Sunday, 14 May 2017

Ayr reach City 7s semi-finals

Ayr reached the semi-finals of the cup competition at Glasgow City 7s on Saturday, with the Ayr-Wellington U18s making the final of their tournament.

Tynedale RFC, from Northumberland, beat Ayr 29-15 before going on to win the cup final against Marr.

The U18s were beaten by St Aloysius College in their final after putting in a stylish display in earlier wins over Cartha QP and GHA.
Despite the heavy rain in the early afternoon, the senior side also managed two good wins, beating Cartha QP 24-5 and Dumbreck (a late replacement for West of Scotland) 57-0.

Lewis Anderson, Paddy Dewhirst, Jamie Bova, Zac Howard, Pete McCallum, Johnny McCorkindale, Gregor Henry and Iain Renwick got on the score sheet for Ayr.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Ayr at the Glasgow City 7s

Ayr make the short trip to Dumbreck tomorrow to take part in the Glasgow City 7s.

They have drawn West of Scotland in the first round of the tournament, kicking off at 1.20pm at the home of Cartha QP RFC.

Other teams taking part include London Scottish and Marr, as well as the hosts.

It's a young Ayr squad, featuring club captain Pete McCallum and several 1st and 2nd XV regulars.

Pete McCallum, Gregor Henry, Lewis Anderson, Craig Stevenson, Lewis Young, Iain Renwick, Johnny McCorkindale, Paddy Dewhirst, Jamie Bova, Zac Howard.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Ayr Long Lunch

The Ayr Long Lunch in aid of the Bill McLaren Foundation and Ayr Community Rugby Trust at Ayr Racecourse was a resounding success on Friday.

600 guests enjoyed a delicious three-course lunch in the Ayrshire Suite, with former Scotland captain Andy Nicol leading proceedings before his fellow international legend Doddie Weir conducted the raffle and auction, with some wonderful prizes bought for a worthy cause.

The Bill McLaren Foundation supports and promotes the values of rugby throughout the world, carrying on the work its namesake started as a PE teacher and coach in Hawick many years ago. Bill's daughter Linda Lawson addressed the guests, telling them about her father's life and work and showing some classic rugby clips featuring Bill's inimitable commentary.
Former Scotland cap and Glasgow Warriors coach Sean Lineen and current Warrior Corey Flynn talked about the upcoming Lions tour, and there was entertainment from singer Cole Page, who had everyone on their feet and a few reluctant (and some not so reluctant) participants in duets.

Keith Wood finished the afternoon by sharing some memories of his time with the Lions and his playing career with Munster, Harlequins and Ireland, of which he was an iconic leader.

Neil Howie of Ayr Community Rugby Trust told the assembled company of their work throughout South Ayrshire, not only supporting Ayr RFC, Marr RFC and Carrick RFC, but taking the sport out into the community and using rugby to help give young people confidence and skills they can use in school and beyond.

Stuart Fenwick, the trust's head development officer, thanked all those who contributed to and supported its rugby programmes throughout the year and all the guests at the lunch who were so generous.

- Elena Hogarth.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Ayr and Ayr Ladies at the Perthshire 7s

Ayr's men's and women's teams took part in the Perthshire 7s on Saturday at a very sunny Inch Park in the historic city of Perth.

Ayr Ladies competed in a round robin competition with Broughton, Peterhead and Perthshire, winning three games and scoring tries galore.

Laura Turner, Catherine Shennan, Lauren McBride, Connie Griffiths, Claire Law and Sarah Braidwood were on the score sheet multiple times throughout the day, with Shennan and Law adding the conversions.

Some of the youngsters in Ayr's men's squad were given the chance to shine, with Ayr-Wellington U18s' Seth Rae making his senior debut, and they reached the quarter-finals of their competition.

Zac Howard, Ross Hay, James Pinkerton, Blair Cooper, Ali Hazel and Kyle Wood were the try-scorers, with each attempting to convert their own scores.

Pinkerton was Ayr's player of the tournament, with Law Ayr Ladies' player of the tournament.

Finn Bark, Blair Cooper, Ross Hay, Ali Hazel, Zac Howard, James Pinkerton, Seth Rae, Kyle Wood.

Ayr Ladies
Sarah Braidwood, Connie Griffiths, Claire Law, Lisa Main, Lauren McBride, Catherine Shennan, Lee Steward, Laura Turner.

Ayr and Ayr Ladies are pictured above with coach Gordon Kotze and physio Jessica Alexander.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

2016/17 season awards

Ayr RFC toasted a wonderful season at Ayr Racecourse on Friday evening, and handed out an array of awards to some very deserving men and women.

After a sumptuous three-course meal and a tribute to the club by Ayr RFC legend Norrie Lymburn, who came out of retirement to speak at the dinner, coaches from all the sections of the club awarded the accolades to their players before everyone danced the night away to the tunes of DJ Stefan Janik.

Scooping the top award of the evening was George Hunter, who was named 1st XV player of the year.

George returned to the stage to pay tribute to Will Bordill, the flanker having played his last match for Ayr as he moves to London for work commitments. He was presented with cufflinks from his team-mates with 46 engraved on them, the number of times he played for the club in his three seasons at Millbrae.
Will scored ten tries in a pink and black shirt and made up a formidable back row with Blair Macpherson and Pete McCallum, and will be sincerely missed by all at Millbrae.

Grant Anderson was called upon to present Ross Curle with a framed gallery of some of his most memorable moments playing for Ayr in the last eight years as the centre contemplates retirement. The door remains opens to Ross, with fans hoping he will be dancing back through it next season.
Director of rugby Jim Lymburn presented Craig Stevenson with the inspiration award. The 21-year-old received a liver transplant nine years ago and battled back to health, going on to captain Ayr U18s and making his 1st XV debut last season.

Catherine Shennan was named Ayr Ladies player of the year, with Tony Hall the Millbrae RFC player of the year. Awards were also presented to Ayr 2nd XV and Ayr-Wellington U16 and U18 boys, with coaches having struggled to pick just a few players to receive prizes in a season that has seen each and every player from every section contribute the club's success.

1st XV
George Hunter - player of the year
David Armstrong - players' player of the year
Lewis Anderson - most improved player
Stafford McDowall - young player of the year

2nd XV
Graham Hunter - player of the year
Paddy Dewhirst - players' player of the year
Zac Howard and Lewis Young - most improved players
Robbie Smith - young player of the year

Ayr Ladies
Catherine Shennan - player of the year
Julie David - players' player of the year
Joanne Jones - best newcomer
Erin McSorley - young player of the year

Millbrae RFC
Tony Hall - player of the year
Gregor Hynds - most improved player

Ayr-Wellington U18 boys
Cameron Reece - player of the year
Cameron Reece - players' player of the year
Logan Richardson - most improved player
Seth Rae - most committed
Rory McMurray - top try-scorer

Ayr-Wellington U16 boys
Harry Ledgerwood - player of the year
Ollie Mossie - players' player of the year
Dylan Wilson - most improved player

Photos courtesy of George McMillan.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Ayr-Wellington U15s v Lismore U15s - National Shield final

Ayr-Wellington U15 girls will take to the back pitches of BT Murrayfield tomorrow to compete for the National Shield against Lismore, kicking off at 2pm.

It is just one of four national finals taking place at the national stadium as part of the Girls' Club Cup Finals Day.

After beating Falkirk 53-34 in the semi-finals, Ayr will be full of confidence, but it is sure to be a tough final against the Edinburgh-based side, who beat West Lothian 32-12 in their semi-final.

Ayr-Wellington U15s coach Catherine Shennan said: "It will be a great day for the whole squad, and we're looking forward to the challenge. The players have worked hard all season and Connie (Griffiths, coach) and I are proud of their efforts."

Ayr-Wellington U15s
15. Ellie Campbell; 14. Natalie McDonald, 13. Sophie Kerr, 12. Holly McIntyre, 11. Amy Bryden; 10. Cieron Bell, 9. Bethan Gregory (c); 1 Leeona Kriisa, 2. Zoe Allan, 3. Keri Wiseman; 4. Georgia Bryden, 5. Jasmine Scott, 8. Hazel Macmillan.

16. Abigail Kirkwood, 17. Izzy Singh, 18. Ruth McVeigh, 19. Abby Smith, 20. Emma Struthers, 21. Mhairi McGarva, 22. Kayla Gilchrist.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Melrose 23 Ayr 18 - BT Cup final

It was another battle that went right down to the wire between Ayr and Melrose on Saturday at BT Murrayfield, but this time it was the Borderers who got their hands on the silverware, their 23-18 win securing them the BT Cup seven days after Ayr had beaten them to claim the BT Premiership title.

Ayr couldn't have got off to a better start at the national stadium. They claimed the ball from the kick-off and made for Melrose's try-line, captain Pete McCallum powering through the defence before winger Danny McCluskey scored in the corner. It was a touchline conversion for stand-off Frazier Climo and he couldn't make it. 0-5.

There was no easing into this final for either side. Ayr scrum-half David Armstrong was his usual industrious self, whilst full-back Grant Anderson was ready to barge off on his trademark muscular runs at any moment. Last week's hero Scott Sutherland carried on his fine form, looking majestic at the line-out and snuffing out any Melrose attack that came his way.

McCluskey and fellow winger Craig Gossman looked dangerous with ball in hand but those yellow shirts were all over them very quickly. Melrose also had to contain Ayr's mobile front row of George Hunter, Steven Longwell and Lewis Anderson.

The two sides were evenly matched at the set-pieces, Ayr putting Melrose under pressure at their scrum before being penalised at their own put-in. The Greenyards men couldn't capitalise though, Grant Anderson appearing with ball in hand after their penalty line-out and shooting off.
Centres Ross Curle and Stafford McDowall had their eyes open for any gaps, and Curle spotted his first of many, breaking away with McCluskey in support. Melrose, of course, turned defence into attack with a bit of mid-air poaching but ended up in touch.

It was the last outing for the back row of McCallum, Blair Macpherson and Will Bordill as the latter moves on due to work commitments, and they had another good day. Macpherson was launched at the line-out, securing good ball for Armstrong to flick to McCluskey, but the winger couldn't get away before the first of a couple of small scuffles broke out. It was swiftly dealt with by referee Lloyd Linton.

Melrose evened things up when their skilled and speedy prop Jamie Bhatti bundled over for a try. Stand-off Jason Baggott missed the conversion. 5-5.

There was another prop on the move moments later when Longwell blasted his way up the touchline on a joyous gallop but he was isolated and Ayr were penalised for holding on.

The penalty count was creeping ever higher for both teams, and line-outs were exchanged before Curle used those dancing feet to let Sutherland, Climo and McDowall make their way through the Melrose defence.

The Borderers regained possession though, and Lewis Anderson, Bordill, Macpherson and second row Craig Stevenson had to put in some hefty tackles to keep them in check.
They soon took the lead though, thanks to a Baggott penalty. 8-5.

Climo swiftly replied with a penalty of his own. 8-8.

Both sets of players were run ragged as the half drew to a close, Climo and Hunter busy in attack for Ayr, and centres Nyle Godsmark and Craig Jackson for Melrose.

Armstrong set off on a run for Ayr, with Climo, Lewis Anderson and Curle in support, the latter turning up on the wing. Moments later he was back in the centre, homing in on a Melrose pass and racing away with McCluskey backing him up.

Half-time was a welcome rest for everybody, fans and players alike, but it was straight back into action at the resumption as Baggott kicked Melrose into the lead. 11-8.

But Ayr were pressing for their line, Curle and Stevenson getting over only to be held up.

McCallum, Armstrong, Gossman and Climo moved things on but Melrose ended up with a free kick. From the line-out, Armstrong whizzed through a gap, too fast for the defenders to get him. Bordill was with him though and took the pass to canter away for a fine try. Climo converted. 11-15.

It was an exciting period, with Curle intercepting again. Gossman took the ball on and chipped, but it was Melrose full-back Fraser Thomson who claimed it. Sutherland nabbed Melrose's line-out, and Climo made a half-break but the defence was tough.

Another petty fight was again subdued by Linton before Climo stretched Ayr's lead with a penalty. 11-18.

Climo, McCallum and McDowall were in attack mode for Ayr but Melrose regained possession and shot off, with Climo slumped on the ground after a knock to the head, being speedily attended to by the Ayr medical team of Graham Hollins and Helen Reid. The referee let the game carry on and Melrose's George Taylor ran away for the try, which Jackson converted. 18-18.

Of course, it was going to come down to a nail-biting final ten minutes, as games between Ayr and Melrose invariably do. It looked like it was going to go to extra time as it had done in the cup final four years ago, but Melrose turned over with ninety seconds to go and Godsmark scored the try, which was unconverted. 23-18.
Ayr all but emptied their subs bench but it was no use. A line-out gave them a glimmer of light but the clock had gone dead and soon the ball went dead to send Melrose and their fans into delirious celebrations.

It was disappointment for the double-seeking men from Millbrae but the players have given their supporters another wonderful season to look back on, with a league title to savour and many highlights to toast at next week's end of season awards dinner.

Final score: Melrose 23 Ayr 18.

- Elena Hogarth.

Photos courtesy of Alan Graham. Please seek Alan's permission before reproducing for commercial purposes.