SELKIRK Rugby Club has revealed that popular lock forward Simon Willett is leaving the club to study at Leeds University.
And while the club has recruited two French players, rugby director Dennis Henderson told members attending the annual meeting last Thursday that the club would have to bring in a replacement for Willett.
“He was a huge player for us and will be a big miss,” he said. “We already have the feelers out.”
The club has confirmed the signing of French duo, prop Clement Lacour (24), from Federation 1 side Sporting Club Graulet, and threequarter Yanniek Amiel (also 24), from Albi Under-23s.
“We now have clearance for both players and they will be joining us on July 25,” said Henderson. “We are now chasing a replacement for Simon as we want to get Selkirk back into the top league.”
Neil Darling, at the age of 28, will be skipper for the second time, with Gavin Craig as vice-captain.
Darling said: “It will be a really hard year for us.”
Eric Forster will take over as president at the Philiphaugh club with John Rutherford as vice-president. But retiring president, Donald Macleod, warned against complacency.
“The season 2010/2011 was not as straightforward as I would have wished, but, in spite of many challenges, we have finished on a sound footing with the club’s reputation secure and exciting developments taking place,” he said. “Next season is going to be exceptionally tough.
“The split league format continues this coming season, but the following season there will only be two 10-team national leagues.
Relegation will be easy and survival difficult. The way to stay out of trouble is for Selkirk to be top of P2 after the first 11 games.”
Also revealed at the AGM was the good news that the new all-weather pitch at Philiphaugh will be opened by SRU President Ian McLauchlan on August 26.
All Border League meetings will be held at Philiphaugh next season to save travelling time on visits to Peebles, where Bob Hogarth is president.
The club has also appointed retired newspaper editor, John Smail, as a life member. Mr Smail was a former editor of TheSouthern.
Meanwhile, the club are into their third week of pre-season training, with the new coaching team of Brian Cassidy, Ewen Robbie and Ali Dickson all settling in nicely.
It’s hardly surprising, as they were already familiar and well-respected faces around Philiphaugh.
And Cassidy, for one, is confident his team will pull together once more and produce the goods for their town and jersey.
“Thankfully, we still have a great sense of family spirit at Selkirk and I think it’s important that we keep that,” he told TheSouthern.
Looking ahead to the new season, Cassidy added: “We need to build confidence within the team. I still firmly believe that Selkirk are a First Division side who will be playing in the Second Division and if we can get that notion instilled into the players then we can get back up to where we belong.”
Selkirk begin their season with a home fixture against Watsonians on August 27, but they will be without winger Darren Clapperton (injury) and Michael McVie (suspended).