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Caithness waiting to see options as league reconstruction returns to agenda

By Iain Grant

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Hamish Coghill holds off a challenge during the Greens' latest outing, the Caley 1 League win against Ellon at Millbank. Picture: Mel Roger
Hamish Coghill holds off a challenge during the Greens' latest outing, the Caley 1 League win against Ellon at Millbank. Picture: Mel Roger

League reconstruction is back on the agenda as Scottish rugby clubs prepare to play the last few games in the current season

Caithness, who host Glenrothes on Saturday, are keeping a close eye on how the deliberations could shape the game in the Caledonia region.

Scottish Rugby is seeking feedback from the clubs before presenting options that would be voted on at the AGM and be enacted at the start of 2023/24. In the meantime, 2022/23 is intended to be a "transition" season.

The Greens had established themselves in National League Division 3 until they opted to revert to the 10-team Caley 1 this season because of the drain on player and club resources.

Men's head coach Ewen Boyd said Caithness had not yet taken a stance on the review. He said: "We haven't come to a view and will not do so until we see the options in front of us."

Boyd believes many clubs in the Midlands and Fife are becoming disenchanted with the distances they have to go to compete in their regional league.

"It has got to the point that they don't want to travel to Caithness and Orkney," he said. "Their players don't want to travel more than two hours in a bus.

"I don't want now to cut my nose off to spite my face but I kind of agree with them, as I can see where they are coming from."

One of the downsides to staying in the National League was that they would be playing in a 12-team division, involving two more marathon journeys.

Boyd said the spiralling price of fuel and other expenses makes that decision even more justified, in hindsight.

The ideal, he said, would be to play in a competitive league where away trips could comfortably be fulfilled on the same day.

He said: "There are 14 teams in Caley North and it's a case of trying to put the right teams in the right leagues. We want to be at a level that suits the club.

"We see success not in winning every game we play or in dominating rugby in the north. We see success as a having a vibrant club at senior and junior age levels and playing in a competitive league which challenges our young players coming through."

It is a waiting game for Boyd and the rest of the club to learn what is being proposed for both the "transitional" season and the five seasons thereafter which will run with the finalised option.

The coach, meanwhile, has set the challenge for his troops to secure three wins in their remaining matches, home and away to bottom side Glenrothes and at home to Blairgowrie.

"We've got six training sessions and three matches left and we don't want the season to peter out," Boyd said.

"We want to finish with a flourish and take some momentum into the pre-season by winning all our remaining fixtures."

Flanker Max Kennedy looks certain to miss out on Saturday after suffering a nasty head blow in the victory over Ellon, while prop Mark Nicolson (knee) and number eight Evan Sutherland (hamstring) face late fitness checks.

Lock Kevin Brims is unavailable, while back-rower Grant Anderson is offshore.

Caithness 2nds are preparing to play their penultimate match in Caley North Division 4. They head south-east to meet Dyce, bidding to keep in with a chance of claiming the title.

Cameron Boyd's men boosted their hopes with a narrow home win over Highland 3rd XV in their last outing.

They went down 33-14 to Dyce at Millbank in October and it will be a tough ask to turn the tables in Saturday's clash in Aberdeen.

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