Friday, 13 May 2016

Ayr at the Glasgow City 7s

Ayr are off to the Glasgow City 7s tomorrow, with a former player making a one-off comeback.

Dean Kelbrick, a past Ayr captain, comes out of retirement to pull on a pink and black shirt for the first time in over a year and adds his experience to a very young team.

Young they may be, but there are a few in the squad who are currently in the winning habit, with Paddy Dewhirst, Gregor Henry and Sam Graham having won the Carrick 7s in Ireland with Edinburgh College recently.

Ayr are in group B alongside Marr and West of Scotland, with other familiar names such as Glasgow Hawks, GHA and Cartha QP, whose ground in the southside of Glasgow plays host, amongst those taking part.

Ayr:
1. Aidan Holland, 2. Gregor Henry, 3. Dean Kelbrick, 4. Ali Hazel, 5. Paddy Dewhirst, 6. Sam Graham, 7. Gregor Paxton, 8. Kyle Wood, 9. Blair Cooper, 10. Adam MacDonald.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Gav and Mark in Team GB extended squad

The wider training squad for Team GB rugby 7s has been announced ahead of the Rio Olympics and two former Ayr players, Gavin Lowe and Mark Bennett, have been included.

There are 25 players in total and they will start a seven-week intensive training period at the end of the month in preparation for the greatest sporting competition in the world.

Gav has been on Scotland 7s duty all season, whilst Mark is an experienced proponent of the abbreviated game, having previously taken part in the Commonwealth Games, as well as the world series for Scotland.

Both started out their rugby with Cumnock RFC before pushing on at Ayr RFC, so for a small county like Ayrshire - not known for its rugby pedigree (until now) - to produce two possible Olympians is tremendous.

We're very proud of Gavin and Mark and wish them all the best. Read more from Scottish Rugby.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Calum off to NZ, Lewis off to Manchester

It may be the end of the season, but rugby doesn't stop for our head coach Calum Forrester and hooker Lewis Anderson.

Forrester is this year's co-recipient of the Macphail Scholarship for coaching alongside recently retired Glasgow Warriors and Scotland player Mike Blair.

They will head out to Christchurch in New Zealand next month for three weeks to learn from the coaching staff at Canterbury Crusaders.

It's another feather in the cap of Forrester after his second season of being Scotland U19s coach and embarking upon the UKCC4 coaching qualification at Edinburgh Napier University.

Read the full story from Scottish Rugby.

Anderson will be travelling not so far from home as he has been named in the Scotland squad to compete at the World Rugby Under-20s Championship at Manchester in June.

This will be another opportunity for the young front row player to impress in a dark blue shirt after some excellent performances in the U20s Six Nations earlier in the year.

Scottish Rugby has the full squad and fixtures.

Monday, 2 May 2016

So long and thanks for all the cards...

Friday night's awards dinner saw Ayr RFC say farewell to three individuals who have made significant contributions on and off the pitch from fifty years to ten years to one year.

Director of rugby Jock Craig, who couldn't attend the dinner, is stepping down from the role after many years of supporting and encouraging the players and coaches.

He has been with the club for fifty years, several of those spent on the field as a prop where he commanded the fear and respect of anyone he came up against.
Off the field, Jock has been instrumental in the club's success and we thank him sincerely for his terrific service.

Also unable to be present at Ayr Racecourse was Javan Sebastian, who was named young player of the year.

Javan has returned home to Wales to await the birth of his first child after impressing in his season with Ayr, and last week was presented with a signed shirt by head coach Calum Forrester before he left. Hours before the dinner, Javan was named the April player of the month, with the highest-ever number of votes in the online poll.
We wish Javan and his family all the best for the future and hope to see him at Millbrae again soon.

After nearly 200 appearances in the pink and black shirt and a medals collection to rival Sir Chris Hoy, Andrew Dunlop has hung up his boots.

A multiple Scottish Cup winner and league winner, as well as representing the Scotland Club XV and captaining the Co-Optimists, Dunny was as busy off the pitch as on it, organising social events at Millbrae and liaising with club sponsors.

At the awards dinner, he was presented with a Logan Jewellers watch, engraved on the reverse with 'Thanks for all the cards', a reference to his ability to get on the wrong side of the referee.

He was always on the right side of the fans though and after almost ten years at Ayr RFC, he will be greatly missed when he moves back to Biggar to run the family farm.
We also said farewell and good luck to Robbie Fergusson, who has signed a fully professional contract with London Scottish after spending several months on loan to the English Championship club and becoming a vital part of their starting XV.

A former Ayr Rugby Academy and Ayr Ladies coach, Robbie was at Ayr Racecourse to present awards to the women's section.

Everyone at Millbrae sends their thanks to Jock, Javan, Robbie and Andrew for their dedication to Ayr RFC and we look forward to welcoming them back soon.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Ayr Ladies 37 Watsonians 19

Ayr Ladies ran in seven tries to beat Watsonians, gain an unassailable lead at the top of the BT Women's League National Division 1 and secure promotion to the Premier League.

It was the visitors from Edinburgh who had the best of the opening exchanges, their speedy backs running round the Ayr defence. But the home team were light on their feet too, flanker Lynsey Turner and number eight Lynda Morgan showing real pace, with winger Erin McSorley displaying a nice side-step.

Hooker Lisa Croniken was on hand to poach the ball whenever possible and steady the scrum with props Gemma Swankie and Louise McLauchlan. It was their good work that allowed Morgan to break away with scrum-half Emily Irving, stand-off Catherine Shennan and outside centre Rachael Mulholland in support.

But Watsonians were eager with ball in hand, and no sooner had they wrestled possession away from the ladies in pink and black than flying back Charlotte Runcie was away for a try. Stand-off Emma Evans couldn't convert. 0-5.

Ayr kept cool heads, even when their line-out went awry, flanker Jackie O'Neil springing on the loose ball. Turner quickly got her hands on it and passed to McSorley, who found Mulholland. But there was a wall of maroon and white jerseys and the centre had to fight her way through for a try. It was a wide-angled conversion attempt for Shennan and she couldn't make the ball curl in. 5-5.

It was getting fast and furious from both teams, with Morgan, Swankie and McLauchlan putting in some hard work in attack. They were then needed in defence when Watsonians turned over. Shennan, McSorley and second row Ashleigh Nelson put in big tackles too.

Their scrum was on song all day, and another solid shove gave the backs the chance to roam, full-back Sammie Morrison blasting over for an unconverted try. 10-5.

Another was on its way when inside centre Lauren McBride intercepted, with winger Lisa Main in support. It was Irving who swerved this way and that and flew over for an unconverted try in the corner. 15-5.

Both sides found themselves getting penalised, as well as throwing a couple of forward passes in their desperation to get to the try-line, and McLauchlan spent ten minutes in the sin bin for a high tackle.

Watsonians were determined to get into Ayr's twenty-two, but some tenacious tackling by Nelson, who just managed to get her fingertips on a shirt and cling on, stopped them.

Morrison was brilliant under the high ball and just as it seemed she would create an attacking opportunity from an excellent catch, Watsonians suddenly had possession and it was the perfectly angled running of Runcie that got them another try, converted by Evans. 15-12.

Moments later, though, Ayr had forced their way into the visitors' half, Croniken unstoppable as she headed for the line. It was another difficult angle for Shennan and the try went unconverted. 20-12.

The second half began at a canter, with Turner rocketing off up the wing, with McSorley taking it on. After another powerful scrum, Ayr's centres combined to send Mulholland over for her second try, which Shennan converted. 27-12.

Both Turner and Irving were live-wires, shooting off at any opportunity, with the latter hacking on but not quite being able to scoop up the ball to score. Moments later, O'Neil pounced and dived over for her debut try. Shennan's conversion attempt was short. 32-12.

Watsonians were back in possession and back in Ayr's half and although their passing was as speedy as their footwork, they knocked on.

Irving and Shennan were away, with replacement back Kelsey Swift dodging her way through the midfield. It was fast and loose, but Mulholland tidied up to run off for her hat-trick. It was unconverted. 37-12.

Ayr brought on the rest of the bench, with Michelle Nelson (who had made a brief cameo earlier to when McLauchlan was on the sidelines), Daryl Paterson, Lindsay Dick and Zoe Montgomerie getting stuck in.

Going in the opposite direction was Morrison, who needed to be seen by club medic Doc Hollins after an accidental elbow to the face left her covered in blood.

The comings and goings didn't disrupt Watsonians, and they bided their time in Ayr's twenty-two before prop Kim Smyth claimed a try, which Evans converted. 37-19.

Great passing by both Nelsons, second row Phoebe McDowall and McBride nearly let Paterson go over for another score.

Shennan chipped for her backs to chase but they were surrounded and Watsonians got a scrum. Attempting to get the ball to the opposition scrum-half, McDowall found referee Darroch Ramsay in the flight path of her little kick and it caught him on the head. Fortunately, he (and everyone in the stand) saw the funny side.

A few more set pieces followed before the visitors had one last shot at getting a try, but a knock-on brought their hopes to an end before the referee blew the whistle for full-time.

Ayr Ladies commiserated with Watsonians before celebrating on the pitch with champagne and receiving the shield for winning the league. It's been a fantastic season for the players, their coaches Stuart Fenwick, Frazier Climo and Robbie Fergusson, but this success stretches right back to the commitment and dedication of all players and coaches who have been with Ayr Ladies for the past four years.

Final score: Ayr Ladies 37 Watsonians 19.

- Elena Hogarth.

Ayr Ladies v Watsonians preview

It's an exciting day for Ayr Ladies as they aim to be promoted to the Premier League, with a win against Watsonians their ticket to the top tier.

They welcome the Edinburgh club to Millbrae for a 2pm kick-off in their BT Women's League National Division 1 tie and will be hoping to get the better of them again after getting a hard-fought 17-10 victory at Myreside back in the very first game of the season in September.

It's been a marvellous year for Ayr Ladies, with only one defeat in the league and their incredible run to the semi-finals of the Sarah Beaney Cup, and they will be hoping to end on a high today in front of their loyal and passionate supporters.

The Ladies field a strong team, with the club's player of the year Catherine Shennan once again making up a dynamic duo at half-back with Emily Irving. The back row of Jackie O'Neil, Lynsey Turner and Lynda Morgan are full of pace and power, with the rest of the squad a pleasing mixture of youth and experience.

There are award-winners on the bench too, with young player of the year Kelsey Swift and most improved player of the year Michelle Nelson amongst the substitutes. Players' player of the year Rachael Mulholland starts at centre.

Ayr:
15. Samantha Morrison; 14. Lisa Main, 13. Rachael Mulholland, 12. Lauren McBride, 11. Erin McSorley; 10. Catherine Shennan, 9. Emily Irving; 1. Gemma Swankie, 2. Lisa Croniken, 3. Louise McLauchlan; 4. Phoebe McDowall, 5. Ashleigh Nelson; 6. Jackie O'Neil, 7. Lynsey Turner, 8. Lynda Morgan.

Replacements:
16. Michelle Nelson, 17. Lindsay Dick, 18. Zoe Montgomerie, 19. Daryl Paterson, 20. Kelsey Swift.

Kick-off 2pm!

Saturday, 30 April 2016

End of season awards

It was a fantastic celebration of the 2015/16 season at Ayr Racecourse on Friday evening as 230 guests enjoyed a sumptuous three-course meal and awards were presented across each section of the club.
U16s
Forward of the Year - Olly Mossie
Back of the Year - Ross McCorkindale
Most Improved Player - Jack Burns
Players' Players of the Year - Jack MacDougall and Mitchell Wyllie

U18s
Top Try-Scorer - Jamie Roberts
Most Committed Player - Tony Hall
Most Improved Player - William Chan
Players' Player of the Year - Paddy Dewhirst
Player of the Year - Zander Howie

Ayr Ladies U18s
Player of the Year - Alyson Richmond

Ayr Ladies
Young Player of the Year - Kelsey Swift
Most Improved Player - Michelle Nelson
Players' Player of the Year - Rachael Mulholland
Player of the Year - Catherine Shennan

Millbrae RFC
Noted Achievement - Jim Lymburn
Player of the Year - James Armstrong

2nd XV
Young Player of the Year - Gregor Henry
Most Improved Player - Craig Stevenson
Players' Player of the Year - Sam Graham
Player of the Year - Craig Brown

1st XV
Young Player of the Year - Javan Sebastian
Most Improved Player - David Young
Players' Player of the Year - Pete McCallum
Player of the Year - Pete McCallum
There was also tribute paid to back rower Andrew Dunlop, who is retiring after 195 appearances in the pink and black shirt, and director of rugby Jock Craig, who is stepping down from a role he has had for many years and a total of fifty years' service.
We thank Ayr Racecourse's Princess Anne Suite for the wonderful evening, as well as Ginger Grouse and Famous Grouse, and Logan the Jewellers for the trophies and engraving.

See all of George McMillan's photos on our Facebook page.