Island history made with first ever Primary Rugby match in Stornoway

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Stornoway RFC hosted its first ever primary age fixture at Bayhead last Saturday against GHA RFC (formerly Clarkston and Glasgow Southern), the top club in the south side of Glasgow.

The small group of Stornoway coaches, assisted by under 18 players, have made a determined effort to develop primary age rugby and now regularly coach up to 30 Primary 5-7 pupils on Friday afternoons, continuing the work started by Shen Campbell at Laxdale Primary.

The squad of fifteen P6/7 boys have worked hard to learn the skills required to play a full contact match over recent months and they were really excited about taking part in their first game.

The game at this level is played for 40 minutes on a pitch up to 70m x 40m, 10-a-side, and the laws are designed to encourage running and handling rugby.

The Stornoway boys ultimately lost 10-1 but put on a tremendous display in front of a big crowd, who created a fantastic atmosphere throughout. This against a team who have been playing rugby for 7 years and train and play up to 4 times a week for school and club.

GHA won the first half 5-0 but were made to work hard for every try. The GHA team used their experience and knowledge of the modified laws for this age group to good effect and kept the home side under constant pressure.

But the “you shall not pass” attitude of the home side kept the score respectable on this reduced size pitch and high tempo paced format of the game.

The half time break allowed the boys to take stock, concentrating on better ball retention in contact.

With this taken on board the 2ndhalf saw Stornoway with more opportunities to run at their opponents producing a much more even and flowing game.

Following a few near things from the backs and some terrific drives by the forwards Sam Ross found space to attack and when it looked like he’d been caught he managed to wriggle free to score in the corner, to deafening cheers from the home support. GHA went on to win the 2nd half 5-1, but apart from one long range breakaway they were again made to work hard for their points.

It seems very unfair to pick players out when everyone excelled, but the tackling of Joe & Sam Ross and Lewis & James Mackay in open play was exceptional and one bullocking run by Craig Macritchie that made 20m was also noteworthy. Club chairman, Colin Maciver, made a great job of keeping the game flowing with his light touch refereeing. Luckily he wore a bright yellow shirt to distinguish himself from the players!

This was an historic occasion for the club and thanks are due to GHA for travelling up to the island to play the game - quite a challenge for the Stornoway boys first match. Both teams were complemented by many watching on the sporting manner in which the game was played.

Thanks are also due to ex-Stornoway player Joe Engebretsen for supplying the team with new strips - and also one of the players!

Stornoway Squad: Charlie Morrison (Sgoil an Taobh Siar), Craig Macritchie, Lewis Mackenzie, Finlay Gillies, Donnie Macdonald (Sgoil an Rubha), Nils Engebretsen, Rihards Reinfelds (Stornoway Primary), Sam Ross, Joe Ross, Roddy Maciver (Sgoil nan Loch), Nathan Rogers, Daniel Jones (Laxdale Primary), Lewis Mackay, James Mackay (Shawbost Primary), Keith Bray (Tong Primary)