Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Kirk Murdoch

We are saddened to hear of the death of former club captain Kirk Murdoch.

Kirk was a prominent lawyer and passed away after battling illness, as reported in the Scotsman.

He was educated at Ayr Academy, where he was head boy and played rugby, before becoming captain at Ayr RFC in the 1980s. He was also a talented golfer.

Our thoughts are with Kirk's family and friends.

Prior to our BT Cup semi-final at Millbrae on Saturday 25th March, we will be holding a minute's appreciation for the life of Kirk and his commitment to the club.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Semi-finals pre-match hospitality

We are now taking bookings for pre-match hospitality at Millbrae before our BT Cup and BT Premiership semi-finals on Saturday 25th March and Saturday 1st April respectively.

Both semi-finals are against Glasgow Hawks and kick-off at 3pm, with lunch starting at 1pm. Guests are welcome in the clubhouse from midday.
It's £30 per person for a three-course lunch, match programme and entry to the game. Robbie Duncan leads proceedings, with head coach Calum Forrester previewing the match, and we finish up with a raffle just before 2.45pm.

We welcome individual guests from both Ayr RFC and Glasgow Hawks, as well as tables of 10 or 12 and parties of larger numbers. It's a mixed company of both men and women.
Please call or email Elena on 07788 824835 / to book by Thursday 23rd March for the BT Cup semi-final and Thursday 30th March for the BT Premiership semi-final.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Ayr Ladies 19 Stewartry Sirens 26

Ayr Ladies and Stewartry Sirens battled it out under the floodlights at Millbrae on Friday night but it was the Castle Douglas-based side who triumphed in a compelling Premier Development Cup semi-final.

With the two teams having played each other numerous times over the years and both making the move into the top tier of Scottish women's rugby this season, it was always going to be a close game, and it was scoreless for the first quarter as the players matched each other in every area.

The Sirens had much of the early possession and Ayr centres Connie Griffiths and Julie David and back row Rachael Mulholland, Kelsey Swift and Laura Turner were busy putting in some hefty tackles.

There were solid scrums from both teams (they would later become uncontested due to front row injuries) and Ayr used theirs to launch Griffiths and full-back Claire Law into attack, with some quick service by scrum-half Emily Irving.

A bit of petulance from the Sirens saw them pushed back ten metres and Irving took the tap-and-go, Swift flying on to the ball and into the defence, David, Mulholland, stand-off Catherine Shennan and prop Louise McLauchlan backing her up.

Stewartry were ready with some thunderous tackles and caused Ayr to knock on. The home side turned over after the ensuing scrum, hooker Lauren Gunn and prop Michelle Nelson making breaks before Irving chipped over near the Sirens' try-line. Nobody could reach the ball, however.

A couple of penalties for Ayr kept them in the Sirens' half and Turner and David led the charge for the line but to no avail. Another knock on came, Stewartry held firm at the scrum and went to clear only for the kick to be charged down and Irving to follow it over the whitewash and ground for a try. Shennan nailed the conversion. 7-0.

The visitors were about to reply after hard work at the breakdown. Shennan, wingers Erin McSorley and Lisa Main and second rows Joanne Jones and Sonja Liekens were busy in defence but there was just no stopping the Sirens. They couldn't convert their try though. 7-5.

It looked like they might add another, their backs flying into Ayr's half, but Griffiths just caught one of their attackers before she could do any damage.

There were no further scores in the first half but it was entirely enthralling as both teams gave it their all. The energy levels were outstanding, with every player pushing themselves in attack and defence.

Half-backs Irving and Shennan showed deftness of touch in handling, Jones impressed by ripping the ball from the Sirens and Law handed off defenders with ease, while Griffiths, Mulholland and Gunn led the way with shuddering tackles.

The Sirens kept the pink and black shirts at bay until half-time and carried on at the resumption. Despite some great work under the high ball by captain Turner and lively work in attack by Mulholland, Ayr were pinned in their own half.

The hosts had an early chance when Stewartry were pinged for pushing a player but the Sirens were all over them in flash. They turned over and were away, hitting everything at pace. Swift was putting in a power of work in defence with her forwards in support but the Sirens cantered away up the wing for a try, with a superb conversion from the touchline. 7-12.

The visitors quickly added another converted try. 7-19.

Ayr blasted their way into the Stewartry half, with Turner and Swift leading the charge, but the Sirens built a brick wall round their twenty-two and Ayr just couldn't breach it.

Law, Griffiths and Gunn tried again but the Sirens turned over and were away, their ebullient try-scorer showboating over the line. They converted. 7-26.

They trapped Ayr in their own twenty-two but the ladies in pink and black fought back, Mulholland breaking free. Ill-discipline from the Sirens gave Ayr a couple of penalties before yet more petulance saw the visitors down to fourteen players for ten minutes.

Ayr took their chance, replacement Lee Steward pouncing on a loose ball and Shennan breaking through midfield to race away for a try. She couldn't convert. 12-26.

A number of Ayr Ladies had been good under the high ball in the dazzle of the floodlights and Griffiths joined the ranks, catching a kick and taking off. It was a bruising evening, both sides putting in enormous tackles, and Griffiths couldn't get away from the Sirens' defence.

Ayr brought on some fresh legs in Sarah Braidwood and with time running out, the home team pinned their ears back and went for it. David zoomed on to a ball in her own half, turned this way and that, shrugging off tackles, and ran all the way to the try-line for a brilliant score. Shennan converted. 19-26.

The ladies and their supporters were up for more, and there was just time for one last push but those wily Sirens turned over and booted the ball off the pitch to bring a fantastic game to an end.

Ayr Ladies now turn their attentions to their Sarah Beaney Cup quarter-final with RHC Cougars on Sunday 26th March.

Final score: Ayr Ladies 19 Stewartry Sirens 26.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Pinkerton selected for Scotland Touch Rugby

Ayr 2nd XV back James Pinkerton has been named in Scotland Touch Rugby's squad for the European Touch Championships in July.

Pinkerton, from Edinburgh, studies sports coaching and development at UWS and is in his second season with Ayr. He has previously represented Scotland at touch rugby at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and was also their junior captain in 2014.

Find out more about Scottish Touch Rugby here.

Image courtesy of Ben Blair Sports Photography.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

March Ayr Rugby Academy yellow jerseys

Former Ayr and Scotland player Stephen Munro dropped into Millbrae last night to award this month's Ayr Academy yellow jerseys.

Conlan McLuckie, Keith Halliday and Ben Lewis are March's recipients of the shirts, sponsored by Thistlefern, in light of their hard work at academy sessions.

Thanks to Stephen, who won ten caps for Scotland, for taking the time to chat to academy players as well as presenting the jerseys. He's pictured above with academy director Stuart Fenwick.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Ayr 36 Jed-Forest 7

Ayr reached the semi-finals of the BT Cup with a six-try win against Jed-Forest at Millbrae, but the Borderers didn't make it easy for them.

With the visitors from Riverside short of a few replacements due to injuries, and the fact that they are a league below Ayr in BT National 1, a bigger score may have been on some people's minds. When Ayr flanker Will Bordill strolled away for the first try, converted by stand-off Frazier Climo, with just a minute on the clock, it was looking likely. 7-0.

But Jed weren't just there to make up the numbers. They held their own in their first scrum, and winger Robbie Shirra Gibb shot off up the touchline. He couldn't escape the Ayr tacklers though.

Climo, full-back Grant Anderson and winger Craig Gossman got back into attacking mode but Jed turned them over. With a muddy pitch, it was all a bit messy and stop-start, however.

A few penalties helped the home team, as did excellent handling by Anderson and centre Archie Russell to keep the ball in play. The line-out was firing on all cylinders, and no sooner had hooker Lewis Anderson thrown the ball in than second row Robert McAlpine had taken it in the air and launched down it to Steven Longwell. The prop took it at pace and propelled himself over the line for a fine try. Climo converted. 14-0.

The visitors again had a solid scrum to get their backs going, with full-back Lewis Young taking full advantage. Russell and scrum-half David Armstrong had him wrapped up but nobody could contain Jed centre Gregor Young as he stormed through midfield, and Shirra Gibb took the pass to score. Stand-off Robbie Yourston converted. 14-7.

Jed's tails were up, especially when Ayr second row Scott Sutherland was sin-binned. The resulting line-out was squint though and the opportunity lost.

Ayr were back with ball in hand, prop George Hunter, Gossman, Armstrong and centre Danny McCluskey blasting through the defence, despite some crunching tackles by the likes of flanker Graham Robson.

They turned defence into attack and Climo and winger Jamie Bova were busy containing them. Flanker Blair Macpherson managed to turn over and another penalty was on its way. Ayr drove from the line-out and captain Pete McCallum bundled over. It was a touchline conversion attempt for Climo and he couldn't make it. 19-7.

Another turnover by Macpherson saw him gallop off from his own twenty-two to Jed's five-metre line where he was hauled down by the men in bright blue. It was then the visitors' turn to have a player yellow-carded, with centre Monty Mitchell dismissed for ten minutes.

Tempers flared throughout the first half, and a bit of pushing and shoving turned into a number of players rumbling about on the touchline. Referee David Sutherland calmed things down with a stern talking-to for both captains.

It looked like Ayr would get another try after Russell's chip was taken over the line by Bova but a knock-on occurred. They didn't have long to wait as moments later McCallum sprang forth. Climo converted just before half-time. 26-7.

Both sets of backs were as lively as ever in the second half, Russell, Anderson and Bova leading the way for Ayr, but the increasingly churned-up pitch was thwarting them.

The messy pitch, messy ball and messy handling frustrated Jed the most, and confusion reigned on their five-metre line, with the ball bobbling about until it went over the whitewash and Gossman touched down for a try. Another wide angle for Climo meant no conversion. 31-7.

Ayr brought on fresh legs in the form of prop Adam Prentice, hooker David Young and scrum-half Harry Warr, with the former two getting stuck into defence straight away and the latter marshaling his troops with aplomb.

A sturdy Ayr scrum let McCallum charge off, before Sutherland burst through tackles to go on a ferocious foray and McCluskey followed suit. The ball was back with McCallum who passed to Gossman and he fought his way up the wing for another try. It was almost in the same place as his last, and again there was no conversion. 36-7.

McAlpine emulated his second row partner Sutherland and got those long legs going for an exciting break in midfield, dummying nicely before passing to Gossman. Grant Anderson took it on, with replacements Richard Dalgleish and Gregor Henry in support but Jed were making a nuisance of themselves and interrupting any flow Ayr were getting into.

The home team emptied their bench, with Graham Hunter and Craig Stevenson taking to the field just as Ayr pressed Jed's line again. Bordill looked like he was over but the ball was knocked on as it was fired out to the backs.

Jed kicked away possession from the ensuing scrum, and Warr, Stevenson and Longwell happily took it back into their half, Warr making a thrilling break only to be dragged down on the five-metre line by Jed's sturdy defence.

The final ten minutes were marred by yet more handling errors by both teams and some more bad-tempered displays that saw Jed get a penalty reversed after some petulance by the visitors.

McCluskey, Gossman and Graham Hunter fancied another run, as did Jed replacement Ross Glendinning, but neither team bothered the other's try-line again as the referee blew his whistle for full-time.

Ayr will play Glasgow Hawks in the BT Cup semi-final on Saturday 25th March at Millbrae.

Final score: Ayr 36 Jed-Forest 7.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Will Bordill.

- Elena Hogarth.

Image courtesy of Alan Graham.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Ayr v Jed-Forest preview

Ayr welcome Jed-Forest to Millbrae on Saturday for their BT Cup quarter-final, kicking off at 3pm.

The Borderers are the only BT National League Division 1 side to make it to the last eight of the national competition this season and will be keen to represent their league and show the BT Premiership leaders what they can do.

Ayr are ready for the challenge after a good week of training, and head coach Calum Forrester knows the threat the Riverside team pose.

"They have a pack of hard-nosed forwards and a talented back-line that boasts international experience throughout."

The squad features an extended number of replacements as it is a cup tie. Winger Jamie Bova is included in the starting line-up after some try-scoring appearances from the bench, with Danny McCluskey moving to inside centre to cover for the unavailable Ross Curle.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Jamie Bova, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Danny McCluskey, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. David Young, 17. Adam Prentice, 18. Craig Stevenson, 19. Gregor Henry, 20. Harry Warr, 21. Graham Hunter, 22. Richard Dalgleish.

Kick-off 3pm. Follow the scores live via Twitter.

**Please note that as this is a BT Cup game, it is £10 for adults (including club members), with U18s free and no concessions. Prices have been set by Scottish Rugby with the agreement of the clubs, and the revenue generated by admission will be split between Ayr and Jed-Forest.**