Stirling County RFC was first established in 1872 and has played a vital role in their local community ever since. Rugby Club Magazine recently caught up with Club Representative John Gibson to find out more about what is an exciting time for the club.
He told us, “We are very much a community based club that looks to involve as many people as possible from our local area. We have kids coming in at a young age and going right through to U18 level in our youth section. A lot of the players that come out of our youth section stay with the club and play at senior level.”
“We’ve had a number of players to go on and achieve international honours with the latest British and Irish Lion being Finn Russell who started at Primary 4 for example. So did his brothers and that is quite common here. My brothers and my father played at the club and there are a lot of family connections here.
“We work very hard to develop a pathway for players so that if a player wants to play they can play rugby at a high level and go on to be a professional in the Scottish Premiership. Equally if they want to play social rugby they have that too and we want a pathway for every potential player, boy and girl, to play at a level that suits them so that they can enjoy it. They get a lot more out of rugby than just playing with the camaraderie, sportsmanship, lifestyle, teamwork and how it helps you going in to your career as well.
“As a club we have a really good set of principles in place and reaching out to the community is a major part of what we do. If you come down to the club we have Keepfit, bike training, dog training and a nursery section as well as plenty of others using our facilities.
“At present we are really keen to engage with local businesses. We’re moving in to semi-professional rugby as one of the Super 6 teams for the 2019-20 season which should be quite an exciting development for us. We’re well equipped to do that, we just need to make it work and will work hard to retain our identity and with that in mind we will still be running two teams below that side as well as ten boys youth sides, three girls sides, a women’s team and a mini section so the goal continues to be to provide rugby for everyone.
“At the moment we’re looking for additional partners to come in and work with us to make sure that this is a success and it is an exciting for people to get involved with Stirling County. If you’re interested we’re very open to suggestions about how businesses would like to work with us and have opportunities to get involved in sponsorship so just get in touch with me and we’ll be happy to discuss it.
“I think for me it is all about building a long term partnership that suits individual businesses because what suits one business may not work for someone else so we are happy to tailor our partnerships to make sure that they work well for both parties in the long term.
“We are going for charitable status for one of our businesses but will set up a trading company as well because we have some terrific facilities here for a variety of events with capacity for 300 people in our hall so want to blend traditional values with a modern approach.
“I’d also like to attract more people down to watch games at Stirling County and take part in some of the social side as that is very good here. For example, we put on a lunch on Premiership days and have three bars where people can come and have a beer and if they want, join the club because there are benefits to that. The more people we can get down to the club the better from my point of view.
“The mood at the club at the moment is good; we’re building our first team squad with around forty guys training three or four days a week. It is a young squad that we have with more than fifty per cent having come from our youth section. We’ve got a good coaching team with plenty of support so we are very much looking forward to the new campaign. We have new facilities in place and have worked to improve the pitches so the mood is definitely very good and we will continue to work to improve.
“Our target is to be in the Top 4 this seasaon. Last year we made the Cup Final and we would like to repeat a good run there and be a Top 4 team. Our U18s won the U18 Scottish Youth Cup and it would be great if we can repeat that success. To achieve our goals it is going to be down to a lot of hard work from everyone involved in the club. We have a lot of work ahead of us and are really looking forwards to it.
“Five years from now I would like to see the club as fully sustainable, offering rugby to those that want it. At present those at the highest level possible play semi-professionally and I’m hoping the Super 6 league is established and working well. I want all our players to have pathways because I do really believe rugby is a game that offers everyone a great opportunity to develop. Our aim is very much to be a modern, forward thinking establishment that retains the traditional values that make Stirling County and Rugby as a whole so special.
“We’re a strong, vibrant club that is moving forward in a very positive fashion with membership never being higher so it really is an exciting time to be involved with the club and I’m really looking forwards to the future.”