Logan urges Scottish belief
October 14, 2009
Kenny Logan has urged the Scottish sides to believe in themselves © Getty Images
It could have been so different. Edinburgh and Glasgow both trooped out against French opposition in the opening round of the Heineken Cup last weekend buoyed by positive starts to their seasons, their eyes firmly set on ending a sorry European record that shows only a single quarter-final appearance for a Scottish side.
Edinburgh, going well in the Magners League, were swept aside with disdain by Stade Francais' wave of Technicolor while Glasgow, powered by the boot of the erratic Dan Parks, fell agonisingly short of defeating 2006 finalists Biarritz at Firhill. Hopes were dashed once again.
Former Scotland international Kenny Logan was among those believing that both sides had genuine chances to put down a marker. Edinburgh's capitulation was hardest to stomach for the 70-cap wing, who is fearful for both sides after conceding ground to their rivals.
"That's what the Heineken Cup is all about, teams that get in to it early, getting a good win early doors. Edinburgh and Glasgow don't have that," he told ESPNScrum. "It was always going to be a hard place for Edinburgh to go to but they were in good form and had been playing well. Everybody was thinking that they were going to do well as Stade hadn't had the best start to their season.
"It does build confidence, winning games, it's very important for the players. That only helps moving to international rugby. We need to win games; if we can be consistent like Edinburgh have been in the league it does make a difference. It'll be easier after this week to assess where we are. Glasgow had a chance at beating Biarritz and Edinburgh had a chance of getting something positive out of the Stade game but they got smashed."
As ever, the issue of strength-in-depth in Scottish rugby has reared its head. Since the Borders side was disbanded in 2007, there has been a log-jam at the top end of the Scottish production line. Logan sees only one option - to reinstate a third side.
"The best thing is to have a third team. We need more players. We should be looking to get another team to maybe get in to the Challenge Cup," he said. "Our policy in Scotland is to get as many players playing as possible and we can then get more players playing for the national team. We've only got two teams; it's very hard to give everybody a game. If we had another team it suddenly gives more players more opportunities."
Edinburgh and Glasgow are resolutely 'Scottish' teams; by comparison with their European rivals they have a core of home-grown talent available to newly-instated Scotland coach Andy Robinson. Logan's view however is that a few foreign names would invigorate Scottish rugby, as former England boss Robinson has. Tom Smith, a former Scotland and Lions prop, has recently returned from playing in England with Northampton as a coach at Edinburgh and Logan expects him to maul his players following their slump in Paris.
"99% of the teams are Scottish but sometimes it's good to have a mix of players," said Logan, who spent several successful years in England with Wasps. "You learn from them and learn from their cultures. New Zealanders, South Africans, Australians, French, you learn their cultures.
"It's important for players to learn, Andy Robinson has done so well because he comes from a different culture. You learn, you don't know him as well. Young coaches, Tom Smith, even though he's Scottish he's got the culture of being in England for a while. He'll approach that game at the weekend and be angry.
"And that's what you want; you want your coaches to be angry and upset. It all depends how they get their team to turn around the following week. I think they both can win this week but it's going to take a lot of effort and a real show of character."
Character will be important for Scotland heading in to November Tests against Fiji, Australia and Argentina. Their frailties, notably at fly-half where Phil Godman and Parks have endured mixed starts to the season and promising youngster Ruaridh Jackson is out injured, will not be overlooked by their competitors.
Logan believes that the answer is simple - nurture these player and build their belief because, they're all they've got.
"It's all we've got," he said. "Losing a player like Jackson is a big loss. He's a young boy coming through who could put pressure on Dan Parks. Parks, we all know he can kick goals but we need the other parts of his game to be consistent. He's not consistent but he wants to keep proving people wrong and we've got to support him."
Next up for Glasgow it's out on the road to bogey team Dragons. For Edinburgh, it's a Murrayfield homecoming with Ulster the visitors. From Logan the message is simple: Both teams can win.
"You have to have belief," he said.
Kenny Logan is a Heineken ambassador. Heineken are proud to be celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Heineken Cup, the best club rugby competition in the world. www.heinekenrugby.co.uk