Ayr Ladies secure league title after victory to Oban

Callum Kerr @ Millbrae

 

 Ayr Ladies followed the men’s Tennent’s National one title victory with one of their own this afternoon at a soaked Millbrae. Despite Oban Lorne controlling much of the match, Ayr’s clinical edge with little ball proved the difference – coasting to a 38-5 win.

Catherine Shennan kick-started proceedings with a try within the opening exchanges. A loose ball was gathered by the centre who had the easiest of run-ins. She followed the score by converting from the tee.

 

Oban had no intention of it being a walkover and found a level of defensive fortitude after the early blunder.

 

Although playing against the tide Ayr ran in their second after half an hour. Jo Jones picked up from a maul and swooped round the charging defenders to get over in the corner.

 

Despite the best of intentions, the conditions made it hard for either side to gather momentum. Oban enjoyed most of the territory but couldn’t convert their pressure into anything tangible.

 

Half-time: Ayr Ladies 12-0 Oban Lorne Women

 

Ayr bagged their third score on the 50-minute mark. After a handful of phases worked them to the line Jo Jones was on-hand to carry through contact and dive clear.

 

Ten minutes later the number eight wrapped up her hattrick, securing the all-important bonus point that would lead to league triumph twenty minutes later.

 

Oban deserved a score for their efforts and got their just reward on the 66th minute. The twelve opened their account with a nice score, but Alice Wilson responded with one of her own to scrub the difference.

 

Ayr ladies didn’t take their foot of the gas and a try in injury time was a poetic way to cap-off victory and secure the league title.

 

Full-time: Ayr Ladies 38-5 Oban Lorne

 

Unsurprisingly, Jo Jones’ three-try effort and all-round abrasiveness earned her player of the match honours.


Ayr put up record score over Melrose at Millbrae

Callum Kerr @ Millbrae

 

Ayr RFC extended their unbeaten run to twelve matches this afternoon, beating old foes Melrose 69-34 under the lights at Millbrae. Despite a slow start (which had them 0-12 down after eight minutes) once Ayr warmed up they didn’t look back, running in tries at a frightening rate.

 

The match had glimpses of fast-flowing attacking rugby – but it was set piece dominance and a rolling maul that Melrose didn’t have an answer for that put the hosts well ahead.  

(Image – George McMillan)

The Millbrae pitch managed to weather the frost that scuppered much of the rugby around the country – with no small thanks going to groundsman David Courtney for his efforts.

 

Melrose started sharp and made early in-roads off the back of multiple penalties. From a five-metre line-out a short pass to Craig Fairbairn split two tacklers to open the scoring. The conversion made it 0-7 after three minutes.

 

Matty Bertram added to the lead five minutes later. With a handful of bodies open on the wing, a cross-field kick found Bertram in acres of space to dive over.

 

From the restart Ayr started to pull themselves into the contest. On their first attack at the line Tom Lanni managed to wriggle through a handful of tackles to get over. Scotty Watson added two more to make it 7-12. Still in the ascendancy, Watson made it a two-point game with a routine penalty moments later.

 

Momentum continued to build for Grant Anderson’s men and soon they were in front. From a devastating rolling maul Peter McCallum was carried over for a score. Watson converted.

 

Melrose slowed the scoring with a penalty of their own but from the restart Joe Stafford opened the floodgates with a one-yard lunge to extend the lead.

 

Ayr’s next score couldn’t be any different. From inside his own half Rohan Pottie sliced through the line and up the field. A handful of covering defenders tried to bring him down but none could corral his swashbuckling run.

 

With a couple of minutes left in the half Melrose pulled a score back, but Stafford picked up his second in the final play to cap off a 38-10 run after the early blows.

 

Half-time: Ayr RFC 38-22 Melrose Rugby

 

You’d be forgiven for thinking the pace might have slowed after the interval but the opposite was true. Ayr knew all too well that they couldn’t give Melrose an opportunity to get back into the fixture so they kept their foot on the throttle.

 

Within minutes of the restart Angus North became the latest beneficiary of Ayr’s devastating line-out drive. As did Rohan Pottie, five minutes later. The quick scores made it fifty points in fifty minutes.

 

Melrose’s Lachlan Gaddie pulled back five points when a quick tap caught Ayr napping – but it was just damage limitation.

 

As the game approached the hour mark Tom Lanni became the third Ayr player to bag a brace. The winger looked swarmed when his opposite man wrapped him up but he had the strength to shrug him off and the acceleration to scorch clear from a standing start.

 

The rolling maul didn’t lose its effectiveness when Stuart Collier entered the match at hooker and soon he would be the next name to barrel over.

 

Holding on till the bitter end, Melrose scored with two minutes left to try finish on a high – but Scott Watson latched onto a stray pass in the midfield to rub salt in the wounds.

 

Full-time: Ayr RFC 69-34 Melrose Rugby.

 

There were a handful of names that could have walked off with Player of the Match honours, but the Millbrae old guard in the press box gave the nod to Tom Lanni, who’s attacking threat remained constant for the full eighty minutes.


Ayr run riot on ladies day curtain raiser

Callum Kerr @ Millbrae

Ayr 1XV cruised to a 62-11 victory over Glasgow Accies on their opening match of the season at Millbrae. Ladies Day is always a memorable day on the calendar and Ayr rewarded the hordes of supporters with a 10-try display under the blistering sun.

Image – George McMillan

 

Glasgow Accies were keen to squash the rapture of noise coming from the marquee and stand and did just that after two minutes. A slack bit of defending from Grant Anderson’s men gave the visitors three points from the tee in their first attack of the game.

 

Ayr answered back immediately, with Scott Watson strolling over five minutes later courtesy of an overlap.

 

In rather repetitive fashion, Accies added three more shortly after only to be followed up by a second Ayr try.

 

This time it was returning hero Craig Gossman, who rolled back the years to snipe out wide in his second debut for the club – a sight the Millbrae faithful have missed during his five-year hiatus.

 

Gossman made it a double shortly after with a similar trademark dart into the corner making it 15-6.

 

He got his hat-trick on the stroke of half time. Gossman started the move by putting Jamie Bova through the line with a lovely inside pass. Bova ran clear before drawing in the final defender and passing back to Gossman to finish.

 

Bova’s conversion concluded the scoring.

 

Half-time: Ayr RFC 22-6 Glasgow Accies

 

Fortunes turned for Ayr early in the second half. A yellow card to hat-trick hero Craig Gossman was followed by another to debutant Tom Martin. Just two minutes after the break Ayr would need to play the next ten minutes with thirteen on the field.

 

Despite the numerical differences Ayr were soon in again. From broken play Jamie Bova managed to switch on the afterburners and carve through the middle of the park. The centre sliced through several tacklers before leaping between the posts.

 

Bova doubled-up shortly after. After some lovely interplay in the midfield a looping pass landed in the hands of Bova out wide, who skipped past the final defender to score.

 

Glasgow Accies managed to get over for the first time shortly after. The visitors worked the ball back and forth well before creating enough space to worm over in the corner.

 

If a Craig Gossman try-fest wasn’t enough injection of nostalgia for the fans, Pete McCallum soon blasted his way over to add to the scoring. Since joining from the bench the club stalwart looked his fearful best with a number of carries of the base of the scrum. After numerous phases but them on Accies try line McCallum muscled his way over to extend the lead. Bova’s conversion made it 41-11.

 

A try on debut for Ayr/ Wellington Youth Academy Graduate Yeadon Davie extended the lead with five to play. Gossman, who is now at ten, found the winger on an inside line to canter over unchallenged!

 

Jamie Bova became the second man to run in a hat-trick, intercepting quickly after the restart to go the distance.

 

The final act was from Angus North, who earned a try on debut to make the tally ten and round off an emphatic victory!

 

Full-time: Ayr RFC 62-11 Glasgow Accies

 

Craig Gossman was named Press Player of the Match.


Stuart Fenwick moves on from Ayr Rugby, with Grant Anderson taking reins of 1XV

Stuart Fenwick will bid a fond farewell to Millbrae this off-season, stepping down as both 1XV Head Coach and Director of Youth and Women’s Rugby for Ayr Community Rugby Trust, to pursue a new career opportunity.

His head coaching role will be succeeded by former teammate and Millbrae legend Grant Anderson, who starts with immediate effect.

(Image – George McMillan)

 

Stuart has been involved in the club since 2003 when he joined as a player. He was involved in multiple league and cup successes including the club’s maiden premiership in 2008. The 38-year-old has headed up Ayr’s community work since retiring from playing and took the reins of the 1XV in 2019 following the inception of the-then FOSROC Super6 league. He has also been instrumental in the development of the club’s women’s team and girls section.

He leaves both roles to accept an exciting opportunity with NATS as an ATM Senior Validation Analyst.

His replacement is no stranger to Millbrae. Grant Anderson, the club’s most decorated servant, accumulated four Premiership titles and four Scottish Cups during his time in pink and black. He has been in a player/ coaching role with GHK since departing the club in 2020.

The former full-back inherits a youthful team on the rise. Fenwick’s men went from mid-table mediocrity last season to mounting a serious league challenge this campaign. The team finished in second place, narrowly falling short of Nat 1 winners Kelso.

The club would like to thank ‘Pid’ for all of his efforts across the last two decades and wish him all the best in his new role. Similarly, the club wishes the best of luck to the incoming Grant Anderson, who has all of our support.


Frazier Climo set to retire after Super Series swan song

Callum Kerr reflects on fifteen years of Ayr’s finest fly-half.

It’s a day the Millbrae faithful hoped would never come. Fifteen years after making his Ayr Rugby debut Frazier Climo will take to the field on Friday night for the final time as a player.

The 36-year-old has enjoyed two stints at the club, claiming three Scottish Premiership titles, two Scottish Cups and a bucket load of personal accolades.

(Image – George McMillan)

 

When arriving in Burns country in 2008 at the youthful age of 21, Frazier Climo made a quick impression for his swashbuckling attacking prowess and sniper scope of a left boot. Now in 2023 – having enjoyed a career that’s taken him from New Plymouth to Llanelli, Mount Taranaki to Millbrae – he chooses to call time on his own accord, still possessing those attributes that led the club to a maiden premiership in 2009.

 

Successes followed. A first ever Scottish Cup for Ayr the following year was the end of act one, with the kilted kiwi whisked back to his motherland for the chance to represent the Taranaki Bulls. A string of strong performances with New Plymouth Old Boys earned him a call up to the Bulls, where he played a part in the club’s first Ranfurly Shield win in over 15 years. Climo scored the opening try at Yarrow Park in their first defence, taking full advantage of an inside ball from a certain Beauden Barrett.

 

A return to Europe saw him sign with the Scarlets but after a short run which ended in a leg break and ankle dislocation, he returned to Ayrshire with the biggest prize of his first spell – his wife Michelle. Since returning in 2015 he’s forged a life in Kilmarnock, with Shelly and children Mila and Luke, whilst pulling on the pink and black hoops every weekend.

 

He added a second league title in 2017 before arguably his best spell at the club in 2019, leading Ayr to a historic double – their second in history. He’s a man who creates magical moments every time he touches the ball but there’s one that towers above the rest. The ‘19 double looked dead and buried when the clock struck red in the Scottish Cup Final at BT Murrayfield. Ayr trailed 24-25 to rivals Heriots, with Climo missing a touchline conversion to snatch victory moments before… but fate would conjure up one more chance – from the exact same spot – for immortality.

 

He made no mistake this time.

 

When chatting to press following the match and asked about the ice coursing through his veins following his earlier miss, he shrugged it off in a typical nonchalant manner: “How often do you see me miss from the same spot twice?”

In the dawn of the Super6 era he opted to stay put, assisting close friend and work colleague Stuart Fenwick in a player/ coach role with the 1st XV. He moved on to the Bulls last year in the same capacity.

 

His contribution to the town doesn’t stop when the jersey comes off. Since his return he’s worked for Ayr Community Rugby Trust, predominately overseeing the Ayr Youth Academy system developing the club’s brightest talent. Long after he’s hung up his boots his effect will be recognised in tomorrow’s x-factor fly halves, with the likes of Richie Simpson and more benefitting from his tutelage.

 

After Friday evening he walks away from playing duties but will remain in the Bulls coaching set up and in his wider role with Ayr Community Rugby Trust.

 

How poetic that he’ll get his last dance in front of a home crowd this Friday in the FOSROC Super Series Sprint Final. Better yet, it is up against his old foes Heriots. It had to be Heriots.

 

Once more he’ll have an opportunity to add to his trophy cabinet. Once more we’ll get to watch him do what he does best. Once more.

 

Friday’s match kicks off at 19.35 at Millbrae and it would only be fitting that the town rallies behind him in his final farewell.


2020/23 Senior Men's Award Winners

Callum Kerr.

On Saturday afternoon ahead of the Ayrshire Bulls vs Heriots match, the 2022/23 Senior Men’s Awards Lunch took place inside the Millbrae clubhouse.

Awards were given out for U16s through to 1XV, with a separate evening planned for Women’s and girl’s youth sides due to other commitments and fixture clashes.

The awards culminated in Ross McCorkindale and Michael Kirk sharing 1XV Player of the Year honours after a historic campaign which saw them challenge for Premiership promotion and reach the Scottish Cup Semi-Finals.

 

Head coach Stuart Fenwick expressed the following: “It was a fantastic day celebrating the achievements of our male U16s, U18s and senior sides after what was another successful season for the whole club.

 

“Senior selections were incredibly difficult this year due to the young talent consistently coming through and challenging for positions.

 

“With the senior section using 78 players across the season between the 1st XV and Ayr/Millbrae the future is bright.

 

The full list of award winners are as follows:

 

U16s Winners
Player of The Year: Aaron McLauchlan
Player’s Player of the Year: Charlie Windows
Most Improved Player of the Year: Freddie Bradley

U18s winners
Player of the Year: Euan Doak
Player’s player of the Year: Dan McKinlay
Most improved Player of the Year: Cole Graham

Ayr Millbrae
Player of the Year: Cam Muir
Player’s Player of the Year: Ross Bulloch
Most Improved Player of the Year: Jamie Chalmers

1st XV
Player’s Player of the Year: Cam Reece
Young Player of the Year: Rohan Pottie
Club Man of the Year: Jamie Bova
Dava Cup: Cam Reece
Player’s of the Year: Michael Kirk and Ross McCorkindale

 

Well done to all of the award winners on the day.


Marr get the better of Ayr in Scottish Cup Derby

Callum Kerr @ Millbrae.

Marr Rugby ran out 10-25 victors in an enthralling Scottish Cup Semi-Final encounter at Millbrae. The Premiership side went into the match hot favourites, but trailing 5-3 at half time with a red card against them they relied on a strong final forty to get over the line.

(Image – George McMillan)

It was clear from the off that this was a local derby. Marr started sharp, showing their Premiership pedigree but Ayr were unperturbed and sprung into life to weather the early attack and fire some blows of their own. It was nip and tuck, with no quarter given.

 

Within 15 minutes the ferocity had spilled into a scuffle and a man from both sides earned a spot in the sin bin. Although all 30 men ended up in the debacle it was Jamie Bova of Ayr and Ben Johnstone of Marr who were appointed to sit out for ten minutes.

 

The first points of the match came after 20 minutes, with Colin Sturgeon of Marr deciding to slow down the pace of the game and convert a penalty into three points.

 

Marr had the upper hand at the breakdown which allowed them to exit from a couple of attacks, but with the interval looming it was Stuart Fenwick’s men who crossed the line first. Ben Johnstone, on his return from the bin, flagrantly stopped a quick tap near the line resulting in a second yellow to end his afternoon. With newfound wind in their sails Ayr went to the corner and scored from the line out. The pack opted not to maul and Rohan Pottie broke free to catch the ball in space and muscle over.

 

Half-time: Ayr RFC 5-3 Marr Rugby

 

Marr resumed the game with a spring in their step despite the numerical disadvantage. Territory turned into a penalty which Sturgeon put them ahead with, before the fly-half added a score of his own. Ayr now trailed 5-13 after 50 minutes.

 

Marr continued to flex their muscle and scores in quick succession from Andrew Acton and Jake Jacobsen stretched their advantage.

 

Ayr’s woes continued and an injury to Ross McCorkindale meant re-shuffling the back line. With his brother Jonny moving to scrum-half, Ayr U18s star Jack Craig took to the field to make his 1XV debut.

 

Ayr thrusted themselves back into contention with a score on 70 minutes through Stuart Collier, who barrelled over from the back of a maul.

 

The try gave them a late surge of energy but Marr weathered all late onslaughts to hold out.

 

Full-time: Ayr RFC 10-25 Marr RFC.

 

Rohan Pottie was named Press Player of the Match.

 

Best of luck to Marr in the Scottish Cup Premiership Final.


Kelso Muscle their Way to Home Victory over Ayr

Callum Kerr @ Poynter Park

 

Kelso Rugby ran out 24-10 victors in a top of the table clash with Ayr at Poynder Park this afternoon. A controlling performance at the set piece and breakdown proved the difference for the hosts, despite Ayr looking the sharper side in spells.

 

Kelso started and finished strong but a 16-10 stalemate which lasted for over half an hour made it a captivating watch for both sets of fans.

(Photo – George McMillan)

 

Ayr enjoyed pressure from the off but resilient defence from Kelso kept them at bay. Having weathered early pressure, they managed to score on their first venture into the opposition half. Frankie Robson broke through the line and did well to shrug off a handful of attempted tackles to open the scoring. Liam Herdmen made it 7-0 after as many minutes.

 

Jamie Bova had a chance at narrowing the gap moments later but couldn’t land a penalty from deep in the Kelso half.

 

Kelso extended their lead with two penalties of their own in quick succession – with Herdman taking advantage of some ill-discipline at the breakdown.

 

With the clock marching towards the interval Ayr finally got just reward for their territory. A handful of barnstorming runs from Rohan Pottie put them in touching distance before Scott Watson darted clear in the corner. The conversion from Jamie Bova was pushed just wide.

 

A second try minutes later thrusted Ayr back into contention. Jamie Bova did well to acknowledge space out wide and pulled off a crafty kick-pass to the chasing Zac Howard. Howard hit the ball mid-stride to dive clear.

 

A third penalty for Herdman concluded the half, pushing the home side’s lead to six.

 

Half-time: Kelso 16-10 Ayr

 

Kelso commanded control over the fixture for more than twenty minutes after the restart, rarely leaving the Ayr 22. Despite the abundance of pressure Stuart Fenwick’s men successful absorbed the onslaught until cracking in the 71st minute. A penalty in front of the posts allowed Herdman an easy opportunity at three points – he made no mistake.

 

The final blow for Ayr came in the dying embers, with a late score from Bruce McNeil sealing victory for the hosts.

 

Full-time: Kelso Rugby 24-10 Ayr Rugby.


Ayrshire Bulls appoint Graeme Ferguson New GM

Ayr Rugby is delighted to announce the appointment of Graeme Ferguson as Ayrshire Bulls General Manager after a thorough recruitment process in tandem with Scottish Rugby.

(Photo – George McMillan)

 

‘Fergie’ is a well-known face at Millbrae. A former Ayr 1XV captain and Millbrae player, he more recently sat on the club’s general committee as Minis Convener.

Talking of the appointment, Bulls’ Chairman Billy McHarg said: “Having received 18 quality applications and having conducted interviews with SRU’s Grant McKelvey (Head of Performance Programs) in attendance, Graeme Ferguson stood out as the best candidate for the role.

“Graeme brings a wealth of experience to the position with an impressive commercial track record and 20 years of account management experience”.

The bulk of Graeme’s professional experience was earned at commercial printers’ Kestrel Press. Starting as a Client and Development Manager, he moved into the role of Sales and Operations Director in April 2012 – a position he held for a decade. He joins the Bulls from Marketing agency CoshNiven, where he’s spent the last ten months as Account Director.

A long-serving member of the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce, Graeme already has well established relationships with many of the club’s sponsors which will allow him to hit the ground running.

Graeme starts his new position on Monday 6 of March. The club wish him every success in this role.

If you have any sponsorship queries please contact the club at: [email protected]


Glen Tippett Joins Warriors

Ayr Rugby and the Ayrshire Bulls can confirm that Glen Tippett has been appointed Head of Commercial for the Glasgow Warriors and will move on from his current role as Ayrshire Bulls General Manager.

(Photo – George McMillan)

 

Glen has been a familiar face at Ayr Rugby for more than two decades as a member, player and coach. In 2019 he joined on a full-time basis, predominately overseeing Ayr’s commercial operations as well as logistical and managerial duties.  During his tenure the club has gone from strength-to-strength bringing in a wealth of new sponsorship. He has also been key to positioning the club in the heart of the community with local partnerships and initiatives. A fruitful period of investment off the pitch was replicated with success on it – with Ayr winning a league and cup double and the Bulls a maiden FOSROC Super6 title during this time.

 

Speaking of his departure, President Drew Young said: “Glen will be sorely missed from Millbrae but we are equally delighted that he’s been given such a great opportunity. We wish him all the best and thank him for the tireless work he did for the club”.

 

Welcoming his appointment, Glasgow Warriors Manging Director Al Kellock, said: “Glen was the stand-out applicant in our recruitment process for the Head of Commercial. Particularly because of his successes growing Ayrshire Bulls’ portfolio of sponsors.

 

“He also brings a wealth of knowledge from his time working in the community game. This is a valuable asset as we strive to continue to have an impact in the lives of people in our city and across the west.”

 

Although no longer involved in an official capacity, Glen will still be spotted at Millbrae when free, cheering on both Ayr and the Bulls.

 

With his departure announced Ayr Rugby has an exciting opportunity for a General Manager to join the Ayrshire Bulls. For more information click on the link below: