Ross Thompson held up as a shining example of Super6’s benefits by Ayrshire Bulls boss Glenn Tippett

Ross Thompson’s breakthrough year with Glasgow Warriors saw him crowned the club’s player of the season last week and the stand-off is now being held up as the poster boy of FOSROC Super6.

Ross Thompson playing in the Super6 for Ayrshire Bulls against Watsonians at Millbrae. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Ross Thompson playing in the Super6 for Ayrshire Bulls against Watsonians at Millbrae. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

After a 15-month hiatus the competition is to return on Friday 30 July, subject to Scottish Government coronavirus guidelines.

The inaugural edition of the part-time pro league had to be suspended in March last year due to Covid, with no winner declared.

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The Super6, which is designed to bridge the gap between amateur and professional rugby, was not universally popular, with some clubs criticising the regional make-up of the league which features three clubs from Edinburgh and none from Glasgow.

Stirling County players are desperate to return to the fray, says coach Ben Cairns. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS

But Glen Tippett, the Ayrshire Bulls general manager, sees Thompson’s progress as a shining example of its benefits.

The stand-off played for the Bulls in the 2019-20 season and won a call-up for Scotland’s summer squad on the back of his Warriors form.

“All the Super6 clubs absolutely believe in the purpose of the competition, which is to bridge that gap between the club and the pro game,” said Tippett.

“The rest of the rugby nations are developing at a quicker pace and we’ve got to run fast just to keep up with our own development.

“Ross Thompson is exactly the type of person that not just Ayrshire Bulls, but Super6 need to be proud about.

“That’s what our purpose is. We are here to produce players for the next level. It is great that he has accelerated and gone to Warriors for half a season and is in the Scotland squad straight away – good on him – and we like to think that we played a role in him getting into that full-time professional environment where he will accelerate further as a player.”

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Tippett thinks starting the new season in the summer will be more conducive to the brand of rugby Super6 clubs are trying to play. All teams will play each other twice across ten rounds of fixtures, with play-off finals scheduled for October 15.

“It’s about being able to play a more expansive and attractive style of rugby, to challenge players’ skills and fitness levels playing on hard and faster tracks,” he added.

“It is also an opportunity for us to do something as a collective around spectator engagement, attracting fans and sponsors.”

The first match of the new season will see Boroughmuir Bears host Heriot’s at Meggetland on Friday, July 30. The following day Stirling County will take on Southern Knights at home and on Sunday, August 1 Ayrshire Bulls will host Watsonians in the first live TV game of the tournament. The broadcaster has yet to be announced.

With players deprived of rugby for 15 months, there has been an understandable enthusiasm to return and Ben Cairns, the Stirling County coach, has detected an edge to training.

“We’ve just got into contact and that’s been pretty fiery,” he said. “We’ve had some bust-ups in training which has been great. The boys are excited and we can’t wait to get started now.”

The former Scotland centre admitted recruitment had been a challenge during lockdown but hopes to announce some new signings in the coming weeks. He is also pleased that Stirling have managed to retain 19 players from the initial Super6 season.

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