Testing season for new faces at Ross Sutherland
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For any amateur club, players have to have a high level of commitment to keep progressing.
At times, life will inevitably get in the way, and that is where the challenge of replacing squad members comes to the fore.
For Ross Sutherland, the last two years has been about trying to do that.
Bit by bit, players from the triumphant National Bowl winning team at Murrayfield in 2018 have drifted away from the game, and this year the Stags were battling relegation from Caledonia North Two for the majority of the campaign.
Former captain Ali Kennedy, who lifted the trophy in Edinburgh, was one of those players to take a step back before returning at the turn of the year.
But he maintains that the future is bright because of the new generation that has been integrated in the aftermath of the Bowl heroes.
“There were some guys there who were coming to the end of their playing careers when we won the Bowl,” Kennedy explained.
“When you lose experience like that, it’s hard to bounce back.
“Looking at last year, a few of the guys came back and played a bit, but maybe couldn’t commit as much, and we had an OK season.
“This year has been more of a struggle, a lot more of the guys have stepped away.
“It’s one of those things. This season, there has been positives from it, there have been a lot of younger lads coming through.
“A couple of boys have come back that look like really decent players, so hopefully going into next season we’ll be fine.”
The last thing the Stags want to do is close the door on former players, even if they have no intention of wearing Stags colours again.
But much as the club would like people to stay involved in whatever capacity they wish, that comes with its own challenges at times too as people want a break from the sport.
“We try and keep those guys involved for as long as possible, but it’s hard,” Kennedy admitted.
“You’re so committed for so long, that when you do step away you need a bit of a break from it.
“That’s completely understandable, people have more important things in life than chasing a rugby ball around.
“We just try to be as welcoming as possible.
“I know a lot of work last season went into getting a second team on the go for those guys who can’t be as involved as they would like, but still want a game of rugby on a Saturday. That’s a big step.”