Selkirk RFC burst back into competitive action tomorrow (Saturday) at the start of a new season in BT National League Division One.
The Souters aim is for a successful campaign which benefits the club and the town – but some at Philiphaugh are hopeful of a finish in the top four.
Almost half the league will be composed of Borders teams in 2017-18, with Selkirk joined by Jed-Forest, promoted Kelso and relegated Gala.
The scene is set for a host of passionate local derby encounters which could showcase Borders rugby and hopefully attract big, enthusiastic crowds.
The Souters have also been recruiting and are set to welcome a new South African winger this weekend, under their overseas exchange agreement, along with another new back five player next week, to add to the arrival of prop Nick Hall from Australia.
Director of rugby Ewen Robbie said the club had a clear notion of the way forward but it would be at a manageable pace.
“First off, we are realistic,” he said. “We have the advantage of being up in the Premiership two years ago – going up with an unbeaten team – and seeing how much of a challenge it actually is, not only on the pitch, but off it.
“You always have a dip a season after you’ve been relegated – we’ve had a massive high, a massive low, but we’re starting to get up again.
“Our main focus in recruitment has been bringing guys in who will enhance our younger guys, and they will learn from them.
“Our realistic aim is to have a good season,” added Robbie. “That’s how we term our success – on how good that season has been.
“If we’re up near the top, we will challenge and go for it 100 per cent – but we are focused. We want to be a hard team to beat at home. We want to play good rugby and we want to be a good team. Those are the main things for us.
“We are ambitious – you’ve always got to be ambitious – but ‘realistically ambitious’ is probably a better definition. There’s no use firing all the guns trying to get promotion if you’ve not been looking at what’s been coming in behind that.”
Pleased to be facing so many Border rivals in the league this season, Robbie added: “I think it’s great because there’s a whole different atmosphere. When Border games are played, that’s what rugby is about.”
The action starts tomorrow at Stoneyhill against Musselburgh, tough opponents whom Selkirk know well.
“Musselburgh are kind of like ourselves – hard to beat at home and a smaller community team,” said Robbie.
First team manager Tom Ramage said he was hopeful of a top four finish this season for Selkirk – maybe even a play-off place. But, continuing in the ‘realistic’ vein, he added: “Time will tell with that one.”
Selkirk had a good session last weekend against a fine Marr side, said Ramage.
“I thought we took a lot more positives out of the game than Marr did, as in young players coming through and our new players slotting into their jobs,” said Ramage. “I was quite happy with it.”
Regarding Musselburgh, he said: “Stoneyhill is a hard place to go but I think we have the guns to eke a win out of it.”
The manager also thought the strong Borders presence in Division One was good for the game, in that it might generate greater crowds and also show the Scottish Rugby Union that “the Borders was coming back up”.