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Ross Sutherland Rugby Club coach David Kennedy proud of team spirit that has been built in Invergordon over 2023/24 season

By Andrew Henderson

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Ross Sutherland coach David Kennedy says the 2023/24 season was a “really successful” one for the rugby club, despite missing out on the Caledonia North Two title.

The Stags were in formidable form right up until the final weeks of the campaign, topping the Highlands and Islands Conference after winning 11 of their 12 matches.

In cup action too, they lifted the Caledonia North Bowl, earning a chance to progress into the National Bowl and potentially play at Murrayfield in the final.

Ross Sutherland's coaching team; Murray, Ali and David Kennedy, with the 2024 Caledonia North Bowl. Picture: Peter Carson
Ross Sutherland's coaching team; Murray, Ali and David Kennedy, with the 2024 Caledonia North Bowl. Picture: Peter Carson

Unfortunately for the Naval Grounds outfit, defeat to Blairgowrie in the Bowl semi final cost them that opportunity, and defeats to Kinloss and North Police in the league play-offs – coupled with Garioch’s withdrawal – meant they finished bottom of those three-team standings on points difference.

Still, at a club who had set no particular target for the season on the pitch, Kennedy is able to look back on a year of development and camaraderie with pride.

“I think we had a really successful, positive season,” he explained.

“We didn’t really set any goals on the pitch this season, it was more about rebuilding the team and the culture behind the scenes. Off the back of that, I feel like everyone responded really well on the pitch to get some good results.

“To win our conference and the Caley Bowl to get to a national semi final, and be in with a shout of winning the whole league on the last game of the season, it’s some achievement.

“We’ve looked to make training fun and keep things light, and really get the guys to buy in to what we wanted to do off the pitch. They seem to have taken that and run themselves.

“There’s a culture here where they’re having fun off the pitch, which means they pull together and go for it on the pitch.

“We felt like we were capable of winning the league, and the National Bowl, but sometimes in rugby it just doesn’t go your way.

“From January we didn’t really know what the format of the league was, so it was quite a tall order for the guys – credit to them for sticking in.

“We had good numbers at training throughout, and good squads for away games which we have struggled to do in the past. Those are the wins for us.

“We’ve been really chuffed with the guys, and we’re really proud of what they’ve done on the pitch.”

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