Two of the Dundee’s oldest rugby clubs have struck a partnership to drive forward the game in the city and to prepare for a city-wide bid should the SRU seek to expand their semi-professional Super 6 competition.
Dundee High Rugby and Morgan RFC will join forces with the support of the Abertay University with the ultimate aim being the establishment of a Dundee Rugby Club should the semi-professional Super 6 be expanded to eight within the next few years.
The new collaboration will field three teams in the BT leagues – Dundee High Rugby, the Dundee Titans and Dundee Morgan, who will play next season in National League One, Caledonia League Two and Caledonia League Three respectively. A fourth developmental team is also planned.
Abertay will provide a professional back up of sports sciences, nutrition, video analysis, and strength and conditioning.
The partnership has grown out of the failed bid by a Dundee consortium to win a franchise in the SRU’s Super 6 semi-professional competition. The Dundee bid was the only one from north of the Forth to be submitted but controversially lost out when the SRU panel awarded franchises to three Edinburgh clubs, Melrose, Stirling County and Ayr.
However the groundwork for that bid has convinced many within rugby in the city that a collaborative format with a new branding is needed whether there is semi-professional rugby in the city.
Gerry Tosh, president of Dundee High Rugby, said that the “direction of travel” of the new partnership was a Dundee Rugby Club as envisaged by the city’s greatest rugby player, David Leslie, in the 1980s.
“It’s grown out of the Super Six bid and we decided we wanted to be ready for when or if the SRU decide to expand from six clubs to eight, which we believe will happen,” he said.
“We’ve made clear our great disappointment with (SRU chief executive) Mark Dodson that there will be no semi-professional rugby north of the Forth as a result of the panel decision, but we want to keep moving this forward and be ready for the next stage.”
“Fantastic” partnerships with Abertay and the High School of Dundee were proposed as part of the Super Six bid. It’s understood the University were willing to invest both cash and considerable input from their sports sciences department in a Dundee Super Six team.
While that bid wasn’t successful, much of Abertay’s contribution will instead go into the city team as the discussions involved in the bid had convinced many that pooling playing resources was the best way forward, added Gerry.
“We want to provide a thoroughly professional operation with all the best back up for aspirant players in the city and our partnerships with Abertay and the school provide that,” he said.
The Titans – Dundee High’s second XV – will join the regional league structure in Caledonia Two Midlands next season providing “a bridge” between Morgan and the senior Dundee High side.
A fourth developmental team is planned but the hope is that other clubs in Dundee will come on board to form a new branded club for all the city.
“It might take us a year or two to get to a Dundee Rugby club but it’s where we want to go,” said Gerry.
“We’ve met many times with Mark Dodson to discuss Super Six, we believe that it will work and expand, and we plan to be part of that when it happens.”
High’s director of rugby Colin Sangster will lead a joint coaching team involving former Scotland stand-off Phil Godman, Ian Robertson and Iain Lockhart for the partnership clubs.
Their first joint training session will be at Dundee High’s Mayfield ground on June 26, with new players welcome to attend.