Blues get ready for start of new season

Michael Harper (second left) is presented with last seasons Fife Trophy Centre Star Check award by newly-elected club president Jimmy Bonner (left), while outgoing president Derek Harper (right) presents Player of the Year Rhys Bonner with his trophy.
Michael Harper (second left) is presented with last seasons Fife Trophy Centre Star Check award by newly-elected club president Jimmy Bonner (left), while outgoing president Derek Harper (right) presents Player of the Year Rhys Bonner with his trophy.

The Scottish club rugby season starts this Saturday with first round ties in the national cup competitions.

These will be in a revised format with the ten Premiership teams contesting the BT Cup while the thirty six sides in the National League will take part in th newly created National League Cup.

With the gulf between the Premiership and the National League ever widening this new arrangement seems to make sense.

No side from the national divisions has reached the quarter finals of the cup for many years.

Last season Kirkcaldy did well to reach the last 16 when they faced holders Heriots and only made their exit after a brave fight.

Generally, however, teams from the second and third tiers were at the wrong end of some high scoring results.

With this new set up more sides will have a chance of reaching the BT Murrayfield finals.

Kirkcaldy have drawn an away tie at Duffus Park against recently relegated Howe of Fife who dropped down from National 1 last spring.

Considering national competitive rugby, cup and league, has been running for over forty years the Fife rivals have met on comparatively few occasions with Kirkcaldy still to record a win over the Cupar team.

This time the Blues have high hopes of success to progress to the second round in mid November .

Recently retired 1st XV prop Mark Henderson has taken over from Colin George at Beveridge Park as director of rugby and along with head coach Quintan Sanft and assistant Kenny Fraser had an encouraging start to the pre-season programme in July before embarking on a four match warm-up schedule which saw all the players involved.

After a crushing win over District League side Dunfermline they faced three sides from the upper reaches of National 1 in the shape of Edinburgh Accies, Dundee HSFP and Aberdeen Giammar.

While the Blues competed well in these three games they came out on the wrong end of the scoreline. Nevertheless they gave an excellent account of themselves suggesting they will compete in the forthcoming National 2 competition.

In a change of policy which has lasted since the club began in 1873 Kirkcaldy will have co-captains instead of the previous arrangements of a single leader.

Last season the Blues captain Liam Neilson had a career ending injury in October and for the rest of that campaign the team was led by vice-captain Gavin McKenzie.

This season McKenzie will be joined by hooker Greg Wallace who had a succesful spell in the captaincy role at the start of this decade.

The league begins a week on Saturday (September 2) when by a quirk of the fixture list the Blues will face Howe of Fife for the second week running but this time they will home advantage.