• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Bickerstaff succeeds by scoring try, try and try again

Conor Bickerstaff, the Marr centre, did not think he could top the achievements of last season during which he scored a club record 41 tries and helped his side to lift three trophies.

Conor Bickerstaff has once more finished as top try-scorer as Marr won the RBS Championship A title
Conor Bickerstaff has once more finished as top try-scorer as Marr won the RBS Championship A title

Yet this season he has again finished as the leading try scorer - this time touching down on 21 occasions - as the Troon side continued their remarkable ascent up the Scottish Rugby Union leagues by winning RBS Championship A. They clinched the title by defeating their closest rivals Cartha Queen's Park 12-7 at Dumbreck on Saturday, even holding on for a spell with just 13 players after two were sent to the sin bin.

The final whistle sparked jubilant celebrations among the Marr support and Bickerstaff, who has won four titles in four years of senior rugby, was quick to reflect on his latest accomplishment.

"It has been an amazing season," said the 21-year-old, whose brother Scott was second in the try scoring charts with 19. "Everyone was on a high last year, winning West 1 and then finishing things off in the shield at Murrayfield, but we knew we would face tougher tests week in, week out in the higher league.

"We managed to win our first three league games and that gave us confidence that we could compete. Cartha beat us at home back in October but, since then, we have been unbeaten and won nine matches in a row. On Saturday the guys gave everything. Cartha kept coming at us and played some really good rugby, but our defence stood firm and it is so exciting to think that we will be playing in the second top division next year."

Key to Marr's success is their club spirit. Even a fire at the clubhouse at Fullarton Park could not derail them from their ambitions, while the links with Marr College bode well for the future. Of the first XV squad which won the title, all but captain Stephen Adair and Paul Burke came through the school.

"A lot of us have grown up playing together while other youngsters coming out of the school are pushing for first XV places," said Bickerstaff, who moved from full-back to centre this term. "It means we have a close group and it helps get us through tough games."

The prospect of success in the Scottish club game has also pooled in Uddingston. The Bothwell Castle Policies side are able to create history this season by winning the RBS National Bowl, but only if they first overcome Highland at home in a semi-final on Saturday.

Both the West Regional Bowl and the West 3 title have been wrapped up already and should they defeat Highland and then win the final at Broadwood Stadium on April 19, this Uddingston team would win three trophies in one season for the first time in the club's history.

"We always believed that we could challenge at a national level this term with the squad we have," said Jamie McPherson, the club captain. "As the season has gone on, we have only added to the belief in our ability."

The Inverness side travel having also impressed during this campaign. On March 15, they travelled to Stornoway and won a double header 50-3 to clinch the Caledonia 2 North title and the Caledonia Regional Bowl in the process.

"One of our coaches, Davie Knox, has seen them play and we know they are a big team, extremely powerful up front and have been getting the upper hand on teams in their league pretty early on," McPherson added. "We expect them to be the toughest team we have played this season."

McPherson has acknowledged that David McKelvie's experience at No.8 has helped his team immensely this season, while youngster Richy Murray has also done well after making the switch to scrum-half and Chris Latta has overcome a number of injuries to be a key man in defence.

The Uddingston captain is also sure that his side will make the most of their day, despite RBS finals day being switched to Broadwood due to issues with the Murrayfield pitch. "Playing at Murrayfield is every Scottish rugby player's goal, regardless of the level so, naturally, we were all quite disappointed to discover the final had been moved," he said. "But it will not dampen our determination to create history."

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

222335