Having a Gala Day – Maroons rewarded for a stunning month

From left: Alan Lawson (SRU Vice-President); Opeta Palepoi; Linda Lawson; George Marshall (Gala RFC President) and Ashley Paton (RBS Rugby Rep). Photograph: Alwyn Johnston.
From left: Alan Lawson (SRU Vice-President); Opeta Palepoi; Linda Lawson; George Marshall (Gala RFC President) and Ashley Paton (RBS Rugby Rep). Photograph: Alwyn Johnston.

HAVING been promoted into RBS Premier One at the end of the 2010/11 season, Gala Rugby Club have stormed season 2011/12 so far.

The recent defeat of the 1st XV at Aberdeen ended a run of seven victories on the trot, encompassing the Premiership, the RBS Border Regional Cup, which they won, and the Border League.

It’s this success, along with the well-established rugby development programme they have, that has earned the side RBS Club of the Month for December and the £1,000 cash prize.

Gala president, George Marshall, said: “The RBS Club of the Month award is a great accolade and we’re delighted to be recognised.

“It’s been a good season all round for the club as all our teams are doing really well.

“It’s something else to win this award because we haven’t received anything like this for a long time.”

In December, the 1st XV won the RBS Border Regional Cup, beating Hawick 19-0, Jed-Forest 56-10, and Melrose 15-14 – from whom they reclaimed the Bill McLaren Shield – and the 2nd XV beat Jed A 45-0 in RBS Reserve League East 1, where they currently sit top of the table.

Aside from performance, they fund development officer, Ian Millar, who works in all nine primary schools in the Gala cluster and has a close relationship with Galashiels Academy.

Millar also works closely with the Gala Mini Maroons, Gala Red Triangle, Gala Wanderers and Gala YM. This development is also reinforced by the support of more than 30 volunteers committed to the growth of rugby in the area.

Scottish Rugby’s head of community rugby, Colin Thomson, said: “It’s great to see Gala Rugby Club get recognition for their efforts that have stemmed from several years of hard work to ensure their return to the top of Scottish club rugby.”

As RBS Club of the Month winners, Gala will receive a cheque for £1,000 and 10 invites to the annual Scottish Rugby Club Awards Dinner at Murrayfield, where they will be in with a chance of winning the prestigious RBS Club of the Season award.

At the presentation of the award at Netherdale last Thursday, Linda Lawson, daughter of Bill McLaren, was also on hand to unveil the official Bill McLaren Shield and present it to the club.

She said: “It’s an impressive trophy which I’m sure Dad would be very pleased with, and it certainly will provide a significant incentive in so many matches.”

Gala will now seek to retain the trophy and stake their claim to be the team to be engraved on it. They will begin this campaign at Netherdale on Saturday when they play Currie in RBS Premier A.

z Gala aren’t the only club receiving awards.

Earlston RFC became the proud recipients of the Border Rugby Referees Society Hospitality Trophy at their annual dinner in December.

The award, judged by our local whistlers, is given out on a yearly basis for the overall welcome visiting players, officials and supporters are given at the clubs.

Proud Earlston president Richard Aitchison said: “The age-old rugby ethos of sportsmanship, friendship and hospitality towards our guests is something that is the bedrock of our club and is second nature to everyone involved.

“But to be recognised in this way for our efforts is a tremendous boost and a great honour for everyone at the club.

“My thanks go to everyone at Earlston RFC who put in a tremendous amount of effort and dedication to make our club a special place to visit.”