Borders rugby clubs back in a league of their own

Gala celebrate winning the 2014 Border League at Scremerston
Gala celebrate winning the 2014 Border League at Scremerston

The seven clubs involved with the Border League unanimously voted for it to continue, despite this year’s controversial competition.

The clubs have agreed, however, to have a league next season rather than the two pools and a final which has been in place recently.

All clubs have agreed to play a minimum of one fixture in August, but whether this is enough or not is up for debate. The difficulties in arranging games late in the season are plain to see, so it is crucial that matches outwith the double-headed encounters are played early.

Gala, Melrose and Hawick will double-head their appropriate Premiership fixtures with BL games, while the local National League teams – Selkirk, Kelso, Peebles and Jed-Forest – will do the same. The matches chosen for doubling up on will be announced after the SRU releases the league fixtures.

Border League secretary John Thorburn commented: “While this means there will not be a Border League final next year, the Border League will return to being a proper league, with all teams playing each other, which is a positive.

“There is a genuine commitment from all taking part to avoid a repeat of events this season.”

Looking at social media comments from some players, there is serious concern over fixture congestion.

The National League and Cup always take priority and the Border League has to fit around them. We had a reasonable winter, yet couldn’t get three of the games completed – a bad winter would cause serious disruption.

So this decision by the clubs, while brave and commendable, is going to require a lot of commitment to make it successful. Whoever ends up winning next season will truly deserve it by finishing top in a league in which everyone is involved.

The Border League final has been well supported and time will tell if this is a new beginning for the league, or the end of an era.

z Gala added their contribution to the St George’s Day celebrations last Wednesday evening by winning the first Border League final to be played in England.

The Maroons ended a long, hard and at times painful XV-a-side season with a convincing 30-14 victory over Melrose at Scremerston, home of Berwick RFC. Euan Dods crossed the line twice for Gala, with Ewan Gunter and Gary Graham getting the others.

David O’Hagan converted two and kicked two penalties. Bruce Dick scored two for Melrose, with Joe Helps converting both.