A new era begins at Hawick RFC as Darren Cunningham takes charge and the club wastes little time to right the wrongs of last season with a flurry of signings. Will it be enough? Is it another false dawn? Only time will tell.
The dust has not even settled following the conclusion of the 2016/17 season before Hawick’s thoughts turned immediately to 2017/18.
As a season full of failure, disappointment and that brief sliver of joy at the end is gladly swept under the rug, the club moved quickly to make sure a repeat of their relegation hell does not happen again.
The Greens have brought in former Scotland internationalist Craig Hamilton, ex-Gala and Peebles hooker Matt Carryer, 18-year old rising backrow star Guy Graham, Nicky Little rejoins the club for a third-time following stints at Melrose and St. Boswells and last season’s Kelso captain Dom Buckley.
The five signings were announced this week and head coach Cunningham hopes it is the first step towards building Hawick back into the winner they are used to being.
“Bringing in these five lads at this stage of the season, for me, basically lets everyone know we mean business,” said Cunningham.
“They are quality, add much needed depth and put is in a good position. Let me says this, though, these signings have not been guaranteed anything.
“They are still going to have to put in work but we are confident they will make us stronger.”
Along with the addition of the new faces, the much-maligned Hawick 2xv returns next season but this time with a new name, new coaches and strip.
The Hawick 2xv will be called the Hawick Force and will be coached by former Greens Dean McCracken, Michael Robertson and Graeme Cannon.
They will also scrap the old YM/Hawick hybrid strip and play in all Green, similar to the Hawick colours.
The remodelled second xv already has 22 names committed for next season and Cunningham explains having a competitive and organised second xv is key for the long-term success of Hawick RFC.
“Bringing back the second xv adds depth, competition and a way for player development that is key for the club to put last season behind them and start thinking about bigger and better things,” continued Cunningham.
“When I interviewed for the job I was unaware that the club were planning on bringing back the second xv, but I was asked during the process if it was something that I think would be beneficial and I was very supportive of bringing it back as I believe it’s critical to long term success.
“Having a well-run and organised second xv means there are not just 30 players in the Hawick squad but over 40. It adds depth and breeds competition amongst the squad, which makes everyone better.”
Only time will tell how successful the new signings and changes to the club structure will be, but with Cunningham aiming for a mid-June pre-season start-date the club, players and supporters will not have to wait long to see what the 2017/18 Robbie Dyes are capable of.