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RBS Cup: Players get chance for happy ending to story

DON'T ask the players and coaches at Glasgow Hawks or Heriot's if the RBS Cup final is still important.

The answer is likely to be succinct and in the affirmative.

Why? Well, that's more complicated. True, they all want to get their hands on silverware as the Glasgow-Edinburgh rivalry is rekindled in the strange environment of Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld - which is playing host to the day of finals while Murrayfield is having its pitch relaid. But there is a lot more to it. This is where domestic club rugby really scores over the highly-trained, corporate blandness of the professional branch of the sport. Every player has his own tale to tell and his reasons for being there. Few of them are looking for a bigger cheque at the end of the month.

Even the coaches have reasons for making it a special day. Phil Smith, who is in charge of Heriot's, wants to recreate former glories. He coached the club to their first Scottish Cup victory in 2003. How fitting it would be to come back years later and do it all again.

For Jamie Dempsey, his Hawks counterpart, it could be a magical end to a magic fortnight, which began when he got engaged to Laura Steven, the centre in the Scotland women's team. It will continue when he sits on the touchline to cheer for her and her Murrayfield Wanderers team-mates in the women's final, and ends when roles are reversed and she backs her brother in the Hawks team and her fiance in charge of it.

There are rugby matters too. According to Smith, Murray Douglas, one of his locks, will use the occasion to play for a pro contract. "He has the size, the skills, he is desperate to get the chance and make it work," said Smith. "He is our player of the season, a stand-out performer and if he is not picked up by the pro teams he will move abroad. He will use this to promote himself."

In the Hawks team - look at Mateusz Bartoszek, Polish and probably the first full international from one of Europe's minor rugby powers to feature in Scotland's landmark domestic festival. He has already had his taste of professional rugby with Albi in France's Division Two, where he picked up an Under-23 Championship medal; now he hopes to add a cup-winner's medal.

Then there is the latest generation of the Beattie clan, the offspring of Duncan, and nephews of John, the former Scotland No 8. There could have been two of them but Robert is off to New Zealand, leaving Kenneth to represent the family.

There is also Steven Findlay, player of the season with Dalziel when they were in Division Three and now proving himself in the top flight.

Cup finals day is about the players, the families, the friends, the contacts, the camaraderie. Stories: they all have them and will have another to add to the collection by the time Saturday is done.

Stuart McAllister

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

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