Whitecraigs eye growth following Tartan Touch
As the second summer of Tartan Touch comes to a close, take a look at one of the hard-working clubs which enjoyed its first season of the simple, non-contact version of the game.
Whitecraigs Rugby Club were one of 10 new clubs to host sessions this season as the Tartan Touch programme expanded by 50% to spread the inclusive game from Shetland to Annan.
The club took advantage of the great summer weather and welcomed more than 100 players for many of its events.
In all, 167 male and female players stepped onto the field at Whitecraig’s West Lodge ground to play Tartan Touch with 96% of all those players attending two or more of the ten sessions.
Whitecraigs were delighted to welcome participants as young as five years old while around a quarter of the players were over 35.
Whitecraigs President, Craig Percival, said: “We had a good start with the weather and things have gone well.
“We can have a game where people know they can have a run around in a rugby environment and enjoy it. It’s great to attract new people to the game from throughout the various sections of the community.
“And if people want to get more physical they can join the club and play contact.
I think we’ll get a number of new members and, more importantly, more people just playing rugby, which is what it’s all about.”
Whitecraigs saw a strong turn-out of women and girls at Tartan Touch and, as a result, the club are aiming to grow further their women’s section as more female players come through their gates.
Susan Dadgostar was one player who got her first taste of playing through the programme.
She said: “I found out about it through the Scottish Rugby Facebook page.
"I thought about joining the club before Tartan Touch but this has given me a chance to meet some people and see what it’s like so there’s every chance I’ll join up."
“It’s a good work-out too – you can feel it the next day which is good!”
Dawn Henderson, a club member a Whitecraigs, said: “We started trying to grow our women’s team last year and we’re hoping to expand on that.
"The number of senior players we’ve seen coming in has been a big increase for us as well, so we’re hoping people stay with the club once Tartan Touch is finished into next season.”
On top of attracting a number of new players, Whitecraigs has also brought their existing members closer together as the inclusive game had members of different age groups and teams playing with one another.
Club member, Anne O’Donnell, attended a number of the sessions throughout the summer.
She said: “It’s brought the whole club together. All the age groups are communicating with each other where they previously might not have known each other.
"We’ve had a lot of people arriving at the club who heard about it through Scottish Rugby’s media channels so it’s really good to see fresh faces. It’s opening the club up to the local community.”
Other new host clubs this season included Madras, Highland, Hillhead/Jordanhill and Shetland, as the initiative grew into new areas.
Haddington, Selkirk, Strathmore, Strathendrick, Garioch, Paisley and Ayr also got their first taste of Tartan Touch.
All hubs were provided with playing equipment, balls, banners, marketing materials and advice on promoting their hub to encourage the local community to get involved.