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Aberdeen Grammar suffer third successive relegation with ‘a lot of challenges ahead’

The Rubislaw side's National Two fate was sealed after defeat at Lasswade.

Kevin Burnett - Jack's father - has taken over as Aberdeen Grammar director of rugby
Aberdeen Grammar's director of rugby Kevin Burnett. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson.

Aberdeen Grammar’s fate was sealed on Saturday, the Rubislaw men suffering a third relegation on the spin after a defeat at Lasswade in National Two.

At the start of the 2021-22 campaign, Grammar were in the Premiership, but fast forward to the start of the 2024-25 season in a few months and – depending on what happens with league reconstruction – they will be in National Three.

It has been quite a fall for the club and their bottom place finish in National Two was confirmed after a 40-10 loss at Hawthornden against Lasswade who now sit third.

They have won just two out of 17 league games to date this term and have conceded 628 points.

“It has been a tough season, we can’t hide from that,” Aberdeen Grammar director of rugby Kevin Burnett said.

“Three relegations for the senior men’s side in three consecutive seasons is hard for everyone involved to take.

“There are a lot of challenges ahead and there needs to be some readjustment – the club is going through a real transition at the moment.

“In terms of the game at Lasswade, there is still a really positive environment amongst the players and I thought they did a bit better in this match with a structure to their play.

“Lasswade had a big, heavy pack and once they got on top they were hard to stop and the result probably reflects how the game went.

“The players are hurting just now, indeed everyone connected to the club is, but we have to look forward now.”

Craig Shepherd, the captain, scored Grammar’s try at the weekend with Dan McElderry kicking five points.

Grammar have one more league game to go on March 16 at home to top side Peebles, but before that they will be off to Orkney to take on the National Three side in the first round of the National League Cup this coming Saturday.

Burnett and many others involved with Grammar are determined to reset and get the club moving in the right direction.

“I have spoken to a lot of people in the last couple of days and there are a lot of people who want to help the club going forward,” he explained.

“We have been developing our youth structure as we know that is really important. Next season will be the first time in seven years that we will have an under-18s as well as male players at every other level, so that is a positive.

“There are lots of things going on in the background and we will reset, but in the first instance we have the Cup tie away to Orkney this coming Saturday and we are looking forward to that.”

Even if Grammar had won at Lasswade, their relegation would have been sealed as nearest rivals Berwick defeated Kirkcaldy 43-14 with a bonus point.

GoGos and Orkney taste defeat

Gordonians finished their league campaign off with a disappointing 41-24 home loss to Stirling County meaning they end up fifth in the standings.

In National Three, Orkney lost out 48-22 to Allan Glen’s.

Despite that, they are still in pole position to finish in second place because they have two games remaining and only Allan Glen’s could catch them now.

Unfortunately, Highland will not be finishing second in National One after GHA’s 35-14 triumph over Glasgow Accies saw them leapfrog the Inverness men who have finished their fixtures.

In the National Shield round three ties, Caithness went down 31- 12 at Carnoustie, but Moray were on the road to Grangemouth Stags and managed to edge out their hosts 24-23.

Kinloss Eagles were big 83-5 winners away to Fraserburgh in the Caledonia North Bowl quarter-finals with North Police Scotland seeing off Shetland and Ross Sutherland winning 65-15 at Turriff.

Garioch are the other team through to the semis after Inverness Craig Dunain could not field a side.

Captain Sammy Ross and Jess Sillcocks scored tries, but Garioch were beaten 32-10 in the pool stage of the women’s Sarah Beaney Cup at home to Corstorphine.

And in the women’s Regional Play-Off Series, Shetland Valkyries lost out 57-7 to Dundee Valkyries and will need to dismiss that one quickly ahead of a trip to Ayr this coming weekend.