AYRSHIRE BULLS have a reputation for pack power but their backline is also dangerous and right now they are clicking well. Since an opening round loss to Watsonians in tricky conditions, the Millbrae men have secured four bonus point wins in a row to sit top of the Championship table with 20 points.
They complete the first half of their regular season with a home match against the FOSROC Future XV on Saturday evening (5pm) – and the backs will be keen to gel as they did last Friday when they scored five of their team’s seven tries in a 45-14 victory over Boroughmuir Bears.
The first try scorer was Thomas Glendinning and the 21-year-old winger/centre has impressed in the last month or so as he builds on a solid Sprint campaign earlier in the year.
“I am really enjoying my rugby just now,” former Scotland under-20 man Glendinning, who was named in the TOL Round Five Dream Team, said. “We know as a backline that our forwards will always secure us good ball to use in games and I think in recent weeks we have come together well and done that.
“There is a mixture of experienced and young players in the backline, some of the latter group having recently stepped up from the Premiership, and each week in training and games our understanding and link play with each other is getting better.
“We have a number of different types of players in the backline and also guys that can play in multiple positions and that variety means we can attack in various different ways.
“Things are still progressing and that is exciting, it will be good to see what we can achieve over the rest of the season.
“The recent run of wins has been good and we have built up some momentum, but we certainly will not be taking the Futures lightly this weekend.
“They have lots of talented young players in their wider squad and we will just focus on our own structures and gameplan and hopefully keep our winning run going.”
Fifer Glendinning has loved life at Millbrae since he joined the bBulls just prior to the Sprint competition in 2022, but not winning that tournament and then losing out to Watsonians in a classic Championship final later that year after extra-time hurt and fuelled the player and his team’s approach to 2023. They have won the Sprint and started the current tournament promisingly.
“Pat MacArthur [the Bulls head coach] sets high standards and so did Pete Horne before him and as players we know where we stand and we know what we want to achieve,” said Glendinning, a fourth year sports and physical activity student at University of Strathclyde.
“We are all ambitious and we drive each other on and have high standards ourselves while, off the pitch, everyone gets on well socially and the club is a real community club, so everyone who has moved here from different places feels at home. I certainly do and I have enjoyed testing myself at this level over the last couple of years.”
Glendinning grew up in Kirkcaldy and went to Balwearie High School in the town. From an early age he played in the Mini section at local club Kirkcaldy and he played with the Beveridge Park outfit until he played in the senior 1st XV.
“I worked my way up through the age group teams at Kirkcaldy and also played in some of those age groups for the Caledonia region,” he explained. “In 2019-20 I was in my final year at school and was part of the wider Scotland under-18 set up and I was lucky enough to play a few matches for the Kirkcaldy 1st team in that season.
“That was a good test for me at that time and I enjoyed the jump up to senior rugby, but then the pandemic came and stopped the Kirkcaldy season and the Scotland under-18s programme in its tracks.
“The next year [2020-21] I started university, but was still living at home as all the work was done online. Even though I was at home I joined Glasgow Hawks and did some training from a distance with them and got to know some of the guys which made it easier for me when I did eventually move to Glasgow in the summer of 2021.”
Glendinning had been signposted to Premiership outfit Hawks by then player and Strathclyde director of rugby Gary Strain and, when club rugby resumed in 2021-22, he enjoyed being part of that club and playing in the top flight.
Before that campaign got fully going he had been part of the Scotland squad that was in Cardiff for the lockdown under-20 Six Nations in early 2021.
“I then played for Hawks until late 2021 when I was injured in a training game with the under-20s,” Glendinning, who scored his first try of the ongoing Super Series Championship season against Stirling Wolves in round two, added.
“The injury was a dislocated shoulder and it meant that I was playing catch up a bit in terms of the 2022 under-20 Six Nations.
“I missed the start of the competition before managing to get back to play in the end of it and that was the start of a busy spell because I joined the Bulls, we had a Sprint competition and then I was with the under-20s for a summer tournament in Italy.
“In my two years with the under-20s, results may not have gone as we wanted, but as a group we learnt a lot to take forward and, as an individual, I learnt a lot about my own game and what I needed to work on.
“I feel like I have worked on those things since then and I am lucky to have worked with some good coaches and senior players in my career so far. I’ll just keep working hard and trying to help the Bulls win games.”