IT was a throwaway line at the end of a decent interview of Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, as reported by Jason Winton on the BBC Scotland website.

Winton asked: “It is now over six months since a crowd bigger than 300 fans watched a football match in Scotland. Will that change in the next six months?”

Leitch was short and to the point: “I don’t think we’ll see full capacity stadiums this season. I think we’ll see crowds before next summer but not full stadiums, I don’t think.”

I was amazed that this statement wasn’t front page news in our football-daft tabloids. No full stadiums until the 21-22 season? That is going to be death for some football clubs, unless there are some pretty formidable sums of Government money doled out soon. And why not? And why just football – plenty rugby clubs are in trouble and could do with cash support.

I have heard some moans from Celtic fans that their home advantage against Rangers on Saturday has been nullified by the pandemic, but now it looks as though every club’s home advantage will be taken away this season.

That goes much bigger for the Scottish national rugby team and Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby.

On its day when Scotland are in full fighting form, Murrayfield can be the most intimidatory stadium of them all, but that goes for all the Home Nations and France – five of the Six Nations will always fancy their chances against any other side at home, and even Italy play above their pay grade when at home in Rome.

The crowd at Scotstoun are always worth points to Glasgow and Edinburgh Rugby at least have the advantage of knowing what it’s like to play there when they take to the pitch at Murrayfield.

I said my piece about club rugby in Scotland last week and the Scottish Rugby Union promptly confirmed my fears about the delayed restart to all grades of rugby other than the professional game. Given the Government’s stance they could do little else.

For what it’s worth, I think Nicola Sturgeon and her advisers are wrong about the 10 O’clock curfew as all that does is recreate the 10pm swill which I am just old enough to remember – everybody scooping up just before closing time and then spilling out together onto the streets. I saw it the weekend before last, and not only were young people not socially distanced, they had scooped up plenty and were moving on to the nearest party, sorry virus centre.

I understand and completely accept that the ban on crowds going to Murrayfield is all about keeping the virus out of the herd and stopping its spread. It makes perfect sense – and I argued it months ago – that stadiums should be shut if the prevalence of the virus is deemed too high, and it most certainly is too high across the central belt.

That’s why I accept that the renewed lockdown – and it is a lockdown in all but name – has had to be introduced because there’s no doubt infections are on the rise again. But I can’t help look at that quote from Professor Leitch and wonder what effect it will have on next year’s Six Nations.

We haven’t yet finished this year’s tournament, but the matches will take place behind closed doors. I don’t know about you, but I for one cannot stand watching rugby, football, and indeed any sport with the absence of spectators. As for those fake crowd noises – give me a break.

So, let’s at least get the 2020 Six Nations done and then do as someone suggested this week and postpone next year’s tournament until we can get full stadia again.

It is incumbent upon everyone in rugby to be completely flexible in their approach at this time. The sport has generally reacted well and the SRU has played a good-ish game. So with the 2021 Six Nations due to start on the first weekend in February, can’t we all agree that there Is no chance of any Government going to give the go-ahead for full crowds at that point?

After all, we are still to see what winter will do with coronavirus plus the usual seasonal bugs, and I just can’t see us all traipsing along to Murrayfield or wherever in just four months.

WITH a bit of goodwill and plenty advance reorganisation, the Six Nations could be played two or three months later to give rugby the maximum chance of getting bums on seats in full stadia again.

And remember – Scotland will have home advantage in three matches next tournament and we’ll need a full Murrayfield roaring on the men in dark blue if we are to beat Wales, Ireland and Italy.

We will need a miracle, or at least a vaccine, if the Six Nations can be played as it should be in February, and by that I mean with full crowds in attendance. And I never even mentioned the financial damage if those seats are empty. Delay, buy time, that’s what rugby needs to do.