In the old system of league rugby Melrose would have been crowned champions of Scotland yesterday with a 30-6 win at Stirling County, but since the demise of the British and Irish Cup competition play-offs involving the top four teams have been the norm, so in two weeks time Melrose (1st) will play Currie (4th) at The Greenyards in a knock-out competition. If they win they will have a home match against the winner of the 2nd v 3rd game between Ayr and Glasgow Hawks which will happen also on March 25th.
There are many, like us, who think that we have a knockout competition in place already so why have another? The BT Cup serves the purpose and the semi-finalists are almost identical to the semi-finals of the BT Premiership play-off semi finals, with the exception of Currie replacing Heriot’s following their win away at Boroughmuir yesterday when they trounced the Meggetland men who had nothing to play for, and effectively got thrashed 67-19 sending Champions Heriot’s tumbling out of the competition in fifth place.
But that is the way it is, and we can only hope that the SRU will one day follow the lead of the English Championship in scrapping play-offs and returning to the old system. Even better, it would be good to get round the table and work hard to bring back Scottish involvement in the British & Irish Cup.
We should clarify and say that play-offs are far better suited to lower leagues where interest can be retained longer for clubs, particularly those in lower leagues, but automatic promotion and championship title for the team ending the season on top is a must.
In BT National 1 Jedforest lost heavily at home to league leaders Marr and are now realistically out of the running for promotion or even a play-off spot. Their 36-17 defeat at Riverside Park means they can concentrate on defending their Kings of the 7s title when the tournament resumes at Gala on April 2nd. Watch highlights here. Selkirk ran in seven tries as they thumped bottom club Howe of Fife on the road.
Heartbreak for Peebles though. They were leading top-of-the-table Cartha Queens Park into injury time, but a last second penalty denied them the win and they now have a big uphill task if they are to get into the top two and bounce back to the First Division. Kelso beat Whitecraigs to put further pressure on Cartha, and their match at Cartha next week could throw a lifeline to their fellow Borderers as well as putting them back on top of the league with games in hand.
St Boswells’ game against Greenock was postponed as Greenock couldn’t raise a team, while in the East Leagues, there were wins for Duns, Langholm and Gala YM, who beat Earlston in the first ever playing of the Jewson Cup. Watch highlights from Netherdale here.