By Michael Mckeand
The SRU announced the premier leagues fixtures after the first round split last night.
Initially introduced in order to create a more intense and a higher standard of play amongst the top two flights of Premier league rugby in Scotland, the remainder of the season will see Premier one and Premier two split into three leagues, depending on their current positioning. League A sees the top eight of Premier one, who will retain all points gained so far, continue as a smaller league to fight it out for the championship. League B will be composed of the bottom four of Premier one and the top four of Premier two. They will have their points reset and compete in a league where the top four will play in next seasons Premier one. Finally League C will be made up of the bottom eight of Premier two who will also retain their points gained so far and will be playing solely to avoid relegation to Premier three.
Colin Thomson, Scottish Rugby’s head of community rugby, Speaking to the SRU said:
“Scottish Rugby and Scotland’s Premier clubs shared the need to improve the standard and intensity of Scotland’s club game”.
“The widespread opinion of players, coaches and officials is that the first half of the season has been a resounding success. Each of the first 11 matches are crucial to a team’s placement in the split which challenged the players week in week out and saw both Premier 1 and 2 go right to the wire as clubs vied for position”.
This opinion certainly seems to be the case with Kenny Murray, Head coach of Ayr RFC, last year’s Premier one champions. He agreed:
“The new league format has brought excitement and anticipation to Premier 1 with every game having significant importance for the teams. Ayr rugby club welcomes this and hopes that it will continue in the future.”
Murray’s team, currently sitting third in League A, face leaders Melrose away in what will prove to be a massive game for the current champions. Eyes though will be on the top of the table clash between Melrose and Glasgow Hawks in Glasgow. With only one point separating the two teams, Hawks’ home advantage could prove fundamental to the outcome of the season. Key fixtures in League B see Stirling County face Edinburgh Accies at home but travel away to play West of Scotland. The Glasgow side meanwhile travel to the capital to face Accies on the final week of fixtures, which could result in quite a climatic end to the season! The relegation battle of League C begins straight away for bottom side GHA. They face Kirkcaldy, only three points ahead, at home on the opening day of fixtures. They then travel to Kelso who are only two points ahead the following week.