Ex-Scottish rugby international appointed head of Stirling Highland Games


Former Scottish rugby player Ali McGrandles has been named leader of this year’s Stirling Highland Games.

Ali, born in Stirling, was a pioneer of women’s rugby in Scotland. She started her career with Stirling County aged just eight and won 50 international caps.

Ali, who played at the 1994, 1998 and 2002 Rugby World Cups, is delighted to play Chieftain at the Highland Games on Saturday August 20.

It will be the first in-person event since 2019 and the packed program includes traditional and adaptive heavyweight competitions, tug of war, Highland dancing and a dining experience.

Ali said: “I was absolutely thrilled to hear that the committee had chosen me to become chief, it is such an honor and a wonderful opportunity to return to where it all began for me.

“As someone born and raised in Stirling and still with strong ties to the region, having the chance to be a chef and host the Games is nothing short of thrilling and I am proud and honored to have this role.

“And as a physical education teacher and someone who has been involved in sport from an early age, it’s fantastic to oversee all the sporting activity that will take place.”

Click here for more news and sport from the Stirling area.

Ali excelled in sports as a youngster, playing both rugby and hockey.

She then played rugby at university and was selected for Scotland’s first-ever women’s international against Ireland in 1993.

Ali Mc Grandles

Ali had a long career in international women’s rugby before retiring in 2002 and is still involved in the sport coaching a London school rugby team where she works as an assistant manager.

She also has a long association with the Highland Games community having attended various events as a child and helping behind the scenes at the Stirling Highland Games in recent years.

The honorary role of Games Chieftain is chosen by the Stirling Highland Games committee from a list of famous sons and daughters of the town who excel in their respective disciplines.

Chieftains Gathering organizer Cat Cripps said: “Each year the committee reviews the talents and achievements of the sons and daughters of Stirling and how they have excelled in their field.

“Ali has a fantastic pedigree in her sport and we are delighted to announce that she will be the leader of the 2022 Stirling Highland Games.

“She will be a brilliant host on a day that will be very special this year as we all look forward to returning to the live event.”#

Stirling’s popular Highland Games will be back

Last year organizers presented a series of online events to keep the spirit of the Stirling Highland Games alive.

Fans around the world are now ready to return to the Games grounds at the Stirling Sports Village in person.

The Games run from 10.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day.

Spectators can enjoy a full day of events including watching heavyweight competitors compete in the hammer throw, shot put and caber throw as well as athletics.

They can also see the grueling Bruce Challenge, unique to the Stirling Games, which sees strongmen carry two boulders weighing over 164kg as far as they can and an adaptive heavyweight competition featuring the Wounded Highlanders.

There will also be a unique culinary experience to showcase award-winning Scottish produce as well as on-site heritage tours.

The 2022 Highland Games are sponsored and funded by various organizations including Active Stirling, EventScotland, Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce, Specsavers Stirling and the Highland Reserve Forces and Cadets Association.

For more details on the Games and to book tickets, visit stirlinghighlandgames.com

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Jennifer R. Strohm