Despite suffering a 10-try defeat by Orkney RFC at the Meadows on Saturday to compound their position at the bottom of the Caledonia 1 table, there is a glimmer of hope for the future of Ellon Rugby thanks to restructuring at the club.
Ross Finlay, who has been working as an Ellon development officer, recently stepped up to director of rugby and head coach of the first team as part of a plan to ensure the club’s longevity.
The move was welcomed by predecessor Ryan Morrice, who remains on the coaching team in charge of the forwards.
Morrice said: “After the Hillfoots game it was a good opportunity to get Ross in to get used to the players and look at their strengths and weaknesses.
“He’s changed a lot of things and is trying to get the team used to a different mind set. He has been looking after the youth section and under 18s the last two or three years and he’s been out coaching at schools in the area.
“He’s got some really good ideas and ways to play the game. Hopefully the boys will take it on board.”
Morrice added: “The club is looking long term. We need to get a structure in place for guys to come up through from the under 18s when they’re ready and know the shape to play.
“We thought we would be in a better position than we are at the moment, and it got to the point where it would be silly not to use Ross because he’s experienced in what he’s done.
“We can’t keep thinking short term and phoning our mates to play on a Saturday when people have other commitments now. And we’re not going to be able to take players in because it costs money and there’s not a lot of money going about, so we’ve really got to build it from within.”
Ellon went 7-0 up against Orkney thanks to a try from wing Gavin Campbell and conversion from fly-half Phil Edwards, but the visitors soon asserted their dominance to score six tries in the first half and one conversion, leaving the score at 7-27 after 40 minutes.
They added another four scores in the second half and one more conversion to make the final score 54-7 and go top of the Caley 1 table.
Morrice said: “Orkney are quite good. They’re very well drilled and have a big pack.
“We couldn’t deal with them basically. They almost got promoted last year, they’ve kept to that core squad and they’re still strong.
“We started well. We scored a well-worked try, but they came back into the game and put a lot of pressure on us, which kind of made us revert to type. The boys started playing one-up rugby and not trying to play the shape we’ve been working on. We were well beaten.”
Ellon’s next game is away to mid-table Stonehaven side Mackie Academy FPs on Saturday.
Morrice said: “It will be a tough game. They’re up and down, but they’re doing better than us this season. It’s a local derby, so form kind of goes out the window on these games.
“We’re in the position now that we’ve got nothing to lose. We’ll give it our best and see what happens.”