Dedicated Stewartry and Wigtownshire rugby stalwarts try their best

Rugby aces from Stewartry and Wigtownshire have been rewarded at the 2022 Scottish Rugby Community Recognition Awards.

By Ralph Mellon
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 4:43 pm
John Low of Stewartry RFC picked up the Adam Gray Memorial Award at the Glasgow South awards presentation, hosted at Scotstoun, and had the honour of delivering the Glasgow Warriors match ball on match night (picture by Scottish Rugby/SNS)
John Low of Stewartry RFC picked up the Adam Gray Memorial Award at the Glasgow South awards presentation, hosted at Scotstoun, and had the honour of delivering the Glasgow Warriors match ball on match night (picture by Scottish Rugby/SNS)

The Glasgow South region accolades were presented at Scotstoun on Friday as part of Scottish Rugby’s annual domestic game awards programme, focusing on the on and off-field efforts of clubs and schools in Scotland

during the season.

Local enthusiasts Clare Dooley and Allan McMaster collected volunteer awards in two of the six regular categories, while there was an additional accolade.

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The Adam Gray Memorial Award was created in remembrance of the former Scottish Rugby board and council member and Stewartry rugby stalwart of the same name, who died in March 2020 – and it was won by the club’s John Low.

Springholm Primary teacher Clare Dooley picked up the award for volunteer of the season in schools rugby.

With Covid restricting indoor PE classes, she decided to introduce rugby to the curriculum at Springholm and its partner schools for P1-P7 pupils through Scottish Rugby Schools Week.

The Stewartry Sirens rugby player created a programme to deliver to her pupils which included ball familiarisation drills and game-based practices, leading the pupils on to playing touch rugby games.

Clare also provided support for Springholm’s partnership schools to help them co-ordinate their own activities with confidence.

She also created a leadership and coaching project to develop the children as future coaches. The project saw pupils ‘coaching’ their classmates during PE time, where they led the whole lesson, including warm-up, drills and a touch rugby game.

This project really helped reinforce the pupils’ understanding of rugby, while also challenging the more experienced pupils who play their rugby at Stewartry RFC.

A club spokesman said: “Clare has always been a keen supporter for primary schools’ rugby in the Stewartry area. She goes above and beyond to provide positive rugby experiences for all and, as a result, we are now starting to see her pupils join us at the club.”

Volunteer of the season in adult rugby was Allan McMaster of Wigtownshire RFC.

After an injury ended his playing career, Allan decided to turn his hand to coaching and took up the post of head coach for Wigtownshire’s women’s team.

The squad finished second in the Tennent’s West League this year, with five wins from seven to its credit – which the team says is a direct reflection of the work Allan has put in.

Despite the long hours and demands of being a farmer, Allan happily dedicates his time two nights a week to delivering training sessions, which are all meticulously planned, and he is always on the sidelines at game day on a Sunday.

A spokesman said: “Allan’s unwavering commitment and drive, has given our team a great sense of self-belief, something we haven’t really felt before. He always makes us believe we have the strengths and capabilities to do well.

“Allan is one of the most selfless people we’ve ever met. Even in the weeks where numbers for training haven’t been the greatest, and when the weather has resembled a monsoon, he turns up. And he turns up for us.

“In the last couple years, our girls’ youth section has grown tremendously and we believe this has a lot to do with the growth and successes of the women’s team.

"These young girls are the future of our club and Allan is building strong foundations for them to progress into what will now be an everlasting team.”

John ‘Ludo’ Low has dedicated the last 40 years of his life to Stewartry RFC and collected the Adam Gray Memorial Award, for the outstanding contribution he has made in the region.

As the winner, he was granted the honour of delivering the Glasgow Warriors match ball against Zebre on presentation day.

For the last four decades, John has volunteered his time in just about every capacity possible at Stewartry. From cleaning to maintenance, lining the pitches to cleaning the bar, and serving on the committee, as both vice-president and president, his contribution to the club is widely admired.

He can still be found doing many of these tasks today and he is always pitch-side at every home game to keep the spectators up to date with the scoreboard and taking notes to write match reports for the club and local media.

John has been a championing voice for the many facets of Stewartry, regularly supporting the youth teams and the Stewartry Sirens women’s team.

While the love he has for his own club runs deep, John also likes to make sure neighbouring clubs know they have a friend in Stewartry. He will always ensure the club is represented at any relevant events or reach out to others in a time of need.

As a result, there is said to “be no one better known or respected in rugby circles in the local area than Stewartry's Ludo”.

Club secretary Iain McDonald said: “While it could have been easy for John to have drifted away from active participation when his playing days ended, he instead simply doubled the effort he put into our wee club.

“John is just the perfect gentleman and central to every aspect of our club. In my time at the club, I have known him as a listener, arbitrator, but also as a dear friend. The respect our club and other clubs show towards John reflects the respect he has always shown to us.

“Adam Gray and John had huge respect for each other. Adam found John's dedication, enthusiasm for rugby and Stewartry over very many years utterly exemplary, as do I, and the many members of our club. I think Adam would be delighted to see John take home this award.”

Scottish Rugby’s Glasgow South regional director Jennifer Griffin said: “We are so fortunate to have so many fantastic, hard-working and committed volunteers in our region who willingly give their time and effort to clubs and schools.“The individuals and groups from within our regional rugby community have truly been a beacon of light as we exited the pandemic and resumed rugby. Our award nominees and winners exemplify the values of our sport.”

Scottish Rugby president Ian Barr added: “As we approach the end of the domestic season, it is vitally important to recognise and share our gratitude to the countless volunteers within our sport who make what we do not only possible, but special, fun and enjoyable, particularly following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am so pleased that we have been able recognise that impact and say thank you to everyone for their efforts in helping the game bounce back with this year’s awards.”