Development Officer Update (October 2019)
This is the first of a series of updates.
In May, following the appointment of Colin Sturgeon as Marr Rugby Development Officer to work alongside assistant development officer Ewan Hamilton Bulger, the club took stock to identify ways to improve its approaches to help the development of youth rugby and the wider support that Colin and Ewan could bring.
With their extensive knowledge and experience of playing and coaching at youth level and playing at senior level in a high performance playing environment in a community based club, Colin and Ewan along with Marr Rugby Head Coach Craig Redpath have put in place some changes to help take Marr Rugby from Minis through Midis to Senior Rugby to greater strengths. Their work, along with the wider Marr Rugby family of players, coaches and other supporters will help to deliver the club’s vision and mission of providing access to quality and high performance rugby for players and coaches at all levels, and allow supporters to enjoy seeing high quality rugby being played by all Marr Rugby and Marr College teams.
Their work is building on the good work and solid foundations, led by Stephen Cotter and others, that were already in place.
Part of the plan involves new responsibilities and specific leads for the development officer team, including the appointment of Ewan to a newly created post of Development Officer (Performance).
Both Colin and Ewan continue to be embedded within Marr College and following consultation with the College’s senior leadership team they will become even more visible and active within the school environment and recognised as key partners in the school and its day to day activities. They will help bring learning from participation in rugby into the wider school community. One of the projects they will undertake involves delivery of inputs that will help greater understanding of diet and nutrition and the benefits to wider health and wellbeing to all parts of the school community. Marr Rugby’s direct link with the school is with Mrs. Rae Anderson, Depute Head Teacher and Colin and Ewan have daily contact with the school’s PE staff led by Mr Kevan Bryden.
In addition to leading School of Rugby, Colin has come up with a plan to expand the club’s programme for introducing primary school aged children to rugby.
Ewan's new role will see him focusing on the Performance aspects of the game, specifically Strength & Conditioning, coach development and Individual Player Development.
2019/20 is a big year for Marr College as the school sides step up into the Mitsubishi Motors L200 Schools Conference. This provides our players and coaches with a real test and participation at this level is a key factor of our long term improvement plans.
This season Colin and Ewan have been actively encouraging improvement and engagement at all levels and we are seeing early signs of the benefits of this. Colin is giving support across all stages of youth rugby while Ewan is lead coach for the U16 side. The parent coaches are benefiting from their knowledge and expertise and also from the continued and growing participation of other Marr Rugby senior players who are helping in coaching roles. These include Gregor Ness and Rory McGee at U18 and Scott Bickerstaff, the club’s lead for Strength & Conditioning. Other senior players provide support on a sessional basis and they along with Craig Redpath and Assistant Coach Kenny Diffenthal will continue to be involved in the delivery of specialist coaching sessions.
The work that Colin and Ewan are doing along with others is showing early signs of success.
We have more players actively involved at all youth levels, including girls’ rugby.
The school sides are getting a real test in the L200 Conference and although results are mixed we have seen, some early and significant wins.
The U16s and U18s have reached the last 16 of the National School’s Cup competition. This is a fantastic achievement and the boys are relishing the opportunity to take on Fettes and Glasgow Academy in the next round.
Colin and Ewan have achieved accreditation as World Rugby, Strength and Conditioning Coaches at Level 2 and arranged sessions that resulted in five Midi coaches becoming accredited to deliver Level 1 Strength & Conditioning training. This greatly builds capability and capacity in this important aspect of youth rugby development.
Colin worked with Paul Gillespie , Marr Rugby Minis convener, to deliver Marr Rugby’s first Full Club Day. This included 25 1st & 2nd XV players attending Mini training where they assisted coaches in the delivery of their sessions. Marr Rugby 1st XV Captain Conor Bickerstaff announced Hattie Young would be our first Mascot of the season and that the P1 team would provide the guard of honour for the 1st XV’s match against Musselburgh. All mini parents were provided with two match day tickets for the 1st XV match and mini players were encouraged to come along wearing their Purple and Gold and cheer on the senior side. Meanwhile other senior players and Head Coach Craig Redpath attended the Schools Conference matches against the High School of Glasgow to support the teams and coaches. For the school matches Marr Rugby fielded 135 players into nine sides ranging from P6 to U18. This initiative was hailed a resounding success and helped promote and strengthen our whole club approach. It will be repeated during the season
The efforts and success of Marr Rugby’s work in developing youth rugby as part of the overall improvement plan for the club is recognised by Scottish Rugby. They offer tangible support as a partner, along with South Ayrshire Council, in providing limited funding that together with a contribution from Marr Rugby means we are able to fund one of the two development officer posts. The second post is wholly funded by Marr Rugby. Marr Rugby supporters can help contribute to covering the costs of these posts by enrolling in our small lottery Marr 300 (find out how you can support here).
Colin and Ewan’s work, along with others is ensuring that Marr Rugby’s future continues to be bright….