Edinburgh Accies set up twinning exchange with French club

Edinburgh Academicals – Scotland’s oldest rugby club – have signed a twinning agreement with French counterparts Le Havre which could see players from both outfits given overseas experience.

Accies president Simon Burns, the former North and Midlands District full back, revealed the arrangement follows an initial approach by Le Havre. Once formal backing was given by the Accies board, the way was clear for a deputation from Le Havre to visit Edinburgh and consolidate the link.

Simon said: “We hosted a tremendous reception with our friends from Le Havre Athletic Club and the six-person French delegation then joined us for our annual 140 strong, and rather lively, Accies Christmas lunch. Le Havre are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year and the widely held view across both clubs is that culturally the two organisations are very well matched.

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“It was tremendous that Jamie Ritchie, the current Scotland captain, could join us on the Friday night with David Sole, Dave McIvor, Jeremy Richardson and Rowen Shepherd and many others in attendance on the Saturday. The Auld Alliance is in safe hands!”

Accies and Le Havrehave been getting to know one another

Signed by Le Havre president Olivier Doutreleau, as well as Simon Burns, the twinning document states: “Proud of our joint heritage as the oldest rugby clubs in our respective nations we hereby declare our shared desire to commit our clubs to a lasting and active twinning relationship In signing the present charter, we jointly agree to carry and sustain the fundamental values of rugby, which unite us beyond our borders - integrity, passion, respect, solidarity, discipline; develop sports and social exchanges, in a friendly and family spirit, between the various members and teams in our clubs; encourage the international sports, language and professional training of our players; share and raise awareness of our respective cultures, thus rekindling the spirit of the Auld Alliance between our two nations.”

Entering the new year with a home fixture against Musselburgh on January 7, Accies lie third in the Scottish Premiership with the 2nd XV top of the East Reserve League’s Division One while the 2rd XV are second in East Reserve League Division Two. The club have approximately 225 mini rugby players registered with a developing colts team run under the auspices of the BATS, a set-up which also embraces the Broughton and Trinity Accies youth development programmes.

Meanwhile, Accies have conferred honorary presidency on Bob Easson, their former coach and director of rugby. He joins an illustrious list comprising David Sole, OBE, Jake Young, David McIvor, Jeremy Richardson, Finlay Calder OBE, Dan Teague, John Wright and Greg Campbell.

Bob first joined Accies in 1989 as head coach and stayed for nine years before the arrival of the professional era saw him put in charge of the Edinburgh side. Bob later filled several roles in elite sport including High Performance Manager at sportscotland’s Institute of Sport. Bob returned to Accies as director of rugby in 2011 helping to bring through the likes of future British and Irish Lion Hamish Watson. Subsequently he became club president until handing over the reins last year.

A citation said: “Bob champions Accies around the world and encompasses everything we think about when we think of Accies. It is no coincidence that most of those on the current board came through while Bob was at the helm.”