Sprightly Souters rugby trio on track for New Year Sprint

With club rugby in cold storage for the time being, three Selkirk rugby players have switched their attention to the athletics track.

Friday, 8th January 2021, 12:30 pm
Ryan Cottrell, David Cassidy and Callum Anderson train at the Tweedbank athletics track (picture by John Smail)

Months of sprint training have now paid off for David Cassidy, Callum Anderson and Ryan Cottrell, with all three runners having their entries accepted for the 152nd staging of the New Year Sprint.

This year’s meeting had been scheduled for December 30 and January 1.

However, because of Covid-19 restrictions, the event was postponed, with mid-March being the earliest it is likely to take place.

Sign up to our daily The Southern Reporter Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The call-off has come as something of a blessing for Ryan Cottrell, who suffered a hamstring pull and is undergoing a rehab programme supervised by Selkirk Rugby Club physio Ryan Crockatt.

“It’s a bit frustrating but there’s a fair chance the race could get put back again, so I’m confident I’ll have enough time to get back to my full pace, said Ryan, 20. “Although entering the race is a bit of fun, we still want to do well in it and have been training really hard. Callum and I recently had a look at the winning times from last year and reckon we could definitely have a chance.”

The idea to enter came from Callum Anderson and his father David, Selkirk Rugby Club’s senior vice-president. “I’m really looking forward to the race meeting,” said Callum. “Each of us is off 12 metres, which should give us quite a competitive chance.”

Callum, 19, was recently asked to join the Scotland under-20s squad for training and enjoyed being part of the set-up under coach Sean Lineen. “Because my focus was on sprint training, I hadn’t had a rugby ball in my hands for a while, so it took a wee bit of time to get back into the swing of things, but I think it went well.

“Four or five training camps are being held in January for the under-20s and, although the squads haven’t been announced yet, I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ll be involved again.”

David Cassidy has been player-coach of Selkirk ‘A’ XV for the past two seasons, but has supervised regular sprinting sessions for Selkirk rugby players for a number of years. So, at the age of 39, what’s made him enter one of the world’s most famous sprint meetings?

“It’s given myself and the boys something to aim for,” David told the selkirkrfc.com website. “We’ve been doing a lot of running even before pre-season started and, once the rugby was cancelled, Callum was quite keen to enter the New Year Sprint.

“Because of this, I switched our training from Philiphaugh to Tweedbank, so we could work out on a proper track, and the boys have taken to it really well. I’ve been given the same mark as the others, 12 metres, so I’m not expecting miracles!

”I’ve never done anything like this before, so it’s something I’ll be able to say I’ve done and, hopefully I can put in a decent performance on the day.”

The £5000 first prize makes the Sprint the richest race in the professional calendar, reinforcing the event’s position as the sport’s premier event.

Although the New Year Sprint has, by tradition, been a professional event, the meeting has been sanctioned by British Athletics and Scottish Athletics for competition by amateurs, who may keep any prize money.