Sunday, 6 February 2011

6 Nations Musings

Miracle - a try for Scotland
It is time for Fantasy Bob to turn his attention from the post Ashes traumas to another series of sporting encounters that will dominate the next few weeks.  The 6 Nations Rugby Championship which got under way this weekend.   This is always an emotional roller coaster for all Scottish people - the elation of hope turning to a stubborn acceptance of our fate.   But FB can proceed to his seat high in the Murrayfield stands next week with more confidence than in some recent years.  Perhaps, perhaps............

FB shares the pundits' majority view that Scotland showed something yesterday - to score 3 tries in Paris is exceptional.  Actually for Scotland to score one try anywhere, even in training, is exceptional.  In recent years tries for Scotland have been as rare as KP's centuries, so to have 3 on one outing was richness indeed.  But the Scots flashed outside off stump and gave the ball away under pressure;  the French, as they are wont to do, were clinical in punishing these turnovers.  Curse them.  But on this showing, Scotland will be extremely unlucky to end the season as candidates for the wooden spoon.  

Ah the wooden spoon, as a cook of some modest ability, FB has an interest in wooden spoons but there seems to be no spoon link between the rugby field and the kitchen.   The term originated in Cambridge University where a spoon was traditionally awarded to the bottom placed student in maths.  Those spoons became larger and more ornate, and completely useless for stirring the soup, until the practice was stopped by the University authorities in 1875.   Spoilsports.  Why a spoon - rather than a spatula or a whisk or garlic press or any other kitchen essential?  Your guess is as good as FB's.  It is a surprise, though, that in these modern commercially aware times the wooden spoon hasn't been updated and offered to sponsors.  The Moulinex has a ring to it don't you think?

The intrusion of rugby into his limited grey matter also brings to Fantasy Bob's recollection that at one time, many top rugby players would also be cricketers of some talent.  These days sportsmen can realistically play only one sport at elite level and the pressure to specialise comes at a very young age.  So the example of MJK Smith who skippered England in 25 of his 50 Tests and was capped by England at rugby seems likely never to be repeated.

Jeff Wilson - double international
FB's researches identify the following all rounders of recent years - possibly the last of a dying breed:  New Zealander Jeff Wilson played four ODIs as a 19-year-old all-rounder, before focussing on rugby where he became an All Black legend with 44 tries in 60 appearances.  His first cap was at Murrayfield - FB was there as Scotland were thrashed.  On retiring he returned to cricket, and played two more ODIs and a one-off Twenty20 against Australia in February and March 2005.

Another New Zealander Brian McKechnie was the batsman on the receiving end of Trevor Chappell’s infamous under-arm delivery at the end of the third final of the Benson & Hedges World Series between New Zealand and Australia at the MCG. Three years earlier he kicked the penalty that gave the All Blacks a 13-12 victory over Wales at Cardiff.

Rudi van Vuuren represented Namibia at the 2003 cricket World Cup in South Africa and at the rugby World Cup in Australia later that year.

Fantasy Bob accepts that his own efforts on the rugby and cricket pitch fade into pathetic insignificance beside these overachievers.


  1. Although not perhaps at quite the same level, there are a few Scotland players who are worth a mention.

    Ken Scotland, a British Lion, had one cricket game for Scotland.

    Andy Goram and Scot Symon both played both football and cricket for Scotland. And Len Dudman, opening bat in the great Perthshire side of the fifties and early sixties, represented Scotland at cricket, junior football and curling.

  2. Iain - thanks - yes fine sportsmen all. FB suspects that there must be quite a few other Scots who have reached high levels in 2 sports - but Test level? His researches have come up with Gregor MacGregor (1869-1919) who played 8 tests for England as wicketkeeper cricket and won 3 caps for Scotland at rugby. Then more recently Michale Elgie (born in Durban) played 3 Tests for S Africa between 1961-62 and also played 8 times for Scotland at rugby in the 1950s when a student at St Andrews. And FB thought Jockboks were a recent invention.