Later today, at Scotstoun showground, Scottish rugby league will unveil its hopes for the future - something relating to a pineapple and an appendage, but read on for that one.

One ambitious plan will be a Tri-nations tournament, involving Scotland, Ireland and France, which the organisers hope will increase the profile of rugby league in this country.

Now, got to be honest, each time I write about rugby league I wonder to myself: ''Should we be worried by rugby league? Is it a threat to union? Should I even be writing about it and giving it space?

''Do we still look at rugby league as the sport that robbed us of some of our best players when they were in their prime?'' The answer is possibly.

Although, rivalry is a good thing and any battle between the two could result in leaner, more effective outfits. And I don't think we bear old grudges.

The two games are in competition. But let's take a look at a small corner of rugby league and ponder a while.

In the last two internationals at Firhill the Scotland rugby league team, from a standing start, has attracted more than 2000 fans. When the Bradford Bulls took on the London Broncos at Tynecastle in the summer just under 7000 turned up.

Those 7000 formed the biggest club rugby crowd outside the Tennent's final at Murrayfield last year, where 20-odd thousand folk turned up. And then there is the fact that eight teams are now playing in a rugby league in


Playing in them are Phil and Peter Manning, formerly of Ayr, Glenn Waddle, formerly 1988 player of the year down South, and a good few rugby union lads having fun, with handling skills, and full contact thrown in, when the sun is shining. Rugby league is a summer sport you see.

Then there is a full-time rugby league development officer. Graeme Thompson, who played for West of Scotland, was that man, but he is now down in London coaching their second team and acting as their youth development man in the big city.

Guess what? Thirty people have applied for his job! Thirty! This is no airy-fairy part-time lunacy we are talking about.

''We are looking to use our full-time professional team as the catalyst for more interest in Scotland,'' says Mark Dingwall, rugby league's press officer here in Scotland.

''We really want this Tri-nations to be the start of a Five Nations and we want to raise the profile of the game down to the amateur ranks as much as we can.''

The eight Scottish teams, Whitecraigs, Lomond Valley Raiders, Border Eagles, Edinburgh Eagles, Glasgow North Bulls - tied in with the Bradford Bulls, Linlithgow and Central Centurions - have made a start at the game North of the Border. ''We have to accept that 90% of our guys still play rugby union,'' says Dingwall. ''But people really can do both.

''I think that playing rugby league in the summer is much better for rugby union players than playing touch rugby is.

''The players tell us that they fare much better in the union

season thanks to league in the summer.'' And, as a country, we have had some fantastic rugby league men.

George Fairbairn was a superb full back for Kelso before he went to rugby league, we all know about Alan Tait and George Graham, but there is the pineapple and the appendage.

Up at Scotstoun today is Billy McGinty, a well know league man, born in Springburn but part of a golden age at Wigan down South, who is said to have once stumbled upon Prime Minister John Major while McGinty

was wearing nothing but a

strategically played pineapple ring.

''I think the attitude of looking at league as the game that steals unions stars is gone,'' says


''I think most union people look at the Lions two summers ago, with the likes of Alan Tait and John Bentley, and they realise that our game gave them something, and changed them as players.

''Our game brought more

fitness, skill, attitude, strength,

professionalism and knowledge into the 15-man game and people are now a lot less nervous about us and understand that they can learn from league rather than

fear it.

''I think that even the greatest sceptic would have to admit that Super 12 rugby is more like rugby league than rugby of old.''

Good point and true. Now that rugby union is buying players from league, and we find a traffic both ways, perhaps we should see that league has done union some massive favours.

There is room for both to live and breath, and hopefully take some of the tougher kids away from football.

You can have great fun with pineapples you know.