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Gala crowned champions of Booker Border League as last fixture cancelled

Gala have won the Booker Border League for the fourth time in five years but the presentation planned for after the match against Jedforest tomorrow won’t take place as Jedforest pulled out of the fixture. This follows Kelso’s withdrawal from the tournament a few weeks ago and Hawick pulling out of their game against Jedforest.  It was a sad ending to the competition which is the world’s oldest league as yet again the Border League ended without all the fixtures being played.  One can fully understand the positions of the clubs who withdrew.  For Kelso there was nothing to play for and their National League 1 season had ended. Hawick could not field a front row for their match while Jedforest’s key players are top of the Kings of the 7s table in the middle of two double weekends, and while they could still mathematically win the Border League (by beating Gala by over 46 points) this was hardly a result that was ever going to happen.  Bad weather and fixture congestion of course was always going to make life difficult to complete the games in the Border League but surely now, the structure of the Border League has to be looked at with the possibility of playing pre-season games a much better option.  Returning to a pool system and a final makes sense with three weekends pre-season giving all teams the chance to complete their three games, with a midweek final taking place between the top two teams from each pool sometime before the end of the year.  The credibility of the Border League is at stake and it must have a beginning, middle and end. Playing out a tournament at the start of the season would ensure the league’s sponsor gets value for money, and with no other competitive rugby at that time, the media would give it unprecedented coverage including TV.  That is just one possible solution, but the Border League clubs have to sit down and sort this problem out. The Border League does not like to be criticised, whether it is constructive criticism or not, but they have to listen and act to fix something that is broken.