Thursday, February 2, 2006

Due South
By Mark Entwistle
The Southern Reporter
Selkirk, The Borders

Entwhistle brothers paid their rugby dues!

It’s a big week, news-wise in the Scottish Borders with our local government laying out it’s budget and spending plans for the coming new financial year and a decision expected in the court case currently being waged by campaigners against the military’s plans to merge the existing six Scottish infantry regiments into one super-sized regiment.

Our local council is made up of elected councillors and at the moment the majority ruling coalition is made up of independents (those of no political party) and the Conservatives (those of the party as made famous by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher).

In opposition are the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party.

The bad news is the local tax rate, which goes towards paying for public services like getting your rubbish bins uplifted, repairing roads and bridges and buying school books, is set to jump by 4.4 percent.

It always seems that the tax rate keeps rising year on year and yet we get less for our money year on year. There has been talk that, even with a rise of that amount, the local Scottish Borders Council that is responsible for providing local services will still have to make savings and that could mean job losses.

As for the army court case, seems like those in authority are having trouble finding a sheriff (that’s what we call judges who sit in the lower courts) to hear the case.

However, we don’t have sheriffs in your sense of the word which means county police officers.

Making the news also this week is our two local theatres have both hit troubled times, while the region’s only sex shop - yes we do have one - appears in danger of closing down.

Sport also features a lot with the Scotland national rugby team playing its opening game of the Six Nations Championship against France in Edinburgh this coming Sunday.

I’d imagine rugby is not a major sport in Mississippi with you guys prefering American football and baseball.

Rugby is quite popular in parts of the United States, which fields a national team known as the Eagles.

In the International Rugby Board’s world rankings, Scotland is in 10th position, while the USA is in 13th position.

My wife and I will be making the 35-mile trip to Edinburgh for the big match on Sunday, along with my father, brother, his wife and my seven-year-old nephew, Joel.

The rugby links in our family are strong. My father played for Gala in the 1950s and was president in the early 1980s.

He is now one of only a handful of people awarded life memberships at the club.

Both my brother and I played rugby in our younger days - the existence of numerous capped teeth between the two of us prove the Entwistle brothers paid their dues on the rugby fields of the Borders!

Edinburgh will be awash with French tricolours thanks to the large number of travelling Gallic supporters.

And my nephew, who will be going to his first rugby international, is in for a bit of a surprise as I have managed to abuse my journalistic credentials to arrange for him to walk out of the players’ tunnel to stand at the edge of the pitch before the game kicks off in front of what should be a capacity 67,000 crowd.

It’s not bad being an uncle!

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