Glasgow district 24

Caledonia 8

Having watched his side slump to a sixth straight Inter-District Championship defeat at Ayr's Millbrae, Dave Nicol launched a campaign to save a competition which has been discredited this season, and is expected to be scrapped.

With just a smattering of spectators at what was by no means the first-choice venue on a weekend which saw the cancellation of the sixth of the competition's 10 scheduled fixtures so far, there may seem little point.

There would seem no need for a competition billed as a shop window for would-be professionals, particularly if leading clubs agree a format for an enhanced competition in the second half of the season which would incorporate professional players not required for national duty.

However, his first year as Caledonia manager has convinced Nicol that the champion- ship must be rethought and aimed at the many club players who either will not make it in professional rugby or do not want to try to.

''Amateur rugby in Scotland must have a tournament like this to allow guys to play at the highest level in their careers,'' said a man who has always remained devoted to the club game while following his son, Andy's, progress in the professional ranks.

''If you take this away, there is nothing left apart from the club game.

''Rebranding is a good descrip- tion for what is required. Just don't try to be both a showpiece for aspiring professionals and for club rugby. It has to be one or the other, in my view.''

This season's competition rules, with under-19 and under-21 players not available as they concentrate on age-group rugby, underline Nicol's point.

''Professional rugby will know, or should know, all those in Scotland who have the capability of making it to the profes- sional ranks, so to try to bill this a showpiece for aspiring professionals is just not on,'' he said.

''It must be for the amateur players in club rugby and if that is it, then tell everyone so, but don't tell everybody that it's a showpiece as well.

''You have under-19 and under-21 championships watched very carefully, and you have the academies with up-and-coming rugby players. That's where the professionals will come from.

''Those (potential profes-sionals) who are in club rugby are identified now, so forget that and let's have a tournament for districts for each player to play at their highest level.''

He will also lobby for a move to the end of the season.

''I am going to say that to John Thorburn (the SRU's domestic game board mana-ger). The players I had here today are as keen as mustard. However, of the first 30 we picked for this, 12 were un-available due to injuries or holi-days at this time of year.''

His view should carry considerable weight since Caledonia, the district which first truly embraced the SRU's policy for the way forward, has been very cruelly treated in the way professional rugby has been shaped.

Meanwhile, of those who did turn out for Caley, Ben Prescott, a prop who has already spent time with Glasgow's professional squad, did his prospects no harm, while Tim Dinnen - a late replacement for clubmate John MacKenzie - was eye-catchingly busy, and fly-half Tom Lightoller gave the side greater direction when he came on in the second half.

Champions in 2000, but white- washed last year, Caledonia were, though, outclassed by a Glasgow side which boasted several who, with the third pro team coming in next summer, are contenders for contracts.

Stephen Duffy looks increasingly assured at stand-off in partnership with buzz-bomb Kenny Sinclair, while outside them both wingers, Ross Lothian and Rory Couper, have real potential, and Richard Good, is an abrasive centre with an eye for a gap.

Up front, Euan Murray has also done considerable service with the pro team, while Rory McKay, Neil McKenzie, and Richard Maxton are all quality performers.

A weak clearance by Ben Price, who also struggled with his goal-kicking, set up Couper's one-two with winger Good who claimed the first score early on, while Duffy danced through the Caley midfield to put Good in for their second try shortly after the interval.

When a penalty was awarded under the posts, McKay then showed considerable awareness, allied to his all-round athleticism, to tap quickly and dive over as the defence re-grouped.

With Duffy kicking reliably, the game was won long before Richard Bethune squeezed in from a scrum for a consolation try that Caley's industrious and well-drilled pack deserved.

When this tournament will reach a conclusion - as it should have yesterday - is anyone's guess.

As Nicol's observations pointed out, a drastic rethink is required to save this near half- century old competition.

Glasgow F Sinclair (East Kilbride); R Lothian (West of Scotland), R Good (Ayr), I Leighton (Glasgow Hawks), R Couper (Boroughmuir); S Duffy, K Sinclair; E Murray, C Docherty (all Hawks) (N Meikle (Ayr), G Sykes (Ayr) (L McIntyre (Hawks), S Hutton, R McKay, N McKenzie (all Hawks), J Shaw (Currie), R Maxton (Hawks)

Caledonia B Price (Aberdeen GSFP); R Lewis (Stirling Co), M Fleming (Kirkcaldy), J Davidson (Grangemouth) (C Sangster, Stirling Co 64 min), R Gilmour (Kirkcaldy) (D Gray, Dundee HSFP 51); D Adamson (Stirling County) (T Lightoller, Boroughmuir 48), R Bethune; R Higgins (both Kirkcaldy), J Ramage (Dundee HSFP), B Prescott (both Aberdeen GSFP), K Fraser, D Jessiman, J Syme (all Kirkcaldy), T Dinnen (Aberdeen GSFP), C McDonald (Kirkcaldy)

Referee D Changleng (Gala)

Scoring sequence (Glasgow first): 7-0,10-0,10-3(half-time) 17-3,24-3,24-8

Scorers. Glasgow. Tries Couper (11), Good (42), McKay (63) Cons - Duffy (11,42,63) Pens - Duffy (17) Caledonia Try Bethune (74) Pen Price (19)