DCSIMG

Sir Clive tackles SRU over rugby razzmatazz

Key points

• Row between Scottish Rugby Union and England coach over Murrayfield entertainment

• Sir Clive Woodward criticises length of time his team had to wait before Calcutta Cup kick-off

• SRU defends pre-match bagpipes and fireworks

Key quote: "It’s a sporting event not a pop concert. It was cold and I don’t understand why Scotland get away with making us wait out there so long - the game kicked off six minutes late. We’re here to watch rugby not sing songs." Sir Clive Woodward, England rugby coach

Story in full: THE Scottish Rugby Union last night defended its handling of Saturday’s Calcutta Cup match in an extraordinary row with Sir Clive Woodward over the pre-match entertainment at Murrayfield.

The England team coach angrily complained that the event had been like "a pop concert" and suggested that the SRU had broken protocol by allowing his players to run out in freezing temperatures long before the Scotland team.

Six Nations officials have promised to look into the claims, which were backed up by the match referee, David McHugh.

More than 800 performers were involved in the pre-match activity, which included 600 pipers and 200 flag-carriers.

The eventual appearance of the Scotland squad was heralded by a fireworks display and the cascading of millions of pieces of ticker-tape around the ground.

The sell-out match at the 68,500 capacity stadium was Scotland’s most lucrative ever sporting event - taking 2.4 million in revenue - and the annual fixture is always fraught with cross-border tension. The build-up is thought to have been an attempt to recreate the atmosphere at the 1990 Calcutta Cup, at which Scotland captain David Sole famously led his side on to the pitch in a menacing slow walk. The unsettled England team lost 13-7.

Sir Clive said: "Scotland won the toss and the protocol was that they would let us know what they were doing in terms of the kick-off 15 minutes before the start. At 5:25pm the door to the Scotland dressing room was locked. The fourth official was trying to get in to find out what they had decided to do.

"There was an issue in the tunnel. The England team had gone out and after a delay of at least two minutes I went back down to sort it out.

"The Scottish players were there in the tunnel and then I almost got knocked over by more bagpipers as the band was coming out. The referee was telling the Scottish team to go out, but the TV people and the SRU were telling them not to until the band had gone first. They had choreographed the whole thing."

He added: "This is where you can get pre-match stress. Teams spend half their lives trying to wind you up, but it has the opposite effect. All it does is make you more determined."

Mr McHugh said: "I was under the same impression as Clive. I was there to referee a rugby international and not to get involved in pre-match altercation. It’s an issue which possibly needs to be looked at."

Pouring scorn on the musical entertainment, including a stirring rendition of Highland Cathedral, Sir Clive added: "It’s a sporting event not a pop concert. It was cold and I don’t understand why Scotland get away with making us wait out there so long - the game kicked off six minutes late. We’re here to watch rugby not sing songs."

But an SRU spokesman said: "The timings for the pre-match entry of the teams were all discussed in advance. A copy was sent to Clive Woodward and the England team.

"The BBC had asked for a 5.32pm kick-off to fit in with their programme timings and England were informed three times ahead of the game what the times were."

Phil Anderton, director of marketing at the SRU, said: "Getting the crowd involved in the emotion and passion of the event is what having the home advantage is all about. The suggestion that this is a breach of protocol is utterly ridiculous."

Rugby writer Allan Massie described Sir Clive’s comments as "trivial and discourteous to Scotland".

 
 
 

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