The new rugby season gets under way on Saturday when Shetland Rugby Club take on Huntly at Clickimin, kick-off at noon.
The home side will be looking to improve on their final league position from last season, with the bulk of the young squad a year older and more experienced.
Shetland finished sixth in the Scottish Rugby Caledonia Division Two last season, and will hope to gain a higher league position this coming season. The task, however, will not be made any easier by the fact that the two teams Shetland have beaten both home and away in each of the past two seasons, Peterhead and West Dyce, have both dropped out of the league this year.
These two sides have been replaced in the division by Ellon 2nd XV and Aberdeenshire 2nd XV, and both sides are somewhat unknown quantities at present. That said, players from Aberdeenshire have attended the last two Shetland Midsummer Sevens tournaments, losing out to Shetland Select in the final in this year’s competition. Based on this somewhat limited game time, the Shire boys appear to be a big, physical side, and should provide a good test for the local team.
Ellon’s first team are rightly regarded as one of the best in the north-east with a very professional set up, and their second-string are likely to be on a par with the better sides in the division. This will serve as another tough challenge for the Blues, who have improved their performances each season, and will hope to do so again this coming season.
Providing a more familiar test on Saturday is a Huntly side who Shetland have played every season they have competed in the National League, and the home side will be looking to exact revenge on their visitors after throwing away a 14-point lead to lose the corresponding fixture last season.
If Shetland can reproduce their form from the first 20 minutes of that match, and maintain the tempo of their game for the full 80 minutes, then they should be able to win, but nothing is being taken for granted at present.
As always, supporters are more than welcome to attend the match. It is hoped that a large home crowd will spur the boys on to victory and give them added incentive to perform well.
Over the past seasons the Shetland side have become renowned for their never-say-die attitude and tenacity, and their matches are never short of entertaining as they look to play expansive, running rugby.
Junior rugby also kicks off on Saturday, at the slightly earlier time of 10am. Anyone in primaries 4-7, secondaries 1-4 and 5-6 are more than welcome to attend, whether they have played the game before or not.
Coaches Paul Woods, Daniel Meadows, Lincoln Carroll, David Thomson and their dedicated team of helpers are more than happy to introduce new players to the game, alongside those who have trained and played in previous years.
Senior training continues on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6.30pm, and as usual all players (new and not so new) are invited to attend. Further information can be found at www.shetlandrugby.com.