Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


South Africa 55-6 Scotland

Geoff Cross - pic © Al Ross
Geoff Cross - pic © Al Ross

It was an ominous start to this odd little test match in Port Elizabeth as South Africa ran at Scotland from the off, then spurned a penalty straight in front of the posts and opted to kick for the corner. It looked like this was a training run for them, which you could take as a mark of disrespect – but on the other hand the Springboks had 7 points on the board before Scotland had touched the ball, so you could see their point.

The inexperienced Scotland squad to their credit came straight back with a Duncan Weir penalty following some good work on the floor by Chris Fusaro.

South Africa’s next try was textbook also as Hogg was left with too much to do facing a three man overlap and Willie Le Roux dove over following simple passing through the hands. The one after that was brilliantly crafted by JP Pietersen who got past opposite number Nick De Luca and chipped through for the speedy Lwazi Mvovo to gather.

When Scotland did have the ball, their carriers were outmuscled 3 to 1 and Glen Jackson was quick to whistle any attempts to slow the possession by either side, and Scotland were on a warning after only quarter of an hour – not to mention 19-3 down. Hogg was a positive force but even his darts through half gaps ended in knock ons by the supporting players.

The few good set piece possessions – for example following a great lineout take and drive – wilted in the midfield, with inaccurate or forced passing in the face of South African pressure.

If nothing else it was a baptism of fire for Adam Ashe playing only his second half hour of professional rugby and doing it at test level, and Grant Gilchrist in his second game as captain you hope would have learned a few tips opposite the old master Victor Matfield.

Other minor positives included Ross Ford finally imposing himself on a game physically, and even getting involved in a bit of niggle. His first half lineout throws were reasonable too.

Just before half time Weir took another penalty and a positive spell from the whole Scotland team led by Pyrgos, Hogg and Maitland, forced South Africa on the back foot for the first time. Scotland did not get near scoring, but it was a small fillip to take them into the half time talk with a stony-faced Vern Cotter.

HT 19-6

Scotland came out for the last 40 minutes of a long rugby season hoping more of that same positive energy could somehow be fashioned into tries.

South Africa at least started the second half a bit more warily – if the Boks are ever wary – this time taking the penalty kick to put them 3 scores clear.

When the Scots – Hogg and Seymour in particular – had the ball, they were keeping South Africa on their toes but could sustain quick ball momentum for long enough to make serious inroads.

Unfortunately then Swinson was binned for holding back a player after he had passed the ball. It was perhaps harsh in that instance but something that had been going on all game and Jackson’s patience had been sorely tested. That decision gave the Boks another easy try from a driving lineout and opened the gulf between the teams up even further.

JP Pietersen had an impressive run in his new position of outside centre and when Seymour darted out of the line too early he found space down the line. Despite the best efforts of Tyrone Holmes, Pietersen managed to dot it down for the try.

After that the game broke up as Scotland chased everything. It was scrappy but entertaining in patches. The back three were as lively as they have been all tour but with a 10-13 axis that doesn’t do them any favours they were facing an uphill struggle to create their own chances.

Needless to say there were plenty of opportunities for the Springboks to counter and Mvovo ran in an interception from Pyrgos, and another spilled ball from the scrum half (who had been going well till that point) allowed the funkily named Lood De Jager in for a long range solo try. Not bad for a 6’10” lock, and he claimed a second try in the dying moments.

By the end the scoreboard told a miserable tale as usual and overcast a tour that at least reads: played 4 won 3.

It has been heartening to see a bit of set-piece grit and consistency re-appear on this tour under Gilchrist and we could well see his partnership with (either) Gray run till the World Cup. Elsewhere in the pack we’ve seen the emergence of Reid and Cross as Scotland’s first choice props and Ford fighting Lawson for his spot at hooker so the front 5 is in pretty rude health. The back three too is a choice from Visser, Hogg, Maitland and Seymour, so also little to complain about if everyone’s fit.

Between that though, it’s a mess, with no clear idea of our best back row, half backs and our best centres injured (in the coming weeks we’ll be offering our views on the choices available in all positions).

It has highlighted how badly we miss Scott and Dunbar in the centre, and I would have liked to see Bennett capped this tour (he was unused). Horne has played admirably for Glasgow but has failed to make any sort of ground in midfield at test level. Perhaps he would thrive outside Russell or Jackson, but you have to take your opportunities, like Russell has.

All in all, plenty for Cotter to do at the start of next season.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Tricky to pick. Stuart Hogg was probably the pick of the Scots backs, but had to create his own chances rather than finishing moves and Scotland failed to trouble the line. Up front Geoff Cross had another great game in the scrum and has probably been the pick of the Scots forwards all tour, so I’ll give it to him. That’ll keep the Girth Army happy.

118 Responses

  1. I think we’re being a bit tough on the players, they didn’t choose the tour or matches but every single one of them played for the jersey and WON 3 on the trot & on the road. Vern Cotter will now understand our players and psyche better, the players will understand him better and we can move on. Having been at Cardiff when we got a hiding from an average Welsh team I believe we have come on miles, lets see what happens in November and lets FFS …BACK THE PLAYERS and TEAM to the end. They deserve it

    1. I agree that the players and coach probably tried their best but we will never progress as a rugby playing nation with only 2 professional clubs, both full of foreign players and the most pathetic youth system in the world. The SRU chiefs need to take note of this but, as they arre stupid people, I dont think they ever will

    2. Well the SRU secure the BT naming rights deal and have quite rightly stated the money will be ploughed into the youth and community game and establishing a regional academy structure.

      This suggests they do actually understand the problems faced by Scottish rugby but unlike lots of commenters on online forums don’t have the freedom to just doodle their uncosted wish list on the back of a fag packet.

  2. Scotland badly need a number 10 as Weir is now a liability . Most of his restarts were far too long and he missed too many tackles .

    1. Agree, I don’t understand why Heathcote wasn’t given at least 20 minutes. Hoping Heathcote can make a big impression at Edinburgh, Jackson can prove himself in the aviva and gain confidence, and Russel continues his rise. I was also impressed with Tonks time at 10 for Edinburgh, but I guess that looks unlikely to continue at the moment. Should hopefully have at least 3 decent options for 10 come the 6 nations (always optimistic :) )

    2. Based upon what I witnessed las season I would prefer Tonks at 10 for Edinburgh with Heathcote pushing and Burleigh (who to be fair I haven’t really seen play) and Bezuidenhout as back up. Alas, it is unlikely that this will be the case.

  3. A test to far for scotland and the majority of first team players either injured or gone back to there french or english clubs because it’s outside the test window so vern cotter has worked with a lot of our fringe players in the last test so he now knows what he has to work with for the forthcoming RWC busy schedule year so he can plan and get a game plan in operation for the forthcoming fixtures so 3 out of 4 tests isn,t so bad so keep #backingblue all the way and back the whole team and players #standtallandproud

  4. An expected malleting so not surprised at the scoreline. Hilarious that the national press are talking like SA thirds beat Scotlands best side. Not our strongest side by a mile and the fellas who played didnt lack for effort, unlike some games recently. Very disappointed in the inconsistency we again suffered from at the hands of the officials. Horne was clearly pulled back prior to their second try by the TMO didnt even check. Yarpies lying all over the ball at rucks, blockers in midfield and plenty of offside missed too. Nevertheless, even playing fair, we would have been well beaten but its no disgrace losing to the second strongest team in world rugby on their own turf. The SA Minister of Sport really is a twat though, his touchline inteview was for local tv but he could have shown us a hell of a lot more respect in his comments. Total knob!

    Horne needs to bulk up a lot to be able to compete at test level. He could be a similar midfield player to Conrad Smith but is at least a stone lighter than the maestro! Weir is just too small and no amount of muscle will help him get taller! J Gray played well when he came on, Rob Harley grafted his ass off, Hogg, Pyrgos and Seymour played as well as they could in the circumstances. If we add R Gray, Ryan Grant, J Welsh, J Barclay, Scott, Russell and Dunbar and (next year) Strauss, i can see us being able to improve dramatically. Am i deluded? Maybe, maybe not…..

    1. Sorry, I meant their third try.

      Also, despite not being big enough for centre, Horne should be fighting with Russell for the ten slot at Glasgow, I think that’s a better fit for him than centre.

  5. Lets face it we were second best by a long shot and I dont blame the coach as he can only work with what he has. I also dont blame the players as they probably tried thier best with their somewhat limited abilities.

    I do blame the SRU for their pathetic policy of only having 2 competitive professional clubs in the whole country, both of which are filled with foreign players. Until they learn a bit of common sense and create another three clubs and make sure that all 5 field at least 60% scots players in every game, we will never progress. we also need to sort out our youth system which the SRU could not care less abouit

    1. Neil – how about you stump up the £10m running costs per year for a new team? Or at least tell the SRU where they can get it themselves.

      BTW how many NSQ started for Glasgow in the rabo final?

    2. Neil, exactly how Glasgow Warriors ‘full of foreigners’? As has already been said, pro teams cost at least 5 mill even on the Connacht model to run, where do the SRU find fifteen mill per annum, down the sofa? Three teams is a possibility in two or three years time but five??? Reality check!! Semi pro districts is the way ahead but the self-serving clubs voted it down!

      The BT sponsorship money is going to fund the academies, surely a good step in the right direction!

    3. OK FF and Allan

      Answer this one- how can Ireland and Wales find the cash to set up 4 or 5 teams when Scotland, with a population of more than both of these nations put togther cant- WHY????????
      Alot of it is down to sponsorship but simply bums on seat is also important. Just look at the interest in Rugby in the Scottish borders- its crazy that they dont have a proper pro team. Look at Aberdeen- the oil capital of Europe with loads of money and I’m sure, sponsorship opportunities. Look at Perth- one of the most prosperous towns in the entire country. All of these places have potential and I’m sure others do too. Its doomoungers like you and the SRU that cant see that. Even Italy have double the number of teams than us- Its embarrassing Unfortunately the idiots in the SRU cant actually see these places as having any potential to have their own teams. Sure the borders reivers were not a success but, had the team been promoted in the way it should have been, then it would have been a huge hit.

  6. Yesterday begged the question of what does the coach take away from that game. It’s nothing to do with the tour length. Incoming tours from the southern hemisphere are equally as taxing for them. This tour has shown the limited player depth in many positions including those where the current incumbents think they hold a guaranteed position. The tour offered the chance to see how players might fit into another position. Lamont played centre a couple of times and there was the opportunity to give Hogg a run at fly half………. but the challenge wasn’t taken. It was good to see a number of new caps which is perhaps a pointer to the future rather than guidance as to what kind of team we can expect to see in the Autumn internationals or the games leading up to the World Cup. But the tour has also once and for all shown the limitations of the Scottish game – handling, the inability to attack the gap rather than face to face combat, line speed and a game plan that is patently obvious in it’s simplicity.

    Weir can kick, buy can’t distribute. Watch how many times he passed behind his centres and lost any momentum in the face of a rushed Boks defence. We have week mid field, are too easily knocked out of rucks, over commit at the breakdown and walk the tight rope on penalties given away.

    And at the same time can someone please explain why Scott Johnson, who’s new role is of Director of Rugby, was in a track suit on the touchline during the game? Who is in charge here? Cotter or Johnson?

    1. Richard, I completely agree with you comment about Scvott Johnson. What is he doing at the SRU appart from getting very rich and very fat. he made a dissaster of his times in charge of the national squads of Wales and Scotland. He should just go back to OZ

  7. We were blown away by a far superior side, who we will not be catching anytime in the near future. However, we were extremely threadbare going into this and a first choice starting 15 would have put a different complexion on things entirely. In response to the 4th last paragraph in Rory’s article; in my mind I would be very happy to see (and would expect a completely different level of performance) from a backrow through midfield that consisted of something like Denton, Rennie, Beattie, Cusiter, Russell, Scott, Dunbar. Backed up with Brown, Barclay, Bennett, but not sure about the half back cover. That would bring a hell of a lot more ball carrying potency to worry the opposition defence and would give us what we need to threaten our nearer neighbours in the World rankings, if not those in the top four. Getting them all fit and on the field at the same time seems to be a major challenge, unfortunately.

    1. Sure the score would have been closer than arround 50 points but there is still a gulf in class between the two sides. I recoon they would have beaten us by arround 30 point. se my earlier comments about the national squad and why I feel we are so mediocre.

  8. What I don’t understand is- how come Wales and Ireland, with much smaller populations than Scotland, are able to field more than double the number of teams each than Scotland? Why do Italy, with a culture of football and not rugby, have more than double the number of teams also? Why do the borders, with their rich traditions of playing rugby, not even have a single pro team. Why do economic heartlands such as Perth and Aberdeen not have clubs when local businesses would be depserate to support them?
    Why is Scott Johnson still in a job when hes messed up evry post he has been given, both inside and outside of Scotland?
    Why are the SRU such a usel;ess bunch of non-caring prats? More to the point, why as fans do we accept this level of mediocrity and incompetence?

    Noboday has ever provided answers to these questions but they are at the route of what is wrong with Scottish rugby. Not enough players, not enough playing at the highwest level on a regular basis and the SRU who couldnt care less.

    I wopuld welcome a debate from anyone whoe cares about our once proud game.

    1. Our population is entirely irrelevant. What is relevant is funding and paying customers.

      When the game went professional Scotland was saddled with debt from rebuilding Murrayfield. It subsequently invested money it didn’t have in creating a 4 team professional set up without doing the maths. There was insufficient support to keep 4 teams financially viable and Scottish rugby nearly went bankrupt.

      The SRU was then headed by an accountant who stabilised the finances but neglected the rugby side of his role. The current SRU heads have repeatedly said they see investment in youth and community rugby as paramount (correctly) before they would be able to expand the number of teams.

      Whilst there may be lots of people like Aberdeen Asset Management prepared to sponsor a team the SRU still has to underwrite its significant running costs. Unless you are getting 15,000 through the turnstiles any more pro-teams are going to be far from self-sufficient. All the evidence to date says that that is not possible in the short term.

      Where are all the Scottish millionaires prepared to finance these teams like in Wales? Watching football.

      Where are all the tens of thousands of fans who can keep a regional pro team afloat? Not interested in Rabo rugby.

      To improve at all levels we need huge investment in youth rugby. To expand the number of pro teams we need more interest which will only come from success on the field. The current leadership of the SRU is making progress on both of these things but rightly balancing this with financial prudence. If anything would finally kill off Scottish rugby it would be losing all this progress by being threatened with bankruptcy again.

    2. Thanks FF for your reply. At least someone feels as passionately as I do about our national squad. I just feel that alot of teams could be more or less self sufficient with enough bums on seats and commercial sponsorship. I agree that the SRU got things dreadfully wrong over the development of Murryfield but what has happened has happened. They need to concentrate on getting more people playing the game and inticing more fans to visit their clubs. To me, the Scottish borders has a long and proud tradition of playing and supporting the game so why not set up a team there. I think that this could be done on much less that the quoted 5million GBP per year with a little thought. How many rugby players in Melrose and Selkirk would give their right arm to play for a borders team against Bath- most would do it for nothing or at least a minimum salary. Sure it would take time to establish the team as a force but the worst thing we can do is nothing. Likewise, there are loads of businesses in Perth and Aberdeen prepared to sponsor a rugby team- it would just need the SRU to try to promote/coordinate such an effort. Why cant they see that?
      Just look at Ireland- a tiny nation and one that was a bit of a laughing stock up until the mid 1990’s in rugby teams at least. Since the advent of the professional era, rugby has flourished in Ireland in a way that few would have believed. Similar stories have emerged in Wales and even Italy has benefited. It seems that the only nation to have lost out is Scotland. Ploughing money into the youth system is something I wouold favor but, in order to compete against New Zealand, South Africa and even other 6 nation teams we need 5 or 6 pro clubs. None of these clubs would be threatened with bankrupcy if they were owned and managed as private enitities and the SRU assumed no responsibility. Simply getting enough bums on seats and sponsorship would work. By my calculations, a club could be run on arround 1 million GBP per annum or less, provided it does not pay David Beckham type salaries.

    3. I agree with much of what you say Neil, maybe I am just more optimistic that we are finally going in the right direction. I think the current SRU leadership has had some success and is a huge improvement on the previous 15 years.

      I also think that it is not just us struggling with professional rugby. The community game in Wales is declining alarmingly and the Welsh regions are struggling on and off the field. Italy has been left behind by professionalism. The top 10 is a semi-pro club competition like Scotland’s premiership and is not an adequate nursery for talent at test level. They have two pro teams that are well funded but have made almost no progress in quality or attendances. Benetton has just ended its long term sponsorship of Treviso. Italy have plunged to 14th in the world rankings and haven’t won a game in 2014.

  9. Neil, whilst I share your belief that more private money is likely available if the SRU looks for it, and that Perth, and particularly Aberdeen could host teams I think 3 million GBP is the minimum. You are talking a squad of 50 players, plus coaching staff, a management team, and match day staff as base and remember costs to the club per person are considerably higher than the person’s take home salary. That’s just the start, then you have facilities, travel expenses and equipment….

    Bottom line is that sports crowds are considerably smaller across all sports in Scotland than in the rest of the British isles. For rugby to be a success in Scotland a step change in Scottish attitudes towards sport is needed. The population is big enough, but crowds need to grow, and for that to happen success is needed.

    My optimistic hope is that the Aberdeen Assest owner can round up some oil company owning friends to privately form an Aberdeen team within the next couple of years otherwise there won’t be a home for the products of the improved youth system.

    I also hope the SRU do everything in their power to place players who just miss out on entry to the EDP, or exit the EDP program without an Edinburgh/ glasgow, at professional clubs out with Scotland.

    1. So we come back to funding. I came up with a figure of arround 1 million GBP for the following reason:

      Staffing costs of 40 individuals assuming an average salary of 20,000 GBP per annum = 800,000 GBP

      Insurance, ground rent, travel etc- 200,000GBP per annum

      I think these figures would work and much of this could be coverered by bums on sets. Think about it- 7000 spectators per game paying 20 pounds per ticket = 140,000 for just one game. The remaining shortfall could be taken care of through sponsorship TV rights etc. Believe me its definately dooable. The figure of 5 million doesnt make much sense unless you want to pay david beckham type salaries

    2. Sorry Neil but your sums are a fantasy. I have to agree with Mark on this. You have forty staff. Does that include coaches, groundsmen, admin, stewards, caterers, accountants, medical staff etc etc. Do you know what each of those posts actually pay? Local government has been cut to ribbons recently but a council clerical assistant will still earn around 18,000 per annum. What do you think a professional head coach should be paid then?

      What does the SRU pay to rent Scotstoun? I bet its not peppercorn rent. And the SRU
      must also pay for policing on matchdays, first aid attendees, utility bills, equipment. It all adds up!

      Travel costs each away game i.e. 22 not including ERC matches need to cover a min of 30 persons. Even a return on easyjet from london to Edinburgh with a single set of golf clubs is going to set you back 150 quid. Then there are buses, taxis, hotels, food, etc etc.

      Also, do kids pay 20 a ticket, or students, or senior citizens? Of course not. I applaud your enthusiasm, but it must be grounded in reality.

      4 mil is a bare minimum figure to run a professional rugby club on the cheap. The IRFU is one of the richest Unions around because of their ownership of land, number of members, lack of debt (state supported National Stadium) , paying punters, etc. We should aspire to it, yes, but it will take time. We are reaping the catastrophic decisions made twenty years ago which has put us in the position the IRFU was in ten years ago. We can do it but it wont come cheap, quick or easy, and the clubs need to buy in to this too. A house built on sand will not stand!

      I see us at the moment with a competitive core of 20 players that, when all fit, on form, and well drilled, can give any side a game. I want that core to be 40 players and to make that happen a third team is needed yes. The SRU are a lot of things but right now they are being pragmatic and building from the bottom up.

    3. Allan,

      of course I disagree and I feel it couold be possible to run a club for 1 million pounds per annum. Think about it, you could pay the top 5-7 players 30-40K per annum and the ones that are not so good arround 20K or less. The club would need a core of arround 30 full time professionals making between 15 and 30K per person. I agree that you would need to employ cleaning staff, administrators, physios, groundsmen etc but these guys would generally be hired at a low cost and on a part time basis (as they are at division 3 football clubs, amature rugby clubs etc). Sure you would have to send money traveling to other grounds- much of this travel could be done by bus and at a low cost) with slightly higher costs involved for the occassional trip to France, Italy, or Ireland. I don’t think is is unrealistic to charge 20 quid or more per ticket when you can watch Raith Rovers for arround the same cost. Even a gate of arround 5000 would generate 100,000 pounds per game, meaning that you could recover the 1 million you spent in just 10 matches. As the club grows, you could attract TV money, sponsorship and further investment. It just takes a little enthusiasm.

    4. Neil – what planet are you on? For an average of 20k per year you wouldn’t get players of any kind of calibre. The average salary in the Rabo is between 50 and 60k, and you can’t run a pro squad with less than 35 players. Therefore you’re looking at a playing budget of at least a couple of million, before you get to coaching staff and support staff.

      Top players in England and France are on more than £300k per annum – the team that your budget would put out would struggle in the English second or third tier.

  10. SA would never send a team to Scotland and come away with a 50 point drubbing. Obviously. The 2nd best team in the world is probably 20 places above us in real terms. SRU has shown willingness to invest in youth rugby; we have a competitive starting XV and a good coach. Let’s be positive.

  11. Does anyone know what Scott Johnson actually does for the SRU, appart from enjoying business class flights to far of destinations, staying in the best 5* hotels and taking a fat cat salary. He’s messed up during his spells with the national squads of both Scotland and Wales so why is he even in our country.

    Again just another complete waste of money on the part of the SRU. If they need answers on how to develop the game in Scotland just give me a call. I’ll volunteer the information free of charge ad I dont require a vacation to North Americal, Argentina and South Africa to prove my credentials. Unlike SJ, I feel passionately about the state of our national team and would give almost anything to fix it.

  12. Neil if think we would all love to fix the game in Scotland, but ultimately its the clubs( it seems to me) are reluctant to push onto a pro footing or do anything that will improve there game. Dropping out of the British and Irish cup for one doesn’t help the players.
    The whole season arrangement needs looking at to avoid bad weather and get more people watching the game.

    SRU shouldn’t be looked at as a cash cow for clubs, but we need some people in Business that would be prepared to run clubs. We all know there is places where clubs could start, but it would take time to get the support it needs.

    Mr Johnson just needs to travel to New Zealand to look at there structure from grass roots to pro clubs and implement that. As a nation we can do it we just need some business men with money to burn.

    1. Suffolkscot- we certainly dont want to waste money sending fat cat Mr Johnson on business class flights to New Zealand to learn something that is blatantly obvious- the reason NZ are so good is that the national ethos is geared towards rugby- they see it as their religion. I would love to think that Scotland could be like that but it isnt and it would take decades to develop that level of interest with the paying public.
      The answer is for SJ and his cronies to meet up with rich business leaders and try to persuade them to invest some of their hard earned cash in our game by establishing 2 or 3 new regional clubs. I would sugest one each for the borders, Perth and Arberdeen but I would’nt ignore other places such as Fife or Stirling where clubs could also be developed. The SRU could act as the co-ordinator for these efforts but most of the money wouold come from businesses, sponsorship etc. If these clubs started to do well in competitions then fans would support them, they would grow their youth systems and would become a source of great pride in the community (in the same way that local Edinburgh and borders teams used to be). Just look at the Irish and Welsh models- they follow this philosophy and are successful. Rememember success breads success but unless SJ and his cronnies pull the finger out then I dont see much hope. Developing our youth system is important but this should always be dome under the broad umburella of regional clubs. Kids should aspire to be playing for these teams. I just hope that one day I get thet the chance to make a difference as I know that with a little will and thought we could be cheering on one of the top national teams in the world again.

    2. You are definitely swimming against the tide of popular opinion by stating that the Welsh regions are successful there Neil.

    3. Maybe things arent perfect in Wales but they have 5 pro teams that seem to do pretty well for themselves. I know for a fact that the people of Neath, Swansea, Cardiff etc feel a much greater pride in their team than in Edinburgh and Glasgow The difference between Wales and Scotland is that there are more than double the number of pro teams in Wales and each one has a highly successful youth set up. Just to compare the two nations- in the 80s and 90s we were on a par and probably slightly better. Now Wales are far superior- 51:3 victory in the 6 nations and I cant even remember the last time we beat Wales.

      I rest my case- OR should I talk about the Irish model that is even better than the Welsh one. The trouble is, the SRU just cant see it.

    4. FIVE pro teams? At last count there were four and they are in the shit financially. Without the Anglo welsh cup, they would be in an even worse position!

    5. People are missing the point about the welsh set up. It resulted from a poor decade for their national team and the challenges for setting up a viable professional set up. They concluded that their first class club set up couldn’t be supported or funded adequately and that there was no intermediate step competition for the players before being full internationals.

      The current welsh regional set up isn’t loved by all but it was a means to an end and that end was a sucessful national team. The regions have proven to be excellent at developing young welsh talent which is exactly what the WRU had in mind. All the noise from the regions last year was instigated by the english clubs and the regions trying to get more cash from the WRU (whilst seeking to reduce the WRU’s power over them). The welsh system will continue to generate good young players to challenge for international places. They came within a whisker of beating SA a couple of weeks ago with half of their normal first XV missing. Sad to say it but their young talent is miles ahead of ours both physically and skills wise.

      We really urgently need at least one more pro team in scotland. The SRU should be looking to the WRU set up as a good example, to at least start from.

    6. So maybe the Welsh model isnt perfect but what is (except possible SA and MZ). My point is, their national teams outperform us by a country mile every single year, as do France, Ireland, England, SA, NZ, OZ- do I have to go on. Its just embarassing that we are competing with Italy for the Wooden spoon every single year.

  13. One thing that puzzles me- why cant the SRU get of their fat cat backsides and show some accountability by answering/commenting on the various points that have been raised by myself and others.
    What are they affraid of? Hard work or potential criticism?????

    1. Still no reply from the SRU- well theres a surprise. I guess they were too busy eating caviar or enjoying business class flights to New Zealand to grace our presence in this forum.

    2. Still no respomse form the SRU. Do they really care about us long suffering fans?

    3. Still no response form the SRU. We may criticise you but we dont bite- honest. How about somebody from the SRU joins our debate?

  14. Can everyone just stop wingeing about this n that… Stop blaming lack of clubs, sponsorship, SRU.. And even abusing Aussies.. Fact is that Scots just play crap rugby nowadays..!!

    1. And you don’t complain about anything??
      There is big amount if frustration that the scots on
      The whole dont seem to be moving forward on
      The pro front. We do need more teams but how
      We sort it out or who would be willing to take one
      One is a stumbling block!

      But once we are producing better players it will
      Be a good feeling to see other teams get hammered
      For a change!

    2. True our national tem is crap and the clubs are only slightly better but these problems can be so easily fixed with just a bit of drive from the SRU. See my earlier posts.

  15. I’m quite sure people in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Llanelli are reasonably satisifed with the pro set up.
    Not sure how happy the ihabitants of Pontypool, Bridgend or Pontypridd are though.
    And therein lies the problem of investing Pro-team patronage on an existing club. You create an elite in perpetuiuty which is fine if your club is the chosen one.
    Pick any period in recent club history and you might have created a pro-team around Melrose…..or waited a year or two and it would have been Stirling, then Glasgow Hawks, maybe Currie or even Ayr who have all had spells at the top.

    One of the reasons why the Borders pro-team floundered was the reluctance of the tribal elders of one town to “put money across the bar” of the club in another?

  16. Here are some interesting stats on games the Springboks won:
    Springboks vs Australia: 1997 61-22
    2008 53-8
    Springboks vs Wales: 1998 96-13
    Springboks vs England: 2007 58-10
    2008 6-42
    Even though watching Scotland play is like having root canal without anaesthetic, I think, give it some time. Maybe Scottish rugby is in a “double dip” recession? Why be pessimistic? From here on the only way is forward. New coach, young players etc. I bet in next years world cup a few critics will be silenced. Of course the Scots won’t win the damn thing, but a quarter final spot will show progress.

    1. Boondagger, are you living in fantasy land? We are so far behind other 6 nations teams, never mind the southern hemisphere, that it will be decades before we can compete on a level pegging. Most of our players wouldnt even get into the C or D teams of South Africa, New Zealand, Wales, Ireland or England. The SRU are meant to be developing the youth set up but that will take time and with only 2 pro teams supplying players it looks very bleak. Even if they produced a good crop of promising 11 year olds today it would be more than a decade before these players won their first caps. In the meantime look at how poorly our youth teams are doing. Their even worse than out full national squad so it is going to take a long time to fix these problems.

  17. The fingers do point toward a new pro team, but what is worth remembering is that Rugby is not a huge sport at the youth level. In many schools north and south of the border it isn’t even taught. Where I’m stationed in the west country it is huge, hence the sucess of Bath, Gloucester etc. Back home Rugby really only exists in the best schools and the borders lets be honest. Kids are pointed toward football, becuase it’s a damn sight easier to teack for one. The interset needs to be sparked at young age. Thats where the talent pool will come from, and thats where the love of the sport will rise, insetment increase and international success will follow. The countries in question NZ, Wales, SA, you are born with taped ears and an egg shaped ball in hand hence the huge point margins when we face them

    1. So lets spend time and effort on youth rugby in schools/clubs(not mini). Pay teachers to coach rugby where possible. Link these schools to clubs. MY only problem with this however is that I believe that we will only upskill if we play and train in British Summertime , and get conditioned in winter

    2. I completely agree with this- we need more schools playing rugby. I dont know why they dont. Its a true gentlemens game based on hard work and fair play. Sure it can be dangerous at times but its a far better game than footy. So why don’t the SRU try to propmote the game in schools? Answer- because they are so far up their own arses and spending too much time on buisiness class flights and in 5* hotels to bother with all of this. I HATE THEM.
      I think I can also make a good case for playing the game in summer, though I’m not sure if this would really help the game that much

    3. Neil,

      Have you seen the money the SRU have spent on Development Officers, Rugby Champions, Modern Apprentices, Schools of Rugby, etc. They have spent a fortune over the past few years trying to get more schools playing rugby, and what are the positive outcomes for this time, money and effort – taster sessions for kids, who then don’t go on and play at the Clubs.

    4. PJ, Its great to spend money on the youth system but I’m not sure its a simple matter of chucking mney at a problem. Their neds to be something for our young rugby players to aspire to. With only two pro teams, one of which is floodined with imports and a national team that are a bit of a laughing stock, that doesnt really constitute much to aim for. What w need is 5-6 pro trams each one with a healthy youth set up. Just look at Bath and Neath- they have a great set up.
      The NZ pyramid system seems to work pretty well also. Sure, I agree that more schools need to play the sport but the clubs also need to bear some of the responsibility. We also need determined marketing campaigns on the part of the SRU. They basically need to connect with the masses, something that has never really happened. When I asked the SRU to comment on this blog their response was “jog on”. I rest my case.

  18. I’ll tell you why. I’m in the midst of getting my coaching badges at the moment. As I said previously I live in the south west of england so to my shame I am RFU accredited *hangs head and begs for mercy*, but it is a bloody long slog. There are so many individual courses and without the aid of the Navy, I’d struggle to afford it all. Schools with tight budgets aren’t going to send their PE teachers on 18 to 25 different courses at £50 to £200 a go. (thats RFU figures, but I’m guessing they translate across..ish). The vicious circle is plain to see. Without the grass roots, the game won’t improve, but without the international super stars there is no grass roots interest.
    Summer camps are the way forward, my boy is off with Bath rugby this summer for his first one. Clubs down here run them all the time at every level. If the national side, not the Rabo teams, did something similar it might just give the initative a kick start.

    1. David, thats exactly why the SRU need to get of their asses and takle 3 or 4 yey issues not just one. I am told that they are trying to promote grass routes rugby. Thats fine but you also need good pro clubs that the kids can aspie to join, hence the requirement of 5 or 6 pro clubs in our country. These clubs would have their own youth systems, as Bath and Neath do and, as they say- success wouold bread success as it has done in Ireland and Wales.

      Regarding you point about training coaches, I really dont think 50-200quid is a large sum of money in the greater scheme of things and I think this could be aforded by schools and individuals. My opint is, the game could be promoted at all levels- by schools, clubs, comunities etc.

  19. We can see from looking across at the most popular sport in Scotland (cricke…sorry football) that having people playing for ‘top teams’ isn’t worth a jot unless they have proper coaching.

    You can say what you like about the quality of Scottish football but all of our teams have afforded youngsters plenty of opportunity to play for their first teams. Where we have failed is in the production of genuinely class talent. Looking around at other nations with similarly poor leagues (Sweden for instance) their good players get picked up by other, bigger nations because their kids get proper coaching.

    In order to improve in rugby, we need to make sure we have the raw material rather than the shiny package to put it in. We have a great marketing team, two clubs playing top level rugby, a slightly aging but still excellent stadium. If you were awarded points for looking like a top level country, we’d be right up there.

    Unfortunately, we aren’t coaching kids properly. Contact hours with dedicated coaches committed to learning the most recent theories. Learning the basics before learning about winning. Encouraging people to play with good hands, fast lines and brutality at the collision. Crucially, doing stuff like separating by height and weight rather than the ‘give it to the big lad’ dedication to the slow moving behemoth that got his growth spurt before everybody else in 3rd year and below. Also, no contact until people are older. Learn to avoid it first. Very few good players run straight at their men. All of ours look to smash through the man before getting round him.

    I’m afraid that if a person hasn’t been developed properly by the time you would expect them to be challenging for a pro team place, they are already lost. You can never make back the deficit of missing out between, say, 10 and 18.

    Also, Neil as you seem to be commenting on everything and believe yourself to be the sole arbiter of passion, I’m incredibly passionate about the Scottish side. I agree that Scott Johnson has to justify his position (although I’m not sure he’s the member of the jet set you paint him as). What I would say is that you’re one of 2 things:

    1. Trolling – in which case good luck to you
    2. Naïve – £1m to run a pro team. Great stuff. I’d imagine that might have been enough to run a 1st class amateur team in 1995

    The future of Scottish rugby hinges on getting more kids involved. Unless we do that we will not have the players of followers to make supporting even our meagre 2 club representation worth it.

    1. This is a great post.

      What is your opinion of summer rugby? Personally, I think that slogging it out through the worst winter months turns a lot of young players off, impedes the development of handling skills and means we think about rugby far more in terms of set piece play than fluid running rugby. If we must persist with the winter season we should promote rugby far more widely through summer touch programmes.

    2. I totally agree with FF. Trying to introduce youngsters to proper winter Union, faces in the mud, p*** wet through, blue fingers and bloddied noses will scare kids, at very least turn their noses up.
      Summer touch is the starting block, because it encourages, as Cammy said, the side of the game that the Pacific Islanders do so well, an alomst 7s-esque runnning game. Slipping through gaps, avoiding the hit. The physicality comes later and can be trained to, but the ability to read gaps and broken play needs to be nurtured not forced.
      We can harp on all day about 5-30 pro teams or however many people want. The fact is the SRU doesn’t have a bottomless sack of cash, and one mans salary won’t change the fact that the running costs for a pro team aren’t there.
      The time sadly has come for all Scots fans to realise that the glory days are behind us. They will be back one day, but slagging off coaches, players and the governing body isn’t going to help. If my boy ever got to the standard to play at the top I know he’d go for an England jersey instead of the dark blue. Why? 1. thats where he was born but 2. he’s probably sick of hearing his Dad and his dads mates going on and on about the state of Scottish Rugby. Nay saying will not fix this.

    3. Cammy,

      I’m neither trolling nor am I naive. I Million quid to run a club is a reality and would just be for a starter. I would never expect to attract to players with that sort of budget but you have to start somewhere. My own thoughts are that a club could be run on less than what people think. You shouold also be aware that the costs can be coverd by TV rights, sponsorship and simply bums on seats. It doesnt take a genius to realise that there is loads of money in Perth and Aberdeen and both places deserve and could support a pro club. Also, look at how many people play in the Scottish borders- they could certainly support a very good team, though I agree with some posts that it would mean that ancient rivalries between the local towns wouold have to play second fiddle. I’m sure that Fife, Stirling and Dundee couold also sopport pro teams. Sure we need to caoch players properly, particularly at a young age but you could never hope to compete with the best teams with only 2 pro clubs and such a poor pool if players (in terms of both numbers and quality).
      You raise another point- I dont think I am the only person in the World that feels passionately about our game but I do think that there is a bit of apathy and not enough people could care less. Just compare us with the fans of the sport on NZ, SA or even Wales. How would the general public of SA react if their team had just lost by 50 points to Scotland? Come on- you know I’m right.
      As you have probably gathered, I think there is a particular problem in the SRU and the lack of willingness they have shown in trying to fix the game when the answers are so blatantly obvious. They have had it so good for so long and seem to have zero accountability. They have watched the state of rugby decline over the last 20 years and they couldnt care less. In an ealrier post I asked someone if from the SRU could comment on my posts but nobody did. I rest my case.
      As for SJ- what in the heck is he still doing working for the SRU. He serves no purpose. I belive we already have a very good coach so we dont need him im that role. Apparently he is director of rubgy- so what does he actually do- er direct?????????

      Anyway, I accept that not everyone shares my viewpoint but I genuinely hope that things improve for Scotland. Its no more than we deserve as long suffering fans.

    4. Dear Neil,

      I have been alerted to your posts on this forum in regard to the SRU’s work to promote Scottish rugby. I understand that you have requested an official response to the various objections you have raised about the SRU’s performance in supporting the community game and developing a competitive professional tier and national team.

      Jog on.

      Angus Buchanan
      SRU communications and engagement officer

    5. Angus,

      So at last we hear back from the SRU and their response was “jog on” Does their command of the English language not enable a more detailed response.
      How about this one- “We are sorry that weve messed things up in such a dreadful way. We accept that we have gone from a top 5 world nation in rugby to a team that looses by 50 points to South Africa and Wales. We are sorry that we only have two pro teams. We are sorry that we have allowed our youth set up to decline to the extend that out national youth teams are a laughing stocks. We are sorry that we have spent loads of money entertaining ourselves with business class flights and 5* hotels. We now just accept the fact that we will compete for the wooden spoon every year against Italy and that out team will be thrashed by 50 points or more by NZ, OZ and SA. We accept all this because it would take a bit of effort on our part to change things. Why should be work hard and show a bit of dedication and care when we are enjoying the high life and are accountable to nobody.Just be grateful for the fact that we can still compete on level terms with Canada, USA and Malta.”

      Angus- Is that more of a true reflection of what you want to say?

  20. Neil you need to let this million quid thing go. In todays modern financial world a million pound is sod all. With a squad of 45 players, the minimum you can dare have in the modern game, with your stated salary of 20k each that works out at £900000. With a hundred grand you need a stadium, coaches, physios, secretaries, media staff, kit guys, ticket sellers, land rental, a training ground, a bus, a bus driver and fuel for the thing. Not very realistic. I envy your enthuiasm truly I do. but 6 mil + will be needed. Plus Aberdeenm, Stirling, all these towns you mentioned have no realy rugby base there, except a handful of private school. A club would die on its back side up there, they like footbal and golf.
    By the way a director of Rugby works in league with the initiatives to set up a better framework for rugby as a whole. Helping to give direction to where the sport is heading, be that through media, summer camps or helping set up tours. Every Union has at least one.

  21. FF, Dave Flak. Summer rugby is a no brainer. Not only is it better for the kids, you’d motivate people to go and watch local clubs (who I think have to accept that they will only ever now be a stepping stone between junior and pro rugby for the really talented and a repository for the less talented and still dedicated/late developers) and schools standing in the sun on a Saturday.

    In addition, I think many like the idea of coaching kids and giving them the opportunity to love something that we all once did. However, the reality of standing up to your ankles in stinking mud shouting at the 10 sulky 12 year olds who actually turned up to train in the mire at the peak of a Scottish storm is pretty bleak. If I knew the chances were that I could return from work, put on shorts and a t-shirt and talk some kids through the finer points of attacking rugby while enjoying a summers evening , allowing them to run about for hours, I’d be much happier. I suspect so would their parents (particularly the poor mothers that still do the washing!)

    Neil, I presume you are talking about private clubs, owned by local worthies and taking a £1m contribution from the SRU? If that’s the case then maybe that would work but I think you are over estimating the number of people that actually want to watch club level rugby and hence attract sponsors. Aberdeen Asset were perhaps going to do it just out of the kindness of their hearts (or a vanity project) but if you think they can sit down and persuade companies to pony up money for a club that has no chance of getting any sort of audience then you are barking up the wrong tree. These companies are mostly plc’s that have to answer to shareholders for every penny spent. What would they be able to say the return was on sponsoring the ‘Aberdeen Fit’likes RFC? (I don’t care what you say, it’s a great name)

    I reject your premise that you need more top teams to bring through youngsters. Sure it’s better because you control them for longer but if we were developing talent then they would be getting snapped up by the French and English. The talent isn’t there so creating opportunity for inferior players is pointless.

    As for the getting angry thing, I did that years ago. I now don’t expect anything from Scottish rugby so I tend not to get too flustered by it and try to have discussions around it based on the fact that we’ve been mismanaged for so long. It’ll take years to get ourselves back in play as a top-level nation but the Irish, Welsh and to a lesser extent Aussies did it so we can too. I think the SRU is moving towards that by spending on academies rather than fly-by-night franchises in cities with a dubious tie to the local community.

    Scott Johnson, for clarity, is the Director of Rugby and a terrible coach. He is however well thought of as a man who can make changes to things and nurture talent coming through (see Wales.) I think the academies structure is his idea (prepared to be wrong) and I think he has more plans about how we can build a sustainable conveyor belt of talent (whether that ends up at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gloucester, Toulon etc) rather than journeyman pro’s that fill a gap on a roster and ‘project’ players not good enough for their home countries.

    Your final point is an interesting one. Do we actually deserve more? I know everybody on this is passionate about rugby but outside of the international window, rugby is a massively minority sport. Glasgow get a good crowd but Edinburgh’s is mince. The Borders were lucky to pull in 4 figures. Even during the international matches I’ve a strong feeling that about 1/3 of the crowd tends to be from the other team. Do we actually have a country capable of supporting top level rugby? I definitely think and hope we do but that’s not really borne out by numbers.

    1. Cammy,I agree with a lot of the points you make but disagree with others

      1. 1 million quid per year to run a club- you could make do with a core of 30 players paying them 20K on average and some other semipro/amateur players so you certainly dont have to have 45 players paid 20K, at least not in the first year. As for the running costs, bums on seats would cover a lot of this. Teams in Aberdeen, Perth and the borders could certainly attract 2000-5000 fans if their respective teams were playing well. Just do the maths 5000 * 20 pound a ticket = 100,000 a game. Sure you would have to pay ground staff, physios, rent of the ground etc but alot of this would be covered by bums on seats. The rest could be covered by private investors, TV rights, sponsorship etc. And by the way you dont necessarily have to have private company PLC involvement. There are plenty rich people who would buy cubs. Just look at some of the footy clubs in the lower divisions. Their directors accept that they wont make much money out of them but they buy the clubs because they feel passionately about the game. Some would argue it is to massage their own egos but that argument is for another day. My point is that it would not be as difficult or expensive as people make out.

      2. Getting angry. I make no apologies for that as I feel that our game needs sorting out. Sure, there are other things in life. Some people dont understand why I bother as I am currently living as an expat in Saudi Arabia, but I still feel great passion for my nation and our rugby team in particular.

      3, Development of youth set ups through clubs. I feel that our youngsters just need something to inspire them and aim for. If the best they can aim for is to play for a village team supported by a couple of old men and a dog than that certainly isn’t going to encourage them to take up our sport. However, taking the to the field in a stadium packed with 10,000 fans against Bath is going to have some appeal. It may encourage them to try and make the grade in the youth team for that club, then aim for the senior squad, and then our national team. We need to tackle youth rugby on many fronts but I believe the kids need something to aspire to.

      4. Do we deserve a national squad? I would like to think we do but I agree with you that this is an interesting argument as I also argue that there is not enough passion shown for this on the part of the Scottish public. Just look at how committed the fans are of SA and NZ. However, I remember the same levels of passion but on a smaller scale in the towns of the borders in the 70, 80 and even the 90’s so I dont think it is unreasonable to assume that this could not happen again. Ultimately, I think it comes down to how well the team is playing. Nobody really wants to watch their side loosing by 60 points, especially if they don’t even try. However, if they start winning games or at the very least attempt to come close then bums on seats will follow. Just think about it- how much would it mean for a borders team and their fans if Neath, Cardiff and Bath were to visit on consecutive Saturdays?

      Scott Johnson- he did nothing for Wales. The youth players were a product of the club system. I think we both agree that he is a crap coach but he doesnt seem to be much good at anything else. I’m sure he’s a nice guy but so are many people. We dont need him or his fat cat salary. I think Cotter could be good but he isnt a magician and it could be 2-3 years or more before his efforts will bear any fruit.

  22. If I may turn the conversation back to the topic though, frankly I wasn’t too disheartened by the Port Elizabeth game. Yess 50+ points conceded is deeply dismaying, but certain playres rose in the face of adversity. Something that worries me whoever is with the fantastic performance Pyrgos put in, you’d expect him to be able to contest that jersy. But he isn’t starting 9 at Glasgow. And with Laidlaw moving to a better league we could see status quo continue. And we are spent at 10. Guys don’t get excited about Tom Heathcote, i’ve been watching him for years at Bath and its not encouraging. Weir is a better player than him end of story. And that is worrying. Cotter, though, I like him. He’s going to be a good coach I think, and not afraid of risks. Keep an eye on the Commenwealth games, if Hogg has a good performance in the loose format and as first receiver ( thats where I’d guess they’d play him, that is based on nothing more) we might see him drifting into that 10 slot. Full back? We have thousands, world class 10’s…zero.

  23. Yes great post.
    FF..summer rugby always touted and good reason too,youth camps are good,just think.they could be extended as few run.
    Touch best introduction to rugby and saw TV programme with Dan Carter highlighting it’s value in forging basic skills when he was young. Think modern pitches being laid like Cardiff has the future and ensure we pick players with pastry chef hands as now have at our disposal like Russell.

    Share passion that everyone had for Scotland and the pain has lasted 15 years,worst thing being dismissed nay pitied now unlike days past when feared.
    On structure we perhaps could have prospered if club route had been taken but Telfer et al stopped that,so district though poorly handled initially the way forward.Sorry Neil but one more district team only feasible at moment,but looms like SRU developing below the priority,which understandable to build youth foundation.
    Irish scene most similar to ours as grammar school based roots,difference is Leinster et al well supported traditionally and they have funded smarter than us,ensured star players stayed aside from strong youth development.We spent on Murrayfield,Aviva came much later.
    Feel buy-in from clubs key to our yellow brick road to restoring our standing on the world rankings,some anyway.
    Mention if NZ made is significant as know pyramid system promotes everyone’s purpose being the ultimate prize a strong All Blacks.
    SRU are at least trying to move things on but the clubs need to bury the hatchet and buy in to regional proposals,a natural progression for their best players to districts must happen if they have Scottish rugby’s best interests at heart.Despite international failures this season Warriors are showing what is possible and that we have talent,a team who are a real threat in Rabo is a start and from little acorns too as they were the also runs not long ago.
    Unity please as otherwise we will be perpetually treading water amongst the lower teir nations. Wild optimism perhaps but think we could all do with some feelgood factor if the determination is shared by all. We can rise again!

    1. To clarify I’m not writing anyone (except Heathcote) off. Finn played well against the US, Weir has moments of brilliance and Horne I can remain open, but he’s a centre rather than a stand off. the issue I have with our 10’s situation is simple. They are all in the same boat. No one is being looked to, favoured or otherwise. The coaching FF mantioned needed to start a while ago.
      If Jackson can break into the Wasps starting 15 then he will take up the mantle I think, but only if he can learn to take a hit better.
      I can’t see any of our guys standing up to those typical hunting no 7s they will be going up against in the world cup. The Warburtons, the McCaws and Burgers out there that are going to take heads of flyhalfs at any given opportunity and that pees me off. I favour Hogg personally because he has been at the top end and would be a could interim while the lads bring themselves on. To play the big games and slide back to full back for the lesser development fixtures.
      I hope to christ I’m wrong really I do, then again even if we fix the fly half issue, 9 isn’t looking great now is it?

  24. Dave Flak.Re world class no 10s have you forgotten that Finn Russell is looking the real deal in such a short time after turning out for Ayr.Agree Weir is not the answer if we want the threes to flourish,but there are other players emerging like Horne who probably offers more than centre,as a bit exposed v SA though short of games after long injury.The only problem I see to his developing in the position at Warriors is whether Townsend can accommodate him,centre is cluttered with Dunbar and Bennett the incumbents.We need to.nurture whatever talent we have,short supply as it is,
    pity hearing some folk writing guys like him off already.

    1. I think we have been waiting so long for a great white hope at 10 that we are overly hasty in writing off our young players. We have a number of promising young FHs but we have to give them time and space to develop as competitors at test level.

      Paddy Jackson is a potentially world class FH but had a pretty disastrous maiden season for Ireland. Yet he is still seen as a talent who will play for Ireland for years instead of being discarded.

      Weir, Russell, Heathcote are all talented young players and we only need one to step up. But just because they don’t immediately thrive at test level does not mean they are not good enough, just that they need to work harder. Even Jackson is nowhere near as bad as he is made out to be – I hope at Wasps he steps up a level as he does a lot of good mixed in with the brainfarts.

      5 years ago we couldn’t even find 4 FHs in Scotland. Now we have options and competition and with good coaching I expect one of them to make the position his own over the next couple of years.

    2. (posted in wrong bit) To clarify I’m not writing anyone (except Heathcote) off. Finn played well against the US, Weir has moments of brilliance and Horne I can remain open, but he’s a centre rather than a stand off. the issue I have with our 10′s situation is simple. They are all in the same boat. No one is being looked to, favoured or otherwise. The coaching FF mantioned needed to start a while ago.
      If Jackson can break into the Wasps starting 15 then he will take up the mantle I think, but only if he can learn to take a hit better.
      I can’t see any of our guys standing up to those typical hunting no 7s they will be going up against in the world cup. The Warburtons, the McCaws and Burgers out there that are going to take heads of flyhalfs at any given opportunity and that pees me off. I favour Hogg personally because he has been at the top end and would be a could interim while the lads bring themselves on. To play the big games and slide back to full back for the lesser development fixtures.
      I hope to christ I’m wrong really I do, then again even if we fix the fly half issue, 9 isn’t looking great now is it?

  25. I just wish we had players of the same caliber as Finlay Calder, Gavin Hastings, Bryan Redpath, Jeffries etc. With a couple of exceptions no Scottish player has really come close to being in the same league as these guys. However these are the sort of players we must search for if we are to avoid yet another contest with Italy for the wooden spoon in next years six nations.
    I genuinely wish Cotter all the best but I sympathise with him as it must be a nightmare to deal with the comic singers in the SRU. I believe it was probably a wrong decision to fire Andy Robinson- the first coach in over 20 years to mastermind wins over SA and OZ. Sure our team had the misshap of losing to Tonga but the French also lost to that team. Just look at what happened when he was sacked and SJ took over- a 51:3 loss to Wales.
    What makes me most angry and upset is that the SRU cannot even appologise to the fans and admit that they got things wrong. We all make mistakes from time to time but a ‘real’ man is one that can admit to his errors and go the extra mile to puting things right. See my earlier posts about the SRU. I would encourage all fans to write letters of complaint to them and make this crazy organisation accountable.

  26. As much as I hate playing devils advocate, the SRU aren’t resonsible for bad lineouts, being isolated and turned over, poor passing, bad hands and a lack of imagination going forward.
    I know where you are comng from about heirarchy but it is lack of cohesion and ideas on the feild that is making Scottish rugby poor. Andy Robinson was indeed unlucky, but the same could be said of Hadden. And iknow you hate SJ, but he did get us to 3rd in 2013 lets not forget.

  27. Dave, I agree that the players have to take responsibility for a poor performance as well as the coach and the SRU. However it the the latter organization that could take the lead and initiate changes to the current club and national team set up. I dont want to go over old ground but I think everyone agrees that we need at least 3-4 clubs and probably 5-6 in order to get an adequate pool of international class players. At the moment it just aint happening. None of the players that took the field against SA last week would even get into the sides of SA, OZ, NZ, Ireland, England, France of Wales. They also need to sort out the youth set up and coaching at that level. I’m told that they are tackling this but just look at our results in the youth 6 nations- they were abysmal. It actually scares me because this is the young crop that will be representing our national team in years to come. I expect Ireland England, Wales and France to put 50-60 points against us in every game in the not too distant future. Bring back Finlay Calder- we need him!
    Frank Hadden and Andy Robinson genuinely tried their best but what could they do- they could not exactly go out and buy a forward from New Zealand or a full back from France! Why in the heck the SRU thought SJ could do any better I’ll never know. Sure we got to 3rd in the six nations in his first year in charge. Some would argue that was at least in part down to the efforts of his predecessor, Andy Robinson. And lets face it we were lucky. Remember the match against Ireland when the Irish were all over us and somehow we won the game. Even as a massive fan of Scottish rugby, I have to say that the Irish were robbed.
    In any case we should be aiming for first place, not third. In the 80’s and 90’s we used to aspire to that. Sure we didnt always achieve it but we were in a far better place than now. The players could improve and they certainly need to be taken to task over recent performances but the core 2 issues are that we need more pro teams and we need to do more at youth level. At present, we don’t seem to be tackling either issue and for that I hold the SRU responsible.

    The only thing that gives me hope is that I think these things could be changed in a short space of time. I remember Ireland being the laughing stock of the old 5 nations when they nearly alwys tried to avoid the wooden spoon in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.When professional rugby was introduced in the mid-late 90’s, I remeber watching a TV program that indicated Ireland would suffer from this the most, followed closely by Wales and Scotland. In fact, Wales and Ireland have absolutely thrived under this new system and the only nation to lose out is Scotland.

    Thats why I urge all Scottish fans to write to the SRU and protest against them. We need things to change but unless the SRU are taken to task then I cant see much of a future for our game, except for contesting the wooden spoon with Italy. They ‘nteven bother to take on the other 6 nation teams- just award them a 60 point win against us without even playing the game as that will be the norm not the exception.

    Come on guys- you know I’m right- get out the pen and paper and write to the SRU.

    Regarding SJ- I dont hate him as a person as I don’t even know him but I dont think he is a good coach and I dont understand why the SRU are paying him to do SFA. Again, just another example of incompetence on the part of our chiefs. Why dont they just admit that they are rubbish.

  28. Neil, interesting fact about Ireland in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s. Would you say that the exodus of players to other pro clubs is good or bad? I understand that it opens the door for other players to join Edinburg or Glasgow, but then again decreases the player pool to get a third pro team up and running.
    Secondly, do you think a promotion relegation system will be on the cards for the Six Nations?
    I’ve read that it’s even possible that the Springboks could join the European championship in the future because of time zone issues. So we might end up having a 7 Nations Championship.
    I’m trying to get some insights into the way Rugby is managed in Scotland, as I don’t live there; as a supporter I’m equally passionate, and would gladly write to the SRU.

    1. Dear Boondagger, Thankyou for your reply. I take the view that it is generally a bad idea for out best players to leave our shores. I guess it will be inevitable to an extent but we should never lose sight of the fact that rugby is a team game. If you have the majority of our players playing for the same clubs then they are used to the styles of play, weaknesses and strengths of their colleagues and what their actions should be adopted to get the best results. This is much more difficult to achieve if your top players are playing in 10 different countries.
      Regarding your point about relegation in the 6 nations, I actually think the 6 nations should be extended to include other European nations and their should be a league system- perhaps 2 separate European leagues with the top 6 nations being in pool A.The team that finishes last should have to play the winners of poll B,the winner taking their place amongst the European elite.
      Regarding SA joining the six nations- bring it on- though I dont think the powers at be would ever agree to it as the 6 nations has only ever involved European nations.

  29. As done with Tri-Nations and Argentina the 6N could be extended though feel a mix of cherishing tradition and the constant desire of England and France to test themselves against the big 3 would take precedence. The stramash over the Heineken Cup demonstrated who calls the shots.That said
    comments after Calcutta Cup in the Telegraph over our worthiness within the competition was disturbing albeit we laid ourselves open to slagging after the horror performance.Beating likes of Georgia with ease in next WC
    should be one if our markers unlike last time. We need to improve big style sooner rather than later to redress poor relation tag and the green shoots are there with Warriors our standard bearers in restoring credibility.
    Must kick on on the big stage and get the thrill back,most if all for youngsters.Want my teenager son to become inspired by our feats as I was and revere those future stars
    as Findlay Calder et al did for us.

    1. Wee crater, I agree with most of this though I would suggest we need to aim a bit higher than just getting past Georgia in a qualifying round- how about we aim to beat one or more of the top 4 nations and aim to win the 6 nations- not just contest a wooden spoon with Italy. Thats what our nation needs to aim for. We used to do it in the 80’s and 90’s so why not now.

  30. Folks, I generally enjoy the chat on here so a wee bit off topic but thought I would throw this into the mix linking it to the ‘promoting the game to the young generation’ tag. This is a bit of an email I sent to our beloved SRU following attendance at the 7’s in Glasgow.

    “You maybe get inundated with similar requests but I hope you kindly take time to consider my wee proposal and get back to me with an indication as to whether it might be possible or not.

    Firstly, my name is… etc etc. My son is turning 8 years old on the 14th June. To say he is rugby daft is an understatement. He lives and breathes the game, whether it be playing for his local club, attending Scotstoun as a Glasgow Warriors season ticket holder, attending Murrayfield for Internationals, cheering on Edinburgh Rugby, the 7’s team, the under 20’s etc etc… The list goes on. We recently went to the Glasgow 7’s where he was impressed to hear that a few years ago(more than I care to remember!), I played rugby alongside the 7’s coach Stevie Gemmell. I haven’t spoken to Stevie for a number of years and I didn’t get a chance to speak with him that day but on seeing him there it gave me an idea for a birthday surprise for my son. I do not have and could not find any contact details for Stevie hence this email to you to see if it could maybe be forwarded to him. I realise it will be a very busy time for the guys but I hope the following proposal doesn’t come across as unrealistic.

    With the Commonwealth Games fast approaching and the announcement of the squad(we have tickets for the Sunday games) I wondered if they would have any upcoming training sessions whether open or not that I could have taken Harry along to. If so and if it could be arranged, then as an extra if he could have met one or two of the players and got the chance to get an autograph or throw a ball about with them for 5 minutes he would be one happy boy. It is our intention to renew his Glasgow Season Ticket for his birthday and I also thought one of the guys could maybe have presented it to him. Anything along these lines would really make his birthday.

    If you are in a position to forward this email to Stevie Gemmell or you can suggest a more suitable department to consider this it would be very much appreciated. If this is not an option then I fully understand but would still appreciate a reply to that effect. Thank you for taking the time to read my email. Regards.”

    I got a response to say it would be forwarded to the appropriate dept for consideration.

    I also spoke with the Develop. Officer from our club but he thought it would be a no-goer and not worth asking!

    To cut a very long story short it is small things like this which can make a difference to a very impressionable 8 year old and all his friends that he would tell about it.

    Alas, to date I have not had any response from the SRU other than to say it would be passed on and someone would get back to me.
    That was at the beginning of June.

    1. Dear BigAbe1971,

      I’m really sorry that the SRU could not even be bothered to respond but it doesnst surprise me. They we probably too busy planning their next 5* luxury holiday on our expense. You will note from my earlier emails that I dont hold them in high regard. They are a pathetic group overpaid useless idiots with the sole intention of lining their own pockets.
      I asked them to comment on this blog and got the response “jog on” There we have it- an official response to the fans of Scottish rugby from our dearly beloved SRU JOG ON They might as well have said off.

      The fact is that the problems in Scottih rugby could be solved very easily, though it would take a bit of hard work and dedication, something that is in short supply in the SRU. The way they treated you and your son is disgusting but is the hypitomy of the persons that work there. After all, they have to be the only organisation that would give Scott Johnson a job and a fat cat salary.

      I urge all Scottish fans to write letters of complaint to this organisation. Lets inundate them with letters that they are obliged to respond to. Let us stick together and make them accountable.

    2. Neil, you really are quite naive aren’t you. I think if you read the ‘response from the SRU’ you might realise it was a fake sarcastic response and not real. I seriously doubt a representative of the SRU would post ‘jog on’ to an independent blog site (you do know this site is non-SRU affiliated don’t you?).

    3. True- it did occur to me that this was a hoax but the name and rank of the official was also mentioned in the post so I think it is more likely to be genuine. It is a criminal offence to impersonante someone else so, if it was a hoax then twhoever wrote it is taking theor chances.
      Even if it was a hoax (I stronmgly suspect that it wasnt), why then did the SRU not respond to my repeated requests. They might as well have said “Jog on”

    4. You just lost what little credibility you had my friend. If it is illegal to impersonate someone else, why is Rory Bremner not behind bars?

      Also, why would the SRU have someone read a blog site that lets the public criticise them, then post ‘official responses’ responses?

      Wakey wakey!!!

    5. Allan,

      It is illegal to impersonte someone else by sending personal emails on the pretence that you are that person. People have been taken to court for just that. For example, if I were to pretend that I was a lawyer working for a firm and posted messages claiming to represent that particular firm I would almost certainly be breaking the law. The ‘jog o’n response had a name and position attached to it- this doesnt sound too much like a hoax and, if it is, the sender could be in a bit of trouble. Just look at what has happened recently when peple have submitted posts with questionable content and messages on Facebook and Twitter. They have indeed ended up in court.

      I wasnt refering to something as mundane as an impersonator on TV.

      Perhaps I didnt make myself clear in my previous message (I had to rush it as I had a meeting to go to) but I would have hoped that you would have enough common sense to get the just of what I was eluding to.
      Wakey! Wakey!

      On another point, why would the SRU not accept critisism and provide answers in the same way that I was not affraid to answer your query/criticism? They are an acountable body, their funding of which depends on us fans. If someone criticises me I would always respond. If I’m at fault I will appologise, if not then I will fight my corner. If the SRU believe that their decisions were correct then why don’t they justify them here and now on this forum. They must be a pathetic group of terrified wimps if they are so scared on criticism. After all- exactly who pays their fat cat salaries???????????

      Wakey! Wakey!

  31. BigAbe.All the hallmarks of SRU HQ there and sorry a simple request for your son handled shoddily,ivory tower syndrome there alas.
    As you are Warriors supporters like myself contacting Scotstoun might be more fruitful as they appear to have a well honed marketing outfit,visits to schools and community projects the norm for players.Sure they would assist in contacting Steve Gemmell,also remember Colin Gregor,7s Captain is assigned to Glasgow..shorter route perhaps,good luck and hope helpful.
    Neil. Point taken.Meant one of our markers is beating teams like Georgia well,should be a given rather than a struggle as happened in the last one.Yes agree 6N Winners to be our main objective within the next 5 years.A bit more realism at this stage for Scotland than Dobson’s WC winner tag.. fantasy island stuff!

    1. See the earlier response from the SRU when I asked them to comment on this blog “JOG ON”. Thats the official rsponse from these useless bunch of prats JOG ON

      The sad fact is that I think the aim of the SRU is to produce a team that can compete on level terms with Georgia and not one that is ever going to challenge for silverware. You dont know how much I hate them.

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  33. Neil.Think John has called it right as reply from alleged SRU toady looked suspect when I first read it.You may like to know that impersonation on line is common and not illegal,’fraping’ on Facebook an example where someone can input comments even on another’s profile though completely bogus.Best to get over it and go direct as I have found personally fulfilling when targeting one of the banks.
    Freedom of information means email addresses easy to obtain..writing to top man brought me a reply within 2 hours.Go high ie Dobson and you never know but couch your case as balanced as you can despite frustrations.I did and was surprised.Similarities exist since SRU are under siege from customers but they do want to improve their image and appear to be more engaging.They are hedgehog like but think are trying to correct the wrongs if the past and quicken pace of change,honestly.
    Line in the sand time my advice but still a chance to find other ways to challenge the establishment by being smart and persistent.Also meant to say look up Change for Scottish Rugny website which was set up earlier this year if not yet aware of.For all true supporters and is recognised by SRU as think they have even met up with the founder for a meeting.
    Open channels begorra!!

    1. Um, the ‘SRU’ comment was evidently a joke and I’m surprised anyone doesn’t think that is obvious. It is a bit ridiculous to expect the SRU to employ someone to scour rugby websites to respond to fan comments on social media – that really would be a waste of time and money. It would be a full time job just responding to all the comments on the Scotsman website.

      The SRU represents the clubs and it is through the clubs that those involved with the game are expected to engage with SRU policy and strategy. As a fan, unless you had a serious business proposal or could demonstrate that you either represented an important group of stakeholders or had some form of expertise I wouldn’t expect it to be a priority of the SRU to respond to your concerns. I also don’t think there is anything terribly wrong with that position.

      Neil – historically the SRU made a hash of professionalism and there is certainly a lot of things they could do better. But I hugely disagree that there are simple and obvious solutions, that we have the money to run 4-5 professional teams and that it is only official incompetence that holds us back. I think that position is very naive. I think the SRU understand our problems well but generating the finance to deal with them is a huge challenge and finding solutions that are acceptable across the elite and community clubs is next to impossible.

    2. Of course I cant prove that the message from the SRU was or wasnt a hoax but I’m still pretty sure it is illegal to pretend you reperesent a company or organisation. What would you do if you owned a company and someone from a rival firm posted a malicious message on a social networking site- either pretending to be you or to represent your company. I’m not a lawyer but I’m almost 100% certain you would have grounds to sue. If the person did send a hoax message then they are taking their chances- people have been sued for doing less.
      As for getting over it- dont worry I have other things in my life to concern me alot more than whether a person has entered a hoax email or not.
      One is the state of our game and the mess the SRU have created. Also the fact that they dont seem to care. I have written to them and look forward to their response.
      I think I’ve been over enough ground over the last few days and see no point in repeating my comments but I maintain the following:

      1. The game in scotland is a mess, mainly owing to the inaction of the SRU, quality of coaches they have apponted in the past + the fact that they dont really care.
      2. We need more pro clubs- easily solved in my opinion- see earlier messages
      3. We need to sort out the youth set up.

    3. I understand your points and I think everyone who supports Scottish rugby agrees that we need more pro-teams, increased participation and a better youth set up. What I disagree with is the idea that the SRU just don’t care and that the problems are easy to solve, because pro-rugby revolves around money and quite simply that is the root of the problem – making professional rugby viable and thriving in a country where it is a marginal sport. It is not their job to respond to online critics, if you want to be heard the best thing is to get together with other fans, like the Change for Scottish rugby group, develop positions that represent what fans think, build support among club representatives and lobby the SRU publicly. Otherwise, you are just one voice among hundreds of thousands of others who think they know the way forward.

    4. First reciever,

      You make some really good points- can you please point me in the direction of these action group- i,.e. emaila dresses, websites etc. i agree that i should vent my views ther but I didnt even know that such an action group existed so thanks for this information.

      Where we disagree is that I think the SRU could do alot more to help the game. Rugby is less popular than football but I would hardly call it a minority sport. With a bit of advertising and promotion the SRU could do wonders for our game. Regarding the establishment of more pro teams they could do alot there as well- they dont even have to put up all of the money but they could act as negotiators/facilitators in terms of setting up new clubs. At present they dont seem to be doing much at all except for spending lots of money of fat cat salaries. It never ceases to amaze me how much the Welsh and Irish are ahead of us at youth, club and national team levels yet the SRU still chose to do SFA.

  34. Did highlight Change for Scottish Rugby group in earlier post.Some detail for you Neil.They have petitioned the SRU,’More Professioral Rugby teams in Scotland.It’s time to grow the game.Basically advocating Borders and Caledonian Reds being resurrected,2 teams not enough to compete with rest of the world.Broaden player base,provide more opportunities for talented youth.Private investors be reached out to start one team now and lay foundations for the other to follow within next 5 years.
    They have about 900 members and lobbying hard following our deepening plight.Pressure of this kind is encouraging for starters,the vibes from on high are no plans for another pro side anytime soon but I feel it has to happen,Aberdeen be my choice due to financial clout and population.
    Hope helps you.

    1. Wee crater,

      this sounds like my sort of site/organisation and I would urge all true scottish fans to look into this. Can you please post details of their site or an email contact. You may have done this already but I cant find it and dont have much time to look. I’m sure otehr readers would also appreciate it.

  35. Admins

    Any chance of a how should the money be spent thread?

    Would love to hear the full info and thoughts on this because I don’t think a lot of the opinions here are thought right through

    For example – set up a 3rd pro team : where are the players to come from for this team when we can’t stock a the existing 2 teams with Scottish players

    Raises the question of contracting – who are players contracted to is it the SRU primarily then the Pro teams or to the Pro teams first up then the SRU

    I ask this after seeing Scottish Internationals – Hogg and Weir not even getting in the squad for the last 2 Glasgow games – how can that be good for Scottish rugby as a whole? Should the SRU not be playing a hand in the distribution of players between the Pro clubs to ensure all Scottish squad members are getting a start each week – discuss :)

    A thread dedicated to such discussions would be good I think. Assuming rants can be moderated ;)


    1. Andus

      We could do with such a thread. Dont know the ins and outs of players being contracted to the SRU of pro teams but as to where the players would come from thatst an easier one- in the borders theres ais a massive appatite foe the sport and a good crop of players playing for club sides such as Melrose, Kel;so, Gala etc. The answer wold be to take the cream of the crop- say arround 25 of these players and then buy in a further 10-15 from other clubs.
      In Aberdeen, Perth etc, the pool of native players is much smaller but I bet you could still find 10-15 good quality players and then buy in the rest. Dont forget that if these clubs were to develop youth systems then much of the talent couold come from there.
      You raise an interesting point about Hogg and Weir and some of our top players not getting in the starting line up of pro clubs. This sort of thing can happen when you only have 2 pro clubs in Scotland. However, it is less likely to be a problem with 4 or 5 clubs.- another reason why the SRU should get off their arses and set up more pro clubs

    2. Neil

      If players of Pro12 quality already exist in the Borders and elsewhere then why are they not being signed by Edinburgh and Glasgow instead of Irish, Fijians, South Africans, Kiwis etc?

      If the coaches of the Pro teams don’t consider these Scottish players you refer to as being of a standard to round out their sides then how can a club made entirely of these rejected (for want of a better word) players stand any chance of being competitive?

    3. Whilst there are certainly a handful of players in Scottish Prem who maybe never got their big break I really don’t think there are the 60-100 players you’d need to base two whole new squads on.

      You could probably sustain a third team straight away based on younger players, fringe players at the current pro-teams, returned exiles and a healthy input of foreign journeymen but even then it wouldn’t be an ideal way to establish a team. I suppose you’d have to be prepared for them to struggle on the field but making them competitive would have to be based on enticing experienced Scottish quality back, so you couldn’t run it on a shoestring.

      One thing that I find very dispiriting is the idea that for Scottish players to make it they have to get an EDP place. For God’s sake, if you want to be a pro rugby player you should have the drive and wherewithal to pack you bags and play anywhere that will pay you. The actual numbers of young Scottish players going to the English Championship or elsewhere is pretty meagre. Does this reflect the fact that they are not good enough or that they don;t have the ambition to succeed of some many Argentine’s, Samoans, Georgians etc?

    4. Angus, There are loads of players on that are very good but they just never get the chance to play for a top side in Scotland. See text from Wee crater for more details. Rugby is huge in the borders with loads of players that could turn out for pro teams with just a little fine tuning and effort. So why do our teams look abroad for talent- I dont know but it probably has more to do with perception and a lack of willingness to develop home bred talent. Remember, Scots are never really valued in Scotland. Our best scientists, buisinessmen, sportmen etc have nearly all made a name for themselves elsewhere. It is a Scottish thing in particular not to value ourselves. That probably explains why i have never lived there in over 25 years, even though I have wanted to move back on many occassions. It pains me to admit this but the English, Welsh and other nations have valued my abilities to a much greater degree than my own. Is this philosophy true in Scottish rugby. I would like to think not but I have my doubts.

      In answer to your point, there are loads of good Scottish players and we could easlily set up another 3 or 4 pro teams.

    5. Neil, if they are very good and want to play pro-rugby, why don’t they go elsewhere to make a name for themselves?

      Whilst Scottish engineers and scientists might be highly valued abroad, Scottish rugby players no longer are. I find it hard to square the circle of your claims that our youth system is dreadful and doesn’t produce young players who are competitive with their international peers (which I agree with) with the idea that Scotland is bursting with young talent that could form competitve pro-12 teams (which currently isn’t true).

      I think the real situation is that our young players are unprepared for pro rugby so aren’t good enough to make it abroad. The best get EDP contracts and then have to spend years catching up in physical and skill development (but falling behind in game time) and only really a small core of those players go on to be competitive at pro level.

      If we thrust Prem 1 players into newly formed franchises they’d be some way behind even Zebre for years until a generation of young players came through the regional academies that are now being set up and were exposed to decent level of rugby from the start of their careers. Fine, but how do you finance a new academy structure at the same time as setting up 2/3 new pro teams who are going to lose every game for years? Unless you spend money on bringing in foreign/exile talent which suddenly makes the viability of these sides financially questionable.

    6. I’d be delighted if you could prove me wrong. How about naming your match day squad of 23 players not currently playing for Glasgow or Edinburgh who are good enough for pro-rugby?

    7. FF, I totally agree that our youth system is poor and we fail to produce good quality players at present but there are kids and fringe players who show promise. The problem is that they are not always given sufficient coaching and to a high enough standard. It is also difficult for marginal players to make the grade when there are only two pro clubs in Scotland. Why don’t they go abroad to play- probably because they have not been noticed because they just miss out on a place in the Glasgow or Edinburgh squads. If they arent on TV or even in a starting 15, they will never be noticed by scouts of foreign teams. Also what about the very good players that we have at amature level- sure there may not be loads of them as there are in SA or NZ but there are probably 3-4 players in Melrose, Watsonian, Heriots ets capable of cutting it at pro level. I just wonder if these players would even be noticed in the current set up. They may not necessarily be world class but with the correct coaching and encouragement they could be. Again I bang on about it alot but we need at least another 3-4 pro teams in order to provide a sufficient pool of players at international level.
      Reagrding my take on importing talent, I dont have a big problem with that provided the imports are better than the native players that we have available and that they can add value to the team. I just think we need to have a core of Scottish born playrs in each team and there are far to many foreigners in the Edinburgh side at present.

    8. Great to hear your thoughts and while the do differ I believe they point in the same direction

      So if I can attempt to summarise – there are good quality players at club level but they are a short on the coaching, skills and match experience to step right into the Pro clubs.

      As a result when someone like Solomon is tasked with turning round the fortunes of Edinburgh from one season to the next it makes more sense for him to import players who are tried and tested at that level and can walk straight in to a Pro 12 side

      As opposed to guys who lack experience at that level or close to it

      I can understand that so how do you solve this dilemna?

      You can throw countless coin at the development of young players but the problem of the step from club to pro will still exist.

      Having another 1 or even 2 pro teams will not solve this problem either as it will just mean the pool of players is diluted further and there still being no stepping stone between club / youth and Pro

      To me there is at least one missing layer possibly 2.

      The first is a competitive age group competition of some kind that will prepare players of 18, 19, 20 to take the step to professionalism. It would make sense that this is in an Academy structure under the existing pro clubs but it would require 2 things (apart from money) to succeed. Firstly a competition for them to play in eg v Foreign clubs with a similar system and side
      Secondly a willingness and understanding by clubs that their best youth would leave them for these Academies for the betterment of Scottish rugby at the expense of their individual clubs

      The other either additional or alternate option is a transitionary competition between club and pro to pit the best of Scotland’s non professional players against each other to provide them with : better coaching, exposure to a higher level of play both in skill and intensity and finally to showcase this talent to the pro clubs

      So we come to my desired outcome with is a semi pro district championship at the end or the start of the season. To be run on a state of origin basis (only Scotland qualified players) with teams from Caledonia (North and Midlands) Edinburgh, Glasgow and the South on either a home and away basis or as a series of double headers with each side playing each other twice

      Therefore 6 games for each team plus a final

      What better way to take the next move up the ladder, expose players to a higher level of game than club, test their ability to play there and not just players but coaches as well would benefit from this

      I can’t see why this is not a no brainer for Scotland to have its’ own Currie Cup or ITM Cup which are the cradles of South African and NZ rugby

      Models on how to run this exist in both these countries and can be easily accessed

      When and only when this is up and running and the need to import Pro ready players from overseas is removed for the existing 2 Pro teams should another team be looked at. I believe such a comp could be up and running for the coming season where a 3rd pro team would take 2 years to set up. 2 years of the District Challenge would dovetail nicely with a 3rd pro team

      You therefore have a level between club and pro, the ability to develop District possibly as opposed to Pro team academies along with District development squads

      There is more to this in my head but I will cut it off here

      As a side note regarding Scottish players going to ply their trade overseas – worked for Argentina and I have only an hour ago helped a player from a Pacific Nation to sign up with a player agent with a view to finding him a contract in Europe so that not only can he and his family benefit but the next time his country calls on him he will be a better player and the country will benefit

      I will be looking to do the same for a few other players from the same country over the net few weeks and no there is absolutely no reason at all Scottish players should not and cannot do the same thing


    9. The SRU are trying to move the Scottish game in this direction. Firstly, they are establishing regional academies in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Caledonia and Borders.

      Secondly, they used fringe pro-players to beef up clubs to enter the B&I Cup and have attempted to create a smaller semi-pro Prem 1 team. Neither of these efforts were perfect and both have now regrettably bitten the dust. But it shows the SRU understands the problems and is trying to do something about it.

      The main difference is that as fans we can invent logical set ups that we think would work. The SRU has to work with the existing set up and that includes lots of clubs who oppose any changes that are put forward that they see as moving them further away from the top tier. Logically, you’d have a district tier in between clubs and the pro-game. In practice, Melrose are unlikely to want their players to compete in a new tournament that would probably be more prominent than the club game and takes up part of the season. Many clubs fear their best players moving up the hierarchy and jealously guard their position near the top of the community game.

      Fashioning a structure that can get buy in from the clubs is the challenge, NOT designing a structure that makes sense on paper.

  36. Neil.Just Google Change for Scottish Rugby which I did when heard about its existence earlier.
    I believe players are contracted primarily to the SRU,home based ones anyway.Movement between 2 Pro teams done at SRU’s behest,Geoff Cross and Lee Jones prime examples recently. Maximising our resources has been queried by some with Jackson and Weir being in the west competing against each other whilst out east they struggle to find a home based 10 of quality,Piers Francis enter stage left,foreign signing failure.Money spent this way is unnecessary.There are players pumping iron in the gyms assigned to districts being underused. What happens is they fail to be developed here and often head south or France where more opportunities.Some end up in a backwater and never seen again,others can shine.Okay for proven players to
    test themselves in a different environment at a period in their careers ie Laidlaw and Jackson,but they were nurtured here.However Mark Bennett went to Clermont(?)
    a youngster,starred briefly and after long injury has returned hugely to our advantage.Future talent kicking their heels in the shadows no good to anyone as become the lost boys unless getting competitive game time.

    Surely enough guys on fringes to justify a 3rd district.
    SH Sean Kennedy identified as one to watch suspect extended Gunners contract only because Laidlaw off to Gloucester.
    Coincidence? End of season transfers think show SRU may have an eye to the future,give them some credit is hard but worthwhile.

    More need for the right talent be retained.Academies can’t get up and running quick enough IMO,bound to be untapped potential in the Borders and old North and Midlands areas,not forgetting the Anglos,London Scottish progressing well and strangely undervalued by SRU. Yes we can is the.byword.Any thoughts?

  37. Angus, you have a point that the pyramid system is a good one to follow as it works in New Zeland. Another tear of semi pro teams could work as a short term fix but I feel it would be better if these semi pro teams were in fact pro teams competing for top prizes with each one having strong youth development programs. I feel that there is very little for our youngsters to aspire to at the moment- only two pro teams in the entire coutry and national teams at all levels that are rubbish. I just feel we are up agianst it at a national level as we do not have nearly enough players playing at the highest level on a regular basis. Semi pro clubs would not really solve that proble. What we need is a total of at least 5 pro clubs- that is really the only way that we can get a decent pool pf players. Otherwise we will always be competing against Wales, Ireland, France with more than dounble the number of pro clubs and more than double the pool of playes. Even Italy has more pro clubs than Scotland. Dont you find this situation both embarassing and unacceptable? Perhaps a B team league for semipro, amature and pro teams turning wouold be an option- for instance edinburgh would have two teams- one competing in the Heineken cup and challenging for europen silverwayre an a B squad competing against other regional B squad teams in Scotland alone. What do readers think?

  38. Just watched the football game between Brazil and Germany. I’m glad that we are not the only nation that feels humiliated after a sporting event. I thought the Brazil team had been replaced by the Scottish rugby team at one stage. Its probably not relevant to this blog but how much do these guys get paid? I could do better myself.

  39. Neil.The mighty fall for Brazil indeed with lack of leadership noticeable.They appeared to capitulate but feel for all Scotland’s ills recently we have not done this.Heard SA Sky pundit attribute word to us after
    last cuffing,a bit insulting as effort there but probably with their mentality to losing deemed a fair judgement.
    Call me a nostalgic neanderthal but the Finlay Calder type of player and his attitude has been sorely missing and especially when team under the cosh over a batch of years.The nightmares of Cardiff 2010 and the one that got away v France this year could have been averted with some real leadership on the pitch. This went beyond holding the captaincy in the 70s,80s and 90s with several key players putting their hands up,so why not in future.Gilchrist looks an astute pick as captain by Cotter so early in his career,
    and he needs able lieutenants around him,see potential in J.Gray and Russell who exhibit rare confidence and verve.

  40. Wee crater, The 51:3 defeat in Cardiff in the 6 nations and the 55:6 defet to South Africa were the football equivalent of Brazil losing 7:1 to Germany. In all three cases the losing teams lacked leadership and played with no skill and very little will to win the game. Finlay Calder was a fanatstic player and the quality I admired the most was that he just never gave up regardless of the score. The main thing that separates northern from southern hemisphere teams (I do mean the big 3) is that the latter always seem to play with much more intensity- as if their very lives depended on winning. I dont see much evidence of that in the current squad. Oh how we could do with a Finlay Calder type player right now. One can only hope!

  41. Not really a football fan (and it was broadcast in the middle of the night here) but I tried to look for some parallels between the semi and recent Scotland performances.

    Two things occurred to me.
    The Brazilians seemed to rely hugely on passion and effort to see them through. Their holding of the #10 shirt at the anthems was an admirable display for a missing colleague but did suggest their minds were elsewhere and readying an excuse. After that, while passion and effort get you so far it no substitute for technial ability. Germany weathered the early storm then outplayed the opposition.

    Second, when the Germans detected a weakness they went for the kill scoring 4 in 6 minutes. It was still done in methodical way based on their technical ability and confidence to execute it.
    The only time I’ve seen Scotland press home a similar advantage was the 1999 game in Paris. These days we seem to retreat into a shell and “slow the game down, kick for touch, go through the phases” as if we are too embarrassed to score again in quick succession.
    Our vision only goes as far as claiming the restart…….and usually fails to get even that far!

  42. I just wonder why teams weven bother using a high Garry Owen kick when they have possession. I have viewed more matchs than I ever care to remeber and have made a mental note of how many times the ball goes straight back into opposion hands. Although my survey was by no means scientifific, I have found that 75% of the time the opposing team get posession after such a gary owen kick. This is a tactic that OZ, ZN and Sa rarely use and for very good reason. These teams prefer to play with the ball in hand which makes alot of sense. You may not be making much forward progress at times but at least the opposition cant score without the ball and you will be making some forward progess even if it is only 5 yards after each play. Unfortunatley Scotland seem to use this Gary Owen tactic all thie time and its useless.
    Angus I agree with your comments that it oftenm looks as if our tems is doing a damage limitation excersisze when they take to the field. they just dont play with enough intensity- just look at how quickly NZ close teams down and look at hiow had they tackle. Sure, our team lacks skill but they couold at least play with some purpose and intensity. The parrarrely between our losses by >50 points to Wales and SA hjave such a close parallel to Brazil1 Geormany 7. Can Finlay Calder come out of retirement please??????

  43. Totally agree with your point re: box kicks, garryowens etc
    Executed well they can pressure the opposition into a mistake in their defensive part of the field and, occasionally, see you recover the ball.
    Just seems to me though a lot needs to go right for that to happen and you are turning 100% control of the ball into a 50/50 situation at best with a box kick.

    1. Ask yourself this- would a team choose voluntarily to give up possession so that they could get 5 yard territry. Answer- obviously not- that would be lunacy. Yet 75% of the thats exactly what happens when teams kick Garry Owens. Thats why you don’t see much of this in games involving southern Hemisphere teams. It seams that the only time they really kick the ball is if it is within 5 yards of their own try line. Even then, its normally only when they are heavily outnumbered. 6 nation teams use the Garry Owen tactic all the time and it just doesnt make much sense to me. Keep the ball in hand and work through the phases- its much more effective.

  44. Yes bad kicking tends to be a feature of 6N matches,ping-pong between full backs also make for stale viewing.Chasing of our kicks are half-hearted and amazes me the majority of 50/50 balls we fail to secure on the ground.So frustrating.
    Agree intensity an issue and don’t see enough players injecting real pace,betting themselves after fielding balls. This results in such aimless kicking.Hogg and Seymour do it but need others to follow their example…late try v Argentina showed what can be achieved
    More adventure is possible with more ball handlers,well in the backs anyway,and looking back to the exhilaration of Paris ’99 a good reminder of the advantages to be had in attacking from deep.

    may seem a distant memory when atta

  45. Without defending the choice to kick so much of our possession, I think the rationale behind it might be skills and weather conditions based.

    Scotland don’t seem to have the ball handling skills to put several phases together with hands on ball. Either we drop a pass, knock on or throw a forward pass. Additionally, our players train and play in tail end of autumn winter and spring where they will see a bucket load of rain making handling difficult.

    I think the kicking strategy is percentages based. Punt the ball in the opponents half and chances are they will drop the ball somewhere giving us possession in their half.

    Unfortunately, other teams are better at catching the ball than us… Amongst other things..

  46. Paul, I agree that we do tend to make too many mistakes but I’m not sure if you can really use the Autumn winter weather excuse. Its not much colder in England and Wales and they don’t seem to have so much of a problem. I think the biggest issue is that we just dont have a big enough pool of players and enough of them playing at the highest level on a regular basis. With approximately 3 times or more top level players to choose from in Ireland, Wales and France (dont even get me started on England, NZ, SA, OZ) it is almost inevitable that they will have individuals of a higher callibre to chose from- ones that are less likely to drop balls, give away stupid penalties in dangerous positions etc. I feel we also need to improve the youth development set up. If you think our national team are bad, just look at our youth teams- its scary.
    I bang on about it a lot but unless we can somehow create another 3 pro teams or more and improve what we do at youth level, then I really dont see much of a future for our game. If it continues along the current path than losses of games by 50-60 points or more will become the norm not the exception and our teams will take the field with damage limitation in mind, rather than winning. Unfortunately, the SRU seem happy to go forward with this philosophy as doing anything else would require them to work and show innovation- these are things that they could not possible do. Instead, the SRU choose to do SFA.

  47. Neil – might be worth taking a look at the Daily Telegraph article on the current crisis facing Welsh regional rugby if you think the Welsh domestic set up has been a success.

    The national side has done well because the WRU and regions invested heavily in a significant academy structure and had a strong ccommunity game below it. However, the regional set up has brought the pro-sides to war with the union, the regions to the brink of financial collapse, has failed to build on good early attendances, and has achieved no success in Europe. Indeed, the Welsh sides are now struggling even in the Rabo. Now, there is a very real danger that the regions will need to offload all their capped players to bring their wage bill down and there has even been talk of the WRU taking over the regions and reducing their number to 3.

  48. I think we need a new thread!

    Ref kicking it used to be great seeing a big garry owen kick as you just didn’t know what would happen, but with the pro era any you just cant get away with it any more teams are to well organised. the only kicking game I can see having any benefit is a short kick over the defensive line as they charge out and the fullbacks covering deep??
    maybe by doing that defensive lines wont be so sure on closing down throwing doubt in that line could create gaps as individuals close down or hold back??

    FF is right the welsh regions are in a bad way but is that through greed and wanting a bigger wedge of the cash the Welsh Union have, any chance the welsh regions get to move into the English premiership they will take and dump the Pro12 in a flash and where will that leave us.

    We need to fund more clubs but not through the SRU which means we need communities clubs or individuals to step forward that have that drive to raise funds and produce a team, being pro doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune… helps yes but if you have players wanting to play and step up to the mark. It would be interesting to here from some of the club chairman on why they don’t….. are we still in a mind set from the early days of the game where it was just for fun?

    Maybe our own league has to turn pro get a tv deal decent sponsorship with some decent prize money?

    Our League really has to get its fixtures sorted out they play 18 league fixtures and some cup games. Start in august have a winter break then play the last nine in march to May….. or radically start the season april and play through to November with breaks for the districts to play… why we keep to this idea its a winter sport I don’t know.

    just imagine if you could watch Scottish rugby on bbc or itv on a Saturday afternoon at three lots of kids would watch I’m sure of that… I used to watch rugby league in the eighties even though I had no interest in it??!!

    We have get councils to set up small rugby pitches in parks so we can encourage kids to play a tag rugby and copy the scots stars of the day.

    Is there a way we can can Uni students to do some Businnes study into raising pro clubs in certain areas that could go to their degree yet get us an in sight on what we have to do to set one up.

    1. As a Business Graduate – I am very interested to hear what your proposed research into Pro Rugby would be?

  49. Hello John,

    Having no experience on this my thoughts is
    1. Identify new area where a pro club has a chance start up and get the support from the community around it, where would a good place for the club to base itself and call home. What name would we call it to link it in with the locals.

    2. Costs what would the pro club expect to pay out on wages, stadium costs, maintenance, traveling, training, injuries, tax…

    3. identy who would be interested in backing clubs long term as it will take time for a club to get its own two feet. Would it be individual or group of backers, maybe community run.

    4. sponsors who would be interested in backing these new clubs, what would they be prepared to put in, would they be in it for the long run. National and local companies need to be approached.

    Can we get funding from other sport funds, lottery,

    5. The community we need to know possible areas for clubs would they back a club would they come and support a local pro club.
    The Borders strong rugby area but failed in gaining the support of the area why? Could we correct it for another borders club. What mistake that happened in the borders should we avoid for new areas.

    6. Revenue streams advertising, support, sponsors, corporate deals what scale would it be and how long would it take for the revenue to cover our costs.

    7. If we did find some suitable areas for clubs what would they be called do we leave it to the backer or just the name of the town or do we try and give a name the community can identify with what colours would they play in.

    That’s a lot of areas to cover but who would do it what backing can they get to work on it how big a team would be needed to help bring all the info together.

    I don’t know if that is any good or is there any thing I have missed(probably).

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