Scottish Rugby's brand reaching for new heights

One of the thrilling moments from last weekend's Scotland-France rugby game at The HiveOne of the thrilling moments from last weekend's Scotland-France rugby game at The Hive
One of the thrilling moments from last weekend's Scotland-France rugby game at The Hive
Nation’s women are building a legacy and proving great role models

In a briefing with the media this week, Scottish Rugby’s chairman John McGuigan said the governing body that runs rugby union in Scotland needs to “step up our performance as a business”. With the Six Nations still underway for Scotland Women, McGuigan was also quizzed about what many consider to be an underwhelming 4th place finish for Scotland Men in their Six Nations equivalent.

A quick caveat from my perspective is that I’m not sure I ever enjoyed a performance much more than this year’s game against England at Murrayfield, capped by Duhan van der Merwe scampering down the touchline for a try as I lifted my son above the madding crowd to share a sporting moment we will never forget. How a man of van der Merwe’s size and strength can scamper, well that one remains a mystery...

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There’s that saying in sport, that you only remember the victors. I’ve never been totally convinced by that one. If this Scotland Men’s team never win a championship, millions of people from New Berwick to New Zealand will remember the style and grit on display against the top teams in the world. At the same time, it’s hard to argue that we could not have progressed further and reached higher.

Scotland's rugby women are rising stars, notes Nick FreerScotland's rugby women are rising stars, notes Nick Freer
Scotland's rugby women are rising stars, notes Nick Freer

Talking of reaching heights, we (my wife, son, daughter and I) were lucky enough to have pitch side seats for the France game at the Hive Stadium last weekend, a vantage point from which you really get to appreciate how ridiculously high some of the forwards jump when the ball is hurled into the lineout.

Fresh off a win against the Welsh in Cardiff, marking their seventh test win in a row, the Scotland team went into halftime 5-3 up in a battling performance against the world’s third-ranked team. A late try in the second half flattered the French, who will feel lucky to have escaped Edinburgh with a win, a year on from a blowout win against Scotland in Brittany.

Much of the credit for this much improved performance must go to head coach Bryan Easson and his team, illustrating what is possible when a coach is given time and resource to develop a set of players, and build culture and trust. As World Rugby wrote after Scotland’s triumph at the WXV 2 tournament in South Africa last year, “Scotland is on the crest of a wave under Bryan Easson”.

When Easson talks about players, it’s not always the playing attributes he notes first, instead he often talks about “excellent role models” and “inspiring youngsters” as ways to grow the sport and then strive for more global success.

In business we talk about brands, and on the eve of the France game last weekend Easson talked about the growth of the Scotland Rugby brand from the perspective of the women’s game. “It’s going up, and up, and up”, he said, “people want to watch your performances”, and “you’re building a legacy”.

Sitting in the early springtime sunshine watching his team last weekend next to rugby legend Gavin Hastings, ultramarathon sensation Jasmin Paris, and singer Cammy Barnes, you could see and hear that brand and legacy building with every pass, every kick, every tackle, every cheer from the crowd. C’mon Scotland!

Nick Freer is the founding director of strategic corporate communications agency the Freer Consultancy



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