The Townsend verdict on call to ditch Flower of Scotland anthem
Gregor Townsend has explained why he doesn’t back a call from former Scotland coach Jim Telfer for Flower of Scotland to be ditched as the team’s national anthem. It was 1990 when the song was first used for rugby, firing up the Scots before they beat England in the famed winner-takes-all Grand Slam showdown at Twickenham.
That 13-7 win was secured against a backdrop of unrest in Scotland over the early introduction of the poll tax north of the border and members of the beaten English team have since claimed they were the victims of xenophobia that day.
The story of that rumbustious match has been now been retold at length in The Grduge, the 80-minute documentary that premiered last week on BT Sport ahead of the February 4 Twickenham showdown between the two countries in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations.
In the meantime, Telfer, who first spoke about wanting to bin Flower of Scotland a decade ago, recently reiterated his wish for the rugby team’s anthem – which recounts Scotland’s victory over ‘proud Edward’s’ army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 – to be shelved as he believes it is inappropriate in these modern times.
“Flower of Scotland is a great song in a way and it does get the hairs on your neck straightening and standing up, but because it’s against another country, I still don’t think it’s the ideal anthem,” he said in a Times interview.
"Hopefully, it entertains and makes people think, ‘Wow, what a great time to have played rugby’.”
– @JeremyGuscott with @heagneyl ??? ahead of this Friday's @btsportrugby premiere of The Grudge, the film on the 1990 Scotland vs England Grand Slam decider. https://t.co/lhHa1UtFi3
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 15, 2023
“People sing that song, sing about the English, and it’s just in the moment. After the anthem has passed, we just get on with the game or whatever it is we’re doing. They use it at the Commonwealth Games and so on but I still don’t think it should be the national anthem. That’s still how I see it.”
Asked for his thoughts on the playing of Flower of Scotland just prior to his team kicking off in their Test rugby matches, current boss Townsend said: “I love it. It’s one of the unique occasions in sport, maybe more so at Murrayfield when the second verse is played without the accompaniment of music.
“Whenever I played a few places outside of Scotland and they always wanted to play Flower of Scotland, whether it was Australia or France, they loved the anthem so it means a lot to our supporters. They also seem to want to continue.”
New Scotland skipper Jamie Ritchie added: “What else would we sing? I don’t know. For me, there is something really special about singing it at home. When the music cuts out the crowd feels it as well. I couldn’t think of going without it.”
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good to see a positive artcle negativity has a habit of compounding on itself bring on 2024Go to comments
The concern seems to be that if clubs don't maintain some level of control over players, the players will be gone for too long. But a big part of this, something that SMT seemed to acknowledge earlier on is that there are simply too many matches. Cut the number of matches back to 16-18 per season (plus European play). England is not France, France is unique in the world of rugby in that they seem to be the one nation in which rugby fans value their clubs just as much as their national side. England is like the rest of the rugby playing world, all of whom play far fewer domestic matches. You have URC at 18, Super Rugby at what, 14? We have the straight forward 10 team format with a 10 team Championship and pro/rel that's been mulled. In an ideal world, that would be my preference, and it gives you 18 matches. I've shifted though to really dramatically cutting back the Prem season even more. Keep 12 clubs, ring fence it. The 11 in it now plus Wasps reborn. You have a North Group and a South Group. Double round-robin in your group, single round robin outside of it, gives you only 16 matches. Top 2 from each group make the playoffs N1 vs S2, S1 vs N2 semis, then the final. I want pro/rel, I want the extra matches as well but again, we are not France. There just isn't the appetite for domestic rugby that you have in France. Sixteen matches assures that even with European play, they wouldn't miss much on national duty, and it makes central contracts way more palpable, which is truly what the game does need. The national side can exercise more control over the most valuable players, while lifting some financial burden from the clubs and also providing incentive for England's best to stay in England.Go to comments