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Chairman’s Message 2018-19

Welcome to Aberdeen Grammar Rugby for another season of rugby in National 1 at Rubislaw. As always, there are challenges ahead for the club on a number of fronts. As many of you will be aware the F.P. Executive decided to sell the clubhouse in late 2017 and an offer has been accepted to sell the buildings and grounds at 86 Queens Road. The club building will remain open for the duration of this season and plans are well advanced to move to an alternative establishment in the west end of Aberdeen. Once this has been finalised members will be notified of the new arrangements.

On another critical issue is the re-structure of the top of the club game in Scotland for season 2019-20. Super 6 will commence with Melrose, Ayr, Stirling, Boroughmuir, Watsonians and Heriots all being SRU funded franchised clubs with SRU appointed coaches and part time professional players.

Their departure from the club game and move to the performance department of the SRU has led to the Agenda 3 proposal for club rugby to be launched without proper consultation or impact assessment. The placement of the Super 6 clubs ‘amateur’ second string sides is a matter of debate and their inclusion in the new Championship/Premiership or National Leagues is vehemently opposed by all National 1 clubs and the 4 ex Premiership clubs who were not selected for Super 6.

The Agenda 3 initiative is complex and possibly well intended but the impact on National League clubs has the potential to be extremely damaging. This issue has led to our club leading the debate at this year’s SRU AGM and hopefully a sensible structured league restructure takes place in 2019. Irrespective of the ongoing debate we must finish in the top 6 of National 1 this season to ensure qualification for the new top club league in Scotland in 2019.

As always, we have personnel moving in and out of the club and our Chairman of last year Mike Cox has moved to Edinburgh for work reasons. He remains on the committee which has been augmented by the return of Jim Rae as President who replaces Graham Barron, who has retired through ill health after many years of sterling service to the club. We welcome Ken Ironside, Sam Knudson and Donald McArthur to the committee.

Our coaching set up is headed by Ali O’Connor supported by Bailey Walsh, Ian Stanger and Duncan Massey. Jack Montgomery leads the S & C and as always Louise McCullough provides her medical expertise. Jim Rae is working with Duncan Seller to enhance our communications and media presence and sponsorship packages. Duncan can be contacted on sellerduncan@gmail.com.

Player numbers are healthy from minis to senior sides with our U13- U18 merged with Wanderers to form Granite City Colts where we provide 5 coaches. Our second XV remain in Caledonia North 2 and progressed well last season, finishing strongly.

This is a critical season for the club and if Aberdeen is to be represented in the new Championship we require the whole rugby community in Aberdeen to get behind us in this endeavour.

I look forward to seeing old and new faces at Rubislaw this season and as always a warm welcome to all visiting teams and supporters who enjoy this great game.

Gordon Thomson

Chairman & Director of Rugby

Club Captain Welcome

Welcome to another exciting season at Rubislaw and the beginning of a new chapter for Aberdeen Grammar Rugby.

I am honoured to have been awarded the Club Captaincy for a third season and I am also delighted to have been given the privilege of leading such a great group of guys into the season ahead.

I would firstly like to congratulate Calum Champion, who has been awarded the 1st team captaincy, along with Grant Walker and Alex Ratcliffe, who were each awarded the co-Vice Captaincy. Having played with each of these individuals for a number of years, I know they share my passion for the club and fully deserve their new roles.

The 1015-16 season disappointingly saw both the 1st and 2nd XVs finish 9th in their respective leagues. However, a major positive to take away from our previous campaign was the strong finish from the 1st XV, who went unbeaten in our last four games to ensure we retained our National 1 status.

Unfortunately, last season also finished with the departure of a number of core senior players. I would like to thank Morgan Ward, Tony McGinness, Stuart Smith and Alex Hagart for their service to the club and wish them all the best in their future endeavours. With the departure of these individuals from our squad, the 2016-17 season will open the door for many of our talented young players to make a big impression in the 1st XV this season.

I am delighted that Ali O'Connor has agreed to continue as first XV coach for the 2016-17 campaign. Ali's tactical expertise, attention to detail and professionalism were key to our National 1 survival last season and will be crucial to our success this year. I am confident that Ali is the right man to get the most out of each player at the club, both in the 1st and 2nd XV.

This year, Ali's coaching staff includes former players Matthew Reid (defence), Duncan Massey (forwards) and Mark Cowie (fitness), as well as former Club Captain Iain Stanger. Each member of our coaching team has worked tirelessly over the summer to ensure that all players are mentally and physically prepared for the new season

On behalf of the players, I would like to thank all of our supporters and sponsors who follow and encourage each and every week. The supporters at Rubislaw expect and deserve a high standard of rugby, and they will have a huge role to play in our campaign.

We look forward to seeing you at Rubislaw this year, with your continued support I am confident that we will soon take Aberdeen Grammar back to the top tier of Scottish rugby where I belongs.

Doug Russell (Club Captain)

Head Coach Welcome

The Aberdeen Grammar squad are all really excited about the new season and I would like to start by thanking all of our fans for their support over the course of last year. It was a tough year for the squad in challenging times, but the players really appreciated the Aberdeen roar when playing at home last year. Hopefully we can give you all something to shout about!

The new season brings lots of excitement, a strong returning squad alongside many new recruits who have made their way to Aberdeen Grammar. We have managed to boost our squad by adding upcoming local talents in the backs like Murray Mitchell joining from Strathmore and Nat Coe joining from Aberdeenshire. Both are exciting runners and we hope to see them with the ball in a bit of space today.

The forward pack is looking strong too, with new recruits Calum Reddish (Mackie), Amos Marawa (Aberdeen Uni), Ethan Stewart (Aberdeenshire) joining the club. Returning from a spell in New Zealand is Matthias Schosser and from Aberdeenshire we welcome back Greig Ryan who is looking as sharp as ever in the back row. Joining the pack from our partner club in New Zealand is back row Alec Dravitski and second row Drew Whitehead who we hope will bring some hardnosed southern hemisphere experience to the squad. These are just some of the signings made during the off season and we welcome them all to Rubislaw as we begin the new campaign.

I am also delighted to announce an expanded coaching set up for the season. Iain Stanger and Duncan Massey continue to work with the forwards but this year are joined by Kevin Wyness who returns to the club after a period with Aberdeenshire. Also added to the coaching team is Rob Potter, looking after team Defence and the Backs, with Colin Philips also adding his defensive and skill development expertise. It’s a privilege to work with such a talented coaching team who are working hard to give players every chance to improve in all areas of their game.

With new players arriving on an almost weekly basis, things are looking up for the club as a whole and competition for paces has been fierce at training which has really raised playing standards. After a short summer break, there is a renewed sense of purpose and determination amongst the players and we can’t wait to get stuck into the season and improve on our league and cup performances from last year.

Thanks again for all your support.

Ali O’Connor

Head Coach

President Welcome

This will be my fourth year as President. I feel honoured to have been offered this position for another year and look forward to the challenges ahead.

The league structure for season 17-18 is a Premier League of 10 teams and 3 National Leagues with 12 teams. We are in National 1, a very strong league with many challenges. New teams are Gala, Cartha Queens Park and Kelso. Our main objective is to finish in the top 4 and leave any thought of promotion to be dealt with if it becomes possible.

On the playing front we will be losing a few regular 1XV players. Others have finished their academic years at Aberdeen Universities and have returned to their original clubs. We wish them all the best with their new jobs/clubs. New players have been recruited from the new university intake and other local Clubs. We also welcome 3 new players from New Zealand. Drew Whitehead, Alec Dravitski and Bailey Walsh proposed by 2 ex-Grammar favourites who were Cam Eyre and Rob Aloe. Matthias Schosser (Taz) also returns from New Zealand.

For season 1027-18 the senior coaching team will be led by Ali O’Connor assisted by Rob Potter, Duncan Massey, Iain Stanger and Kevin Wyness. Fitness, Strength and Conditioning will be led by Jack Montgomery. 1st XV manager is John Stewart with the position of Club Captain going to Doug Russell. We believe this set up will allow us to build a club with strong bonds and leadership, enabling us to achieve our goals. Physiotherapy services will be provided by Physio Paws a company set up and run by Keith Raymond.

We are proud of our youth section where we have a team of coaches working hard to develop our Grammar players of the future. We are confident that many will go on to play for one of our senior teams.

Behind the scenes, Mike Cox takes over as Chairman from Gordon Thomson who is now Secretary and Director of Rugby. The committee members continue to make an essential contribution to the Club, assuring financial stability and the effective administration of all Club matters.

I thank all our sponsors, who are named throughout the programme. Without your backing we could not sustain our competitiveness and goal of returning to the highest level of Scottish Club Rugby. We need all the support we can muster and are grateful for your continuing support.

Finally, thanks to all our supporters. I look forward to seeing and hearing you at Rubislaw throughout the season.

Graham Barron

Honorary President

Golden Oldies

For those of you visiting Rubislaw today from afar, or if you have just moved into the area you may not be aware of the opportunity to continue with Rugby when you are over 35 by playing Golden Oldies Rugby and for our local supporters, you can get involved as well by emailing goldiesrugby@gmail.com.

While still abiding by World Rugby Laws, Golden Oldies Rugby has a few variations - the games have shortened playing times, there is unlimited substitution, over aggressive play o NOT condoned, age is shown by the colour of shorts one wears, as any over 60's player cannot be tackled! You also play in a festival, not a tournament, in the spirit of fun, friendship and fraternity.

In 2015, Scottish Golden Oldies Rugby, in conjunction with three Media Students from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, created a DVD, 'Golden Oldies Rugby - an Introduction', which can be found on YouTube.

Aberdeen Strollers were Scotland's only team at the world and European festivals from 1985 until the World Golden Oldies Rugby Festival came to Edinburgh in 2008 when about 20 new or reformed Scottish teams participated. To maintain this legacy, the 1st Scottish Golden Oldies Rugby Festival took place at Perthshire RFC in the spring of 2009 and the 8th Scottish Golden Oldies Rugby Festival took place at Strathmore RFC in May 2016. The 9th SGOR Festival takes place at Ellon RFC on May 6th 2017.

Below are some of the many festivals coming up, if you are interested in any please contact: goldiesrugby@gmail.com.

9th Scottish Golden Oldies Rugby Festival
Ellon RFC, 6 May 2017

14th European GOR Festival
Lisbon, 14-18 June 2017

10th Anniversary GOR Festival of Rugby
Aberdeen Grammar, 5-6 May 2018

A Scottish Touring XV is being formed to participate in the Lisbon Festival and individuals or groups of players are most welcome for both the European and Scottish Festivals. If you are 35 years of age or over and wish to find out more about playing for the Golden Oldies, please give me a call. Why not join us on Facebook?

Dave McDonald (President Scottish & European Golden Oldies Rugby)