West of Scotland Rugby Club looking forward to second half of season

West of Scotland enjoyed a fine derby win over Hillhead Jordanhill in November (pic: John Cameron)West of Scotland enjoyed a fine derby win over Hillhead Jordanhill in November (pic: John Cameron)
West of Scotland enjoyed a fine derby win over Hillhead Jordanhill in November (pic: John Cameron)
West of Scotland are heading into 2022 in decent shape after an encouraging first half of the rugby season for both men’s and women’s sides.

The men’s first XV ended the year second in the National League 3 table and still with ambitions of stepping up to League 2 at the end of the season.

And the women’s XV are also second in National League 1 in their first season at national level after stepping up from the regional leagues.

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Like all clubs, West went into the new season in September with some trepidation after a year and half on the sidelines because of Covid-19.

But the Milngavie club’s president, Donald Malone, says it has gone well so far, both on and off the field.

He said: “We were a bit unsure, having boys away from rugby for 18 months, but we trained well with really good numbers and the boys were really keen.

"We were going into it positive but a wee bit unsure how things would be.

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"It's a relatively young squad and virtually everybody in it has come through the club system.

"That's quite encouraging and backs up what we're doing as a community club.

"We lost a couple early on but have done really well. We were hopeful to be in the top half to top four, so to be sitting second in the league is pretty encouraging.

"Our numbers are such that we have a second XV as well, which helps as a squad. We've got great numbers at training and the coaches can do something really constructive because they've got plenty boys to coach and do stuff with, and that's showing on the park."

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Promotion and relegation will only come into effect if 65 per cent of fixtures across all Scottish Rugby leagues have been played, so there is still some degree of uncertainty about how the season will pan out.

But Malone said: "They're not far away from that so if we were able to carry on and get the season played, it's two get promoted from our league to National 2.

"Lasswade have played 11 and won 11 so it would take something remarkable for them not to go up. So it's one from four underneath that with ourselves, Howe of Fife, Hillhead Jordanhill and Berwick in contention.

"Berwick have games in hand but they've still got to come to Burnbrae and have still got play Lasswade, so you never know."

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An early 82-10 thrashing at Howe of Fife didn’t augur well for the young West squad but they responded to that setback in impressive fashion.

"We played Howe again in December and said ‘we're going to try and right a wrong here’ and fair play to the boys,” said Malone.

"The weather wasn't great that day but they rolled their sleeves up and we nicked it at the end.

"But it was a deserved win and it just shows you how far they've come. We also lost early to Hillhead Jordanhill but contributed to our defeat by handing them a couple of tries, so when we went to Hillhead in November, we took great satisfaction from the win.

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"We played really well and scored a couple of tries early on and never looked like losing.

"It showed even in two or three months the improvement there's been. The boys are playing for each other and it's not for the lack of effort and getting stuck in. They have learned, there's no doubt about it.

"Right across the club from the mini section, the juniors and our male and female rugby, we haven't had any games postponed or cancelled because of Covid, we've been quite lucky.

"It's been great to see everybody across the club getting back and enjoying their rugby.”

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The success of the women’s XV – they sit second behind unbeaten leaders Garioch, who have still to visit Burnbrae – has also delighted Malone.

He said: "Women's rugby is still very much in development and it's growing as a game but the girls have got a great coach in Lindsey Smith, who was involved with Scotland and has played at Hillhead Jordanhill in the top league.

"She's brought the girls on really well and they're sitting second in the league. It's great what they've done, their rugby's improved and they're all enjoying their rugby. It all helps with the club because it's more people participating and strengthens your hand as a community club that we've got such a diverse range playing the sport."