for scottish rugby fans! (urgent), page-2

  1. dub
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    re: scottish rugby fans ... for littletee Hello LT,

    Here 'tis.


    It's a Scottish twitch hunt
    By Petr Kogoy
    October 27, 2003

    HAD a mystery nervous disorder struck at the very heart of Scottish Rugby's finest?

    Clearly something was out of kilter as players lined up for the singing of Flower of Scotland before advancing into battle against the dreaded French Bleus at Telstra Stadium on Saturday night.

    If the All Blacks had the haka, had the Scots discarded the Highland fling for the twitch?

    The twitch became more pronounced as television camera panned the players' faces during the anthem, showing each of them in turn on the big screen inside the arena and on television screens beamed live into the pubs and clubs of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

    One by one the Scottish players gave off a sudden nervous twitch of the head.

    The crowd didn't know what to think, but after about the first six players had done it, 78,000 fans began cheering wildly as players twitched away on the big screen.

    It has now emerged from inside the Scottish camp that the anthem-twitching was a show of respect for the suspended flanker Martin Leslie on his 32nd birthday.

    Leslie, who is known to twitch on camera, is spending 12 weeks on the sidelines for kneeing in the pool match against the USA on October 20 at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.

    Scottish coach Ian McGeechan likened the players' action to a show of solidarity after the heavy ban handed out to Leslie.

    "It was the players' decision and it was their way of showing respect to Martin," McGeechan said. "We have lodged an appeal against the severity of the ban and I'm hoping we get a hearing on Tuesday."

    Leslie's World Cup campaign was brought to an end when he was slapped with the ban last Wednesday.

    The kneeing incident was missed by match officials, but the New Zealand-born Edinburgh player was later cited for illegal use of the knee on American centre Jason Keyter in the 35-16 win.

    Giant flanker Cammie Mather, who credits halfback Graham Burns back in Edinburgh for coming up with the twitching idea following a late night phone call to the team's Sydney hotel, said: "It wasn't so much a protest, more of a tribute to Marty. It was a bit of fun and I liked the fact the crowd inside the ground got to enjoy it as well watching it on the big screen."

    Barrel-chested prop Tom Smith said word of the pre-game prank had spread through the dressing room minutes before kick-off.

    "I saw it as a gesture of solidarity, but I'm not sure if anyone had discussed it with management," said Smith, voted Scotland's 2000-01 Player of the Year.

    Chris Paterson, Scotland's leading pointscorer at this year's Six Nations tournament, supported the team's actions.

    "We're a close knit squad a long way from home and here to play the game with a smile on our faces," Paterson said.

    "It shows how close we are."

    Sydney-born assistant coach Michael Byrne, raised on the finer points of AFL, said: "It wasn't as if the players put too much thought into it.

    "Martin has been a great servant for not only Scotland, but Edinburgh rugby. He puts in. Not a lot of people know how his body is held together.

    "He's been running on one good knee and has had a crook neck for a while. I just think the players really feel for him. Nobody associated with the squad wants to see a champion leave the game under a cloud."

    Meanwhile, Paterson said the Scots would dust themselves down and put the heavy loss to the French on Saturday night behind them in time for Fiji next weekend.

    "Once we get over the disappointment we'll sit down and start looking at next Saturday," Paterson said.

    "It's a massive one-off game. There's disappointment now but we just have to accept it and move on with our heads clear that we have to win next weekend."

    The Australian

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