I HAVE to admit, I don't have Sky TV. Which means I haven't seen all that much of the Super 12 stuff from Down Under and all the rest of it.

But Sean Lineen loaned me some of the tapes of the New Zealand Super 12 games, which his dad had made up for him, and they have been a ripping good watch.

You have to wonder if we are playing the same game. It is as foreign to watch a top level

Italian football game and then go to Firhill and watch Partick Thistle as it is to watch, say, the Otago Highlanders take on the Free State Cheetahs and then think of going to New Anniesland to see Glasgow Accies take on Dundee.

The players are uniformly

bigger, more skilful, more knowledgeable, there are

explosive racial minorities, and they are intent on playing running rugby.

One of the most incredible things I have seen watching these Super 12 games is that both teams, on every occasion, have been absolutely determined to fling the ball around from hand to hand, even in appalling conditions. It is rugby played to entertain.

As an aside, I can see why Otago Highlanders' assistant coach Keith Robertson is the man Jim Telfer wants to coach the Glasgow forwards because I can tell you that some of the stuff that pack comes out with, especially at the lineout, is so far ahead of us it is frightening. Mind-boggling player movement as the ball is about to be thrown in, which is so very like the way Brive went about their business at Cardiff when they humped Leicester.

But let's get back to this whole idea of mind-boggling, running rugby. Hasn't rugby changed from the days of the 133 lineouts in one game that Murrayfield once witnessed when Wales took on Scotland?

A chap at the BBC said to me the other night that rugby is no longer for the ordinary player, in that there was always a beauty about rugby in kicking the ball to touch, wandering across for the lineout, discussing the codes, and then chucking the ball in. A maul might ensue, the ball would go to the stand-off, and then he would kick it to touch again. Beautiful.

A beauty for the players,

forwards especially, but not for spectators, of course, and no-one would expect there to be any spectators at that kind of game. But the game was for player enjoyment, it was about growing up, it was about learning about the world and its rules.

The New Zealanders were up in arms recently when one rather well-known English journalist said that the ''new'' rugby, as shown in the Super 12, was just basketball with tackles and bore no relation to real rugby as it is still practised in England. The mission statement from the SRU says quite clearly, too, that they want Scottish rugby to be of a brand so exciting that young men are filled with the desire to play the game. The Scottish game has to have movement and fluidity, they say.

But it does all beg a few questions: What, pray, is real rugby? Is it this fling the ball around stuff? How much has TV changed rugby, now that the game feels it has to sell itself? Should there almost be two types of rugby available for players, a slow game and a fast one?

The vast majority of Scottish kids playing in the freezing cold are incapable of some of the fancier tricks, just as Scottish children who play football will never really be as fluid, flexible and skilful as Italian kids given a whole host of circumstances that include diet, weather, training regimes, and those idiotic blaes pitches that must have held Scottish football back for generations.

So, is this Super 12 stuff real rugby? I have watched Lineen's tapes and I think to myself that the only Scottish team that would have any hope of beating any of them is actually Scotland itself. And then only after some hard practice.

But there is a bigger point. I would rather watch this Super 12 rugby than a repeat of the English Cup final, which was a snooze.

TV and mass audiences have changed sport for ever and we have to be on the bus or we will be left behind, and that goes for football as well as rugby. The Southern Hemisphere are ahead of us again, and I think we need a radical rethink in Scotland as to how we play the game,

especially at club and provincial level.

You can knock Super 12 rugby, it may not be for the purist, but I tell you, it is rugby of the future.