Rugby is definitely a sport on the front foot in the village of Bishopton, and never was that more obvious than the weekend just past. On Friday night 80 children and adults ranging from 3 years to 73 years old jumped on a double-decker bus from Bishopton to go to the Glasgow Warriors vs Ulster match at Firhill. Unfortunately the result didn’t go the right way, but for most of the children this was their first glimpse of live professional rugby and a superb time was had by all.
On Saturday the senior team were on their penultimate away trip of the season, this time on a ferry to play Cowal in Dunoon. Cowal are notoriously hard to beat on their own turf and this has never been a happy hunting ground for the Bishopton team. Coach David Jackson was unable to join the team in the trip so stand-in coach Stu Kelly was calling the shots, Bishopton were travelling with a full squad and hopes were high. After a horrendous winter the conditions could not have been better for a hard running rugby match and that is exactly what was offered up by the two teams in front of a decent sized and very vociferous crowd.
Bishopton has been guilty of starting slowly this season but in this game it was certainly not the case. Cowal received the kick-off, the ball was turned over at the first contact and a sublime backs move put visiting full-back Michael Burke through for an unconverted try on the left wing. A stunned Cowal team responded immediately with a big forwards surge and after 4 minutes had replied with a well-taken drop-goal - the scene was set for a gripping match.
Plaudits have to be given to referee Steve Webb who managed the game well. This was a feisty encounter which both teams were determined to win and there was no love lost in the contact situations. The penalty count was high, not so much because of dirty play but mainly due to the determination of each team to retain possession, frequently resulting in over-commitment at the ruck and handling in the tackle. Bishopton looked the more adventurous of the two and frequently tried to release their fast backs in space but the Cowal defence stood firm until scrum-half Sandy Glassford kept up his impressive try record with a scrambling try from the back of a collapsed maul. Alan Lees converted this one to make the score 12-3. Again Cowal responded, a short penalty move dragged the Bishopton defence in to contact and quick ball allowed the home stand-off plenty of time to exploit the big gap left and score between the posts. The score was 12-10 to Bishopton at the half-time whistle.
There was much more of the same in the second half, heavy attacks and solid defences. Both teams missed kicks at goal and the only score of the half was a spectacular solo try by the speedy Bishopton left winger who collected a pass on halfway, chipped his opposite number, dribbled the ball past the fullback and collected just in time to dive over the line. The final whistle went soon after, Bishopton were delighted to come away with the well-earned league points which put them within touching distance of the second promotion slot with only two games to go. A home win against close competitors Hyndland on the 9th April is the big test for the Holmpark men, a win will allow them to travel to Mid Argyll on the 16th April with their fate in their own hands.
But that wasn’t it for the weekend. Not to be outdone by the seniors, almost 50 members of the Bishopton mini and micro sections mustered on Sunday morning to travel to Greenock. This was the first ever fixture for the micro (P1-P3) section and they took the day in their stride, proudly representing their club and demonstrating fantastic skills for such young players. Even the pre-schoolers joined in with some hotly contested relay and skills races, much to the delight of the amassed supporters. This was the second outing for the Bishopton minis who played against Clydebank earlier this season, they had a tougher time against the well-established Greenock and Ardrossan sections but held their own in some exciting matches, winning one match, drawing two and losing two. All in all this was a fantastic day for Bishopton, everyone watching the smiling faces would agree that the future of Bishopton Rugby is very bright indeed.