Walkerburn Rugby Club announces its closure

"We bid farewell with gratitude and a sense of pride for the legacy we leave behind."

Walkerburn Rugby Club was founded in 1884 and played at Caberston Haugh
Walkerburn Rugby Club was founded in 1884 and played at Caberston Haugh

WALKERURN RUGBY CLUB has announced its closure due to a decline in player numbers which has rendered its position untenable, with a statement from the club committee explaining that the decision “weighs heavily on our hearts”.

The news comes as another painful reminder of the perilous position many rugby clubs across Scotland, and particularly in smaller communities, find themselves in.

Walkerburn, who should have been celebrating their 140th anniversary this year, most recently played in the East Region Reserve League Division Two, suffering a series of heavy defeats this season on the eight occasions it managed to raise a team.


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The demise of Walkerburn will be mourned throughout Scotland but especially in its Borders home, and among the several lower league clubs in Edinburgh which the club forged strong links with over the years, not least through its popular sevens tournament which was traditionally the last hurrah of the season on the Borders Sevens circuit.

The statement said:

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of the Walkerburn Rugby Club. After much consideration and reflection, the committee has made the difficult decision to cease operations. We believe it is our duty to provide clarity regarding the reasons behind this pivotal moment in our club’s history.

“Over the years, we have witnessed a gradual decline in player participation. Despite our best efforts, assembling a team for matches has become increasingly challenging. The lack of sufficient player numbers has impacted our ability to compete effectively.

“Our dedicated committee members have tirelessly worked to keep the club afloat. However, the burden of managing critical tasks has fallen upon a small group [and] the workload has become overwhelming. They have valiantly attempted to perform the duties of a full team, but it is no longer sustainable.

“The cancellation of our 100th sevens tournament and our absence from the 24-25 season, which would have been our 140th season, weighs heavily on our hearts. These milestones were meant to celebrate our rich history and the passion we share for rugby.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported us throughout the years. From the SRU to fellow clubs such as Gala YM and Lismore. Additionally, we appreciate the individuals who volunteered their time, ensuring that Walkerburn Rugby Club remained a vibrant part of our community.

“While the chapter may be closing, the memories forged on the pitch, the friendships kindled, and the spirit of rugby will forever resonate within us. We bid farewell with gratitude and a sense of pride for the legacy we leave behind.

“Sincerely, The Walkerburn Rugby Club Committee.”


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About David Barnes 3956 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.

23 Comments

  1. Availability of other sports has grown over the last number of years along with working lives and general priorities. Rugby clubs need to recognise this and start looking at merging with those in the local area. Ayrshire rugby is a prime example. Too many clubs and not enough players. Until committee members realise that times have moved on from the rivalries of old and embrace the need to have all our Scottish youngsters playing at the highest level they are capable of then the player pathway will always struggle.

  2. My heart goes out to the folk at Walkerburn RFC for the efforts they have put into to keeping the club a going concern. At any time, this experience could impact one of many clubs, with the sliding doors of rugby Scotland. Its a reminder that we all need to work hard to keep Rugby at the forefront of people’s minds at all ages.
    However, I think we need to remind ourselves that rugby is a fantastic product that provides people with life-enhancing and life defining experiences. The evolution and expansion of the women’s game shows that young (and slightly older) women see rugby as a perfect anti-dote to the hum drum existence that a technology driven society has given us. There is nothing more exhilarating than 80 minutes on a muddy rugby pitch!
    As someone who is a cup half full enthusiast, it is a very easy sell. Young people are desperate to find meaning in their lives. Rugby is a pretty good answer.

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  3. I am sad to hear about Walkerburn rfc. I played there in the 60’s when working at Ballentines in Innerleithen although coming fro Hawick I could have played there. Walkerburn was a welcoming and friendly club and I remember Bud Smith for all the work he put in at that time and the great atmosphere with in the teams.

  4. This is very sad news, and as it’s been already mentioned, will, in all likelihood happen again.
    Nobody is to blame for this,just a changing society unfortunately.
    Many commiserations to all who tried so hard to save this wee club.

  5. A really sad day – played v Walkerburn a few times; good folk. Unfortunately young folk need to be on a phone, playing games or roaming around town centres these days. Not many youngsters make “an effort” nowadays and it’s not just Walkerburn suffering; city teams used to put out 6 or 7 teams, now the likes of Accies, Heriots etc, lucky to put out three if that. Where are all these development officers etc. Population doubled in 30 years but clubs playing staff halved. SRU jot doing enough to promote. What’s wrong with an ad on STV??? “Costs too much”….hold on, what’s Dodsons pay????

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  6. Praise goes to the committee members who for decades have worked tirelessly to stop the club sliding into the abyss of final closure. Unfortunately, the lack of players now playing (despite the official SRU fraudulent figures) and apathy towards rugby and other sports by youngsters probably means that throughout the country other clubs will follow the same path as the Burn. As far as hospitality goes towards other officials and club members the Burn was right up there. Thank you to the committee members throughout the years for all your efforts.

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  7. A sad situation indeed but not just in Scotland. My club in Middlesex is also struggling and quite a number in our area have folded too!
    Different times with different pressures.

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  8. “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported us throughout the years. From the (SRU) to fellow clubs such as Gala YM and Lismore”

    Walkerburn thanked the SRU for all their help. That wont stop ‘Blind Walter’ having a pop ofc.

    Sorry to see the club go.

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  9. A tragedy for the village and for the player present and former plus volunteers who have devoted their time, money and energy into the club over the years. Every grass root club that dies or amalgamated with others is a sign of the health of Scottish rugby. Some will play elsewhere but others will leave the sport.

  10. Very sad news. It’s really tough running a rugby club. Players have little understanding of what it takes to fund rugby. Power bills alone can be enough to tip you over the edge.

    Player another example of the SCRUMs players stats not being as they seem.

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  11. How sad .
    Great memories at their 7s.fishing the ball out of adjoining river many times
    When SRU couldn’t care less about grass roots rugby .
    This is what happens .
    What a sad state of rugby in Scotland Mr Dodson has left us .

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    • Walter you can’t blame this on Dodson. The changes in economy and work killed the Burn, its a wee village with bugger all people in it and even less jobs.
      They are a long way from the thriving village with Mill workers and Farmers aplenty in their Glory days.

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      • Dodson wouldn’t know where Walkerburn was .
        He’d get a Nosebleed going past Middleton Moor
        Sad state of affairs .

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    • What rubbish. It’s not the SRU. Young people’s lives have changed. Sport (that’s the entire community) needs to change with them or more clubs will die.

      I’ve been part of rugby club committees and saw first-hand how hard it is to recruit and keep players – nothing to do with the governing body.

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      • Agreed.

        The “in my day” crowd really are out of touch with modern social/economic pressures.

        I have played and served on committees and the player base is dwindling post U16s when Uni, then work, then family commitments (some steps are not relevant for some) kick in then rugby drops down the priority list.

        Common things I have heard from some of the older generation who constantly relive the 70’s and 80s without any consideration of modern pressures:
        – “I never had to look after the kids on a Saturday”.
        – “The club empties too quickly after games”.
        – “I gave up overtime to play, so should they”. Yes I have heard that said.

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      • I agree with you to an extent but the SRU doesn’t escape Scot free here. No one in their right mind thinks there are 10k senior adult male players. SCRUMs does. Looking at the weekly fixtures gives a much better picture of games played or called off.

        If only as much effort was expended on club rugby as was fur Super6.

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      • Well said David – it’s a persistent problem on this forum.

        The Clubs and SRU could do more sure. But there is a blind disregard for the extrinsic factors affecting Rugby.

        Let’s hope Keith ‘Dodson’ Wallace at the SRU can turn things around (the pressure is on!) – perhaps he could offer struggling clubs his infamous ‘overlapping circles’ chart so they can project the players they will need!

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      • AG2 perhaps you can tell us how many rugby clubs Mr Dodson visited in his time as CEO? I know he was spotted at Ferry Road once as a guest of Mr Grassie. Outside of a few S6 games I’m not aware of many more.

        There is a difference from people who comment on internet sites v those who actually run and manage clubs. I’m sure David has heard those statements. Those at the sharp end are the ones that are organising teams and looking at the bar figures can’t magic away changes in how players participate.

        The whole point of a Union is that we are all in this together. Reduced number of clubs even ones far down the food chain, negatively affects the game and player numbers. Sadly they are unlikely to be the last.

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