THEY might be striving to become successful on the field but a young Dunfermline rugby team are winners off it after showing a “remarkable example of sportsmanship and kindness”.

The under-13s at Dunfermline Rugby Club have been hailed as “superstars” by a watching parent after making a gesture to an opponent that their head coach, Shaun Hunter, said was one where “your heart swells up”.

The talented team, who competed in Scottish Rugby’s Galant Conference season from August until December, were preparing for kick-off in a recent fixture when a Dunfermline coach was approached by a parent of a player on the opposing team who had appeared upset and unsettled.

With what Shaun described as a “rather unusual request”, he explained: “His 26-year-old son had recently passed away, and his younger son was playing DRFC under-13 boys.

“He asked if the boys would let him score to try and help him, as he’s really struggling just now as you can only imagine, and we spoke to our boys and they agreed.

“It was one of those moments that was hard to describe.”

With Dunfermline leading the match as it progressed into the later stages of the second half, the youngster on the opposing team, whose brother would come and watch him play, picked up the ball around 15 metres from the try line.

After dodging some “weak tackles”, he ran through to score underneath the posts, which was the catalyst for huge celebrations among his team.

Shaun continued: “Thankfully, this lad got the ball about 15 metres out and they (the Dunfermline players) put in some weak tackles and he got through.

“Their coach was extremely appreciative, and you would think their team had won the World Cup with the way they reacted, which was fantastic to see!

“Your heart swells up and, instantly, you know that you’re doing the right thing. It was very mature and considerate of the team, and it was a moment that made me very proud.

“We’ve had opportunities in my playing career to do the right thing and, if we’re able to pass those values down to the next generation, then hopefully they can pass them down again.

“I think that a lot of time is focused on the wrong kind of things. Sometimes, especially with the younger ones, there’s too much emphasis on winning, but sometimes winning is not always in the scoreline.

“It was a great moment. Sometimes as coaches we hope that we instil and pass down the values we were taught as players, and that was one of those moments when you know you are doing right by everyone.

“I am proud to lead these young men who are growing as players and people.”

Andy Morgan, the club’s director of youth rugby, also paid tribute to the under-13s’ act of kindness, commenting: “It is great testimony to the values and the spirit of the game of rugby.

“It’s also a great example to all of us, not just at 12- and 13-years-old!”

News of the team's gesture has also reached the Scottish Rugby Union, who have rewarded them with tickets to Edinburgh's Pro 14 clash with Ulster at Murrayfield tomorrow night.

In correspondence to Shaun, they said: "Your team's recent gesture really encapsulates the spirit of rugby.

"News of this reached management within Scottish Rugby so, as a token of appreciation, please find attached 30 complimentary tickets (5 adult/25 youth) for this Friday night's fixture at Murrayfield between Edinburgh & Ulster.

"Apologies for the short notice and I hope you're able to pull your team together for an enjoyable rugby game."

In addition to their outstanding sportsmanship, the under-13 team have been showing great promise on the field after making the transition from mini to youth rugby.

After finding their feet in the Galant Conference, they have embarked on an unbeaten run – which began in mid-November – and have secured victories against some of the country’s biggest clubs, including Boroughmuir, GHA and Perthshire.

Shaun added: “It is a young team and we’ve done a lot of hard work.

“We’re currently sitting at 28 players (in the squad), which is great credit to the parents and the rest of the coaches in terms of how we support the players.

“The team have been on a fantastic winning streak, maintaining their four-month undefeated record, but in rugby, winning is not always measured by a scoreline.

“This was a prime example.”

In addition, Dunfermline’s under-15s will contest the Caledonia Youth Cup final against Perthshire on April 28 after winning their last-four match against Mackie, while the under-16s face Ellon in the semi-finals of the Caledonia Youth Bowl on Sunday.