Fixture congestion creates Men’s Premiership Final headache

Semi-finals now to be played on 2nd March and final may not be played until start of May

ae Linton of Hawick in action against Currie Chieftains during last years' Premiership Final. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Jae Linton of Hawick in action against Currie Chieftains during last years' Premiership Final. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

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.


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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.”


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About David Barnes 3821 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he 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.

26 Comments

  1. The Premiership playoff is unnecessary given that the top team has been determined over a season of league fixtures.

    • I don’t think that any other “league” has play offs to determine the winners surely that is the point off a league 😡😡😡

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  2. Why can’t the play off semi finals not be played next weekend and the final the following week job done let’s ay rugby come on the SRU

  3. Dom Ward. The championship committee ultimately takes its instructions from the clubs, the rules are set in place before the season starts. Quite rightly the championship committee is reluctant to change these rules during the season.

      • I didn’t deal with the championship directly as we ( the prem) had their representative who you listened too and ask questioned and if there were any potential issues or questions he would deal with and come back with the answers, quite straight forward. This maybe highlights an issue which I know exists and that is the club representatives don’t always feed back what is happening.

  4. It’s not just in the Premiership.

    The playoffs in Caledonia 1 for promotion to Nat 4 are badly off track. While the weather has been generally bad, it’s been much worse in North region with significant knock on effects.

    One for the future – we can expect more destructive rainfall with climate change. It’s likely to have a lasting impact on the current season. And Summers are prone to heavy rain as well.

  5. SRU dictated when cancelled games are replayed so not sure why Currie v Marr game isn’t being played this Saturday like the other cancelled games?
    SRU should then dictate when play offs and final are played and teams have to pick their best team available on those dates
    Simple solution to avoid congestion in future, revert back to whoever finished top won league, no further two dates needed

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  6. For sure Tex Tucker. Melrose 7’s used to be a great day out but not any more. £35 to watch a whole load of made up sevens teams taking part to the detriment of those teams who have supported the event over many years and unfortunately the SRU still think it is an important event.

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  7. Just so everyone is clear the clubs determine the fixture schedule, a small minority of that also determined that the white elephant that is the IDC would be held at this time of year. The fixture run for a top club player is farcical between cup , league and IDC. Zero to do with Melrose sevens.

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    • Unfortunately, the weather reaked havoc to fixtures across November to January. No matter what order you play competitions, the net result is the same. That being said, concentrating on getting the league programme finished first means only those two clubs who are in the play off final are affected by the season extension and we have not seen regular league fixtures and IDC games postponed into April and May as would have been the case and would have had fla far wider impact. Far from being a white elephant, the IDC provides an opportunity for the best club players to represent their District in front of big crowds in a high intensity environment and create memories they will carry with them and experiences they will take back to their club, improving standards and inspiring others. It’s already the case that after just one season, players have postponed their planned retirement in order to have an opportunity to play in this season’s IDC. These are the sorts of initiatives that our game badly needs to reverse the downward trend of playing numbers in the senior men’s game. Whilst some may wish to downplay it’s potential impact from behind the mask of anonymity, the fact is that it’s an opportunity that players are relishing and one that was brought about thanks to the overwhelming support of the clubs following an AGM motion.

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      • The IDC is a decent concept but should be held in December with selection then leading to Club Internationals against Ireland and possible Welsh and English club xv’s

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      • Rangi- there was about 300 folk at the final at half the players were unavailable. Get over yourself. It’s a novelty concept. Hold it at Christmas, along with the crackers.

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      • I am not against the IDC but it certainly won’t help the decline of players, you just need to look at the stats where travel is involved and the extended season but that is another argument.
        Where it the IDC falls down in my opinion, the old IDC while a good competition in its own right ( it wasn’t great as some seem to think) it was effectively a chance for players to show their ability in-front of selectors to go on to further honours. As I said it should be in December/ early January leading on to club international honours.
        When the old district championship was held the weather was often worse ( frost not rain) the games were simply moved to Murrayfield with the electric blanket ensuring the games went ahead. With the development of all weather pitches games could easily be switched to one of those pitches. This would allow the club game to finish its season without distraction. Most clubs do not have all weather facilities and the income to clubs from home games is vital for their survival, no one is relying on IDC for income.
        The Premiership final is the top club game in the season and should take priority over the IDC ( if the IDC is causing the issue), it will be a huge income generator for the two clubs involved and it is not fair to the players in those teams to delay the season weeks as could be the case.

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    • The clubs do NOT determine the fixture schedule. Where did you get that from?

      Its set by the competition dept at Murrayfield and governed by the various competitions committees.

  8. Club rugby is at the bottom of the pile as far as SRU is concerned
    Melrose will still get plenty of “support” for the 7’s irregardless. Increasingly people there for reasons other than enjoying the rugby.
    Perhaps t’was ever thus but more so now.

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      • Where did you get that from Iain?

        See National competition rules section 4 Fixtures subsection 4.2 Matches SHALL be played on the date specified.

        There are various methods that clubs can use to change these but very onerous and CRCs very reluctant to grant approval unless for exceptional circumstances

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  9. Saturday 13th is Melrose 7s as well, whoever is in the Cup competition will have to field a weakened team there too!

    • In the past few years teams have had to play games the same day as 7s tourneys have been on.
      Let them play rearranged games on Melrose 7 s day .
      Let them see what it’s like for a change .
      That would stir the pot.
      In the past it was always Melrose Melrose Melrose to the detriment of others .
      Times have changed

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