Carrick's one entity enterprise earns BT Club award

Carrick are September’s BT Club of the Month winners, for their vision and ambition to develop the club both in the present and for future generations.

The Ayrshire club faced stern competition, as nominations flooded in for the September winner, yet their focus on sitting themselves at the crux of the local community put them above of the rest.

September 2014 - BT Club of the Month - Carrick

Carrick Academy’s director of rugby, Gordon Brown, said:

The club and the school are now one entity, so the award is for Carrick rugby as a whole.

“We’re delighted to be recognised for our success on the field, and for the work we do to engage with the community off it.”

Two years ago, the club and school decided to amalgamate their rugby structure in order to provide the community with a single entity. The rationale behind the decision was to provide a conveyer belt of talent from the club’s micro section, through the school and into the senior ranks.

Brown explained: “In terms of the club and school, we’ve tied it all up under the banner of Carrick Rugby.

“The idea is simple – the school builds for the club, and the success resonates from the youth section up into the senior ranks, to provide a strong singular body for rugby in Carrick.”

The club’s first XV won all three of their games in September, amassing an astonishing 230 points and only conceding 29, and are blazing a trail at the top of BT West Regional League Division 1. Carrick 2XV are following suit, currently leading in BT West Reserve League 2 having been victorious in all of their league games to date.

The club also regularly runs a third XV for friendly matches, and in recent weeks also managed to field a fourth XV for an internal game.

Brown continued: “On Saturday 27 September, Carrick Rugby had nine teams out – five playing for the school in the morning and four full XVs playing at the club in the afternoon – and that’s not including the micros and minis.

“This is just one example of how we’re building momentum and taking huge strides on and off the pitch.

We recognise that the club is not just measured on the success on the field, but also its development work and the levels of community engagement. Achieving this interaction with the locals is something we work on relentlessly, and this effort is really starting to pay dividends for the game in the community.”

At the hub of the Carrick rugby community is the local school. The close ties between Carrick Academy and the club, forms the foundation of the one entity vision, and provides a continual flow of talent from the youth section into the senior club sides.

Brown explained: “When I first started at Carrick Academy, some 12 years ago, we had one senior school team playing. We’re now among the biggest Schools of Rugby in the Scottish Rugby system, fielding eight teams on a regular basis. We have over 80 pupils playing the game in S1 and S2 alone.

“Rugby is now fully integrated into the curriculum at Carrick Academy, with pupils receiving two periods of training in their weekly learning timetable. The staff here are fully supportive of the programme and recognise the benefits the sport brings to the pupils, and the extended school community.

“Some 40% of our pupils play for the Academy, and we hope their enthusiasm for the game continues as the move into senior rugby, and up to the Carrick club.

“The school also proudly fields three girls’ teams, some of which are competing in national tournaments. Developing the female game in Carrick is a particular focus for us at the moment, and something we hope will continue to grow.

“We feel that we’ve got an excellent development model in place, and one that will continue to be extremely influential and beneficial for the longevity of rugby in the area.”

At the heart of their progress lies their strong core of development officers, who are based within the school. Carrick Rugby boasts a team of five rugby development staff in the form of a development officer, assistant development officer, volunteer coordinator and two modern apprentices.

Brown said: “We work extremely closely with our Schools and Youth Development Manager, Glen Tippett, to make sure we are keeping up to date with the key coaching points Scottish Rugby are implementing.

“We have our modern apprentices working with the micros and minis, and our development officers focussing on the players at Carrick Academy.

“A strength and conditioning programme has also recently been put into effect at the school by our development team, as we continually strive to get the best from our players, and give them the opportunity to compete at as high a level as possible.”

The wider community are now starting to flock to the club, not only in a playing capacity yet also to get involved behind the scenes and help progress Carrick Rugby off the pitch.

Brown concluded: “Our volunteer base has doubled in the past six months, with at least 40 people now helping out on a weekly basis.

“My favourite example of the Carrick Rugby unit is that we recently washed 12 large bags of kit in machines in the school, which were purchased by the club.

“I’m extremely proud that the school and the club work so harmoniously, especially now the concept is really starting to bear fruit.”

Carrick win a prize of the value of £1000, through a 12-month BT Sport subscription and £200 cash. They will also win a table for 10 at the Scottish Rugby Club Awards Dinner on Friday 29 May 2015, and will be subsidised £500 for travel expenses to this event. Carrick will also be in the shortlist for the BT Club of the Year award, to be announced at the dinner.