Pro teams director will need to give job the full monty
SCOTTISH golf fan to Japanese visitor: "And how are you enjoying the golf in our country?" The Japanese visitor thinks for a second. "Excellent," he says. "But why don’t you play golf in your summer?"
I write this as the squalls rage in from the Irish sea at Troon, not knowing whether Monty has won or not, or just what the afternoon has in store, but a couple of things I have found out. The first is that golf at the top level is just like rugby, with gladiators laying their precious parts out in the open in an attempt to win, and the second is that there are parallels between Colin Montgomerie and Scottish rugby.
After having to answer inane questions about his private life, Monty left the Thursday press conference and I door-stepped him. For no obvious reason other than the fact that nobody else seemed to want to, and I did. He’d just had to tell people about his private life and divulge the secrets of his inner turmoil, with one particularly banal line of questioning concerning a supposed feud between Monty and his playing partner for a day Thomas Bjorn.
They evidently had a disagreement once on a green and this was meant to be festering. Monty, in response, said at one point that he’d had a meal with Bjorn the night before. "Do you mean at the same table or just in the same restaurant?" was the next question. Having shaken his hand as he left the stage I introduced myself, which drew not a hint of recognition, as I’d expected. Well, rugby bangers of mediocre ability probably weren’t high on his list of TV watching needs.
"Colin," I said, "in rugby you have a punch-up on the pitch, then share a beer with the bloke afterwards because it was all in the heat of the moment. Why don’t you just tell them that these things happen, we can’t all be friends for ever, and it’s in the past?" He smiled and said thanks. I felt I ruled the world.
But as Monty strode up the 18th on the Saturday, with fans going wild, standing in their seats with love being sent magically to him in waves, the parallel was there for all to see between this apparently tormented man of golf, and Scottish rugby. Both have had a kicking when they are down, both have been examined minutely for every conceivable fault, and now folk want success for the underdog.
I have played my part in Scottish rugby’s downfall, from appearing on Rugby Special slagging almost everything off - a trait now seen widely in football with pundits ready to slam people doing their best - to sitting on the outside and urinating on the exterior of the tent. Which is why it has been great to coach at my club for the last 18 months and go around the country to see that people do actually love the game, and there are small clubs up and down the land who nourish the sport for no other reason than that they know the game is a great one and they want to pass it down to the next generation.
Yes, the SRU’s plan for the future of the game might go down the river, and Phil Anderton must know that. We have effectively seen the sacking of the men in charge of each of the three professional teams to make way for the new director of "professional" rugby. Which makes you wonder if Ian McGeechan is director of "amateur" rugby, doesn’t it, and I just wonder if Ian, who looks to be sidelined by the men at the top, will walk away or apply for the job.
If the new director of "professional" rugby can’t sell the idea of franchising the professional teams, and no bidders come forward ready to invest over a million pounds a year in rugby teams, then Scottish rugby’s grand vision lies in tatters.
Brian Simmers, the visionary in charge of Glasgow Hawks, has always held the view that our rugby landscape might revert back to clubs, and clubs alone, when the money runs out and the grand plan fails.
Scottish rugby sits exactly where Monty was at the start of the Open. Unsure of itself, attracting sympathy, and desperate for success. A much-maligned character, previously unloved, starved of affection, hanging on by bleeding finger tips, and now in need of being brought back into the fold.
The big difference, of course, is that Monty is a lot richer.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West