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January Memories


January Memories

The Stirling County Rugby Club Memories meeting of 20th January  2020 welcomed Ian Barr, Scottish Rugby Council  (SRC) Vice-president, as the guest speaker. He is pictured with John Gibson, Vice-president and administrator at Stirling County.

Ian is a farmer from the Lothians and long-serving member at Lasswade Rugby Club. As president there for fifteen years and long-standing player at all levels he is well placed to give an honest and knowledgeable view on the current Scottish rugby scene. Ian has had several posts within the SRC which we all thought was the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU). He served as a manager/Ambassador for the successful Scotland Under-20 squad. There he saw some of Scotland’s current internationalists stepping up along the representative ladder. He noted that it given the opportunity for some players like George Horne and Darcy Graham to show that they were able to play against the best players in the world. This background certainly makes Ian an informed individual to represent Scottish Rugby and well placed to make informed observations and to advise on the state of our game, its structure and administration, 

While comfortable talking about vision, governance, and finance Ian was most passionate when talking about how the playing the game should be developed in Scotland. He drew comparisons with how rugby has been developed in Wales and Ireland where they have had notable more success at the international level in recent years. Professionalism has certainly been an issue for Scotland. Ian reflected on the two professional team set-up, the Super-six project, player progression as well as the  need for grass roots rugby to provide a platform for all of this to develop.  The SCRUM self-registration system for players will identify the real depth or dearth of player participation in Scotland. The growth of girl’s and Women’s rugby has been a bonus and as women become more involved in rugby clubs they bring many more strengths.
Ian described enthusiastically the developments at his local High School in Lasswade over the past seven or eight years. With the support of rugby-keen Headteacher, the game has been incorporated into the health and fitness curriculum so that players can develop their skills and knowledge within a certificated course. Numbers playing rugby have ballooned, they have had success on the playing side, and boys are moving into representative squads. The local club Lasswade is providing opportunities for players to move up to the senior game so everyone is benefitting. Young people are gaining educational, health, fitness and discipline benefits that come from participating in rugby. 

There was recognition from Ian that systems cannot be transplanted into other geographical areas with different priories and opportunities. Stirling has been trying through Development Officers to build links with local schools. Links to Dollar Academy, Strathallan and Morrisons schools have opened other possibilities. The youth system within the club is envied elsewhere and has led to great age-group success and we continue to see Stirling players move up to rugby at all levels in Scotland. 

Those present were surprised to hear from John Gibson that several of the Super Six players who are on a contract, are young fit and enthusiastic, had not played any minutes of rugby yet this season. The problems of running a squad system and being unable to play “down” in the club league competition does raise real concerns for players who need playing time to develop match fitness and learn their craft.

We thanks Ian for his talk and feel that Scottish Rugby is well represented by his rounded critical perspective. 

The next meeting will be in Stirling Rugby clubhouse on MONDAY  17th February at 1.00pm, all are welcome for a cup of tea or coffee and a bit of cake. There will be a guest speaker and other rugby chat and recollections.
Further information is available from or Iain Ballantine via the club.

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