AYR RFC sit at the top of the President’s Conference table after what has been a successful campaign thus far in the newly formed youth competition in which standings are computed from the results at all age levels.

Specifically at under-18 level, Ayr lead Stirling County but, significantly, the Bridgehaugh club have a game in hand. Rivalry between Ayr and Stirling was fierce last season, notably in the under-16 cup competition that resulted in the two clubs sharing the trophy at the end of the drawn final.

“The boys are playing very well and we’re certainly happy to be in the position we are,” said Stuart Fenwick, the Ayr Development Officer, who works closely with Wellington School, Belmont Academy, Queen Margaret in Girvan, and Kyle Academy, all of them feeding into Ayr.

The club attracts several from further afield, among them hooker Robbie Smith, centre Callum Gaw and wing Mark Conlan, who are all part of a large squad at under-18 level, large enough, that is, to form two teams, a luxury that is replicated at other age levels.

Fenwick, who played front row for Scotland at under-18, under-19 and under-21 levels, is in charge of a squad that includes luminaries Paddy Dewhurst and TJ Brunton, both promising stand-offs, No8-turned-centre Zander Howie, centre Gregor Paxton and wing Jamie Roberts, the latter with nine tries to his name already this season.

The under-18s represent the top layer of what is a burgeoning club. “The numbers are frightening,” suggested Fenwick, who fears the change to GMT later this month might reduce the volume of interest. “We don’t have dry sunny winters. The reality is that we have to play in wet damp and cold conditions. So there will be a slight drop in numbers,” he forecasts.

As well as working closely with Ayr RFC, Fenwick is involved with the South Ayrshire Schools Conference that brings together six schools. “They play up to mid-November and give youngsters the chance to play once a week. There’s also a girls' conference. The key thing is to create a competitive structure. If they like rugby, they can come to clubs such as Ayr,” said Fenwick.

The health of Ayr rugby is not only measured by success in the President’s Conference but also in the extension of their fixtures outside the formal structure. “We’ve got fixtures with Strathallan, Merchiston, George Watson’s College and Stewart’s-Melville and St Aloysius College. We also had a pre-season fixture with Dollar Academy. It’s good that these schools are wanting to come to us,” stated Fenwick, whose Ayr youth section is perhaps pointing the way forward in age-grade rugby.