Universities and Super6 clubs team up
Ayr Rugby and Stirling County have become the first two Super6 franchises to confirm new tertiary education partnerships.
As well as bridging the gap between the amateur and professional game, Super6 has been designed to encourage clubs to develop their community profiles and build relationships with local colleges and universities.
Last week Ayr Rugby and the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) announced a new partnership that also includes Ayr Community Rugby Trust. The collaboration will see the club and university strengthen their existing relationship, enabling both parties to focus resources across a number of high priority areas including education, research, squad development, coaching and community inclusion.
The announcement came on the back of a great 2018/19 season for Ayr, which saw them take home the double - sealing their fifth Tennant’s Premiership League win and becoming Scottish Cup Champions for the fourth time.
To mark the launch, two former British & Irish Lions captains - Gavin Hastings and Brian O’Driscoll - and former Scotland captain Andy Nicol were in attendance to support the initiative at the club’s fundraising ‘Voice of Rugby Long Lunch’.
Billy McHarg, Ayr Rugby Club President, said: “This is a real honour for Ayr Rugby to be working in partnership with UWS.
“As Super6 is a new and exciting competition with the aim of improving playing, coaching and refereeing standards, we see UWS as a perfect partner to work with, so we can learn, improve and take the whole club and surrounding areas to the next level.”
Pictured (L-R): Andy Nicol; Paul Davidson, Chairman of Ayr Community Rugby Trust; Professor Craig Mahoney, UWS Principal and Vice Chancellor; Billy McHarg, Ayr Rugby Club President; Gavin Hastings
The education partnership includes a number of exciting initiatives.
Four UWS students will benefit from undergraduate internships giving them the opportunity to work closely with Ayr Rugby across a number of areas including strength and conditioning, performance analysis and marketing and promotion. This will form part of the students’ degree programmes and will allow them to gain experience at all levels within a competitive club, as well as supporting Ayr Rugby in key areas.
Ayr Rugby will also benefit from access to UWS’ cutting-edge facilities including its Biomechanics Lab and high-spec Environmental Chamber at its Lanarkshire Campus. The club will also tap into research and expertise from UWS academics in the fields of Sport Coaching & Development and Sport & Exercise Science.
Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal and Vice Chancellor, UWS said: “We are delighted to be able to announce our partnership with Ayr Rugby.
“This is an excellent fit for us as sport plays a key role at UWS and is proven to be extremely beneficial to the physical and psychological health and wellbeing of students. To be able to work closely with one of Scotland’s top rugby clubs is truly exciting.”
One of the ambitions of Super 6 is to encourage the clubs involved to develop mutual partnerships with tertiary education and this agreement between Ayr and UWS is a great example of how this new initiative can open doors and generate a range of business opportunities. Sean Lineen, Scottish Rugby
This new partnership follows an announcement last month from the University of Stirling and Stirling County RFC that they were launching an enhanced partnership in support of the city’s Super6 franchise.
Mutual benefits for the two organisations will include facility-use, specialist knowledge sharing, volunteering, supporter experience and other resources.
Stirling County Club President, Lorne Boswell, said: “The Super6 competition is going to give rugby a new semi-professional status which is a fantastic opportunity for young players with professional ambitions as well as sports fans looking for a high-quality product.”
Commenting on the arrangement, Cathy Gallagher, University of Stirling Executive Director of Sport, said: “This is an extremely exciting opportunity for the University, placing us at the top table of an ambitious new venture in Scottish sport.
“The partnership has so much room to grow and we look forward to working with Stirling County to unlock the franchise’s potential and take the sport of rugby to a new level in the Caledonia region, as well as adding to the sporting prowess and aspirations of the city of Stirling.”
Pictured (L-R): Lorne Boswell, President, Stirling County RFC; Ben Cairns, Head Coach, Stirling County RFC; Professor Gerry McCormac, University of Stirling Principal and Vice-Chancellor; Cathy Gallagher, University of Stirling, Executive Director of Sport; John Gibson, Vice-President, Stirling County RFC
Top image shows: (L-R) Professor Craig Mahoney, UWS Principal and Vice Chancellor; Andy Nicol; Keira Lindsay, 3rd year UWS Sport & Exercise Science student; Paul Davidson, Chairman of Ayr Community Rugby Trust; Mairead Slevin, 3rd year UWS Sport & Exercise Science student; Gavin Hastings; Billy McHarg, Ayr Rugby Club President; Brian O'Driscoll