Scots now need to splash out

Five Nations' Championship: Jubilant Rowell praises his side's character as triumphant Scotland seek to break new ground Chris Rea believes that triumph in Paris should herald a radical move
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The Independent Online
ARGUING from a position of strength has been an unfamiliar experience for Scotland of late. But their spectacular success in Paris yesterday has given them additional ammunition and resolve to carry the war on professionalism into the enemy camp. Berhard Lapasset, the president of the French Federation, has promised an immediate enquiry into allegations of payments being made to his players, although he may wonder after France's wretched beginning to this international campaign that if this is how France's perform for money, how much worse would they play for fun?

On the other hand, the surprise registered by the Scottish Rugby Union on hearing the news that Kevin Campbell has received a payment for playing can only have been feigned. A few half-hearted protests from unions who have just as many skeletons in their trophy cabinets are not going to change matters, and those who believe that the forthcoming summit of the International Board will provide the answer to the game's most vexatious problem are, I fear, going to be disappointed.

Nevertheless, the Scots have matters of more pressing concern closer to home. Despite the encouraging signs of revival, underlined in Paris yesterday, they are fully aware that their recent difficulties on the field have not been unconnected with their shortcomings off it.

The SRU's hand has been forced by the declaration of both Duncan Paterson, the team manager, and Dougie Morgan, the national coach, that they intend to resign after the World Cup. Their successors will therefore have to be in place to take Scotland into next season; the question is whether both jobs will be kept separate or whether the Scots will follow England's example by appointing one man to do both. And, if so, will it be a full- time, salaried post?

The appointment of a paid manager would put a further strain on the already discredited principle of amateurism. But there cannot be any doubt that the post is sufficiently important and consumes enough time to warrant professional status. Throughout his term as England manager, Geoff Cooke felt strongly that the job demanded a commitment far beyond honorary status and it rankled with him that his continuation in the post relied on the generosity of a sponsor and the understanding of his employer.

When the national cause is imperilled by the inadequacy of the domestic structure and a mass exodus of top players continues to dilute the strength of the game, action must be taken. At present Scotland could field an entire pack from players domiciled outside the country - front row: Hilton, Sharp, Burnell; second row: Cronin, Reed; back row: Wainwright, Morrison, Peters. Add to that Peter Walton, Andy Nicol, Derrick Patterson and Gregor Townsend, who has signed provisional forms for two English clubs, and at least two other squad members who are reportedly seeking new pastures down south, and you get some idea of the problem.

Scotland need a figurehead through whom they can promote the game. He will be required to have proven management skills, self-assurance and will have to feel at ease in his dealings with the media. Someone who might fit the bill is Alan Hosie, a former international referee of distinction whose present position as the SRU representative on the International Board gives him the necessary status. His suitability was confirmed two years ago when he managed an experimental Scottish team on a tour of the South Seas.

In their seven games, which included international matches against Tonga, Fiji and Western Samoa, the Scots lost only once - and that to the full- strength Samoans. It was, by common consent, one of the most successful tours Scotland have ever undertaken, and if the Scots are to take this giant leap into the unknown, they should at least do it with their eyes open.

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