By Dale Eaton (@DaleEaton_)
While most football clubs across Scotland have been able to return on some level, the majority of Scotlands rugby clubs haven’t been so lucky. Despite this, Ayr Rugby Club has been keeping their spirits high.
Ayr Rugby Club last played a game back in March when their season, like all sports around the world, came to an unexpected halt. Ayr Rugby Club general manager Glen Tippett and his team were all set to face Heriot’s Rugby when the news of national lockdowns began to break. “It was on the Thursday this all started to break about going into lockdown and then on the Friday morning, Heriot’s sent us an email to say look we’ve got boys that have got concerns about travelling and the bus company and blah blah blah we’re not travelling.
“And since then it’s just gone from one stage to another.” Tippett added, “When we didn’t play Heriot’s that day basically the following week the club was shut completely and it has been until we started to come out of lockdown.”
With the rules and regulations constantly changing Tippett is aware of the need to keep on top of things, “We’ll just have to adjust, we’ve done that so far and you’ve got to adjust and move forward with things and try and be as positive as we can. No one’s got a blueprint here that says this is what you’ve got to do, this is what you need to do. We’re learning, adjusting and adapting as we go through this.”
Unfortunately for Ayr, it looks like their wait to play competitive rugby will continue for a long time, as Tippett laid out the time scale for their return. “It looks like for Super6 the indications are that we’ll be back playing at the end of March-April time… I think for our adults and our youth, we’ll play rugby in the first half of 2021 but it won’t be in competition it will likely be local friendlies. I think their competition will be starting around August-September time next year”
Despite this long break from competitive action, Tippett is looking at the positives, “Those local friendlies I think is another real opportunity for us to work with our local clubs, at youth and adult level, play games and create those friendships that we’ve all had through rugby and be able to catch up with people.”
While choosing to remain optimistic, Tippett does have some concerns about players falling out of rugby during the long break. “I genuinely have a concern that if we don’t get to play rugby in the first half of the season, how many people are we going to lose from the game? Maybe not so much with us as we’ve tried to keep things going, but just as a nation and as a sport, how many people will drift away from the game.”
One of the main things that has helped the club remain positive throughout the pandemic has been the attitudes of players and their attendances at training. “Recently when we’ve been in level 4 effectively all we have been allowed to do, for those that live in South Ayrshire, is straight line running and we’ve still had people turning up to do that. So for us it has been a real positive that our members are signed up, our kids want to keep training, our adults want to keep training and so do our ladies section and we still have our volunteers heavily involved.”
Not only have attendances been high amongst current players but Tippett was pleased to find out that some sections are growing in numbers. “Our girls section is actually growing in numbers which is fantastic.”
The players have been very positive about being able to train despite not having the freedom to train as normal. “People have talked about how it helps with their mental health, their physical health, it’s keeping them with their routine and it’s keeping them in contact and seeing people when they turn up, so there’s that little bit of normality.”
Stewart Fenwick, the director of youth and female rugby at Ayr Rugby Club has been very pleased to see senior coaches and players helping out the club’s youth sections when they are unable to train themselves. Fenwick said, “We’ve been pleased to get some of our Super6 coaches down, they’ve done a great job of getting themselves around the youth sections and helping out as well as some of our club 15 players, they’ve been helping out while they’ve been unable to train. They’ve all been really keen to stay engaged with the club and get down and support their youth sections.”
To find out exactly what has been going on at the club check out this package!