The problems facing the game of rugby, need not be insurmountable according to Jim Sugden, the departing president of Gordonians.
Sugden said: “These are challenging times for the sport, but the fact of (34-year-old) Matthew Brechin stepping up at such an early age to take responsibility is encouraging in itself.
“The Covid situation is something which will perhaps not go away in a hurry, but the game will cope in the end of the day.
“After all the gloom merchants forecast that the game going professional in the mid-1990s was a death knell, which has proved not to be the case.”
The 56-year-old did, nevertheless, concede the challenges were considerable, given the competition for youngsters in a shrinking market.
He said: “We cannot take anything for granted at a time when young people have so many options in their social lives.
“My aim as president at Countesswells was to ensure each player enjoyed the experience of playing for Gordonians, something which seemed to work in our successful transition from the Caledonia leagues to the national leagues.
“We have been blessed with some dedicated coaches, including Ryan Morrice and our new head coach Jim Greenwood.
“Under the leadership of Matthew Brechin I believe we will go on to greater things than our current situation in National League 2.
“Hopefully the new season will go ahead as scheduled on October 31, but even if doesn’t we have still to plan for the future.”
But, while Sugden has been enthusiastically committed to growing Gordonians, he has also been concerned to support local initiatives in the north-east, not least being the annual Exiles game at Rubislaw which has been played in Aberdeen since 1930 but was struggling to retain public interest until Sugden stepped in to resurrect the Boxing Day fixture three years ago.
He said: “The Exiles versus an Aberdeen Select is part of folklore of Granite City rugby, we just couldn’t let it go. I am pleased to say it’s back in the affections of the rugby fraternity. I just hope it will go ahead this year.”
Sugden added: “There are many, many others in the north-east game who have battled to keep the game in the public eye, including Jim Rae, who stepped down as Aberdeen Grammar president last week, and who will forget the success Archie Park had at Ellon in the early part of this century.
“Despite Covid and the other pressures of the era, the game has a great opportunity to emerge as a vital contributor in the years ahead.”