Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


We Only Sing When We’re Winning Part II

Scotland line up for the anthems - pic © Al Ross
Scotland line up for the anthems - pic © Al Ross

Back in 2013 we called on Scottish Rugby fans to enliven matches by coming up with some new chants beyond “Flower of Scotland” and “SCOOOOOAAATTTLLLAANNNDDD! SCOOOOOAAATTTLLLAANNNDDD!”

Despite some media coverage and endorsement from the SRU through a post on their Facebook page the idea never really took off save for a couple of pockets of fans having a crack at “Loch Lomond”.

Earlier this year we put a call out on Twitter for some ideas to add to the currently wafer thin Great Scottish Rugby Songbook.

The Social Tighthead suggested:

“Legs like logs/ He keeps his feet in clogs/ He’s Tim Visser/ Tim Visser”

Animation genius Graham Love came up with a song about Josh Strauss to the tune of Madness’s “Our House” that can’t be repeated here.

The key to getting any new chant or going is having a group of fans sat together getting the singing going. Unfortunately this writer is going to the Calcutta Cup with two Englishmen so the chances of getting a pro-Scottish chant going are slim. However as I sorted out their tickets I’ve banned them from even mentioning chariots.

So this is a call to any group of fans travelling to Murrayfield for the Six Nations. It’s up to you to try and get some new chants and songs going. Practice on the bus and train and then sing your hearts out when you get to the stadium. Hopefully it’ll catch on.

The key to any chant or song is to keep it simple and instantly recognisable. The chorus to “Loch Lomond” has long been a staple at Scotland football matches as well as “Doe-A-Deer” for reasons no-one can quite fathom. Suggestions are welcome in the comments below but bear in mind that we want kids to join in so please keep it clean.

The best chant this writer heard was during the Rugby League World Cup quarter final between New Zealand and Scotland. Scotland crossed the line for their only try late in the game much to the delight of the small pocket of kilted Scots who began singing “we only score when we want to”. Hopefully such a chant won’t be necessary next Saturday!


57 Responses

  1. This is a point of perennial embarrassment, particularly when the Welsh are in town, but also with the Auld Enemy (chariots) and the French (Allez les blues). Even the Italians (ee-tal-ia) can make it seem like a home game for them. Interestingly, when we’re away in Rome I find Scozia works nicely as three syllables (Sco-zee-yah). Hopefully it’ll be easier to encourage our fans to sing more than it would be to change the national language to Italian….
    I still reckon Loch Lomond is the best shout for getting a decent block of the crowd going and instilling it as a bit of the crowd culture.
    I’ve been to see Sale a few times and impressed/bemused by their ability to tag Sale (say-yul) on to the end of Hey Jude. We could pinch that – nah nah nah nah-nah-nah-nah etc etc Sco-ot-land…. Maybe not.
    Alright, what about Alive and Kicking (at least it’s by a Scottish band)? After a successful kick – ohwoh ohwoh – alive and kicking – we’re stayyying whilst wee Grieg is – ohwoh – alive and kicking…

  2. Staying on the popular culture theme for the backs: Get yer rocks off, get yer rocks off Hoggy/ Horney/Tommy/Timmy/Seany, get them off now, get them off down town…

  3. Maybe a bit predictable, but the ‘la da da da dah’ bit from 500 miles – north stand shout it at south stand, south stand shouts it back, east stand shouts it to west stand….and west stand probably shift uncomfortably in their seats then we all so the ‘ diddly um diddly um diddly um’ bit together and repeat.

    I’m a big fan opf the ‘We are Warriors’ chant at Gl;asgow, as the ‘We Are’ bit can but quite loud and intimidating – I’ve got a couple of pals in Norn Irn and they say they’re all a bit jealous of that one – although I’d kill for something as good as SUFTUM.

  4. How do Scots feel about Caledonia? Always thought the chorus of that’d be a good one that everyone knows.

  5. Have thought this for a long time. Should be a song rather than a chant, or I can’t see Muryfield being convinced. After Glasgow won the Pro12 I enjoyed seeing Finn singing the Tartan army song and think it’s rugby friendly. “We’ll be coming, we’ll be coming, we’ll be coming down the road. When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army boys, we’ll be coming down the road!” Repeat. I’ll be singing that with my pals after a few, we usually do.

  6. Lots of good music but with lyrics no one knows (at least from start to finish).
    Or with lyrics that are entirely wrong for rugby.
    ‘Mhairi’s Wedding’ is a good upbeat tune with inappropriate lyrics. The Dark Island is a beautiful song but no one knows the lyrics. The poets and the wags need to creat\change the lyrics to some well known songs.

  7. Wee man – politics apart the trouble is that Murrayfield has too many inhibited supporters and sad to say they sing Flower of Scotland with a total absence of embarrassment!

  8. Simple – singing a song about being a nation again when 55 per cent said no – and I suspect the percentage at Murrayfield is nearer 70 per cent is making us potentially a laughing stock. Better off with God save the queen and a Team GB to play France and the Southern Hemisphere.

      1. You are probably correct. Neil never posts on Fridays or Saturdays as that is the weekend in the Middle east and he cannot get access on line. Sunday is the first day of the working week. A Scot who lives elsewhere, pays tax elsewhere feels he is best placed to discuss nationalism.

    1. Don’t think it’s Neil guys. Not rulling it out though.
      On the off chance you’re new to the site Morethaneightymintues we’re a rugby blog and like to keep things focussed on rugby rather than politics. That’s what Twitter’s for. Cheers

  9. Maybe a bit basic, but I was trying to think of something that sounds almost primitive, a strong rhythmic chant that could really get the ground shaking – best example I can think of is in the film ‘Zulu’… so on that theme, what about we chant BLUE, BLUE, BLUE – starting slower then picking up in speed…ties in nicely with the twatter branding too :)

  10. I was thinking that Scotland the Brave is far more uplifting and inspiring to us as a nation – Flower of Scotland is almost a lament in comparison and also continuously refers to another nation throughout rather than just our own. I do like the Flower of Scotland but believe Scotland the Brave is what we need to draw us closer together as one nation.

    Attached are two links to videos of Scotland the Brave.

    This one is sung (back from 50/60’s) and is black and white. Start the video from 5mins 7s in (after the adverts) to get directly to Scotland the Brave.

    This second video is Scotland the Brave with bagpipes but no singing…

    I can only imagine how inspiring a combination of both the singing and the bagpipes would be.

    1. It has to be bonnie Mary of argyle. Easy to learn and slow enough for crowd to sing.can substitute “team” for “queen” if you prefer!!!

  11. I’ll keep the tag I used after last years misery fest but, ever the optimist, hope to change it in six weeks time. Regarding this thread, I have always felt that ‘bonnie dundee’ would lend itself well to be being belted out buy 40 thousand or more. Even if it was just the chorus, but the first verse and a chorus would, in my humble opinion, give any rugby song a run. Thoughts?

  12. Some good ideas. I don’t think there is any doubt we have the songs but the issue is less one of which should be sung and more of how can 67,000 people be uplifted to signing any of them and supplying them with the words

  13. Bonnie Mary of Argyll? It was the song of choice after the ’84. Lyrics on the big screen perhaps.

    1. The big screen would work pre match but its in game singing we really need. Maybe put the words up whenever england have the ball?

  14. I think the Murrayfield/SRU ‘organisers’ could play a big part. Publishing lyrics in the program or even having words of one or two ‘popular’ choices printed on pieces of paper placed on each seat or handed out around the stadium.
    A campaign to ‘get Murrayfield singing’ could be organised.
    The songs that work will soon spread and people will know the lyrics after a few renditions.
    Ah well dream on.

  15. Here’s a link to Bonnie Mary of Argyll sung in a pub by some army lads – I think it is popular in some regiments, with words being changed to suit. Talks about marching before the queen though, so some might be uncomfortable with that…

    Here’s another song, but I’m not sure it would be possible to co-ordinate…

  16. ‘Flower of Scotland’ is fine if played/ sung at quick March tempo. One small change to lyrics, swap ” the e’nmies armies ” for occasions when “proud Edward’s” has no relevance.

  17. Definitely think we need songs rather than chants. The atmosphere at the games during the WC was a lot better than at Murrayfield, especially Newcastle where the rendition of FoS was the best I’ve heard since 1990. There was an ex-player (can’t remember who, or find the article) in the Scotsman not long after saying how he thought the travelling fans were the ‘real rugby fans’. Harsh on the folk that cough up to go to Murrayfield regularly but I think he has a point. Is it purely down to the travelling fans being predominantly males that like a good bevvy before the game?

    1. There was such an amazing buzz before the WC games and that was brought into the stands. Perhaps the pre match experience around Mfield needs a bit of attention?

    2. I’m not sure that’s totally accurate, yes there is still a lot of male fans but I’ve been to RWCs in France and NZ and the crowd was very mixed, there were a lot of couples travelling and plenty of female Scotland fans were spotted – although they too like a good bevvy! The atmosphere does tend to be quite good though as I think often away from home Scotland fans need to do more to make themselves heard which has a knock on effect. Sco v Arg in RWC’11 was one of the best atmospheres I’ve seen from both sets of fans despite plenty of empty seats… likewise St Etienne in RWC’07

      1. You’re right about NZ in ’11 and especially the cake tin. I don’t think the Argie fans stopped bouncing and singing the whole game.
        Whatever the reasons, we need to try and transfer the ‘away atmosphere’ to home games.

  18. I think a group of passionate supporters needs to engage with and have the backing of the SRU. Get that group sitting together, with their songbook and maybe in a year or two we might have a bit more variation! I don’t think it is going to happen with individuals or very small groups spread thin throughout the stadium. Would love to be proved otherwise.

    1. The Aussies god forbid seem to be able to organise this now where they have a section of the stadium where their equivalent of the Tartn Army can buy tickets and they all come in gold t shirts may even be a club you join to get a ticket and t shirt / game gear

      Not sure if a section of Murrayfield could be set aside for this in conjunction with a supporters org who would be responsible for individual ticket sales out of a block – should be possible starting with maybe 500 to see how it goes then hopefully it would grow from season to season

  19. It all starts with the woeful version of FOS with the cringe worthy singing only 2nd verse that we use as the anthem. It’s actually better at away matches where a brass band plays it (with or without pipes) at a reasonable tempo, far more upbeat than the funeral march you get at Murrayfield. It was done very well at the WC IMO. I’m not a bagpipe hater before anyone starts, I play them myself and thus am a bit precious about them sounding shit.

    I honestly don’t know what people can start singing, all the rugby songs I know of anyway are a bit rude so that counts them out. Only Scottish ones I can think of are Scotland the Brave which is terrible and Scots Wa Hae which is probably worse. Whatever we do we don’t want to lower ourselves to football style chants. Loch Lomond is probably the best shout. I think it is probably more an attitude thing than a lack of songs, no ones singing because no one wants to, I know from past experience, even trying to crack out a FOS fails miserably when no one joins in.

  20. I was thinking about this with some of the guys at my club. We need:

    Something anthemic
    Nothing with complex words or structure
    A simple melody
    Hopefully no mention of England because I’m frankly bored of us defining ourselves by performance vs them
    Repeatability that means you can keep belting it out
    A well known tune
    Linked to Scotland, even if not by content
    Sounds good being played on pipes

    We coupled that with looking at the other great 6 Nations songs (left out I-TA-LIA and Allez les bleues because they are chants really) and what stood out is that Swing Low, Bread of Heaven and Fields of Athenry are slow moving songs that can be started in one part of the ground and joined in easily as it moves through the fans.

    Ticking most of this criteria is Amazing Grace.

    The melody is beautiful, everybody knows it, it has a relationship with Scotland, you can jump in at any point, it sounds good on the pipes and you can repeat the first verse ad nauseam. Crucially, it doesn’t mention how magic we once were or how we might one day be really good again if only Will Carling would let us.

    Some might not like the religious nature of it but that hasn’t stopped Bread of Heaven and Swing Low being, if we are honest, the vocal calling card of their respective nations. If you imagine it, under the lights at Murrayfield being belted out by all in attendance, I think you could see it being a success.

    So, Amazing Grace. I’m going to be at the Wales match for my stag (I’ll need some amazing stamina if not grace) so I might try to get my group to sing it.


    1. It’s a decent call. It’s certainly stirring. There’s a massed pipe and brass band version that’s particularly moving.
      I’d agree that the religious nature of the song shouldn’t matter that much. It doesn’t specifically mention God or Jesus and fits neatly with the likes of Swing Low etc.
      Think it probably fits neatly alongside Loch Lomond as being something fans can sing from the stands.

      1. That was my thinking.

        You can be sat in your seat not paying much attention and jump in half way through. That’s crucial.

        Much as I love Caledonia and others, the complexity of the word pattern makes it difficult to get a crowd involved. Similarly Scots Wa Hae and Scotland the Brave would require learning words, not something most are going to put effort into.

      2. Sorry – I don’t get Amazing Grace at all. It’s a lovely song, but I don’t really understand how it is linked to Scotland? Also, it is explicitly religious in content, which obviously doesn’t matter for Bread of Heaven because of the Welsh national identification with their hymn which elevates it to civic religious status. Amazing grace has no such association with Scotland – it’s just a nice hymn. The less said about swing low the better IMO. Fields of Athenry is a dirge of a song but it works because it resonates with the Irish national myth/identity so people love it – it is part of how a people see themselves. Loch Lomond has been the best suggestion because it is a song people know and love and it is ultimately about a connection people have to the Scottish landscape. Personally I’ve always thought a modern version of ‘a mans a man for a that’ would be a cracking rugby song and is true to rugby values. Chances of it taking off are low to sweet f-all.

    2. I can see why you think it’s a good choice, but like FF I really can’t get the link to Scotland. Even if it doesn’t mention deities, it is entirely religious in conception and sentiment. However, if you can get past that as a modern interpretation, it still seems historically more strongly linked to England and the States than to Scotland, even if there is a pipes version and it has been well promoted by our favourite Jockney, Rod. I suppose there is the simple – we like it, so we’re having it – rationale; no real logical or cultural basis, but I’m not sure that will catch on. I could see the crowd being confused and wondering which fans are singing it and why.

  21. Looks like we’re now dissecting what makes a good rousing unofficial anthem. So, in my opinion, those which seem to work for others (FOAR, Bread of heaven, hymns and arias etc), all have a crescendo moment (swing low doesn’t, and I don’t rate it in the area as the others) FOAR at the beginning of the chorus; bread of heaven “feed me till etc” ; hymns arias ” and we were singing…..”. So is that the key (no pun intended) factor along with the non complex lyrics and the reasonably slow pace? If so, I again resubmit Bonnie Dundee, with crescendo being ” ….and let us gae freeeeeeee ……..and its aff wi the bonnets etc”. Another possibility could be “will yea go lassie go”. Maybe if I sink enough libation pre kick off I might try and start it off. So if any of you guys see a drunken, kilted eejit trying to impersonate the Corries (yeah both of them) then please join in and help…ye never know, it might just work.

    1. Good shot on Wild Mountain Thyme. Its slow enough with a good chorus. Would be interesting if someone could write slightly more fitting lyrics for a rugby song.

  22. Thought this was interesting:

    Why is Swing Low Sweet Chariot sung at England games? Chris Oti was England’s first black player for 80 years and is best remembered for scoring a hat-trick against Ireland at Twickenham in the 1988 Five Nations – a watershed in England’s fortunes and the inspiration for a new tradition. A group of boys from the Benedictine school Douai began singing the 150-year-old hymn, as they would do for the first XV rugby team whenever a try was scored, when Oti ran in for his second touchdown. Amused spectators started to join in and by the time Oti had crossed for his third the song could be heard echoing around the stadium – and a long tradition was born

  23. Off wi the bonnets o’bonnie Dundee sounds good tae me.

    As a bonus, in a foreign pub, you might well get a free drink out of it.

  24. No mention so far of Highland Cathedral, brilliant tune that someone tried to put words to a couple of years back. Should have worked but didn’t. My opinion is that the words were too complex to catch on. Lets get a conversation going to find easy to learn and appropriate words to this fine tune. Other suggestion would be to just go with the non words option…… “daaaaaaa da da da da da da da daaaaaaa da da da da da………….da da da da da da da da dadadada. Sure you get the idea!!!!!!. Try it in yr head, it would work, convinced of it. Beauty of this non word option is that it could be quickly started as we all know the tune. The well known chorus just repeats as more get involved. Very simple to start. Could be magic being belted out by the “massed (wind) pipes and gums” of the normally dour Murrayfield faithful. Another option would be to kick the whole thing up one octave for the second time through, as done by the pipes!!!! Comments.

  25. Even if I say so myself i’ve just thought of a cracker:
    “Come all without, come all within. You’ll not see nothing like the Mighty FINN! Come all without come all within you’ll not see nothing like the Mighty FINN!”
    To the tune of Bob Dylan – Quinn the Eskimo.

  26. A couple of more light hearted ones could be Nancy Whisky and Come and Join Us by the corries. Good humour and easy to sing.

  27. It has to be Rod Stewart’s “Sailing”. Great tune, everyone knows it, simple lyrics which everybody can remember. Evokes image of Scottish diaspora coming back to the homeland. No matter where you live, once a Scot, you’re always a Scot. Fits in quite nicely with the foreign born players currently in our team as well.

  28. Some good ideas here, Sru have a feedback and suggestions e Mail on there web site.
    I have sent a few of my ideas as regards ways of improving atmosphere and stopping the booing!
    Perhaps if they get enough e mails they may take notice.
    You can but hope!!!!
    E mail address is

    Good luck

  29. When SRU were trying to get Flower Of Scotland to take off, the words were printed on the back of the programme – would be awesome if they could be convinced to do the same here. Maybe if their twitter site did a wee poll with maybe a choice of three, and the most popular gets printed for the France game.

    There are some good suggestions above, but for me it should be ‘Scotland the Brave’. It’s a song thats recognised the world over (or at least the tune is) and the words are actually fairly uplifting – all we need is a bit of effort to learn them. Most of us manage the first line perhaps, then it becames all ‘dum dum dee dums’ until ‘SCOTLAND THE BRAVE’ – words are below, no need for second verse for now…

    Hark, when the night is falling, Hear, hear the pipes are calling
    Loudly and proudly calling down through the glen.
    There where the hills are sleeping, now feel the blood a leaping,
    high as the spirits of the old highland men

    Towering in gallant fame, Scotland my mountain hame,
    High may your proud standards gloriously wave.
    Land o’ the high endeavour, Land o’ the shining river
    land o’ my heart forever, Scotland the brave.

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