In less than four months’ time they’ll be taking on the might of New Zealand, but the first big new season assignment for Scotland’s rugby stars will be rolling up their sleeves and helping out at Royal Bank of Scotland RugbyForce events up and down the country.
The 10 clubs where international players will be lending a hand on Saturday 9 August were today revealed, with a strong geographical spread in evidence once more.
From Stornoway to Galashiels, Vern Cotter’s troops will be supporting clubs to throw open their doors and show the local community what they’ve got to offer in advance of the big kick-off to season 2014/15.
When registering for Royal Bank RugbyForce, clubs were asked to describe how a visit from a Scotland player would add value and interest to their event. The ten most compelling submissions came from: Deeside, Forrester, Gala, Harris Academy FP, Kilmarnock, Livingston, Lochaber, McLaren, Stornoway and Clydebank, where today’s announcement took place.
In total, close to 150 clubs across Scotland have this year signed up for Royal Bank RugbyForce, a key part of the bank’s drive to help them become more sustainable. Royal Bank RugbyForce is designed to galvanise clubs’ current players, supporters, social members and volunteers and attract new ones for the year ahead.
In previous years, the focus has been on amassing volunteers to help spruce up facilities, but more and more clubs are now using the weekend to encourage the local community to get involved longer-term.
Events being put on include family barbecues, “come and try” touch rugby sessions, gala days with stalls and stands, regional minis, tens and sevens tournaments and joint open days with other local sports clubs, as well as the time-honoured array of DIY and manual tasks.
All registered clubs receive £250 towards event funds, posters and a banner to get the word out plus event planning and communications support. By signing up, they will also be able to take advantage of Royal Bank Locker Room, a programme that gives access to complimentary kit and equipment.
Scotland all-time great Chris Paterson today called into Clydebank RFC in his capacity as a Royal Bank ambassador to hear more about the club’s plans.
“Royal Bank RugbyForce is a fantastic way for clubs to open themselves up to new people and new possibilities. There are so many activities competing for people’s time and money these days, and clubs are having to work harder than ever to underline that they’ve really got something for everyone.
“That might be people who want to play or coach the game, but it could just as easily be young families looking for somewhere to spend their weekend, or local groups who need a venue to host meetings and events. Royal Bank RugbyForce is about getting the community together, having fun and giving people a reason to keep coming back again and again over the course of the season.”
Jamie Hogg, business community partner at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “We at the bank are proud to serve the same communities the clubs need to continue tapping into. Royal Bank RugbyForce is our way of providing meaningful support for the places where we live and work, and it’s great to see so many clubs right throughout Scotland involved again this year.
“I’d like to thank the clubs for the fantastic welcome they always give Royal Bank staff who come down to be part of their event, and we look forward to another terrific weekend come Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 August.”
Clydebank have a rich and varied “doors open” day in the pipeline. They are running a tens tournament for nine local clubs, with women’s and mini rugby also on the menu. Those not involved on the pitch can enjoy a barbecue or get stuck into pre-season tidy up work around the clubhouse and grounds. To cater for a family audience, a soft play area will also be on the go.
David Smart from the club explained: “We’re always keen to do everything we can to make this a place where people from all walks of life enjoy coming. The rugby on the park is obviously the lifeblood, but there are so many other things and so many other groups that make a successful club, and Royal Bank RugbyForce allows us to get them altogether on the one day and really kick off the season.
“It’s terrific news that we’ll have a Scotland player helping out. These guys like getting stuck in so I’m sure we’ll find plenty for them to do, and knowing that an international is going to be there will broaden the appeal of our event as we promote it to the local community.”
Nick Rennie, Scottish Rugby’s head of clubs and schools, said:
“Royal Bank RugbyForce celebrates what club rugby is all about: local pride, enjoyment and teamwork. It’s a fantastic initiative that Scottish Rugby is proud to support, helping our clubs continue to play a vital role in the lives of Scottish communities."
To find out if your local club’s taking part in Royal Bank RugbyForce 2014 and to keep up to date with the latest news and banter, head to the RBS Scottish Rugby Facebook page or follow on Twitter @RBS_Rugby_Lad.