There is no longer time to beat around the bush. That sand is at the bottom of the hour glass. It is all about results. The lads have got to keep on working hard in training. They have to focus on their own game, not the oppositions. They can pull through this because there is real togetherness in the squad. Same old story. At the end of the day…
We see clichés printed everywhere and we hear buzz words and idioms trumped out in soundbytes. They are infuriating, but they glue the banal truths together. If we had to be reminded of the head pounding reality of Scotland’s current plight, and only that, then we would all be a little sadder.
The –isms are there to promote happiness. There’s comfort in hearing the same stuff over and over again. Oh! There’s a story with a pun in the title and an image of a player/coach with a ball in their hands. Do not panic: apparently the coaches are aware of the situation and have been working like mad to try and rectify this situation that the paying customers are heartily miffed about.
With commentators some swing from fury to disillusion. Scotland’s team have performed well in two games, made more passes than most, scored less tries than most and lost all four games they have so far played. The writers and talkers are angry with this. They cannot believe things have gotten so bad.
Yet still the team play on.
Of course they do. They cannot give up hope. They have to believe they can win and aim to win well. This weekend Scotland play Italy in Rome and already some have written them off. The team are being told by pundits that it is must win.
Here is a mind-bending concept. One borne out of yet another cliché, too. “If they go to Rome trying not to lose, they will lose”. That makes no sense! It is the trying that is the important bit, then the goal. Scotland must not lose. So the plan is set up for that. Not losing is not the same as winning, sure, but even a draw saves them from the dreaded wooden spoon.
There was a call for more tries. Scotland have only scored one less try than 2nd placed England. People wanted Laidlaw in at 10. He has sat there and stayed. People wanted more rugby. Scotland have strung passes together. Now they are claiming this isn’t good enough because of a series of losses.
Look at who those past loses were against. Argentina; England twice; Wales; France; Ireland. Are those teams above Scotland? Yes. Did they remain there? Yes.
Now I am not saying that Scots should not be down heartened by losing these games. Far from it. However there needs to be realism. Scotland are heading to Rome to avoid a wooden spoon. There is no need for clichés and no need for throwing a tantrum. Scotland are not better than those teams they lost to because of their weaknesses. They do not have as much competition in their ranks and they do not have as many star performers as a lot of them.
Forget Progress. The P word is banned. Instead focus on the fact that some talented youngsters are there. Gray is there. Denton is there. Hogg is there. Weir is there somewhere. Jones is there. Scott is there in the background. Tim Visser is on his way. These guys have come on a lot and may still improve further. If Scotland lose to Italy the coach may not be there much longer, but he is not taking his resources with him. The style of play may change, but those players will be playing.
Take comfort in the clichés about these guys because they are Scotland’s future. At the moment they hold the hope of millions. The coaches, as well, may take blame for some poor selection choices and some poor political moves, but they at least have a plan somewhere. That plan is one for the next World Cup.
They are to have a scouting network to find Scots qualified players from abroad. Visser is coming in. Results now are bad, but the plan is to get much better for World Cup 2015. By then there is the hope that the scouts and the coaches will have produced players good enough to shore up an ailing scrum, make the right decisions and score a lot of tries.
Italy is a big, big game, but the plan goes well beyond that. This tournament has been good for at least showing those in charge what must be changed. There will be an attempt to work past this. There will always be bad times before things get good again. This is just a fallow year for Scotland, and hopefully they hold on and start making big gains. Whoever is coaching at that point is irrelevant, because people are moving into place to support the promising players.
I just hope the fans stay strong and keep supporting the team through this time.
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