Scottish sport and wisdom sometimes go together like Hannibal Lecter and veganism.
A player makes a mistake. Horror of horrors, he enjoys a drink or the fly cigarette or even a bet on the nags.
By the way, it’s always a ‘he’. I’ve interviewed everybody from Liz McColgan to Siren from Gladiators and Kim Little and Rachel Corsie to Hannah Miley and Heather Stanning and I always come away wondering why the women can get their act together!
There’s a reason, of course. Which brings us to Finn Russell: the latest luminary to be the next greatest thing and then…you’re out of here, buddy.
The Six Nations Championships starts next week and, as one of only two pr three world-class players in the Scotland team, one might have imagined the 27-year-old would be cut a bit of slack.
After all, the Scots were embarrassed by Ireland at the World Cup and have only beaten their Celtic opponents three times in the last 18 years.
However, Scotland has a knack for these scandals, dating way back to the 1970s and the onliest Jimmy Johnstone being banned sine die after a late-night boating trip under the influence in Copenhagen.
That was football. But alcohol and sport have always gone together in rugby and sometimes, transgressions in the oval ball game have been ignored altogether.
That includes some genuine stars. There was the duo who lifted their kilts and relieved themselves on the customers in an Edinburgh bar.
And there was the Borders legend who was caught in a capital close with his trousers round his ankles…and his wife who retaliated by setting fire to his underpants!
Russell is Scotland’s best player at the moment. He’s somebody who can spark mayhem and inspire his colleagues with a jink and a feint and a shimmy out of nowhere.
Yet the 27-year-old has allegedly committed the heinous crime of having a few drinks and missing a training session. Then, when asked if he would stay with the squad – despite being told he wasn’t playing in their next match – he’s being condemned in some quarters for not hanging around.
Scottish rugby needs to take a long hard look at itself. Quite apart from the incompetence which surrounded their hopeless World Cup campaign, there was the revelation that chief executive Mark Dodson has pocketed nearly a million pounds in his annual salary.
Not, heaven forbid, for achievement – there hasn’t been any in the last year – but because it was in his contract.
I don’t know about anybody else, but the most basic man-management, in response to Russell’s alleged misdemeanour, should have been straightforward.
What about: “Okay Finn, this isn’t good enough, we are fining you half your salary for the next 1/2/3 games.
“You also owe the supporters a big response when it matters on the pitch.”
The Scots meet Ireland in Dublin on Saturday week. They weren’t favourites before this Russell nonsense and they sure as hell haven’t improved their position.
And yet, I think that an ageing Irish team who have named Johnny Sexton – a wonderful player, but one whose best days are behind him – at No 10 and as captain would have struggled against Russell. The latter is the coming man, whereas the bell tolls for Sexton.
We won’t know now, though. Scotland have made a mess of the whole issue and the Six Nations campaign suddenly looks a whole lot tougher!