The national team may currently be playing on the biggest stage of them all in France at the Rugby World Cup, but now a second squad is descending on the same country to represent Scotland.
Oban Lorne, whose men’s first XV play in West Region League Division One, will be the Scottish outfit playing in the inaugural Amateur Rugby World Cup which is taking place between September 22 (Friday) and September 30.
While Scotland are not in Pool B action again until Sunday when they play Tonga in Nice, Oban Lorne will be playing their first match on French soil on Saturday with a game against Hamilton from South Africa getting things underway.
Their opener is in the south-east resort of Saint-Raphael and all of the matches will be shortened XV-a-side affairs. Oban Lorne are also in the same group as GFP from Romania and Kolomotu’a Rugby from Tonga.
"It still seems like a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment that little old Oban Lorne are going to be playing against countries from all around the world in the first-ever Amateur Rugby World Cup,” Murray Hamilton, one of the organisers of the trip and who will be acting as an assistant coach in France, told TRU.
"A few years ago now, a film crew came to our club to film part of a documentary about grassroots rugby and former France international Christian Califano came along at that time.
"That was brilliant exposure for us because the documentary was shown in various places and is still available on YouTube. At Oban Lorne, we thought that might be the peak of our world fame in rugby terms, but more recently the producer of that show put organisers of the Amateur Rugby World Cup in touch with us to see if we’d be keen to be involved.
"I found out some more details about it all and then took them to the committee and the first XV head coach Corrie Louw. It is obviously a big financial commitment to get everyone there from a club of our size but after that chat and then a chat with the wider men’s playing group at the club, it was decided that we should go for it.
"It is not every day that amateur players get to take part in such a big event, so the guys have been fundraising like mad and it has all paid off now. A playing squad, coaches and other club members will be there and we all just cannot wait.
"It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
The pool stages take place on Saturday and Sunday and as well as Pool B being in Saint-Raphael, there are three other groups taking place elsewhere.
Pool A is in Port de Bouc and Te Awamutu from New Zealand are in that one along with Rugby Club Dignois from France, Rugby Club Frameries from Belgium and Carrasco Polo Club from Uruguay.
Arlres is the venue for Pool C which is made up of Llandaff from Wales, the Southern Lions from Australia, Rhinos Rugby from USA and Devebi ARC from Georgia.
Finally, Pool D matches will be played in Saint-Maximin and the English Rugby Lions will be first up against Kamaishi Rugby from Japan on Saturday. Roldan Rugby Club from Argentina and Cobs & Cogs from Chile are also in that group.
The knock-out stages then take place on the Thursday and the Saturday and given there are no world rankings for club sides, Oban Lorne are not sure exactly what calibre of teams they are going to be coming up against.
"We know that Hamilton are one of most historic and famous clubs in South Africa, so to play them first up will be interesting to gauge what sort of standards we can expect,” Hamilton, who is a teacher at Oban High School and is pleased to see a good number of former pupils in the squad for the trip, explained.
A squad of players and coaches from @ObanRfc will trade the West Coast of Scotland for the French seaside resort of Saint-Raphael this week as they represent Scotland in the inaugural Amateur Rugby World Cup.— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) September 19, 2023
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"However, we are not just going there to make up the numbers and this isn’t just a social tour. Our head coach Corrie is from South Africa originally and he has the mentality that we can go into every game looking to win and he has drilled that into the boys.
"Whether we can go deep in the tournament or not, we are proud to be representing Oban and the surrounding area, proud to be representing Scotland and we want to put Oban Lorne on the map.
"It’ll be a great test for our players and they are all looking forward to the challenge while we will also be getting involved in school rugby and street rugby programmes and things like that via the organisers when we are out there.
"This gives us all a great opportunity to give back to rugby, a game that has given us all so much and a game that is also giving us this wonderful opportunity of being part of what should be a truly special tournament."
The touring party is due to leave Oban on Thursday evening and head off from Edinburgh early on Friday morning.
To follow the inaugural Amateur Rugby World Cup, visit mondialrugbyamateur.com