National Bowl Final preview: Ross Sutherland hit the big time

Thrilling run to the Bowl Final creates a buzz in the north

Ross Sutherland
Winning the Caledonia Regional Bowl North back in March was a club highlight, but Ross Sutherland didn't stop there ***Image courtesy: Peter Carson***

When Ross Sutherland run out on to the international pitch at Murrayfield on Saturday to do battle in the BT National Bowl Final against Wigtownshire, it will be by far the proudest moment enjoyed by the club’s long serving president and coach.

“I have been involved with the club for 30 years as player, coach and now president. The club has known nothing like this achievement. I am so proud of what we have done on and off the pitch this season. I can’t wait for the big day,” explained John Scott.

The players are no less excited by the idea of a playing in a final at the national stadium, including captain Ali Kennedy, who will lead out a team which will include his brothers Murray and David. Uniquely, all the three siblings have captained the side, but Ali argues that: “This occasion surely gives me the bragging rights in the family.

Points machine

A key man for Ross Sutherland will be John Mann, the club’s development officer, stand-off and leading points scorer. His 27 points tally in the semi-final of the competition in the 42-14 win over Queensferry helps demonstrate his importance to the team. Mann’s late conversion in the final of the Regional Bowl was also vital in the nail biting 19-18 win against Aberdeen University.


Ross Sutherland
John Reid’s injury-time try set-up a sensational touchline conversion from John Mann which secured Ross Sutherland’s 19-18 victory over Aberdeen University in the Caledonia Regional Bowl Final ***Image courtesy: Peter Carson***

But Mann chose to praise his team mates when he said: “Getting to the final in Edinburgh is just great. Every team we have played has given us a hard game. Wigtownshire will be no different. Now we are aiming to give it our best shot, and enjoy the occasion.”

Big day out

The 91-year-old club has been planning for the day since they beat Queensferry on March 31, including providing players with new kit, ties and shirts, kindly donated by the club’s sponsor, Fearn Farm and Adder Solutions.

The Ross-shire Journal will also be giving the occasion maximum publicity, as will the Aberdeen Press and Journal, the leading player in the coverage of Caley rugby. Social media has played its part as well, resulting in some former players coming back to the club, and ensuring that substantial support will make the trip to the final, and almost certainly will double the crowd normally seen at matchdays at the Naval Ground.

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Back to the future

But just in case national rugby supporters think the Ross-shire club are strangers to the big time, it should be pointed out that their most famous rugby son, Duncan Macrae, also played at Murrayfield, earning nine caps, and famously was a member of Scotland’s magnificent backline alongside Wilson Shaw and Charles Dick in the team who won the Triple Crown in 1938.

80 years on, Ali Kennedy‘s side has a lot to live up to, and an important example to set a buzzing youth section. The Under-16s will play Mackie in the Caledonian Bowl Final at that age-grade in St Andrews on Sunday, making a busy weekend for coach John Scott, who is in charge of both teams.

Did you know?

Ross Sutherland reckon they are the club with the largest geographical catchment area in the country. “We cover something daft like 13,000 square kilometres and we have boys coming from 45 minutes each direction just to get to the club,” explained player coach John Mann.

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About Jack Nixon 74 Articles
Jack is a Borderer, born in Langholm, and a graduate of Moray House College of Education in Edinburgh. He was a founder member of Livingston Rugby Club in 1968 and has been rugby correspondent for the Aberdeen Press and Journal since 1997. He has been going to Murrayfield man and boy since 1954!


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