Winter sports fail to fill the gulf

Ellon on the attack in their 29-19 win over Grammar at the Meadows.
Ellon on the attack in their 29-19 win over Grammar at the Meadows.

FOUR months on from the London Olympics there is little evidence to suggest that our so-called winter sports are going to provide anything remotely near the level of excitement or professional standards provided by the wholesome, brilliant entertainment of the world’s greatest athletes.

Disappointingly the pro game of rugby has fallen well short of the high expectations of those who believed Scotland could be a major force in the world game.

Nothing in fact could be further from the truth, as witness the failure of our Edinburgh and Glasgow to compete in the Heinekin Cup, Europe’s top knock out competition.

For despite Edinburgh Gunners reaching the semi-finals last season, the two pro outfits have struggled this autumn, and will not be appearing in the quarter-finals.

The failure of professional sides has of course had a knock on effect for the national team who have endured an appalling autumn, losing three Tests one of which was at Pittodrie against Tonga, leading to coach Andy Robinson throwing in the towel.

A sad scenario, considering his ability as a world class coach who was badly let down by his players who despite their fine talk had the look of tired, weary, over - drilled individuals whose body language said they did want to be there.

Talk of winning the 2015 World Cup is therefore hollow, and serving no useful purpose for supporters and players.

It is, however, possible that the situation will improve, but not in the next 10 years if we do not change the system and bridge the gap between the pro game and the grass roots of the game.

At club level it is clear that the enthusiasm remains undiminished, but must be nourished by the SRU if they game is to survive what is currently a crisis.

But survive it will, simply on the basis of the game being so energetically backed by youth coaches who believe in the future. Long may there efforts be appreciated in every community where the game of rugby is played.

But while it is possible to make a case for the long term future of the oval ball game, it is more difficult to be optimistic about the beautiful game of football - at least in the paid game where on both sides of the border there is huge uncertainty about where soccer goes.

For starters the product is a poor one, and getting worse as time goes on, faced by near weekly controversy, poor attitudes, lack of discipline, while at the moment awash with money at the top level.

In particular English Premier League is guilty of paying players money it does not have, creating problems that will not go away, leading to some clubs almost certainly going to the wall.

If there is any salvation for the game it must surely lie in the initiative taken by Ellon clubs who are genuinely planning for a future the sport scarcely deserves given its poor record of promoting the game in local communities.

Keeping the youngsters playing in the town has to be the way forward instead of players sitting on benches throughout the area, leading to them becoming disillusioned by not getting a game before walking away from what can be a wonderful, exciting sport, though not at the moment. No, sadly nothing has come along in either soccer or rugby to bridge the gulf since that marvellous summer of sport.