What better spot to mark the start of a cross-border competition than the Scotland/England border itself!
Representatives from Gala and Melrose gathered on the A68 at Carter Bar in the stunning autumnal sunshine today ahead of the opening fixtures in the British & Irish Cup this weekend. For Melrose it’s their third time in the competition, which this season features 32 teams, while for near neighbours Gala it’s their first foray.
Gala have one of the glamour ties of the day when they welcome London Scottish to Netherdale on Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm).
Gala stand-off Lee Millar said: “To start with London Scottish is probably one of the biggest games we could have hoped for. Everybody is looking forward to it - it will be a great challenge.
We’re coming off the back of a good win up in Dundee in the RBS Premier Division so we’ll look to take confidence from our league games and put in a good performance.
London Scottish, who have a 50% win ratio in their six games in the English Championship, have been strengthened this season by some well-kent faces – Scotland international stand-off Phil Godman and his former Edinburgh Rugby team-mate, Jim Thompson, the Scotland A and 7s cap, are both among the recruits to the Richmond Athletic Ground.
Thompson said: “We’re keen to do well in the competition, especially with Gala in our group. It’s very, very physical in the Championship – there certainly aren’t many small packs – but I’m enjoying my rugby.”
Gala also have Llanelli and Moseley in their group and will travel to Wales next week.
Melrose begin away to Doncaster this Saturday (2.30pm) and will face Llandovery and Nottingham in later pool matches.
Their scrum-half, Bruce Colvine said: “The boys are really looking forward to getting started in the B&I Cup, especially playing against professional teams as it gives you a marker to compare against.
“From previous involvement in the competition we know that you cannot let other teams get on top of you. The worst thing to do is to wait and see what they will do because if you do that you’ll be points down massively as they are big physical teams.”