Scottish Hydro Electric National Leagues


Scottish Hydro Electric National Leagues

Infobox sports league
current_season=2007-08 Scottish Hydro Electric National Leagues
logo=
caption=
sport=Rugby union
founded=1973
teams=36
country=SCO
champion= Falkirk RFC
The Scottish Hydro Electric National League is an amateur league competition for rugby union clubs, part of the Scottish Hydro Electric League Championship. There are, at present, thirty-six clubs in the National League, divided between three divisions each of twelve teams. Promotion and relegation exists between divisions for the National League, with relegation to the regional leagues and promotion to the Premiership competition.

History

Up to season 1972-73, Scotland's rugby union clubs participated in what was known as an 'unofficial championship'. It provided very unbalanced competition: some clubs played more fixtures than others and some fixture lists provided stiffer opposition than others. The resulting league table at the end of each season gave a very unbalanced and difficult-to-comprehend set of results.

Starting in season 1973-74, the Scottish Rugby Union organised the full member clubs into six leagues. This suited some of the 'open' clubs but many of the older former pupils clubs found it difficult to compete successfully and were forced into going 'open' themselves to try to recruit some of the better players. Those that didn’t declined. Open clubs kept their old FP or Academical name, and still played on grounds owned by the schools. In the first 14 seasons of league rugby the Division I championship was won by Hawick on 10 occasions.

One consequence was soon apparent: fewer players were selected from English clubs to represent Scotland. For the first time since before the First World War, the domestic game was producing enough players of genuine international class. Though the SRU's administrators were often seen as backward looking, Scotland had a national league before England, Wales or Ireland.

In the first 14 seasons of league rugby the Division I championship was won by Hawick on 10 occasions. Heriot’s FP became the first city club to win the championship, they had already attracted "outsiders"; their leading try-scorer was Bill Gammell, a Fettesian already capped for the Scotland national rugby union team while playing for Edinburgh Wanderers. League rugby drew the crowds, and the 20 years that followed its introduction were the best in the history of Scottish club rugby. In that period the title of champions rarely went out of the Borders: with Hawick, Gala and Melrose enjoying long periods of ascendancy. Recently, however, the Borders domination has faded and Glasgow Hawks won the title three times in successive years between 2003/4 and 2005/6.

Since the advent of the leagues, the Scottish Rugby Union and its member clubs have re-organised the competition several times, usually to change the number of teams. In 1995 they added a knock-out cup competition, with Hawick again the inaugural winners, defeating Watsonians in the final.

Scottish Hydro Electric National Leagues, 2007-2008


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