AYR Rugby Club took home the main prize of BT Club of the Season from last week’s Scottish Rugby Club Awards, whilst head coach Calum Forrester was rewarded for his sterling work, writes Elena Hogarth.

The club didn’t just receive the award for the men’s 1st XV being crowned BT Premiership champions but for their dedication to developing all levels of the game throughout South Ayrshire, specifically widening the appeal of and access to women and girls’ rugby.

Forrester was named BT Coach of the Season at the end of a busy time for the 30-year-old. Not only has he and his coaching team of Glen Tippett, Scott Forrest and Jonny Stevenson – as well as 2nd XV coaches Gordon Kotze and Jim McKay – led their troops to the league title, the BT Cup final and the Bill McLaren Shield, but he has completed his masters degree in coaching from Napier University and been assistant coach to Scotland U19s, all while studying for his chartered accounting exams.

Forrester is one of several enterprising young coaches in the BT Premiership raising the standards of the league and promoting and developing a terrific brand of rugby. Ayr scored 113 tries in 2016/17, with backs and forwards alike dotting down/

On a glittering night at BT Murrayfield for the awards dinner, there was a murmur of dismay that Ayr scrum-half David Armstrong was not shortlisted for Player of the Season (it went to Melrose’s George Taylor) after another outstanding year for the 27-year-old from Castle Douglas.

But Melrose, who shared the season’s on-field spoils with Ayr, couldn’t very well leave empty-handed, and Armstrong will hopefully be rewarded for his intelligent, industrious and often courageous play next season.

Both Forrester and Ayr president Billy McHarg were quick to point out that these awards were the result of a huge effort from everyone who works at and volunteers for the club.

“There’s no one person responsible for the success at Ayr,” said McHarg. “It’s a team effort. We set ourselves goals and everyone works hard to achieve them.”

The men’s and women’s squads are now enjoying a break before pre-season begins in July.

The BT Premiership dates were released last week and Ayr kick things off with an away tie against Boroughmuir on Saturday, September 2.

The week before, they host Melrose at Millbrae in the BT Charity Shield, and the derbies against Marr will be played on Saturday, October 7 at Fullarton and Saturday, January 20 at Millbrae.