In trying to sum up Scotland’s women’s overall performance in the Guinness Six Nations, several phrases came to mind. So near and yet so far, a glorious failure and a moral victory all figured in my mind briefly, but here’s what I finally concluded…

It was so near and yet so far against Ireland, but as I shall show that was the fault of over-ambitious Scots.  I can’t remember who said it but the person who stated show me a moral victor and I’ll show you a loser and the other wit who said show me a glorious failure and I’ll show you who came second both got it right. 

In professional sports, losing is always failure. Oh sure, you can dress it up any way you like, and the best managers and coaches always manage to do so, but to lose is to fail, and while that might seem a harsh judgement on our women players who gave so much for the cause, nevertheless it’s a fact of life that the record books don’t lie and Scotland’s women could not beat a team ranked at the time some four places lower than themselves.

So near and yet so far…I sat screaming at the telly as some frankly naïve play took place late on. Kicking penalties to touch in the hope of a try from a rolling maul at the lineout is always fraught with difficulty and I am sure I wasn’t the only one shouting ‘take the points’ from at least one kickable penalty after Ireland took the lead in 74 minutes  – that would have made the final score 15-15 and with Italy losing earlier to Wales, Scotland would then have finished third and would be on the way to the World Cup. Yet they went for the lineout and paid the price. Somebody make sure that doesn’t happen again…

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The players won’t need me to tell them that their loss in the Belfast rain meant they failed to make the World Cup and WXV 1, but now they must get on with the job of going to South Africa for WXV 2 this autumn and ensuring qualification for the World Cup in England next year. A fully fit Scotland who keep their best XXIII disciplined should achieve that qualification.

Yes, losing is always painful but the joy of winning is always delightful. For several teams in Scotland, that joy has been theirs to grasp.

Glasgow Warriors are top of the United Rugby Championship table at the moment but face the supremely difficult task this month of going to South Africa for consecutive matches against Vodafone Bulls and Emirates Lions.

Both host teams are a very different proposition at home as Leinster found out on April 20 when the Lions stuffed them 44-20, but on the same day Munster shocked the Bulls with a 27-22 victory in the Lotus Versfeld stadium, the Irish side’s cause assisted by the deserved red card shown in the 53rd minute to international fly-half Johan Goosen who has subsequently been banned and will miss the match against the Warriors. So it can be done – it’s rare but the South African sides do sometimes lose at home to the clubs from these isles. 

Win both of these matches in South Africa and Warriors will surely deserve to go on and win the title, but it’s a huge ask for Franco Smith’s men to even win one of the games.  

As for Edinburgh Rugby, they simply must get the results needed to get them up the table and the match against Munster at home on Friday, May 17, is already looming large though they simply must defeat Zebre at home a week on Friday.

The Herald: Franco Smith

There was plenty joy of winning on Silver Saturday at the weekend, and congratulations to all who went home with silverware. In strictly chronological order they were Women’s Shield winners Biggar; Men’s Bowl winners Irvine; Men’s National League Cup winners Falkirk;  Men’s Shield winners Cumnock; Sarah Beaney Cup winners Watsonians (retaining the cup); Women’s Plate winners Caithness Krakens;  and Scottish Cup winners Hawick. And just to show I am not obsessed with winning, the runners-up in each final were respectively West of Scotland, Blairgowrie, Lasswade, Cumnock, Hillhead Jordanhill, Uddingston and Edinburgh Academical. Well done every finalist.

I am assured a good time was had by all, but the overall crowd figures have been disappointing in recent years and to me that is proof that the club game in general is struggling. I have heard plenty comment about whether the whole concept of Silver Saturday is worth preserving, and Ian Landles of Hawick is not alone among club officials in questioning the future of the Scottish Cup and the various other tournaments.

Perhaps the incoming new chief executive at Murrayfield might make it a priority to see if clubs really do want these tournaments to continue and ascertain what support they need in these cash-strapped times at the grassroots.