Stakes are raised as ’Muir face Heriot’s test

Boroughmuir Iain Moodie, centre, tackles Melrose's Grant Runciman. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Boroughmuir Iain Moodie, centre, tackles Melrose's Grant Runciman. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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Boroughmuir coach Bruce Aitchison has hailed the opportunity for his side to test themselves against Premiership opposition in a competitive fixture when Heriot’s visit the National League leaders for an Edinburgh Regional Cup semi-final tomorrow (3pm).

At the same time as insisting ’Muir can contest both cup and promotion, Aitchison acknowledges, though, that soon stakes will rise in Scottish club rugby with plans for an eight-team Super League from 2015-16 freshly unveiled.

That almost certainly means any National League side with aspirations must waste no time going up in order to battle it out for a place in the top eight next season.

As a consequence, might ’Muir be prioritising the league? “Our priorities have never changed and mean doing well in cup and league,” said Aitchison.

“We’re keen to face a Premier team in a competitive fixture so we can measure ourselves.

“I’m not saying that is the level we are at now, but after a good performance against Musselburgh and a gutsy win over Peebles, we want to finish 2013 with wins over Heriot’s and Kelso the following week.”

Clearly believing ’Muir are on course, he added: “Our guys are more than capable of competing in the Premiership and many have stuck by us while we have a sabbatical from top level.”

Typically, too, Aitchison is already working out implications of the proposed new league.

“Will it be dominated by the cities and Borders?” he queried. “Will the sevens programme now lose importance from a developmental point of view? Will there be opportunities to coach semi-professionally and how many players will be looking to use the new competition as a springboard to a career?

“Edinburgh and Glasgow may not have to carry such big squads with some players already making a wage out of the club game including flats, cars, flights etc and I’m wondering if some clubs will take a quick fix approach and bring in a bundle of players or try to get a mixture.”

Concerns have been expressed about the “influence” the SRU are demanding in return for funding but Aitchison is sanguine.

“Within Scottish rugby there is always going to be self interest but we can take a cue from German football,” he said.

“They recognised their performance at a World Cup was not good enough and got stakeholders to buy into a fresh approach that is now bearing fruit. Rugby here is a minority sport in a small country and we have to make the most of our resources, remembering how Denmark and Greece have won Euro football Championships from a limited player base.

“The new proposals are very exciting.”

In seeking momentum, ’Muir continue to phase No. 8 Iain Moody back from long-term injury.

In the other semi, Watsonians await Currie (3pm) and after scoring five tries against Haddington from full-back, Ally Ledingham starts at stand-off while Jack Ferguson and Neil Irvine-Hess return after representative duties.

Edinburgh Accies entertain London Welsh (2pm) in the B&I Cup with Calum Reid odd man out in a pack of Edinburgh contractees.

These include new signing Mike Coman, the Kiwi who has still to debut for Edinburgh.

In the backs, Accies include Jamie Farndale and Alex Black, from Edinburgh.