Bonfire of the Blazers

There is no correlation between politics and sport…except in apartheid South Africa…and the London Olympics…and Putin’s Sochi…and…oh well scrap that first bit. There is a direct correlation between politic and sport and maybe we should worry about it.

The actual connection isn’t policy-based – usually – but more related to the ambient atmosphere sports creates and the mood people are in when considering political ideas and actually voting.

I left the pub on Saturday wondering if we really were up to running our own country after a dispiriting couple of hours watching the shambles of a rugby match in the national stadium which couldn’t provide even a proper playing surface, all preceded by charade of cod identity bravado which said to me Rock Concert not Rugby Game.

If we’d gone out of our way to provoke ridicule we might have added Rab C singing the anthem but there isn’t much more they could have done to embarrass the nation. And that’s what the Scottish Rugby Union is doing. Because it is a national institution, not a private club, it supervises the operation of an international sport and inhabits that crossover area between entertainment and public responsibility, it represents an aspect of our national life, whether we follow sport or not.

It is, in the widest sense, answerable to Scotland. It expects official plaudits – royal engagement, government acknowledgement, honours, broadcasting deals and the official respect of society when it succeeds. Then it says: Look at us. We’re doing you proud. Respect us. Therefore, when it flops it also deserves scrutiny, challenge, ridicule and, ultimately oblivion.

Normally sporting defeat is a one-day wonder. You do your best, it wasn’t enough, you try harder next time. But so abject was Scottish rugby’s failure at the weekend that you sense a re-writing of the rules. The arrangement by which Scotland is part of the Six Nations competition is founded in history but like the Union of the UK history only takes you so far. As soon as you prove consistently not to be contributing, your stock plunges and people look elsewhere for deliverance.

This isn’t about sporting failure as such. France ended up at the bottom of the heap last year after a pagaille of a season. They won’t do so again. Scotland however are now anchored at or near the bottom of the table every year and have been throughout the professional era with the rare blip. There is a persistent problem of not winning and often not looking like winning. On Saturday they didn’t look like playing never mind not winning. This is institutional failure on an historic level.

The roots of the game have not been refreshed, despite regular initiatives. As far as I can see, there is no obvious starting point for a youngster from where he can develop and see his future stretch ahead with the right coaching at each point until he enters the elite arena when his skills and mindset are primed for the highest level where he continues to learn. There is no straight-through system with the right national age group competitions providing demanding week-by-week experience. A small country with a small player base has to concentrate on recruitment, retention and specialised coaching, identifying and nurturing talent. Under pressure in big games you can see passing failures, fumbling the ball at pace, lapses in the core skills.

I read comments by the conditioning coach for New Zealand – smaller population than Scotland -saying that the All Blacks’ success isn’t a mystery…they do the basic things well, every time, in all conditions, under pressure or not. They don’t even have the biggest players, which is a modern myth of the game. They pick super fit athletic men suited to each position and as a game goes on it is the heavier less mobile players who tire quickest. It is the lighter expert practitioner who is still running at 80 minutes and beyond and who makes the game-saving tackle or the last-gasp dart to seal the game.  If they can do it, why can’t we even approach that standard?

It is institutional failure by another of our public organisations where officials regard getting there as the achievement, not the platform from which to progress.  The SRU has always contained talented people but its ethos is embedded in the v-neck culture of the committee man who is myopic about change. Even at the level of organisation of the game it has failed to create a sustainable professional set-up and the comparison with Ireland is too painful to ponder.

Don’t think this doesn’t play into the referendum at a subliminal level. Seizing our independence is act of faith in ourselves and if we constantly watch our national symbols deflate like balloons in an international arena, the message hits home: We are not good enough. This is a self-fulfilling prophesy and I think it has afflicted many of our national teams over the years. I don’t expect anybody at Murrayfield to be remotely bothered if their crass efforts reduce a Yes vote but I think like the Union itself, it must be time for a collective effort to decide if rugby is really a national sport, why it is so poor and what must be done. Even Unionists agree with this. The SRU is failing and our reputation is damaged – time for the parliament to intervene and start an inquiry followed by a Scotland-wide consultation and a rugby fraternity taking control of the SRU from the professional failures.

If there had been relegation from the Six Nations, as their ought to be, Scotland would now be playing in a second tier tournament with crowds halved at Murrayfield and ticket prices slashed. That would mean no more top salaries, no buying in overseas coaches. It would mean building again with homegrown personnel and finding our rightful place. The same surely now applies to the Heinekin Cup where Scottish failure is enshrined in the record books. The second tier competition is nearer Scotland’s grade.

And maybe that’s what independence means too. We will have to find our own way, reorganise according to what suits our needs and resources and find our own level. It would certainly create a movement to end the embarrassment of failed managers in key positions keeping their jobs while the purpose of their existence – in this case winning teams – sinks into oblivion.

When Britain joined the Common Market, we abandoned the New Zealanders whose produce we historically bought. They took it on the chin and found new markets and stopped the system of subsidising famers to produce food. Some went out of business, there was rationalisation and the outcome was a robust, thriving agriculture sector which again has a major market in the UK from apples to lamb. They also use rugby as a national brand to promote their country. They use their “rugby smarts” to create the best players and teams and thrive despite their small size. The All Blacks is a global brand which they use to proclaim that NZ is best in the world.

We’ll need a serious cull of some of our institutions if it’s ever to happen here. Right now the rugby people are letting Scotland down. They aren’t even producing teams with fight and fire in them, with a distinct Scottish style that can light up a stadium.

And is it time to stop the thunderous music and fireworks lightshow that only serves to focus the mind on how stale the actual rugby product is when the game starts?

It’s the equivalent of showing Braveheart on polling day. Nobody falls for it, least of all the opposition. Never mind a bonfire of the quangoes, let’s put a match under Murrayfield and get a national rugby team – and administrators –the nation can be proud of.

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49 thoughts on “Bonfire of the Blazers

  1. I regret having to say this, but I was in attendance at Lansdowne and I watched the England game on TV. My reaction in both cases was a bitter ‘These guys aren’t playing for their country, because their country is Britain.’ For many people of a rugby background the thought of an independent Scotland is an uncomfortable joke. By that I mean the Borders farming community and the Edinburgh fee-paying schools.

  2. I feel your pain Derek. I used to love rugby but I can’t watch any more, it’s too much to take. We can all understand being beaten by a better team but when it happens with such monotonous regularity you have to ask what’s the point?
    So many of our national institutions are in this position, not by a long way only sport related, because the people in charge (maybe not all but most of them) as you say equate being in position as the culmination rather than where the hard work starts. Perhaps we should have a bonfire of the placemen, the people who achieve position because of who they know rather than what the can do. It sometimes looks like these people are political appointees rather than consummate professionals. I wonder why that is?

  3. A combination of the old and the new

    A SRU still stuck in the 19th century. A small player base that reflects the continued primacy of private schooling in Scottish rugby. Only two professional clubs in Scotland.

    • Not forgetting the very obvious cronyism with the same names cropping up through out the decades each new variation paler in comparison to the original.

  4. Fabricated by the River

    On Friday night listened to Tom English and Peter Wright be very scathing of the coach Scott Johnstone’s selections and treatment of the captain Kelly Brown. This theme went on at length, and after a while I began to wonder if there was a link to any of this and the referendum. After all, wouldn’t a win over the English boost national moral. I imagine there will be a link to national confidence and a YES vote. So was a victory in The Calcutta cup ever going to be allowed during 2014. Bear in mind that Scott Jhonestone has been getting reasonable results so this is a step back.

  5. I was at Murrayfield on Saturday and I felt distinctly uncomfortable with the introductory pyrotechnics as you just knew that the reality on the field would not live up to the hype. As it happened, it was one of the worst Scotland performances that I have ever seen at Murrayfield.

    But trying to stay positive, I would say to setondene that the Borders is not just about farming and we now have vigorous YES campaigns active in almost every Border town.

  6. The professional era has been a disaster for the Scottish national rugby team. We cannot even blame it on the size of Scotland; look what Ireland have achieved. In the amateur era we produced great players; Irvine, Baird, Gavin Hastings, Rutherford, Laidlaw, Renwick, Tukalo, Armstrong, Beattie, the Milnes, Paxton, Deans, Calder, Jeffrey, White, Sole and many others. In the professional era the only player I can think of who you would want to watch playing for Scotland was Alan Tait…We used to produce players who had flair, imagination, and character. They were capable of scoring tries like this:

    I have to say watching Scotland for the last 20 years has been awful. Where is the creative players who can run with the ball, make breaks, jink through the opposition, and score tries?

  7. Metaphorically splendid!

  8. what on earth has rugby got to do with the referendum? sport and politics should be kept apart.

    in scotland kids would rather play football than rugby or go and get pissed with their mates. we play rugby in the winter when the weather is crap and the pitch is a mess and not suitable for running. it means that we don’t produce players with the necessary ball skills.

    in new zealand every kid wants to be an all black. they play when the weather is good and they learn good ball skills rather than rolling around in a mud bath.

    and they are also bigger and stronger at a young age, go visit nz and you will see loads of massive islanders walking about, most of whom have never lifted a weight in their lives. i remember the nz schools team coming over and their props were heavier than the all black props.

    ps. if you think that showing braveheart on polling day is pointless and no one will fall for it you better tell that to the snp. after all they are the ones who wanted to have the referendum 700 years after the battle of bannockburn and have planned all these ridiculous homecoming events to try and whip up scottish national pride as they realised that of people actuality thought about the consequences of voting yes they didn’t stand a chance. the referendum should have been held within 6 months of the yes campaign launching in may 2012 and not over 2 years later. irreparable damage has been done to our country already with friends and relatives falling out with each other and it is going to get worse.

    • “irreparable damage has been done to our country already with friends and relatives falling out with each other and it is going to get worse.”

      Utter, utter rot.

      Go on, prove me wrong, let’s see your evidence to back up your statement above.

    • “… and they are also bigger and stronger at a young age”.

      Ah, I see – you are a defeatist. I hope this attitude hasn’t affected other parts of you life, e.g. you simply ended up down the pub pissed?

      [Defeatist: a person who expects or is excessively ready to accept failure.]

      • oops my bad… i forgot nationalism was an inclusive unifying ideal..

        as for you, you clearly never came up against nz schools where both props were over 19st and your were lucky if yours were 14st or heard of a chap called jonah lomu, 6’5″ 19st and could do 100m in about 10.8 when he was 19. guys that size are ten a penny in nz. julian savea is almost as big as him… and by the way you have clearly missed the point of what i was saying… i.e. that the abysmal state of scottish rugby has nothing to do with the referendum and a yes vote won’t change a thing.

      • I have never played against Jonah Lomu, though I saw him make his debut at the HK sevens. A remarkable individual.

        I find it difficult to think your way John. I don’t find the size of any opponent off putting. I have a belief in my ability and try to identify an opponents weaknesses. I think people who play sport at any reasonable level think that way.

        Your approach of giving up before you start is a pretty poor show.

      • According to you if we vote yes then scotland will have a rugby team the equal of the all blacks by independence day.

        Now back in the real world, EVEN IF we

        1. made rugby compulsory for all kids from as soon as they can hold a ball.

        2. had first rate coaching all the way from nursery level to senior level where kids learn to be the perfect player.

        3. moved scotland to a different climate or changed to a summer season.

        4. changed the culture so that being the scottish equivalent of an all black was something all kids dreamed of.

        5. made it so that winning for the all blacks was more important than life itself and to lose was a national disaster.

        6. did all of the above for the next 40 years.

        7. and maybe even underwent some genetic transformation so that scots stopped being late developers… or changed things so that we became like new zealand and famous for our rugby rather than being know for drinking eating deep fried mars bars, and the scottish martial art of “beep” ye…. headbutting, stabbing and kicking on the ground.. as told to me by an american guide in new zealand…

        WE MIGHT get somewhere near them.

        In nz rugby is a national obsession, here most people couldn’t care less… and thats a bad thing by the way… and by the way i played rugby and reckon even little old me (6’5″, 17 stone) could run straight over the top of you from the back of the scrum no matter if you had “identified my weaknesses” or not.. and i know a lot of pros, some of them are monsters compared to me.. and believe me they do try.. but nz are just better.. in every way… even if you look at england they have more referees than we have pro players, england could have fielded maybe 2 or 3 full teams that could have beaten scotland last saturday we were so poor… yet on our day you never know, so i keep watching.. in the last few years we have pulled of some good performances.. thats why rugby is so good.

      • I’m not saying a Yes vote will improve Scottish rugby. I’m simply questioning your core belief that bigger players win at rugby and that if you are smaller you should simply give up and not try.

        That is what you said in your post. A defeatist attitude.

        When I was in New Zealand the weather was pretty miserable. I’ve watched many a game where the All Blacks are playing at home and the weather (and pitch) is pretty dire.

        I personally think Ireland is a better comparison than the All Blacks. The Irish were desperately unfortunate not to beat them a few months ago. The Irish didn’t seem to be put off by the size and/or reputation of their opponents. I think the Irish have bad weather too, though they call rainy days “soft days” for some reason.

        Your low opinion of Scotland is pretty obvious. I guess when you have a defeatist attitude it’s easy to get very negative and always see a problem that stops you from doing something.

      • i give up.. the next thing you’ll be saying that we could be better skiers than the austrians… or have the best football team in the world.. if we had the right attitude..

      • (edit)….and scotland was independent.

      • There you are … giving up!

  9. We could be sitting in New Zealand having the exact same conversation about New Zealand’s football team, looking at another small country – OK maybe not Scotland – and wondering where we are going wrong. Let’s face it, rugby might have the country’s biggest stadium but it is very much a minority sport in Scotland.

    Have a wee think on Scotland’s world class curlers, boxers and tennis player instead and cheer yourself up.

  10. @ Setondene Agreed. I played rugby at school in Aberdeen and have awful memories of playing for example Glenalmond ( tiny compared to us, but with their daily rugby and the English public school tribalism, ” come on coll “, thumped us ) or Gordonstoun ( it’s not nice to be obviously regarded as riff raff ) so a major turn off. The Borders has a tiny population so although each town down here seems to dislike the other, thereby generating some emotion, this doesn’t produce much of a pool of players.

    ….and sorry to say Derek, your hometown still seems to be a NO enclave ( it was the hairdresser last week, now the butcher today ! )

  11. @Setondene,

    I’d just like to say that I went to an Edinburgh fee paying school and I’m voting Yes.

    @John McMad

    I can understand why you wanted the referendum back in 2012, after all you’re losing the argument now. Far better to have had a quick poll so that people wouldn’t have the time to see through all that scaremongering.

  12. If you think that the state of Scottish rugby will affect a Yes vote, it should be pointed out that the small countries such as NZ and Ireland who are successful are already independent.

    The Irish would have been watching their team on Irish TV – if at home. NZ ditto.
    What we have is watching it through England’s eyes via the BBC.
    This situation will never improve until we have independence.

  13. The Scottish rugby team has become a real embarrassment. What really annoys me is the way they seem to hold back with a collective “hold on we might score here – we don’t do that” when they do get a break. What a bunch of losers and a disgrace to the country.

  14. I’ve never got the fireworks, flame throwers, massed drums and people running around in animal skins, etc. I do enjoy the anthems when they are well played and sung though. It’s great hearing the Welsh sing their anthem before a game. It really inspires you. Sets the scene.

    There is no doubt at all that Scottish rugby has been left behind in the professional era. All other countries have improved way beyond us. For me, Ireland is the most relevant comparison. It actually has a lower player base than Scotland and also competes against Gaelic games as well as football.

    I would ask anyone to contrast the Irish rugby mentality to that of Scotland. It’s been much the same for the last couple of decades. Ireland always seems to have a collective belief and desire to attack whatever team is in front of them. Where they used to lack the skills (they have those now too) they more than made up with a burning desire to never take a backward step. Maybe a bit like the S.African mentality?

    I’m not sure I buy into the “not playing for the jersey / country” stuff though. When I played rugby the feeling was always of playing with your team mates. No one wanted to let the other down.

    There seems to be an accepted standard of low performance within the SRU. I don’t know what the answer is but I am pretty sure it’s not down to one individual, e.g. the Australian coach. If the SRU think that announcing a new Scottish coach is the answer then the game is lost for yet another decade.

  15. as others have said you’ve used a slightly flawed metaphor. Your comparison with New Zealand is a bit apples and oranges. OK our rugby team really were dire, although I’m sure the players were competing as well as they could. The weakness in your comparison is that Scotland has always been a far stronger football nation than a rugby nation. Though you could make the same arguments about the national football team these days…… But NZ has never been a football nation, it’s always been a rugby nation. I think that changes your comparison. Other than that, there’s not much to disagree over. Getting the rugby team back to a level where we feel there’s a chance that they’ll be competitive with the other 6N teams, never mind World Cup teams isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I suspect all the 6N teams are starting to suffer from their home clubs ‘importing’ players instead of all using home grown players. Just like the football clubs started doing 15 years or so ago, and we know how well that’s turned out for the National teams (not just in Scotland) .

    The flames, the fireworks, the guns are out of place at the moment. A parliamentary enquiry? Not sure if that will be needed. If the National team continues to be so dire people will very quickly stop paying for tickets. No audience = no money for the SRU. That will focus minds at the SRU well enough.

  16. Former Scottish rugby player Andy Nichol was interviewed on STV news tonight. I can’t recall what he said as my eyes were fixed on the Union flag cushion on the sofa he was sitting on.
    Was Andy himself letting us all know he is in favour of the union or was this a case of product placement? If it was the latter can we expect more of this during the next 7 months?

  17. John McDad – depends on what the questions were in the different polls. If they had all asked the same questions then you could compare and also had used the same control group, however, that is not possible. As for holding the Referendum in 2012, no one in the YES campaign was going to fall for that one. The Unionists called for it, so obviously the Scottish Government weren’t going to fall for it. Best to give the Better Together enough rope to hang themselves, as David Cameron proved on Friday by giving the game away – desperate measures mean something very wrong in the Better Together campaign.

  18. Well said Mr Bateman. The SRU has been ruining rugby for decades. There’s no fire in the bely any more. I blame the silly pro-teams, they are the Rennie’s (other tablets are available) of Scottish rugby.
    If you want to see real fire, watch a Gala v Hawick match (with the maroons winning of course) match. Give me a Melrose v Selkirk or a Langholm v Duns game any day over an Edinburgh (formerly Gunners) against Glasgow Warriors.
    I have a match and lighter if needs be.

  19. Never mind Derek,it’s only a game.

  20. Liked the Pipes and drums at the Curling, Sochi.

    Teams ebb and flow. Better to lose a Rugby Match than to lose the Referendum.

    Alex and Co had a Manifesto that promised a Referendum in the second half of the Parliament – 2014. That promise is being kept.

  21. Maybe taking a step back and actually observing just what rugby union comprises nowadays might help. A forward picks up the ball is shoved a metre or so from behind by his mates, is tackled, falls to the ground, his mates all pile on top of him such that it is near impossible for the opposition to get to the ball. The tackled player then squirms round and places the ball back to his scrum half. And why is it near impossible for the defending opposition to get their hands on the ball.. ? Well first a defending player, although he may be behind the ball – a big rule in rugby,cannot come from the side of the ruck, and he must stay on his feet. If he does manage to get his hands on the ball but is then pushed off his feet a penalty is awarded against him- oddly for some reason this doesn’t apply to the tackled player lying on the ground and holding the ball up for his team mates.

    Now it used to be that when tackled you must immediately release the ball, nowadays as described above it seems a player can hold on to the ball. However, sometimes,usually in open play, the referee, generally many metres behind the play, decides that the tackled player “was not releasing” and so a penalty is awarded against him. The logic? Rumbling forwards can hold onto the ball when tackled and lying on the ground but backs must release?

    Rugby union survives in the seven a side game as a sensible game easily understood. The fifteen aside is a nonsense.Think back on the six nation games so far, up and under after up and under.And how many exciting three-quarter breaks? Rugby Union is illogical and boring. If I have misunderstood today’s rules well so what, and yes I did play rugby.Try turning down the sound and once you no longer hear the commentators talking up the game and simply observe you will perhaps appreciate what I’m saying.

    Any talented athlete, with a choice of success in several sports isn’t going to opt for rugby union. Andy Murray would potentially have been a top notch threequarters.

  22. Very interesting Ted talk by David Puttnam which I think Derek would appreciate. I hope he sees it.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/david_puttnam_what_happens_when_the

  23. Its down to youth and senior coaching.That’s the SRUs fault.Professionalism created a chasm between Scotland and other nations.The SRU is still run like an amateur institution.But look at Glasgow Warriors in the Heneikan cup and Rabo direct league we have some ability and talent we just have crapp coaches in the national and junior leagues.Why did the SRU appoint Robinson when he was on his way down? Why was Lineen not considered?

  24. We voted YES (narrowly) after Argentina, 1978. I think football taps into our psyche more than rugby. Let’s be thankful the Six Nations isn’t an Autumn event though. The referendum might be close and truth be told, who needs the current Scottish rugby team in that scenario? 🙂

  25. ” the shambles of a rugby match in the national stadium which couldn’t provide even a proper playing surface, all preceded by charade of cod identity bravado which said to me Rock Concert not Rugby Game.”

    Couldn’t agree more Derek… Get rid of all the flim-flam and let’s concentrate on TEAM playing, the bsics eg line-outs & stop being so generous to our opponents by giving away penalties!. A national scheme to produce a national team…. forget “buying-in” – produce our own. We’ve done it before haven’t we, let’s do it again!

  26. The SRU don’t impress. Even their ability to put grass on a field is suspect. But they are only the apex of the pyramid. If there isn’t any material to work with they could be the Chinese Olympic Committee and still fail.

    Private schools will continue emphasising team sports as its good for physical confidence (which probably contributes to social and workplace success) and is part of the package parents are buying. But for state schools I get the impression we never recovered from the work to rule in the 1980s (though I don’t know from personal experience if that was a golden period) and the ending of school teams.

    In the wider culture, we are probably a post-sporting nation, at least as team sports go. I think walking, cycling, swimming and golf are all rated as more popular than football, and rugby is outstripped by dancing, snooker, bowls and yoga. For individual sports, a combination of individual talent and parental support will still produce the occasional Andy Murray, but for team sports rugby will probably do as football has and bring in more foreign players, as long as specatators are happy to pay for the product.

  27. I could see this Six Nations humiliation coming as I sat through the leaden performance against Australia in November.

    The fireworks should be left in the box until things improve.

  28. For comparison between Scotland/New Zealand in sports participation (sources Scottish Household Survey 2008 and NZ Participation Trends 2007)
    Rugby – Scotland 1%, NZ 5%
    Running – Scotland 5%, NZ 17%
    Swimming – Scotland 15%, NZ 34%
    Golf – Scotland 7%, NZ 13%

    But we’re level pegging with NZ on football at 6%, and a FIFA ranking of 40th in the world, compared to NZ’s 95th.

  29. A few years ago, a (now) well known local rugby player, was looking for sponsorship. A well known ‘local’ car dealer was approached. He declined. He had no guarantee this lad would be successful, meantime he would have been driving around ‘free’ in one of his cars. That was his outlook.
    The car dealer also sat on the local football team board, cricket ( yes we do have a local club) and was heavily involved in the town centre, where he (along with other v neck types) fought tooth and nail to keep ‘ not the right type’ out.
    The football team has never progressed out of the same league, in all the years I’ve lived here.I have never once heard of the cricket club trying to involve the schools, the surrounding community to get involved.
    The small exclusive club of blazers became so exclusive that the ‘ in comers’ completely unaware of them demanded better facilities to go with their new houses, new schools for the children, new shops -ASDA decide now,who can and cannot open.
    I believe after finishing his Scotland career, the local boy moved south.

  30. My niece in New Zealand is a farmer’s wife and when her two boys were age 4 – 6 onwards they were out in bare feet, sometimes on frosted grass being coached by farmer dads. One now plays in Western Australia so I didn’t see him in November but the brother who apparently is the smaller, is MASSIVE and plays rugby too, but for how long as he’s had cruciate problems. As we have over half of Scotland owned by 200 or more mainly absentee landowners the demography couldn’t be more different as there are so many strong healthy Kiwis working their own farms in the countryside. This is what I meant above by our limited resource. And yes, the pool isn’t diluted by them having too many soccer players.

  31. Thanks, all of you!!! I could never understand why my father, who went to an Edinburgh fee-paying school and ofcourse played rugby there, always watched football on TV. Now I know.

  32. I see your site is ever more popular Derek which is great. I hope you are taking precautions with security as I see Wings is under a Cyber attack again, and a day after announcing 1m unique readers. Someone, somewhere, don’t like pro indy blogs.

  33. I completely agree that something must be done to improve the standard of rugby in Scotland. It has become an embarassment and I no longer watch the six nations.

    However, the old adage that “it’s not the winning but the taking part” does come to mind and I thought it offensive on hearing an English commentator saying that Scotland “should either take the Six Nations seriously or move aside and let someone else have a go” as if Scotland purposely aims to get beat in every match!

    The smaller national football teams of Europe shouldn’t and haven’t moved aside. The UK Tennis team shouldn’t and hasn’t moved aside, Team GB in the winter olympics shouldn’t and hasn’t moved aside despite their efforts being almost invariably second-rate,embarrassing and sometimes hilarious (Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards for example).

    Yes, national success and national failure does have an effect, but specifically Scottish national failure appears to be blown out of all proportion…

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