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Are Scotland smart to spell out grand ambitions?

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John Beattie | 21:19 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012

I am going to give you my target for Scottish rugby at the end of this and I want you to answer the question: what should a target for the game in your country be?

I got a press release through from the SRU. I read it at my desk. Colleagues gathered round. Am I wrong to have a slightly jaded feeling about a strategic plan that says the chief executive Mark Dodson "will unveil ambitious targets of securing a Six Nations Grand Slam by 2016 and winning the World Cup"?

My guess is that the banks had rather silly economic outlook forecasts, all coming from impressively-suited and highly paid individuals, just before the financial crash too and I believe that forecasting anything in this world is a very dangerous business.

Surely forecasts have to be SMART? That means Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

If I am honest, I have a problem with the Attainable bit. And the Relevant bit.

Scotland finished bottom of the 2012 Six Nations table after five defeats

Scotland finished bottom of the 2012 Six Nations table after five defeats

It all got me scrabbling around. This isn't the first-ever strategic plan. Oh no. The previous SRU strategic plan was written in 2007 for the period from then until now.

Among the targets were to: "Achieve a top-eight world ranking by 2012". Did that happen? No, we slipped to 12th after this year's Six Nations and currently sit ninth after three wins on tour.

I acknowledge that, given 2012 hasn't finished, this one might happen.

Then there was a target to: "As a minimum, reach the quarter-finals of the 2007 and 2011 World Cups." Er, no, we didn't make the last eight in New Zealand. That one was definitely wrong.

Or what about, from the same SRU strategic plan for 2007 to 2012, to: "Improve the win rate in the Six Nations from 25% to 40%". No again. In fact, under Andy Robinson, the win rate is actually 13% at two wins from 15 games, so instead of doubling it, we've halved it. That one was way out.

And one of the other targets was "win the Six Nations at least once by 2012". Nope again.

And it was all topped by the hope that Scotland would "become one of the top rugby nations in the world".

It's not just a Scottish disease this.

The Irish, in their 2008 strategic plan, had as a target "to reach the 2011 World Cup semi-finals". They lost to Wales in the quarter-finals.

The English rugby strategic plan 2008 to 2015 has as one of its targets "to win the World Cup in 2011 and 2015 - and to win the Six Nations four times, including two Grand Slams".

I put it to you, m'Lud, that they have already failed to make their rather ambitious targets. England were beaten by France in the quarter-final in 2011 - and to think they were supposed to win that tournament. Maybe nobody had told the opposition!

The problem is that, as you sit in your room and write down your sporting targets and try to imagine your route to world domination, every other country in the world is trying to get better as well.

You cannot predict how your crop of top players will perform in the future, nor the ability of that particular crop of players. And, if you don't believe me, put yourselves in the place of the All Blacks, who messed up spectacularly in every World Cup between 1987 and 2011.

What do I think? Well, I don't think you can write down targets for elite rugby. Generally, the bigger countries with the bigger systems behind them will be more successful than the smaller ones.

Elite sport is driven by its grass roots. To spell out that you have a target of winning a certain number of Grand Slams or winning a World Cup is mere fantasy. It's grand-standing.

Here's my simple target for Scottish rugby - and it would have a bigger impact on our future than any other: Get every school in Scotland to field rugby teams - backed by the private sector if need be - and get a league up and running.

There, that's mine, nothing about Grand Slams or World Cups. Instead, grow the grass roots and make it competitive.

Yours? Or have I got this all wrong?

Follow John Beattie on Twitter at @BBCJohnBeattie

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Why not have ambitious targets? Do you think the All Blacks' players ambitions are to be good enough to get selected by NZ? Or rather is it to be the best player in the world in their position? Knowing that they need to target this level to get selected. Compare this with Scottish players, is the pinnacle to get capped? Change that target to being the best in the world (achievable or not) and push the level upwards.

  • Comment number 2.

    Couldn't agree more John. There is absolutely no point in producing a strategic plan whose chances of success in percentage terms can be counted on one hand.

    There should be a clear plan and this is it.

    1. Within five years win a six nations
    2. Within five years get to the Rabo12 final
    3. Within five years aim fo a third region and a semi professional district competition in Scotland
    4. Within five years double the number of players capable of international level rugby
    5. Within five years have top level club rugby capable of success in the British and Irish cup
    6. Within three years improve age group rugby so that our under 20 squad win their six nations equivalent.
    7. Within three years get both Edinburgh and Glasgow in the top half of the Rabo12 and at least one of them in the play offs annuallly.

    As we have never beaten New Zealand and wins against South Africa are rare, our initial aim will be to break out of our pool in the World Cup. At 9 in the world we are still a third tier seed in the world cup and could have both a six nations counterpart, Argentina and a Tri-nations team in our group.

    We are beginning to compete at Six Nations level but are miles behind both Wales and Ireland in development terms.

    Strategic planning is about realistic goals not wishful thinking.

  • Comment number 3.

    I see the point this John Beattie character is trying to make but at the same time you need to set targets in all walk of life and more so in the world of professional sport. Teams and individuals need to know what they are aiming for, gold medal ? top 10 ? The final ? It's what helps motivate and so being Scottish my pet hate is the lack of ambition. I am fed up hearing the usual 'here to make up numbers' & 'we need to the other team to have an off day' chat, this weak mentality has been the problem with the Scottish sporting psyche for my lifetime.

    Why not aim for the best, is anyone saying that it is impossible for Scotland to beat all 6Ns countries over 4 years of attempts ? We should have won 3 games in last championship but for small margins.

    Grass roots does need improved undoubtedly, when I played we were chucked in senior rugby straight after school and lost many good players who couldn't get a game and the team spirit lost. So an under 19 and 21 league would be a huge step.

    Either way the guys in charge seem to be doing a good job and credit to them.

    p.s. Anyone outraged by the 'London' Olympics being strangely bit part given to Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Cardiff et al ? And them wanting a private security firm to put us through xray machines and search us like criminals ? All part of the de-sensitivisation of society to state control maybe. Don't go.

  • Comment number 4.

    While these ambitions may seem far fetched, we have the talent to at least be a force in rugby. As we've seen in the last 12 months, the top teams (Aside from a few games) are all rather even with last minute/late tries/penalties deciding the games.

    Yes we failed to reach the quarter finals of the RWC, but two late tries against Argentina and England denied us winning the group. In the Six Nations we were close to beating France, England and Italy, wins which could have seen us finish second or third. Scotland need to close out tight games which is what we've not done in the last 12 months.

    This tour has seen the team get that winning feeling, which I hope will give them confidence for the Autumn Internationals.

    What we also need is edinburgh to be doing well in the Pro 12. Doing well in a few games a season in the HC is of no benefit to the national team if the players are coming in to the camp on the back of being gubbed by Connacht.

  • Comment number 5.

    until we have more pro teams this is never going to happen. 2 is simply not enough! i just finished school last year and when i was there nobody really took school team sports that seriously. i played rugby occasionally but i played football for 5 years or so every Sunday but stopped altogether aged 16 because that is what all my friends etc would do and it meant i could go out at weekends. so until the whole culture of country is changed many teens will do the same.
    although on a positive note this is the best group of players i have seen since watching Scotland. Gray, Rennie, Denton, Laidlaw, Visser, Hogg etc. anybody else think we need some scrum halves coming though? Blair is going to a 2nd div in France and Cusiter isn't improving. also Lawson is now also in 2nd div in England.
    anyway we could aim high but after not winning a 6n game and failing to qualify for wc quarters it is questionable where the sru are getting these aims from. on paper we have gotten worse since 2007 so i don't understand why the aims are higher.

  • Comment number 6.

    I really don't see the harm in having declared ambitions. In fact the definition of SMART targets I'm used to isn't "Simple" it's "Stretching". However, it's pointless having ambitions unless you have a plan in place which instills the confidence that the ambitions are realistic albeit stretching. (We have to have done this if we are to achieve that.) Certainly simply reducing your expectations or always lowering the bar when you fail to achieve your ambitions benefits no-one.

    By all means have high aspirations but if you want people to take them seriously. You have to have the framework and, in Scotland's case, the infrastructure to realise them.

    The rhetoric is right from Mark Dodson but he has to substantiate it with firm, achievable foundations on which to base the ambitions. It has to deliver Scots rugby players in numbers, quality and with confidence. If it can do this then why shouldn't Scotland be able to do what New Zealand already has? It was Ian McGeechan, I think, who described the All Blacks as Scots who had learned how to win.

    My doubts are not on the stated ambition, they are more about how realistic they are in the time-frame considering the point from which we have to start.

    However, I look forward to being proved wrong.

  • Comment number 7.

    There is no point setting targets that you are not wholly in control of delivering - winning a grand slam by 2016 will be influenced much more by what the other 5 teams in the competition do than what the SRU effects.

    Strategic plans need deliverables that you are in complete control of delivering; otherwise when the plan falls short, whoever was responsible for ensuring its success always has the excuse that something or other did not go his/her way.

    Of philmus's list, only number 3 is wholly in control of the SRU, and therefore is a realistic objective to be measured against. The rest are merely outcomes that should happen if you do the other things well.

    This is not meant to belie a lack of ambition. Taking one of John's targets, we know that our chances of long term success in this game will be improved if we have every secondary school in the country capable of fielding a team every week. That is a helluva challenge, probably equivalent in its scale to winning the world cup. But at least it is within our control, therefore if we don't achieve it, there can be no excuses.

    British Cycling has gone through a remarkable renaissance in the last decade, led by Dave Brailsford. He has an expectation of a British Tour de France winner within 5 years - but that is not his strategy. His strategy is to do the things he can control better than any other team. TdF success should be the outcome of that strategy.

    The SRU should take note.

  • Comment number 8.

    John, disrupting the thinking again, you make a great point. However, there is more similarity in your thinking with the SRU than you might realize. Strategic planning should be about extraordinary outcomes. Being outcome focused and, especially on extraordinary ones, will create possibility for us as a winning rugby nation. Stay with me here. If the SRU, and most importantly the players, used our current experiences to inform their thinking then that would lead to current actions and current outcomes - an improving team in talent, skill and desire to win, but not the performance in the execution to make it a success on the field. Something is missing. But if we all start with extraordinary outcomes, that inform our thinking and actions, then we can be special. McGeechan talks about being special.."this is your Everest boys" with the Lions in '97.....you remember.....so creating belief about being special and having a sense of everyone united, owning the outcomes and working with purpose and interdependency in the thinking, will again create more possibility for us as a nation than to take just our past experiences forward. Now back to your outcome of getting every school in Scotland to field rugby teams. That would be extraordinary. So too would winning a World Cup. Your thoughts and those of the SRU have power, ambition and competitive spirit fueling them. If we add a little risk to our actions then we can win a world cup....and a 6 nations in any of the next 5 years, including 2013. This blog helps the SRU, the fans, the sponsors and if they were allowed, the players too, because they get all our current thoughts out which gives us freedom to be extraordinary. Now where has "Freedom" been a driver of change that united us as one in our past again......

  • Comment number 9.

    In the dark distant past I remember my first coaching manual which opened with the words " if you fail to plan you are planning to fail" You have got to have plans, targets, goals at every level and review them regularly. I agree with John that the grass roots are the number one priority if you are to grow the game. However the best way to attract new youngsters to the sport is the success of your national and pro teams. There needs to be a balance between funding grass roots, and ensuring the pro and national teams can compete with the other Tier one nations, of which we are by far the poor relation. Difficult when the country is in recession, and new sponsors are few and far between. Alex Salmond is quick enough to jump on the bandwagon of sporting success, or a free buffet at Murrayfield. It is time that our politicians realised the benefits of sporting achievement and supported the governing bodies properly, rather than some of the crazy ways they spend our taxes.

  • Comment number 10.

    Targets for Wales, IMO, are to win the 2015 World Cup and get at least 1 more Grand Slam before the RWC. I don't think Scotland are good enough to achieve either of those goals myself.

  • Comment number 11.

    I need to write to the Scottish RFU. Can anyone tell me which fantasy island they are living on now?

  • Comment number 12.

    The SRUs goals are unrealistic and doomed to fail.
    There's one thing having stretch goals but when those goals are so laughably far from reality, then they will surely be ignored by all the relevant parties.

    Here's a link to the New Zealand RFUs strategic goals for 2008-2012

    http://www.nzru.co.nz/about_us/strategy

    I note that there are no specific demands on the senior men's team other than "Ensure the All Blacks are a winning team".

    Most of the detail relates to development of provincial and school rugby and generating revenue in the domestic game.
    I like the sound of this: Commercial development, grass-roots rugby.
    These are the areas where "men in suits" can influence, not winning percentages or filling trophy cabinets.

  • Comment number 13.

    The fact Scotland are competeing at the level they are is impressive considering they only have two professional sides, i think the best for Celtic rugby would be for each celtic nation to have four teams and semipro/pro domestic league in each country and have a set up like the super rugby set up. It clearly produces competative players and thats what all the celtic nations need to consistently produce competative teams and then build from there.

  • Comment number 14.

    John: I believe your target of getting every school in the country to field a rugby team and organize a league around this, is an excellent goal and one that can and should be achieved.

    However, it is not going to be until someone, say a high-profile person, with leadership ability and the drive to go with it, takes this objective by the horns and runs with it until it is achieved.

    I nominate John Beattie for the task. Go to it John; you are the man for the job!

  • Comment number 15.

    Oh, and yes, I do find all the criticism of ambitious goal setting a very Scottish trait, and a very irritating one! As the man says, "If you're going to be thinking, you might as well think big!"

  • Comment number 16.

    Saltireblue, I totally agree with the points you made (14 & 15). Put the framework up, recruit and train volunteer trainers and put a bit of ring-fenced money into the schools and the junior sections in clubs. The money could even come from a new sponsorship drive if the SRU are that hard up. But - most of all - recruit a high profile champion to drive the initiative.

  • Comment number 17.

    Setting targets is fine. Setting realistic ones is better. To go from Spoon To Supremo's is a tall order. If maybe they'd targetted finishing above England for the next 6 Nations and a World Cup semi final spot in the next RWC would have been more acceptable.
    The problem with outlandish prophesies is that they have a tendency to come back and bite you on the proverbial.
    That said, I do wish Scotland every success, I have a soft spot for my Celtic cousins and Andy Robinson is a hard-working and passionate coach.

  • Comment number 18.

    If you don't know where you are going. How do you know when you get there? The plan is the plan, let's all get behind it.

  • Comment number 19.

    A point that many seem to be missing is that in the most successful countries, RUGBY IS THE (underlined if the format would let me) MAJOR SPORT with the majority of the grassroots behind them.
    I offer you New Zealand, South Africa, Aussies, Wales and even Ireland with France and England having the larger demographic to support multiple spreads (don't ask me why N. Ireland can do so well in Rugby at the regional/club level and Golf at the very top; still amazes me).
    I know that Scotland's soccer (sorry Football) record is even more dismal -at least there have been grand-slams and high-level eras for Scotland in rugby, especially from the Borders- but perhaps there is too little to go round and this is the era of marketing, so the SRU need to inculcate some of that consciousness in the rest of the country.
    It will be interesting to see what Alan Lawson brings to the table. He is married to the late Bill McClaren's daughter Linda, who heads up the Bill McClaren Foundation which is dedicated to promoting Rugby at all levels but especially the earliest ages, a bit like they do in new Zealand and South Africa and has just begun to garner support on a broader basis.
    I don't have a problem with ambition and high-achievement. A very successful late friend of my wife's father once told me that "Hell, I used to travel first class when I couldn't afford coach" but he was a visionary and single-minded in his goals which he did achieve, something not given to many of us including, shall we say a somewhat blinkered SRU (this from Hawick and Borders friends I'm in touch with on "Facebook" and email who have been pretty near or at the top and seen the ol' boy net at work first hand).
    Realistically, I hope to see some real forward-and-upward momentum and look forward to having a truly competitive national team to cheer (as I still do from the US West Coast) when I move back to Europe in the hopefully not too distant future.
    And well done indeed lads on the recent tour. I managed to get the Fiji game on YouTube and it was a lot tighter than the score-line suggested. Good game in almost alien weather conditions for the Scots. -Had to laugh when the commentator kept confusing Lamont with Richie Gray whom he at one point told us "Played for Glasgow Rangers" -----arrrgrghgh!!).

  • Comment number 20.

    We must develop at grass roots with rugby played at every school, only then will we see a sustained level of success.
    Is it smart of the SRU to set a strategic plan? Yes it is! It has to be ambitious. We have good players, some excellent players and a great crop of youngsters coming up, so let's be positive and yes ambitious - setting the bar high for those grass roots players that do come through in 10 years time!

    "Only by contending with challenges that seem to be beyond your strength to handle at the moment you can grow more surely toward the stars."

    "When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either."

  • Comment number 21.

    Let's think big, Scotland! Let us, for once, shake of the manacles of self-doubt, have big dreams, and strive to achieve them. However, let's not beat ourselves up every time we stumble! Because, as is the case with big dreamers, you can count on there being some substantial disappointments along the way!

    In the words of the Man..."If you reach for the stars, there's no guarantee you're going to get one, but you won't come up with a handful of sh*t either!"

  • Comment number 22.

    #20: SandbachScot: My apologies for using a phrase that you used prior to my post, albeit mine a slightly earthier version. I didn't see yours until I posted mine. However, it's good to see that we're in accord.

  • Comment number 23.

    I strongly disagree, John. First, there's a difference between a forecast and target. Forecasts are indeed fiction, although possibly based on solid evidence, whereas a target is an aspiration. The only reliable way to get to where you want to be, is to honestly assess where you are now, define where you want to go, and plot a route to get there. If you miss out defining the destination you won't know what steps to take, in what direction, at what time. In this case, it may well be that your goal to get a rugby team from every school is a vital step towards achieving Dodson's goals, but it'll take a lot more than that. We'll need hundreds of other things executed in the right way at the right time to achieve such lofty goals, but setting the goal is the first step. And, if we set the highest possible goal and fully commit to it, then we will almost certainly achieve more than if we set a lesser goal. Aim for the moon; even if you miss you'll land among the stars.

  • Comment number 24.

    Saltireblue - no problem, as you said good to see we're in accord.
    What do they say - great minds think alike or fools seldom differ!?

  • Comment number 25.

    Strategic plans generally speaking are a good thing. It sets an expectation. However, if it is going to be realistic, the next step is to work out the steps that are needed to achieve the plan - how many players are required, how much investment is required to have the volume, depth and quality of competition required. And then you have to factor in how much your competitors are going to invest and what their capacity is going to be. It might be a more realistic situation to put slightly lower strategic targets but augment them with stretch targets if the targets are achieved.

    Sorry if this sounds like a management consultants' handbook but I think Scotland will have to work doubly hard because of the size of the player base, Scotland's attitude to health, sports and taking part and the limits to SRU revenues. These factors will constrain what is possible. But I do think that we can do better and I've loved how the summer tour has gone: real progress. Well done.

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm with you on this John. While we are (rightfully IMO) scouring the globe looking for fresh young talent that can help make us more competitive, we are missing out on our own youngsters.
    All schools should have male & female rugby. Thus could be either full contact or a skills based game.
    Mike Russell should be approached with this and a partnership could be formed between the government & sru for finance. Maybe school or university scholarships can help to.

  • Comment number 27.

    Agree with #12. The SRU should simply borrow the New Zealand RFUs strategic goals. Scotland has a larger population that NZ (5,250,000 vs. 4,400,000) !

  • Comment number 28.

    John, setting a target is no bad thing if it pushes you to improve and falling short of your target certainly does not mean that it was wrong to set the target in the first place, as i think you are implying with this article.
    What is vitally important with these targets however is the time scale that they are set against. Targeting winning the 2016 six nations only gives 4 years to achieve this and you cant effect lasting, significant change in that time, the youngest players in the Scotland squad for that tournament will already probably be 18. If however you said win the grand slam by 2022 that is 10 years and your focus can suddenly change to developing grass routes talent.

  • Comment number 29.

    John is right the sru need to focus on grass roots and getting at least one more proffesional side going in scotland.

    Scotland need to find more homegrown talent like stuart hogg and duncan weir and to do this a third pro side is essential We need strength in depth and andy robinson needs to be trying players like chris fusaro in the team who had earned a place in the touring party but was left out. moray low also needs to be given a chance at th as he is the long term replacement for euan murray in my opinion with john welsh on the bench who can play either side of the scrum and ryan grant at 1 . Finally as good as laidlaw is duncan weir should have got some game time on tour because ten has been a weakness for us for the last few years and again we need options. Take wales for example warbuton gets injured and tipuric is there to step up. same with alun wyn he got injured and ian evans stepped up. nobody just walks into the welsh team. Even richie mccaw is threatened now by sam cane. to get to the point these teams win because they have options and take advantage of the young players who may not be world class yet but who in four years time could be Basically andy robinson wake up

  • Comment number 30.

    I am glad to see JB's comments after hearing a news reelase from SRU this morning. International representative (the clue is in the word) sport of all kinds should be a reflection on the national culture of that sport, not a sport in themselves as SRU seems to be driving for. England's perfromance at football's Euro's should give another clue here.
    There are possibly several teams who would want (expect) to beat Scotland in the 2015 world cup final, and who should, therefore, all write this in as a 'target'. Only one will achieve it, so the rest are poorly strategically led and will no doubt need a root and branch review? All sensible fans know this kind of business-lite sports management is hokum, and that a country's international sports standing reflects its sports culture at the grass-roots. The approach taken by the target-mad suits is what only encourages financial jiggery pokery and a bidding war for adopted nationality. You might as well have ScotlandRugby as a franchise - they could play in whatever country their owner wants them to. Does it ever occur to the suits that Scotland supporters always enjoy watching their heroes if they play well, regardless of the result? It is perhaps harder to watch them play poorly these days because they get paid, but if they were beaten playing well who gives a monkey about a strategic plan that promises crazy goals as an incentive?

  • Comment number 31.

    Here are my targets for Scottish rugby.

    1. Don't get replaced by Georgia in the 6 Nations and relegated to the European Nations Cup.

    2. Don't go into liquidation. Stay solvent and pay your taxes.

  • Comment number 32.

    This is truly laughable.

    The whole target culture has not done society much good in the last few years, being part of the banker/'professional' manager/HR/greed smoke and mirrors to make us think that business and government are doing good things well. It's all lie.

    And now, not only have the SRU swallowed that nonsense hook, line and sinker, their heads have been turned by modest success in the southern hemisphere against not exactly top drawer opposition.

    Any aspiring chief execs and head coaches should start polishing their CV, as Mark Dodson and Andy Robinson will be leaving their posts in around 18 months, once these ridiculous for Scotland come back to bite them.

    With a lot of luck and a fair wind, Scotland have an outside chance of winning the 6 Nations, but a grand slam is unlikely. Scotland will NEVER win the world cup, neither will Wales or the Ireland rugby team.

    What are they drinking/smoking in the Murrayfield boardroom?

  • Comment number 33.

    Well it seems that we can't agree whether this is a good idea or not. With the plethora of comments concerning growing the game in Scotland from the "uninformed" why don't the "informed" do something about it instead of setting ambitious goals? Still, it would be nice to win a 6 Nations and the World Cup, wouldn't it? My heart always follows them but my head tells me not to expect too much.

  • Comment number 34.

    In four years your gonna win the world cup, delusion at the top frustration at grass roots. Hey maybe we now see the reason behind the import of players JB spoke of in a recent blog. Goals are meant to push you on in your development in every aspect of life, however if they are so far into the realms of a whisky induced fantasy they will never be achieved, as people will drop by the wayside. Realistic goals, that stage a teams development would be more sensible way to go about it. The SRU should focus on the grass roots all over scotland as i have written many times before i am a welshman (and no i do not see wales winning the world cup) of scottish ancestry living in the highlands. There is nothing of them here i watched little kids playing shinty today (four teams in a small village) they were great and showed so many skills that would be great for rugby but not going to happen why ? the SRU are nowhere to be seen too busy in the central belt and the borders. At least the WRU (eventually) realised the untapped potential in North Wales and have been developing it. If you aim for the stars great but realise, one you have to build a spaceship, learn to fly the thing and you will have to stop on the way.

  • Comment number 35.

    It seems you misunderstand the word target. The previous sets of goals for each of the home sides seem very reasonable: almost all were attained.
    Those figures, though, are in a completely different ball park from the incredible and ridiculous success Mark Dodson is hoping for. Good luck Scotland, but I will go on expecting very little to save from crushing disappointment!
    I do agree that getting kids back into school rugby id the place to start though, especially as we have been shown time and time again how awful and tedious football is: we are in need of a new National sport.

  • Comment number 36.

    1978 ... Please, not again! We can only beat the Southern Hemisphere teams in a storm (2012 Australia), rain (2010 Argentina) or when their second choice players start (2010 South Africa). When the game involves running and passing, we come up short. I nominate #2 Philmus to take over from Alan Lawson as soon as possible. I recall England paying handsomely for some rugby league import before 2007RWC and Rob Andrew saying if they won the world cup it would be worth it. In hindsight, I bet England wish the money was spent in growth and development. Then they threw their world cup talisman, MJ, at the RWC goal and missed badly. The SRU seem to have fallen for the glossy brochure management speak - great in the boardroom and pointless on the shop floor. Oh for a plan to increase the number of players, the quality of coaching and the profile of the game... Isn't that the point of the SRU?

  • Comment number 37.

    "Here's my simple target for Scottish rugby, and it would have a bigger impact on our future than any other: Get every school in Scotland to field rugby teams - backed by the private sector if need be - and get a league up and running."

    Surely forecasts have to be SMART? That means Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

    If I am honest, I have a problem with the Attainable bit.

  • Comment number 38.

    Great comments John.
    May this Blog be seen by the SRU as I have never seen a blog before where most if not all agree on one fact - that grass roots should be the focus.
    As for targets for the international side, if you are thinking big then the Target should be to win every game. That is exactly how the coach the players prepare for each game. It is unlikely to happen but in the same way that winning the World Cup is unlikely to happen.
    As we now know from NZ - the number one team in the world does not always win the world cup - I would rather focus on Scotland being ranked number one in the world and let any wins of grand slams or world cups be a by product of that.
    If they want to see a measurable target then set a realistic target, where they increase the % win rate each year - this will show improvement.
    And the only way to do this is, is to have a strong foundation to build on.

  • Comment number 39.

    STRATEGIC PLAN FOR SCOTTISH GRASSROOTS RUGBY

    DISTRICTS: Broaden the Scottish district set-up to 8 teams.

    The North
    The Midlands
    Glasgow
    Strathclyde
    Edinburgh
    Lothian
    The South
    +
    The Exiles (London Scottish)

    The Scottish district set-up represents every geographical area of Scotland + exiles. It doesn't allow for a disproportionate representation of private schools or Border teams, as the regular school/ club set-up does.

    It allows the coaches of the North district to cherry pick promising young players from smaller teams like Black Isle, Aboyne, Ballater, Turriff or state rugby schools like Aberdeen Grammar, Wick and Thurso, or community clubs like Orkney and Ellon all of whose regular season schedule is nowhere near as competitive as the private rugby schools of Robert Gordon’s and Gordonstoun.

    AGE GRADES:
    Each region should be fielding teams at the following levels: U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-18.

    At every age grade, you can centralise the best 176 players in Scotland and move them up to an elite level. You can take the opportunity to give them exercise and dietary advice, as well as professional coaching. At the U-15 level, you are doing this a year earlier than most nations. You are putting more kids in the shop window for picking the age-grade national team and get the public buzzing about which U-18s will get the draft.

    ELITE LEVEL:
    The 7 Scottish based teams compete in a league (6 games each), with the final round of fixtures to be played in Murrayfield. The Exiles (London Scottish) can attend as a guest team to play the 7th team that has completed all their fixtures and this can make up 8 teams and 4 fixtures. Every Scottish rugby supporter can root for their district of origin, which means all Scottish supporters will have an interest.

    BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE RIGHT NOW:

    Brewin Dolphin Schools’ Cup Final
    An early Christmas present is on offer at Murrayfield with four school teams fighting it out for the Brewin Dolphin School’s Cup; the Final takes place on Saturday 26 November at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.

    Under 16 Cup Final
    Dollar Academy v George Watson’s College [BOTH PRIVATE SCHOOLS]
    Saturday 26 November, 4pm, International Pitch

    Under 18 Cup Final
    The Edinburgh Academy v George Watson's College [BOTH PRIVATE SCHOOLS]
    Saturday 26 November, 6pm, International Pitch

    Making sure that Nairn Academy have a rugby team is not going to make a bit of difference unless there is a way to step up their best players.

    If you want to get more kids playing the game, you have to give them a game.

  • Comment number 40.

    for me the order of proirity should be

    1. increase the number of schools by 15pc per year . In 5 years that will nearly double the playing pool

    2. within 3 years form another professional team

    thats all the sru should thinking of ; and if they fail to achieve then remove them !

    There is no way in hell you can even think about winning the wc with 2 teams. Id say realistically you need 5 , but that can come later....

  • Comment number 41.

    Reading this blog with interest. Both my boys played Scottish Exiles Rugby and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
    I now live in a part of SW England which, albeit Football is still the major sport by a mile, is a "Rugby county".
    Local comprehensive schools field strong and skilful teams alongside the private schools.
    Schools only generally play Rugby up to Christmas, unless they play in a national cup.
    It is however the local Rugby clubs that are the nurseries for Rugby in this county. They are the people that put a ball in the hand of players as young as Under 8s, provide coaching and organise weekly games through the RFU framework. These players are already skilled to a degree by the time they reach senior school but the major point is that they are already playing Rugby.
    In short...............dont just rely on Schools. They are usually served up with the talent.
    I cannot comment on grassroots Rugby in Scotland because I do not know what the set up is but I would like to presume a young players path is join your local club at mini/junior section?I would assume a healthy proportion of clubs from Wick, Inverness, Perth and down to the Borders all have mini/junior sections? If not then ask why not?
    A mini/junior section I originated with a colleague started with 18 players and 8 years later has 150 kids playing Rugby every Sunday and training one night per week. Of those kids a large percentage may never have thought about playing Rugby if the facility was not laid on. Some now play for their County. Some may do even better. A great number of parents who now organise the club mini/junior were unaware they had skills as coaches, referees, first aiders, postmatch caterers, fund raisers etc etc etc......but they do now.
    I think it is fine for Scotland to set a lofty target as long as the spadework goes in at grassroots.

  • Comment number 42.

    I agree with JB; focus on the process and performance, and let God look after the results. Focus on what WE need to DO to win games, instead of looking at the silverware.

    Out of interest, what does the RFU do to encourage rugby in schools? and at the club level? How many PE teachers and headmasters are feted by their local clubs, 'bigged up' in the eyes of their local youth, and encouraged to view rugby positively? How much information about the local clubs is made available in the schools? How much help do the clubs give to the schools with their coaching? How much feedback do the clubs give to the schools on the performance of their alumni?

    SC

  • Comment number 43.

    I think to set ambitious targets is a good thing generally, but would suggest that what has been declared is so ludicrous it's really a marketing ploy and a way of the top men at the SRU protecting their nice jobs.

    After 15 years of watching truly dreadful efforts at Murrayfield, with the occasional good blip, there is no track record to make such a claim, albeit that the team now is starting to finally look and feel stronger with some very good talent coming in (Laidlaw, Visser, etc).

    I think what's missing is backing up such words with at least one more level of detail. What specifics are you going to target to underpin what you are saying ?

    No, I am afraid cynical old me can only see this as the tops guys basically saying "judge me over 4 years not six months" or in other words "don't sack me from my nice little earner too soon, even if we do badly".

  • Comment number 44.

    With the world cup being in England, Scotland could very much win it! ... providing it rains for all their matches !! Joking aside, there is no chance of them winning the world cup, and if im honest, winning a grand slam, or just the 6N in general. Their 4 year plan should be to probably try and finish in the top 3or 4 in the 6N consistently

  • Comment number 45.

    if scotland are gong to win anything they will need to find more kiwis aussies and south africans than england to play for them

  • Comment number 46.

    Similarly to GlosterJock I currently live in the SW of England. In terms of Club Rugby I think I would risk a small be that there are more clubs with Junior Sections in Somerset than there are in the whole of Scotland. There are six district sides made up of club members in Somerset as well as the county sides at Junior level.

    These are formed by clubs who look to the future and want a steady stream of trained and developed players who are already committed to their club. When they go on to better things they still remember the clubs that gave them the knowledge and basic skills to do so.

    It is not the schools who drive this here. The schools follow the demand and the demand is created by the clubs supported by the parents. The clubs are not just "old boys" although there are many of them (state and public). If you want to succeed then the first object should be to make rugby the winter sport of choice in Scotland. This is a stretching target to which the SRU can really contribute (and from which they could reasonably expect to benefit in a big way!)

    Given the state of the other game in Scotland, I don't think that that goal is too ambitious.

  • Comment number 47.

    Now is the perfect time for Scottish Rugby to grow and promoting grand ambitions is a good thing to attract new followers in both supporters and players. Scottish football has been on a miserable decline for the last decade and the Scots (most importantly the younger generations) need a sport that can give them belief and the chance to win and partake competitively at an international level. The problem with rugby in Scotland is that it has been generally confined to fee paying schools....all schools throughout the country should be playing rugby with suitably coordinated regional leagues and possibly with a national cup competition, experienced coaches etc should at first be subsidised to train youth within the curricular. The youth have quality teams to support in competitive leagues in both the Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh, also they have a hopefully ever improving national team...lets promote and market rugby to the youth and those sport supporters fed up with the politics and depreciation of Scottish Football, strike whilst the iron is hot, there is no reason for Scotland not to become a real force to be reckoned with at international level with a passionate support that includes all demographics.

  • Comment number 48.

    Scotland's targets/goals/aims are pretty simple really.
    Learn to win a tournament game (ie one that REALLY matters). One game-not too much to ask is it?
    Play for 80 minutes in a tounament match, not just 20.
    Stop pre-match "We are confident of a win today" interviews.
    Don't over-hype your own ability-it ain't there.

    Finally, don't aim too high-Scotland have been doing so for years and have only managed to look ridiculous in the eyes of the rest of the rugby playing world.

    All team sport in Scotland is a bit of a joke, so why should rugby be any different?

  • Comment number 49.

    My ambition for England is for the RFU to link up with the NZRU to create a program whereby some of our youngsters get to spend a year training and playing in New Zealand club competitions to get a better understanding of what it takes to truly be a world class player. Seems to have developed Haskells game no end and he was only with The Highlanders for a few months.

    As for Scotland, I think their ambitions are very achievable. So long as there is a torrential down pour for every game between now and the 2015 RWC final.

  • Comment number 50.

    I pretty much agree with Philmus. We need to get it right at grass roots level and that means concentrating on school/community rugby. With an increased player pool we will hopefully see more talented players coming through. This strikes me as a ten year plan which could increase our chances of a 6N and a World Cup.

    We should also have a representation from the Borders in the Rabo12; my blood still boils at the parochial attitudes of the local fans that led to the demise of The Reivers - not having representation from one of Scotland's rich rugby heartlands has had the knock-on effect on the National Side.

  • Comment number 51.

    A grass roots target should be to get all comprehensives playing and teaching the game in some form. The game has too much of a public school image in Scotland.

  • Comment number 52.

    My target for scotland, to be proud watching them.
    They may not have won many 6 nations, but they have played well. Well done lads. The coach has been very unlucky. The world cup loss to Argentina - the ref. missed the most obvious penalty ever. No point blaiming our players, they have generally tackled hard, played well and lost the game by small margins. (except they were not so great against Italy).

  • Comment number 53.

    I agree with you John - which is rare!

    Look at Wales. They have turned things around by concentrating on the youth game, bringing in a steady flow of improving youngsters, introducing them to professionalism at an early age. The benefits then flow upwards.

    That's how you do it - from the bottom up.

    And, of course, a team who got whitewashed in the last 6N, with a very small playing pool within which to pick, who's national sport is not rugby, who have a generally unfit nation with no real history of success on the rugby field - a nation like that should not be aiming to win the world cup or the grand slam. More realistic is a top half table finish, or an over 50% win ratio, or a quarter final world cup target.

    They are just lining themselves up for a bit of derision. Delusions of grandeur, I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think it would be more realistic for Scotland to begin by trying to win a raffle.

  • Comment number 55.

    I don't believe any team starts a game planing to lose,they might "target" certain games,at home for example as ones they "should acheive a win".
    But as you point out having a pop at England,what is the point of all this tub thumping,you end up looking failures when you fail with one or all of the "targets"
    Get on with the job in a professional manner and ditch the glossy suits telling you what they think you want to hear. Rugby is played on grass,not on bits of glossy paper,work is what gets results(and a bit of the bounce of the ball)

  • Comment number 56.

    *25
    "It might be a more realistic situation to put slightly lower strategic targets but augment them with stretch targets if the targets are achieved."

    Que?

    Now I know we're in trouble when a contributor on a rugby blog speaks the same language as the suits at the top! The business-speakers have taken over the dressing room-time to grab the Deep Heat and run methinks.
    This is rugby we're talking about here not hedge fund management!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 57.

    Agree with JB about more more rugby in schools.

    The SRU must somehow promote rugby in state schools. I was brought up in the Borders where rugby was played in all the state schools and look how many internationals they have produced over the years. Imagine if this could be replicated throughout the whole of Scotland.

  • Comment number 58.

    If you want success in anything you must have a plan and stick to it, enough said.

  • Comment number 59.

    I totally agree John. In my opinion school rugby is the starting point for the way forward.

    As for the SRU. A simple target - make the nation proud to attend home and away games. I don't think we need any fancy corporate metrics to judge whether Murrayfield is full or not as 67,500 people singing away for their team is enough for me.

  • Comment number 60.

    Are Scotland smart to spell out grand ambitions?

    Simple answer....Yes.

    Did Microsoft set out to get Windows on some desktop computers around the world? No. They set out to get Windows on ALL desktop computers around the world.

    Did they succeed? No. But does it matter? Microsoft are still arguably the best in their field.
    You need ambitious goals to be the best. So why aim low. Let's aim high, put the pieces in place to make it happen, and see where it takes us.

  • Comment number 61.

    John, I couldn't agree more that we need to grow our rugby at grass roots level. There is not a huge appetite for the game at state schools and when the local school packs in rugby, the local club will not be far behind! The SRU's strategic plan should be purely focussed on growing local rugby and supporting the clubs to enable them to provide half decent facilities for young people to come along and train. My local club struggles to maintain a pitch that is entirely waterlogged for a large part of the season and providing somewhere warm for parents and children at training is a total impossiblity. Yes, I think it would be great to have performance targets for the national team but they must be SMART and honest. If the targets aren't realistic then there is no failure when they are not acheived....... perhaps this is a macheavellian plan by the SRU for success over the next 5 years!

  • Comment number 62.

    I have to say I dont see anything wrong with aiming high. England and Scotland should be aiming to win the 2015 World Cup. This is sport. Why play if not to win?
    The ambitions need to be kept in perspective. And after the tournament, if they havent won, that doesnt make it a disaster. They may have failed, but that doesnt mean it all went wrong.

    Take Englands WC2011 campaign. Before this article I thought they were aiming at a semi final spot. They fail to get there and it is described as a disasterous tournament. Yet they won the group, and lost to the runners up.
    Not a success, but not a disaster. Just falling short in my eyes.

    So Scotland should aim high, then if they fail, they may still ahve made ground.

    As for Englands ambitions, long term: Win the 2015 WC.
    Between now and then, find some good centre partnerships and utilise the back three more. Move the ball around and be adventerous.

  • Comment number 63.

    @60 BudapestScot: Good analogy. Well said!

  • Comment number 64.

    I've got no problem with a strategic plan as ambitious as this, but in order for any of it to succeed the SRFU needs to have a serious and honest look at itself and the national structure ask itself if it really allows the national team the best possible chance of meeting these targets.

    at the moment i do not see that.

  • Comment number 65.

    Bottom line is Scottish rugby should be targeting growth, and I agree the strategic plan should be that all schools in Scotland should teach rugby by 2016.
    Of course the referendum will have happened by then so we might not have any money left (or a country) after Alex Salmond is declared Emperor of Scotland and has built castle greyskull out of Hollyrood.
    But back to the point, grow rugby and improve at youth level, is amateur rugby is better pro rugby will improve.

  • Comment number 66.

    BudapestScot

    Microsoft had a great product to begin with, so they couldn't lose! You cannot compare business with an 80 minute team game.
    The Scotland rugby side is a poor product (in your linguistic terms) in tournaments, and therefore we have to be realistic. A team that continually fails to achieve year in year out looks ridiculous when it's management and union spouts such world domination rubbish.
    Try winning a game or two first. World and interplanetary domination should then follow.

  • Comment number 67.

    Of course the targets are ridiculous - they imply that unless you have a target to win the World Cup you must be planning to lose it! I suspect that every team's target is to win it. I also suspect that Scotland's target is to win the Grand Slam every year. So the SRU are merely stating the bleeding obvious. Whether or not the team is good enough will be decided on the pitch, not by some idiot's press release!

  • Comment number 68.

    I think you're spot on, John. I think grand ambitions are easy to spell out and are headline grabbers, but what really counts is the strategy that lies behind those ambitions, and the strategy should be about player involvement, skills development and resourcing. Those are the areas that need to be measured (otherwise they won't be managed as I'm sure a bevy of highly paid management consultants will tell you).
    I'm assuming that behind the headlines is a robust strategy, but I would like to see some more sensible targets that mean something to the people in schools and clubs who play the game and people we want to attract into the game.

  • Comment number 69.

    Long term strategic goals and for better words "wish list" has its merits, however Targets for the Scottish natial team should be simple, win the next game then the one after that and the one after that and so on.
    Achieve this and you will by definition win the 6 nations and the next world cup.

    Long term strategic goals should be to bring all levels of club rugby out of its amateur status so you increase numbers of players and eventually have such a high level of competition at premier 1 you can then do away with the district Pro team as all clubs in prem 1 will be pro teams giving a larger selection for the national team and access to different styles of play within the Scottish game competing on a European stage (AKA like England and the rest of the leading European countries).

    Oh and before I step off the soap box make selection and opportunity not a Private school rite of passage...

  • Comment number 70.

    i have just read the comment from John Beattie. More power to him. There is clearly point in having goals, but there must be the semblance of reality to them. Here sadly there is none. The emperor has no clothes. What we need is more clothes for the emperor. Mr Beatties is right, more kids playing across the board, with more community activity from private sector investment, into both schools and in particular our clubs. if we can crack that, the emperor wil at least be wearing a track suit and pair of nike's. Those with the clout, could do much worse than read Mr Beatties blog and set the bar at such targets. The quicker they do this, the more realistic chance will they have of revisiting their own in years to come.

  • Comment number 71.

    Just a quick update on SMART objectives which have become either SMART-S (Stretching) or SMARTER (Extending & Rewarding). In other words the notion is that objectives should also push a little harder than just the Achievable.

    So with that in mind what are the SRU thinking? They have gone way beyond stretching my imagination to the point of incredulity. In fact I'm embarrassed with the timing of this too. The Scottish Team have just come off the back of a successful tour and have risen to 9th in World Rankings only to be told that in the next 4 years they're going to win the world cup.

    I bet that most of the team are pretty shamed faced about this too and I don't think that the eight teams above us will be quaking in their boots either.

    Get real SRU and look at the steps that you need to take at the grass roots of the game that might give you a chance of winning a world cup by 2028. If need some help look at what the Welsh put in place about 12 years ago.

  • Comment number 72.

    Should we set target to aim for? Of course we should! Should they require ourselves to strech and push ourselves? Again of course we should. Should they be near downright impossible? Mmm now you're starting to push it a little.

    Winning the World Cup by 2015 is not something that will be attainable unless we have a major overturn of talent to suppliment the current crop of talent we have and replace the players we will lose on the way. This won't happen unless we address the player base and that Mr Beattie is pointing out but that isn't going to turn around a batch of players for at least 10 years.

    Winning a GS and being competitive is a much more attainable in the short term. Add a WC quarter or semi final and you have an ambitious and yet achievable set of targets in the short term. Anyone can have a good 'spike' year and win the 6 nations (even grab a grand slam) it's happened before to unfancied teams. However what we would need to do is also retain a competitive performance on the following years should we manage that.

    Scottish Rugby needs an overhaul but they are making ground (playing number have been up over the last few years) What is needed is investment in the coaches and facilities. Draw a parallel with football Spain over a decade ago did just that and now have the most coaches than any other nation look at the results they have managed from that investment?

    The Pyramid should always start from the bottom up, don't start at the pointy end!

  • Comment number 73.

    John, You are right about developing grassroots rugby but leaving it at that is frustrating. You could do us a great service if you led an investigation and exposed the systematic failings of our age-grade rugby system. Until there is a proper understanding of the issues and a new re-engineered system in place, the national team will continue to under perform.

  • Comment number 74.

    I totally agree with JB's proposal to nurture the grass-roots rugby in Scotland. It's mind-numbing to hear the SRU still prefer to scout non-state schools for new talent. The SRU needs a plan utilising profile ex (yes, that includes you Chris Paterson) and current players to promote rugby in all the schools! Also to help the matter, start kids at the U7 stage, playing tag-rugby....the Welsh & English RFU's do this and certainly does them no harm.

    Targets are great to justify the existance of the 'suits' but the SRU needs to address current and clear issues that JB has previously discussed i.e. promoting rugby as a sport for all ages to strengthen the potential talent pool!!

  • Comment number 75.

    Very pleased to hear the SRU stand-up and state a mission for Scottish rugby. Just a bit concerned about the T of SMART, timescales. 4 years is a very short time span and a lot has to happen and flourish before our natural level in the raises to world champion status, top one or two in the world.

    An Interesting aside, Clive Woodward stated in his book and in several newspapers to have a chance of becoming World Champions you have to target being number 1 in the world, we’re targeting top 6. Which to me is reasonable, which means World Champion thingy is more about promotion than realism.

    Anyhow, I’m a glass half full kind of chap and love that the SRU has some ambition. What I what to see know is the structure and the implementation plan to make this happen from the grass roots. That’s the important bit.

    Reading through the Strategic plan there was a bullet point mentioning 8 new regional academies being setup. Does anyone know any more about them?

    I must finish agreeing with JB. Countries with a strong school rugby programme are at the top of the rugby tree. We need a well organised, well supported school/youth rugby leagues with a pathway to professional rugby! The model should be the 1xv college rugby played in New Zealand, which has a televised game every weekend, link http://www.skysport.co.nz/1stxvrugby/.

  • Comment number 76.

    I agree with this article. Grand ambitions are fine, but they need to be backed up by funding, manpower, knowledge and expertise. Instead of mentally plotting world domination, they would be making much better use of their time concentrating on making sure that more kids play rugby and that young talent is immediately spotted and nurtured. When rugby nations can do that reliably, the Rugby World Cups and Six Nations tournaments will take care of themselves...

  • Comment number 77.

    No, John. Scotland are not smart to spell out their ambitions. Especially ambitions as glaringly unrealistic as those mentioned.

    There are some errant doughnuts on the loose lurking in the shadowy upper echelons of the SRU. They are doubtlessly the same errant doughnuts who just forcibly removed Sean Lineen from the Warriors. Oh, not to mention the Warriors's defence coach too. The one who had statistically the best defensive record in the entire RaboDirect Pro 12 league last season.

    Doh! And double doh!! Makes my head hurt just thinking about it. I think a lie down for a while in a dark and quiet room is in order.

  • Comment number 78.

    I have for sometime now thought that those in the higher echelons of the SRU had no control of their marbles. Having witnessed Stewards trying to stop a lone piper at the French match, ( 'Official Instructions', he said.) who was far more entertaining than the fayre on the field and now, having heard about these targets, my long held suspicions have now been confirmed! The quickest way to demotivate anyone is to set them a target they cannot achieve.
    Was the man Dobson in 'Ally's Army' by any Chance!

  • Comment number 79.

    Wooden Spoon holders, 13% win ratio and 9th in the IRB rankings to Grand Slam Giants and World Champs in 3 years.

    First priority for the SRFU should be to cut out the Red Bull and Benzedrine cocktails before Board meetings

  • Comment number 80.

    Just returned from hospital having had to have my side stitched up which split from all the laughing I have done since reading the SRU target. Whatever the SRU board are taking can someone let me know. I want some.

  • Comment number 81.

    I've read several reports on this story, but I cannot find the punch-line for any of them. This is a joke ....right???
    If ever anyone or any organisation was ever in need of a reality check, surely this nonsense from SRU is a prime example.
    Come on boys, all teams have their ups and downs but beating some south sea part timers hardly qualifies this level of optimism. Take a reality check.

  • Comment number 82.

    JB - One answer, & two separate questions for you

    1/ Short answer to your question - no. We've just enjoyed 3 wins out of 3 starts on the recent Summer Tour to the Southern Hemisphere, and the only home nation to even chalk up even a single win, let alone a clean sweep of all 3!! We need to aim high, & build on these recent successes.That said we also need to be realistic...2 of our three upcoming Autumn Series fixtures will be against two mighty powerhouse sides.

    2/ Could you please see to it that your blogs stop being 'closed for comments' as early on in the piece as they do? In your last blog of 16 June, there were several of us having a good natured, upbeat, well thought out, positive debate on the back of your premise statement;- "Summer wins demonstrate growing Scottish confidence". I was the 122nd & final comment late at night on 18 June before the blog was closed (a mere 2 days after you opened it up).

    3/ Why was your colleague Jim Mason down in Apia for the game against Samoa, while BBC Scotland provided neither full coverage of the match, or even any form of highlight package of the game whatsoever?

  • Comment number 83.

    Chanticleer:

    You say..."beating some south sea part timers hardly qualifies this level of optimism".

    Perhaps you can identify some of the 'part-timers' for me and others on this board.

 

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