MELROSE have signed a new shirt sponsorship deal with Irish company O’Neills as part of what the club views as a new push to remain Scotland’s leading club.
After winning back-to-back Scottish Premier One titles ‘Rose will launch into a new ten-team Premier league in just over a month’s time, bidding to become the first club since Glasgow Hawks seven years ago to claim a ‘three-in-a-row’. Coach Craig Chalmers, who played for the club when it last rooted itself to the top of the club game, over 15 years ago, is tying up a handful of new signings, including former Heriot’s and Esher stand-off Richard Mill, while players have also put their shoulders to the wheel off the field to refurbish the club’s changing rooms.
“It is all part of trying to make this club attractive to our players and keep us competitive,” said Melrose’s director of rugby Mike Dalgetty.
“The four-year agreement with O’Neills is another major step forward for the club and harks back to when Melrose were successful in the 1990s and leading companies were very keen to be associated with us.
“There will not really be a lot of changes to the team this season, but they will look different with the new strips and I have been really pleased to see how the guys have worked together with sponsors and local supporters to make a lot of changes around the club itself because that goes hand-in-hand with being successful on the pitch in making Melrose an enjoyable club to be a part of.”
The Irish-based sportswear firm made a conscious effort four years ago to expand its horizons beyond the Emerald Isle and its traditional Gaelic sport roots, and it now provides kit for over 100 rugby union and league clubs. The list includes Premiership champions Harlequins and the Cornish Pirates, as well as a plethora of junior and youth clubs across England.
“This is our first big step into Scottish rugby,” said Peter Kennedy, O’Neills’ Rugby Union Brand Manager, “and it is a big investment for us, but we believe we offer a very good product, one that doesn’t get shipped from the Far East, but is made in Ireland and so can meet all the needs of clubs across the UK.
“It’s a great step for us as a company in raising our awareness and hopefully Melrose feel it is a good fit for them too.”
Melrose and O’Neills declined to say how much the deal was worth to the Borders club, but it is estimated to be in the high, five-figure ball park covering training, playing and leisure kit, and introducing a new white away strip to the Greenyards.
The Melrose squad returned to pre-season at the start of July and will face Heriot’s in their first pre-season friendly on 4 August. They will then travel to play a Sale club/academy side on 11 August before playing Peebles in their opening Border League match on 18 August.
Meanwhile, 20 Scottish rugby clubs are celebrating a share of £729,000 in the second and final tranche of Scottish Government ‘Cashback for Communities’ funding. The Scottish Government Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, Shona Robison MSP, met yesterday with youngsters from Strathie Sharks, part of the Strathmore rugby club in Forfar. They are receiving £40,000 to increase changing rooms to accommodate a youth/junior section which has almost doubled in number, to 146 youngsters from P4 to 18 years, on top of the P1-3 rugby, in the past two years.
Neil Carrie, the SRU’s Partnership Projects Manager, said: “Strathmore are typical of the clubs who will be supported in this round of awards.
“Their members built their original clubhouse in 1953, installed floodlighting on the main pitch in 1971 and in 1977 purchased the whole site from Angus District Council.
“The increased club membership and addition of the youth section saw the club push on and construct a new clubhouse in 2002.
“The latest increase in the youth section now sees the club needing to expand changing facilities to cater for their growing numbers and their desire to offer the people of Forfar a great environment in which to have fun and keep fit.”
Full list of successful applications: Strathmore (£40,000 changing rooms extension), Dumfries Saints (£45,000 synthetic training pitch), Greenock Wanderers (£50,000 upgrade to pitch drainage), Musselburgh (£45,000 changing room and floodlight upgrade), Cumnock (£45,000 changing room development), Kilmarnock (£41,640 floodlight improvement), Linlithgow (£45,000 synthetic training area plus new changing rooms), Hawick (£39,705 changing room improvements), McLaren (£45,000 new pitches and training areas), Clydebank (£50,000 pitch and changing room upgrade), Deeside (£10,000 pitch and training floodlights), Lochaber (£40,000 drainage), North Berwick (£45,000 changing room developments), Glenrothes (£27,840 drainage), Peebles (£45,000 changing rooms extension), Whitecraigs (£10,000 floodlights and drainage improvements), Dunfermline (£40,000 pitch upgrade), Jed-Forest (£15,000 floodlight replacement), Currie (£25,000 changing room development), Aberdeen Wanderers (£25,000 pitch drainage).
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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