MARR’S victory at Selkirk last weekend certainly heated up the battle for the fourth Premiership play-off spot – and Blair Jardine has vowed the Troon-based outfit will “give it everything we have got” over the last three regular season games to make the top four.
Selkirk, currently in fourth with 44 points, have Currie Chieftains, Edinburgh Accies and Heriot’s Blues yet to play, while fifth placed Marr (41 points) have Jed-Forest, Glasgow Hawks and Currie to face. And if there are no more weather interferences, Selkirk could know what they need to do in their final game on February 18th to make the play-offs with Marr due to finish up on February 4th.
However, that is way down the line and for now all Marr hooker/back-row Jardine and his team-mates are focusing on is Saturday’s home clash with in-form Jed-Forest at Fullarton Park.
“There is no doubt that the win at Selkirk gave us all a lift because we knew that after the Hawick defeat the week before we had to get a positive result to keep the play-off hopes realistically going,” said the 29-year-old.
“I think the battling spirit and togetherness at Marr over the last decade or so has been evident to many with the way the team climbed through the leagues and into the Premiership.
“That was before my time at the club, but after I arrived those qualities were again on show last year when we had to go to Malleny Park as underdogs in the play-off final and beat Currie to win the title.
“This season has been a bit tougher with injuries and unavailability stretching the squad at times, but the victory at Selkirk kept us in the hunt for the play-offs.
“It was a battle and it wasn’t pretty, but it was needed, and now we’ll give it everything we have got to try and get into the play-offs.
“We know that it is out of our hands, if Selkirk win their three games they will be through to that stage, so all we can do is try and win our games and keep the pressure up.”
Jardine is certainly having an impressive second full season with Marr and has done a good job for them whether in the front-row or in the back-row.
He is an Ayrshire lad who now lives in the village of Crosshill and grew up around the Maybole area. Like many youngsters in that part of the country, football was the first sport he tried, but once he began playing rugby with his mates early into the senior school years at Carrick Academy he never looked back.
“That was a few years before the School of Rugby took off at Carrick under Gordon Brown, but me and my friends were introduced to the sport and we just loved it,” Jardine, who now works as a delivery driver for Bensons for Beds, said.
“It helped that quite quickly we realised we were quite good at it and had a good team, but we just really enjoyed playing with our mates and going up against other schools.
“My rugby came on so much that I was awarded a rugby scholarship to attend Merchiston Castle School in my fifth year and that helped me to push onto Scotland under-18 honours.
“I was back at Carrick Academy for my sixth year and my experience by that point allowed me to play senior rugby for Kilmarnock. It was obviously a big step up in terms of physicality, but Kilmarnock had a few veterans at the time and they looked after the young pup, showed me the ropes and I just tried to learn as much as possible.”
After school, Jardine joined the Irvine in the West Regional Leagues and became a modern apprentice for the local area via Carrick Academy, Scottish Rugby and the Carrick club, which meant he was out and about giving taster rugby sessions and the like at primary schools.
The following year he fulfilled a similar role within the Irvine catchment area and continued to play for the Marress Road outfit.
“I had a good few years playing for Irvine before I decided to move to play for Carrick,” he explained. “I’d only ever played for Carrick Academy before and not the club, so it was something I was keen to do.
“A lot of my mates were there and we had a brilliant time, including winning the Shield final three times in a row at Murrayfield, which gave me some great memories.
“When the 2019-20 season came around I actually stopped playing rugby for a few months and then I decided to join Ayr. Unfortunately, after only a couple of games for them the pandemic came around and put an end to that, so it was short and sweet!
“When rugby resumed fully after Covid, I decided to join Marr because I knew a few boys there like Colin Sturgeon, Greg Montgomery and David Andrew from when I was younger, while I’d played against a lot of the boys too before.”
It seems to have been a good decision by Jardine because he managed to force his way into the 1st XV during 2021-22 and then started at hooker and scored a try in the Premiership final triumph at Currie in April.
“That capped off an amazing first full season at the club for me and to have my wee boy down at Malleny Park was great too,” he said.
“Everyone was so welcoming from day one at Marr. There is also a great culture that keeps standards high while having coaches like Craig Redpath to learn from is brilliant.
“Playing alongside a guy like Gordon Reid is very handy too because he is always sharing tips. When I was at my other clubs I used to watch him playing for Scotland and now I’m playing alongside him, SO it is quite surreal!
“The boys are in a good frame of mind at the moment, now we just have to put in a good performance against Jed.”
Marr’s home clash against Jed-Forest on Saturday kicks-off at 2pm at Fullarton Park.