Silver Saturday 2023 | Preview
Teams and supporters from across the country make their way to BT Murrayfield and DAM Health Stadium this Saturday (6 May) in the hope that they can lift a trophy and end their season on the ultimate high.
With no fewer than seven finals taking place on this Silver Saturday, the first of the action kicking off at 10am. The final match of the day will at 6pm giving us a full day of rugby in the heart of the capital.
As well as the women’s Plate, the fixture list contains Shield and Bowl finals for both men and women, with the Sarah Beaney Cup and Scottish Cup Final providing a entertaining crescendo to the domestic campaign across the men’s and women’s game for the first time since 2019, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Scottish Rugby looks ahead to the event with a preview featuring comments from captains and coaches across all seven fixtures.
Men’s National Shield: East Kilbride v Stewartry, BT Murrayfield Stadium, kick-off 10am
Silver Saturday gets underway on the international pitch at 10am as East Kilbride and Stewartry battle for the men’s National Shield title.
Stewartry were able to fend off competition against Linlithgow in their quarter-final, with just a converted try separating the two sides, before they defeated Dunfermline in their semi-final (35-19) to claim their spot in this weekend’s final, a first for the club in over 20 years.
Relishing the occasion ahead, Stewartry club captain, John Picken said: “The opportunity to play at BT Murrayfield is one the boys are massively looking forward to. Stewartry were last here in 2002 and two of the boys in today’s squad were the ball boys on that day.
“In front of our large section of travelling supporters we’re confident we can go one step further than the 2002 team and bring the Shield home, hopefully inspiring future 1XV players along the way,”
Head coach, Sandy Currie has been proud of the work put in by his squad to reach the final, adding: “We have a great group of committed players who have worked very hard in their last few seasons. We have built a strong competitive squad who enjoy being together. The Shield final is just reward for their efforts on and off the park.
“Both our quarter and semi-finals were against teams we didn’t know. Both were tough and exciting fixtures and the boys worked extremely hard to get the win.
“East Kilbride are a more familiar opponent, and we have a better idea what to expect. We know we will need to raise our levels again to get the result we want. I have no doubt our boys are capable of that.
“We play a brand of rugby that is exciting to watch and play. To have the opportunity to be a part of the occasion at BT Murrayfield and hopefully put on a show worthy of the stadium is very exciting.”
East Kilbride’s journey to this weekend’s final saw them narrowly edge a 17-14 win from Kilmarnock in their quarter-final, and subsequently defeat North Berwick at home in the semi-final, 23-13.
East Kilbride head coach, Craig Brown is especially excited for the occasion for his squad to play in the hallowed grounds of BT Murrayfield, saying: “Playing in the National Shield final at the home of Scottish Rugby is an incredible achievement. The opportunity to play at such a prestigious venue, where so many legends of the Scottish game have competed before, is an honour in itself.
“This final is a chance for us to showcase the hard work and dedication that the team has put in throughout the season, and we are immensely proud to walk onto that field knowing we are representing East Kilbride.
“The atmosphere and energy in the stadium will be electric, and it is a moment that the supporters, players – past, present, future – and coaches alike will remember for a lifetime.”
The Men’s National Shield final will be broadcast live on Scottish Rugby’s website, with coverage starting 10 minutes before kick-off, featuring commentary from Dale Clancy and James Wade.
National Bowl: Perthshire v Hillhead Jordanhill 2XV, DAM Health Stadium, kick-off 10.30am
Perthshire and Hillhead Jordanhill 2XV have both enjoyed a meteoric rise in the 2022/23 season, culminating in reaching the National Bowl final, kicking off at 10.30am at DAM Health Stadium.
Teams participating in the pool stages of the National Bowl began their season in the Aspiring League, a competition created for emerging women’s teams across the country.
Hillhead Jordanhill beat Highland 10-48 in their semi-final for a spot at Silver Saturday.
Of course, Hills as a club is all too familiar with Silver Saturday, with their 1XV squad claiming the Sarah Beaney Cup title last season, but this weekend is a first for the 2XV, and an opportunity that head coach Ross Newman relishes, saying: “This season has been one of significant milestones for the club. For the first time in our history, we have been able to field a 2XV in competitive matches, and we could not be prouder of the progress they have made.
“We are delighted to have made it to the National Bowl final, where we will be facing off against Perthshire in what promises to be a highly competitive match. They have had some great results in their Bowl campaign, and we know it’ll be a tough game.
“Preparations have been going really well and we have had a brilliant atmosphere at training particularly these last few weeks. We know that the match will be tough, but we are confident in our abilities and excited to show what we are capable of on the pitch. We cannot wait to take to the pitch on Saturday and to give it our all.”
Captain, Kendall King is also proud of the squad she leads, adding: “We only started our 2XV team this past year, and I’m so proud of how each player has grown and improved.
“We’re all looking forward to the final and getting to play on the same pitch (DAM Health Stadium) that the Scotland Women play on. Everyone has been working hard in training, and we’re ready for Saturday.”
This weekend also marks a milestone moment for Perthshire Women as they follow hot in the footsteps of their girls’ squad, who played as part of the U18 Tayside squad, winning the National Youth Shield this season.
The Women’s side have also welcomed players from Crieff and Aberfeldy into their wider squad to support their individual development as their respective clubs look to build their own squads.
Perthshire’s semi-final battle saw them defeat Greenock Wanderers 2XV 7-72 earlier this month, for their first Silver Saturday event.
Perthshire’s captain Alex Ward said: “To get to where we are, as a new development team is something straight out of history textbooks. Since joining this season, I’ve seen these girls go from learning the basic rules to causing havoc on the pitch. It’s been a pleasure to watch and it’s a pleasure to captain! This season has been the biggest leap forward for women’s rugby at Perthshire RFC.”
Looking ahead to the event Head coach, Iona Coutts added: “Reaching the Bowl final is a fantastic way to end a really encouraging season for Perthshire women. We are grateful to our friends from Aberfeldy and Crieff who have joined us in this campaign.”
National Shield: West of Scotland v Cartha Queens Park 2XV, BT Murrayfield Stadium, kick-off 12.30pm
Brand-new to Silver Saturday is the Women’s National Shield, and who will be the first to have their name engraved – will it be Cartha Queens Park 2XV or West of Scotland? We’ll find out at 12.30pm at BT Murrayfield.
Cartha Queens Park 2XV, also known as the Cartha Claymores, return to BT Murrayfield for a second year running, after claiming the National Bowl title last year against Greenock Wanderers.
It was in fact competition from Wandies that the Claymores had to fend off for their spot this weekend, as they met in the semi-final round, but the Claymores came out on top 14-22.
Today isn’t the first time the two sides have met this season, crossing paths in the pool stages of the competition, where West came out on top by just two points (22-24).
Nonetheless, Claymores’ captain, Katie Gray has been really proud of her squad’s journey back to BT Murrayfield, saying: “It’s been such an incredible route to BT Murrayfield. Coming back from our first loss against West in the pool was genuinely one of the proudest moments I’ve had as Captain and has shown the dedication of the squad in coming down to training and continuously moving to improve and support each other.
“We are so lucky at Cartha to be supported by the 1XV as well as our incredible coaches in helping us prepare for Shield run and Silver Saturday.
“It’s such a privilege to be able to play at BT Murrayfield again. In having an unbeaten season and winning our West Regional League, I know the squad is raring to go and will bring absolutely everything to the game to bring home the Shield!”
After a tough run in the Tennent’s National 1 league, West of Scotland have made a huge come back, and have been rightly rewarded with their spot in the Shield Final this weekend.
West of Scotland dominated in the pool stage of the competition before beating Dundee Valkyries 38-15 in the semi-final.
Reflecting on their road to the final, West of Scotland Head coach, Lindsey Smith said: “This group has put in some really strong performances to get to Silver Saturday, winning five from five and competition for squad selection has been brilliant.
“It has been a full squad effort for the Shield run and I can’t wait to see the West girls run out at BT Murrayfield, taking the opportunity to show off their skills and put in a performance that they will be proud of.”
For West captain Amanda Paterson, she feels like this weekend, her team will be realising all of their goals, adding: “We came to cup finals day seven seasons ago as spectators and set a goal to get here and compete, and we’ve done just that. I am proud to be part of this squad, we have worked so hard to get here. I can’t wait to get out on the pitch for what should hopefully be an exciting game!”
Fans will be able to tune into live coverage of the National Shield via scottishrugby.org, with commentary from Dale Clancy and Scotland international, Lucy Winter. Coverage starts 10 minutes before kick-off.
National Bowl: Panmure v Kinloss Eagles, DAM Health Stadium, kick-off 1pm
The National Bowl competition will draw to a conclusion this weekend as Panmure face Kinloss Eagles in the final at the DAM Health Stadium.
The two sides have had a successful season thus far, lifting their respective trophies in the regional Bowl finals.
For Army-side Kinloss, who played in the Caledonia North Bowl, they defeated RAF Lossiemouth in the Final 44-24, before emerging victorious in the National Bowl semi-final against West Bowl winners, Cumbernauld (31-17).
Given the magnitude of their work as servicemen, it has understandably been a busy few weeks for the squad at Kinloss. Despite this, they are raring to go for their final.
Michael Lawton, Eagles’ head coach said: “It has a been a disrupted few weeks for the squad with work commitments affecting majority of the squad however this week has been great. Numbers have been good as you would expect for what is the biggest game in our clubs short 10-year history. The boys will be ready and firing come Saturday ready for what should be a great final and day.”
Dan Woodward, Kinloss club captain added: “We’re excited to put on a show at DAM Health Stadium. It’s been such a special season already for so many reasons, I’m so proud of the effort and the buy-in from every individual that’s been involved throughout the year, and the atmosphere that’s created in the clubhouse.
“As captain, I can’t thank them all enough, and can’t wait to see them fly on the pitch and hopefully celebrate with the first National Bowl win in Eagles’ history. It’s going to be some party!”
Broughty Ferry based Panmure scooped the Caledonia Midland’s Bowl in a final against Bannockburn in March, winning 24-36.
Their National Bowl semi-final saw them take on Edinburgh University Medics, winners of the East Bowl. One one try separated the two sides, but Panmure booked their place in the final, 14-19.
Looking head to this Saturday, Clinton Davie, Panmure head coach said: “In a season that has had some lows and some great highs, we have continued to evolve and improve by small margins every week, which is what the coaching team has demanded from the entire squad throughout the season.
“We strive to improve as individuals, as a team and as a squad which has shown both on and off the pitch and which has culminated in what will be a great final day of the season for us.
“On Saturday we will continue to play as hard as we can; as if we may not be able to play tomorrow.”
Jonathan Pattullo, Panmure captain is looking forward to leading his team out onto the DAM Health Stadium pitch, adding: “It has been a great honour to be captain of Panmure RFC this season. This Saturday will be the biggest game of my life, and one of the biggest in the clubs long history. We have strived to ensure we are all as prepared as we can be for the game, where we have a chance to bring back silverware to Panmure.”
Sarah Beaney Cup: Watsonian v Corstorphine Cougars, BT Murrayfield Stadium, kick-off 3.10pm
It’s an Edinburgh derby in the Sarah Beaney Cup final as Watsonians face Corstorphine Cougar at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.
Watsonians claimed their first Sarah Beaney Cup title in 2019 and returned to the final last year, narrowly missing out on the title to Hillhead Jordanhill (10-5).
But in a twist of fate, Watsonians secured their spot in the final over last year’s champions 19-0 in their semi-final at Peffermill earlier this month.
Eager looking ahead to this weekend, Watsonians head coach, Bruce Millar said: “The players met in February as they felt we had underperformed in the league and had a team capable of winning the cup. It’s easy to set goals like that, but the squad has put in the necessary work which has been reflected in our results so far, particularly the semi-final.
“We had three pool games which were much more competitive than the score lines suggest, and they really helped us work on our game plan. There’s still a way to go to reach the level I think this team is capable of, but things started to come together against Hills in the semi-final when we needed a solid performance to beat a tough side. The most pleasing aspect was not conceding points, and our goal line defence was heroic at times.
“With our Scotland, Futures and U18 international players available again, selection for the final was incredibly difficult. We’ve picked a team which is certainly capable of winning, but we’re under no illusions as to how difficult a task that will be against a Cougars side we’ve lost to twice this season. I’m happy to be going in as underdogs though; we can just relax and enjoy the occasion.
“I have a huge amount of faith in this team and if we get our set piece right, trust our structures and front up in defence like we did in the semi-final, we have every chance of lifting the Sarah Beaney Cup on Saturday afternoon.”
Watsonians captain, Briar McNamara added: “With a slower start to the season and a loss in the Premiership semi-finals, it was important to us as a team to come back after Christmas, regroup, and decide what our group priorities were. Each game so far in this cup run has been challenging in its own way, whether that be travel or rescheduled fixtures, but the team have come out each side with convincing wins that brought us to the semi-final versus Hills.
“Hills were the side we lost to in the Cup Final last year, and I think this was on peoples’ minds leading up to the game. However, the girls really proved themselves and put out probably the most complete performance we have had this side of the season. I am really excited to see what this team can achieve on Saturday and morale is high.”
It’s been 10 years since Cougars last had a chance at a Sarah Beaney Cup title, when they took on Hillhead Jordanhill, narrowly losing 22-20.
Their one and only title win was claimed in 2005, but after a real rise through the rankings this season, reaching their first Tennent’s Premiership final earlier this year, could it be time for Cougars to go all the way?
Cougar’s run in the pool stages of the Cup saw them successfully challenge Ayr (63-5), Hillhead Jordanhill (8-16) and Stewartry (55-7) before beating Stirling County 49-19 in the semi-final.
Looking to capitalise on that winning edge from last week’s semi-final, head coach Eric Jones is keeping his team consistent for the final, saying: “We’ll have an unchanged team this week. The whole squad that performed in the semi-final put in one of the most dominant performances this season, so we’ll be looking to build on that this weekend.
“Our season has been a real success on and off the pitch with a 1XV and 2XV teams being fielded. The 1XV reached the Tennent’s Premiership final and the 2XV came third in the Tennent’s East/Midlands League resulting in them competing in the Shield competition in their first season.
“A win at BT Murrayfield on Saturday would be an excellent way to round of the season and reward all the players hard work that they have put in.”
The Sarah Beaney Cup final will be live on BBC ALBA in the UK, with coverage getting underway at 3pm.
National Plate: Oban Lorne v Grangemouth, DAM Health Stadium, kick-off 3.30pm
The last women’s game to be played out this Silver Saturday is the National Plate between Oban Lorne and Grangemouth at DAM Health Stadium.
Oban topped their pool run of the competition with four wins from four, collecting a try bonus point in every game.
Their semi-final played in April, saw the West side dominate against Strathmore, 14-46.
A number of the Oban squad are fresh from returning from Mallorca Beach Rugby where they picked up the San Miguel Plate in a final against Hampstead Ladies. Could they claim another Plate from the grasps of Grangemouth this weekend?
Captain Kirsty Sinclair is certainly hopeful despite some of the challenges her team have faced, saying: “Throughout the pool stages of the competitive we’ve given ourselves a lot of work to do, and lots to focus on in training sessions. We’ve been working hard to focus on togetherness and it’s shown come game days.
“We came up against Strathmore in the semi-final who put up a good fight. Their strong defence challenged us more than some other teams we’ve played so we learnt a lot from that experience.
“Considering we struggled to get 12 players for the Tennent’s West League, being in the National Shield final is a massive achievement for the team. We wouldn’t have been able to get here without the work Corrie (Lowe) has put in and commitment from the girls.
“We’ve played Grangemouth a few seasons ago, so it’ll be good to see them again and they will definitely be a strong opposition. I’m so proud to be leading this team out onto the pitch and giving it our all on the day.”
Head Coach, Corrie Lowe added: “Recovering from the aftermath of covid-19 in terms of player numbers was a huge challenge for us. We went away with 11 or 12 players some games this season, but credit to the team they pushed through the hard times.
“I cannot stress how proud I am of this group of where we started to where are heading. From the club to the group, be proud and well done. From the coaches, we are humbled and proud to be part of your journey. Good luck on the day, Green Army!”
Grangemouth have had a similar experience seeing fluctuating numbers, but a strong finish to the Tennent’s East/Midlands league, plus a string on wins in the pool stage of the Plate, the club are back where they want to be.
Grangemouth’s penultimate battle for a spot in the final saw them claim a 32-12 win over Annan in the semi-final last month.
Heather Innes, captain of Grangemouth is particularly proud of the strength her squad has shown throughout the season, saying: “We have really grown as a team throughout the season and coming into the cup run we were ready. After some good results we made the semi’s which we knew would be hard game.
“We are so excited to be in the final for the first time in ten years, let’s bring home the win!”
Grangemouth’s head coach, Allan Douglas added: “As a club we have gone from strength to strength over the last few years, we have gone from a struggling squad of 15 to now having a full squad of 22 for each game. Selecting our squad for this weekend has been tough, where we had to pick 22 from 30.
“It is great to make the final, and playing at the DAM Health Stadium will be a fantastic experience.”
Scottish Cup: Marr v Hawick, BT Murrayfield Stadium, kick-off 6pm
Silver Saturday will be wrapped up with the showcase event, the Scottish Cup final, as Hawick take on Marr under the lights of BT Murrayfield Stadium at 6pm.
Whilst Hawick will look to do the double – a Premiership and Scottish Cup title win – last year’s Tennent’s Premiership champions, Marr certainly won’t make it easy, as they’ve found great form in the latter stages of the 2022/23 season.
Marr’s time through the Scottish Cup ties this season saw them defeat Currie Chieftains (10-27) in the quarter-final and Ayr in the semi-final (10-25).
Marr’s last opportunity to play at BT Murrayfield was in the 2013 National Shield, so ten years on it’s an exciting occasion for them to be back and now contesting the pinnacle title, the Scottish Cup.
Reflecting on their journey, head coach, Kenny Diffenthal said: “The semi-final down at Millbrae was a big day, local derbies are always good. We managed to come back in the second half and take the win as Ayr were really good.
“We know exactly what Hawick will bring to the party on Saturday, they’ve been the best Club side in Scotland all year and deserved their Tennent’s Premiership title. We have prepared as best we can going into the final so will chuck everything we have at them.
“It’s a huge day for the club, getting the opportunity to play at Murrayfield is so special and hopefully the travelling support can help us to secure our first ever Scottish Cup!”
Conor Bickerstaff, Marr Rugby co-captain added: “As a squad we’re excited for the challenge, the whole club is excited for the big occasion and it’s great to know we’re taking a big community support with us to BT Murrayfield.
“Hawick have been very impressive this season and were deserving winners of the Premiership, so we know we need to be on our best game to get the win. It’s the Scottish Cup Final though and a big prize is on the line, so both teams will be looking to be on top of their game for this one.
“With wins away to both Currie and Ayr under our belt and great performances from our fringe youth players, it’s been great to see our 22-man squads being used which will only make it harder for coaches to select the game day squad as so many boys are putting their hands up for selection. We can’t wait to take the field this Saturday!”
Hawick’s path to the final has seen them maintain their season winning streak, defeating Jed-Forest in round one followed by Edinburgh Accies in round two.
Their semi-final battle was away to Glasgow Hawks, where they won 16-34.
Looking ahead to the occasion this weekend, Matt Carryer, captain at Hawick is trying to keep a cool head, saying: “We’re treating this final as any other game, but you have to look at the other side and the fact we have the chance to do the double. The last time we won the Premiership was in 2002 and in the same year we took the Cup, so there is that added pressure to do it again. It’s a big occasion and for a lot of players, their first time playing at BT Murrayfield, so it’s a day to remember.”
Head coach, Matty Douglas is looking forward for his first punt at a title since taking the reins at the club, saying: “It’s great to be involved as club in a Scottish Cup final and to be back at BT Murrayfield for the first time since 2015. We have had an excellent season and credit to the players for staying focussed for one last push at silverware.
“Marr are a quality side, and we know what they’re capable of doing. The town has really got behind us over the past year and I know the wider club have worked hard to ensure we have as many greens’ supporters there as possible. It should be another great showcase for club rugby in Scotland.”
In addition to the Scottish Cup title, this match also sees the Bill McLaren Shield available to be claimed by Marr should they come out on top.
The Bill McLaren Shield was created in 2011 in honour of the legendary Scottish rugby commentator who was better known as the “voice of rugby”.
The Shield is an open challenge to all clubs in the Premiership and National Leagues and can be contested for in league and cup matches.
After a team has won the Shield from the holder, they then must remain unbeaten for four consecutive home games in order to have their name engraved onto the trophy. Once a team achieves this, the Shield can be contested at any game.
Hawick managed to claim the Bill McLaren Shield at the end of the 2021/22 season when they beat Edinburgh Accies. Two further defences at the first two home games this season against Selkirk and Heriot’s Blues saw their name engraved on the trophy.
The Borders side have now successfully defended in 23 times, but could Marr swoop in and claim both the Scottish Cup and Bill McLaren Shield? All will be decided this Saturday.
You can watch the action live at home via the Scottish Rugby website, with coverage starting at 5.50pm.