Friday, 26 August 2016

Ayr v Currie preview

The BT Premiership is back, and Ayr get 2016/17 going with a home clash against Currie on Saturday, kicking off at 3pm.

Both sides will be more than eager to get off to a flying start and lay down a marker for the rest of the season.

"Ben (Cairns, Currie head coach) has built a strong squad over the last couple of season," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester, "and I am sure it will be stronger again going into this fixture."

After some hard work during pre-season, the squad is raring to go, and tomorrow will see winger Jamie Bova and flanker Gregor Henry make their 1st XV debuts.

Hooker Robbie Smith, prop Adam Prentice and centre Stafford McDowall could also make their first appearances in the pink and black from the bench.

Currie hooker Fergus Scott lines up against his old team-mates after returning to his home club over the summer.

Millbrae will be packed as it's Ladies' Day, and the extra few hundred female fans always create a brilliant atmosphere for the players and the rest of the crowd.

Ayr:
15. Craig Gossman; 14. Jamie Bova, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Ross Curle, 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. David Young, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Craig Stevenson; 5. Robert McAlpine, 6. Lee Scott, 7. Gregor Henry, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

Replacements:
16. Robbie Smith, 17. Adam Prentice, 18. Blair Macpherson, 19. Danny McCluskey, 20. Stafford McDowall.

Currie:
15. Harvey Elms; 14. Mathew Hooks, 13. Matt McPhillips, 12. Robbie Nelson, 11. Cameron Gray; 10. Jamie Forbes, 9. Charlie Shiel; 1. John Cox, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. Graeme Carson; 4. Hamish Bain, 5. Stephen Ainslie; 6. Rhys Davies, 7. Thomas Gordon, 8. Ross Weston.

Replacements:
16. Paul Mundell, 17. AP McWilliam, 18. Gary Temple, 19. Richard Sneddon, 20. Graeme Clow.

Kick-off 3pm!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Ayr-Wellington Youth Rugby season launch

After a successful 2015/16, the Ayr-Wellington Youth Rugby Institution officially launched its new season at Millbrae on Wednesday evening.

Parents, coaches and Ayr RFC committee members gathered in the clubhouse to hear the club's head of development Stuart Fenwick reflect on the first year of the merger between the school and Ayr RFC's youth section and talk about the benefits of bringing the two together.

Cam Reece, Wellington School head boy and Ayr-Wellington U18 boys' captain, spoke about his experiences of playing for both school and club and now the merged institution.

Also present to address the assembled company was Wellington School head teacher Simon Johnson, who has been very supportive of the initiative and is delighted to see it bring such good results for the teams, as well as the non-playing skills rugby gives young people, such as organisation, team work and dedication.
The Ayr-Wellington boys' teams from S1 to U18s were training at Millbrae and Doonside, Wellington's playing fields just along the road from the club; just one of the many positives from the merger is the sharing of facilities. The girls' teams train on a Monday evening.

There have always been good links between Wellington School and Ayr RFC, with Jack Preston, Robbie Fergusson and current men's 1st XV captain Pete McCallum, amongst others, former pupils.

Last season saw the Ayr-Wellington teams compete for the first time across national and regional competitions and they brought home a collection of silverware between them.

The U16s won the National Youth League Cup and President's Conference, and were joint winners of the West Regional Cup. The U18s were runners-up in their national cup and conference and winners of the West Regional Cup, while the U15s claimed the West Regional Bowl. The U18 girls were National Cup semi-finalists and the U15s were runners-up in the National Shield.
The youth section at Ayr RFC has always been a vital part of the club and the hard work of the players, coaches, parents and volunteers is something to be admired. Now the establishment of the Ayr-Wellington Youth Rugby Institution sees an even brighter future on the horizon for all concerned.

- Elena Hogarth.

Photos courtesy of George McMillan.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Darlington Mowden Park v Ayr preview - pre-season friendly

Ayr are the guests of Darlington Mowden Park on Saturday as they play in the final pre-season fixture before the BT Premiership begins.

It's family fun day at the Northern Echo Arena, so the visitors will take on the National 1 side in front of a lively and enthusiastic crowd as they try to make it three wins from three in pre-season.

It's a strong Ayr squad, with Frazier Climo making his return, Cameron Taylor starting on the wing, Lee Scott debuting at blindside flanker and new captain Pete McCallum leading from number eight.

There are many exciting youngsters on the bench who will no doubt be making an appearance over the eighty minutes.

If it's just a bit too far for you to travel to watch the 1st XV, then head on up to Ardrossan to see the 2nd XV play. They kick off at 2pm.

Ayr:
15. Grant Anderson; 14. Jamie Bova, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Ross Curle, 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. David Young, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Rob McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Lee Scott, 7. Gregor Henry, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

Replacements:
16. Lewis Anderson, 17. Fraser Miller, 18. Adam Prentice, 19. Craig Stevenson, 20. Dougie Boyd, 21. Harry Warr, 22. Graham Hunter, 23. Danny McCluskey, 24. Stuart Lewis.

Kick-off 3pm.

Ayr RFC appoints dedicated W&G DO

Ayr RFC is delighted to be the first Scottish club to appoint a dedicated women and girls' development officer, Catherine Shennan.

With Ayr Ladies about to embark on their first season in the top tier BT Premier League, and the increased awareness of the sport thanks to the inclusion of rugby 7s at the Rio Olympics, now is the ideal time for Ayr RFC to cement its commitment to growing women's rugby in South Ayrshire.

Catherine, 20, first began playing rugby in sixth year at Girvan Academy when the Ayr RFC development team visited the school. She soon joined Ayr Ladies U18s before progressing to the senior side, and was capped for Scotland Women U20s last season.
Catherine worked as a Scottish Rugby modern apprentice for two years.

"I will continue to use the skills I have learned as an MA when coaching women and girls this year," she says. "The courses I went on in my two years as an MA were very useful and gave me more ideas and knowledge of the game."

Catherine's main aim will be to increase the number of women and girls involved in rugby in South Ayrshire, but she also has hopes for the sport throughout the country after the announcement of Jade Konkel as Scotland's first female full-time player.

"I'd like to see women's rugby in Scotland continue to develop and see more women get professional contracts."

With the increasing popularity of the sport and the efforts of clubs like Ayr, that will hopefully happen sooner rather than later.

For now, Catherine is focused on her new role as Ayr RFC women and girls' development officer.

"It's an honour to be given this opportunity. It comes with a lot of responsibility but it's also hugely rewarding."

Head of development at Ayr RFC, Stuart Fenwick, is certain Catherine's role will have a positive impact on rugby in the county.

"With more girls and women playing rugby in the area - not just at Ayr RFC but taking part in the South Ayrshire Schools Conference - we needed someone dedicated to developing the women's game.

"Catherine's training as a Scottish Rugby MA, as well as her passion and knowledge gained from playing stand-off with Ayr Ladies, mean she is the perfect candidate to encourage women of all ages and abilities to embrace the sport of rugby.

"The Ayr RFC development team is very proud to have the first women and girls' DO of any club in Scotland. It's not only a feather in our cap, but a boost for the whole sport."
Catherine and Stuart with MAs Paddy Dewhirst and Connie Griffiths.


Stuart Fenwick leads the Ayr RFC development team, with officers Frazier Climo and Catherine Shennan, and four Scottish Rugby modern apprentices. They are supported by the Ayr Community Rugby Trust.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Pre-match lunches

We're now taking bookings for pre-match lunches at Millbrae.

There will be a different menu this year (although the traditional steak pie will be making an appearance at some point!), but the price is staying at £30 per person. This includes a three-course meal, a match programme and entry to the match. There's always a raffle and speakers too!

Please get in touch with Elena on 07788 824835 or elenahogarth@ayrrugbyclub.co.uk to find out more or book your place or a table.

Saturday 10th September - Ayr v Gala
Saturday 24th September - Ayr v Melrose
Saturday 8th October - Ayr v Stirling County
Saturday 15th October - Ayr v Glasgow Hawks
Saturday 5th November - Ayr v Heriot's
Saturday 14th January - Ayr v Boroughmuir (sold out!)
Saturday 18th February - Ayr v Watsonians

Further dates will be added when the BT Cup draw is made.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Four tries in friendly with County

Stirling County welcomed Ayr to Bridgehaugh on Saturday for a competitive pre-season fixture that featured seven tries scored between the two sides.

Out on the 2nd XV pitch as club volunteers busied themselves sprucing up the grounds for the new season, the two BT Premiership teams quickly got stuck into the game.

Ayr had the upper hand early on, trapping County in their own half and the visiting backs attacked the try-line. The hosts defended well though and fought their way out of danger.

After testing each other at the set pieces, Stirling teed up a penalty but the kick was unsuccessful.

Points soon appeared on the metaphorical board thanks to some swift footwork by Ayr winger Jamie Bova to get a try, which he was unable to convert.

Stirling stepped up the attack but Ayr winger Craig Gossman and centre Danny McCluskey tackled tenaciously, and hooker Lewis Anderson showed great speed to track down a Stirling back and drag him into touch.

Gossman and McCluskey were then sniffing out an interception and the ball flew through the hands of scrum-half David Armstrong and full-back Grant Anderson. County leaked a few penalties before Ayr's forwards took care of business and nabbed a try which stand-off Graham Hunter converted.
A few jinking runs by flanker Gregor Henry and replacement Stuart Lewis impressed, and when the home team gave away another penalty, Ayr took the line-out and number eight Pete McCallum leapt over in the corner. Hunter's conversion was short.

Ayr started the second half at a canter, with centre Archie Russell racing away up the wing and chipping on. Stirling collected but Ayr regained possession through Bova. Full-back Anderson took it on and muscled his way through the defence.

Another penalty gave Ayr the opportunity to score from the line-out and replacement hooker David Young barrelled over. Lewis's conversion attempt was held up by the wind.

County couldn't be counted out though and their pacy number eight blasted his way over for a try, with the conversion hitting the post before going over the crossbar.

Despite hefty tackles by McCluskey and replacements Cameron Taylor and Richard Dalgleish, the hosts put their foot down and scored a converted try between the posts.

They added another, unconverted, before Ayr youngsters Stafford McDowall and Harry Warr showed what they could do with ball in hand. They couldn't make it all the way to the try-line, and County turned over, looking for a winning score at the other end of the pitch.

Ayr held them back with some well-organised defence and the final whistle came too soon for the hosts but in time for the visitors.
Head coach Calum Forrester was happy with the 22-19 win and his players' efforts after the previous week's victory against GHA.

"We very much focussed on attack last week and this week it was good to look at our defence."

Ayr have their final pre-season fixture next Saturday against Darlington Mowden Park at the Northern Echo Arena before their BT Premiership campaign begins at home against Currie on Saturday 27th August.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Stirling County v Ayr preview

Ayr travel to Bridgehaugh on Saturday for their second pre-season fixture, kicking off against Stirling County at 2pm.

After Blaydon unfortunately had to cancel their friendly in Newcastle, County kindly offered to host Ayr at their picturesque ground and it will be a good test before the BT Premiership begins in two weeks' time.

The whole senior squad got to stretch their legs in last week's win against GHA, but this weekend sees the 2nd XV/Millbrae RFC playing both Greenock and Kilmarnock at Greenock.

Several of the new and returning players will be running out at Bridgehaugh, with Jamie Bova starting on the wing and Stafford McDowall and Harry Warr on the bench.

Ayr:
15. Grant Anderson; 14. Jamie Bova, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Danny McCluskey, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Graham Hunter, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Lee Scott, 5. Robert McAlpine; 6. Craig Brown, 7. Gregor Henry, 8. Pete McCallum.

Replacements:
David Young, Fraser Miller, Adam Prentice, Douglas Boyd, Cameron Taylor, Stafford McDowall, Richard Dalgleish, Stuart Lewis, Harry Warr.