Oban Lorne represent Scotland on amateur world stage in France

Oban Lorne represent Scotland on amateur world stage in France

A squad of 35 players and coaches from Oban Lorne will trade the West Coast of Scotland for the South-East seaside resort of Saint-Raphael this week as they travel to France to represent Scotland in the inaugural Amateur Rugby World Cup.

Running from 22-30 September, the festival has been organised in France by Rugby Club Dinois, as they bring together 16 amateur clubs from all over the world to compete for the first ever world amateur title.

The teams will play group matches spread over two days, and just like the national team, Oban have been drawn to face club teams from South Africa, Tonga and Romania.

The top two of each group will qualify for the finals while the unqualified teams will be able to participate in ranking tournament.

Murray Hamilton, the organiser of the trip, is really excited about Oban’s opportunity to represent Scotland in France, saying: “I can’t believe it’s nearly here. We’ve been planning this for quite some time now. This isn’t just a rugby tour; this is a chance to represent grassroots rugby in Scotland. We’re raring to go!”

But how did this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity come about?

Well, the tournament is by invitation only, and Oban Lorne received their invite last October though quite unusual means.

A few years ago, the club was featured in a French documentary on grassroots rugby across the globe. A producer from the show passed on details for the club to the event organisers and from here, Murray was contacted.

“To start with the whole thing felt a little too good to be true”, said Murray, Oban High School’s Principal Teacher of P.E.

“Being asked to represent Scotland, it felt like a bit of a wind up, so we took time to do the research and make sure it wasn’t a crazy scam, and of course it wasn’t.

“We had a players and coaches meeting, took it to the committee, and we all agreed it would be an amazing opportunity for the club. The timing for all this just felt right for us. We’d had a successful run in the league last season, we have quite a good young team, and we decided to bite the bullet and go for it.”

From here, the club embarked on a year long fundraising campaign to fund the trip.

“A lot of local businesses have stepped up to support us, whether that be sponsorship or giving players paid leave to be able to go. Many of the players are self-employed, so having backing to help these guys fulfil their chance of representing the county has been amazing.”

It’s not just been local businesses lending support, grassroots clubs from across Scotland have been showing their support too.

“One of our fundraisers came up with the idea of writing letters to clubs to ask if they wanted to become a member of Oban as a means of helping us fundraise. We were blown away by the number of clubs who supported us by paying a nominal membership fee, and other club’s who we have played against for years have dropped in cheques to us saying ‘here, this is for your trip to France’.

“It’s been amazing to see the grassroots community come together like this. We truly feel that we are there to represent all grassroots clubs in Scotland, not just Oban so we’re really grateful to have had that support.

“Obviously the idea is that in four years’ time, this competition will happen again, and another club will go out to represent Scotland, so we’ll look forward to returning that kindness.”

Whilst the players travel to Marseille on Friday, a small group of coaches have already begun the epic 23-hour journey in a van, transporting all of the team’s kit, ready to take to the pitch on Saturday.

The first stage of the competition will see Oban face Hamilton Sea-Point Rugby Club from South Africa on Saturday, followed by two games on Sunday against Kolomotu’a Rugby Club from Tonga and GFP Rugby Club from Romania.

So, what does Murray make of the opposition?

“Obviously countries have different systems and set ups when it comes to the grassroots game, but the organisers have tried to ensure everyone coming really is at that amateur level.

“Hamilton Sea-Point are a big club. We’ve seen clips of them on social media so we’re expecting them to be very well drilled and very well organised. The Tongan team look massive – as every Tongan team does – but they’ll be a challenge. We’re not sure what to expect from Romania, but we’re sure they’ll give us a great game.

“The games are two halves of 20 minutes, so in 40 minutes we reckon anyone can beat anyone!”

Ahead of the team’s departure, Scottish Rugby’s Director of Glasgow North, Peter Burgon said: “We’re delighted that Oban is participating in this tournament in France. We know the club, its volunteers and players have worked tirelessly to make this opportunity happen, and I’d like to share our thanks to the local business and clubs who have helped make this a reality. On behalf of Scottish Rugby, I’m wishing everyone the very best of luck. Oban Lorne will no doubt do Scotland and all of our grassroots clubs proud!”

Follow Oban Lorne’s time in France via Facebook and Instagram.

Oban Lorne sqaud

Cornelius Louw
Conor Taylor
Hamish Coghill
Connor Ferris
Liam Burns
Tim Awbery
Finn Charlton
Radostin Maksimov
Tommy Sutherland
Sean Gordon
Bruce Wilmner
Kyle Graham
Lorne MacLachlan
Jamie Bate
Jethro Anderson
Luke Plummer
Vasil Borisow
Fergus Taylor
Finlay Carmichael
Steven Campbell
David Cameron
Blair MacFarlane
George Ritchie
Patrick Shellcock
Robert Maclaughlin
Craig Wright
Callum Hamilton
Byron Benavides
James Divers
Callum Boyd

Coaches & Managers

Darrell Williams
Murray Hamilton
Ross Anderson
Billy Thomson
Obiefuna Umeaku

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