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Progress by whose standards? Here are five simple ways to improve the game

Another Six Nations campaign, another few months in purgatory.

The director of rugby job proved beyond  Jim Telfer and Ian McGeechan so what  are Scott Johnson's chances of making a success  of it? Picture: Jim Galloway
The director of rugby job proved beyond Jim Telfer and Ian McGeechan so what are Scott Johnson's chances of making a success of it? Picture: Jim Galloway

With Scott Johnson having talked about Scotland's "progress", following their record 51-3 defeat to Wales, it's surely time some honest solutions were found to the problems crippling the game. Here are five suggestions which might transform the country's ailing fortunes:

1 DENY JOHNSON THE DIRECTOR OF RUGBY ROLE

Jim Telfer couldn't make a success of the job. Neither could Ian McGeechan. If these two majestic coaches were unable to rectify the myriad problems which existed inside Murrayfield, why should we suppose Johnson is in any way equipped to flourish? As things stand, we are in the risible situation where the Australian with the worst international record in the SRU cause since Matt Williams could be Vern Cotter's boss some of the time and continue to coach in some capacity on other occasions.

As the phlegmatic Andy Nicol said: "When Andy Robinson came, he inherited Frank Hadden's backroom team. When Scott Johnson came in, he inherited Robinson's backroom team. Now Vern Cotter is going to come in with a backroom staff already in situ. I just find that bonkers."

He's not the only one.

2 SELL THE PRO TEAMS AND SET UP A THIRD IN THE NORTH It's amazing how sharp-suited capitalist types in Scotland sound like old Politburo members once they discuss flinging cash at Glasgow and Edinburgh, as if the idea of private ownership was heresy. This has to change. The existing pro sides should be put up for sale by the SRU, with a two-year time frame for any investors to act. Aberdeen Asset Management supremo, Martin Gilbert, is talking about his desire to sponsor a third team in the north-east.

The union can't ignore him or, if it does, should be asked to explain their reasons for doing so at the next agm.

3 LET THE CLUBS SET UP A RUGBY-STYLE SPL The club schedule in Scotland is such a dog's dinner it should be sponsored by Pedigree Chum. Every year, the league grinds to a halt before Christmas and then descends into a farcical mix of league and cup matches, interspersed with postponements. The structure is unfit for purpose and, as such, should be replaced by an SPL-style championship, run by the clubs, with sponsorship and TV money going to them. One or two of the more ambitious sides already back the principle but have had their aims thwarted by conservatism and self-interest. Meanwhile, the grassroots game is quietly dying a death.

4 STOP SPENDING MONEY ON SECOND-RATE FOREIGNERS It might, indeed, be the case that Scotland doesn't have 70 players worthy of being called professional. But if it isn't, why does Murrayfield insist on signing all manner of foreigners, the majority of whom are no better than those already plying their trade here? Nobody is denying there haven't been diamonds - Todd Blackadder was a star and the Glasgow scrum-half, Nikola Matawalu, has talent to burn. But when it was announced last week that Izak van der Westhuizen is leaving Edinburgh to return to South Africa, plenty wondered what exactly he has been doing since he arrived in 2012.

5 MOVE THE SEVENS TO THE END OF THE SUMMER There is something almost perverse about continuing with the present determination to have supporters shivering into their beer at Sevens tournaments in early April.

Surely it would make far more sense to stage them in the three or four weeks leading up to the start of the new season. Do it then and there might just be a chance that the sun will shine, the barbecue might just spark into life, and players could use these events as an enjoyable means of sharpening up for the big kick-off.

The Aye-been mentality helps nobody.

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