The official start of the 2015/16 league season is still three weeks away, but for Selkirk and Peebles the return to competitive action is earlier than most.
For these two local rivals go head-to-head in the opening Booker Border League match at Philiphaugh on Saturday.
Newly-promoted Premiership side Selkirk managed to punch above their weight last term, finishing joint runners-up with Gala, while Saturday’s opponents earned a single win.
Selkirk’s director of rugby and assistant coach Cameron Cochrane admitted his side has a lot to live up to after their much-hyped unbeaten season, insisting he can already feel the target on the club’s back in what he is expecting to be an ultra-competitive 2015/16 Border League competition.
“Last season we competed well, but we know it is going to be tough to emulate this year,” he said. “We have strengthened, but so have Peebles, Kelso and all of the Premiership sides, so it is not going to be easy. The Border League is one of those competitions where anyone can win because there isn’t really much between the teams.
“Yes, the Premiership sides use this tournament more as a training league, rotating players around, but if I am honest, quality-wise there isn’t much difference between everyone and it’s not inconceivable to say that a non-Premiership side could win the title.”
Cochrane admitted that playing three weeks before the start of the league season is not ideal, but believes the intensity the Border League offers can set his side up for a top-half finish in the Premiership.
“The competitiveness of the Border League offers us a perfect way to get some meaningful games under the belt before we start our league season,” he added.
“Peebles presents a tough challenge, but as always, it will be close and competitive.”
With the new coaching team of Drew Moore and Ewen Robbie in place, Peebles are also looking to get off to a good start.
“We have a fantastic opportunity this season and if we are all prepared to work hard for each other and keep an open mind, we will see success,” said Moore.