Club rugby enters 2015 with a bang this afternoon with eight BT Cup ties set to take place.
Left in the competition are all ten BT Premiership clubs, two BT National League One sides, three BT National League Two sides and Lasswade from BT National League Three.
For those who love the romance of the cup, the place to be will be Hawthornden where Lasswade – leaders of their division and the lowest ranked team in the last 16 – take on top-flight side, Boroughmuir.
The Midlothian men will have to go some way to cause an upset, but they are looking forward to welcoming Boroughmuir head coach Bruce Aitchison and his men. Lasswade captain Mark Billingham said: “A few of us have played in big matches like this before, but for the younger guys who have come into the side and done so well over the last couple of years, this is something new to them and a challenge they are excited about.
“Things have been going well in the league for us so far this season and, in a way, the pressure is off us in this tie because Boroughmuir will be expected to progress.
“However, if we can go out and put in a good showing then it will leave us in a really good place for resuming our league campaign next week.”
Billingham is one of the stalwarts in the Lasswade ranks, having been involved when they won the National Shield in 2009-10 and 2010-11, and he has been pleased how the younger players have been adapting to first-XV action – the likes of Lewis Hall at stand-off and winger David Hall being the ones to watch out for.
Boroughmuir went into Christmas on a high after a league win over Currie took them off the bottom of the league table.
They have named a strong squad for this one in a bid to keep up momentum and Angus Wallace is handed a start at prop.
The last time the two clubs met was back in December 2012 in an Edinburgh Regional Cup tie when ’Muir swept their opponents aside 74-14.
In today’s other matches where lower league sides take on higher ranked opponents, Hamilton welcome Ayr to Laigh Bent, Howe of Fife play GHA and Musselburgh travel to Kelso.
Hamilton are second in BT National League Two and will be looking forward to taking on Ayr, who possess a fine cup tradition and last won the competition in 2012-13.
Gavin Lowe is back for Ayr after playing for Scotland Sevens in December while Pete McCallum makes a return to first XV action at No 8 after injury problems during the first half of the season.
BT National League Two leaders Howe of Fife pride themselves on their home record, so GHA will have to be at their best at Duffus Park.
After Musselburgh knocked out Peebles in the last round, Kelso will certainly not be taking them lightly.
The other four ties are all-BT Premiership affairs.
Holders Heriot’s travel to Currie with Edinburgh Rugby teenager Jamie Ritchie continuing in the back-row for them and his pro team-mate Hamish Watson on the bench after injury.
John Cox is set to play for Currie just three days after he was married on Hogmanay.
Glasgow Hawks, last year’s runners-up, face a tough tie against 2007-08 winners Melrose. Three weeks ago, Melrose edged Hawks out 14-13 in the league.
Hawick, the first ever cup winners back in 1995-96, travel to Raeburn Place to take on Edinburgh Accies while Gala have been bolstered by a number of pros as they welcome Stirling County to Netherdale.