Two of Scotland’s top clubs will contest a new trophy to herald the start of the 2014-15 campaign, while at the same time benefiting the wider Scottish community.
Melrose, Scotland’s champion club, and Heriot’s, holders of the National Cup, will meet next month in the inaugural BT Scottish Rugby Charity Shield. Richard Mill (left) and Jack Turley fromt he respective clubs are pictured above at today's launch.
The game will crown a feast of rugby at The Greenyards on Saturday 23 August, the week before the new BT Premiership season kicks-off.
Starting the action on 23 August will be a pre-season clash between Edinburgh Rugby and Leicester Tigers, which will kick-off at 2pm.
Then the BT Scottish Rugby Charity Shield will follow with a 5pm kick-off.
The initiative came from Melrose and was discussed with Scottish Rugby and the Premiership Forum.
Scottish Rugby’s Head of Club Services, Nick Rennie said: “We were delighted to endorse this suggestion from Melrose and to provide a trophy for the inaugural match.
“It’s one of our strategic objectives to raise the standard of the domestic game. The launch of the BT Scottish Rugby Charity Shield will play a part in that regard and also give supporters a foretaste of the sort of action they can expect to see on a weekly basis in the BT Premiership.
“We look forward to working with BT Premiership clubs to drive this initiative forward on an annual basis.”
Mike Dalgetty, Director of Rugby at Melrose, said: “One of the key elements of the day will be the charity side of it. At Melrose, we are supporting Breast Cancer Care as our sole charity partner this season.
“In the past the partnership has been for Melrose Sevens only but this year we’re making it season-long.
“We are launching an away strip with the Breast Cancer Care ribbon logo on the front and we’ll be doing a 600km bike challenge as well as activity during the Sevens.
“We envisage that as the BT Charity Shield initiative develops it will evolve and the charity element will always be core to the day.”
Iain Milne, former Scotland Grand Slam hero and vice-president at Heriot’s said: “We think this is a great idea and it’s a fixture which will prove a terrific advert both for Premiership rugby and for what our game is about and the values that we share.
“Recent matches between Heriot’s and Melrose have been free-flowing affairs with tries galore and we’ll both be encouraging supporters who come along to the Edinburgh Rugby v Leicester Tigers match, to stay and sample our game too.
“We also have a history of supporting charity. Last year we raised more than £4,000 for a cancer charity with a ladies lunch at our home Premiership game against Stirling County, so we’re pleased there’s a charity dimension to this too.”
Brendan Dick, director at BT Scotland, said: “We’re proud of our ground-breaking partnership with Scottish Rugby.
“A key part of our relationship is our involvement as sponsor of Scotland’s domestic league and cup programme. As a company, innovation is part and parcel of our DNA, so when we were invited to support this appetiser for the new BT Premiership season it made a lot of sense to us.”
Shona Smith, Partnerships Fundraising Manager at Breast Cancer Care Scotland, said: “We are delighted that Melrose Rugby have chosen us as their charity partner. The funds raised over the course of the forthcoming season will enable Breast Cancer Care Scotland to provide ¬essential support, including our free and confidential Helpline and face-to-face services, to thousands of people living with, through and beyond breast cancer in Scotland.”
Shona added: “Breast Cancer Care Scotland is really excited the partnership will kick-off at the first-ever BT Scottish Rugby Charity Shield match at Greenyards on August 23. We will be cheering Melrose on to lift the trophy to get the charity partnership off to a winning start.”