With the Final of the FOSROC Super6 this weekend, we caught up with head coach Fergus Pringle to discuss preparations.
It's been a while since we've had a final to look forward to, but the day is nearly here.
As a club, the Super6 team has had a successful year with the Sprint Series win back in June, and they continued to build on that momentum from the start of the FOSROC Super 6 Championship when it started in early August.
Ayr have really kicked on since the start of the Championship, looking determined to put up a strong defence of their 2021 Title with a back-to-basics approach from Pat MacArther returning as head coach.
The Final will be the fifth meeting between the squads since April. When asked how that familiarity would impact the game, Pringle noted how dangerous the Bulls could be.
"I think the teams know each other pretty well. We played them twice in the Sprint competition. We played them twice in the league. Pete Horne did a good job in the Sprint and tried to develop certain aspects of their game, especially their attacking variety. Pat has come back in and gone back to basics a bit, what Ayr are really known for, their strong set piece, very good defence, and capitalising on any turnover opportunities with some dangerous attacking players."
Of course, after a long season, one of the first questions asked was are there any injury worries.
"Considering the length of the season, the physicality and intensity of the games, we are actually in a pretty good place. Some of the squads struggled towards the last few rounds, just trying to get teams out and 23 fit players. While we've lost a few to injury, like Iain Moody early on and Cole Lamberton in Round 9, we believe the players are ready physically and mentally for what's to come."
A final is a big event and this isn't lost on the coach. When asked if he was nervous, the response was, as expected from the calmly spoken coach.
"On the day, I'm sure there will be a few nerves, which is exactly how it should be. There's a lot at stake. But the week is just preparing for another game, following our weekly routines, albeit with a couple of extra distractions and some added excitement to deal with.
Of course, for some of these players, this is a first Final, but Pringle doesn't believe that will be an issue due to the close-knit nature of the squad.
'The experience of the Sprint playoffs was important for us as a group. It gave us a taste of high-pressure, knockout rugby. And some confidence that we were on the right track. Ayr have been in the final and have been very successful over a number of years, winning a lot of silverware even before Super 6 started. Our group of players are very close and very resilient. We know we'll have to be at our best against Ayr to have a chance of coming out on top."
Despite coming into the main competition on the back of the Sprint Series success, Pringle never set any expectations for the team outside of simple improvement each week.
"We definitely generated some momentum off the back of the Sprint Series, and obviously some confidence. We only had one home game at Myreside, and we managed to win games that were close. Going into the main competition, we just focused on that first game away to Knights and then taking it one game at a time against good quality opposition each week."
But even now, with the biggest game of the year around the corner, Fergus Pringle remains focused on the message that has got the team here.
"The main thing is that we keep getting better, improving and growing individually and as a team. We're always striving for that perfect 80min performance. And the challenge is to produce our best when it matters most under the most pressure."
The FOSROC Super6 Final is at the Dam Health Stadium this Sunday, 30th October. Kick-off is 4:45pm and Tickets are available here.