Aberdeen Taexali Rugby Club are stepping up their preparations for life in Caledonia North 4.
The Woodside team will host Aberdeen University Medics when they make their debut in the league on September 4.
The club, which aims to promote inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community in Aberdeen, is playing a friendly against Caledonian Thebans at Woodside Sports Complex today ahead of their league opener.
Kyle Yeats, the club’s publicity officer, says entering the league is a big step for the club, which was established in 2018.
He said: “We have been growing the team over the last couple of years.
“We were due to take part in the league last season but the season never started because of Covid.
“We have just over 40 members at the moment. We are looking forward to being part of a competitive structure and being able to take part in more regular game days.
“We are ambitious but our head coach Grant Skene has instilled in us the belief that it is about learning from every game, whatever the result, and finding new ways to improve.
“We are an inclusive team and that is not just about being LGBTQ+, it is also about welcoming players of all abilities.
“If we do well then that would be brilliant but at this stage it is about trying to develop.”
Yeats has been delighted with the interest from players wanting to represent the team in the Caledonia leagues.
He said: “I know a lot of other teams have been struggling to maintain squad sizes recently.
“Our head coach Grant has had a few other managers asking him how we are managing to attract so many players.
“Other clubs possibly have the perception that they are looking for players who have played rugby since school, whereas we are happy to welcome people who may not have picked up a rugby ball before but want to give it a go.
“We promote that whatever your sexuality or level of ability you will be welcomed on our team.”
The club will wear their new strips for today’s friendly against Caledonian Thebans after landing a sponsorship deal with BIG Partnership.
Zoe Ogilvie, director at BIG Partnership, said: “As an inclusive agency with a keen interest in sport, we’ve been following the progress of Aberdeen Taexali since they first came to our attention a couple of years ago.
“We fully support the club’s philosophy about building an inclusive and positive attitude towards sport and are pleased to sponsor them as they prepare for their debut entry into the local league.”