Award recognises Garioch’s giant strides on and off pitch

INVERURIE club Garioch, have won the Scottish Hydro club of the month award for January and February.

With so few games played in January because of the harsh winter, the award with its 1,000 prize was extended to cover both January and February and recognises the club’s performance on and off the field.

Garioch sit comfortably at the top of Scottish Hydro Caledonia North East 2 with a 14-point cushion and a game in hand, winning their two matches in the months by over 60 points with an unblemished discipline record, satisfying two of the three award criteria.

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In addition to their table-topping first XV league performances, the club has been applauded for their extensive rugby development.

In partnership with Scottish Rugby, the club’s sponsors and Aberdeenshire Council, the club support a full time development officer, Chris Lawson, and also a part-time community coach.

Alongside Ellon development officer Mike Avis, Lawson has just completed three rugby festivals involving ten primary schools from the Meldrum school network, bringing over 700 youngsters together over the three events.

Lawson said: “It’s great to be recognised. The award rewards a lot of hard work from volunteers who do an excellent job – we couldn’t do it without them.”

As a result of the club’s commitment to grassroots development, Garioch now has a vibrant mini section and S1/2 group and is working with Aberdeen Wanderers to field a combined under-15 team and to re-establish their under-16 and under-18 teams, while their 2nd XV play regular friendly fixtures in the 2nd XV league.

“Despite being predominantly a football-orientated area, the local kids have reacted really well to rugby,” added Lawson. “We’ve put a lot of emphasis on having fun which is where I think rugby really comes into its own. It’s much less competition-based with participation and enjoyment the priority and I think this is why an increasing number of kids are coming down to the club.”

Garioch president, Stuart Archer, said: “I’m absolutely delighted for club. The coaches, the players and the volunteers have put a huge amount of work into the club, particularly in terms of seeking increased funds to cover the cost of a dedicated development officer.

“We’re a pretty small club at the lower end of the divisions but we put more than our fair share into growing the game. We’re really starting to see the benefits of having Chris [Lawson] in place with new members joining from the local primary and secondary schools.

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“For the first time in a number of seasons we’ve been able to field a regular second team which, anyone knows, is a must if you want a successful first team. We also get a lot of support from local businesses; particularly from Lawrence of Kemnay who provide cars for the development staff – crucial to getting them around the various schools in the area.”