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Under 18 Dinner
True spirit of rugby alive and well in Cumbernauld

WHY does it have to be the "Gunners", the "Warriors" and the "Reivers"? Why can't it just be Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Borders? What on earth was a Reiver anyway? The word seems to suggest someone who spent a lot of time knitting beside a fire on the banks of the Tweed. And perhaps it's the Munster "Battlers" - or have I missed something?

It was the Cumbernauld dinner on Friday night, at which the club members celebrated the 25th anniversary of their junior section, and it was fantastic. Any other word would not do justice to an event which brought together corporate guests, four tables of S2 and under-18 players, mums and dads, rugby players, the original founders of the junior teams back in 1981, and of course the one and only Stewart Coull. The 200 guests were all under one tent on the pitches, and it was a special occasion. Maybe Cumbernauld does take a hammering when it comes to the quality of the town centre's architecture, but its warmth is in its people and I saw that.

This is where real rugby comes from - rugby produced by people who love the game, for the people of the town, and it hasn't arrived through some kind of privilege. Coull, a man for whom I think I can actually profess love, cast his careful eye over proceedings, and if you know or have heard Coull in action as a speaker you will know that this man with the Irish accent, who has been player, coach and president at Cumbernauld, is one of the finest proponents of his genre.

What struck me about Cumbernauld was that if you go to some of the better-off clubs and attend their rugby dinners, the behaviour can border on boorish excess where well-spoken young boys are sick under the table. At Cumbernauld, all ages mingled and they did so with respect. The clubhouse is cared for, the people have a passion for the game and the club does literally give young men a home to go to and a social circle. If ever Cumbernauld were to put in an application for social inclusion funding, then I would back them all the way. "We have actually taken some lads off the streets over the years," Coull told me.

I come from a branch of rugby where you played for the school, and then went on to play for the former pupils.

And it got me thinking. The key to the success of any of the pro teams is that they need strong town, city or regional identities for the people of that area to get behind them.

I have never understood why there isn't a Dundee rugby team, an Aberdeen rugby team and a Motherwell rugby team because if there were they might be able to attract some substantial funding, and interest from their areas. This might allow us to compete with French professional sides, where salaries are going through the roof thanks to local authority provided pitches, and almost individual sponsorship of players by local companies, which arrives on top of TV money and gate receipts.

It's a thank you, then, from me to Stewart Coull and Cumbernauld for nurturing a town-based team that provides a valuable service to the community and keeps the game burning. And can I make a plea? Please drop the maddening suffixes of "Warriors" and "Gunners" and "Reivers".

This article: http://sport.scotsman.com/rugby_premier1.cfm?id=612942006

Last updated: 24-Apr-06
Cumbernauld Rugby Club would like to thank everybody especially the guest speakers, the sponsors and all the members past and present who made this night such a great success.
Anyone with any photos from the dinner please send them here or hand them into the clubhouse all photos will be returned asap.