So everyone has been rounding up the year and choosing the finest moment for their country, so I thought I’d give Scotland a go.
There have been many memorable moments in 2016. Most recently we saw Edinburgh beat Harlequins and Glasgow Warriors did the double over French Champions, Racing 92, but earlier in the year were notable victories for the clubs too, such as Glasgow making another semi-final in the Pro12 and Edinburgh conceding Scottish territory to Zebre for the first time ever…
Anyway, here’s my pick of the year. There’s a poll at the bottom for you to get your votes in too.
1. Scotland beat France at Murrayfield for the first time in a decade.
With a heart-breaking but impressive Rugby World Cup 2015, Scotland had narrowly succumbed to England and Wales in weeks previous, before beating the Italians comfortably in Rome.
A number of tight encounters have passed between the sides in recent years. In World Cup preparation Greig Laidlaw had the chance to draw with the French but, correctly in my opinion, he went for the win. It didn’t pay off, but Scotland were hot on the heals of the French.
Despite an early injury to talisman Finn Russell, Peter Horne more than stepped up to the mark as the team achieved their first win over France at Murrayfield in ten years, doing so in style.
Highlights here- https://youtu.be/m7F4TgAEp_s
2. Scotland 7s Lift London 7s Title
The home of 7s rugby seemed to be on shaky ground. Glasgow lost its leg in the HSBC World Series and with that the SRU threatened to pull the plug on the 7s side altogether. However, following a successful online petition and consultation, the SRU saw sense and decided to keep the side going.
You can bet they were glad they did. In Scotland’s first ever final, they defeated South Africa in the last play of the game to lift their first ever World Series title.
Some excellent vision from ex-Edinburgh winger Dougie Fife saw the Scots go ahead by a single point with the conversion to follow. Fans in attendance at the Guinness Pro12 Final at BT Murrayfield were treated to a lap of honour by the victorious Scots on their return.
Highlights here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq7M0yfLZqU
3. Jade Konkel becomes first fully professional female rugby player in Scotland
This may not seem relevant, as all of the other nominations are for happenings on the field. Despite steps forward and noticeably improved performances, the Six Nations was a white wash and Scotland still missed out on World Cup Qualification to Spain.
However, the improvement is visible and in the early days of Scottish Rugby, Jade Konkel’s professionalism represents much more to rugby than just having a female player on the pay roll.
This shows women in Scotland that there is a pathway and a potential future in rugby if they fight for it. It improves the profile of women’s rugby and shows that the SRU are about building the game- not just in the men’s ranks.
If you’re serious about the growth of rugby as a global sport, then this is a significant moment for the game in Scotland.
You can read my exclusive interview with Jade, here.
4. My Club Memory- Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby
This nomination is far more open. There is certainly a rivalry between Glasgow and Edinburgh, as is to be expected. However, with many fans from further afield fans of Scottish Rugby on the whole, they will tend to support either or. Also, for the purpose of the poll, there’s only four options available, so it’s far easier to condense this into one.
I put forward to you the notable achievements of both sides in Europe of late, Glasgow’s double over Racing 92 and Edinburgh’s comeback over Stade Francais and victory over Harlequins.
There are of course many more options- please let me know your favourite moment by commenting, emailing me, or tweeting it. The best/ most frequent will be shared later on.
Results will be announced in due course. Here’s to another strong 2017 for Scottish Rugby.
The Scribbler, 21st December, 2016