O flower of Scotland
“When will we see your like again, That fought and died for, Your wee bit hill and glen, And stood against him, Proud Edward’s army, And sent him homeward, Tae think again. The hills are bare now, And autumn leaves lie thick and still, O’er land that is lost now, Which those so dearly held, And stood against him, Proud Edward’s army, And sent him homeward, Tae think again. Those days are passed now, And in the past they must remain, But we can still rise now, And be the nation again, That stood against him, Proud Edward’s army, And sent him homeward, Tae think again”
1995: Shamateur to Professional – Scottish Rugby Union’s Torturous Process of Change
Scottish Rugby Union hierarchy failed to adjust at the same time as other nations and missed out on at least one season of professional rugby which also saw a number of Scot’s players transferring their contracts of employment to clubs in England, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy. The blundering continued well into the new era of professional rugby as various factions battled for supremacy and as a consequence the performances of the Scottish national rugby team deteriorated.
Attendance at Murrayfield dropped by up to 40% and disillusioned fans found other sports to support. The process of change laid bare to the public extreme right wing attitudes prevalent within Scottish rugby and the areas of Scottish society from which it attracted players and supporters. The prevalence of rugby players and supporters for retention of the Treaty of Union was found to be markedly high in comparison with other sports and this was manifest at the time of the 2014 Independence Referendum. The years of torment:
1995 International Rugby Board announces that the days of amateurism and shamateurism are over and the sport is going open.
1996-97: The organisation tries to come to grips with the new era forming part-time professional district teams to take part in European competition after missing out on the first season of the Heineken Cup.
1998: A momentous year in which the SRU’s first full time chief executive calls for an overhaul of the entire structure of the game and a coup at Murrayfield brings about a number of resignations from the committee.
1999: Lord Mackay comprehensive review of all aspects of Scottish rugby, brings about major changes including, removal of unelected “special representatives” to the SRU committee. Also recommends that the Union formally delegate the day-to-day running of the sport to their executives meeting only four times per year to offer an overview on policy matters.
2000: Ken Scobies appointed as the SRU plc’s first executive board chairman with three more non-executive directors – Andrew Flanagan, Fraser Livingston and Bill Wilson – also introduced at board level.
2002: With friction between the general committee and the executive board growing, Scobie survives challenges from committee members who seize upon newspaper allegations about his munitions company’s involvement distributing land-mines.
2003: After Scobie completes his three-year term David Mackay becomes the SRU’s second chairman, promptly launching a 100-day stocktake at the end of which Watson is asked to resign and agrees to go, Mackay taking over as caretaker chief executive.
2004: With Mackay claiming it represents “the last chance saloon” for Scottish rugby, the Genesis Strategic Review gets under way. Phil Anderton is promoted to the chief executive’s office after a highly acclaimed four-year stint as commercial and marketing director and both chairman and new chief executive receive unheard of applause at the SRU’s annual meeting after unveiling in broad terms the findings of the review.
10 January 2005: David Mckay resigns from his post as Chairman following a vote of no confidence. it is alleged that some members of the general committee, (which was far from unanimous in registering its no confidence vote in the chairman,) were actually motivated by their opposition to plans to overhaul the governance of the game. That would have removed much of their capacity to interfere in the running of the sport on a day-to-day basis. Mackay is credited with cutting SRU losses, which had reached £10million when he was appointed in 2003, reducing to under £2million at the end of 2004.
11 January 2005: Three members of the Scottish Rugby Union executive board resigned in protest at the `no confidence’ vote which caused the departure of chairman David Mackay. The former SRU chair resigned from his position yesterday in the wake of the vote taken by the general committee of the Union. Now executive board members Fraser Livingston, Andrew Flanagan and Eric Hagman have stepped down in response.
A row has been simmering for months between Scotland’s clubs and the SRU executive, with club sides fearing a loss of policy-making power to the governing body. But the three outgoing executive board members lashed out at the exit of Mackay in their notice to quit. A statement from Livingston, Flanagan and Hagman said: “Replacing the chairman without prior notice or any consultation whatsoever with the executive board flies in the face of good governance.`
In David Mackay’s short term in charge of the board, enormous strides have been made in improving efficiency, planning debt reduction and developing a cohesive and comprehensive strategy for the game. “Sadly, the general committee’s actions do nothing to further the interests of taking Scottish rugby into the 21st Century.”
12 January 2005: Scottish rugby in turmoil with leading clubs threatening to break away from the SRU, senior figures resigning in droves, and a question mark over the future of the chief executive, Phil Anderton, and the technical director, Ian McGeechan.
13 January 2005: Chief Executive Phil Anderton the latest casualty of the bitter battle for power in the game when he resigned yesterday.
13 January 2005: Scottish Rugby in Meltdown – MSP’s to Debate Matter at Holyrood: Susan Deacon MSP tables motion:
“That the parliament notes with extreme concern the current situation within Scottish Rugby which has seen the resignation of a number of senior figures within the organisation, including David Mackay as chairman of the executive board and Phil Anderton as chief executive, following a no-confidence vote in the chairman by the SRU general committee.
Recognises the importance of rugby at both a local and national level as one of Scotland’s major sports and applauds the efforts which had been made by the former chairman and chief executive to take forward a strategy which would secure a sustainable future for rugby in Scotland.
Believes it is vital that effective leadership and direction is restored within Scottish rugby at the earliest possible date, and supports calls for the reinstatement of David Mackay as chairman of the executive board and Phil Anderton as chief executive to secure this objective.” (http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/15377062/sru-row-becomes-political-issue)
17 Jan 2010: Five years on David Mackay looks back after he lost the battle but won the war in Scotland rugby’s revolution: There are many more pressing demands on Scottish Rugby’s resources right now, but if the big cheeses of the SRU’s administration ever wanted to scrape the bottom of the shortbread tin for funds for a work of public art they could do worse than raise a statue in honour of the 14 gentlemen who sat on their own general committee at the dawn of 2005.
The only drawback is it would take a sculptor of uncommon dexterity and craft to capture the myopia that characterised the actions of those individuals at the time. A handful – four, to be exact – came out of the administrative meltdown they had provoked with reputations intact, but the others could still serve, quite literally, as monuments to vainglorious stupidity.
Five years have now passed since the old committee unwittingly signed their own death warrants with a vote of no confidence in David Mackay, the much-respected businessman who had been called in as chairman a year earlier to steady a Union ship that had been holed below the financial waterline by the bungling of previous managements. ( http://old.glasgowhawks.com/news/7391)
11 March 2017: Why is the Scottish Rugby Union So Strongly Anti Independence?
“O’ flower of Scotland, when will we see your like again?” Scottish fans of rugby union must find their nostalgic pre-match anthem, which commemorates the history of Caledonian resistance against the English, especially poignant. But In sport, patriotism is not always the same thing as separatism. A number of Scottish athletes opposed independence in 2014. Why? The primary reason was money. Gordon Brown, (Scottish born former prime minister,) warned that a divorce could cost Scottish sport its funding from the National Lottery.
But rugby is a rich game, with little need for Lottery handouts. So its unionism is partly explained by demography. Poor voters are the most likely to back independence, and rugby players and fans are a posh bunch. Only one of Scotland’s 37-man squad was born in a local authority that voted to leave in 2014. Rugby also embraces internationalism more than most sports. Nineteen of Scotland’s players were born outside Scotland, eight of them in England. Nine play for clubs outside Scotland. (The Economist)
3 February 2013: Phil Anderton Joins Better Together
Phil Anderton, who currently works as a management consultant based in Scotland, has been appointed to the board of the cross-party Better Together organisation. He will have specific board responsibility for the interaction between Better Together and the business community. The Edinburgh-born businessman, who has a degree in management and international relations from St Andrews University, has also worked in brand management for both Procter and Gamble, Coca-Cola and the Scottish Rugby Union which he joined in 2000 and was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer in February 2004, after several years of successful marketing within the SRU. He was nicknamed “Firework Phil”, because he provided lavish firework displays and entertainment before rugby games at Murrayfield Stadium. He resigned as CEO in January 2005 after David Mackay (Chairman of the SRU) was forced to resign by the SRU General Committee. (He retains strong links to Scottish rugby)
2 October 2013: Gavin Hastings – Avid Opponent of Scottish Independence
He stated: “it’s all about exposure to the bigger picture, and Scotland is not the bigger picture. It never will be. We will not be able to do it amongst ourselves – we need to see the global picture in front us and be part of that picture, and, in my opinion, we will never be part of that were we to be an independent nation – which, by the way, we won’t be. “People say ‘what’s the greatest honour you had as a rugby player?’ Being captain of the British Lions. That’s bigger than being captain of Scotland, so you know what I’m saying.”
Reader Rebuts Hastings Assertions: With respect, I disagree. We don’t need a larger neighbouring nation to govern us. I believe the Scots have the wits and ability to control their own affairs. We are every bit as good as any other nation. I happen to believe strongly that ALL countries should have the right to democratic self determination. We are not too wee, too poor, and too stupid, as the No campaigners spent two years telling us. We are not “subsidy junkies”, reliant on hand outs. I find the idea that we are “not genetically programmed to make political decisions” offensive. At the end of the day, I am simply fed up of people telling us that we can’t do it, that we’re scroungers who can’t survive without the generous hand-outs from our neighbours. Independence is about self respect. About belief in yourself and in your nation. I just wish more people had the courage to believe in themselves and their fellow countrymen. Yes, let Scotland take its place on the world stage, but lets do it standing shoulder to shoulder with other countries as friends and equals. (The Scotsman)
13 September 2014: Scottish Rugby Stars Tactical Strike 5 days before the Independence Referendum: Scottish Rugby Legends Urge Scots to Vote No
The all-star line-up re-enacted the national side’s iconic 1990 march in a show of support for the Better Together campaign. Stars backing the anti-independence vote also included Kenny Logan, Scott and Gavin Hastings, Andy Nicol and Finlay Calder. Speaking, Sole – who captained Scotland’s Grand Slam-winning side of 1990 – said: “I think the Yes campaign almost feel they have exclusive rights on the Saltire which I think is completely unjustified. “I’ve played for Scotland, I’ve played for my country, I’ve split blood for my country and I’m very passionate about that. (The Record)
- What a stupid thing to say. Many hundreds of young men and women killed or injured in Iraq and Afghanistan spilt their blood for their country he cut his head playing a game of sport.
13 September 2014: Scottish Rugby Players Attack Childless SNP chiefs Claiming That They ” Have no Feel For the UK family”‘ and Want to Break Up the Union Because They do Not Understand Families
Former Scottish rugby players said Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon do not have to worry about future generations of Scots as they are childless. At a pro-union campaign event outside Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Steve Munro, who earned 10 caps for Scotland, said the pair ‘don’t have any understanding of kids as they don’t have children’. The 56-year-old former winger added: “I’ve got children and I’m thinking about their futures. Salmond and Sturgeon have re-established divisions in our country.”
Andy Irvine, 62, a former president of the Scottish Rugby Union who earned 51 Scottish caps, added: ‘I’m a parent of four children and four grandchildren. I may be coming towards the end of my life, but they’re starting theirs and they’d be better in the Union. I’m a proud Scot and a proud Brit too. I have to think about the impact on their livelihoods.” (The Daily Mail)
17 Sep 2014: Scottish Rugby’s Bullingdon Boys Club Score an Own Goal
Much as I love the egg-chasing game, it has always struck me as rugby’s most profound weakness that it has nothing in its repertoire to match the sublime moment of sporting purity that is football’s own goal. Rugby is denied all this. Or rather it was until last week, when a group of Scottish ‘legends’ – a term that has clearly acquired a certain flexibility of late – gathered at Murrayfield to pledge their support for the referendum No campaign. Finally, rugby had its own goal.
As it happens, I have a lot of time for people such as David Sole, Gavin Hastings, Finlay Calder and the rest of them, just as I had a lot of admiration for them as individuals in their playing days. I also couldn’t really care less whether they favour Yes, No or Maybe. But for them to come together as they did, and where they did, was a monumental misjudgement.
By way of clarification, they weren’t actually in Murrayfield, the Scottish Rugby Union having made it crystal clear that they wanted nothing to do with the stunt. Instead, they hung about in Roseburn Street, just outside the stadium, which is where most of the photographs you might have seen were taken.
Now it can be dangerous to generalise but, from a brief look at the group shots of the former players, I reckoned that between two-thirds and three-quarters of them had attended private schools. A clear majority are Edinburgh-based. All had been retired a long time. All, of course, were male. Or, to put it another way, a bunch of well-off, middle-aged blokes want things to stay just the way they are. Staggering, isn’t it? Who knew? Well, most of the pollsters for a start. Which is why the number of votes added to their cause by this gathering is probably about the same as the number of points Scotland put on the scoreboard against England last February.
“What on earth were they thinking of?” was the comment of someone I met the following day. Now I have absolutely no idea whether the fellow who said this was in the Yes or No camp, but politics was not the issue for him. Instead, what incensed him was the fact the grey-templed Roseburn flash-mob’s reinvention of themselves as some sort of rugby Bullingdon Club only reinforced an image of the sport as the game of a privileged elite.
Yes, you can pick through the pictures and find John Rutherford and Colin Deans – both state-schooled in the Borders – in there as well, but the clear majority are from a different social sphere. Does this matter? Hugely. You can quibble over just about anything in this game – tactics, selection, league structures, governance – but the one overwhelming issue that holds Scottish rugby back is that its social and demographic base is far too narrow. It always has been. (The Herald)
But hold on “Yes” Scotland had one supporter:
“Jim Telfer, a former coach of the national side, has suggested that any Scot seeking reasons for secession should spend ten minutes with smug English fans at Twickenham. The English don’t help themselves: they banned bagpipes from stadiums when hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2015.” (Mercatornet)
30 November 2016: Scottish Rugby Agree New 10-year Hospitality Deal With Elior UK
Further confirmation supporters of independence will be whistling dixie to any help from the Scottish Rugby set. Based in Macclesfield, Cheshire PLC, Elior UK has provided corporate hospitality, conference and event and match day catering at BT Murrayfield for the last seven years and the new 10-year hospitality contract extension will deliver in excess of £1million each year to Scottish Rugby substantially growing its commercial income. (The Insider)