GARNOCK Rugby Club are on the cusp of securing their second league title in as many years.

And for the Lochshore side, the National Division 4 championship would mean a lot more than just adding another piece of silverware to the cabinet.

The club's head coach Grant Ruxton is hoping that his side getting over the line can inspire future generation to carry the sport forward.

Garnock will secure the title on Saturday, March 2, if they can pick up at least three points from their clash that day away to Strathmore.

Any kind of win would fit the bill - as would a draw if they score four of more tries.

But with 15 wins from their 15 games so far, and a try bonus point from all but one of those matches, Ruxton and his players will be determined to secure the championship in fitting fashion.

Garnock's 100 per cent record this season follows on from a 2022-23 campaign in which they won all but one of their fixtures on the way to the West Region Division One title.

READ MORE: Garnock Rugby Club secure West Division One title

“We always felt we would be competitive after our strong performance in West One," Grant Ruxton told the Herald, "and we’ve consistently got better.

“Strathmore were probably the top seeded team in National Four; they came down to Lochshore earlier in the season and we beat them, and beat them well.

“We feel we’ve built since then, but we know we are going to have a tough game there.

“Strathmore will be very tough to beat at home. They will be hurting because they thought they were going to be the big dogs in this league.

“So it’s going to be a tough one, but a nice, challenging game to hopefully seal the deal.”

One of the only differences from Garnock's title win last year will be the potential to seal the deal away from their home at Lochshore.

However, that is not something Ruxton has thought too much about.

The head coach commented: “I’d play on the moon to win the league if I had to. It was fantastic last season to have that at home with the wider Garnock family.

“We’ll take a strong support at Strathmore with us and hopefully we can recreate that there.”

And Ruxton, a former Garnock player, is hoping that another league title can help the club's continued growth - not just in terms of the first XV.

“It’s been a struggle with the way the leagues have been structured for a while," he said. "It’s really hard to get out of the West divisions.

“West One has been way more competitive than the other regional leagues for a long time.

“To get back into the national leagues is good because it gives all the kids in Ayrshire a hope of playing a good level of rugby.

“Ayr and Marr are up there, but if you’re not part of that gang it’s maybe a bit intimidating, so to have us up and doing well it’s another prospect.

“I feel like Ayrshire deserves to have a number of teams in the national leagues.

"Our junior section is strong and getting stronger, but grassroots rugby is up against it just now.

“There are guys at our club who are working really hard to engage the kids into senior rugby, so it’s great that we are working hard to build a connection.

"We want them to see where we are just now, and stick in at rugby and become a senior player.”

Garnock have a long history of nurturing players from the grassroots, a record their recent results have done plenty to enhance.

"We’re a family club," Ruxton added. "The first game I had, we had four sets of brothers playing – three of those brothers I’d played with their dads!

“That’s what it means. The guys that brought me through as a young player brought their sons through, and now we are bringing the next generation through.

“We are looking to expand that all the time, bringing new guys into the rugby family.

“I’ve always said that other things I have achieved in my life I would never have done without rugby at the core.”

For many years, one thing that hampered Garnock's ambitions was their facilities off the park - with subsidence having forced the closure of their clubhouse in 1992, just eight years after it opened.

But a new community hub, featuring a cafe, meeting rooms, festival and events space and outdoor facilities including play zones, camping areas and a community garden, as well as changing rooms for the club, was officially opened in October 2022.

And Ruxton says those improved facilities have also played a massive role in developing things on the pitch.

“Rugby is a momentum game on and off the park," he says, "and the momentum from the new hub has been really good.

“Every time I am there, I feel like there has been more added to that area.

“Before, we always struggled with whatever we could, and now we have one of the best setups in Ayrshire and possibly the country. That has been a big lift.

“The fact more and more people are moving through that area means more people are joining the junior section and more people are staying to watch the rugby.

“We have been able to back that up with solid results and entertaining rugby. It all goes together and it’s great.”

And even if the league title is secured against Strathmore, Ruxton says the club has no plans to rest on its laurels any time soon.

“We want to continue to get better, improve as a team and improve our performances," he said.

“Looking up the way, all going to plan, I think we’ll be extremely competitive in National Three.

“It’s all about keeping the youth section strong, keeping that connection and making sure we have players coming through to keep filling the ranks.

“We’ll be in it to compete and hopefully to win.”