SHETLAND Rugby Club warm up for the new season with a match at Clickimin tomorrow at noon. Armed with a new “young” leadership group of Matthew Nicolson (captain), Maurice Williamson and Kristian Fraser (vice-captains) the team hopes to start the new season the way they finished last season, with a win at home.
The first league match is on 6th September against Banff at home. There are only six teams in the league this year, all based in or near Aberdeen. This means a lot less bus travel for the team and less pressure to be back in time for the ferry on a Saturday afternoon.
This will be Shetland’s seventh season in the league and has the potential to be the most successful since winning the North District League back in 2003.
Shetland’s first match in the SRU Scottish Cup is on 8th November, against either Peterhead or Arbroath, both teams they have previously beaten.
Coach Wayne Leslie is keen for players to turn out tomorrow so he can begin to plan his side for the all-important first match. There has been a good turnout at training so far, although many players are still juggling football commitments as well.
Leslie is excited about the prospect of unleashing the young back line that clicked so well towards the end of the last season. He feels that with a season under their belt and some intensive contact training over the summer they will be raring to go.
The new rules coming in will suit Shetland too. With more room at scrum time for the attacking team (defences must be five metres behind the scrum) players like Maurice Williamson and Lewis King will be able to use their pace to good effect.
The only concern for Leslie is that there is a shortage of experienced front row players available, which puts some pressure on the youngsters to perform.
Although they have been working hard, it is hoped that experienced campaigners Dhanni Moar, Lindsay Leslie and Alan Blair will be able to turn out regularly this season as Hoss Martin and Ian Perry leaving Shetland has left a large hole in that area.
As always, any new or retuning players are welcome to come along at noon tomorrow and under-18 players are encouraged to get along and make the step up.