Glasgow .................. 36 Edinburgh .................. 20.

THE inter-city has been a fixture in the Scottish rugby calendar for 125 years. Rarely, though, can there have been such a mish-mash of a match as that served up at Scotstoun yesterday when the honours went to Glasgow, but the principle figure on the pitch for 80 long minutes was the referee.

A sizeable crowd - who had paid #7 a head for the dubious pleasure - were forced to endure something like 40 penalty blasts on Ian Ramage's whistle. Conservatively, that means a penalty stop once every two minutes. Simply put, that is not good enough.

We endured much the same kind of thing at Jedburgh on Friday night when the match between Scottish Borders and Caledonia Reds was disfigured by a maelstrom of penalty awards. At a time when the game is desperate to attract new customers, one wonders whether those who paid hard-earned cash at Scotstoun yesterday will feel quite so willing to do so in future.

Scottish referees are working to a dictat handed down earlier this season from Murrayfield. The intent was commendable. The game, referees were told, is for players on their feet and at the tackle situation the ''third man'' has to remain upright.

If he goes to deck then, so the Murrayfield intepretation has it, it is a penalty. On paper that sounds fine. Out there on the park, if the referee does not display a feel for the game then what we are left with is a stop-start nightmare which frustrates players and infuriates spectators.

The referee is not necessarily to blame. Players must shoulder their share of responsibility, but the refs are being caught bet-ween a rock and a hard place. They fear that if they do not referee to the letter of the law - or the Murrayfield interpretation - then their careers will suffer.

Crisis is probably too strong a word. However, unless there is some relaxation from Murrayfield then the game, as a mainstream spectator sport, will die. When Scotland were in New Zealand 16 months ago the All- Black coach, John Hart, said that he was looking for referees who could bring ''added value'' to the game. Well, probably all would agree that the laissez faire attitude adopted by Southern Hemisphere referees had gone too far.

What the game in Scotland is crying out for is a proper balance between applying the laws and the necessity to nurture the game as a piece of entertainment. I fear that we have not yet got that balance right.

The management of both sides yesterday were asked about the nature of the refereeing at the post-match press conference. Both answered diplomatically.

Glasgow manager Hamish Fyfe said that, yes, it was a concern to him that the game had lacked any shape or form and it was something that he would speak about to the referee and to the Murrayfield hierarchy.

Edinburgh manager Fraser Dall said that individual referees were not to blame. However, he added, if the game was to develop then referees had to have a ''feel'' for the game. ''They are being asked to referee the game in this way but, maybe, it is time that somebody stood up and said that this is not good enough. They need to have this feel for the game if you are going to get people to come along and watch,'' he added.

The blizzard of penalties did, indeed, detract from the game as a spectacle, but for Glasgow the bottom line was they maintained their European form and are a good part of the way to qualifying for next season's European Cup.

Tommy Hayes, who was the playmaker again for Glasgow, kicked his side into a first minute lead with a penalty goal. Three minutes later Ally McLean stormed over for a try after a series of mini-rucks well won by Edinburgh.

Duncan Hodge kicked Edinburgh further ahead with a penalty goal in the 20th minute, but a Hayes penalty goal and a James Craig try, created from nothing but searing pace, put Glasgow back in front. Hayes converted.

Another Hayes penalty goal, then one from Hodge and another from Hayes saw Glasgow reach the turn 19-11 in front. Hodge kept Edinburgh in the hunt with a penalty seven minutes into the second half, but a second try from Craig - capitalising on a Hayes-Simmers break - put Glasgow very much in the driving seat. Hayes converted.

Hodge (2) and Hayes traded penalty goals to make it 29-20 in Glasgow's favour before Guy Perret slipped a beauty of a ball to the Cook Islands' stand-off who romped in for a try from the Edinburgh 22. Hayes converted his own try and Glasgow were, ultimately, convincing winners.

Edinburgh hooker Grant McKelvey said afterwards that the men from the east had set out their stall early, which was to ''blow away'' the Glasgow front five. This, he felt, they had achieved but they had become the victims of their own ill-discipline and paid the penalty, literally and metaphorically.

Glasgow captain Gordon Bulloch, ultimately pleased with the win, said that his side had been spurred on once again by what Glasgow reckon is their disproportionate representation in the national squads. ''I think the count now is 17 Edinburgh players in the squads, compared to eight from Glasgow. We all had a point to prove,'' he said.

SCORERS: Glasgow - Craig 2t; Hayes 1t 5p 3c. Edinburgh - McLean 1t; 5p.

Glasgow - Sangster; Stark, Simmers, McGrandles, Craig; Hayes, Stott; McIlwham, Bulloch, Kittle, Norval, Perrett, Wallace, McLeish, Sinclair.

Substitutes - Fraser for Sangster (68 min), F Wallace for McLeish (75).

Edinburgh - Aitken; Reed, Graham, Hastings, McLean; Hodge, Burns; McNulty, McKelvey, Stewart, Burns, Blair, McVie, Reid, Dall.

Substitutes - Jennings for Blair (52), Penny for Reed (55).

Referee - I Ramage, Berwick.