The article below passed the journey between Waterloo and Paris on the Eurostar the day after the Calcutta Cup match when Scotland had been so well beaten. Beating Scotland always gave me double value for money. I could revel in what was usually a good English performance, and savour the extraordinarily bad way the Scots took defeat at the hands of the old enemy. If I cast my mind back over the 1990s, England never really beat Scotland- they “were too boring”, “were negative”, “had bigger players”, “had more players to choose from”, and (much loved by the Scottish press) “their ‘much-vaunted’ pack was drubbed by the Scots”. Also, none of my Scottish friends ever saw the game.. they “missed it”. Actually they hadn’t seen the second half because they’d kicked their TVs out of the room by half-time.
Anyway, writing this and e-mailing it to a few well chosen recipients north of the border kept me in chuckles for a week, and the following week I posted it up on the SRU chat room. It was immediately ‘cut-and-pasted’ by some Anglo and put onto the RFU site, where much hilarity was shared. To their credit, the Scots saw the funny side of it, and I received no hate mail. We were all enjoying some peaceful self-effacing humour when the SRU decided that my article was in some way indecent, dishonest or obscene, and removed it from the site. I posted it back up a couple of times, but it disappeared pretty quickly each time.
So rather than lose it forever, here it is.
The Scotland training camp, Thursday
So, Geech, what's the plan for Saturday?
Simple, Guys. I am, as you know, rated the best coach in the known universe. Scotland have been rank outsiders before against England, and we've always come through- apart, obviously, from '99, '98, '97, '96, '95, '94, '93, '92 and '91… twice. And we haven't won at Twickenham since 1742. But wha' the hell, I've got a plan to beat them this year.
Which is, Geech?
Well, for a start the lineout. We've got the best lineout jumper in the World in young Scott here. He's the man who showed Eales a thing or two when the Aussies were here last year. If he can do that to Eales, then he'll be all over Bigcock, or whatever his name is. .And Metcalfe, you're the biggest guy in the game today. Your job is to take out Johnson. Stand at the front, and their hooker won't be able to see where he's throwing to. I reckon that they'll have to throw to Dallaglio. So I expect to win most of the lineouts. OK?
Then there's the kicking. I'm taking the duties away from Kenny, because he is, frankly, complete pants. Hodgy, you're the man this week. The first element of the plan is to get the place kicks over. We've got to kick every single penalty. I'm looking for 100% accuracy from you. OK?
Sure Boss, no sweat. I scored the try last year, so I'm used to beating England.
That's the spirit. So, from the set piece we've got most of the possession sorted out. What do we do with it? I've been chatting to my old friend Fin Calder. As you'll remember, Finlay was the man who led the charge into the soft English forwards back in '90 at Bannockburn. Fin reckons that this guy Balshaw isn't much of a fullback- at least, that's what his pal Mel Gibson said when Fin bumped into him recently. To be honest, even oor Kenny looks competent in defence compared to Balshaw, who couldn't catch foot-and-mouth if he was a Devon sheep being molested by a Gala farmer. So the plan is this: lineout ball, feed out to Hodgy, Hodgy puts up the garryowen, the rest of you run through onto this wee lad Balshaw, give him a good rucking like Fin says, he'll spill the ball, and hey, there's the try line. Make sure that who-ever gets the ball down gives Dawson the finger. Hodgy, again, I can rely on you to kick the conversion?
Aye, no problemo boss.
OK, so let's think variations. Healey can't tackle, so target him. Kenny, I want you to come in on the diagonal line at pace. You'll burst through the first-up tackle no problem- after that, play it as you see it- you'll only have Balshaw to beat, so a quick left-right-left should sort him out- you must remember that England players have always been slow. Eventually they'll take Healey off or maybe Catt if all goes to plan, you'll have skinned them so many times, and you'll get this guy Robinson to contend with. Well, they call him Billy Whiz, but again, he cannae tackle. The press say that he's got something called a 'side-step', whatever that is, so he's probably not very quick. So, business as usual for you wingers.
Now, music. What music do each of you want when you score? I like to get all the details sorted out. Fill in this list here and pass it on. You can have up to three choices so anyone who gets a hat-trick will not be hearing the same thing too often.
And finally the cup. Andy, can we have the blood trickling down the chin, please, when you collect the cup from HRH? It looked good last year. And I'll make sure that Dougie Donnelly is at the bottom of the steps waiting to put his arm round you like last time. OK, you all know your roles? Any questions?
Er, Geech, do you reckon that if I kick all my goals, and we disrupt their lineout and secure our own ball at the scrum, will we really win?
Sure. "….. Oh flower of Scotland…..…."
The day- 2.30pm
Here we go, kick off, ooer, Dallaglio's going for it. Oh shit.
Holy f**k, nice one Martin. Our Laurence'll need a new line in narcotics now.
Wow. How did Martin do that, Chris?
Dunno, but it looked good. Look lively, we might need to do the same in a couple of minutes.
If any of their forwards come my way can you take them first, Budge? I've got a date with Kirsty tonight, and I don't want any bruises.
No probs, Kenny. You look after Balshaw.
No, I thought that Chris was marking Balshaw. He's the fullback, isn't he?
Aye, I'll take him, I'm the Lions fullback in waiting, even though I am a Pailmerk. I'll bounce him into row three, like William Wallace would have done..
Does he play for Gala as well?
Christ, Kenny, you've been down in England too long. Wallace was captain in 1314 at Murrayfield, when Mel Gibson scored the winning try after getting Eddie Longshanks sent off. .. or something like that.
Budge, who the hell am I marking?
Healey, you stupid sod.
Right, got it now. Look, there's Princess Anne. Do you think that she…
Look out, boys, here they come.
It's Catty. He's mine.
Take him Al, lve got Greenwod.
Shit, it's coming left. Balshaw's got it. Is the camera on me?
Rit, lits sort the pommie out. Kinni, git ip ind drift lift ind witch the piss
Stay it rit ind civer the itside in case he pisses. I've git Balshaw
Er, right JL. I've got Balshawl
I've got Balshaw
You've got him, guys. I'm covering. Go for him. Headline in tomorrow's Record, boys: :"Balshaw ballet bounced out by Braveheart Chris"
2.37pm and 10 seconds.
Who had Balshaw?
Nit me. I was civering the piss. I told you to git him, Kinny. Whit hippened?.
Look, guys, I didn't want to tackle from the left because my right is my better side for the camera. I thought that we'd agreed that I'd tackle him only in the second half.
Oh, for f**k's sake, girls….