Well, there seems to be great deal of light at the end of the COVID tunnel. We have dates for starting to play rugby. The month of August is made up of mostly sevens on the Saturdays with Peebles, Hawick and Gala being on the 7th, 14th and 21st respectively. Peebles and Hawick will count towards the Kings of the Sevens for the new season but the Gala tournament is part of a festival of rugby over that weekend. We are hosting the John Laing Sevens on Friday 20th August. That is a tournament for reserve team players and it will give Kelso a chance to retain the trophy won in 2019. Obviously, we are working towards the start of the National 1 league campaign and there will be some warm up matches during the month. We are due to play Berwick, Alnwick and Selkirk. And then it all starts for us on 4th September with an away match against Cartha Queens Park. That will be followed by a home game against Highland on the 11th September. In the meantime, the Ladies team will start their league programme in National League 1 on Sunday 5th September when they travel to play West of Scotland. You may recall that the Ladies lost a playoff for promotion way back in 2019 but, following some slight league reconstruction, they have been invited to play in National rather than Regional rugby. So, it is a big challenge for them, as they follow up with another away fixture against Broughton on Sunday 12th September. If anything, the Ladies will have even more travelling to do than the men as there is no such thing as a local derby with Edinburgh being their shortest journey. The Seconds have a slightly later start to their league with a home game against Linlithgow on 11th September. As last time, they will be playing in the East Reserve League Division 2.
Training was going well for all adult teams until we had to close down the training and Gym facilities due to a positive Coronavirus (not sure which letter of the Greek alphabet the particular strain was) and a few of the men had to quarantine. An interesting word and, thankfully, it did not have to go back to its Italian derivation as quarantine comes from the Venetian word quarantena, which meant 40 days as that is how long ships had to dock in isolation to prevent the spread of the plague. Sounds familiar!
The Firsts seven had a keenly contested competition down at Percy Park and were beaten in extra time by the Cleveland Cougars 24-19 after going through their pool games undefeated. It was a young Kelso side and would be good experience for them. It was also the first rugby they had played since the end of February 2020.
By the time you read this, the Summer Camp for youngsters organised by DO Murray Hastie will have been and gone. These camps seem to be popular as the children have missed so much rugby they are trying to make up for lost time. The training for the Cougars will not start until nearer the time of the schools going back.
The Quins have started their training and, like the Firsts, they have a series of Sevens tournaments throughout August at Peebles, Hawick and Gala Wanderers. These dates are to fit in with the Senior tournaments as the 3 clubs have all gone for rugby festivals to cover all ages.
The upgrade of the Clubrooms continues apace and the kitchen has just about been refurbished as we received a generous grant to upgrade this area. Work has gone well with some local tradesmen linked to the Club putting in some big shifts. Our thanks to Glyn Hobkirk, Ian Anderson and Susan McKenzie for their work on this project. We are very close to completing the project and should be good to go by late July.
The date by which members had to apply for tickets for the Autumn Internationals has now passed but you can still apply for the Home 6 Nations games (England and France). There is information on the Club website. It was also on the Club’s Facebook page but, if you are struggling, I have a few application forms run off but it is up to you to progress this one yourself. I am not to know who wants tickets. The end of September is the deadline for this one. I know nothing about the 6 Nations away games as yet but I do believe some optimists have booked flights etc to Rome.
The Clubrooms are back to being used by outside groups and Live Borders and Slimming 4 You have been in for a few weeks but Border Link has just restarted as well as Gentle Exercise on a Friday morning. One new group using the facility is the local Boccia club. It is a bit like indoor bowls!
The Committee has not just been sitting around as there are several sub-groups working on various topics such as an updated Business Plan, improving facilities in the kitchen, keeping the Constitution up to speed and, of course, working towards the return to playing rugby.
We are continually grateful to the sponsors who have stayed on board with us. We know times are hard but your support means a lot to us. Sponsors have responded by sponsoring players, taking pitch side advertising and getting their firm’s name on the playing or casual kit and there is a new venture with several local firms putting up a smaller advertising board on the side of the stand as you enter the clubrooms. We have got this figure up to 18 sponsors now.
The very observant of you will have noticed the notice at the end of Poynder Place just over the wall from where the phone box was in the Bowling Club. Seriously posh and thanks go to Dave Howieson on the design and the Bowling Club for letting us put up the sign. The posts are up but there is something different about them! The pitch is looking wonderfully well despite the shortage of rain. Angus Roberts is looking after the ground for us and is making a good job. He was greatly helped with the amount of rain which fell at the end of June.
Zoom meetings continue although they are not the best way to run the Club. The plan is to have the Annual General Meeting on Thursday 4th August with a 7:30pm start. This will be in the Clubrooms downstairs as we have tried the seating arrangements out with a couple of test events and we shall be able to cope with up to 60 members attending and still be well enough spaced out. The rules and regulations for social gatherings are always changing but this one fits in fine for us. There will be a busy agenda to follow as we have various reports to be made as well as elections for the various posts which come up annually. As well as that we have a couple of proposed changes in the Constitution to deal with. All members are welcome to attend.
Also, by the time you read this the British and Irish Lions will have played 2 of the 3 tests in South Africa. It looks like some of the squad will be finished playing already as they will not be in the test side. Their games prior to the test have been mostly one sided but there seems to be places up for grabs. I personally have not quite worked out why we are in South Africa with all the things which have gone wrong. You certainly would not apply the word ‘tour’ to what they are doing. However, it has kept the rugby interest going through the Summer especially as the Scotland summer tests were wiped out due to COVID. If you don’t have Sky, you can always watch the Olympics if there are any athletes still fit enough to compete. To my mind, there is even less understanding as to why these are being held and I am a serious Olympics follower going back to remembering events from the 1956 version in Melbourne. It’s all to do with politics and money.
But the news you have all been waiting for with regard to my granddaughters in Elgin. They are coming down to stay with us over a weekend with their new puppy.
Stay safe, listen out for ‘pingdemics’ on your phone ( I hope you don’t get one) and we hope to see you soon!