Southern Knights and Newcastle Falcons to play again in memory of Borders rugby legend Doddie Weir
Fosroc Super6 side Southern Knights, both an offshoot of Tennent’s National League Division 1 outfit Melrose and a successor of sorts to short-lived professional side the Border Reivers, will host the English Gallagher Premiership team at the Greenyards on Saturday, February 4, then play them away on Saturday, February 11, in memory of the late Doddie Weir following his death last month at the age of 52 after a six-year fight against motor neurone disease.
Both games kick off at 1.30pm and the winner overall will claim Doddie’s Club Trophy, currently in the Borderers’ possession.
The late Weir, of Blainslie, spent most of his club career as a lock at Melrose and Newcastle, playing for the former from 1989 to 1995 and the latter from 1995 to 2002.
Capped 61 times for Scotland between 1990 and 2000, he returned to his home region in 2002, seeing out his playing career with three seasons at the Galashiels-based Border Reivers.
£5 of the cost of each ticket will go to the foundation Weir set up in 2017 to fund research into treatments for MND.
Adult tickets for the Greenyards game are £15 and for the rematch south of the border they’re £15 to £45. Go to southernknights.club or newcastlefalcons.co.uk for details.
Foundation chief executive and former Southern Reporter journalist Jill Douglas welcomed the return of the fundraising cup, saying: “What a fitting way to raise money for My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
“Doddie loved his time at Melrose and Newcastle and these two games will give both sets of supporters a chance to get together, watch some fantastic rugby and remember him.
“It has been a very challenging few weeks since we lost Doddie, but we will continue fundraising to secure his legacy of a world free of MND.”
Soon-to-be Knights backs coach Scott Wight, currently head coach at Selkirk, said: “It’s been fantastic to re-establish this fixture and offer our support in continuing Doddie’s work by raising funds to aid the foundation in their research to find a cure for MND.
“He has such a strong connection with the Greenyards, the wider Borders and Newcastle and, from a rugby perspective, fixtures like this don’t come much bigger.”
Falcons head coach Dave Walder added: “We’ve always enjoyed a good cross-border battle and, given the gap in our fixture list, it’s the perfect time to put on these two games against Southern Knights.
“It makes sense from a rugby perspective and is obviously timely, given the sad news regarding Doddie’s recent passing.
“I played alongside Doddie for a number of years, and it’s been amazing to see how much money and awareness he’s raised for research into motor neurone disease.
“It’s an honour for Newcastle Falcons to be part of two fixtures which will help generate further funds so the good work of his foundation can continue, and I’m sure our supporters will get behind the cause by purchasing their match tickets and warm-up T-shirts.”
The Greenyards game is on the same day as Scotland’s Six Nations opener against England in London, kicking off at 4.45pm, and it will be screened live in the club’s 1877 and Ned Haig bars.
Honours are even thus far between the Knights and Falcons in their charity cup games.
The Geordies won it first time round at Kingston Park in December 2019, with Weir there to hand over that inaugural accolade.
A season’s-best crowd of 5,484 turned out to watch the hosts win 57-10, their visitors’ tries being scored by Struan Hutchison and Billy Wara.
Falcons’ try-scorers were Charlie Maddison with three, Trevor Davison, Nemani Nagusa, Chidera Obonna, Bailey Ransom with two and Josh Basham, with Brett Connon adding five conversions and Will Haydon-Wood one.
The Knights drafted in a host of reinforcements from Edinburgh second time round, in October 2021, and that ploy paid off as they ran out 23-12 winners against a Falcons side featuring ex-Gala flanker Gary Graham at the Greenyards.
On the scoresheet with tries for the hosts, captained by Russell Anderson, with Henry Pyrgos as vice-skipper, were Freddie Owsley, Billy Wara, Adam McBurney, with Charlie Savala adding a conversion and Jason Baggott two penalty kicks.
Iwan Stephens scored both the visitors’ tries, with Will Haydon-Wood converting one of them.