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Ross Sutherland Rugby Club looking to bring businesses and local community together in Invergordon to make most of new clubhouse at Naval Grounds

By Andrew Henderson

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After a couple of years of change, Ross Sutherland are looking to entrench themselves as a focal point of their local community.

Their long-awaited new clubhouse in Invergordon is finally complete and open for business, with a raft of events booked in and plans to celebrate the Stags' centenary on the agenda.

Ross Sutherland Rugby Club want to become a central hub for their local community. Picture: James Mackenzie
Ross Sutherland Rugby Club want to become a central hub for their local community. Picture: James Mackenzie

One of the benefits that has long been mooted with the new facility has been extra opportunities to engage with nearby businesses and groups, and club chairman John Scott intends to kick on with those in the near future.

"I think the term 'reset' is what will have been used before," he said.

"There are various things that have happened – we've finished off the clubhouse, we've got a really good community development team in place, we've got a good coaching team in place, we've got players who are looking forward to getting stuck into training.

"We've also got Tartan Touch which is about to shift to a Thursday, and we're looking at girls' and women's rugby which is really important for us to develop.

"We will be developing a business club, whereby we ask local businesses to get involved, come along and have a soup and a sandwich. We'll get a speaker along to come and talk to them – possibly from rugby, possibly from the wider world of sport – to give them an opportunity to engage.

"From a well-being point of view, sitting down, having a blether and engaging with people is so important. Probably the biggest lesson we've learned from Covid is the role we have to play in that wider community well-being.

"By bringing these businesses together, they get the chance to socialise and network, and once we've got those strong links with local businesses, at some stage when our under-16s and under-17s are looking for apprenticeships we hope to be able to give them a chance to get those locally.

"In turn, that links businesses in so that at a later date they can help the club, so community engagement is a big part of what we're doing just now."

Creating opportunities for young players to potentially move into the world of work highlights the idea of Ross Sutherland being more than simply a rugby club.

Scott is keen to use rugby as a medium to develop relationships and personal growth, and he sees that as coming both in and out of sport.

"You don't actually know where your career, or your life, is going to take you," he added.

"You could end up anywhere in the world, and if you've got rugby as a background that is like a currency – you can go and just drop into a rugby club and feel part of something.

"We've got players that have travelled with rugby. David Whiteford played for Hong Kong, and we've had players go to new Zealand and Australia, playing at various levels from the top to the local pub team, who have felt that belonging and they have felt looked after.

"We do reciprocate whenever someone turns up. We've had Frenchmen working over here that have been involved, we've had various Kiwis, Australians and South Africans who have just dropped in.

"We've had a Chilean just recently who got involved. They always bring something and leave a little bit of their culture behind, and they probably inspire some of our players to think about travel where they maybe wouldn't have done before.

"Before you know it, local guys are going to visit them in their home countries, and that's developing people again."

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