Friday night lights may be an American high school football (grid iron) tradition and in the fierce bite of the incoming Scottish winter, the Super 6 was born and… well it went okay.
Finally after months, years even, of debate a ball was booted into the sky and the product could be judged on the pitch. Into a frozen Edinburgh sky, but there’s nothing non-traditional about that, on a fine grass pitch in front of a small but boisterous and enthusiastic crowd of more than 1,500. Greater things have been born from less promising beginnings.
It would be unfair on the players who fought out a thoroughly good match with any kind of burden as to how this experiment in part-time professional domestic rugby will pan out in the end. Unlike the endless debate that has raged ahead of the new competition’s inception there was an actual game of rugby to watch, with a winner rather than a loser. A draw would have been too cruel a twist of fate!
The more things change, the more they stay the same is, hopefully, the last cliche used in this match report but it was difficult to determine much difference from what you would usually expect from a well-matched battle between two fine-tuned, high-end club teams.
Stirling County took the honours as the first team to win a Super 6 game, though the home-team hooker George Shannon will go down as the competition’s first tryscorer.
It was a nip and tuck affair which Ben Cairns’ County outfit eventually arm-wrestled their way to victory in the second half as steam rose from the scrums and the breaths of an engaged and enthusiastic crowd.
“That’s what we wanted from this game, obviously,” said victorious coach Cairns. “We made it tough for ourselves at times, but if you had said to me before the game that we could come away from home and win the first ever game of Super6 rugby, we would have taken it regardless of the manner of it, so we are really happy. What you’ve got there is more intensity and physicality, and I think everyone sees that, but that is putting their skills under pressure.
“Their skills are better, but it is going to take time for them to get used to that pressure, in terms of time on the ball and decision-making. Also, I think it went longer than it maybe would have at Premiership level.
“We felt like we were dominant in the first half as well, but costly errors, decision-making and discipline let us down a little bit. We spoke at half-time about keeping the ball for longer spells then that dominance would tell, and we got there in the end.”
They got there in the end after a long period camped on the home line, County lock Ollie Bartlett finally breaching to unlock what was a tightly-fought affair.
Boroughmuir Bears coach Graham Shiel, like his counterpart also a former Scotland centre, said: “There were lots of positives, we defended for long periods of time so there are positives around that.
“Attack wise we were threatening when we had the ball, but we just didn’t have enough possession or territory.
“We converted three good tries in the first half, but we did not create a lot in attack apart from that and we never got a foothold in the game in the second half. Now we have to try to build on that performance and move forward.
“The physicality of this game was definitely a step up from what I saw in the Premiership last year. There were some big hits.”
The Super 6 is, of course, being branded as something new. A hot-housing of playing and coaching talent to move the Scottish game forward.
Last night at Meggetland it felt like something new and yet steeped in the old tradition of chittered Scots bawling at players on a field in ridiculously chilly temperatures. On the way out a father was overheard saying to his young daughter “How was that then?”. The reply was “it was amazing!”
An over-positive review perhaps, and one which may not always be repeated. But not bad, for a start.