Everything you need to know about the BT Premiership

THE BT PREMIERSHIP season is once more upon us. It kicks off on Saturday with some mouth-watering ties which may well set the tone for the rest of the season (all kick-offs are at 3pm)-

  • Ayr versus Currie @ Millbrae
  • Stirling County versus Hawick @ Bridgehaugh
  • Melrose versus Boroughmuir @ The Greenyards
  • Gala versus Glasgow Hawks @ Netherdale
  • Watsonians versus Heriot’s @Goldenacre

However, with eighteen rounds of matches to go, this is definitely a marathon rather than a sprint. It is a race where a thoroughbred can be scragged down by a pit-bull terrier, and a prince can be distracted by the fluttering eye of a mere peasant not fit to lace his boots.

Which way do you think it will go?

Here are the runners and riders. Take your pick as to which horse to back –

AYRAYR BADGE

Head Coach: Calum Forrester; Forwards Coach: Glenn Tippett; Backs Coach: Scott Forrest; Strength and Conditioning Coach: Jonathon Stevenson.

Captain: Pete McCallum

Players In – Grant Neilson (GHA); Harry Warr (Dollar Academy); Jamie Bova (Brisbane Souths); Stafford McDowall (Merchiston Castle School); Aaron Tait (Merchiston Castle School); Adam Prentice (Dumfries).

Players Out – Andrew Dunlop (Retired); Graham Fisken (Retired); Robbie Fergusson (London Scottish); Fergus Scott (Currie); Haddon McPherson (Canada); Javan Sebastian (returned to Wales).

Pro Draft – James Malcolm (Glasgow Warriors); D’arcy Rae (Glasgow Warriors); Djustice Sears-Duru (Glasgow Warriors); Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors); Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors); Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors); Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors); Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors); Leonardo Sarto (Glasgow Warriors); Pat MacArthur (Glasgow Warriors); Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors).

Key Man: Frazier Climo (Stand-Off)

Young Gun: Craig Stevenson (Second-Row)

Last Year: 1st during regular season but lost play-off Grand Final to Heriot’s.

Prediction: Good enough to clear the final hurdle this time round – so long as they have learned to step it up a gear when push comes to shove.

bOROUGHMUIR BADGEBOROUGHMUIR

Head Coach: Peter Wright; Attack Coach: Jonny Else; Line-Out Coach: Paul Larter; Scrum Coach: Neill Wood.

Captains: Andy Rose and Chris Laidlaw (shared)

Players In – James Bett (Selkirk); Matthew Tweddle (Falkirk); Jamie Ure (Worthing Raiders); Douglas Hearn (Lasswade); Dan Winning (London Irish); Ross Dunbar (Stirling County); Aubrey Mncube (Dover); Tristian King (Ballymena).

Players Out – Cal Davies (New Zealand); Sean Crombie (Watsonians); Iain Moody (Melrose); Sam Davis (Edinburgh Accies).

Pro Draft – Nathan Fowles (Edinburgh Rugby); Mike Allan (Edinburgh Rugby); Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby); Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby); Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby); Sam Hildalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby); Nick McLennan (Scotland 7s), Gavin Lowe (Scotland 7s).

Key Man: Chris Laidlaw (Stand-Off)

Young Gun: Jamie Ure (Second-Row)

Last Year: 5th

Prediction: Better be ready for a scrap because the fight to avoid relegation is going to be vicious.

Currie BadgeCURRIE

Head Coach: Ben Cairns; Forwards and Defence Coach: Mark Cairns; Specialist Skills Coach: Gregor Wood.

Captain: Ross Weston; Vice-captains: Richard Snedden and Fergus Scott.

Players In – Fergus Scott (Glasgow Warriors/Ayr); Rhys Davies (Loughborough University); Dan Marek (Bath Academy); Jamie Forbes (Warringah – Australia); Graeme Clow (Perthshire); Cameron Hutchison (North Berwick); Mathew Hooks (Armagh).

Players Out – Travis Brooke (New Zealand); Matt Goodwin (New Zealand); James Semple (New Zealand); Fidias Efthymiou (Australia); Ben Robbins (London Scottish); Chris Logan (Australia).

Pro Draft – Jarrod Firth (Glasgow Warriors); Alex Allan (Glasgow Warriors); Rory Clegg (Glasgow Warriors); Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors); Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors); Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors); Simone Favaro (Glasgow Warriors); Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors); Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors); Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors); Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors).

Key Man: Fergus Scott (Hooker)

Young Gun: Thomas Gordon (Flanker)

Last Season: 2nd during regular season but lost play-off semi-final to an audacious late drop-goal against Heriots.

Prediction: Will be there or thereabouts as far as play-off places are concerned.

Gala rugbyGALA

Head Coach: Chris Dalgleish; Head Coach: Opeta Palepoi; Specialist Coach: Ewan Johnstone; Strength and Conditioning Coach: Bruce Millar.

Captain: Graham Speirs; Vice-captain: Luke Pettie.

Players In – Gregor Hunter (Glasgow Hawks); Paul Hendry (University of Cape Town); Dean Brooker (Plymouth Albion); Ross Combe (Jed-Forest); Gregor Mein (Jed-Forest).

Players Out – Euan Dods (Watsonians); Craig Borthwick (Watsonians); Keith Young (Watsonians); Ewan Scott (Watsonians); George Graham (Penrith); Kris Mein (Kelso), Callum McIntosh (Hawick).

Pro-draft – Sasa Tofilau (Edinburgh Rugby); Alex Northam (Edinburgh Rugby); Chris Dean (Edinburgh Rugby); Rory Scholes (Edinburgh Rugby); Nasi Manu (Edinburgh Rugby); Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby); Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby); Al Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby), WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby).

Key Man: Gregor Hunter (Stand-Off)

Young Gun: Gary Robertson (Prop)

Last Season: 9th but won relegation play-off versus Marr.

Prediction: An uphill battle to avoid the drop.

Hawks BadgeGLASGOW HAWKS

Head Coach: Finlay Gillies; Assistant Coaches: Colin Gregor, Jimmy Sinclair, Peter Horne.

Captain: Brendan McGroarty; Vice-Captain: Tommy Spinks.

Players In – Tommy Spinks (Jersey); Leigh Tyley (Greenock Wanderers); Callum Harrison (Greenock Wanderers); Cammy Fenton (Stirling County); Sam Thomson (Perpignan); Peter Steele (Biggar); Matt Fagerson (Strathallan School); Ben Enyon (Strathallan School); Mark New (Strathallan School); Scott Rodgers (Whitecraigs).

Players Out – Kenny Beattie (Watsonians); Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors); Andrew Davidson (Newcastle Falcons), Gregor Hunter (Gala).

Pro Draft – Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors); Tijuee Uanivi (Glasgow Warriors); Greg Peterson (Glasgow Warriors); Junior Bulumakau (Glasgow Warriors); Peter Murchie (Glasgow Warriors); Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors); Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors); Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors); Grayson Hart (Glasgow Warriors); Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors); Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors).

Key Man: Grant Stewart (Hooker)

Young Gun: Matt Fagerson (Number Eight)

Last Season: 6th

Prediction: One or two years too early to be genuine contenders.

HawickHAWICK

Head Coach: Nikki Walker; Forwards Coach: Scott MacLeod.

Captain: Bruce McNeil; Vice-captain: Rory Hutton.

Players In – Callum McIntosh (Gala); Andrew Horne (Preston Lodge); Joseva Nayacavou (Scotland 7s); Wesley Simpson (False Bay in Cape Town); Dylan Harlen (Johannesburg); Neil McColm (Canada); Sam Bandeen (Hawick Harlequins); Declan Wallace (Jed-Forest); Gary Johnstone (Kelso); Kyle Brunton (Hawick Wanderers); Ryan Hogg (St Boswells); Blair Robertson (Kelso); Michael Robertson (Kelso).

Players Out – Lee Armstrong (St Boswells); Nicky Little (St Boswells); Neil Renwick (Kelso); Sean Goodfellow (Jed-Forest); Wiann Griebenow (South Africa); Scott MacLeod (Retired); Craig Charters (Australia); Gary Douglas (Retired); Ross Graham (Yorkshire Carnegie); Lindsay Gibson (Australia).

Pro Draft – Kevin Bryce (Edinburgh Rugby); Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh Rugby); Jack Gosgrove (Edinburgh Rugby); Will Helu (Edinburgh Rugby); Tom Brown (Edinburgh Rugby); Duncan Weir (Edinburgh Rugby); James Fleming (Scotland 7s); James Johnstone (Scotland 7s).

Key Man: Bruce McNeil (Prop/Back-Row)

Young Gun: Darcy Graham (Wing)

Last Season: 7th

Prediction: It’s going to be a battle for survival – but should live to fight another day.

Heriot'sHERIOT’S

Head Coach: Phil Smith; Assistant Coaches: Stevie Lawrie and Jamie Parker.

Captain: Rory Carmichael; Vice-captains: John Semple and Michael Liness.

Players In – Ruaridh Mitchell  (Stew-Mel); Callum Marshall (Selkirk); Alex Hagart (Aberdeen Grammar); Gavin Parker (Exeter University/Exeter Chiefs Academy); Donald Crawford (Kelso); Lorne Christie (Howe of Fife), Thomas Lapeyre (France).

Players Out – Jack Turley (Flyde); Jason Hill (Bedford Blues); Roan van Heerden (Retired); Gregor McNeish (Hong Kong Scottish); Cameron Ferguson (Retired); Jamie Syme (Retired).

Pro Draft – George Turner (Edinburgh Rugby); Fraser McKenzie (Edinburgh Rugby); Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby); Glenn Bryce (Edinburgh Rugby); Junior Rasolea (Edinburgh Rugby); Cornell Du Preez (Edinburgh Rugby); Dougie Fife (Scotland 7s); John Hardie (Edinburgh Rugby).

Key Man: Struan Cessford (Prop)

Young Gun: Josh Laird (Centre)

Last Season: 3rd during regular season and beat Ayr in the play-off Grand Final.

Prediction: Will struggle to repeat the achievements of the last two years – but if they make the play-offs then do not bet against them!

MELROSEMelrsoe 2

Head Coach: Robert Chrystie; Forwards Coach: Stuart Johnson; Skills and Counter Attack Coach: Fraser Thomson; Strength and Conditioning Coach: Bill Noble.

Captain: Bruce Colvine; Vice-captain: Grant Runciman.

Players In – Russell Anderson (Jersey); Iain Moody (Boroughmuir); Craig Jackson (London Scottish); Ross McCann (Stew-Mel).

Players Out – Tom Galbraith (London Scottish); Ally Miller (London Scottish); Nick Beavon (Edinburgh Rugby); Lewis Carmichael (Edinburgh Rugby); Ewan McQuillin (Watsonians); Graeme Dodds (Retired); Sam Chalmers (Edinburgh Accies).

Pro-Draft – Nick Beavon (Edinburgh Rugby); Lewis Carmichael (Edinburgh Rugby; Simon Berghan (Edinburgh Rugby); Allan Dell (Edinburgh Rugby); Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby); Anton Bresler (Edinburgh Rugby); Scott Wight (Scotland 7s); Phil Burleigh (Edinburgh Rugby).

Key Man: Fraser Thomson (Full-back)

Young Gun: Ross McCann (Wing)

Last Year: 4th during regular season but lost heavily away to Ayr in play-off semi-final.

Prediction: Pushing Ayr all the way at the top of the table.

Stirlimg CountySTIRLING COUNTY

Head Coach: David Adamson; Scrum Coach: Eddie Pollock; Breakdown: Chris Fusaro; Lineout Coach: Grant Gilchrist; Defence Coach: Graeme Young; Assistant Forwards Coach: Alan Blair; Strength and Conditioning Coach: Maria Omma Dalziel.

Captain: Callum Hunter-Hill; Vice-captains: Jonny Hope and Lewis Wynne.

Players In – Alex Taylor (Southland Stags, NZ); Ross Jones (Rotherham Titans); Adam Sinclair (Rotherham Titans); Mike MacDonald (Stew-Mel); Fergus Bradbury (Merchiston Castle School); Matthew Emmison (Aberdeenshire); Hamilton Burr (Aberdeen Grammar); Andrew Grant-Suttie (GHA); Ryan Elliston (Sydenham, NZ); Jake Cresswell (Marlborough, NZ); Craig Pringle (GHA); Bruce Sorbie (GHA).

Players Out – Ed Howgate (Jersey); Vaka Manu (Manly Marlins); Shaun Treweek (Viadana); Dylan Taikato Simpson (Viadana); Cameron Hughes (GHK); Garry Mountford (Retired).

Pro Draft – Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors); Rory Hughes (Glasgow Warriors); Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors); Fraser Lyle (Glasgow Warriors); Nernia Kenatale (Glasgow Warriors); Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors); Sila Puafisi (Glasgow Warriors); Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors); Corey Flynn (Glasgow Warriors); Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); Chris Fusaro (Glasgow Warriors).

Key Man: Adam Nicol (Prop)

Young Gun: Logan Trotter (Full-Back)

Last Season: 8th

Prediction: Lots of new faces so a bit of a shot in the dark – but if they click then they might just go all the way.

wATSONAINSWATSONIANS

Head Coach: Marcus Di Rollo; Assistant Coach: Simon Taylor.

Captain: Martin Christie.      

Players In – Ewan McQuillin (Melrose); Sean Crombie (Boroughmuir); Craig Borthwick (Gala); Euan Dods (Gala); Ewan Scott (Gala); Keith Young (Gala); Diarmuid Dee (Young Munster); Kenny Beattie (Glasgow Hawks).

Players Out – Ewan Miller (Hong Kong Scottish)

Pro Draft – Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby); Vili Fihaki (Edinburgh Rugby); Neil Cochrane (Edinburgh Rugby); Sean Kennedy (Edinburgh Rugby); Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby); Jason Tovey (Edinburgh Rugby); Jamie Farndale (Scotland 7s); Mark Robertson (Scotland 7s); Scott Riddell (Scotland 7s).

Key Man: Rory Drummond (Number Eight/Blindside Flanker)

Young Gun: Mark Bertram (Wing)

Last Season: Promoted as champions of National League Division One

Prediction: Plenty of Premiership experience has been recruited – but is there enough X-factor there to climb out the bottom half of the table?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 962 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.