AGM June 2024

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The Club held the 2024 AGM on Wednesday 19th June.

There were a few events which impacted on attendance (Highland Show and Scotland v Switzerland in the Euros) but there was still a decent attendance to ensure business was carried out correctly.

Secretary Mike Booth ran the meeting efficiently, introducing the various committee members who were providing reports. Unfortunately Treasurer Nigel Pacey was unwell and unable to attend and so Mike ran through the most important points of the Treasurer's report, along with other reports from others who were also unavailable.

The full AGM Minutes will be posted on this site asap but please find below the Playing Reports from the section Convenors. These are all thoughtful and well constructed and give a clear insight into the work being undertaken by the army of volunteers who give of their time freely - we would be much the poorer without their input and so on behalf of Biggar RFC, please take a bow and accept our grateful thanks for all your support.

BIGGAR RFC MICROS & MINI AGM REPORT
SEASON 2023/2024

We have approx. 25 players attending matches and training each week although we have 47 names on the register. We will have approximately 19 players moving up to play P4 rugby next season, of which there are 12 regular players.

P1/2s enjoyed a good season maintaining good player numbers with 8 P1s & 18 P2s. High numbers for two coaches, but we have a couple of regular parent helpers we are hoping to sign up as coaches for next season. We lost a couple of players pre-Christmas which I'm sure the weather at the time played a large part in so we would like to make more extensive use of the new indoor facilities earlier in the season. We had three new players start around Easter & unfortunately due to the amount of away festivals they haven't returned. We enjoyed lots of festivals/ tournaments & regularly took enough kids for two teams with extras as subs. Moffat, Lanark, Strathaven & Livingston all stood out as well run & enjoyable with some good wins under our belt. Our lowest point was at Boroughmuir, who announced as we took to the pitches that we would be playing Hawick ball. Two years of trying to coach run forward, pass back gone in 5 minutes!! Challenges for this group for the coming season will be around sufficient coaches for the group and something we will need to try & get the message out about to assist Ben coming up from the Bairns to this group. To finish, an hour spent with these kids on a Sunday morning generally leaves us with a smile on our faces & I think the same can be said for the kids.

The new season will see new coaches joining as P1 coaches and we are in the process of having 3 new coaches undergo PVG checks before the start of the season. Angela Still will continue as micros coordinator and Alison Howie will take on the role of coordinator for the P1/2s next season.

P3s had good numbers this season and had a fantastic end to the season finishing overall age group winners at both the Moffat and Strathaven festivals. Coaches are looking forward to them breaking into their own P4 team next year where they will develop further and introduce contact to their game.

A fantastic season for our P4 group with some 25 players representing the club. Throughout the year we have only lost 2 of these players - 1 as they moved away, and 1 who just wasn’t taking well to contact rugby. The first year of contact rugby always brings its challenges but the vast majority of the children took to the game exceptionally well. Coaches have worked with individual players throughout the season to build their confidence in contact.

On the pitch we have had several strong festivals / games. As much as possible, we take 2 teams to festivals to maximise playing time and opportunities for all youngsters. We have settled on always entering 2 teams of a similar standard, as this seems to benefit and push on all players. This has started to come to fruition with the teams finishing 1st and 2nd at the Moffat festival, and 2nd and 3rd at the Strathaven Festival. Some of our best, most physical games this year have been between the ‘Biggar Blacks’ and the ‘Biggar Reds’. We look forward to seeing the strength of this team in the years to come.

Lots of positives to take from this season. Our numbers have been very good both with an average player count of around 16 players and 4 coaches. Coach wise we were lucky to get Ian Munro joining us who brings lots of previous rugby experience. He's been really good and brings coach numbers to 4 which is needed when we have full numbers and allows coverage when coaches have other commitments. The P5s trained on the first Tuesday of the month again this season.

Overall the season was average to good. While we didn't win any tournaments, we did win plenty of matches. It was sometimes hard to juggle our numbers at tournaments and that often made the team disjointed. We do have some excellent players, and if we were to put out a core team every week we would certainly have won more, but that's not what we wanted to do.

It is noticeable in matches that our team plays "good rugby", moving the ball out to wide channels through the hands. This has been commented on by other coaches. This is something we are keen to continue next year. All coaches continuing next year in P6. Hopefully more players too. 

We are a fairly unique team in that we haven't got a huge squad like other age groups and the numbers are split fairly equally across boys and girls. They are so gelled as a team that we don’t see boys favour passing to girls and vice versa and as a result we receive many comments from other coaches about how good a team they are to watch.

Main reflections have been the team building through the season; honing their jackling, rucking, tracking as a team, rushing opponents, utilising their individual strengths. The players have absorbed the core belief that all rugby balls are “their ball” and they all go out steal it back whenever anyone else has it. Another statistic to call out is our ability to hold up players up over the line with around 8 this season which shows how well they play as a team and think nothing of putting their body on the line to stop the team losing a try. As a collective they have tuned into each other and this has been great to watch through the year.

We have met challenging opponents from across the country and whilst we’ve been regularly praised for our politeness and rugby spirit, we’ve also been inundated with comments of our skill set, passion and collective spirit. In every tournament we have been in the top 2 teams and without doubt have been consistently the best rugby playing side demonstrating fine technique and passing, despite the physical advantages of most other teams dominated by boys – notable mentions for performances in East Kilbride, Boroughmuir and Watsonians.

The whole season culminated in winning the Moffat Tournament. Despite recently losing one of our best to a broken wrist the team took to the pitch for the final against the only other unbeaten side. We responded to a highly physical team, collectively shut the opposition down, frustrated them and kept driving on. By the end they came out victorious with their exhausted and exhilarated faces wonderful to see - we were so proud of what they’d done.

We wish to mention Michael Russell's impressive effort as performance coach and Brian Thomas's unique motivational attributes - both inspirational and the kids absorb it. Major challenge for next season will be to increase the number of boys playing in P7 as at the end of the season 63% of players were female.

The P7's have had a very successful 2023-2024 season, the highlight of which was winning both the Moffat and East Kilbride tournaments. The success of this has been helped in no small measure by our academy training and also our extra week night training sessions.

We have 26 players so have a good strong squad, however we are losing 5 fantastic players who now move over to the girls U14 team. We wish them well and know they will go on to thrive. We are hopeful that we will be able to enlist more boys into our U13 team to bolster numbers. We have been fortunate to welcome a few new members during this season.

Thank you to our coaches John Wyllie, Bryan Cathcart, Julia Miller and more recently Andrew Bell for their hard work this season and a special mention goes to Julia for her dedication as she takes a step back from frontline coaching but will continue to take an active role in supporting the U13 team next season.

This season saw us starting with 74 children playing micros/mini rugby and this grew to 112 active players and a total of 118 paid memberships. The growth is due largely to the work the community coaches have been doing to recruit new players across primary schools in the area as well as a bit of word of mouth. Observations are that micro numbers drop when playing away matches and during the winter months and we will benefit greatly from the new indoor space in the coming season. We used the sports centre for Biggar Bairns and micros from the start of Dec until the end Feb which helped keep numbers up and are considering fewer away matches and more trainings for the micros next season.

Next season we hope to continue to see the same playing numbers returning and we will need to focus on recruiting numbers across all age groups but in particular in the P7 age group where we have more girls than boys playing and squad numbers are fairly low in this age group.

Our mini festival was a great success at the start of the season after missing out the year before. We had some really tough opposition this season with invitations from more borders sides than in previous years as well as invites from Watsonians, Boroughmuir and Dumfries. All proved good experiences for us. The highlight of the season was winning the Moffat tournament at many of our age groups and winning the overall trophy.

All coaches across the Micros and Minis continued to do a fantastic job and creating such a great sense of community within their teams. We also need to thank the team co-ordinators for their help and organisation to make everything run smoothly throughout the season. We also appreciate the sometimes long distances particularly this past few months when we were asked to play more away matches due to the construction works at the club. We continue to turnout excellent numbers compared with other clubs of our size at every festival and fixture we have. We welcomed and have supported 3 new players from Syria into the club as well this season thanks to Calum Taylor and continue to see them thrive. We look forward to welcoming them back again next season.

The micros and mini season was rounded off with the awards and fun day on Sunday 19th May with almost 140 children participating and along with parents and siblings attending the awards followed by an afternoon of games, soak the coach, tombola, kit swap and bouncy castle fun as well as the annual parents v players touch match!

The first half of the season up to December saw Biggar U13’s and U14’s participate in festival type fixtures where one club would host and another 3 clubs would participate. It was up to the hosting club how they wanted to run these festivals. They were generally well attended and it was a good way to get everyone playing and decent game time.

The U15’s and U16’s participated in a West Region League playing against clubs like Whitecraigs, East Kilbride, Lanark, Loch Lomond, Greenock Wanderers, Oban Lorne, Waysiders/Drumpellier and GHK. The U16’s also participated in the National Youth Plate competition where they had 3 games playing against Greenock Wanderers, Jed Thistle and CQP/Cambuslang. They got to the quarter-final of the National Youth Bowl competition in November against Aberdeen Wanderers and after a very close game, we were unfortunately defeated 12-8. The second half of the season the U15 and U16’s were entered into the West Youth Cup Competition and U13 and U14 had friendlies arranged.

S1 started the season with 16 players and ended with 18 with some of those unable to play each weekend due to other commitments. The team had 3 coaches (David Murray, Brian Gilchrist and Douglas Notman) involved with the team. Eliz Gilchrist is the team administrator. All are staying on to next season. We will need a recruitment drive for this age group, as they will move up to 15 a side next season. Hopefully some new players will come from Carluke and Lanark.

End of season awards occurred 15-May-2024: Coaches Player Cal Humphries, Players Player Jamie Mackie, Most Improved Player Finlay Scott and Biggar Spirit Angus Henderson.

The S2s have 23 players. Two coaches (Stuart Plenderleith and Euan Lawrie) are currently involved with the team. Anita Baskerville is the team administrator. All are staying on to next season and also Stuart Harrison will be added to the coaching team.

End of season awards occurred 28-Apr-2024: Players Player Bailey Cook, Most Improved Player Edmund Wigram and Biggar Spirit Dylan Lambie.

The U15’s started and ended the season with 18 players. Two coaches (Nic Humphries and Pete Tennant) were involved with the team. Pam Tennant is the team administrator. Pete will not coach u16’s next season. Calum McCallum, Nic Humphries and Fraser Campbell (when able) will be next seasons coaching team. Pam will stay on as team administrator. The numbers will be bolstered with the additional age eligible U16’s from last season.

End of season awards occurred 28-Apr-2024: Coaches Player Logan Hutchison, Players Player James Stewart, and Biggar Spirit Caleb Cunningham.

There have also been a few boys playing in the Glasgow and West regional U15 age group – namely Max Elliot, Alex Tennant, James Stewart and Finlay MacKenzie.

The U16’s had approximately 20 boys and were coached by Calum McCallum, Fraser Campbell and Rory Conn. Jackie Miller and Ger McCann were the team administrators.

End of season awards occurred 28-Apr-2024: Coaches Player Harris Cairns, Players Player Finlay MacKenzie, and Biggar Spirit Finley Cook.

Season 2024/25 will see the U13’s and U14’s participating in a West Club competition with fixtures arranged by the SRU against West of Scotland, Ayr/Wellington, Dumfries Saints, GHA, Kilmarnock and Greenock Wanderers. The U15’s and U16’s will compete in the National 2 Club Conference against Ellon, Perthshire, Highland, Dunfermline, Falkirk and Dundee. The U16’s will also compete in the National Youth Cup against Boroughmuir and Kelso.

Please let Laura know if you would be interested in coaching, either being assigned to a squad or as a reserve coach who we’d call on for specialist coaching to cover if we’re short due to holidays etc. We can arrange it to suit you!

Finally, a huge thanks must go to our coaches, team administrators, army of volunteers, parent helpers and supporters for their commitment during the season, we couldn’t do it without them!



The girls have had a successful season this year.

For the first time we had teams from all ages represented during the season including U10s. The U10 and U12 girls train on a Thursday allowing those girls who only want to take part in girls rugby the opportunity to do so. Most of the girls also play with the boys on a Sunday too.

The U14 girls grew in number very quickly and had a record number of games throughout the season. They were dominant in their groups but had good competition from clubs that are beginning to grow their numbers and provide us with more competition.

As a section we travelled a lot and the highlight for many girls was the U14 trip to Oban and the U16 trip to Shetland. Thanks to all those that made this possible.

We have had incredible success with national and regional selection;

Many of our girls also went onto represent Biggar at Murrayfield with the Ladies in their Shield Final.

The girls were invited to provide the guard of honour at Edinburgh which was a great day out.

We were also invited to speak at Scottish Rugby’s conference, with many of our coaches attending, this was a great day and provided many ideas for improvement in the future.

A huge thanks to players, parents, coaches, managers, first aiders, CPOs, photographers, veo controller and the committee for all of your support in making it as busy and successful as it was.

The result of all of this activity and growth in members means that next season, both the U14s and U16s will have 2 teams within their squads allowing for increased game time for individuals which had become an issue. We are all looking forward to getting started!

Season 2023/2024 maintained the coaching team of myself, Jordan Gray, Mark Yates and Calum Taylor (when family commitments would allow) staying in position. Scott Watson stepped up from the U16’s who he has coached for the past few seasons and was a very welcome addition to the coaching team. Craig Whitefield moved up to coach the 2nds joining up with another former Colts coach Doug Roper.

The SRU re-structured the youth leagues this season and taking the full club approach the youth midi section (including Colts) were entered into a regional league with lower league competition that we as Colts coaches felt we were being unfairly penalised. After challenging the SRU and making the point of needing competitive fixtures to allow the appropriate development of our U18 players, the SRU agreed to enter the U18 section (only) in the new National 2 Club Conference along with Dumfries, Currie, Dunfermline, Ellon, Highland and Perthshire. The league was interspersed with National Cup/Plate fixtures playing from September to December before moving into regional cup competitions after Christmas.

Squad numbers at pre-season were good, with typically 15 to 20 boys training and up to 22 or more boys available for the conference fixtures. It’s the first time for quite a few seasons that we have had more boys than squad sizes would allow. The split of the squad was about 50% of second year colts and 50% new Colts, and we were bolstered with a couple of new but experienced recruits. Pre-season was productive, the group worked hard and the spirits were good, the young boys stepping up putting a great effort in. We were dealt a blow when Connor Murray suffered a serious ankle injury early in the pre-season and this effectively ruled him out of almost the whole competitive season, a particularly cruel blow when he had missed the previous season with a similar serious injury.

The National 2 conference went well on the whole, with 4 wins from 5 games with a notable victory over Currie and some handsome wins over Ellon, Dunfermline and Perthshire and a sole heavy defeat at the hands of Dumfries, the league winners in the first half of the conference placed in the top half of the league for the 2nd half of the conference where we suffered two heavy defeats to Currie and Dumfries, with the Highland game being postponed due to poor weather. Overall, this placed us 2nd in National 2 and justified our challenge of the SRU to get us placed in this league.

In the National Plate competition, we had 2 wins from 3 in the league section, with a narrow but disappointing defeat away to Jed, taking us to a quarter final versus Kelso which ended in another defeat where we did not do ourselves justice.

In early January we entered West Regional Cup competition. Some good wins over Dalziel and Hamilton were offset by a bad defeat to Marr, but we claimed a National 1 scalp by beating GHA at home and also put in a very strong performance against West unlucky to lose out by 10 points against another competent National 1 side. A disappointing defeat away to a dogged Galloway ended our competitive season.

On reflection a good season in National 2 for this group of boys but tinged with slight disappointment that we did not do better in the National Plate. A lack of a good collective defensive will and work ethic was the difference between a good and an excellent season. However, the senior Colts leaving this group should be commended for the effort they have put in over the years, it has been a pleasure to coach this group. I would like to extend my thanks on behalf of the club and committee to Scott Watson, who will be moving out of the Colts group to coach the U18 girls, and Mark Yates will also move on to take up the role of forwards coach of the Ladies Team. Mark has spent several years with the Colts group and has been an excellent coach and mentor to the boys.

Some of the boys made their transition to senior rugby, choosing to focus on senior rugby instead of completing their senior Colts year. This always impacts on the Colts group where the key to developing first years Colts is a core of competent and committed 2nd year Colts to take the apprentices through their first year. However, these boys and others (when age qualified) demonstrated they are competent to play at this level and will hopefully continue to develop and push for 1st and 2nd team places next season. I think it is really important that we work very hard to retain the services of all our graduating colts for a number of years after they leave the under 18s group.

Finally, it would be improper not mention Jock Gray. Jock has been a close helper and supporter of the Colts group over an extended period of time. I know I speak for all Colts of the past few years in expressing our gratitude to Jock for his efforts, kindness and the huge amount of support he has put into the Colts group over a period of almost 10 years.

That concludes the Colts Report for season 2023/2024.

The Ladies competed in the West Region League Division 1 with the first game against Cartha Queens Park 2nds on 20-Aug-2023 winning 63:0. The next game was on 27-Aug-2023 against Ayr where we lost 29:17. Onto Annan on 03-Sep-2023 winning comfortably 70:5. We then travelled to Oban Lorne on 10-Sep-2023 winning 55-10. Another win the next weekend against West of Scotland (19:12) and then Wigtownshire who had insufficient players resulting in the default score (28:0). The fixtures were then played again reversing the host and we won all of them. We finished in the table 2nd behind Ayr only on points differential.

The ladies had their end of season awards evening with the senior men on 13-Apr-2024. Player of the Year Abbie Baillie, Players Player Poppy Clarkson, Alexandra Phillips Young Player of the Year and Poppy Clarkson Eric Shearer Memorial award.

Onto Biggar 7’s on 18-May-2024, where the ladies won beating Stewartry in the final! There was some good rugby on display from the teams who played – Cougars, Stewartry and Pigbarians.

Ladies Team Captain was Emelia Knights, vice-captain Alison Orr and this will remain for next season.

Finally, a huge thanks must go to our coaches Nic Humphries, Stuart Moffat and Mark Yates for their commitment during the season, we couldn’t do it without them!! They will stay on for next season. Kim Laird will replace me as Ladies Team Co-ordinator next season.

Firstly, apologies for not being able to make tonight’s AGM.

The 23/24 season was a very challenging year for the 1st XV and had the league position been offered at the start of the season we would have been very disappointed. However, the dramatic turnaround in form and the squads’ efforts to keep the club in National 1 should be recognised. Most young squads that suffer 7 defeats in the opening 7 games would crumble and likely be relegated by Christmas. However, aided by the return of several senior players such as Owen McLeish, Luhann Kotze, Robbie Orr, Craig Borthwick the form turned around with great results coming against GHA, GHK, Glasgow Accies, Melrose, Gala & Watsonians.

In the end safety from relegation was secured with games to spare which at one stage looked extremely unlikely so credit must be given to the resilience and character of the squad. Some of the contributions of the young players this year has been outstanding particularly in such a difficult and challenging season. Examples of this include but are not limited to the performances and notable improvement from Ryan Whitefield, Ben White, Morris McDiarmid, Tom Roper, Finlay Crozier & many others who should be proud of their efforts and contributions as young players in high pressure matches. There is a wealth of young talent in our senior squad, and we should be excited to see these players grow and develop further over the next few seasons.

As the season drew to a close there was a sense of the end of an era with David Wilson, Dougie Fleming, Ian Notman & Ian Warnock all moving on from their roles within the senior section. Its important that these four are remembered for the huge amounts of success they brought to the club. Multiple league titles & creating a squad that is built around homegrown talent is the legacy that should be remembered. I would like to thank them all for all their efforts during there time at Biggar RFC. Particularly to Dougie, Ian & Ian who have served the club for such a long period in a variety of different roles.

As mentioned, I’m proud of the resilience the squad showed this season to overcome a disastrous start to the season. But the entire senior squad is grateful for the support shown again this season particularly during that difficult run early on. The support we receive as a 1st XV continues to be the reason so many players continue playing at Biggar and also why so many return to the club. On behalf of both the 1st XV and 2nd XV thanks for your continued support it really does make a massive difference.

However, the focus quickly turns to next season. The players are excited to start preseason and the appointment of Craig Borthwick as head coach has been very well received amongst the playing group. I’m confident with Craig as head coach and with the support being built around him we can return to pushing for promotion to the premiership. An exciting squad is being assembled and with lots of consistent performers in the 2nd XV who will be determined to make the jump to the 1st XV should mean we have a very healthy squad come the start of the season. Andrew Peacock has also joined the management team after a fantastic playing career and on behalf of all the teammates he has had over the years I would like to thank him for all he has done for the senior squad, club and his teammates.

I would also like to put on record my thanks to all the players, coaches, committee members, and wider club members for their support to myself during my 2 seasons as captain. It has been a privilege to captain the club for the last few seasons and I’m extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity.

I look forward to seeing everyone down at Hartree mill in the near future.

Regards.

Andy Jardine

Schools Program

All Biggar HS cluster primary schools received a minimum 4 week block of TAG rugby (P1-P7). Over 350 children across all 12 schools. In Carluke we delivered to all the Carluke HS cluster primary schools, again a minimum 4 week block of TAG – 680 children in 8 schools. At the club we held a P6/7 festival in October with 200 children in attendance, unfortunately the P4/5 festival was cancelled due to bad weather and we couldn’t reschedule. We held 3 come and try days through the season working mini convenor Catrina to recruit new players.

Further festivals have been held: The P7 schools festival was held in June with 11 schools taking part from Biggar, Lanark & Carluke with Auchengray/Blackmount winning the Biggar Rugby P7 Cup. A further P1-3 sports festival will be held next week with around 150 children attending (this isn’t being held at the club due to the building works this year).

Calum McCallum and Cerys Forrest have delivered the program. We have encountered minor issues with booking in to schools through active schools in Biggar and tracking the recruitment from schools to club numbers. Calum will now book in to schools directly as of now and a new member pack will allow us to see the impact of the schools program on new member recruitment.

Biggar HS SoR: S1 & S2 school of rugby ran at the HS. S2’s run till Christmas then stop. We had average numbers in both (S1 – 22, S2 -24). Program takes many hours to run with after school clubs part of the program, players receive around 2 ½ to 3 hours a week of extra training. We have struggled to recruit a huge amount of new male players in to the club but female numbers continue to thrive. The P7 festival was introduced this year to raise the profile of rugby at P7 to entice new players into the school of rugby in August. A curriculum rugby block was introduced too. The aim will always be to have 20 boys at S1 and 10 girls.

Lanark GS: We started a new after schools club for girls. This is slowly growing and 6 new girls joined from Lanark at U14. A new PT in the PE department will support the girls growth.

Carluke HS: A large SoR at Carluke with 25 boys at S1/2. Numbers are slowly trickling in to the club at U13/U14. We will match the delivery between Biggar and Carluke and look at how we can improve the school to club recruitment. New funding from the SRU will mean we will vastly increase the Primary school delivery in Carluke and the support at the SoR. We have seen good numbers coming from Carluke with 16 players across U13/U14/U15. Increase in girls number at Carluke is a discussion we are having with Calum Taylor (Active schools and who runs the SoR).

As a team we reviewed the annual program and planned the below for 2024-25.

Academy 2023-24 ran from August to April across P6/P7, U13/U14 and U14 girls. Older teams were supported by professional staff and volunteer team coaches. These session give an extra hour/90 minutes of training a week through the season on top of their team training. Focus is always on skill development.

36 athletes committed to the annual program. We deliver 3 x sessions for 50 weeks of the year (this equates to an extra 300 hours of training the players can access). We have had success within the SRU performance programs with male and female players but with 36 players accessing skills and S&C the U16/U18 girls and U15/U16 squads performances have improved. A new intake has just entered Hypers with 20 new athletes starting a new Hypers season. With U18 leavers numbers in Hypers will be 50-55 players.

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