It will be a historic occasion this weekend when Skye Rugby play their first competitive league match.
Over 20 years after the sport was last played on the island in a different guise, the men’s senior team from Scotland’s newest club have been placed in Caledonia North Region League Division Two for the 2023-24 campaign and will be taking on Highland’s third XV at the Plockton High School pitches at 3pm on Saturday.
The result of the match does not matter, the fact that Skye Rugby has a team taking to the field at this level just less than 16 months since the club was first thought about is reason enough to celebrate.
Since the middle of 2022 a number of volunteers have worked hard to get to this point and they will be proud as punch when the first whistle blows on Saturday.
Club president Kelly Bow, one of the real driving forces behind Skye Rugby, said: “It is going to be such a great day for Skye Rugby and for the local community.
“On May 19 last year myself and my partner were having a celebration to mark what would have been my father’s 75th birthday.
“And because he was rugby mad and loved the game we decided then and there to set up the club in his honour.
“There was no rugby in this area at the time and since I’d moved here I’d been told that Skye was not a rugby island, so the next day I put out a message asking if anyone would be keen in getting involved in a local club and I got 180 responses.
“I was bowled over by that and all it did was further fuel the fire in me to make Skye Rugby a reality and, fast forward a year and a bit, here we are on the cusp of our first ever league match – it really is exciting.”
Bow’s father Phillip Douglas passed away back in 2002 and he played the game to a high level in Australia where she grew up.
Father would be proud
She herself moved to Skye in early 2021 via Inverness and believes her father would be “beside himself with excitement” to know that the love of the sport he had passed onto his daughter as a youngster had ended up in her helping to form a rugby club.
Skye Rugby will also remember her partner Alex Hamling’s “rugby mad” father David Hamling from Devon who passed away during the pandemic.
“When we held the first training session last year for senior men and women we had no balls and no training aids, so we had to borrow everything from Portree High School,” Bow explained.
“It was great to see so many people getting involved though, some who were new to the game and some who had played before.
“Going forward we will look to grow the women’s side of the club, but for now we have a good number of men playing and a good number of juniors playing in the Minis.
“The young ones cannot wait to watch the men playing this Saturday and although things have built really well up until now, I think once we play this first competitive home game things will ramp up another gear because more and more local people will want to get involved, especially with the Rugby World Cup just getting under way.
“We have had great support from local businesses and businesses from further afield to get us to this point and I would like to thank them while I know that the players can’t wait to get out on the pitch.”
To prepare for this match, Skye Rugby’s men played at a 10s tournament in Orkney in late August while the self-coached outfit are set to be captained by Steve Preston.