YESTERDAY should have seen Selkirk Rugby Club stage its biggest event of the season – the club’s annual sevens tournament.

But with sports cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Philiphaugh players decided to keep the day special by launching a challenge to raise funds for Selkirk Food Bank.

Over the next few weeks, each Selkirk player will keep a daily record of how far they run, cycle or walk, and these distances will be added together in a bid to eventually reach an accumulated target of 1,907 kilometres. This total is significant, since Selkirk RFC was instituted in 1907.

It was left to 1st XV skipper Ewan MacDougall to officially launch the challenge via a special video message from Philiphaugh.

“The leaders group and the coaching team put our heads together to see how we could do our bit to help the local community during lockdown,” said MacDougall.

“We thought a good idea might be to give the players a physical challenge, while raising some money, through sponsorship, for a worthy local cause.”

It was club member Bryan Hoggan’s suggestion that the overall distance of the challenge be set at 1,907 kilometres, and each player will submit their daily kilometre totals to the Selkirk players’ WhatsApp group.

These distances will all be added together by 8pm each day, and the cumulative total posted on the club’s Facebook page by club photographer Grant Kinghorn.

The group’s initial financial target had been £500, but with this total reached within two hours of the appeal’s Facebook launch, the figure was increased to £1,000 and later £1,500, as news of the challenge spread among supporters and members of the public.

“The response has been fantastic,” said Selkirk head coach Scott Wight, “and everybody is very keen to keep up this momentum.

“A lot of our players are currently furloughed, so the challenge gives them the chance to work on their fitness while supporting others in the local community at the same time.”

Meanwhile, if the distance target of 1,907 kilometres is reached reasonably quickly, then the total is likely to be extended to 5,784 kilometres – this figure being the current population of Selkirk, according to Wikipedia.

No-one was happier with the challenge’s early success than Selkirk Food Bank’s co-ordinator, Peter Birney.

“It’s absolutely brilliant,” he said, “and will make a big difference to the support we provide to those members of the local community finding things particularly difficult at the present time.

“Over the past six weeks, referrals passed to us for food assistance have increased by up to 80 per cent, so at times we’ve been struggling to fully meet this demand.

“However, the generosity of individuals, businesses and community-based organisations has been amazing, and this latest initiative by Selkirk Rugby Club is truly appreciated by all our volunteers and helpers.”

Members of the public can support the Selkirk players’ efforts by sponsoring the club’s fundraising challenge via JustGiving.

A video of Selkirk skipper Ewan MacDougall launching the challenge can also be watched here.