After a successful 2015/16, the Ayr-Wellington Youth Rugby Institution officially launches its new season at Millbrae on Wednesday evening.
Parents, coaches and Ayr RFC committee members gathered in the clubhouse to hear the club's head of development Stuart Fenwick reflect on the first year of the merger between the school and Ayr RFC's youth section and talk about the benefits of bringing the two together.
Cam Reece, Wellington School head boy and Ayr-Wellington U18 boys' captain, spoke about his experiences of playing for both school and club and now the merged institution.
Also present to address the assembled company was Wellington School head teacher Simon Johnson, who has been very supportive of the initiative and is delighted to see it bring such good results for the teams, as well as the non-playing skills rugby gives young people, such as organisation, team work and dedication.
The Ayr-Wellington boys' teams from S1 to U18s were training at Millbrae and Doonside, Wellington's playing fields just along the road from the club; just one of the many positives from the merger is the sharing of facilities. The girls' teams train on a Monday evening.
There have always been good links between Wellington School and Ayr RFC, with Jack Preston, Robbie Fergusson and current men's 1st XV captain Pete McCallum, amongst others, former pupils.
Last season saw the Ayr-Wellington teams compete for the first time across national and regional competitions and they brought home a collection of silverware between them.
The U16s won the National Youth League Cup and President's Conference, and were joint winners of the West Regional Cup. The U18s were runners-up in their national cup and conference and winners of the West Regional Cup, while the U15s claimed the West Regional Bowl. The U18 girls were National Cup semi-finalists and the U15s were runners-up in the National Shield.
The youth section at Ayr RFC has always been a vital part of the club and the hard work of the players, coaches, parents and volunteers is something to be admired. Now the establishment of the Ayr-Wellington Youth Rugby Institution sees an even brighter future on the horizon for all concerned.
- Elena Hogarth.
Photos courtesy of George McMillan.