Can talent alone beat Scotland?


Ruggaworld this week is privileged to speak to what is becoming a growing phenomena in the world of rugby: a female rugby nutter! We love hearing from fans of the game and this week we speak to Elaine McAllister from Scotland:

Scotland the Brave
Scotland the Brave

Elaine’s is a great twitter account to follow @Elamay99 so please do not hesitate to follow her. But first:

1) Its refreshing to hear a woman talk so passionately about the game and Scottish Rugby in particular. Where has your love for the game been fostered?

I have always been involved in sports however rugby was not the most prominent activity in the area I grew up.  It was really when I was completing my undergraduate degree in Aberdeen that I started going along to the prem 1 games for fun and from that I developed my real passion for the sport, it is now a hugely important to me and I am very glad that I made that decision on one beautiful sunny afternoon.  It is everything about the sport that really resonates with me, the tactics, the physicality, the environment, the fans, it has become my family and having this passion gives me the opportunity to make new friends all around the world because the rugby family are a very special bunch J Interesting that you should mention the fact I am a woman though because I have never seen myself as being separate from any other fan. I feel, in Europe anyway, that there are an equal number of women to men. I have travelled to games, both in the rabo and international, independently and have never felt like I was walking into a male dominated arena.  Actually I would happily say, particularly international matches, it is more about families than gender.  I think the SRU and the clubs themselves make rugby very accessible to everyone.

2) Allan Solomons is but one of the many exciting new acquisitions of Edinburg Rugby this season. Are you guys finally gunning for silverware?

Alan Solomans seems to have his head screwed on; I am excited to see how this new coaching team comes together and which direction they are going to take the team. I am happy to have Solomans on board this year, apprehensively though, as huge promises have been made before so I will hold back on the full emotional commitment until the bright lights have settled a little.  Are we gunning for silverware, one day, but not this year. I think we, as fans deserve a solid consistent performance year and personally I would rather go to the rugby every week and see a team that I want to support, the fancy baubles can come later.  I think the boys need that as well getting a solid team with everyone to the same level playing and the same type of game everything else will come naturally after that.

3) You tweet often about the Heineken Cup and your concerns that its being strangled out of existence by England and France. Why is this competition so important to Scottish rugby and perhaps European rugby in general?

Hahahahaha… yes I do feel very passionately about so I occasionally send a tweet or two. The Heineken cup and Amlin cups are wonderful tournaments that have seen me travel throughout Europe to follow my team, and what really frustrates me is that England and France pulling out is, in my opinion, financially based.  The Aviva and Top 14 represent a single, individual rugby union each, both looking to increase their share of tickets, broadcast right etc by having more teams in the tournament however their justification is the it’s not representative given that the Rabo doesn’t have a relegation, besides the fact that there would be no where for these professional teams to go as the Rabo countries are not littered with Semi-Professional teams, unlike England and France, the issue is that they seem unable to see beyond the domestic leagues.  The Heineken cup is a European cup, and as such it is the Unions which are represented by their professional teams it is not a domestic league competition, England and France choose to use their domestic league to select who goes through to the Heineken but Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Italy are unable to do this as all their professional teams play in the same league, our domestic league is already an international league.

4) The match between the Boks and Scotland was a close affair last year. We particularly remember the beautiful try you guys scored from a line-out set piece. Would you say this year will be even closer or has the Boks since edge ahead in your opinion?

Yup I remember that game very well, it was perhaps a little unfair to lose that game, I genuinely believe we have a chance of claiming this win.  If we smarten up our act a little and not give away so many penalties, learn to play your game a little, we will take this.  Scott Johnson has been doing a fantastic job, both as head coach and Director of Rugby.  But if we do lose, it is not sore, the Boks have the number 1 sport in SA, a huge player pool and the financial backing, I would be more concerned as to why, since we have met over the last 2 years has we been so difficult to beat? We have less than half of the resources but our skill and physicality matches yours.  Talent???

5) Did you play the game yourself?

No, I am a girl, I play Netball.  I just wasn’t an option when I was growing up or even when I was at university.  This is a new to me movement and one that I am happy to support but not partake in.

6) Who is your favorite player right now and why?

From where??  Scotland and Edinburgh I would have to say Matty Scott, he is young but I think incredibly understated, consistent in his development and game play.  He creates some beautiful plays but never seems to get the headline, definitely my favorite.

7) Unfortunately for most of us Scotland represent something between a very cold rainy day and a scene from Trainspotting. Why do civilized people continue to inhabit the land?

That’s funny because my image of SA is similar constricted a land of wild animals and machete killings!!!  Scotland is a beautiful country, with a wonderfully unique culture, the people are fantastic we have a wonderfully quality of life.  Free health care, free schooling to a tertiary level, free eye test, free water (there are bonuses to it raining a lot you know) low crime rates.  I can walk down most streets in the country and be able to start a friendly conversation with someone.  I live in a town where stranger say hello to you, check if you’re alright if you haven’t taken the mail in etc.  Why would I not live here.  Also I am Scottish and Scotland is home. Come over and see!

RW note: We would love to! Thanks so much Elaine.


Facebook Comments


  1. Elaine will come on to the site a bit later so please feel free to pop her questions on anything from Murrayfield 44-0 to fried Mars bars and tennis champions.

  2. The best ever Scots player? My only strong association ever with Scots rugby was through Bill Mclaren although Gavin Hastings also resonates

  3. I attended the World Cup 2007 match between Scotland and New Zealand at Murrayfield and the memory of that game is a strong one. Prior to kick off my mother-in-law and I had a few cans of beer with whomever was standing about. In the crowd of people who enjoyed a laugh was no less than 14 nationalities. Poles, Germans, Bulgarians, Swedes, Americans – you name it.

    It only dawned on me then that all these people in their minorities follow rugby and the World Cup is when they all get to travel and follow their favorite sport.


  4. I went to the SA game in 2008 – was an awesome experience. Think we won the game 14-10. Afterwards the wife and I were drinking a pint next to the stadium and got talking to 2 bankers – the one guy was my size – around 2m tall and the other was a giant of around 2.10 tall – they invited us to a pub – and we had to fight to be able to buy a pint the whole evening because they refused to let us pay.

    The giant bloke bought me a whisky and said in his scottish brogue “Taste this – this is the blood of my country”.

    It was a magical evening – the only thing that soured it was the drunken south african fans shouting abuse to all.


  5. Just a word to the wise.

    Healthcare and education never comes free. They cost money, just like all other goods and services one may need. Payment may be indirectly, or by others, but it’s always required.

    Then my question.
    Who pays in Scotland?
    The rich,
    The English,
    North Sea oil or
    Future generations.

  6. @Timeo: Hello Timeo, you are absolutely right! it’s not free persay, it is included in our taxes which are dependent on income, normally about 20%. Every working person in the UK pays taxes.

    And politics beside, i think what you should take from my comment is that it is the access that we have, if you work hard and get the grades you can go to collage or university regardless of your financial background. If you get ill, there are doctors, nurses, pharmasists that will look after you regardless of your income. It is a great place to live because those worries that are sometimes apparnet in other countries are not here.

    I hope that helps.

  7. man it would be nice to get a sponsor who can take one bloke and his mate to Scotland for that game! Maybe time to ring up those Whiskey sponsors!

  8. @Elaine McAllister:

    Good answer.

    I read Adam Smith recently. He didn’t look very kindly upon free tertiary education. In his time the dons at Oxford and Cambridge lived off endowments and according to Smith had “long ago given up on the pretence of teaching”. On the French universities, which were funded by benefactors, he opined that they “teach nothing that could be of use to anyone”.

  9. Brendon – Never seen Die Hard 3 – more into comedies etc. Downloaded Heel against the head the other day – was bloody funny to see it again.

    And I mentioned on the other thread that I have now moved to 8’th man. But you also mentioned that you offloaded some of your IQ to be able to run faster – maybe that is why you don’t remember…

    @JT – They don’t even have to get us there – just send the whisky


  10. @Brendon: @Brendon: @Timeo:

    Brendon, “quality” is an issue all over the world, waiting times and tired doctors are the same all over the world. but the facility is there, I work in the oil and gas industry and I have free private healthcare, I still use the NHS, I can use my private to avoid waiting lists, a benefit of my career, but the doctors, nurse will all have the exact same training!

    Timeo, you really read Adam Smith, that nice young man is from Kirkcaudly just down the road. I think ever university in the world teach fluff courses but the does not negate the fact that a free education ispires generation to think beyond their school days. Would you even know Adam Smith and his wealth of nations?? But courses like engineering, medicide, business, veteninary etc are covered by this amazing feature as well, are they not useful? Infact I beleive lectures have to work even harder now than ever before think of the number of students that can now gain access who might not have the natural ability to succeed at university, that is alot of 121 work required. Also, on a personel note, the schools have a responsibility to everyone to discuss other options beyond university, as wonderful as knowledge is not all careers require this level of education and the country can not run without the skilled manual jobs like gamekeeprs, gillys, farmers, mechanics and labourers.

  11. I must say i am slightly apprehensive about the public healthcare system here in Ireland. Maybe its just because the building outside look so dodgy, or because of all the people you see sleeping on the street. I dont know

  12. I have been following the writer Irvine Welsh on twitter. He is a campagner for Scotland to go it alone – yet my cousins wife, who is from Breamar, is more on the ‘stay in UK’ side of things.

    Its a manically interesting debate. All in all I think Independence has done the republic of Ireland the world of good – but will it benefit Scotland?

  13. Pardon me jumping around so much between topics, but I also wonder if Scotland rugby would not also benefit from a national stadium with a closed roof?

    How much of Wales resurgence can we ascribe to having a closed roof that allows them to plan for a free running game when they host matches?

    Surely being the only team in the north who can guarantee a smooth surface on matchday must have its advantages over other teams?

  14. @Brendon: Since when have rugby players not been able to adapt their game to the weather conditions? Should we change the stadiums or should the ability to adapt quick be part of the game? If you are looking for smooth surfaces and warm environment create an indoor version of rugby.

  15. @Brendon: And I think you will find that the Welsh resurgance comes from the heart of the valleys and the heart of the country. the number 1 sport and players hardened to the elements.

  16. Elaine

    Don’t worry about Brendon. He’s a former backline fairy that beleives that every ball should be ran from no matter where and that try that was scored before 20 passes were completed should be disallowed.

    He also believes that mauls should be outlawed and that scrums should be uncontested. He is also advocating that the number of players should be reduced to 13 to create more space to run the ball. In fact you what I smell – Australian…


  17. Cmon I like the fatties as much as the fairies- but I just reason that if on a Monday you can prepare your team indoors for an indoors game yet your opponent is out weathering the storm in torrential January UK rain – surely you will have an edge come match day?

    Then, when you have to play a team in their stadium the next week you simply train in the same weather as they do?

  18. @Brendon: Do you not think it would be easier for the team who has trained in the rain to transfer to under roof than it would the other way around? It would remove an element of pressure, imagine how easy it would be to hold onto the the ball in the dry if you had been training in the rain! I think the really selling factor for a roof is the noise, cant beat the millenium for that but you dont get that in training so even the young welshies can be taken aback!

  19. @Elaine McAllister:

    Not sure. I reckon a team can select very different players and constantly evolve a very more attack-minded gameplan if they have access to a roofed stadium.

    In saying that – imagine an indoor competition featuring 4 teams once a year for charity?

    Chiefs, Toulon, Santory Goliath and….

  20. @Brendon: True true, but how much notice is any team given when the millenium decide to shut the roof, 6n it was 1 day. Thats when you need your players to adapt very quickly, all the skills need to be there it is the game plan that needs to change.

  21. I am off for a bit but Elaine please check in every now and then. Some clowns are about to finish work and i am sure they would love a chat also.

    But the minute anyone mentions Braveheart – the blog will automatically shut down.

  22. Elaine at one stage just before 2007 WC Scotland was going more for big bulky forwards, I could remember that it was motioned a lot in the media.

    What does Scotland rugby see to be their strong aspect of their game, do they lean towards a South African forward dominance more 10 man rugby or Aussie so-called flair?

  23. @Jacques(Bunny): it would be interesting to see the top 10 in world rearranged by player pool. Something I think the fans need to know. Scotland may only be 9th in the world but there are so few players to draw upon and nurture in comparison to the top teams. I think the figure from players in Scotland is about 50000 total including youth and women.

  24. @Jacques(Bunny): oh good question! I don’t think it is either of those right now. If I had to choose I would probably say the Aussie flair, if only for the likes of visser, de luca, hoggy, maitland but in no way pushing our physicality out of it. Grant Glichrist, Denton, Hamilton and Brown are power houses to be reckoned with. Personally Scotland’s real asset is our thinkers, our 9/10’s they have read the game brilliantly for a very long time and bring in the points.

  25. @Jacques(Bunny): is it? With the home nations games emphasis is put on different games due to history. Personally the Calcutta cup is the biggest game for me internationally and the 1872 for domestic. My English friends don’t even think about the calcutta but the French game is massive for them. It all depends on where the emphasis is placed by your union.

  26. Righty ho. It is time for me to go to training. Leave me questions and I will try to answer them on my return, depending on how mean my coach is being tonight.

  27. One of the most interesting observation by Smith was regarding the American Revolution. He wrote in 1775 and referred to it as “the recent disturbances in our American colonies”.
    He predicts that Britain will lose the colonies, unless they offer them a full union like they did with Scotland. He said that the American aristocrats will jump at the opportunity be important men in London, rather than just New York or Boston or Philadelphia. But he then warns that if they do join, America will soon be the most powerful part of the UK and that the centre of power and the capital will eventually move across the ocean.

    Turns out he was not that far off.

  28. @JT_BOKBEFOK!:

    Schools are not doing great JT.

    The number of kids taking up the game is dropping at all levels, and dropping drastically.

    But it’s not only rugby though, it’s all sports. It is really just a culture/mental change that needs to be re-instilled at school level about the importance of sport.

  29. Interesting thread with relevance to living in NZ which like Scotland has a free NHS and everyone can get to university via the 0% interest student loan system. Timeo is right that everything comes at direct or indirect cost but as I learned in my years in South Africa some of those indirect costs are not an issue in other countries that are then able to give their citizens the health and education systems they deserve.

    Elaine, Scotland might not have won a RWC (yet) but one area where the Scots beat the rest of the world hands down is that great song you sing before their games. Flower of Scotland was belted out whenever they played their games in RWC 2011 in NZ with everyone suddenly a Scotsman – except for the Poms who lost at Bannockburn in 1314 of course.

  30. I think even some English peeps are blown away by flower of Scotland. Our national anthem ignites passion in many people.

  31. Oh Brendon that’s a tough one but I’m going to go with the all blacks, if I am wrong I will eat a packet of chocolate buttons.