Mar 4 2010 By Matthew Leslie
FORMER Scotland star John Beattie has called upon the Scottish government to help our ailing rugby team after their shock defeat in Italy last week.
Despite the trusty boot of Glasgow's Dan Parks and the fine displays of his fellow Warriors John Barclay, Kelly Brown and Johnnie Beattie, the Scots failed to turn pressure into points as a defiant Italy kept them at bay and made them pay to win 16-12.
Phone-ins and web forums were buzzing with many asking why we can't buy a win for love or money and offering manay solutions to the problem.
Beattie claims our dire form since we won the last Five Nations 11 years ago is a problem deep-rooted in society as a whole and is affecting all team sports - including football.
In echoes of Warriors boss Sean Lineen's call in this paper three years ago for Holyrood beaks to invest in sport Beattie says a change in attitude must come from the very top.
He said: "Succesive Scottish governments have been pathetic in their support of sport. We need to sort out grassroots sport in our country.
"Whichever party is in office, they have to look at increasing sporting opportunities for youngsters.
"Sport is played less across our schools and youngsters are not being given the chance to fully develop any sporting potential they may have.
"A focus on changing attitudes to lifestyles needs to be addressed.
"As part of the baby boom generation, I and others that I played with, were more active - bike rides, walks, playing rugby and other sports - as we didn't have the amount of choice that subsequent generations have had available to them.
"More people are reliant on being driven around instead of walking or cycling and with the reduced amount of time sport is played in schools, we are limiting our chances of producing a greater number of sporting stars.
"Given that the generations that followed mine have produced less children than the baby-boom ers, we don't have much to choose from and not providing more access to sport is not only affecting our rugby team but other Scottish sports teams."
Of the latest defeat Beattie insists more credit should be given to Italy.
The West of Scotland coach added: "Italy are getting better and are developing the game there at a fast rate. "I become a bit annoyed at the racial abuse that proceeds an Italian fixture when the usual cliches of 'hot-headedness' fly around.
"As we saw, not just last week but in their narrow loss to England, they are very well organised and when they got their chance they took it.
"I think the reaction to the loss has been a bit hysterical. Scotland always hung by their finger-tips - even when we were successful.
"There are 30,000 people playing rugby in Scotland. In Italy it's 80,000 while England and France's figures dwarf our own.
"It is madness to expect annual grandslams and triple crowns."