Stornoway Rugby Club head into the new North Caledonian Division Two North season facing a huge rebuilding task with club coaches battling dwindling player numbers.
The first fixture of the new campaign sees Ross Sutherland make the trip to Stornoway this coming Saturday (September 6) with Stornoway coach Angus ‘Bubble’ Mackay determined to put together a new team which can battle against the drop and retain their league place.
“We have struggled the past few years but have managed to scrape through keeping our place in the league but that’s going to be a tall order this season,” he admitted.
“If we are lucky enough to get the right personnel out on the field and prepare well, we will give teams a decent game, but we don’t have enough depth in the squad and if a couple drop out, we are really struggling to find 15 players, home or away.”
A raft of player retirements coupled with injuries and others relocating have decimated the player pool which has been left with a mixture of aging players and a large number who lack the experience of the game at this level.
New players are always welcome at the club and Mackay has confirmed that a few new faces have joined up in recent weeks.
“We have seen recently a number of lads come back in to rugby, boys that had played in school and are now trying to give it another go,” he continued.
“We are also grateful to a number of local footballers that have come along and given it a shot, with the football season now over I’m hoping a few of them will get involved over the winter.”
Anyone interested in helping Stornoway rugby is invited to Bayhead on Tuesday evening at 6.30pm.
The picture for junior rugby is far healthier as Stornoway RFC, after a break of a year, have again entered an U15 Boys team in the Scottish Rugby Caledonia North U15 League.
The bulk of the team are graduates from the Nicolson Institute ‘School of Rugby’, an SRU initiative incorporated in the school curriculum which provides five periods of rugby each week, coordinated and delivered by PE Teacher and SYRFC player Darren Beattie with support from the SRU and Stornoway RFC.
This included learning the skills of rugby, the ethics involved, nutrition and strength and conditioning.
They have now completed their two years of ‘school of rugby’ and now the boy’s rugby education will continue with Stornoway RFC under the guidance of Director of Rugby, Iain ‘GG’ Campbell, Head Coach, Angus ‘Bubble’ MacKay, Youth Coach Iain McFee and our other coaches and volunteers to further develop their skills and introduce them to competitive rugby.
This season will see them play a full programme of fixtures up to the festive break with their first game to be played this weekend against Huntly RFC at Bayhead with an 11am kick off.
Stornoway Rugby Club would also like to take the opportunity to thank sponsors: Wild West Beef Jerky, Woody’s Parcels, The Star Inn, McLaughlin Plant Hire, Duncan MacKay & Sons, Lewis Diving Services and D.R. MacLeod Ltd for their continued support - without which we could not provide boys and girls with the opportunity to play rugby.
In other hugely positive rugby news Stornoway Rugby Club teens David Campbell and Dean Drummond continued their rise through the SRU Performance Pathway. The pair travelled over to Inverness to meet up with their Highland & Island teammates for a training session and a home match against Central in the second and final round of inter-district matches.
With the Highlanders weakened by injuries to key players and Central benefitting from the return of a powerful group of Dollar Academy players, the home side struggled to develop a strong platform to play from.
In the end they lost eight tries to two, although they did finish on a strong note by scoring the final try of the match after working the ball the full length of the pitch through multiple phases against the driving rain.
David again captained the side and because of the shortages in personnel played in three different positions through the match - flanker, No. 8 and 2nd row.
Dean played the second half at inside centre ultimately taking over the kicking duties, slotting over the final conversion for his first points in representative rugby.
Both boys must now wait to hear if they’ve made it to the next phase of the SRU performance programme, a call up to trials for the Caledonian Regional squad.