Last updated : 01 March 2005 By Duke Of Galloway


As my beloved Queens had a blank Saturday,I took the opportunity to switch sports and travel to Auld Reekie and see if Scotland could break their Duck against Italy at Murrayfield.
In order to avoid the traffic congestion which plagues Edinburgh on match days,an early start was advisable from Dumfries which was not entirely appreciated by my partner Deborah and neice Rebecca,both of whom were attending their first Rugby International. With the boot of my car suitably stocked with food and drink we were soon on our way up to Edinburgh via the A701 Beef Tub road. It was a glorious sunny Saturday morning and after a relaxed journey we arrived in Edinburgh around midday. The pubs at this time were already busy with thirsty Rugby followers as we made our way to the large car park at the back of the West Stand at the magnificent Murrayfield Stadium. The car park was already filling up quickly as I handed over an exotortionate fee to a smiling Steward. We parked bewteen two rather large expensive 4x4 vehicles whose occupants were soon quickly slugging back glasses of Chanpagne and chewing away at M+S chicken wings along with other goodies from a large picnic hamper. We followed suit with our salad rolls washed down with a more modest glass of Becks and optional Claret wine for the ladies. The whole car park took on a sort of party atmosphere as more and more drink was consumed and several Italian supporters dressed as Roman soldiers were causing quite a stir with the ladies. There was a large tent handing out free whisky by the match sponsors THE FAMOUS GROUSE which my partner discovered on her way to the toilet.

It was nearing kick-off so we made our way to our seats as the biggest pipe band I have seen for years started to belt out all the old favourites. There was also some magnificent singing from an Italian tenor and a female soprano from Scottish Opera. Their must have been approaching 40,000 in the magnificent stadium when the national anthems were sung. The atmosphere on kick-off was rather low key which was indicative of the low ebb Scottish Rugby is at the moment. The match started quietly with the respective front rows slugging it out. Gradually the Azzurri started to dominate and only desperate Scottish defence kept them out. Italy had several chances to open the scoring but it was Scotalnd who eventually took the lead as full-back Paterson kicked a penalty much to the relief of a subdued Murrayfield crowd. It was farely obvious by the general standard of play that we were waching the two worst teams in the Champioship. It was like watching paint dry as Scotland struggled to achieve anything and the Azzurri looked like they they would rather be back in the Italian sunshine. Scotland somehat luckily added to their lead and held it to half-time when we all heaved a sigh of relief. It had been an absolutely awful first half and my companions were bored out of their skulls although they were quite impressed by the phsical attributes of the Italian forwards. My partner also remarked that the Italian players looked much bigger and fitter than the Scots, a fact I found difficult to disagree with. During the half-time intrerval there was an impressive parachute display whereby 4 daredevil soldiers manged to land right in the middle of the pitch to the biggest cheer of the day from the Murrayfield crowd. The second half was a bit better with the Scots hammering away at the Italians who gradually gave up the ghost. The Scots eventully ran out worthy victors but much like their Football counterparts were totally unconvincing. They looked completetly devoid of any ideas and even when they had a chance to score a try completely made a mess of it. They also didn't look physically up to it with a few of the forwards looking well past their sell by date. It however was a smashing day out, thoroughly enjoyed by my companions and the atmosphere at Murrayfield was simply magic with opposing
supporters having a great old time. We were sat in front of an Italian couple from Verona who spoke perfect English and were gracious in defeat. They even invited us to Rome for the return match next year, a possibility I will have to look into.As I mentioined previously the atmosphere at Murrayfield was rather flat with the attendance around 30,000 down on capacity. Like
Football, Scotland is going through the doldrums at present and I suspect that the raw natural talent is not there at the moment. There was however some good news concerning the under 21 sides who have defeated both Ireland and Italy in recent weeks. Anyone who has not been to Murrayfield then I suggest you give it a go and I'm sure you wont regret it. They only problem is be prepared to pay quite a bit for a ticket. The prices range from £30-£65 but you will get a free glass of Whisky !