Deeside Rugby FC Strengthen Long-standing Relationship With French Club
A long-standing relationship between two rugby clubs in the north-east and Bordeaux in France has been re-established following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Banchory-based Deeside RFC recently took 42 S2 and S3 boys, along with coaches and some parent volunteers to Martignas-Illac RFC near Bordeaux as part of an annual exchange which will hopefully see the French club return to Scotland in 2024.
The relationship between the two clubs began a number of years ago as part of the twinning of the village of Aboyne with Martignas-sur-Jalle.
Not without its post Covid challenges, the trip was only made possible by the generosity of a number of sponsors and Michael Richmond, a parent of one of the Deeside rugby players, who hired a van and drove the luggage and rugby equipment including bagpipes the 2,500 miles to Bordeaux and back.
Especially for Deeside’s visit, four local Bordeaux clubs Martignas Rugby, Mérignac Rugby, Saint-Médard Rugby and Eysinaise Rugby all came together as Entente Rugby Ouest-Gironde and contributed to the exchange by providing players, support, warm welcomes and fantastic French hospitality.
The first activity of the trip was at Mérignac Rugby where introductions were made before a spirited mass game of touch rugby in the setting French sun.
Day two saw a combined training session at the main host club, Martignas-Illac, while the coaches and volunteer helpers enjoyed a morning wine tour. In the afternoon heat, the S2 teams were led out by pipers from Deeside Rugby for the anthems before the first match of the exchange.
The long journey and heat had clearly taken its toll on the visiting squad with the hosts taking an extensive early lead. There was no shame in defeat, particularly with at least one of the host team knocking on the door of the national French junior team. There was also some typical French flair and running rugby on display, well suited to the conditions.
The precursor for the S3 match was both the Scottish and French national anthems played by some of the Deeside team on their bagpipes, much to the delight of the French players and support. The S3 match was a much closer affair with the teams going into half time with the score tied a try a piece. However, late in the second half the heat and fatigue caught up with the Deeside team and the French ran out worthy winners with fast running rugby on display again.
An evening of hospitality followed at the Martignas-Illac club. Led by club president Alain Rieu-Beillan and the lead coach from the hosts, both sides then took to the pitch for a game of touch rugby and a ‘Kilted Coaches’ touch rugby challenge between the coaches and parents of both sides under the floodlights. The latter game may have been fuelled by a little ‘Water of Life’ which the Deeside coaches brought along for their French counterparts!
Sunday was a day of leisure and cordialité when the hosts treated the visitors to a day at the beach visiting the Grande Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe, swimming and playing touch rugby on the dunes followed by another tremendous evening hosted by Saint-Médard Rugby.
Deeside RFC set off for home very grateful for the fantastic and memorable experience created by the home clubs and all those who contributed to the weekend. The travelling party, as well as the wider Deeside RFC and community, look forward to reciprocating the warm welcome and hospitality shown when the clubs visit Deeside in 2024.
Deeside Rugby FC would like to take this opportunity to thank their sponsors as, without their generous assistance the trip would simply not have been possible:
Banchory Estates Limited
Deeside Distillery/Dee Fisheries Trust
Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (Aboyne Station)
Flotation Energy Limited
Ian Macdonald Architect
Alan Buchan Contractors
Cuprum Energy Limited
Leys Estate Group
Fundraising ceilidh organisers Susan Anderson and Heather Macdonald