This season’s Hawick team, honestly, was never supposed to win.
The 2016/17 Hawick were the product of what happens when you build supporting structures around a couple of great spires, only to find that those spires either lifted off the ground and bolted or spent more time on the injury table than on the pitch.
Hawick’s season ended on Saturday following a miraculous come-from-behind 23-20 victory over Edinburgh Accies. The win secured the Robbie Dyes’ status as a BT Premiership team, but with it began a summer that could be the most challenging in the club’s recent history, with decisions on next season to be decided now, otherwise the club, supporters and players are in for another tough run.
“It has been one long season, but we have to start preparing for next season now or face something similar,” said Hawick captain Bruce McNeil.
Hawick came into the 2016/17 season missing a number of key pieces and barely managed to bring in any meaningful contributors to replace them.
Saturday’s play-off saviour Lee Armstrong began the season with St Boswells after being tempted by their lofty expectations. Neil Renwick, who missed Saturday due to injury, had rejoined Kelso before returning, Ross Graham departed for Yorkshire Carnegie, while Lewis Anderson, Sean Goodfellow, Wiaan Griebenhow, Craig Russell, Finley Simpson and Craig Charters all left the club.
Head coach Nikki Walker and assistant Scott MacLeod also stepped away from the playing side of the game. The result was a squad ill-fitting and ill-equipped to take on the rigors of a long, hard Premiership season. Hawick began the season with 10 players whose position was either scrum-half, stand-off or full-back while having only 15 players capable of playing in the forward pack. They lost a number of games due to injuries and were forced to rely on eight players who had played less than 10 Premiership games in their career.
“We didn’t recruit well last season,” continued McNeil. “We didn’t have the personnel to compete. We lost a lot of boys to injuries but some left. There were times when we were struggling for numbers at training, for a Premiership club that’s not acceptable.”
So what’s next? McNeil has already been busy trying to recruit for next season and hopes now that their league status is secure signings can happen.
“After the Melrose game I, the club and Darren [Cunningham], have been working hard to bring players in for next season,” said McNeil.
“We have met with half a dozen players and have another three meetings scheduled next week. We have one almost signed and sealed so that announcement will be coming soon with more to follow. I think some boys were waiting to see which league we would be in so now that is sorted hopefully we can sign more.
“We know now we cannot come into next season like we did this one with barely a squad.”