Highland roll back the years at Melrose
IT will be Highland Rugby Club’s first visit to the historic home of rugby sevens in just over 40 years.
Forget the four decades’ wait, though – head coach David Carson views this weekend’s trip to The Greenyards as a measure of how far the team has come in the last five or six years.
Not since the legendary Nairn MacEwan was pulling on Highland’s green and red has the north outfit graced the famous old Melrose ground.
Carson will set aside sentiment during the nitty-gritty of league action against National One rivals, but will certainly find a few moments to savour it all.
Contemplating the Greenyards appearance, Carson said: “It is pretty iconic, isn’t it? It is one of the best-known grounds in world rugby.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for our lads to go and perform there. As someone said to me at the weekend, seeing Highland at The Greenyards is something we could only have dreamed about five or six years ago.
“We’re looking forward to it. They have the new 3G pitch installed there now and it will suit us, particularly given the wet weather. It will be a nice firm surface, allowing us to play the way we normally play.
“Hopefully the boys can turn in a performance. We’re in a good place just now, having really come back to form on Saturday.”
After back-to-back promotions, Highland again look upwardly-mobile. They not only sit second, above Melrose in the table, but also above other traditional powers like Gala, Kelso and Watsonians.
Carson stressed: “It just shows how far we’ve come. Ourselves and Biggar are the two new sides in that division and Biggar are similar to us in a lot of ways, with a really good youth set up.
“With us second and Melrose joint third, it could be some battle. If we could get a four-point win down there and stretch away a wee bit from the chasing pack, that would be fantastic.
“We’re happy where we are. The boys reacted well to a sluggish performance, albeit a win, against Ayr by beating Dundee convincingly. Time and again they give us a reaction.
“Now we’re looking to build on it again in what will be a tough game.”
Highland, with no fresh injuries, will be strengthened by the return of Iain Chisholm (ear infection) and Gordon Gregor (workplace exams) are back in contention to start. Callum Carson also came through 80 minutes against Dundee after four weeks out.