Club international backs army charity

SCOTLAND'S leading club players are hoping a tie-up with a popular Scottish rugby/Army charity will help to attract a bumper crowd to Netherdale for next month's club international match against France.

The Scotland Club international captain John Dalziel and stand-off Scott Wight joined forces with soldiers from 6 SCOTS Battalion at the Borders ground yesterday to help rouse support for the first club Test match of 2010 on Friday, 5 February as well as the 'Poppyscotland Hearts and Heroes' Challenge in May.

The challenge – details of which can be found at – will see teams of rugby players and supporters from across Scotland combine with servicemen and women and families, to walk or run the Southern Upland Way in aid of the rugby and veterans charities 'Hearts and Balls' and Poppyscotland respectively. Last year's inaugural event involved 500 people and raised nearly 250,000, which was shared between injured servicemen and women and seriously injured rugby players.

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Dalziel said he would be delighted if the joint effort helped to spill over into a big crowd at Netherdale as Scotland bid to avenge a 13-12 defeat in Rouen last year.

"A big crowd makes the atmosphere at the ground and adds to the occasion for both teams. Hopefully, we'll get a big a Border crowd because representing their country means a lot to the boys.

"The best of Scotland's club players are taking on the best of the French clubs so it'll be a big step up. Last season's match was really physically demanding and we needed the whole 22 to put in a huge effort to get within a point of the French so we need the crowd to get behind us."

Wight also recalled that game vividly and having watched over 4,000 people troop into Netherdale for the Scotland 'A' return to the Borders in November, and nearly 2,000 turn up in similarly poor weather for the South of Scotland's revival last month, in which he captained the home side, the Melrose joiner is looking forward to stepping up the club team's performance levels.

He added: "I was really gutted at the end of the match because I kicked pretty well that day, putting four out of four over, but we just needed another chance to get the score. More than 4,000 supporters came out in the cold and rain to get behind Scotland 'A' when they beat Tonga at Netherdale so hopefully the region will come out in force once more and back the national team.

"I think it's a massive help if the crowd can get behind you, like when we played Ireland at Myreside last season. A big home support that cheers you on throughout can definitely make the difference.

"I think we've prepared far better this season.

"The skill levels in our squad sessions have been high, which you'd expect from supposedly the best 22 players from Scotland's club game, but the standard and effort in training has been excellent.

"Having sessions at Murrayfield has really helped boost the concentration and intensity of training because it's international level that we're having to perform at now so everybody has to be switched on that bit more," said Wight.

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Callum Anderson, the Melrose winger, was called up to the squad yesterday after Selkirk's Lee Jones was selected for the Scotland sevens squad for the IRB World Sevens Series. The starting XV will be named next week.

Scotland Club International squad (v France at Netherdale on Friday 5 February, 7.30pm; free entry): C Anderson, J Dalziel (capt), J King, F Thomson, S Wight, (all Melrose), A Brown (Dundee), P Burke, J Hunter, D Kelly, G Reid, S Sutherland (all Ayr), S Burnett, A Dymock (both Heriot's), M Cairns, A Hamilton, A MacMahon, R Snedden, R Weston (all Currie), M Clapperton (Boroughmuir), F Harkness (Selkirk), R McKay (Glasgow Hawks), G Wood (Watsonians).