Border Reivers (rugby union)

Border Reivers, originally known as 'Scottish Borders Rugby' and also known as 'The Borders' were one of four professional rugby union teams in Scotland, alongside Edinburgh, Caledonia Reds and Glasgow Warriors.

Border Reivers
Borders badge.png
Full nameBorder Reivers
LocationGalashiels, Scotland
Ground(s)Netherdale (Capacity: 6,000)
League(s)Celtic League
1st kit
2nd kit
See also Border Reivers for the historical background.

Border Reivers were active in the Scottish Inter-District Championship from 1996 to 1998 and in the Celtic League, Celtic Cup and Heineken Cup from 2002 until 2007, when, as part of the Scottish Rugby Union's cost-cutting measures, they were disbanded. They played their home matches at Netherdale (capacity circa 6,000) in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders region.


The Border Reivers were a continuation of the amateur South of Scotland rugby union team, reshaped as a professional side in 1996.

For the history of Border Reivers as an amateur district side see South of Scotland rugby union team.

District sidesEdit

Scotland had four district sides: North and Midlands, South, Glasgow District, and Edinburgh District.

The district sides capped the best amateur players from their areas' club sides to play inter-district matches and matches against touring sides. Unlike the Scottish clubs (and Ireland's provincial sides), the Scottish district sides had no settled home and were not members of their Rugby Union. This meant when Scottish rugby embraced professionalism, it was not clear if a model based on districts or clubs would be used.

Professional model: club or districtEdit

It was not clear which route professionalism would go in Scotland. This created a turbulent start for professionalism in Scotland and left Scotland far behind fast-embracing Ireland in the set-up of its professional structure. The first season of the Heineken Cup in 1995–96 was run without any Scottish teams in European competition.

The SRU were concerned that the existing and long-established Scottish amateur club sides could not compete against the best teams from France and England and that by professionalising the district sides they would be more capable of advancing Scottish Rugby.

The four amateur district teams – Glasgow, Edinburgh, South of Scotland, and North and Midlands – were to become the professional sides Glasgow Warriors, Edinburgh Rugby, Border Reivers, and the Caledonia Reds, respectively.

Formation of Border ReiversEdit

Border Reivers preparing for a Heineken Cup match against Biarritz in 2006.

The Border Reivers were created in 1996 to compete in the Heineken Cup, because the Scottish Rugby Union did not think that Scottish club sides would be able to compete against the best teams from France and England.[1]

Border Reivers and the other three Scottish districts competed in the Scottish Inter-District Championship to determine their European qualifying; the leagues positions determining whether they entered the Heineken Cup or the Challenge Cup.

Merger with Edinburgh RugbyEdit

Then financial difficulties – the SRU's high debt, partly as a result of the redevelopment of Murrayfield – called for retrenchment. After two seasons, financial difficulties forced the Union to merge the four teams into two. The Border Reivers side merged with Edinburgh Rugby to form a team to be known as Edinburgh Reivers, causing outrage with many Border rugby fans, as effectively the Border side was disbanded.


Reivers ticket stubs

The establishment and early success of a Celtic League caused the SRU to rethink its professional district structure. The Border Reivers side was resurrected in 2002 as 'The Borders' and joined the second season of the Celtic League.

Since their return as a team in 2002, the Borders failed to challenge for the Celtic League title; however, they performed well during the 2005–06, finishing mid-table.

Disbandment againEdit

On 27 March 2007, Scottish Rugby Union announced the Reivers were to disband at the end of the season as a cost-cutting exercise.[2] Many fans and sections of the Scottish media have claimed that the Reivers have suffered due to SRU's determination, despite poor crowds and results, to make rugby a success in Glasgow (a city traditionally where football has long been the most popular sport).[citation needed] At the end of the 2006–07 season, several Borders players transferred to Glasgow Warriors. The success Glasgow later achieved with sell out crowds and a Pro 12 title win suggests this was a wise strategy.

Potential revivalEdit

Following the decision by the SRU to disband the Borders Reivers, the Border Reivers Action Group was formed to fight against the disbandment.[3]

However, in April 2007, the Borders Rugby Action Group conceded defeat as the SRU insisted there would be no finance available from the governing body. The action group pledged an attempt to resurrect the team in 2008; however, no such attempt was made.[4]

On 19 December 2011, former Scottish internationalist Keith Robertson gave an interview to The Herald newspaper. Robertson claimed that he was in contact with "people in the Borders who are interested in getting involved in funding a professional team". However the interested parties were said to be unwilling to afford any direct shareholding to the SRU. Robertson went on to claim that if the project came to fruition, the team would feature many "Borderers" – an attribute he felt the defunct Border Reivers had lacked.[5]

Records and achievementsEdit

For the amateur era, see South of Scotland rugby union team.

Season standingsEdit

Competing as Border Reivers unless otherwise stated.
Competing as Scottish Borders.
β Competing as The Borders.

League competitionsEdit

Scottish Inter-District Championship Celtic League
Season Pos Pld W D L F A +/- BP Pts Notes
1996–97 3rd 3 1 1 1 59 61 -2 - 3
1997–98 4th 3 0 0 3 34 68 -34 - 0
1998-2002 - - - - - - - - - - No Pro Borders Team
2002–03 β 2nd 8 4 0 4 164 224 -60 2 18
2002–03 β 6th in Pool B 7 2 0 5 142 169 -27 4 12
2003–04 β 12th 22 4 0 18 363 750 -387 6 22
2004–05 β 11th 20 3 0 17 337 556 -219 6 18
2005–06 9th 22 7 0 13 386 501 -115 8 44 (All deemed + 2 games: 8 pts)
2006–07 11th 20 2 0 18 201 545 -344 4 12

European competitionsEdit

European Challenge Cup Heineken Cup / European Champions Cup
Season Pos Pld W D L F A +/- BP Pts Notes
1996–97 5th in Pool 2 4 1 0 3 80 178 -98 - 2
1997–98 4th in Pool 3 6 0 0 6 129 222 -93 - 0
1998-2002 - - - - - - - - - - No Pro Borders Team
2002–03 β 2nd round 4 2 0 2 172 68 +104 - - (lost to Montauban on aggregate)
2003–04 β 4th in Pool 4 6 1 0 5 39 183 -144 0 4
2004–05 β 2nd round 4 2 0 2 242 84 +148 - - (lost to Clermont on aggregate)
2005–06 3rd in Pool 4 6 3 0 3 155 177 -22 3 15
2006–07 3rd in Pool 6 6 1 0 5 121 166 -45 2 6

Notable former playersEdit


The following former Border Reivers players have represented Scotland at full international level.

Notable non-Scottish playersEdit

The following is a list of notable non-Scottish international representative former Border Reivers players:


Notable coachesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Glasgow Warriors trivia". Retrieved 14 September 2009.
  2. ^ "Scottish union axes Borders team". BBC News. 27 March 2007.
  3. ^ Smith, Duncan (3 April 2007). "SRU board stands by its man". The Scotsman. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Save Reivers group concede defeat". BBC News. 18 April 2007.
  5. ^ Drysdale, Neil (19 December 2011). "Robertson moots revival of Borders pro club". The Herald. Retrieved 23 January 2016.

External linksEdit