Report by Harry Reilly
Cumnock Rugby Club's highly successful Youth Section added another contact to its network when they played host to a touring school team from Canada at the weekend. Holy Cross Catholic School (who play under the "Crusaders" moniker) from Kingston, Ontario called in to play a game at Cumnock as the final stop on their week long Scottish tour. This was a first for Cumnock in hosting a team from across "the pond" and had an additional unique factor in that the team was an U18 girls side.
The excitement had been growing all week at the club and reached its pitch about lunchtime when the tour bus pulled into the club with a piper on hand to give the girls a warm welcome to Ayrshire.
Quickly settling in to their changing facilities little time was wasted and after a warm up both teams took the field to the skirl of the pipes. The game which followed proved to be challenging for the composite Cumnock Cougars side who struggled to come to terms with the well drilled Canadian outfit. Initial midfield skirmishes saw the visitors driving deep into the home team territory and it was only a matter of time before their line was breached. This early score was one of three first half scores that the Crusaders put on the board before referee Kevan Aitken blew for the break. After a pep talk from their coaching team the 'Nock side worked feverishly to thwart the penetrating attacks made by the visitors however the superior rucking and ball winning skills by the "Canucks" meant that the home team were always on the back foot. Three further scores were added by the Canadians before an extended period of possession by the home side moved the ball close to the visitors line as the clock would down. Wave after wave of home side attack were repelled in the minutes leading up to the final whistle however it was not to be.
Sadly one of the visitors, fly half Reagan Perin, suffered a head injury and was taken by ambulance to Crosshouse Hospital where she spent a number of hours under observation due to a concussion. Reagan was eventually discharged late on Saturday evening and was able to rejoin her team to travel home to Canada the following day.
In true rugby fashion both teams retired to the clubhouse where they enjoyed a hearty meal and and plenty chat about the game. Once the meal was concluded the formalities took place where a number of awards and gifts where handed out. The Crusaders Man of the Match (or MVP as the presenter was reminded by the guests) was picked up by scrum half Kathryn Falcone whilst the Cougars award went to Rowan Kerr. In traditional rugby tourists fashion an exchange of club crests was made also. To finish the formalities Cougars player Amy MacDougall performed a display of highland dancing for the guests which was warmly received.
Crusaders coach Dave Jarrell thanked the club for the hospitality they received, "Our trip to Scotland has been tremendous for the players and coaches alike however the overwhelming welcome we have received at Cumnock Rugby Club surpassess anything we encountered on our trip and is a fantastic culmination to our tour." Coach Jarrell continued, "We only hope that we can return the favour and tempt Cumnock RFC to visit Canada where we can attempt to return the kindness" In response Cumnock Cougars girls coach, mark linden commented " ........this has been a great experience for our girls and I am sure the friendships made today will continue for many years to come."
Cumnock Youth Section President, Harry Reilly, added "the experiences that our young players gain from playing and socialising with teams that tour or host touring sides is imeasurable. To see this group having so much fun together having only met a few hours earlier is tremendous and speak volumes for the positive impact that sport has on children."
Getting back to club business, training this week will be at the usual times Weds 1900-2000 for P4/5 at Catrine Games Hall, the same time for P6/7 at Cumnock Academy All Weather. On Thursday 1800-1930 for Girls, S1 and S2 followed by 1930-2100 for U15 team upwards both of which will be at the Cumnock Academy Astro. The Club is also hosting an S1 festival on Sunday 25th March where 10 teams from the Glasgow South region will compete. This festival is one of four venues across the Glasgow south region which will accommodate S1 and S2 rugby from every club in the region. Finally everyone is reminded that the clocks will change this weekend so make sure this is factored into your planning for Sunday.