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The Welsh Connection

Hawick Harlequins were the first Junior Rugby Club in the town to play in Wales. Infact, it is thought they were the first from Scotland. It began in 1949 when the Committee agreed that they should try to form a link with a Welsh Rugby Club with a view to playing in Wales and in Hawick on the weekend of the Scotland v Wales International.

The Quins formed the link with Bargoed RFC in South Wales and first played at Hawick in 1967, the strong affinity between the clubs has continued unbroken to this present day. The year 2006 saw Hawick Harlequins travelling to Bargoed for the 12th time, to celebrate a Ruby Anniversary and a 40 year friendship with our Welsh Comrades. A dinner was held in the Maes Manor Hotel in Blackwood, where the Harlequins have been based for the last ten years. This year saw the largest contingent of players, committee and supporters travelling to Wales, and to accommodate this a double-decker bus transported a record 58 members, including eight from Hawick Pipe Band who had been requested by the Bargoed committee.

Unfortunately our wins in Wales have been few and far between with only three successes over the years, while at home we have won seven from thirteen. The strength of commitment to ensure these games go ahead was evident in 2001 when The Quins were required to play a most important game in the BT Cellent Bowl on the weekend when Bargoed were in Hawick. A scratch team was assembled to ensure our Welsh friends played a game in Hawick and The Quins recorded an 18-13 victory.

The only year in which the game hasn't gone ahead was in 1979 when no games were played due to the severe weather conditions.

They say, "What goes on Tour, stays on Tour" but there are always bizarre events that stick in the mind and need to be shared!

Travelling down to Wales one year, the bus stopped at the "Rope & Anchor' for lunch and refreshments. Gregor Sharp had not had time to get his hair cut before leaving Hawick so took the opportunity to visit a nearby Barber. He arrived back with "No.15' shaved into the back of his head. Not to be undone, the rest of the team followed suit. Robbie Pringle, trying to go one better, sported what should have been a Saltire, but was more of an "X' which was fine as he was injured on the day of the match.

One year, while staying in Caerphilly, Jamie MacFarlane purchased a Pig's Head at the local market, named it George and it accompanied the team for the whole weekend tucked under the arm of one player after another.

Anyone who has been to Cardiff on an International weekend will know how busy it is and difficult to find a space to lay your pint. Alan Chalmers and Lee Matthews solved the problem - by going to a local ironmongers where they bought a small ironing board, returned to the bar, put the board up and had their own private bar - problem solved.

Bill McLaren's last commentary in Wales saw The Quins players and committee sporting Bill McLaren Masks - a tribute to the, now late, rugby hero. The boys became celebrities for the day, being interviewed by local press and television.

Another year, Phil Nichol and Ronnie Elliot went into a small Newsagents shop in Wales to buy a paper. Ronnie said to the assistant, "Do you have any Hawick News?" "Certainly Sir" was the reply and the paper was duly handed over. Not to be outdone Phil said, "I'll have a Hawick News aswell." "Sorry Sir" was the reply, "We are all sold out", Phil's face was a picture when he realised Ronnie had been in the shop earlier and given the assistant a copy of the previous weeks Hawick News.