Glasgow Caledonians ... 24 Richmond ... 32

GIVEN his well documented troubles over the past two years, it could hardly have fallen to a more appropriate figure than Kevin McKenzie to lead Glasgow Caledonians on to Hughenden last night to mark what officialdom hopes is a new era for Scottish rugby.

On a personal level the international hooker's life has been transformed these past few days. Timed perfectly to coincide with the arrival of the new car in which she will be ferried home in some style, Kevin and wife Fiona's second child, Lucy Elizabeth, was born on August 1.

Indeed, that McKenzie took delivery of a sporty Nissan Primera, courtesy of long-term sponsors Weir of Stirling, was perhaps significant in its own right, since that company recently withdrew its backing for his club Stirling County - an indication, perhaps, of how the business world is viewing club rugby.

In terms of the greater scheme of things, that McKenzie was unable to celebrate a victory with his new team-mates may also have been a reminder to the new super teams of their place in the pecking order, however - albeit home coach Keith Robertson was entitled to suggest that he would fancy a rematch in a month's time. Richmond may only have finished fifth in last season's Allied Dunbar Premiership, but they were, for the most part, the slicker of these sides, as Robertson acknowledged.

''They showed greater cohesion having been together for longer,'' he said. ''They demonstrated that you must run straight, run hard and hit hard. They have given us a benchmark.''

Although Richmond opted not to kick conversions, at least until Mel Deane opted to give full worth to his seventy-first minute solo score to make safe the result, it would be misleading to suppose that this match was left uncompetitive.

''They explained that they wouldn't be kicking at goal, whereas we wanted Tommy Hayes to practice in a match situation,'' Robertson observed. ''In terms of the result we weren't counting our conversions, though.''

A total of 10 tries provided a respectable crowd of around 1500 with value for money. And they may have seen the future of Scotland v England encounters and that future is Brown. Spencer, of that ilk, who impressed on England's recent Southern Hemisphere tour, claimed two of his side's three prizes in the first period of a match split into four separate quarters.

His opening score involved three fly hacks taking him halfway downfield and most of the way across it from his left wing. The second saw him demonstrate remarkable raw pace after Adrian Davies found him with a delicately floated pass.

In between times, Welsh international scrum half Andy Moore had forced his way over.

However, Glasgow Caledonians' first ever try came on 20 minutes from their own specialist finisher. Though his rustiness induced a number of handling errors during the 57 minutes he was on the field, the way James Craig beat two men to score, following a quickly taken McKenzie penalty, was hugely encouraging on his first appearance of 1998.

He came through well, as did the British Lions prop Tom Smith, back after 13 months. Tries by Derrick Patterson and Derek Stark, the first of them converted by Hayes, briefly gave the home side the lead, but French flanker Laurent Cabannes put Richmond ahead again just before half time.

That lead was extended by Jim Hamilton-Smith and although Martin Waite's sixty-seventh minute try reduced the deficit to one point, Deane's try rounded off a deserved Richmond win.

Late in the game a familiar face to Glasgow district supporters, but one they thought they had seen play his last representative game, took the field.

Scrum half Fraser Stott has decided to reverse his previous decision to turn down a super district contract and with Graeme Beveridge's injury having left Patterson as the only fully fit scrum half in the squad, his presence should be a huge boost.

Glasgow Caledonians - G Metcalfe; D Stark, C Simmers, I Jardine, J Craig; T Hayes, D Patterson; T Smith, K McKenzie, A Kittle, S Campbell, G Perrett, G Flockhart, M Waite, G Simpson. Replacements (all used) - F Stott, M Craig, R Kerr, G McIlwham, W Anderson, G Scott, J Shaw, J Manson.

Richmond - M Pini; N Waine, T Whitford, M Deane, S Brown; A Davies, A Moore; D McFarland, A Cuthbert, J Davies, B Cusack, C Gillies, C Palmer, B Clarke, A Vander. Replacements (all used) - B Shelbourne, D Chapman, M Fitzgerald, M Dixon, J Hamilton-Smith, L Cabannes, R Hutton.

Referee - J Fleming (Boroughmuir).