14TH MARCH 2024

Annan Rugby were named Glasgow South Community Rugby Club of the Year while the legend that is Billy Henderson picked up the Adam Gray Award

Community Club of the Season – Annan RUGBY

Annan RFC have continued to grow all areas of their playing membership. During season 22/23, the player base of the club increased by an astonishing 33%, split evenly between both male and female members. They have also re-introduced their walking rugby sessions, which have attracted huge interest from the community. In addition to work on the pitch, Annan have continued to aid numerous charities and have been an avid supporter of Tartan Touch.

Over the last year, the female game at Annan has made significant strides forward. The U16 girls team was successful in lifting the National Shield at Murrayfield in December, while two of the club’s U18 girls, Niamh Ross and Zoe Mitchell, were selected to travel to Prague in July to turn out for the seven’s U18 squad. Further to these selections, several U16 and U18 level players have been chosen to represent the West of Scotland regional squad.

The club have extended their walking rugby offering, providing more inclusion to those who want to get involved in the game. Rather than take a winter break when outside training wasn’t possible, the group has continued to train in an indoor capacity. The sessions provide the chance for people of all abilities and ages to socialise and earn the benefits of playing in a relaxed environment.

The Walking Rugby Festival, run by the club, returned on February 17. Many of the participants are past players and/or those who are involved with the club at volunteer level, but it has attracted some interest from outside.

Multiple charities have benefited from Annan RFC’s fundraising over the past 12 months. One of these charities is the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, who have received funds from several events from Annan RFC.

A New Year’s Day ‘Dook’ raised £1,340, where 150 hardy souls braved the cold Solway Firth. Annan also had a participating team in the Doddie555 cycle from Cardiff to Murrayfield, while a Farmer’s Select XV Vs Stirling County match on January 2 raised even more funds for Doddie’s Foundation. Aside from rugby, Annan have also been involved in free car boot sales and have done work with local care homes.

In December, players and supporters donated food items to local charities Annan Day Centre, Kate’s Kitchen and The Food Train. Supporting local organisations is fundamentally important to Annan RFC, who also allow their premises to host council meetings alongside other group meetings.

Adam Gray Award – Billy Henderson

Billy truly is rugby through and through.

His work as Annan Rugby’s Youth Girls’ Lead Coach for the past seven years sees him receive the Adam Gray Award this year. He started his affiliation with the club 40 years ago, where he made 245 appearances. Once it was time to hang his boots up, Billy continued his involvement with the club as a committee member, as well as carrying out countless maintenance jobs which included the construction Violebank Pavilion in the late 1990s.

Billy’s coaching journey began when his daughter Ellie joined the club as a youth player. Even though Ellie has been out of the girl’s setup for four years, Billy has continued to be committed to his role, for which he currently delivers 2-3 sessions weekly, as well as attending weekend fixtures and festivals. He encourages players to take advantage of the opportunities that rugby presents, an attitude that contributed to three players being called into the Scottish U18 Futures setup.

Going above and beyond for every player is what Billy does regularly. He volunteered to drive the 150-mile round trip so three Futures players- Ellie, Zoe and Niamh could attend training sessions in Grangemouth.

Further down the line, Billy and his wife Angela accompanied the latter two and their families to Prague when they were selected to represent the U18 Sevens Squad. Billy and Angela have also travelled to Shetland to help fulfil league fixtures and Scottish Gas Murrayfield to assist at the National Shield Final.

Players who have been coached by Billy are regularly called into Scotland regional squads. Billy has also enhanced the player experience by organising trips for the girls to learn from watching higher level rugby.

There have been several trips to watch Scotland Women’s U20 fixtures, all on Billy’s free weekends, where he is supposed to be released of work and rugby commitments.

Any excuse is a good excuse for Billy to get his hands back on a rugby ball. This was a catalyst for him founding the Coll Annual Beach Rugby Tournament, which now takes place on the first weekend in August.

The event has continued to grow in popularity, bringing in groups from all over the UK. Billy has also done his share of fundraising, captaining the Scottish Farmer’s Select XV team to raise funds for Doddie’s Foundation, as well as accompanying Rob Wainwright on the Doddie555 Charity ride.

For causes closer to home, he organises an annual supporters day to raise as much money as possible for Annan Rugby.

Other News