Scotland slump to another defeat as England retain Calcutta cup

A brave Scotland side slumped to their 4th defeat of the 6th Nations, after losing 22-16 to England in the Calcutta Cup.

 Having not won at Twickenham since 1983, the odds were in strong favour of England but Scotland gave a battling performance. And, with the exception of some bad decisions they could have won, after going in 9-9 at the break. However, England’s Tom Croft went over midway through the second half, which proved too much of a comeback for Andy Robinson’s men.

Other points came from Jonny Wilkinson’s conversion and a penalty, as Toby Flood grabbed 4 more penalties. Scotland’s scorers were Max Evans with a try, Chris Paterson with 2 penalties and a conversion whilst Ruaridh Jackson bagged a drop-goal.

Positive thinking: Andy Robinson

Despite the defeat to their fierce rivals, Andy Robinson was proud of his team’s performance: “(It was) a tremendous defensive display and a great attitude shown by all the players. When we got the territory we were able to ask questions of England,” he told BBC Scotland.

“But our line-out wasn’t good enough today and we’ve got to look at all our set-pieces. We’ve got to improve what we’re doing.”

The defeat leaves Scotland lying in last place with no points on the board, with their nearest competitors Italy on 2 points. They play each other next week in the last game and will battle it out to avoid the dreaded ‘wooden spoon’.

Meanwhile, England are going for the Grand Slam as they take on Ireland next week and look good for it with impressive performances in this tournament under the charge of Martin Johnson.

So, pretty depressing times for Scotland as they have failed to pick up any points in the 6 Nations and the days of Scotland challenging for competitions are slowly fading away. It now seems to be damage limitation for the Scots, as England are dominating.

Rugby seems to be the latest sport where Scotland are lagging behind England and other countries and lets hope that will all change soon. We need to feel good about our country again!

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Early Scottish Premier League start could mean better European campaigns for clubs

Changes: SPL chief executive believes early start will benefit clubs

It has been confirmed that next year, the SPL season will begin on July 23 – 3 weeks earlier than previous seasons. In the last two years, the season has started on the 14th and 15th August, respectively. SPL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster has backed the boards decision to have a summer start but the decision has split opinion between managers.

Aberdeen manager Craig Brown is all for the change but Neil Lennon, Celtic manager, is not impressed with the plan as it clashes with Celtic’s friendly cup tournament at the end of July. However, the board have included a rule that a club can postpone one fixture to compete in friendly games which have already been arranged. Smart idea. But shouldn’t they have taken this into account in the first place? Or maybe began this change the season after next.

Nevertheless, this change is a good idea and brings around several advantages.

Firstly, in recent years, Scottish clubs have performed poorly on the European stage in both the Champions League and the Europa League. This has led to Scotland dropping to 15th behind countries such as Belgium! A cause for such disappointing campaigns from teams such as Aberdeen, Falkirk and Motherwell is due to the fact other countries begin their leagues earlier, therefore are fitter and match sharp. Therefore, this move can only be a positive one.

Starting the league earlier will also accommodate the winter break debate. Naturally, games will be called off just like this season, which has caused fixture pile-ups for some teams. For example; Dundee United currently have 5 games in just 12 days, whilst Rangers have suffered from the same fate in recent years due to their Uefa Cup exploits.  Therefore, fewer midweek games will be needed which creates space for fixtures that need to be re-arranged.  

All in all, this move has my backing and is a strong indication that more changes will follow. For example; the whole winter break debate may re-surface. Also, this may spark the possibility of a new league structure, which has been discussed recently.

So, exciting times for Scottish football. Finally!

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Banning of Celtic and Rangers games to be discussed following bad-tempered cup clash

Violence: Segregation needed in old firm matches to prevent trouble

Following the heated Scottish Cup 5th round replay between Celtic and Rangers, there have been calls to play the fixture behind closed doors and even to ban it all together.

The game was covered in controversy surrounding both sets of players and management staff, in which Rangers ended the game with eight men left on the park. At the end, there was a heated arguement between Ally McCoist, Rangers’ Assistant Manger and Celtic Manager, Neil Lennon. It is understood McCoist was angry with Lennon’s’ criticism of El-Hadji Diouf during the game, which led to both sets of management staff being restrained by police.

 Just days before, the chairman of the Scottish Police Federation had called for the banning of the fixture, claiming violence and crime rises in the aftermath of games. After this recent game, who can disagree? However, old firm matches have always been like this and will always be the same. Two teams with great history’s competing with passion and a willingness to win. 

 “It’s safe to say the police service dreads Old Firm games…..the policing of the game does not concern us…………it is the murder and mayhem that follow after”   says Police Federation chairman Les Gray.

Strathclyde Police, who supervise these games, claim alcohol and aggression on the pitch is what sparks the violence off the field, which is clear for all to see.  However, the SPL is looked at as a joke in other countries and although this game was a bad advert for Scottish Football, old firm games drag in huge audiences. Banning these games would show a lack of ambition and stop a fixture which is covered in history.

Also, Sky Sports show all the old firm matches, therefore cancelling the games, would damage the finances of the clubs who rely on payments from Sky TV. When Celtic and Rangers play, there is this unique atmosphere which no other game can match, so we should be proud of it and not stop it.

Furthermore, this is not the only match ever to cause controversy and violence amongst supporters. Last year, in a Cup match between West Ham United and Millwall,  a pitch invasion broke out leading to many arrests and serious injuries. I never seen this sort of violence in the old firm game. Some perspective is needed I think. So,  as for banning or playing Celtic and Rangers game behind closed doors? It’s a non-starter, for me.

 As the late Jock Stein once said: ‘Football is nothing without fans.’

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