Scotland v Italy: post-match round-up

Thumbs up for Chris Paterson; thumbs down for Dan Parks

I’m exhausted having watched the Scotland v Italy game this evening. Exhausted and relieved that Scotland won by the narrowest of margins (18 – 16), and only thanks to Bortolussi failing to slot a 77th minute penalty.

It wasn’t an elegant win, it wasn’t a win that Scotland fans can be particularly proud of except that it was a win, and that’s what counts at the end of the day, and now Scotland are through to the Quarter Finals, facing the winner of Pool D (I’m hoping it will be Argentina) at St Denis on Sunday 7 October.

This is my opinion on Scotland’s play this evening:

  1. Scotland defended well

    I was proud of how Scotland defended, particularly in harsh, wet conditions. Italy are a very physical side and even when Scotland were reduced to 14 men (see point #2) they defended consistently well, and made good advantage of Italy’s ill-discipline. If Scotland can continue to build on their defensive skills all the better, but they also need to improve their kicking game (see point #4).

  2. Scotland gave away too many stupid penalties

    I was disappointed at the stupid penalties that Scotland gave away: holding on in the tackle, coming into the side of a maul, pulling the maul down. In the heat of the moment, under pressure Scotland need to keep the heid and retain their discipline. There were too many points and too much ground lost because of this kind of lapse of discipline.

  3. When given the opportunity the forwards played a good driving game

    When given the opportunity! There were a few passages of play when the forwards were able to move the ball, drop, recycle and create a few good phases of play. But more often than not certain players (see point #4) simply kicked the ball up the field.

    When you’ve got the ball in your possession you have control of the game. As soon as you kick it, especially into open ground and not high enough to allow your own players to get up the field, you open up the possibility of something horrible going wrong. And this evening there were too many examples of this; it was just as well that our defence was so strong.

  4. Dan Parks kicks too often and too inconsistently

    I can’t understand why Dan Parks gets picked to play so consistently, because from my point of view his playing is less than consistent. ‘DP‘ — as he’s unaffectionately known here (or sometimes ‘Dorothy’ if I’m feeling even less generous!) — appears to be a one-trick pony, and his trick is kicking.

    If he is passed the ball he kicks it. Sometimes it finds its mark and Scotland gain ground, but more often it goes straight into the hands of the opposition.

    Now, I know that I was a forward and forwards like running game, but I do understand that sometimes you do need to quickly gain yards by kicking the ball strategically into touch. I just wish, more than anything else in the whole of the Scotland game, that we had a fly-half who could kick consistently and accurately.

    Is it because Parks is an Aussie that we’re afraid to drop him? I’d give the job to Gordon Ross. I really, honestly cannot understand why Parks is playing. Can someone please explain this to me? The commentators keeps saying what a good game he had, and I always think/shout at the telly: “Were you watching the same game?!”

  5. Chris Paterson is the man!

    Now as anyone from the Scottish Borders will know there is a long and affectionate rivalry between Selkirk and Galashiels. I’m from Selkirk; Chris Paterson is from Gala. But let me be the first to say that Chris Paterson is the man, and I’m deeply proud of him. So far in this World Cup he’s slotted 16 out of 16 balls over the posts. Fabulous!

I’ve now got eight days for my nerves to recover until the next match. At the end of the day though: well done Scotland, and it was nice to see my former high school Rector (head teacher) George Jack on the TV in the crowd (he’s now the SRU President).

Commonwealth of rugby

Welsh rugby player flying over the line

It’s been nice to see the colonies playing so well today at the Rugby World Cup. New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Fiji, Wales and Scotland — six out of the eight sides playing today — are all members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

  • New Zealand beat Romania ( 85 – 8 )

    Good effort to Romania who scored eight more points than Scotland did against the All Blacks last weekend.

  • Australia beat Canada ( 37 – 6 )

    Australia’s victory wasn’t quite as decisive as I’d hoped, play was sloppy in places, given that they face England next week. That said they were siding a second team, so resting their main players is probably a good tactic: England must be beaten!

  • Fiji beat Wales ( 38 – 34 )

    I found this an inspiring game to watch. The first half was all about Fiji: what power and a display of some beautiful passages of rugby. The second half was all about Wales, returning from the half-time break by running in three tries.

    But then Fiji powered over to a final try within the last four minutes. I’m not ashamed to say that I had tears in my eyes at the end of this match — sad that Wales would be leaving the World Cup, but delighted for Fiji who played like giants today.

But what of tonight’s game: Scotland v Italy. Scotland need at least a draw to go through to the quarter finals, where they will face the winner of Pool D (is there any doubt that this will be Argentina?). I wait nervously for the match to begin.

Operation Check Every CD Case™

Yesterday evening I decided that I should like to listen to the soothing tones of Halford:

Halford CD

Just to clarify, I do not mean Halfords (with an ‘s’), high street purveyor of car accessories, components and bicycles (at the Bike Hut).

Halfords

As an aside, I do not believe that Bike Hut will become as popular as Pizza Hut until Halfords offer a bicycle with a frame that is filled with melted cheese.

Back to the adventure … What I meant was Halford (with no ‘s’), the band named after non-hirsute and vaulting tenor Rob Halford, who first rose to fame in the heavy metal band Judas Priest.

However, when I opened the CD box … it was EMPTY!

empty Halford CD case

“Hmmm,” I thought to myself.

The last time I remember listening to this compact disc was in the portable compact disc player in my portable motor car machine.

Car

But alas! it was not there. (The CD, I mean, the car was there. On the drive. Parked. Where it should have been.)

I knew then that I must begin Operation Check Every CD Case™. Again. I have to do this about every two months, or so.

Unfortunately, I have quite a few CDs in my CD bookcase:

Bookcase of CDs

Knowing that the hardest part is just deciding where to start looking, I just started looking at head-height. On the fourth shelf down.

Start here

When I got to the third but last shelf:

Found!

I made a discovery in a Joe Satriani CD case:

Joe Satriani CD

What’s that doing there?! It’s a Tomahawk CD in the wrong case:

Tomahawk CD in Joe Satriani case

I was elated. But not delighted. I had still not found my Halford CD.

Reaching the bottom of the bookcase, I resumed my search at the very top. Working my way from left to right, checking CD after CD.

And then, only inches from where I began my search I made my discovery:

Arrow at top of bookcase

Nestled within a CD case filed under ‘B’ for Black Hawk Down:

Arrow on Black Hawk Down CD

I found my Halford CD! Hoorah! The Lord be praised! Now my Halford CD case is once more filled with pounding metal. All is well.

Halford CD in case

It’s true what they say: seek and you will find! What marvellous advice.

Now … where are my car keys? I need to get to work.

Ricky Gervais at Edinburgh Castle

Ricky Gervais at Edinburgh Castle

Something I’ve been meaning to blog about since last month (26 August 2007): Jane bought me two tickets to see Ricky Gervais performing at Edinburgh Castle during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

She bought me two tickets and said that I could take anyone I wanted. I chose to take Jane (of course) because she’s lovely.

What I didn’t realise was the controversy surrounding the decision to allow Mr Gervais to perform during the Fringe, as this article from The Scotsman proves: Fringe community fail to see funny side of Gervais’ cash-and-grab act

I had a few issues with that article.

1. Stealing tickets

Fringe promoters and rival comedians have criticised the creator of The Office for descending on the Fringe, hoovering up thousands of people for his audience and emptying their pockets of money which would otherwise have been spent on other shows.

… so why does he have to come during the Festival and suck 8,000 tickets away from other venues?

That’s clearly not true. There is absolutely no guarantee that those who went to see Ricky Gervais would have otherwise gone to any other show at the Fringe. This happened to be the only show that we went to see this year; we travelled to Edinburgh specially for it.

Rather than sucking 8,000 tickets away from other venues, he attracted at least 2 tickets to this venue and to the Festival.

That was money which would otherwise have been spent on other shoes, probably. I can’t imagine that Jane and I would have been the only two in that camp. (Not that it was a camp … it was a castle.)

2. The price

And there was some evidence last night that comedy audiences were thinking the same thing, with £37.50 tickets for Gervais’ Fame! show being resold online below their face value.

Sure, £37.50 is a lot for a ticket, but it’s not like we go out to shows very often. Besides, as Ricky Gervais pointed out himself at the show: there’s a hell of a difference between hiring a venue that’s a poky wee room in a hotel on the Bridges and hiring a castle!

3. Impact

Tommy Sheppard, director of the Edinburgh-based The Stand comedy club, believes Gervais’ inclusion in the Fringe will impact on the Festival.

I think he did have an impact on the Festival. I came away from the show having had a great evening, and having laughed more than I had done in a long time. More than many of the other Fringe shows I’d been to in previous years. I went away having had a great experience of this year’s Edinburgh Festival — surely that’s a good thing!

4. Should it be allowed?

“… it’s ludicrous an event of this scale should be allowed to take place … On a night when the venues should be bustling, thousands of people will be up at the castle.”

It’s called the marketplace! You offer something, if people want it they will pay for it.

5. Fishing metaphor

Maxwell questions why Gervais has to put on his show during the Festival … If only to drive home the point, he compares smaller acts at Edinburgh this year to a “little fishing village“, while the Gervais machine is regarded as a trawler.

Haven’t these people been watching the Trawlermen documentaries on BBC1? Don’t they realise that even the trawlers are struggling these days?

Anyway … it was great

It was a great evening. The pre-show entertainment was initially provided by a scary-looking woman who refused to sit in her seat and kept facing the rear of the auditorium. I became convinced that she was actually floating and at the start of the gig would float into the air and explode. She didn’t.

Then the Lothian and Borders Police Pipe Band marched into the arena and onto the stage. I love pipe bands, my dad having played in one for years as we were growing up.

Ricky Gervais then burst onto stage in a spectacle of fireworks and Freddie Mercury-esque pomp and circumstance, and then spent the rest of the evening speaking while we laughed.

It was well worth it. They say that laughter is the best medicine. Which made me wonder why we needed members of St John’s Ambulance scattered about the arena. I bet they felt foolish.

Two visits to hospital

Stethoscope

The last couple of days have had a strong hospital theme to them. One was a planned visit, the other wasn’t.

Monday

On Monday Jane and I went over to Dundee for a meeting and more tests to try to progress us towards starting IVF. Unfortunately it’s not going to be quite as straightforward as we’d hoped. Before we can start the IVF treatment it turns out that Jane will have to be admitted for an operation to remove something — they don’t know what.

By that I don’t mean that they’ll decide what to remove when they get into theatre — “So chaps, what do you fancy removing today?” What I mean is that there is something they need to remove, but they don’t know from the scans what it is. Except that it shouldn’t be there.

We both felt quite, quite gutted. Monday was a long and emotionally painful day.

Tuesday

Yesterday afternoon I got a phone call from Jane. She was being taken to hospital in Stirling having accidentally and awkwardly fallen down a flight of stairs at her work’s head office.

Thankfully Jane hadn’t broken any bones, or torn any muscles or ligaments. She was ‘just’ quite bruised and very sore, and no doubt will be for a few days to come. Our good friends Ian and Yvonne in Cellardyke drove me down to Kirkcaldy to pick up Jane and her car — both having been brought over from Stirling by colleagues of Jane. She was certainly well looked after.

Wednesday

I’m not planning on going into hospital today.