As we count down the days to the long-awaited, annual match up against East Lothian, postponed in recent years due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Co-Optimists’ coach Gavin Blackburn anticipates a high scoring affair full of physical, attacking rugby. Ever the entertainers, East Lothian will not be shy in the contact areas, looking to get the ball recycled quickly and gain ascendence early on. This is just one of the challenges facing the former u21 Scotland international as his carefully selected side of Co-Optimists look to get one over on their traditional rivals at 19:15 on Wednesday night as they take the field at Musselburgh RFC.
Gavin Blackburn is no stranger to The Co-Optimists, beginning his journey with the invitational side many years ago with a team that included Scotland internationals Chris Dean and George Turner, as well as numerous Edinburgh players who were made available to ply their trade for The Co-Ops – providing them with both exposure and experience, which is a founding principle of the Co-Optimists.
Blackburn was involved in two games this past January for The Co-Ops versus Heriots, and maintains that being with The Co-Optimists is always a mixture of fun, excitement, and top-quality rugby – and Wednesday night’s fixture will certainly look to live up to its billing.
The Co-Optimists’ squad of 23 players (representing 14 different clubs) has been carefully hand picked by coaches Gavin Blackburn and Stuart Edwards – being in the fortunate position of knowing each member personally, having worked with, and played with each individual across the different levels of district rugby. Being able to select 23 players that complement each other both on and off the field certainly puts the Co-Ops in good stead ahead of the traditional fixture against East Lothian. Gavin Blackburn states that it’s always exciting bringing together new players across different levels of the game, be it Scottish internationals or part-timers. Numerous premiership players and professional athletes able to enjoy the game with prospective up-and-comers is another founding principle of The Co-Optimists.
Gavin Blackburn states, “The amount of guys coming through The Co-Optimists is phenomenal, and it’s a fascinating concept that needs to continue for the development of the Scottish game”. Wednesday’s game – and other subsequent games – provide opportunities for both new and experienced players alike, for both The Co-Optimists, the East Lothian side, and all those playing the game within The Scottish borders. A true Gathering of the Clans.
We look forward to welcoming everybody to what is predicted to be a high-scoring, physical spectacle of top-quality rugby when the two teams take the field on April the 27th at Musselburgh RFC, kicking off at 19:15. We wish both sides, and all associated with them, the best of luck as we embark on yet another journey of the traditional heritage that is The Co-Optimists.