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Coaching staff yet to commit to Ross Sutherland return after year of change at Naval Grounds and in Scottish club rugby

By Andrew Henderson

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The future of Ross Sutherland Rugby Club’s coaching staff is up in the air, despite plenty of positivity over how the 2023/24 season went.

There were plenty of celebrations at the Naval Grounds last season, topping the Highlands and Islands Conference in the Caledonia North Two and lifting the Caledonia Bowl.

More than that, though, there was a renewed team spirit in Invergordon – helped along by the official opening of their new clubhouse facility.

Integral to that has been the leadership from the Kennedy brothers, David, Murray and Ali, who were handed the reigns as coaches just under a year ago.

The Kennedy brothers steered Ross Sutherland Rugby Club through a restructured league to great effect.
The Kennedy brothers steered Ross Sutherland Rugby Club through a restructured league to great effect.

However, no decision has yet been made on whether they will return for the 2024/25 campaign.

“We need to have a conversation about that,” David revealed.

“We had said to the club that we would do it for a year, and then we would sit down with the rest of the club and review how the season went, and take it from there.

“Nothing is confirmed yet. I think there’s going to be a bit of change inside the club, so we’ll need to see who moves where and who gets appointed to certain positions.

“We got to the end of the season and just decided to take a couple of weeks to not think about rugby too much, then we’ll have a conversation with the club and play it by ear.

“We haven’t said yes definitely, but we also haven’t taken it off the table and said we’re not doing it. We need to make sure it’s right for all three of us, our families, and the club. That’s where we’re at.”

If there is a change made in the coaching department next season, whoever comes in will at least have the advantage of more familiarity with the league structure.

For the first time last season, a conference and play-off system was introduced by Scottish Rugby as part of a restructuring of the club pyramid.

The same format is expected to be in place for 2024/25, with David Kennedy hoping that there will be more clarity next season now that everyone has had a year to get used to the challenge.

“It was frustrating at times last season, purely because we didn’t really know how it would work,” he admitted.

“In our side of the league it was quite clear who the top two were, but we didn’t know what the format of the play-offs would be or who the other teams were, or the timings of when matches would be taking place.

“That’s quite difficult, so credit to the guys for staying motivated when none of us were sure when the season was going to end, or when the play-offs were going to happen.

“It was out of our control. You like to do a bit of planning, and it’s difficult when you don’t have that control and you don’t know when games are coming.

“All the teams in the play-offs were in the same boat, so we all had to negotiate that.

“I think next season will be the same, and hopefully if we’re there or thereabouts again next year it will be a bit easier because we’ve already been involved and we know how it works.

“We’ll be more prepared, and the SRU will be as well so I’m sure they will be able to give us a bit more notice to let us prepare a bit better.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with promotion either, hopefully we’re in the mix but nothing has been confirmed yet.”

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