- 6 Sep 07, 05:02 PM
St Etienne - It's official. St Etienne loves Scotland! And the ladies love the Lamont brothers!
Today was Scotland's first full day in this little corner of the Rhones-Alpes region and the dignitaries of St Etienne appeared with their best smiles and hand-shakes at the first press conference which was held in the rather grand Hotel de Ville (Town Hall, according to O-Grade French).
Frank Hadden and key players spoke glowingly about the town, the coach even mentioning that he wore a green St Etienne scarf to Hampden for their European Cup final meeting with Bayern Munich in 1976. Why? Nobody asked.
Then from nowhere sprang close to a dozen women who seemed hell-bent on having their photos taken with both of the Lamont brothers. This may have something to do with Sean's appearance in the Stade Francais Calendar which is far too racy to describe in this family blog.
I was more concerned with Jason White's legs - and in a purely platonic way, because it seems that the man mountain is operating on slightly less formidable limbs than pre-knee injury. He confirmed that this was, indeed, the case and admitted that he hasn't quite been able to get his right leg back to full size, adding that he does still feel the fatigue in the last quarter of a game.
He looked fine in training, though, as did most of the Scotland squad at an open session which was attended by a couple of hundred assorted locals, early-arriving Scotland fans and possibly various spies from Portugal, Romania, New Zealand and Italy. A couple of the children looked suspicious to me.
I say most of the squad were fine. The one who wasn't was Andy Henderson, who spent the session working in isolation, still struggling with a dead leg and instead wandered about with some of those muscle-stimulating pads attached to his thigh - I last saw such a gadget being worn by Una Stubbs in a television advertisment, promising to "flatten my stomach in four weeks!" Or perhaps it was Lorraine Chase. I forget.
I also digress. Scotland's training facilities are excellent and belong to A.S.S.E. (stop sniggering at the back) - also known as St Etienne football club. And while other teams may be luxuriating in opulent hotels, the Scottish squad is staying in the accommodation on-site which more resembles student halls of residence.
But anyway, a question to get us going on this blog; deprived of the man now known (very possibly by me alone) as "Hat-trick Henderson" after the Ireland game, what would be Scotland's ideal centre partnership against Portugal?
It did look as if Marcus di Rollo was starting to fall out of favour, but it may be that he returns outside Rob Dewey. For those fans of Simon Webster as a centre, I can report that he spent more of the session in his usual position on the wing.
It may also be that Hadden chooses to field weaker teams against Portugal and New Zealand, alternating with full-strength sides for the intervening games against Romania and the cruch against Italy.
Let me know your thoughts, have a look at the latest photos on www.flickr.com and perhaps someone could tell me if it was Una stubbs or Lorraine Chase in that ad.
Andrew Cotter is a BBC Sport commentator specialising in rugby union and golf. He is covering Scotland at the World Cup for Radio 5live and you can see the station's full broadcast schedule here.