President's Message Mar'21 - Stirling County RFC

Dear fellow member,

As we approach the first anniversary of this pandemic, I am writing to you on behalf of the trustees of Stirling County to update you on developments and to thank you for your continued support. A club is its members and the support you have offered has been fantastic. Twelve months ago we didn’t know what was going to happen to us but I am proud to say that we are still here! Stick with us, and let’s hope rugby starts up again soon.

I think it is important to acknowledge the giants of the club we have lost. Unfortunately over the last 12 months we have lost a few. I hope we will be able to get together in order to celebrate their lives by planting trees for them soon. Sandy Bryce is the latest we have lost. Sandy was genuinely a club legend. He lived life to the full. There are so many stories about him that bring a smile to the face. I will share three. Only a man of Sandy’s irrepressible positivity could lose all the passports of a touring party to Orthez just before boarding the ferry from Plymouth to Santander and recover. He had left them in a transport cafe just after Exeter. That was nearly ‘tour over’ but it didn’t phase Sandy one iota. My second start was about 8 years ago at a home game. Sandy walked up to a small group of women and introduced himself with the line ‘Ladies, I am dangerous!’ The assembled company looked confused and he added ‘I could drop dead anytime!’. My last story I haven’t been able to share with him. In the 60s Sandy levelled the pitch we now call the Women’s and Girls’ pitch. A couple of years ago we restored it and drained it. During those works I found a broken stopper from a crystal decanter which had been pulled to the surface. I fancy Sandy ‘christened’ that pitch with some port and buried the decanter. Alas I will never know for sure but I do know that Sandy loved life, always enjoyed himself and was partial to the odd ‘toast’.

I hope you will see some changes in the club when we are able to re-open. A small group of members have been fundraising and with the success of their efforts, we have re-upholstered the Crichton lounge. It looks good and will look better when we finish the ceiling and replace that awful carpet. We were successful in getting in attracting a grant before lockdown to refurbish the ladies toilet in the tunnel and that work will be completed this month. We are refurbishing the new referees room following water damage. In addition to these visible improvements, lots of maintenance and repairs have also happened.

We will continue to use the furlough scheme to support our staff but we are at the early stages of bringing some of them back from furlough.

On the issue of governance, we have experienced delays in getting the accounts from our first year of charitable trading audited. I think many companies have had problems with audits in the last 12 months. Accordingly, we are planning a double AGM for both 19/20 and 20/21 later this summer. Hopefully we will be able to do it ‘in person’ and we will obviously keep you informed about those details.

We are now planning our return to Rugby on a phased basis, with plans to run summer rugby camps for boys and girls, training sessions for all playing members, and possibly non-contact games, where possible.Stewart Milne, our Academy Manager, is expected to come back off furlough in mid-April so he can put in place the necessary structures and plans for youth rugby.

We have also maintained contact with Scottish Rugby contacts and the other clubs through the likes of Nat 1 Forum to put forward our views and ideas so we can plan for a return to full rugby as soon as it is safe to do so. We are in active talks with Scottish Rugby about moving back to Glasgow and away from Caledonia.

Stay well, stay safe, stay red, white and black.

Lorne Boswell