Booker Border League: Hawick YM move out of the shadows

THE club season kick-off may still be a week away, but Borders clubs will begin competitive
action tonight with the start of the Booker Border League.

Believed to be the oldest club league in the world, the competition has had to adapt in recent years to cope with the extra demands of Scottish league and cup rugby. This season it returns to an eight-team format, split into two pools, with Haddington, Berwick and Duns dropping out and the upwardly mobile Hawick YM joining the fray.

The YM will start the season in the new RBS Championship East League against the likes of Peebles, Kirkcaldy, Perthshire and Lasswade. They also take their bow in the Border League and, for the first time, take equal billing with the town’s senior club, Hawick, having for years lived in the shadow of Mansfield Park, literally, at their Mansfield Haugh ground.

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YM insist they are not aiming to usurp the Greens, but having left the Border District League and won promotion through the national set-up they are now just one promotion/relegation away from being in the same league as Hawick, who are now in the second tier of Scottish rugby, the RBS National League.

The YM, known as the Redskins, would have to reach the final to face their neighbours in the Border League, as they are drawn in different pools, but they mark a new era by kicking off tonight against the town’s arch rivals Gala (7pm). The Maroons defeated Hawick 51-38 in a training match last weekend, and head south again bidding to claim an early season double. Jed-Forest host Selkirk in the other Pool B derby tonight at Riverside Park, kicking off at 7.30pm. Melrose open their
defence of the title at home to Peebles tomorrow, and Kelso welcome Hawick to Poynder Park (both 3pm) in Pool A.

• Full preview to the club season, with interviews and club guides rounding up all the summer signings, starts in next week’s Scotsman.