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Time for pro teams to help Scotland's cause

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John Beattie | 18:29 UK time, Sunday, 6 March 2011

How can Scotland beat England on Sunday? Scotland, of course, are led by Andy Robinson, who, I suspect, will get a very respectful return to base from the England fans.

As I write this, the team hasn't been picked but, in all probability, most of the players in Robinson's side will have been born after the last victory, 1983.

Being the eternal optimist, I think the game is winnable, but I say that while believing that this is a very, very good English team.

Scotland fans have seen little to cheer them in this year's Six Nations campaign. Photo: Getty.

Scotland fans have seen little to cheer them in this year's Six Nations campaign. Photo: Getty.

The game happens in the middle of what you would have to call a mini-crisis north of the border.

How much longer, for instance, will the SRU continue to fund professional rugby in Scotland in the shape of Glasgow and Edinburgh?

Unless they increase the cash and bring in a host of hired guns to bolster the teams at this time of year, then losing in their bread-and butter-league is going to be a fairly regular occurrence.

There is only so much time, effort and patience you can expend on underperforming assets and Edinburgh and Glasgow are third and second bottom, respectively, of the Magners League.

And it is almost impossible to win when you are drafting in club players to cover for internationals, and the team you play against can bring Jerry Collins off the bench.

Gordon McKie, the chief executive of the SRU, says on the BBC website that the annual cost is in excess of £10m a year and you have to ask if that is money well spent, even though he says in the interview that the SRU are committed to both teams.

The SRU can either increase funding to make the sides competitive, or take a more Argentinean role and allow the best players to migrate south of the border, or overseas, to allow someone else to foot the wage bill.

Then Glasgow and Edinburgh, if they stay, become development sides. Development sides don't win too often.

That's the honest assessment of the preamble to this particular Calcutta Cup clash. Scotland have an ambitious coach coming back to his roots and on a five-year deal.

England eye a Grand Slam and success at the World Cup.

One team is riding high; the other, very probably, isn't.

In theory, England have the better set-piece, a more durable and hard-running midfield, and even the Scottish second row, Richie Gray, says his hero as a boy was Martin Johnson, the current England manager.

So do Scotland have any hope whatsoever? Of course.

I really hope they wipe the record book, but I think it needs better defence, less kicking, more acceleration into contact, more aggression, and a belief that every single one of them can carry the ball through contact to win at Twickenham for only the third time since the war.

Glasgow and Edinburgh, after all, exist almost solely to produce international players for Scotland. All those millions, then, are spent almost exclusively for occasions like this coming Sunday. Come on Scotland (he said, as neutrality went right out the window).

John Beattie co-presents Sport Nation every Saturday on BBC Radio Scotland at 0900 GMT, and co-presents Sport Nation on TV, on the first Tuesday of every month at 1900 GMT on BBC Two Scotland.


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  • Comment number 1.

    John - some very interesting points made here and certainly the Argentinian model of letting others pay seems to a point.

    The problem would come in 6N when the players would be forced to play for their clubs - case in point yesterday with both Lawsons playing in a tight/tough game for Gloucester against Bath.

    The problem for me is the magners league doesn't give the teams/players the exposure to proper rugby / pressure needed for the players to excel at International rugby - Chris Paterson said on his return from Glouscester that he felt Mageners League was better to play attractive rugby as it allowed teams to express themselves - but it doesn't breed winning rugby matches under pressure. The obvious response is that it works for Munster & Leinster but they prioritise Heineken Cup all the time!

    Maybe worth the SRU trying one last time to make it work but if not it's maybe time to let other unions develop the players!

  • Comment number 2.

    Is that you casting doubt over your mate Mckie??? Go for the jugular John, be the first from camp Scotland to declare he should go. Moffat got the sack for not delivering the goods. Who's next? After this weekends pro team defeats I know there's definitely more to come.

  • Comment number 3.

    If the Argentinean model is so successful why are they in so much hurry to abandon it and get home based professional rugby.
    And which thread of altruism has been detected in England or France which will lead to them developing our players? I'm guessing paying for the same sort of player release England enjoy won't come much cheaper than our two pro teams.
    On the other hand not feeling obliged to stump up for season tickets year after year with the 3 hours driving time every second friday and the succession of rugby shirts might let me take my wife out to dinner more often.

  • Comment number 4.

    Scotland can win, but we need a bigger performance than what we brought to Paris. Twickers is a hard place to go at anytime, moreso when England's tails are up.

    As for Edinburgh and Glasgow's woes of late. The simple truth is Scottish rugby is in a vicious cycle. Poor performances at club level mean noone wants to part with their hard earned cash to go an watch their team get cuffed for 80 minutes, as a result the clubs don't make money.

    So steps to recovery.

    1. Big Cash Injection. For developing new players, Using the money to bring some of Scotlands future international players (Cuthbert, Ansbro, Grove) and some of the Old guard (Hines, Hamilton, Strok, Rory Lamont) back playing for Glasgow and Edinburgh to transmit their experience and Knowlege of the game to the younger players.

    2. PR in profesional rugby is very important. Get some decent publicity for both teams, get some offers on for the tickets, buy one get one free, giving away tickets at schools, rugby clubs, even giving tickets away free on Princes Street and Buchanan Street on match day. Bring people along, entertain them, make them feel welcome and they'll come back.

    3. Give some promising club players a chance. I'm sure the SRU have scouts here there and everywhere at club level. If they see talent they should position them carefully to ensure they nurture the talented individuals we produce. Lets face it we are not in the position of strength any of the other home nations are in terms of Strength in depth, even greater the reason to ensure none of the talent we produce slips through the net.

    4. Bring Rory Lamont in for surgery. Graft adamantium onto his skelleton just like Wolverine in X-Men to ensure he is always able to play for Scotland. While we're at it we could to the same for Cusiter.

    I can't help thinking Glasgow and Edinburgh's fortunes are linked to Scotlands, all the while they are not performing, it is unrealistic to expect Scotland to.

  • Comment number 5.

    John is that 10 million each or for both teams!!!! No we have to invest in pro teams, look at the Irish and the Welsh, 99% of there players come from there own pro teams, not from England or France. And they manage to win, a lot lot more often than Scotland do.

    It's time the SRU bit the bullet and invested in four teams as does Ireland and Wales, and may I note have smaller populations.

    Magners League is a great league and will get bigger and better every year. I can see in a few years Italy having 4/5 pro teams in the league and other countries asking to join.

    Heineken Cup isn't a level playing field like the Magners League is. It is dominated by the clubs who spend money on international players and I can see this tournament killing rugby as is the Champions League in football, the bigger clubs getting bigger and the smaller getting smaller. You just have to look at the seeding system and the number of English and French teams that play in it. At the beginning of the season when the pool draw is made you can pick the quarter-final teams straight away no competition not fresh blood!!!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    #5 That is the total for both teams. What Gordon McKie failed to clarify was whether or not that figure is net of revenue. Seems from his comments in January that McKie does not know what revenue is or how it makes businesses work.

    John, you raise an interesting and topical point - the future of professional rugby in Scotland. I have one question for those in favour of scrapping the remaining professional teams - what next?

    Some favour an 8 team league with semi-professional teams based on geographic regions and others favour a strong semi-professional club league with 8 - 10 teams.

    In my view both of these solutions represent a massive backward step that it will be very difficult to recover from if the current professional teams are scrapped. However, if the pro teams are retained then both these solutions offer a strong second tier to support the pro teams and, if developed properly, could provide additional pro teams playing in the Celtic league and ERC competitions.

    The objections to the professional teams soaking up money have gone on now for some time but nobody, except a few enlightened people, has ever mentioned that these teams could turn a profit, or at the very least reduce their funding requirements. They can turn a profit so making a contribution to Scottish club rugby, and you don't have to look too far afield to see how it can be done.

    The Magners' League is growing in stature and crowd numbers are increasing everywhere, except Scotland. If you look at the websites for teams in Ireland and Wales you will see that their set-up is much different from that in Scotland. In Wales the teams have 2nd XVs and youth systems in place. This ensures that these teams have strength in depth and can still get results when the internationals are on.

    In Scotland, we have 2 professional squads and the fringe players play (occasionally) in Premier 1. The academy players don't get to play at all unless they are called into a pro team squad. The coach and executive management are looking no further than the next game. What way is this to run a professional sports team?

    There is one top rugby playing nation that has survived with a semi-professional set-up for a few years and that is Argentina. They have progressed because their professional players play in other countries making up the numbers come tri and 6 nations time. Argentina play regular fixtures, usually as warm up games, against the top sides but that is all. The future for them is a fully professional tier of the game in Argentina and this is currently being put in place so that they can join the tri-nations. Scotland already has a fully professional tier so why scrap it just because we are having a bad season?

    Whilst Argentina is moving forwards and upwards Scotland is moving backwards and downwards.

    It is not a question of spending or funding the professional teams in Scotland but a question of spending wisely to generate revenue. If you can't do that then you shouldn't be in the business.

    Turning the game on Sunday I see a spirited first twenty minutes and then the flood gates will open. By half time, England will be cruising. Second half will be Scotland becoming ever more desperate for that elusive try and England doing no more than injury prevention.

  • Comment number 7.

    A simple start would be allow people to actually see some of the games

    It is a disgrace that it is impossible to watch Glasgow or Edinburgh play on TV (Except on VERY rare occasions when it is in Gaelic – what a joke that is)

    Some of us Scots live in London and we can not follow our team in person and have to search around to find results.

    How can you gather support when no-one knows the game of rugby outside of the 6 nations even exists. Look at the support in England, that is in part based on the excellent promotion that game gets in the press and TV. We get 2,000 people to a game they get full grounds

    IT IS SO SIMPLE – Promote the game and people will come. Hide the game away as the embarrassing cousin then of course we will not gain new fans to replace the ones that leave

    I am sorry but if we do not invest in prompting the game, than it really is worth just rolling up the game and give the money to football – as that is what the media wants anyway

    Can we win on Sunday - actually I think we have no chance at all - we are just not good enough, without the players that can hurt them - and in fact it is going to be a depressing afternoon watching for us

  • Comment number 8.

    Can that kid in the picture play flyhalf?

  • Comment number 9.

    Interesting article John, and I agree with a lot of your comments. Scottish pro rugby does seem to be going backwards where other countries are on the up.Look at Connaught in Ireland the so called junior province. Their results are getting better and better and we are now stuggling to beat what used to be the whipping boys of the Magners League.So they are doing something right there!
    Funding is a big issue, the £10m that Mr McKie says pays for our 2 pro teams wouldn't cover Toulouse's budget or probably for that matter many of the English clubs, so we are not competing on anything like an even playing field.
    When will the other countries start questioning our 2 automatic entries to the Heineken Cup when in all reality neither team, based on results, actually deserves to be in it.
    If the Heineken Cup qualification came down to finishing positions in Magners League, ie top 8 places for example, would the SRU then do something about funding for the pros?
    As for club rugby, interesting article by, I think, David Ferguson in The Scotsman on saturday which is worth discussion.

  • Comment number 10.

    Dear Mr Beattie, nice sentiment but self delusion is not really a long term solution. The only real issue will be whether Scotland can produce a one off performance to hang on, and hope England have an off day. There is a real possibility of an Italian style thumping.
    Scotland have some real structural problems, and the SRU have amply displayed their amateurism for many years now. Even as a journo some years back when Murrayfield was empty, they were not even prepared to give an extra couple of tickets, and we showed more domestic rugby than just about anywhere except the beeb. Talk about supporting the people who support you. Interestingly at the same time at Twickenham, I could pick up the phone on a Thursday and get a pair for a packed and sold out stadium on Saturday, when it was possible to get down.
    It would be interesting to hear Andy Robinsons wish list, as he has displayed his ability to extract the best (usually) with what he has.
    There are some hard choices to be made, but an inspirational figure with a clear direction for the future is required, and then allowed a long time to implement it. England nearly sacrificed Woodward earlier in his tenure, but he went on to win the world cup. Maybe that person is Robinson. But can you imagine a time where the powers that be and the media, would give (it could be anyone) him the time and reasonably unqualified support, coupled with the power to enact real changes, even if they upset vested interests? I fear not. The 'old farts in blazers' would never allow it.
    There is just not enough people playing the game to allow Scotland to cut it at the top international level. Ireland and Wales, even though with fewer people, seem to do a much better job. But hoping against hope for a Scotland win, of course sport is wonderfully unpredictable and it is possible, does really mask the real issues.

  • Comment number 11.

    John - It's not all doom and gloom, and we may be in danger of talking ourselves into a full-blown crisis which is never a good environment for good decision making.

    The 6 Nation's has not gone well, but this is off the back of raised expectations due to a good run. A run in which we bet Argentina twice in their backyard, so I'm not sure the Argentinian model is a paragon to be held out as the way forward for Scottish rugby.

    I say it's not all doom and gloom because the club sides have acquitted themselves well in the B & I cup, and some of their younger players have shown that there is talent coming through the ranks.

    I think RuggerRadge2661 @4 makes some valid points. Marketing and publicity for the two pro-teams is very, very poor in my opinion. There are several issues here. (1) Thousands of Scots watch the 6 Nation's on TV and 50 - 60k turn up at Murrayfield to watch the national team. Where are all these people come a Friday night when there's a home game for two Scottish teams in the Magners league? Ok, for many who travel to Murrayfied for internationals from the NE etc., getting to Firhill for 7pm is not practical, but that still leaves a huge potential market that the SRU are not attracting to the clubs. I spoke to a friend recently who likes to watch the 6 Nations on the TV. She lives in Glasgow, but did not realise just how many of the international team play week-in-week-out for the Warriors! I don't think she's alone, and the SRu/Clubs need to make more of this, but both seem to think that having a presence on the internet constitutes a marketing strategy and that's about it. So we need to attract those who enjoy watching the 6 Nations along to our games both pro and club. (2) The ticket pricing for the pro-clubs is I think reasonable, and especially for kids and students is good value. I know the clubs have tried to attract kids with the kids supporters clubs and having mini's teams play at half time, but a concerted effort is needed in attracting and retaining students. I know at the start of the season Al Kellock meet with the captian's of the Uni teams and had them all along to Firhill, which is a start, but both Glasgow and Edinburgh have huge student populations and the SRU / Clubs need to think how they tap into this market. Remember many of these students will in the future hold positions in business where they will have the power to invest in things like sport. (3) The sponsorship deals that the clubs have seem to be very one sided, and the clubs need to think in terms of partnering and not just sponsorship. For example, (my example is of the Warriors as that's the team I watch), every week the pleasures of a well known leisure venue with indoor snow are extolled to the Firhill faithful. Visit this venue and there is no indication that they sponsor / support the Warriors. There are a number of vacant units, and if I was COE of the Warriors I'd be asking for one of the boards covering the windows of these units to carry the Warriros logo, web address and ticket info. (4) The clubs are not great at promoting themselves. On Saturday there was the RBS 6 Nations Road show in central station in Glasgow. Max Evans and Richie Vernon (two current Glasgow players were in attendance). Where was the promo for the Warriors, or Edinburgh? Fairly non-existent. Indeed the Scotland squad picture which the players signed was from the Autumn, thus Al Kellock etc., was missing from the line-up, and on the back there was info about the Derby game which has already been played! Now, I'm all for recycling, but handing out out-of-date literature is not good and is typical of the penny-pinching attitude of the SRU leadership.

    Rant on marketing over!

    The figure of £10 million that McKie dropped into his interview with Jim Mason needs some investigation by a journalist. Prior to this the accepted figure in the public domain for each club was around the £2.5 million mark. The other massive consideration is that if the SRU fail to invest in Glasgow and Edinburgh then it is only a matter of time before they are demoted from the Heineken cup. This would result in a significant drop in income for the SRU, as well as diminish the standard of rugby our home based players are exposed to!

    Successful Pro-teams inspire kids to get involved in rugby, which is good for the health of our clubs. The more successful the pro-teams are the greater numbers of youngsters you will have who will be insipid to be the next Rob Harley or Fraser McKenzie etc.

    If we follow the Argentinian model - which I don't think we should - then the SRU needs to be prepared to pay the English premiership the fees they want to have our players released when we want them. So while having our "stars" play abroad may "save" some money, if we want these players not to get injured between internationals - Joe Ansbro the recent case in point - then we have to pay. This would seem crazy to me, pay another league money because we're not willing to invest in our home teams! Nuts, John completely nuts!

  • Comment number 12.

    Tactics against England...

    Keep the ball.
    No scrums.
    Don't take them on upfront.
    Offload out of the tackle (carefully).
    Short simple passes.
    Support the ball carrier.
    If they do get the ball, tackle them and get it back.
    Avoid rucks where they can counter-ruck

    If we take the kick-off, it needs to go close to the touchline on the 22, so Sean Lamont and Kelly Brown can bundle the ball carrier into touch. Don't give them the chance to pass it right across the pitch in their own 22.

    In going forward we have been quite effective with the pick and drive - first man to the ruck picks up and gets across the gain line.

    The Irish have used the old fashioned stand off looping this year - not too complicated and reduces the need for a long, slow pass to the wing who is standing still when he gets it.

    It can be done, as I mentioned in the previous blog topic, by a simple, fast game plan to keep them moving and keep them guessing.

    Here's hoping...

  • Comment number 13.

    Welsh fan here, but from North Wales, we're only just starting out really in the business of semi pro rugby as in the past we've only exported a few players down south. (Literally 2 or 3 a decade who've been capped)

    Do not lose your 2 pro teams, the game will mean less to local kids, and it would become a downward spiral.

    Regarding Welsh regions having stronger squads, it's often at the expense of Welsh players coming through. Are the youngsters coming through now in the deep end against Jerry Collins going to form the backbone of the scotland team that wins at Twickenham in 4 years?

    Good luck! We need you to win against them to keep our challenge going!

  • Comment number 14.

    Now on to the Pro game in Scotland...

    I am undecided on what path the game should go in Scotland, so this is a bit of thinking out loud to help me make up my mind.

    I read Philip's comments with interest - he believes that a Pro set up could make money in Scotland and be a net contributor to the SRU coffers. I think I believe him, I certainly would like to believe him. I am sure that a greater marketing/PR effort and better ticket prices could increase numbers attending, and the addition of some cash from wealthy benefactors wouldn't go amiss, but I can't help thinking that there is something fundamentally wrong with the Glasgow/Edinburgh set up.
    I don't know what it is, but the link, in the mind of the supporters, from the clubs to the Pro Teams didn't survive. The Scottish district teams where never as well supported as the clubs (except possibly in the South playing a touring team).

    I know it would appear to be a backward step going to a semi-pro club structure without the pro teams, but maybe it is a necessary step before re-building the game from the club upwards.

    I note that a club South of Scotland team is to play the BaBa's this year. Could that team also play Glasgow and Edinburgh please, so that we can all see if there is a gulf between the club and pro teams.

    The other option is to call one of the teams Rangers and the other Celtic.

  • Comment number 15.

    If Scotland are to get any change out Saturday's game they must of course do the obvious and prevent England from securing quick ball, put Ben Youngs under severe pressure conceding penalties only in the English half.

    In attack and defence Scotland must isolate Mike Tindall due to his lack of pace. I would agree that the ball should be retained, but there's little point attempting to play an expansive game in your own half on slow ball... both English wings have not been truly tested under the high ball. You won't out muscle the English pack so attacking the blind side and avoiding contact with continuous pop passes or passes out of the tackle in order to keep the point of attack as fluid as possible with "break through" runners either side is key to gaining momentum.

    Again English are in the ascendancy in both scrums and the lineout in Northern Hemisphere, but Scotland was more than a match if not far superior to the once lauded Irish lineout. Don't bother attacking the throw to the front, but defend the maul and block both blind and open channels particularly the 9 – 10 – 12 channels. Do contest the throw to the back as this primary attacking platform for the English.

    Finally make sure all kicks are "chase-able" preventing Foden sufficient time and space to counter.

    Home in a boat.

    Irish fan

  • Comment number 16.

    Dodgyknees @14. Not such a bad idea to link with football. Barcelona are a sports club and provide a number of sports including rugby union and league. Harlequins teamed up with London Broncos rugby league team and now play under the Harlequins RL banner.

    Why not call Glasgow Warriors 'Partick Thistle RU' or Edinburgh Rugby 'Heart of Midlothian Rugby' and play in the same colours as these outfits?

    Going to a semi-pro structure will mean no Megners' League money and no ERC money, no decent TV deals, etc. The Scottish team would be confined to playing amongst themselves and the only time that we would see how far behind the rest of the world we have fallen is 6 nations time when we are measured by the margin of defeat.

    Italy were semi-pro and had to go pro to keep up the momentum that they generated by joining the 6 nations. Shame that they should Scotland going the other way - scrap the pro teams and then kicked out of the 6 nations.

    There is a way to get the SRU to do something positive and that is for the 6 nations, Magners' League and ERC to impose growth targets on the SRU. Those targets could include such things as increasing average gates for the pro teams, increasing the income generated from off-pitch activities, ensuring the pro teams have a youth system in place, etc. If I were a sponsor of a competition I would want the participants to help spread the word of my products and services.

  • Comment number 17.


    In my opinion Scotland simply will not be able to compete consistently in the top tier of world rugby with only 2 professional domestic teams. It has been much discussed on this blog that we require at least 3 or ideally 4 pro teams in order to nurture the breadth of talent to succeed in test rugby but something I that I believe would give Scotland an innovative edge would be for the SRU to invest in London Scottish with the intention of taking them from National league 1 into the Premiership - what would be your thoughts on that John?


  • Comment number 18.

    Thanks for your response Philip. As I said, I'm thinking out loud, so welcome any comments!

    My concern is that the pro teams aren't tapping into the support that is there amongst club players and club supporters.

    I have just read the SRU Annual Report too - anyone got a spare £20m to give them?

    They spend £16m on "International & Professional Rugby".

    I like the idea of supporting a Pro London Scottish Team. OK, so, I am coming round to the continuation of the pro teams, with the addition of a South team and a London Scottish.

  • Comment number 19.

    Oh, by the way, how about this for scrums:

    Referee it according to the laws of the game.

    Ball goes in straight, hooker has to hook, therefore props have to prop.

    Job done.

  • Comment number 20.


    Yes to 3 pro teams with the 3rd being in the NE the Central belt have already proved 2 is there limit (not a Dig)mainly down to the lack of quality promotion of the game of rugby in anything but the rugby family.
    Also get the pro-team involved in the kids rugby around their catchment.
    Farm young players out to the teams in their area not just one team to keep the competition.

    The problem I can see with putting players South for development is if they are any good they with be snapped up by the nation squads there. Has happened to one of our young kids.

    Invest and maybe farm players down to London Scottish IF they are willing to help.

    Kids are willing to play if given the chance. I was at Ellon's kids tournament on Sunday and there were approx. 500 kids attending. Club s from Stirling to Highland. Micro's, P4, P5, P6 and P7, the kids had a ball and the quality was very very good I think all would agree.

    Come on Scotland

  • Comment number 21.

    John, I think the only people who genuinley believe you can win would be yourself and Mr Scotland himself, Andy Nicol.

  • Comment number 22.

    regarding Sunday I can't see any reason to be optimistic. we haven't played well and they have been the form team this year. I think it may be a damage limitation job and it gives me no pleasure in saying that. I can't see us scoring a try down there and I can already picture Chris Ashton doing his dive over the line.

    In terms of what's next for rugby in Scotland why do we not introduce state school rugby? In all my time at school (left in 2005) I had one class (an hour I think) in P6. I find quite a few rugby players make good footballers...could the reverse be possible? more interestingly, they are more likely to be backs and could quite possibly see the game differently and do the unexpected?

    I believe that doing school rugby would greatly improve out talent pool. I did badminton and gymnastics ad core PE but not rugby...something not right! Ireland have a great school league (as my uni mates reminded me last Sunday at murrayfield) and I believe Wales do too...why not us? I know that private schools do but state schools should do aswell.

    I am sure there are a lot of guys out there who have the talent but never play and choose football or doing nothing instead. Maybe SRU should team up with government to make this happen? and I don't mean a one year experiment, give it a good 5 years to get off the ground. competition breeds success&mabye this will open up our talent pool.

    anyway good luck on Sunday boys, will be rooting for you as always!

  • Comment number 23.

    State school used to have rugby (not much but they did) then (getting political now) Thatcher went to war with the teachers unions they stopped after school work activities.She sold off the grounds, also meant the teachers (non PE) stop doing the school teams. Then it was up to the clubs to pick-up the baton and I'm afraid to say not all did. Some of this is obviously local to the north east.
    This also answers one of your other questions as an example I was playing rugby for the school on a Saturday morning and Football in the afternoon. The strike started and the rugby stopped and I concentrated on the football (played junior for 12years) always meant to go back to the rugby but never did. Now I have kids and the choice was, the grief of football touchline or the respect on rugby lines....... now level one qualified kids coach and done my ref course up to u19's.
    We just have to make rugby enjoyable and when the kids try it they stay part of the family. The more numbers we have and the more good coaches the more likely we are to uncover the stars of the future.

  • Comment number 24.

    Although to be fair ExiledinReading, if you listen to John and Andy Nicol long enough you'd think the English were the underdogs...

  • Comment number 25.

    And speaking of Mr Nicol, from previous blogs I know the Scots are not overly keen on the commentary of a certain Mr Brian Moore. I'll tell you what, you can have Brian off commentary providing that Andy Nicol also goes - he's the only man on the planet that makes Gavin Hastings look impartial!

  • Comment number 26.

    I think that Andy Nicol is good. Mind you, I like Brian Moore as well. He tells it as he sees it (must be a huge disadvantage when you're a lawyer in you day job) and is hugely knowledgeable. To my mind Jonathan Davies has to go! He's so comically biased that he refers to "us" when commentating and speaks with a kind of weary exasperation that says "I was so much better when I played and I know all the tactical answers...God this is so easy!" He also has the most aggravating voice in NH rugby.

    I don't think that Scotland should underestimate themselves. They had a good summer and Autumn and have at times just been short of luck during the 6Ns. They have a good pack and some strong runners. As they demonstrated in the game against Wales last year (when they were cruelly robbed), if they get a bit of confidence then they can be really dangerous. If I was Andy Robinson I would be telling the boys to get out there and enjoy themselves. They're not expected to win so there's absolutely nothing to lose by taking a few risks!

    It would be a highly over-confident England player or fan who believed that Sunday will be anything other than an 80 minute high-octane battle, as Calcutta Cup games should be! Last time I looked, both teams are only allowed 15 men on the pitch at any one time! Best team on the day to win!

  • Comment number 27.

    All gone very quiet in the Beattie camp...... What's the point of starting a blog and stirring up smoke and going quiet... May a comment at least.... Scared or is it like Gavin & Scott Hasting's alegiance with the SRU??? The SRU are paying you a chunk of money as well ???

  • Comment number 28.

    With the way rugby has gone in the last decade it would be short sighted to see Glasgow and Edinburgh solely as tributaries to the Scotland team.

    Club rugby is the 'bread and butter' of the game as you say. New fans and players are attracted to the game by the week-in week-out exposure that club rugby brings.

    Neither Glasgow nor Edinburgh have got the formula quite right at the moment, but they are the key,

  • Comment number 29.

    "How can Scotland beat England on Sunday?"
    I will support Scotland, but frankly they won't beat England this year.
    It is a real shame that Scotland never took the train of pro rugby from the begining, yes/no, no/yes, maybe a bit, maybe not, maybe.
    10 years later, still the same questions...

  • Comment number 30.

    Maybe we have to face the fact that Scotland has a tiny population and that rugby is not the national sport? This is of course the other way around in New Zealand.

    If we accept that we do not have the money and resources (and never will) then perhaps we should focus on a great amateur club game that feeds into all european pro teams. Then those pros need to be obliged to come back and play in representative games (South versus All Blacks), etc.

    I am a fan of the pro game but we just do not have the "critical mass" in Scotland so lets be clever about how we use our precious resources.

    Agree with John - I actually have enjoyed watching the english team - they are very good and will kick our asses on Saturday. That is not defeatist - that is realism.

  • Comment number 31.

    Och no, I said Scotland won't beat England this year, I forgot the WC.
    I would be optimistic if England was in the shape of two years ago.
    Unfortunately, they are on a good path for the WC.

  • Comment number 32.

    John - Scottish rugby has been on a downward spiral ever since Telfer (and his love of all things NZ) sent us down the route of creating pro district sides with no history of support! The worst thing that ever happened in Scottish rugby was making district sides pro and not doing what they did in England, which was making club sides pro and pro-am as that is where the fans were and still are.

    Ayr's recent run to the Quarter finals of the British & Irish cup was probably further than either of the current "pro" sides could have dreamed of and they did it with the SRU only helping to cover travel expenses.

    I think it is time for us to disband the failing district sides. Promote the 2 best performing Prem 1 teams to the Magners and turn the Prem 1 into a a pro/pro-am league with the two Magners teams playing the top two Prem 1 teams on a yearly basis for promotion and demotion, respectively. They could start these promotion demotion games now and I think I would back the top 4 Prem 1 teams against both Glasgow or Edinburgh on present form!

    Get club rugby back into the driving seat and not these "false-economy" District teams which are performing so poorly. Imagine what the current Prem 1 clubs could do, each with a share of the 10 million currently on offer to the district sides...

  • Comment number 33.

    When faced with the question..."Can Scotland beat England on Sunday?” I recall an interview with Mike Tyson days prior to a fight with some unfortunate bean can who was unlucky enough to be selected as part of Tyson's training program.

    When Tyson was asked..."Is there any way he can beat you?" Tyson responded...”Sure! He could have a sniper in the crowd!"

    However, the chances of Scotland beating England are better than the bean can beating Tyson!

  • Comment number 34.

    I would hope Scotland play well and that we don't see a whitewash.

    We do need change but not just for changes' sake. Not sure getting rid of Edinburgh and Glasgow is the way forward. Relying on other countries for Scottish players to play for moves the game away from Scotland...

    The absence of senior players is certainly very noticeable at the recent Edinburgh and Glasgow games, yet other teams seem to have plenty to fall back on. I was at the Edinburgh game on Friday is it usually that quiet? (I mostly go to Glasgow games). They did get better in the second half but weren't instinctive enough and kicked away posession.

    At Glasgow some of the younger players are coming on, the likes of Rob Harley, Duncan Weir and Peter Horne. The younger/ academy players do seem to need more game time to gain experience. It's also great to have the prinary schools on at halftime.

    The SRU need to value current players, future players and the fans. Last season there was a couple of open training sessions at Murrayfield to see Scotland train which was really positive for youngster and fans alike...

  • Comment number 35.

    You can't improve Scottish Rugby from the top down, it has to be done from the bottom up. As a number of people have already said we have to invest in getting kids to play Rugby. Kids are not going to be inspired by the performances of Edinburgh or Glasgow, even if these false teams managed to perform well year after year.

    Invest in kids, schools and clubs, and increase the number of people playing the game. At least that way there would be the chance of some lasting legacy from the investment, which is more than can be said for Edinburgh, Glasgow or Scotland!

  • Comment number 36.

    Personally John, I think it's time for the SRU to have a critical look at the game in Scotland, not because of the 6 nations results but the whole scotland results from U18, U21, women, Scotland.
    I read and hear about the SRU's claim that there are increasing numbers of people playing rugby in Scotland and the question I ask myself is 'Is there? Where?'.
    Now the SRU will pontificate about the amount of kids now playing rugger but they are perhaps bending the truth a little here as it is not being 100% accurate claimimg that a DO has deliverd 6 hours of rugby to a class of 20 kids that they are all now involved in rugby on a regular basis.
    We need to critically review our counting methods and face the facts that rugby is on the decline in Scotland. Empty seats all all RBS 6N matches and poor club attendances.... time to stop burying heads in the sand and deal with the facts.
    The hardest part of dealing with a failing is admitting there is a failing. Once that can be overcome, we have enough well intentioned people in Scottish Rugby to turn it around but this needs to take place sooner rather than later.
    Come on SRU lets be honest with ourselves..
    How do we fix it? I'm not sure about that, but John raises the question of £10 Million funding for the two PRO teams that regularly under achieve apart from some very decent results on occasion. What do these teams bring to Scottish rugby?
    We see our best players continue to haemmorage towards England, Ireand and France for better standard of rugby and we now bolster Edin and Glasgow with foreign players, what is the point of this? Let our top players play out the country and cream off the other unions.
    Now, £10 Million is a lot of money to invest at grass roots level rugby. We could improve training facilities for clubs, have meaningful coaching in schools with a clear channel for these kids to go to a rugby club. I'm not advocating a wholesale movement of this cash but we could look at your point and INCREASE a Scottish Pro teams funding by say £2.5 Million to attract a better level of player. The trade off would be the other Pro team and use this money for grass roots development of future talent.
    Gasp, shock, horror I hear many saying, we had 4 Pro teams, now two and then one, what next? Well, it's not so long ago that the Italians had no Pro teams in the Magners but managed to beat the mighty Scots!!! How have they developed into the rugby nation they are? Yes, they bought in a few chums from abroad but we are a wee bit guilty of that too.
    I would love to see successful Scottish Pro teams and don't blame the players, coaches or supporters for the position we are in however we may need to be radical by taking a few steps back the way to go forward.
    Can Scotland beat England this weekend, of course we can. Will we beat England this weekend? Sorry to say this but it is very unlikely indeed as they are a good team.

  • Comment number 37.


    I posted a similar article on 606 site this weekend! Great minds think alike!

    We have no chance of beating Engerland this weekend - absolutely none!

    In terms of pro teams - the SRU need to either increase funding and go for it or else pull the funding and move to a semi pro model. The current half hearted approach is just not working and is counter productive!

    The reality for Scottish rugby is that the existing model does not work! It is too narrow based and dependant upon a very small playing base. Ignore all the hype from the SRU re playing numbers - the most recent Edinburgh u18 team that played on Sunday had 10 players from the usual public schools - Watsons, Heriots, Lorreto and Merchiston - and it would have been more had Stew Mell and Edinburgh Academy not been playing the u18 Cup final the previous day! How on earth can we expect to have the quantity and quality of players coming through if Edinburgh for example is almost entirely dependant upon 6 private schools! To make matters worse they refuse to change their fixture lists to allow clubs u18 teams to play them!

    For Scottish rugby to change we need more radical, structural change! Summer rugby?

  • Comment number 38.

    Some great points already,

    A couple of observations

    Under 18 schools cup final crowd of 4000, Edinburgh game the night before 1800 crowd with lots of empty seats in the season ticket areas.If this is not a complelling reason for change in how things are approached by the pro teams what is.

    Secondly if the two teams cost £10 million one can only imagine that the bulk of this is in player salaries, given the size of the squads this will give each player a very tidy sum. Perhaps it's who we are paying the money to rather than the amount that is the first question that should be asked.

  • Comment number 39.

    In the pro era money has become such a big factor in both club and international success. Scotland does not have any! Failure to fill Murrayfield for any of the 3 Six Nations games will punch another huge hole in SRU budgets this year and it is an expensive year having to ship the team and all out to New Zealand for the RWC. France and England get big crowds and big money into the club game. Ireland and Wales are not without financial issues but have stronger crowd and corporate supoport than we can muster. A domestic solution to our playing resources is completely unviable. Back in the amateur era we relied heavily on players who had gone south to pursue their careers (albeit it was often careers in the City of London not rugby). Our only long term hope it to revive the pioneering spirit of the Anglo-Scots who managed to find Scottish ancestry (some a bit dodgy like Dave Hilton!) among players not quite good enough for England.

    In the short term we need to work with what we have and it is a huge task facing the teamn at the weekend. In recent years our good scrum was founded on Hines and Hamilton types in the second row. I fear that playing better "rugby players" like Gray and Kellock has undermined the scrum. We need to try every trick in the book to slow England down because if they get quick ball and get it out wide we are in trouble. Time for John Barclay to rediscover the form of 2010.

  • Comment number 40.

    Bless! I love the eternal Scotish optimism - if only more English fans had it (but then we'd get called arrogant). What great loyal support - what would Murrayfield sound like if you won a few games back to back?
    Speaking as an English fan if we give you a thumping then we'll act as if it was expected, especially at Twickers ...but then I always have a nagging doubt about playing Scotland as your players seem to find an extra 20% against us and have done us against the odds a few too many times for comfort.

  • Comment number 41.


    Edinburgh Rugby will continue to under-perform unless they establish a proper home in a proper club stadium, with a proper set of loyal fans. Look at Munster and the crowds they bring. I remember growing up during the old Edinburgh days at Myreside. Some of Europe's biggest names came and the atmosphere was great. Fantastic way to spend a friday evening, and there was a real buzz around such a small and personable stadium. At half time kids like myself could go onto the pitch and win prizes for goal kicking competitions etc, and basically it was a tremendous environment to watch rugby. Compare that with Murrayfield nowadays. 2000 fans sat shivering in a 67000 seater stadium, with not a single drop of atmosphere. No place to motivate and get behind the players, and certainly no place to spend a friday evening. I personally would love to go back to the Myreside days, but I will refuse to go to Murrayfield until a smaller, more appropriate venue can host the team. I suspect I am not alone and therefore the SRU must find a way of bringing back fans into watching the games live.

  • Comment number 42.

    Some really interesting points there! I agree with you in that being optimistic there is no reason why we cannot do well against England at the weekend. Once again, we come into this as the underdogs and it's upto Scotland to set the scene of the game by not letting any tries happen in the first 15mins. If the guys can keep their heads down, play at the top of their game, minimise silly mistakes and just keep the pressure and determination on the English we should do ok.

    Onto Rugby at club level in Scotland. To wittle down funding at this time would be awful and take Scottish Rugby back a few vital steps. Yes, both Edinburgh and Glasgow have had a bad season this year. However, it's a funny comparison to how happy and positive people including the press/sru/fans were last season when Glasgow finished at the top end of the table. I think people tend to have short memories to be honest. Speaking more of Glasgow than Edinburgh, as I am a Warrior fan - this season we've had many players out injured, many out on National Duty...however, this has just allowed younger players to be given the chance, and prove themselves. Had injuries not occurred etc would Rob Harley, Richie Gray etc be where they are today? Prominent players for their club and promising greats for Scotland? Both Edinburgh and Glasgow should be able to chalk this season down to learning, bringing youngsters in, and developing as a club.

    With fan bases growing (i've never been to greaves without seeing other Glasgow fans buying merchandise and tickets), many children playing, clubs and schools trying to get both girls and boys play, and also a record number of ladies joining rugby teams, to severely limit the funding would take away any development that we have made over the best few years. That would be just saddening to see.

    The Magner's League needs more exposure, as does Scottish Rugby in general. Yes, we are in a recession and money is tight, but if fans are willing to put into their pocket for games, merch and travelling to away games - then surely it's a sign that we're going in the right direction.

  • Comment number 43.

    As so many have pointed out already, cash is a big issue here. Although for a developing side it's worth remembering that you need to spend on foreign players as well as the 'future'.

    Ulster seem to be a good example of this, and it appears to be paying off. With the recent cash boost they were able to bring in some big foreign names.

    The experience of these players is being shared with the home grown talent, and it also provides much needed cover during 6 nations/and injury periods. Ian Humphreys seems to be getting consistently better, and the new guys are playing to win.

    I'm an Ulster fan, but would like to see Glasgow and Edinburgh becoming more competitive in the likes of the Magners league. It's a little worrying that already one of the Italian sides are ahead of Edinburgh in the tables.

    Perhaps given the money issues, the SRU should focus on just Edinburgh or Glasgow for 4 years, and following that commit to the other club. In the meantime one club will suffer, but perhaps at least one will benefit, rather than both suffering from resources being spread to thinly.

  • Comment number 44.

    I can understand that focusing on one club may be beneficial money wise, but i dont think it helps rugby wise. If they were to do so, it'd most likely go to edinburgh, which would result in a dwindling loss of a good club in Glasgow. Majority of fans wouldn't be happy at idea of that. To develop Scottish rugby, despite the costs, i think we actually need more clubs. Also the jump from club to pro is vast and therefore, youngsters are taking a bit more time to get into the pro games. Surely this is something that needs looked at?

    I reckon it's got to be an across the board 'get people interested in the game' campaign. I think they need to continue getting press and whatnot too. My local paper has an article every week about Partick Thistle but never anything on the Warriors. Sadly, football will always be number 1 sport in this country.

    Glasgow are a family club(i'm sure Edinburgh are too), with heaps of kids going to the game and getting involved in meeting players etc, or the half-time mini's tournaments. It's a great way to create followers for life.

    Yes, Glasgow and Edinburgh aren't having the best of seasons, but I think SRU/press etc are judging a little too hastily.

  • Comment number 45.

    #41 Where would Edinburgh Rugby move to? Myreside is way too small to host an ambitious and growing professional rugby club. It would need millions of pounds spent on it to bring it up to standard. The SRU doesn't have the cash and Edinburgh District Council won't give the planning permission.

    Edinburgh investigated moving a to a different, smaller, stadium a couple of years ago and, with the agreement of supporters representatives, decide that staying at Murrayfield was the best option. Unfortunately, the SRU's continued lack of vision and inept marketing attempts did not follow through on that decision. their subsequent actions and public comments about the importance of the customers (fans) only made the situation worse.

    Both Edinburgh Rugby and their fans agree that Murrayfield is not ideal but they also recognise that there is currently no alternative.

    #44 The situation of this season was predicted more than 3 years ago by those that have been watching the actions of the SRU top executives. We are not judging too hastily but on the performance of the SRU over a number of years. It is time for Gordon McKie and his team to move on. Being kind, they have done as much as they can. Being realistic, they should be sacked before they do any more damage to professional rugby in Scotland.

  • Comment number 46.


    This seems to have been misunderstood. This isn't an anti-SRU piece, instead we have to understand that the SRU ploughs all the money it can into Glasgow and Edinburgh and they have to be held accountable.

    Glasgow and Edinburgh are there to produce players for the Scotland team.

    There must be worry at the SRU that they put money into two teams that aren't winning.

    Either the money isn't enough and they need to find even more, or the money is enough and the teams need to improve.


  • Comment number 47.

    I think it's a bit easy to slate the Magners League for Scottish performances, but as we defenders of it constantly harp on, we've produced more international grand slams and Heineken cup winners than either the Top 14 or the Guinness Prem. in the last 5 years.

    If you look at some of Scotland's best players at the moment, Sean Lamont is playing for Scarlets, Nathan Hines for Leinster and Nikki Walker for Ospreys [throw into the mix Richie Gray for luck]; Lamont stands out from all others as one of the most exciting/competent players there, and he's coming on leaps and bounds.

    So maybe the problem isn't with the league but with the Scottish clubs themselves.

    While there seems to be a great deal of complaining about the great leap from club to top flight rugby and the Scottish regions are bereft of senior players to replace their internationals, other teams seem to manage fine. It's easy to point the finger at the Ospreys who in the internationals period can put out a team that still features 11 internationals, but look at what the Scarlets have done; they've lost a plethora of stars through money troubles, retirements, transfers and injuries [Dafydd James, Dwayne Peel, Mark Jones, Dafydd Jones, Simon Easterby, Lee Byrne et. al. to name but a few big names lost in the last few years]. But instead of complaining about the big names at Blues and Ospreys, they gritted their teeth and plowed through a tough few seasons by having faith in their young guys and now we see exciting talents like George North, Jon Davies, Gareth Maule, Tavis Knoyle, Rhys Priestland etc.

    Money isn't everything, and it takes faith in your young players and a willingness to give them a shot at top flight - and when they lose, not to complain that your best players are away but to say that the performance wasn't good enough, and that you believe that your young players will learn from the experience - that while you might not win this season or the next season, you believe that your young players will have the strength and experience to get there.

  • Comment number 48.

    I should stress having read that through, that I am not a Scarlets fan despite appearances. And that I have not only faith in this Scottish team to lift the Calcutta Cup, but a keen desire to see them do it!

  • Comment number 49.

    Agree that it isn't an anti-SRU article. In a time where money is short, the SRU are doing what they can. I think most rugby fans appreciate that. I just hope that the funding continues to the best it can and that where possible, neither Glasgow or Edinburgh are terribly affected by this as both clubs have a good and developing future ahead of them. As I said both teams should chalk this season down as a learning year with bringing through youngsters, that will in good stead lead to good seasons.

  • Comment number 50.

    John, if you work from a starting point that Edinburgh and Glasgow are there only to produce players for the national team then you are onto a loser straight away.

    SRU plc is in the entertainment business, whether it knows it or not. Edinburgh and Glasgow must exist for much more than producing journeyman internationalists. They must exist to provide thrilling entertainment for the crowds that they should wish to attract. That is a product that can be sold, and sold for a profit.

    Achieving that profit takes away a lot of the debate about how much it costs to run Edinburgh and Glasgow. It also provides a source of money that can be used to help improve the facilities of our top clubs.

    However, if the vision of the SRU is that Edinburgh and Glasgow exist merely to provide a training ground for our national team players then I am very dismayed. I am dismayed because it shows a complete lack of understanding of the game and how to run a business.

    The result of the SRU vision is the half empty stadium for the visit of Italy in the 6 Nations and the failure to sell out for the visits of Wales and Ireland. The SRU vision is so very short sighted that they need to go to Specsavers.

    ScottishLaura @ 49. If you think that the SRU are doing what they can then you have not been watching closely enough. The SRU, in the guise of the current senior executives, have done as much as they can to reduce the the crowd sizes for home games. The fans that know what is going on are voting with their wallets and spending their money on other things. I am really fed up of people who keep saying "we should learn from this". We have learnt so much in the past 5 years that we probably qualify for a PhD in the subject. It is time to act, put that learning into practice. Here is the bad news. The SRU do NOT HAVE the right resources or vision to act now. Next season will be no better than this one. In fact, it may be worse.

    CelticWarrior @ 47. I watch the Magners League action as much as my family allow and I see great things happening there. The league has come on in leaps and bounds and I like the success that it brings with it. I have seen Welsh and Irish teams flourish and grow over the years. I now see the Italians take to it like ducks to water and they will grow over the next few years. The problem with the Scottish teams' performance is the SRU and their lack of investment in the pro teams. If I were running the Magners' League I would warn the SRU about falling crowd numbers and their lack of promotion of the league in their communities, and if there is no positive change over the next 2 seasons I would look seriously at their value to the league.

  • Comment number 51.

    Sunday's game.......

    Cut out the mistakes.
    Cut out the turnovers.
    Do not give the opposition a 10 point start.
    Give the opposition something to worry about in attack. If we score a try in the first half then the team will start to believe.

    If there are only 3/4 points separating the teams with 10 minutes to go then we can win but my head says it will not happen that way.

    Scotland's pro teams.....
    We either do it properly (funding increase by whatever means possible) and see if it works for say 3 years OR we scrap it. Let the pro players go to other teams, outside Scotland, but when they are on international duty then that's it - no returning to their clubs in between.

  • Comment number 52.

    Ken Mavor @ 51 about your pro teams paragraph. To achieve the first part will need a change at the top. Gordon McKie will have to go to make it happen. Also, it is not a case of just throwing more money at the problem. It is much more about the organisation, structure and marketing of the pro teams, as well as the integration with the top of the club game.

    The 'scrap it' idea is a non-starter if we want to move FORWARD from where we are. As for keeping players from clubs outside Scotland in the camp for the whole tournament that will not work as the IRB rules forbid it, unless you are prepared to pay, and pay a lot.

  • Comment number 53.

    You just have to look at the structure of the national leagues to see the SRU don't have a clue.... To big also the National Leagues remind me of Jordon to heavy on top. It should be structured on a pyramid system one league, then two, then three, etc. Working on regional structure the further down you go.

    4 professional teams - Two top class full of internationals, one with up and coming stars (year or two off international standard) and seasoned internationals and the fourth full of seasoned internationals with good helping of youngsters mixed in.

    I think you’ll find 10 million wouldn’t even cover Leicester players budget!!!!!

    SRU – play the professional era or don’t make you mind up, and stop puss footing about.

  • Comment number 54.

    Please no to the regional league stuff. Please it will make is a borders only game unless there are many many other changes to avoid it. One being a pro team in the NE i.e. somewhere north of Perth.

    Please remember what rugby was like 20 years ago it was like no one played rugby North of Stirling.
    We always did play up here but had to be 10 times better to get noticed, nothing of any standard in the narrow eyes of the decision makers in the borders/central belt was played up here. but this time much much worse because the numbers playing in the central belt have fallen as far as I am aware, even if the numbers haven't it will kill many clubs not in the cities.

    bit of a rant... hope it made some sense.

  • Comment number 55.

    "SRU – play the professional era or don’t make you mind up, and stop puss footing about."

    That's what I was trying to say!!!

  • Comment number 56.

    philip @ 50 - Well said!

    I read a quote recently from Keith Barrow "owner" of Northampton Saints. He noted that when he got involved in the club they were only "open for business" for 50 hours a year. He posed the question, "what business only runs for 50 hours a year?" So one of the first things he did was broaden the base of the business to increase revenue and participation at the club. Northampton have a turnover of £12m a year and £2m of that comes from conferences, weddings and other events.

    Glasgow and Edinburgh are run as businesses that are "only open for 50 hours" a year (ok it may be more or less, but it's the general principle I'm getting at). The difficulty for both clubs is that neither has their own ground from which to generate extra income. This also means - I think - that it's hard to make these clubs "feel" like a club and develop the sense that the club belongs to the fans and the fans belong to the club.

    The SRU also runs like a part time business and fails to make the most of itself and it's major asset in Murrayfield. Hiring the ground out for the IRB Sevens and some Rugby League suff is a start, but if you compare the external hires of Murrayfield to those of Hampden Park then the difference would I think be stark!

    I fear that the lack of vision for the pro clubs by the SRU will lead to a downward spiral. Mr McKie was quoted recently in a newspaper as saying that he was disappointed that the CEO's of the pro-clubs had not been able to attract more sponsorship and investment into their respective clubs. Yet, who would want to invest in a club where the major financial backer (the SRU) seems to be indifferent to the club and see it only as a development tool for something else? If I had the money to invest (I don't but wish I had), then I'd want to invest in a club with ambition and that could see itself consistently challenging for silverware.

    John, this may come across as being anti-SRU, but it's not meant to be. I'm just concerned for the future of the game in this country of ours at all levels.

  • Comment number 57.

    Just use the TV money to pay....oh yes, no TV money

    I am not sure what the SRU have been doing, but I wager not much. Less people playing, less people attending, less success and less interst in the sport

    If I achieved these targets I would have been sacked years ago

    Time to shake the tree and really look to develop it from the grass roots up

    Promote the game

    Get people going

    Get kids playing

    Make people excited about the game

    The saddest thing is John, the people writing on your blog are likely to be the most passionate, the most committed and the best supporters of the game in Scotland and the SRU is losing them by the complete mess the Scottish game is in and has been is for 10 years

  • Comment number 58.

    Another question from me....

    What is the make up of the actual revenue the SRU take in? Where can I get that breakdown? Clubs, match days, sponsorship? kit revenue? Winner on the 3.00pm at Haydock?

    And then what are the outgoings? Salaries? Upkeep of Murrayfield, travel, insurance etc.

    Anyone have that breakdown?

  • Comment number 59.

    Regarding the imminent Calcutta Cup fixture, we live in hope rather than expectation! It is certainly possible for our team to throw a spanner into the works of the English engine, but it appears to be a mighty engine that will be difficult to break down!
    Andy Robinson has stated that he is trying to develop a "winning mentality" in our present team and perhaps this weekend our players will confound their critics and demonstrate that they do have the physicality and skills to enable this psychology.
    However, they represent the present peak of the pyramid of participants in the sport. To best equip our players of the future to have that winning mentality, we need to address the bottom of the pyramid, the youngest players coming into the game, with real energy. Correspondents have referred to our small rugby-playing numbers almost as an insurmountable handicap,drawing a contrast between the level of interest and participation in NZ and in Scotland. However, if purely numbers are an essential criterion for success, we should be, relative to rugby, a successful football nation. This is conspicuously not the case! And NZ has a much greater success than Scotland in a whole range of sports, for example, cricket.
    I know that there have been an enormous number of initiatives to draw yougsters into the game made by people truly passionate about rugby. I number myself amongst them, with my creation, single-handedly, of a small club in the Highlands which was singularly successful in competition in its nine-year existence. There was no charge whatever for coaching sessions and one of the parents, a hotelier, sponsored the club jerseys. Despite these incentives, I was ultimately defeated by parental apathy and lack of support from the powers-that-be in local schools. There had been a core of devoted players and parents but it was not enough to save the club. They were let down by the apathy of the rest.
    I believe this apathy is endemic in Scottish society across the whole range of sporting and cultural activities and until we as a nation are prepared to get off our couch-potato backsides, lack of attendance at Glasgow / Edinburgh games, lack of numbers amongst players etc will persist ad infinitum! Weather is used as an excuse and I was amazed sometimes when I was coaching to be asked by parents whether the session was still on when there was a mere drizzle! One of the great beauties of rugby is that it inculcates an ethos of imperviousness to the climate.
    Inclusion is clearly important to generate numbers but for obvious reasons we will never be able to match the numbers of, say, England or France. Therefore quality should be the mantra from the base of the pyramid up -- the quality of the coaches and their insistence on high standards amongst their charges.
    Good luck, dear Scotland, this weekend!

  • Comment number 60.

    #41 Montheblues - you are absolutely spot on.

    I've also never seen such a shambles of ticketing and marketing. I took my boy to see Edinburgh last season and we ended up being moved from the central portion of the stand as that was reserved for season ticket holders only. As a result, most of the meagre crowd was squeezed into the peripheral seating whilst a handful of guys sat in isolated seats in the middle. It was only thanks to the Munster fans that the crowd looked anything near respectable. If you're getting poor crowds, surely you'd want them to at least sit together so the stadium looks a bit fuller?

    I'm afraid to say that the Edinburgh set-up just appears to be there for committee members and their mates. There's no real drive to get kids involved, schools involved or any incentive at all for people to sit in a freezing empty stadium on a Friday night.

    A few years back I tried to get Edinburgh Rugby to send something for a school raffle - Hearts sent 2 match day tickets, Hibs sent a signed shirt. The SRU didn't even respond. When I contacted them again to ask if they'd send someone down from Edinburgh to speak to a class they ignored me again. That was in the days when they played at Meadowbank - our school is round the corner - they could have had kids taking an interest in their local rugby team, but the SRU blew it.

    What baffles me is the amount of numbers playing mini-rugby and what the SRU are doing to make sure these kids continue to play. I go to matches and tournaments every Sunday with my son and there are teams from all over the country and at every level - what happens to them when they get older? Have the SRU bothered to find out?

    As for Sunday - I'll be watching from behind the sofa I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 61.

    Yeh that's right John you defend the SRU again.... Get real !!! You and your mob need to come off the Legends podium for a bit and maybe then you will see that the SRU have failed miserably. Wake up and smell the coffee.......

  • Comment number 62.

    #57 riskysports

    Please see my post #20 its not all doom and gloom if manage properly the kids are there.

  • Comment number 63.

    please see #20 agreed the kids are there but also remember there has been changes at kids level and it will take 5-10years for these kids to come through. If making changes be very very careful they are not backward steps. I may be wrong but one of these in my view, as many who have seen my input over the last few weeks, would be going down the regional league route.

  • Comment number 64.

    Convertedfootballer - I am nore optimistic that there are kids playing, but is there a real path for them to progress and keep them playing - I hope so

  • Comment number 65.

    As pointed out by others, the coverage of the pro teams in the media is useless. The most you get is a short mention just after the racing times. Unless it's the 6N, and if we are playing poorly, you will find no more than 1 article for a Sctoland game.

    The idea of getting kids involved is fine, but that's the long term future. Shorty term, we have nothing. They play for local clubs or university sides, then even if they wanted to continue, there's nowhere for most of them to go.

  • Comment number 66.

    Calm down John. You are panicking.

    Yes, this season Glasgow and Edinburgh have been poor but its one season. For the last few seasons they have been very competitive (in the magners).

    Last season the doom mongers came out for the english premiership because they only had one team in the Heineken Quarters - this year that isn't a problem. One season can be a blip.

    Money needs to go to the grass roots of the game - get more kids at more schools and clubs playing rugby. Thats the only way to survive. Not splashing out on hired guns.

    I can't see a victory this weekend unless the fates are with us on Saturday though.

  • Comment number 67.

    Ken Mavor @ 58. The annual report and accounts that you can download from the SRU website. Enjoy!!

  • Comment number 68.

    Spend more on them. Pay peanuts and get monkeys.

  • Comment number 69.

  • Comment number 70.

    riskysports yes there is, could be better (as could everything) bit to strict for me doesn't necessarily allow for late developers. That were they need more scouts going round the U18,19,20 leagues.
    Its about keeping them involve with clubs that can take them from micro's to first 15 and if they get spotted all the better. If they then stay as adults hopefully their kids will play increasing the numbers long term. We as coaches can put the ones we feel have the right stuff through to regional trials.

  • Comment number 71.

    #70 - agree, we need to prioritise those people that are at the crossroads (OK, T-junction) between taking a risk at becoming a proffesional rugby player, or going down the sensible rout of being a bank manager.
    Yes, the real future of rugby lies with the kids. But kids can't drive themselves to training or tournements, pay for kit,etc, if the parents aren't at least interested in the sport. Get the mums and dads involved, and you have a far better chance of the kids sticking at it through the rain and sleet.

  • Comment number 72.

    Agreed and much of that is down to the clubs (seniors included) to make it feel like a club for all kids and the 1st 15 (the big kids). Then the parents hopefully feel part of it and do the needfully for their kids maybe even become coaches. Worked for me!

  • Comment number 73.

    Wow John - I wish your blogs popularity would somehow manifest itself as a victorious Scotland performance this weekend!

    I envy you but at the same time there are one heck of a lot of posts on this blog every week. Thanks for taking the time to look through it all! I hope other people recognise your efforts as well! I m a student - i know what its like to wade through a quagmire of over zealous mumbojumbo!

    Your right to highlight the role that the SRU plays in the development of Scottish rugby. Its been a long road to stability after professionalism started for Scottish rugby and there have been many many success stories which are often, especially recently, overlooked! The failure of the Borders cast a long shadow. But things like the increasingly popular Melrose Sevens, London Scottish (the SRU must have some sort of role to play there - if not it should be increased), and even simply last seasons club results are all fine examples of Scottish rugby on the up.

    We should not panic! Must not panic!

    The SRU should be accountable for what they do, of course, but in my mind it should be the Scottish executive/parliament who are most to blame. Students go for free, no prescription charges etc is all very well but they are neglecting other areas of society like youth sport. Initiatives are on the up. But more needs to be done to get kids into rugby at a young age. I don't know how many kids go truant at the moment but far less would if they had the opportunities and facilities at school to run around with a ball at the feet or in their hands! The SRU in my mind do a fantastic job on a shoestring especially compared to the other Celtic nations' unions!

    As for the weekend - for some reason - and i don't despite are successes before this 6 nations think this is a new problem - when we attack the line in the middle of the pitch we don't seem to do it like the other sides - i.e. with pace and steel. When you watch Wales play they always have a two wave attack - offering the player with the ball multiple options all attacking the line at speed whilst working an angle. We need to develop this part of our game otherwise as this tournament so far has shown we will not make linebreaks and we will begin to ship the ball laterally and aimlessly - this builds pressure upon the players and so they loose their mind and do something stupid - turnover - penalty etc etc.

    I don't particularly care who it is but there should be a cue of people running onto passes from deep hitting the ball at near full speed. At the moment the ball is passed to a stationary forward who has two or three steps to get himself going forward and in the right body position - difficult.

    Its so simple and yet so effective! Please do it! An actually it is the one thing that Parks can do! Stand slightly higher and give good pop-passes to lumps running at the 9-10 or 10-12 channels. Make a puncture there - support the player either for a pass out of the tackle or to ruck quick ball - do the same and you can't go wrong!

    Good luck to the boys at the weekend.

    Last word for you John - on BBC football there is a new video blog called "Claridge Kicks Off" - you should push to have a ten minute weekly video yourself to comment on styles of play, specific incidents, potential rule changes to benefit the game, performances that have gone unheralded etc. Aim high John!

  • Comment number 74.

    Many previous writers on this blog have mentioned the importance of the need to get young folk interested in rugby to ensure the long-term well-being of the game.
    Whilst I agree that that strategy IS vital, the ONLY way that will happen is if this current national side bucks up. No youngster follows a losing side! Where are the heroes that inspire? Who, in this team gets the children excited about the next game?
    It's no coincidence that Manchester United has a huge following from people who have never even been to Old Trafford, and that they have been the most successful soccer team in Britain for many years. Success breeds fans, fans spend money, money buys success. Simple.
    At the moment (well, for the past 10 years anyway), the Scottish rugby side is going faster downhill than a competitor on a ski-slope. This means fewer fans, less interest and certainly no "heroes".
    The national side sets the tone for all below, and that is just not happening! We need to win games, and we can't.
    This malaise is also applicable to Scottish football and cricket. The only "hero" we have up here is your man Hoy.
    We can harp on and on about the SRU, finances, youth programmes, attendances and venues until the cows come home, but without a winning national side, it's all hot air!
    The team can start by beating England and then thrashing Italy. Boys, it really is ALL DOWN TO YOU!

  • Comment number 75.

    #54 the pyramid system I am thinking of is to cut out the long long line of prem and national leagues and make so that clubs at the bottom of the league structure can get to the top in only a few years other than 6/7/8 year as it is currently. Flat structure as possible.

  • Comment number 76.

    I shan't give up on you Johnny boy...plz reply it makes for a good read.

    Hi John,

    I want to reference a few posts i made on the following blog...

    If i may bring your attention to posts 25, 50, and most appropriately 59.

    You will see that i tried my best to help you Scots out, i wasn't making my points out of anger at what was a poor performance by Ireland ('10) but more in an attempt to thwart off what has inevitably happened here...

    In an effort to alleviate your low mood I suggest you cast your eyes over these posts retrospectively and come to the realisation that what happened here with your mental well-being was inevitable. It may give you some closure.

    I also want to suggest that in analysis, this was not a game that Scotland could've won, but one that Ireland could've (and tried their best to) lost.

    For all those still clinging to the idea that Scotland should've won and Ireland should've had a player sinbinned please re-watch the game without the blind passion that comes with the territory of watching the match live and i think you might change your tune.

    Love and respect as always John.


  • Comment number 77.

    Dear John,
    Me again...maybe if i put this quote in it will encourage you to review my posts this time last year...

    "...I'm just trying to help you out lads, you will thank me next year when your level of expectations are at a more reasonable level meaning the level of depression and the state of your mental health is much improved following another poor finish in the 6 nations.

    This seems to be an episode of Mania that i shall forgive you for, just couldn't handle the Guinness in Dublin i guess.

    Kind regards


    You may want to address me as Nostrathomas from now on.

    Kind regards


  • Comment number 78.


    Come on Scotland (he said, as neutrality went right out the window).


  • Comment number 79.

    Historically we have roughly the same place now in the European and global pecking order as we've always had. It's just that in recent years the Italians have been closing the gap on us as the Welsh and Irish have been opening it up. Of course we will regress unless something is done to redress that particular balance.

    Getting a business and sport savvy benefactor or two involved in the Scottish game could only be a good thing. Our best shot at long term growth and progress is getting more youngsters to play the game. Talented youngsters need success from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Scotland to really give them a goal worth aiming high for. Winning breeds winners.

    We all know what the form book says about the upcoming England v Scotland game. The only way of causing an upset is for every Scottish player to wholeheartedly believe that the game is winnable and fight tooth and nail for each other for the full 80 minutes. I just want to see a good, entertaining game of rugby where we do ourselves proud.

    Other than Sean Lamont and a few select others, I believe that a certain Englishman is the hungriest of us all for a Scottish victory. A huge amount will depend on AR's tactics and motivational abilities.

    If ever I'd love to see a Scottish banana skin really upset the English apple cart! Now that would be truly glorious.... I'd fight tooth and nail for that if I was privileged enough to wear The Thistle.

  • Comment number 80.

    Tom Quin, behave yourself or we'll find you a boggy mire to do two hundred press ups in!

  • Comment number 81.

    Yup, I'll say again, I think the SRU invest all they can in professional rugby. If it hadn't been for the SRU, who had to pay for the development of their own stadium, the game in Scotland would be much smaller.

    Both Edinburgh and Glasgow are invested in on a par with what can be afforded elsewhere, and other countries get bigger tv income streams.

    To my mind both Glasgow and Edinburgh have underperformed this year and that's either because the players aren't as good as they might be, the squads might need improved with hired guns which is something that can't be afforded, or there are other factors.

    That's why I think the players have to perform soon.

    Anyway, to the game, yes it's going to be a cracker.

  • Comment number 82.

    John: The SRU are seriously contemplating shutting down the Scottish IRB Sevens squad and apply the savings to bolstering the pro teams. The crucial issue to be debated is the timing on this. Should they shut it down this year or wait until the Olympics are over.

    Either way, I support the decision, if in fact it materializes. I believe that we would get more for our money in terms of development, with stronger pro teams and the overall development of the game if the money now spent on sevens was re-directed elsewhere. Our return, in terms of international players, from the sevens circuit, is less than stellar.

    Of course, this will be yet another emotional argument from the supporters and those that feel that Scotland should have an entry in the IRB Sevens for the historical reason that we invented the sport. However, rationally, the money would be better spent elsewhere in my view. Comments?????

  • Comment number 83.

    Please don't think it about faster promotion even those proposing it in the SRU don't say that! Its all about the teams in the central belt/ borders not wanting to travel once or twice a year out of their area....didums where as the clubs from these areas in the main see the benefits of traveling to play quality teams!! and therefore travel these distances half of their season willingly. Those that don't then stay in the leagues your in. If you get promoted quicker its a quicker path to incurring these costs that they are so against.

    #82 Saltireblue
    Sorry but stop the sevens are you mad!
    So the rest of the world are wrong!!
    Many many current 15 aside internationalist have come through the sevens game hence why many countries are doing the exact opposite of what you suggest. Just look at the number of current all black players who played for the seven's first. Something like 7 or 8 at the last count I believe.
    What we need is more money in the game by marketing it better much much better.

    Back to the game we can win but please AR don't pick De Luca we can't afford to lose another 7 points in the first 5 minute or it'll be a cricket score.

  • Comment number 84.

    Convertedfootballer: Getting out of the IRB sevens is neither my idea nor my suggestion, but I would support it if it meant putting the money spent on the sevens circuit to better use, say into the pro teams or other developmental schemes. What I'm saying is that the SRU is seriously considering it! This is not my imagination; it's very real! They are…take my word for it!

    Your reaction to the suggestion tells me that perhaps the SRU is going to have a big fight on their hands similar to the reaction to closing down the Borders pro-team.

    But, please don't rant at me! As I said it's not my idea, however I do support it if in fact it comes to reality.

    To continue: dropping out of the IRB Sevens circuit does not mean that the SRU is getting out of sevens per se. There's always the Melrose sevens tournament and this could be re-engineered into a higher profile event.

  • Comment number 85.

    Sorry if you thought it was a personal rant. It wasn't it was against the idea which you did say you agreed with. I don't know enough about the borders situation but I believe it was hemorrhaging money with falling attendances. Therefore probably the right decision 3 pro-team in a reasonably close area.
    With respect the Melrose sevens as good as it is and it is! Its only one weekend and not international quality. In my view for the good of Scotland International development it should not only stay but more resources put into it.
    The as many have said is more money needs to be brought into the game and better marketing is the only way.
    Again sorry but if you took my opinion personally.

    Can we agree on dropping De Luca?

  • Comment number 86.


    For a while now I have read people being sceptical about this blog and refused to believe that you would be happy to get paid just to put topics out for debate without offering an opinion.

    However during this one you say

    Either the money isn't enough and they need to find even more, or the money is enough and the teams need to improve.

    yes either its right or it's wrong well spotted

    Then on your last blog you say

    To my mind both Glasgow and Edinburgh have underperformed this year and that's either because the players aren't as good as they might be, the squads might need improved with hired guns which is something that can't be afforded, or there are other factors.
    That's why I think the players have to perform soon.

    So in otherwords maybe they are good enough or maybe they are not

    World class insight

    you are losing credibility by such wishy washy Journalisem!!!

    well remember watching you and your efforts and class was clear to see as was your passion for Scotland and the will to win

    don't take the easy shilling.

    If you care, either contribute with ideas and constructive contrubutions, or if you feel you have done your part, and I mean that with respect cause you have put your body on the line many times,step aside and let someonelse do the Scottish BBC Blog

    Finally you finished with

    Anyway, to the game, yes it's going to be a cracker

    I do not believe you mean this and cannot understand why you would say it

    Therefore if Scotland keep the difference between the teams to under 20 points I will buy you a nice bottle

    If they don't then please read my previous posts regarding football and rugby in our tiny little land and tell me I am correct

  • Comment number 87.

    Can we agree on dropping de Disaster Area?

    Uh, yup! It's unnanimous, isn't it?

  • Comment number 88.

    DWINDLING NUMBERS AT THE BORDERS GAMES ???? Get your story right 85 .... Mckie funding = 40% Edinburgh 40% Glasgow and 20% The Borders. Mckie turned down a massive chunk of money from a private investor in the Borders. The Borders folded.... He turned down BT's offer of £1.5m to sponsor the the leagues as he said he had plenty of major sponsor's waiting to offer double. (There was no other sponsors) Melrose won't re structure the event to suit anybody but Melrose as the event funds their semi pro's........................................................... Get rid of the dead wood in the SRU and shred their recovery plan....

  • Comment number 89.


  • Comment number 90.

    Chalmersredcard as I said I don't know enough about the borders situation and also stated it was an impression if the money side was wrong fine was the numbers attending falling or rising?

    I love the Melrose seven and would attend if not for a kids tournament that weekend which we travel 200miles too.

    what is your opinion on the real point I was making about the apparent dropping of the irb sevens funding by the sru? bluesaltire was saying this was being considered?

  • Comment number 91.

    John at #81 says

    "Yup, I'll say again, I think the SRU invest all they can in professional rugby. If it hadn't been for the SRU, who had to pay for the development of their own stadium, the game in Scotland would be much smaller."

    A few things here. First, the SRU have wasted more than they have invested. They have never considered the return on their investment. In that respect they have not invested all they can in professional rugby, they have thrown money at it and then proceeded to mismanage it to such an extent that it is a laughing stock outside of Scotland. OPEN YOUR EYES John and see what is going on rather than accept the view provided by your rose tinted glasses (not from Specsavers, obviously).

    The stadium is a mill stone around the neck of Scottish rugby and the SRU in particular. If you want to blame some body for that then look at the people in power when you were playing your best for Scotland and the Lions for it was they who agreed to the scheme. We are in this mess now and the current CEO and his team cannot, or will not, see the right way out of it. They should go whilst they still have some dignity left.

  • Comment number 92.

    87. At 11:42pm on 08 Mar 2011, CaptainMidnight wrote:

    "Can we agree on dropping de Disaster Area?

    Uh, yup! It's unnanimous, isn't it?"

    No it's not. I have posted more times than I can remember about poor NDL and the terrible stick he gets from Scotland fans, whilst players who are equally questionable seem to get away with it. Against Ireland NDL was pretty decent. He kept a world Class BOD in check all game, I think I did not even hear his name get mentioned.

    NDL is a player with proper attacking flair, pace and vision. He does not play well with Parks because he can't make the most of the poor ball he gets from him. Morrison on the other hand is big and powerful and when he gets poor ball from Parks he just crashes the ball, same thing he does when he gets good ball from Parks.

    All tournament when playing Inside (notably against France) The surging runs Ansbro made were because NDL put him in space. Couple that with the fact he is just back from lengthy injury I would say he has done ok and would rather see him in the squad today than Southwell.

  • Comment number 93.

    RuggerRadge2611 - I half agree with you

    I think NDL can get himself in a tizzy and cause a few heart flutters from us fans and I think he sometimes has little brain farts that mean he get us into trouble. He also seems to throw passes without looking and seems to be very week throwing of his left side (shovel pass)

    However, with the ball we are getting from the breakdown, not sure even the NZ backline would fire that well

    He does some good stuff and some bad stuff. We have no real options, so lets give him the time to prove himself

    John - as mentioned the SRU has failed - every metric you can think of has goind backwards,

    Crowds down
    Success down
    Support down
    Media coverage down
    Money raised down
    7's about to be down and out
    Professional team down to 2 and maybe soon to zero
    Wooden spoon or second last every year
    Unfilled stadium to Internationals
    No strategy to change this going forward

    How can you say that they are doing a good job?

    What has been positive in the last 10 year - name ONE thing except a few lucky wins here and there (australia we were outplayed all game and never looked like scoring a try, SA was ok, and Argentina was against a weaken team - although still good to beat them away)

    We have been outplated in every game this year, our professional teams are at the bottom, below one of the Italian teams

    We have been dark horses every year and failed utterly evey year

    We are a joke in international rugby just now and it is depressing

    How long can we go on. We are still saying EXCATLY the same stuff as we did before the last world cup - nothing has changed and nothing looks like it will change except we get worst

  • Comment number 94.

    #92 Ruggerradge2611
    do you argue that NDL cost us 7 points when he carried the ball incorrectly into the tackle against France. Ball stripped, try 7 points down 5-10 minutes played. Ireland goes to tackle Lamont's player who by the way Lamont had leaving a gap an arctic could have gone through, try 7 points down 5-10 minutes played. Hardly set the heather on fire (along with most) against wales.
    So is he worth us starting 7 points down. His concentration and his ability to secure the ball is not up to international standard.
    Does anyone else disagree with that summary. I may point out when he first came on the scene I was a fan but I was wrong Sadly.

  • Comment number 95.

    The issue of IRB sevens is a farce. Can we afford to send amateur / academy / semi pro players around the world? No is the answer. Can we afford 28 so called development coaches? No. Have we seen any fruits of their labour in the national squad since they were introduced? No. Are the 2 current Pro teams worth £10m? No. Do they have any results in the last 3 years that would suggest they were improving? No. Where do I stop? It's actually people like John Beattie who need to stop selling the optimistic view we are improving, when in factual terms we are getting worse. People like Mckie listen to the so called knowledgeable Legends (J Beattie, Gav & Scott). The true catalyst to the demise of Scottish rugby is not down to the players not performing. It’s down to the thousands of kids that are “not” playing rugby…. It’s as plain as the nose on your face. If 1000 kids walk through the Murrayfield tunnel there’s a chance you will pick 50 players that could play rugby. If you reduced the number down to 100 kids through the tunnel, the chances of picking a team a significantly drop to maybe 5. This is just what the SRU are doing in selecting potential pro’s at age 15……… My plan 1. Pay off the rugby development coaches. 2. Scrap the Academy set up. 3. Release the money from point 1 & 2 back to the primary schools. 4. Appoint all the current national team players an area within Scotland to work as ambassadors within the schools (David Sole did this a few years back with the RBS 6 nations cup tour. This spurned hundreds of kids into rugby).

  • Comment number 96.

    #94. At 09:24am on 09 Mar 2011, Convertedfootballer wrote:

    "do you argue that NDL cost us 7 points when he carried the ball incorrectly into the tackle against France. Ball stripped, try 7 points down 5-10 minutes played. Ireland goes to tackle Lamont's player who by the way Lamont had leaving a gap an arctic could have gone through, try 7 points down 5-10 minutes played. Hardly set the heather on fire (along with most) against wales."

    No I don't but Max Evans cost us 7 points against france too by throwing an insane pass that went straight to Medard, under your logic he should be dropped too.

    Onto Heaslip's try, that was a try no matter what NDL did, Tommy Bowe was the third option open to score that try.... watch it again.

    And for the record, Max Evans was turned over 3 times against Ireland.

    NDL has been been given some horrible ball to work with and to be honest has made the best out of what he has been provided with.

  • Comment number 97.

    As always, I enjoy reading the blog and the plethora of views that they normally generate. One thing you can summise from reading through is that there is no real solution as I am not sure we can even agree what the problems are; unless it is Scottish rugby in its entirety. I would propose a number of options, some perhaps more attractive than others and I wrote only as an interested observer, not with an insight as to what has been investigated before.

    1. Have Edinburgh and Glasgow groundshare with their footballing neighbours; it works for London Irish, Wasps to name but two. Is it more cost effective to run this way because I would not want to sit in an empty Murrayfield on a Friday night and I doubt the players are that up for it either.

    2. Decide on one team having the bulk of the current international team so that the combinations get to work together. Use the other team as the development team and combine them with the old heads and experienced players. Recently NZ second rower Ali Williams had a two month stint with Nottingham as he recovered from injury; what an impact he must have made on the club. What can we do to generate opportunities like this?

    3. Invest in London Scottish; this could potentially mean that players who want to move south can, but with the attachment to Scottish rugby. Develop the ground so that Glasgow and Edinburgh can go on the road and play Magners/HC games there.

    4. Ask one of the Captains of Industry in to take a good look at the SRU and how it is run and how it can best utilise it's assets. Ask them to look at it as a business and make business decisions accordingly. If we can agree that Scottish rugby is a marketable and attractive product, then utilise the experts that can make it happen.

    One thing that does stand out from my post and others is that there is little that can be done to impact on the current playing staff (although it was not long ago how we waxed lyrical about our back row riches) but is about setting the scene for the future and how best some of the young players have the environment for success. As for Sunday, England by a lot...

  • Comment number 98.

    re-#88 My recollections from when I lived down in the Borders, the (at least one-time) self-proclaimed heartland of Scottish rugby, were that the matches of the Border professional team were very poorly attended, even when there was the opportunity to watch some of the European greats locally. It seemed to me that enthusiasm for the game was confined to parochial loyalties for the various Border towns -- Hawick v. Melrose etc. -- with a great deal of the "entertainment" provided by silly touchline tirades against the referee. In my opinion true aficionados of the game go to a match simply to watch good rugby, even if their favoured team loses. Rugby on a European scale guaranteed that the quality of rugby on view would far exceed that provided by Border towns. For a period even the ex-All Black coach, Laurie Mains, gave his services to the professional team. Yet even the promise that that held out was not enough to inspire the Border crowds to attend in numbers. The whole project fizzled out for the familiar reasons -- parochialism and apathy.

  • Comment number 99.

    I've just seen the team for Sunday. It seems quite radical. Not totally radical, yet still quite radical. I need to digest the selections for a while to figure out the tactics and style behind them.

    Opinions on the 22 anyone?

  • Comment number 100.

    De Luca performance against France: from my previous post:

    "Just watched the game back to be sure and watched him in particular. 1 try gifted to the French, 2 shocking passes, 1 sprint out of defence which let the French carve us up, about 2 tackles and 2 half breaks. No passes to Ansbro. Most of the time he was jogging around or pretending to be a flanker at rucks. Seriously low contibution"

    Note the line "No passes to Ansbro". I honestly watched the whole game baack to see De Luca's performance, and he really didn't give a single pass to Ansbro.

    Anyway, to Sunday and the team...

    Interesting selection... As Captainmidnight, digesting it, hmmm...


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