ARBROATH Rugby Football Club will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of their foundation this season.
In its relatively short history the club has managed to integrate itself deeply into Arbroath.
For example, over the past weekend the rugby club provided the muscle at the gates of Sea Fest, and has been doing so for a number of years.
Based at RM Condor, the club has always had a close relationship with the Royal Marines, even from the off, and is a link held dear even today.
Former club president Paddy Quinlan said: “In 1992 I was a serving officer in the Royal Marines and was based at Condor and heavily involved with the rugby on the base.
“I was well aware of the frustrations of the ‘weekend-orphans’ who wanted a game of rugby but would have to travel to either Carnoustie or Strathmore for a game.
“I was also helping John Henderson, who was the Arbroath High School biology teacher and the rugby master, with the coaching of the boys.
“We were frequently asked by the fifth and sixth year students who were playing rugby, why there was not a rugby club in Arbroath as they wanted to continue playing but did not want to travel away from the town for a game.
“John and I chatted this over and we came to the conclusion that it was worth sounding the town out. An advertisement was put in the local paper for anyone interested in rugby to attend a meeting in the Cricket Club.
“We would then take stock of the situation and see if we had the numbers to pursue this further. This was about April 1992 and over 80 folk turned out from the town and Condor. Clearly we were good to go, and we ended up being able to run with two teams.”
Arbroath Rugby Football Club made their first foray into league rugby in the 1993/94 season, and at the same time became affiliated members of Arbroath United Cricket Club, giving them access to the cricketer’s facilities. The first president was Derek Porter, with Paul Livingstone as team captain and Fred Simms as coach. Until the team eventually settled on training at RM Condor they could be seen on training nights searching the town for patches of light to practise by. Their greatest triumph so far was the 2003/4 season, during which they did not record a single loss.
In recent seasons however, the team has struggled, especially with so many players on active service in Afghanistan and the inevitable loss of players to age and injury.
Club president Roy Watson said: “The past few seasons have been extremely tough for the club, with a generation of experienced players retiring without any ready replacements.
“Arbroath has always been predominately a football town and it is always challenging trying to persuade the townspeople to give rugby a go.
“The current difficult economic climate also means that rugby has slipped well down the priority list of many existing and potential players.”
The club has so much to offer, from the junior section of the Arbroath Rhino’s, excellent training and social facilities to the SRU accredited coaching from Colin Bedwell and Jamie Grieg.
Arbroath RFC has always been a welcoming and fun-loving club, and their reputation for hospitality is widely recognised among other clubs.
Along with this ‘Third Half’ the club organise a range of social and charity events throughout the year, which are often a huge success.
Senior team captain Andrew Tough said: “With a high level of commitment, dedication and effort this can be a rewarding and successful season for the club. But as always we will rely on the continued support from family and friends, which is greatly appreciated by one and all.”
If are interested in giving rugby a go, or want to make new friends and improve your fitness visit www.arbroathrfc.com for more information. The first game of the season will be at home against Waid Academy FPs in the RBS Cup and the following week Arbroath will play their first league game, at home again to Howe of Fife 2nd XI.