Issue 90 - Page 49

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ACCOUNTS FOR THE POSITIVE MOOD AT THE CLUB THIS SEASON ? We have always been a club that is rooted within the community but traditionally fielded only a Men ’ s 1st XV , Youth and Juniors teams . However , during the long offseason our senior rugby coaches dedicated their time to establishing a Women ’ s team and re-establish a Men ’ s 2nd XV . The success of both of those initiatives has transformed our club overnight as a new cross section of the community enthusiastically connects with the club lifting spirits across the board .
DO YOU HAVE A SENIOR / JUNIOR / MINI COACHING PHILOSOPHY AT THE CLUB ? We are very fortunate to have great coaching teams at all levels and they are all focused on playing fast attractive rugby which we term as “ The Caithness way ”. It ’ s a simple philosophy that we find comes naturally but the real key is giving the players the opportunity to express themselves and that improves the enjoyment factor for everyone involved .
DO YOU HAVE ANY SUCCESSFUL PLAYER CONNECTIONS THAT HAVE COME THROUGH OR PLAYED FOR THE CLUB OVER THE YEARS ? Our most famous ex-player is Rowan Shepard who earned 20 caps for Scotland in the late 90s and was followed closely by his sister Rhona who also achieved international honours , much to the delight of their father Gordon who himself was a Scotland A representative . The club can also lay claim to establishing one of the greats
Vice president of Caithness RFC Russell Mill recently spoke to Rugby Club Magazine
of the Women ’ s game with a very young Lucy Millard passing through our Junior ranks before heading south and a glittering Scotland career . In the professional era , Tom McGee represented Leeds and Scotland A and currently Shaun Gunn is pushing for higher honours as part of the Edinburgh Pro setup .
WHY DO YOU FEEL SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE A SPECIAL FONDNESS FOR CAITHNESS RFC ? In 1955 the Dounreay nuclear site was commissioned resulting in a huge population influx to the county , this period saw the start of rugby in the area and the club was founded in 1962 .
It offered a great way for friendships to be formed outside of the workplace and this long-lasting bond with the community persists to this day . Family connections also play a huge part , I played with my two brothers and we were joined by several other sets of brothers who I ’ m delighted to say still hold an active involvement within the club . It ’ s hoped that our move into the Women ’ s game will allow the ladies to build a similar legacy and ensure entire families share in the rugby club experience .
PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT THE LADIES TEAM / TEAMS AND OR ANY GIRLS RUGBY AT THE CLUB ? Girls Youth Rugby in Caithness has been booming for a number of years with the teams performing very well at the national level with numerous titles claimed along the way . This has led to several player progressing to age grade honours and the future continues to be bright for the next crop . With the establishment of a Senior Women ’ s team these girls now have a pathway that allows them to fulfil their ambitions
beyond youth level . Prior to this Women who were keen to play seniors had to take a 16-mile boat trip to Orkney to get a run-out . The Caithness Krakens have now played four matches claiming wins in two of them , tremendous start !
HOW DOES THE CLUB ENSURE THAT YOUNG PLAYERS ENJOY A SMOOTH TRANSITION INTO THE SENIOR GAME ? Our Youth teams can suffer from low player numbers and collaborating with other Highland teams to makeup a XV is the only way to fulfil fixtures . This is particular evident when reaching the U18 level where getting any form of fixture can prove challenging , often leading to players choosing to walk away from the sport .
Over the past few season we have developed an approach of integrating youth training with the seniors and utilising non-contact gamebased training to provide the best experience possible . The whole club buys into this approach and makes sure these young boys and girls are made to feel they have a place at the club so they transition through this difficult stage as part of Caithness Rugby family .
WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURS TO BE A COMMUNITY CLUB ? The Greens are a very unique in the strength of our community bond , it ’ s almost our Super Power !
When you travel for 14-18 hour for an away game you really get to know your team mates and when we play at home our family of supporters come out in droves to cheers the team on . With all this backing it ’ s key for us as a club to pay it back by putting on the best representation of ourselves on and off the field . So , from time to time we can
be found building sheds for a food bank , putting up stalls for a Sunday market or just making sure our club can offer facilities for community support groups .
WHAT IMPACT HAS THE CLUB HAD ON THE LOCAL COMMUNITY AND THE EXISTING CLUB MEMBERS ? Coming out of Lockdown we weren ’ t sure what to expect but there was an optimism that the rugby might bounce back . So , during the summer we opened up opportunities to be involved through touch rugby . This allowed people to become comfortable with socialising again and then we saw the community use of the clubhouse start to re-ignite .
Several months on and our membership numbers have gone through the roof , our junior section has grown massively and the support from our amazing business community has returned . We look forward to now expanding our involvement in the months ahead through establishing training programmes within the local primary and secondary schools .
WHAT ARE THE GOALS FOR ALL TEAMS AT THE CLUB THIS SEASON AND HOW ACHIEVABLE ARE THEY ? Our Men ’ s team took the decision to move back to the North regional league at the start of the 21 / 22 season as the travel commitment of the nationals proved too great . Initially their goal was to rebuild and bring through the next crop of young players but they are a competitive bunch so we will take each game and season as it comes ! Our women entered the league looking to learn a bit about the game and earn the respect of the opposition and they are well on their way to achieving this .
From a Youth team perspective , our goal is to play the game and hats have to be tipped to our coaches in these sections as they constantly strive to find a way to make that happen . In our buoyant Junior section , it ’ s all about fun , we run Sunday morning training in Thurso and Wick from Spring to Autumn and I can see us returning to the competitive action of festivals in 2022 .
CLUB TO BE PART OF ? For me Caithness Rugby Club is such a great club to be part off because we have a second to none group of passionate people who are all on the same page working towards making our club successful .