The in word in the Scottish Rugby Union is ''budget'' we hear. And they have now slashed the so-called budget by dumping players, and they'll save nearly a million quid. The rugby people at the SRU are being overrun by the accountants.

Well, spring madness has come early. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the prime reason for the SRU cutting their squad from 120 to 60 is to cut costs and appease the clubs - there is a political angle to this - and there is also no doubt in my mind that there will be some within the SRU itself who will be deeply unhappy with the abandonment of the four-district route in favour of two amalgamated sides.

Jim Telfer and John Jeffrey, to name just two, were always adamant that four districts was the way ahead. The districts went from two wins to seven in their first two years in Europe.

Only a fool would begrudge them their successes. If they were strengthened again they would improve again.

The SRU now have people within the set-up who do not believe in the new policy, and I will watch with interest to see how this unfolds.

There is a rift. Some may walk.

Will they walk? Of course, what the SRU could do now is co-opt a whole raft of people who believe in the new approach, but to surround yourself with yes men is a very bad idea.

The clubs will love this, of course, because they know deep down that this spells the complete finish of district rugby, and they are now involved in a straight club versus SRU debate.

It is the thin end of the wedge, to coin a cliche. You cannot say that four districts were the answer, as the SRU did last year, and then say they are not. It is a U turn. It is almost an admission of defeat before the battle has truly started.

I feel so sorry for the players who have been jettisoned. Viewed now as overpaid mediocrity, they gave up their jobs for rugby, and now they have been tossed out. Sixty less players means a saving of about #900,000 a year for the SRU. That's the sum you need to remember.

What next for the chief executives of the districts? Do they just organise Under-21 games, or do they lose their jobs? What about the team managers? Yes, there will be more casualties.

My opinion is that you either have a three tier system or you do not. You either have four districts and a club set-up, or you have no districts and a vibrant club set-up, as well as an elite system like a club called Scotland and the ''A'' team.

What possible identity for amalgamated teams? Well, as Brian Simmers of the Hawks said yesterday, the clubs believed that there was not any real identity to the Districts, despite the fact that the better ones attracted reasonable crowds, far bigger than the clubs ever had, for their games against European teams. Questions still to be answered include just which players are to make up the third team to play in the European conference.

The best of the rest. Where are the elite players to train given that they will be part of amalgamated teams? Edinburgh and Glasgow?

Do the players all hand back their cars now? Will the clubs really, really, be happy that they will never see their top players for the whole of the year? For example, Gordon Bulloch will never play for West of Scotland, Craig Chalmers won't play for Melrose, Jamie Meyer won't play for Watsonians, and Gareth Flockhart won't be in the Stirling?

What of the role and reasoning of the sponsors? What is in this for the broadcasters? Is it good or is it bad? I need time to chew it over all of this. But, it is certainly not all just a rugby decision, and it is not all good.