Team-by-team guide to championship

Boroughmuir

Coaches: Iain Paxton and Sean Lineen.

Captain: Sandy Penman.

Ground: Meggetland (0131 443 7571).

Last season: winners of BT Premier Division II, BT Cellnet Cup, Edinburgh Cup and Royal Bank League.

Players in: Alastair Ness (Aberdeen GSFP), Aaron Satchwell, Greig Kinross, Scott Gilliland (all Preston Lodge), Stewart Devine (Hawick), Stephen Ruddick (Thurso HS), Tom McGhee (Rugby League), Gavin Spowage (Linlithgow).

Players out: Robb Muir (The Marines), Euan McDonald (London).

Prospects: The priority, says co-coach Iain Paxton, is to re-establish the club in the First Division, the place everyone at Meggetland, naturally, believes to be their rightful home. That means a good start and less pressure on players as the season progresses. A good mixture of youth and experience and competition for places.

Currie

Coaches: Bruce Macnaughton, Myles Erskine and Ally Donaldson.

Captain: to be announced.

Ground: Malleny Park (0131 449 2432).

Last season: were in contention for the championship but fell away badly towards end of the season.

Players in: Calum McWilliam (New Zealand), Ashley Bond (Australia), Eric Milligan (Kilmarnock), Finlay Bibby (The Army), Ian Monaghan (Glasgow Southern).

Players out: Andrew Russell (Heriot’s), Jarrod Weber (New Zealand), Stuart Hardie (London), Ally Donaldson (retired).

Prospects: Bruce Macnaughton’s main worry is the first few games as injuries and unavailability have disrupted the pre-season build-up. Looking for more consistency but is in no doubt Currie will be up there in the title race with the top spot a realistic target.

Gala

Coaches: Finlay Calder and Alec Bryson.

Captain: to be announced.

Ground: Netherdale (01896 755145).

Last season: middle-of-the- table finish which was acceptable to the supporters after their return to the top division.

Players in: Tony Walker (Biggar), Colin Thatcher, Mark Harvey (both Peebles), Peter Cockburn (Stewart’s-Melville), Bruce Aitchison (Watsonians).

Players out: Brian Wear (Hawick), Grant Kelly, Stuart Kurth (both New Zealand), Tom Weir (Melrose), George Robson (Kelso).

Prospects: will be relying very much on home-grown talent this season and looking to the committed approach of new coach Finlay Calder to rub off on the youngsters who make up the 1st XV squad. Calder has always led from the front and his enthusiasm should go a long way, although the loss of captain Tom Weir to Melrose was a grievous blow.

Glasgow Hawks

Coaches: Shade Munro and David Wilson

Captain: Scott Hutton.

Ground: Old Anniesland (0141 959 4569).

Last season: finished runners-up in the First Division, the BT Cellnet Cup and Royal Bank League. So it had to count as a successful but very frustrating season.

Players in: Steven Duffy (Ardrossan), Tony Wright (Kilmarnock), Neil McKenzie (Hutcheson’s-Aloysians), Simon Wintle (London Scottish).

Players out: Campbell Aitken (Esher), Chris Simmers (retired), Eugene Martin (New Zealand), Conal Hanvey (Australia), Gavin Walsh (Hutcheson’s-Aloysians), Charles Aufakwah (retired), Andrew Plastow (Japan).

Prospects: with the loss of so many influential players, the Hawks will be looking to rebuild for the future and a top-half finish would satisfy the majority of people at Old Anniesland.

Hawick

Coaches: Ian Barnes and Greig Oliver.

Captain: Kevin Reid.

Ground: Mansfield Park (01450 370687),

Last season: flirted with the relegation zone but managed to come away strong towards the end of the season and produced some encouraging displays.

Players in: Craig Dunlea, Joe Edwards (both New Zealand), Richard Wyre (Glasgow), Denis Morrison (Lasswade), Brian Wear (Gala).

Players out: Stewart Devine (Boroughmuir), Brian McDonnell (Jed-Forest), Scott Welsh, Gregor Sharp (both retired), Brian Renwick (Grangemouth).

Prospects: the acquisition of two New Zealand props will harden an already physical pack while Brian Wear’s return will solve the No 10 berth on the retiral of Scott Welsh. Without doubt, the Borders club have the potential to finish the season in the top four.

Heriot’s

Coaches: Donald Macdonald and Gareth Davies.

Captain: David Boswell.

Ground: Goldenacre (0131 552 5925).

Last season: winners of BT Premier Division One for the second year running and also Preston Lodge Tens.

Players in: Chris Fudge (Canada), Andrew Russell (Currie), Rob Forbes (Watsonians), Craig Harrison (Edinburgh Accies), Mike Gibbs (Stewart’s Melville), Grant Talac (Musselburgh).

Players out: Gordon Ross, Simon Taylor (both Edinburgh Reivers), Andrew Binnie (England).

Prospects: three in a row is enough incentive for coaches and players and Macdonald believes that with a stronger squad than last season the champions are still the team to beat. Heriot’s are also desperate to prove themselves in the cup. Could this season be the swansong of the venerable Jock Bryce? Don’t bet on it.

Jed-Forest

Coaches: Kevin Barrie and Harry Hogg.

Captain: Clark Laidlaw.

Ground: Riverside Park (01835 862855).

Last season: in spite of beating top teams like Heriot’s and Melrose the Border club were maddeningly inconsistent most of the time and a mid-table finish proved a huge disappointment

Players in: Chris Richards (Bedford), David Irvine (Langholm), Brian McDonnell (Hawick), Mike Dungait (England).

Players out: Gavin Kerr (Sale), Calum Brown (retired), Ryan Griffiths (New Zealand).

Prospects: Kevin Barrie feels that a top-four finish is well within the team’s capabilities. New boys Chris Richards and Brian McDonnell should bring much-needed experience to a team who have some very talented youngsters in James Henderson and those brothers with a famous Riverside Park pedigree, Clark and Scott Laidlaw.

Kirkcaldy

Coaches: Terry Trewartha and Alex Carruthers.

Captain: Jason Syme.

Ground: Beveridge Park (01592 263470).

Last season: after many years of frustration and near misses Kirkcaldy finally clinched promotion to the top division for the first time.

Players in: Mark Crossley (Grangemouth), Kenny Fraser (Gordonians), Chris Milne (Dundee HSFP), Robbie Gilmour (France).

Players out: Alex Carruthers (retired).

Prospects: the Fifers appreciate they are in for a tough season but Terry Trewartha is hugely encouraged by the positive attitude at training.

While Fife will always struggle to engender rugby fervour, the coaches report healthy strength in depth.

Kirkcaldy would do well not to set their sights too high and staying in Division One will be the major target - and a big achievement.

Melrose

Coaches: Gary Parker and Alan Tait.

Captain: Kevin Allan.

Ground: The Greenyards (01896 822993).

Last season: transitional period for the former Scottish champions who still played well enough to end up third in the championship.

Players in: Stewart Bennet (Kelso), Alastair Dickson (Selkirk), Geoff Caldwell (Currie), Tom Weir (Gala), Kelly Brown (Earlston HS), George Finch (Newcastle Univ).

Players out: Mark Moncrieff (retired), Scott Nichol (Peebles), Richard Griffiths (Cardiff), Christophe Sein (France), Craig Smith (Edinburgh Reivers).

Prospects: Melrose are determined to better last season’s rather mixed performances and with the arrival of some very good and experienced players they look well equipped to achieve that target.While not a two-horse race, their meetings with Heriot’s could decide the title.

Watsonians

Coaches: Andrew Ker and David Cockburn.

Captain: Nick Penny.

Ground: Myreside (0131 447 5200).

Last season: struggled to cope with loss of leading players to Super Districts and were involved in the relegation scrap.

Players in:Ross Haddow (Edinburgh Reivers).

Players out: Bruce Aitchison (Gala), Rob Forbes (Heriot’s), Scott Paris (South Africa), Scott Hastings (retired).

Prospects: while Scott Hastings, the club’s director of rugby, will be talking up their title chances the former Scotland centre appreciates that this season is very much about rebuilding a team for the future from the many talented youngsters thronging Myreside. In Andrew Ker, Watsonians retain an experienced and feisty coach with views on most rugby matters, particularly the performances of referees!