Professional influence on club rugby angers George Graham

George Graham: CriticalGeorge Graham: Critical
George Graham: Critical
Gala coach George Graham criticised Scottish Rugby's policy of allowing professional players to play in the amateur game following his side's narrow defeat by a Heriot's side fortified by back-rows Jamie Ritchie and Jason Hill and full-back Glenn Bryce, writes Alan Lorimer at Netherdale.

Graham, however, did not confine his remarks to his own club as he cited Hawick’s games against Glasgow Hawks and Currie as evidence of how the lottery of professional allocation is distorting the Premiership.

“It’s an absolute joke the way things are going. Somebody in the SRU thinks it’s OK and fair that five professional players can play for Hawks while Hawick have none. And, against Currie, Hawick faced two pros in the front row, one a British Lion.

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“Last weekend, three Border teams didn’t get a single pro player. We’re not happy with that. The three pros that Heriot’s had today made a difference. Jason Hill is a class player, Jamie Ritchie is a talent and Glenn Bryce is a skilful runner. Take them out of the equation and we were better than Heriot’s. They make the difference. It’s an imbalance. Let club players play club rugby. Let the professional teams find other ways of giving their players match practice.”

Graham, whose Gala side is facing a relegation play-off added: “If we played amateur rugby without the outside influence I don’t think we’d be in the position we’re in.” said Graham.

Gala led 14-8 going into the final quarter from three penalty goals by stand-off David O’Hagan and an unconverted interception try by wing Craig Robertson. But a clever midfield break by Cammy Fergusson gave replacement David Semple a seven-pointer. Then, after Gala turned the ball over, Bryce created a second try for Semple, only for Gala to hit back with a late try by Euan Dods, O’Hagan’s missed conversion ensured a Heriot’s victory.

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