Rugby doesn’t stop for Santa: a guide to this year’s festive matches

Image courtesy: Scottsh Rugby

Boxing Day – 11am – Aberdeen Exiles v Aberdeen Select at Rubislaw

WHEN two homesick Aberdonians got together in the Grill Bar of the Savoy Hotel in London in 1930 to create a rugby fixture on Boxing Day in their native city, they could never have imagined that nearly 90 years on, the game would still be an integral part of the local sporting landscape. Apart from the World War Two years, the match has only been called off twice due to adverse weather conditions, explains Jack Nixon.

“Glasses will be raised at the lunch after the now annual game to toast the memory of Doug Cochrane and Tommy Robertson, the creators of the fixture,” said Jim Sugden, the organiser of this year’s contest, which will be played at Rubislaw.

“Over the years we have had players jetting in from all over the world, including exiles from Hong Kong to Texas, and many places in between. It’s a great occasion, and well supported by the north-east rugby fraternity, including local players who want to play in the game for the Aberdeen Select,” said Sugden who is also the president of Gordonians.

Sugden is team manager for the Exiles, while Mike Monro, the local SRU representative, will take responsibility for the Aberdeen Select.

”This is an occasion when players, officials and, of course, supporters come together to celebrate all that is good in game, while renewing old friendships. It’s also a very competitive game. I look forward to a resounding win for the Select who represent nearly all the clubs in the Aberdeen area,” said Monro.

Intriguingly, the two captains on opposite sides are brothers. Ross Findlay of Perthshire will head up the Exiles, while his brother Dan of Gordonians will captain the Select.

Former Garioch favourite Peter Jerecevich will be back in the city, keen to keep up his scoring record in the fixture. The former GHA scrum-half, now coach of Premiership side Stirling County, will also have with him former Aberdeenshire and Ellon hooker Matthew Emmison, who is now playing at Bridgehaugh in the top flight of the Scottish club game.

Number eight Matt Gordon is flying in from Washington, and Sandy Willis has come up from London to grace the back division for the Exiles.

The select team will include Aberdeen Grammar’s versatile back-rower Greig Ryan, who will link up with Rubislaw team mates Colin Neilson, Aaron Robertson, Sam Knudson and club captain Doug Russell. Garioch will be represented by captain Sean Low, and Dyce by Alex Duthie and Rob Childs.

The Exiles will be coached by Eric Strachan and Sean Mills, while Sugden, Kweis Evans and Richard Murdoch will do the honours for the Aberdeen Select.

The game gets underway at 11am when a big crowd is expected before the players and officials repair to the Palm Court Hotel for the now traditional lunch and drinks.

Saturday 23rd December – 2pm – Melrose v Selkirk at the Greenyards

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Boxing Day – 2pm – Melrose v Gala at the Greenyards

Meanwhile, down in the Borders, Melrose would be well within their rights to take a well-earned break during the festive season after their heroics so far this season in the BT Premiership, but there is no let-up for the Greenyards men. They host Selkirk in a Border League clash tomorrow [Saturday] and three days later on Boxing Day welcome Gala in the Waverley Cup, with a few youngsters certain to be blooded over the course of these two games. Admission to the Gala game is £5 for non-members with a disco in the clubhouse after the match. Both games kick-off at 2pm.

In the capital, there are a few games to tempt you out for some fresh air to counteract the excesses of the season, and then perhaps a hair of the dog, as well.

Boxing Day – 2pm – Edinburgh Accies v Crusaders at Raeburn Place

On Boxing Day, the Crusaders rugby team – which was set up to promote the awareness and prevention of testicular cancer – will play their second annual fixture against an Edinburgh Accies select team at Raeburn Place, with a 2pm kick-off, followed by beers and a charity auction. The Crusaders team is being organised by Paul Arnold and anyone who fancies volunteering their services should contact [email protected].

2nd January – 2pm – Heriot’s v Co-otimists at Goldenacre

Heriot’s entertain the Co-optimists for the third consecutive year on Tuesday 2nd January with a 2pm kick-off. Admission is £5 with all gate monies going to Doddie Weir’5 Trust.

27th December – 1pm – Dollar Accies v Edinburgh Borderers at 1pm

Across the Forth, former Heriot’s and Scotland utility back Cameron Glasgow is organising a match between Dollar Accies and an Edinburgh Borderers XV on 27th December, with a 1pm kick-off.

“It is very much a friendly, festive fixture, with some vintage players such as Grant McKelvey and Marshall Wright, as well as the young guns,” said Glasgow.

Boxing Day – from 1pm – Accies Masters v GHK Oldies followed by Accies 1st XV v Accies Exiles at New Anniesland

Over in the west, the ‘Glasgow Accies Boxing Day Extravaganza’ will feature two matches. At 1pm, an ‘Accies Master XV’ captained by Richard McKnight takes on a ‘GHK Oldies XV’ featuring current Glasgow Hawks president Kenny Hamilton and coached by Ally McLay. That will be followed by Accies 1st XV against an Accies Exiles XV at 2pm.

 

  • If your club has a game over the festive period which it would like to flag up to wider rugby public, drop us an email at [email protected] and we will add it to this article.

 

  • Be sure to check back for match updates.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article

 

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About David Barnes 2968 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.