Army’s Eagles play host to Rugby’s elder statesmen

Kinloss Rugby Festival
ONLY THE BRAVE or foolhardy would dare tell these guys that they were over the hill at 35 – and while the tackles crunched in the smiles remained at Kinloss Barracks on Saturday.

Players, families and friends from around the country were drawn to the home of Kinloss Eagles for the seventh annual Scottish Golden Oldies Rugby Festival.

Leading the way for the ‘old brigade’ was none other than local 39 Engineer Regiment’s CO, Lt Col Tom Marsden, who played and won in three of the games for two different sides – the Festival Ambassador turning out for both the host side Kinloss Eagles and Moray RFC.

In its seventh year, the Festival was born a year after the World Golden Oldies Festival was held in Edinburgh in 2008. Since then the Scottish version has ‘toured’ the country after being hosted in its first three years by Perthshire RFC, Madras taking up the mantle in 2012 followed by Highland in 2013 and last year, Hillfoots RFC.

While the Festival has reached its seventh year (and it was stressed by its President, Dave McDonald, that it is a Festival and not a tournament), over-35s rugby has been around a great deal longer, with one team – Aberdeen Strollers – having been taking part in the World and European versions of the event since 1985.

“I am delighted that the Scottish Golden Oldies Rugby Festival is here at the base of Kinloss Eagles as they celebrate 75 years of rugby at the base,” Dave said, adding: “I’m also delighted that the festival has now become a permanent fixture in the Scottish Rugby calendar with new team continuing to join us for the first time.”

Saturday’s festival was supported by two members of the Moray Council administration, Cllr James Allan and the convener, Cllr Allan Wright, who said: “I applaud the spirit of the Festival and congratulate the Kinloss Eagles for bringing the event to Moray and the Army locally for their active support.”

Lt Col Marsden – who found himself at one point ordered off the park with a ‘punishment’ of wearing a multi-coloured hat while doing sit-ups for an on-field misdemeanour – said it was a “great privilege” to welcome the Festival to Kinloss.

Adding that the Royal Engineers where now in their third year at the base having been warmly welcomed by the local population he said: “The Rugby Club has evolved from the Kinloss Hunters to the Eagles with the transition from the RAF to the Army and this season we have enjoyed success on the pitch, winning promotion, and also if it by celebrating our 7th anniversary with a Hunters v Eagles match in May.”