Down the decades the Borders has produced World Cup winners, grand finalists and record-breaking try scorers.

They went against the tide by switching codes but it was a wave of acceptance and affection that met them at Netherdale.

One of the architects of Scotland’s formation 20 years ago, George Fairbairn, was given a standing ovation as he made his way onto the Netherdale pitch.

Born in Peebles and raised in Coldstream, George switched codes when he left Kelso for Wigan in 1974.

Hull Kingston Rovers set a new world record fee when they signed the full-back in 1981.

By that time he was one of Great Britain’s and England’s best-known players – winning a total of 33 caps.

He moved into coaching at the end of the 1980s and was amongst the enthusiasts who helped form a Scottish national team in 1994.

George, who still lives in Hull, told the Border Telegraph: “It has been brilliant coming back to the Borders – especially for an occasion like this.

“Catching up with all of the guys has been great and I hope we can all come back again for another Scotland game.” Hawick’s Rob Valentine also won a GB cap after moving to Huddersfield in 1963.

The 72-year-old went onto play for Wakefield Trinity and Keighly, having played eight times for the South before crossing the border.

Rob’s older brother, the legendary Dave Valentine, who died in 1976, was amongst a gang of five Hawick players who moved to Huddersfield in 1948.

Dave, who played twice for Scotland at union in 1947, collected 16 caps for Great Britain – four as captain - during his six years at Huddersfield.

Jedburgh’s David Rose also played union for Scotland before moving to Leeds in 1953.

The 83-year-old was also warmly welcomed by the Netherdale crowd on Friday.

David was part of the Great Britain team which won the 1954 World Cup.

And the winger was invited back down to Leeds last year to present the team jerseys ahead of Scotland’s World Cup quarter-final with New Zealand.

David told us: “I’m getting to know these players pretty well. I am thoroughly enjoying myself tonight and it’s pleasing to see such a good crowd come out to support Scotland.” Selkirk’s Stan Cowan followed in his father Jimmy’s footsteps when he moved from Philiphaugh to Hull.

The 79-year-old may need a walking stick these days but the cunning rugby brain which took him to two Grand Finals, in 1959 and 60, is still there.

Stan, who enjoyed 12 seasons at Hull, said: “It has been an enjoyable evening and I’m grateful to Scotland rugby league for inviting us along.” Stan’s younger brother Ron had won five Scottish caps and played for the British Lions before moving to Leeds from Selkirk in 1963.

The flying winger also lined up in a Challenge Cup Final for Leeds in 1971 – and was to record 119 tries during his time in the 13-man game.

Ron, 73, told us: “I still go down to Leeds twice each season but it is something a bit special having a game here in Gala.

“I am pleasantly surprised by how many people have come along tonight.”