Scottish Rugby Honours Community Coach Graduates

Scottish Rugby honoured 11 of its community coach apprentices at a graduation ceremony led by Scotland lock and Glasgow captain Alastair Kellock at the Cartha Queen’s Park club today. The apprentices, sponsored by rugby clubs and working in tandem with the SRU’s community rugby department, have graduated with a Scottish Vocational Qualification and equally importantly have delivered the opportunity to thousands of Scottish schoolchildren on a weekly basis to experience rugby and become physically active, regardless of where they live. Scottish Rugby honoured 11 of its community coach apprentices at a graduation ceremony led by Scotland lock and Glasgow captain Alastair Kellock at the Cartha Queen’s Park club today.

The apprentices, sponsored by rugby clubs and working in tandem with the SRU’s community rugby department, have graduated with a Scottish Vocational Qualification and equally importantly have delivered the opportunity to thousands of Scottish schoolchildren on a weekly basis to experience rugby and become physically active, regardless of where they live.

Glasgow captain Alastair Kellock and his team-mate, flanker Stevie Swindall, the latter a former SVQ, presented the graduation scrolls at the ceremony at Cartha Queen’s Park rugby club in Glasgow. Scottish Rugby chose the club to host the event because of the enthusiasm with which it has embraced the initiative.

Kellock said: “It’s really encouraging that through Scottish Rugby’s partnership with Scottish Enterprise, community coaches are spreading the rugby gospel to thousands of youngsters throughout Scotland some of whom will catch the rugby bug.

“You only need to speak to Stevie (Swindall) to see how much he benefited from being on the programme, as a player and a person. As players, we like competition and the more people we can encourage to play rugby in Scotland the better competition can be and, at the same time, as this initiative prospers, it can also have a positive effect for the overall health of the nation.”

Stevie Swindall said: “I was among the first SVQ students when I played my club rugby at Whitecraigs. I really enjoyed it. I was coaching full-time and that experience stood me in good stead both in terms of my rugby and my own development.”

Colin Thomson, the SRU’s Head of Community Rugby, is encouraging other clubs to experience what the SVQ programme can bring to them and their community.

He said: “It’s five years since Scottish Rugby first formed a partnership with Scottish Enterprise and clubs around the country to launch the community coach initiative and at any one time more than 40 young people are involved in the programme.

“The scheme has been such a success and it is important it continues to thrive. It exemplifies the way forward if we are to bring new recruits to rugby irrespective of their background.

“It also encourages greater physical activity for the youth of our country and that can only be good for the well-being of our communities.”

Today’s graduates are: - Jenny Miller and Emma Waugh (both Waysiders Drumpellier), Peter McCartin (Dalziel), David Grainey (Alloa/Clackmannanshire Council), Kris Burney (Hillfoots/Clackmannanshire Council), James Rennie (Stewart’s/Melville), John Spencer (BATs), Gregg Gilmour (Cumbernauld), Craig MacNicol (Ayr), Martin Stewart (Ross High) and Gordon Galashan (Midlothian Council).

In addition seven other SVQ candidates have graduated but were unable to attend today’s ceremony: Juan Van der Merwe (Lismore), Fraser Hughes (Livingston), Duncan Campbell and Jonny Smart (both Dunfermline), Les Bottomley (Melrose), James Fleming (Perthshire) and Mark Coull (Preston Lodge).

Notes to editors

• Since the SVQ programme started in 2002, 79 clubs have sponsored at least one candidate onto the programme

• Last season the community coaches delivered rugby sessions to some 20,000 school children each week

• To date 147 candidates have successfully completed at least one year on the programme

• The programme has won national recognition in two successive years at the Scottish Modern Apprenticeship Awards winning the Partnership category in 2004 and the Employee Achievement category in 2005

• Some 39 candidates have played age-grade rugby for Scotland while on the programme

• Four SRU modern apprentices – David Young, Sean Crombie, Innes Brown and Graham Hogg – have gone on to become pro-rugby players after graduation.