Wednesday 11 August 2010

Season Preview 2010/11

Relegation, new Head Coach, the loss of half a dozen players including five Scotland U20 players, and various changes in key volunteers at the Club. But, it's now time to put all that behind us, as we rapidly approach the 2010/11 season.

We are all are well aware Premier 2 is full of difficult games. With five Border teams and Aberdeen and StewMel amongst others plus promoted Falkirk and Hills to play -we realise that we will have to be at our best to progress. 

This season there are big changes in the league programme. In P1 and P2 each club only plays the other 11 in their league once. Then, after that the leagues split. The top eight in P1 play each other again for the championship and places in the following season's British and Irish Cup. The bottom four of P1 and the top four of P2 play each other once, for the prize of the top four playing in P1 the following season. And finally the bottom eight of P2 play each other to decide who will be relegated to P3 the following season. It should make for an exciting second half to the season, though of course we don't know who we will be playing, or where until early November.

There is a fundamental change to the Premier Cup competition this year where the 36 Premier clubs are divided into nine pools of four  - and will play each other once. Then, the eighth and ninth positioned pool winners - as decided by rules I don't yet understand! - will play to eliminate one of them. Which will leave the 'top' seven pool winners and the winning play off team to  progress to the knockout stage of the Cup. In what seemed a very biased 'draw', that deliberately and without shame favours the top clubs from last year, we are in a pool with Jedforest, Hawks and Dumfries.  

To take us through all that we have a new 1XV coaching team, with Simon Cross coming in as Head Coach and being assisted by Jonny Else as backs coach. Jonny was the coach of our successful 2XV for the last few years. They and the squad, are well aware of our first task - to be in the top four of P2 after 11 games!!! 

Our second team, the Blues and the Whites will all be in the restructured Reserve Leagues. The 2XV - coached by Malcolm McVie and Andrew Easson - remain in the National Division 1 and play most of the P1 2XVs - it was as competitive league last year and will remain so this time. 

The Blues and Whites will play in the East Divisions 1 and 2 respectively. Although they were both second in their leagues, they were not promoted because of the league reconstruction. However, all the Border 2XV League has been assimilated into the Reserve League and seven of them have gone into East 1. That means the Blues will only play three teams that were in East 1 last year - a good challenging league with teams like Gala, Selkirk and Peebles 2XVs in there.

With most of last year's East 1 moving down a division the Whites find them selves playing most of the opposition the Blues played last season - a good challenge for them as well We have the only Under 20 team playing as a club team in Scotland, and that team will again play in the SRU U20 Development League against sides predominantly from Scottish Universities. It's not the most challenging of leagues but it is developing a group of players who are going on to play at higher levels in the Club. It is also a good bridge between U18 rugby and senior rugby.

Graham Bonner and Troy Maclachlan will be coaching the Blues, Whites and U20s, ensuring that all who attend the Tuesday and Thursday practice sessions at Raeburn Place are getting coached and worked with to improve their game.

Finally, the BATs U18 team will this year be playing in the Edinburgh Division 1 and after Christmas in the Border U18 Cup. Along with competing at most of the Border Junior Sevens later in the season this gives the young players some good opportunities to improve and set their stall for moving into senior rugby the following year. The U18s will practice on Wednesday evenings at Raeburn Place and when the weather deteriorates will move onto an indoor course of strength and conditioning which will be run at and managed by BATs partner Telford College. 

The first 1XV and 2XV games are both away in Aberdeen on 21 August. Both teams will be at home the following week (28 August) against Biggar and Melrose 2 - the BATs U18s will be playing Boroughmuir U18 at Raeburn Place before the 1XV play Biggar.

I hope that gives you an overview of Accies coming year, and I look forward to seeing you at Raeburn Place to give your support soon.  

 

 

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