Andrew Cotter

Scotland play waiting game (18)

St Etienne is a strange place to be at the moment.

The excitement of the first glimpse of the Rugby World Cup at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard (he founded a supermarket chain if you were wondering) has now given way to a general torpor, a hibernation until the next game is staged here and Samoa take on the United States - in just over two weeks' time.

But in this sleepy environment, Scotland’s rugby players continue to inhabit the accommodation and training camp of St Etienne Football Club. Alleviating the boredom must be a major concern.

The Secret Diary of Jason White, aged 29 and ¾.

Tuesday: Up early for breakfast – 16 egg-white omelettes, 14 bananas, 24 slices of wholegrain toast. One bowl Coco-Pops (milk to be added at very last minute. Still amazed at how it turns brown.)
Midday weights session.
Then training.
Then afternoon weights session.
Then early evening weights session.
Then dinner – as breakfast, plus fatted calf. And protein shake.
Then to bed. With weights.

Wednesday: As above.

Thursday: As above

Friday: etc etc etc.

So there are plans afoot to make life in St Etienne just that little bit more interesting.

Today is new boy Alasdair Dickinson’s 24th birthday. The cruel injury to Allan Jacobsen may mean that he has been given his chance in rather unfortunate circumstances, but after arriving last night he is to be welcomed with an enormous cake bearing 24 candles.

And then he’ll be off to a weights session.

Incidentally, for those of you who don’t know about Dickinson, who now plies his trade with Gloucester, he is possibly the quickest prop I have seen.

And a good bit taller than Jacobsen as well. Scotland assistant coach George Graham described him as ‘one of the new shape of props’. Very different to Graham himself who more resembles Ram Man from ‘Masters of the Universe’.

Also on the agenda for the Scotland squad tomorrow is some sort of challenge against a few of the players from St Etienne Football Club – cynics are suggesting that it may well end in a similar scoreline to the Euro 2008 qualifier between France and Scotland on Wednesday night.

But all of this is necessary because of the long stretch between Scotland’s first and second games – how they would prefer to have nine days between the New Zealand and Italy games at the end of the month.

Instead they continue to prepare for the meeting with Romania, which takes place at Murrayfield next Tuesday. So you may well be asking ‘Why are Scotland still in France?’

Good question – to which I’m led to believe the answer is because of World Cup rules, stipulating a certain amount of time must be spent in the host country.

So we wait, and wait and do weights.

Hopefully I will have something more substantial to talk about in the days to come (discussion about poor ticket sales for the Romania game anyone?) and I can only apologise for my ramblings here. It’s what a couple of aimless days in St Etienne can do to a man.

But now I’m off to watch an early afternoon weights session and perhaps treat myself to a protein shake.

Andrew Cotter is a BBC Sport commentator specialising in rugby union and golf. He is covering Scotland at the World Cup for Radio 5live and you can see the station's full broadcast schedule here.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 02:23 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • P for Prop wrote:

Ah, to be a professional rugby player. Just think, they are missing out on the opportunity to sit at their desks pretending to do work while reading these blogs.

Hopefully we will get to see Alasdair Dickinson in action on Tuesday to get a run out with the team before New Zealand.

How is Henderson coming along?

  • 2.
  • At 03:42 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

Excellent article but a sad example of todays rugby priorities.... gym work takes precedence over ball skills

  • 3.
  • At 04:33 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Mr Hunt wrote:

Is this why we continue to see a lack of basic skill from the Scotland team? These days what is required is to be a gym monkey rather than have basic skills. Maybe if Dan Parks spent less time in the gym and more time working on his long passes we would conceded less points!

In all seriousness, though, is rugby not more about power than skill these days in this country? Others, noteably New Zealand, seem to be able to develop them both.

  • 4.
  • At 04:38 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • robert wrote:

should the team not be concentrating on getting rid of the thumbles and such like that littered our game on sunday?

perhaps to pass the time you could do an article about raymond domenech's claim that the boks - samoa contest has ruined his teams chances of a win on wedensday night!

  • 5.
  • At 04:52 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Time3200 wrote:

When thinking of Scotland fans - I am reminded of Delia Smith - "Where are you?"

You aren't in St Etienne, and you are not at home, or at work blogging.

You can joke about the weights sessions, but it should be said that of the six nations contenders - the Scots look like the most physically strong outfit.

Perhaps if our Irish team did some weights they may not have been so easily bullied by Namibia. We do get the prize for the most idiotic "point to the sky" routine at each ruck though. (While other teams are "counter-rucking" - thats not it?)

"Come on Scotland - lets be 'aving you"

  • 6.
  • At 05:54 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew Cotter wrote:

#1 P for prop, Andrew Henderson may well still be unavailable for the game against Romania, even though it is a week away.
He took no part in today's training session and instead spent most of it working away with Physio Stuart Barton and still looked uneasy on his left leg which took the knock.
The latest official news is that he is making 'slow' progress.
Just niggles for the rest - the Lamont brothers, Nathan Hines, Rory Lawson and Ally Hogg all sat out.
Of those, Hogg's dead leg is thought to be the worst and he should be fully fit by Friday.

  • 7.
  • At 09:52 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • robert wrote:

does muffles really need to sit out training? could he not just work on his upper body strength? ;)

  • 8.
  • At 01:26 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Kip wrote:

Scotland got bullied off the park by SA in the warm up game and they got turned over several times by Portugal, so weights needs to be combined with a truck load of skill. Recall the early 1990's (winning the Grand Slam, the Black abd Blue Tour to NZ where we cam close twice to having the ABs but for some abject refereeing and the Semi-Final of the RWC), we were not the strongest, the biggest, the fastests etc... but we combined strength, size, speed with skills and talent...

Not many would disagree we had a world class back row of White, Calder, Jeffrey, very decent pack and backs that could challenge the SH boys with parity.

Weights and numerous gym sessions and can replace this.

  • 9.
  • At 03:55 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

I notice you only mention White and Dickinson in your blog, so bearing that in mind I am not too worried about them doing a lot of weights. When it comes to a choice between White being able to knock a NZ lad a few metres backwards or spinning a pass way out wide, I know which one I would like to see!

However, what does the backs training look like? We made plenty of errors of the unforced nature (so it seemed to me when I was watching, though I am want to over-criticise our lads and haven't seen the stats) and I would hope that Hadden would have them out running drills and moves? (Or at the least, forbidding Parks to throw a pass further than a few metres?)

  • 10.
  • At 09:47 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • alan walkey wrote:

Hi Andrew

Good blog although given that you are being paid, and paid handsomely no doubt, for the onerous task of attending the whole of the world cup you could lighten up a bit! how are Mr White's quads coming along? any sign of the missing musculature appearing before the Italy game? It could be a very interesting selection for the AB's with the potential of two uncapped forwards in Dickinson and Barclay being picked as some of the lambs to the slaughter.Are the squad reasonably upbeat after the Portugal game? was not a faultless performance but in the context of how the other home coutries went it was easily the best of a poor bunch of games.

  • 11.
  • At 11:01 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew Cotter wrote:


I hope I didn't give the impression that all is misery and boredom here. Far from it. But there is a long time between games.

On the Jason White leg topic, there is no doubt that he has lost some bulk and, as he admits, some strength which is a bit of a concern.

Having just attended a Scotland weights session I can testify, however, that all other legs look suitably massive and Kelly Brown now has to be one of the strongest players around.

You can even witness my feeble attempts to join in under the supervision of Conditioning coach Mark Bitcon, on

  • 12.
  • At 11:10 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Raymond Murdoch wrote:

Hi Andrew,

There is no doubt that our fickle rugby supporting nation has failed to snap up the vastly reduced tickets for the Romania game next Tuesday night because of a number of factors. International midweek games have never been well supported at Murrayfield. I doubt you would fill the stadium if the All Blacks were playing next Tuesday. The Champions League for those who support players of the other shaped ball starts that night with live satellite coverage of Celtic v Shaktar Donetsk. Lastly the game is live in your living room and Romania are the opposition. Is it any wonder there will be a shortage of bums on seats.

  • 13.
  • At 03:25 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew Cotter wrote:


I'm sure there will be a specific Scotland - Romania blog to come, but is everyone aware that the game is not on STV, Only ITV4?

Not good news for Scottish fans although perhaps it will help the attendance at Murrayfield.

  • 14.
  • At 04:29 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • P for Prop wrote:

I have just added 6 more to the attendance for the game, including a rugby virgin from the Czech Republic (so i hope it is at least an entertaining game). Maybe i can sneak into the more expensive seats later in the game if it is still empty.

It would be good to see the back click a bit on Tuesday, and if Henderson is still out i'd like a little experiment with Webster and Dewey as the centres. Hard to leave Paterson out but we have a better full back in Lamont, Parks could play a very tactical game against Romania (and would need game time if he is going to be played against NZ) and he is wasted on the wing, I guess it has to be stand off. I reckon that Romania will probably play a rush type defence that unsettles us as they will want to get into your face early on. If so we need to learn from what NZ did to Italy and chip and charge it and not throw it wide like we did against Italy earlier this year.

  • 15.
  • At 04:58 PM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • robert wrote:

is that true re:tv coverage? if so then that is an utter disgrace, and STV will be recieving a very angry e-mail from myself over the next few days. (although ive had my tickets for some time now)

  • 16.
  • At 10:31 AM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

Tuesday's game is on ITV3, with Celtic's Champion's League game on ITV1 (or STV as we know it). Possibly ITV are contractually required to show the CL game on the main channel, but even if they have a free choice in the matter the CL game would get priority just because of the level of interest. Celtic can fill a stadium for a CL game, but Scotland can't even come close to filling Murrayfield for the Romania game - clearly the demand favours football.

In any case, I'll be out on Tuesday which is why I feel glad I bought a Freeview twin-tuner hard disk recorder that lets me record both events to watch when I get in!

Incidentally, isn't it good to see Italy struggling to get any kind of form together? I reckon we can be pretty confident for getting to the next round, and since nobody from the Ireland / France / Argentina combo looks to be particularly hitting the sweet notes then why not the semis??

  • 17.
  • At 12:26 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • P for Prop wrote:

After last nights game, i am no longer too worried (will probably be eating those words soon). Italy could not punish the romanian mistakes and were rattled, romania's discipline was a throw back to our 90's form when we kept conceding penalties (through Peter Wright mostly) in front of the posts. If we cut out the unforced errors i think we have a chance to cut through Romania, our defence should be up to the chip and charge tactics too.

We will need to watch for that howitzer of a place kick, i bet he is acurate against us.

  • 18.
  • At 03:23 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • Eddie wrote:

Re post 11 - Andrew, based on your pictures on flickr I hope you're not too unhappy with your unhandsome wages because you definitely won't cut it as a rugby player!

Disappointed about the game not being on terestrial television but I guess they can't show all of the matches.

Post a comment

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them. Please note that submitting a comment is not the same as making a formal complaint - see this page for more details.

Required (not displayed)

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites