by JACK NIXON
THE sensitivity of the SRU’s Championship Committee towards the club game has been called into question by two clubs in the Caledonia area who appealed against having to play a rearranged game on the same Saturday as Scotland were scheduled to meet Argentina at Murrayfield.
The original National League 3 match was scheduled to be played on 10th November but was called off because Orkney were unable to get off the island due to high winds which prevented ferries from running to Aberdeen, where the Pickaquoy side were due to meet league leaders Gordonians at Countesswells.
The game was then rearranged for Saturday 24th November (which is a designated standby date), resulting in both sides appealing to the SRU to have another postponement to a date later in the season. The appeal was rejected, although neither side received notification of the ruling body’s decision until the week of the game, by which time a large number of players from both clubs had made arrangements to follow the fortunes of Scotland in Edinburgh.
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Garry Coltherd, the Orkney vice-president and co-coach, was appalled by the intransigence of the SRU.
“It’s a shambles,” he said. “Both clubs would have been happy to have met at a later date in the season. The SRU are out of touch with the spirit of the game, but we played the game. Ducking out of our commitments is not the Orkney way.”
“In the event, it took 98 calls at the end of last week to get together 17 players for the trip, many of them playing for the first time. I even came out retirement to play in the front-row, and played for most of the game.
“We actually gave a good account of ourselves, scoring a try in the 41-10 defeat, and probably had the lion’s share of the game in the second half when we were camped on the Gordonians line for long spells.”
Among those who received a phone call was Aberdeen based Orcadian Keith Oddie, who retired from the game in 2010 after a long and successful career at Rubislaw where he was stand-off in the Aberdeen Grammar side which came within touching distance of winning the Premiership under head coach Damian Reidy.
Oddie declined the opportunity to turn out for his old club, but went along to see the game.
“This was a great performance from my old team,” he said. “Instead of going into their shell, they took the game to Gordonians, and deserved to take more out of the game. I am very proud of them.”
The home side were totally in sympathy with the argument, as indicated by their president Jim Sugden.
“Neither side wanted to play the game today,” he said. “It was an important fixture which has been devalued. Orkney are a credit to the game, putting other clubs to shame. We are proud to be associated with them.”
Scotland’s professional rugby players finally get their own union
Bang on with the headline, about the sensitivity of the championship committee towards the club game, but underlying all of it is the underlying dislike of Orkney RFC in general.