East Lothian side Preston Lodge, have been voted as RBS Club of the Month for April, a fitting way to cap their extraordinary, undefeated season.
Preston Lodge president, Shona Brash, said: “We’ve had an absolutely magnificent season at Preston Lodge this year, and to receive the RBS Club of the Month award is the icing on the cake.
“For the past few years, the amount of work we’ve been putting in at all levels has been phenomenal and we’re really starting to reap the rewards for it now.
“It’s becoming apparent that by investing in our youth section we can build the body of a club that can keep growing.”
Preston Lodge only played two games in April and both were impressive results. They beat Langolm 101-5 in their last RBS East Regional League Division 1 match of the season, before claiming the RBS Shield with a 27-6 victory over Caithness in the final at Broadwood Stadium.
The East Lothian side’s first XV won in all 18 out of 18 league games this season, claiming a try bonus in 16 of the ties, recording a positive points difference of 747, scoring 929 whilst only conceding 182.
Brash, continued: “Our performance on the pitch has been spectacular, the undefeated record of our first XV speaks volumes of the hard work that we’ve been doing on the training paddock.
“All but a handful of the 27 players who fielded for our firsts this season were local boys who came up through the youth system at the club, which not only makes the success that much sweeter, but indicates that the programmes we have in place are paying dividends.
“The players are from all walks of life and fully involve all their friends and family in the club, giving the place a real community feel.”
Preston Lodge have recently employed Jason Riley as a development officer for the club and hope that he can continue on helping to build on their growing youth section.
Brash, said: “Jason is a great guy and someone we can rely on to continue strengthening the club’s youth section.
“We have great numbers in our minis section, with roughly 450 kids attending the tournament we recently held, and have strong links with Preston Lodge High School to ensure that we continue to build on our player base at secondary school level.
“We are also currently working on an application to make the High School a CashBack for Communities School of Rugby, which is a useful tool and something we see as imperative to our youth development programme.
“Something we like to focus on is player integration for those moving from the junior to senior ranks and therefore we run some breakfast and after school clubs where boys from the youth section can go to the gym with the older guys and then sit down to eat with them after, encouraging interaction between the two groups.”
Brash, also highlighted the desire of Preston Lodge to develop the women’s and girls’ game in both the club and East Lothian.
She said: “Along with other clubs in the area, we have partly-funded a girls’ development officer, Gabby Jackson, who works alongside Fergus Pringle, around East Lothian schools and clubs to encourage people to get involved with the game.
“We did manage to field a girls’ side for the first time this season, although we have acknowledged that we need to continue encouraging them to play the game, something which we will focus on in the future.”
Preston Lodge had a clean discipline record in April, receiving no cards or suspensions, something which Brash credits the club’s code of conduct for.
“We have taken Scottish Rugby’s values of leadership, enjoyment, achievement, engagement and respect, and intertwined them with our code of conduct.
“We strongly believe that all these principles lie at the heart of what makes rugby the great sport it is and we encourage all our members to wholeheartedly abide by the code.
“If someone can embrace these values, not only will they develop on the field, they will develop as a person, using the principles in all aspects of their life.”
As well as a trophy and the £1000 to be invested in the continued development of the club, the winners of RBS Club of the Month will be given a table of ten at the Club awards dinner, on Friday 30 May 2014, and a chance to win RBS Club of the Season. They will also receive up to £500 towards travel and accommodation for the dinner.