NEARLY 150 rugby clubs across Scotland will be opening their doors this weekend with internationalists and British and Irish Lions as part of the RBS RugbyForce initiative.
The event was launched in 2009 by the Six Nations Championship sponsors, initially targeting one club in each of the four home nations considered most deserving of a make-over. Famous players were sent along to help tackle some painting or other renovation of a clubhouse.
However, the initiative has widened hugely across the UK and Ireland and in Scotland has grown from one club in 2009, to 40 in 2010 to this year involve 149 clubs. The focus now is more simply on opening the clubrooms to the public and, irrespective of whether there is work to be done, encouraging people to put rugby clubs back at the heart of their communities and sign up to help.
New Lions Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Ryan Grant are among a wealth of Scotland male caps, female caps, sevens and under-20 stars who will be part of the event today, pitching up at clubs from the Premiership down to local leagues throughout the afternoon. Sean Lamont is heading to Argyll and Bute/Oban Lorne, Tommy Seymour to Newton Stewart, Hogg will be at Cartha Queen’s Park, Maitland at Greenock Wanderers and Grant at Ellon while Greig Laidlaw is at Selkirk.
Chris Paterson is also involved and he will be at Montrose, along with Edinburgh and Scotland centre Matt Scott and the RBS Six Nations trophy. As an RBS ambassador, he has been involved before, last year travelling to a host of clubs in all four of Scottish rugby’s traditional districts in the same day.
“All the ingredients are there for a great RBS RugbyForce weekend right across Scotland,” he said, “and I can’t wait to get to Montrose and help them gear up for the new season.”
New SRU President Donald MacLeod, who is heading west to Cartha Queen’s Park, added: “Clubs are the bedrock of rugby in Scotland. It’s fantastic to hear that so many of them are getting involved.”