Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Five farewells

With the season at an end, we're saying farewell to five of our senior men's squad as they prepare for new challenges.

Captain Dean Kelbrick and front row players Nick Cox and Stuart Fenwick are retiring, whilst scrum-half Murray McConnell is joining English Championship side Nottingham, and half-back Sylvain Diez returns to France.  All were recognised at the recent club awards dinner for their on- and off-field commitment to Ayr RFC.

Kelbrick joined Ayr from Glasgow Hawks in 2012 and made the inside centre berth his own.  He was club captain in 2014/15, having skippered Ayr to a memorable 14-13 victory against Jersey in the 2013/14 British and Irish Cup.  As a player, he demonstrated tremendous defensive abilities, as well as an eye for a gap, and in his role of captain, he led by example with his calm and collected approach.  

Prop Cox earned himself a passionate following amongst the Ayr fans as he consistently put his body on the line whilst charging about in a pink and black shirt.  There was something of a wrecking ball about him, as he put his head down, bashed the opposition out of the way and crashed over the line for a try, as he did on many an occasion.

Also cropping up on the score sheet over the years was Fenwick, who duped more than one defender with his deceptive turn of pace and dummying skills.  He will continue as the club's development officer, where he has guided Ayr Ladies to two national finals and nurtured the talents of the most promising young male and female players through the Ayr Rugby Academy.

If anyone could liven up a game, it was McConnell, a terrier of a scrum-half. Snapping at the heels of the opposition, as well as marshalling his troops, he was always on the scent of an attacking opportunity, and the Millbrae faithful will certainly miss him swan-diving over the try-line.  The Nottingham fans are in for a treat with Muzza.

Dapper Frenchman Diez kicked Ayr to a terrific 16-14 win against Bristol in the British and Irish Cup with a perfectly struck penalty on a horrible December afternoon in 2011, just one of his many appearances in a pink and black shirt.  As assistant development officer, he was instrumental in Ayr Ladies' success alongside Fenwick, and also helped grow the popularity of rugby in Ayrshire through his school visits.  

We wish Dean, Nick, Stuart, Murray and Sylvain all the very best for the future and thank them for all their hard work.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Forrester to attend 6 Nations Coaching Conference

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester will travel to Verona in Italy to take part in the Six Nations Coaching Conference in June.

Along with five other coaches from Scotland, Calum will spend three days with coaches from other countries focussing on tactical decision making, with Gregor Townsend and Jake White delivering content.

Read the full story from the SRU here.

French visitors to play Millbrae

This Friday, Ayr RFC will play host to Brassac Gratabons from the south of France, who will take on Millbrae RFC in a veterans' game, kicking off at 6pm.

The over-35s touring side hail from the home town of our soon-to-be departing assistant development officer Sylvain Diez and ties were strengthened when Millbrae's Stewart Kerr visited Brassac last year.  Ayr's de facto third XV will make the trip to the south of France to play the Gratabons in August this year.

It's sure to be a fun friendly game on Friday evening at Millbrae, so get along to support both teams!

Monday, 11 May 2015

U15 boys and U18 girls in weekend action

It might be the end of the season, but Ayr's youngsters have been busy pulling on the pink and black jersey across the country.

The under-15 boys have been particularly productive lately, and Sunday was no different as they headed to Edinburgh to play in the Boroughmuir 10s tournament.  They reached the cup final, where they beat Mackie 27-7 to take home the silverware.

The rest of the U15 squad had a friendly against Dumfries back at Millbrae, winning 50-21.

Meanwhile, the under-18 girls were at Scotstoun in Glasgow to take part in the girls' sevens tournament.  They reached the semi-finals after battling some miserable weather to put on an exciting display of rugby.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Melrose win Ayr Ladies 7s

Five teams gathered in the sun at Millbrae on Saturday afternoon for the inaugural Ayr Ladies 7s.

Organised by Ayr Ladies' assistant coach Robbie Fergusson, with proceeds going to Cancer Research UK, the tournament took on a round-robin format with all sides playing four games each.

Ayr kicked things off, facing south-west rivals Stewartry Sirens in the opening tie.  Jackie O'Neil scored the first try, with Laura Turner converting.  Lynda Morgan scored next, before Catherine Shennan and Turner crossed at the end of the half.

The Sirens scored two converted tries in the second half but they couldn't claw their way back into it.  Ayr Ladies 22 Stewartry Sirens 14.

The second tie was something of a marquee match, featuring two of the best ladies' teams in the country, Stirling County and Melrose.  They face each other every year for the Gentlemen's Cup at the Melrose 7s and always put on a fiercely competitive display, and their efforts at Millbrae were no different.  

The lead changed hands numerous times, but Melrose pulled away, scoring four converted tries to Stirling's three, of which one was converted.  Stirling County 17 Melrose Ladies 28.

The hosts were back on the pitch for tie three, facing some familiar faces in the Barbarians side, which was largely made up of other Ayr players.  Emily Irving, newly returned from a lengthy injury, opened the scores, before Turner took a try which was converted by Shennan.

Morgan streaked away for a try at the start of the second half, and Shennan then converted her own score.  Lisa Croniken repeated that feat, scoring under the posts and easily knocking the ball over the crossbar.  The game ended with Rachael Mulholland fighting her way through the Barbarians' defence to score and convert.  Barbarians 0 Ayr Ladies 38.

In the fourth tie, Stewartry Sirens gave a good account of themselves against Stirling County, fighting back after ending the first half with no points on the scoreboard.  County raced away to a 24-0 lead but the Sirens scored three tries, two of which were converted, to run their experienced opponents close.  Stewartry Sirens 19 Stirling County 24.

The Barbarians were up against it in tie five, facing a rampant Melrose, who ran in five tries.  Barbarians 0 Melrose Ladies 41.

Tie six was possibly the best of the day as Ayr Ladies gave everything to overcome Stirling County in a nail-biting fourteen minutes.

A league below their opponents in the fifteen-a-side game, Ayr were determined to ignore the gulf and give their fans something to shout about.  County got off to the better start with a converted try, but it wasn't long before Turner shot off to score under the posts and Shennan converted.  They led at half-time thanks to an unconverted try from Mulholland.

Stirling quickly got a converted try in the second half but Ayr didn't let their tails drop and showed great patience to regain possession before Croniken got the unconverted try to win the game and secure second place in the tournament.  Ayr Ladies 17 Stirling County 14.

Stewartry again proved themselves worthy opponents as they stopped Melrose from running riot in tie seven.  They were 0-19 down at half-time, but scored a well-worked try in the second half to ensure the Borderers didn't have things all their own way.  Stewartry Sirens 5 Melrose Ladies 26.

It was a tough day for the Barbarians, but even though they were comprehensively beaten by Stirling in the eighth tie, they looked like they enjoyed their run around in the sun.  Barbarians 0 Stirling County 38.

Tie nine was a step up for Ayr and they couldn't live with the speed and creativity of Melrose.  Player of the tournament Lisa Thomson put on a masterclass in sevens, angling her way through the defence to touch down several times.  Melrose eventually scored six tries and converted five to win the title.  Ayr Ladies 0 Melrose Ladies 40.

The final tie of the day saw Stewartry and the Barbarians get two tries each, with Stewartry's conversions of both their scores being the difference.  Stewartry Sirens 14 Barbarians 12.

Players, their support staff and fans then gathered in the clubhouse for dinner and the presentation of the prizes, including one to Ayr Ladies' Jackie O'Neil for try of the day.  Congratulations to all who took part and Robbie for organising a great day!

- Elena Hogarth

Friday, 8 May 2015

Ayr Ladies ready for first 7s tournament at Millbrae

Ayr Ladies are ready to welcome several teams to Millbrae for their first sevens tournament tomorrow.

Organised by Ayr Ladies' assistant coach Robbie Fergusson, the tournament will take a round robin format and feature Ayr, Stewartry, Stirling, Melrose and a Barbarians team for individuals wishing to play.

Anybody who was at the Melrose Sevens last month will have seen the compelling Gentlemen's Cup final between Melrose Ladies and Stirling; with both competing at Millbrae tomorrow, spectators are in for a treat.  Women's rugby throughout the country is on the up, with sevens an exciting part of the its growth, so this is the perfect chance to see some great games and support the sport.

With good weather forecast for tomorrow, it's sure to be a good day at Millbrae.  The tournament gets underway at 2pm and everyone is welcome.

2pm: Ayr v Stewartry;
2.20pm: Stirling v Melrose;
2.40pm: Barbarians v Ayr;
3pm: Stewartry v Stirling;
3.20pm: Melrose v Barbarians;
3.40pm: Ayr v Stirling;
4pm: Stewartry v Melrose;
4.20pm: Barbarians v Stirling;
4.40pm: Ayr v Melrose;
5pm: Stewartry v Barbarians.

Ayr squad:
1. Lisa Croniken, 2. Lynda Morgan, 3. Rachael Mulholland, 4. Jackie O'Neil, 5. Laura Turner, 6. Emily Irving, 7. Ann-Marie Connelly, 8. Lisa Main, 9. Phoebe McDowall, 10. Catherine Shennan.

Entry is £2 for spectators, with proceeds going to Cancer Research UK.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Lowe in Scotland squad for Glasgow 7s

Ayr's Gavin Lowe will have the chance to earn his fifth Scotland Sevens cap this weekend after being named in the squad for the sold-out Scottish leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

We wish Gav and his team-mates the best of luck at Scotstoun!

Read the full story from the SRU here.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

2014/15 Player Award Winners

One hundred and sixty-five people descended upon the Princess Royal Suite at Ayr Racecourse last night to celebrate another terrific season for Ayr RFC.

They enjoyed a Ginger Grouse drinks reception and a sumptuous three-course dinner before the season's awards were handed out to the players.  Everyone hit the dance floor to bring a great evening to an end.

Congratulations to all the worthy winners!

U16s Most Improved - Logan Richardson and James Baird
U16s Players of the Year - Calum Gaw and Matt Davidson

U18s Most Committed - Mark Conlan
U18s Most Improved - Callum Cook
U18s Players' Player of the Year - Johnny McCorkindale
U18s Player of the Year - Gregor Henry

Ladies U18s Player of the Year - Connie Griffiths

Ladies Young Player of the Year - Eilidh Thomson
Ladies Players' Player of the Year - Lynda Morgan
Ladies Player of the Year - Laura Turner

Millbrae Noted Achievement - Drew Craigie
Millbrae Player of the Year - Keith Hunter

2nd XV Young Player of the Year - Jack Preston
2nd XV Most Improved Player - Jack Brown
2nd XV Players' Player of the Year - Cammy Taylor
2nd XV Player of the Year - David Young

1st XV Young Player of the Year - Robbie Fergusson
1st XV Most Improved Player - Danny McCluskey
1st XV Players' Player of the Year - David Armstrong
1st XV Player of the Year - David Armstrong

Commitment to Ayr RFC - Sarah Sharkey

See the night's photos here.