PLANS for a rugby heritage centre in Hawick have taken a side-step forward this week.

It has been announced that funding is in place for a feasibility study to begin into creating a home for more than 20,000 historic artefacts related to the sport.

Funding worth £12,500 from SSE and Clyde Wind Farm Ltd has led to Hawick Rugby Club appointing award-winning consultants, Alan Jones Associates from Inverness.

Over the coming weeks they will look at options to preserve, store and display the collection of memorabilia, owned by Hawick Rugby Club and the Bill McLaren Foundation.

Hawick RFC president John Thorburn told us: "The prospect of securing and sharing Hawick’s rugby heritage and that of the Voice of Rugby is exciting for the club, the town and rugby supporters everywhere.”

Amongst artefacts are international caps dating all the way back to 1896, international jerseys and souvenirs from British Lions.

It also includes one of the largest collections of club and international programmes.

And there are also dozens of Bill McLaren's extensive annotated research sheets, as well as video and audio recordings of his match commentaries.

The collection also has many autographed balls, trophies and photographs.

Bill McLaren's daughter Linda Lawson, added: “Dad would have been very pleased and proud of these plans.

"He was an inveterate collector and rarely threw anything away.

"We have fantastic memories from his schooldays right up to the time he hung up his microphone.”

Hawick Rugby Club members Murray Watson and Ross Cameron have spearheaded the campaign for the visitor centre.

And the options put forward by the members range from a digitizing and archiving programme all the way through to the creation of a new visitor centre within Hawick.

Many of the items of memorabilia, which have been in storage, have already been examined and catalogued.

Lindsay Dougan, SSE community investment manager, added: “SSE and Clyde Wind Farm Ltd are delighted to support this fantastic project.

"The Bill McLaren collection provides a unique insight into the heritage of rugby in both the Scottish Borders and across all of Scotland.”