Monday, 23 April 2012

Ayrshire Schools Cup Final

The annual and hugely successful Ayrshire Schools Cup Final takes place this Friday evening at Millbrae. The games take place at U16 and U18 level and will involve Belmont School, Carrick Academy and Marr College. The Under 16s game kicks off at 18.30 and the Under 18s match is straight after at 19.45.

The Finals are the culmination of a big effort  to develop rugby in the Ayrshire schools and in addition to the work carried out by the teachers in the schools there is significant support from South Ayrshire Council, the Ayrshire Community Rugby Trust, the Scottish Rugby Union and of course Ayr RFC.

There's always a big crowd and a superb atmosphere so if you can get along you'll see some great rugby from the players of the future.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Cup final match report

Ayr 10 Gala 24

A historic third RBS Cup final win in a row wasn’t to be for Ayr on a drizzly Saturday afternoon at Murrayfield, as they were beaten by a determined and efficient Gala.

            Following on from Helensburgh’s defeat of Dunbar in the Bowl final and Dunfermline’s triumph over Musselburgh in the Shield final, the men in pink and black took to the pitch with great purpose and began the match well.

            Ayr looked like they would draw first blood, when just over a minute into the game, there was a sudden plunge for the try line after a well-worked move from the line-out.  Gala’s defence, however, was just too good, and it would prove to be so for the rest of the encounter.

            The maroons opened the scoring at five minutes, with Lee Millar slotting over a penalty to make it 0-3.  Millar’s accuracy with the boot and the flood of penalties continued for the next seventy-five minutes.

            Both sides appeared nervous, with Gala desperate to get some silverware to mark their ascent from the lower leagues and Ayr just as eager to retain the trophy to end an inconsistent season on a high.  Knocks-on, fumbled and forward passes, line-out steals and missed kicks for touch marred the match, which had a stop-start rhythm thanks to disciplinary problems.

            At fourteen minutes, Ayr had a chance to draw level, with Ross Curle kicking a penalty to bring the scores to 3-3.  Both teams seemed to settle and attempt to assert their game plans.  Gala launched some pulsating attacks, which were snuffed out by the exhaustive defensive efforts of Ayr’s back row of Robbie Colhoun, Jonno Willis and Andy Dunlop.

            Ayr were down to fourteen men at twenty-eight minutes, with Curle finding himself in the sin bin.  While they valiantly tried to hold on, it was only a matter of five minutes before Gala scored a try.  Snappy winger Craig Robertson managed to dive in at the corner and keep away from the touchline, despite the attentions of Ayr defenders.  Millar’s conversion stretched Gala’s lead to 3-10. 

            Just three minutes later, Gala found themselves a man short when prop Ewan McQuillan tripped Ayr’s scrum-half Murray McConnell and was yellow-carded.    This gave the Millbrae men the impetus to attack, with a sustained attempt to force their way over Gala’s try line after another solid line-out.  Prop Denford Mutamangira finally managed to burrow his way over to the delight of the pink and black-clad army of fans.  Robbie Fergusson’s successful conversion levelled the scores at 10-10 at half-time.

            Ayr tried to tip the balance in their favour at the restart, with breaks from full-back Grant Anderson and Curle.  But Gala’s rock steady defence meant these challenges came to nothing.  When the men in maroon weren’t defending as though their lives depended on it, they were hoofing it up the wings or producing superb kicks to touch. 

            Millar had another shot at goal at forty-six minutes, but it was just out of his range.  Ayr’s indiscipline came back to haunt them four minutes later, when replacement winger Andy Wilson was sent to the sin bin for taking Robertson out in the air.

            Gala went for touch and the line-out, but despite being a man down, Ayr smothered any scoring chances.  Centres Mark Stewart and Curle combined well to track down the dangerous Gala backs. 

            However, things went from bad to worse as Ayr’s hooker Stuart Fenwick joined Wilson in the bin at fifty-four minutes after the referee ruled he had deliberately knocked-on.  Millar went for the posts, making the scores 10-13.

            Ayr tried to get back into the match, but were pinged for crossing and shortly after, knocked-on.    The seven-man scrum was holding up well, but the penalties against them kept coming.  Millar added another three points at fifty-nine minutes, helping Gala to pull away at 10-16.

            Ayr got the chance to try and catch up two minutes later, but Curle missed the penalty kick.  Millar slotted another kick at sixty-six minutes to stretch the lead to 10-19.  The inevitable occurred at seventy-one minutes with McQuillan barging his way over for the Borderers.  Millar missed the conversion, but Gala had gained an unassailable lead of 10-24.

            Time ran out for Ayr, who despite breaks from Anderson and Curle couldn’t claw back any more points.  It was a disappointing day for everyone involved with Ayr, but a great achievement to make the Cup final three years in a row.  Gala were deserving winners on a great day for men’s and women’s club rugby in Scotland.

- Eléna Hogarth.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Kenny Murray 'indefatigable' says the Herald's Neil Drysdale

As the day of the RBS Cup final dawns, it's great to see Scottish club rugby getting so much coverage in the national press.  In this morning's Herald, Neil Drysdale pays tribute to Ayr's head coach Kenny Murray in glowing terms.  In case you're thinking Drysdale is comparing Murray to the Royal Navy battlecruiser Indefatigable that was sunk in 1916, he's actually praising his determination and unwillingness to admit defeat.

You can read Drysdale's article here.


Friday, 20 April 2012

RBS Cup final team

The big day is nearly upon us as Ayr head to Murrayfield to take on Gala in an unprecendented third RBS Cup final on the trot.  Players, coaches, backroom staff and fans are in optimistic mood and are determined to bring the cup back west for the third time.

Head coach Kenny Murray admits that Gala, after convincingly beating Ayr in their last encounter, start the match as firm favourites in most people's opinions, but knows his team will do everything to retain the trophy.

"We are desperate to get some silverware this season," says Murray.  "Our form has been inconsistent this year but we have a chance to finish the season on a high - and make some history!"

Musing on his selection choices, Murray reveals that this has been his toughest team to put together as the entire squad is fit.  He is happy to have influential captain Mark Stewart in the starting line-up.

"He was a big omission when we lost to Gala at home recently and we are confident he will have a positive impact on the pitch."

Team (subject to change on match day):
Grant Anderson, Steven Manning, Ross Curle, Mark Stewart (captain), Cammy Taylor; Robbie Fergusson, Murray McConnell; Denford Mutamangira, Stuart Fenwick, Gordon Sykes; Scott Sutherland, Colin White; Jonno Willis, Robbie Colhoun, Andy Dunlop.
Substitutes: Hayden Wisnewski, Andrew Kelly, Graham Fisken, Ross Doneghan, AJ MacFarlane, Andy Wilson, Sylvain Diez.

Ayr v Gala, RBS Cup Final, Murrayfield, kick-off 4pm.

If you haven't been able to get a ticket from the club, you can still buy them on match day in Edinburgh.  The Murrayfield Ticket Centre will open at 10am on Saturday, with tickets £10/£5 concession. 

Score updates will be available via our Twitter page.

Best of luck to the guys and here's hoping for a great day at Murrayfield!


Press previews of Cup Final

The press coverage of Ayr's historic third Scottish Cup final in a row continues, with head coach Kenny Murray and captain Mark Stewart appearing in the Scotsman and assistant coach Peter Laverie in the Herald.  Murray speaks to David Ferguson about Ayr's experience, while Stewart tells him how much he enjoys playing at Ayr, and Laverie talks to Gary Heatley of the players' desire to retain the trophy.

You can read the Scotsman articles here and here, and the Herald piece here.


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Curle in today's Herald

It seems the Ayr players can't keep out of the national press - for all the right reasons.  Making sure Murray McConnell doesn't steal all the column inches, Ayr's flying centre Ross Curle appears in the sports pages of the Herald today.  He talks to Neil Drysdale about the end of a tough season, Ayr's 'weird' encounter with Gala in the league and, of course, Saturday's Cup final.  Read the full story at the Herald's website.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

McConnell in today's Scotland on Sunday

Ahead of Ayr's historic third Cup Final in a row at Murrayfield on Saturday, one of the club's teen stars, scrum-half Murray McConnell, talks to Iain Morrison of the Scotland on Sunday about bulging discs, playing at the home of Scottish rugby for the first time and taking on Gala.  You can read the article at the Scotsman website.


Saturday, 14 April 2012

Gavin Lowe Scotland's Top Try Scorer

Ayr Under 18 star, Gavin Lowe, returned from the recent FIRA tournament as Scotland Under 18s top try scorer with 5 tries to his name.
Gavin has trained with Ayr's 1st XV this season on Tuesday nights and it might be very soon we see him in full action in the team.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

RBS Cup Final - Book Your Tickets Now

In what will be a huge RBS Scottish Cup Final between Gala and Ayr it's time to make sure the Millbrae support is as big as ever, because one thing's for certain Gala will bring a big support to Murrayfield.

Tickets and bus bookings can be made at:

Ticket Hotline - 01292 283005 (office hours)


WGMcHarg - 5 Miller Road, Ayr. (Office hours)

Cafe Ginger - Fort Street, Ayr.

The Clubhouse, Millbrae.

Tickets £10 adult  £5 concession (U18s and OAPs)

Bus £10

Breakfast at Club £5


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Ayr youngster scores hat-trick for Scotland Under-18s

Rob Colhoun wasn't the only Millbrae man to get a hat-trick at the weekend.  Gavin Lowe, Ayr's talented young full-back, scored three tries for Scotland at the FIRA-AER Under-18s tournament in Madrid, as they finished their campaign with a win over Georgia.  You can read the Scotland on Sunday's brief article about it at the Scotsman website

Lowe joins the likes of Robbie Fergusson and Danny McCluskey, who turned out for Ayr in their win over Aberdeen on Saturday, and Mark Bennett, who now plies his trade for French Top 14 team Clermont Auvergne, as homegrown stars making their mark.


Ayr v Aberdeen match report

Ayr 44 Aberdeen 22

If anyone was expecting Ayr’s last league game of the season to be a damp squib after the excitement of their Cup semi-final triumph, they would have been in for a surprise on Saturday afternoon at Millbrae.  Facing Aberdeen in a game postponed from January, Ayr were determined to finish on a high – and they did.

It was Aberdeen who drew first blood, with a penalty at four minutes kicked by fly-half Rob Aloe.  The scores remained at 0-3 for quite some time as both teams went through set pieces and phases of possession.  The boot of Ayr youngster Robbie Fergusson pushed play up into the opposition half, where Rob Colhoun bundled his way over the try line for Ayr’s first score at fifteen minutes.  Fergusson, though, couldn’t get the conversion from a tricky angle on the touchline, but Ayr still led 5-3.

Ayr were keen to stretch their legs and full-back Grant Anderson showed off some nifty footwork, as did busy scrum-half AJ Macfarlane, who was constantly looking to make a break.  Colhoun was hungry for more tries and after another solid line-out and drive, appeared at the bottom of the pile-up with the ball over the line.  Fergusson made the conversion, taking the scores to 12-3 at the close of the first quarter.

The home side managed to upset the visitors in both scrums and line-outs, and backs and forwards combined to produce some entertaining running rugby.  Again, Colhoun was in the thick of it and got his hat-trick with a try from yet another good line-out.  Fergusson’s conversion this time hit the post, but Ayr extended their lead to 17-3.

Three minutes later and winger Cammy Taylor decided Colhoun couldn’t have all the fun.  Motoring up the wing, he had to stretch his full 5’ 7” to get the ball over the whitewash.  It wasn’t Fergusson’s day with place kicks, and he missed the conversion to keep the scores at 22-3.

The close of the first-half saw Ayr’s forwards bashing their way about the pitch with ball in hand.  Number eight Andy Dunlop did some excellent work at the breakdown to give Macfarlane and Fergusson another chance to chip and chase, only for the ball to bobble into touch.

Their tails up, the men in pink and black began the second half in impressive fashion.  Within two minutes of the re-start, outside centre Richard Dalgleish grabbed Ayr’s fifth try.  With Fergusson’s successful conversion, the scores stood at 29-3 – but not for long.  Inside centre and captain Mark Stewart didn’t want his young cohort stealing the limelight and two minutes later, touched down for Ayr’s sixth try.  The missed conversion made the scores 34-3.

Aberdeen were down but not out, with winger Grant Walker getting their first try.  Aloe caught the conversion disease and missed his kick, keeping the score board at 34-8.  Possession then went back and forth for the next ten minutes until Aberdeen struck again, this time full-back Steven Aitken getting the try and Aloe the conversion to bring the scores to 34-15.

Ayr cranked up the pressure, with Fergusson and fellow teenager Danny McCluskey making terrific breaks.  At twenty-three minutes, replacement hooker Hayden Wisnewski got Ayr’s seventh try, after burrowing over in the corner.  Fergusson was again faced with a conversion from the touchline and couldn’t curl his kick in. 

At 39-15, neither team was about to take their foot off the gas, leading to knocks-on from both sides.  Aberdeen remained calm, however, and scrum-half Morgan Ward jinked in under the posts for their third try after a scintillating break from winger Mark Oatey.  Aloe’s conversion took the scores to 39-22.

Ayr had to have the last laugh though, with Taylor flying in for his second try and Ayr’s eighth.  McCluskey was given the unenviable task of trying to convert it from an extreme angle and nobody could blame him for missing. 

With everyone playing his part, naming man of the match was a tough decision.  Despite Fergusson’s excellent bossing of the game and Colhoun’s hat-trick, the award went to fan favourite Denford Mutamangira for his veritable brick wall performance.  The final score: Ayr 44 Aberdeen 22.

- Eléna Hogarth

Friday, 6 April 2012

Ayr v Aberdeen preview

After the excitement of beating Boroughmuir last week to make a historic third final in a row of the RBS Cup, Ayr turn their attention to their final match of the season at Millbrae.  They take on Aberdeen in a league game postponed from January.  There were several sore bodies after last Saturday's intense semi-final and the coaching team has decided to rest some players, giving those on the fringes a chance to stake a claim for a spot on the team for the final on Saturday 21st April. 

"This week's game is an important part of our preparation," said head coach Kenny Murray, referring to the final, "and we will be looking to build on last week's performance."

But Murray knows that this isn't just a warm-up for Murrayfield.  "Our earlier game against Aberdeen was a tight affair and they have had some tight games over the past few weeks."

Team (subject to change on match day):
Denford Mutamangira, Andrew McFarlane, Andy Kelly; Scott Sutherland, Blair MacPherson; Graham Fisken, Rob Colhoun, Andy Dunlop; AJ Macfarlane, Robbie Fergusson; Steven Manning, Mark Stewart, Ross Curle, Cammy Taylor, Grant Anderson.
Subs: Hayden Wisnewski, Gordon Sykes, John Willis, Ross Doneghan, Sylvain Diez.

Good luck!

Ayr v Aberdeen, kick-off 3pm, Millbrae.

Information on tickets and buses to the RBS Cup final is available at the foot of the homepage.