Jan 7 2010 By Matthew Leslie
IT would seem that the uncouth East Stand mullahs of Murrayfield have finally got their wish - Dan Parks is to leave Scotland this summer to join Welsh aces Cardiff Blues.
"Boooooo" was their infamous summary whenever Parks took the field - more notably so when Dan came on as a blood-replacement for Edinburgh's Phil Godman in the match against South Africa in 2008.
It was a game that Scotland should have won as the Springboks edged it thanks to some tenacious defence but also due to some home errors.
Wrong decision making on the visiting try-line was one but the kicks missed by Parks and Godman proved to be the deciding factor.
Parks in his 10-minute cameo missed two kicks from the left-flank. He was booed for both and again when Godman was fit to return.
Late in the game, Godman has a chance right in front of the posts to leave Scotland just needing a dropgoal in the last five minutes to win. Inexpicably he missed but the reaction was different to Parks'.
Not for one minute do we suggest Godman should have been booed as well but why did a certain section of fans and pundits condemn one player but offer tea and sympathy for the other - despite both making mistakes of a similar nature? Perhaps the reason is more deeplyrooted and lifting a veil of Scotland's ever-increasing hollow claim of being a tolerant nation.
There are those who won't admit it but others who proudly do - "Aussie Dan isn't really one of us".
Wrong. He is one of us just as fellow antipodeans Sean Lineen, Glenn Metcalfe, Andy and John Leslie were one of us. Only, as Lineen admitted in his case, they made a flying start.
Parks like Kiwi-born Brendan Laney didn't and had an uphill struggle to gain tartan acceptance.
Then again, both Parks and Laney were fast-tracked into the Scotland set-up far too quickly and while Jim Telfer conceded this with Laney, ex-Scots boss Matt Williams has not done so with regard to Dan.
Logic should have dictated that Williams back in 2004 gone on with Gregor Townsend at fly-half with Parks to serve as his under-study.
Despite Toony making himself available for Scotland, Williams 'retired' him from international rugby and gave Parks a promotion that was at least two years too soon.
It showed with Parks clearly not ready and soon a mob hankering after Townsend got on his back leading to a catastrophic display in the thrashing suffered against Wales in 2005.
It was testament to Parks' character that he bounced back to become Scotland's best player of the 2007 World Cup only for another Scotland boss to stitch him up.
Frank Hadden had inexplicably become obsessed with Italy's pack prior to the 2008 meeting in Rome that instead of selecting the normal subs bench of four forwards, a scrum-half and two backs, he went with a ratio of 5-1-1 leaving his options very limited should a first choice back have to leave the field early.
It was pointed out at the time and it gave those of us no satisfaction to say "I told you so" but sure enough, Simon Danielli went off injured five minutes into the game.
It soon became clear Dan was having a rare bad day (for that season) at the office but because thanks to Hadden's bizarre gamble there were no other backs on the bench to replace him, Parks was left to try and muddle through the remainder.
It came as no surprise when the howler came which cost Scotland victory but while all and sundry rounded on him, his coach was scandalously allowed to sneak away from any criticism over his gamble which left a player exposed as a convenient scapegoat. A year-long dip in form followed which culminated in the player allowing himself to also run foul of the law on a drink-driving charge.
However, it was to his credit last summer that he faced up to his mistakes and went on to produce some of his best form for Glasgow Warriors.
Yet again, the Scotland set-up contrived to deliver another blow as Parks was dropped completely from both the main and 'A' squads causing many to suspect if like Townsend he had effectively been 'retired'.
If so then who made that decision? Current coach Andy Robinson or some one higher up? Peculiar if it is the former, a disgrace if it's the latter.
Robinson will have seen Parks destroy Edinburgh as Glasgow strengthened their grip at the top of the table by winning the recent doubleheader over the festive season.
Not only can he select a player who is in red-hot form for his club when Scotland take on France in the Six Nations next month but he can certainly smash the rumourmill to smithereens regarding suspicions of interference from above.
After all, Phil Godman's form has been questionable of late but even so, both should be in the squad of 22 regardless of the risk of a bunch of yahoos booing one of the two.
Scotland are not as spoiled for choice for fly-halfs as they are for back-row forwards and if one of them happens to be the highest scorer in the Magners League, the only only in four figures and on top form, then Dan Parks should start against France.
But to leave him out for any other reason would be disgraceful.
If that happens, then 'booooooo' indeed.