THE rugby season gets back under way for both Haddington and Musselburgh tomorrow's (Saturday), with both teams seeing significant changes.

This could be a pivotal season for both clubs, as it will be the last time they play in the current league set-up.

From next season the Championship A and B - the current third tier, which is split regionally, with both county clubs in Championship B - is replaced by a linear structure to form a third and fourth tier, meaning both clubs will have to finish in the top six to keep their third-tier status.

Musselburgh, who start with an away match against Murrayfield Wanderers, have a familiar face in charge as former player Grant Talac takes his first steps as a head coach after replacing the departed Brian Hughes, having worked his way up through the club from mini level. He'll be joined by new backs coach Andrew Binikos.

New Mussleburgh president Martin Gill, who replaced Colin Scott in the summer, said: "We are delighted Grant has taken the role. He has gone full cycle; he played from the minis to the 1st XV, moved away and then came back and is now head coach. It is a good story.

"I think he's thriving on it. He's hugely positive and he's really enjoying the role so far. I think the coaches are confident the team are ready for the test ahead.

"A new backs coach has come in. He has an interesting CV and he has come in to support Grant in his first year as head coach." There has not been an extensive player turnover with the big moves being the return of Danny Owenson at scrum-half and the departure of star stand-off Dave O'Hagan.

"The squad is looking strong for the season ahead," said Gill. "Pre-season has gone well and the boys have been training really well.

"It was disappointing that Dalziel called off [a friendly match] at late notice due to injuries. It left us a little short of games going into the last pre-season match against GHA. We lost 54-30 but we were very encouraged by it. We were playing away from home against a side in the league above us and we scored a good number of tries." He added: "The aim is to be in division three of the four-tier structure. A top-five finish is what we are aiming for. We finished third last year and we were satisfied with that. We want to remain at least at that level.

"The league will be competitive. We have got a good squad and the guys are positive about the test ahead." There is a similar situation at Haddington, who also have a new duo in charge, as well as a new club president.

Haddington's own Bryan Craig and Grant McKelvey improved matters on the pitch towards the end of last season after previous head coach Tom Philip left and they will be looking to take the club forward in their first full season in charge.

Peter Brownlee, taking over the presidency from Andrew Cunningham, said: "Bryan and Grant go back a long way. They came through the Colts together and have been friends a long time. They have got a very good rapport. I don't think it is a prerequisite that they need to be from Haddington but it is a massive bonus that the club has produced two quality coaches.

"Pre-season has gone really well." Haddington have welcomed Paul Pritchard back to the club as part of their recruitment to replace players such as Dan Barber, who has moved on.

And having put the proposal to the SRU to alter the league structure, they are aiming to remain at the similar level, starting with an away fixture against Kirkcaldy.

"It is a prretty tough start to the season," said Brownlee. "The expectations are to continue to show the improvements seen towards the end of last season.

"For us to continue to play in the Championship we need to finish in the top half. It has got to be one of the objectives. It's achievable, with the quality of players we have, the young players have a year under their belt, and we will give ourselves every chance."