Saturday 7th January 2023 

Inverleith 

On what was an almost perfect day for rugby, two proud Scottish rugby clubs locked horns and entered into a high scoring thriller where rugby was, indeed, 'the winner'. 

There were some beautiful tries served up from both sides and enjoyed by a larger than usual crowd. The traditional skirmishes still hold appeal as was witnessed with 110 sitting down for lunch ... our largest pre-match lunch ever!

Our guests might argue that two late scores from ourselves masked the score line however I would dispute that. What was evident was our 'never say die' attitude and, at 33-12 down with ten minutes to go, we could have rolled over. Not a bit of it - in fact, had the game gone on another ten minutes or so, we could have easily notched a win. No matter - we scored four tries, gaining us both confidence and also a point in the table for our efforts.

So many plusses from the lads in Red, Black and Gold, not least our spirit and our defence. 

Inverleith is a fantastic playing surface but it's huge ... easily the largest in Scotland. Great when you are attacking but less so when the opposition come at you in waves as Watsonians did. Their backs looked slick and, on this form, will be playing in National One next season whilst we, on the other hand, must continue to play, without restraint or fears, and enjoy our rugby.

For me, though, there is nothing that beats the sight of a winger in full flight flying down the touchline nearest the stand. Michael Jamieson, with the number 14 on his back, lit up the afternoon with several runs such as these. The great Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said that, ''he had never seen a footballer who was too quick''. Same goes in rugby, Michael sure has pace.

The backs looked far more settled than of late with Kyle Henderson and Aaron Porteous controlling proceedings with measured kicking from hand. It's taken awhile to come together but the pair of them are beginning to get on top of their tasks as halfbacks. 

The forwards, as always, do their stuff despite being slightly underpowered up front. Danny Morrison, Euan McRury and Stephen Spowart are doing a magnificent job but the longer the game goes their strength is sapped. Bless the three of them, though, they give their absolute all, week in week out. Same goes for the big fellas in the middle row, Courtney West and Jamie Sword, who both gave commanding performances throughout at the lineouts and broken play. The front five are a good bunch, honest players all.

I like these lads and their coaches and, sure, we are finding the going tough but we are learning and, if we all continue to stick together and hold the line, we, as a club, will be there. Our seconds travelled up to Malleny Park and took a bit of a kicking from a very powerful Currie side. The truth is, we are out of our depth in both leagues but that's where we learn. Whilst no good comes from thrashing opposition, let's be honest, it would be nice now and again!

But never mind - so many good things are going on within the club. As I mentioned earlier, 110 folks sat down to a most splendid two course lunch in the clubhouse. Our Sponsors were all in attendance and were treated to something that was very special. The pre-match lunch kicked off with VP Jason Conlin providing the background to the Club's involvement with kids who have special needs. The video from our first Community Day was met by a stunned silence. Barely a dry eye. We may not be the finest rugby team in the country but we do some things very well. 

Then downstairs for lunch and a rather rushed Q&A with one of Scotland's finest of gentlemen, Andrew Gavin Hastings OBE. He was pure gold dust as he ignored brother Jim's questions and entertained and regaled with stories of yesteryear. What a guy! What a friend to us all. Gavin is the absolute epitome of all that is good in our sport. 

But my last word goes to Gregor Thomson who won his first 'cap' on the flank wearing the number 6 shirt. Gregor, son of club legend Murray, is a product of the school and is currently home from Exeter University. This is what we are all about, a place where lads want to play whether they have come through the school system or not. All are welcome at Inverleith-  and, by the way, he's a fine player too.

Haste ye back, Gregor!

Finlay Calder