The excitement is building as Aberdeen Grammar and Gordonians get ready to meet in competitive action for the first time since April 1998 at Rubislaw on Saturday.
It was 25-and-a-half years ago the two local rivals last met on league business – Grammar prevailing 8-5 on a bitterly cold midweek evening at Countesswells.
As a result, those connected to both clubs are very much looking forward to the National Two clash this coming weekend and a big crowd are set to be in attendance.
Grammar last played on October 14 when they defeated Berwick 15-12 at home to give them their first win of the campaign.
They sit ninth in the table currently, with Gordonians fourth after four wins in six matches, including an impressive 22-7 victory last time out against then unbeaten Lasswade on October 7.
Aberdeen Grammar head coach Eric Strachan said: “As it is the first competitive fixture between the clubs in over 25 years, it’s been the talk of local rugby circles of late.
“The clubs have been operating at different levels for a long time and now Gordonians have returned to where they used to be.
“I have coached at both clubs and know a lot of the players and coaches pretty well.
“A good local derby is what the north-east rugby scene is crying out for, this will hopefully energise the area and get young players enthused.
“The form book and league table predict a heavy Gordonians victory, but at home – with hopefully a big crowd behind us – every dog can have its day, and we may have one or two different ideas up our sleeves.
“The boys on both sides will be up for the match. There will be no pressure placed on our lads and if they come together as a team then they can match any team in this league on their day.”
Gordonians boss: ‘We need to keep emotions in check’
Grammar are set to be boosted by the return of captain Johnny Spence at hooker along with experienced stand-off Sam Knudson.
Gordonians head coach Ryan Morrice said: “We are looking forward to the game. It’s the first competitive derby since 1998 and a chance to prove ourselves against a team that has been in the Premiership in recent seasons.
“Our second team coach Alan McLean played in the last game back in 1998, so he is looking forward to watching this one.
“We are expecting another tough physical battle on a heavy pitch, but, like the Lasswade game, we need to hold our nerve and play in the right areas of the pitch.
“It’s a derby game and a big crowd is expected, so we will need to keep the emotions in check.
“It’s been frustrating not having played for the last couple of weeks, but we’ve trained well and it’s allowed one or two injuries to clear up.
“We have some selection issues as we had 45 players training this week. A lot of players are putting their hands up, but we will have a largely unchanged squad barring one or two tight calls.”
Highland have chance to reclaim second spot in National One against central belt visitors
In National One, third-placed Highland host second-placed Glasgow Accies at Canal Park.
With Highland’s game at leaders Ayr postponed last week, it allowed Accies to leapfrog Highland on points difference with a 41-14 bonus-point win over Gala.
Accies, with Aberdonian Ruaridh Jackson part of their coaching panel, have impressed since promotion from National Two, but Highland have been going well, too, so this should be a cracker.
Highland are hopeful tighthead prop Stuart Watson will make the game after injury, and head coach Dave Carson said: “We have the best defensive record in the league, so far this season and this week we have been focusing on attack in training and just being that little bit sharper.”
Orkney are back in National Three action for the first time since October 7, the third-placed team taking their unbeaten record to seventh-placed Dumfries Saints.
In Caledonia One’s North Conference, seventh-placed Caithness will be looking for a first win of the campaign against sixth-placed RAF Lossiemouth.
Garioch are on the road on women’s Premiership duty, the eighth-placed outfit heading for fifth-placed Heriot’s Blues.
Head coach Dave Duguid said: “We will travel with a pretty settled squad this week, with former captain Jess Sillcocks back after illness.”