THE play-off semi-finals for the Men’s Premiership have been pushed back from 17th February to March 2nd, which is the weekend initially scheduled for the competition final, as a result of adverse weather conditions over the winter causing a delayed end to the league section of the season.
It is not clear when the Final will now be played given that the first two rounds of the Scottish Cup are scheduled for 9th and 16th March, followed by three rounds of Inter-District matches on 23rd and 30th March then 6th April, followed by the semi-finals and the Final of the Cup on 13th and 27th April.
That leaves 20th April as the most obvious date for the Premiership denouement, although that is the weekend of Hawick Sevens, which throws up a whole new set of problems if the Mansfield men progress to the Final. The other possibility is that the league Final can be arranged on one of the Cup weekends if both teams involved are knocked out of that competition at an early stage.
The Premiership semi-finals will see top of the table finishers Hawick host fourth place Kelso at Mansfield while Currie Chieftains will take on Marr at either Malleny Park or Fullarton Park depending on the outcome when those two sides play their final game of the regular season against each other at Malleny on Friday night.
All four clubs were given the option of playing their semi-finals over next weekend (24th February), which would have allowed the Final to be played on 2nd March, but failed to reach unanimous agreement.
“Season 2023-2024 has once again been an exciting one for the clubs involved in the Premiership, and especially the title race. It was only after results on Saturday 3 February that the top four clubs to progress to the play-offs were confirmed,” said Kevin Quinn of Marr, Club Rugby Board Representative for the Premiership.
“Hawick will play Kelso at Mansfield Park, while the winner of this Friday’s league match between Currie Chieftains and Marr Rugby will earn home advantage for the other semi-final. The Premiership clubs agree that our league concludes with play-offs as this gives an exciting conclusion to the campaign.
“Unfortunately, the recent extended adverse weather has created significant fixture disruption and a challenge in concluding the Premiership as had originally been envisaged. All four clubs have significant commitments for the Scottish Cup as well as the Inter-district programme. To that end, the Premiership Final date is one that can’t easily be set or settled. As progress in the Scottish Cup develops, the clubs will continue to work with Scottish Rugby’s Competitions team to figure out what will work best to help conclude this year’s Premiership.”