With the season at an end, we're saying farewell to five of our senior men's squad as they prepare for new challenges.
Captain Dean Kelbrick and front row players Nick Cox and Stuart Fenwick are retiring, whilst scrum-half Murray McConnell is joining English Championship side Nottingham, and half-back Sylvain Diez returns to France. All were recognised at the recent club awards dinner for their on- and off-field commitment to Ayr RFC.
Kelbrick joined Ayr from Glasgow Hawks in 2012 and made the inside centre berth his own. He was club captain in 2014/15, having skippered Ayr to a memorable 14-13 victory against Jersey in the 2013/14 British and Irish Cup. As a player, he demonstrated tremendous defensive abilities, as well as an eye for a gap, and in his role of captain, he led by example with his calm and collected approach.
Prop Cox earned himself a passionate following amongst the Ayr fans as he consistently put his body on the line whilst charging about in a pink and black shirt. There was something of a wrecking ball about him, as he put his head down, bashed the opposition out of the way and crashed over the line for a try, as he did on many an occasion.
Also cropping up on the score sheet over the years was Fenwick, who duped more than one defender with his deceptive turn of pace and dummying skills. He will continue as the club's development officer, where he has guided Ayr Ladies to two national finals and nurtured the talents of the most promising young male and female players through the Ayr Rugby Academy.
If anyone could liven up a game, it was McConnell, a terrier of a scrum-half. Snapping at the heels of the opposition, as well as marshalling his troops, he was always on the scent of an attacking opportunity, and the Millbrae faithful will certainly miss him swan-diving over the try-line. The Nottingham fans are in for a treat with Muzza.
Dapper Frenchman Diez kicked Ayr to a terrific 16-14 win against Bristol in the British and Irish Cup with a perfectly struck penalty on a horrible December afternoon in 2011, just one of his many appearances in a pink and black shirt. As assistant development officer, he was instrumental in Ayr Ladies' success alongside Fenwick, and also helped grow the popularity of rugby in Ayrshire through his school visits.
We wish Dean, Nick, Stuart, Murray and Sylvain all the very best for the future and thank them for all their hard work.