That was the Premiership season that almost was: Marr  

The Offside Line looks back on a campaign which brought plenty of thrills and spills, before ultimately being cut-off short

Scott Bickerstaff carries the ball for Marr against Musselburgh. Image: Kenneth Ferguson
Scott Bickerstaff carries the ball for Marr against Musselburgh. Image: Kenneth Ferguson

CRAIG REDPATH has been round the block a couple of times – and he has made full use of that experience coaching Marr this season. Nothing fancy – strong set piece – good ball retention – very direct behind – aggressive and hard working in defence.

A convincing win away to GHA on 21st September took them to the top of the Premiership table – and they stuck there imperiously until 20TH March when coronavirus eventually forced Scottish Rugby to draw stumps.

Mathematically they could still perhaps have fallen short of the three points needed from their two outstanding fixtures against Accies (away) and Hawick (home) to clinch the title, but realistically that was never going to happen – and having beaten nearest challengers Chieftains home and away and Hawick at Mansfield –  and having clocked up a remarkable average of 5.25 tries per game during the campaign – they deserve to have their name engraved on the trophy!

Highlights

Downside

Big Players

  • Colin Sturgeon was the main man – tactically astute – always dictating terms convincingly – a constant threat ball-in-hand – and kicking his goals.
  • Conor Bickerstaff – is a class act – great hands and a killer break – always dangerous – particularly in tandem with his brother Scott whenever the latter was released by the Scotland Sevens squad.
  • Benedict Grant was a great recruit. A typical raw boned Kiwi back rower who consistently made the hard yards –  supported by the irrepressible Kilmarnock boy Mackenzie Pearce and the unsung Fraser Grant in the engine room – all three of whom made the TOL Dream Team.

Memorable Comments

  • “We are taking nothing for granted but that is the best second-half performance I have seen from us. Colin Sturgeon was immense, and our defence in the first hour or so was terrific” – Craig Redpath after the vital win over Chieftains at Fullarton in September.
  • “We know that every game in this league is tough” – Craig Redpath before the  Musselburgh game in December.
  • “This was a definite wake-up call, but we remain unbeaten”– Craig Redpath after the draw with Accies.
  • We need to keep focused and if we don’t any team in this league can beat us” – Craig Redpath prophetically before the GHA game.

“Marr Rugby is a community club providing access to high quality and high performance or social rugby opportunities for players, coaches and spectators from Troon and its surrounding area.” That is what it says on the tin – but it was not always so.

Many years ago, when Marr were languishing in the regional leagues, one of their number, a man called Allan Mackintosh, spoke enthusiastically at the Paisley RFC Annual Dinner about what it took to turn a rugby club around: a winning first team whatever the level, visual change (a lick of paint!), project groups rather than a big committee, social rather than fund-raising events, bringing back the ‘oldies’ to promote the club ethos. Maybe it was hot air – maybe it never happened – but it sounded good at the time –  and the romantic would hope that it was maybe in some way symptomatic of the success that the club now enjoys.

Be that as it may, having stepped gingerly into the space vacated locally and nationally by Ayr in the top echelon of Scottish club rugby, Marr like King Louie in Jungle Book have ‘got to the top’ and in their case ‘they want to stop’ – and few would bet against them doing just that.


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6 Comments

  1. Remind me again what the score was when Marr played Hawick away from home ? Looking forward to pulling Hawick’s pants down again next season . Green machine lol more like green with envy at our continued success

  2. Spoke st the Paisley dinner alongside your Dad David and I am assuming iit was he who passed on the comments? Well remembered and not hot air – it actually happened and provided the strong base that enabled the club to move forward each year since then – I think the dinner was around 2004/5ish. Not sure I said ‘social rather than fund raising events’ as the club was totally skint for years!

  3. Interesting to see if true .
    You can’t put a game off to suit your agenda . can you.?

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  4. Yeh right. You can take a photo of ice or a puddle from anywhere to suit your agenda
    As I remember the Hawick President and management thought something iffy about the whole situation regards cancellation.

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  5. A wee bit of controversy .
    Home game v Hawick .Marr for various reasons were severely under strength .Hawick at full strength .Marr said pitch wasn’t playable.. other league games were played that day . . Oops a wee bit jiggery pokery

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    • Is your carer at home? Do you need help? Blink if there is somone there coercing you.
      Marr posted pictures of the pitch because Hawick nearly wet their wee pants. Other games went ahead in different areas, you know, with different weather and different drainage. I do believe Ayr rfc tweeted about this at the time. Still don’t let facts get in the way.

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