Prem 1 round-up

Edinburgh Accies 5-29 Currie
at Raeburn Place

Edinburgh Accies: S Moffat, M Coupar, G Douglas, R Browne, C Dickie, R Bonner, J Letham, D McLeod, M Strachan, L Niven, E Stuart, M Stevens, D Teague, T Drennan, G Campbell.
Replacements Used: S Patience, D Wright, R Snape, P Arnold, G Peoples.
Currie: G White, W Moala, C Kinloch, A MacMahon, S Forrest, J Smith, R Snedden, J Cox, N Scobie, A Hamilton, A Adam, R Wilson, S Burton, J Thomson, R Weston.
Replacements Used: A Reekie, G Scott, M Cairns, S Walker, I Downie.

Scoring Summary
Edinburgh Accies Try: Letham.
Currie Tries: Hamilton, Penalty, Weston, Moala, Wilson. Cons: Smith (2).
SRB Man of the Match: R Weston

Heriot’s 28-16 Melrose
at Goldenacre

Heriot’s: J Alston; C Goudie, M Nimmo, R Mill, A Douglas; R Hutton, G Wilson; W Blacklock, S Burnett, M Welch P Eccles, P OConnor, J Syme, C Fusaro, M Lee.
Replacements Used: F Gillies, JP Ward, C Osazuwa, S Dewar, G Rutherford
Melrose: F Thomson; C Anderson, J Murray, J King, B Allen; S Wight, S McCormick; A Gillie, R Ferguson, K Cooney, G Dodds, G Elder, J Dalzell, N McTaggart, R Miller.
Replacements Used: W Mitchell, P Southern, B Runciman, C Jackson, A Dodds.

Scoring Summary
Heriot’s Tries: Goudie, Douglas 2. Cons: Wilson 2.
Melrose Try: Mitchell. Con: Wight. Pens: Wight 3.
SRB Man of the Match: M Lee

Watsonians 16-13 Dundee
at Myreside

Watsonians: M Ker; G Somerville, D Brown, C Sorbie, A Rowe; J Forbes, J Blackwood; D O’Connell, G Wood, K Coertze, M Rennie, T Weizman, J Pelter, H Grant, G Callander.
Replacements Used: C Masson, G Scott, N Tunnah, M Henderson, N Montgomery.
Dundee: A Horton; M Smith, H Duthie, L Graham, R Lemon; B Jones, A Dymock; N Dymock, J Clark, A Brown, C Cumming, R Hawkins, R Gray, S McKee, G Ryan.
Replacements Used: S Dreyer, M Brown.

Scoring Summary
Watsonians Tries: Grant, Ker. Pens: Forbes 2.
Dundee Try: Duthie. Pens: Jones 2. Con: Horton.
SRB Man of the Match: H Grant

West of Scotland 34-25 Selkirk
at Burnbrae

West of Scotland: C David; A Park, P Murchie, J Kerr, R Dalgleish; C Thwaites, M McConnell; E McLaren, G Bulloch, C Johnston, M Jenkinson, R McAlpine, J Walker, D Young, G Fisken.
Replacements Used: D McKenna, R Kelso, A Kennedy, G Dempsey.
Selkirk: F Harkness; D Clapperton, S Hendrie, R Nixon, L Jones; G Craig, M McVie; G Paterson, D Grieve, M Murray, R Aglen, S Willett, N Darling, C Johnston, A Renwick.
Replacements Used: D Moussa, J Smyth, S Forrest, R Taylor.

Scoring Summary
West of Scotland Tries: McLaren 2, Young 2, Fisken. Cons: Davis 3. Pen: Davis.
Selkirk Tries: Murray, Hendrie, Harkness, Moussa. Con: Hendrie. Pen: Hendrie.
SRB Man of the Match: D Young

Boroughmuir 8-19 Glasgow Hawks
at Meggetland

Boroughmuir: S Ruddick; R Cairns, M Clapperton, G Blackhall, E Mills; G Cottrell, C Cusiter; F Lait, S McMurchy, B Ross, G Scott, N Patrick, M Stalley, J Doubleday, E Mathieson.
Replacements Used: J Va’a, L Brinck, P Cronin, S McGee, M Hare.
Glasgow Hawks: C Shaw; R Hair, I Noble, G Harkness, K Gossman; D Weir, C Gossman; G Strain, E Milligan, N Cox, C Kerr, A Kirkland, R Hamilton, R McKay, G Strang.
Replacements Used: J Stafford, R Niven, J MacLay, P Jericevich, M Adamson.

Scoring Summary
Boroughmuir Try: Lait. Pen: Blackhall.
Glasgow Hawks Try: Kerr. Con: Weir. Pens: Weir (3) Adamson.
SRB Man of the Match: D Weir

SRB Game of the Weekend:
Ayr 66-15 Stewart’s-Melville

at Millbrae

Well I was right about one thing: this was a hell of a game! It’s not every weekend you see 13 tries. However, my call of a close game seemed not to reach those in Ayr as the forwards ran riot with ball in hand. Stew Mel played rugby (they always do) but seemed to struggle with Ayr’s physicality. Stew Mel don’t have long to accrue more points and it’s getting close to squeeky bum time for both these teams.

Ayr: D Steele; S Manning, M Stewart, R Curle, J McClung; F Climo, J Hunter; G Reid, P MacArthur, G Sykes, D Kelly, S Sutherland, P Burke, A Dunlop, G Tippett.
Replacements Used: S Fenwick, S Adair, S Nimmo, C Taylor, A J MacFarlane.
Stewart’s-Melville: R Borthwick; A Cox, H Lingard, C Marshall, L Steele; S Ker, R Paterson; A Edmonstone, S Blackwood, R Merrilees, B Leathes, S Brewster, B Tweedie, L Calder, P Hendry.
Replacements Used: A Statham, C Mackintosh, J Kynoch, R Sutherland, H Boisseau.

Scoring Summary
Ayr Tries: P Burke (3), R Curle(2) D Steele, S Fenwick, A Wilson, D Kelly, F Climo. Conversions: Climo (8).
Stewart’s-Melville Tries: B Tweedie, P Hendry, B Leathes.
SRB Man of the Match: P Burke

Un Sac Mélangé

Edinburgh 9-7 Stade Francais
at Murrayfield

Mossy once again picked up all the points in what despite the low score was a fairly enterprising display from the home team. Jim Thompson – who must have been emotionally all over the place after the minutes applause for his grandfather the late Bill McLaren – was probably the standout back for me, although it was also hard to argue against Greg Laidlaw’s MoM performance at scrum-half that saw him dart Edinburgh seriously close to the Stade line on a couple of occasions. Jim Hamilton was very industrious for a man of his size and seems to have upped his workrate in the loose considerably. I reckon it could force a tricky decision for Robbo as to the make-up of his pack against France with Al Kellock, Richie Gray and Nathan Hines in good form too. Special mention should also go to returning vagabonds of various descriptions: Malkovich was able to conduct one of his darting runs but with Edinburgh’s new look back row in support he didn’t actually turn the ball over. On the opposition team, Hugo battled valiantly at scrum-half providing a (mostly) crisp service and his new-found versatility may see him on to the bench for Scotland at the very least. Good to see Simon Taylor back from injury too for the last twenty, he seemed to be relishing taking on his old teammates at his preferred position of Number 8 and must have been vaguely perturbed to see a small ginger openside filling the shirt he held for so long. Back in his day they used to work around the Number 8 with Hoggy, Callam and Taylor all competing. These days it is the 7 shirt that hold the embarrassment of riches.

Edinburgh: Paterson, Robertson, Cairns, De Luca, Thompson, Godman, Laidlaw, Traynor, Kelly, G. Cross, MacLeod, J. Hamilton, MacDonald, Rennie, R. Grant.
Replacements Used: Webster for Paterson (52), Houston for De Luca (41), Jacobsen for Traynor (64), Ford for Kelly (52), C. Hamilton for MacLeod (64), Newlands for Rennie (33). Not Used: Young, Samson.

Stade Francais: Beauxis, Gasnier, Messina, Bousses, Camara, Mieres, Southwell, Roncero, Szarzewski, Gerber, Palmer, Pape, Haskell, M. Bergamasco, Leguizamon.
Replacements Used: Bastareaud for Bousses (47), Slimani for Roncero (66), Kayser for Szarzewski (50), Ledesma for Gerber (58), Taylor for M. Bergamasco (52). Not Used: Vigouroux, Barraud, M. Bergamasco.

Scoring Summary
Edinburgh: Pens: Paterson 3.
Stade Francais: Try: Pape; Con: Beauxis.

Biarritz 41-20 Glasgow
at Stade Aguilera

Glasgow played some excellent stuff for 60 minutes, scoring one of the tries of the tournament in the process and putting the expected home victory in serious doubt. With the impressive Richie Gray going off at half time, the under-powered pack was then obliterated by substitutions as the strong Biarritz bench took serious advantage of Glasgow’s second string deficiencies. Sadly Biarritz prop Campbell Johnston is not from Jedburgh – he has an All Black cap, just another antipodean whose parents came over all nostalgic when dishing out the names. Pluses for Scotland though: Thom Evans looks back on form, Low, Kellock, Cusiter and Parks seem to have maintained theirs going into the Six Nations (just keep Dan away from the high ball/pitch) and the three Bs back row was an infuriatingly dominant force at the breakdown for most of the match. Minuses for Scotland: on this display, the second string just aren’t good enough. To be fair though, this is the second string that Glasgow have had for a while and the young players leap-frogging through (Gray, Jackson) look like they will be good enough given game time which must come soon.

Biarritz: P Couet-Lannes; T Ngwenya, A Mignardi, L Tranier, I Bolakoro; V Courrent, Y Lesgourgues; E Coetzee, B August, M Moala, P Taele, J Thion (capt), M Lund, T Hall, I Harinordoquoy.
Replacements Used: Balshaw for Couet-Lannes (66), Hunt for Lesgourgues (54), Hughes for Coetzee (71), Terrain for August (71), Johnstone for Moala (45), Carizza for Taele-Pvihi (67), Alaxndre for Hall (70).
Glasgow: B Stortoni; R Dewey, M Evans, G Morrison, T Evans; D Parks, C Cusiter; J Welsh, D Hall, M Low, R Gray, A Kellock (capt), K Brown, J Barclay, J Beattie.
Replacements Used: O’Hare for Dewey (56), Jackson for Parks (64), McMillan for Cusiter (65), Tkachuk for Welsh (61), Thomson for Hall (59), Turner for Low (41), Eddie for Beattie (59).

Scoring Summary
Biarritz Tries: Coetzee, Ngwenya, pen try, Lesgourgues. Cons: Courrent 3. Pens: Courrent 5.
Glasgow Tries: T Evans, Cusiter. Cons: Parks 2. Pen: Parks 2

Blair Sees Red (and Green)

The Red hand, that is, and the green of money. The Scotsman have a story that Edinburgh scrum-half Mike Blair is being offered somewhere in the region of £300,000 a year to move to Ulster, whose current scrum half Isaac Boss is rumoured to be headed to Leinster. Good move or bad? While Edinburgh have in recent months been a little stifled in attack and probably miss Mike’s leadership in midfield, I would still probably say “good” move. Greg Laidlaw has improved massively this season in the period Blair has been injured, and though a little bit of a mentalist at the moment, Ross Samson looks a good option for the future. By leaving, Blair would be getting game time at a high level and in a decent team, but he would also be allowing our younger players to come through and play more regularly at the same high level. Although he’s been a faithful servant to Edinburgh, look at the positives Chris Cusiter got from his time in Perpignan. If it could bring back the form that saw him nominated for IRB player of the year, a change could do Blair good.

PS I’ve just realised the headline could be seen as a dig at his colour-blindness, sorry Mike, unintentional!

Premier 1 games this weekend

Games on:

Edinburgh Accies – Currie
at Raeburn Place (ko 2pm)

Boroughmuir – Glasgow Hawks
at Meggetland (ko 3pm)

Watsonians – Dundee High
at Myreside (ko 3pm)

Heriot’s – Melrose
at Goldenacre (ko 2pm)

West of Scotland – Selkirk
at Burnbrae (ko 2pm pitch inspection at 9am- check www.westofscotlandfc.co.uk for details)

SRB Game of the Weekend: Ayr – Stewart’s Melville
at Millbrae (ko 3pm)

Ayr are back in action after a week off and are looking to maintain their title challenge. Meanwhile, Stew Mel are hoping to avenge last weeks touch-and-go 11 point defeat to West. Having run Ayr close last time out at Inverleith this should be a lot more competitve than some would think. Expect a confrontation from the first whistle.

Players to watch: Stew Mel’s Hayden Lingard and Ayr’s Mark Stewart

Scotland Six Nations Squad 2010

Forwards: John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie, Kelly Brown (all Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Richie Gray, Dougie Hall (both Glasgow Warriors), Jim Hamilton (Edinburgh), Nathan Hines (Leinster), Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester)

Backs: Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Max Evans, Thom Evans (Glasgow Warriors), Phil Godman (Edinburgh), Alex Grove (Worcester), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Paterson (Edinburgh), Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors) and Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais).

The 30 man squad breaks down as follows:

Glasgow: 13
Edinburgh: 7
Gloucester: 4
Other Exiles: 6

All of which probably reflects Glasgow’s dominance in the league and 1872 Cup so far this season.

Dan Parks is back in, along with uncapped Weege legends in the making Ruaridh Jackson and Richie Grey. No place for the other Richie, Vernon, who is unavailable for selection along with Hoggy and Jason White, all because of injury. And presumably Rory Lamont as well, though he seems to have disappeared into a news black hole.* Some players possibly close to featuring would have been the likes of Ospreys wing Nikki Walker, Glasgow prop Jon Welsh or co-captain Mike Blair who has not recovered from his ankle injury in time to get some form together. Blair, Welsh, Jim Thompson and Ross Rennie have all been invited to attend the training camp though. Personally I think given his form this season Roddy Grant is unlucky not to have made the squad, as is Ben Cairns. While presumably Cusiter continues as captain, I wonder if secondary captaincy will be given to Rory Lawson to continue the two scrum-halves model or whether Kellock who filled in admirably in the gutsy win over Australia will be given a shot. And does this mean Hugooooooooo is the third scrum-half in the squad?

*UPDATE: read the BBC article and Rory Lamont may join up with the squad assuming his survival of a club game for Toulon next week.

Bill McLaren 1923-2010

As Al said to me earlier, it was a bit of a travesty the man was never knighted with or without the efforts of the accompanying Facebook campaign that brought him back into the public consciousness briefly last year. Sad too that he was never capped, TB having put paid to his promising playing career. But let us not dwell on negatives.

For so many of us raised on wintry February mornings watching the Five Nations on the telly, Bill McLaren will forever be remembered as the voice of rugby – always quick to conjure up a bizarre Scots or animal-related metaphor to describe a player. I never met the man, but I did briefly meet his wife once on the back pitches of Murrayfield after he had been commentating on an international late in his career, she said he had just had “a pretty good game”. I think it a fitting measure of his famed professional approach to his work to be described in the same terms as the players he watched, commentated on, coached and raised. Our thoughts are with all of Mr McLaren’s family and friends at this time.

A rugby professional long before the game was, off to the big rugby pitch in the sky – the game down here remains richer for his contribution.

Bill McLaren CBE, OBE and MBE
1923 – 2010

BBC Obituary

Killer B Leaves the Hive

Glasgow have confirmed rumours Kelly Brown is to leave them for Saracens at the end of the season, splitting up the infamous Killer Bs back row. However fellow “B” John Barclay has renewed his contract, which should keep Glasgow and Scotland fans happy – I imagine there was much interest in him. Brown has been in a rich vein of form for the Warriors recently but with a number of youngsters like Richie Vernon, James Eddie, Calum Forester et al pushing through for back row places – and in considering International level you have to factor in Edinburgh’s burgeoning back row talent too – Brown’s move allows them to develop in the limited spots we have up here, while still he’s playing top level rugby and trying to force his way back into the international team. Still, unless Mike the Blade moves to Worcester I won’t be able to make Blair vs Brown jokes anymore, which will be a relief to you.

In other good news, Gougy McGouge aka Stade Prop David Attoub has been handed a 70 week ban on top of Dupuy’s 23 week ban both for gouging Stephen Ferris. Good enough for him, I say.

Prem 1 Round-up and Club International News

There were only 3 games on in premier 1 this weekend (16th) as the weather continues to ravage the club rugby calendar. Only Raeburn Place and Inverleith were playable and Dundee had to move from their home at Mayfield to Dalnacraig across the road.

Stewart’s Melville 33 – 44 West of Scotland
at Inverleith

Stewart’s Melville: R Borthwick; M Doneghan, H Lingard, C Marshall, A Cox; S Ker, R Patterson; R Merrilees, S Blackwood, C Phillips, B Leathes, S Brewster, B Tweedie, L Calder, P Hendry. Subs used: J Charles, C Mackintosh, J Kynoch, L Steele, E Clark.
West of Scotland: B Wright; A Park, R Dalgleish, J Kerr, G Dempsey; C Davis, M McConnell; E McLaren, G Bulloch, C Johnston, M Jenkinson, R McAlpine, J Walker, D Young, G Fisken. Subs used: I Keith, S Malone.

Scorers: Stewart’s Melville: Tries – Marshall, Borthwick, Steele. Cons – Ker (3). Pens – Ker (4). West of Scotland: Tries – Walker, McConnell (3), Jenkinson, Fisken, Dalgleish, McLaren. Cons – Davis (2).
SRB Man of the Match
: M McConnell

Edinburgh Accies 12 – 29 Boroughmuir
at Raeburn Place

Edinburgh Accies: G Douglas; M Coupar, I Berthinussen, S Wilson, C Dickie; R Bonner, D Duffus; S Patience, M Strachan, L Niven, E Stuart, G Campbell, R Snape, D Teague, T Drennan. Subs used: D McLeod, M Stevens, J Pecqueur.
Boroughmuir: S Ruddick; E Mills, M Clapperton, G Blackhall, R Cairns; G Cottrell, C Cusiter; N Fraser, S McMurchy, B Ross, N Patrick, G Scott, M Stalley, L Brinck, J Doubleday. Subs used: F Lait, P Cronin, E Matheson, S McGhee, D Murray.

Scorers: Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Teague, Strachan. Con: Douglas. Boroughmuir: Tries: Clapperton 2, Mills, Lait. Pen: Blackhall. Cons: Blackhall 3
SRB Man of the Match: M Clapperton

Dundee HSFP 13 – 8 Heriot’s
at Dalnacraig

Dundee HSFP: A Horton, M Smith, H Duthie, L Graham, A Hay, B Jones, A Dymock, N Dymock, J Clark, A Brown, C Cumming, R Hawkins, R Gray, G Ryan, S McKee
Heriot’s: J Alston, A Douglas, M Nimmo, R Mill, C Goudie, G Rutherford, G Wilson, M Welch, K Bryce, W Blacklock, M Reid, P O’Connor, P Eccles, C Fusaro, J Syme

Scorers: Dundee: Tries: McKee Con: Jones. Pen: Jones (2). Heriot’s: Tries: Douglas. Pen: Wilson
SRB Man of the Match: S McKee

Scotland Clubs 19-0 Scotland U-20s

Meanwhile, the remainder of club players deemed good enough were made available to the Club International coaches for a match against Scotland U-20s at Dunbar. By all accounts it was a game that the U-20s were bullied in but with many players due to come back for their home nations games they are likely prove more competitive.

Scotland Clubs XV: F Harkness (Selkirk); C Anderson (Melrose), J Murray (Melrose), J King (Melrose), F Thomson (Melrose); S Wight (Melrose), R Snedden (Currie); G Reid (Ayr), S Burnett (Heriot’s), A Hamilton (Currie), D Kelly (Ayr), R McKay (Glasgow Hawks), J Dalziel (Melrose), P Burke (Ayr), R Weston (Currie). Subs used: J Cox (Currie), S Sutherland (Ayr), A Dunlop (Ayr), G Wood (Watsonians), J Hunter (Glasgow Hawks), S Hendrie (Selkirk), A McMahon (Currie), A Reekie (Currie).
Scotland U20: T Brown (Edinburgh Acads); R Drummond (Edinburgh Acads), O Grove (Worcester), M Scott (Currie), D Fyfe (Currie); R Aitken (Howe of Fife), A Black (Leeds Carnegie); C Owensen (Heriot’s), A Walker (Currie), J Low (GHA), R Harley (West of Scotland), A Hall (Newcastle Falcons), C Thomson (Loughborough University), C Stidston-Nott (London Scottish), S McInally (Watsonians). Subs used: L Pettie (Melrose), G Hunter (Glasgow Hawks), L Gibson (Melrose), C Taylor (Glasgow Hawks), M Fedo (Watsonians), A Kirkland (Glasgow Hawks), R Sutherland (Stewart’s-Melville), K Grossman (Glasgow Hawks), D Gilmour (Stirling County).

Scorers: Scotland Clubs: Tries: Burke, Anderson, Harkness. Cons: Wight (2).
SRB Man of the Match: R McKay (Glasgow Hawks)

Blowing in the Wind

Ulster 21-13 Edinburgh

Edinburgh failed to deal with the conditions and a determined Ulster pack in a first half when they had the wind behind, leaving them unable to take the win they could probably have claimed with a solid performance into the wind in the second half. David Young had settled down in defence from his earlier over-exuberant Edinburgh appearances but still found his way into the sin-bin early on. Ulster couldn’t really kick the penalties such was the wind (Humphries did attempt one ridiculous banana job that came close), but they excelled in holding on to the ball and depriving Edinburgh of possession. Mossy kicked the few chances they got – for kicking at goal the wind was no real help either – and they went in at half time with a lead. When they finally got possession in the second half they proved particularly adept at holding on to it for more than 20 phases without ever really moving forward despite crash ball runners like Ford and Hamilton. Perhaps aware of his troubles on the pitch and the resultant slaggings off it, Phil Godman was particularly targeted by Ulster with a few big hits and the backline mostly failed to get the ball wide to Visser and Thompson. When they eventually did, a try came for Thompson very similar to last week’s one but Ulster finished the game as they had started, controlling possession and watching Edinburgh huff and puff but go nowhere.

It may be a lack of depth at Edinburgh, but some of the willy-nilly sub-hurling from about 50 minutes onwards is worryingly Hadden-esque – some of the replacements were not quite up to standard and putting them on the park just because you can (especially when removing the likes of Laidlaw) seemed like a backwards step especially when the result is still within reach.

As with the 1872 Cup games, this Heineken Cup campaign has proved to be largely a triumph of content over style. Glasgow and Ulster have the content, and Edinburgh can’t seem to get their style going.

Scotland 6N squad announcement expected on Wednesday!

Bring in the reinforcements!

Panic seems to have hit Martin Johnson. Shontayne Hape?! Well we’re used to this in Scotland.   Every time Scotland sees a decline in talent in certain positions there seems to be a desperate snatch for anyone Scots qualified, by the SRU. While some might question Andy Robinson’s desire to put in a long term plan for Scottish youth there is almost something admirable in his declaration of interest in the long-term progress of Ayr’s Frazier Climo: a man not eligible for Scotland until 2012. Then there is Dan Parks.

The much derided stand-off has been written off more times than his motor (allegedly), but he keeps coming back for more. As Phil Godman struggled to kick himself out of his shadow and was constantly caught with the ball in his hands during the 1872 cup matches against Glasgow, his opposite man, Parks, had put the ball wherever he wanted and ran the game with metronomic rhythm.

While this may have delighted Glasgow fans you could hear the rest of Scotland groaning. Perhaps not because Parks was back in the frame for a Scotland call up but because the transitional period is set to continue at 10, for us. Parks has, at pro level, the ability to control a game but with rumours he is only interested in reaching a 50th cap and his attentions soon turning to Cardiff’s fortunes the future seems unsure.

This creates an interesting situation. Many believe that Kiwi Climo will slide into Parks’ vacated position at Glasgow while calls to sign up Hutton are increasing in Edinburgh. Every outcome suggests a few more unsure years for the fans regarding the Scottish fly-half berth. While it is obvious that the SRU have no problems bringing in a ‘foreign’ player for the two pro teams it creates a fascinating precedent. Do we really want another situation where a Matt Mustchin is called up for a Scotland tour because no young Scottish players are deemed good enough? Do we want another like Boroughmuir’s Fergus Pringle playing on tour for Scotland ‘A’, maybe the most developmental stage of Scottish international rugby, while talented, if not a little inexperienced, kids stay at home like a few seasons ago?

This situation possibly says more about the state of the pro set-up in Scotland, but it is also true that the infiltration of ‘foreign’ players is evident in all aspects of the Scottish game. Almost every premier club in Scotland has at least one player who is not Scottish qualified. Some teams have more than three every game. What this means is that a disparity occurs. If we are being honest, players like Hutton, Jackson, David Blair and even Climo are too good to play amateur rugby every week but what is coming up behind them is not encouraging. What’s more, most clubs are more interested in league positions, cups and getting one over their rivals. Some cynics can say there is not as much concern about strengthening Scotland as a nation as much as there is an internalized drive to make ‘my club’ stronger. There could be some substance to this. Of course there is the by-product of younger players learning from experienced foreigners. This helps, but it becomes much harder when the best Scottish talents are whisked away by the SRU, or worse, head down south to earn their stripes because there are no places north of Hadrian’s dyke.

The age old shocker of a question arises: what the hell do we do?!

Finally, I’ve known a few overseas players who have landed on their feet in this country. What would I do in their situation if I was asked to play for Scotland? Alex Tait is thinking about it. Even if I had a silver fern tattooed on my arse would I take the cap/pay rise/accolades? Maybe. On Tuesday Paul Tito said “If Wales were in massive dire, dire need I’d probably have a think about it [playing for them].” Doesn’t sound like a definite NO, does it?

What would you do?

Edinburgh team for Ulster…Blair to Warriors? And a new blogger!

Ha, gotcha. No, Worcester are the Warriors I was talking about. I refer to an interesting article which on reflection is mostly about nothing (something of a Scotsman specialism sometimes) over at the Scotsman speculating as to the employment future of Mike Blair, which I missed this week. Although arguably not missing him at scrum half specifically, are Edinburgh missing Mike’s cutting edge as he recovers from his ankle injury?

Edinburgh to face Ulster at Ravenhill: C Paterson (capt), J Thompson, B Cairns, J Houston, T Visser, P Godman, G Laidlaw, A Jacobsen, R Ford, D Young, S MacLeod, J Hamilton, S Newlands, A MacDonald, R Grant
Replacements: A Kelly, K Traynor, G Cross, C Hamilton, D Callam, R Samson, N De Luca, M Robertson. Simon “Malkovich” Webster is the spare man for Edinburgh in his quest on the comeback trail.

Sky Sports, k.o 8pm tonight (Friday)

News on the blog front: in addition to myself and Al – who has been busier playing rugby than writing about it recently (that and his laptop broke) – we now have a new blogger on the team who is going to do some bits and bobs for the site, concentrating mainly on the club game in Scotland. Confusingly enough, his name is also Alan (distinguishing nickname TBA) so I hope you will all make him feel welcome when his pieces appear over the next few weeks.

UPDATE: Stade bring the crazy (again): Hugoooooooo set for scrum half vs Bath – does this help Edinburgh’s chances of the result they need? (Thanks to Dougal for the tip – may your balls ever be oval)

Low Budgie Action

They never get any better, do they? Budgie is Colin Gregor’s nickname (wee and chirpie?) apparently. And here is the Glasgow team to face bogey team the Dragons in a largely meaningless (and thus not on TV which is a shame given the team selection) Heineken Cup match at the weekend. Good chance for Jackson though.

Glasgow: Bernardo Stortoni, DTH van der Merwe, Max Evans, Rob Dewey, Thom Evans, Ruaridh Jackson, Colin Gregor (c), Jon Welsh, Fergus Thomson, Ed Kalman, Richie Gray, Dan Turner, Calum Forrester, Kelly Brown, Johnnie Beattie.

Substitutes: Pat MacArthur, Kevin Tkachuk, Justin Va’a, Tim Barker, James Eddie, Mark McMillan, Dan Parks, Peter Murchie

News on the Edinburgh team as I get it but their match is at least on TV this weekend (Friday night also).