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Scottish rugby teams are too fair

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John Beattie | 10:32 UK time, Tuesday, 18 May 2010

I'm scared I'm being biased here. Am I, because I am a former Glasgow captain, seeing out of one eye?

I don't want to get too heavy about this, but the contrast between Glasgow and the Ospreys was stark on Friday night and not for the right reasons.

The Ospreys soared round most of the rules; the Warriors found their powder well and truly soaked.

Let's get to the first point: the game should have been in Glasgow and so the Scottish players had to go through extra travel arrangements to play a game in Wales.

The hearing called to rule on the Welsh team's inability to field a side earlier in the season was delayed by volcanic ash to such an extent that Ospreys got off lightly.

Docked four points, but not effective until next season, the Ospreys had home advantage when they shouldn't have. That was a joke; appeal or no appeal.

The second point: Glasgow coach Sean Lineen was beside himself on the radio after the game, alleging that the Ospreys take men beyond the ball at ruck time and hold on to them - he said, on air, that their coach admitted this but shrugged and said they would do it as long as they got away with it.Glasgow Warriors' Colin Shaw attacks the Ospreys as Alun Wyn Jones and John Beattie contest during the Magners League match at the Liberty Stadium

And he said that their players lie all over the ball with their arms out as wide as possible.

On the one hand, this sells the story of being stuck, but on the other it makes it so hard for the other side's scrum half to get the ball; Lineen said the referee was made aware of this but did nothing.

I need to know how Glasgow cheat, or for that matter either of the nice as nine pence Scottish sides cheat; Scottish teams are too fair.

And the third point is playing budget: I am a huge fan of Jerry Collins, one of the world's greatest ever players in my book and of Marty Hola.

There, right there, are two All Blacks. I rate Shane Williams as arguably the UK's greatest attacking threat, James Hook could well be in the same bracket; Mike Phillips is a brilliant scrum half

Then, the Ospreys bench regurgitated Filo Tiatia, another All Black, for Ryan Jones, a British Lion. Ian Gough came on for Collins.

Hand on heart I don't think Glasgow or Edinburgh could afford those players.

And lastly, looking into the future: Dan Parks and Kelly Brown are leaving Glasgow, Ally Hogg is leaving Edinburgh.

Scottish rugby's points scoring machine is leaving and I wonder who will step into the gap?

All of which makes Glasgow's third in the league look pretty good.

Am I being one eyed? Please help me here...


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  • Comment number 4.

    Ask Shane Williams how "nice" he thought Glasgow were when he was getting a late shoulder charge in the face. I'm afraid it's chronic short-termism to whinge about the 4 points, look how tight the run in to the playoffs was this year, those 4 points might see the Ospreys miss out next year, and justice will have seen to be done. On the other hand, as you (sort of alluded to) the Ospreys are simply a better team than Glasgow, or at least have a better squad, and had already won in Glasgow this year. Given what was at stake, and the way the Ospreys were hitting form, they would likely have won wherever this match was played.

  • Comment number 5.

    John, on your first point the fault lies with the Celtic League. Their abject failure to deal with the disciplinary issue in a timely manner lead to the situation whereby the panel had no option but have the points deduction carried over to next season. The Celtic League are seen as weak willed with the breaking strain of a chocolate wafer.

    You second point needs to be addressed by the IRB. Taking out players without the ball is in contravention of the laws of the game and, if I understand the law correctly, punishable with a penalty. Even dummy runners are off-side most of the time. The failure of referees to enforce this is the fault of the IRB because they need to issue the edict to clean up the game. The same applies to lying off-side at the ruck.

    I am sorry, but your third point is pure jealousy. Oh, if we had the same budget as Ospreys what could we achieve? Time to go cap in hand to the Scottish billionaires, me thinks. The other Welsh regions have the same view here with one of them constantly threatened with closure.

    As for players coming through the system Scotland have a few and they also have too few places at the top level. They need to have either 2nd string teams for both Glasgow and Edinburgh playing regularly (B&I cup?) or they need 2 more professional teams. An alternative is to invest more in the Premiership clubs, in terms of resources as well as cash in order to bring the standard up a notch or two.

    Established players moving on gives rise to opportunities for up and coming players to make their mark.

  • Comment number 6.

    John, I have to disagree here.

    I lost count of the amount of times a Glasgow player ran into an Ospreys player after the ball had been passed. I think if you look back at the game you'd see this.

    Also, the decision to dock Ospreys 4 points next season is a decision made by Celtic Rugby. As an Ospreys fan I accept they deserved to be docked points. To be honest I wouldn't have grumbled if they had docked the Ospreys a few more.

    The Ospreys have just played whats in front of them just as any other team would. If theres any complaining to be done it should be made in the direction of the authorities and not the club. Besides they've kopped a £100,000 fine, which is just beyond all reason. I don't believe any other club would have been hit with a fine that big. Would Connacht have been hit with a £100,000 fine if they had postponed a game?

    I think the biggest part of rugby is passion. I just don't think Scotland are aggressive enough, they don't show the fight like they want to be in it, especially against Wales. I really think Glasgow just got caught napping last week. As did Scotland in the 6 nations against Wales. They took their position for granted and didn't show enough steel to finish the game. Its ironic as Scotland and Scottish teams have had some good performances this year.

    I do like your coloumn as you have an opinion and are honest. Its a breath of fresh air for the BBC.

  • Comment number 7.

    John ,

    i agree largely with your comments. The ruling made, ironically by a board headed up by an ex Glasgow man ( David Jordan ), was against Glasgow. If the game was at firhill i would have been a tighter encounter.

    The lack of money for players is a historical issue , dating back to extreme miss managment from the SRU . Sean has accepted his lot and worked a minor miracle with the squad this season. The young guys have fronted up, particularly messrs welsh and gray.

    I am cofident that the squad can cover for the departing players. However there is a lot of pressure on young Jackson. Did Glasgow pursue Frazer Climo any further , i knew he was training with them.

    I also think there is a lack of experienced cover at lock , unless they are going to consider James Eddie as a lock. At the moment 2nd row is kellock and gray , with muldownie and harley for cover.

    Back row should be fine with forrester, vernon , fusaro and/ or eddie there.

    A new prop would be handy as Kalman isn't up to much and Va'a has fallen away.However wlesh and low should always start. This has been an area of real strength this year . Seeing welsh give greg somerville a going over was great.

  • Comment number 8.

    Allan - you ask what the average Glasgow crowd is. This year the average gate for home ML games was 3,871.
    The biggest crowd was 8,830 for the Edinburgh game, and the smallest crowd was back in September for the visit of Scarlets 2,582.

    Total number of bums on seats for this season including the HC games and a friendly against the Wasps = 47,291.

    All of this says that we have a lot of work to do in building our crowd, which will in turn mean greater revenue (I think). This is my first year following Glasgow, and as I understand it crowds are up overall circa 25%. I am unsure if Glasgow (or Edinburgh for that matter) get to keep gate money etc., or if this all goes to the SRU and is then distributed back to the clubs. So growing our crowd many not necessarily mean a bigger budget to spend on players. And herein lies part of the problem in growing the club. Too many people involved at whatever level of rugby in Scotland have axes to grind with the SRU. Many of them will not go to pro or international games because they disagree with how the game is being run. You'll recognise them if you see them as they've cut their nose off to spite their face!

    That said, the SRU and Warriors could do a lot more to get crowds to their games. According to the ML site in the 2001 - 2 and 2002 - 3 seasons Glasgow had average gates of 4,439 and 4,336, that's 15% more than this year. In 2001 - 2002 we have bigger average crowds than Munster or Leinster! Something happened and I've not been around rugby long enough to know what but the average gate for 2003 - 2004 was 2, 942. That's a huge drop. Why did this happen ....anyone know???

    Sorry John this is a little off the subject of your blog. But if we want the money to keep the like of Kelly Brown or attract one of the Lamont brothers etc., then we need to grow the crowds and sort out the marketing etc.

  • Comment number 9.

    The ruck has become no more than a Rugby League restart - and that's precisely what the powers that run the game want. What they seem to have missed is the ludicrous scenario of a couple of (offensive) players standing up and protecting a ball that just sits there endlessly whilst the scrum half does ... nothing.
    The sooner we get back to rucking the sooner players won't lie all over the ball.
    Also, once the ball is visible at the back of a ruck its fair game for any player to go for it.
    Also, players should be able to enter a ruck from behind the ball not behind the back feet - if some offsensive players have gone past the ball then no problem, just enter the ruck behind them and nullify their involvement in the ruck.
    Also, if you standing up in the ruck and are past the ball you should be fair game for tackle contact from the opponents.
    Do the above and you'll get more forwards in rucks and more space for backs to play in.

  • Comment number 10.

    Theosportsfan. I know people close to Leinster who tell me that the marketing machine that is Leinster Rugby has got the bums on seats. Watching Munster lead the way helped a little.

    Perhaps watching Glasgow being successful (ish) will spur Edinburgh on to greater marketing effort. Oh, I forgot. It is the same marketing team that does Glasgow, Edinburgh and Scotland so that's unlikely to happen.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi John

    Would you care for a little sugar on those sour grapes?

    Your first point about whether the game should have been in Glasgow is tenuous at best. The reasons for the points deduction has been documented at great length in various other places and whether it is correct or not is still subject to appeal.

    Your second point regarding cheating. This sounds like a smoke screen put up by Sean Lineen to cover up his own team's failings. If I recall correctly at one stage during the game the penalty count was 10:1 against Glasgow. Even allowing for a little home turf influence of the referee no side can afford to give away that many penalties and expect to win. There were enough experienced players in the Glasgow side for someone to have said "enough is enough" change what is giving Mr Clancy the excuse to use his whistle. It's called playing to the referee.

    I agree with your final point Glasgow, and to some extent Edinburgh, have had a good season. I'll throw something in here as a discussion point. The reason for the Scots teams successes this year was their lack of representation in the British & Irish Lions Tour Party and so Glasgow & Edinburgh were back up to full speed before the Welsh & Irish clubs decimated by tired and injured Lions.

  • Comment number 12.

    You do have a point about Osprey's lack of regard for the rules, but you'd have had more of a point if you'd made it earlier in the season after the 16th man incident (possibly excusable) or (much worse) the blatant exploitation of ERC's lack of ability to enforce their own rules to bring in a scrum half on a contract which was clearly never intended to last the minimum required 3 months (he was only in Wales for 2 months) to improve their HC chances. Making the point when you have no personal bias tends to add weight to your argument.

    Their coach's attitude in terms of doing what they can get away with on the pitch appears to be mirrored by their board's attitude off field. And, given that the Ospreys haven't been effectively punished yet, they appear to be correct to take that approach - it's clearly benefitting them in terms of results and financial rewards.

    As for budget, however, I have no sympathy. It's not Ospreys fault that the SRU and the Scottish regions have proved incapable of marketing or developing commercially viable rugby teams in Scotland. And the Edinburgh debacle, whatever the rights and wrongs of it, can't have helped encourage wealthy backers to get involved with Scottish Rugby.

    Final point of disagreement - Jerry Collins. The guy is a thug, not a great player. Have never yet seen him get through a game without launching his shoulder into somebody to hurt them rather than tackle them. Great players know how to tackle properly. Would put Jerry Collins firmly into the bucket with Schalk Burger of talented players who are too happy to risk other player's safety to deserve to be lauded.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Mike Phillips is a brilliant scrum half"

    No, he's a brilliant flanker. A brilliant scrum half? Not so much.

    "I rate Shane Williams as arguably the UK's greatest attacking threat"

    Whilst being the UK's greatest liability at the same time.

    The point is Glasgow weren't good enough to get a home semi the regular way, clinging on to the idea of them getting one as a consequence doesn't really fly as an argument.

    Sour grapes. Yes they were found guilty, again, yes Celtic Rugby could have convened earlier than an entire month after the transgression (why did it take a month I wonder) but complaining isn't the way of going about it. Nor is talking about the finances of a richer club.

  • Comment number 14.

    John you ask are you being One Eyed then the simple answer is yes.

    You go on about the hearing, Ospreys did not cancel the original date the panel did and they arranged this date. Ospreys had no say in when it was arranged.

    If you want to keep players in the teams then you need to find backers and sponsors and stop bleating about if only we had the money of the Ospreys.

    I firmly believe no matter where the game was held Glasgow would not have won; as Ospreys rarely got out of 1st gear and Dan Parks could not hit a barn door which helped as well.

    As for off the ball antics your one eye was certainly getting in the way of looking at the whole field of play. Two players attacking Holah on the floor a couple of punches went in and lucky for Glasgow the lines man did not bring his B**** with him so no action. This was not shown on TV so if you weren’t at the match you would not have seen it. As mentioned previously the flying elbow directly into Shane face, yeah very sportsman like performance from Glasgow.

    Analysis it fairly and then talk about it, the offences were not all one sided

  • Comment number 15.

    TherealBlinside6, I took this from another forum posted by somebody other than me

    "both sides lost the ball in contact a lot first half, been wet apparently!
    Clancy was as he always is, the Hairsprays played to him. All the usual lying over, side entry etc. The worst stuff is off the ball tho. Watching Collins and Holah is a masterclass in cheating; enter the ruck from the side if you can get away from it, if not behind rear feet and swing around the side, but first spot an opposition back in or near the edge of the ruck. Sweep said player up as you swing around the back of the ruck, catching another opposition player as you go with your other arm. Hold on to both, preferably on the ground, until your mates recycle the ball and try to exploit the gap you've created by making the rest of the park 14 v 13.
    Simples. they've been doing it all season and no-one has managed to get a ref to ping it, poor ref too busy watching what they are up to on the floor."

    The penalty count is irrelevant simply because the referee didn't see what was in front of him.

  • Comment number 16.

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  • Comment number 17.

    Steve, the only thing I agree with is Jon's summation of Phillips. He is a brilliant scrum half, he is not anything approaching a flanker. He played in the Lions' series and did very well. He has played against all the best scrum halves and usually acquiuts himself very well. He is the bH on these shores by a country mile!!

  • Comment number 18.

    steviegen, the laws may be set in stone but their interpretation by most referees, particularly in the Celtic League, is set in mercury (at room temperature).

    In the Celtic League the referees' assessments are done by the union of the home team. Explains why each team is desperate for a home tie and will go the extra mile to get it.

  • Comment number 19.

    Listen, I'm not saying that I agree with the way the games are reffed, far from it. Refereeing standards arenn't the best these days and they surely must improve. I have never been one to blame a ref for a result though, we really shouldnt and I have watched games where the team I support have been on the end of some howlers. Y

  • Comment number 20.

    11. You may be right about Glasgow and Edinburgh thriving because their players weren't drained by a Lions tour although that doesn't necessarily explain why their league positions are slightly worse this season than last.
    JB you are probably being one eyed. I didn't see the whole match but although it seemed poorly refereed he seemed equally poor both ways. World class players do get leeway from referees. This was great when their names were Calder and jeffrey, but less good when they are Johnson or Dallaglio or Collins or Hola.
    As to our departing players: the only way we can get more seasoned professionals is to have them playing outside our 2 Scottish teams. David Blair, for example, had arguably as much potential as Godman when he signed for Edinburgh but his game time has been so minimal that he hasn't had the chance to fulfill that potential. Quite how 2 Blairs are going to develop is a bit of a mystery.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think that John is perfectly right to cite the fact that the Ospreys have more spending power than either of the Scottish Pro teams and, as I understand it, he is not blaming the Ospreys for this situation; he just wishes, quite reasonably, that Scotland was not held back by a lack of money. Am I right? I also think that this did not matter as much in the amateur era - a lot of things are better now, but some have got worse.

  • Comment number 22.

    "The reason for the Scots teams successes this year was their lack of representation in the British & Irish Lions Tour Party and so Glasgow & Edinburgh were back up to full speed before the Welsh & Irish clubs decimated by tired and injured Lions."

    No. There were parts of the season when both pro-teams were without majority of their first team due to injuries. Before Christmas Lineen had a number of weeks when academy players were starting due to injury. Edinburgh likewise haven't had a full bill of health all season and we don't have the money available to bring in quality players as back up.

    Agree about the points deduction, total disgrace that one of the biggest teams in the league, in terms of squad quality, called off a game. However it is the leagues fault for not dealling with it and YES it would have changed the outcome of the playoff system.

    Glasgow have had a great season, especially when you look how young the pack is and the potential it has. Plugging the Parks gap maybe a huge problem but then again Jackson may rise to the challenge and also give them a far more dynamic attack.

  • Comment number 23.

    As a Glasgow fan myself I can see your point, but the bias is a bit obvious, most of our grievances are not the Ospreys fault, if glasgow broke the rules so often would you really complain? Look at the England world cup winning team, they built their success around bending the rules and that was overlooked. Sometimes you've just got to accept it.

    The fact we cant afford the players should just highlight the achievements of the glasgow team this year, it was a magnificent season and instead of complaining we should be proud of it.

    Here's to a bit more success next year!

  • Comment number 24.

    that's not only one-eyed, but also unfair.

    do you also say that munster are successful because they can afford to buy players such as Christian Cullen, Doug Howlett or De Villiers?

    Maybe you rate Leicester's success because they could afford, Moody, Maguer and Tuilaki?

    Not to mention that Shane Wiliiams, James Hook and Dan Biggar were not bought, but home grown talent.

    Finally, i was at the game on friday and saw that Glasgow offered nothing in attack. Regardless of our players, Glasgow were not getting anywhere that night.

  • Comment number 25.

    John i agree, in regard to the flaunting of the laws.

    Its a double edged sword. Our teams, be it Glasgow, Edinburgh or Scotland are not streetwise enough. And when we do try to be streetwise we get heavily penalised. Its a catch 33.... ;).... 22.

    All the while other teams seem to get away with murder. I have noticed it more on the International stage to be honest. NZ and S. Africa are the worst/best offenders.

  • Comment number 26.

    Steviegen, re: Phillips. Try and look past the hype, and watch him play as a 'scrum half'. Him being "big and physical" and him "taking people on" does not make him a good scrum half. Having a good, QUICK, ACCURATE pass makes him a good 9. He is so far from having that, it's laughable how he's built up a reputation as one of the best in the world. Terrible, slow, loopy pass, selfish with the ball, and no rugby brain whatsoever. The sort of scrum half backs hate playing with.

  • Comment number 27.

    Just amazed a scotsman can say they dont know how to cheat - the land of John Jefferies (wonderful player), Finlay Calder (DID NOT LIKE HIM), crabbing scrums (lets have a reset so our props can work on the opposition) etc etc. Be realistic - the Ospreys scored more league points than Glasfow did so they deserved home advantage according to the RULES.

  • Comment number 28.

    I thought you had more class than this John - using the forum to promote your personal preferences. The playing ahead of rucks has been going on for years and the master was Dayglo who regularly used to position himself ahead of the ball and hold the shirts of opposing teams. The Ospreys complained about Leicester adopting the same tactics two years ago but that was overshadowed by the vitriol poured out on the Henson incident.Don't recallyou raising it as an issue then. Fact is referees have so much to view at break down time that teams have now exploited these tactics to gain an edge. I'm not approving them but recognising that until the linesmen have more input then I can't for the life of me see how the Ref's can cope. Watch any GP or Magners' game and as soon as the Ref looks away to check the offside alignment watch players take advantage! The problem partially lies with the coverage also where these tactics are lauded as streetwise - fine if it works for your side but not when you are on the receieving end. Home crowds have a greater influence which is why places like Welford Road, Thomond Park and the RDS have such great records getting behind their already good teams can create that momentum which does influence referees decisions (and I am in favour of that not home referee decisions which is quite another thing!).

  • Comment number 29.

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  • Comment number 31.

    Oh dear, I hope I have not been one eyed. If I am wrong I am wrong, let me read some of the comments starting at the bottom - I am not in the game to insult anyone so if anyone feels that way I am sorry but I think Scottish teams are clumsy and naive.

    Beilions - your point about referees and the way they stand is interesting and it's a point I only came across yesterday hearing a referee brief a team. Refs stand facing the defence to check alignment until the attacking scrum half looks to pick up the ball. At the moment the scrum half looks to pick the ball up the ref turns his back on the defence and faces the attack - the defence can then rush up whether or not the ball is out the ruck. Many MAgners league games see defences half way up the ruck. I don't think these things are street wise.

    Owen, were Calder and Jeffrey big cheats?

    Redbud, it's a sad day when you get away with being streetwise. I can't stand the deliberate holding of a player in a ruck.

    Jimbo - undoubtedly you are right, Ospreys were far better, I agree. The point I am trying to make is that the Ospreys are full of All Blacks and British Lions and also have an All Black on the bench. English teams are similarly strong. I don't think it's a bad thing, just think that for Glasgow to finish third is a reasonable achievement given the cash limitations.

    Jamieson and others, I am NOT complaining about other teams having money to spend. Just jealous that Glasgow don't.

    Phili[p - that's an interesting post you have picked up - who said watching Collins and Hola is a masterclass in cheating?

    Jose - again, I am not complaining about Ospreys cash, and I do rate Collins.

    Therrealblindside6 - pour some sugar on me! Def Leppard I think. 10-1 against Glasgow, it suggests Glasgow were cheating...

    Dave Morgan - thanks, I like Welsh rugby as it is passionate. You are right, we are just too flaming nice......nobody stood up to the Ospreys at the weekend, and Glasgow lost. that might just be the end of the story.

    I am away for a break in the sunshine in the leafy west end of Glasgow, might take my wife out for a meal, and then I am COMING BACK to read responses. Have had some lunch with Roger Baird and John Rutherford and others today. Magic people, magic memories. I love this game


  • Comment number 32.

    Oh dear, poor old Senior, a lot of miffed Ospreylians have been on the forum today!

    Having watched Glasgow all year, and lots of other rugby besides, there is definitely an issue. And I was at the game on Friday.

    The problem is that refs don't seem to pick up on everything that's happening. Offside, blocking and lying on the ball were the big issues on Friday night but how often have we seen the following go unpunished?
    - forward passes (especially in Wales for some reason)
    - high tackles
    - taking out the kicker/runner when there's a Garryowen
    - crooked feeds at the scrums
    - bad binding at scrums
    I could go on.

    Clancy was awful as a ref on Friday night - several times we got punished for doing things the Os had just done. If Shane Williams had been ruled in touch for the first try, and if Dan had his kicking boots on, the result would have been very close.

    But Shane wasn't, Dan didn't and a great season is over for us.

    The big thing I'd like to look at is the role of the touch judge. The ref can't see everything, so why oh why don't the touchies blow up? They're supposed to under IRB rules. But in the Magners at least they act as if they're just happy to have got a free ticket to see the game.

    Anyway, on a brighter note, we enjoyed singing "we're supposed to be at home" when the Os tried to sing "Bread of Heaven", and chant of the night was "There's only 2 Johnny Beatties".

    Anyway we had a great time in Swansea, the Os fans at the game were really friendly.

  • Comment number 33.

    Steve, I don't get pulled in by hype fella - if somebody says this lad's good I wont belive them I will go and have a look myself. Dan Biggar is a case in point - good player, shouldn't even be first choice Ospreys 10 let alone Stephen Jones' inked in successor as it stands.
    He hasnt got the greatest pass, no, but there are different facets of a 9s game - does he keep the defense honest? Does he cover well? Does he link well - you can not seriously tell me he was not an asset to the Lions - in the second test the Lions were outstanding, and played some scintillating stuff, and Phillips contributed to that!!! If he was that bad we wouldnt have been able to. I can see his negatives, on top of the positives, but i still say he is a class act!!

  • Comment number 34.

    John: You didn't mention the one thing that drove me mad in that game; the fact that Williams' foot was in touch, therefore no try. I am sick and tired of BAD refereeing decisions dictating the eventual outcome of a game.

    We're at that point in pro-rugby when it is clearly apparent that one referee cannot do the job. There is simply too much going on around the field for one man. I hear you say..."But what about the touch judges or the assistant referees? Isn't it their job to spot a foot in touch?” Well, yes it is but they FREQUENTLY get the call wrong because they don't see it!

    Let’s all start calling this what it is; INCOMPETENCE!!! This incompetence is also found in international matches. Heck, in one International, the touch judge identified the WRONG player to get the yellow card and to spend ten in the Sin Bin.

    Something has to be done about this. Fans are paying good money to travel to see pro-rugby, and on the officiating side, it's still AMATEUR CITY.

  • Comment number 35.


    I think Glasgow have over-achieved this season and if they have their best XV on the park they are a match for anyone but like Edinburgh it only takes 1 or 2 injuries and the cupboard starts to look very bare. Adding Cusiter, T Evans, Vernon and Richie Gray to that 22 would make a huge difference. Its not realistic to ask Hefin 0'Hare and Duncan Weir to come on and turn a match around.

    On a separate point, I wasn't very impressed by JB Jr's language on Friday, I'm fairly broadminded but I was watching with my six year old who loves his tag rugby. Luckily the use of the C-word that got picked up by the ref's mike went completely over his head. I completely understand how frustrating it must be to play the Ospreys who have raised the art of illegal rucking to heights that Masters Jeffries, Calder and White could only aspire to. However, there must be some limits to what is acceptable.

  • Comment number 36.

    Saltire blue,

    Im with you to an extent on that, Refereeing can be horrendous and can give teams big advantages *cough* Scotland vs Wales *cough*. But to call it incompetence is a little harsh, they do a ery difficult job, i can't imagine its very easy to see where someone like Shane Williams puts his feet, his legs are a blur. I can't personally see any way to put it right except to just keep trying, Im hazy on the TMO rules but could he have used it there or is it only used for the act of scoring itself?

  • Comment number 37.

    I agree with all John's comments and thoughts. It's sad though to see a team with so many internationalists resort to breaking the rules to win rather than just playing well.

    Games need to referreed properly otherwise teams don't know from week to week which rules will be adhered to most and fans get frustrated which doesn't help get more people coming along to...

    has anyone else emailed any comments to ospreys and had an interesting response?

  • Comment number 38.


    You let your passion for all things Scottish and Glasgow in particular (admirable as it is) cloud your judgement here. Its a little reminiscent of your previous blog re the quality of the refs in the Magners - i.e. Scotland gets a raw deal with the quality of refs provided from the other countries. Fact is most of the refs in the Magners could be better - the Scots boys included.

    As a non Scot but someone with ties to Glasgow its good to see Glasgow coming on, likewise the upswing in Scottish rugby but your remark re the points deduction and that Glasgow should have had a home game comes across as whingeing. Fact is Glasgow didn't do enough/win enough games in the regular season to secure the home game. The Ospreys did. Simple as.

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi John

    I didn't have you down as an uninformed tabloid reader (do you subscribe to the Western Mail, by any chance? They attack the Ospreys without reason, too). Let's get one or two things straight:

    Ospreys have a number of British and Irish Lions, many of whom were born, bred and developed within the region (Shane Williams, Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Jones, James Hook, Gavin Henson - remember him?), some of whom were brought in from other regions (Ryan Jones, Lee Byrne, Mike Phillips) and one of whom was recruited as an out-of-favour Irish international from Ulster (Tommy Bowe).

    The point is that NONE of them was a Lion when they arrived. In fact Phillips, Byrne, Ryan and Bowe were all just fringe internationals. They have all achieved what they have achieved BECAUSE they have flourished within the Ospreys environment. They were taken on as kids with potential and they have worked their socks off in a structured and supportive environment, to great effect.

    Filo Tiatia joined as a 35-yr-old 2-cap ex-All Black, after 4 years of semi-retirement in Japan - hardly a marquee signing. He has been the greatest ever Ospreylian through commitment to the cause and hard work, but he's the sort of player Glasgow could easily have signed. That he is a lifelong friend of Jerry Collins - well, that's just an added bonus.

    The salaries of these players and their colleagues are paid not by rich benefactors but by Ospreys' extensive sponsorship and commercial programmes (47,000 shirts sold last year, second only to Munster in Europe). They are not overpaid, either – most of them could earn more elsewhere. The region may be run by experienced, high calibre businessmen but they are not funded by them.

    George Clancy is a notoriously capricious and weak referee who cost Ospreys a place in this year's Heineken Cup Semi-Finals by losing his nerve in the 1-point defeat at Biarritz. Are we bleating? No. We'll be back stronger next year. He was his usual appalling self on Friday night, but he wasn't biased - he was just George.

    Glasgow didn't earn themselves a home quarter-final. That's it. The Ospreys disciplinary decision will go to appeal, and possibly to a proper court where the Crerar kangaroos will be embarrassed. This is Celtic League's mess and they'll have to clean it up. Ospreys never agreed to the rearranged fixture date and in the end they were just unable to fulfil it, with an entire front row on International duty, plus Duncan Jones, Ross Davies and Richard Hibbard injured and Cai Griffiths serving a ban.

    Swansea and Neath were playing an important head-to-head that weekend and have no contractual obligation to release players to Ospreys anyway.

    That's me about done, but feel free to check up on any of this - just make sure you get your information from reputable sources.

    Oh, and Glasgow's off-the-ball antics on Friday? You needed to be at the game to see most of it, but let's just say Mr Lineen isn't looking out of both eyes either.

    I enjoy your blogs, usually!

  • Comment number 40.

    Johnnie, stop being a baby. We won, we play by what the referees stop. If Glasgow had become aware of this happening then they should have started doing it themselves.

    Oh poor you..the budget. You are the complainer buddy. Just stop. Keep to twitter. I've restrained myself from your complaining blogs but this time I just cannot. Just STOP!

  • Comment number 41.

    Well - Mr "One Eyed" Beattie I don't think I've such unadulterated tosh in all my life.

    Actually mate - I'm only joking - I think you are reacting in a way that any well meaning rugby supporter would react. You have seen what in your view is an injustic and you are commenting on it. For once I disagree with some of the things that you are saying - so for the record here are my comments.

    If you go by what the Osprey's are saying then the fault wasn't with the Ospreys but with the governing body for arranging the game when the Osprey's had already said that they wouldn't have the players available. But the Osprey's have been rather quiet making me thing that there maybe something in the allegations and also there is never non smoke without a fire! Having said that - I think the fault is with the league and the Ospreys can not be blamed. They seem to like making sure that everybody is in a meeting room - in this era of technology why can't video conferencing be used. They are then not reliant on the weather or volcanic eruptions.

    With regards to taking the players out off the ball. We are always told - "Play the referee". I don't see any difference from my lowly level to the heady heights of the Celtic league. It is up to the referee and the touch judges to referee the game - if they don't pick it up then is it really the players fault?

    THe problem with Scottish rugby is that is run by a load of amateurs. From what I know the power house of Scottish rugby has tended to be in the Borders - ok - Stirling, Glasgow have had the odd flourish. But its been the likes of Hawick, Melrose, Gala who have provided the bulk of the players. The SRU have wrecked it - I know of players who have played for Hawick getting disillusioned and end up playing regional rugby in England. One I can think of being an U19 prop but he wasn't encouraged! Before money - that needs to be sorted out. Where is the bulk of rugby played in Scotland?

    Not your most popular of blogs however at least you're honest and for that you deserve total respect!

  • Comment number 42.

    Naughty JB stop winding everyone up!

    There was only one thing of note from Friday, which no one has picked up.

    James Hook, fend off - chip and chase sheer class - Gareth Edwards style and brilliance.

  • Comment number 43.

    I can't believe some of the comments on here (and please forgive if I seem over the top but I stopped reading them half way though). Since the advent of professionalism it seems that most of the commentators on here feel it is more appropriate to play the referee than play to the rules of the game. Taking people out (at the ruck or in play is illegal irrespective of where it happens, or who does it). Blocking defenders (as in American Football) is illegal. Dummy runners who obstruct (notice I say who obstruct) is illegal. The sooner the refereeing establishment enforces the rules the better. Lets forget about playing the referee, and lets condemn rule breaking wherever it happens

  • Comment number 44.


    I admire the Ospreys and I have also reminded my Glaswegian friends that your numerous Lions were not Lions before there joined Ospreys. Respect to your training and youth development.

    My point is simple, firstly, "47,000 shirts sold" bla bla bla! I was at the Liberty and your attendance was shocking! That was your home support for a ML Semi Final?? The Glasgow fans - I admit our side was the weaker of the two on the pitch - but we drowned out any vocal attempts from Ospreys fans.

    Secondly, JB is right - we struggle with funding and could learn alot from Ospreys in terms of youth development and coaching, however, Glasgow are second to no team when it come to passion. It must also be remembered that Glasgow Warriors have to compete with two massive football teams in Glasgow for support. We are growing as a club and this season has seen glasgow elevated from mid table dwellers to title contenders.

    More of the same next season Glasgow. . .

    JB Jnr - we are all partial to the odd verbal slip... I played back row for Glasgow Uni and I let slip in frustration a few times... Don't get me wrong, it's unacceptable and I was binned for it more than once, but we are human.

    I love this game as well JB - lets just hope there is a bigger SRU force behind the Warriors next season.

  • Comment number 45.

    Hi John

    Well you've seemed to enter a hornets web this time! As an Ospreys fan I can understand why people are getting wound up, in fairness we've had cheats thrown at us 3 times this year and everyone's getting a bit touchy!

    Im not sure that the match should have been in glasgow, think the fine was a bit harsh considering the Osp gave three alternative dates to Ulster which they turned down, and even so, I think we would have beaten you up there. Sorry old bean!

    Glasgow block off the ball, Graeme Morrison is a prime example runs between the 10/12 to take out the defender, also there is alot of shirt pulling and obstruction around the line outs and ruck from Al Kellock et Al.

    But obv every supporter is Partisan to their team and doesn't notice these things!

    Yes we've got Galactico's, one of the best shirt sales and marketing in Rugby union, but we still haven't caught the European Grail yet, which is a sore point for any Ospreys fan.

    When they leave it just means someone new like Rudiah Jackson will have to step up and take the reins. One door closes another one opens.

    Let's just hope we have a final that brings justice to a great league season!

  • Comment number 46.

    Im struggling with the whole sarecens story. Is rugby going the same way as soccer where premership teams are 90% non qualified for England. I assume that the rugby authorities, the paying public, coaches and aspiring youngster are ok with it

  • Comment number 47.

    Being Scottish i have sympathy with John's comments. I think the sentiment is that things are hard enough for Scottish teams (for lots of reasons, many of them self-inflicted by the rugby establishment)without having additional factors go against them that in a perfect world would not. However, i think the bottom line is that a team has to be good enough to deal with setbacks. If you rely on absolutely everything to go your way to win, then you are not really good enough. And when it comes down to it, Glasgow were not good enough. That said, i still think it was an admirable achievement to make the playoffs given the relative lack of resources that Glasgow had compared to other teams. And yes Scottish teams, including the national side, are not street-wise enough.

  • Comment number 48.

    As to being one-eyed, don't give it another thought: most of us shut both firmly when we're in pain. I've enjoyed reading the discussion. There have been some quite witty sallies.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    Owen (27) you say that Ospreys got there because of the RULES. Ospreys have been punished for flouting the RULES all season. They couldn't find 2 props from their huge squad plus the Welsh clubs! Then, on the day of the disciplinary hearing they could get a team to Ireland but they couldn't find the car keys to get a couple of people to Edinburgh.

    In another competition they can't understand the exchange of subs and they pull the wool over the eyes of the competition organisers with their temporary imports.

    Don't make me laugh. Ospreys are a joke when it comes to obeying the RULES.

  • Comment number 52.

    John, I got the post from the Forum of Scottish Rugby Supporters and an example of the type of antics that the likes of Hola & Collins get up to was mentioned by NettyCymru1 (at 14). From what I saw of the incident, Hola was involved because

    a. He had taken the 2 players out off the ball
    b. He was trying to hold them down so keeping them out of the game

    and he got away with it, to an extent. The only reason I think that the referee stopped the game was because the 2 Glasgow players refused to lie down and take it.

  • Comment number 53.

    You talk absolute rubbish week after week!

  • Comment number 54.

    On your first point John I think you're spot on. It's ridiculous to dock points from the following season. However the Celtic league were left no choice thanks to the results being delayed. As I understand it this was becasue the Ospreys said they couldn't send a representative to the hearing because of the ash clouds however they did manage to get a whole team over to Ireland at the same time. At the time of the original hearing Osprey's were in danger of not making the finals at all and even knowing the end results this has certainly worked in their favour. Whether the result would of been the same we'll never know but it certainly denied Galsgow the spectical, increased revenue and chance to raise the profile of the game in their city. To then only get 7,000 fans turn up for the game in Wales just adds insult to injury really.

    The second point is a matter for the ref really and he should of done a better job to control it. If he'd started to ping some of the Osprey's players and then card them if they continued their play would either change of they would suffer for it.

    In terms of having more money well unfortunately that's just the way it is in rugby. Is it any wonder the French teams have done better than the rest this season when that's the league with the most money in it and without a salary cap?

    Going back to the Osprey's the beast of a team that constantly flouts the rules is one of the governing bodies own creation. Basically they've let sides get away with smaller things for so long and it builds up (as in bloodgate when dodgy blood subs/props with mysteriously well timed ailments were allowed for so long until it went to extremes). A fine for playing with 16 men on the pitch for a significant and possibly try stopping period, when it was pretty clear to all that they knew they had extra players on the pitch. It's pretty easy one comes off one goes on or can't the Ospreys bench count? No case to answer for when they flout the rules on minimum contract time when again it's pretty clear to all that they never intended Januarie to stay for the full three months. Now this when they simply choose not to play a game as even though they had the players to play (they could of called up extra props from the feeder clubs) they decided they wanted to play with their best players. All the 'oh they offered other dates' is irrelevant as that was the agreed uupon date to play. You have injuries? tough every club gets them, you have players on international call up? tough if you want players of international caliber then you have to accept they're going to get called up, you have players serving bans? tough play in a more disciplined fashion.

    The only thing I can say about the Celtic league's decision is that they probably are moving towards the right direction. A decent sized fine (probably should of been more as the Osprey's board chose to dodge the first hearing) and a points deduction is the right call. It's just a shame the points deduction is in the wrong season thanks again to Ospreys fiddling the system.

  • Comment number 55.

    I think that Ospreylian_Idol should check his facts on where the Ospreys front row were for the re-arranged fixture. According to the Ospreys coach they were on holiday and he could not find any others from his 54 strong squad or the top regional clubs.

    Don't worry though. By all accounts Ospreys will have 62 squad members next season - lets hope they have some props in there - as well as access to the London Welsh squad.

  • Comment number 56.

    It was nothing to do with the Ospreys that the hearing was cancelled, it was to do with the Celtic League officials not being able to make it. But don't let a simple thing like facts get in the way of a good Ospreys bash.

    John, no comment on the charge on Shane Williams then? Worthy of a yellow wasn't it? Why is there such a blame the opposition's cheating culture associated with Scottish Rugby at the minute. If it's not Scotland losing because of Byrne's "dive", it's Glasgow losing because of Ospreys Gridiron blocking.

    The fact is if Ospreys were cheating frequently, then surely they would've been picked up by now? Not every single referee would miss it. I don't agree with the points deduction farce, but it's also very much clutching at straws saying things might've been different up in Glasgow. They have already beaten you once this season up there. It's also disappointing to see Scottish fans saying about Shane Williams' try. It's not even that obvious with the benefit of a zoomed in, extreme slow motion shot, so how do you all expect a touch judge to see it when Shane looks like he's managed to flick his foot up?

    By the way I am a Dragons fan and so can't be accused of being one eyed.

  • Comment number 57.

    What is it with the self-righteous whinging Scots seem to indulge in all the time, more so than any other nation. Beattie, Andy Nichol especially.... - Throw in poor refs, mind-numbingly boring rugby, low attendances....

  • Comment number 58.

    "You talk absolute rubbish week after week! "

    I'd agree with that.

  • Comment number 59.


    Yes to the first question - any breach of the rules should be dealt with in the current season. Would it have made a difference to the outcome - probably not!

    Yes to the third question - Edinburgh and Glasgow repeatedly punch above their weight when it comes to lack of funding and will continue to lose players until the SRU overdraft is dealt with - we know this is the case so deal with it!

    The second point you make is the key one though - I was hoarse shouting at the TV on Friday as the Ospreys regulalry spoilt the ball - and the game - at the breakdown! The referee just did not deal with it! The Os were far better at this than Glasgow. Lying over the ball, coming in at the side, holding onto the tackled player and worst of all strolling back into position from an offside position in such a way as to prevent attackers get to their man/ball quickly and stopiing them clear out effectively! And yes the expereinced 'imports' were the worst offenders. Glasgow just did not deal with it and got no help from the ref who was dismal!

    putting my Scots bias to one side we need to deal with this type of offending or else the game will become even slower and more attritional. quick ball and running attacking play is what we want and this type of tactic is ruining the game as a spectacle!

  • Comment number 60.

    I guess that the disciplinary hearing postponement was reported differently in Wales. The way it was reported by the BBC was that the Ospreys management could not travel to Edinburgh because of the ash cloud. We were not told where the disciplinary panel had travelled from or how they got to Edinburgh, although I suspect that one of them may have taken the train from Glasgow.

    The Ospreys have been cheating frequently and been picked up for it where it has been proved to the respective disciplinary panels.

    That is not to say other teams don't cheat, they all do to some degree. The 3 areas where cheating is obvious, at least to the viewing public who know the laws of the game, is running blocker (off-side, penalty), lying on the wrong side of the ruck (off-side, penalty) and moving the ball away to prevent quick restart (penalty). The game's governing body needs to get to grips with these before more people drift away.

    Perhaps if the IRB took away the referees power to decide what he wants the touch judges to do then the referee would get more help with policing these areas.

  • Comment number 61.

    Sour grapes i m afraid john, were not good enough, 2 missed tackles says it all, led to 2 tries...I think dan parks leaving is a good thing, great kicker but very one dimensional, not good for developing outside backs

  • Comment number 62.

    For years now the Southern Hemisphere have been changing the rules so the scrum and ruc no longer exist. Its what the Southern Hemisphere wants and they have total support of the IRB. The NH is too scared to protect Rugby Union and in the end all rugby will be rugby league. We can kiss rugby union goodbye because the southern hemisphere do not want it and they as always rule the world of Rugby.
    Wales Scotland and Ireland thought the ELVs were a good thing because they felt they hurt England more than others. Not so the ELVs were put there to destroy rugby union so blind were other nations whose only focus was hurting England Rugby Union Died. Welcome to the world of Rugby League and Austrailian rules football. Rugby Union what's that.

  • Comment number 63.

    In relation to the "illegal try"

    I was at the game and I seen Williams wiping his left foot on the grass - trying to dispose of the white powder on the side of his boot which was from gracing touch line - hence an illegal try. However, I wouldn't have complained if DTH or Rob Dewey did the same thing... you win some, you lose some...

    I'm not getting involved in the "what could have been" conversation... it's done and dusted now. Well done Glasgow for a terrific season. The Ospreys Vs Leinster match will be a cracker!

    Ospreys - thank you for your hospitality. The liberty was very welcoming and the ospreys fans sitting with us were fantastic. It's ashame about the attendance though.

  • Comment number 64.

    I hope Justice will be done in the final with an Ospreys defeat, the shame they have brought on rugby this year is up there with what Quins did last season in my book.

    As the saying goes 'cheats never prosper' lets just keep are fingers crossed that remains the case.

  • Comment number 65.

    When Lee Byrnes cheated by coming onto the pitch as the 16th man, materially affecting the outcome of the Heieneken Cup game against Leicester he was cited. A disciplinary hearing was held, in Scotland, with an entirely Scottish panel. He even admitted the offence. The finding? Well, yes he cheated, but that's OK because he's Welsh. He went on to cheat even further during the International against Scotland, pretending to trip over a Scottish players leg, resulting in that player getting yellow carded and the game swinging Wales' way.

    What, honestly, did you expect? The Celtic League has already accepted that cheating is "the Welsh Way" of playing rugby. You really have no-one to blame but yourselves.

  • Comment number 66.


    Kelly Brown and John Barclay are excellent at taking players out beyond the ruck line. They did this against Ulster to great effect at Firhill. Im not complaining though as you get away with what you can.

    Your article smacks of bias sadly.

  • Comment number 67.

    "Scottish teams are too fair"? What are you smoking John? You clearly don't like the fact that the Ospreys are a club who can afford a lot of good players...what's your problem?

    And on the night the Ospreys put Glasgow away. It wasn't Shane Williams' fault that the linesman didn't see his foot on the whitewash, nor would you expect Shane to realise in that hundredth of a second that he had.

    I tend to like your blogs johnnie but this one is absolutely barking.

  • Comment number 68.

    Hersh - Ger real, how can you possibly compare the Os actions in refusing to accept an unsuitable date for a rematch with Ulster due to three front row international selections and four front row injuries with the actions of the Harlequins ? Quins purchased the blood capsules in advance, planned the fake blood injury, deliberately used the fake blood capsule to get Williams off and their best kicker back on the pitch for a penalty or drop goal attempt, and then repeatedly lied to the initial tribunal.

    There is no comparison between the two actions, Quins intentionally brought rugby into disrepute and were punished. As for the other two Os issues, the Januarie allegation- no case to answer, and the 'Byrne 16th Man' was largely down to Byrne's stupidity / over eagerness to get back on the pitch, it had no direct influence on the actual result as Hook had moved across to the centre position when Byrne had come on and the 16 men were only on for less than a minute.

    Current Wales players developed by the Ospreys Duncan Jones, Richard Hibbard, Huw Bennett, Adam Jones, Ian Evans, Alun Wyn Jones, Jon Thomas, James Hook, Dan Biggar, Shane Williams, Andrew Bishop and Tom Prydie - not bad for cheque book Charlies !

  • Comment number 69.

    From the one above, though Abernedd hasn't loaded

    Ben - am not complaining about Ospreys able to buy big stars, am saying that we can't and it hinders us and no I don't think Shane Williams should have admitted to being in touch as he wouldn't have known.

    Glasgowman - I thank you for your honest appraisal - sour grapes from me it appears

    dpedin - lots of supporters felt the same way, I was echoing what Lineen said at the post match inteviews with us

    Steve, good to hear from you. Aw, self righteous? Don't think so. Don't pair me with Andy Nicol!

    Rev Dragoos - I actually agree, we were in the studio watching the slow mo of Shane's try and it wasn't conclusive on the tv. Irrelevant anyway as that is is a split second decision and was measured over a fraction of an inch so it actually hardly matters to me.

    London-lad - then don't read it.

    The lastkingofengland - nice to communicate with royalty, only real time I have was interviewing Princess Royal, meeting the Queen, and hearing Prince Philip ask one of the Scottish team as we we lined up to shake hands (he noticed this player's badly broken nose) "Excuse me, but did you run into a lamp post?" You reiterate what some allege

    This wasn't actually a Welsh knocking piece, it was a trying to find out if Scottish teams are too soft and naive piece.

    Ecosse Dave, I AGREE!

    Tom Bo, let's hope the final is a great event. Things that have saddened me in previous big finals include the hand of Back. Maybe you are pointing out that fans do see things with one eye. I do remember a try in Glasgow this year when a charging centre did seem to run a blocking path. Maybe I am one eyed. I just remember the seemingly late run on Williams as sheer clumsiness.

    Warriors-dance - wait until I tell Mrs Beattie her son was swearing, she will be very upset by this.

    I am away to hit a few balls at the driving range. Mrs Beattie and I went to a little Italian restaurant, very cheap, nearby last night and had too much red wine. Plus my new iphone has used up a whole morning. And then it's back to work tomorrow.

    Will be back in an hour - if I don't loosen a lumbar disc


  • Comment number 70.

    Scottish team are no longer too soft and naive. They are a bit timid though when it comes to managing the game in the way that the likes of Martin Johnston, Ian Gough and Brian O'Driscoll manage a game. And Chris Cussiter or Mike Blair trying to do it, it just looks comical.

    Dan Parks does it now, but then he is off to Wales.

  • Comment number 71.

    Would it be reasonable to suggest that the IRB should do more to help disadvantaged unions - like the SRU - by giving them funding, so that money doesn't hold teams back? I know that the game is professional now, but shouldn't we trie to give all countries more of an equal chance? I know that would obviously expensive, but if the IRB are serious about spreading the game to other countries, then those countries and some traditional rugby playing countries like Samoa or Fiji should be helped more. I think that would be fair. What's anyone else's opinion?

  • Comment number 72.

    John ,

    you have not addressed any comments on how the warriors are shaping up for next season .

    From your inside family knowledge are any more signings to be made? There must be some wages to play with, given the players that have left.

  • Comment number 73.

    Jamieson - I don't think it really is up to the IRB to bail out the SRU. The SRU's original problem is that they built their own stadium, I think for £110m. Football in the same country had theirs paid for. It's up to the Scottish government to get behind sport by getting it in schools, encouraging more physical activity, using Glasgow 2014 as a fulcrum, and paying for the stadium. I think IRB helps more lowly countries because they are poor as countries.

    Warriorwarcry - I had lunch with Johnnie today, I have no inside knowledge as to what is happening, he is pretty careful to tell me nothing meaningful.

    Just back from a run. Or is that a high speed limp. Sweaty, sweaty, sweaty.


  • Comment number 74.

    John, I see your point - Scotland is not a poor country and the Scottish Government should get behind the SRU, but I think the UK gov't should too.
    I heard once that despite being the poorest Union in the British Isles, the SRU gets the least money from the UK gov't, so that means the IRFU, which includes the Republic of Ireland, the RFU, surely the richest union in the world, and the Welsh Union each get more money than the SRU. I may be wrong of course.
    ALso the IRB should help poor countries - such as Samoa, Kenya etc. - more than they do at present, in my opinion.

  • Comment number 75.

    John - I haven't seen the game but these sort of things happen in every match if you let them happen. I think you should watch the final and see how the likes of Jennings, Wright, Hines, Heaslip, BOD, Darcy etc will inflict some punishment on the Ospreys players who try these stunts. It does seem to be a thing these days (wasn't when I started watching) that Scottish teams are too nice on the pitch.

  • Comment number 76.

    Going back on topic here, the Ospreys are the pinnacle of Welsh arrogance when it comes to rugby - they're a deeply unpopular side outside of their locale. The cheating in calling off the Ulster game was despicable, although I don't see too many taffs suggesting they're embarrassed about it.

    The Ospreys should have been taught a lesson and kicked out of this season's Magner's league while keeping the fine and points deduction for next season - the biggest failing is in bottling the punishment, as it will simply stoke the Ospreys thirst for setting their own rules. Let's hope rugby is the winner in the final ie the Opsreys lose.

    As for other cheating, well Lee Byrne's majestic bit of Klinsmann-esque diving won Wales their 6N match against Scotland, so they've picked up the baton from Harlequins with aplomb.

    The blocking gripes are, unfortunately, part and parcel of the game these days. I must confess, I can't really subscribe to the complaining about this stuff after the game - if Lineen sees it, he must either direct his players to deal with it, by fair means or foul, or of course the officials. Don't let it happen for 80 minutes and then raise it as an issue.

  • Comment number 77.

    I agree that the Ospreys should have got a harsher punishment - what they got is atrocious, because the 4 point deduction doesn't even have any effect on this year's table.
    I think the Magners league should make some changes on how they deal with such situations.

  • Comment number 78.

    1, Football is massively more popular than Rugby. Is it 12,000 Rugby players V 200,000 football players. Seems to be a recurring theme of yours this Hampden V Murrayfield comparison

    2, Hampden also hosts far more Games/events so contributes far more to the West Coast economy than Murrayfield does for the Edinburgh/East Coast, due to Planning constraints, which need challenged. Therefore Murrayfield does not deliver the yield it could/should?

    3, Rugby is also too Edinburgh centric also too often out of reach socially for many guys who'd be better at this than they were/are at football. Growth areas such as Glasgow, Stirling, Dundee, Aberdeen are exceptions as would be the Borders I'd surmise

    4, The SRU should sell of 50% of Murrayfield or make it the O2 Scotland and use the extra funds to build 3 6-9000 seater grounds; Glasgow/Livington and Dundee- Aberdeen. And also resource a 3rd team and add extra budget for Edinburgh and Glasgow.

    Address these points and Rugby may get more funding, till then it will remain a massively high profile, hugely exciting but a minority sport. And the only "traditional" Rugby country without a Broadcasting Deal, just speculate how much could be leveraged on the back of say £3M- £5M extra per year for the Professional clubs.

    And here's a thought why are you not more involved with the SRU's strategic development? You do tick all the boxes; knowledgeable, motivational, different, inclusive, passionate and of course a player/coach to boot!

  • Comment number 79.

    1, Football is massively more popular than Rugby. Is it 12,000 Rugby players V 200,000 football players? Seems to be a recurring theme of yours this Hampden V Murrayfield comparison

    2, Hampden also hosts far more Games/events so contributes far more to the West Coast economy than Murrayfield does for the Edinburgh/East Coast, due to Planning constraints, which need challenged. Therefore Murrayfield does not deliver the yield it could/should?

    3, Rugby is also too Edinburgh centric also too often out of reach socially for many guys who'd be better at this than they were/are at football. Growth areas such as Glasgow, Stirling, Dundee, Aberdeen are exceptions as would be the Borders I'd surmise.

    4, The SRU should consider selling off 50% of Murrayfield or make it the O2 Scotland and use the extra funds to build 3 6-9000 seater grounds; Glasgow/Livington and Dundee- Aberdeen. And also resource a 3rd team and add extra budget for Edinburgh and Glasgow.

    Address these points and Rugby may get more funding, till then it will remain a massively high profile, hugely exciting but a minority sport. And the only "traditional" Rugby country without a Broadcasting Deal, just speculate how much could be leveraged on the back of say £3M- £5M extra per year for the Professional clubs.

    And here's a thought why are you not more involved with the SRU's strategic development? You do tick all the boxes; knowledgeable, motivational, different, inclusive, passionate and of course a player/coach to boot!

  • Comment number 80.

    The fact of the four points deduction should been implemented this season as the offence was commited this season and was nothing to do with next. Moreover maybe it would of been an option to play the game at a neutral ground. Also it sounds like you are looking for excuses for the warriors, they were just out classed by a better side. Ospreys side contained an array of British lions and a few All Blacks whereas Warriors mainly consisted of Scottish Internationalists. There is signs of cheating but this seems to be the norm with rugby now maybe because of proffessionalism with everybody having the any means possible view on winning. The best teams at the moment seem to be the best cheats although cheating should always be condommed it is hard when both sides are committing offences to penalise it. There needs to be more emphasise on University rugby in Scotland by putting players on scholarships and really developing the players as at Uni there is alot of free time. This is what America do with there sports and look at the effect that has. By using Universities players could train all the time, use the best facilities, best coaches and play rugby regularly. At Stirling this has been done with football, golf, swimming and tennis and now these teams all have some of the best athletes in the UK. This could be achieved easily with rugby.

    Thanks for your blog they are always thought provoking.

  • Comment number 81.

    davidJbrodie, don't wnant to offend, but I think that Scotland has something more like 32000 rugby players. Obviously football is more popular though.
    However, I don't think the Borders is a growth area for rugby - I'm sure that rugby used to be more popular in the Borders in the past and I think that the SRU should make maintaning the game in traditional areas more of a priority than it is now, along with working towards making the game more of a national sport.
    Now, this is repetetive, I know, but this would all be a lot easier with more funding and I think someone should take responsiblity (eg the UK gov't as well as the Scottish one)and provide more funding. Maybe this is getting too political now, but it's just my opinion.

  • Comment number 82.

    davidjbrodie makes some interesting points. I'll accept point 1 as it is a fact even if the numbers may not be accurate.

    On point 2, a couple of things need to be added to the mix. Edinburgh Rugby use Murrayfield simply because there is no other suitable stadium in Edinburgh. Edinburgh District Council are notoriously backward in coming forward to help sports unless it is for the benefit of all, including dog walkers. Therefore, they will only grant planning permission and provide financial support for a stadium in the most deprived area of the city, and it must cater for all sports so you have a running track round the pitch - that was a problem with Meadowbank.

    Turning to point 3, rugby is Edinburgh centric in the same way that football is Glasgow centric. Short of moving the SRU headquarters out of Edinburgh there is not a lot that can be done about that image. Historically, rugby has been played by all kinds of people. In the past, the Scotland team has had its fair share of farm labourers as well as doctors and lawyers.

    Finally, on point 4. Glasgow, Livinston, Dundee and Aberdeen do not need another stadium but they may need to renovate existing ones. Edinburgh lost Meadowbank as a sporting facility and it has not been replaced. One issue with Murrayfield is that it is slap bang in the middle of a residential area of Edinburgh. Therefore, it is not best suited as an open air concert venue on a regular basis. Selling it has been put forward before as a solution to the SRU's financial woes. However this is always turned down because the land is more valuable if you have planning permission for houses or flats. Finally, the SRU would like to have all the ticket revenue from games played at Murrayfield.

    Good point about JB being involved in SRU strategic development. It would also help if the SRU took note of what the supporters are saying instead of treating them like something they just stepped in by mistake.

  • Comment number 83.

    I would have thought, as an ex-professional rugby player yourself John, you would have realised that these off-the-ball incidents are ubiquitous. Munster are renowned for the subtle pull on the jersey and of course lying all over the ball, doing everything possible to slow it down. Ideally we'd all love to banish these unfortunate, unregulated, and sometimes championship deciding frustrations from our beloved game. I'm not saying that great teams like Munster and the All-Blacks are successful purely because they are savvy cheaters, but it no doubt helps. Of course, Munster themselves were hard done by Neil Back.

  • Comment number 84.

    1, I'd read about the 12,000 in relation to allegedly Madagascar having more players? There are also over 300,000 football players in Scotland, again "what I've been told".

    2, Relax the Planning for Murrayfield and another income stream can be realised. Renovate stadiums to make them truly multi-purpose. Could any of the existing Edinburgh Premier teams' grounds have this done? And still allow them to play there as well?

    3, Edinburgh with a population of say 500,000 has 3 Premier 1 teams and had 5 last year. All are chasing a very, very narrow target market, whilst Dundee's DHSFP is pulling players from two Uni's and Perth/Tayside perhaps overall from a population of 400,000.

    4, Also the Premier teams are nearly all allied to private schools each with charitable status, who all sell land and don't pay any CGT. Doubt if ECC will come forward and revamp any of their grounds e.g Myerside/Goldenacre/ Inverleith etc and then have to deal with that particular "hot potato". Not being political but stating a fact, which when the public sector cuts come will impact upon leisure provision for sure.

    5, Perhaps the ex players now involved at the top of the SRU can ramp this up and get into the think tank people with real vision, who can see where players can be developed from.

  • Comment number 85.

    Sorry, been away on the motorbike up to Inveraray and back, and then it was iphone fun and games getting it "activated" - but now we are flying

    JB 1974 - it's hard to take sides, I genuinely hope for a good match. Cheating pervades all sport, but at the first sign wouldn't it be good to just send someone off for taking someone out?

    Vonstoobing - I didn't know that the Ospreys were unpopular in Wales - if indeed they are. Thanks for posting

    I think there are more rugby players in the West than in the rest of Scotland put together - heard that a long time ago but may be wrong

    I wonder of one day Glasgow might play at Scotstoun? Seems to me that the key to our rugby teams is that they could be supported by local authorities in terms of stadia and training facilities. That way SRU money can go on players. At the moment lots of money goes on facilities and pitches I think.


  • Comment number 86.

    Interesting blog, John.

    As an Ospreys fan, I'm definitely of the view that the Ospreys have had a bad year discipline-wise, and the Ospreys do themselves no favours when they make comments like 'the world is against us', when their season seemingly includes three investigations (16-gate, Ulster and Januarie).

    Yet I find myself asking why it is that the expectations around any penalties levied against the Ospreys were so great? After all, they are a club just like any other, aren't they? Or does their commercial success mean that they should pay a higher price??

    > The Ospreys pulled out of a game because they had lost 7 front-row forwards to call-ups, injury and suspension, and therefore had no suitable cover. Having just looked at Ulster's website, their squad seemingly includes 7-8 front-row players IN TOTAL. How could the Ospreys have fulfilled a fixture, where they would require a complete front-row and at least two replacements to cover specialist positions? That would imply that they'd need to carry a squad of at least 12 front-row forwards. The points deduction is, in itself questionable (crikey, Wasps refused to play a game whilst the fans waited in the ground for kick-off and got away scot-free!), but the £100k penalty stinks of the League penalising a club financially based on their commercial success. If it had been the Scarlets, such a fine would have bankrupted them.

    > Media coverage of the Ricky Januarie affair implied that the Ospreys were in the dock again, whilst the small print seemed to suggest that a number of other clubs were also being investigated - Munster included. And the Lee Byrne 16th-man issue was crazy - Allan Lewis and his officials should have been reprimanded for failing to manage the field of play and for failing to take suitable action when the issue was discovered; instead a region gets a £25k fine when an entire country got just £10k (and a whole lot less media coverage) for fielding a 16th man when en route to World Cup glory.

    In terms of the Ospreys cheating, if the coaches were stupid enough to suggest off-camera that 'we'll do what we can get away with' then they are more foolish than anyone could give them credit for, but it's a reality. Burger's gouging got him the equivalent of a short rest followed by a brief holiday.....Wallaby backlines have been running dubious dummy lines for years.....McCaw, Smith and Holah have built their reputation on living the wrong side of the offside line for as long as the referee has his back turned. It's the reality of the sport, and always has been - you play the referee, and are either pinged or you're not.

    In response to some posts here, Collins plays hard, and where he plays dirty - and is caught - he pays the price. If two touch judges and a referee fail to spot his illegal hits - and let's be honest, they are hardly subtle - I'd question their ability to control a game.

    I was intrigued to watch an interview with Paul O'Connell after a HEC game earlier this season. After being yellow-carded, he asked his interviewer whether he thought he deserved to be carded. His interviewer commented that he'd been carded for killing the ball. "Yes, but was it a yellow card?" came O'Connell's reply....

    If the Lions captain thinks doing what it takes to win is acceptable, it has to be okay for the rest of us.

  • Comment number 87.

    it is a little far from Scottish teams being too fair. But.
    It seems that those of us who pay for tickets at Murrayfield are essentially paying for the stadium not the players we go to support.
    In respect of one local business, recently disgraced, and now largely owned by the British people. Does anyone know whether RBS receives interest payments for the building of Murrayfield. And are those less or greater than the sponsorship payments generously given to the Six Nations Tournament?

  • Comment number 88.

    Philip post 52, I#d like to know where you were sitting if with the main group of Glasgow supporters I do not know how you could clearly see the incident was talking about. I was in the front row with a clear view and the Glasgow players clarly punched Holah so they were lucky not get sent off. No matter if he was holding surely two men against one can rectify a situation without throwing punches.

    I am surprised also by the comments re the original hearing Ospreys did not call it off the board did. I think many people don't like facts to get in the way of their statements

  • Comment number 89.

    Let's stop beating about the bush shall we? The reason that the Warriors lost by a 15-point margin was not because of the Ospreys' alleged cheating (an allegation that is wholly untrue by the way - I've met many Ospreys players personally and they are honourable and respectable members of society. Especially Ryan Jones). To suggest that teams from one's own country play "too fair" is not very "fair" in and of itself, and seems to me to be a cheap way of claiming victory of the moral high ground, when actual victory hasn't been achieved. No, the real issue at hand here is Glasgow's inability to feed the ball to the most important position on the pitch - number 8. A number 8's purpose in a match is to forge that magical harmony between the backs and the forwards, to dictate play and lead his team onwards. Johnnie Beattie simply wasn't given that chance by his team mates. What's Dan Parks doing kicking from his own half? He should have kicked it to number 8. Until Glasgow understand this simple principle of rugby, then I'm afraid they're going to find themselves "cheated" out of a lot of matches in the future.

  • Comment number 90.

    Let's have a look at a number of points made by JB.

    Points Deduction - This a joke, the game against Ulster was originally due to take place in January and was postponed by Ulster due to a frozen pitch. Maybe a points deduction or a fine for Ulster for not having adequate facilities ( undersoil heating for one) would be more appropriate! The re-arranged game was not agreed by the Ospreys in the first place. Dont whinge about issues that you have no control over, and do the talking on the pitch. Be in control of your own destiny, which normally means earning more points than the other clubs in the competition.

    "Cheating" - A liitle rich I think. Glasgow and Edinburgh must be the unluckiest teams in europe for poor refs when you consider their results in the Heineken Cup this year !! I suggest that JB looks at the blocking of Morrisson in the centre and the role this has played in quite a number of tries Glasgow have scored this season.

    Squad - Consider the Ospreys starting XV last Friday night - Byrne, Shane, Bishop, Hook,Biggar, Phillips, James, Bennett, Adam, AWJ, JT, Ryan. Well over two thirds of the team borne and bred within a 20 mile radius of Swansea, and all of whom have done the hard yards through local teams before progressing to the Ospreys. HOLAH and Collins were not exactly recruited at the height of their powers ( just ask Toulon), and were brought to the region to add a little experience to the team, and to ensure the region were not depleted further during international call up times. Only Bowe has been signed as a player at the "top of his game". The "British Lions" have not been bought by the 'O's, but have been nurtured and developed by local clubs, Ospreys and Wales.

    My advice to any other team and/or supporters in Scotland, England or other Welsh regions is to forget the jelousy, and try to embrace what the 'O's have put in place at Swansea in terms of Stadium, playing squad, coaching staff and player development. Simply by looking at ways to "knock" the Ospreys will not develop your own team on the field, and I for one, would rather participate and progress in competitions on merit as opposed to petty technicalities.

  • Comment number 91.

    Post 89 - Do you seriously think No. 8 is the most important position on the pitch?! It's 9 that is the link between backs and forwards, but I may be wrong, I mean, most of the other content in your post makes total sense. You sound so knowledgeable, are you sure you're not a high profile coach? Rugby powers should really listen to you...

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    john... that one eye got' get it seen to you probably need a contact leans in it

  • Comment number 95.

    Post 91 - It's a common misconception that scrum-half is the most important position on the field. Scrum-halves are just pretty boys who are more concerned about hair straighteners and skin moisturiser than about rugby. They're figureheads really, like a prime minister or president. Number 8s however are the savvy political advisers who really run the show, you know, like Alastair Campbell. Tell me, is it a coincidence that '8' is the median value of the set of positive integers {1, 2, 3, ..., 15}? I think not. That's mathematics my good sir/madame.

  • Comment number 96.

    Unlucky Foxy 808, he/she has tucked you up there. With logic. Long live Number 8's.

  • Comment number 97.

    Thank you HughB. If I was to recommend any one positive integer to Foxy808 though, it would be 101. Think about it.

  • Comment number 98.

    The scrum half can't do anything without the number 8's permission foxy 808. PN8G won the UK's best amateur number 8 competition in 2008 as well, so to say that he knows what he's talking about, is a bit of understatement as you can see. He's basically the number 8 with the most credentials outside the professional game. So ye, I agree with "HughB", you've been read humpty dumpty and you'll never be put back together again....yes, that's a tuck.

  • Comment number 99.

    2008 and 1998 actually. I am humbled by your description of me though Jas.

  • Comment number 100.


    Here's a thought(s)

    1, Why not investigate Scotstoun for the Warriors for when their lease at Firhill expires? That does prompt would it be better atmosphere than Firhill?

    2, Why then not also ask the SRU to a "feasibility study" on one of the big Edinburgh Premier grounds and see of any can become 6-9,000 capacity.

    3, You've got the credentials to champion this- surely? And you don't seem to court popularity either, which would be a boon as one would need to mitigate the somewhat refined but still inherent pork belly politics!


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