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New senior coach Russell is keen to hit the ground running

By Iain Grant

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Caithness senior men's coach Kenny Russell: 'People like the club ethos we have been creating.'
Caithness senior men's coach Kenny Russell: 'People like the club ethos we have been creating.'

Starting men's senior rugby training before Midsummer's Day would be anathema to traditionalists. Back in the day, front row forwards would be hors de combat throughout the holiday period and report back a couple of weeks before the start of the season.

The amateur game has since transformed, with Caithness RFC having had their first training session on Tuesday under new senior men's coach Kenny Russell. He is keen to hit the ground running and to get his troops fully prepared for a second season in Caledonia North 1 League.

The 52-year-old Dounreay worker takes over the helm from Ewen Boyd, who is the club's new director of rugby.

Russell is looking to maintain the momentum at the club which last year saw a healthy surge in playing numbers in the men's and women's game.

A player during his school days at Glasgow Academy and first year at St Andrews University, Russell started coaching minis in Thurso 16 years ago. He progressed through the youth ranks before joining the senior coaching team in 2014.

In his former job as a sports development officer, he was also involved in strength and conditioning work with players.

He had a spell as the Caledonia area game development manager with Scottish Rugby before starting work 10 weeks ago as a project controller with Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd.

Russell paid tribute to his predecessor as senior coach.

"Ewen took over towards the end of 2019 and did a very good job in trying circumstances," he said. "He had to contend with Covid – complying with the changing guidance and rules and not knowing whether games were going to go ahead or not.

"He definitely put in a very good shift and I'm delighted he is going to be involved as director of rugby."

Boyd will be part of the coaching support team along with second-team coach Cameron Boyd, David Pottinger, Grant Anderson and Kris Hamilton.

The fixture list is due to be published any day, with the opening games due towards the end of August.

Russell said: "We're looking to get six to seven weeks of a pre-season, including a couple of friendly matches.

"Cameron and I are also looking to give players individual fitness plans to work on."

Russell is keen to pay belated thanks to the players such as Roddy Gray, Kris Hamilton and Ewan Scott who called time on their careers during the pandemic.

"We didn't really get the chance to properly say goodbye to them because of Covid and I'd just like to put on record our thanks for their service to the club," he said.

Russell will be looking to continue the work done by Boyd to develop and improve the squad.

"The club has been going from strength to strength in terms of the numbers it has been attracting," he said. "That has not happened by chance – the growth in the men's and women's numbers are the result of all the good work behind the scenes.

"People are buying into it and they like the club ethos we have been creating. There's definitely a real buzz about the place."

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