Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Sport Missing out at Murrayfield

Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Sport Missing out at Murrayfield

Article excerpt

You've got to hand it to Princess Anne. She's been loyally pitching up for Scotland's rugby matches through thick and thin, largely thin since the battle of Bannockburn, and unfailingly appears to be enjoying herself. She's a real rugby fan, and if she were 30 years younger, she'd have had her eye, you suspect, on that young David Denton (the man of the match, if you missed it, and a back row forward of immense stature and equally impressive looks).

However, without full hazchem uniform and headgear, I wouldn't have liked to be anywhere near the Princess Royal if she were called on to deliver her post-match verdict. Quite how Scotland contrived to lose to England is a mystery that makes Fermat's Last Theorem look like the Daily Star quick crossword. They should have slotted 20 points past England, and the fact that their permanently ballistic coach Andy Robinson has not yet spontaneously combusted can only be explained by the cold weather.

Is the problem that the Scots team has become too urban, representing just Edinburgh and Glasgow? What happened to the big Kelso farmer or the wee Hawick scrum half who could burrow in like a mole and deliver a mighty kick? Where are those teams that used to be the staple of Rugby Special, Heriot's FP or Melrose? I don't know, but I'm not Scottish.

This Six Nations is already shaping up well, though let's hope it doesn't develop into a two-tier tournament with just Wales, France and Ireland on top. France are already developing into a classic side, with thinking forwards and great running backs. Philippe Saint-Andre, their new coach, is intelligent, and less loopy than his predecessor. Les Bleus' next game is in Paris this Saturday night against Ireland at 8.00, a timing which should, I hope, result in the rescheduling of several south-west London dinner parties.

It should be a superb encounter. …

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