As a youngster, he survived the atrocities committed by Atletico Madrid, as well as the vigour of Old Firm encounters of the era, before heading south to even greater success in spite of the attentions of the likes of Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris and Norman ‘bites yer legs’ Hunter.

Throughout all of that Kenny Dalglish’s robustness was almost as admired as his skill, as he compiled what remains a Scotland record of 102 caps, while also making more than 300 appearances for both Celtic and Liverpool.

Against that background, his explanation of rugby’s lack of appeal when he was a youngster could be considered all the more graceful as he claimed: “It was too physical for me. We used to come off the pitch when we were at school and we would be dirty and a bit sore, but we would not be cut… well, not often.”

Somehow, the notion that the man Liverpool’s Kop call “King Kenny” was not tough enough to play any sport does not quite ring true, whereas what he may have been too diplomatic to say while helping promote the Pro14 final at Celtic Park, was that there was little opportunity for a lad born in Dalmarnock to play rugby in his formative years.


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Partly thanks to daughter Lynsey’s marriage to former Wales stand off Nicky Robinson, Dalglish has got to know his history in terms of the oval ball game in more recent years, gleefully boasting about getting a rugby question right on ‘Question of Sport’, while recalling a visit to Firhill to watch Glasgow beat Robinson’s Gloucester in a Heineken Cup tie a decade or so ago.

To this day, though, rugby essentially remains an alien game in the part of the world that will play host to this weekend’s Pro14 final, but still has no senior rugby club and it is not only in the east end of Glasgow that the opportunity for other sports is clear and not least rugby, however.

While, in other parts of the world, rugby has emulated and even replaced boxing in offering youngsters a way out of tough environments, Scotland’s failure to engage with such communities is reflected in the World Cup training squad that was announced last week. Outwith the sport’s traditional sources of talent – private schools, the Borders and a now disturbing reliance on talent imported after being developed elsewhere – there are five players in that squad who are products of Scottish state schools, less than a quarter of the number of imports.

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Quarter of a century after the sport turned professional, it is difficult not to see that as a powerful indicator of where funds are being directed, given that it has long been recognised in other professional sports, that it is much easier, albeit less satisfying, to buy in ready made talent than to develop it from scratch.

While this weekend represents a major promotional opportunity for rugby, then, Kenny Dalglish was shrewd in warning the sport that its supporters should not rely on the facility to do the work for them.

“They will make the experience for themselves,” he told us. “If they want to watch a few videos, I’m sure they can learn from the Celtic fans. It is a great facility. Ibrox is a great facility as well, Hampden too with the hospitality that they have there, people can jog along. It is a great atmosphere, to go and play at Celtic Park with so much history, tradition and success there. It makes you feel you want to join it. A good incentive for them.”

Whether enough noise can be made to awaken the interest of locals this time may, however, be another matter.