RWC: Marr-vellous role models in NZ are inspiring the next generation back home

By Gary Heatly

Having met some of the Scotland squad members recently and gifted them a precious mascot – Marrigold – which it is hoped will give them luck at the World Cup in New Zealand, it’s fair to say the Marr girls section are buzzing for Sunday.

The Troon youngsters – and their parents! – will have their alarm clocks set to get up in time to watch Scotland’s Pool A opener against Wales on ITV at 5.45am live from the Northland Events Centre in Whangarei.

Rachel Malcolm and her squad are role models for these up-and-coming rugby enthusiasts and, given that it is 12 years since the country played in the showpiece event, this is the first time they will have been able to watch such excitement unfold and dream of one day doing it themselves.

The Marr girls section began 18 months ago, initially with eight under-9 girls and two coaches,” Stuart Benzie from the Marr club explains.

“With a strong backing from the club, the use of social media and word of mouth, the girls section now has approximately 80 girls from P1 age right through to under-16s with 12 coaches. We field girls teams at P1 to 3 and at under 10,12,14 and 16 levels.

“In June we were privileged to have eight players from the Scotland Sevens squad visit Marr to take a training session with the girls.

“This was an unbelievable experience for our girls to meet and train with international stars that they’ve watched on TV and seen at Scotland matches.

“The girls were hugely excited about the visit and thoroughly enjoyed training with the Scotland players who were very generous with their time and gave great feedback to our players.

“It was amazing to see how inspired our girls have been by the experience. After the session the Scotland players signed autographs, posed for selfies and took part in a crossbar challenge with the Marr girls.

“Our players presented the Scotland women with a good luck card for the Commonwealth Games and a mascot which our players have been thrilled to see travelling with the Scotland team to New Zealand.”

Marrigold the mascot was made by one of the Marr coaches with a talent for crochet and is a purple and gold monster.

“Her twin, Marrgo, is the mascot for our girls under-12 team and our girls hope that one day they’ll progress from Marrgo’s team to Marrigold’s,” Benzie adds.

“We try to make regular trips to Scotland games as our girls love the experience and definitely draw inspiration from seeing the national team in action.

“A number of Marr girls also attended the recent open training session at Oriam. Meeting their favourite Scotland stars and seeing them play has a huge impact on our girls, giving them massive amounts of inspiration and drive as they see where rugby can take you with talent and a lot of hard work.

“Our girls are very excited about the World Cup. Our older girls followed the qualifying campaign and can appreciate the huge achievement of making it to this stage and all of the girls are looking forward to following the team’s progress and seeing them play on TV.”

Thanks to Stuart Benzie/Marr girls section for the photos

The Rugby World Cup runs from October 8 to November 12 and is on ITV