Former Ayr player and current Glasgow Warriors hooker Pat MacArthur returned to Millbrae during pre-season to join the coaching team.
Pat, 29, played his first game for the Warriors in 2007 and after a two-year apprenticeship, became a full-time professional in 2009. He made his Scotland debut in 2013 and has gained six caps. From Prestwick, he played his rugby at Ayr from minis all the way up to the 1st XV, his most recent appearance in a pink and black shirt being this month when he started against Gala.
We talked to Pat about how he's been getting on coaching at Ayr RFC this season.
How did coaching at Ayr come about?
I always wanted to get into coaching, and after so many seasons of professional rugby, I felt like I had a lot of knowledge to impart. Ayr have given me so much in the past; growing up at the club and enjoying myself so much, I always wanted to go back to Millbrae to start my coaching journey.
What have you enjoyed about coaching so far?
I have enjoyed working with the players, who are all really willing to learn and improve. I've played with many of them in the past, and we manage to have a laugh whilst getting some really good work done at the set-piece and contact areas.
Did the fact that you knew those at Ayr make joining the coaching team easier?
Knowing Calum (Forrester, head coach) and Scott (Forrest, backs' coach) from the professional game means we have a lot of the same ideas and concepts on the rugby field.
Having old Glen Tippett (forwards' coach) around is great as his knowledge of the game and club is vast. Growing up playing alongside him, he taught me a lot about how to play rugby the old school way and we both like to pass that on to the younger boys at Ayr.
It is also good to see all the old, familiar faces at Millbrae on a regular basis, and that makes it all the more enjoyable.
Are you pleased with the way the season is going so far?
Ayr are doing well, and are aiming to win the league again. The BT Premiership is so competitive, and my aim is to help the forward pack and the team to become dominant, and the boys are buying into the way I like to play.
We play an attractive game of rugby, but I am a fan of the driving maul and set-piece battle, which is working well on the days that the weather is less than perfect!
Which coaches have inspired you?
I have worked under many coaches, so I have tried to use what I think are the good points from my experiences with them and base my coaching style on that.
I try and work with the Glasgow Warriors forwards' coach Dan McFarland, as he is a real stickler for detail and technique, which I like. I also try to get advice from former Ayr coach Kenny Murray. I am trying to develop my own style but getting advice and pointers from experienced coaches is a real help.
All photos courtesy of George McMillan.
Top: Pat MacArthur and Ayr prop George Hunter. Centre: Pat MacArthur, Ayr forwards' coach Glen Tippett and Ayr head coach Calum Forrester. Bottom: Pat MacArthur and Ayr strength and conditioning coach Jonathan Stevenson.