New-look Kirkcaldy start campaign with home cup tie

Kirkcaldy RFC v Musselburgh RFC - Match 22, Tennent's National League Division 1, 6th April 2019. Photo by Michael Booth
Kirkcaldy RFC v Musselburgh RFC - Match 22, Tennent's National League Division 1, 6th April 2019. Photo by Michael Booth

With weeks of hard work behind them, Kirkcaldy begin business seriously this Saturday when Newton Stewart are welcomed to Beveridge Park for the first time in the opening round of the National League Cup.

There is a new look about Beveridge Park with the experienced centre Josh Laird taking over the captaincy and the arrival of several new players.

Laird began his rugby career with the Wee Blues and later completed his schooling at Strathallan.

While there he was selected for Scotland at under 16, 18 and 19s.

After school he had a spell at Premiership Heriots before linking up with Kirkcaldy again in 2017.

Quintan Sanft remains as head coach but is now assisted with the forwards by Kristopher Richards and Murray McCallum.

Richards previously coached Rosyth to promotion in the Caledonia League and has a growing reputation while McCallum is a current Edinburgh professional and has been capped by Scotland three times in the past.

On the last two Saturdays in warm up games, the Blues have faced two strong sides in Aberdeen Grammar from the Premiership and Gala of National 1.

While losing to both, in each case the margins of defeat were only two points – a missed conversion in each case.

These were highly encouraging performances.

There is a zip about the back line often missing last season with winger Timmy Kennedy joined by his equally speedy twin brother Calum.

Stand offs Finlay Smith and Craig Letham have missed the pre-season games through injury but are likely to be available this week.

Top lock Connor Wood suffered a fractured eye socket in the Fife Festival games at the start of the month and is slowly recovering and may be ready for the first league game against Dumfries Saints a week on Saturday.

Also on the positive side the Blues have acquired the services once more of Chris Mann who left for Howe of Fife four years ago.

Then he was a speedy centre/wing but his years in Cupar saw him transformed into a formidable No 8, a position Kirkcaldy have struggled with for a few years.

Missing from the pre-season games have been first choice flankers Rhys Bonner and Dayle Turner, neither of whom will have reovered from their injuries by the start of league games.

An unexpected return is of lock Struan Robertson, now left school and ready to continue his studies in Aberdeen.

It had been expected that he would join a club in the Granite City but he has indicated he s ready to continue at Kirkcaldy.

A rising star at Beveridge Park is centre Thomas Glendinnng who made quite an impression playing of r Caledonia in the recent FOSROC inter district series.

He is now part of the Glasgow Warriors academy but will continue in club rugby for the time being and will likely feature in the first team squad.

A week earlier than the first team Kirkcaldy 2nds begin their league campaign in Caledonia 2 (Midlands) with a home game against Carnoustie.

Both games kick-off at 2.00 p.m.