Bill Lothian: Scotland hardly topping the bill Down Under

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Scouring this week’s SRU press release trumpeting Scotland’s one-off international against Australia next June, I find it will break new ground.

The match at Newcastle, New South Wales, has been arranged for a Tuesday and will be the Wallabies’ first home match since the World Cup . . . but no mention that these hosts will then immediately embark on a three-Test series with Wales.

Adding to discomfort is Wallaby boss John O’Neill describing the Welsh series as a battle of “hemisphere heavyweights”.

Where does that leave Scotland? A warm up act for the main event, perhaps?

I know that in May last year another missive from EH12 spoke of preference for a one-off tour Test against a big-gun and two “second tier” nations on the same trip claiming this would do more for player “development”.

If ever Scottish rugby needed to rise to a challenge and regain credibility in the Southern Hemisphere after an unprecedented World Cup exit, it is now.

Downscaling while our Six Nations rivals grab centre stage hardly suggests Scotland are a headline act any more.

It just shows how the much acclaimed – and rightly so – 2-0 series victory in Arg- entina in 2010, has been overlooked in the present spin.

Fans face New Year fix

In 1993, while covering a Frank Bruno v Lennox Lewis world heavyweight title fight in Cardiff, I noticed as the boxers prepared to enter the ring American television promoters signalled fans in the wing stands to move to the centre seats; effectively it was a free upgrade.

Logic demanded the impression be given of a packed arena to convince audiences at home they were witnessing something extra special.

What, then, to make of BBC Alba’s call for a 5.35pm kick off between Glasgow and Edinburgh rugby teams on Sunday, January 1? American TV call sports crowds “scenery” but on a national holiday with its emphasis on family gatherings and no public transport, Firhill could resemble a desert.

Six Nations or Autumn Test matches around tea-time I can understand, to draw viewers into the evening schedule, but how many core Edinburgh and Glasgow fans, whom the teams depend upon from week-to-week, are traditional Gaelic speakers and how many of them will feel alienated by the imposition placed on their loyalty?

Make mine a double

In a week where domestic Scottish Rugby’s prize asset, Richie Gray, has just announced he is leaving for the English Premiership and Sale Sharks , an opportunity exists for the SRU to highlight an ability to make the most of any situation.

This weekend marks the start of the popular British and Irish Cup for clubs as well as the Heineken European Cup, but fast forward to Friday, November 18 and you’ll find Currie due to entertain an Ulster team at Malleny Park with a 7.30pm kick-off, while Edinburgh face Racing Metro at Murrayfield half an hour later.

The Edinburgh fixture isn’t even on television, which is why I suspect the start time needn’t be set in stone and could allow a sensible double-header involving the best of the club and regional game.

Barry still the man

Currie winger Barry Mansfield retains his lead at the top of the Premiership try scoring charts despite missing Saturday’s rout of Edinburgh Accies due to playing sevens for Zimbabwe.



11: Barry Mansfield (Currie)

8: Mike Entwhistle (Currie)

7: Grant Anderson (Ayr), Erland Oag (Aberdeen), Alex Moffat (Stirling)

6: Will Wardlaw (Aberdeen), Sean Crombie, Sep Visser (both Boroughmuir)