After the horrendous events in Glasgow at the weekend, a friend said to me ‘if that’s what the Rangers fans do when they are winning, what do they do when they’re losing?’

Bizarrely, it’s often the case with American Football that fans only go on the rampage when they have won something, and the relative of a police officer I know who was in George Square swears the cop said to him that most of the fans were smiling and laughing even as they tore up the place. What’s that about?

Another pal asked me in all seriousness why do rugby fans not do what football fans do and go on a riot now and again. That got me to thinking – what can rugby teach football about fans behaving?

I’ll come to the simple two word answer in a minute, but first let me just say that football in Scotland has its particular problems – sectarianism between the two halves of the Old Firm being by far the worst, with a sizeable minority of Rangers’ fans having an inflated sense of their own importance, and though there is no equivalence between what happened in George Square and what happens regularly at Parkhead and elsewhere, the Green Brigade in particular have let Celtic down and cost the club tens of thousands in fines from Uefa.

Yet if you know the history, you’ll know that the Old Firm actually started out as the best of friends. They got their name because the two clubs were both founded as ‘muscular Christian’ entities, one from a Protestant background and the other a deliberate manifestation of Irish Catholicism. It was Rangers who provided the opposition for Celtic’s first formal match, and it was both teams who got together to oppose the domination of Queen’s Park who ran the game in Scotland in its early years.

Rangers’ historian David Mason one showed me a clipping from an early Scottish football newspaper which stated that Rangers had helped out their friends Celtic with a friendly match before the latter club took on their “deadly rivals” – Clyde FC. It was the press, by the way, which stirred up a lot of the sectarianism by calling on clubs to beat the “Irishmen” and the real bigotry did not start until after the First World War. The powers-that-be could stop it in a heartbeat by fining any club whose supporters are guilty of hate crimes – say three points for the first offence, six for the second and so on? No…? As for fixing Scottish society’s problem with hate as a whole – don’t make me laugh. Nobody, but nobody, is serious about it.

To put things in context, the scenes in George Square were the worst we’ve seen since the Scottish ‘Riot’ Cup final in 1980, and that ended with the Tory Government bringing in the ban on booze at football. So what is the SNP Government going to ban now?

Let’s ask that question again about what rugby can teach football about fans’ behaviour. You just couldn’t imagine Edinburgh Rugby versus Glasgow Warriors as an occasion for fan trouble. Hawick and Melrose and Gala all have a serious rivalry but the concept of their fans battling it out in a beer tent at the various Sevens is just nonsense – yes, there are individuals who go over the score, in that great legal phrase “having drink taken”, but they are soon sat on or shown the door. That’s because of something called peer pressure, and if football can learn anything from rugby then it would be peer pressure – crowd discipline imposed by civilised people on each other.

I am not saying all rugby fans are saints, but could you imagine Celtic and Rangers fans, or Scotland and England fans, sitting beside each other in unsegregated stadia? Yet it happens at every Six Nations’ match – or at least will do when this damned pandemic is over – and there’s never any appreciable trouble. There are problems with kilted Scots giving impersonations of Braveheart extras, and quite rightly the police have taken action against those irresponsible people, but by and large the rugby crowds are self-policing, whether they hail from public schools or state schools, or from middle-class Edinburgh enclaves or tough Borders towns.

There is no written code of behaviour for rugby fans. You are just expected to conduct yourself with a modicum of decorum, enjoy the day out, and take victory or defeat as they come, being careful to congratulate or commiserate with your opponents. It’s called sportsmanship, and there is no better example of the difference between rugby and football than the former’s tradition that both teams applaud each other off the field of play.

Yes, footballers shake hands or bump elbows at the end of a match, but to me there’s something wholesome about that end-of-match applause. It says ‘game over, let’s get back to the fun’.

Too many people have forgotten that sport is about fun. It’s all got too serious for them. Let’s put peer pressure on them to remember that fun is a vital ingredient of life, and not just sport.