The jewel in Troon’s sporting crown
Although Troon is rightly celebrated for its golf courses, in recent years it has been the town’s rugby union team, Marr RFC, that has flown the flag for Troon in a sporting context.
Formed in the 1930s as Marr College FP, the club initially played its home matches at the school’s playing fields. In 1971, however, the club changed its name to Marr RFC and moved to a newly acquired facility at Fullarton Estate.
For the next forty years or so, the club’s teams competed in the lower tiers of Scottish rugby. That all changed when Craig Redpath, part of the Scotland rugby union squad that won the Five Nations championship in 1999, became the club’s head coach in 2009. With the considerable assistance of John Sharkey, a PE teacher at Marr College, and a stream of talented young players to choose from, Redpath oversaw Marr’s rapid ascent towards the very top of Scottish club rugby.
Indeed, so meteoric was this rise that Marr performed the rare feat of achieving promotion in four consecutive seasons, also winning the SRU National Shield competition in 2012/13. The following season saw Marr gain promotion to National League 1, the second tier of men’s club rugby in Scotland. They were not, however, destined to linger there, gaining promotion to the SRU Premiership for the 2017/18 season.
Marr’s first season in the Premiership was a learning experience, and although they were relegated back down to the National 1 division that season, they put their experience to good use by winning the National 1 championship in 2018/19 and securing an immediate return to the Premiership.
The following season saw Marr sit at the very top of the Premiership table with only two matches left to be played. Unfortunately, the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic led the Scottish Rugby Union to terminate the rugby season and declare it null and void.
Club rugby resumed in the 2021/22 season, and this time Marr were not to be denied, beating Currie Chieftains in the Premiership final and thus becoming the Scottish men’s club rugby champions.
Although they couldn’t quite repeat the feat in the season that’s just ended, finishing fourth in the Premiership, Marr made it to their first Scottish Cup final, beating local rivals (and reigning Scottish Cup holders) Ayr RFC in a keenly contested semi-final.
Marr gave it their all in the final, played against newly-crowned Premiership champions Hawick. Having led at half-time, Marr’s hopes of bringing the Cup back to Ayrshire were, alas, thwarted by a strong second-half performance by the borderers. It might not have ended as they would have wished but Marr’s 2022/23 season reinforced the club’s credentials as a force to be reckoned with in Scottish rugby.
The club doesn’t take its hard-won status for granted. As a community rugby club, it retains very strong links to Marr College, with three of the club’s rugby development officers working with the school to promote the sport amongst both boys and girls. Marr also fields a number of mini and midi rugby teams in addition to its senior men’s and (newly formed) women’s teams. Indeed, around 600 people are involved in playing rugby for Marr, and the club’s commitment to player development, combined with its wholehearted devotion to rugby union’s friendly and welcoming ethos, will undoubtedly ensure that it continues to thrive in the years to come.