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Andy Irvine on league, Scot & Irish rugby

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    Originally posted by Balla Boy


    I think there's been a marked drop off. Through the 60's, 70's and 80's there were Scottish footballers playing at most of the top clubs in England. Now there's a very light sprinkling at the top level.

    In athletics it might have been more patchy, but there was always a Tom McKean, a Liz McColgan or an Allan Wells somewhere. They seem to have disappeared.

    There's always going to be arguments about sports administration, but one of the the highest rates of heart disease in the developed world and the second highest rate of obesity in the world say something about a decline in overall activity levels, I think - whether it's cause or effect.

    Not going to deny the quality of footballers from Scotland has dropped (and at the same time, we have seen a huge increase in forgeiners in the EPL) but the numbers are still there - particularly in the Championship.

    Athletics was probably more the occassional talented individual coming through rather than any cultural reason. So we have fewer 'athletes' at current than 30 years ago (still have a couple of decent ones though), but we also have the best tennis players in britain (both mens and womens no 1's, and we could easilly provide the entire UK davis cup team - in a sport we had never done anything in). When its only a handful of individuals, the sports your are represented in can easilly change.

    As for the other issues you mention.. Well that goes well beyond Rugby, Football or indeed any other sport. A lack of sport in general at schools is a good place to start (just 1 Hr a week timetabled is not unheard of - any more than 2 or 3 most certainly is), Added to by the total lack of any extra-curricula sport if you attend a state school. All because of those wretched tories and teachers strikes - and although most schools still havent recovered, it's about to happen again [img]smileys/sad.gif[/img]

    Nothing the SRU alone can do will solve these problems, andhence they will remain until the SNP decide its important enough to deal with (suppose we will have to wait while they sort out alcohol problems and sectarianism then [img]smileys/sad.gif[/img] ) - but that is starting to get pretty far away from the topic of this thread, so I had best stop there!



      With you on the social (and political) causes, LWA. I think Ireland has been lucky over the last few years in that sports participation is still very much part of the culture - out of schools as well as in.

      The erosion of sport in schools in the UK (through sale of facilities, squeezing of timetables etc) isa time bomb.
      "We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men" Edward R Murrow

      "Little by little, we have been brought into the present condition in which we are able neither to tolerate the evils from which we suffer, nor the remedies we need to cure them." - Livy

      "I think that progress has been made by two flames that have always been burning in the human heart. The flame of anger against injustice and the flame of hope that you can build a better world" - Tony Benn


        NOTE: Sorry about the long post, its late and I think I might have over stretched it, reader discretion is advised.

        Wouldnt hurt Scotland to introduce the tax incentive to keep players, but would this stop other younger players from coming through the system and making their breakthrough?

        Playing rugby in Scotland, I notice a lot of differences in comparison with Irish teams, professional or otherwise.

        There seems to be a lack of U20 teams around, I see lads of 18 being forced to either play senior or leave the sport waiting to come back when they have properly developed. 18 is old enough for some to make the step up, not for others though.

        A lot of the clubs were originally set up through school leavers, similar starts to some of the rugby clubs around Galway that I know of. Talking to players from a past era, they tell me how their school rugby fed into these FPs (former pupils) teams and they number of players involved in these clubs has decreased dramatically in the past decade or 2.

        On a side note, I love the traditions and history that goes hand in hand with the Scottish club game and it is great to be associated with.

        The Borders have a lot of the dominant teams such as Melrose and Selkirk, but see themselves in limbo as they have no local professional team. I can see their trouble in picking up support for an old rival (Edinburgh or Glasgow) after their team has been disbanded. I also have friends on the East Coast who play rugby, but associate themselves with Glasgow as they see Edinburgh as elitist.

        The University rugby set up is huge over here as opposed to club rugby. The likes of Aberdeen and Edinburgh would have 5 teams week-in-week-out, each (well, I know that to be true for Aberdeen anyways).

        It seems to be hard for a lot of fringe players to get games with Edinburgh and Glasgow, having only 2 teams, with no A sides, most fringe players are drafted out to clubs, some may play Bristish and Irish Cup, others might just play in the Scottish League just to get gametime (This happens in Ireland as well, but with 4 teams we have twice the competitive playing numbers week after week). There are some great players playing in the Scottish equvilant to the AIL, although they have the potential they are reluctant to make the step up even after an offer has been put in front of them (saw this first hand, still dont understand it but im sure it happens in Ireland as well).

        My answer to Scottish rugby is to reinstate the Borders if the funds can be put together. The idea isnt to weaken Glasgow or Edinburgh, but to use it as a feeder club to convey players to "the big league" when ready, giving them adequate gametime. All we have to do is look at the likes of Jamie Hagen, Sean Cronin, Fionn Carr and Ian Keatley who got their gametime at Connacht and are leaving the conveyor belt and going onto the Heineken Cup and Magners League Champions, and will hopefully one day reach the International grade (Sean Cronin is there already). Having only 2 professional teams seems to me to be halting progress, rather than condensing it into something greater.



          Scottish Rugby could do with the likes of Donald Dinnie these days.

          Bit of info for anyone interested:

          they dont make them like that anymore, bar maybe Sean O'Brien...



            Kevin Ferrie again.... while I don't agree with everything he says, he offers a more thoughtful analysis than you might get inthe English press....

            <S&#079;NG>Self-determination at the heart of a nation’s sporting success</S&#079;NG>

            Leinster and Munster compete in the Magners League Grand Final at Thomond Park, a measure of how far Irish rugby has developed in recent years.

            Kevin Ferrie

            2 Jun 2011

            AHEAD of Saturday’s superb Magners League Grand Final in Limerick, my discussion with a Welsh-based, expat Scot over the reasons why Irish rugby, and Irish sport in general, is so much more successful than its Celtic rivals turned to the question of independence.

            My contention, for what it is worth, is that self-determination has not only given the Irish a genuine sense of collective self worth but, more tangibly, has allowed them to identify and fund their own priorities.

            The response was tinged with the standard Celtic/Caledonian cringe, regarding the benefits of being part of a bigger country in times of trouble. It’s an argument that some seem to believe has been strengthened by the recent banking crisis.

            My contention is that these economic problems occurred on Britain’s watch and we are now much more aware of the dangers than we were. In any case, all western countries have been affected by these problems.

            Rather than frightening ourselves over what we cannot do or cope with, it is surely more important to learn from what Ireland have gained from having to stand on their own two feet rather than blaming everything on the English.

            By doing so, they have been able to decide on their own priorities then act on them quickly and effectively, which is the counter-balance to the economies of scale from which bigger entities can benefit.

            It has been patently obvious over the last 20 or 30 years that there is a massive philosophical difference between the Scots and the English in political terms. That was clear long before last month’s Scottish National Party landslide, since umpteen general elections have ended with the Scottish map remaining red while England turned blue. Right or wrong, that reflects a huge difference in the way that people in Scotland see things.

            While there are many problems to be dealt with, my belief has long been that many problems in Scottish society can be addressed, to varying degrees, by greater investment in sport. Even without full control of the accounts, we could be using sport as a way of addressing all sorts of health, crime and social issues, to name but a few.

            My expat chum suggested that Scotland already has the capacity to do this and, while there is certainly huge room for improvement in the way we run our sport in the short-term – far too much is spent on administration – Holyrood can currently only control this to a very limited degree.

            There is a huge difference between being able to make your own decisions on how to generate income and then how to spend it, than being told by someone else what your total income is and that some of it is already committed.

            He then used the tried-and-tested method of those seeking to deconstruct arguments – asking for specific examples of what could be done to change things quickly – and I was unable to offer anything by way of a magic wand.

            No-one, I contended, can properly answer that until they see exactly what money is available and can then decide, not only on their priorities, but on how different sectors can support one another.

            Yet, less than 24 hours later, one of my all-time favourite sportsmen came up with a spectacularly intelligent example of the sort of thing that a small, independent country can do quickly to make a difference. I had asked Andy Irvine, as Magners League chairman, what he believed could be done to close the funding gap that he acknowledged means Scotland’s professional teams are way behind the leading Irish provinces.

            He pointed to the
            "I don't believe in fairytales," O'Connell once told me, "even though it feels like I've been lucky enough to live through a few. However it ends, I'll feel lucky."
            Donald McRae, Guardian Rugby, October 2015



              Only concerning the policy that helps stars to stay in Ireland, is it shocking or not?
              - Yes, if it's admitted that BOD, ROG, POC etc only stay because of this. I am maybe naive, but I cannot imagine that this only argument can justify that they make their whole carreer exclusively in Ireland. Would make them simple "mercenaries from inland", and I simply cannot imagine or accept it when I remember, for exemple, the image of Paulie signing autographs for kids who really surrounded him. So, I find this kind of allegation shocking.
              - No, considering the principle of giving back their taxes at the end of their carreer. After all, so long they play here, they stay an exemple for kids because of their winner mentality, theit way of life, because they stay directly in contact with people. They are real developpement arguments for their sport and help to fill the rugby schools. During their carreer, the taxes they pay help for the immediate general interest, and after they go away, the new stars they helped to develop will take their place and so on. Is it then shocking that they get "public" money back as reward for their work? In the first sight, surely, you all do your possible for the community too, try to to do your job as good as possible, try to be normal citizens and try to bring up your children so good as possible so they will be model citizens too, and why wouldn't you get back your money as you go in rent? But after all, if you consider suckers like, for exemple, french football stars who play abroad, in Spain, Italy and most of all England because there, they can pay less for the community, and who come back, like did Florian Thuram, giving people moral lessons, if you consider the 5 french top tennis player that live in Switzerland or Monaco for fiscal reasons, and so on, they are fiscal escapees who do not pay anyway and who won't never pay taxes in their country, so they do no participate to the shared effort; so the irish approach to keep stars home is not shocking, and certainly more logical and usefull, as far as sport aristocracy will be in a way always fiscally protected, considering the way they use (Avoiding to pay now like french sportsmen, or getting back their taxes like in Ireland.)

              The Scots (originally Irish, but by now Scotch) were at this time inhabiting Ireland, having driven the Irish (Picts) out of Scotland; while the Picts (originally Scots) were now Irish (living in brackets) and vice versa. It is essential to keep these distinctions clearly in mind (and verce visa).


                Funding/Tax breaks .Keep the best Scottish players at home invest in top class coaches and 4 int players to bolster the home grown players .Scotland is still producing quality players but SRFU not backing them with the required funding , if they invested properly in 3 sides for a five year periodwould have more success and bigger crowds.


                  Originally posted by blackwarrior

                  Kevin Ferrie again.... while I don't agree with everything he says, he offers a more thoughtful analysis than you might get inthe English press....

                  <S&#079;NG>Self-determination at the heart of a nation’s sporting success</S&#079;NG>

                  Nah, were screwed!

                  Most sports in Scotland have been seriously struggling for sponsorship recently (Thats and unfortunate side effect of being s**t), yet for some reason while most are left to scrap for whatever they can - for example, Scotland getting an Autum Test sponsor about two weeks before the tests last year - there is only one sport who the Scottish Government will step in to 'sponsor'.

                  Yep, you guessed right - feckin fitba! The Scottish government now sponsor not one, but BOTH our domestic cup competitions. So you might ask where they were when the SRU were desperate for an Autum Test sponsor, or for a TV deal, or for a shirt sponsor for Glasgow, or...

                  Infact, on the very same day that this is announced, the Scotsman carried an article on Glasgow East Rugby Club - a club based in one of the west coasts most deprived areas, in the shadows of Parkhead and in the heart of the Commonwealth Games Village; An area that has worse problems than most which sport (any sport) could go a long way to helping. An here is a rugby club that is giving 'anyone who has a pair of boots' the oppertunity to pick up a rugby ball and play.

                  They refuse to have a membership fee -instead relying on struggling to find sponsors, and on its members volunteering their skills, as well as charities like RBS Rugby Force (and Glasgows sponsor, Response, paying for a bunch of them to go to a Glasgow summer camp) - because they feel that anybody should be given the oppertunity to play. And it's working fantastically. 5 years after being formed, the boast 140 kids (from 6-15) who play regularly. In an area where fitba is king, and rugby is a "posh, public school sport" that is nothing short of miraculous!

                  So one would have thought that, if the Government is going to plough money into sport, then getting involved at the grass roots level, especially deserving clubs like Glasgow East RFC (and I am sure there are others in others sports), would surely make more sense than having some crap name attached to our domestic football cups. The OF are the only people who will see anything of their sponsorship! [img]smileys/sad.gif[/img]

                  We're fecked in the union, and probably fecked out of it aswell! (both in sport and life in general)