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Stephan Walker looking to build long-term success at Ross Sutherland Rugby Club after returning to the Naval Grounds in Invergordon as chairman

By Andrew Henderson

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Stephan Walker insists he has returned to Ross Sutherland Rugby Club full of ideas – and with high hopes for the future on the pitch.

Former treasurer Walker is back at the Naval Grounds after a year out, having taken on the role of chairman at the club’s recent AGM.

He replaced John Scott, who served the Invergordon outfit for a number of years and guided the Stags through both the Covid-19 pandemic and the tricky process of building a new clubhouse.

Now, re-energised and re-enthused, Walker wants to build a base for long-term success – starting with an onslaught on the Caledonia One after it was confirmed that Ross Sutherland would be promoted ahead of the 2024/25 season.

“I want to see the club grow at every level, and sustain teams at every age group,” he said.

Stephan Walker (in the red jacket) supporting Ross Sutherland as they lifted the National Bowl in 2018.
Stephan Walker (in the red jacket) supporting Ross Sutherland as they lifted the National Bowl in 2018.

“We always wanted the club to get into the Caley One league, that’s a huge target and we want to consolidate and deliver more trophies at every age group.

“I think back to the successes we’ve had, even this season, and those are the things that really get you enthused. If we can do that, what else can we achieve?

“I think back to the time where our under-16s won back-to-back Caledonia Bowls, and only lost out in the National Shield by five points.

“Every club has had to do rebuild after Covid because so many players have been lost to the game – particularly at youth level.

“We want to build on that, and work more closely with Scottish Rugby and schools through our development officers to build the number of kids playing rugby, that can then feed into the senior team.

“Last season there were half-a-dozen boys who moved up from the under-18s, and to have those numbers moving into senior rugby is what sustains a rugby team. We want to see more of that.”

Walker had been enjoying life as a fan of Ross Sutherland again over the past 12 months.

However, he is just as happy to be back working for his club, saying it always felt inevitable that he would return to the behind the scenes team at the Naval Grounds.

“I’m thrilled to be back,” Walker reflected.

“I’ve got plenty of ideas, and having that time off has reinvigorated me and allowed me to build up that enthusiasm again. I’m really looking forward to this.

“When I stepped down as treasurer, I knew I would come back because I love it too much.

“Having that time away to be able to step back and lift my head out of the day-to-day running of the club gave me that space.

“I enjoyed going back to just being a fan of the club and the senior team, and watching them home and away with no other pressure around it was great, but I could tell a few months ago that I would probably be coming back at the AGM.”

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