EAST Kilbride Pirates chairman Amanda McDonald reckons victory over London Blitz in Sunday’s BritBowl semi-final will eclipse anything the club have ever achieved.
After winning the Division One version last season, the Pirates are on course for the Premier final later this month.
But the reigning British champions and the sixth-ranked side in Europe stand in their way at Hamilton Rugby Club this weekend.
And, despite making Premier League finals in 2001 and 2003, Amanda says defeating the Blitz would surpass those achievements.
She told the News: “A win against the Blitz would certainly eclipse almost anything the current incarnation of the team has achieved.
“Back in 2001 and 2003 we made it one stage further and went to BritBowl to compete for the British championship title. Both times we lost out to the London Olympians.
“Our aim is to go all the way, but to have reached the semi-finals and be in with a fighting chance of another trip to BritBowl only 12 months after earning promotion to the Premier Division is a great achievement, too.
“I know how hard everyone has worked to get this far.
“This is probably the biggest game there’s been in Scotland since the Claymores folded in 2004, so we hope as many people as possible come along to cheer us on.”
The Pirates have never lost a game at Hamilton Rugby Club, their home since 2009, and go into the semis with a 9-1 winning record. The Blitz are currently number two seed in the sport’s Southern Premier Conference, following an 8-2 regular season record, and Amanda knows the team must be at their best to come out on top.
“The London Blitz can definitely be considered a 'powerhouse' team in British football, but they're not unbeatable, as their 8-2 record this season shows,” said an optimistic Amanda.
“The key is discipline and execution. There's no margin for error here.
“Our ability to adapt on the field to deal with whatever the opposition throw at us will, hopefully, go in our favour, too.”
The Pirates will be without quarterback Neil Baptie who, unwittingly, booked a holiday to Tunisia over the entire finals calendar. And the St Leonards man is gutted to be missing out.
He added: “I leave on the day of the semi-final and I’m back late on the day of the final, should we get there, so that sucks.
“It’s hugely disappointing because I’ve played a lot of games this season and helped get us to the stage we are at.
“So to not be involved at this stage is a tough one to take.”
And Amanda says he will be missed for the visit of the Blitz.
“It's a shame Neil will be missing the game given he's delivered such a strong performance and really developed as a player this season,” she said.
“But that's the nature of an amateur team – people have other committments.
“We've worked hard to make sure the team is bigger than any single player, and have recruited some really talented guys over the last few years.
“Although Neil won't be there, Ryan Hunter will be starting for us and we’ll have Euan Rennie as backup.”
Kick-off is noon on Sunday, with Lanarkshire Longhorns playing in a junior semi-final against Lancashire Wolverines at 3.30pm.
Entry is £3 and under 16s go free.