A record number of Scottish clubs have this weekend been gearing up for the new season by taking part in RBS RugbyForce 2013.
Some 149 clubs, 100 more than two years ago, have thrown open their doors and put on a community event to stoke enthusiasm among members old and new ahead of the coming campaign in the RBS domestic leagues and knockout competitions.
A squadron of Scotland, Scotland Women, Scotland 7s and Scotland under-20 international players rolled up their sleeves to help out with events across the country, assisting with DIY improvements to facilities and putting young players through their paces in coaching sessions and touch rugby games.
All three of the home-based Scotland players who were part of the victorious British and Irish Lions summer tour of Australia got stuck in. Stuart Hogg lent at hand at Cartha Queens Park, Ryan Grant at Ellon and Sean Maitland at Greenock Wanderers.
Hogg was joined at Cartha by fellow Scotland caps Pat MacArthur and Ruaridh Jackson and their Glasgow Warriors team-mates Jonny Gray and Mark Bennett (pictured above with Cartha organiser Kirsty Pender).
International players were also involved with the events at Argyll and Bute/Oban Lorne, Crieff and Strathearn, Edinburgh Accies, Forrester, Montrose, Newton Stewart and Selkirk.
Glasgow Warriors star Hogg said: “It was an absolute pleasure to help out at Cartha and see the excitement that’s building at all levels of the club with the new season just around the corner.
“RBS RugbyForce is a great way to get everyone together, have some fun and show other people in the local area what they can get out of being a part of the club. I know from my own experiences in Hawick what a vital role clubs play in encouraging young talent and being a focal point for the community, and it’s fantastic to be able to give something back like this.”
Along with current Scotland centre Matt Scott, Scotland 7s players Chris Dean and Michael Fedo and the RBS 6 Nations trophy, all-time great and RBS Ambassador Chris Paterson helped out at Montrose.
He said: “So many clubs have really embraced the ethos of RBS RugbyForce this year and put a huge amount of work into staging their events. Thousands of people have had a great day out because of their efforts, and they deserve to reap the benefits over the course of the season with fresh interest in the club.
“Huge thanks to everyone who organised or took part in an RBS RugbyForce event this weekend, and all the best to the clubs who still have theirs to come.”
Supporters are being urged to send in their photos of RBS RugbyForce events and give themselves the chance of winning a pass to photograph a forthcoming Scotland match at Murrayfield. That’s the first prize in a competition being run by RBS in partnership with Scottish Rugby and The Scotsman.
Email your photos to RBSRugby@mcsaatchi.com by 10am on Wednesday 14 August to enter. Chris Paterson and Scotsman picture editor Andy O’Brien will select the best entries.
All clubs taking part in RBS RugbyForce 2013 receive a banner and poster to promote their event, along with a comprehensive event planning guide packed with hints and tips to get people involved. Each club also receives a £250 fund to purchase event essentials like DIY materials, barbecue supplies, t-shirts/bibs for minis festivals etc.
RBS RugbyForce is a core element of the package of support that RBS provides to Scotland’s clubs. As well as sponsoring the RBS domestic leagues, knockout competitions and men’s and women’s RBS Finals Days, RBS gives clubs access to vital kit and equipment through RBS Locker Room, awards RBS Club, Club Volunteer and Try of the Month to celebrate hard work and success, runs sustainability workshops to guide clubs to a thriving future and twins clubs with their local RBS branch for marketing assistance.
To view photos and video from RBS RugbyForce event, head to the Scottish Rugby website, RBS Scottish Rugby Facebook page and follow on Twitter @RBS_Rugby_Lad and @Scotlandteam.
Watch a video of some of the RBS RugbyForce activity at Selkirk and Cartha Queens Park at this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vxjSCxPbIk