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Scottish rugby needs a Russian oligarch

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John Beattie | 11:32 UK time, Sunday, 14 August 2011

Why is nobody investing large sums of rugby in Scottish rugby?

Scottish rugby needs a Roman Abramovich, or even a Roddy McBramovich. Will someone please write a cheque or two?

I always wonder what I'd do if I won the Euro Millions Lottery.

After a long list of purchases including a couple of curries and a nice Scottish lager, oh and a few donations to worthwhile causes, comes the sneaking suspicion that it would be good to help out Scottish rugby.

A million to both professional teams. Or might it be a couple of million.

Or maybe I'd put my cash on the table and insist on both Edinburgh and Glasgow being wound up and my money going to the club game.

Or better still, pay teachers to take rugby teams at school.

Or maybe that's the problem - nobody knows what their money might be spent on.

Anyway, dreams are dreams and my life will probably always include an element of bumping along without wealth nor the ability to invest in rugby.

It was the Roman philosopher Cicero who said: "Endless money forms the sinews of war." Which is why I am so skinny now.

And that's the trouble with Scottish rugby - it's having a lean time. On one level there aren't any Russian oligarchs willing to invest their oil billions into Scottish rugby, and on another there aren't even enough wealthy Scots willing to either.

I heard an impassioned plea last week where a speaker said that, at present, rich rugby fans in Scotland are particularly bad at spending their money on the game and actually put rugby behind their families, shopping for trendy shirts on a Saturday, and their golf club memberships.

Can you imagine putting rugby behind your family? Where the heck are the real priorities these days?

Which begs the question: why, aside from the admirable backing of some clubs to a the tune of a few thousand pounds, do rich Scots keep their cash to themselves?

How can England and France have massive individual investments in rugby at club level, and a huge corporate and personal following at international level?

As a Scot I found it quite informative, and annoying, that Twickenham and Cardiff were essentially sold out for two summertime friendlies while Murrayfield had under 30,000 fans turning up to watch the game against Ireland.

My gut feeling is that the SRU is caught within budget limits; money, which is in short supply, goes on essentials like wages and ground costs.

There is little left over to really grow the game or to promote it, nor is there much time to find the kind of people who might just write a cheque or two.

The next SRU step will undoubtedly be along the new media path as they try to win over a new, younger audience.

There are opportunities to bring people to the ground using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and all manner of other newfangled tools.

But I think the bigger issue is the cash the game needs to keep playing numbers up, and the battle to bring back the fans who have deserted the game north of the border.

Maybe it really is time for those who have given up coming to rugby to, instead, put a hold on their shopping trips and golf subscriptions and come back for the occasional Saturday, or is that just not possible?

Does anyone out there have a sensible and logical reason as to why Scottish rugby hasn't attracted a few individuals with sensible cash to put some of it into the game?

Oh, and before we all get too defensive, I was in a Glasgow taxi the other day and the driver said one of his pals, who had been a lifelong Partick Thistle supporter, had given up football and now comes along every Friday night to Firhill to watch the Glasgow rugby team with his family and is hooked.

And he'd never played rugby.

The product could be better but it can be really good; pitch up to watch Edinburgh or Glasgow occasionally and you might get a surprise.

The marketing, the atmosphere, the investment and promotion and the cash are all sub-standard though.

Which is why, friends, this World Cup is so, so important.

Yours,

Roman Abramovich Beattie

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    As an Englishman, I probably have no right to comment. As an Englishman who served two really enjoyable tours of duty in Scotland (and loves the game in Scotland) I'd suggest that the biggest problem is the obsession with Glasgow and Edinburgh - where are Kelso and Hawick and Gala? Scottish rugby always was Border Rugby.

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree with the Englishman.

    Scotland's rugby heartlands - aside from the traditionally affluent private school former pupil orientated central belt (of which I'm one) - were and are in the Borders, Aberdeen and beyond.

    We're neglecting a rugby majority in Scotland, and with average Joe's tight personal finances, travelling support has suffered too. And that's hurting the Scottish game.

    The game, in Scotland at any rate, is losing (has lost) its elitist stigma which is good but we're failing to grow the sport; attract significant interest, investment and an appetite for people to back our true national game. We're failing to pull people away from the coma enducing hypnotic drudgery of constant football chatter, highlights, analysis and previews.

    I'm not a football fan but I do back the national team.

    However, I am a passionate rugby supporter.

    THE CURE:

    Do well at the World Cup and trumpet our successes. Properly.

    Scottish Rugby's relying on a generation of former players and audiences who are withering; the population of support is losing more than is being created.

    But this can be countered by shrewd marketing and a passion - which can be infectious - and a national enthusiasm for the country to do well. It's all about sparking the fuse of self-belief dynamite. It can be done!

    However, Scottish Television's adverts for the summer and autumn tests, although advancing the cause, are lame; cheap, crummy and everything which confirms parochial, local television programming can do more harm than good (radio aside, John!).

    For example, this YouTube link (I don't know who made it), broadcast at the height of viewing times would do more to inspire and create genuine interest than the current crop of yawn-fest snippets on STV:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpSu6oqW-2k

    To sum up though, if the team can perform on the world stage (which I think they will: semi-finals, here we come!), that's a start. On our way there, the SRU have a duty to shout about it and make everyone aware of what's happening, in a stylish 'look how awesome this is' kind of way. I'm not sure many non-rugby playing or supporting people are aware it's on the doorstep.

    Tickets to see the national side play should be £10 for adults and £5 for kid. For every game. Although you'd take less on the door, it'd draw in larger crowds and I'd imagine, with 75, 000 person audiences you'd have investors, sponsors and broadcasters chompng at the bit to associate themselves and become involved.

    The two professional teams need to brand themselves and partner themselves more closely as part of their respective regions and cities; make them true representatives of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and encourage a healthy rivalry. As an Edinburgh man now living and working in Glasgow, I found it surprisingly easy to switch allegiances from Gunner to Warrior. It shouldn't have been that easy but it feels like whoever you support, you're supporting Scotland. It shouldn't be that easy; I should have lost sleep over it!

    Alas, I sleep like a baby.

    Anyway, I cannot wait for the World Cup to begin and I reckon Scotland are going to top their pool which means we'll likely play France in the quarters, which means (I'd like to think) the Kiwis will get behind Scotland which means we'll win and make the semi-finals.

    Science!

  • Comment number 3.

    Al Davis, Managing General Partner (yep...that’s his title; at least one of them) of the NFL's Oakland Raiders has the answer to everything.

    His favourite expression is "Just Win Baby!”

    Everything else will take care of itself!

  • Comment number 4.

    John: England and France are big enough to finance both professional rugby and football. In Wales, not withstanding the success of Swansea and Cardiff, rugby is the people's game of choice. In Ireland, professional rugby is the biggest game.

    In Scotland, rugby comes at best third behind the Old Firm (not a lot to do with football there), and the rest of professional football.

    Yes, the economic down-turn in the Borders has hit the game, but, the inherrant clannishness of the Scots doesn't help. There is a presumption that some rugby fans from elsewhere in the Borders chose not to follow Border Reivers, because they played at Gala and somehow Gala benefitted from having that team there. Similarly in the Glasgow District some good players, who could play at a higher level faced pressure not to join some clubs, but to perhaps join Edinburgh clubs. Same thing happens in junior football by the way.

    You may find more money coming into the game once the necessary reduction in the number of teams playing in national leagues comes in next season.

    We do I feel however need SRU input into the two professional teams - let's look at them as Celtic and Rangers without the baggage. They are our best hope of European success, the lesser "semi-professional" sides such as Ayr, Boroughmuir, Currie and Hawks would struggle even more in Europe, even in the lesser of the two European competitions.

    Maybe a bit more management freedom, with something akin to English cricket's central contracts, would allow Glasgow and Edinburgh to do better in Europe.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm not sure we need a Roman Abramovich type figure - it would just make the game even more about money than sport. At some point football is likely to go bust due to the over the top wages.

    Hopefully the change to the league structures will increase local support.

    Although it is rather embarrasing that Murrayfield was half full/ empty with reasonable ticket prices. I couldn't believe how full the Millenium Stadium was for Wales v England.

    It is definately worth getting along to Glasgow/ Edinburgh games. The Glasgow game on Friday was up and down as usual but certainly a few new players were showing promise - eg. Scott Wight 10. The ground seemed busy and you had to queue to get in yet there was under 2000 there according to the match figures. Offering 1 adult get 10 kids in free was a good idea to let youngsters sample the atmosphere minus the punch up on the pitch. Although I overheard one parent criticizing his daughter for yelling in support of Glasgow as being a foghorn - to me there is much worse things than joining in the banter at a rugby game! They could do with better sound equipment as Richie Gray couldn't be interviewed as the mike kept cutting out.

    Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow could do with a good run to get more folks interested and the media on board - it doesn't help when you can't watch all the games on TV. We could also do with promoting the top clubs more too.

  • Comment number 6.

    4.At 14:44 14th Aug 2011, Matt Vallance wrote:
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In Ireland, GAA football and hurling are the biggest sports. Rugby is popular, but not the biggest game.

  • Comment number 7.

    Dave (No.2) Is absolutely right, Scotland need to do well to start attracting fans to watch. Back in 2003 I went to cardiff (I'm Welsh) to Watch wales play Scotland in a world cup warm up, the Millenium Stadium was empty and it was embarrassing. But we hadn't beaten a fellow Home Nation in 3 years.


    Gilly (No.5) It was easy to expect a full house at Cardiff, Wales were confident after the week before plus tickets for Wales V England are rarely £30. Realistically Had we lost by 60 points last week, there would have been plenty of empty seats.

    I don't think a huge influx of money to the pro teams will help, what will that achieve except allow them to import retired Tri Nations players (which will not help scotland).

    It's going to take some big performances (which I think Andy Robinson will provide), beating Ireland wasn't bad for starters.

  • Comment number 8.

    John my good man, you are so right and on the pathway of asking the right questions.

    What Scottish Rugby needs is a seasoned rainmaker that connects with a new audience & spectators via new media and television and can sit across the table from the oligarchs and big business and cut the sponsorship deals, not only for the national side, Glasgow & Edinburgh professional teams, but inject a new energy and cash into the universities and clubs and schools. A man that can hold his own at IRB level and international rugby in the northern and southern hemispheres.

    I have seen such a man and that is the lightning bolt that Scottish Rugby needs to propel itself into the future. He is a turnaround specialist of note and you can find him at: www.sportsleader.co.za/tonymckeever

    If Sir Moir Lockhead Chairman of SRU & Ian McLauchlan President of the SRU ever wanted a turnaround specialist to infuse energy and cash into the SRU and the 251 clubs he is the go-to guy to get.

    Get him in as the specialist Scottish Rugby CEO and watch the deals and corporates sign up with the SRU.

    And watch Scotland climb the IRB ladder from 9th place to 4th place inside a year.

    See you at Murrayfield and Firhill!

    And let the new CEO bring in 2 more professional teams!!

    Then on the World Cup - we face Georgia and Romania and have 33% win record against them and then there is Argentina and England on the 25 Sept & 1 Oct and we have a 32% win record against these two - so things are not as rosy as Dave in #2 above would have us in.

    We just HAVE to beat Argentina and/or England to go through, or go Home!

    These are not good stats and I am not so sure Andy Robinson has our team all set and ready. The match against Italy on Saturday will be a real test as the Italians will throw everything at us to come off a high pre World Cup. They also took Argentina down to the wire a couple of months ago in an away game and won - so this is also a test for us to see how we will fare against our competitors in our Pool in New Zealand.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi John, I think you are indeed correct some sort of investment is needed in Scottish Rugby.

    However i dont think we should be looking to one or two affluent people to sort this connundrum, we as the fans and supporters should be taking the game to new heights, or as high as we can go!!

    It is up to us to raise the profile of the game, I quite often go to watch sctoland play but never at murrayfield as i live in England and it would cost an arm and a leg to go up for a game. The game ticket itself would be the cheapest! ;-)

    I agree the advertising of scottish rugby needs to be more inventive and media coverage would be a good help. I think merchandising is also a huge factor in promoting the game, for instance Scotlands warm up tops you see them lining up in for the national anthems are only for 'the team', i for one would snap one up instantly if they were on sale!!!

    Anyway rant over, as always enjoy read your blogs, please keep them up.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think you answer your question yourself unfortunately John, if someone invests a bit of cash in one of the areas you highlight it would not make a bit of difference as every area you mention needs improved and invested in. IMO the reason no one invests in one of the Pro teams is that for one they feel that there would be too much interference by the SRU I would imagine and do the SRU really want or make investment attractive? First of all I feel any investment into Edinburgh would have to find them a home away from Murrayfield. A lot of cash!!!
    On a similar vein why do you think the SRU are so against players moving to other clubs out with their 2 pro teams? If I were them I would see it as a cheap way for them to have more players’ exposure in the pro game. Say you have 15 eligible Scotland players in England, Irish, Wales and French pro clubs you have a cheap 3rd pro team!

  • Comment number 11.

    Rugby in Wales maybe seen as the people’s game of choice but football is a lot more popular.

    We have also neglected our rugby heartland in the south wales valleys with the 4 professional regions all on the south coast. It obviously made short term sense to concentrate on the 3 biggest cities with denser populations and better transport links, but I’m not sure what the long term effects will be. On the one hand most valley towns are only a 30 minute drive from swansea, newport or cardiff but on the other hand do the kids in these towns and villages feel any affinity to the city teams. Looking at the IRB breakdowns of registered players in each of the 6 and Tri nations Wales, Scotland and Australia are the only countries where the number of registered players in the both Pre-teen and Teen age groups is less than the Senior players. Of course there maybe other reasons for this but to me it would suggest that rugby is shrinking in these countries. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that both Wales and Scotland have concentrated their resources away from their traditional heartlands and are both seeing a decline in youth players.

    Maybe this is why there has been no big personal investments in Scottish rugby, with a declining player base and no ‘Golden Age’ to hark back to, there just isnt the will.

  • Comment number 12.

    Saltireblue

    Spot on!

    If the "product" is good enough, it will sell itself. Unfortunately, in Scotland no sport seems to of high enough quality to attract investors or decent players who wish to commit long-term.
    We HAVE to get consistent results on the pitch to fill stadiums. The attendance against Ireland was poor, which reflects the team's abilities. I have to say that the performance wouldn't get me back in a hurry, and there's the rub.
    Scottish sport is floundering in the doldrums, from rugby to soccer. Only yer man Hoy is at the top of his trade!

    John, don't waste your imaginary money on a team that only imagines that it can win!

  • Comment number 13.

    To reply to 'OffTheBench' on post number 8:

    Just to clarify, Scotland have won - at first XV test level - 83% of their games against Romania not 33% as you intimated, and they haven't played Georgia before. But Scotland A have played them in the Nations Cup.

    You're correct, Scotland have won 33% of all their tests against Argentina but that's a historic tally and what counts is recent form; Scotland beat them in their last two encounters. Away. In Argentina. Back to back.

    As for England. You're correct, since the 1871 (Scotland's first encounter with England and the world's first ever international test) we've won 32% of our games. But of all the opponents Scotland could face off against in a World Cup, I suspect (expect) Scotland will raise their game and ignore statistics and history. And I think the Kiwis will get behind the boys in blue (well, white as they'll be in their change strip). Oh, and I think Scotland are just a better team too. With a better coach.

    Optimistic and realistic!

    Scotland will top Pool B.

    And that'll be the catalyst that helps propell Scottish Rugby forward, John!

  • Comment number 14.

    Dave - you are spot on about Romania vs. Scotland stats at 83% win rate by Scotland.

    I saw some of the Romanian teams games at the Nations Cup and they are a team not to be under estimated, in fact I would hope they caused an upset with Argentina in our Pool at the RWC.

    However, Scotland and England are regulars at the knock-out stages, and they have actually only ever met once at a Rugby World Cup tournament - in the 1991 semi-final where England came out victors 9-6.

    That game on the 1st October is going to be a cracker of note.

    I still think 2 of Scotland/England/Argentina going through from Pool B is a really tough one to call.

    If Scotland beat Argentina on 25 Sept in Wellington, now 5 weeks away - we have a shot, as after that we have 2 weeks rest up to England's 3 weeks rest period. Someone doing the match schedule is looking after England especially in advance of 2015.

    Let's see how we do this Saturday against Italy.

  • Comment number 15.

    I agree, let's see (we'll thump them) how we (we'll thump them) get on (we'll thump them) on Saturday (we'll thump them) against Italy.

    I think we might beat them.

    As I said in a previous posting on a seperate issue, I think our warm-ups and our lead-in games, post-Ireland and Italy, against Romania and Georgia are a perfect increase in intensity, and hopefully we'll peak by games 4 and 5; Argentina and England respectively. And hopefully with a straight, unblemished record since Ireland. But I also agree, Georgia particularly are a very physical bunch which - hopefully - will set us up nicely for the Pumas.

    All good and an exciting tournament awaits. I can't wait!

    Yours in Scottish optimism and excited anticipation.

  • Comment number 16.

    *correction "games 4 and 5" should have read 'games 5 and 6'*

    Don't I look like a right ninny!

    Ta.

  • Comment number 17.

    Where to start....A roman Abrhamovic type figure will not invest in Scottish rugby as he would gain nothing back money wise from the game up here, down south he/she would, and people with the sorts of money of which we are discussing love to make money!! that is why they are where they are, wouldn't make any in the sport up here.

    I believe the problems lie with how the pro teams have been run and set up in their infancy. When the pro teams came about, the SRU hoovered up all of the very best talent from the club scene, left the clubs with the rest and completelt alienated all of the fans who had enjoyed backing their chosen teams each saturday for years. i remember not so long ago, i am only 28, going with my father when i was very young to watch a top of the table match at the greenyards between melrose and watsonians and it was absolutly packed!! rammed full, i also remember having the priveledge of getting into netherdale around the same period and that too was absolutly packed full for a match between gala and hawick, in both of these matches there were international players all over the pitch and it was class.

    My point is rugby has been taken from the people, and is in the hands of the SRU completely. The fans get no say whatsoever and haven't had for the last 16 yearsish since the game turned pro, therefore people have drifted away from the game.

    Would i go to murrayfield on a frday night to watch edinburgh vs aironi for example, along with 2500 others?? or would i go back to netherdale, the greenyards, inverleith or any other one of scotlands clubs and watch if the game and its players were given back to the people??

    i'll let you be the judge.

  • Comment number 18.

    Rizzo28 hits the nail on the head. Move Edinburgh out of Murrayfield for matches, play those games at Raeburn Place, or Golden Acre ie central location where people can walk to or get the bus on a Friday night. Smaller venue , packed with electric atmosphere, both can accomodate additional stands as required ie as interest builds, visitors can enjoy the delights of stockbridge or cannon mills etc then onto the game. Parking is poor, but it's poor for Tynecastle and they get twenty thousand odds most games.
    It will sell out /reach capacity fairly quickly, draw the crowds and you'll draw the backers, larger gate receipts, food sales, replica strips etc, corporates will load in need i go on. On the club front and this goes against having the edinburgh /glasgow thing at all, i'd have the players back at their clubs so that fans/customers /supporters can see their best talent , not have it stripped away.
    The product is better , more people come , money comes in to the games, club level sponsors are attracted and so on....

  • Comment number 19.

    Q: Why are there no external investors interested in Scottish Pro rugby?
    A: There's nothing at the moment to invest in! Until a proper franchise structure is put in place nobody can or will invest. The tactics such as where they play or how much the tickets cost are irrelevant while the overarching strategy is fundamentally flawed.

  • Comment number 20.

    Basically John, the reason that no one is willing to invest in Scottish Rugby is because the SRU wants to maintain control at the centre. If you're used to running a business, you want control. The basket case which the SRU has been up until recently is responsible for the lack of investment, hopefully the new regime will change the way the game is run, and that will encourage some investment

  • Comment number 21.

    Although i am not Scottish or support Scotland, i do feel sad to see the low what Scottish rugby in general is at the moment.

    As has been said on here the hotbed of rugby in Scotland is the borders. Would it be such a bad idea to revive the borders team and get rid of the Glasgow side. As i understand it Glasgow is a big football city and if you take England as an example, there are very few towns or cities that have both a big football and rugby club.
    The way i see it is for a strongly supported rugby team it needs to be playing where rugby is popular and not competing with football.
    Maybe rather than have one home ground they could rotate around the top 3 or 4 clubs. When there is a hunger for something, the less often it comes around creates a big appetite. If one town only gets one game a month, then just maybe a good crowd would turn up when they get their chance.

    As for boosting the crowds at murrayfield, once again go looking for where the support is. Somebody said in a previous post there is 230 odd clubs in Scotland.
    If each club has as a conservative average of 60 members, that means 13 odd thousand rugby fans. Offer all people who are members of clubs say a 30% discount on international tickets and you could well pull in a larger proportion of those supporters. Also may get armchair fans to come down their local club and boost their coffers too.
    Likewise people who regularly go and watch the professional sides, give those a discount on international tickets too.
    A full stadium of 67000 paying 70 % for a ticket is better than one of 30000 paying 100%.

  • Comment number 22.

    I was thinking the same thing (winning the lotery) last holidays (July) in Glasgow.
    I did not know the place yet (Queens Park), we were walking (the family) and I said it would be nice to buy a flat around there, calm, not far from City Centre...
    And suddenly thought about putting a large amount in Rugby in Scotland, a pitch for the Warriors plus money for academies, travelling from France to Glasgow and meet some guys involved in a project.
    A bit late tonight so I did not read all the comments above, but I've noticed some about the heartland of Rugby in Scotland.
    Maybe right, but Rugby north of 'La Loire' in France was not popular, but there are 2 pro sides in Paris now and THE CROWDS ARE THERE!
    It is about selling the product, not easy though with soccer in Scotland, yes we know that, but with 2 big cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh there must be some space, just need good ideas and the lotery.

  • Comment number 23.

    As a few posts have touched on football in Scotland is in a woeful, woeful state and there are no signs at all of it improving. I think if the SRU can market rugby successfully, get the pricing right at Murrayfield (I mean low so as to fill) and the national team continue to look promising, rugby has a chance of making inroads on the simple basis that Scottish sports fans are deserting football.

    I for one on the back of reading this column have now vowed to both watch Edinburgh and get myself along to an international - something I have not done in a long time!!

  • Comment number 24.

    Please can I ask for your support to the following Formula 1 Government Petition
    https://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57
    Please spread the word. Really do need and appreciate your support.
    Thank you.

  • Comment number 25.

    Like a couple of the other posters I also used to enjoy the old border derbies at Netherdale, Melrose and Hawick. In the 80s and early 90s folks throughout the towns would always look forward to the big league games and of course the annual 7s. A great number of internationals were produced from these hotbeds.

    The big issue for Scottish Rugby is that they took the game away from those grassroots. Instead of watching a team that had generations of history and local support, Jim Telfer and others decided they knew best and insisted that the only option for the professional era was two manufactured district teams that have no history or local background. Rather than appealing to canny Scots who like their traditions, it was almost as if they thought that there was a finite amount of Rugby expenditure and supporters would make those expenditures whereever the product was offered, whether it was watching Gala, Hawick, Melrose or Glasgow. It was a fundamental misunderstanding of the club game's main customers and what is worse it was done in an arrogant manner by a unaccountable committee with very little consultation. Obviously this is an old debate, but to be clear folks in the heartlands have not forgotten and the SRU should not be suprised that local supporters in the rugby heartlands don't pay for a double figure ticket to go see a team they have no connection to and didn't want in the first place. I will guarantee that if the old club game had been retained and the champions went into Europe, any of Hawick, Gala, Melrose, Watsonians, Heriots or Selkirk would have drawn more than 2,500 supporters to each European game.

    However, assuming that we can't put humptey dumptey back together again and allow the clubs to compete for European places, the SRU should bring back the South as a pro district (forget this Border Reivers new branding nonsense, it wasn't broke in the first place so don't fix it) and decentralize all districts from the union, a la the English clubs, so that businessmen with skin in the game (rather than administrators who think they can run a business) are developing the sport at grassroots level. Even better, scrap the districts and unleash the clubs. The original rationale for not retaining the clubs was that superclubs woule emerge in each region and kill off other local interest. How are we in a better position now where someone from the borders (the traditional heartland) wishing to watch pro rugby has to travel at least an hour there and back on a Friday night to watch one of the cities play rugby

  • Comment number 26.

    John

    I think the fact that very few people have even bothered to join in with this excellent debate is a measure of the interest in Scottish rugby.
    By the way, you also could help by answering a few folk that have made the effort!

  • Comment number 27.

    One of the biggest problems for me is that the SRFU have devalued MurrayField.

    If you look at Twickenham or the Millenium stadium they are not used for club events unless they are huge huge huge occasions. To open a huge magnificent stadium like Murrayfield and only have 1000-2000 people in it is absoloutely insane.

    if they played the edinburgh games at a smaller venue, that only holds a couple of thousand the atmosphere would be electric, and people would feel like it's busy rather then looking around a big hollow stadium and feeling alone.

    It would also up the intensity for the players as it would create quite a partisan atmoshpere, which poeple would remember and talk about and it would grow slowly but surely from there.

    there must be clubs local to edinburgh that can accomodate this kind of game?

  • Comment number 28.

    for me i can't see how scottish rugby can generate more interest at club level without having more pro teams. it is a pro game now. the borders do not have the population to sustain a pro team sadly even with their enthusiasm. if scotland were to get more pro teams then for me ayr and dundee probably have sufficient population and rugby interest. i think dumfries would be too small even.

  • Comment number 29.

    oh and on the murrayfield issue i agree the club aspect may be an issue but they need the money. there are not enough internationals to justify murrayfield alone. it would just collect dust and cost alot. i'm going to get slaughtered for saying this but i think it would benefit both the sru and scottish football to have a shared national stadium in stirling. used only for national fixtures. its an iconic place and easy to get to, and small places with race courses prove they can handle large influx of people if prepared. its nonsense this glasgow is football and edinburgh rugby nonsense. put it in the centre of scotland and both sports can be for all.

  • Comment number 30.

    John we are not rich as a family but it costs approximately £3000 per year for us to follow Edinburgh and Scotland buying the best tickets we can afford.
    Why hasn't the SRU worked as well as it should, one word answer - McKie!
    We sat through the Carruthers Bros debacle as Edinburgh season ticket holders but last years treatment and breaking of contract with the season ticket holder was enough.
    In our opinion there are too many incompetents and sycophants populating the SRU at present. Probably the most resented person there at the moment is Mr Hegarty after his appearance in the Sheriff Court when the Edinburgh season ticket holders took the SRU to court. The plan to move to the east stand is still going through even though McKie & Heggarty forced it on the current CEO of Edinburgh Rugby. There certainly was not any consultation with fans.
    Last season there were approximately 1700 season ticket holder of all types.
    This season so far ER are just about the 500 mark with the friendlies starting on friday and the season some three weeks away. Sir Moir has given a few indicators that things may change.
    Murrayfield is bad enough when it's empty but the proposals for this season will be an embarassment to Edinburgh Rugby. Yes, there may be some logic in what they are attempting but it is going in the opposite direction of most teams in the league.
    Murrayfield has the facilities to cater for thousands pre and post match yet fans and visitors will mill about on the east concourse. Good luck.

  • Comment number 31.

    I wonder what Bill McClaren would ha' thought of this? Although world-renowned as "The voice of Rugby", his biggest contribution was arguably his personal dedication to teaching the game seriously beginning at primary school level in Hawick (I was one of his "pigeons") and pushing the semi-junior game into a mini-league of it's own from which the Hawick "Greens" were ultimately chosen. From this consistent and often hard - fought path, if one played for the Hawick team, they were already close to international standard.
    The Borders teams were also more "Democratic" in their structure, being from a really mixed demographic rather than private "Name" school clubs from the cities. I can still remember a Watsonians player having seen his team being swallowed up by Hawick's seventies team muttering, as he walked off the ground, "Beaten again by these bloody farmers!" And the Boroughmuir coach of that era stating that he'd "Rather beat Hawick than win the championship".
    Things have changed dramatically since the advent of the professional game and a friend in Hawick who's son plays for the "Greens" tells me that so many of the youngsters now have to go to Edinburgh and beyond for any kind of decent work prospects (but then many of us did in earlier decades, especially the likes of Alan Tomes and Colin Deans, two of Scotland's most capped players) but I guess that the lure of the professional clubs in the cities is now keeping them there.
    I do know that the Hawick Club has started a fund to reinforce and push the game at least in the "Grey Auld Toon", which has never needed much encouragement anyway, as the club is still smarting from one season relegated to Division 2 and is currently at the lower end of Div'1. This is unheard of the Hawick's history and they at least, are trying to kick back.
    Sorry to ramble on but maybe Scotland needs another Bill McClaren (unlikely as it might be that the likes of him will come along in my lifetime or indeed ever).

  • Comment number 32.

    We've had the chequebook charlie's in Wales, propping up the Scarlets, Blues and Ospreys.

    The Scarlets bought in a few quality players, nearly went bust and were unable to maintain the team pay bill when the fans failed to turn up at the new ground. They are now having a bit more success after a season or two of developing local talent.

    The Blues were the next biggest spenders buying in players to help develop a strong first XV and developing fringe players. They did not build a new ground and instead rent use of the new Cardiff City Stadium, but also have difficulty in drawing large crowds. In recent years they have cut back on signings and have had to lete a few players go as they needed to cut the pay bill.

    The Ospreys (biggest spenders) built up the equivalent of two XVs of ex and current internationals (like Chelsea) and like Chelsea they failed to gel, leading to dissention amongst the players and inconsistent performances. They took a third option with the stadium and went in with Swansea City to share the costs. As the self callled 'One True Region' they have developed a slightly larger following but still are unable to get a full stadium beyond the big matches. They too have reduced the pay bill, allowing big names to leave over the last season. They too noticed that the talented youngsters who were not getting game time behind the big names were cheaper to pay and had more of an appetite when selected.

    So having a big money backer does not equal success. The Blues, Ospreys and Scarlets are now moving closer to the Dragons blueprint of using local talent, supplemented with a few ex internationals. They are turning away from the examples set by the big English and French clubs who have large crowds, big sponsorship deals and teams full of non-residentially qualified players.

    I've always felt that the way forward for Wales (and possibly Scotland) is to move to the Irish system. Where there are geographically defined regions/provinces with centrally contracted international players. This is also similar to the way that NZ rugby works with centrally contracted players allocated to teams. This system has developed two clubs (Munster and Leinster) who are able to compete with the big boys of Europe, a third club (Ulster) who are able to compete favourably with the other Celtic teams and mid table English/French clubs. Even the fourth team are able to win a lot of home games.

  • Comment number 33.

    Scottish rugby needs to make two big changes.

    One is [and I’m sad to say this] to go back to the club model. The other is to play through the summer [with a mid season break].

    This would bring rugby back to the traditional heartlands where it deserves to be.

    I like Edinburgh and Glasgow but the writing is on the wall, and if we don’t read it, we could lose the Borders and other areas too. Melrose and Ayr have shown that Scottish Premier Clubs can still be very competitive in the British and Irish Cup. With central contracted professionals in their ranks they can only get better.

    The SRU have roughly 50 contracted players, and the clubs should have an annual NHL-style draft for seniors and juniors. The weakest team get first pick, second weakest gets second pick etc..

    The SRU can impose financial regulations on the clubs to prevent them from getting stupid with money, perhaps a salary cap, a spend-what-you-earn remit and a draft to ensure their security [no Chelseas, Rangers or Portsmouths].

    I’m actually more excited by the prospect of a Scottish club league, than the status quo which is not going to get better.

    Welsh rugby will soon have the same problem with Swansea this year, and probably Cardiff City next year playing in the Premier League. Switch to the summer season. Let the Irish and Italians sort themselves out.

  • Comment number 34.

    Dave-that is a great video!
    I always want Scotland to do well, except against England of course! And playing against better teams can only make you better-so I want all the 6 nations teams to improve and be good to make each other better ( the tri nations get better because they play each other so often in one respect)
    However, I don't think Scotland have the players to compete for top spot in the 6 nations and maybe not enough to get out of their group in the world cup ( certainly not enough to beat NZ in the semi if they squeeze second behind England-make me eat my words ;-) )
    They have some good forwards, particularly back row, and some good backs, with a particular wealth of 9's, but lack pace throughout the backs and have a weak front row.
    That's just how I see it though. It would be great to see Scotland get back to where people make them favourites for clashes with the likes of England or Wales and not just hopeful winners on a good day if the opposition don't turn up.
    If I had the money I'd give it to them to regain competitiveness, I might for any of the 6 nations if they needed it ( except France and Italy as they're not lions!)
    Get Ian mcgeechan in a top role and give him the freedom to do what he wants with Scottish rugby-who could doubt he knows more about rugby than most?
    Is it too cheeky to day have a more lively anthem to sing before games too? ;-)
    Redevelop murrayfield too-lose the athletics track and enhance the acoustics so when flower of Scotland does get sung-it's so loud that the team can hear it
    Simples? I hope so

  • Comment number 35.

    Anyone got any mates in Largs?

    Win, investment, marketing, rugby in schools, marketing, win, investment, win, and then of course win.

    Think the game is suffering from complete lack of long term strategy in a very tough economic climate. Plan 5 years ahead. Business plan with cost model and marketing model.

  • Comment number 36.

    A few people have already mentioned Ireland as a realistic role model for Scotland. Ireland and Scotland have similar populations but Irish Rugby despite being a distant fourth in popularity in teams sports in Ireland still seems to attract plenty of fans unlike Scottish Rugby. Why is this? Is it the recent successes of the provinces? Is it the fact the teams have been playing each other for over a hundred years building up fierce rivalry? - maybe but it may also be down to the fact that GAA and Soccer fans are willing to go see some rugby too. Do the football fans in Scotland care about Scottiish rugby? Some rugby fans would say they wouldnt want the wendyball crowd - thats true for the hooligans but the vast majority need to be welcomed into the game - more bums on seats means more money for SRU end of story

  • Comment number 37.

    Sorry forgot to add any Roddy McAbramovich will stop of at Celtic or Rangers whose finances are in a mess before he would look at Rugby Im afraid

  • Comment number 38.

    I have a cousin whose dad is a big Old Firm supporter, but isn't as interested in wendyball as he is in Scottish rugby.

    However the only reason he's big on rugby is because the army sent him to a fee paying school close to Murrayfield, supported by the fact that he has an enthusiastic older cousin [me] whose also played rugby at a fee paying school.

    Rugby is a very appealing sports culture, but when I tell people at my work, that i go to watch Edinburgh Rugby they usually haven't heard of them. And I work in Gorgie 5 mins away from Murrayfield.

    The biggest problem is making rugby a part of Scottish culture. Not just Borders and private school culture.

  • Comment number 39.

    Not sure it needs that much, just some people at the top that understand marketing.

    Almost impossible to follow Glasgow and Edinburgh if not in the city. Never on TV, no promotion, not advertising, no

    Take this weekend for example - only game that is not on TV in England is the Scotland one - unless I maybe learn a new language and watch it on Alba through my PC

    Sell the rights, and advertise the game. (No one in Glasgow has seen any promotional material for the games ever)

    It is and has always been an embarrasment to me how ineffective the SRU seems to be

  • Comment number 40.

    Nothing breeds support better than success. Welsh rugby only really benefited when we started winning. We still struggle with regional attendances but we do have dedicated fans turning up week-in week-out which adds to the funds of the club.

    Asking for an Ibranovic-style owner is not the answer and frankly the day that happens to rugby is the day I start losing interest.

    Scottish fans (and indeed the manager) are likely fed up with a team full of talent constantly under performing. Why have Scotland not won the 6 Nations yet?? Until Scotland perform to their potential they will continue to struggle to fill Murrayfield

 

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