As one of the oldest student societies at the university – outdating both of the student unions and the sports association – Glasgow University Rugby Football Club is dripping in history and tradition. Since it was founded in 1869, the different generations of the club have gone through many challenges and changes on and off the pitch, resulting today in a society that has, not only, a lot to give back to its members but also to the University of Glasgow as an entire institution.
Having homed British Lions and Scottish capped players in the last 149 years, the club is no stranger to individual success stories. And while these players were and continue to be a source of inspiration for GURFC members, the club has evolved to be about more than just solo achievement. The recent seasons have been incredibly successful for the club, with the first team winning back to back league victories, not to mention the memorable BUCS trophy win against Edinburgh firsts in March of last year. However, the current teams could not achieve what they do without their coaches, Stephen Leckey, James Wade and Jamie McCarthy. The newly appointed club captain Grant Drummond, has only words of praise for these three men stating, “Their knowledge of the game and coaching ability is second to none and has had a massively positive effect on the way we play. It has been a large part of the reason for our continued success on the pitch.” The continued hard work of the coaches and overall unity of the club has allowed the introduction of a fourth team, to it’s already thriving three, for the first time in the clubs history. Next season the club is hoping to continue it’s success of the first and second teams as well as pushing the thirds and fourths, with a 4 teams, 1 club, attitude.
A not so positive aspect of university rugby in the UK, as a whole, is this idea of the “rugby lad”, where by off the pitch they are seen as turning their socials into very anti-social situations. In the past Glasgow has been no exception to this, however the narrative is changing. In recent times GURFC has not only behaved commendably off the pitch, the club has also begun to look into wider issues in the sport as a whole. An aspect that evolved last year, that Grant would love to continue and grow this year is to promote LGBT participation in the sport. He wishes to achieve this by the club partaking in the LGBT allies training course once again, as well as organising friendly matches with The Glasgow Alphas, an gay-inclusive rugby team in Glasgow, which in Grant’s words will “show solidarity with fellow rugby players.”
Another giant issue within more abrasive sports, such as rugby, is the pressure that boys feel of having to live up to this “macho” persona. This mentality is a dangerous one, and one that GURFC are hoping to help quash this year. By working with the Glasgow University Positive Minds group, as well as GUSA, the club is striving to de-stigmatize mental health in young men, encouraging members to be able to confide in one another, and therefore creating a healthy and supportive training environment.
The generational makeover that GURFC has seen in recent years is a dynamic and progressive one. By working together to tackle important and relevant issues off the pitch, the club has managed to achieve success on the pitch. And so in a historical season for the club, all four teams can look forward to another prosperous year of rugby.
If you are interested in joining the club or want to enquire about doing so either email; firstname.lastname@example.org or check them out at the freshers fair in the Stevenson Building during Freshers week.
Interviewed: Grant Drummond
-Laura Hannah, Sports and Wellbeing Editor