Friday, 31 December 2010

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Young Ayr Stars Make Scotland Under 18 Squad

Fergusson and Beckwith Train with Scotland

Ayr 1st XV players Robbie Fergusson and Murray Beckwith will be training with the Scotland Under 18 Squad this week at the new Ravenscraig facility and also at Murrayfield. Both players have performed well this season and will bring good experience to the age group with their last outing having been against Pontypridd in the British and Irish Cup.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Ayr V LLandovery

Sadly the above contest is declared OFF following pitch inspection at 1300h.
 Despite courageous attempts to prevent the weather making the ground unplayable,it was decided in the interests of safety to declare the game OFF.
  It would have been a clash of two great teams;Ayr-Scottish Cup winners and Llandovery-Welsh Cup winners.
  It is hoped that the game may be rescheduled for 12th of February 2011,when Scotland play Wales!
  Special thanks to the groundstaff and volunteers for their sterling efforts against the elements.

May all the players and background staff take this opportunity to wish ALL our sponsors and supporters a Very Merry Christmas 2010 and a Happy New Year 2011.                                                                 bb

Friday, 17 December 2010

2011 Calendars For Sale

The 2011 Ayr Club Calendar will be on sale at the Club  the Saturday. Priced £10 with all proceeds going to support rugby development at Ayr, these quality calendars feature fine photography of 1st XV and other players in action across the exciting season including British and Irish Cup, the Cup Final as well as general photoraphs from around the club.

The players will be selling the calendars on the day but you can also order however many you need at the Bar.

Big Jock Late for Work

Rumour has it that well-known Ayrshire farmer Jock Craig was late for the 5.00am frost cover meeting at the club yesterday. Sources close to the big man say he's getting a wee bit past it.

No doubt we'll find out on Saturday as it's "Farmers' Day," with just under 200 guests coming for lunch before the British and Irish Cup clash between Ayr and Llandovery. The kick-off is 3.00pm and the club is expecting a big crowd as it will be one of the few games on in Scotland.

A presentation of an alarm clock by Kenny Murray will take place after the game - it gives Jock time to get there.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Ponty v Ayr Match Report

Pontypridd 33  Ayr 12

 It was never going to be easy for Ayr against top Welsh club and current league leaders Pontypridd, particularly having gone down to a last minute score at Millbrae when the two met in the British and Irish Cup last season. What was a meticulously planned build up to their opening game in the cross border competition was totally disrupted by the weather with the distinct possiblity at one point that the game would have to be cancelled as Wales suffered the same freezing conditions as were being experienced north of the border.
The game finally went ahead on Sunday with Pontypridd’s Sardis Road ground having proved unplayable on Saturday and again on Sunday so at the Memorial Ground, Cardiff, home of Glamorgan Wanderers, the game eventually kicked off at 1pm.
Ayr barely had time to notice the surroundings before Ponty had five points on the board, full back Gareth Wyatt going over in the corner to give the home side the best possible start.
Ayr knew it was respond or be overrun and they did just that after five minutes and with slick hands in heavy conditions they piled the pressure on the Ponty line for Gordon Reid to claim yet another try in a competition which featured his name among the top try scorers for a while last season. Ayr were forcing Ponty into mistakes as their scrum provided a solid platform and when the ball went loose, it was snaffled up, Mark Bennett chipped forward and Cammy Taylor went over under the posts for Frazier Climo to convert after twenty two minutes.
The Ayr back row of Jono Crossan, Andy Dunlop and Rob Calhoun were rampant and they were responsible for Ayr winning the breakdown battle but ominously they were unable to add to their total before the break and it was Ponty who closed the gap thanks to a Dean Gunter penalty on the half hour which saw Ayr go in with only a narrow four point lead at 12-8.
Into the second half, Ponty upped the tempo and the aggression and with some useful citizens joining the fray from the bench, the game started to turn their way. Gunter banged over a penalty nine minutes into the second half after tempers flared and that was a sign that Ponty were taking control then with the final quarter approaching, replacement No10 Simon Humberstone stuck over the penalty which gave Ponty the lead as Andy Dunlop trudged off to the sin bin.
Ayr were now consistently on the defensive and when Humberstone’s cross kick found Dafydd Lockyer, the centre put Baller, on for Wyatt, over for the home side’s second try. Humberstone converted from wide out and the nine point gap was an almighty mountain for Ayr to climb, particularly since they were now playing so much of the game on the back foot and it became a damage limitation exercise as Ponty now reversed things in the set piece to take the upper hand.
Ayr, with the lack of game time over the past few weeks now telling, continued to defend desperately, too desperately in the case of Glen Tippett who was yellow carded and with Ayr a man down, they found themselves under the cosh and at the wrong end of a penalty try awarded on the eighty minute mark which Humberstone converted. Into injury time Ponty again exposed Ayr’s numerical shortcoming for Adam Thomas to crash over for the try which gave Pontypridd the bonus points and a clear lead in Pool D.
“It looked good for us in the first half with the scrum really solid, the back row dominating and Frazier Climo turning them with some great kicks to the corners” said Ayr Director of Rugby Jock Craig. “We were certainly worth our lead at half time but then we seemed to be unable to maintain that superiority and keep it going into the second half and they started to get the upper hand at the breakdown and we lost our momentum. It was really disappointing to lose the two late tries because it skewed the scoreline but in the end they upped their game enough and we had no answer after half time.”
Coach Kenny Murray was philosophical about the result. “The preparations were very difficult for the players, first of all not knowing if the game would go ahead then where we would be playing and then turning up to find the pitch still frozen so there was a lot of uncertainty. Having said that we put them under a lot of pressure in was a very good first half but then we ran out of steam. The fact that we were a bit rusty is hardly surprising since we haven’t played since the Hawks game on November 20th and there was always the risk that we would run out of steam particularly since we played fifteen of the last twenty minutes with fourteen men.”
“Having said that, Ponty have a big aggressive pack and they control the game well so you can see why they are top of the league and they really took the game over in the second half when we started to struggle from our lack of game time for three weeks.”
“There is a lot for us to work on but we know from our first half performance what we can do so we will try to replicate that against Llandovery on Saturday. The boys will be really up for that one, a big game in front of a home crowd against a side we have been told by the Ponty lads not to underestimate or be fooled by their lowly position in the league.” The Ayr coach also acknowledged the help of Glasgow Hawks who had, as is permissible under the rules of the competition, loaned Ayr lock Nick Campbell and prop George Hunter.
In the bottom reaches of the league they may be but Llandovery came up with a great result at Rotherham Titans, winning 34-17 and showing that they can play a bit away from home as well. The other match in Pool D between Birmingham and Doncaster fell foul of the weather so the Pool looks like this; Pontypridd top with nine points from two games, Llandovery next with four from two then Ayr trailing Rotherham Titans in fourth spot on differential, each yet to pick up a point.
It is going to be an absolute belter at Millbrae on Saturday (kick off 3pm) and Ayr will be pulling out all the stops in the knowledge that if they are going to progress to the quarter finals of the British and Irish Cup, home wins are imperative.
Grant Anderson; Robbie Fergusson, Mark Bennett, Ross Curle, Cammy Taylor; Frazier Climo, AJ MacFarlane; Gordon Reid, Stuart Fenwick, Andy Kelly, Damien Kelly, Nick Campbell(Hawks), Jono Crossan, Rob Calhoun, Andy Dunlop.  Subs Stephen Adair, George Hunter (Hawks), Peter McCallum, Glen Tippett, Dougie Steele, Richard McCallum, Murray Beckwith
Referee Michael Tutty (RFU)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Ayr Go Down in Wales

Pontypridd 33 Ayr 12

After a hugely promising first half with the Millbrae outfit leading 12 -8 Pontypridd put on a strong second half showing to win the game at the home of Glamorgan Wanderers in Cardiff. The game had been postponed from the day before as Ponty's Sardis Road Ground was unplayable due to snow and ice.

Ponty were worthy winners of what was an exciting, intense and very physical match enjoyed by a noisy and passionate crowd of almost 2,000. There were some very good Ayr performances none more so than Robbie Colhoun who was given thunderous applause by the knowledgeable home crowd, who recognised a quality player when they saw one, as he left the field towards the end of the match to give another promising young talent, Peter McCallum, his first taste of this level of competition.

A full match report will follow.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Ponty Here We Come

Oh well, it looks like Ayr won’t be welcoming Ally Donaldson and his Currie troops to Millbrae until the weather has turned a good deal warmer, possibly around next April as was suggested last week. That is of the snow and ice has cleared by then, not something I would be prepared to guarantee as I look out of the office window onto a Siberian-like wasteland. (‘Siberian-like wasteland’in Prestwick-get a grip – Ed.)

Last Saturdays cancellation of the match against Currie of course means that for Ayr, Currie and Melrose the quest for the Premier title and the Premier Cup go on the back burner as they now embark on the cross border adventure of the British and Irish cup and Ayr start with a trip to face old foes ( well, they did come to Millbrae last season) Pontypridd.

I have been privileged to be asked to contribute to the Ponty v Ayr match programme and in doing so it brought back a host of memories of visiting the Rhondda every year until my late teens to stay with my uncle.

The passion for rugby in the valleys has always been fervent and although our trips were in the summer to coincide with ‘Miners Fortnight’, I vividly recall that rugby was never far from the conversation and summer sports were simply a brief respite before the real business began again.

That passion was seen in the travelling support which Ponty brought to Ayr in February and although neither side qualified for the latter stages of the B & I cup, it did nothing to dampen the intensity with which the game was played.

The Ayr side and supporters who witnessed it will still have nightmares about a game which Ayr seemed to have won only to see it slip from their grasp as they gave away a soft try in the final minute and the agony was complete when Kristian Baller’s conversion of his own try hit the post and dropped over to win the game for Ponty.

The big advantage Ayr have over both the other clubs representing Scotland is that they have last seasons experience to build on and having travelled away for the opening fixture last season as well, they know what to expect. However Ayr will run out on Saturday afternoon without having played since they beat Hawks on November 20th at Millbrae and three weeks out is a lot to catch up on.

Pontypridd have faced exactly the same sort of lay off since their match against Newport on November 20th and the four try 28-15 win that day kept them top of the Premiership with a played fourteen, won twelve, lost one, drawn one record. They haven’t lost since October when they went down to current second placed Neath and they drew with Cardiff later that month so they are a form side as well as formidable opponents and it will take a massive effort if Ayr are to return with a result.

In order to avoid fixture congestion later on in the season, Pontypridd played their opener in the B & I Cup against Llandovery, the other Welsh club in Ayr’s pool, back in October and won away from home by 28-18. However it should be noted that their opponents are currently languishing near the foot of the premiership table so although it was the start Ponty wanted, it wasn’t the most impressive of wins but has allowed them to claim top spot in Pool D for a couple of months!.

The fact that both sides boast similar records and are both challenging for their respective title adds a credibility to the British and Irish Cup concept when at least the top Welsh, Scottish and English club sides below professional level come face to face and who knows, one of these days, the Irish might get the hang of the idea as well.

Like Ayr Pontypridd have not been without their injury problems as was seen in their last match before the freeze against Newport and indeed for that one skipper Chris Dicomidis was forced to move from his customary No8 spot into second row. Sounds familiar? Think Glen Tippett in some recent games.

The core of the Ponty side who faced Ayr last season will be in evidence on Saturday and that was a factor which Ayr Director of Rugby, Jock Craig looked on as a positive.

“I don’t think we have anything really to fear despite that fact that they are going pretty well” he said. “We know what it is like to travel away for the first game in the B and I Cup and when we played Ponty last season at Millbrae, we should have won but a bit of slack play by us and some smart thinking by them very late on won Ponty the game. We will take a pretty noisy support down with us and the only real concern at the moment is the weather.”

So the adventure begins on Saturday to be followed the next week with the visit of Llandovery to Millbrae on 18th December and without doubt the Pontypridd clash will give an indication as to how that one will go as will Llandovery’s result at Rotherham on Saturday.

Into 2011, Ayr have two forays south in January, on the 15th to Birmingham then on the 22nd to Rotherham before completing the pool stage of the B & I with a home tie against Doncaster on February 26th.

All it needs now is for the weather to ease a bit in the Valleys and we will have a real game on.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Frozen at Millbrae

The weather takes its toll.....

Yes that's sunshine you see as Pid scores his try. Alas there's only a glimpse of it just now at Millbrae and it's not enough to sort out the Big Freeze that has rendered the pitches unplayable for training or matches.

Looks like this Saturday's game against Currie will be off.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

British & Irish Cup - Pontypridd Getting Ready!

The Pontypridd Supporters get ready for Ayr's visit.
Last season Pontypridd came in their hordes to support Ponty in the B & I Cup match
at Millbrae. 400 of them crossed the Brig O' Doon and enjoyed a cracking weekend
rugby Tour at the seaside. Well they're getting ready again for the reverse tie here's
some chat from their forum...

I live in the USA, and support, with all my heart, Pontypridd RFC.

Below are two of the latest excerpts from Ponty's Supporter Forum:

Too quiet..thinking ahead..
Pontydragon Not win/loss wise...Hospitality wise.

I recall that a lot of the Ponty supporters went up to Ayr last year. We got some great advance advice on here from ???? in Ayr, and received a pretty good deal and hospitality from the Twa Dugs, and they really did appreciate it. Matter of fact, Owen Kerr, from the TD sent me a Glencairn glass to raise a glass to him, Ponty, and Ayr, which I did, this past Thursday, our Thanksgiving (12 year old Glenfiddich - No, I don't know if it's 'top shelf' or not, but it was pretty good).

Anything planned to reciprocate the great hospitality that was shown by our Scottish brothers and sisters?
on 29.11.10 at 0:21
· Reply

·         CefnogwrPontypridd Good post PD. I wonder if they can compete with the 400 that we took up there!? I hope they'll bring a decent following. If Graham Rountree or any other Ayr supporter has any questions or queries about where to go etc then I'm sure any of us will be more than happy to help. I'm sure all their supporters will be in for a great welcome here at the Pont!
on 29.11.10 at 20:19
· Reply
Though I can't attend, for obvious reasons, I would hope that Graham touches base with the Ponty faithful, to make an enjoyable match for all.  The match against Ayr is something I hold near and dear in my heart.  An old friend of mine, Bob Coleville, was born and raised in Ayr.  He came to the states in the 60's, and worked for the same financial institution as me.  Unfortunately, Bob passed away a couple years ago.  Aside from his wife and children, most of his family is still in Ayr.  He was a very special man, and was truly a great representative of Ayr and all of Scotland!

Hope you can all make it down to the Pont!
"Pob lwc !"
Bert "Pontydragon" James
Scranton PA, USA

Melrose Game Off

Ayr Preparations Adrift

Unfortunately the planned trip down to the Borders fell foul of the weather. The squad made their way down to Peebles on Friday and stayed over at the Hydro in order to be fresh for the early noon kick-off at the Greenyards.

Sadly the weather beat us and despite regular communication with our hosts and a reasonable hope that the game would go ahead, the final snowful was too much and the game will now have to be rescheduled probably in April by the looks of things.

An enjoyable bus journey back to Ayr for some and what preparation for the Doc's birthday party that night.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Big Weekend at Millbrae

It's all go at Ayr Rugby Club this weekend. The 1st XV take on Dundee HSFP at home - Saturday afternoon 2.45pm kick-off - in a crucial Premier 1 League match then both the Under 18s and Under 16s play critical league matches on Sunday at 1.00pm and 2.00pm respectively. If you get the chance come along and support the teams in their bid to win their leagues.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Ayr u16s v West of Scotland u16s 11/11/2010

This Sunday Ayr u16s will meet West of Scotland in a top of the table clash at Millbrae. Both sides are currently undefeated and share pole position along with Glasgow Hawks. The winner of this match will have the upper hand in the race to be crowned league champions, so a huge support is encouraged to come along and support the boys. Kick off is 2pm.

News after the break. 08/11/2010

Perthshire 10 Ayr 57

It was a homecoming of sorts for Ayr’s captain as the Millbrae crew headed for North Inch and Skippy’s first Scottish club, Perthshire. The first round of the pool section of the Scottish Cup was never, in theory, going to present Ayr with their toughest task of the season but the Premier 3 outfit had made Melrose sweat last season before the Greenyards side finally got the win, only to fall at the final Murrayfield hurdle to you-know-who.

In the end Ayr ran out comfortable 57-10 winners but all credit to the home side, they made Skippy’s troops work for their points and not only did hey show enormous guts in defence but when they did get the ball, they showed some delightful touches, their try coming from a particularly skilful piece of play.
“Perthshire have some very good players and the way they defended heroically made it a pretty good work out for our side” said Ayr assistant coach Peter Laverie. “We had set targets after what happened at Currie last week where we have to admit to being a bit complacent and in terms of our breakdown play and go-forward we did what we set out to do. We had a full side out and we could have scored more points but all credit to Perthshire, they didn’t make it easy for us at all and when you look at how some of the other Premier 1 sides fared against Premier 3 opposition, we have to be happy with that scoreline.”

Ayr’s points had come from tries by Scott Forrest, Grant Anderson, Jono Crossan, Andy Wilson, Cammy Taylor and a beauty of a solo effort from Anderson to notch his second. Frazier Climo landed three out of the six conversion attempts then AJ MacFarlane, Richard McCallum and Climo had second half tries with Climo converting the lot but Perthshire’s try by Erlend Oag was probably the pick of the bunch. Graeme Clow converted that one to add to his earlier penalty and Ayr collected the bonus point to go into the new year with Dunfermline and GHA to play to qualify from Premier Cup Pool B to the quarter finals in their defence of the trophy.
“Everybody had the chance to put last week behind them” continued Laverie “and they did that and with Frazier Climo working back to match fitness and Grant Anderson in particular looking really dangerous, we are coming back to form and will have players coming back as well at just the right time.”

The fixtures for the championship play offs, imaginatively titled Premier A –Saatchi and Saatchi couldn’t have come up with a better one than that!-are now in the public domain which means the club, supporters and anyone else involved can start planning their second half of the season.

The eight teams in the championship play offs will carry forward the points they had after eleven games in the opening section so Ayr will be in third spot behind Hawks and Melrose. The first match is on Saturday first November 13th at Millbrae against Dundee HSFP with a 2.45pm kick off, Scotland having a wee joust scheduled with New Zealand at 5.15. On November 20th, Hawks come to Millbrae, this time with a 12 noon kick off since the international side will have dusted themselves off after the AB encounter to take on South Africa. The following week Ayr are faced with what will be the most significant match of the season so far when they travel to Melrose with a 12 noon kick off since Scotland will be playing Samoa in Aberdeen at 2.30 that afternoon and in order to give themselves the best possible chance,
Ayr will travel down the night before for this one given the early kickoff .
Ayr then face Currie at Millbrae on December 4th with a 2pm kick off so with Currie, Melrose, Hawks and Ayr all in opposition over that period as well, the league could well be decided before Christmas and indeed before Ayr, Currie and Melrose embark on their British and Irish Cup campaigns on December 11th although not in the opinion of Peter Laverie who figured that teams would pick each other off resulting in a thrilling climax in 2011.

Finally, the re-draft of the pro players from Premier B to Premier A sees Ayr with Ed Kalman who put in some hefty shifts for Ayr last season, Al Kellock and Bernie Stortoni. I watched big Al put in a very handy fifty minutes on his return from four months injury for Glasgow against Aironi on Friday night but the victorious Scotland skipper in the two Argentina Tests in the summer looked as though a couple of matches to get him up to speed would do no harm so outings at Millbrae against Dundee and Hawks? Could be interesting!

Things get hot at Currie 03/11/2010

Currie 24 Ayr 12

Over the past few seasons the clashes between Ayr and Currie have thrown up some memorable encounters and Saturday was no different but it is one which will live longer in the Currie memories this time and one which Ayr would prefer to forget.

There is without doubt an expectation now among the Ayr support based on the success of the last two seasons and when the team fall below that then the fans feel let down and watching the side go from 8-7 down at half time to taking the lead before being blown away was particularly disappointing. The feeling has always been in recent times that if you put a bunch of Currie strips in front of an Ayr player, he would play with a broken leg but it was the other way round this time with Ally Donaldson’s side fired up and completely focussed on not only beating Ayr but winning so comprehensively that for the first time in a long time they would go away with nothing.

“We were pretty poor right from the kick-off” commented Ayr Director of Rugby Jock Craig “and only one team wanted it. The Currie committee as well as coach Ally Donaldson all agreed that was the best they had played all season and it is hugely disappointing that we didn’t rides to the challenge.”
“We had the chance in the first half to play a territory game and put the ball in the corners behind their back three but we didn’t do that but when Currie had the breeze behind them they used it pretty well.”

“Currie had the better of the line out and although I felt that the referee was a bit inconsistent, it doesn’t take away from the fact that we were lethargic and we are going to have to raise our game a lot from that sort of performance if we are gong to challenge for the title or do anything in the British and Irish Cup. Make no mistake, Melrose and Hawks might now be first and second in the table but Currie are back in the mix and will certainly have a big say in who wins the championship.”

Hayden Abercrombie put Currie ahead with a penalty in fifteen minutes then Andy McMahon scored a try which will come back to haunt the Ayr defence as the center made the break then fended off two tackles on his way to the line.  That one stung and Ayr responded by shifting up a gear or two and camping in Currie territory with malicious intent which culminated in a swanky move by the pack as they followed the lead of Damien Kelly and Andy Dunlop to cut a swathe through he Currie forwards who were unable to stop a surge which saw the ball end up with Gordon Reid who sold an outrageous dummy-what is it with props these days?-and crashed over.

Ross Curle slotted the conversion and although that ended the scoring in the first half the pink and black contingent settled down for more to come after the break.
It seemed as though it was all going to plan when Mark Bennett latched onto a long floater of a pass to go over from the twenty two but the score did nothing to inspire the Ayr game and that was their final contribution to the scoreline having nudged ahead by 12-8

Bennett’s score came in the middle of a flurry of yellow cards with first Currie flanker Mike Entwhistle then Dean Stewart and finally Gordon Reid ending up in the sin-bin.
That enforced change of personnel inevitably has an impact on any game and Currie adapted the better to first their depletion then their player advantage as Abercrombie made Ayr pay for their misdemeanours with three penalties which took the home side to 17-12 and looking confident.

That confidence was boosted further when Mark Cairns took the ball at a Currie line out, the pack swarmed round him and drove over with lock Ryan Wilson the man to claim the touchdown. At that point, Ayr were not going to come back, Abercrombie’s conversion shut the door ensured that they wouldn’t and although Ayr suddenly realised their predicament and attempted to at least salvage a bonus point, the Currie defence and referee Neil Paterson, who did Ayr few favours and will have better games overall, denied them even that.

Ayr now have to re-group and travel north to Perthshire to face the Premier 3 side in the first round of their three cup pool matches before going into the final seven games of Premier 1 on November 13th.
The fixtures will be announced this week and we will comment on them then but Ayr have work to do if they are going to be serious players in the title race since, when the two big questions have been asked so far in away matches, at Hawks and at Currie, they have failed to deliver