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Monday, October 25, 1999 Published at 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK


A performance to be proud of

Kenny Logan races after the ball, followed by the All Blacks' Tana Umaga

Ex-international and Scottish rugby journalist, John Beattie, congratulates Scotland on a brave performance against New Zealand, but criticises referee Ed Morrison for a number of lop-sided decisions.

And so, in amongst all the negativity in Scotland about the game here and unsold tickets in smaller games, the biggest ever crowd to watch the All Blacks turned up at Murrayfield to watch one of the bravest performances our tangerine team has ever given.

But let's make this clear.

Ed Morrison's handling of the game where, like all the other referees, he blew his whistle against the smaller team and seemed to ignore the black arts from the All Blacks, was a disgrace.


[ image: Outgoing coach Jim Telfer: A truly remarkable man]
Outgoing coach Jim Telfer: A truly remarkable man
Or maybe he is allergic to tangerine. Scotland won the second half by 15-5 but just couldn't haul back an artificially large gap created by Mr Morrison as he penalised Scotland off the park.

Whatever. Maybe it's easier to spot misdemeanours when they happen in orange on a floodlit pitch.

Maybe Scotland want to go back to their old white away strip. Heck, it was a day of pride and Scotland battled, beat them in the second half, but couldn't win the whole thing.

Maybe the quote of the day belongs to Cammie Murray, the young right winger, who was faced with the task of defending against Jonah Lomu and indeed went past Lomu for his try with a glorious dummy.

He was asked just how it was you tackled Jonah Lomu. "I don't know," said Murray. "But when you've done it once you realise that you can do it again."

There were tears in the tunnel as Gary Armstrong, a truly honest man, said he was retiring. Alan Tait was retiring, Paul Burnell was retiring, and so was Jim Telfer the national coach.

All a rather sad end to a pulsating day and Armstrong, who tried to tell the players that this had been his last game in a Scotland jersey back in the dressing room after the game, was instead unable to force the words out past a choked throat.

Scots pack a punch

So we exit the tournament, again at the hands of the All Blacks.

But, for one of the genuinely small countries, we punch way above our weight and our team tries like few others in the world.

There are weaknesses, mostly in sheer size and power, but Scotland scored two tries against the All Blacks, and we had a royal occasion with arguably the greatest team in the world up against the hardest battlers, and there was Lomu.

Jonah acted with grace, and the people of Scotland will remember him for ever. The stadium became the stadium of light each time he erupted as a million flash lights went off at the same time.

I read Eddie Butler's comments about the structure of rugby and, well, the SRU have tried that tier between club and country that both he and Graham Henry are arguing for - we call it Super Teams - and that's what all the trouble has been about up here in Scotland.

Oh, before I go. Never, ever forget - rugby is a wonderful thing. Stunning. Bad luck Scotland.



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