Rugby spearheads Kilmory sports centre plans

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Mid Argyll’s burgeoning young rugby talent may soon have a place to call home, if ambitious plans for a sports centre are successful.

Mid Argyll rugby coach Lee Buckley and Peter Hogbin of Kilmory Woodlands are spearheading plans to build a full-sized rugby pitch in Lochgilphead, but they have their eyes on more.

The rugby pitch is the first step in an ambitious vision which could ultimately include a football pitch with running track and spectator terraces alongside a tennis court, archery range and a BMX track.

There are currently talks about an asset transfer of the land behind Kilmory Castle from Argyll and Bute Council, firstly to develop a rugby pitch, then looking at an archery range and a BMX track.

In the coming months, Kilmory Woodlands will apply for funding through the National Lottery and the Scottish Land Fund to meet the price of the land.

After unveiling the scheme this week at Lochgilphead Community Council, Lee Buckley said: ‘There are no suitable rugby facilities in Mid Argyll. The pitch at the school is too small to host even an under-13 game.

‘For Mid Argyll Rugby Club to grow, it needs to have a home to create an identity. In recent years, plans and promises to create a rugby facility have always come to nothing and the game in Mid Argyll has suffered for it.

‘We have a Scottish School cup game on Tuesday August 28 and at the moment we are still looking for a venue. How can we compete with central belt schools, or even our neighbours in Oban, who have facilities provided by the council?’

The club has steadily been developing fresh talent for more than five years, but with nowhere to play it cannot field a first 15 despite plenty of willing players.

The pitch project, supported by Scottish Rugby and Argyll and Bute Rugby Development Officer Allan Wright, hopes to be open by autumn 2019.

Another supporter of the project is Councillor Dougie Philand, who said: ‘I have been involved with senior rugby previously and having our own pitch was always a problem.

‘I would fully support any development or plans that would promote a permanent pitch and changing areas especially now when there is a resurgence in junior rugby. I would also be happy to be involved in any negotiations to obtain the land from the council.’