The Crooked Feed
A scattergun Scot
January 30, 2013
If anyone in the Scottish borders finds a set of marbles, please return them to Jim Telfer.
It could all be one big attention seeking stunt, intended to wind a few people up before the Six Nations, and Saturday's Calcutta Cup match in particular. It could be more serious.
A tremendous volume of hogwash, balderdash - I'm struggling not to write bulls**t - will be talked in the pubs and bars of Twickenham before and after the game, but only the most bilious of drunks will match the rantings of a once great rugby man in Tuesday's Daily Mail.
Telfer takes random, at times contradictory, swipes at anyone he can think of. Where once there was dispassionate rugby analysis and forthright opinion, we now get comic bigotry. "England are not as good as they think they are," he kicks off. The same can be said of many sportsmen, they call it confidence and it's a central tenet of success.
Of England's win against New Zealand, he groans, "If they had played another five times, the All Blacks would have won them all." Yes, Jim, you may be right, but they played them once and thumped them. Which is once more than Scotland have ever done, or any Lions team you were involved in as either player or coach.
In England's favour, Telfer generously suggests, is that the coaching team of Lancaster, Rowntree and Farrell are "all from the north". The players, he says, "are a different matter, people like Chris Ashton, Danny Care, Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi. They are young, very impressionable and they think what they read is all true." Coming from Wigan (Ashton) and Leeds (Care) is obviously not going to save them.
"Unless they are careful they will end up playing in a very English way. The way Saracens play. Pretty boring. The Northampton way. Boring. It's all about forward domination, and the irony is that England have some bloody good backs." Really Jim? Are any of those bloody good backs called Ashton, Care, Youngs or Tuilagi? Make your mind up.
It gets better, more bitter and more laughable. On why England might, in his own opinion, revert to type: "Because they are English. They have got a problem and they can keep it. They are too arrogant, too pretentious and too condescending to realise they have a problem."
Rather feeble, playground bully stuff from a man who, as a former teacher must have learned this sort of oratory from his less endearing charges.
All this would be fine if Telfer was just an acknowledged Anglophobe wheeled out by Scotland for his annual 15 minutes of fame. But he's got it in for others. "Basically, the Welsh are lazy."
Closer to home, Edinburgh and the Borders rugby fraternity are 'snobs' and of players that he selected and coached for Scotland, some "would never have played for any other country. I have picked them as much as anyone because you have to pick 15."
Ireland, of the home nations, get high praise on the Telfer scale. They "could be good". Too kind, sir.
He finishes by carping about Scotland coach Scott Johnson, Lions coach Warren Gatland and Lions manager Andy Irvine. Is there anyone he forgot?
Telfer should be remembered as a fine back row player and a distinguished coach whose finest moments included Scottish Grand Slams and Lions victories. Much more of this diatribe in his twilight years and the memory will be sadly tarnished.
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Richard Seeckts writes a regular blog - The Crooked Feed - for ESPNscrum
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