Jones gets the vote in October poll

Lee Jones, left, with Douglas Watt from award sponsor Sykes Global Services Ltd (picture by Alwyn Johnston).
Lee Jones, left, with Douglas Watt from award sponsor Sykes Global Services Ltd (picture by Alwyn Johnston).

From those at the top of their game to those taking their first steps in active pursuits, ClubSport Ettrick and Lauderdale honoured a wide range of clubs and individuals at its recent annual award ceremony.

Gala RFC’s Netherdale clubrooms was the venue for the October 26 event, which saw Selkirk’s international winger Lee Jones lift the 2018 Sports Personality of the Year Award, in recognition of his rugby sevens triumphs and long-awaited return to the Scotland 1st XV.

The 30-year-old Glasgow Warriors star joined a host of sport enthusiasts of all ages and abilities to celebrate the wide variety of achievement in the region over the past year.

He said: “This is where I grew up and where I first played rugby, so it’s a huge honour to receive this award.

“It’s been a while since I was in Gala Rugby Club but it’s good to be back and it was great to hear about all the positive things happening within Borders sport.”

Having worked his way up through the international age-grade system, Jones earned the first of nine international caps playing in Andy Robinson’s 2012 Six Nations squad, making his debut against England in the opening match and scoring his first try for Scotland against France three weeks later.

It was to be five years, however, until the former Selkirk Youth Club and Selkirk player received his next call up.

With Gregor Townsend now at the helm, Jones returned to the Scotland squad ahead of their 2017 Summer Tour, featuring in the national team’s historic win over the Wallabies in Sydney and against Samoa and New Zealand in the autumn.

He returned to Six Nations rugby earlier this year, coming off the bench against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

A prolific sevens player, Jones has played 110 matches and scored 275 points for his country in the World Series, topped off with appearances over three Commonwealth Games.

Jones played for Scotland at Cardiff on Saturday against Wales in the Doddie Weir Cup, the first of the Autumn Tests, and he is also focusing on Glasgow’s league campaign, with a long-term view on next year’s Six Nations and the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“When I was first capped I was relatively young and definitely lacking in rugby experience,” he admitted.

“In the five years that I wasn’t selected for Scotland, I was improving as a player all the time.

“It was a long journey and, as well as growing a lot as a player, I grew as a person as well.

“I learnt to accept more that sport is full of ups and downs and kept my focus on whatever I was doing at the time.

“I feel I am a lot better for that experience and more ready than ever for whatever might happen next.”

Jones was last to receive his award at Friday night’s celebration, which was hosted by ClubSport Ettrick & Lauderdale chairman Trevor Bryant.

Earlston High School’s Christie Rout was first to take the spotlight, announced as 2018 Junior Coach of the Year for her dedication and motivation when delivering sporting activities to primary and secondary school children of all abilities.

The S6 pupil was part of the Live Borders Young Coach Academy 2017-18, where she completed a number of development courses.

Christie said: “All the sports I am involved with offer something different like social, mental and physical skills, so I think it’s important not to try and streamline children all into the one activity.

“Seeing the kids’ faces when they do something right and improve is enough and makes it all worthwhile. It’s always nice to be recognised for something you do, though.”

Earlston High School continued to feature when netball coach Shona Brett was named Coach of the Year.

Shona has been an integral part of getting primary and secondary school girls active through netball since 2011. She has also volunteered at Melrose Primary School since 2015, running the after-school netball club on Tuesday afternoons plus organising games and tournaments.

Melrose Rugby Club was named Team of the Year, having achieved the League and Cup double at the end of the 2017-18 season, while Tweedbank Thistle FC lifted the Club of the Year Award for its commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles and its work within the community.

Another highly successful season in the pool, which included appearances at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast and the World Para Series in Indianapolis, led to Beth Johnston receiving the Disability Award, with fellow Galalean Charis Scott picking up the Junior Sports Personality of the Year title.

The 16-year-old, who plays with Gala CC and Carlton Ladies in Edinburgh, started the season with hopes of keeping her place in Scotland’s U17s side but finished it, incredibly, with a first senior international cap.

Tam Hardie received the Scottish Association of Local Sports Councils’ Award for Service to Sport, having coached at the Focus Judo Club since 1985.