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Chairwoman says ‘broken promises’ leave Inverness rugby club's future at risk

By Andrew Henderson

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Inverness Craig Dunain Rugby Club once again face the prospect of playing most of their matches outside of Inverness this season.

Inverness Craig Dunain players back for pre-season.
Inverness Craig Dunain players back for pre-season.

After discovering their former High School home had removed their rugby posts just before the start of the 2022/23 campaign, progress on the new pitch at the University of the Highlands and Islands, which Craig Dunain is meant to be a key stakeholder of, has been frustratingly slow.

It was in March 2021 that Inverness College secured £300,000 in funding from Sportscotland to complete the installation of the seven-figure synthetic sports pitch.

In May of this year, Highland Council approved planning documents for the construction of the pitch, alongside a car park, fencing and floodlighting.

However, there is no chance anything will be in place for this season, leaving ICD relying on the generosity of other clubs once again.

ICD chairwoman Jess Butler estimates that three-quarters of the club’s “home” games this season will be played at Ross Sutherland or Moray.

“The pitch situation is worse than ever,” Butler admitted.

“More teams in the region are trying to fit on shrinking numbers of sports facilities – for all sports, not just rugby. These extra challenges have impacts on player availability, retention and recruitment.

“In addition, the extra travelling adds hugely to our costs and has environmental impacts.

“All of this upheaval and stress would be just about bearable if we had a timeline for the new pitch at UHI.

“Since Highland Council took over the project and approved planning, communication has been pretty much zero despite several attempts to enquire on the status of the project.

“This uncertainty, compounded by the continued lack of engagement from Highland Council and other stakeholders, is leading us to the conclusion that the all-weather facility planned for the UHI campus will not go ahead.

“I sincerely hope I am wrong, but when we look back at all the promises that have been made to us over the years and subsequently broken, I feel pretty pessimistic about the whole situation – and if this is the case, to be blunt, the very future of our club is at stake.”

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