Marr RFC have put the crushing disappointment of having the greatest moment in the club’s history snatched away from them at the last minute by galvanising behind the national effort to fight the coronavirus crisis.
The deadly Covid-19 pandemic led last week to the Scottish club rugby season, which was already suspended, declared null and void.
Marr led the top-flight Tennent’s Premiership by 69 points to second-placed Currie Chieftains’ 67 with a game in hand ahead of the final round of matches which meant the Troon club were effectively just one win away from a historic first ever Scottish championship title.
Despite the disappointment, the Ayrshire club says it accepts the SRU’s decision to scrap the season and, in the face of the current dire situation, has mobilised to help.
Marr president Stephen Allam is owner and managing director of TR Bonnyman, Scotland’s largest producer of sanitising gels. A typical output from Bonnyman’s pre-Covid-19 would have been 1,000 litres a week but this has soared to 50,000 litres per day.
Many of the Marr first XV are now working alongside their president and his team at Bonnyman’s, keeping vital supplies flowing to protect frontline workers across Scotland. Marr players doing their bit include stand-off Kenny Diffenthal, wing Scott Bickerstaff, tighthead prop Calvin Henderson, centre Gregor Paxton, lock Josh Harvey, scrum-half Ali Hazel, loosehead prop Brandon Sweet, No 8 Benedict Grant and flanker Robert Brown.
A Marr RFC spokeswoman said: “Like many clubs, a sizeable number of our players, members and sponsors are at the frontline, working in the NHS and other emergency services, or providing other essential services and supplies or volunteering. As a club, we are truly grateful to one and all.”
Formed in the 1940s as a former pupils arm of Marr College, the club’s most famous product is the late great Gordon “Broon frae Troon” Brown, the legendary former Scotland and British and Irish Lions second-row.
Marr have been a club on the rise in recent years under coach Craig Redpath. From the 2010-11 season, they went on a run of four successive league wins which took them from the sixth to the second tier of Scottish club rugby.
Promotion to the top-flight was achieved in 2017-18 and, after relegation, they won the second-tier National 1 the following season to return to a restructured Premiership following the launch of the part-time professional Super 6 competition, which has also been declared null and void.
A statement from Marr said: “We understand the decision that’s been taken by the SRU. Marr has been the most consistent and highest performing club throughout the season.
“We’re seriously disappointed but remain determined to come back even stronger. We’re grateful for the ongoing support of our sponsors and members.
“There are challenging times ahead for all clubs. Marr is a community asset, a family, focussed on team building, health and well-being at every level.
“We have strong support from local companies and members, and a great conveyer belt of players from [mini rugby] Marr-mites, on through our youth sections and in to our three top performing senior teams.
“We will continue to work hard to provide access to rugby at all levels.
“In the interim, we’re very conscious as a club of the gravity of the current situation. With rugby halted, the team have turned their energy and skills to helping at the front line.”