Customary cup contest at The Greenyards

One unconverted try apiece last year meant the Waverley Cup match finished level at 5-5. Gala, as holders, kept hold of the trophy (picture by Alwyn Johnston)
One unconverted try apiece last year meant the Waverley Cup match finished level at 5-5. Gala, as holders, kept hold of the trophy (picture by Alwyn Johnston)

There’s another ‘Christmas cracker’ in store for rugby fans on Boxing Day when Melrose take on Gala in the seasonal Waverley Cup game.

Like a number of the traditional local fixtures, this one is regarded as a great occasion, with an excellent appreciative crowd and an atmosphere all of its own.

Last year’s encounter finished 5-5, with holders Gala retaining the trophy.

Action gets under way at The Greenyards at 2pm on Tuesday (December 26) and all those involved are looking forward to taking part.

Gala are coming into the game after a 31-12 win on Thursday over Peebles in the Booker Border League and will doubtless take some confidence from that as they face the BT Premiership leaders. who have won all 12 league games so far this season and scored bonus points in each.

Gala captain Graham Speirs said: “The Waverley Cup is a good occasion, with the pressure of the league off your shoulders.

“It’s a one-off game and a lot of people come to it who maybe don’t always go watch Gala or Melrose at other times of the season.

“It’s always one you want to play in, so we can go in without the league pressure and have a real crack. They (Melrose) play an exciting brand of r ugby as well.”

Melrose may have preferred to keep their league momentum going, rather than play in an ‘alternative’ match, but head coach Rob Chrystie agreed the Waverley Cup had an immensely strong appeal.

“It’s a great fixture – there is always a really big crowd and it’s a good, local time-of-the-year game,” he said.

“It’s a great fixture to be involved in as player – it can be a little bit challenging from the fact it is on Boxing Day Day but, as a player, I always wanted to be part of it. There’s a big crowd and a bit of fun after it as well. It’s a really important fixture for both clubs.”

Chrystie added there may be scope to give a few other Melrose players a chance on the field, but a strong XV would be lining up.

“Boys who deserve the opportunity to be in the Melrose first team will get an opportunity – it’s as simple as that, if it’s a Border League, league fixture or cup fixture,” he said.