Selkirk RFC was formed in 1907 and currently play in the Tennent’s Scottish Premiership, a little History about the Club.
Although Selkirk Rugby Club was not officially instituted until 1907, the game of rugby union 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.
Picture – Selkirk RFC First XV 1909/10
The First World War
No senior rugby was played during the period of the First World War. Selkirk, like other towns sent their young men to fight in the conflict. No fewer than 37 young men who had played for or had been associated with the club tragically lost their lives in the “Great War”. In 2018, on the centenary of the end of the conflict, the club unveiled a plaque in honour of those young men.
Picture – Selkirk RFC First XV 1909/10Southern Reporter date Thursday, June 17 1915 and the memorial Plaque at SRFC
A New Home
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.
Selkirk RFC’s Philiphaugh ground as it stands today
The game of rugby was continued through WWII. Sadly, the club lost a further five players in the conflict. Their names are included on the memorial plaque and there is a separate memorial to them in the George Downie Bar.
Scottish Club Champions
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 RFC 1952/53 Scottish Club and Border league Champions
The Border League
The Border League is the oldest league competition in world rugby. Selkirk RFC has lifted the trophy on five occasions – 1935, 1938 and three back-to-back titles in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Winners of the Border League 2008/09 and 2010
Tennent’s Bowl and Shield
In the 1990s, Selkirk appeared no fewer than three times at Murrayfield in cup competition finals, winning both the Bowl and the Shield events, including a 23-15 win over Biggar RFC in the Tennent’s Bowl final of 1997 and a 17-11 win over Berwick the following year to lift the Tennent’s Velvet Shield.
Selkirk A XV
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.
Winners of the Selkirk 7’s 2018
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.
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 -2018 ) 8 caps, Alex Dunbar (2013 – 2018) 31 caps.
British and Irish Lions
Four players have represented the British Lions: Jack Waters (SA, 1938), Ronnie Cowan (SA, 1968), John Rutherford (NZ, 1983) and Iain Paxton (NZ, 1983).
Two Selkirk RFC presidents Bert Duffy (2003/04) and Donald Macleod (2013/14) have held the post of President of the Scottish Rugby Union.
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 and 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.
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.
Champions (1): 1953
Champions (6): 1935, 1938, 1953, 2008, 2009, 2010
Runners up (2): 2007, 2011
Champions (3): 1921, 2013, 2017
Champions (3): 1984, 2005, 2007
Champions (2): 1975, 1991
Champions (1): 2009
Champions (1): 2010
Champions (4): 1920, 1935, 1936, 1989
Champions (4): 1927, 1929, 1933, 2016
Champions (9): 1929, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1975, 1976, 1980, 2007, 2022
Champions (14): 1920, 1922, 1923, 1960, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1994, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2018
Selkirk hold the record for most consecutive victories (4): 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011 – no Sevens held in 2010
Kings of the Sevens
Champions (2): 2007, 2008
Davenport Plate (1): 1984
The club would like to acknowledge the contributions of Grant Kinghorn and John Smail whose words and images feature in the brief history of the club. Our thanks also to Allan Massie, author of “100 Years of Selkirk Rugby”.