Rugby Union: Quins add to Scots lament

Click to follow
Harlequins 22 London Scottish 20

A NEW ZEALAND camera crew was at The Stoop to illustrate to viewers in the land of the long white cloud what life is like for an All Black in the English Premiership. They soon discovered it is somewhat different from Auckland. One big black cloud, in fact.

Zinzan Brooke did not play, but the footage they got of him sitting in the dug-out was, perhaps, more interesting than the action on the field.

The season is in its infancy, but already these are desperate days for Harlequins and London Scottish, nestling at the foot of the league with two points each. John Gallagher, Quins' director of Rugby and another former All Black, asked what he took from this game, replied "Two points."

The sigh of relief at actually winning a match, even one as awful as this, was audible. "We looked nervous," Gallagher said. "When we should have run it, we kicked and when we should have kicked we ran. On paper, we are capable of competing with anybody."

The smell of autumn was interrupted by the stench of panic. A crowd of 3,600 watched the co-tenants of The Stoop make more mistakes in one game than clubs at the top of the Premiership will make in a season. And the gap between expenditure and income gets wider every week.

Last week the London Scottish admin staff were sacked - by Harlequins. The Exiles (it once meant Scotsmen living in London but now it would refer to somebody from Durban rather than Dundee) dismiss talk of a merger, but there is another possibility. If the team representing London Scottish in the Premiership changes its name, then the club established in 1878 could revert to its roots, return to amateurism and the Richmond Athletic Ground, and run teams of Anglo-Scots under the name of London Scottish RFC. That is the dream of the traditionalists.

Meanwhile, the film crew saw a lot of goal-kicking from John Schuster and Iain McAusland (five penalties apiece) and a "home" draw would have been an appropriate result but for McAusland missing the conversion of Eddie Jones' try. Since taking over the goalkicking from Thierry Lacroix Schuster, a Western Samoan who also played League, has landed 24 goals from 25 attempts.

At least Jones, a Maori, provided extra colour, his "poppy red" hair breaching the French grey, magenta, green, black, white, etc defence of the Quins.

The only previous occasion the clubs had met in the league was six years ago, when they drew 22-22, Will Carling scoring a try. Halcyon days.

Harlequins: Try Luger; Conversion Schuster; Penalties Schuster 5. London Scottish: Try Jones; Penalties McAusland 5.

Harlequins: D O'Leary; J Keyter, J Schuster, J Ngauamo, D Luger; T Lacroix (capt; P Mensah, 31) H Harries; D Barnes, C Ridgeway (K Wood, 75), A Yates (R Nebbett, 61), G Llewellyn, T Collier (G Morgan, 68), B Davison, C Sheasby, A Leach (R Jenkins, 75).

London Scottish: I McAusland; K Milligan, R Davies, J Bonney, C Sharman; S Binns, G Easterby; P Johnstone, J McLellan, P Burnell, G Manson-Bishop, M McAtamney (E Jones, 50), S Fenn, C Tarbuck, S Holmes (capt).

Referee: G Hughes (Manchester).