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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 November, 2003, 13:52 GMT
Telfer turns on Scots critics
Scotland's director of rugby Jim Telfer
Jim Telfer is fed up with petty squabbling
Jim Telfer has launched a scathing verbal broadside at critics of Scotland's professional rugby structure branding them selfish, parochial and narrow-minded.

The departing Scottish Rugby Union director of rugby revealed that his last four years in the job have been weighed down with disappointment at the lack of progress made.

And he vowed never to return to his old club Melrose because of the way they continually resisted his demands for change.

He then singled out former international John Jeffrey, an outspoken critic of the professional district system, for a tongue-lashing - branding him a flop as a coach.

Telfer led his country to two Home Nations championships as a coach and was also twice part of the British Lions backroom team, said he was sick of the petty squabbling which he fears will continue to hold the Scottish game back.

Speaking in the aftermath of the 33-16 World Cup quarter-final defeat to Australia in Brisbane on Saturday, the 63-year-old, who won 25 Scotland caps as a player, went public with his dissatisfaction.

"The last four years have been unbelievably irritating and frustrating," said Telfer.

John Jeffrey has done nothing for rugby since he retired except line his own pocket
Jim Telfer
"Everything you do in Scottish rugby has to go through the clubs and no-one knows more about club rugby in Scotland than I do.

"Yet even Melrose have fought me every step of the way. I have been a member of that club for 47 years but I will not be going back and I have told them so.

"I come from the Borders, they wouldn't change the day of the week if they could get away with it.

"People have done a lot down there for rugby over the last 30 years but it is in the past now. They have to be prepared to move forward and do what is best for Scotland.

"There is a lot of self-interest, a lot of selfishness and a lot of local rivalry. If a team from my town beats another team from the area two or three times a year, they don't give a damn about what happens to Scotland because they are king of the patch.

"That is one of the problems in Scotland, they are too parochial and too narrow-minded."

After eight years of professionalism, a bitter divide persists in Scotland as to whether the clubs or the districts should drive the international team.

The SRU funds three professional teams - Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Borders - and critics point to the lack of success of those sides, and Scotland's poor showing on the international stage as evidence the policy is wrong.

Jeffrey, a member of the 1990 Grand Slam side Telfer helped to guide and a former coach at Kelso, has been one of the fiercest opponents of the current system and his old boss is fed up with the sniping.

"John Jeffrey has done nothing for rugby since he retired except line his own pocket," Telfer continued.

There has to be dramatic changes in Scotland because at the moment we are just falling further and further behind
Jim Telfer
"He tried coaching and failed, so now he is an expert. Maybe I should become an expert too."

When Telfer stands aside in a month's time, it will be the job of Ian McGeechan to try and push through some of the reforms his predecessor has been unable to.

McGeechan has some firm ideas about the development of the Scottish game and is eager to implement them.

However, Telfer believes his long-time friend might struggle unless there is a shift in attitude.

"Ian is a very intelligent man and he is coming into the job with fresh ideas," Telfer went on.

"Hopefully he can persuade people what he wants to do is correct but it will be hard unless he can get all the knives out of his back.

"There has to be dramatic changes in Scotland because at the moment we are just falling further and further behind."





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