Rugby: Bute rebirth plans gather pace

Tag rugby players at North Bute Primary with their Bute Rugby teachers Thomas Connor and Kevin Smith.
Tag rugby players at North Bute Primary with their Bute Rugby teachers Thomas Connor and Kevin Smith.

The rebirth of rugby on Bute is gathering speed thanks to various sessions around the island designed to appeal to all ages and playing abilities.

Around 80 P5 pupils from all three of the island’s primary schools have now taken part in two weeks of ‘tag rugby’ sessions, aimed at giving young people a fun - and, just as importantly, a non-contact - introduction to the oval ball game.

We caught up with Kevin Smith and Thomas Connor this week at the second tag rugby session at North Bute Primary in Port Bannatyne, while pupils at St Andrew’s and Rothesay primaries have also shown plenty of enthusiasm, and no little aptitude, for the game.

Plans are also in place for an after-school rugby club at Rothesay Academy and for a festival of rugby for children, to be held after the Easter holidays.

Sam Lawrie, one of the local rugby enthusiasts trying to spread the word about the game, told us: “The tag rugby is going really well so far, and we’re hoping that some Glasgow Warriors players might be able to attend our festival.

“The first after school session at Rothesay Academy, for pupils in S1 to S3, is on Tuesday, March 5 from 4-5pm, and we’re also holding an adult training session on Tuesday, March 26 at the rugby pitch [behind Rothesay Leisure Pool] from 6-7.30pm.”

In addition there are plans to hold family tag rugby sessions during the summer to further foster interest in what is a very social sport.

“Tag rugby is a non-contact, evasive form of the sport,” Sam continued. “In Helensburgh, where I lived previously, we had six-a-side tag rugby sessions where you had to have two girls and an under-16 player in your squad of eight.

“Everyone seems to be loving the sessions we’ve had so far.”

In addition, Sam and his fellow enthusiasts are hoping to generate enough interest to be able to field an adult team in some end-of-season sevens tournaments, and perhaps even to organise one or two full 15-a-side friendly fixtures later in the year.

“The great thing about the after school club at the Academy,” he added, “is that next year the oldest ones in the group will be 16 and at an age when they can be the next generation of adult Bute rugby players.”