AYR and the University of West of Scotland (UWS) have unveiled the details of their new strategic partnership which seeks to share and focus resources across a number of high priority areas including education, research, squad development, coaching and community inclusion.
The collaboration, which also incorporates the Ayr Community Rugby Trust, is a major step forward for the club in their preparation for the launch of Super 6 this coming October. It was formally announced at the club’s annual charity ‘Long Lunch’ last Friday at Ayr Racecourse, with two former British & Irish Lions captains in Gavin Hastings and Brian O’Driscoll, plus former Scotland captain Andy Nicol, in attendance to help celebrate the club’s league and cup ‘double’ success, and to help launch the new initiative which is the only one of its kind across the West of Scotland.
As part of the partnership, four UWS students will benefit from newly created undergraduate internships giving them the opportunity to work closely with Ayr Rugby across a number of areas including strength and conditioning, performance analysis and marketing and promotion. These internships will form part of the students’ degree programmes at UWS and will allow them to gain experience at all levels within a competitive club, as well as supporting Ayr Rugby in key areas.
The club is also keen to develop learning modules with UWS for youth rugby, adult rugby and Super 6 players across a variety of areas including mental health, adopting a growth mind-set and social media training, as well as more classic sporting topics such as nutrition and strength and conditioning.
Ayr Rugby will also benefit from access to UWS’ cutting-edge facilities including its Biomechanics Lab and high-spec Environmental Chamber at its Lanarkshire Campus. Added to this, the club will tap into research and expertise from UWS academics in the fields of Sport Coaching & Development and Sport & Exercise Science.
“We are delighted to be able to announce our partnership with Ayr Rugby,” said Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal and Vice Chancellor of UWS. “This is an excellent fit for us as sport plays a key role at UWS and is proven to be extremely beneficial to the physical and psychological health and wellbeing of students. To be able to work closely with one of Scotland’s top rugby clubs is truly exciting.
“The expertise of our academics, combined with access to our fantastic facilities, will ensure Ayr Rugby coaches and players are able to further maximise their already stellar coaching, training and development. Whilst the newly created internships will give selected students the chance to make a real and tangible difference to a highly successful rugby club.”
This new partnership is expected to attract interest from current and prospective UWS students who will have the opportunity to try out for Ayr Rugby squads, as well as opportunities for students to volunteer in a number of capacities including refereeing. Whilst the strong links between the club and university will support rugby players of all ages to enter higher education by providing a clear academic pathway.
“This is a real honour for Ayr Rugby to be working in partnership with UWS,” said Ayr Rugby Club President Billy McHarg. “As Super 6 is a new and exciting competition with the aim of improving playing, coaching and refereeing standards, we see UWS as a perfect partner to work with, so we can learn, improve and take the whole club and surrounding areas to the next level.
“With UWS being located in the centre of town, there is a real opportunity for Ayr Rugby and the Trust to build on our community work and improve the way we contribute towards health, education and employment through rugby for the whole community. These are very exciting times for Ayr Rugby and with outstanding partners like UWS, who knows what the future holds.”