Calum McNicol writes about the attempts by a Portuguese rugby enthusiast to ressurect a second XV at Helensburgh Rugby Club...

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Pre-season training at Helensburgh Rugby Club continues every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday as the start of the new season looms ever closer.

Numbers are good and coach David Calderwood is encouraged that many of the younger guys who broke through into the first XV squad last year may well be set to continue their – and the team's – development in 2019-20.

But if the adage 'a club is only as strong as its second team' rings true...what real strength in depth do the Burgh have?

Last season, Calderwood fielded more than 50 players – enough for three teams, if you had all positions covered.

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Yet Helensburgh last fielded a Seconds back at the start of this decade...and they're not alone.

Across Scottish rugby, some big clubs - clubs who used to field three or even four teams – are struggling to produce a second XV regularly, as playing numbers plummet.

It's another argument for another day as to why this is...but what is obvious is that, even for clubs like Helensburgh, hampered by a small catchment area, competing with big city teams not far away for talented individuals, without a 'twos' team to offer every player a match at the weekend, retaining those guys who are just outside the first team squad is going to be difficult.

READ MORE: Helensburgh in plea for new players ahead of 2019-20 campaign

Step forward the wonderfully-named Miguel Milton Dos Santos.

Miguel is a committed rugby player, originally from Portugal, who has moved to the area, and whose stepson, Oscar, plays mini-rugby at Ardencaple.

In his 30s but still keen, he hoped to be able to play occasional what he called 'social' rugby at Helensburgh but was savvy enough to realise he'd struggle to get a game with the firsts.

His philosophy: if it doesn't exist, create it.

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Miguel takes up the story: "I spoke with rugby chairman, David King, about possibly setting up a second team again at Helensburgh.

"It would target players who may have stopped playing rugby for a while or who miss it and would like a phased comeback.

"Really, we're looking at anyone who would like to play some rugby without having to commit every week to training or to playing.

"Depending on availability, we hope to arrange around two matches a month, with casual activities on Saturdays such as a game of touch or 10s, fitness/ training sessions, or just to support the first XV at home games."

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It's a commendable ambition, and a theme King is keen to advance.

"Well done to Miguel for putting his hand up to lead on us getting a second team started again," he said.

"I know at least a dozen guys, former stalwarts on the field, who could still be playing now.

"If all it takes is a little enthusiasm and organisation from Miguel and the fixtures secretary, it will benefit the club in many ways."

* Helensburgh's competitive fixtures begin in late August with back-to-back matches away to Dalziel – in the West Regional Shield on August 24, and in the first round of league fixtures on August 31.

Burgh's first home league match of the season isn't until September 21, when Paisley are the visitors to Ardencaple.