The rugby season started with a bang at Holmpark playing fields in Bishopton on Saturday with five Renfrewshire teams contesting the 4th annual Renfrewshire XV-aside Rugby Tournament. More than 100 senior rugby players representing clubs based in Paisley, Renfrew, Kilmacolm and Bishopton took the field, five teams each playing 4 games in a ‘round robin’ format. The standard of the rugby on the day gave no indication that this was the first game of the season for many of the players – the bar was set by a fast-paced opening match between Paisley 1sts and Birkmyre. It was a bruising encounter, Paisley winning by 5 points to 3. The second match was between the host team Bishopton and Renfrew, Bishopton proved too strong for their opponents and won by 22 points to nil. Bishopton and Paisley 1sts looked like the teams to beat, and this was confirmed in the 4th game of the day when the two teams met each other. The game finished 0-0, not a very exciting result but an incredibly gripping match. Neither team was prepared to concede a point and demonstrated this with some huge bone-crunching tackles – there was no shortage of commitment from either team. The large Bishopton pack had the upper hand in the set pieces but a very aggressive blitz defence by Paisley caused all sorts of trouble for the Bishopton backs who struggled to get fats ball out to their speedsters on the wings. Both teams went on to win the remainder of their matches, and the Bishopton conspiracy theorists were out in force when Paisley 1sts took on Paisley 2nds in the final game of the day knowing that they needed to win by more than 30 points to take home the trophy. But there were no ‘team orders’ and those same theorists were quickly quietened when the 2nd team gave a perfect demonstration of pride and team spirit against their ‘senior’ rivals. Unfortunately for them they couldn’t keep up the pace and the 10-3 halftime score turned into a 27-3 full time score, a comprehensive win but just not enough to take the cup away from Bishopton.
This was best possible start to the season for Bishopton, who have been growing steadily over the last few years under the watchful eye of club coach David Jackson. In recent seasons the pitch has been one of the biggest cause of headaches, but the club has dug deep and just completed a five-figure pitch improvement programme to address some of the drainage issues. This was the first test of the upgraded pitch and it stood up well to over three hours of hard rugby, and it now looks better than it has for some time. Senior player numbers are well up on last year and on Saturday seven of the Bishopton players were under 19 years old which is a great sign for the future of the club. On top of that the new micro, mini and midi sections introduced to Bishopton last season are proving very popular with children from all over Renfrewshire, proof that the hard work the club has put in to secure a place at the centre of the village community is beginning to pay off. If you are interested in hearing more about the activities of Bishopton Rugby please visit www.BishoptonRugby.com .