THERE is no pro rugby this Friday night, but supporters of the game can get their early weekend fix by watching some great names of the recent past attempting to roll back the years in a charity veterans match that will raise funds for Doddie Weir’5 Discretionary Trust on the Murrayfield Wanderers pitches behind the national stadium with a 6pm kick-off.
The Crusaders will take on a Doddie Weir ‘South XV’ in support of the former Scotland and British & Irish Lions second-row who is battling Motor Neuron Disease.
Duncan Wilson, who played with Weir at Scotland under-21s level (from the Crusaders charity vets team) and former Melrose player Roy Barrie (in charge of the South XV) were having a discussion about how they could help. With many dinners and other fund raisers for Weir and the Trust already planned for the coming months, they decided the best way to show support was to get players from Weir’s era together, turn back the clock and have a fun match.
The Crusaders raise money and awareness to fight male cancer through rugby and in recent years have played a number of matches to promote the cause. The South XV are coming together for one night only, but there is a lot of experience in their extended squad.
“Since we started playing the Crusaders charity games around Scotland in the last few years we have had a great response from rugby players of a certain vintage and when we heard about Doddie and his fund raising we really wanted to help,” said Wilson.
“I played Scotland age-grade with the big man back in the day while a lot of the guys in our squad on Friday night have played with or against Doddie before. It is great that the guys from the Borders are coming up the road. We all love rugby, but it will not be too serious, scrums will be uncontested and everyone will get a run out.
“We want it to be a night like the old rugby days where everyone enjoys the game, shakes hands and then goes for a few drinks and tells rugby stories into the evening. The rugby community in Scotland always supports their own.”
Among the Crusaders squad is former Scotland prop Gavin Kerr, former Boroughmuir back-row and now Scotland age-grade coach Ben Fisher and former Scotland Sevens caps Andy Turnbull and Fraser Harkness.
Barrie played with Weir at Melrose for a number of years and remembers fondly having Scotland caps like him, Craig Chalmers and Bryan Redpath at The Greenyards.
“I was mainly a seconds player because the top team was so strong at the time, but I played some first XV games and being alongside Doddie and the other top class players was a joy,” he stated.
“Every rugby player in the Borders knows each other from matches over the years and although we always battled against each other at club level to represent the South at any level is always special.
“As a result it is great that so many guys have put their hats in the ring for selection for this game and it should be great fun. It is also great that Doddie’s brothers Tom and Chris are set to have a run out, while it will be good to see recently retired Scotland Sevens player Scott Wight in action.
“I think it is going to be a cracking night and the more money and awareness we can raise the better.”
Other weel kent faces in the Melrose squad include current Melrose club head coach Rob Chrystie, former Samoan international Opeta Palepoi and ex-Scotland players Stevie Scott, Kevin Utterson and Nikki Walker.
Entry is free and all are welcome and donations can be made at: https://www.doddieweir5trust.co.uk/donate
Crusaders from: Duncan Wilson, Gavin Kerr, Peter Burns, Jamie Syme, Archie Paton, Steve Wands, Ben Fisher, Rory McKay, Sky Laurie, Gavin Brown, Josh Bicknell, David Edge, Baz Lawson, Calum Cuister, Paul Arnold , Tim Meadows, Jim Oliphant, Malcolm Clipperton, Graham Thompson, Dougie Gray, Andy Turnbull, Adam Broach, Jonny Elliott, Lindsay Graham, Fraser Harkness, Ross Nicholl.
Doddie Weir ‘South XV’ from: Jamie Dewar, Gary Douglas, Gareth Brown, Opeta Palepoi, Alan Maker, Stuart Johnstone, John Dalziel, Tom Weir, Robert Chrystie, Scott Wight, Roy Barrie, Kevin Utterson, Nikki Walker, Alec Clark, Gary McGarva, Kevin Reid, Barry Watson, Steven Sheil, Alistair Fairborn , Scott Welsh, Geoff Caldwell, Jamie Buchanan, Tony Elliot, Steve Lawrie, Bob Hogarth, Simon Taylor, Ian Marshall, Craig Robertson, Chris Thomson, Andrew Crighton, Mark Humble, Paul Pringle, Mark Ballantyne, Duncan Coombe, Andrew Haig, Rupeni Ragia, Chris Weir, Graeme Dodds., Wattie Davies, Stevie Scott.