HELENSBURGH Rugby Club’s struggle for players hit a new low on Saturday – when only six members of the Grizzlies’ squad made themselves available to play in the club’s latest league fixture.

The lack of personnel forced Burgh to forfeit their West Region Division Two fixture away to Cumnock – just two weeks after only 12 players made the trip to Wigtownshire for a game the Greens lost 105-0, a club record defeat.

The forfeiture of Saturday’s match leaves Helensburgh just one place off the foot of the league table, and in grave danger of dropping down to the bottom tier of Scottish club rugby at the end of the season.

A club spokesman said: “We were bitterly disappointed to have to forfeit last week’s match at Cumnock, and worse, give up three valuable points, which the boys had already worked so hard to get.

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“Like a lot of clubs at our level nowadays, it seems there is a form of ‘awayitis’ that creeps in and it is hurting the club like never before.

“But numbers at training have been erratic, which makes the coaching team’s job all the harder as they don’t have the bodies to run systems, or scrummage, or do line-out drills.

“That is evident on a Saturday.”

The cancellation of the Cumnock fixture came just a week after Helensburgh fielded two teams on the same day for the first time in several years, with a second XV hosting Bishopton at Ardencaple before the Greens’ first team took on Dalziel.

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The club spokesman added: “We know we’re not alone in Scottish rugby to be suffering from a lack of player numbers. We also absolutely acknowledge that there’s been a cultural shift where young people are drifting away from sports.

“We accept work and shift patterns have changed, even from as little as a decade ago, which means lads have to juggle their commitments that much more.

“But a local club like Helensburgh, which is so well supported off the pitch with a very healthy overall membership, and which still attracts a lot of interest around the town, can offer any aspiring rugby player a great platform to enjoy the game.

“We’ve had decent success through the 1990s and 2000s and, by working closely with our thriving youth section, we’re going to keep working hard to try and deliver the good times back to Ardencaple.

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“We just simply need the guys to commit to that.

“It’s the current batch of senior players that will help us take the first steps to recovery, even if in the short-term, we might struggle for results.

“But if we all pull together, we’ll get there.”

* Helensburgh's bid to get their season back on track starts this Saturday, November 23, at home to Strathaven.

Kick-off at Ardencaple is at 2pm.

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