Bill Lothian: Bob Kirkwood, Currie founder, will be missed

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When Bob Kirkwood passed away over the festive season aged 77 Scottish rugby lost the type of administrator that has long been the backbone of the club game.

Part of his success in ensuring that embryonic plans laid down in the local Weavers Knowe hostelry back in 1970 became reality was due to what could only be described as single-mindedness, says Gordon Stewart, later to succeed the man who served as the club’s president for the first three years.

“Bob could be black and white but he also had tremendous people skills which helped Currie acquire facilities they have to this day.

“A friendship between Bob and Lord Balerno opened up negotiations with Lord Rosebery for the lease of two pitches at Malleny Park after he’d firstly persuaded Ronnie Paul, headmaster of Currie High, to help out.”

When it came to adding a clubhouse, Kirkwood started discussions with the local authority for land and he was also part of the labouring squad with self-help a major part of the construction. Another early Currie member, Greg Sutton, recalls: “Bob was dogged, could be stubborn and was often bloody minded – traits which continued to serve this club well during its meteoric rise from nothing to being the top club in Scotland.”

Enshrined in Currie rugby legend is the occasion when Kirkwood missed the team bus back from a game at Walkerburn and promptly walked home to Edinburgh, a distance of 32 miles!

That endurance feat had its origins in a military background with the Highland Light Infantry in which he was a commissioned officer.

An arm injury ruined hopes of a Services career but the army’s loss was rugby’s gain starting when, as another Currie founder, Roger McLaren recalled, he and Kirkwood became friends through poring over rugby results in the old Pink News.

Shingler’s list of qualities

There is an aspect of Steven Shingler’s elevation to Scotland’s squad that has perhaps been overlooked and that is a back-line understanding with London Irish colleague Joe Ansbro.

Coincidentally, both anglos have antecedents in Dumfrieshire and could it be that they have developed sufficient telepathy at the Madejski Stadium this season to tempt Andy Robinson into something less than his traditional conservative selection for the Six Nation: assuming the IRB approve the inclusion of former Wales under-20 cap, Shingler [pictured]?

If that is a positive I note, too, Shingler’s club coach Toby Booth remarking this week: “All he wants to do is play international rugby.”

That’s understandable . . . always remembering that representing a country should be an affair of the heart as well as an ambition.

Going the whole Hogg

I’m wondering if the wheels will come off current rotation policies if – when? – Scottish teams have to qualify for the Heineken Cup on merit?

New Scotland squad member Stuart Hogg went on radio this week and said of missing Glasgow’s latest Rabo Direct Pro 12 game: “It is part of squad rotation. It is keeping everybody happy and giving everybody a game.”

Let it be said that Stuart qualified his remarks by saying he’d rather have been playing. “To miss out is not great but, when you have a couple of big games coming up, you want to be ready and firing. So, I’ll take the rest when it is going.”

In other words, a question of balance which has got out of synch at Edinburgh where the last seven outings have included four double-figure changes in personnel. Namely 12, 12, 10 and 13.

In defeat by Ulster, Edinburgh played like individuals who had been introduced five minutes beforehand and the hope must be that familiarity and continuity can be restored before Friday’s trip to Racing Metro.

Otherwise, what benefits from resting?