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Support grows as plans to revive Reds take root

A campaign to revive the Caledonia Reds will move forward on Sunday when the region takes on an invitational side, including Glasgow Warriors' pacy wing Carlin Isles.

Rory McKay, now in charge at Perthshire, will play in a charity game for Caledonia Reds. Picture: Steve Cox
Rory McKay, now in charge at Perthshire, will play in a charity game for Caledonia Reds. Picture: Steve Cox

The former professional team, which represented the North and Midlands region, merged with Glasgow in 1998 because of the financial constraints of the Scottish Rugby Union. However, Mark Dodson, the SRU chief executive, this week opened talks with Martin Gilbert of Aberdeen Asset Management about the possibility of establishing a professional team in the north of Scotland.

An online campaign, #Redsrevival, has been the driving force behind the re-emergence of the brand. The Reds, coached by former Scotland captain Jason White, will feature a collection of Premier Division players, all originally from the region, with no professionals or Elite Development players considered. They will face a Co-optimist invitational side boasting three Glasgow Warriors: Folau Niua, Murray McConnell and Isles.

Rory McKay, who represented the region at under-19 level during the 1997/98 season, will pull on the jersey again for the match in Fife. "It's great people have bought into it; I really hope it can grow from here," he said of a match organised in benefit of the Murrayfield Centenary Fund, a charity which aids injured Scottish rugby players. The re-emerging Reds will also travel to play Newcastle Falcons A on Sunday, May 4.

"The more high-intensity games that players at club level get to play the better. It meant so much to represent your region and that element of Scottish rugby has been missed," added McKay.

The second-row captained Glasgow Hawks and spent 10 years at the club during a career which included spells in Australia, Italy and the English championship, where he played for Bedford Blues.

He has since moved into coaching, taking the reins at National 3 side Perthshire. "It's time to get on the coaching ladder and have a crack at it," said the 35-year-old. "Coaching is a younger man's game now. It is hard to leave Hawks as I have so many great memories at the club, but you can't play forever.

"It's a great opportunity at Perthshire, as they are a club with a lot of ambition who do things the right way. They played a forward dominated game last year but we will have to build on that and develop after earning promotion."

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