Melrose players have one brief this weekend – win

MELROSE will hope not to underperform in their new underwear for this Saturday’s crunch British and Irish Cup tie against Welsh side Aberavon, writes Kenny Paterson.

The Greenyards side has signed a deal with designer firm Bjorn Borg to supply all their players with briefs for the remainder of the season.

And victory over the Welsh Premiership high-flyers would round off a hugely successful week for the club on and off the pitch, following the announcement of Aberdeen Asset Management’s five-figure sponsorship agreement with Melrose Sevens next year.

Director of rugby Mike Dalgetty is confident Saturday’s game, which has been moved to a 1.30pm kick-off, will go ahead, despite wintry conditions expected to return this weekend.

He told us: “We have to just keep checking the forecast, but we have frost covers to put in place overnight should we need to.

“It protects the pitch down to temperatures of around minus six. It is not expected temperatures to go that low, so are not expecting problems, although you can never tell with the weather.

“Aberavon are near the top of their league (third) and we know we are in for a very tough game.”

Dalgetty added: “Success on the pitch brings these sponsorship deals. We want to keep playing well.”

Melrose are expecting two or three professionals to be added to their squad, while influential player/coach John Dalziel is hopeful of getting the all-clear to make his first appearance since damaging his shoulder playing for the South of Scotland two months ago.

But the reigning Premier One champions will be missing Andrew Skeen, their match winner against Bedford Blues in the first round of the B&I Cup, who was called up on Tuesday to the Scotland squad for the South Africa Sevens this weekend.

In RBS Cup action, Gala’s clash with Hawick should survive the cold weather, thanks to Netherdale’s undersoil heating, while Jed-Forest are due to take on Kelso at Riverside Park and Peebles host Selkirk.

In a busy week for the game in the Borders, Scottish Rugby have announced that Scotland A will take on their English counterparts at Netherdale on February 3.

Melrose coach Craig Chalmers and Stevie Scott, formerly of Gala and now Sale Sharks forwards coach, will both assist Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley in the running of the side.

Scott said: “It will be a great experience to work with Michael and Craig and I hope I can bring some of what I’ve learned at Sale in the English Premiership to the set-up.

“I don’t often get the chance to get back to Scotland, so the fact the game is in the Borders is just an extra incentive to do well.”

Further games in 2012 involving national sides at youth levels will be played at Netherdale (Scotland under-20s v France under-20s, February 24); Hawick (Scotland under-18s v England under-18s, March 18); and Melrose (Scotland under-17s v England under-17s, March 25).

Meanwhile, Kieran Cooney (Melrose) and Gavin Young (Gala) have been named captain and vice-captain respectively of the Scottish Students squad who face Connacht A tomorrow afternoon at Murrayfield.