ROSS Nixon will captain Selkirk 1st XV for the third consecutive year in season 2017/2018 – only the third player in the history of the club to achieve this distinction, writes JOHN SMAIL.
The announcement was made by head coach Graham Marshall at Saturday’s player presentation night, held in the Philiphaugh Suite and chaired by club president Rob Forrest.
The only other Selkirk players to have skippered the club three seasons in a row were George Downie (1951-54) and Bert Duffy (1963-66). John Rutherford captained Selkirk for a total of five seasons, but not for three consecutive years.
It proved a doubly memorable night for Ross Nixon, as the 29-year-old centre also picked up the club’s top playing trophy – the George Thomson Cup, awarded annually to Selkirk Rugby Club’s ‘Player of the Year’.
In his captain’s speech, Ross described Selkirk’s results over the season as ‘hit and miss’, and said highlights included lifting the Langholm Sevens cup as well as defeating Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place and Hawick at Mansfield Park.
“We had a lot of injuries this year, at one point having almost 20 players sidelined. However, this gave some of the young boys a chance, players like Jack Houston, who started to put in some quality performances towards the end of the season and will be challenging for a jersey next year.”
The skipper praised the contributions of the club’s three South African players – Iain Oosthuizen, Tythan Adams and Boni Siyothula – as well as scrum-half Jackson Wallace from New Zealand.
“I know some people get a bit annoyed that they have taken positions Selkirk boys could have filled, but these guys have come here for a different experience. We need to take the opportunity to learn from them, especially the younger lads, as everyone can see what hard work and dedication has done for them.”
He ended by thanking his vice-captain Ewan MacDougall (appointed to this role for a third season), and called for more commitment from all the Selkirk players next season both on and off the field.
Head coach Graham Marshall said the search for consistency had been one of the season’s main concerns, and this had not been helped by injuries and unavailability. Positives included the appearance of young players such as Josh Mackay, Jack Houston and Donald Nichol, as well as the continuing enthusiasm of more experienced players such as Scott Hendrie.
He paid special tribute to skipper Ross Nixon and vice-skipper Ewan MacDougall for their commitment, and praised the work of the club’s medical team and outgoing director of rugby John Rutherford.
He thanked all the club’s coaches and rugby managers, as well as the many willing volunteers and helpers who kept the wheels of the club turning smoothly. Special mention was made of George Macdonald’s expertise in videoing all the 1st XV’s games.
The head coach also highlighted the valuable contributions made by the players brought in to help the club, such as the three South Africans as well as former Stewart’s/Melville FP threequarter Ciaran Whyte. He added that of the 42 players selected for the 1st XV over the past season, no fewer than 70 per cent of them hailed from Selkirk.
The recipients of the 2017 player awards are as follows –
George Thomson Cup (Selkirk RFC Player of the Year) – Ross Nixon.
Oliver Lawson Quaich (top 1st XV try scorer) – Darren Clapperton (19 tries).
Neil Redpath Cup (most committed ‘A’ XV player) – Ross Purves.
Wat Henderson Quaich (outstanding performer in first season at Philiphaugh) - Robbie Reilly.
Tom Henderson Trophy (special achievement by 1st XV player) – Gavin Craig & Callum McColm (joint winners).
Bell Cup (best tackler) – Frazer Anderson.
Gary Selkirk Cup (club’s best trainer) – Kerr Gerrard.
1st XV Player’s Player of the Year – Ewan MacDougall.
‘A’ XV Player’s Player of the Year – Rory Hamilton.