Hawick RFC is playing a green-clad helping role this year in the Borders’ traditional sprinkling of festive rugby fixtures.
The Greens were in action after the Hawick News went to press yesterday (Thursday) in the Booker Borders League against Kelso at Mansfield Park.
On Boxing Day, they visit Jed-Forest for one of the most popular customs on the Christmas calendar – the Skelly Cup.
Head coach George Graham intends to field a strong squad at Riverside, having intended resting some of his regular players against “burnout” when Kelso came visiting.
Before the match, he said some players who’d not had much game time would probably figure.
“We’ll try to balance it by making sure people are not entirely burnt out,” he said.
“A lot of guys have had a lot of 80 minutes – we’ll try and manage their game time and give them a rest, but keep them motivated,” he added.
The Kelso match would offer “a great opportunity for some of these boys to try and stamp their mark on getting in the first team”.
Graham expected another difficult assignment on Wednesday at Riverside.
“Jed came to Mansfield last year and beat us, and rightly so,” he recalled. “We never turned up and Jed played very well. I’m hoping we go there with a bit of confidence, having won away from home at Glasgow Hawks and, if we can do that at Jed, it will be good.
“But it will be tough and we will have to play well, because Jed are a very good team just now.”
After that, Hawick are next in action when the Tennent’s Premiership resumes on January 12, away to struggling Edinburgh Accies.
Last Saturday, the Robbie Dyes endured another extremely tough, low-scoring physical test in very demanding weather conditions.
They had won their two previous matches which followed that pattern but, this time, they went down by a single point against Watsonians, which also dented their fine home record.
Lee Armstrong, such a key player for them this season, found himself with a chance to win the game with a conversion, after a try by Greg Walker in the eighth minute of injury time.
But, far out and far back on the touchline, in very poor light and terribly wet weather conditions, Armstrong’s kick lucklessly fell wide and short.
“In the first half, we never executed particularly well and there were a lot of errors,” said Graham. “We were not playing rugby in the right areas of the field.
“Watsonians are quite a good team – in the first half, they only had one line break, which led to a try.
“Conditions were poor for everyone and it was bitterly, bitterly cold.
“There were a lot of dropped balls and unforced errors.
“We tidied things up in the second half and we were the better team but we never managed to get that score until right up at very end.”
Graham said Hawick were gradually getting their systems in place and their set plays were working better.
They’d played well against teams such as Watsonians and Currie, who had respectively put around 50 and 70 points past them earlier in the season.