GHK withdraw from Scottish Cup ahead of quarter-final versus Hawick

Outgoing head coach Peter Wright says he wouldn't have been comfortable taking a weakened team to Mansfield Park

GHK head coach Peter Wright. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
GHK head coach Peter Wright. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

GHK have withdrawn from the Scottish Cup, just four days before their quarter-final clash against Premiership champions Hawick at Mansfield Park.

The Glasgow outfit will now play a home National League One fixture against Kelso (which was postponed in mid-December due to a frozen pitch) on Saturday instead.

This withdrawal highlights an underlying issue with the Cup related to the National One teams (who still have two or three of their 22 league games this season left to play) not being unanimously in favour of taking part in the competition in the same way as the Premiership clubs (who have already completed their 18 game regular season) are.


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“We were very clear from before the season started, and we told the SRU, that GHK as a club did not want to play in the Cup,” explained Peter Wright, who is stepping down as head coach of the Anniesland outfit at the end of this season.

“There are several reasons behind that, including the fact that we have 22 games to play in the league and it has been really tough to get the buy-in from the players for that, so adding more cup games into the mix is just too much.

“The mistake we made was not pulling out before our first round match against Stewart’s Melville, when they beat us to the punch by forfeiting due to insufficient front-row players. Then our second-round game against Stirling County last Saturday was doubled-up as a league match so that pushed the situation back another week. But we’ve now reached the end of the road.

“We had several of our most experienced players saying they are not prepared to play this weekend, and we lost out tight-head prop to injury last Saturday, so we would have ended up going down to Hawick with a really weakened team to play the Premiership champions, who are a really physical side by all accounts, and I think there could be a safety issue there.

“Remember, the Premiership is still allowed to pay players, so you’re talking about semi-pro players against amateurs. I thought we were trying to get rid of that.

“We are disappointed as a club because we know it reflects badly on us – but, ultimately, we’ve had to make the right decision for the club.

“We’re just trying to be up-front and honest and say: ‘We don’t want to be in this competition and we don’t think it is the best interest of our players to fulfil this fixture’. We’ll just have to deal with the flack that comes our way.”

Watsonians forfeited their round two game against Marr last weekend due to insufficient front-row players, while Kelso retained only three players from their previous week’s crucial league match against Ayr when they welcomed Heriot’s Blues to Poynder Park (they lost the game 38-12).


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About David Barnes 4030 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

25 Comments

  1. If as is claimed by GHK, THEY didn’t want to be in the cup, why did they play a double header the week previous? To many red herrings

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  2. The whole issue was caused several years ago when the Nat 1 clubs voted for a 12 team league which thankfully has been resolved next season. Self interest as I have said predominates in certain areas of club rugby and this insistence of a 12 team league was one of the worst. League games being dragged into the end of April every year, the Border 7’s of which I’m a fan being affected and the cup being marginalised.
    Player safety – a red herring, ( unless it’s front row). The joy of a cup competition is the causing an upset as Ayr did last week. If the difference between Premiership and Nat 1 is so vast as to cause a safety issue should we have promotion !!
    Finally yes Nat 1 is amateur when it comes to paying players but not all the Premiership clubs pay their players either.

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    • Nat 1 clubs voted with other clubs on the proposed league structure. They didn’t have a separate vote and couldn’t vote by themselves either.

      You and I might not like the answer but it’s the clubs who decide.

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      • Sorry I meant the Nat clubs but the Nat 1 clubs voted in the majority for 12. You hit the nail on the head “ the clubs decide”. When will they make decisions for the better of our game for the future and not short term self interest? I hear so many comments blaming the SRU but the clubs have so much power to make our game suitable and more attractive to our current players. Our 50 year league system was great at the time but now needs a major overhaul.

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      • I’m sure it’s very convenient for some to blame it all on the clubs and to conveniently ignore the fact that the SRU have all but abandoned club rugby in Scotland.

        How much better rugby would be in Scotland if the SRU actually worked with the clubs instead of against them.

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  3. Absolutely the correct decision. Player welfare first. Could have easily given the “no front row cover” line but PW has been honest. One of the best coaches in Scottish Rugby amateur game for 20 odd years and doesn’t get the respect he deserves cause he speaks his mind. Former elite players have priorities in their lives bigger than rugby, so want to play at a great Glasgow Club, close to home and family. Nothing more, nothing less.

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  4. Rumour has it that it’s not the Hawick pack that GHK are worried about it’s their prolific beast of a winger Ronan “the roads” McKean that frightens the hell outta them. One way traffic when he’s involved.

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  5. Can’t play that fixture without Troopy, He’d have an absolute field day with those wee borders farmers. At least 3 intercept tries. #Getoffmybonnet

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  6. Correct decision. Safety and league issues. Really there should be a cup for the Prem, a Cup for n1 & n2 and cup for n3 & n4 – give all a shot at Murrayfield then shield for regions top tier and the bowl for regional lower regions. Hey maybe that is the plan?

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    • Maybe Tommy Spinks, Grant Anderson and Craig Gossman shouldn’t be allowed to play for GHK then due to safety concerns. Maybe going to the gym should be banned for players out with the premiership? Maybe GHK should refuse to play a Kelso side that includes former pro Bruce McNeil? Absolute nonsense.

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    • A National Cup was played pre-Covid but the final was unable to be accommodated on Murrayfield finals day. #As One.

  7. It should be a challenge to take on the top teams. As a district league player we loved playing against teams in higher divisions, including Peter Wright’s Murray field Wanderers. Spineless decision

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  8. Marr also lost out financially when Watsonians called off last week. Wonder if the props will be available for t he next crucial game to avoid relegation

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  9. It’s a well known rumour that Ghk pay some of their players. Maybe they didn’t have cup games included in their contract.

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    • There is nothing stopping clubs paying players if it’s above board and tax is paid.

      Rugby has been an open sport since the 90s.

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      • Try and catch up. Not allowed to pay in National 1. And by this time according to Agenda 3 they should not have been paying in Prem either. The SRU’s rules they choose to ignore.

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    • A well known rumour? There’s a well known rumour that keeps surfacing saying Elvis is alive as well.

  10. Sorry GHK have chosen this. It sums up Peter Wright and all Glasgow. There should be sanctions ie bar from cup in future, we all know SRU spinless in acts like this. Why enter a cup if you can’t fulfill a figture. Sad day for Scottish Rugby. Peter Wright shame on you. Spineless as ever. Time the BBC dumped him.

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    • Did you read the article? Wright clearly states that GHK told the SRU they didn’t want to be in the cup, but Murrayfield carried on regardless.

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    • What would you suggest they do? Play the fixture and get humped?

      Did you make the same comment about Watsonians? Or do you reserve your ire for Glasgow clubs only?

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