Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Why More Isn't Always Better

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Why More Isn't Always Better

Article excerpt

Byline: By Duncan Madsen

Not even the most fervent Scottish rugby supporter would suggest that, notwithstanding last Saturday's glorious 18-12 Calcutta Cup victory, there is much the game north of the border could teach the auld enemy at Twickenham.

It hurts, but, to put it bluntly, since the dawn of professional rugby England has developed light years ahead of their oldest rivals, whose `blazers' have ensured that the game in Scotland has generally gone backwards rather than forwards in the past 10 years.

Yet the Scots have one thing going for them that the RFU management committee seem to covet most ( the Scotland players are paid by and contracted to the SRU at Murrayfield, meaning they are at the beck and call of the Scottish coach.

The late and sadly unlamented coach, Matt Williams, used this to good effect, calling his squad together on a weekly basis in preference to working with their districts.

The net result was that the districts fared badly in both the Celtic League and Heineken Cup, while the players became totally disenchanted with Williams and his set-up to such an extent that they won just one game out of 10 Six Nations Championship matches they played over two years under his guidance.

Exit Williams and enter the unheralded Frank Hadden, who seemed to get the job more by default than anything else.

But as Edinburgh coach, Hadden had seen that Williams' total hands-on policy was strangling the life out of Scottish rugby, and the first thing he did was drastically cut down the number of Scotland training sessions.

First, surprise, surprise, the districts started to flourish and have been showing much better form in the Celtic League, while Edinburgh have beaten both Wasps and Toulouse at Murrayfield in the Heineken Cup.

And then, wonder of wonders, buoyed up by Hadden's praise in stark contrast to Williams' tongue lashings, the players have responded further in their first three Six Nations games by beating the big two of France and England. …

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