Hearts are to stay at Tynecastle Stadium, after the club revealed plans to increase its’ capacity.
Ann Budge, the owner of the Scottish Premiership club, announced plans to redevelop the Main Stand, which should expand the stadium’s capacity to at least 20,000 seats.
Budge, who took over the club last year, admitted her initial preference was to move to a new stadium. “It was a preference driven by a desire from the majority of supporters to stay at Tynecastle”.
The plan is to rebuild the Main Stand on McLeod Street. Budge revealed that the club has the financial backing to commit to the project. The total budget will be over £7 million.
“Financially, we completely out performed our financial plan and our turnover has risen from £5,098m to £7,077m and a half million pounds improvement on the bottom line and this does not include the donations from the Foundation of Hearts”, Budge said.
The club is also planning to purchase land behind the Main Stand, which Budge sees as part of an overall regeneration of the Tynecastle area.
The plans are seen as reflective of the increased demand for tickets, amidst the club’s recent success on the pitch.
George Foulkes, former club chairman, said: “We have sold out at every recent home game and I think we have the potential to get match attendance up to 25,000 rather than 16-17,000 we have at the moment”.
Hearts midfielder Miguel Pallardo said plans for redevelopment were good news for the players: “Football players enjoy playing with more supporters. This work could be beneficial for Hearts”.
Tynecastle’s current capacity stands at 17,529 seats,which makes it the seventh largest football stadium in Scotland. The new stand will be close to that the 20,421 seats at Easter Road, the home of city rivals Hibernian.
The club celebrated the centenary of the Main Stand in 2014.
Organisers of the Edinburgh Marathon today launched a series of free workshops ahead of the event which is expected to attract thousands of people next May.
People in Edinburgh showed up at the Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Center for tips on training plans, nutrition, goal setting, physiotherapy and a guided run along the canal.
Annette Drummond, one of the organisers, said she is “proud” of all the work that has been done by her team.
“We have been around for 13 years now and the event has expanded and grown so much,” she said.
“It started off as just a marathon and now it is a marathon festival over two days, bringing 30,000 people together to raise millions for charity and boost the local economy, all whilst keeping fit and helping people achieve their dreams.”
The Edinburgh Marathon 2015, scheduled for the 30 and 31 May, will be raising funds for Diabetes Scotland and has already received a £2,376 donation from a team of investment managers from the Business Growth Fund.
The race was the first in Scotland to be recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).
Ms Drummond said its popularity has been boosted not only for being “an IAAF rated event” but also “by the fact that Edinburgh is a beautiful city that people like to visit”.
“This is an international event”, the organiser said. “70 per cent of the marathon runners come from outwith Scotland.”
Free workshops in preparation for the main marathon will also be held in Glasgow on 30October.
The British Medical Association has backed comments made by Headway Brain Injury Association Chief Executive Peter McCabe condemning the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).
A spokesperson for the British Medical Association said:”The BMA is opposed to mixed martial arts, cage fighting and boxing. This opposition is based on medical evidence that reveals the risk, not only of acute injury, but also of chronic brain damage which is sustained by those who survive a career in where they receive repeated blows to the head. These types of sport are sometimes defended on the grounds that children learn to work through their aggression with discipline and control. The BMA believes there are many other sports, such as athletics, swimming, judo and football, which require discipline but do not pose the same threat of brain injury.”
Speaking on BBC News last week, Headway’s Peter McCabe labelled MMA a “brutal” sport. McCabe said:
“It’s extremely dangerous and we feel that every time somebody takes part in a bout they’re risking their health. In New York this sport is banned, why are we not adopting a similar law in this country, because ultimately this is what we’re talking about peoples’ lives, peoples health and potentially life long disability.”
The sport, which infuses several forms of martial arts, including boxing, Brazilian jiu jistsu, amateur wrestling and kickboxing, has been at the centre of controversy for several years now. The British Medical Association first took umbrage with the sport in 2007, calling for it to be completely banned in the UK.
However, doubt has been cast over the findings of the British Medical Association. Safe MMA, a non-profit organisation made up of volunteer medical professionals with no vested interest in the sport, have claimed that there is no concrete proof that MMA is as dangerous as the BMA makes out. A Safe MMA spokesperson said:
“MMA is currently sanctioned across most states in America. Since the sport was officially formed in the US under unified rules as recently as 2001, there is simply not the medical data yet to draw any scientific conclusions about the real risks of the sport in comparison to other sports (including horse riding, rugby, boxing, climbing.) It is Safe MMA’s position that until we have a clear understanding of the risks that professional MMA fighters face for acute and chronic brain injuries, it is not our recommendation to target the sport in the media as significantly worse than other sports practised across the UK. Mixed martial arts needs to be looked at in the context of combat sports in general in this country, since MMA is a fusion of martial arts; some of which fall under the Olympic umbrella.”
Safe MMA say they will continue to work with promotions and fighters to ensure as safe an environment as possible. Safe MMA’s spokesperson said:
“We are putting effort into practically making the sport safer in partnership with sport promoters and competitors; and building an evidence base for the risks and benefits of the sport, which we believe should be the focus at this time. Safe MMA was set up was to establish exactly how often and severely Traumatic Brain Injuries as well as other injuries occurs in the sport.”
The 59th edition of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Award is almost upon us.
On 16th December we will find out who has won the annual prize that is never far from controversy.
There is no doubt that 2012 has been a special year for British sport, but only one person can be chosen as the winner.
Provided the BBC don’t bottle it, ignore the panel and give the prize to ‘Team GB’ due to the mere fact that we hosted the Olympic Games, this should be a very close contest thanks to the number of incredible achievements from British sportsmen and women this year.
Unsurprisingly the list is overwhelmingly Olympic- and Paralympic-centric – just one of the twelve nominees, Rory McIlroy, did not win a medal at London 2012.
Primarily because he couldn’t.
We asked Edinburgh residents who they would vote for and here are the top three:
1. Andy Murray
2. Bradley Wiggins
3. Jessica Ennis
Having voted for their ‘champs’ of 2012, we also polled people about who their ‘chumps’ of the year would be – we offered a list of sporting pariahs from the last twelve months and here’s what the capital’s citizens told us:
1. John Terry
2. Lance Armstrong
3. Hulk Hogan
Who would feature on your alternative shortlist? Was your favourite Olympic or Paralympic athlete absent?
Get in touch via our Facebook or Twitter page and let us know who would get your vote.
The Tour de France may be streamlining its way to Edinburgh, after The City of Edinburgh Council backed an audacious attempt to bring the event to Scotland for the first time.
Councillors approved a report outlining the commitments required in the event of a successful bid in a meeting today.
Heralded as the world’s largest annual sporting event, the Tour de France could bring £45-55m of revenue for the national economy, with Edinburgh benefiting to the tune of £24m.
Edinburgh Castle is the proposed venue for the Presentation of the Riders, with displays, cycle shows, stalls competition and a raft of cultural activities being held across the city throughout the duration.
A ‘non-race’ mode procession of the cyclists running through the city centre would precede the start of the race, which would be held elsewhere in the city, with riders racing down the spine of the UK through Scotland, England and Wales.
The event attracts global interest with no less than 100 TV channels, 400 newspapers and press agencies and 70 websites over 190 countries offering live coverage of last year’s event.
Councillor Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh Council’s Festivals & Events Champion, said: “I can think of no more dramatic backdrop than Edinburgh Castle and our historic Old Town and, of course, our residents are well used to laying on a fantastic welcome to the many millions of visitors that travel to the city each year.
“Of course, Edinburgh is no stranger to cycling success, thanks to the incredible achievements of Sir Chris Hoy, and we are already seeing the impact this is having on participation – a trend that would surely continue following a successful Grant Depart.”
The bid, led by EventScotland, has the support of the Scottish Government, British Cycling, UK Sport, the Welsh Government, plus numerous other English and Welsh authorities.
While the date has not yet been announced, it is likely to be in the next five years and could even be as soon as 2014.
Blood, sweat and tears were all spilled at the Stade de France yesterday, with Ireland leaving Paris with a hard fought draw and a bitter taste of disappointment at having so close to taking the win.
A spirited approach by the Irish side in the first half had led even the most sceptical fans to dream of a final score which could have gone down in History.
On the 17th minute a lack of concentration on the Bleus side had allowed an opportunist Tommy Bowe to pierce a French defense which initially looked far from its usual strength.
It was far too easy for Bowe to intercept a pass from Rougerie and run in between the posts for the first Irish try, which was followed by a conversion from Jonathan Sexton.
Bowe’s effort was then accompanied by a solid defensive display by Declan Kidney’s men, which only let the French score from penalties in the first half, while Sexton punished the French indiscipline with another kick.
There was yet more Irish sparkle to come before the half time whistle, as on the 37th minute Bowe again went deep through the French defense like a hot knife through butter, chipped the ball past Mazier and scored an impressive try which pulled the curtains on the first half, with the Irish deservedly leading 17 to 6.
You could never blame the French for lacking pride, and a great deal of pride is what they drew upon to make a spectacular comeback in the second half.
There was urgency in the way France tried to gain territory, an attitude which was awarded with a penalty scored by Morgan Parra on the 47th minute.
This was followed only three minutes later by a stunning run from Wesley Fofana, who got a hold of the ball just past midfield and went all the way to score a try which cast doubts over the Irish ability to hold the lead until the end.
As another kick from Parra on 58th minute led the 80-thousand strong stadium behind the Bleus to the tune of the Marseillaise, Irish hopes looked even dimmer.
But that was, in an overall disappointing second half, the time the men in green regrouped and managed to desperately defend a score for the whole last quarter of the match.
Although all during the final period they never looked dangerous in the French half, and this will mostly be remembered as a wasted golden opportunity, Ireland should still feel some pride in coming so close to sealing a victory in this year’s most feared away match.
Peter Roebuck, noted cricket journalist leaped six storeys to his death
from his room at the Southern Sun hotel in Cape Town, South Africa on Saturday.
Police visited the 55-year-old former Somerset captain to investigate an allegation of indecent assault against him when he moved towards the window and jumped. A spokesperson announced that investigations are on-going and the matter will be subject to an inquest.
It is alleged that Roebuck invited Itai Gondo, 26, on pretence of a university scholarship and proceeded to seduce him against his will. Gondo met the English born cricketer-turned-journalist through a friend who knew one of his adopted sons. During a chat via Facebook, Roebuck wished the young Zimbabwean to call him ‘Dad,’ asking him to bring a stick in case he needed to beat him.
During the actual meeting however, Roebuck launched himself on the unsuspecting youth. Gondo’s phone rang at the time, which ceased Roebuck’s assault and the shocked student fled the suite.
Peter Roebuck was as much a pot of controversy as he was a brilliant journalist.
During his stint as Somerset captain he refused to renew the contracts of Sir Vivian Richards and Joel Garner stating them to be too old. The two West Indian stalwarts left the club after scribbling ‘Judas’ on his door.
In 2001, he was handed a suspended jail sentence for caning three of his students.Henk Lindeque from South Africa recalls his stint at the Taunton Cricket Club where Roebuck would cane him and three of his friends and then wish to see the markings. He would then coax those who were unwilling.
Tatenda Dennis Chadya, one of Roebuck’s adopted sons tells a different story. A lawyer in training, he has been under Roebuck’s care since 2005. Registering genuine shock over the incidents surrounding his “Dad’s” death, Chadya admitted his house had stringent rules, but claimed the worst that happened was docking of allowances.
During his days as a player, Roebuck was prolific in domestic matches, amassing 25000 runs including 38 centuries. He pursued coaching after his life as a professional cricketer and eventually delved into the world of books and journalism. He wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald and ESPNCricinfo at the time of his death.
His form of commentary was rare in that it was brutally frank. His article that questioned the domination of the Indian Premier League and how its popularity is dumbing down the audience from enjoying good and hard Test cricket is a typical example of his unique style of cricket journalism.
Perhaps Roebuck’s personality contributed to the disgraceful events surrounding his death. The man was often eccentric, introverted and political. An ardent follower of the old school values of cricket, his articles often probed those issues other journalists stayed away from.
Whatever has been said about the man, in the tragic passing of Peter Michael Roebuck, cricket has suffered a huge loss.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel topped the time sheets of first practice in Abu Dhabi earlier today. The German driver, who is currently third in the overall championship dominated most of the session, which comes exactly one day before the qualifying run that will determine where the drivers will start the final Grand Prix of 2010.
Despite no times being posted in the first 40 minutes of first practice, the session displayed a close fight between the main title contenders.
Lewis Hamilton was only 0.609 seconds off the pace, with his team-mate Jenson Button making up the top three positions.
Second place title contender, Mark Webber finished in forth position, with current championship leader, Fernando Alonso crossing the line in sixth place.
Although the session was predominately dry, rain fell shortly before the cars went out on track. This led to much confusion from experts such as BBC Sport commentator Jonathan Legard: “So much for Saturday forecasts for rain, it’s arrived already – just after I was told there’s no wind!”
Despite Abu Dhabi hosting the final championship battle for the first time, Legard spoke out about the lack of atmosphere within the crowds: “There is a sell out crowd for the weekend (46,000) like last year”, but he added: “They are very quiet compared to Brazil!”
For many, including double World Champion Fernando Alonso, this has been one of the most exciting seasons in the history of Formula One. Speaking in a press conference, he said: “In terms of happiness, motivation, driving, and the team itself, it’s my best season.”
Additionally, this season has produced a very close fight for the championship with the top four championship contenders separated by 24 points.
Many experts, such as former ITV pundit and F1 driver Mark Blundell, have found it particularly difficult to pick out a championship winner: “I feel Alonso has the title in sights,but I also feel he is not deserving”. He continued: “But my dream winner would be Webber – fingers crossed.”
Practice sessions are very important in allowing drivers to test new parts, as well as define their true pace for the race ahead. Mclaren test driver Gary Paffett said: “We use the tests to try out new updates and refine the car balance.”
The second practice session will take place later today, with qualifying starting at 1pm on Saturday and the race commencing 1pm on Sunday.
For years Scottish Football has had it’s issues, everyone knows that.
Sectarianism, racism and debt have all manifested themselves over the last few years within the match day terraces and streets of Scotland. Refereeing enquiries, while omnipresent, are usually taken no farther than the post-match summary from the irate gaffer.
However, the question looms nearer. Are the current refereeing scandals a genuine threat to the game and the final nail in an already watertight coffin?
Only time will tell.
The happenings within the SFA will either be lost within a plethoric archive of footballing news articles or there will be a genuine outcome to this long running saga which poses a real significant threat to our national game.
To simply understand the situation you would personally have to comb through an infinite amount of news articles and reports and still not establish a firm conclusion. On the one hand, you have the letters from Neil Lennon outlining his misgivings with decisions given against his Celtic side at Tannadice and more recently at Parkhead in the Old Firm derby. On the other side, there are officials such as Stephen Craven deciding to quit the game in bizarre circumstances after his involvement in a decision to overturn a penalty for the Glasgow team last week. There appears to be a smoke screen appearing within the game which wont be cleared until the SFA provide their official investigation and a proper conclusion is reached which will allow normal service to resume.
To the fair minded individual, it is obvious that referees are not hired on the basis of their religion, creed or race but by their ability to handle a football match in a manner which is fair and competent. Edinburgh Napier News looks at some major decisions in Scotland in the past five years which have added fuel to the flames within the Scottish football refereeing debate:
* Hearts fans are incensed after Defender Takis Fyssas is given a straight red after an alleged challenge on Celtic midfielder Shaun Maloney (Jan 2006)
* St Mirren are in the news as Gus Macpherson is threatened with a fine for criticising an assistant official in a cup match against Dundee United. (Feb 2007)
* Craig Levein is fined £5000 by the SFA after a post match outburst against former whistler Mike McCurry. Levein was outraged after a string of bizarre decisions which went against his team in a match against Rangers (May 2008)
* Rangers player Kyle Lafferty is fined by his club after deliberately feigning injury which resulted in a straight red card for Aberdeen defender Charlie Mulgrew. (May 2009)
* Stephen Craven and Dougie Macdonald are under fire after awarding Celtic a penalty against Dundee United before quickly overturning the decision to the shock of Celtic Manager Neil Lennon (October 2010)
If you think that you’ve got what it takes to become a referee in Scotland the why not follow this link…
Dundee are in it, Liverpool just might be going into it and a number of other football clubs are cautiously striving to avoid it. But just what are the key factors of the phenomenon which is flaunted cautiously in board rooms of football clubs around the United Kingdom?
The key points of this are not as complicated as one may think. The main reason for a club going into administration might be viewed by many fans as an utterly dark portion of a club’s existence, with chances of survival bleak. Many clubs, however, have been in and out of administration just as quickly throughout the years and to understand the fundamentals of the process would shed light on a truly fascinating phenomenon of modern football.
In simple terms it should be seen as a misdirection of the clubs finances. The common admission of problems, similiar to that of Dundee who recently published a bill of £365,000, is pressure from the tax man. The club then were revealed to have overall debts of around 2 million pounds and the administration proceedings were uncovered.
The next stage of the journey involves the appointment of the “administrator” who will oversee the club’s finances rather than the men in grey suits within the board room. They will look into minimising the club’s losses as well as striving to find a buyer (similiar to the Hicks/Gillett saga currently ongoing at Liverpool FC).
As Dundee football club Chairman Harry Maclean recently uncovered to the BBC, the administrators run and assess everything at the club, short of picking the team on a Saturday:
“Speculating on the amount of figures and players that would be leaving is a bit pointless at this time because there’s only one person that’ll know that and that’s the administrator.”
The administrator may also not be as sympathetic in terms of personal issues which arise, such as the unfortunate and real threat of redundancies. The authorities will do all they can to accrue as much of the lost finances as possible. Gordon Chisholm recently feel victim to this process, being removed from his post as part of the administration proceedings at Dundee FC:
“Their’s boys getting laid off in their with mortgages, its a horrendous time. I’ve never been through been through anything like that in my life and I hope never to see it again”
Finally, If the club is then deemed by administrators to be incapable of saviour, and finances spiral into irreparable levels, then the threat of liquidation (commonly known as a “winding up” order) becomes a very real possibility. The ins and outs of this process can be read in detail at the UK statute law website.
The threat of administration truly is a worrying time for any club. Only time will tell what fate has in store for clubs such as Dundee, Liverpool and Portsmouth. Perhaps the biggest nail in the coffin and realisation of crisis would materialise when clubs of substantial stature fall victim to the perils of a debt ridden management system.
Until then, clubs struggle on as football pulls itself out of the financial culmination of the last decade and beyond.
Liverpool this morning confirmed that the club is to be sold to American organisation New England Sports Ventures (NESV).
However, the deal is said to be subject to a legal challenge from current owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks, who say a deal is “far from done”.
With their grip on control of the club slipping, Hicks and Gillett yesterday tried to sack club directors Christian Purslow and Ian Ayre in an apparent last ditch attempt to retain ownership.
Hicks and Gillett have since vowed to challenge the validity of the deal through the courts, despite chairman Martin Broughton this morning confirming the deal on the official club website.
“I am delighted that we have been able to successfully conclude the sale process which has been thorough and extensive. The Board decided to accept NESV’s proposal on the basis that it best met the criteria we set out originally for a suitable new owner. NESV’s philosophy is all about winning and they have fully demonstrated that at Red Sox”, Broughton said earlier.
On the situation with the current owners, he added, “I am only disappointed that the owners have tried everything to prevent the deal from happening and that we need to go through legal proceedings in order to complete the sale.”
Debt-ridden Liverpool had been attracting the attentions of several potential buyers over the last year, including Hong Kong businessman Kenny Huang and a bid from a Syrian consortium led by Yahya Kirdi, but nothing had come to fruition until now.
The deal reached between the Liverpool board and NESV is said to fall well short of the current owners’ valuation, further adding to the belief that Hicks and Gillett will fight hard to keep a controlling interest in the club.
NESV, part owned by multimillionaire John W. Henry, said to have a fortune of around £540 million, own an array of sporting companies including Fenway Sports Group, Rousch Fenway Racing and most notably, the Boston Red Sox.
Henry’s track record is impressive, having successfully transformed the fortunes of the Boston Red Sox. Having taken over in 2002, he led them to World Series victories in 2004 and 2007, their first major titles since 1918.
Fans of Liverpool are said to be relieved at the news breaking today, with ‘Spirit of Shankly’ union member James McKenna saying, “We need to rid the club of Gillett and Hicks”
“It does not matter where they come from as long as they understand Liverpool Football Club. That was the problem with Gillett and Hick, they never really got Liverpool.”, McKenna added, when speaking to a BBC reporter.
Europe have regained the Ryder Cup from the USA after a dramatic last match victory today at Celtic Manor, Wales.
Due to poor weather on the opening day, the final day singles matches had to be played on a Monday for the first time in the events 83 year history. There was no less enthusiasm from the 35,000 strong crowd who roared Europe on to victory.
US Open champion Graeme McDowell defeated Hunter Mahan 3&1 to secure the final point for Europe, giving them a 14 1/2-13 1/2 victory. Captain Colin Montgomerie, one of the most popular players in Ryder Cup history, was too nervous to watch as McDowell hit a chip shot onto the 17th greeen that helped seal the victory and what is perhaps the finest hour of Monty’s career.
Montgomerie, 48, has won a record 8 European order of merit titles, and is involved in golf course design, designing several courses, including the Rowallan Castle golf Course. Niall Campbell, managing director of Rowallan Castle, expects the course to benefit from Monty’s triumph, saying “there’s already been a lot of interest in the course [before the Ryder Cup] and even a couple of journalists from the states have been in contact to learn about the course”.
In Football, Hearts are expected to be handed out a punishment from the Scottish Premier League after assistant referee William Conquer was struck by a missile thrown from the main stand at Tynecastle. The SPL are waiting to receive the match report from referee Willie McDougall before deciding what type of punishment the club will receive.
Meanwhile, the Scotland national team have received a boost after it was revealed that Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has pulled out of the Spain squad for the upcoming qualifiers against Scotland and Lithuania.
The Commonwealth games are underway today, with the England team already having won two silver medals in Swimming and Gymnastics. Scotland have yet to win a medal, however the women’s hockey team team earned a surprise draw with host nation India.
Gavin Hastings and Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie at the start of the West Highland Way
By David Henderson
Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie has enlisted the help of a rugby legend to give Europe the edge over America in golf’s biggest event.
Former Scotland captain Gavin Hastings is advising Monty on how to turn individuals into succesful team players. Montomerie takes charge of Europe at Celtic Manor in Wales next year.
Hastings warns Montgomerie that a team sport is a whole different ball game from his comfort zone in the solo sport of gold. Hastings told Edinburgh Napier News: “I’ve been a friend of Colin for years and I’m in no doubt he has what it takes to be a leader of men – and a succesful one. The Ryder Cup is unique in golf in that it is a team event. Monty is used to being a solo performer, used only to worrying about his own game. As captain, he needs consider the needs of the entire team”.
Gavin Hastings saw how to deal with the needs of a multi-national group of sports starts when captain of the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 1993. He’s cautioning Monty that he’ll have to manage egos to get results: “As captain of the Lions, I had to juggle my own needs with those of the rest of the squad. You need to manage the team as a group but also break it down and ensure that each individual is catered for correctly. Different players need different managerial techniques, sportsmen are all individuals. It’s about preparations and morale as much as it is about sporting form. I think that I can really help him and he seems to want to learn from my experience.”
The former Scotland captain is with the Ryder Cup captain on a fundraising walk for the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation, the cancer charity formed by the golfer after his mother died of the disease in 1991. The sports stars were joined by Scotland football manager George Burley on their trek along the West Highland Way which aims to raise £100, 000 for the charity.
An Edinburgh teenager has been chosen to represent Scotland in an international badminton competition. The European Under-17 Championships are due to take place at Medvode in Slovenia, from the 7th to the 15th of November this year, and sixteen year old Edward Cogliano will attempt to smash his way to the final. The James Gillespie high pupil has already racked up a number of age group titles in badminton and recently represented Scotland in the UK School Games held in Cardiff. With a passion for sport from an early age, Edward has been attending the City of Edinburgh Council’s Schools Sports Academy. The Academy was set up to help talented pupils reach their sporting potential, and is funded by the Children and Families department. In the last year, over 80 percent of Sports Academy athletes have achieved selection to regional or national squads. Speaking about his selection, Edward said: “I’m really pleased and proud to be chosen to represent Scotland for the first time. It’s something I have always dreamed of doing. It’s going to be a fantastic experience.” “It will be great to walk around the athletes’ village and be with all the other athletes. I’m really grateful to all the coaches at the Edinburgh Schools Sports Academy and the National Squad who have helped me achieve my goal.” “The badminton strength and conditioning training has allowed me to become an international player. And this experience has inspired me to continue to work hard so that I can continue to represent Scotland and develop as a player. In the future, I would like to mentor and coach younger players so that they can have a similar experience.” City Education Leader Cllr Marilyne MacLaren, speaking about Edward’s achievment, said: “It takes stamina and determination to make it to this level in any sport. On behalf of the city, I wish him all the best and hope he goes all the way in fulfilling his dream.
In the final moments of this game it looked as though Glasgow may well have sent the Basques of Biarritz back to the south of France with nothing more than a losing bonus point.
Sean Lineen’s men ended their opening Heineken Cup match camped on their opponents line but in failing to cross were ultimately left to rue another missed opportunity, eventually succumbing 18-22 in Firhill.
Glasgow started well dominating early posession and forcing Biarrtiz to concede penalties which the in-form Dan Parks duly turned to points, 9-0 after 15 minutes.
When Biarritz finally got going with a 17th minute venture into the Glasgow half, Dimitri Yachvilli proved himself as eagle-eyed as Parks, slotting his first attempt neatly through the posts. It was game-on minutes later as Damien Traille landed a drop goal to bring the Basques within three points of their hosts.
The Scots were not rattled however as Parks disected the posts with a monster penalty 57 meters from the Biarritz line but this was cancelled by another Yachvilli penalty. Parks sent an attempted drop goal wide minutes later but centre Marcelo Bosch made no mistake at the other end – all square at half time.
You got the feeling the game was there for the taking for either side and it was quick thinking by England international flanker Magnus Lund that ultimately proved the differnence between the sides.
From a sloppy Glasgow lineout the ball spilled free and resulted in a race to the line between Lund and Glasgow scrum half Colin Gregor. Lund was first to apply downward pressure and with the subsequent conversion, added by Yachvilli, Biarritz were four points clear and well and truly in the acendency.
A Dan Parks drop goal brought the margin back to just one point but further Glasgow indiscipline in their own half allowed Yachvilli restore the four point advantage with a wonderful kick from wide on the touchline.
Glasgow needed a try and were urgent in their play in the final minutes but their frantic efforts bore no fruit. So near yet so far.
The RBS Six Nations tournament kicks off this weekend and is set to be one of the most exciting since ever.
Rugby at this time off year captures the imaginations of millions, whether they are fans of the sport or not. Although the Tri Nations has a higher quality of player, rugby clubs throughout Western Europe will be full and the beer will be flowing. And this could be the closest championship since Italy’s inclusion back in 2000, with Europe’s elite six expecting to thrill fans across Europe.
But how will each team fare? Will Wales defend their crown and continue to sing in the Valleys, or will the Irish eyes be shinning? And what for Scotland? Can they get that elusive victory at Twickenham? Either way many of the home nation players will be looking to boost their chances of being picked for the Lions tour to South Africa this summer.
Here is a run down of each team, plus a few players to watch out for. Let the games begin…
Martin Johnson will be looking to improve on England’s Autumn International performance in his first Six Nations as coach, starting with dropping Danny Cipriani in favour of Andy Goode. Johnson will be going back to basics by playing a tactical and territorial game. Once their fall back tactic, this looks to be their new plan A.
He is still to shore up the midfield after Will Greenwood’s departure and the current pairing of Ricki Flutey and Mike Tindall have yet to find their feet at international level.
Anything less than three home wins will be seen as a failure for England.
Danny Care: This is a tough one as there are no real superstars in the team. The scrum half had a good 2008 and England will need him to be on top form to have a successful Six Nations.
My Prediction – Fourth
They face a tough opening match at Croke Park, which could determine how their campaign will be fought. They have picked a more conservative squad than in recent years. With Shabal in the second row they add a lot of muscle and aggression, but weaken their lineout as a result.
Poitrenaud sums up the French team. Brilliant one day, disastrous the next. Coach Marc Lievremont will be seeking consistent performances from his squad. They will miss the mercurial talents of Freddy Michelak and the team will have to step up if there is going to be a new generation of French flair.
Yannick Jauzion: A deadly mix of pace, balance and precision passing. He could be not only a match winner but a Grand Slam winner.
My Prediction – Third
Inconsistency has been the main theme for the Irish in recent years. Coach Declan Kidney will have to rectify this in 2009. There are a few promising young players coming through including Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald and these will add impetus to ageing stars like Brian O’Driscoll. The centre is no longer the devastating attacking force he once was, but is still strong in defence.
The front five remain strong and in David Wallace they have one of the best back rows in the tournament. They have a decent fixture list with England and France at home. Wales at the Millennium Stadium may prove to be a game too far for their Grand Slam hopes.
Ronan O’Gara: Some say the stand off dominates games, others say he fails to inspire. He needs to take the ball up to the game line and throw those defence splitting passes we all know he is capable off.
My Prediction – Second
As in any year the Italians aspire to just the one win. This year they could struggle to achieve this as they have no recognised half backs. There have been several stop gaps with centre, Paz, asking coach Mallet to stop playing him out of position.
Italy do have some genuine world class players in Prop, Castrogiovanni, Sergio Parisse and Bortolami.
They may surprise Ireland in Rome, but apart from that Murrayfield may prove yet again to be their only hope of avoiding that dreaded wooden spoon.
Sergio Parisse: One of the best players in the tournament. If he hailed from New Zealand he would be a household name. He is a top performer for club side Stade Francais and is easily the Italian’s best player.
My Prediction – Sixth
Scotland will be looking to improve on last year’s performance on one win, albeit against England. Scotland has still to field a backline capable of worrying an international defence since the turn of the century. However there is a degree of optimism this season with Tom Evans emerging as a genuine try scorer. There is also a new pace and creativity in the centre.
These players are untested at the highest level so it could go either way. There is still debate about the number ten jersey – Godman’s flair versus Park’s boot and reliability, but Godman could galvanise the exciting backline if he is in the starting lineup.
A key to Scotland’s success will be the powerful forward pack – a match for any team – and contains some genuine world-class players. They will have to create quick ball to allow the backline to function. Maybe then Scotland can start crossing the try line.
Mike Blair: The IRB world player of the year nominee can make Scotland tick. His roaming runs and crisp delivery must free up the midfield runners and build on the quick ball if Scotland are to start chalking the teams off their list. The captain needs a big tournament to boost his Lions credentials and his nation’s chances.
My Prediction – Fifth
Without a doubt the most talented team in the competition. They were the only northern hemisphere team to beat one of the big three in the autumn, pushing South Africa close and beating Australia.
Shane Williams is back from injury which will be a massive boost for Coach Warren Gatland. Roberts and Henson will provide a good mix of muscle and skill in the midfield and both James Hook and Steven Jones are capable match winners.
Pivotal to their success is the back row trio – Martin Williams, Andy Powell and Ryan Jones all complement each other and the rest of the Welsh side.
They could sneak the Championship on points difference, but watch out for a hiccup at Murrayfield this Saturday.
Ryan Jones: The defensive lynchpin, ball carrier and inspirational leader. He’s also tipped to lead the Lions this summer. His performance last year was awesome and the same will be required again.