The Earl and Countess of Forfar meet members of Strathmore Rugby Club Community Trust’s Rugby Academy and the ‘Strathmore Clan’ as part of their first visit to Forfar since being granted their new titles.

The Earl and Countess of Forfar have seen the work of Angus rugby charity The Strathmore Rugby Club Community Trust, on Their Royal Highnesses’ first visit to the town since The Earl was granted the title of The Earl of Forfar in March.

As part of an afternoon of visits to community projects in Forfar, the Earl and Countess visited the Inchmacoble Park home of Strathmore RFC, where the club’s two-year-old community trust undertakes a number of initiatives designed to increase public participation in sport to benefit their health and wellbeing and develop young people into healthy, positive members of the community.

The Earl and Countess were welcomed by Stuart Gray, Chair of Strathmore Rugby Club Community Trust, its Community Project Coordinator Josh Gabriel-Clarke, Gordon Cairns, Director of Stracathro Estates, one of the trust sponsors, and Bob Baldie, President of Strathmore RFC, before seeing two of the trust’s projects in action on the pitch.

Their Royal Highnesses saw the Rugby Academy in action, which teaches secondary pupils life skills as well as rugby, before being introduced by Gordon Cairns to Rugby Academy members taking part in various rugby activities and conditioning games.

Unified Rugby

Next the Earl and Countess saw the ‘Strathmore Clan’ taking part in a Unified Rugby session, run by Trust Community Project Assistant, James Kiely.

Unified Rugby, pioneered by Trust Rugby International (tri), is used to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to build confidence and social skills by engaging in a controlled game of contact rugby against other teams, while also accommodating their individual needs.

The ‘Strathmore Clan’, which has been playing competitively since March, features adult players with disabilities, who play wearing red scrum caps alongside able-bodied players who support them on the field.

Their Royal Highnesses also learnt about the Trust’s latest initiative in the club gym – autism-friendly rugby for primary children, which it was the first to introduce in Scotland in May with weekly sessions, and saw some of the items used in them.

Autism

The sessions are designed to create a positive learning environment for children with or undergoing diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their siblings to have fun while developing confidence and social skills as well as general physical literacy and sporting skills. They also provide respite and social contact for parents and carers – who can socialise and enjoy refreshments on-site as well as watch with the knowledge their child is in a safe environment.

Finally, The Earl and Countess met other people involved in the trust’s work before departing.

Speaking about the Royal visit, Trust Chair, Stuart Gray, said: “We are greatly honoured to have had Their Royal Highnesses see the work of Trust. This is well-deserved recognition for everyone involved in these projects benefitting the community of Angus.

“Thanks to all involved, including our funders and sponsors – sportscotland, Forfar Common Good Fund, The Robertson Trust and Stracathro Estates – as well as our partners Strathmore RFC, Brechin RFC, Scottish Rugby and Scotland Rugby League.”

Chief executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “At sportscotland we are implementing a world-class sporting system at every level in Scotland with the ambition of changing lives in local communities.

‘Brilliant work’

“Direct Club Investment has a part to play in that, but we can only do so with the support of the many dedicated coaches, officials and volunteers who make sport happen right across the country at clubs like Strathmore RFC.

“We are delighted to support the brilliant work being done at Strathmore RFC which is benefitting lots of young people in the area.”

The trust was founded in 2017 to increase public participation in sport, particularly rugby union and rugby league, in the Forfar, Kirriemuir and Brechin areas to benefit community health and wellbeing as well as develop young people into healthy, positive members of the community through the positive ethos and values of rugby.

It’s based at Strathmore Rugby Club in Forfar and works in partnership with Strathmore RFC, Brechin RFC, sportscotland, Scottish Rugby and Scotland Rugby League. Josh Gabriel-Clarke’s role is supported by funding from the Forfar Common Good Fund, sportscotland and The Robertson Trust.

For details go to the trust’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TSRCCT