South Scotland

Bill McLaren fund backs youth rugby plan

Bosman du Plessis and Linda Lawson
Image caption Bosman du Plessis will help deliver a scheme Linda Lawson said her father would have appreciated

A foundation set up in honour of commentator Bill McLaren is to support a youth rugby coaching programme.

Positive Coaching Scotland is the first major initiative to secure backing from the organisation set up in 2010 after the death of the "voice of rugby".

The foundation said a three-year pilot scheme could benefit "the grassroots of our game in schools and clubs".

The £180,000 programme is also being backed by the business-led charity the Winning Scotland Foundation.

It will see the appointment of Bosman du Plessis, a rugby development officer with Dumfries Saints, to deliver the scheme.

Malcolm Murray, chairman of the Bill McLaren Foundation said: "This project very much fulfils two of our foundation's objectives; namely developing and promoting rugby union and its values, and encouraging and providing sporting opportunities for young people.

"This is an excellent start for the foundation."

Mr McLaren's daughter Linda Lawson said the programme epitomised the "very essence" of what her father "believed and practised".

"The rugby game is more than just a sport - dad believed passionately that rugby was an excellent vehicle for developing life skills, discipline and a team ethic which will stand young people in good stead all their days," she said.

"This enterprise will be for youngsters as well as their parents who also have a major role to play."

Mr du Plessis said it was a "fantastic honour" to be rugby's first full time Positive Coaching Scotland manager.

"Bill McLaren earned the respect of the international rugby community through the values he lived by and believed in," he said.

"As a coach, you know that there are always a few players who will progress to the highest level of the game and you want to give them the tools and encouragement to do so.

"However, according to the latest figures, 99.5% of the youngsters in front of you will not play elite level so I see my role as ensuring that the coaches and teachers give the kids the rugby knowledge and life skills for life beyond sport."

The pilot project will be delivered by Scottish Rugby with the guidance of Sportscotland and the Winning Scotland Foundation.

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