Premiership preview: Currie Chieftain Cairn Ramsay eyes revenge against Marr

Malleny Park men suffered painful defeat to their Troon rivals in last year's Premiership Final

A LOT of the talk in Scottish rugby circles this week has been about a tight-head prop in the shape Zander Fagerson.

The men wearing number three don’t often grab the headlines, but while Fagerson is not quite yet fit to play for Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday, one tight-head who is fit and firing – and getting tongues wagging in clubland – is Cairn Ramsay of Currie Chieftains, having scored two tries last week against GHA to help his side to a bonus point win which edged Chieftains closer to following leaders Hawick in securing a home play-off semi-final.

Last year the Malleny men defeated Edinburgh Accies on their own patch at that stage before, having finished top of the regular season standings, losing 36-25 at home to Marr in the Final. Saturday sees those two clubs meet again at the same ground on the outskirts of Edinburgh in a rearranged regular-season league match – and Ramsay and co want to put right what happened last April.

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“This game will be the hardest one we have faced so far this season because Marr are looking to make sure of a play-off place and they are a good side,” 22-year-old Ramsay, whose older brother Jacob also plays at Currie, said.

“As a pack it is always a good test against them and it will give the opportunity to scrummage directly against Gordon Reid again which is a challenge I look forward to.

“He is very experienced and knows every trick in the book, but as a young prop, especially a tighthead, the only way to learn and get better is to go up against the best loose-heads at your level and Reid and Hawick’s Shawn Muir are those guys in the Premiership.

“As I say, it’ll be a tough match, but the guys at Currie certainly have not forgotten what happened in the Final last season and then earlier on this season we walked them over their try line from a scrum at the death, but lost [24-17 at Fullarton Park in October].

“It is shaping up to be a great game and, after beating GHA last weekend, we now want to really build up some momentum for the Premiership play-offs and the Scottish Cup.”

Since rugby returned at club level post-pandemic, Ramsay, who scored a try off the bench in last year’s Premiership Final, has been someone who has really caught the eye. The Kirkcaldy native only took up the game at his local club at under-16 level.

“I was a late bloomer in terms of rugby. At the time I was at Balwearie High School and my main sport up to then had been athletics where I’d competed in Scottish youth events and suchlike, mainly focusing on the 200 metres and the shot put.

“In my first year of playing rugby I was invited along to Caledonia under-16s regional trials and I was successful with that.

“I started out at that time playing centre or full-back and I was fortunate enough that, as I moved into my under-18s years I was spotted by Andy Henderson and was awarded a scholarship to Strathallan School for my final two years.”

Ramsay played all over the pitch for Strathallan came off the bench when the under-18 team – captained by Murphy Walker and featuring current Scotland squad members Cameron Henderson and Ollie Smith won the Scottish Schools Cup final at Murrayfield in 2017-18.

A spell at Edinburgh College followed before, between February and August 2019, he headed off to New Zealand to play for Otorohanga Sports Club in the Waikato Premiership alongside Campbell Wilson (now Watsonians Super6).

“That was a great experience,” Ramsay said of his time just south of Hamilton. “I had played a bit of prop before that trip, but out there I made the move to being a tight-head specialist and I haven’t really looked back since!

“There I learnt a lot at training from loose-head Haereiti Hetet who has since gone on to earn full Fijian caps while Ted Tuaroa, a very experienced prop, was there too and he taught me a lot and really opened my eyes to front-row play.

“While out there I also developed the running side of my game and getting the ball in my hands in open field and it is something that [Currie coaches] Mark Cairns and Ally Donaldson encourage now which is excellent.

Waikato under-19 honours came Ramsay’s way in New Zealand before he returned to these shores, joined Chieftains and was part of the wider Scotland squad building up to the under-20 Six Nations in 2020.

Sadly for him, that season he also suffered a double lateral meniscus tear in his knee which ruled him out of that tournament.

Rehab can sometimes put young players off, but it was during that time – as he was being helped by experienced physio Tracy McAdam and others – that Ramsay decided he wanted to give rugby a real go.

That has been Currie’s gain and he’ll have a big part to play in their quest for silverware in the next couple of months.

How it stands –


The Lowdown –

Currie Chieftains v Marr

Venue: Malleny Park @ 2pm

Teams –

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; K McGovern, DJ Innes, A Hall, J McCaig; J Forbes, G Christie; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, W Inglis, A, G Nelson, J Rutherford, R Davies©. Subs: G Williamson, J Ramsay, K Steel, P Boyer, I Sim.

Marr: C Inglis; J Jacobsen, S Bickerstaff, C Bickerstaff©, J Scott; C Sturgeon©, G Baird; G Reid, C McMillan, C Miller, D Andrew, C Folan, C Young, B Jardine, B Johnston. Subs: C Steele, A Acton, F Grant, G Beckwith, A Ramage.

Key battle: Cairn Ramsay versus Gordon Reid.

Team news –

Currie Chieftains: In the forwards, Johnny Rutherford is released from the Scotland under-20s and head coach Mark Cairns is “sure he will have a point to prove having missed out on selection against England”. Rutherford is in the back-row alongside Gregor Nelson who is back from injury with Ally McCallum moving up to the second-row. In the backs, Gregor Hunter was concussed against GHA so misses out. Jamie Forbes is at 10 and Charlie Brett starts at 15. Iain Sim is back from honeymoon and is on the bench.

Marr: Only one change to the squad this week with Scott Clelland dropping out through injury, so Curran McMillan starts at hooker and Fraser Grant comes onto the bench.

What the coaches say –

“GHA was definitely better than our previous outing at Mansfield Park, but we were still short of what we expect of ourselves. Marr have been on a roll just at the right time in the season. Craig and his team have done a great job and will be looking to replicate their last trip to Malleny. We need to come out the blocks fast and maintain a high pace throughout if we are to secure a home play-off semi-final …” – Mark Cairns (Currie Chieftains)

“Having our final league game of the season in the first week of February feels rather strange. This is another ‘must win’ game if we wish to make the top four. The aim this week is to build on the performance from our win against Hawks last week. Games against Currie are always extremely tough and physical, especially at Malleny Park. They are a very well drilled and prepared team …” – Craig Redpath (Marr)

Verdict: This won’t be for the faint-hearted. Marr know that a bonus-point win would secure them a play-off spot before Selkirk even play their last two regular season matches while Currie want to make sure of a home semi-final. The last two meetings between the sides – last year’s Final and the league game earlier this campaign  went Marr’s way and they are in-form, but you get the feeling the Chieftains want this one badly.

Narrow home win.

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About Gary Heatly 457 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.