Future is bright for Duns RFC as they prepare to kick off new era

Development work on Duns pitches is close to completion
Development work on Duns pitches is close to completion

Duns Rugby Club are preparing to start next season in style as they ready themselves for their new home at the town’s old High School.

The club have taken up a 40 year lease on the site from Scottish Borders Council.

The new club headquarters contains two pitches, which club President Tom Thorburn said have been extended and drained as the top priority in the move.

“We also got funding from various sources for the floodlighting to be put up there,” he said.

As well as the main pitch: “We’re going to have a training pitch more than good enough for the seconds to play on,” he added.

“We’ve had a number of Juniors and Under-18s on it recently, and it will be a great pitch for them. It will help, because training will continue through the summer, and then it’s up to the coaches really for what else it gets used for.

“On the other, main pitch we’re leaving the grass to get a really good hold just now.”

The pitches alone took up £200,000 of funding to get up to standard.

That was entirely worth it, according to project manager Michael Reed, who said the main pitch is now “probably the best in the Borders.”

Michael, who was on the club’s subcommittee set up 18 months ago to oversee the move, confirmed that there will be no league games on the new pitch until the first home game of next season, when there will be an “all-singing, all-dancing opening”.

The club inherited the former gym building that had been attached to the former high school, and lots of hard work has been put into refurbishing this existing building.

Michael said: “The old gym hall there will be ready to act as a function suite, for everything, from pre-match lunches to weddings.

“It will seat 200 people, which is a sign, we think, of just what we can do in the new place.”

The existing buildings have also been added to with a new entrance and a large extension, which will host a kitchen, dining area, fitness suite and weights room.

Planning applications are going in shortly for a new education room and fitness room.

The education room will also embody the community-based focus of the project.

As well as being an indoor area for the club’s coaches to take indoor meetings and tactics sessions, the room will be made available for wider use, including, Michael hopes, youngsters looking to take Duke of Edinburgh awards.

He is rightly proud of the progress so far, and knows that optimism around the club is at a high.

“Once you have decent facilities you can attract players, and you can retain players,” he said.

“But most of all it makes life so much easier for everyone involved in the club.

“We’re not just a rugby club, we’re involved in the community. We even have a full time Development Officer who works with 11 primary schools and the two high schools in the area. There’s been a lot of community involvement.

“And when you think that before, you had a converted house in the middle of town, then a training pitch half a mile away in one direction, and a main pitch a mile out the other way, this is fantastic.”

The club’s committee members are due to meet this week to decide on a new name for the facilities.

The old clubrooms on Newtown Street are now under offer, and there is believed to be an interested party who has applied for a ‘change of use’, thought to be a cafe or restaurant.