Seeing a bunch of old mates from Lismore rugby club turning up for the funeral of a friend and fellow player from back in the day, Chris Price, I began to wonder if there was a collective noun for a bunch of rugger types well past their playing days.

Given the amount of us with new hips and knees, and more on the way judging by the odd limp, I hit upon that description quite readily – a Hirple of veterans.

Had we been told back in the 1970s and 80s that we would all end up with osteoarthritis or similar conditions, I like to think that our collective response would have been ‘play up and play the game.’

We all think in our teens and 20s that we are indestructible, and I genuinely believe that is the age when we lay in our basic fitness that sees us through the following decades.

Had I known I would need a new knee in my 50s and that arthritis of the hips was heading my way, maybe I would have trained a bit harder or lifted more weights than I actually did, and perhaps have staved off the medical problems later in life, but to be honest I was too busy enjoying myself, loving the game and the company of the guys I played alongside for 15 years at Vale of Leven, Dumbarton – now merged into Loch Lomond – and Lismore that I joined shortly after moving to Edinburgh in 1985.

I have no hesitation in saying that the friendships I made through rugby are some of the best and most enduring relationships of my life, and though I had to give up playing at 31 after my third knee operation, I moved seamlessly into writing about the game and have done so more or less ever since, making more friends in the international rugby press corps and in the administrative side of the game.

As we hirpled into Mortonhall Crematorium last week, I marvelled at the fact that after all these years Lismore is still a band of brothers – and sisters, for Lismore was the first Scottish club to have women as full and equal members.

Bonds made in the scrum and the clubhouse cannot be broken and at this time of year we should celebrate the togetherness of rugby which I feel is unique to the sport.

Throughout more than 40 years of playing and watching rugby, there has always been one time each year that for me exemplified what rugby should be all about – the 5 and 6 Nations.

Each year pilgrimages have been made, friendships renewed, new ones made, and above all fabulous fun created and enjoyed no matter what the results were. To me the 6 Nations as it is now is perhaps not what it used to be, but maybe that is me just viewing the present through the prism of pint glasses of yesteryear.

Sad to say that Scottish rugby is not in a good place at the moment. The governance rows in the SRU, the debacle of the national side’s poor World Cup, the failure of Glasgow Warriors to make the knockout stage of the Champions Cup, the loss of star players to English clubs, and the struggle to survive being experienced by lower level clubs – and some bigger ones too, if what I hear is true – plus the devastating news that arguably our best player went off the rails and will miss the opening 6 Nations match against Ireland has caused a fair degree of angst among the Scottish supporters. By the way, Finn, if you are reading this please don’t forget to say sorry to your teammates as well as the Scotland management, for you offended them, too.

So what do we do? Worry about Scotland having a disastrous tournament. Hell, no. For we have too much going for us in rugby – it is just that some people have forgotten it is a game, a sport, and a marvellous one at that.

Life was a lot simpler back in the amateur days, but there is no sense in looking rearwards with nostalgia. Instead the Scottish rugby community must pull together and promote a message that resonates with young people in particular.

We should be telling them that rugby union is fun, that it teaches you vital things about yourself, that teamwork is rewarding, that healthy exercise is necessary for wellbeing, that taking part in any way is always better than sitting things out.

I desperately want Scotland to do well in this 6 Nations, but above all I want everyone to enjoy themselves safely, players and fans alike. For that is the real value of rugby – to bring people together, even if some of us are hirpling to keep up.