WEIR’S WEEK 14th February 2014

Is there something wrong at the heart of Scottish Rugby

Saturday
Let me take you back 24 hours to the televised Scottish Cup tie at Ibrox between Rangers and Dunfermline Athletic.

Dunfermline Athletic  Away Strip
Dunfermline Athletic
Away Strip
Imagine my surprise when the Pars appeared, not in their traditional black and white vertical stripes, but in pale blue shirts with dark blue shorts. While not a complete colour clash with their hosts, this blue on blue attack was one which hardly helped my viewing experience. Imagine my surprise again the following evening when I tuned into BBC Scotland’s Sportscene to see the highlights of Saturday’s Cup ties, one contest played out between Forfar Athletic and St Johnstone.

Ironically, Forfar’s home outfit wasn’t too far removed from that donned the previous evening by Dunfermline. It would follow, would it not, that St Johnstone therefore could have played in their traditional home kit which to be honest, isn’t too different from that of Rangers – except the Saints were wearing their ‘AC Milan’ number of red and black vertical stripes.

Why?

For as the smarter kiddies amongst you will have spotted, Forfar– St Johnstone in traditional garb offered a possible clash of colours – even though we’d watched Rangers-Dunfermline in those very costumes the previous evening. So forget all this guff about a change of strip helping the referee identify opposing players and the likes. As we always knew, away or change kits are for the most part nothing more than an excuse football clubs to extort money from supporters – even if they appear willing victims to this ‘hoodwinkery.’

As for third kits, my take on those haven’t changed since first I saw Rangers’ ‘lilac whine’ number, which came with the guarantee ‘for European use only.’ Hence it was only ever worn once, at Motherwell …

Team GB started well...
Team GB started well…
Sunday
And Team GB can celebrate a success in Sochi when Jenny Jones claims a bronze medal in the snowboard slopestyle event.

It didn’t take long before we were being informed the 33-year-old was Britain’s first ever Olympic medallist on snow – which came as a bit of a surprise to those of us who still believe that honour rests with Scots skier Alain Baxter. Just that someone decided to take it off him again!

It didn’t take long either before the complaints rolled into the BBC about the biased, slightly- jingoistic and upsetting (to liberal, Home Counties listeners only) commentary on the Beeb that accompanied Jones’ medal winning run.

For the record, I found nothing wrong with the screams and cries of Tim Warwood, Aimee Fuller and Ed Leigh as they acclaimed Jones’ success although I can see why some might have choked on their gin …

Six Nations - Disastrous start  for Scotland
Six Nations –
Disastrous start
for Scotland
Monday
Lights. cameras, action. Oh and make-up, liberally applied as I am invited to take part in the debate on Scotland Tonight about the debacle that was Scotland’s Six Nations loss to England along with former Scotland captain and European Cup winner Andy Nicol (I’m only protecting his modesty by not mentioning his place on the bench for the British Lions) and my erstwhile colleague and good mate Rob Robertson from the Daily Mail (watch it all here)

We reflect on how painful Saturday’s loss was, where selections might have gone wrong, and what the Scots might do to improve what has been a disappointing tournament so far.

I have to say it wasn’t all bad on Saturday as I got to spend some time with the delightful Caroline Henderson, and England former England internationals Mark Regan, John Bentley (who scored that magnificent try for the Lions in ’97 and who is now the proud owner of my mini-tyre compressor!) and Simon Shaw (MBE) who quit not so long ago after just the 304 games for Wasps, although I never got the chance to ask if Wasps had a ‘B’ team …

A thorough gent, Simon was telling me of his latest business venture, a bar-diner called Stokes and Moncrieff. If you didn’t know, they were the names of the English and Scottish captains in the very first international between the two nations back in 1871 at Raeburn Place, watched by around 4000 spectators – roughly how many were still in Murrayfield when the final whistle sounded at the weekend.

Stokes and Moncrieff does have a bit of a ring to it –although I do wonder what kind of clientele they might have attracted had the taken their Christian names instead, Frederick and Francis …

Sir Chris Hoy
Sir Chris Hoy
Tuesday
I remember being in conversation once with Chris Hoy and members of a TV crew when we got on to the subject of crashes. Hoy himself had been smashed up a few times, but highlighted the dangers of his sport if you crashed doing 70kph. “At best it will hurt – a lot. At best …” he said.

Maybe he didn’t want to sound too sensationalist, but you could work out for yourself that hitting solid boards with equally quick pieces of metal around had the potential for tragedy. Alas, we found out today just how dangerous track cycling could be when South African track cyclist Jeanne Nell died following a crash while attempting to qualify for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Nell fell during a keirin race at the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town. He was 30.

Wednesday
And Lazio have threatened legal action against those who have questioned the legitimacy of the age of their 17-year-old player Joseph Minala who it was claimed by an African website, was really 41.
For the record, Minala – who has netted five times for Lazio’s youth team this season, comes from Cameroon. Now, if he’d been from Saudi Arabia, I might have believed it …

Elise Christie Disqualified in the spped skating
Elise Christie
Disqualified in the spped skating
Thursday
Upset and tears in Sochi when Elise Christie missed out on an Olympic silver medal after being disqualified from the women’s 500m short track skating final after taking down two rival competitors.
The Livingston skater collided with Italy’s Arianna Fontana and South Korea’s Park Seung-hi, sending all three of them in to the barriers. Ironically, the 23-year-old Scot had said earlier that she would have to be more physical in her approach to races. What we didn’t know was that meant tackling like Doug Rougvie …

Friday
We’re only halfway through February but already my eyes are focused in on a date in May, the 31st to precise. That’s when George Groves will get the opportunity to match-up against British super-middleweight rival Carl Froch after the latter had retained his WBA and IBF titles with a ninth-round stoppage of Groves in November. As I said at the time, I had no issues with the outcome, based on a split-second judgement by a referee who had to choose between a winner and a loser, the latter possibly of their life.

Since Sky and other satellite channels took ownership of British boxing, many have lost track of who the stars are in the UK fight game. Indeed, some might not even have seen Froch or Groves. That this rematch is probably the biggest all-British contest since the second meeting of Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank twenty years ago, only emphasises the significance of this fight. Will the second instalment be worth another twenty quid on pay per view? I don’t know. I’ll pay for it somehow.

Oh, and before I sign off, sorry the Valentine’s Day gifts weren’t up to their usual high standards …