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Summertime special with Tigers

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Pre-season's primary purpose if, of course, to prepare players for the start of a nine-month domestic season. But it also has its plus-points for the supporters.

In recent years, the Tigers have made trips to Bayonne, Biarritz and St Afrique in the south of France, Cork in Ireland, Jersey in the Channel Islands, and Ulster, Cardiff and Melrose of the home nations. There was also a one-off game in Geneva, as well as the likes of welcomes at Nottingham and Bedford a little closer to home.
While not all supporters can follow the team to every venue, there are significant numbers who have arranged parts of summer holidays or weekends away around parts of Europe or have joined the Away Supporters Club trips, and they’ve appeared to enjoy every minute of it.
For the same reason The Tig and many others always enjoyed the ‘open’ cup draws of years gone by which allowed you to tick off another rugby venue or visit a town that had never previously come up on your radar, the summer fixtures have provided a bonus even before a ball is kicked in anger.
There are not many opportunities for one-off games in the professional calendar, for old boys’ matches, invitationals or tour games, so the summer now provides the only real opportunities to see something out of the norm.
You could argue there is little chance, for example, that Tigers will be back in Melrose any time soon. But rugby fans across the world have heard of the little Borders town where the game of Sevens has its traditional home and last Saturday we had the chance to see it for ourselves and, from The Tig’s point of view, is was certainly worth the trip. A chance to see the new Tigers signings, to welcome back ‘the big boys’ from their international summers, and a chance to get some rugby in, not just for the players but for the fans too. And to do all of it at a place most of us had not seen before.
Melrose is a small town with a rugby club at its heart. The wooden stand, with a press box suspended from its ceiling, is not something you see at many regular venues. Grass banks on the three remaining sides are not common in the stadiums we normal visit. A view directly from the roadside, without even entering the stadium, is another nod to a bygone time. But it is very much part of the Borders rugby experience and a talking point for those of us who made the trip north.
Seeing the Tigers ‘on tour’, with the strength of support the team can summon even for pre-season fixtures, is a feature of the calendar which makes The Tig proud. It’s also a great way for the club to spread the word and make new friends in new environments. It’s what summers are made for.