Selkirk show way ahead with new all-weather training pitch

SELKIRK RFC took the wraps off a new community training facility at their Philiphaugh ground last night which their former international stand-off John Rutherford hailed as a model for sports in the future.

The club, which was relegated to RBS Premier Two this year, has been looking to improve its training facilities for many years and had scoured the area for help to create a new all-weather facility. After succeeding in landing a grant from the Big Lottery for £50,000, the new project to build an all-weather training area and new strength and conditioning pavilion took on a new momentum.

“That was the point where we realised we could really achieve something,” said Rutherford, “Not just in a financial sense but also in terms of bringing the sporting community around Selkirk together.

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“The Big Lottery grant is voted for and we were amazed at how many people voted for us, and the fact we won showed the strength of the community. Since then there has been a great push for us to develop a facility at Philiphaugh that could benefit not just rugby, but football, hockey and other sports.

“We now have a small, but ideal all-weather training pitch, and the pavilion which will be used by sportsmen and women, and future generations, throughout the town.”

Fresh from a Scotland send-off dinner in Glasgow, Ian McLauchlan, the SRU president, headed to the Borders to launch the new Selkirk facilities, and the former Scotland prop agreed with Rutherford that the community spirit provided a template for other areas.

“It is the way ahead,” said Rutherford. “We had professionals lay the artificial pitch but lots of local tradesmen pitched in to build the pavilion, and that is what made it possible.

“It is hard work keeping a rugby club going nowadays and money is scarce, but if sports and the community work together, much more is achievable. The rugby club will undoubtedly benefit from the facility, but so will all sport in the town and I’m delighted about that.”

Selkirk open their Premier Two campaign this afternoon at home to Watsonians, who were also relegated from the top flight. Both clubs are battling to win a place in the top four by the 5 November split, and give themselves a chance of being part of the new ten-team RBS Premier League that will launch next season.

Rutherford, also Selkirk’s vice-president, added: “It is going to be a real challenge just to stay in the top 20 clubs in Scotland before the new regionalisation comes in, never mind make the top ten, but we’re up for it and are ready for a really exciting season.”