Scottish rugby needs a complete regime change

Stuart Hogg's dismissal was the culmination of a crushingly disappointing tournament. Picture: Getty
Stuart Hogg's dismissal was the culmination of a crushingly disappointing tournament. Picture: Getty
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Scotland’s rugby players are collectively and individually neither inherently incompetent nor incapable.

However, on a bright, dry Saturday afternoon in Cardiff inside a magnificent stadium with a closed roof, we witnessed our discredited, beleaguered national team, managed by a thoroughly discredited failure of an interim head coach (soon to be elevated, unbelievably, to the position of Director of Rugby) under the auspices of a generally discredited, mismanaged and failing governing body.

A fundamental problem appears to be that the SRU is run by a farcical top cabal of individuals with no feeling for sport nor understanding of Scottish culture, nor competence in sport management (easily recognised from my professional academic specialism).

Quite naturally, sooner or later something or other will occur to effect change, or there may be moves to engage in some tinkering around the edges of the game here in Scotland; this might prove to be too little, too late.

However, rather than have the wool pulled further over our eyes by an army of spin doctors or watch helplessly as Murrayfield’s deck chairs are yet again re-arranged, surely it is time for outright regime change (at the hands of SRU member clubs) to avert any further slippage of the once-proud standing of Scottish rugby?

Clearly nothing substantive or meaningful will happen until the SRU’s elected club representatives collectively rise up with a united voice to demand and indeed impose proper standards of management and governance in the running of our national governing body.

Until now the clubs have been either passive or conveniently side-tracked into wrangles over minor issues.

Conversely, there are certain major fundamentals to sort out before going a step further. Fellow former SRU insiders will recognise that many of the long-standing, deep-rooted flaws in this incestuous, wasteful, self-serving organisation have been present for the past couple of decades or so.

If the best the current group of SRU no-hopers can do is announce that we will win next year’s Rugby World Cup or attempt to foist upon its membership and the nation at large a totally unfeasible, unacceptable, unworkable, unfunded set of nonsensical “new beginning” re-structuring proposals, then it would be best that several dozen well-travelled carpet bags be packed, uplifted and sent off in various directions including Australia, New Zealand, England and Wales. We might save (big time) on some hugely expensive unnecessary salaries!

All this before we even begin to focus upon any of the long-standing sinecures and nepotism that abound throughout Scottish sport.

Time for root and branch change! Don’t agree? Just consider the depressing, winless Scotland Under-20 and Scotland Women campaigns in this year’s Six Nations – the latter team having managed to score only five points during the course of the tournament…



Resignations are required right across the board

FOLLOWING Saturday’s debacle at Cardiff, it is clear that the SRU board are to Scottish rugby what the previous RBS board were to Scottish banking.

If they have any sense of shame, those responsible on the SRU board and those they employed to coach the Scottish international team should resign immediately before they do any more damage.


Camus Avenue


Ongoing malaise at Hibs is increasingly hard to fathom

Quite how Hibs remain incapable of making any meaningful contribution to a Scottish top flight without Rangers, and featuring a non-competitive Hearts side, is mind-boggling. A club as streamlined and well resourced in terms of its stadium and training facilities, and with a potentially excellent fan base, should be looking to challenge for second place, not looking at a possible relegation play-off spot.

My most recent visit to Easter Road was for the New Year derby, where a clearly fired-up Hibs side disposed of Hearts by displaying exactly the kind of fight that fans were confident Terry Butcher would bring to the team. It has been with some bewilderment that I have witnessed from afar the subsequent slide back into mediocrity. While few Hibs fans would claim the club has any right to expect a top-four finish on a regular basis, most would agree that they should be in a far better place than they have been for some seven years now.

A succession of managers have failed to improve matters and the football, for the most part, has been dismal. It is hard to escape an underlying sense that the club is somehow corroded and incapable of being repaired. That it’s so hard to understand why things are as they are simply adds to that frustration.

Hopes that Butcher would turn things around were high, and should remain so until he at least has the opportunity to reshape the team. However, so demoralising is the latest slump that it’s increasingly difficult for most fans to remain optimistic.

In over 50 years of following Hibs I know all about letdowns, but in that time I have seen enough in terms of fine players and entertaining football to keep me coming back. I have never, however, known such a sustained period of lifelessness at the club. There comes a point when even the most seasoned supporter can put up with this no longer.


Idron, Pyrenees-Atlantiques


Sport Scotland’s Hall of Fame snub makes no sense

Over the last few months, a number of people from a wide spectrum of Scottish rugby have nominated Dave Valentine for induction to the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame. Dave was a dual code international, capped for Scotland at Union out of Hawick, and captain of the Great Britain team which won Rugby League’s inaugural World Cup in 1954. He is a worthy candidate for induction.

Given the number of nominations for Dave – and the absence of response thereto – enquiry was made of Sport Scotland, the main body responsible for the Hall, as to progress. Their reply stated that “as this was a packed sporting year, there would be no inductions this year”, and “the workload and sporting calendar is very busy”.

As this is indeed an important sporting year for Scotland, it surely would provide an ideal opportunity to heighten the profile of Scotland’s sporting heritage by holding inductions into the Hall. Hopefully I am not alone in thinking the absence of inductions this year is disappointing and a great opportunity missed.


Bruntsfield Place