Biggar and Dalkeith urge clubs to support their SGM motion

Decision to declare 2019-20 season 'null and void' meant promotion was denied despite both clubs being uncatchable at the top of their respective leagues

Biggar in action at Kelso last season. Image: Nigel Pacey
Biggar in action at Kelso last season. Image: Nigel Pacey

IT seems like a lifetime ago that Biggar and Dalkeith had their promotion dreams derailed by the decision to declare the 2019-20 Scottish domestic season ‘null and void’, but neither club has given up on their quest to have their pre-lockdown achievements recognised by elevated league placings when competitive rugby finally (hopefully) returns next Autumn.

Those two clubs – who had already guaranteed promotion when the domestic season was halted early due to Covid-19 in March – will make their case for a dispensation to the ‘null and void’ decision at a Special General Meeting of the Scottish Rugby Union, which will be held by video conference immediately after next Thursday’s AGM2.1.

The motion proposed by Biggar and seconded by Dalkeith is:

“To promote those teams who had, without doubt, won promotion for 2020-21 season, reverting back to SRU’s intended structure following a full season of play. This need not alter the decision to ‘null and void’, only seek to rightfully reward successes already gained. We specifically do not seek to relegate any team that does not wish to be relegated.”

The SGM needs a turnout of a third of the total members or representatives eligible to attend in order to be quorate, and the motion requires a two-thirds majority of those in attendance to be carried.

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“Of course, attempting to call an SGM in the middle of pandemic looks a little foolish,” acknowledges Biggar secretary Mike Booth, before explaining that both his club and Dalkeith felt they were left with little choice but to go down that route.

Concerns were raised back in March and April that the consultation process undertaken with clubs on how to conclude the 2019-20 season had been rushed, that the questions leaned towards reaching a ‘null and void’ outcome, and that there had been a general lack of uniformity in how club opinion was canvassed.

While Scottish Rugby stated that around half of respondents had supported a ‘null and void’ solution, it was pointed out that this also – presumably – meant that around half of clubs had voted against that approach. Requests for a breakdown of the survey results were rebuffed on ‘confidentiality’ grounds.

Having been pushed from pillar to post in their attempts to have their objections addressed by either the SRU Championship Committee, the Council, or the Board, the two clubs started to mobilise support from fellow member clubs, collecting 30 letters of support for an SGM (they needed 24).

If the motion passes, it will mean 11 teams in both the Premiership and National One next season (as opposed to 10 in the top-flight and 12 in the division below), and an 11-7 split between East Leagues Two and Three. This should not be a major headache for the fixture schedulers, although it might nibble into the Premiership and East One’s stand-by weekends.

The leagues can be rebalanced the following season (2022-23) with plenty of time to make sure that clubs are clear from the outset of the 2021-22 season on what is required to achieve promotion or avoid relegation.

Ken Scotland Autobiography

“From the outside looking in, this might all seem a bit boring, but the situation we are facing as a club has, over the months, invoked both outrage and depression, and several emotions in between,” says Booth. “We have kept reminding ourselves that we won that promotion fair and square, we had been presented with the trophy by the SRU’s own representative, and had begun planning our future in the Premiership – we owe it to the players and our membership to fight for what we have rightfully earned.

“Whilst it appeared to turn into a battle with the SRU and the processes that have taken us down this route, we have to remember it’s about those lads and lassies who make up Biggar and Dalkeith Rugby Clubs,” he adds. “It’s about rewarding their dedication in turning out on cold and dark Tuesday nights to train in the snow and the mud. It’s about the minis, midis, girls, boys, colts, ladies and 2nd XVs, that all look up to the success our 1st XV has achieved and see what that dedication can bring.

“How sad it is that this couldn’t have been dealt with without the need for this battle, but we had to fight this decision with all the tools at our disposal, and we know that had this happened to any other club then they would quite rightly be doing the same.”

Booth urged all clubs to stay online next Thursday night to take part in the SGM, when Biggar and Dalkeith will both speak in favour of the motion, while delegates can message their comments to the Chairman, before the vote is taken.


Scottish Rugby cancels 2020-21 domestic club and school season

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Ken Scotland Autobiography
David Barnes
About David Barnes 2051 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.

10 Comments

  1. I would encourage everyone to get behind these clubs who are challenging an outrageous decision foremost, and then the obstacles that have been placed in their way to achieve what can only be described as ‘a fair go’.

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  2. Would seem more than fair, particularly if no-one relegated to make way. While they’re at it, award Marr the title, albeit with an *. Why not. Better than 2 blank seasons on the scoreboard and pretty much deserved when consider the big early season wins, latter form coming out of winter grind and careless loss of points going for tries.

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  3. Whether you agree or disagree with the decision the most worrying thing is that “Requests for a breakdown of the survey results were rebuffed on ‘confidentiality’ grounds”.

    No transparency and no integrity means no confidence. Time for change.

  4. Murrayfield’s disgraceful tin-pot dictatorship strikes again!

    Surely, fellow member clubs will be there at the virtual SGM in support of Biggar & Dalkeith?

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  5. As a loyal Biggar supporter who follows the club faithfully home and away each and every season, it so disappointing for the authorities to have taken the stance they took. It is wholly unfair to both Biggar and Dalkeith.

    Clubs, coaches,players ,etc put in much hard work to promote the game to those in their local communities and give youngsters encouragment to aspire and look up to those setting examples.

    Why can’t those at the very top of the game, be equally responsible for displaying values of fairness, honesty and promoting the spirit of the game?

    How is it in any form right that having watched my club being awarded the trophy at Stirling this season and then had photos taken with internationally recognised sponsors (that I’m sure the SRU are only too keen to have on board to support the sport) that this can simply be dismissed by SRU is beyond words.

    I’ve no doubt there have been many difficult decisions for the SRU to take in recent months and much bureaucracy to wade through but sometimes authorities just have to be seen to “do the right and sensible thing”.

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  6. Both clubs where in such a position that promotion was a certainty and given that the SRU would not release the consultation figures makes their refusal not to allow the promotions suspect.

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  7. I hate to be pedantic but it was the Board of Scottish Rugby Limited who made the decision rather than the SRU who you rightly say are the clubs.

    Interestingly the latest season call off was from the Council.

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  8. A plea to the members and committees of the “Clubs” of Scottish Rugby to support Biggar and Dalkeith in their quest for a just conclusion to their honest appeal.

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  9. Good article

    I believe these teams are absolutely right to challenge the SRU’s decision. It’s just another case of the SRU systematically dismantling and riding roughshod over the club game. We are mere pawns in their quest to totally disengage and disenfranchise the clubs but seem totally oblivious to the fact that the clubs ARE the game

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