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It’s hard being a Scottish rugby fan…


It all started off so promisingly as well. Scotland had come off the back of a not great Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, and it was felt that the bad couldn’t get any worse. Eventually, the try drought had to stop; silly mistakes had to be cut out; a better attacking platform had to be developed. All Scottish rugby fans had been crying out for a new dawn since the inaugural Six Nations back in 2000, and hope has sprung eternal since the days of Matt Williams, Frank Hadden, and more recently Andy Robinson, that things could be turned around and we could once again become a force in world rugby.

Every year since I’ve been following the Six Nations, I’ve always gone into the tournament with fresh vigor and determination that this would be our year. This would be the time where we would blow teams away with our daring attack and phenomenal defense, carving up the pitch with devastating runs and pinpoint accuracy kicks. Alas, I’ve always been disappointed that we’ve come up so short. In. Every. Single. Tournament. Since I’ve been watching (2007), we have finished second last, with Italy the only team preventing us from the ignominy of finishing dead last.

This year, again, I had hoped it would be different. But as soon as Robinson announced the line up for the game against England, we knew we were doomed because it contained Dan Parks. Now, Dan Parks has been an admirable servant of Scotland for over a decade, and he has single-handedly saved many games for Scotland through his impeccable place kicking and touch finders, but his form of late has been dipping rather dramatically. This came to a head during the game against England when he botched a clearance kick which was charged down and led to an England try. Game over. What was even worse about this was that almost straight after the game, he retired from international rugby with immediate effect. Pretty awful news and I felt sorry for the guy who had put his body on the line for Scotland on so many occasions.

But this had the potential to herald our new dawn, with a new 10 coming in to replace Parks in the form of Greig Laidlaw (the current Edinburgh number 10), and instantly, our backline was transformed, making line breaks almost at will. But what seemed to constantly plague us were silly mistakes in the opposition 22, and against Wales, this manifest itself in two entirely avoidable yellow cards which effectively ended the contest. But we bounced back against the French and scored some well worked tries, playing probably the most attractive rugby I’ve ever seen Scotland play. Alas, we still lost, and then against Ireland, we appeared to throw away any semblance of a coherent game plan, and lost the game quite comprehensively.

So we are now zero for the last six games, and go into the last weekend of the Six Nations with our usual attempt to avoid finishing last by beating Italy. At home. Where we lost in 2008. And 2010. If we don’t beat them, we’re also ‘awarded’ both the Wooden Spoon (last place) and a tournament whitewash (no wins).  So a lot is at stake here, and I seriously wonder if Andy Robinson’s position will be at all tenable if Scotland lose. I can’t even countenance what the reaction will be in the Scottish media, since this will represent our worst run of results in about a decade.

Whatever happens though, I have to applaud the Scotland team. It can’t be easy going out on to the pitch, investing so much emotional, physical and mental effort for no reward, and then having to repeat it the next week. But I’m hopeful that today, Scotland can go out and throw down a marker that doesn’t completely devalue all the efforts they’ve made this season.

And maybe next year will be our year.

FREEDOM!!!

– The Social Linguist

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