Monday, 21 August 2017

Erasmus+ co-funded project 'Reveal your French flair' a success


Young players and coaches from Ayr RFC are looking forward to reaping the rewards of their Erasmus+ co-funded project.

Ayr RFC sent a group of 40 Ayr-Wellington U15 girls and U16 boys and 12 staff from Ayr Community Rugby Trust to train at Castres-Olympique under the direction of local coaches for 14 days, during which time they were immersed in the 'French flair' philosophy, a different approach to training usually undertaken by players and clubs affiliated to Scottish Rugby.

All participants acquired a deep knowledge of French rugby flair, and are now able to reproduce sessions (coaching staff) and to perform it on a rugby pitch (young players). All the new skills, methodologies, techniques and abilities connected with this style of playing and coaching will contribute to the professional profile of the participants, and provide them with more chances to secure and retain a job in professional rugby in the future.

Furthermore, the overseas experience has had a tangible impact on the skills possessed by participants. Their adaptability, diplomacy, self confidence, self assessment and self awareness, intercultural communication, team building and networking have all benefitted from this experience.

As well as working with coaches from the Castres-Olympique academy, players got the chance to do specialist sessions with the likes of 1st XV hooker Marc-Antoine Rallier, and ACRT coaches observed their senior team counterparts in action.

They also had two days of beach rugby training in Montpellier, and team building exercises including kayaking and rock climbing, as well as educational classes.

Erasmus+ is the European Union’s (EU) programme for education, training, youth and sport, with the EU committing £12 billion to the programme between 2014 and 2020. In the UK, the programme is managed by the Erasmus+ UK National Agency, a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK.

The project is funded under Key Action 1 of the Erasmus+ VET learner and staff mobility.

Stuart Fenwick, Ayr RFC Academy director and ACRT development officer, has stated: "This was a unique opportunity for the players and coaches, and everyone really embraced the French flair philosophy. Now the players can't wait for the new season and the chance to put all they have learned into practice in their regional and national competitions."

For more information about funding opportunities visit www.erasmusplus.org.uk, or use the hashtag #epluspeople to see what other projects are doing across the UK.


For more information about the project name, please contact Stuart.Fenwick@south-ayrshire.gov.uk.

About Erasmus+ 
Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020. It significantly increases EU funding (+40%) with an overall budget of €14.7 billion (£12 billion) for the development of knowledge and skills and aims to increase the quality and relevance of qualifications and skills.

Two-thirds of its funding will provide grants for more than 4 million people to study, train, gain work experience or volunteer abroad in 2014-2020 (compared with 2.7 million in 2007-2013). The period abroad can range from a few days up to a year.

In the UK, it is expected that nearly 250,000 people will undertake activities abroad with the programme.

Erasmus+ aims to modernise education, training and youth work across Europe. It is open to education, training, youth and sport organisations across all sectors of lifelong learning, including schools education, further and higher education, adult education and the youth sector.

Erasmus+ provides funding for organisations to offer opportunities to students, teachers, apprentices, volunteers, youth leaders and people working in grassroots’ sport. It will also provide funding for partnerships between organisations such as educational institutions, youth organisations, enterprises, local and regional authorities and NGOs, as well as support for reforms in member states to
modernise education and training and to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and employability.


The programme is managed in the UK by the Erasmus+ UK National Agency, which is a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK.

Further information from www.erasmusplus.org.uk

Twitter: @erasmusplusuk
Facebook: ukerasmusplus

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Stirling County 12 Ayr 38

Ayr scored six tries in their final pre-season warm-up match at a blustery Bridgehaugh.

Stirling County hosted the men from Millbrae on their 2nd XV pitch as the main stage was being prepped for the visit of Glasgow Warriors and Northampton Saints.

The home team stretched their legs early on but Ayr were sturdy in defence, centre Frazier Climo and hooker Lewis Anderson leading the way. Their former team-mate Ross Curle, decked out in County colours, thought he had made a break until Scott Lyle, playing at full-back, brought him down to earth.

Good kicking from hand by fly-half Paddy Dewhirst got Ayr into an attacking position and they turned County over. Dewhirst, prop George Hunter, Anderson and winger Jamie Bova pressed the line before patient forward play saw captain Pete McCallum barge over for the opening try. Lyle converted. 0-7.

Another followed quickly, as Bova fought through the defenders and flung himself at the line with the opposition clinging on. Lyle added the extras. 0-14.

Backs Danny McCluskey and Matt Davidson and second row Jonathan Agnew had County well wrapped up when they attempted to get out of their own twenty-two, and once again Curle was stopped in his tracks, this time by Dewhirst.

Ayr were just too energetic for the hosts, and Bova raced off for another try, which Lyle again converted. 0-21.

The match was divided into thirds, and after the first break, Ayr continued to maraud their way round the pitch, Lyle, Bova and Davidson giving the hosts a tough time. David Young, Hunter, Seth Rae and Sam Graham were lively with ball in hand too, as was Anderson who twice broke free from tackles to canter up the wing.

Stirling got their first points thanks to a try in the corner which was unconverted. 5-21.

Ayr were soon back on the charge through Scott Sutherland and Euan Hamilton, before flanker Blair Macpherson bashed through the defence. Rae took the ball on and second row Michael Badenhorst hared away to the line, outstripping the defenders and his own team-mates. Lyle stepped up to the tee again and got the conversion. 5-28.

County just couldn't get anything going, and McCallum and Macpherson were barrelling through them at will. Harry Warr and Davidson pushed Ayr further into County's half before McCallum made more metres and Climo cruised over for the try. It was a wide-angled conversion and Lyle couldn't make it. 5-33.

Climo was quickly back in the thick of things with Dewhirst and they fired the ball to Hamilton, who found acres of space on the wing to go over for the sixth try. It was another difficult conversion attempt for Lyle and it went wide. 5-38.

Prop Ben Paterson took off on a gallop in a final flourish from Ayr, but Stirling wrestled back possession for a last hurrah of their own with a converted try in the corner. 12-38.

Ayr now turn their attentions to Melrose, whom they host in the BT Charity Shield at Millbrae this coming Saturday, kicking off at 3pm.


- Elena Hogarth.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

2017/18 members' news

Welcome to season 2017/18
Thank you for your continued support of Ayr RFC, Scottish Rugby’s BT Club of the Season.

2016/17 was another wonderful year, culminating in this prestigious award, and it would not have been possible without our members, and we can’t wait to see you back at the Millbrae for the start of this season on Saturday 26th August, when we play Melrose in the BT Charity Shield.

We start our defence of our BT Premiership title on Saturday 2nd September away to Boroughmuir. It’s going to be an exciting year in Scotland’s top tier with Marr joining the party, and there’s already a buzz about our first meeting at Fullerton on Saturday 7th October and their visit to Millbrae on Saturday 20th January.

We were sad to say goodbye as some squad members moved on, but I’m sure you will be looking forward to seeing our new players in action as part of our ever strong and enthusiastic senior squad. I wish the 1st and 2nd XVs and their coaching teams the best of luck for the league and cup competitions.

Ayr Ladies continue to build their squad after an encouraging first year in the BT Premier League. Their Friday night matches at Millbrae brought a new dynamic to the rugby weekend, so please continue to support their fixtures. They start their season with an away game to Watsonians on Sunday 27th August.

Our associate club Millbrae RFC are ready for the new season too, kicking off their year on Saturday 19th August with a BT West Shield preliminary round game against Lenzie.

Ayr-Wellington Youth Rugby once again did the club and school proud, with trophies for the U15, U16 and U18 boys and U15 girls. More importantly, huge numbers of young people, from five-year-olds to eighteen-year-olds, have had fun, made friends and learned new skills through rugby. I thank all the parents, coaches and volunteers who work with the mini and youth rugby sections.

Everyone at the club was excited to see Stafford McDowall and Robbie Smith play so well for Scotland U20s, as well as Gordon Reid, Ali Price, Mark Bennett and Finn Russell playing for the senior side, with D’arcy Rae touring with Scotland too. And there was great pride when Russell was called up for British and Irish Lions duty. Who from our current crop of players will be pulling on a dark blue jersey in future seasons?

As ever, we are extremely grateful for the support of our sponsors, volunteers, fans and those who work behind the scenes at Millbrae to make Ayr RFC the best club in Scotland. Here’s to another great year!

Sincere thanks, Billy McHarg, Ayr RFC president.

Social
It was another fun-filled year off the pitch at Millbrae as we expanded our social calendar and welcomed friends old and new.

We had our first ever Oktoberfest, where we served traditional German beer and food to enthusiastic match-day visitors.

Two staples in the local events diary of the Ayr RFC fireworks night and the Oval Ball in aid of the Ayr Community Rugby Trust were as popular as ever, with the latter once again raising vital funds so the trust can carry on taking rugby out into South Ayrshire for all to experience.

We celebrated Scotland’s international matches with a buffet lunch at Millbrae before we safely got Ayr fans to Rugby Park in Kilmarnock for the national side’s entertaining autumn test with Georgia and back again in November, and a delicious Italian lunch in the clubhouse to mark the end of the Six Nations.

The highlight of the year was undoubtedly Land O’Burns Weekender at the end of May. 350 tonnes of sand, 16 teams, 10 brewers and over 3000 visitors to Ayr RFC made the beach rugby and beer festival a weekend to remember. Whoever thought we would build a giant sandpit on the 1st XV pitch? We’ll be doing it all again in 2018, and we can’t wait to see you all again!

Our social events are so important in bringing us all together, opening up the club to the community and letting our hair down after some tough rugby has been played by our men’s and women’s teams, and to see so many people enjoying themselves over the season has made all our social committee’s efforts worthwhile. We’ll see you, your friends and family in the clubhouse in 2017/18!

SOCIAL EVENTS

Sat 9th Sept 2017 - Ladies' Day
Sat 30th Sept 2017 - Oktoberfest
Sat 28th Oct 2017 - The Oval Ball at Ayr Racecourse
Fri 3rd Nov 2017 - Fireworks Night
Fri 8th Dec 2017 - President's Lunch
Sat 16th Dec 2017 - Christmas Party
Mon 1st Jan 2018 - New Year's Day Party
Fri 11th May 2018 - End of Season Awards Dinner (provisional date)
Fri 25th & Sat 26th May 2018 - Land O'Burns Weekender

Business
Forging links with the business community gets more important with every season, as every season the club grows and thrives.

We have built excellent ties with our loyal and dedicated sponsors from across all industries in the west of Scotland, and we are indebted to them for their service to the club.

Ayr RFC is now a member of the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, further strengthening our business links across the county.

Our members also play a vital role in the business aspect of the club, and not just by continuing with membership every season and attending games and social events, but by informing colleagues and business contacts of sponsorship opportunities at Ayr RFC.

Live in Alloway and Doonfoot? Then why not make Millbrae your local? Our bar is open six days a week, Tuesday-Friday from 5pm, Saturday from 11am and Sunday from 1pm.

We would especially like to see an increase in members attending pre-match hospitality. It's a fun, relaxed environment before every home game, with head coach Calum Forrester previewing the match, a delicious three-course meal, and a raffle, with the always entertaining Robbie Duncan leading proceedings. If you have friends and family visiting, please bring them along.

Pre-match hospitality
It's £30 per person for our three-course pre-match lunch and entry to the game. Join us in the clubhouse afterwards to see the man of the match receive his award.
Contact Elena Hogarth on 07788 824835 or elenahogarth@ayrrugbyclub.co.uk to book.
Sat 26th Aug - Melrose (BT Charity Shield)
Sat 16th Sept - Melrose
Sat 30th Sept - Stirling County
Sat 14th Oct - Heriot's
Sat 28th Oct - Watsonians
Sat 17th Feb - Hawick

Ayr Ladies
Ayr Ladies’ made a well-earned move into the top tier of Scottish women’s rugby, the BT Premier League in 2016/17, and came up against some stern opposition throughout the year but did themselves and the club proud with a determined display week-in, week-out.

After the initial round of fixtures, the league split in two, and Ayr were the over-all winners of Premier B, which the coaching team of Stuart Fenwick and Frazier Climo had set as the season’s goal.

They reached the quarter-finals of the Sarah Beaney Cup and beat multiple league and cup winners Murrayfield Wanderers en route to the semi-finals of the Development Cup. The 40-24 away win against the big hitters from Edinburgh in February showed how far Ayr had come in a few months and that they could not only live with established Premier teams but beat them, and beat them well.

Ayr Ladies captain Laura Turner is proud of the way the team rose to the challenge.

“Moving up a league was at first daunting, but we came through some really difficult fixtures early on and learned a lot. We had a goal from the offset and achieved it, and I’m really proud of all the squad. Being in the BT Premier League has strengthened us as a team and I hope that continues this season.”

Ayr Ladies have always thrived on a mixture of youth and experience, and the squad continues to grow and take shape for the future, with many players under the age of 21 turning out for the team last season.

Kelsey Swift, Erin McSorley and Rachael Mulholland represented Scotland Students 7s, with Lauren Gunn, Joanne Jones and Catherine Shennan joining Mulholland in the West regional squad. Shennan, Turner and Emily Irving also took part in Scotland training camps.

Shennan’s appointment as the Ayr Community Rugby Trust women’s and girls’ development officer has been a hugely positive step in the growth of the female game in the county, and her work with fellow coach Connie Griffiths with the Ayr-Wellington U15 girls has been particularly fruitful. The squad now boasts 25 young players, many of whom take part in Ayr Rugby Academy sessions. They were National Shield champions at BT Murrayfield in 2016/17, a fantastic achievement for the players, their parents and coaches.

Ayr Ladies are always looking to recruit, so if you or someone you know would like to give rugby a go, get fit, make new friends and have fun, come along to training on Mondays, 6.30pm.

They are also always fundraising to cover new kit and travel costs, so if you have anything you can donate to their cause, or if you would like to sponsor them, please get in touch with Lisa Main lisarmsy@hotmail.com or Elena Hogarth elenahogarth@ayrrugbyclub.co.uk.

Ayr Rugby Academy
2016/17 was another successful year for the young men and women who are part of the Ayr Rugby Academy.

The 40 academy members, as in previous years, take part in weekly sessions on skills, fitness, health and nutrition. This year, the U16 boys also had the benefit of media training with Laura Hamilton, who has worked in the field for a number of years. Laura took them through interviewing skills, how to present themselves on camera and how to conduct a press conference, as well as how to use social media responsibly.

Although the academy is focussed on players getting the most out of their rugby experience, director Stuart Fenwick and his team of coaches are eager to provide the youngsters with transferable skills they can use in school, further education and employment.

The academy members also have the benefit of working with Ayr 1st XV players, with Danny McCluskey leading the strength and conditioning sessions and club captain Pete McCallum an assistant coach. 

Coach's corner
Last year was a hugely successful season for the club as a whole which culminated in the 1st XV being crowned BT Premiership champions after a hard-fought BT Premiership final victory away at Melrose. At the Scottish Rugby Club Awards, Ayr RFC was named BT Club of the Season 2016/17. This is the second time that the club has been awarded this in the last five years and it is a huge testament to the hard work that goes on behind the scenes from all the players, coaches, volunteers, parents, development officers and supporters. It is now key that we kick on and maintain our position at the top of Scottish club rugby.

There are a few players that have moved on during the summer. A couple of faces will be returning in the not too distant future in different colours with Ross Curle and Richard Dalgleish joining Stirling County and Marr. Will Bordill and Archie Russell have moved down south for work and university respectively, whilst Craig Stevenson has taken the opportunity to head to Australia for a year after graduating from university.

In addition, Scott Forrest and Jonny Stevenson have moved on following three seasons with Ayr, and on behalf of the whole club I would like thank all of the departing players and coaches for the effort they have put in during their time at Millbrae.

There were a number of notable individual achievements throughout last season with several players gaining international recognition at Scotland Club XV and Scotland age-grade rugby:
Club XV: Pete McCallum (captain), Steven Longwell, Robert McAlpine, Blair Macpherson, Will Bordill, David Armstrong, Ross Curle.
Scotland U20: Stafford McDowall, Robbie Smith.
Scotland U19: Paddy Dewhirst, Harry Warr.

Following their performances last season, Robbie Smith and Stafford McDowall have also earned full-time BT Sport Academy contract with the Glasgow Warriors.

A new season brings some fresh faces to the club that have strengthened our squad. Robin Hislop and Tommy Spinks bring their professional experience to the squad alongside new BT Sport Academy recruits George Stokes, Robbie Nairn and Euan Mclaren. Jonny Agnew and Michael Badenhorst add competition to the second row, and Scott Lyle can slot in across the backline.

The BT Premiership looks like it will be even more competitive this season. In addition to that, we have the added spice of an Ayrshire derby to look forward to in the BT Premiership for the first time, with Marr joining the league.

The players have trained well during pre-season and we look forward to welcoming you all back to Millbrae on Saturday 26th August for the BT Charity Shield match against Melrose.

Calum Forrester, Ayr RFC head coach.


Membership cards
Please ensure you always bring your membership card to matches as stewards do not know all current members or you will be charged the standard entry fee. You will receive your 2017/18 membership card when you have paid your subscription.

Entry fees
Members - £5
Under-16s - free
Non-members - £12
Non-members over 65 - £8
Programme & insert - £1

Season tickets
A season ticket for home games is again available from our bar steward Colin for only £45 (members only). This is valid for league and cup games, excluding play-offs.

League kick-off
We intend to have all home 1st XV games kick off at at 3pm, but please check our website and social media if in doubt.

Ayr RFC Shop
The club shop is open every home game, and merchandise and prices are listed on our website. You can also buy selected items at the bar, and we have sales at various points throughout the season. Profits go straight back to the club. Replica strips, hoodies, sweaters, hats, mugs and much more are available in club colours. Contact Sarah on shop@ayrrugbyclub.co.uk.

Match programme
Please ensure you purchase a match programme at least once. Articles on Callum Kerr's British and Irish Lions ambassador role, the Ayr-Wellington trip to France and the best tries of last season feature, as well as George McMillan's fantastic photos.

Website and social media
Thanks to our fantastic fans we are now Scotland's most followed club on social media! If you have any rugby news or stories you would like highlighted, please contact Elena Hogarth on 07788 824835 or elenahogarth@ayrrugbyclub.co.uk.

Make sure you follow us on Facebook (ayrrugbyclub), Twitter (OfficialAyrRFC) and Instagram (ayrrfc).

The newsletter moves online!
As you can see, this year's newsletter is now available for all online. If you would like to receive monthly updates, email info@ayrrugbyclub.co.uk to join our mailing list.

Friday, 11 August 2017

New season, new arrivals

Ayr has welcomed several new players over the summer, and tomorrow's pre-season match against GHA at Millbrae (kick-off 1.30pm) is the first chance for supporters to see some of the recruits in action.

Second rows Jonathan Agnew and Michael Badenhorst hail from Glasgow and South Africa respectively. After a year in Australia, Agnew returns to Scotland, having previously played for Hillhead/Jordanhill and Glasgow Hawks. 21-year-old Badenhorst was on impressive form for Dumfries Saints last season.

From Langholm, prop Robin Hislop has played professionally for Edinburgh Rugby, Rotherham Titans and Doncaster Knights.

Back row Tommy Spinks will be familiar to Ayr fans from his appearances for his former club Glasgow Hawks. He has also played for Jersey Reds and London Scottish, as well as representing Scotland at U16, U18 and Club XV level, as has Hislop.

Originally from Norwich, Scott Lyle can play at fly-half and full-back, and previous clubs include Bedford Blues, Bay of Plenty in New Zealand, and Bury St Edmunds.

Also a Bury alumni is George Stokes, one of a trio of stage 3 BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy players to play their rugby at Ayr in 2017/18. 

Back row Stokes is joined by prop and former Scotland U18 captain Euan McLaren and winger Robbie Nairn, who has 14 caps for Scotland U20.

We look forward to seeing them and their Ayr team-mates in action this season.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Three Ayr Ladies in West squad

Ayr Ladies will be represented in the Donna Kennedy Cup on Sunday by Lauren Gunn, Rachael Mulholland and Catherine Shennan.

The annual East v West match will be played on the main pitch at BT Murrayfield.

Front row Gunn, back row Mulholland and fly-half Shennan will be pulling on the West shirt, and friends, family and club members are encouraged to get along and support them!

We wish them and their team-mates the best of luck.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Off to pastures new

Preparations for 2017/18 are well under way, but there are a few faces from the men's 1st XV who are absent, having moved on over the summer.
Will Bordill, Craig Stevenson, Ross Curle, Archie Russell and Richard Dalgleish will be playing in other colours this coming season, and coaches Scott Forrest and Jonathan Stevenson also take up new posts elsewhere.
Back row Bordill will be playing for Chinnor RFC in Oxfordshire, whilst second row Stevenson is off to travel and play rugby in Australia for a year.
Centre Curle and winger Dalgleish will return to Millbrae in the BT Premiership but for different clubs. Curle has joined Stirling County and Dalgleish returns to his home club of Marr, who are readying themselves for their first season in the top tier.

Russell heads to Cambridge University in the autumn, where he will take his place on a masters course in technology policy at St Edmund's College. The young centre won a rugby scholarship to study at one of the world's best universities, and the sport will very much be part of his time at Cambridge.

Backs' coach Forrest and strength and conditioning coach Stevenson leave Ayr RFC to concentrate on other coaching opportunities within rugby and gymnastics respectively. We thank Scott and Jonny for the huge contribution they have made to the club over the years.

We wish all our leavers the best of luck at their new clubs and organisations.


The club has welcomed several new players to training over the past fortnight and we will have more information on our newcomers next week.


All photos copyright George McMillan. Please seek permission before reproducing for commercial purposes.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Ayr youngsters on French tour

40 young players from Ayr-Wellington Youth Rugby set off on a two-week vocational trip to France today.

The U16 boys and U15 girls, as well as a team of coaches led by Stuart Fenwick of the Ayr Community Rugby Trust, will make their first stop at Castres Olympique in the south of France. Here, players will work with coaches from the academy of the Top 14 club, and Fenwick and his team will have the chance to take part in continuing professional development too.

As well as training and learning all about French flair at Castres Olympique, the group will visit the medieval city of Carcassonne and undertake team building at Cap Decouverte, before heading to Montpellier for two days of beach rugby. They will then return to Castres Olympique for further training before heading home.

Ayr RFC is familiar with French flair, with past player Sylvain Diez hailing from the south of the country, and the group will meet up with the former Ayr Community Rugby Trust development officer during the fortnight.

The trip has been co-funded by a grant from Erasmus+, an initiative from the European Union that aims to modernise education, training and youth work, and gives young people the chance to work, volunteer and train in different countries in Europe.

We wish the players and coaches a safe trip and look forward to hearing about it when they return to Millbrae in a fortnight's time.