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Newsweek Scotland: News On the Pitch

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Derek Bateman Derek Bateman | 16:46 UK time, Friday, 11 March 2011

I've had a hollowed-out feeling all week, a nagging sensation in the pit of my stomach that I couldn't identify... until I remembered that the rugby team go to Twickenham at the weekend. For decades I have watched this fixture with fascination as supporter and then as journalist trying to understand why Scotland is always doomed to fail. I used to look forward to it in my naivety believing it to be like any other match in which the Scots had a fair and reasonable chance of success.

Over time that gave way to the slow-burning worry I have now and a knowledge that it is impossible for Scotland to win. If there were 20 Scots on the field we would lose. If we played the England Women we would lose. If the players abandoned the game and began snogging each other, it would be cancelled when England were three points ahead.

Believe me, Scotland cannot win at Twickenham. We should have won over the years and, if I remember right, in 1985 there were three Scots chasing a ball over the England line for a winning try and they all fluffed it. Then there was a draw in 1989. This match is pre-ordained by the rugby gods. How I wish I wasn't compelled to watch. But I can't ignore it and have to approach it in the same way I head for the dentist for root canal treatment. I tell myself to grow up and get it over with.

The record at Twickenham is so bad it can't be explained by rugby alone. Are the Scots beaten before they run on the park? Is inferiority built into our DNA? I remember an old school friend who played for Selkirk when they won the Hawick Sevens for the first time in living memory. He was so unused to winning, he said to himself in the final: We don't belong here. We're not supposed to win titles. But they did because they realised how stupid that was. Sport...eh? It's 10 per cent ability, 90 per cent attitude. Just like sports commentators.

My foreboding has been ameliorated by seismic events in the Pacific where there is another in a worrying regular series of earthquakes. We hope to speak to John McCloskey, Professor of Geophysics at the University of Ulster, who has warned us in the past of where and when massive quakes will come. Goodness knows what the picture will be from California to Indonesia and Honolulu by the morning.

There was an unholy collision this week between stonking bonuses for bankers (again) including the boss of nationalised RBS and the Hutton report on public sector pensions. Am I the only one looking from one to the other and trying to make sense of this juxtaposition. Who is paying for our financial woes - them or us? We'll debate. I'm also hoping to catch up with David Pratt of the Sunday Herald if he can line up his satellite phone from Libya. It is becoming a cauldron of violence down there so we'll also take a look at the EU's response... not exactly been rapid, has it?

It should all take my mind off Twickenham where I firmly believe Scotland will run out convincing winners. Join me at 8.


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