This is not a match report

SRU enforce media blackout on Scotland Under-19 Development XV match versus Australian Schools

Reporting of the match was prevented in Scotland, while it was widely reported in Australia
Reporting of the match was banned in Scotland, while it was widely reported in Australia

WE had hoped to publish a report from the training match between a Scotland Under-19s Development XV and the touring Australian Schools/Under-18s side which took place at Oriam yesterday afternoon – but, unfortunately, a last-minute media blackout of the event by the SRU has prevented us from doing so.

The game wasn’t widely advertised by the SRU but there had been a fair bit of chat about it in rugby circles during the last few days, and it was open to any member of the public who applied for a free ticket via Eventbrite. Actually, it was open to any member of the public who happened to be wandering past the facility yesterday afternoon as tickets were not being checked at either of the venue’s entrances. A crowd of a couple hundred turned up to watch the game.

The Offside Line contacted the SRU on Tuesday to let them know that we planned to report on the match and got a reply telling us that was fine. However, it started to become apparent that the goalposts had moved yesterday morning when a member of the SRU media team phoned to ‘manage expectations’, explaining that this would be a very informal occasion with rolling-subs and so on, and, therefore, not really a media event.

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A follow-up email explained that: “We don’t want to put any pressure on the guys playing today as they are not aware of any media presence, hence the game wasn’t in the media schedule as it is not to be reported.” However, if we still wanted to attend as spectators then the link to apply for a ticket was provided.

Hands-up to that one. We didn’t really pay attention to the bit that said the game was “not to be reported”. The suggestion that the SRU would seriously ask any media outlet not to report on a match which is open to the public, and being played in a publicly funded facility, was too far-fetched to be regarded as anything other than a typo error.

So, we replied to assure the SRU that we weren’t looking to do a blow-by-blow account but simply give our readership an insight into how the day had gone, then off we headed to the match and on the way in we collected the printed team-sheet being handed out to all spectators.

Big challenge for young Scots

It was a tough first half for the young Scots. This was an extra fixture created at the behest of the Australians, which was being used by the SRU to give youngsters who had missed out on the national age-grade programme this year [many from what might be described as less fashionable schools and clubs, such as Biggar, Huntly, Mackie Academy FP, Newton Stewart, Preston Lodge, Royal High RFC and Trinity Accies] a chance to play at a higher level – and perhaps push for a late call-up to the Under-19s set-up. They’d had only two sessions together leading up to this match and were up against a very physical and well-drilled touring side, but they got stuck in and did themselves, their families, their schools and their clubs proud.

We understand it was equally tough in the second half.  The score-line certainly suggests so. But, by that time, we were on our way home after being instructed by a Scottish Rugby ‘Safety Officer’ to pack away our pencils and cameras because we did not have permission to report on this public event.

Apparently, this was at the behest of the Development XV’s management team as well as the SRU’s performance department [who were there en-masse, including the elusive Scott Johnston], although the basis of their objection to our reporting has not yet been made clear.

Could it be that the SRU believed that news of a heavy defeat would reflect badly on their own organisation?

Could it be, as was suggested to our photographer, that they were concerned about branding issues with the players’ strips and the potential of upsetting sponsors?

Could it be that the media department did not want any independent outlet reporting on a match which they had chosen not to cover?

Read all about it

Whatever the explanation, it is hard to escape the feeling that priorities here are all wrong.  Some talented youngsters were getting a sniff at the big time and being denied their due credit, whilst a ‘good news’ story for Scottish Rugby was being unnecessarily suppressed.

Clearly the Australians did not take the same view, with a match report being published on the Rugby Australia website last night, alongside a video of the fun match. The separate Australian Schools Rugby Union website also published a short report.

The Australians are back in action at Oriam on Sunday when they take on the Scotland Under-19s side. That is a full youth international and we look forward to publishing a preview and a full match report.

Fingers crossed!

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About David Barnes 4012 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. I am about to set up a business making bulletproof boots.
    Target Market BTM
    Their ability to shoot themselves in the foot knows no bounds.

  2. Just reading the Australian team to play scotland under 19 at the oriam on sunday 16th.There are 14 players listed for tomorrows game that played on wednesday.Whith 6 that played a full game including the captain ?? I thought wednesday was a development game against there B team ??

  3. Reading some of the comments 1 from Gerry Tosh, Gerry this game was just a paper exercise by the sru jackets,The team for scotland under 19 rugby had all been picked well in advance,This was only an attempt by linean and the sru jackets to keep the state schools and lower clubs quiet. What chance did any of these talented players have playing in this match. As the reporter for the off side line pointed out the aussies have been together 6 mths in prep for this game. They were a well drilled team, The sru youth policy is not working, it shouldn’t be about what club your from or school, or if your face fits, it should be all about talent and how to bring the best out these boys going forward. The sru jackets should be ashamed of putting these players in this position. yours a rugby players parent

  4. Then the Australians go and put a video of the entire match up on the web.

    Brilliant work there by “Buddy Hobbs” and the elves in the SRU’s media team.

    Bah! Humbug!

  5. Hi I have been going to these events for 3 years and you couldn’t make it up. These boys get lifted and layed all for the game of rugby. No wonder the drop out rate in youth rugby is so high. Your article is spot on these boys were put together last week and trained twice. In St Andrews?? What was the point in this game. Will any of these boys playing go forward. We all know the answer. Some one needs to take along hard look at what these sru jackets are doing to these young talented rugby players. yours rugby player’s parent

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