|ALTHOUGH Selkirk Rugby Club was not officially instituted
until 1907, the game of rugby was played in the Royal & Ancient Burgh long before this date. Indeed Selkirk
sent a team to the inaugural Melrose Sevens tournament back in 1883. The club officially took over its present
Philiphaugh ground in 1926, moving from the adjacent cricket field, and inaugurated the new stand and pitch with
a match against old rivals Gala.
To date, the Selkirk club has produced a total of 14 Scotland internationalists, the best known being fly-half
John Rutherford, who gained 42 caps for his country and represented the British Lions in New Zealand in 1983, scoring
a try against the All Blacks in the Dunedin test. The full roll call of Selkirk RFC's Scotland internationalists
is as follows:
Willie Bryce (1922-24) 11 caps, Jack Waters (1933-37) 16 caps, Jim Inglis (1952) 1 cap, Jock King (1953-54) 4 caps,
Ronnie Cowan (1961-62) 5 caps, John Rutherford (1979-87) 42 caps, Iain Paxton (1981-88) 36 caps, Gordon Hunter
(1984-85) 4 caps, Gregor Mackenzie (1984) 1 cap, Iwan Tukalo (1985-92) 36 caps, Graham Marshall (1988-91) 4 caps,
Scott Nichol (1994) 1 cap, Lee Jones (2012 - ) 4 caps, Alex Dunbar (2013 - ) 16 caps.
Four players have represented the British Lions: Jack Waters (SA, 1938), Ronnie Cowan (SA, 1968), John Rutherford
(NZ, 1983) and Iain Paxton (NZ, 1983).
Selkirk Rugby Club's finest hour came in season 1952-53, when the 1st XV - captained by that great rugby character
George Downie - won its first and only Scottish Club Championship in addition to the Border League title. Selkirk
has lifted the Border League title on five other occasions – 1935, 1938 and three back-to-back titles in 2008,
2009 and 2010. Meanwhile the club's 'A' XV has twice won the Border District League: in season 1929/30 and again
in 1976/77. Selkirk’s prowess on the sevens circuit has seen the club win numerous local tournaments, as well as
lifting two ‘Kings of the Sevens’ titles - in 2007 and 2008.
The club's first overseas tour was made to Toronto in 1979, with the team winning all five of its matches. Three
further trips have been made to Canada. In the 1990s, Selkirk appeared no fewer than three times at Murrayfield
in cup competition finals, winning both the Bowl and the Shield events. The club has also made an appearance in
the Middlesex Sevens at Twickenham. In addition to running two club XVs, Selkirk has an active mini-rugby section
called the Selkirk Rhinos, while its over-35 team (Selkirk Rugby Veterans) has travelled throughout Europe and
plays once a month during the rugby season.
The club has suffered three flooding incidents in recent years - in 1977, in 2003 and again in 2004. The 2003 flood
proved the most costly, with the clubrooms and main pitch flooded up to a depth of three feet. Over £350,000
worth of damage was caused to the buildings alone, with the lounge bar and kitchen having to be knocked down and
rebuilt. Players, officials and supporters were quick to volunteer their services in the post-flood clean-up, with
financial assistance being given by Selkirk's Common Good Fund, Ettrick & Lauderdale District Sports Council
and the Scottish Rugby Union. Interest-free loans and donations were also forthcoming from club members and supporters.
Then, in the early hours of Friday, August 13, 2004 - just two days after Selkirk's first-ever SRU President, Bert
Duffy, had officially opened the new lounge bar - disaster struck again, when floodwater swept once more through
Selkirk's premises following days of persistent rainfall. Although the new building was not affected - having been
constructed one metre above ground level - accommodation under the grandstand was badly hit. Another clean-up operation
was launched, and further assistance from the Common Good Fund and also Scottish Borders Council helped mitigate
the scale of the catastrophe. Selkirk Rugby Club has undeniably emerged stronger from these recent travails,
and can look forward with confidence to the next 100 years of its existence