School sport: Dubai trip fitting reward for thriving girls' squad

The Community School of Auchterarder's girls rugby players are looking forward to their trip to Dubai in 2011 after another amazing year.

The squad - which is augmented by two girls from Crieff High School - were put through their paces by Scotland scrum-half Mike Blair at the University of Stirling recently, ahead of their much-anticipated tour to the UAE in March.

Despite forming just two years ago The Community School of Auchterarder girls have won a string of competitions including consecutive victories at the Edinburgh Sevens Festival of Rugby in 2009 and 2010.

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Run by Phil Shore, the squad were also awarded the 2010 Spirit of Youth Group award and a number of players have been named in the Scotland under-18 Regional Development Squad.

Blair was joined by school staff and women's players from the University of Stirling to prepare the girls ahead of the tour which has received backing from Scottish motor dealers John R Weir.

The motor group package includes sponsoring playing strips and providing training tops for the tour, while on the playing side the trip to Dubai involves matches against a number of local club sides, including the Exiles, Hurricanes and Dragons as well as a match at the Exiles' ground.

The rise of girls' rugby at the school really has been exceptional.

In late November 2008 a group of 26 girls travelled to Murrayfield for a girls' rugby development day. Such was their enthusiasm that by late January 2009 a minimum of 26 players were regularly attending training in Auchterarder. Two months later they played their first match at under-15 level against a composite side from Crieff, Breadalbane and North Berwick.

With some very strong runners and showing huge commitment, the Auchterarder girls proved too strong for the opposition and sealed their first ever victory.

The Gala Sevens was next and although it was a big step up against established Border sides, they reached the final and played on the Netherdale pitch. Although they lost, their runners-up spot showed that they were there to stay.

Fast forward nearly a year-and-a-half and they now have a number of trophies to their name, nearly 50 registered players and both under-15 and under-18 squads.

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It is expected that with the interest continuing and the predicted increase of players in the senior years, that the school will field two girls teams and three boys teams next season.

Shore said: "We are indebted to Mike Blair for giving up his time to support the girls. I am sure they will give a great account of themselves in Dubai and will thoroughly enjoy this opportunity.

"It really has been a great journey since we started up girls' rugby at the school and it has been pleasing to see the girls grow as players and as people over that time.Success breeds success and it is great to see more and more girls taking an interest in getting involved at various age levels."

As part of their fund-raising for Dubai a very successful dinner dance was held on the day of the Scotland-South Africa Autumn Test, with former British & Irish Lion Doddie Weir as the main speaker.

And in their last competitive tournament before the snow played havoc with sport across the country, both the under-15 and under-18 teams won their events at the Perthshire Tens in November.