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Rory Hutchinson in action for Scotland against France in Nice. Picture. Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU

Allan Massie: ‘We played like someone rubbing sleep from his eyes’

“We don’t do mediocre.”
This might be the confession of a Scotland player if he departed from the approved script in a TV interview. “We’re either brilliant or horrible,” he might add. “In Nice we were truly horrible.” So indeed we were, every it as horrible as in the first half-hour at Twickenham in March. That day, as we happily remember , the second half was indeed brilliant. Sadly, there was no such brilliance in the second half last week. The best that could be said is that it wasn’t as horrible as the first.

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Jofra Archer bowled consistently above 90mph during his impressive Test debut at Lord's. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Roddy Smith: Jofra Archer delivers timely bounce for Test cricket

Many people firmly believe that Test cricket is fading in popularity and needs to undergo a rethink. In recent months the ICC has brought in an official Test championship to provide ‘context’ to every game and introduced the first four-day Test. These welcome initiatives, however, have had significantly less impact on the longest format of the game than the debut of Jofra Archer in last week’s second Ashes Test. Archer’s battle with Steve Smith was some of the most compelling and riveting cricket seen for many years.

Opinion
Duncan Taylor is back from injury and will start for Scotland against France. Picture: Bruce White/SNS

Allan Massie: The prospect of seeing Duncan Taylor partner Huw Jones is enticing

The sight of Gareth Anscombe being helped off the field at Twickenham and out of the World Cup will have sent nervous shivers down many spines. We are all aware of the risk of serious injuries in these warm-up internationals, an apprehension scarcely alleviated by the knowledge that injuries are suffered in training too. Indeed, a mishap in training has already deprived Wales of Toby Faletau.

Opinion
Kristoffer Ajer cuts a dejected figure as he contemplates Celtic's shock exit from the Champions League at the hands of Cluj at Celtic Park.

Patrick McPartlin: Celtic exit not all about hard cash

When the final whistle sounded at Celtic Park on Tuesday night, the result was met with predictable jeering – and criticism. The board was targeted for not spending enough on players and for appointing the cheap option as manager; the manager was criticised for his tactics and team selection.

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A wall of boos greeted Craig Levein and his players following Saturday's 0-0 draw with Ross County. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

Alan Pattullo: Craig Levein deserves time to meld his team at Hearts

It doesn’t sound an entirely promising set of circumstances. A cup game in front of the cameras against a team smarting from being beaten 5-2 at home on their last outing. Throw into the mix poor form and add the likely absence of the player reckoned to make the team tick, then it is clear Hearts manager Craig Levein faces a daunting task against Motherwell on Friday as he attempts to save his skin and muffle the critics.

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This tackle by Ireland's Chris Farrell on Sam Johnson of Scotland would be illegal under the proposed new law. Picture: SNS/SRU.

Allan Massie: Law change must focus on dispersal

E ven as we get ready for the World Cup and anxiously scan the news for reports of any injuries – Wales have already been deprived of Toby Faletau – the law-makers are looking to the future beyond whatever happens in Japan, and have come up with a number of law changes or revisions which will be given trials at various levels of the game.

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Gary Naysmith is Hearts' new loan manager. Picture: SNS

Alan Pattullo: Loan managers are football’s latest fad

It used to be that having a director of football bestowed status upon a club. This was the sign of upward mobility, the clue that here was a club on the rise and with need to install an extra layer of power and influence, one often viewed with suspicion by the humble manager – or, as they were more often renamed in these examples, “first-team coach”.

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