There might have been conflicting opinions about the standard of Scottish club rugby this season.

But nobody could quibble with the level of excitement generated by so many clubs throughout the grassroots circuit. Ayr swept to a deserved triumph in the RBS Premiership, regaining the form which has made them a byword for excellence in the last five years. Indeed, their thrilling, last-gasp triumph over Melrose in the Scottish Cup final was only equalled by the dramatic circumstances in which Hawick returned to the top tier with a 39-38 victory over Dundee HSFP.

Here, Herald Sport picks out some clubs and individuals, who are especially deserving of credit at the end of what developed into a tumultuous campaign.


When any team wins the league and cup double, it's difficult to look elsewhere but what has been most impressive about the Millbrae organisation is the way that coaches Kenny Murray and Peter Laverie have worked in harmony with their president, Billy McHarg, to create a genuinely all-inclusive environment. There aren't many superstars here – most of them have been signed by Glasgow – but Ayr's campaign was proof that if you keep preparing for the next generation, you will never become prisoners of the past.


For several years, the Mansfield Park men seemed becalmed in mediocrity, particularly by comparison with their Border rivals, Melrose and Gala. However, Phil Leck has re-energised the Green Machine, while their president, Rory Bannerman, is a coiled spring of endless activity, who recognises the value of a positive relationship with the media. (He's not alone in that, but he is in a minority). Hawick might find life tough in the highest echelon but these lads are relishing the challenge.


Living in the north-east, one was frequently surprised at how little praise was lavished on the Woodside club, who built up an incredible sequence of victories, en route to winning the RBS Caledonia League. Their coach, Eric Strachan, is a redoubtable fellow, their captain, Kris Gilmartin, a dynamic individual, and the 'Shire have also bolstered their youth programme. So why no recognition from the central belt?


In a winter where Ayrshire dominated the rest of Scotland, Marr's sustained excellence shone like a beacon. They swept to the West 1 Championship and West regional Shield, not only remaining unbeaten in the process, but racking up tries and bonus points with a Bunteresque relish. Then they took scores of cars and buses to Murrayfield and beat Livingston 30-15 in the RBS Shield final to extend their winning run for the season to 23 matches. It was as emphatic as it was impressive.


This was a fiercely contested category, but when such esteemed figures as Kenny Murray cast their vote for the Netherdale stand-off, it seemed sensible to follow their lead. Millar, a product of Moray RFC in Elgin, has been a key factor in the Maroons' resurgence, although it was a bit of a mixed blessing for his side when they beat London Scottish in the British & Irish Cup. The Exiles have subsequently signed the 21-year-old and he will depart the Borders for England in June.


It doesn't seem so long ago that the Meggetland club were perennial title challengers in their homeland, but 2012-2013 was a season to forget for the Edinburgh personnel, in a year where the capital's representatives generally underachieved. 'Muir began dodgily, struggled to eke out wins, and were gradually cut adrift as the likes of Aberdeen Grammar picked up the pace after Christmas. Relegation leaves them with a considerable rebuilding job, given they will be in the same division as Dundee HSFP, Watsonians, and a host of Border terriers who will make life difficult.


He might not be everybody's cup of tea, but "Chick" has always been his own man and has done sterling work at Melrose, prior to moving to England. He would have savoured exiting on a high rather than being edged out in the cup final, but Chalmers can walk away with the satisfaction derived from a job well done.