc Super Series rugby.
“With its expansion to include more teams and a different structure comes a time to reflect on how that gap between amateur and professional has been bridged in the last four years.
“Since 2019, 34 players registered with Fosroc Super6 teams have gone on to play professionally with either Glasgow Warriors or Edinburgh Rugby.
“In addition, 21 of those players have signed contracts with one of the two sides, with six earning full international caps for Scotland.
“Six former Fosroc Super6 head coaches – Pete Murchie, Pete Horne, Stevie Lawrie, Ciaran Beattie, Rob Chrystie and Fergus Pringle – and two assistant coaches, Scott Lawson and Chris Laidlaw, have moved into full-time professional performance coaching environments.
“We’re committed to providing more high-performance opportunities for those players striving to become regulars in Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors’ match-day squads.
“Another commitment we’re making is to provide higher-level competition and increased time in high-performance environments for our under-20 players to ensure that we are best preparing them for the ever-increasing demands of international rugby.”
Plans for a competition pitting Scotland’s semi-professional teams against opposition from further afield remain on the drawing board but the SRU is hopeful they’ll come to fruition at a later date, saying: “Whilst there is not an opportunity to progress with a cross-border competition in this calendar year, Scottish Rugby remains in positive discussions with other unions and has ambitions to add this element into future seasonal structures of the Fosroc Super Series.”
Fosroc Super Series Sprint fixtures are to be announced soon.
The Melrose-based Southern Knights have only played one match since Kelso’s Tait took over from Bruce Ruthven as head coach in January, losing 68-19 to Newcastle Falcons in a fundraising friendly at their English opponents’ Kingston Park home ground in February.