Tennent’s Men’s Premiership 2022/23 | Round 1 Preview
The Tennent’s Men’s Premiership returns this weekend! Here we preview the opening round of the competition and share insights from the teams.
The structure this season sees the competition played in two stages;
Stage 1: the teams shall play each other on a home-and-away basis once
Stage 2: to be played at the end of Stage 1, the teams in places one to four shall contest a knock-out competition to decide the Premiership winners.
Saturday 27 August
Last season’s champions Marr start their campaign at home to Musselburgh.
The Troon side secured the title away to Currie Chieftains in the final with a 36-25 victory that saw them lift the trophy for the first time.
The last time these two sides met was in January, where Musselburgh were defeated at home 17-28. Whilst Musselburgh will look for an improved scoreline under the direction of new Head Coach Derek O’Riordan, Marr will look to maintain last season’s strong form under Head Coach Craig Redpath.
Ahead of the game, Marr Captain Conor Bickerstaff said: “It’s going to be tough, we’ve always had good games against Musselburgh home and away.
“We’ve just got to use our home support, we always get a great home support at Marr.”
Musselburgh vice-captain Colin Arthur said: “It’s always going to be tough going to Marr away, they’re a hard team to try and get any points against but the best time of the season to do that would probably be the first game.
“Nobody knows where anyone stands at that time, everyone’s fresh, everyone’s keen and everyone makes mistakes in the first game so as long as we can capitalise on their mistakes and not make any of our own, I think we’re in for a chance.”
Marr v Musselburgh – Fullerton Park, 3pm
2021/22 runners-up Currie Chieftains, who were top of the table at the end of the regulation season, start at home against Jed-Forest.
A form of 17 consecutive wins last season is something Currie will no doubt look to replicate this year. Mark Cairns continues as Head Coach and is supported by Ally Donaldson, Alastair Hamilton and last season’s captain Fergus Scott, who moves onto coaching from playing.
Chieftains’ Captain Graeme Carson said: “Jed’s always quite a tough game anyway.
“It’s good for us to start at home, Malleny Park’s quite a strong place for us, we don’t lose very often at home, but we know that Jed will come up and they’ll be tough, they’re quite a physical team as well, that was certainly the case when we played them last year.”
Jed-Forest, who are coached by Andy Brown (Head Coach), David Grieve, Mark Lee and Neil Cook, welcomed Consett Rugby Club from County Durham to Riverside Park for a preseason friendly earlier this month.
Jed-Forest’s Clark Skeldon said: “We know what they’re like, but I think we have to look at ourselves and what we’re used to, just fight for everything and try and make a good impression first game out.”
Currie Chieftains v Jed-Forest – Malleny Park, 3pm
In an early Border derby, Hawick, who lost out in the playoff semi-final last season, start by hosting Selkirk at Mansfield Park.
Selkirk will no doubt look to make an impression in their opening round following last season’s performance, which saw them placed 9th in the table ahead of relegated Aberdeen Grammar.
It has been some eight months since the two sides met, having last played in December at Philiphaugh, where the visitors edged the win by just five points, 9-14.
Hawick’s Matt Carryer said: “It’ll just be a typical Border derby I would say. It’ll be quite forwards orientated, so it’ll be tough.
“Selkirk probably didn’t have as good a season as they’d want last year, but they’ve recruited quite well this year going by their social media.”
“We’re really looking forward to this game and hopefully we can get off to a winning start.”
Selkirk vice-captain Bruce Riddell said: “What better game to start with than a Border derby! I think Hawick were one of the strongest teams in the Borders last year, so it starts with a bang and I think ultimately from a spectators point of view, it’s getting back down to these clubs and wanting to see the Border clubs thrive.”
Hawick v Selkirk – Mansfield Park, 3pm
The other losing semi-finalists from the previous campaign, Edinburgh Academical, host GHA in the capital.
Another team who have enjoyed close encounters from last season, with a 20-28 Accies victory back in January, this will no doubt be a hottly contested opening game.
Accies’ Captain Jamie Loomes said: “GHA’s always a good game, great to start the season at Raeburn Place so looking forward to that.
“GHA’s got a good back line, so generally whoever plays better outside the forwards wins those games, so hopefully we attack pretty well and that will be the difference.
Michael Fox, Captain of GHA said: “I think us and Accies are probably quite similar, chuck the ball about. For us to get the win, it’s probably just about cutting out errors for us and really executing the game plan well.
“We’ve certainly got the flair players, we’ve got a lot of skilled players in the backs, we’ve got a good set of forwards.
“For a neutral, it’ll be good to be watching us versus Accies!”
Edinburgh Academical v GHA – Raeburn Place, 3pm
Last year’s Tennent’s National League Division 1 champions Heriot’s Blues start their Premiership season against away to Glasgow Hawks, who finished fifth in the Premiership last season.
Heriot’s wrapped up the title in an exciting finale where three teams were still in the hunt as the season began to come to an end.
The Blues now become the first club to field teams in the FOSROS Super6 and Men’s and Women’s Premiership leagues.
Whilst Hawks finished fifth in the table, their highest position for some time, the team was naturally disappointed to have missed out on a spot in the play-offs, and will seek to make it in the 2022/23 season.
Hawks’ Istok Totic said: “We would do ourselves bad to disrespect Heriot’s. First game of the season, everyone should be fit so we’ll go all guns blazing and hopefully go away with the five points.
Heriot’s Blues’ Callum Bell said: “Obviously I hope we win! That’s a good old fixture, Heriot’s against Hawks, that’s been a fixture that’s produced good moments over the years so hopefully now that we’re back and we’re playing them again we can win.”
Glasgow Hawks v Heriot’s Blues – Balgray, 3pm