A LANGHOLM Rugby Club coach has received national accolade for her contributions to the sport.
Ex-Scotland international Ally Ratcliffe is one of the latest faces to join the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) Hall of Fame.
It was at the Dumfriesshire club, which recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, where an eight-year-old Ally began her career playing mini rugby.
That was the beginning of a journey that would take her to play inside centre and full-back for Waterloo Ladies, Carlisle Rugby Club Cougars, and eventually the Scotland Woman’s team – which she earned a total six caps for.
Passionate about where it all started, she returned to the historic Langholm RFC after completing university and teacher training.
Ally has not only smashed rucks in her career, but also gender barriers. In 2013, she took up the role as head coach of Langholm’s mens team — becoming the first female head coach of a men’s club first XV in Scotland.
After a season as head coach, she became de facto director of rugby and working alongside others, she established youth infrastructures that are working to this day.
As a teacher and deputy rector at Hawick High School, Ally also provided invaluable guidance and help to a promising young rugby talent. That talent, Lisa Thomson, has since flourished on the field and is now a pivotal member of the Scotland Women’s team.
The SRU Hall of Fame was established in 2010 to honour players, coaches and referees who have made standout contributions to the game at grassroots, national and international level.
After receiving news she would be joining the elite list of Scotland’s top rugby stalwarts, Ally said: “I’m hugely honoured and quite overwhelmed by my induction into the Scottish Rugby Union Hall of Fame. It was a lovely surprise when I got the call, I really don’t think it should be me being included but I am very proud of my achievements to date in rugby and hope by being recognised I can inspire others to get involved in the game I have loved since starting to play at Langholm RFC all those years ago.
“Langholm RFC was where it all began for me in my rugby journey and to who I am indebted to for the opportunities that they have given me as a player and coach.
“I am grateful to so many people who have accepted, encouraged, inspired and supported me in my various roles along my rugby journey. The induction into the Hall of Fame is a shared reflection of their support and belief in me over years.
“There are far too many individuals to name who have helped me but they know who they are and to who I am eternally grateful. I look forward to celebrating the induction with my family and friends in the coming months.”