It would be safe to say that the Super 6 project has not been everyone’s cup of tea.
The competition got up and running this season, though, like all of our lives right now, it has been brought to an abrupt halt. In a time of national crisis the old arguments about whether this part-time professional league, which the SRU views as a vital bridge between the club and full professional level, seem irrelevant.
It has been viewed by some commentators as the wrong route, with a detrimental effect on the grassroots club game but those who have participated in the now truncated inaugural season – Watsonians, Boroughmuir, Heriot’s, Stirling County, Ayrshire Bulls and Southern Knights [Melrose] – are taking a positive view.
None more so than Watsonians. The Myreside men were top of the table before lockdown ended the season, with eight wins from ten games and on 37 points, ahead of capital rivals Heriot’s on 34.
“It’s a frustration,” said Watsonians coach Fergus Pringle, pictured. “We were looking forward to play-offs, hopefully winning and then the cross-border competition with the Welsh clubs but that’s just the way it is. This is a serious situation and sport is secondary.
“Each club is dealing with it individually in their own way but, as things stand, the players’ and coaches’ contracts are as they were. We will just have to see how things pan out and, hopefully, get playing again sometime soon.”
Pringle arrived in Scotland from South Africa in 2003 and played for Hawick before earning a pro contract with Edinburgh and turning out for Scotland A.
The former lock was part of Boroughmuir’s 2007-08 title win and went on to coach the Meggetland club in a varied career which has also included stints at Currie and the Romania Under-20 side before his appointment as boss of the Watsonians Super 6 franchise, with former Scotland wing and old Hawick friend, Nikki Walker, as his assistant.
“I think it’s been a positive experience which the players and coaches have enjoyed, just sad that it’s come to an end like this,” said Pringle. “The standard of rugby has been good and the games have been competitive. A lot of our wins were within a few points and could have gone either way which has shown the quality on show.” Pringle said his players were responding fine to lockdown as the coronavirus crisis sweeps the nation.
“They’re doing fine,” said the coach. “They are all doing their thing to keep the fitness up, but they would be doing that anyway. It is a worrying time, but it is for everyone right now and we just need to keep ticking over.
“It might have been cut short but, looking back, it had been a long season already.
“There was a big pre-season building up, so it has been draining for the guys. I think like for everyone at the moment, this is a time to pause, reflect and take stock of things.
“We’ve not seen each other since early March, but we’re all keeping in touch.”
Watsonians’ Super 6 adventure began with 14-13 win over Southern Knights at The Greenyards and has gathered pace since, with a thumping 32-17 win over local rivals Heriot’s to follow up.
Capital bragging rights followed with back-to-back wins, 28-10 at home and 30-20 away, over Boroughmuir Bears in December. The only two losses came at Ayr and Stirling.
“It’s been challenging. Something new is always a challenge and takes a bit of adapting to, but it’s been rewarding,” added Pringle. “We’re just looking forward to getting going again at some point.”