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Outgoing Ross Sutherland Rugby Club development officer John Mann feels Invergordon outfit are in a good place to continue growth on his departure from the role

By Andrew Henderson

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Ross Sutherland's John Mann has left his role as the club's development officer.

Mann had served the club for close to six years, but with his new job only taking him to Fortrose as an active schools co-ordinator he will continue to play at the Naval Grounds for the foreseeable future.

The last few years have been a period of growth off the pitch for the Stags.

John Mann has left his role as Ross Sutherland's development officer – but will continue to play for the club. Picture Peter Carson
John Mann has left his role as Ross Sutherland's development officer – but will continue to play for the club. Picture Peter Carson

Work on a new clubhouse is nearly complete, while away from the first team efforts have been made to establish touch rugby over the summer, walking rugby sessions and a first girls' and women's section in Invergordon.

Those are the things Mann will look back on just as fondly as his time as development officer comes to an end.

"I had been in the role for coming up six years, so I was looking for opportunities to progress and I was fortunate to get this position," Mann explained.

"In a way it's tough timing, because with the new clubhouse hopefully opening in the next month it's a great time to be involved, but it's not often things line up perfectly.

"I have lots of good memories – within that time we've started the girls and women's section.

"The obvious highlight everyone would jump to is the Murrayfield experience, but I look at things like seeing how our summer touch programme has grown over the last couple of years, or how we've taken in more staff.

"It's seeing that development. We will always brand ourselves as a grassroots rugby club, we've got to keep that image, but we also want to grow and do more within the community.

"We want to use our facilities to spread that reach a bit further and get people involved."

While there has been plenty of opportunities for growth in recent years at Ross Sutherland, there were also significant challenges – namely the pandemic and Covid's knock-on effects.

Mann, though, is proud of how the Stags returned in force after essentially having a year off, and believes the pandemic only highlighted how important clubs like Ross Sutherland can be.

"There was the obvious buzz when we came back from Covid," he added.

"I think ourselves and a lot of other sports clubs have done really well to hold on to that, and it just shows the benefits of being involved with a sports club.

"Whatever that sport is, it doesn't matter. Once they're in to a club, you don't see too many people leaving."

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