In my last post a few weeks ago (Club Success Deserves Recognition) I suggested that dropping the pro sides might be a good idea for the development of Scottish rugby.
Unsurprisingly this provoked a bit of a reaction with several good points being raised in support of the professional sides.
One of these comments has stuck with me in particular.
It suggested that better marketing was the answer to boost the profile and attendances of the teams and suggested Leinster as an example of a successful promotional campaign.
It is undoubtedly true that Leinster’s profile has risen considerably in the last few years.
However, their marketing men had a considerable head start over the SRU’s.
We’ll call it the BOD effect.
Having a player like the iconic Brian O’Driscoll in the ranks is always going to boost the viewing figures and generally the results on the park will improve as well further boosting the teams profile and so on upward and upward.
Where is the Scottish equivalent?
Of course O’Driscoll is a one off talent, the greatest player of the last decade and one of the best to ever grace a rugby field.
A Brian McDriscoll would be too much to ask for but most of the other so called top tier nations have their own iconic figure.
What we’re talking about is the kind of player that defines an entire rugby nation.
Think of Ireland, the first name you think is O’Driscoll.
Wales have Shane Williams, for England it is still Jonny Wilkinson, New Zealand are so good they have two, Carter and McCaw, South Africa being a rugged bunch have Victor Matfield, even Italy have the extraordinarily gifted Sergio Parisse.
Admittedly the French for some bewildering reason still idolise Sebastian Chabal but the point still stands.
Every other national team has their iconic figure so who is the Scottish equivalent?
Chris Paterson is the obvious candidate.
A complete professional, a supremely gifted goal kicker and fiercely committed as his two famous cover tackles in the six nations proved.
But is he really the kind of player that defines a rugby nation?
Very possibly considering the current state of the national team.
Hardworking, tenacious and reliable but not exactly exciting, though he is always faintly worrying (for his own fans) when on the ball, he may well define Scotland
The Scots have a full team of grafters but there really isn’t a player who provides the X-factor in the way that the stars mentioned above do.
Richie Gray may well be the totemic figure that Scotland have been waiting for – with his height he could literally be seen as a bleach blonde flag for teammates and fans to rally around.
It’s a big ask for a man who is, despite his exceptional displays in the six nations, very much in the infancy of his international career.
He does have the potential to be Scotland’s first genuinely world class player for several years but does he really have this mysterious X-factor?
Very few do clearly but all these other nations have their icons who boost their nations standing and performances simply by being there with the potential to produce magic out of nowhere.
It’s something that Scotland lack now and it has been the case for a while.
Where is our hero and who is the player that best defines Scottish rugby just now?