I have no happy news for you, I am afraid. The earliest we are likely to see rugby in the Borders will be Sevens in August but that will be dependent on whether mass gatherings are allowed. At the moment, Peebles, Hawick and Gala have indicated their intentions to run a Sevens tournament and Selkirk have planned a 15s tournament on the last Saturday in August. The Spring circuit had not been cancelled fully, as yet, but I fear some clubs are the kings of wishful thinking and have just not got round to making the fateful decision. All that means is that a major source of revenue will be missed again. Kelso have announced that their round of the Kings of the Sevens will not happen in 2021
It is off-field, however, where the really bad news has occurred as far as Kelso is concerned. We have now lost 15 members who have passed away during lockdown. All were male and, to my knowledge, only a few were COVID related. Those who have passed on over the past few weeks include Jock Todd, a Life Member and an ever present committee man for well over 40 years, Terry McNally, who was Assistant Secretary and then Secretary in the late 70s up to the mid 80s, Rod Cameron, who was Assistant Treasurer for a few years into the new century, and Jack Utterson who was a club captain in the 60s. The others have been current supporters, sponsors or past players. A sad time for all and we pass on our condolences to the families and friends of all concerned.
From meetings I have attended by Zoom, it is quite clear that the Scottish Government is, quite correctly, trying to get schools up and running first although that is going to take a long time. Business has to be next and sport and entertainment are well down the pecking order although there are some shoots about to appear. I get all of that, but I do wish professional sportsmen would desist from mucking things up for everybody else. Nicola has already shown them the yellow card for their misdemeanours.
The first thing to start up at the club will be the Cougars and this may happen as the better weather comes in but there will be all sorts of restrictions with regards to numbers and parents dropping youngsters off for their rugby.
Scotland made a wonderful start to the 6 Nations with a win at Twickenham behind closed doors for a first win since 1983. I was at that one almost half a lifetime ago! Sadly, the Grand Slam, Triple Crown and maybe the 6 Nations Champions titles were blown out of the water after a disappointing day at Murrayfield the next Saturday. It was a game there to be won but circumstances went against us and the red card to Zander Fagerson did not help the cause any. The club bar, however, was very successful. Members were asked to donate the price of a pint on a Just Giving page and the tidy sum of over £600 was raised. Thanks to all who enjoyed their virtual pint!
We still have the chance of a decent finish in the 6 Nations although there is the difficulty of a French side who look as if they are preparing well for the 2023 World Cup in France. However, as I write, the playing of the game is up in the air, as 10 members of the French squad which played Ireland, and 3 of their coaching staff have tested positive for COVID. The arrangements for that game have not been finalised as I write. It may happen or it may be postponed for a week to the blank Saturday. We finish with home games against Ireland and Italy into March.
After that, there will be a Lions selection although the tour to South Africa in the Summer has to be in doubt. There is talk of playing the test matches in the UK and also, from left field, there has been an offer of playing the games in Australia which has opened up to spectators at sport as was seen at the recent Australian Open Tennis Championship. If there is no crowd allowed, there will be no tour as it is all about income generation. All of a sudden there seems to be a big push for the games to be in the UK with Boris having said in his roadmap that spectators will be allowed to attend sporting events after the middle of May.
For the TV rugby viewer, there is still the European Club rugby to be finished off but that comes after the 6 Nations is over and the Super Rugby from Australia and New Zealand will have started by the time you read this.
Quite a few members have been helping the MND fund by selecting a form of distance travelling and setting a target of Doddie Miles. I went form 250 miles dog walking. I reached my target comfortably but my Dalmatian’s legs have worn away and she is now no taller than a cocker spaniel!
The Clubrooms at Poynder were being used by a few community groups. We had a few Pilates classes on a Monday as well as a Slimmer’s class. We also had linked up with LiveBorders to provide the Downstairs Hall for gym sessions on 3 days of the week. Like everything else, they have been put on hold thus making our income a big fat £0.
There is still much going on in the background as we really want to hit the ground running when we are allowed to start up again. We have thought about the likelihood of mental health issues amongst our members and have joined in a partnership with NHS Borders for an initiative called Breathing Space.
One of our long serving members has now become a star of the Southern Reporter. Mary Callander has now started her 70th year following Kelso at Poynder and there was a feature on her in the local paper in mid-February with regard to her following 3 generations of her family playing for Kelso.
We are also 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.
You will have noticed that the draw has been made for the next World Cup in France in 2023. Because Scotland did not do too well in Japan we were not seeded in the top 8 so we have a difficult group containing Ireland and South Africa.
Some of the older members of the club have been visiting the Tait Hall and Surgery to get their COVID vaccine with an appointment made for the second jab. We just have to behave ourselves better and get the vaccine and then we might see the youngsters back to school and us back to watching and playing sport. And I still haven’t seen my grandchildren!
Stay safe and we hope to see you soon!