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To boo or not to boo? That is the Murrayfield question

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John Beattie | 13:46 UK time, Friday, 16 November 2012

It was weird last weekend. I've argued before that perhaps, just perhaps, the Scottish crowd should join the likes of the Kiwis, the South Africans, the South Americans and the French and boo at the kickers.

Oh it would all be part of helping our boys in blue to win a game or two.

Dan Carter stepped up to take a kick at goal at Murrayfield and sections of our Scottish crowd started booing. And there I was thinking: "I've advocated this in the past!".

Carter is one of the best players ever to have played rugby. He's a hard working ambassador for our game and I actually felt a little sick.

I actually felt a little ashamed at Scots doing that to someone who is an opponent and an ambassador for rugby.

It was wrong. There is no place for the denigration of opponents at any rugby stadium, especially Murrayfield. Do you agree?

South Africa were 16-12 winners in Dublin last weekend

South Africa were 16-12 winners in Dublin last weekend

Anyway, last weekend Scotland scored three tries so it wasn't all doom and gloom.

Interestingly the All Blacks played last year's Glasgow game plan, the same as the Saracens game plan, of three pods with the second rows and props in the middle of the pitch, the remaining forwards split either side, and Dan Carter chose which side to attack.

Fairly simple stuff but Scotland's defence didn't cope. The line-out was erratic and the brutality of the All Blacks, added to Carter's imperious kicking, were too much.

It must have been satisfying for Carter to slot the kicks with boos ringing in his ears.

Starting with the front row I thought Geoff Cross had one of his best games in a Scotland jersey and deserved to start again.

Richie Gray, who was excellent, could have finished the 80 minutes, Jim Hamilton's power was superb with one line-out adjustment sheer perfection but I'd like to see him give away no penalties in a game, and the finishing back row looked strong.

John Barclay now joins it and he won't let anyone down.

But we lack power in midfield and I guess the Springboks might target there.

Our pattern of play was to go the same way running off ten or nine and trying to get wide too. South Africa's pattern to date has been the Blue Bulls pattern of one out runners smashing their way up the pitch.

This game is going to be tough.

Getting back to the issue of getting on the back of kickers, rugby is different from other sports.

We shake hands after the game despite horrendous conflicts and impacts. We respect the referee. We sit side-by-side with opposition fans, we laugh with them, share food with them, and even have a drink with them.

It's about respect.

I don't want sporting etiquette to be eroded in my game. There are few things more impressive in rugby than the Munster crowd falling completely and absolutely silent as an opponent takes a kick.

And so, with that in mind, I really, really hope that this weekend fans at Murrayfield give the South African kicker the respect he deserves and cut out the boos. Though maybe, just maybe, you disagree...


  • Comment number 1.

    John, definitely not to boo, but....when Dan Carter lined up to take his first kick of the day the crowd did remain silent until he took forever to take it. After waiting patiently for the kick to be taken the crowd got a little frustrated and began booing. The same pattern was then repeated throughout the game. I didn't boo personally but I did yell a bit for him to hurry up! 10 demerits I guess and into the naughty boy's corner. Must do better tomorrow.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi John, Agree with you about booing. Bill McLaren always spoke out against it. I was in the middle of a section of the crowd where there was quite a bit of booing. It wasn't so much at Dan Carter himself, rather the time he takes when kicking. I certainly timed one penalty at about 70 seconds and, I think, he kicked ten times. Add that up and almost twelve minutes of playing time have gone. That was what frustrated the crowd, I think. Nevertheless it's a privilege to be able to see such a maestro at work.

  • Comment number 3.

    JB - several things to say (most of which I hope you will take on board), and as a consequence have a word with the administrators of this blog.

    1/ Firstly with reference to matter you raised, I was quite appalled to hear the boos last Saturday (and sadly on other recent occasions as well) - it was quite disgraceful, especially when we were hosting the Number 1 team in the world.. Whoever thinks it's acceptable to boo an opponent in such a manner should think again, cos it's a very bad idea, & not a good look. Whatever is happening to this great game of ours??

    2/ On a different & non related vein, once again I respectfully ask that the administrators of this blog stop "'closing the forum for further comment a mere two days after it opens up. There are many passionate & knowledgeable Rugby folk who contribute to this forum, and many of us like to get involved in a good natured & thoughtful open debate on all matters Rugby with one another. Sadly we can't do that when your good people who run the site prohibit any further comment being submitted outwith of 48 hours after you originated the thread!

    3/Lastly with the greatest respect to you, it would be nice to see you getting more proctively involved with all our comments than you have been of late. I believe were you to do so, the number of comments & contributions you receive will get back up to the numbers you have enjoyed in the past.

  • Comment number 4.

    Stuart - thanks for that, part of me not getting involved was, as you say, comments being closed early - and the fact that my life is mayhem. I don't know why the blog is closed early for comments. I agree with all three points you raise. Here's hoping there are no boos tomorrow JB

  • Comment number 5.

    I must say that I'm a little hacked off - not with people booing opposition kickers at Murrayfield (or any other stadium) but at people continually complaining about it in a "moral high ground" manner. I was at Murrayfield last week supporting Scotland and people booed Carter in a good natured way because they wanted him to miss. I wanted him to miss. He didn't miss but so what if opposition fans boo - rugby is not tiddliwinks.

    I would draw the line at booing your opponents' national anthem (no place for that) or booing your own players (terrible) but a bit of good natured booing when the opposition is about to kick at goal? What's wrong with that? Indeed, I think Carter is a superb player but when he's lining up a kick at goal to literally put the boot into my country - again - I wouldn't care if it was Jesus himself. I don't want him to score.

    If we're so "outraged" at booing the kick taker, should we then ban players running at the kick-taker, too?

    Basically, I think we should we lighten up. No?

  • Comment number 6.

    It's not good to boo players to put them off: but I do think the length of time taken for the kicks was too much. I'm sure Carter's had worse abuse. Geoff Cross had a great game and should definitely not be replaced, especially by a guy who picks and chooses when to play. We need players committed to the jersey, not the cloth. I agree the midfield is slight: I kind of expected a recall for Morrison. But NDL and MS are tougher than they look and out wingers are hefty. Massive game trying to get 8th in the world. Need more massive performances from Gray, Denton, Brown and the lads.

  • Comment number 7.

    I am on the fence with regards to the booing, one part of me agrees that it is disrespectful and that is something that we hold dear within our sport but the other half lusts after a better atmosphere in Murrayfield where the Proclaimers on the loudspeakers are banned and we create our own exciting atmosphere.
    On the point about centres and with the return of Mark Bennet on loand to Glasgow, when do you think we'll see a centre pairing of Hogg and Bennet supported by Visser and Maitland on the outside? That will be exciting!

  • Comment number 8.

    To boo or not to boo is not just the Murrayfield question, it happens on occasion at Rabo 12 games as well. What's more embarrassing the then booing are those who shout out just as the kicker starts his run.

    The issue raised above of how long a kicker takes to take the kick is part of the issue. For a penalty I'm for the clock starting to tick from when the team captain indicates if the kick is as goal or to touch. And for a conversion from as soon as the ball is made available to the kicker from where the kick is to be made. That would speed up the guys who run on with the kicking tee! The stadium clock could show a count down, would add to the tension no end.

    The other issue is the general standard of referring. Many kicks are booed because the crowd think the decision was wrong. Improve the referring and they will earn respect and there will be less booing when penalties are kicked.

    I'm not a great fan of booing, but to play devils advocate for a moment, what's the difference between making a noise during a kick and making a noise in the run up to a line out so its difficult for the opposition team to hear the call?

    And if we're on the subject of respect, I think its disrespectful to (a) sit and read a newspaper while the game is on (seen this happen), (b) chat incessantly paying no attention to the game about your latest business deal or the gossip from the local shop, (c) leave the game early.

    Last thought. Perhaps one of the issues at Murrayfield is that many of the people who make up the crowd are not regular watchers of rugby and may never have played the game so do not know our traditions. Edinburgh and Glasgow average crowds of about 4000 each and if you were to add up all those who attend or play club games regularly that might take you up to 10 or 12,000. So who are the "other" 55,000?

  • Comment number 9.

    Booing a kicker. I've no problem with. Booing an anthem. I do. Anyway, with regards to etiquette, maybe booing can be discussed when the IRB take All Black foul play more serious as a one week suspension for Thomson's stomp on Strokosch's head was a joke.

  • Comment number 10.

    John: I admit I heckled Dan Carter when he was waiting to take his first kick too. I did not do so to put him off but to encourage him to get on with the game. He placed the ball and then stood and looked at it while the clock ran down for at least a minute, apparently to waste time. I spent a lot of money to watch a game of rugby, nearly £1 a minute, not to watch a man, even Dan Carter, looking at a rugby ball. This behaviour might just be justifiable as a tactic at the end of a long gruelling match but not in the first five minutes. By the way, I did not boo when he finally decided to take the kick. However this disrespect for the crowd and the game reduced my pleasure and admiration of the rest of his otherwise very fine performance on the day.

    As a long term solution, I would like to see the place kick abolished completely, both for penalties and conversions. It distorts the game and we lose a lot of rugby playing time because of it. While I am ranting, can you please use your good offices to encourage the penalisation of squint feeds to the scrum and ANY pushing before the ball comes in.

  • Comment number 11.

    It is a disgrace and embarrassing and shows a complete disrespect for the game and player in particular. It is not his fault that he has an easy penalty but the sometimes stupidity of the player giving it away, who should at that level, know better. Perhaps we should show our displeasure at them instead!

    However, do agree that the time taken is sometimes extreme but that again is dependent on the laws and the referee adhering exactly to them. They appear to be almost arbitrary set in any case and change almost monthly in an effort to make the game more 'spectator friendly' which may account for some of the criticisms Theosportsfan makes about some of those we all see at international matches!

    Agree, also on another couple of points made 1) the squint feed is sometimes even into the back row and makes a mockery of a scrum in the first place and making it just another way to get the game going again after a stoppage a bit like league (maybe more for the same spectator friendly reasons as above) and 2) Cross had a good game against the best team in the world and should never have been dropped in favour of Murray (for the same reason as outlined above by Donald Dunbar).

    Murray should be on the bench rather than Cross or even dropped altogether in favour of a player with more commitment to the cause!

    Lastly, Scarab79 is right, rugby is not tiddliwinks but its long history, respect for players and the opposition supporters is what made it the game it is.

    I don't want him to score either, and no moral high ground to take, only good manners and the pleasure to be enjoyed, when without boorish behaviour, the kick is missed.

  • Comment number 12.

    Got to agree with comments already posted. I Wales, Ireland and Scotland last weekend and the time taken over scrums seems to have fallen dramatically, but the kickers seem to be taking longer and longer. Jonny Sexton was regularly taking over 60 seconds to compose himself. The art of the kicker is in routine, but these routines seem to be ever growing. Dan Carter clearly wasn't time wasting to gain an advantage (why would he need to?) but at least some of the booing would have been down to frustration at the amount time taken. I would also question whether booing to put off the kicker would be successful. These guys are top professionals and I always believe that these tactics would only encourage a better performance.

  • Comment number 13.

    Anyone else notice Jonathan Davies isn't so vocal in slating the Welsh fans for doing the same against Samoa.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm on the fence. The silence maintained by the Irish fans in particular as a sign of respect to the kicker is a sight to behold. But where do you draw the line? The Irish certainly don't hold back when it comes to line-out throws (as witnessed in the recent Munster v Edinburgh Heineken Cup game).. Moreover, Murrayfield could do with more crowd involvement than less.

  • Comment number 15.

    Booing doesn't put the kicker off, but it does let him know that people aren't happy with the amount of time being chewed up.

    Lengthy pauses for kicks, scrums, line outs and the like detract from the flow of the game and also give musclebound giants the time to get their breaths back. This favours excessive brawn to the detriment of entertaining guile.

    The Murrayfield crowd are normally so quiet and twee. It was quite a shock to hear them being so loud and a bit rude just for the imperious Carter!

    Cross should have started.

  • Comment number 16.

    #15 you could have started a new interesting topic there. These guys are so big that an 80 minute game is a real struggle for some. We see so many substitutions and you wonder that with a dead ball situation being so common that there would be more of a problem if the ball was active longer. Would a limit to subs lead to smaller, more streamlined teams that could play intense to the last whistle.

  • Comment number 17.

    John talks about having respect for the kicker, I think the kicker has a responsibility to respect the opposition fans as well. The booing at Carters kicks didn't start immediately, he squeezed every second he could in taking that first kick. While AB fans love watching the pensive Dan Carter in front of a tee, I couldn't care less, I bought a ticket to watch some rugby. After the first kick it seemed that people were booing for the sake of it which was wrong. On the front of today's game, it could go either way. I just hope we have our tackling sorted.

  • Comment number 18.

    Agree with Tweed_Tartan_Army that crowd should get more involved. Advocated that before last weekend and at time they did but there is a difference between urging your team to action and abusing the opposition to distraction.

    As almost every kicker will attest, they cut everything out and often don't even hear it.

  • Comment number 19.

    I was at the game last weekend had a great time , I think we should not boo the kicker. Kicker are taking too long there should be a time limit.
    We went for a few drinks in rosé street and had a great time, had drinks with New Zealanders and 2 lovely ladies from Glasgow who never been to a rugby game before and would never go to a football game because of the hate.
    But we should boo kickers that kickers that take toooooo long

    I think Scotland will win but just

  • Comment number 20.

    I can't believe you have ever condoned the idea of booing a kick at goal Mr Beattie. Mr Elbourne and Mr Penuick from Drumley House would have been very very disappointed with your attitude. This kind of un-sportsman like behaviour was certainly not taught there. You must have picked this up further down the line !. Anyway, I agree with you, as I banged on about this all last season. The back line being to vulnerable. There are just too many small lightweight players there and we cannot afford it if Scotland are going to compete at this level with the other nations. To have 5 small players (9,10,12,13 and 15) out of 7 in the back line is too much. We need at least 2 other bigger players somewhere in the back line. I think they should play Hogg at stand off where he can be best used to run, kick and distribute the ball and have a bigger player at full back.

  • Comment number 21.

    George Clancy should not be refereeing international rugby. He allowed South Africa free reign in the ruck to slow possession. He should have given a yellow card far sooner. If the disallowed try in the first have was truck and trailer, the try that was scored was identical and also truck and trailer. He missed Scots players being deliberately taken out of the attacking line twice yet immediately pinged De Luca for taking out the South African scrum half.

    His only positive contribution to the match was when he got knocked on his backside.

    Still, there were too many unforced errors from Scotland. Execution of the two field kicks was poor and we seem to kick away possession where it might be better to hold on to the ball. Mike Blair's intercepted pass was like something from a mini rugby game and we only showed adventure when Pygros came on.

    De Luca and Scott tried their best but at the moment they are the weak point at Edinburgh. The recent game against Scarlets showed this when four tries were scored in the first half all by crash balls against Edinburgh's centres.

    Why did we not try to play Rugby in the first Half the way we did in the second?

  • Comment number 22.

    Boo to booing. It's just sounds childish and makes us look weak. Of all the international stadiums in the NH Murrayfield has the worst atmosphere. Usually it's half filled with kids/non rugby people/posh rugby people and plays crappy loud music at every interval. Perhaps the latter is because we've no songs to sing to create an atmosphere.

    As for today's game, it was good to see some of our players try and play "heads-up" rugby in the second half.

    Just as important as quick hands are quick feet. A quick look up and shift in direction to hit the space, not the player, can make all the difference in getting over the gain line and creating breaks that lead to tries.

    It's a skill that all the ABs have but only a few in the Scottish team have. For example, players like Ross Ford and Geoff Cross, big strong guys, are largely ineffective in the loose because they don't look at what's in front of them. They run head down, straight into a defence that's all set up and ready waiting for them. It results in slow ball, or a turnover, and no go-forward. Easy meat for the South Africans.

    As per the football side, we have a squad of honest, hard-working players most of whom don't have the skills to compete at the highest level. I believe Andy Robinson is a decent enough coach and obviously a passionate rugby man but there's only so much he can do.

    Realistically, for the foreseeable future, Scotland will win only one, maybe two games at best in the 6N.

    How can it be anything else with low playing numbers, only 2 (unsuccessful) pro teams and a public largely disinterested in the sport.

    So, what can we do? Boo the opposition.

  • Comment number 23.

    We were our own worst enemies. We didn't wake up in the first half and then made daft decisions in the second.

    Knock ons will happen, but twice in the second half, at crucial times of the game, the team worked themselves into good positions for possesion to be kicked away. Overall, an opportunity missed.

  • Comment number 24.

    South Africa were offering Scotland a win for most of the second half. They pretty much said: "there you go - win it. We'll give you all the platforms you need." But what do we do - make the wrong decision, when offered a choice between the wrong decision and the right one, and lose our composure when you would have thought that being a professional rugby player teaches you all you need to know about staying composed.

    Post-match interviews are like they were last Six Nations, last World Cup and so on and so on. "We need to take the positives... blah blah blah."

    How much longer?

  • Comment number 25.

    I couldn't agree more with Benny and Scarab 79. Our players are just not streetwise on the pitch. Some of the descision making was dreadful today. Last week we did some awesome pick and go drives at the AB's from free kick's and although it was tougher today, it was working in the second half. This week when we are in sniffing distance of the line, what do we do? Throw yet another wonky lineout and try and take on a clearly brutal scrum with the chance that we might get a shunt! What a mess! That's why Pyrgos was so good when he came on. He didn't fanny around waiting to have a chat and a cup of tea and ask where to sit, he just got the hell on with it and used his initiative. If I were Robinson, I would start him against Tonga and then bring Blair on. They are both very similar players and Blair isn't terrible just because he threw one dodgy albeit match losing pass!!

    Ford has had his day. I can't really see why he is so rated. He does have quite good games in the loose occasionally but his lineout work is appauling. The last 6N he was poor and today was no better. Hall and Lawson should be given more of a run out.

    As for NDL, well where do you start? He is just not good enough at international level.

    Can anyome explain the incessant use of the box kick? It is just hopeless and we never seem able to pull it off. Also the aimless kicking from full backs?? "Oh yes I know lets just give them the ball back and let them attack us...." Am I the only one who shouts at the TV when this happens?

    On the positives though, Grant was brilliant and of course Denton. Pyrgos obviously made an impact and cusiter looked distinctly uneasy when they were discussing him in the studio! Hogg is getting better and better and despite my last comment about kicking he did seem to know what he was doing. I have heard people suggest that he goes at fly half, which would be a fair comment. I would worry that we would get into another Paterson situation as of a few years ago, when he was shunted all over the park in different positions but never steady in one. Of course Hogg would have to play 10 at Glasgow and that would mean Townsend removing Jackson and Weir which I can;t see happening.

    As for Murrayfield. I haven't been there for a few years now but last time I went the atmosphere was dreadful. Why they have to have these ridiculous Oil Rig style flares blasting off every 5 minutes is beyond me!! The naff music is just dreadful as well. I do think we get it massively wrong as a nation sometimes. We like to pretend we are terribly put upon and meek, but all this pointless razz matazz on a match day makes us look really quite silly as a nation. Why was there a random jet doing a fly past??? If I wanted to watch that I'd go home and watch them using my house as target practice, which is what they seem to do these days!! Of course the counter argument is that you wouldn't need any of that if what was going on on the pitch was interesting to watch.

    At least we are scoring some tries now. We've scored 4 in 2 games. Am i right in saying we scored 4 in the whole of the 6N last year? Do correct me if i am wrong, which I frequently am!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    Yup, spot on NewHolland. I've ranted about NDL and Ford before so won't repeat myself but yes others should be given a chance now.

    But you have mentioned something I need to add to. The box kick.

    A sort of "hit and hope" tactic that rarely comes off and is way over used by Scotland. It appears to be our main weapon?! As soon as we get possession in a game we put up the box kick and consequently give the ball straight back to the opposition!

    In any team game, you're more likely to win if you hold onto possession. Keep the ball. You are in charge. Build phases of play. Be confident. Take the game to the opposition.

    Wrapped up in all of this also is decision making. Which is why the play of 9 and 10 is so important. Mike Blair's decision making and use of the box kick yesterday, and in many games I've seen, is poor.

    It's a shame we've got so few 10s that we have to debate Hogg making the switch.
    Laidlaw is a good player with a good rugby brain but unfortunately is on the small side and easily targeted. Apart from him who else is there? Weir? Perhaps, needs more chances at the higher level. Jackson? No - just not international class.
    And with only 2 pro teams that's the choice.

    Finally a plea to the SRU/Murrayfield big wigs. Do us all a favour and cut out all the false "entertainment" crap.

  • Comment number 27.

    At 21:04 16th Nov 2012, Maha1983 wrote:

    Anyone else notice Jonathan Davies isn't so vocal in slating the Welsh fans for doing the same against Samoa.

    100% behind you here. JD does come off as anti Scotland (my opinion) a lot of the time too.
    I thought he was disgraceful a few 6 Nations ago when Wales played Scotland at the Millenium Stadium when he was actually condoning the Welsh cheating (my opinion), I'm sure all Scotland supporters remember that dreadful game ... Godman e.t.c.

    *I'd just like to add that Scotland crumbled & that is why Wales won & not because of cheating. Scotland weren't savvy.

    I'm trying my best not to come off as having sour grapes but that game haunts me for many many reasons

  • Comment number 28.

    There's been jeering of the place kicker at Murrayfield for more than 40 years. Whilst it may not be admirable, please don't pretend it's a recent development.

  • Comment number 29.

    Not too boo. Disgraceful. Have some respect. Dont remember Murrayfield crowds of old booing......

  • Comment number 30.

    As far as more crowd involvement at Murrayfeild is concerned, I had the misfortune to be near a member of the Tartan Army at Murrayfield the last time Australia visited. There were many children around this individual, but he was oblivious to that, with his drunken, foul-mouthed behaviour making life unpleasant for all around. That sort of selfish behaviour shouldn't be welcomed anywhere.

  • Comment number 31.

    Murrayfield is a tough one to crack. There appears to be quite a wide divide between Edinburgh & Glasgow fans & people turning up for a day at the rugby.
    The crowds at Murrayfield don't tend to sing from the same page like they do at the Millenium , Twickenham & Aviva Stadiums

    I'm inclined to suggest that Scotland's national stadium should be moved to somewhere more impartial. The Highlands maybe? But then how many fans would be willing to travel. Would moving Scotland to another stadium solve the difference of opinions?
    Next weeks game at Pittodrie will be interesting, let's see how the audience responds there.

    I do think certain people should stop targeting Murrayfield as the only offenders of jeering. I've been listening to crowds over a long period of time & all home supporters now try to put off the opposition kicker, be it as they prepare or are on the run up. It's all the same. Respect the player, yes but the crowd should be allowed to voice their opinion if there has been an injustice

    Rugby is into a new era in Scotland, at least & there's not much anyone can do to stop it unless the actual stadiums put blanket bans on certain behaviours & that's not good for rugby on the whole

    Sorry, I'm rambling now.

  • Comment number 32.

    Erchie, the crowd was whistling and booing when Wales visited Murrayfield in 1971, as Google can prove, does that qualify as "of old"?

  • Comment number 33.

    NDL, Ford and Blair must have pictures of the Robinson and the big wigs at murrayfield, because that's the only explanation I can come up with to explan there constant inclusion in the team.

    NDL - couldn't play rugby if he tried.
    Ford - power puff and mirrors come to mind, couldn't throw a teddy bear out of a pram.
    Blair - OAP with a Zimmer frame, slow as a week in the jail and always has been.


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