Super Series Sprint final: Ayrshire Bulls skipper Blair Macpherson ready for Heriot’s onslaught

Veteran back-rower made his 1st XV debut at Millbrae on same season as retiring Frazier Climo

Blair Macpherson will lead Ayrshire Bulls in this evening's [Friday] Super Series Sprint play-off final. Image: George McMillan
Blair Macpherson will lead Ayrshire Bulls in this evening's [Friday] Super Series Sprint play-off final. Image: George McMillan

BLAIR MACPHERSON and Frazier Climo both made their Ayr 1st XV debuts in 2008-09 and have been team-mates and friends ever since, so it is no surprise that the former wants to send the latter into retirement as a Super Series Sprint winner.

Back-rower Macpherson, then just a teenager, only played a handful of top team games that season, but Kiwi stand-off Climo, now 35, played a key role in helping Ayr win their first ever Premiership title that year.

Since then, Club XV cap Macpherson has gone on to become a key man at Millbrae, too, captaining Ayr and now the Bulls to a number of trophies.


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The duo will start at No 8 and stand-off respectively in tonight’s Super Series Sprint final at home to Heriot’s at Millbrae and 32-year-old skipper Macpherson said:  “It has been great to play alongside Frazier for so many years, I don’t think there has really been a talent like him at our level of Scottish rugby in the time that I’ve been involved.

“Hopefully, as a forward pack, on Friday night we can get the team on the front foot which will allow him to do his thing. That should then mean that we can get over the line and he can sign off his playing days by winning this competition, which  would be fitting.

“The great thing for the club going forward is that he will still be around Ayr helping out the young players that are coming through [in his day job working for Ayr Community Rugby Trust, predominately overseeing the Ayr Youth Academy set-up] and that is excellent.

“You only have to look at the way he has helped Richie Simpson navigate the last few years to become the Scotland under-20 stand-off, who is now training with Glasgow Warriors, to see the influence he can have on the next generation.”

 

Away from rugby, Macpherson’s life has been busy of late with his shift work as an aeronautical engineer and the arrival of a son, who is now six-months-old, keeping him on his toes.

Macpherson is never too busy to think about winning more trophies on the rugby field, though – and it is fair to say that losing the Championship final to Watsonians in extra-time late last year hurt the Bulls.

It meant that, after winning the Championship crown in 2021, they had gone 2022 trophyless, with the Myresiders also winning the Sprint.

“This year has started well for us,” Macpherson, who began his rugby journey at Ardrossan Accies and has also played for Hillhead/Jordanhill, said.

“It was frustrating to lose the Championship final in the manner that we did last year, but there was plenty time over the winter to reset.

“By the time pre-season came around, the squad had a few changes in it as is natural at this level – and then we really set our stall out for this Sprint campaign by beating Glasgow Warriors A in week one.

“Since then, we have played some good rugby, but the loss at Boroughmuir Bears in week three after a tough run of Friday games sharpened the focus once again and last week we scored some good tries [against Watsonians] to make sure of top spot in the regular season table.

 

“Up front this year, Grant Stewart at hooker has been brilliant coming in with all the pro experience he has and his work with the other forwards on our line0out drives and maul attack has been very valuable,” Macpherson added. “He is unavailable for this game because he has his brother’s wedding, so that gives Blair Jardine a chance to step up while Alex McGuire is recently back from injury and will look to make an impact from the bench.

“In the backs, young players like Kerr Yule and Luca Bardelli have stepped up well and Richie Simpson would have had more game time had he not suffered a concussion.

“Kerr has come into his own in recent weeks and he ran a great line for his try in our last game, while Luca came in from the Premiership [with GHA] and has scored tries for fun. Those two and many others in our squad have bright futures.”

Those bright futures can wait for now though because it is all about the here and now. 80 minutes stands between the Bulls or Heriot’s lifting the first Super Series trophy of the year and after the sides drew 26-26 a couple of weeks ago at the same venue it should be a tasty contest.

“In the first 20 minutes in that last game against Heriot’s we really showed what we are all about and what we can do and we built up a decent lead,” Macpherson explained. “But we maybe then just fell off the pace and didn’t keep our foot on the pedal.

“Credit to them, they came back into things and they have had a good Sprint campaign. We know what Heriot’s will bring, they have a good driving maul and they are really good at the breakdown.

“We have to try and take out those factors from their game and impose ourselves on the match and, if we do, we have the belief that we can get the win we all want.

“We know we will have to put in a full 80 minute performance to do so.”


Super Series Sprint final: Ayrshire Bulls and Heriot’s ready for Millbrae shoot-out

About Gary Heatly 463 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.