THERE will be an added poignancy when Ross High Rugby Club continue a more-than-50-year relationship with a Welsh village when they travel to face Bedwellty RFC this weekend, as they play their first fixture since the tragic death of their club captain.

The occasion marks a historic connection between Ross High and Markham RFC, who merged with Bedwellty in 2022.

The relationship between the two sides dates back to 1972, when the sides first met on the field.

Since then, the clubs have continued annual friendly trips to Scotland and Wales when the national sides face each other in the Six Nations.

Both Markham and Tranent have a strong mining history, which initially linked the sides together.

The fixture, where the sides will compete for the John Tinlin Cup in memory of the former Ross High president, who died in 2022, will take place on Sunday, with 36 players and staff from the club travelling down to the game.

East Lothian Courier: Ross High met Welsh side Bedwellty for the first time last yearRoss High met Welsh side Bedwellty for the first time last year

It will also mark the club’s first fixture since the death of captain Aiden Hoenigmann, who passed away suddenly at the beginning of January aged just 27.

The club has not played a game since his passing, with the trip to Wales being the first time that the players will take to the field without their captain.

READ MORE: Tributes paid to Aiden Hoenigmann following tragic death

Rob Brown, vice-president of the club, said it would be a “bittersweet occasion” for the club.

He said: “I know Aiden was really looking forward to the trip before he died. He was our captain and he was really looking forward to leading the team out.

“It will be a bittersweet occasion because it will be nice to see all the team down there again but it will also be emotional without Aiden.

“The club, like everyone, was really supportive at the time. They held their own tribute for Aiden and have been so kind.

“We haven’t discussed anything yet [for a tribute on the day] but I am sure the Welsh boys will do something.”

READ MORE: Ross High host Welsh rugby side continuing 50 years of friendship

Ross High met Bedwellty for the first time last year, hosting them following their merger with Markham, which was brought about due to financial strain caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Tranent side were 45-12 winners on the day.

East Lothian Courier: Ross High met Welsh side Bedwellty for the first time last year

And Mr Brown said that he believed the club were in a better place now.

He said: “They’re going strong, I believe, and doing a lot better, which is good. We’re looking forward to getting down there and meeting old friends.

“We travelled in 2020 but then Covid hit so we’ve not been down since.

"It should hopefully be a good experience and I am sure Aiden would have wanted the team to go and enjoy it.”

Ross High will travel to Wales on Friday and spend Saturday with their friends before the Sunday fixture. The game will be followed by an evening dinner with the team before the side travel home on Monday.