On Friday morning Ayr Rugby and the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) signed a unique partnership which was backed by some of the biggest name's in the sport.

With the "Long Lunch" event at Ayr Racecourse a fitting backdrop, former British and Irish Captain's Gavin Hastings and Brain O'Driscoll were alongside former Scotland Captain Andy Nicol in supporting the partnership. As part of the partnership, four UWS students will benefit from newly created undergraduate internships giving them the opportunity to work closely with Ayr Rugby across a number of areas including strength and conditioning, performance analysis and marketing and promotion. These unique internships will form part of the students’ degree programmes at UWS and will allow them to gain experience at all levels within a competitive club, as well as supporting Ayr Rugby in key areas. The club is also keen to develop learning modules with UWS for youth rugby, adult rugby and Super 6 players across a variety of areas including mental health, adopting a growth mind-set and social media training, as well as more classic sporting topics such as nutrition and strength and conditioning. Ayr Rugby will also benefit from access to UWS’ cutting-edge facilities including its Biomechanics Lab and high-spec Environmental Chamber at its Lanarkshire Campus. Added to this, the club will tap into research and expertise from UWS academics in the fields of Sport Coaching & Development and Sport & Exercise Science. Accompanying the three former Lions to launch the collaboration were UWS Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Craig Mahoney, Ayr Rugby Club President Billy McHarg and Paul Davidson, Chairman of Ayr Community Rugby Trust. Joining them were two of the four UWS students who will benefit from the newly created internships, third year Sport & Exercise Science students Keira Lindsay and Mairead Slevin. Professor Craig Mahoney expressed his delight on the partnership with: “We are delighted to be able to announce our partnership with Ayr Rugby. This is an excellent fit for us as sport plays a key role at UWS and is proven to be extremely beneficial to the physical and psychological health and wellbeing of students. To be able to work closely with one of Scotland’s top rugby clubs is truly exciting. “The expertise of our academics, combined with access to our fantastic facilities, will ensure Ayr Rugby coaches and players are able to further maximise their already stellar coaching, training and development. Whilst the newly created internships will give selected students the chance to make a real and tangible difference to a highly successful rugby club.” Scottish Rugby’s Sean Lineen, who is leading the on-field delivery of Super 6 said: “This is a significant new strategic partnership which will benefit both Ayr and UWS through shared knowledge and opportunities. One of the ambitions of Super 6 is to encourage the clubs involved to develop mutual partnerships with tertiary education and this agreement between Ayr and UWS is a great example of how this new initiative can open doors and generate a range of business opportunities.” President Billy McHarg is also excited about what the future holds: "This is a real honour for Ayr Rugby to be working in partnership with UWS. As Super 6 is a new and exciting competition with the aim of improving playing, coaching and refereeing standards, we see UWS as a perfect partner to work with, so we can learn, improve and take the whole club and surrounding areas to the next level. "With UWS being located in the centre of town, there is a real opportunity for Ayr Rugby and the Trust to build on our community work and improve the way we contribute towards health, education and employment through rugby for the whole community".