Ayr get up-and-running with Ladies Day win

The new-look Ayr RFC took to their second game of the season at Millbrae against Watsonians on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, which saw a game of two very different halves as Ayr fought back in the second to secure an impressive victory over the Edinburgh outfit.

After only thirty seconds Ayr managed to open the scoring with an excellent try coming from full-back Johnny McCorkindale.

 

A good kick-off allowed Ayr to hit hard on the halfway line where Bova, seizing the opportunity, made a piercing run and broke free before his clever offload freed up McCorkindale to touch down for the try. Bova’s conversion was denied by the bar.

 

Watsonians responded in kind, managing to get over the line in the first attempt after picking themselves up from the early blow, but were thwarted as Ayr held them up. They couldn’t be kept out on the second attempt as Richardson finished a great attacking move from the visitors. Kerr Stoddart nailed the conversion.

 

Ayr continued pressuring - but the visitors continue to keep them out with strong defence. On the quarter mark, both divides of the Millbrae crowd had plenty to shout about with a very physical back and forth approach to the beginning of the first half.

 

Ayr managed to turn defence into attack when Zac Howard broke with Mccorkindale hot on his heels. The wing managed to collect his grubber before passing straight to the full-back who continued on a marauding run, beating off one, then two, then three defenders to score an emphatic try. Bova stepped up and added the extras.

 

Despite an excellent try being scored, a moment of panic struck as Ayr miscommunication at the back gifted the Edinburgh outfit a try, with Watsonians latching onto a loose pass and grabbing the points. The conversion flew wide and the score stood at 12-12.

 

Despite heroic defensive efforts from the likes of youngsters James Baird and Scott Clelland the Edinburgh side pushed through via Tom Richardson, finishing off a counter-attack. Stoddart’s kick skewed wide again leaving the score at Ayr 12-17 Watsonians.

 

HT AYR 12 WATS 17

 

As the second half kicked off, Ayr hit back in similar stunning style as Johnny McCorkindale popped upper his hat-trick, finishing the phases by crashing through the tackle in bull-like fashion to dot down.

 

Colliers’ introduction to the game injected that little bit more energy into the team, with scrums looking even better than before and Ayr looking ever so confident in the opening of the second half.

 

As they say, start as you mean to go on, and that's exactly what Ayr did with Zac Howard getting himself over the line and more points on the board. Jamie Bova drew the oncoming player in before he releasing Howard through a gap in the line.

 

Before you knew it they were in again! Bova decided to put his own stamp on proceedings by jiving inside to beat his man. He then obliged by comfortably finishing off and converting his try to the jubilation of the Millbrae faithful, making it Ayr 31-17 Watsonians

 

Watsonians looked to be feeling the pressure as they gave away yet another penalty, which this time Bova decided to kick for points, giving the home side a healthy 17-point lead. After coming agonizingly close just minutes earlier, Bova was delighted to orchestrate yet another great try for Ayr. Another piercing run from the 12 allowed James Armstrong to follow up and fend off the defenders to touch down. Bova finished off with a conversion.

 

Watsonians hit back with Stoddart making the yards before his teammate finished off the move by sliding through the backline and over the try line. Stoddart converted to make the score 41-24.

 

There must have be something in the water at half time, as James Pinkerton added yet another try to the mix when he cannoned his way through the defence after Andy Morrison’s pass caught him on the charge. The score sent the Ladies Day crowd into jubilation, capping off an excellent second half of rugby in Alloway.

 

Despite a heroic hat-trick from Johnny Mccorkindale and a bruising 80 minutes from work horse Cam Reece, it was Jamie Bova who picked up Slaters Menswear Man of the match with a towering performance. The centre’s threatening runs inspired Ayr’s second-half blowout.

 

Ayr travel to the capital next week as they face Boroughmuir on Saturday 14th September.


Ayr Ladies defeated in Charity Bowl Clash

In what proved to be a dramatic encounter, Ayr Ladies will feel bereaved of a win after shipping 34 second-half points to a well-drilled Cartha Ladies team who simply wanted it more. Despite a frantic opening which saw Andrew Duncan's Ladies up nineteen points in eight minutes, the home side managed to re-group and take control of the fixture, winning 34-26.

The rain arrived right on time for kick-off, dampening spectator spirits but not wobbling a determined Ayr. Skipper for the day, Catherine Shennan, provided a dream start when she glided over out wide before the clock had recorded a minute. A touchline conversion split the uprights to further the damage.

 

The restart only provided more upset for Cartha. Straight from the off Ayr pushed their way back into the half before Gemma McIvor slipped through an attempted tackle and ran clear from 40 yards out. This time the conversion skewed wide.

 

The salt in the wounds came from Danni Hands. Having already asserted herself in the match, working in tandem with engine-room partner Emma Turner, Hands only needed a sniff of the line to charge home with no regard to the straggling tacklers. Shennan made no mistake to take a 19 point lead.

 

Bruised, but still fighting, Cartha managed to wrangle back control and keep their opponents at bay. As heavy rain plagued proceedings the error-count grew, with neither side adding to the scoreboard before half time.

 

For Ayr, a first-half flurry of knocks to seasoned campaigners such as Connie Griffiths and Erin McSorley unloaded the bench before the interval.

 

Half-Time: Cartha Queens Park Ladies 0-19 Ayr Ladies.

 

Playing poetically to the script of "a game of two halves", the home side returned to the pitch with a fire in their belly. In a mirror image to Ayr's scintillating start, Cartha struck three times within the first fifteen minutes. Their kicker, mimicking Shennan, Slotted her first and third conversion to tie the game with 55 minutes played.

 

Contrary to Ayr's earlier form, Cartha didn't stop at 19. A further two unanswered put them ten ahead, with Ayr's only chance to stop the bleeding a blunder over the line from Hands, who had now swapped to number eight.

 

A third score looked ominous for Ayr, but a late try from Catherine Clarke narrowed the deficit. Too little, too late.

 

Full-Time: Cartha Queens Park Ladies 34-26 Ayr Ladies.

 

Despite an enralling, and at points brutal, encounter the spirit of the day wasn't lost on anyone in attendance. All proceeds went to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and both sets of players enjoyed a range of entertainment courtesy of great hosts. The result means Cartha take the Charity Bowl and will look to defend it in 12 months time when they travel back to Millbrae.


Murchie names his Super6 Backroom Staff

Head Coach Peter Murchie has pieced together his support staff which will aid him in the inaugural Super6 season starting later in the year. An extensive recruitment process was carried out, whittling down over 90 applicants to a handful of successful candidates. Those selected include a balance of familiar faces, along with some fresh blood. Selected are:

Forwards Coach – Pat MacArthur
Player/ Skills Coach – Frazier Climo
Strength and Conditioning Coach – Alex Boyle
Head of Rugby Operations – Gordon Kotze
Team Manager – Douglas Stanley
Team Doctor – Graham Hollins
Head Physiotherapist – Jessica Alexander

 

Pat MacArthur – The former Scotland 15s and 7s cap remains Pete Murchie’s right hand man. One of the remaining legends of ’09, Pat has put his stamp on the Ayr pack over the last few years and will hope they continue in their rich vein of form.

 

Frazier Climo – “It’s through the middle, the pink panthers are roaring” still rings through the ears of the Millbrae faithful and the talismanic ten will be responsible for passing some of the expertise he showed that day onto his teammates. He will look to lead on the pitch yet again, whilst picking up a coaching role under Murchie.

 

Alex Boyle – The newest face in Pete Murchie’s backroom staff, Boyle joins Ayr with thirteen years of experience in the S&C field. During this time he has worked with the likes of SportScotland, Tennis Scotland, the Scottish Women’s National Football Team and Scottish Rugby’s National Age-Grade System.

 

Gordon Kotze – A familiar face around Millbrae, Gordon Kotze coached the U18s for a four-year stint before taking the reins of the 2ndXV for the same time period. A former SRU new coach of the Year, Kotze will manage the logistical side of the Super6 squad alongside player communication. He ended his tenor with the 2ndXV last season, finishing in second place with a points difference of +260.

 

Douglas Stanley – The heartbeat of Ayr RFC for almost five decades, ‘Stanners’ joined Ayr in 1970. Since then he has done it all as a player, coach, ref and most recognisably team manager. Doug will reprise his role, putting to bed any murmurs of retirement.

 

Graham Hollins – Another return, ‘Doc’ has been heading up the club’s medical team formally for twelve years. Before then he spent three years assisting his predecessor Brian Scobie.

 

Jessica Alexander – After four years at the club assisting Helen Reid, Jessica will move into the head Physio role with the Super6 squad. Originally plying her trade at Ardrossan Accies, Jessica learned from the then-Glasgow Warriors doctor Gerry Haggerty.

 

Head Coach Peter Murchie is delighted with his appointments, stating: “Each individual brings their own strengths within their specific field.

 

“We have been working hard collectively in preparation for the start of the inaugural Super6 season”.

(Peter Murchie at BT Murrayfield before his Scottish Cup Final Triumph over Heriots. Image George McMillan)


Andrew Duncan Names his Captain

Ayr Ladies head coach Andrew Duncan has named Catherine Shennan captain for the 2019-20 season.

A former Ayr Community Rugby Trust Modern Apprentice and Women's and Girl's Development Officer, Shennan will become the team's fourth captain taking over from Louise McLaughlan. She was vice-captain last season.

 

Shennan started her captaincy in remarkable fashion scoring within 30 seconds of their weekend fixture against Cartha. She also contributed three conversions in the 34-26 loss.

 

The role of vice will be taken on by Erin McSorley, who is also a former Community Trust Modern Apprentice.


McNae Unveiled as "Little Ladies" Main Sponsor

Ayr Rugby are delighted to announce that McNae Agricultural Engineers have become the U12 girl's main sponsor.

McNae are a local agent for tractors in the area.

 

Director Neil McNae was at Milbrae earlier in the week to launch the sponsorship, accompanied by a Fendt 724 tractor.

 

Neil, who’s daughter Sarah plays in the U12s, was attracted to the team after seeing the hard work put in by the youngsters: “This has been their first real year and the fact sixteen girls turned up wanting to play rugby and have all attended practically every training session, every game, it’s encouraging.

 

“Anything I can do to help, I’m happy with that”.

 

Neil also believes it is great that the success of the team might inspire other girls to pick up the oval ball: “I just think it is great. Why should the girls not be encouraged to play the game as well as men?

 

“Giving them as much opportunity as possible is the way forward and the fact Ayr are pioneering this is great”.

 

Connie Griffiths, Ayr’s Women’s and Girls Development Officer, was also in attendance for the launch and matched Neil’s ambition: “The future is bright. I want to see these girls progress through the age grades to one day be representing the senior women’s squad”.

 

Away from the pitch Connie also sees how the U12s team is developing individuals: “It’s an age where the girls are going from primary to secondary, so they might be splitting up from close friends. This team allows them to have a consistent group of girls they see weekly and can chat with and learn from”.

PHOTO - Neil at the wheel! McNae Agricultural Engineers Director Neil McNae pictured with the U12 girls, Women's and Girls Development Officer Connie Griffiths (left) and Coach Lee Steward (right). Photo by Susie Hay.


Gregor Henry named Club XV Captain

Club 1st XV Head Coach Stuart Fenwick has named Gregor Henry his captain for the 2019/20 season. He has also confirmed three pre-season ties in August for both the 1st XV and 2XV.

Henry is a product of the Ayr RFC youth system and captained his U18s side a few years ago. Since then the back row has seamlessly transferred into senior rugby and has enjoyed two league titles and one Scottish Cup with Ayr 1st XV.

 

Speaking of his new captain, Fenwick said: "Gregor's tireless work rate is fantastic. He is a leader both on and off the field and someone the full squad and coaching staff have a lot of respect for.

 

"To have someone of his stature and ability leading the Club XV next season speaks volumes of the ambition this group have".

 

Stuart Fenwick's first action at the helm of Ayr RFC will come in August with three friendlies, all of which are away from home.

 

10/08/19 - Ardrossan Accies 1s & 2s vs Ayr RFC 1s & 2s. K/O time TBC.

17/08/19 - Newton Stewart 1s & 2s vs Ayr RFC 1s & 2s. K/O time TBC.

24/08/19 - Banbridge 1s & 2s vs Ayr RFC 1s & 2s. K/O time 14.30.

Gregor celebrating his 2017 BT Premiership triumph with Director of Rugby Jim Lymburn. Photo by George McMillan.


Scottish Cup Final - Ayr 27-25 Heriots

‘Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat’, ‘last-gasp winner’, ‘staring down the barrel’… pick a cliché to describe the Scottish Cup Final and there is a large chance the shoe will fit. A script too ridiculous to be fiction - it could only have been true.

Yesterday Ayr sealed their second ever league and cup double in gut-churning, sickening, empathic fashion. From looking down and out late in the game Ayr managed to conjure two tries before an injury-time Frazier Climo penalty from row A sealed cup glory.

 

Hot off the historic win, Head Coach Peter Murchie praised the efforts of his men: “We found a way to win. All of the momentum was against us in that second half, we lost the ref in the scrum, our line-out was poor, but we found a way to get back into it”.

 

Speaking of the season as a whole, and how players have taken their chances, Peter said: “It has been a real story of guys stepping up.

 

“Your Ruairidh Sayce’s, your Harry Warr’s – Just stepping up and fitting in and now being some of our top performers.

 

“It’s an amazing achievement and I am really proud of all the guys throughout the year. It is an amazing way to finish with what is happening next year [Super 6]”.

 

Ayr got the ball rolling after four minutes when Kyle Rowe darted over out wide. An audacious leap into touch looked sketchy but after a second review it was clear Rowe managed to acrobatically ground the ball with one hand before being bundled out by the attempted tackler.

 

A Heriots penalty shortly after narrowed the gap before Robbie Smith bullied his way to the line for Ayr’s second.

 

As the break creeped ever closer Heriots managed to muster up two scores of their own to take the lead.

 

Half-Time: Ayr RFC 12-15 Heriots.

 

For much of the second half Ayr couldn’t keep hold of possession. Heriots had the better of them at set-pieces and were making good inroads with their tails up. Pressure was turned to points when Ross Jones stretched the lead from the kicking tee, before Jack Blain finished strongly out wide to bring the scoring to 12-25 after 52 minutes.

 

In the hunt for revival, Ayr turned to their bench. The inclusion of Robbie Nairn, Alfie North and Alex McGuire produced immediate go-forward and with the game now in its’ later stages Ayr began to march.

 

With 15 minutes left a half break from Nairn proved enough to unleash the supporting Climo. A dive under the posts was followed by a routine conversion to make it a one score game.

 

Ten minutes later they crossed again. Ayr’s talisman Grant Anderson broke quickly from the ruck to the find Stafford McDowall on his outside. McDowall weaved in and out to bamboozle the last defender and score in the corner.

 

A wide conversion to take the lead fell short for Climo and the sea of pink in the west stand which had bellowed for 75 minutes went hush. Had Ayr’s chance came and gone?

 

The stakes couldn’t have been higher. Heriots were in possession at Ayr’s 22 with ten seconds on the clock before the palms of Blair Macpherson took hold of the ball and forced a penalty.

 

Although now in possession, the clock had turned red and Ayr were the wrong side of a 60-metre charge.

 

Climo found touch and Alex McGuire found his man at the line-out.

 

A freight train of a rolling maul set its’ sights on glory and pushed down the field. All looked lost when Heriots ushered it to touch but the refs hand shot up for an infringement.
Poetically from the same spot as Climo’s earlier miss, Ayr’s dreams of a double came down to one last roll of the dice - cue the coolest man in the stadium.

 

As Climo stood over the ball and took aim at the posts a silence subdued the stadium. All of a sudden, the squawks of crows seemed louder, coughs heavier and the scattering of “shhhssss” deafening.

 

The kick split the uprights without hesitation, igniting roars and, irresponsibly, a minor pitch invasion. Ayr were now double champions in Peter Murchie’s first year at the helm.

 

Club captain Peter McCallum hoisted the cup in front of Ayr’s faithful fans to call time on an incredible season.


ARFC 2019 Award Winners

Ayr RFC celebrated a historic season on Friday night at Ayr Racecourse with the 2019 Annual Awards Dinner.

A trailblazing year for the 1XV started with an eight game winning streak to open the Tennent's Premiership - the best start in the club's history. The silverware started soon after when they become the first club to etch their name on the Bill Mclaren shield a second time.

 

Head coach Peter Murchie, in his first year at the club, left no leeway when it came to expectations and in pre-season set the goal of winning it all. When the business end of proceedings came around it was a double header against Heriots that stood in his way. Two successful afternoons, one at Millbrae and the other BT Murrayfield, resulted in both league and cup success and Ayr's second ever double.

 

The ladies also enjoyed a successful campaign, winning the Women's National 1 league and being promoted to the new-and-improved Premiership. A solid Sarah Beaney Cup campaign took them to the semi-finals stage.

 

The Ayr/Wellington U18s also bagged silverware in the West Cup, but fell agonisingly short of the National Youth Cup title, losing in injury time to Boroughmuir.

 

The Princess Suite provided the perfect setting to celebrate all of the clubs achievements, where individuals were awarded an array of trophies for their commitments to their respective teams.

 

Club captain Peter McCallum also took the opportunity to say thank you and good bye to some of this years' leavers, with Josh Currie and Bill Murrie closing a chapter on Millbrae RFC, however the book still remains open.

 

Many thanks to Peter Laverie for expertly hosting proceedings.

 

Full list of winners:

 

1XV

Player of the Year - Frazier Climo. Players' Player of the Year - Frazier Climo. Breakthrough Player of the Year - Harry Warr and Ruaridh Sayce. Young Player of the Year - Kyle Rowe. Leavers - Robbie Smith (Bedford Blues) & Tommy Spinks (Glasgow Accies)

 

Ladies

Player of the Year - Erin McSorley. Players' Player of the Year - Catherine Shennan. Breakthrough Player of the Year - Helen Thomson. Young Player of the Year - Danni Hands

 

2XV

Player of the Year - Euan Hamilton. Players' Player of the Year - Camie Black. Breakthrough Player of the Year - James Pinkerton. Young Player of the Year - Craig Miller

 

U18 Boys

Player of the Year - Conrad Lynch. Players' Player of the Year & Top Try Scorer- Dylan Wilson. Breakthrough Player of the Year - Euan Bulloch. Club Man of the Year - Jason McGuinness

 

U18 Girls

Player of the Year - Cieron Bell. Players' Player of the Year - Sophie Kerr

 

U16s

Players' Player of the Year - Connor Wilson. Player's of the Year - Lewis Doak and Adam McGowan. Breakthrough Player of the Year - Ben Lewis


ARFC Partnership with UWS

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".


Fenwick Headlines 1XV Coaching Staff

Ayr RFC are delighted to announce that Stuart Fenwick, Head of Youth and Women's Rugby and current U18s coach, will be taking the reins of Ayr's 1XV next season.

Fenwick, who bagged two league titles and two Scottish Cups during his playing days for Ayr, will be supported by Stephen Adair and Robbie Fergusson. Fergusson, was is currently Scotland 7s co-captain, is a product of Ayr's youth system and has formerly linked with Fenwick through the Ladies squad.

 

Adair returns to the club after retiring from Rugby with neighbours Marr. Before then the Hooker had a successful time at Ayr, playing his part in the historic year's of 2008 and 2013.

 

Speaking of the appointments, Fenwick said: "I am over the moon to be supported with two great men who can pass on their experience and knowledge to the boys coming through. Robbie is obviously still a professional rugby player and to have him on board is a real advantage. I've known Stephen for years and it's great to see him back at Millbrae.

 

"It is a huge honour to take up this role with Pete (Murchie) heading up the Super6. I coached a lot of the boys who will feature for the 1XV at U18s so it is great to already have those relationships established".

 

Andrew Duncan was announced Women's head coach at the turn of the year, and the U18s will be taken on by Bryan Crossan and Colin Duck.