Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


News Roundup

Mike Blair - pic © Al Ross
Mike Blair - pic © Al Ross

Blair hangs up the Blades

Mike Blair has announced a concussion-related retirement from playing rugby this week and will assume an assistant coaching role with Glasgow. As anoyone who reads his columns will know he is an astute observer of the game and should fit right in to Gregor Townsend’s setup at the Warriors.

Blair was first capped in 2002 and unfortunately played during large chunks of an era when Scotland’s attacking skills were far behind those of Blair himself. The early years of this blog were spent watching Mike burst through a gap with no-one (apart from maybe Ally Hogg) on his shoulder to support him; if he were in his prime today he would find national and pro teams far more attuned to his sensibilities.

It was also a period of riches for Scotland at scrum half – he spent the early years battling with Bryan Redpath for the 9 shirt and the later period competing with Chris Cusiter and Rory Lawson. Blair, a nominee for IRB player of the year in 2008, was a British and Irish Lion in 2009 on the agonising tour of South Africa but had a strangely subdued tour where he was far from his best.

Speaking of his best, the less said about his (post Calcutta Cup win) naked underpant dancing being broadcast live on the BBC from a victorious Scotland changing room, the better.

Mike played his club rugby for Edinburgh, Brive, Newcastle and finally Glasgow and retired from international rugby in 2013 with 85 caps. We wish him all the best for the future.

Carmichael joins Edinburgh

Continuing the aim of integrating young Scottish players into the professional set-up, Edinburgh Rugby confirmed the signing of Edinburgh-born, former North Berwick HS pupil and lock Lewis Carmichael on a two-year deal. He represented the city of his birth at under-17 and under-18 levels before being drafted into the Scotland under-18 squad, making his debut against England in March 2013. Edinburgh are also rumoured to be interested in Samoan centre Sasa Tofilau who has been playing for Kirkcaldy but appeared in Edinburgh colours at the Melrose Sevens (which they won).

Macphail Scholarship

Scottish Rugby Academy players Patrick Kelly (Glasgow Hawks and former Scotland under-20) and Ross McCann (Stewart’s Melville RFC and Scotland under-19) have been awarded the coveted 2016 John Macphail Rugby Scholarship and will spend 15 weeks immersed in the nation’s renowned rugby culture and high-performance training.

Kelly and McCann departed for Canterbury at the start of the month (9 April) where they will join the Crusaders High Performance unit, and team up with local club sides to assist with their development.

Centre Kelly, a product of Highland RFC, captained Merchiston Castle School to the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Cup final in 2012. He occupied the starting inside-centre berth in all of Scotland under-20’s five games of the 2015 Six Nations Championship, playing a key role in side’s victories over Wales, Italy and Ireland. He was then selected for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy, and made starting appearances in four of the five games, before joining Scottish Rugby’s new Academy programme.


Prolific wing McCann scored four tries in his three appearances for Scotland under-16, and replicated his try scoring form for the Edinburgh age-grade side, crossing the whitewash twice in his four appearances. The former Royal High School pupil captained his school to Brewin Dolphin Plate success in 2014 and made his international under-18 debut as he came off the bench in the 21-13 defeat of Ireland Schools at Mayfield, Dundee.


Previous recipients include a host of current Scotland internationalists, including John Barclay (2005), Kevin Bryce (2007), Grant Gilchrist (2011), Jonny Gray (2012), Finn Russell (2013) and Adam Ashe (2014).



14 Responses

    1. My apologies, of course I meant pro team games. Sounds like a lot of you saw the game though! We are always looking for folk to write up Prem 1 games… (hint)

  1. I have to say I don’t understand the top of the Premiership play-offs. Ayr won the division at a canter and are surely the rightful champions? They’ve just lost to Heriots in a one-off match which is supposed to be the characteristic of cup competitions, not leagues. No disrespect to Heriots, but surely Ayr are the side who’ve shown a winning consistency over the season and have come out on top? It just doesn’t seem right that they’ve now lost the championship to a side that finished third – 12 points behind them.

    1. Absolutely correct!! As a Heriots supporter, Ayr won the the league!!!!
      Mind you, great game and turn out out at Millbrae today! Two club treasurers very happy!!!

  2. Heriots are deserved winners, as they won the match that counted. I understand why play-offs at the bottom/top of adjacent leagues make practical sense, but if over a season you’ve dominated the top league in club rugby then you are surely league champions, and this shouldn’t be taken away from you in an unnecessary (if money-spinning) “cup final”.

  3. I hope Graham Wells doesn’t referee another Ayr match.
    He reffed 5 this year and Ayr lost all of them. A coincidence?
    I think not.

    1. That would appear to be a spooky fact , Ayr only lost 4 in the league plus the play off.

      The final score came from the botched line out to the tail when Ayr should have been playing safe IMO.

      On balance I thought Ayr were the better side however the score board never lies.

  4. Apologies for generally unrelated comment, but it’s really disappointing that there is no tv broadcast in Scotland of the qualifying crunch Munster – Edinburgh game.

    1. Share your frustrations but I believe that it will be on the BBC Sport website as a live video broadcast. Out of the two games, the Edinburgh match is clearly the bigger match but that might not have been obvious when scheduling was decided. BBC Alba can only show one and the output has been solid Edinburgh last few moths. Not Alba’s fault that Sky haven’t picked up one of the matches.

      1. Chat on Edinburgh forum is that Edi v Mun was originally scheduled but dropped by BBC in favour of Glas v Zebre. Can’t say I blame them as Glasgow game is likely to be easier on the eye and a successful Scottish team winning matches probably pulls in viewers. Nevertheless Edinburgh game is far more uncertain and is a crucial game for us. Can’t say I’m optimistic about the result but a win tonight would be massive.

    2. I believe the Edinbugh game is being shown live in Ireland on the Irish language channel TG4. There might be some way of getting a livestream of it to allow you to watch it.

      1. Cheers for the heads up on that Scott. Christ it’s hard going watching Edinburgh sometimes. Plenty of good and then just some really amateurish bad. The lack of support around Brown collecting the deep ball just before the 1st try was shocking. Fair enough Kinghorn was probably still seeing fairies after the collision with Murray.
        I try to get to as many Edinburgh games as possible. Even though I live in Aberdeen there have been seasons when I’ve probably made 2/3 of Edinburgh home games, finishing work early on a Friday to just get down the A90 and drop off the motor before kick off. I also have just renewed my Scotland season ticket for the 3rd time. So I don’t feel bad about trying to catch a game on the telly, when I can’t be there in person.

  5. I don’t think this is about Zebre game being easier on the eye. They must assume a larger viewing audience for the Glasgow game, possibly due to fact that match is sold out. If you really want to watch the edinburgh game, go get a ticket and support your team.

    1. Er, I said it is because the Glasgow game will pull in more viewers. I think it is because they are successful as well as because they play attractive rugby, I’m sure their games pull in more viewers regardless of whether Scotstoun is sold out or not. I try to watch as many of their games as I can and support them as my second team. Sometimes watching edinburgh can be an endurance sport in itself and I wouldn’t blame Scottish fans for not wanting to tune in to our games.

      Believe it or not there are also some Edinburgh fans hanging on for better times who live scattered around the UK (and world). Not everyone can attend every match in person. Crazy I know!

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion