First of all the good news: I have had a haircut as well as my second COVID jab so I am now all ready to set off on my world tour of such interesting places as the USA, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and India.
That’s about 400 days since the first lockdown but, it would seem, that lockdown is being relaxed ever so slowly. Most sections of the club are now allowed to train although it is strictly no contact for 18 years old and over including the Women’s section.
As to what happens for the new season, there are several scenarios being worked through by the Rugby Development Department at BT Murrayfield.
We have been asked to complete a Return to Rugby questionnaire by Scottish Rugby but it looks flawed and not too easy to be responsive. Premier clubs want to play nationally but with no relegation or promotion. If that happens then there is nowhere for the top team in our league to go. National leagues 1, 2 and 3 are still debating which way to go. Everybody who knows anything thinks there will be a winter shut down but I am not sure on what evidence this is based.
Whatever happens, we can start preparing for rugby as there are events being organised. Peebles, Hawick and Gala are all organising Sevens tournaments. In all cases there will be a festival of rugby as there are other rugby events happening eg Youth Sevens and not everything on the same day. Selkirk are proposing to run a Fifteens tournament on the last Saturday in August with an 8 teams draw.
Kelso have organised the John Laing Sevens for second team players on Friday 20th August. This will be an 8/9 team draw and takes the place of the seconds sevens normally held in April. Before that, however, we are running a Generation Day on Saturday 31st July. This will hopefully involve players from all areas of the club and will be a day for members, guests, sponsors and advertisers to find their way back to Poynder. All of the above, of course, depends on the timeline set for us by the Scottish Government so, hopefully, mass gatherings and social distancing will be things of the past.
Since I last communicated with you, Scotland beat France in Paris so did the difficult bit by winning their 2 away games but lost 2 of their home games. A score of any description during the tournament would have been enough for us to finish 3rd in the 6 Nations. So it is all eyes on the selection for the British and Irish Lions. It certainly gives the rugby writers something to do with their speculation for who goes to South Africa. At least there is one Scotsman going on tour as Gregor Townsend has been selected as one of the coaches. I am not suggesting any favouritism but it might help Scottish players’ chances if it comes to a 50/50 chance of selection.
This is where you get your chance to pick the team, or at least the Scotsmen in the team. For a star prize you have to do the following: 1) Select the Lions captain and 2) select which Scotsmen will be included in the touring party and 3) tell me which of Kelso’s 5 Lions toured in South Africa. Answers by email to email@example.com by May 4th as the team is announced on May 6th.
I know I have been known to perform a few minor miracles in the past but, please, don’t ask me for tickets for either the Lions tour or for the World Cup in France in 2023. These are just not available through the club or the SRU Ticket Office. However, those of you who normally get tickets for Autumn tests and 6 Nations should get some information on how to access these in the near future.
Over the Easter holidays, Murray Hastie ran 4 days of coaching for the Cougars on Thursdays and S1 to S4 on Tuesdays. These were well attended with around 100 youngsters turning up. There were also a couple of sessions for girls. Girls’ rugby is one of the 3 projects we have in mind over the next wee while. The others are Breathing Space and Walking Rugby.
If you are still in the mind to watch rugby on TV and you subscribe to Premier Sports you will have the chance to watch the Rainbow Cup. It’s like the Guinness Pro 14 only different. There are 16 teams as there are 4 South African provinces included in the calendar of matches plus the teams from Ireland, Wales, Italy and Scotland. The first problem is that the SA teams may not get visas to enter the UK and secondly you have to become au fait with some law variations. A red carded player may be replaced after he has been off the field for 20 minutes; a goal line drop out will take place if the attacking side is held up over the try line and each team is allowed a captain’s challenge over some refereeing decision. Interesting but I don’t see all of them coming into the club game after the resumption of rugby. The captain’s challenge relies on TV coverage and replay so that one has to be out.
One thing which is certain is the fact that there will not be any remedial work required on the pitch this Summer. It is looking wonderful and green, with no bare patches. Angus Roberts has been given the job of keeping the pitch in good order over the summer and into the new season and he has made a good start but, like most farmers, will be looking for some rain to keep it green. Sadly, Joe Kowbel, who was a groundsman at the club quite number of years ago has recently died. We offer our condolences to his family on his passing.
We are still in the process of getting the clubrooms up to standard to fit in with new safety regulations and could just about open up for Community use. We have altered our operating plan for the running of the bar and have amended the license accordingly. We are allowed to use the clubroom facilities for outside groups.
It is not known which of the previous users will come back to us but we look forward to be able to offer the facilities to other community groups such as Kelso Accordion Club, University of the 3rd Age and Border Links.
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.
A major success for us during lockdown is the great news that we have been awarded a substantial grant to upgrade the kitchen so I am expecting once the job is completed that the televised rounds of Masterchef will be coming from the kitchen at Poynder Park. Susan McKenzie, Ian Anderson and Ex President, Glyn Hobkirk, deserve special mention for their skill in completing the application forms correctly. Well done to them for their sound research on the project and we expect the job to be all over by mid-July.
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 9 sponsors now.
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 in Springwood Hall. We just have to behave ourselves better and get the vaccine and, with the youngsters back to school, we have a chance of watching and playing sport. And I still haven’t seen my grandchildren!
Stay safe and we hope to see you soon!