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THE BREAKDOWN, STEVE SCOTT: Eddie Jones and Wayne Pivac under pressure shows differing attitudes to rugby in Scotland

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.

In 2022, England won five of 12 international games. Head coach Eddie Jones’ coat now hangs precariously on a shoogily peg at Twickenham.

Wales won just three of 12 in 2022. One was away to South Africa, but they lost at home to Italy and Georgia for the first time. Wayne Pivac has few fans left in the valleys, where the clamour for Warren Gatland’s return has reached fevered levels.

Scotland won five of 12 in 2022. Their record is marginally worse than England’s because New Zealand inexplicably surrendered a 25-6 lead in the final 10 minutes at Twickenham three weeks ago.

Scotland also lost to Wales in Cardiff in February, a dreadful result that time has not exactly been kind to since.

Gregor Townsend also had some entirely unnecessary selectorial mischief during the year.

Yet he seems immeasurably safer than Jones or Pivac.

In thrall to the World Cup cycle

In truth, it’s possible that all three won’t exit their posts until October next year. Rugby remains in thrall to the World Cup cycle, with coach contracts set to expire once the quadrennial tournament ends.

In addition, it would be extremely expensive for the WRU to bin Pivac and employ Gatland, even if the man is willing to return. And they’re not exactly flush with money right now.

Jones’ future is just a small part of an overflowing inbox of stuff ‘to do’ for Bill Sweeney of the RFU. Top of the pile is the financial collapse of two senior Premiership clubs, and the attendant demands for a complete restructuring of English pro rugby.

Certainly, I can see both Jones and Pivac surviving until the Six Nations. Once there, only a complete calamity would result in a change so close to the World Cup, you’d think.

Like a whitewashed Wales, maybe? Their two home games, after all, are Ireland and England this spring.

The caveats for Scotland

You can attach various caveats to the current Scotland situation. The Argentina win was handsome, but it was against depleted and possibly exhausted opposition. Finn Russell looked imperious in that game, but he has fluctuated throughout his career.

For every stellar performance like the Pumas and against England (funny how he always plays well against them) there’s one like Cardiff this year.

Townsend appears to have accepted, if not outright admitted, errors in selection in 2022. But his urge to tinker – Toony Tombola as we christened it – is rarely suppressed for long.

Scotland are always more vulnerable to key injuries than the rest of the Six Nations. Jamie Ritchie’s long absence unquestionably was a major issue this year.

Losing a key man in some important areas (not naming anyone to tempt fate, but you all know who I mean) could be seriously debilitating.

But despite having comparable records in 2022 to the two men under severe pressure, the Argentina win has given Townsend the licence to complete his term as contracted.

Perhaps that illustrates the differing demands in rugby in England and Wales over those in Scotland.

Commemorating Doddie and other greats

In the wake of Doddie Weir’s death, there’s an understandable clamour to commemorate him in some major way in Scottish rugby’s wider fabric.

There’s already a monument of sorts to him at BT Murrayfield – the ‘Oor Wullie’ statue and My Name’5 Doddie Foundation postings on the south west corner of the stadium. That’s where floral tributes have been left in the past few days.

Personally I feel it gets a better flavour of the nature of the man than any stark bronze statue would.

But I understand it’s not nearly enough for some. Doddie’s impact in the wider world is far greater (and vastly more important) than any Scottish rugby player ever, and that does require something more substantial.

There been a petition launched to have a stand at the stadium named after him. I’m sure the naming rights agreement with BT disbars naming of the stadium after any other commercial partner.

But it certainly shouldn’t stop commemorating great names of our game’s past within Murrayfield. Previous greats had hospitality suites named after them. That never really sufficed, and was discontinued when the suites were recently upgraded.

Name a stand after Doddie, for sure. But what Scottish Rugby should also be doing is getting an actual, visit-able Hall of Fame up and running somewhere in the stadium.

The Hall of Fame exists in name, but really we should have some place with plaques and/or busts that could be part of the entire stadium experience.

And commemorating Siobhan…

There will be further commemorations of Doddie at matches this week around Scotland, and at Murrayfield itself when the Six Nations rolls around, no doubt. That’s as it should be.

At the Argentina test, there was a moment’s silence for Donald McLeod, the long-time Scotland team doctor and former SRU President who died the week previously. He was a fine man, and that was as it should have been, also.

But I’m at a loss to why there was no commemoration of Siobhan Cattigan, the young international player who died a year ago.

There is an ongoing dispute between her family and Scottish Rugby over Siobhan’s treatment during her international career. But that surely didn’t preclude them marking the anniversary of the tragedy at the Pumas test.

Scottish Rugby did commemorate her death on the 1st anniversary date. But the only thing at Murrayfield matches have been the ‘8th-minute ovations’ at the four Autumn tests, arranged through word-of-mouth and social media.

To my mind, for now you can put aside the whys and wherefores of the tragedy, and whether Scottish Rugby is culpable or not. Siobhan died appallingly young, and while she was an active Scotland international player.

That surely deserves a proper commemorative tribute during a Murrayfield international game, not just a post on Twitter.