Rugby: Currie chief Muir lauds B&I Cup success

Currie's David Smith, in action against Stirling County. The Malleny Park outfit recorded one of their biggest wins in their history at the weekend in British & Irish Cup

Currie's David Smith, in action against Stirling County. The Malleny Park outfit recorded one of their biggest wins in their history at the weekend in British & Irish Cup

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Currie president John Muir believes the Malleny Park side’s breakthrough British & Irish Cup win over Swansea last Saturday is among the biggest successes in the club’s 41-year history.

Reflecting on the comprehensive 38-21 victory at St Helens, Muir said: “It was certainly our best B&I Cup performance by a long way. Even in the warm up you could sense there was a buzz about the guys. Against Leeds, I think they were a bit overawed and against Ulster they had chances but just didn’t take them. On Saturday, they took their chances very well.”

Then, comparing the result with the Premiership title successes of 2007 and 2010, Muir added: “I would say that it ranks very close to the two championship wins. Obviously, it’s not the Swansea of old but it is a British & Irish Cup win, and, for us, that is very important.”

Having lost all of their matches in last year’s cross-border competition and the two opening fixtures this season, the result will bolster Currie’s confidence ahead of Saturday’s clash at home to Nottingham (kick off 3.00pm).

Muir believes that, on the whole, the performances of the Scottish representatives this season have ensured greater respect from English, Welsh and Irish clubs, although there was a sense that last weekend’s opponents had underestimated the quality of the opposition.

“We got the feeling that Swansea hadn’t really done their homework on Currie. This isn’t a club with a history and I think because they didn’t know a lot about us, we maybe took them a bit by surprise,” he explained. “But, I think most of the teams in the competition are now taking Scottish clubs a bit more seriously. Melrose had another great result and, from what I’ve read, Ayr were very unlucky.”

With the elusive first win now achieved, Currie coach Ally Donaldson is turning his focus to what promises to be an even tougher test against Nottingham. Saturday’s visitors currently lie fourth in the RFU Championship and, as full-timers, will pose a stiff challenge for Currie.

While the main purpose of the competition is to develop players by exposing them to a high standard of rugby, the B&I Cup has also presented an opportunity to share experiences on a social level. Muir are relishing the chance to reproduce the warm welcome that has been extended to supporters who have made the trips to Leeds and Swansea.

“We are looking forward to the challenge of facing Nottingham, who are probably better than Swansea, so that’s going to be tough if they bring their strongest team,” he said.

“We are having a lunch beforehand. There are still spaces available and we would welcome any supporters from Nottingham as well as any neutrals who want to join us. Swansea made us very welcome and we will be looking to do the same for Nottingham.”

With Currie contesting the competition for a second successive season, their president is in no doubt that it delivers great benefits to the sides involved. There have been discussions over a possible change to the format, with the inclusion of teams from developing countries such as Romania and Spain being mooted.

But Muir is happy with the current set up, which sees the qualifiers from north of the border funded by the SRU. “This is a fantastic competition and I certainly believe it’s something Scottish Rugby should continue to support. I think having the top three clubs is right,” he added, before pointing out that Currie went into the mid-season break in fourth spot and with work still to do to earn a spot in next year’s tournament.