Ally Maclay has enjoyed a peripatetic rugby career but is now back where he started.
The 29-year-old centre has resumed an association with Glasgow Hawks that began 16 years ago in their midi section and saw him appear for Scotland in age-grade rugby such as against Italy's Mirco Bergamasco (below).
Tomorrow he’ll line-up as Hawks welcome Hawick to Old Anniesland and their first home game back in the RBS Premiership.
Hawks go into the contest on the back of a narrow away loss to Edinburgh Accies last weekend, while Hawick are also searching for a first win, having gone down at home to Aberdeen Grammar Rugby.
From the Hawks midi, Maclay played for Stewart’s-Melville while he was a PE student in Edinburgh; returned to Hawks and was a pillar of their 2003-2004 Championship and Cup double; represented Scotland at under-18, under-19 and under-21 levels; played for Hong Kong at both 7s and XVs while he was with the oneWORKS Valley club; and enjoyed two spells at Sydney University, where his team-mates included Ollie Atkins, who is now with Edinburgh Rugby.
Now back in his home city – and teaching on the PE staff at his former school, the High School of Glasgow – Maclay said: “It’s good to be back. I’m still enjoying running around. Success won’t happen overnight at Hawks – it never did when we won the league and cup back in the day – but there’s a lot of good work going on.
“I’m really impressed with Jamie Dempsey (the Hawks coach) who brings a lot of energy to his coaching and to see people like Chas Afuakwah involved as President – Chas was a mainstay of the team when I was a young player – shows that we’ve got the right people in the right places.”
MacLay cites the presence of fellow experienced campaigners Mike Adamson and Rory McKay on the field and the likes of Hugh Barrow and Kenny Hamilton off it, as further evidence that Hawks can build on their return to the top flight this season.
As an internationalist at both the full and abbreviated code in Hong Kong – having qualified through three years’ residency, MacLay saw the Hong Kong 7s both as a player on the field in 2012 and then as an administrator, helping out with the PR for the 2013 tournament.
He found that experience helped to broaden his perspective alongside a teaching stint at Newington College in Sydney, which was the first Australian school to play rugby back in 1869 with a twenty-a-side game against Sydney University.
Glasgow Hawks: Andy White: Tom Steven; Ally MacLay, Jack Steele, Ross McLymont; Mike Adamson, Paddy Boyer; Steven Findlay, AN Other, John Lohoar, Ruaridh Wilson, Rory McKay, Andy Kirkland, Mateusz Bartoszek, Ross Miller captain. Subs: Jack McFarlane, Craig Bachurzewsk, Craig Brodie, Davie Milne and Jono Wright.
Hawick: Ally Weir; Greg Anderson, Lee Armstrong, Gary Johnstone, Scott McLeod; Gregor Hunter, Bruce Campbell; Shawn Muir, Lindsey Gibson, Wullie Blacklock, Rob McAlpine, Kieran Willison, Stuart Graham, Keith Davis, Bruce McNeill. Subs: Ross Graham, Liam Launders, Nick Mactaggart, Neil McColm, and Neil Renwick.
Referee: Graeme Wells
Elsewhere in tomorrow’s RBS Premiership card, champions Ayr welcome Melrose to Millbrae, both clubs having won last week. Ayr recall Sylvain Diez to stand-off with Ross Curle moving to outside centre. Melrose also make one change with Edinburgh Rugby lock Perry Parker starting in the second row.
Ayr: Grant Anderson; Cammy Taylor, Ross Curle, Robbie Fergusson, Kerr Gossman; Sylvain Diez, Peter Jericevich; Denford Mutamangira, Fergus Scott, Nick Cox, Scott Sutherland, Colin White, Graham Fisken, Andrew Dunlop, Calum Forrester captain. Subs: James Malcolm, Stuart Fenwick, Callum Templeton, Murray McConnell and Richard Dalgleish.
Melrose: Fraser Thomson captain; Damien Hoyland, Andrew Skeen, Joe Helps, Austin Lockington; Richard Mill, Bruce Colvine; Nicky Little, Richard Ferguson, Nick Beavon, Perry Parker, Ross Ovens, Peter Eccles, Grant Runciman, Graeme Dodds. Subs: Chris Keen, Gary Holborn, James Head, Alan Dodds and Harry Leonard.
Referee: David Changleng
Gala travel to Goldenacre after their victory over another Edinburgh side, Currie, on home turf last week, while Heriot’s will be looking to atone for a disappointing start at the Greenyards.
Heriot’s: Liam Steele; Colin Goudie, Keith Buchan, Cameron Ferguson captain, Max Nimmo; Graham Wilson, Guy Murdoch; Craig Owenson, George Turner, Gavin Cameron, Murray Douglas, Russell Nimmo, Lawrie Seydak, Chris Mulligan and Jason Hill. Subs: Kevin Bryce, Mike Robertson, Alex Henderson, Sam Hidalgo Clyne and Harry Boisseau.
Gala: Liam Draycott; Grant Sommerville, Chris Auld, Alan Emond, Craig Robertson; David O’Hagan, George Graham captain; Callum MacIntosh, Russell Anderson, Rory Sutherland, Opeta Palepoi, Craig Borthwick, Gary Graham, Ben Murray Ewan Dodds. Subs: Lewis Bertram, Craig Keddie, Stevie Cairns, Andy McLean and Graeme Spiers.
Referee: Lloyd Linton
Two sides who opened their account positively last week, Aberdeen Grammar Rugby and Edinburgh Accies clash at Rubislaw, while two sides who were defeated last week, Currie and Stirling County go head to head at Malleny Park.
Aberdeen Grammar Rugby: Will Wardlaw; Angus Rennie, Harry Duthie, Peceli Nacamavatu, Calum Gordon; Rob Aloe, Morgan Ward; Matt Dixon, Sam Bingham, Struan Cessford, Ed Nimmons, Jamie Metcalfe, Greig Ryan captain, Tony McGinness, Tom Preece. Subs: Sean O’Conner or Rob Coates, Matt Schosser, Rob Cessford, Mark Ryan and Luke Earle-Wright.
Edinburgh Accies: Jamie Sole; Jamie Farndale, Ewen Campbell, Ruairidh Bonner, Nyle Godsmark; Alex Blair, Alex Black; Duncan Morrison, Michael Liness, Phil Cringle, Greg Campbell captain, Jamie McCarthy, Neil Aitken, Tom Drennan, Robin Snape. Subs: David Bates, Fraser Rawlinson, Andrew Findlater, Mike Campbell and Sam Pecqueur.
Referee: Andrew McMenemy
Currie: George Horne; Callum Kerr, Ethan Pollock, Jack Broadley, Ruaridh Smith; Joe Reynolds, Richard Snedden; John Cox, David Cherry, Alastair Hamilton, Gary Temple, Elliot Mitchell, Michael Vernal, Malcolm Peacock, Mark Cairns; Subs: Isaac Miller, Fraser Watts, Karl Main, Adam Alexander and Harvey Elms
Stirling County: Joff Hope; Graham Lindsay, Ben Addison, Brian Archibald, Rory Hughes; Stuart Edwards, Colin Turnbull; Jamie Bhatti, Alex Moffat, Colin Hutton, Ruaridh Leishman, Matt Larsen, Steve Swindall, Sean McDonald, Jamie Swanson. Subs: Reynor Kennedy, Kris Burney or Garry Mountford, Craig Deacons, Bengy Barsanti and Archie Russell or Matt Lamb.
Referee: Gary Gordon.