Friday, 31 January 2014

Hawick v Ayr preview

After last week's highly anticipated tie with Glasgow Hawks was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, Ayr will be champing at the bit to get out on to solid ground and play against Hawick at Mansfield Park.

Unfortunately, rain and snow are forecast for the Borders on Saturday, so Ayr head coach Peter Laverie might not get to see the kind of game he'd like.

"The contest between the packs will be crucial but I am really looking forward to seeing our back division up against theirs.  Rory Hutton remains a class act at stand-off and no doubt Bruce McNeil will be making his talented presence felt around the park." 

He continues: "There are any number of good players in this Hawick side who will be desperate for the points and give it their all as the pressure of league survival mounts, but I suspect Hawick will stay up."

As for Ayr, they're aiming to win every game remaining.

"A victory on Saturday guarantees British and Irish Cup participation next season and keeps us in with an arithmetical chance of the league," explains Laverie.

The challenge will be aided by the release of Glasgow Warriors' James Eddie, Dougie Hall and Jerry Yanuyanutawa, who have all turned out in the pink and black this season already.  Scotland international Hall starts at hooker, whilst Eddie is part of a dynamic back row alongside Andrew Dunlop and Peter McCallum.  Callum Templeton and Scott Sutherland are again the pillars of the second row.  Yanuyanutawa is a welcome addition to an already strong bench.

The starting backs have a familiar look to them, with Grant Anderson captaining the side at full-back, the Gossman brothers on either wing, the solid Dean Kelbrick and January player of the month Robbie Fergusson in the centre, whilst at half-back the ever-dependable Finn Russell again partners Murray McConnell, a young man Laverie calls "impressive".


15. Grant Anderson (capt.), 14. Craig Gossman, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick, 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. George Hunter, 2. Dougie Hall, 3. Nick Cox; 4. Callum Templeton, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. James Eddie, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Peter McCallum.


16. Fergus Scott, 17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18. Graham Fisken, 19. Peter Jericevich, 20. Ross Curle.

Kick-off 3pm.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

D'arcy Rae and James Malcolm to face Ireland

Ayr's talented young front row players D'arcy Rae and James Malcolm have been named in the Scotland under-20s starting XV to face their Irish counterparts on Friday in Athlone.

They'll line up alongside their former Ayr teammate Gavin Lowe, who starts at full-back.

Good luck to them all.

Read the full story here.

Monday, 27 January 2014

January player of the month poll

It's time to vote for your Ayr player of the month for January. 

After Saturday's game was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Millbrae, Ayr have only played two matches this month, both gutsy performances in the British and Irish Cup.  All players listed in this month's poll played in at least one of these matches.

The poll is open until Thursday at 10am, with the result announced shortly after, so get voting!

Vote here.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Emily Irving in Scotland squad for Ireland match

Ayr Ladies' Emily Irving had been named in Scotland Women's final training squad before they take on Ireland in their opening match of the Six Nations on Friday 31st January.

Fingers crossed Emily gets to make her senior debut as her intended first match for Scotland Women against an Army select side earlier in the month was called off due to bad weather.

Congratulations and good luck to Emily from everyone at Millbrae!

Read the full story here.

Ayr v Glasgow Hawks preview

It's back to league business for Ayr after two weeks of British and Irish Cup matches, as they prepare to welcome Glasgow Hawks to Millbrae in a big weekend in the RBS Premiership.

There's a fierce yet friendly rivalry between the two clubs and it is expected to be an intense encounter, with the never-shy fans from both sides adding to the atmosphere in Alloway on the day of the birth of the village's most famous son, Robert Burns.

"This is a local derby we enjoy and it's good to have the home advantage," says Ayr head coach Peter Laverie.  "The players all know each other well, as do the coaches, so the touchline banter will be of the highest quality."

Laverie knows the threat the visitors pose.

"Hawks will set a stern challenge as they are a quick and competitive team and will be mustard keen to turn us over on our own patch."

In terms of his own team, Laverie notes: "It has a familiar look to it and although we have real competition for places, we've gone for what looks like a very settled side."

Grant Anderson captains from full-back, with Kerr Gossman returning to the left wing and Murray McConnell starting at scrum-half.

D'arcy Rae and James Malcolm are on Scotland under-20s duty ahead of their Six Nations competition, so David Young and Stuart Fenwick provide cover on the bench.

There are several important ties this Saturday, with Gala and Melrose's clash at Netherdale a crunch match in terms of where the league title could go. 

"You never know what can happen, so our focus will be on gaining a victory by using some of what we've learned in the last couple of weeks whilst on British and Irish Cup duty," concludes Laverie.


15. Grant Anderson (capt), 14. Craig Gossman, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick, 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. Ross Curle, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. George Hunter, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. Nick Cox; 4. Callum Templeton, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Graham Fisken, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Peter McCallum.


16. David Young, 17. Stuart Fenwick, 18. Graham Williamson, 19. Peter Jericevich, 20. Ross Curle.

Kick-off 3pm.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Ayr players feature in Club XV win

The Scotland Club XV and the Scotland under-20s warmed up for their respective upcoming internationals with a friendly at Netherdale last night, with the club side winning 36-24, and there were Ayr players involved in both teams.

D'arcy Rae and James Malcolm were part of the under-20s squad along with former Ayr player Gavin Lowe, who was on kicking duty, and Peter Jericevich, Craig Gossman, George Hunter, Fergus Scott, Nick Cox and Callum Templeton had the opportunity to turn out for the Club XV, with Jericevich scoring their opening try.

You can read the round-up of the night here and watch Jericevich's try here.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

RBS Scottish Cup Draw latest: Ayr v Hawks

The draw was made today for the quarter-final of the RBS Scottish Cup and Ayr will be playing Glasgow Hawks RFC on Saturday 15th February at Millbrae.  The draw was made by our own James Malcolm and his Scotland under-20s teammate Damian Hoyland during a break from their training camp.

The draw:

Edinburgh Accies v Aberdeen Grammar
Ayr v Glasgow Hawks
Gala v Stirling County
Melrose v Heriot’s

Read the full story here.

Kenny Coaches Scotland 'A'

Our very own Kenny Murray has been appointed as the assistant coach for the forthcoming Scotland 'A' fixture against England on the 31st January 2014 at Scotstoun.

Kenny's Glasgow Warriors cohort Shade Munro is head coach, with Edinburgh Rugby's Stevie Scott joining Kenny as assistant.  Former Ayr players Gordon Reid and Mark Bennett are included in the twenty-three-man squad.

Read the full story here.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Ayr 2nd XV 26 Selkirk A 6

Ayr 2nd XV travelled to Selkirk and in difficult conditions came away with a bonus win 26 -6.  In what was a brilliant defensive display, the first half saw tries from Stuart Fenwick, Cammy Taylor, Graham Williamson and Robbie Shirra Gibb with Sylvain Diaz converting the extra points.

The game was stopped in the 29th minute when Murray Beckwith and Selkirk's number eight both fully committed for a high ball and collided head-on at full speed.  Ambulances attended and both were taken to hospital for treatment.  Thankfully Murray was released later but Ryan Crockett was detained for observations and we wish him a speedy recovery.

After a long period to allow both men to be removed from the field of play, the game continued with only one other score from Shirra Gibb and our defence holding out despite Selkirk trying everything they could to breach our line.

Next week sees Hawks visit in what should be an interesting game.  Hawks now sit top of the table two points clear of Ayr and with five games remaining, this match will play a big part in sorting out the league.

- Jim Henderson, 2nd XV head coach.

Ayr 14 Jersey 13

Mud, blood, scuffles and ripped shirts featured as Ayr gritted their teeth and forced their way to the finish line against Jersey in their final tie in the British and Irish Cup.

The pitch at Millbrae was soggy, to say the least, and as the teams ran on to the sound of a piper in the stand, it was clear there wouldn't be a lot of backs play.

There was a general feeling of unfinished business for Ayr after a disappointing loss against Jersey in October, and even if the conditions were awful, the home side were determined to sign off with a win.  Unfortunately, the first quarter didn't go to plan.

Both teams had wonky kicks and dodgy passes early on, and Jersey received a ticking off from the referee for some unsavoury goings-on in the scrum.  Despite nice hands from Ayr captain Dean Kelbrick and stand-off Finn Russell, they couldn't get anything going. 

Jersey launched the first proper attack of note through outside centre Drew Locke, although he couldn't escape the clutches of Ayr scrum-half Peter Jericevich.  Prop Gordon Reid and lock Callum Templeton also had to put in big tackles to halt the visitors' attacking efforts.

It rapidly went downhill for Ayr at ten minutes when second row Scott Sutherland was sin-binned for dangerous play at the line-out.  Even when he had been on, the home team was under pressure from Jersey at the set pieces, and without Sutherland to steady the ship, things were getting rocky.

Jersey went for the pushover try but Ayr did well to hold them up.  The visitors then camped out on Ayr's five-metre line and had scrum after scrum until the referee made the jog of doom to the posts, thrust his hand in the air and blew the whistle for a penalty try, which winger Grant Pointer easily converted.  0-7.

To further compound Ayr's misery, Jericevich was yellow-carded for unknown reasons, and with Sutherland still off the pitch, it wasn't looking good for the men in pink and black.

However, every sound of the whistle seemed to fire up the crowd, who had been quite quiet by Millbrae standards, and they roared on their players, who knuckled down to some doughty play. 

Flanker Graham Fisken led from the front and full back Grant Anderson was looking for gaps.  An attack from the backs saw the ball sail past winger Robbie Fergusson and land on the touchline.

There were knocks-on from both and a few forward passes from Jersey, and finding touch proved fruitless, with Jersey taking the quick line-out and Jericevich, now back on, demonstrating some lovely volleyball skills to keep the ball in play.

It was Anderson's trademark strong running that gave Ayr their first chance at a score.  He bashed several defenders out of the way as he barrelled up the touchline but lost the ball as he crossed the line. 

Ayr regrouped and worked their way into Jersey's twenty-two.  It looked as though replacement prop Nick Cox, on for a bloodied Reid, would barge over but Jersey's defence was strong.  Number eight Peter McCallum spotted the gap and pounced for Ayr's first try just at half-time.  Russell added the conversion.  7-7.

Jersey got the jitters at the restart, knocking on and then giving away a penalty in a kickable position.  Ayr centre Mark Bennett stepped up but it just drifted wide. 

The home side seemed nervy too, with loose passes and kicks out-on-the-full.  They gave away a penalty at fifty-two minutes and Pointer took the points.  7-10.

That gave the visitors a bit of confidence and lock Nick Campbell, a former Millbrae man, stretched his legs only for Reid to drag him down.  Another penalty kick by Pointer was successful four minutes later.  7-13.

Ayr stayed calm and although Fergusson was doing his best to spin out of tackles and Sutherland and replacement scrum-half Murray McConnell were making inroads, Jersey held firm. 

The home side had a couple of line-outs on Jersey's twenty-two and after what seemed like an age, Anderson found his way over the line, safely grounding the ball this time at sixty-five minutes.  The conversion was from a tricky angle, but Russell made it.  14-13.

Determined to hold on to their slim lead and equally determined to extinguish it, Ayr and Jersey clattered into each other like rutting stags.  Jersey replacement forward Fred Silcock had more than his pride bruised when he was floored by the smallest man on the pitch, Ayr replacement winger Craig Gossman, much to the amazement of the crowd.  Then things really kicked off.

McConnell and his opposite number Nicky Griffiths squared up to each other and a mass wrestle spilled on to the touchline.  McConnell emerged from melee with his shirt in tatters.  Despite stern words from the referee, another scuffle broke out soon after but everyone escaped the sin bin.

Ayr pressed on in the last few minutes with good work from Bennett and Cox, to name but a few.  It was McConnell, now clad in Danny McCluskey's number fourteen shirt, who safely booted the ball off the pitch for the win. 

Final score: Ayr 14 Jersey 13.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Ayr v Jersey preview

After Ayr's gutsy performance against Cornish Pirates in Penzance on Sunday, they are back at Millbrae for the first time in 2014 for their last British and Irish Cup match, this time welcoming Jersey to Ayrshire.

It was a close match when the two met for the first leg, so as well as looking for a victory this time, the men in pink and black will also be facing former team-mate in the form of Nick Campbell (above), who joined Jersey at the start of the season.

"Our team played to a high standard on what seems like a rather distant sunny afternoon in Jersey," says Ayr head coach Peter Laverie, "and we were incredibly frustrated with some of the decisions which went against us.  Still, our resolve is to perform well on Saturday and get a win."

He continues: "We'll be looking to get our game speed and intensity up right from the start.  We have a robust pack and a quick back line who all like to play rugby and will want to put on a show for the faithful Millbrae support."

The fans will be pleased to see the return of former Ayr and current Glasgow Warriors players Gordon Reid and Mark Bennett, who start at prop and outside centre respectively, as they did last week.  Their Warriors team-mate Fraser Brown will also be pulling on the pink and black jersey again at flanker.

Youngster Danny McCluskey starts on the right wing, with Robbie Fergusson moving to the other wing from full back at Grant Anderson returns at that position.  Influential lock Scott Sutherland and speedy flanker Graham Fisken are back too, and talented front row player James Malcolm makes his first start at hooker.  Dean Kelbrick retains the captaincy.

Glasgow Hawks and Glasgow Warriors EDP Andrew Redmayne is on the bench to gain some experience of the British and Irish Cup.

"It will give him a chance to spy on us before the big league match against Hawks next week!" laughs Laverie.

On a more serious note, Laverie is keen to extoll the benefits of the British and Irish Cup for Scottish clubs.

"It is an excellent tournament and really challenges players and coaches.  It is for clubs to be ambitious and raise their standards to meet that challenge.  I hear calls from some for district sides to be in this competition but, apart from being a false level, it will just remove a huge pot of funding from the club game and I never really understand why we would want to drag the club game down rather than push it up.  Of course it's hard work to achieve better standards but that's the game.  After all, clubs really are the main key to rugby success in Scotland at all levels, followed by schools."


15. Grant Anderson, 14. Danny McCluskey, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. Dean Kelbrick (capt), 11. Robbie Fergusson; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Peter Jericevich; 1. Gordon Reid, 2. James Malcolm, George Hunter; 4. Callum Templeton, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Graham Fisken, 7. Fraser Brown, 8. Peter McCallum.


16. Fergus Scott, 17. Nick Cox, 18. D'arcy Rae, 19. Andrew Dunlop, 20. Andrew Redmayne, 21. Murray McConnell, 22. Craig Gossman.

Please note the earlier kick-off of 2pm.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Extending the hand - and cup - of friendship

Ayr may have been beaten by Cornish Pirates on Sunday in the British and Irish Cup, but they gained friends and admirers on their trip to Penzance, and not just with their gritty display on the pitch.

In honour of Ayr's first visit to the Mennaye, a Penzance and Newlyn RFC plaque was presented to Ayr president Billy McHarg.  In return, Billy, pictured above with Tom Magill and Ian Connell, gave the Cornish Pirates a pewter quaich, the traditional Scottish cup of friendship.

Both clubs enjoyed their respective visits to the south-west of Scotland and the south-west of England and this exchange of gifts is proof that, while the British and Irish Cup is a great competition on the field, it is also a valuable means of forging links throughout the rugby communities of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

U18s to face Watson's at Myreside

Ayr under-18s are to play George Watson's College at Myreside on Friday 24th January in a face-off between the Scottish Rugby Youth League champions and the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Cup champions.

The match is free to attend and everyone is welcome to catch a glimpse of the future of Scottish rugby.

Read the full story here.

D'arcy Rae and James Malcolm in U20s squad

Ayr's D'arcy Rae and James Malcolm have been named in the refined Scotland under-20s squad for their upcoming Six Nations campaign.

The reduced squad of twenty-six, down from the initial thirty-two, will gather for one last four-day training camp before their competition kicks off against Ireland on Friday 31st January at Athlone.

Read the full story here.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Eight Ayr players in final Club Int squad

The Scotland Club XV squad has been refined from forty-one to twenty-seven, with eight Ayr players named. 

Forwards George Hunter, Nick Cox, Fergus Scott and Callum Templeton and backs Peter Jericevich, Finn Russell, Dean Kelbrick and Craig Gossman will all hopefully get the chance to play for the club side in their internationals against Ireland and France Federale.

The Irish encounter takes place on Friday 7th February at Cork Constitution and the France game will be played on Friday 7th March at Old Anniesland, home of Glasgow Hawks.

Read the full story here.

Ladies' Lunch on Saturday 1st March

Ayr RFC is holding its ninth Ladies' Lunch on Saturday 1st March at Millbrae when Ayr take on Edinburgh Accies.

This ever-popular event is organised by our tireless social co-ordinator Eilidh Rankin and will support the work of Renal Cancer Research.

It all kicks off at 12pm with complementary bubbles, with the lunch commencing at 12.30pm.  This includes a two-course meal and a glass of wine.  There will be entertainment throughout, as well as a superb raffle and DJ Neil McColm getting the party started at night. 

Tickets are £30 and this includes entry to the game, as well as the match programme.

If you would like to book a seat or a table or would just like more details, please contact Eilidh at

Saturday, 11 January 2014

2nd XV take on Whitecraigs 1st XV

Ayr 2nd XV travel to Whitecraigs on Saturday (today) to play their 1st XV.

This is a friendly as the 2nd XV do not have a game until next week - away to Selkirk - and it gives them a chance to run off the Christmas excess.  It also has an extra edge as the coach Jim Henderson's son Stuart (ex-player at Ayr), is the current coach at Whitecraigs, so whether they communicate on the touch line will be of interest.  Please feel free to come along and support both sides in what could be an interesting day!  Kick-off is 2pm.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Cornish Pirates v Ayr preview

Ayr return to action on Sunday as they take on Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field in Penzance in the British and Irish Cup.  After a tough loss in their first meeting at Millbrae earlier in the season, Ayr head coach Peter Laverie knows that this rematch will be a difficult proposition, but is looking forward to it nonetheless.

"Our players enjoy the British and Irish Cup and relish the challenge and will be having a real go at quality opposition.  These matches offer a significant test and let players and clubs see where they have to get to on a consistent basis, which can only be good for our game."

Before the tough task on Sunday, Ayr will enjoy the Heineken Cup match between Exeter and Glasgow Warriors on Saturday, thanks to the help of Nathan Bombrys and Tony Rowe.  Then the players will turn their attention to the Pirates, with some old and new faces running out in the pink and black.

As the squad will travel back on Monday, several players are unavailable due to work and university commitments, which allows others to get some first XV experience.  Craig Brown starts at lock, with Danny McCluskey, who featured against the Pirates at Millbrae, and Stewart Walker named amongst the replacements.  Regional Academy and former Ayr player Ben Johnston is also on the bench.

Former Millbrae men Mark Bennett and Gordon Reid have been released by Glasgow Warriors and take their places at outside centre and prop respectively. Fellow Warrior Fraser Brown starts at openside flanker.  Robbie Fergusson moves to full back and Dean Kelbrick captains the side for the first time.


15. Robbie Fergusson, 14. Craig Gossman, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. Dean Kelbrick (capt), 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. Gordon Reid, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. Nick Cox; 4. Craig Brown, 5. Callum Templeton; 6. Andrew Dunlop, 7. Fraser Brown, 8. Peter McCallum.


16. George Hunter, 17. D'arcy Rae, 18. Stewart Walker, 19. Ben Johnston, 20. Peter Jericevich, 21. Sylvain Diez, 22. Danny McCluskey.

Kick-off 3pm.  The match will be broadcast live on BBC Radio Cornwall.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Emily Irving in senior Scotland women's squad

Ayr Ladies' Emily Irving has been named in the senior Scotland women's training squad ahead of the Six Nations.  She is among twenty-eight players who will gather for a training camp this weekend which will conclude with a game against an Army select side at Richmondshire RUFC in Yorkshire.

As well as some memorable performances in the pink and black, Emily has represented Scotland age-grades and here's hoping that she will soon be pulling on the dark blue at full international level.

Read the full story here

Emily is also featured in Friday's Herald.  Read the article here.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Murray McConnell on new Training Contract with Glasgow Warriors

Ayr scrum-half Murray McConnell, with some belting performances so far this season, has earned a part-time training contract with Glasgow Warriors and will be able to provide No.9 cover for the pro side should it be necessary.

Ayr boys in Glasgow U18s win

The senior intercity derby may have been a wash-out on New Year's Day, but the under-18 sides of Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh managed to play the second leg of their festive encounters, with Ayr's Jack Preston and Lewis Anderson again turning out for the Warriors in a great win for the Glasgow team.

Playing at Lochinch, Glasgow Warriors recorded a 42-12 victory over Edinburgh a few weeks after their 12-3 win at Murrayfield.  Ayr's Preston and Anderson again took their places at scrum-half and hooker respectively and no doubt enjoyed the high-scoring win over their east coast rivals.

Read the match report here.