A MAJOR showdown is looming in Edinburgh National League rugby with Boroughmuir and Watsonians unbeaten after the opening month.
In a fortnight the pair will clash, at Meggetland, and – particularly if 100 per cent records can be maintained – a sizeable crowd will be expected to witness the clash between sides eager to waste no time reclaiming top-flight status.
First, though, a couple of awkward assignments each have to be negotiated and tomorrow that means Watsonians entertaining Dundee High, currently lying fourth, and Boroughmuir at home to third-placed Kelso.
Nobody is more aware of the significance of the next few games than Boroughmuir skipper Andy Rose who can see the rewards for maintaining momentum, but says: “The game with Watsonians is going to be pretty big and our boys will be building up to that. At the moment, though, it is one game at a time and a case of don’t look too far ahead.
“As for Kelso I expect them to be like the Dundee side we have already played – big, very physical game and pretty good at breakdown.”
Relegation cost Boroughmuir several up-and-comings who required to be turning out in the Premiership to maintain aspirations for a central contract. But, according to Rose, it has been a chance to establish stronger links with Boroughmuir’s youth set-up.
“It’s been disappointing losing guys, but the other side of that coin is we have new players coming in and putting their hands up for opportunities.”
On a personal level, things are progressing spectacularly for 25-year-old Rose who could be two years away from facing the All Blacks when the World Cup kicks off in England. Rose gained debut caps at flanker for his native Zimbabwe in the summer’s African Championships and if chosen to play Kenya and Namibia next July could go into that tournament two games away from World Cup qualification, with New Zealand awaiting at the pool stage.
He said: “It’s just hitting home now what a great opportunity lies ahead and I have kept Boroughmuir fully in the loop about returning to Africa in November for matches building up to the qualifying tournament. The club recognised I had a hectic summer and are playing a part, too, in managing me.”
In fact, Boroughmuir are doing even more for the cause of Zimbabwe rugby. Rose revealed: “When I heard Boroughmuir were discarding around 30 old rugby balls I jumped at the chance to claim them for Zimbabwean rugby’s development programme.
“There is a much more solid structure to the game back home nowadays and when I asked what was needed they said clubs could contribute rugby balls to assist with teaching kids throughout the country as there is a big shortage.”
Meanwhile, Boroughmuir stand by the team which defeated Peebles except for Murray Johnstone coming on to the bench.
In contrast to three runaway wins, Watsonians had to dig deep before edging Hillhead/Jordanhill 27-26 last week.
Fitness tests are planned for several forwards ahead of entertaining Dundee with a 3.30pm kick-off to allow players, officials and supporters to attend a memorial service for Iain Brown, the Watson’s College head of sport.
However, one change already confirmed sees the versatile Ewan Miller return from flanker to wing where Jack Ferguson is on Scotland sevens duty.
In the Premiership, Edinburgh Accies hope to use home advantage to be the first team this season to bring down Melrose. Josh Pecqueur replaces injured full back Jamie Sole. Melrose introduce pro Alun Walker alongside Nick Beavon, Richard Mill and Grant Runciman.
At Malleny Park Currie will leave it until the last minute to finalise a side to face Heriot’s.
Coach Ally Donaldson said: “Kick-off is 4pm due to the memorial service at George Watson’s where Mark Cairns, Richard Snedden and I work and will be attending. Mark and Richard will make a decision on playing depending how they feel. Harvey Elms gets a first start on the wing and Reece Patterson is on the bench for the first time.”