STATEMENT| FINLAY CALDER, CHAIRMAN
To all Members, past and present, Sponsors and friends of Stewart’s Melville Rugby Football Club
The expression goes something like this …. ‘ either you can be a driver of change or a victim of change but make no mistake, changes there will always be! ‘
Over the past several years we, at Stewart’s Melville Rugby Football Club, have found holding our status as a top twenty Club in Scotland, extremely challenging.
It is no secret that the quasi professionalism / amateurism structure within the Scottish Club rugby scene has not been a good model for us.
Running three teams on a regular basis has become more and more difficult for a variety of reasons namely, injuries, as the game becomes more and more physical at 1st xv level, and other interests compete at the lower levels.
In truth relegation came almost as a relief for it allows us breathing space where we can re-group as a Club to focus on what is important and that is, (in the opinion of the Committee) getting two teams on the park, fit and healthy, every Saturday.
We want our players to enjoy their rugby and the fellowship it brings.
Throughout the last twelve months or so we have also fully endorsed, and will continue to endorse, the SRU plans to take their chosen Six Clubs into a recognised Franchise structure allowing all those below to return to amateur status. We believe that this can only be good, not only for ourselves but for the game in Scotland, allowing all resources to be focused on player welfare, coaching, insurance, physios etc.
One of the Clubs awarded a Super Six Franchise were our nearest neighbours, and long-time adversaries, Heriot’s Rugby. To support their submission, it was agreed by the Board that we should support and endorse their bid. We were therefore delighted when they were recognised by the SRU as being more than worthy in terms of status within the game, structure and financial security.
Heriot’s Rugby recognise, though, that Super Six status is not without difficulties and are looking to ourselves to act in tandem with them going forward.
Heriot’s Rugby also believe that Stewart’s Melville RFC should be the strongest amateur club in the North of Edinburgh once the Franchises have been established.
The current more urgent undisputable facts are though:
– Both Clubs are running on empty at 3rd XV level.
– Both Clubs have limited numbers of S1 to S6 (Youth or Academy players)
With this as the backdrop it seems sensible, in the first instance, to bring these two areas together to form a finite mass.
The Committee propose that these two sections should merge, with immediate effect, playing under a separate title and kit incorporating the words ‘Ferry Road’ in order that no-one is seen to be giving up status. Perhaps ‘Ferry Road Colts’ for the youth section and ‘Ferry Road Stags’ for the combined 3rd XV?
Both sections would see Goldenacre and Inverleith as their home grounds playing alternatively between them both.
These are our initial thoughts which will be acted upon immediately for season 2018-19, then hopefully, moving towards something more, in time, as we approach season 2019-2020 whereupon dual registration of some players would allow players to move up or down as required.
The fact is though that whilst the exact detail of the Franchise arrangements remain unclear, and further debate is to be held at Murrayfield, neither Clubs want to rush into anything more formal at this stage.
Stewart’s Melville and Heriot’s also see both mini-sections continuing to run separately as both are massively successful. The route map suggested allows the more ambitious to progress upwards through the ranks of both our Clubs towards, ultimately, professional status.
After very positive feedback at the AGM on Thursday past, the Committee felt that strengthening our long term relationship with our old adversaries, into something more formal, is in the best interests of both Clubs.
We therefore welcome your continued support and look forward to seeing you next season.
Stewart’s Melville Rugby Football Club