Having watched Scotland sucker punch a poor English side this reporter saw fit to flee to Paris for a few days to escape any references of Bannockburn and to try cure a mammoth hangover. Its amazing how, having been away, that the joys of last weekend have now faded away and the mind turns to the business ahead. A injury ravaged Scotland side head to Rome to try and redeem a 6 Nations that has been, at best, poor. Missing Lamont (to Balshaw ‘The Butcher’s’ insane decision to go knee first into a opposition player – accident or not I still maintain he should be made an example off) and now Danielli the Scotland backs are starting to come down to the bare bones. It has today been announced that every-ones favourite number 10, Dan Parks, has been drafted in with Paterson moving out to the wing. Whatever people say about Parks, and a lot is written about him, he is still a Scotland player and it would be good, if only for 80 minutes, that we spend our energies supporting him rather than giving him grief. He is far from perfect but people have short memories – without him we not have beaten the Italians at the World Cup. On his day he is one of the best tactical kickers in the world. His problem is he has been off form for a few months and takes too long over his kicks (thus the charge downs). He does not instill much faith in those around him but they have a responsibility to give him the time and space to kick into space and for touch.
This weekends game will be interesting, Italy will run the ball and Scotland will have to make sure that there are as few missed tackles as possible. With Parks now playing Scotland will have to resort to playing a more structured game, kicking for touch, playing the percentages and going through the phases. I think Scotland will now fancy their chances, Italy, for all the plaudits they have had, have not been great (much like ourselves) but we have a win under our belts and something to build on. We also have some silverware – something the English don’t! Yes, I am a bitter, twisted, little man….I’m not Brian Moore though.
Looking beyond this game it will be interesting to see where Scottish rugby goes. I believe their is still a huge question mark over whether Hadden will be coach come the tour of Argentina. Scottish rugby is coming to a time of flux, new players need to be introduced and a new style of rugby adopted. Chances need to be taken on blooding new players and it would have been nice to see the likes of Cairns get a chance against Italy, his time will come but this would have been the perfect arena to test him. As a rugby nation we need to move on and I’m sure, over the next few months, Rory and I will spend some time discussing what the future should, and will, be.
In the meantime here’s hoping that the XV that take the pitch tomorrow can put in a solid display and take the game to the Italians. The Calcutta Cup is great but it doesn’t look so good when sat next to a Wooden Spoon….no mistakes guys, go in and get the job done!
Enjoy the game…over and out.