The Offside Line’s End of Year Awards for 2022

It has been a year of highs and lows for Scottish rugby

Lots of ups and down in a year when Scottish Rugby lost some trie legends. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Lots of ups and down in a year when Scottish Rugby lost some trie legends. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Game of the Year 

Aberdeen Uni Medics 39 Fraserburgh 0

with a whopping 43.03 percent of the vote

Nominated by Jack Nixon

The judges said: “This isn’t the first time a regional league match has won the award, with Berwick’s National Shield success over Greenock Wanderers winning the accolade in 2019 and Panmure’s snowbound clash against Dundee Uni Medics coming out on top of the 2018 poll, but it is comfortably the biggest landslide of all the Game of the Year polls conducted during the last four years.

“Some mobilisation of votes from the clubs involved may have played a part in this result, but it also clearly highlights that there remains a deep affection and admiration for those who play the sport at grassroots level.”

  • 2nd place: Scotland v England with 17.73 percent of the vote

  • 3rd place: Currie Chieftains versus Marr with 10.17 percent of the vote


The ‘Sweet Sherries All Round, Barman’ Award for Services to the Beleaguered Hospitality Industry 

The ‘Edinburgh Six’

The judges said: “It didn’t go down well with the Scotland coaching team and lots of holier than thou supporters of the national team, but the efforts of erstwhile captain Stuart Hogg, enfant terrible Finn Russell, Darcy Graham, Ali Price, Sam Johnson and Sione Tuipulotu to help support some Edinburgh bars after two years of Covid lockdowns and social distancing on the evening after Scotland’s Six Nations win over Italy should go down as one of the biggest storms in a teacup to ever rock the gentile world of  Scottish rugby.”


The Lazarus of Bethany Award for Comeback of the Year –

FINN RUSSELL

Image: Craig Watson

The judges said: “Having been dropped to the bench for Scotland’s final Six Nations match against Ireland following that infamous drinking session, and rested for Scotland’s summer trip to South America, the talismanic stand-off was then excluded from Gregor Townsend’s initial training squad for the Autumn Test Series, with the head coach making the improbable claim that the decision was based on form.

“The fact that Russell as well as Adam Hastings were not to be available for the first match of the campaign against Australia because it was being played outside World Rugby’s international Test window may have had a bearing on this selection call, but there was nothing to stop Townsend naming four stand-offs in his initial squad.

“He would surely have been better off claiming that he already knows what his most experienced playmaker is capable of and that he wanted to give the understudies space during training to show what they can do. That would have been slightly more credible. As it is, the suspicion persists that this controversial selection call was entirely down to a personality clash.

“In contrast to their famous previous spat, when Russell gave an incendiary interview to The Sunday Times newspaper, this time he kept his counsel and did his talking on the pitch, with a couple of towering performances for Racing 92 practically forcing his international recall after Hastings was ruled out of the series through injury. Russell immediately jumped ahead of Blair Kinghorn and Ross Thompson into the starting XV to face New Zealand, producing a maestro performance as Scotland came close to breaking their long losing streak against those opponents. The following week, he combined his trademark flair with shrewd game management as the national side finished a tumultuous 2022 with a morale-boosting win over Argentina.

“Some credit is due to Townsend for adapting to events mid-stream, but it is a concern that the coach and the team’s most influential player continue to struggle to get and stay on the same page as the 2023 World Cup looms over the horizon.”


Scotland Men Try of the Year

CHRIS HARRIS v ITALY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ex3pky8RXaE&list=PLG3eciT85YoWxWZPYFEsgUEmiqJUe8kfi&index=2

The judges said: “This coast-t0-coast effort made the shortlist for World Rugby’s Try of the Year Award.”


Scotland Women Try of the Year –

MEGAN GAFFNEY v WALES

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5GiqJZOtxs&list=PLG3eciT85YoWxWZPYFEsgUEmiqJUe8kfi&index=5

The judges said: “Power off the back of the scrum, hard running and slick hands in the middle of the park, and a sharp finish. It was close but no cigar for Scotland in their World Cup opener against Wales in New Zealand.”


Super6 Try of the Year –

NYLE GODSMARK OF HERIOT’S v BOROUGHMUIR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A14HwjA7_Xk&list=PLG3eciT85YoWxWZPYFEsgUEmiqJUe8kfi&index=1

The judges said: “Panel member Robbie Barnes, aged 12, absolutely loves a cross-field kick, and described this effort as ‘different gravy!'”


Premiership Try of the Year –

KYLE BRUNTON OF HAWICK v EDINBURGH ACCIES

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIWAQ4HX4Y0&list=PLG3eciT85YoWxWZPYFEsgUEmiqJUe8kfi&index=6

The judges said: “A fantastic, free-flowing effort from current Premiership pace-setters, Hawick.”


Edinburgh Try of the Year 

MAGNUS BRADBURY v GLASGOW

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0KEDporAtw&list=PLG3eciT85YoWxWZPYFEsgUEmiqJUe8kfi&index=4

The judges said: “Lovely inter-play to break the line, great power and fast feet from Darcy Graham, and a no-look pass from Chris Dean to die for. What’s not to like?”


Glasgow Warriors Try of the Year –

COLE FORBES v CARDIFF

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6bNwBbm09I&list=PLG3eciT85YoWxWZPYFEsgUEmiqJUe8kfi&index=3

The judges said: “Reminiscent of the glory days at Scotstoun.”


A Big Shout Out To –

BORDERS RUGBY TV

The judges said: “Thanks to Stuart Cameron for pulling together all the Try Of The Year videos. It is much appreciated by the TOL team.”


The Elon Musk Award For Being A Complete Asshole on Social Media –

RASSIE ERASMUS

The judges said: “Lots of contenders for worst Tweet of the year from the same guy, so take your pick as to which one hit rock bottom. Below are a few options to choose from …”


Breakthrough Player of the Year –

OLLIE SMITH

The judges said: “The full-back made his Glasgow Warriors debut against Edinburgh in January 2021 but struggled with the step up, and over the remainder of that campaign he managed four starts, three bench appearances and two yellow cards. And the start of the 2021-22 campaign was not much better, with 13 minutes off the bench against Ulster in round one of the URC and five minutes against Benetton in late November all the game time he got during the first four months of the season.

“But things started to look up in late January 2022 after he scored two tries as a late replacement in Warriors’ Champions Cup loss to eventual tournament winners La Rochelle, then went on to start nine of the team’s 13 remaining matches in the campaign. It wasn’t a vintage period for Warriors but he did enough to be called up to Scotland’s Six Nations training squad before making his bow in the third Test against Argentina during the summer, and he scored a fine try against Australia at the start of the Autumn.

“He is now a key figure in a resurgent Glasgow squad and firmly established as a credible contender/successor to the Scotland No 15 jersey which Stuart Hogg has dominated for so long.”


The Garry Kasparov Cup for Making the Right Move at the Right Time –

SIONE VAILANU

The judges said: “The big Tongan made the move north to join Glasgow  during the close season, and his old club, Worcester Warriors, plunged into administration in late September as a result of a tax dispute with the UK Government and is suspended from completing fixtures by the Rugby Football Union, with their future in Premiership Rugby currently unclear. The contracts of all players and coaching staff were terminated on 5th October following the granting of a winding up petition from HMRC in the High Court.

“Meanwhile, things are going pretty well for Vailanu in his new surroundings. After a slowish start to his time at Scotstoun, he has made a big impact in recent weeks, winning the McCrea Financial Services Warrior of the Month award for November and filling the openside void created by injuries to Rory Darge and Tom Gordon to create a powerful back-row triumvirate alongside Matt Fagerson and Jack Dempsey.”


The Nadia Comaneci Award for Acrobatic Excellence –

DARCY GRAHAM

Image: Craig Watson

The judges said: “Sometimes the Edinburgh and Scotland winger managed to score magical tries from highly improbable positions. On occasion, as in the photo above from the Autumn Nations Series match against the All Blacks, he just failed to do so – in this case because of going into touch first. Above all, however, he was a threat to opponents whenever he was in possession, and we anxiously await his return from injury.”


The Donald Trump Tribute Trophy

JOHN JEFFREY

The judges said: “When an explosive and heartbreaking article appeared in The Sunday Times at the end of July in which Siobhan Cattigan’s family directed a number of serious criticisms towards Scottish Rugby related to their handling of events leading up to and after the Scotland forward’s tragic death in November 2021, it called for decisive and compassionate leadership.

“But calls for a proper external inquiry were clumsily side-stepped, with SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson stating at August’s AGM that: ‘There are a number of people looking at a number of things at the moment. It is not a review. It will try and establish the facts. That is what we are trying to do. Facts and timeline. This may end up in court proceedings and this may be the most appropriate place for this to end up. There is one part of the story that has been out there. What we are trying to establish is the whole story. Until we establish the whole story, the timeline and facts, the facts will come out in due course.’

“It looks like the strategy is to turn this into a Mexican stand-off, with court proceedings likely to take years and potentially cost tens of thousands. But the business and the reputation of the sport is on the line and Murrayfield’s reluctance to address the issue is hugely damaging as it suggests there is something to hide.

“The buck stopped at that point with Jeffrey, as Chairman of the ‘old’ Board. However, a new governance structure is now in place, with a ‘Custodian Board’ currently being assembled which is supposed to have responsibility for overseeing the work of Jeffreys and his operational Board.

“That new board is Chaired by Professor Lorne Crerar, who was asked at the start of October if the Cattigan case is something he expects to get involved in. ‘Clearly anything that has a significant effect on the brand of Scottish Rugby will have an influence on the Custodian’s views, and clearly this is a matter of considerable public interest,’ he replied. ‘The Custodians’ job will be to say: ‘Why did it happen? How did it happen? How have you dealt with it? And what will the likely outcomes be? So, it will certainly be part of one of the initial agenda of the Custodian Board.’

“The ball is in his court.”


The Lord Lucan Award for Disappearing Without a Trace 

DYLAN RICHARDSON

The judges said: “A surprise call-up to Gregor Townsend’s Autumn 2021 training squad, the South African back-row/hooker, who has a father from Edinburgh, made his debut off the bench for the final nine minutes of the final game of the series against Japan.

“Since then, he has not quite ‘disappeared without a trace’ given that he continues to appear regularly for the Sharks in the URC, including against Glasgow back in October, but was listed as injured when Gregor Townsend named his 2022 Six Nations squad and he didn’t feature during the summer or autumn either.

“There is a wealth of talent at Scotland’s disposal in Richardson’s preferred openside slot, but Hamish Watson and Rory Darge are touch and go for the Six Nations, so could he re-appear to challenge the likes of Jamie Ritchie and Luke Crosbie for the No 7 jersey early next year?”


Nadir of the Year 

Leinster 76 Glasgow Warriors 14

The judges said: “The less said about this catastrophe, the better. Warriors came into this URC play-off quarter-final struggling for momentum following a brutal run of away matches, and they fell apart completely. When Danny Wilson lost his job as head coach of the club during the bitter aftermath, the only real surprise is that the amiable Englishman didn’t see the bullet coming.”


The game they play in heaven –

(by MATT VALLANCE)

THE year was a mere five days old when we learned of the death of West of Scotland great Fraser Livingstone. His passing was quickly followed by that of Stirling County stalwart Euan Snowie. The list lengthened towards the end of the month when, on the same day, we learned of the passing of Heriot’s and Scotland cricket legend – and by no means an average rugby player –Hamish More, and kenspeckle Robbie Dye, Wullie Gray.

March began with more sad news from Goldenacre, with the news of the death of another well-known Herioter, Charlie Bisset. Then, on 1st April, we learned of the passing of one of the stalwarts of the Wigtownshire club, down there in Stranraer – Alan Parker.

And on 6th April, we lost one of the true greats in Tom Smith, former Scotland captain and British Lions prop, after a typically courageous battle against Cancer. Tom’s death was followed, five days later, by that of Dr Brian Slawson, a man whose 89 years saw him give a lot to the game, as a referee, international touch judge and as a key figure on the SRU’s medical team.

The heavy April toll continued with the passing of that great Hawick and Scotland prop of the 1960s and early 1970s Norman Suddon, while, as the calendar turned over into May, we mourned the passing of a tremendous referee, Murray Clayton, of Whitecraigs.

There was further sorrow in Hawick with the passing of another Robbie Dye legend, as Elliot Broatch passed away. Later that month, Angus Campbell, a man who gave great service to some of the minor clubs in Glasgow District – Hyndland, Clydebank, Strathendrick, and the Dunbartonshire county team – also left us.

The heavy toll 2022 was taking on Hawick rugby continued into June, with the death of the great Oliver Grant on 7th June.

In July, we learned of the death of Jock Clark. A player and official with Old Spierians and Garnock, Jock – the son of broadcasting legend Jamieson Clark – made his most-telling contribution to the game during his many years of work with BBC Scotland, where he worked alongside Bill McLaren, editing match-day footage and compiling the highlights programmes which were broadcast.

July ended sadly in Ayrshrie, when on the same day the deaths of former Kilmarnock team-mates Niven Rose and Eddie Harris were announced. Rose, who arrived at Kilmarnock after playing for the full Glasgow team while still with junior club Dalry High School FP, suffered from his career overlapping with that of Andy Irvine. Some around Bellsland will still argue ‘Monty’ at least as good as the Heriot’s legend, but, perhaps, he didn’t want international honours enough to kick on from playing for Scotland B. Harris himself admitted he was a journeyman player, but he gave fantastic service off and on the park for the Kilmarnock club over many years.

Towards the end of July we lost another giant of the Scottish game, with the passing of former Edinburgh Academical, Scotland and British Lions scrum-half Stan Coughtrie.

August 1st was a black day for Cumnock Rugby Club, with the announcement of the death of Alan Davidson, the man who had the idea of forming the club and who went on to give it many years of service as player, captain, club official and referee. On the same day, Cumnock also learned of the passing of Billy Jolly, a combative flanker of the early teams.

Sadness too at Richmond Athletic Ground with the passing of London Scottish stalwart Roddy Caxton-Spencer in early August. Later in the month, John Hodgkinson, father of the late Craig and a long-time supporter of rugby at Old Anniesland and in Glasgow in general, passed away.

On 25th August, we learned of the passing of one of the greats of Kelso rugby – Arthur Hastie. As a player, Arthur was a Kelso stalwart, captaining the club before going on to be President. However, he also served the SRU, having a spell as Scotland team manager.

That same day we learned of the sudden death of Ian Clark, a past president of the West of Scotland Referees Society and a man who, as an anonymous ‘referee spotter’ encouraged many fine referees to give to the game.

In early October, we learned of the death of London Scottish and former Scotland centre Jim Shackleton. Later in the month came the sad news of the passing of Marr’s Hamish McCulloch, a man who gave great service to rugby at Fullarton as a flying winger, club captain, later coach and club President. At least Hamish enjoyed a reasonably long life, unlike former GHK captain Pete Ritchie, who passed away far too soon, aged just 39 at the end of that month.

October’s death toll went on to the very end, with the sad passing of former Ardrossan Accies, Kilmarnock, West of Scotland, Glasgow and Scotland scrum-half or stand-off Bryan Gossman. ‘Gossie’ was a wonderfully-gifted player who suffered from an accident of birth – he was around at the same time as the great John Rutherford and his Scotland caps came in games where Rutherford was unavailable due to injury. But for the brilliance of Rutherford, Gossman, like erstwhile club-mate Niven Rose with Andy Irvine, would have had more caps.

Then came news of a further loss at Myreside and Poynder Park, with the passing of former Watsonian and Kelso captain Clive Millar.

On 24 October, the death was announced of Jim McComiskey, a teacher who had coached and encouraged rugby at Kilmarnock Academy then Carrick Academy and at the Kilmarnock and Carrick clubs – a true grass-roots rugby man.

Into November and another man who gave huge service to the game passed on. Dr Donald Macleod was described by no less an authority than Dr James Robson as: “the Godfather of sports medicine in the United Kingdom”. An Edinburgh Academical, Dr Macleod was Scotland team doctor for many years, serving in that capacity with the 1983 Lions. He was also a past President of Selkirk RFC and had been President of the SRU in 2013-14.

On Saturday, 26 November, came the news we had all dreaded and feared, with the announcement of the passing of the legend that was Doddie Weir OBE, the end of his personal battle against MND, but, not the end of his wonderful fund-raising efforts to beat this dreadful disease. Doddie may be gone, but, his legacy will continue.

Then, on 30th November, the death was announced of long-service former President and stalwart of Jed-Forest rugby, Jack Ormiston, a man who had been associated with the club for over 40 years.

Then, at the start of December, we lost another iconic figure with the death of Jim Taylor MBE, the inspiring figure who did not allow being confined to a wheelchair by an accident, when he was pinned at the foot of a collapsing scrum when playing for Kelvinside Academicals, prevent him from becoming an inspirational fund-raiser for the Hearts and Balls charity and a key background figure in Glasgow rugby.

There may have been others who contributed to this great game, who passed on this year. We mourn them too, 2022 has taken a harsh toll on the game. May they all rest in peace.


1872 Cup: Warriors blow away Edinburgh to claim silverware and five URC league points

4 Comments

  1. Well done Matt, Your touching tribute to those who passed over last year is one which has been thoroughly and thoughtfully researched.

  2. Well done Matt, Your touching tribute to those who passed over last year is one which has been thoroughly and thoughtfully researched.

  3. Dylan Richardson was in great form for the Sharks and there was a number of Scottish fans hoping he’d be included in the Autumn squad due to this.
    Unfortunately he was left out, and then in November suffered a knee injury which has put him out for the last month and a half. If he’ll be fit for the 6N is unknown but seems unlikely as judging by his Instagram, he’s still rehabbing the injury.

    2
    1

Leave a Reply

Please be respectful in your replies. Abusive language is automatically blocked. Your email address will not be published.


*