Over the past couple of weeks sport has been just a small drop in an ocean of uncertainty. Unprecedented times, the suspension of rugby brought to a close Ayr’s club XV Tennent’s National 1 campaign. With three rounds consigned to oblivion Ayr sit in tenth with currently relegated Boroughmuir just seven points behind and a game in hand. Equally, ninth placed Kelso live in catchable territory just four points clear.  Instead of pondering what could and should happen to final standings Club XV skipper Zac Howard is using the down time to reflect and improve.

It wasn’t a straight-forward appointment into the leadership role for Howard. Club captain Gregor Henry bowed out through injury and second-in-command Johnny McCorkindale flew the coop for a spell in Australia. Veteran forward David Young was next to have his season curtailed by injury, prompting Craig Brown to take up interim charge. Eventually, Stuart Fenwick found his man In Zac to lead the side in the business end of the competition. Adopting a ‘lead by example’ style, the winger has set alight defences all season. He inherited the team at a low point with only one win in the ten games prior. He also faced his own battles, having just returned from a spell on the side-lines: “I had just came back from missing three weeks through concussion, so it was a big responsibility to captain my first game back. The boys all knew what a win against Cartha would do for us and we knew we were capable of winning. “Everyone showed heart and desire to get us back on track with a win. To get that on my first game was a great feeling”. Although hovering just above relegation Ayr will take great positives from the youthful nature of the squad. Zac, at the ripe old age of 23, is now incredibly one of the senior heads in camp and is delighted to see the youngsters being bled into the team: “I remember the step up to senior rugby and it is a massive change in physicality and intensity. The boys from the U18s who have been asked to make the jump have adapted well in training – there’s a lot of talent!” “I’m really looking forward to seeing what they have to offer next season”. Zac believes the biggest downfall of the side this year was discipline but believes the experienced gained will stand them in good stead for seasons to come: “We have let a lot of teams back into games. We are perfectly capable and have a talented group that could beat a lot of teams in this league but we often let ourselves down with poor discipline. “We are a young team and discipline will come so it’s something we can work on moving forward”.

Away from the pitch many of the boys will do what they can to switch off but it can be harder for Zac, with his older sister Gabby set to tie the knot with backs coach and Scotland Sevens captain Robbie Fergusson. The two are also expecting a little one on the horizon. Often being coached outside of training, Zac actually credits his relationship with Robbie as a reason for him kicking on this year: “He has actually helped me a lot so I owe thanks to him. During pre-season any dropped balls or missed tackles would often go unnoticed from the boys, but for me it was months of slagging in the family group chat and jokes at family dinners. “It has made me improve my skills so he wouldn’t have anything to slag me for. “Him bringing in his experience from the pro game and sevens has helped all of the boy’s personal development so it’s been a big bonus for all of us. I just wish he knew that he’s allowed to wear other clothes than his Scotland training kit all the time. “We all know you play for Scotland Robbie, we don’t need a reminder everyday”.