Whether you’re aware of it or not, there’s a quiet revolution going on within Ayrshire’s sporting world. The West of Scotland- traditionally not a rugby heartland – has seen playing numbers boom over the past few years. To back up the longstanding, typical men’s teams, women’s rugby has been a hugely popular and rapidly growing sport. However, it’s the expansion at youth level that’s really swelled the number of people playing the locally and here’s why:
At Ardrossan Academicals Rugby Football Club youngsters are welcome from 4 years of age onwards. There’s a large, well-established youth section that caters for Micro rugby players (Primary 1-3), Mini rugby players (Primary4-7), under 13s, under 14s, under 15s and under 18s. The youngsters train at Ardrossan throughout the year, playing their home fixtures at the Memorial Field ground. Their away fixtures can be as local as Irvine and Garnock but also involve little adventures into Dumfries and Galloway, Inverclyde and Glasgow, giving them a little experience of the geography of West of Scotland.
The friendly, inclusive attitude of the players, coaches and parents adds to the community feel at AARFC. The coaches are almost all parent helpers, all PVG approved and undertake the Scottish Rugby Union’s mandatory training modules. The players come from a wide area- The Three Towns, West Kilbride, Largs, Kilwinning – getting together to represent their club with pride. At present, there almost 90 children in the Mini and Micro section alone, creating an intimidating sea of blue and black and silver when they pitch up in full Accies colours in front of an opposition team. The parental support for the youngsters is outstanding with match days drawing crowds, cheers and plenty of positivity. The after- match socialising and feeding is always a good opportunity for the kids to develop their friendships, whilst the parental social scene is none too shabby either with regular nights out and big club events. The club welcomes members in all forms from players, coaches, parents to simple supporters, anyone can join up and all are welcome. Inclusion for the whole community is ethos behind the “Our Club” motto at AARFC.
As a sport, Rugby is fun, athletic and skilful. The Micros (P1-3) play touch rugby, with ball handling, speed, passing and footwork being the core skills. From Minis onwards (P4-7) the players begin contact work including safely taught tackling, whilst never losing the focus on skills over physicality. There’s a misconception amongst the public – parents included – that’s a game for big, hefty boys and men only. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rugby has a role for players of all shapes, sizes, speed and ability due to the different roles players take on within a team as they move towards senior rugby. As previously mentioned, rugby in Ardrossan as well as Scotland-wide is growing as a sport for Women and girls. AARFC currently have a hugely successful women’s rugby team and our Minis and Micros play mixed in gender squads.
The recently completed 2016/17 season was a particularly successful campaign amongst the younger players. The playing numbers steadily grew so that every age group from P1-7 were able to field an individual team, making the Accies one of the biggest clubs in the West. There was an extensive fixture list and leading to some great successes. Whilst the focus is on playing good, fun rugby, no player or parent can deny enjoying a bit of winning too! Last year saw the Minis win tournaments in Strathaven, Bishopton and – in glorious fashion – at Glasgow Warriors’ Scoutson stadium, where the P4/5 Minis won the competition, playing the final during half time of the Warriors v Ulster senior fixture in from of nearly 8000 spectators and TV cameras.
Regular trips to watch the Warriors and Scotland occur each year as well as highly enjoyable visits from the professional players themselves. In 2016 we had a particularly momentous occasion where the Scotland team visited AARFC to promote the Autumn International fixtures. Hundreds of Accies players and local school children came along to meet their heroes, collecting autographs and selfies from the players at the peak of Scottish rugby – all here on their doorstep in Ardrossan!
So, whether you’re a former player thinking of picking up the ball again, someone who’s never played but keen on the challenge and rewards of rugby, or whether you’re a parent of a child who needs sport in their life, but you haven’t figured out which one – come along to Ardrossan Academicals RFC this year, great things are ahead of you.
Minis train every Wednesday from August 16th 18:30-19:30
Minis and Micros train/play matches every Sunday from August 20th 12:30- 14:00
Find them on Facebook, Twitter or here on the website.
Thanks to our kind sponsor AMP Control UK for their support this season.