On the evening of Friday 8th, all through the night and during the day of Saturday 9th July 2016 the lads and lassies at Wigtownshire Rugby Club, Stranraer took to the field to play a marathon game of “Touch Rugby”.
They braved all the usual “summer” weather, rain, wind and sun, yes the sun did shine some of the time to keep the game going for 24 hours.
Rolling substitutions were made when fresh legs were needed or when someone volunteered to take a turn. Every section of the club was involved, Minis, Midis, Under 18s, Ladies and the Senior Team players. They were supported by former players, parents, and guests who turned up for a run out.
A pitch was set up on the clubs training area, and their own lights were augmented by units provided by Luce Bay Group, to see them through the night. A Player Rest Area and Viewing Platform was supplied by J Richardson Transport, Stranraer and a Refreshment Station Marquee, courtesy of Stranraer & Rhins Young Farmers, completed the facilities.
As they said in the movie, “If You Build It They Will Come”, and they did in their droves, old and young alike, a real community effort.
A special mention too for our nearest rugby neighbours Newton Stewart who joined in, which put a real edge on the play at times. Yes it was “Touch” needing strong refereeing, but great to watch.
Club Coaching Co-ordinator Eddie Stevenson was delighted with the effort everybody put in and the commitment shown for the event.
He said: “It was really great to see every section of the club coming together and enjoying themselves playing the game. He added “People have also been saying about the atmosphere that was created throughout the 24 hours, it was fantastic.”
Mini Coach Gordon Keith was really pleased with the turn out from his group and their parents.
He added: “Seeing the little ones on the park, playing against and with 1st team players was wonderful, the youngsters were having a ball.
“Even when the rain came on the youth of the club stuck to the task. “Mum’s carrying little ones, joining in, Dads talked into having a go, a chance to get people involved, just what we need.”
Former Club Captain Andrew Farquhar’s six year old son was playing, Andy could not believe that when a Bouncy Castle was put up, the youngsters ignored it and kept playing.
Regardless of the weather or the hour, the barbeque was well used, as was the Refreshment Station. It was well stocked with the help of local businesses, Wm Lochs, Grocers; Halls, Butchers, and Simpson, Bakers; all from Stranraer. It kept hunger pangs at bay as play continued.
The event, sponsored by Douglas Engineers, Glenluce, was Wigtownshire’s RBS RugbyForce 2016 initiative. It was held to raise the profile of rugby in the local area, encourage participation in the sport and bring the club together for the coming season.
A “Guess the Number of Tries Scored” Competition was held to raise funds for the club to promote and support rugby locally. When the final whistle sounded after 5.30pm on the Saturday, the tally came to 935 tries in 24 hours.
Nearest guess to that number came from Eddie Stevenson, Senior, from Stranraer with 934. He was presented with his cash prize by last season 1st Team Captain, John McIntosh in the Clubhouse after the match.
The full amount raised by event has still to be established, but as a result of the Competition, Sponsorship and Donations over £2000 had been brought in.
Club President Arthur Henry expressed his delight: “This was a great event; it all went very well. Not even the weather could dampen spirits on the day.
“It just proves what can be achieved when everyone pulls together. This was a real big day at the club, I can only thank everyone for their effort, our sponsors, the organising team, the members and players and the community, for making it such a success.”