EWAN MACDOUGALL was made aware it was the day of his 200th senior appearance for Selkirk while he was warming-up for the Tennent’s Premiership clash with Jed-Forest last Saturday. But milestone match or not, there is no doubt that the team would have still got the same wholehearted performance out of the captain that he gives every week. All club rugby teams have – or want – players like MacDougall, the ones who just get on with their job with the minimum of fuss, give 100 percent and lead by example.
Selkirk make the trip to Riverside Park to take on their Border rivals Jed-Forest for the second time in six days tonight [Friday] in a rearranged top flight meeting, and if Saturday’s ‘first round’ is anything to go by – Jed snatching a 10-10 draw with a last gasp try and conversion – the second round under floodlights will certainly be one to catch if you can.
“The season so far has been a bit ‘stop-start’ for us up until now, but we are looking to build some momentum and kick on during the rest of the campaign,” No.8 MacDougall, whose side are seventh in the table currently, said. “We have only played eight games while others in the division have already played 10, so we have felt like we are playing catch-up at times while at the start of the season there were quite a few injuries and that made continuity in the matchday squad difficult.
“Indeed, it even meant that I was forced into action in the centre at one point, but thankfully a few guys are back fit and we now have an experienced spine to the team that can help the exciting youngsters through games.
“It is great to have Callum Marshall back in our pack after a few years away playing for Heriot’s in the Premiership and then Super6, he has been there and done it and is excited to be back at the club where it all started for him.
“And young Keiran Clark has come in [through the Super6 Premiership player pool] from the Southern Knights eager for game time and has worked hard over the last couple of weeks.
“There are no stars in our squad, it doesn’t matter if you have been playing over 10 years like me or if this is your first senior season, everyone is willing to work hard and put the effort in to, hopefully, get the results we want.
“Ourselves and Jed know each other pretty well now having played last weekend and we are looking forward to a Friday night game under the lights, hoping to build on a win and a draw from our last two games.”
Head coach Scott Wight and forwards coach Darren Hoggan have built a good spirit amongst their playing group in recent months and anyone who has been to a match at Philiphaugh in the last few years will know that Selkirk have a band of volunteers off the field who work tirelessly.
“That is one of the things that I love about Selkirk, whether it is on or off the pitch, there are people willing to give of their time at the rugby club to make sure we are doing as well as we can,” adds MacDougall, who runs his own plumbing and heating business and who earned Scotland Club XV honours in 2020.
“I am a local boy, I was at Selkirk High School, played my rugby for the Youth Club and then headed into the seniors at the club around 11 years ago now.
“In my first year in the seniors I didn’t play a lot in the first team, but I did make my debut against West of Scotland, and then over the next couple of years I became more of a regular in the squad.
“When I look back at the photos from those times I think to myself ‘how could that skinny wee laddie have been playing men’s rugby?’, but I guess I just dug in and learnt as I went.
“At the time I was mainly playing at six and was behind Neil Darling for the starting jersey, so I had to wait for my opportunities and when they came I tried my best to take them.
“Over the years we have always had a good core of local boys in the team and I enjoy that element of the club while I have been lucky enough to play alongside some great players. There are too many to mention, but guys like Darling, Scott Hendrie, Gavin Craig and Fraser Harkness, who were all involved in my first few years, come to mind.
“And, of course, players like Lee Jones and Alex Dunbar played at the club before they went on to have good pro careers and represent Scotland.
“I have always had great fun whichever group of Selkirk players I have been playing with, so it was a nice moment when Billy Jackson, who keeps all the club statistics, was walking by during the warm-up last weekend and mentioned to me that it was my 200th senior appearance.
“At this point I should pay tribute to my dad Malcolm, a former Selkirk player himself, who has probably seen the vast majority of those games and has followed me up and down the country.
“Time has certainly flown by and there have been ups and downs, but I have enjoyed every minute of my time playing for the club – and there is still plenty left in the tank yet!”
Meanwhile, bottom of the table Aberdeen Grammar host Edinburgh Accies at Rubislaw tomorrow, with a lunchtime kick-off.
HOW IT STANDS –
THE LOWDOWN –
JED-FOREST V SELKIRK (FRIDAY NIGHT)
VENUE: Riverside Park @ 7.30pm
Jed-Forest: L Young; M Cullen, Gregor Young©, R Marshall, A Bambrick; G Munro, N Stingl; G Paxton, F Scott, G Clarkson, D Wardrop, G Law, J Howe, B Roff, C Cowan. Subs: F Campbell, A Stewart, A Sweenie, E Lauder, R Nichol.
Selkirk: K Clark; J Welsh, B Pickles, R Nixon, C McNeill; C Anderson, J Hamilton; L Pettie, J Bett, B Riddell, P Forrest, T Brown, C Marshall, R Cook, E MacDougall©. Subs: J Anderson, A Renwick, A Grant-Suttie, S Clark, F Anderson.
KEY BATTLE: Lewis Young versus Keiran Clark
TEAM NEWS –
Jed-Forest: Aidan Bambrick starts on the wing with Gary Munro moving from scrum-half to stand-off and Nik Stingl coming in at nine. Finlay Scott, Gary Clarkson and Jack Howe are added to the pack.
Selkirk: A fairly settled starting XV, Scott McClymont is out, so Callum Marshall reverts to the back-row with Peter Forrest coming into the second-row.
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“We were very relieved to get the draw last weekend. It could be a turning point for us and we want to build from here …” – Scott Tomlinson (Jed-Forest)
“It is good to get some continuity in selection and the squad is frustrated after last week’s result and it’s great we get to go again. It’s been a great week of preparation, but we know Jed will be a completely different team at home …” – Scott Wight (Selkirk)
VERDICT: Selkirk were frustrated that Jed managed to grab a last gasp draw at Philiphaugh last weekend. Jed are solid at home, but the Selkirk team – especially up front – has a more settled look to it, so they may just edge this Border derby.
ABERDEEN GRAMMAR V EDINBURGH ACCIES (SATURDAY LUNCHTIME)
VENUE: Rubislaw @ 1pm
Aberdeen Grammar: C Shepherd; D Russell, M New, T Aplin©, N Brown; S Knudson, A Addy; J Robertson, M Schosser, G Breese, C Walker, N Coe, G Ryan, B Inglis, C Buchan. Subs: G Robertson, A Robertson, P Mulholland, E Sinclair, B Renton.
Edinburgh Accies: V Hart; R Lile, R Kent, N Armstrong, B Appleson; J Loomes, J Troup; C Imrie, C Black©, C Lacour, J Mills, F Simpson, S Hegarty, J Sole, R Campbell. Subs: G Stevenson, A Winnington-Ingram, M Crowther, B Grainger, M Wallace.
KEY BATTLE: Mattias Schosser versus Callum Black
TEAM NEWS –
Aberdeen Grammar: With Edinburgh Rugby Academy player Cameron Scott unavailable, Craig Shepherd moves back to full-back and Nathan Brown comes in on the wing. Mark New returns at centre with Nat Coe back in action in the second-row.
Edinburgh Accies: Several changes to last week’s team with Sean Hegarty starting for the first time this season in the back-row and Vincent Hart, Neil Armstrong, Jamie Troup, skipper Callum Black and Clem Lacour all returning to the starting XV. Archie Winnington-Ingram and Matthew Crowther are set to make their first team debuts from the bench, where they are joined by Grant Stevenson, Ben Grainger and Max Wallace.
WHAT THE COACHES SAY –
“A short turnaround to play the same team twice in a row as we welcome Accies for the reverse fixture from last week. They were good value for the win and will go into this game as firm favourites. Whilst we are happy to welcome back Mark New and Nat Coe into the squad following their injuries, it is Calum Reddish and Sam Ryan’s turn to miss out with muscle strains this week …” – Ali O’Connor (Aberdeen Grammar)
“Aberdeen away is one of the hardest games in the league season and we will need to be at our best to come away with the points from Rubislaw …” – Iain Berthinussen (Edinburgh Accies)
VERDICT: Accies know that a win would see them leapfrog Hawick into third spot in the table. There is no doubt that, like a lot of clubs, Grammar are a different beast at home and they will be targeting this match. Accies have had to make a few changes, but they should still have enough to get over the line if Jamie Loomes can control things from 10.