BACK in the days when Jim Renwick was in his rugby-playing prime, Hawick versus Gala games were the highlight of the season.
They triggered trepidation in the untried and patriotic passion in those who had participated previously. Each team would be packed with international players and the games often decided championship titles and Border Leagues. They were held in great awe by players and spectators alike.
Nowadays, such occasions are only spoken about at dinners, or sang about if you happen to be Henry Douglas, but when the two teams face each other again tomorrow, one thing is certain, the will to win will be as strong as ever.
Renwick recalled: “In my day Hawick played Gala at least twice a season and their was often a lot hanging on the game.
“Rugby has changed a lot since then and players don’t experience those kind of games now, but things move on all the time and we all have to move with them. Everyone is looking forward to Gala coming to Mansfield Park on Saturday and the team are keen to take their first home win in this match.”
Tomorrow’s clash at Mansfield Park will mark the first time the two teams have met in the top tier since season 2004/05. Then, the Greens won both games, 50-6 at Mansfield and 25-20 at Netherdale.
Someone else looking forward to the fixture is former Hawick flanker Gary Lowrie who is looking to add his weight to the Gala pack. The 20-year-old slater switched allegiances at the start of the season and admits to being nervous about coming up against his former club. He told us: “I’ve never played in a Hawick v Gala game before and it’s a bit daunting to think I may be starting for Gala.
“I still live in Hawick and have a lot of friends at the club, but I think I’ll be in for a tough time both on and off the field on Saturday.”
Lowrie had been carrying a niggle earlier in the week, following his team’s victory against Dundee last Saturday, but is now back to full fitness and raring to go. “I’m dying to play,” he added.
“Border derbies are a different class and the banter is great. Hawick will be playing this like a cup final and form will mean nothing. The best team will win on the day.”