Ramsay Jones: Highs of Murrayfield stand in stark contrast to the lows of some of our Winter Olympic performances

Ramsay Jones

Events of the last week or so have given me the perfect excuse to divert the main thrust of this column away from the usual suspects and subjects.

Enough, at least for now, about Brexit and Trump and the woes of the world. Instead, I’d rather discuss the unadulterated passion, sheer joy and utter frustration that sport can bring to our lives.

I am prompted, needless to say, by events at Murrayfield on Saturday.

The joy of Six Nations.

Rugby is my passion. It is the perfect sport. Differing skills from 15 individuals melded into one team with a single focus. A game of brain and brawn. Of brute strength and cunning guile. Where it is not just the winning which matters, but the taking part as well.

And the Six Nations is rugby in the raw. And the Calcutta Cup is the match which matters most. Where centuries of ancient rivalry is re-enacted over 80 minutes of high drama and even harder impact. Where no quarter is sought or given. Where losing hurts but respect for the game and your opponents can still shine through the pain of defeat.

Scotland versus England, where supporting your country is not a statement of your constitutional politics but an occasion when the flag and the anthem belong to the whole country. Symbols of our nation, not our nationalism. As one. This was brought into sharp focus for me earlier in the day when I was at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh for the match between the parliamentarians and hangers-on of Holyrood and their counterparts from Westminster. Not really Scotland v England, more Scotland v the UK.

For the home side, the men and women of Scottish politics came together to proudly play under the Saltire. Having beaten the French a fortnight earlier, hopes were high. The sun shone and conditions were perfect. It was a close match. Hard fought, fast and furious. We came second sadly…..but everyone emerged with only minor bumps and bruises and the beer flowed in the clubhouse afterwards. And thoughts moved to the Big One at Murrayfield.

For the Scottish parliamentary players, it had been a fun match, one they were desperate to win but not anything that caused much of a ripple beyond the small band of family and friends on the touchline. But it was a taste of what it was like to play in the blue of Scotland.


To those of us who’s sporting endeavours have been rather more modest than the international stage, we can only imagine how it must feel to have the hopes of an entire nation resting on your shoulders. And an audience of several millions rather than just a few freezing followers. It had been a bit of fun at the home of Edinburgh Accies. A historic venue for sure. But not really the clash of titans which Murrayfield was about to witness.

In the build up to the Calcutta Cup clash, there was an intense media spotlight shone on the teams. There was the usual war of words. The army of armchair fans were in full flow with their thumbs thumping across their social media to let their handful of faithful followers know just how expert they were when it came to the oval ball.

As ever with Scottish fans, hope sprung eternal. Expectation even raised its head for a peek into what might be. It had been 10 years since the last win over the auld enemy. Surely that was long enough?

And thus, onto that Murrayfield turf on a sunny spring afternoon, strode our boys. Townsend’s Trooos. Ready. Willing. Able. 80 minutes of blood, sweat and toil ahead.

And they only went and did it. Every single one of them rose magnificently to the occasion. They out-thought, out-rucked, out-tackled, out-played and out-scored the English. And a nation erupted in joy.

Together. As one.


The highs of Murrayfield stand in stark contrast to the lows of some of our winter Olympic performances. Team GB had its stars. But the abiding memories are those of Elise Christie and Eve Muirhead.

Both went to South Korea with high hopes.

Both allowed us as fans to become instant experts in sports we had probably never played or watched at any other time in the previous four years.

But in an instant we knew when you should play a dead weight draw to the 4ft circle and when to overtake or undertake in short track. We watched with baited breath. We hoped. We willed them on.

And we wept. Especially through the trials and tumbles of Elise. Her short track Olympic tribulations were heart wrenching.

Which is where I get angry. Not at her or anyone else who didn’t quite make the podium.

But at us. The viewers. The so-called supporters who pour out vitriol online as if we had been let down and we were owed better by the athletes.

Now I know there are some overpaid, pampered, prima-donnas in other sports. Football mainly. Where the effort they put in doesn’t always match the rich rewards they get.

But not these Olympians. Not those who have given everything to be there. Because however much we get disappointed at the results, it is nothing compared to their pain. So I get angry, furious in fact, at those small minded, keyboard warriors who are so lacking in sympathy, empathy and humanity that they berate and bully those who tried but didn’t quite hit the top.

To them I say this: go away. Grow up. Stop trying to compensate for your own obvious inadequacies by sounding off on others better than you will ever be.

And to Elise, and all the others who have had their unfair share of vitriol I say this: You are Olympians. You gave your all. You did your best and we are proud. And there is always next time.