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By IAIN MORRISON
Published on Tuesday 19 June 2012 00:07
Andy Robinson was asked if playing Samoa in Apia on Saturday represented the biggest challenge for Scotland on tour but he dodged the question. “It’s the next challenge,” he said in response, but the original proposition might have been right in at least one respect.
Whoever they select, Samoa will field behemoths at prop, huge, heavy men who will take some shifting however good the Scots’ technique is.
Census Johnston (6ft 3in and more than 20 stones) plays his rugby for Toulouse in the Top 14, a league that puts a massive emphasis on the set scrum, while Logovi’i Mulipola (6ft 4in and just under 20 stones) turned out last season in Leicester colours who aren’t known as faint hearts when push comes to shove. Euan Murray and Ryan Grant look up against it and that’s presuming that both men are fully fit and healthy.
“Size isn’t everything,” says Scotland’s Italian scrum coach Massimo Cuttitta, and he should know since he fills up most of an armchair in the foyer of the Tusitala Hotel in Apia. It’s the same name the Samoans gave Robert Louis Stevenson (the teller of tales) and Cuttitta is happy to tell the story of how the set scrum went from being an area of concern throughout most of the Six Nations to becoming, arguably, the Scots’ most potent weapon on tour.
Against Australia, the scrum won the crucial winning penalty in the dying minutes and the big men marched the ball over the Fiji line from a five-metre scrum against Fiji – or they would have do so had a hand not flapped the ball out. The spotlight may be on Tim Visser after his two-try debut but the players’ player of the match award went to tighthead Euan Murray, who is looking the player he threatened to become four years ago when he destroyed Tendai “the Beast” Mtawarira at Murrayfield.
Effectively, the Scots do their damnedest to split the opposition loosehead’s shoulders from his hooker, which is why the tighthead is so important. “Andy Robinson got the message on to the field for the eight-man double shove against Fiji. When you have an edge in one department and you are near the opposition tryline, it can lead to points. The Fiji scrum was dead after that.”
I don’t know how much Cuttitta is paid by Murrayfield but he probably earns his keep and both Italy and Ireland were chasing him just recently. Instead, he has committed to another two years as part of Robinson’s coaching team. Oddly enough, he is prepared to share the secret of scumming and to do so for free. “The engage is 90 per cent of the scrum,” says the man whose job it is to know these things. When Cuttitta talks about Scott Lawson being “faster” than Ross Ford, he doesn’t mean across the ground. Instead he is talking about that split-second after the referee calls “engage” at the scrum and over two tons of beef smash into each other.
It’s a vital area of the game. Every team wants to “win the hit” (ie smack into the opposition before they smack into you) and exactly how Scotland achieve this is where Massimo clams up like a Mafia wise guy on the witness stand. For obvious reasons, referees penalise teams who jump the gun but, according to the scrum guru, Scotland have not conceded a penalty here for more than a year. Getting his men to win the hit whilst keeping strict discipline is what makes Scotland special and Cuttitta isn’t going to shout his secrets from the rooftop. The interesting aspect of Scotland’s dominance at the bump and grind department is that it comes without some of their most notable scrummagers being present. Jim Hamilton’s sheer bulk is missed, David Denton adds a couple of stones worth of grunt compared to John Barclay and Allan Jacobsen is rested this summer. Cuttitta referred to “Chunk” as one of the best looseheads in world rugby a few years back and the little Edinburgh man obviously remains a favourite.
“Jacobsen is still one of the best scrummagers that we have,” insists Cuttitta. “The fact is that we have three loosehead and three tighthead props who are all at international standard. There isn’t much between them.”
And he goes on to give the roll call: Grant, Jacobsen and Jon Welsh on the left side of the scrum, Murray, Geoff Cross and Moray Low on the right-hand berth. “With have lots of options and there aren’t many countries in the world than can make that claim. Andy [Robinson] can now pick according to his game plan. If he wants more mobility he can go for Grant and Cross, although Murray has been very good around the park on this tour, and if he wants pure scrummagers he can pick perhaps Murray and Welsh. Coaching the front row forwards takes a long time,” says the Italian, “but we have a good crop coming through and some good young ones too.”
Cuttitta name checks Robin Hislop, from Edinburgh, and the Glasgow duo of Gordon Reid and Gordon Hunter. But there are more immediate things on his mind, with the vast bulk that Manu Samoa can call upon uppermost in his thoughts. “Samoa are very physical and very big,” he says. “They have a very good tighthead and a very good loosehead.”
It’s just as well Scotland have a very good scrum coach.
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I trust the Scottish Rugby Team will pay homage to Robert Louis Stevenson with a visit to his grave in Apia and that The Scotsman will cover and publish a photograph of the event. Then continue their winning form. – Viva Ecosse
Scottish workers are risking their health by putting in almost two hours of extra work after they leave the office, a survey has suggested.
Physiotherapists said that additional time spent on smartphones and laptops caused increased stress and musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain in people who carried on working after hours.
The survey for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) found nearly two-thirds – 64% – of office workers carried on working on electronic devices after they left the office, and spent an average of one hour 56 minutes doing so.
These stints came on top of an average of five hours 53 minutes in front of a screen in the office during their regular working day.
The UK averages were two hours 18 minutes of work at home after six hours 22 minutes in front of a screen in the office.
The online survey of 2010 office workers also found that just over half (53%) of office workers said their out of hours working had increased in the past two years.
But fewer than one in four people told the survey that they considered their posture when looking at screens outside of work.
The CSP warn that poor posture when using smartphones and other mobile devices, which many people do their additional work on, can lead to back and neck pain.
Lloyd Jones, CSP policy officer for Scotland, said: “Sickness absence can be devastating for the individual, and it can be very expensive for employers and society at large. Encouraging better working habits is in everyone’s interest.
“A happy, healthy workforce is a productive one and it is very important that employers ensure they do what they can to look after the wellbeing of their staff.”
Jun 19 2012
By Karen Bale
THE Jubilee weekend and Olympic torch relay both brought people on to the streets to celebrate in their communities.
But the sad truth is there are still large numbers who don’t know the people they live next to.
A recent survey showed that 53 per cent of us have never invited our neighbours into our home and only 12 per cent of children play with kids next door.
But there were some encouraging findings, with 64 per cent of us saying we know our neighbours reasonably well.
And almost a third of Brits feed their neighbour’s pet while they are on holiday – compared with 16 per cent last year. We are in the middle of Neighbourhood Watch week but how many of us get trusted with the keys of those who live across the road while they go on holiday?
If you lived in Citadel Place in Ayr, chances are you would.
Fiona Black, 56, moved there three years ago and since then, her neighbours have become her surrogate family.
And that means she can’t imagine ever moving again.
Fiona said: “This is, by far, the best place I have ever lived.
“You never feel alone, everyone watches out for each other, and we’re all partial to a GT or two.
“I’ve lived in a lot of places, from Aviemore to London, to the west end of Glasgow.
“But here I have found amazing neighbours and they have made sure Citadel Place is the best.”
Fiona considers next-door neighbour Anne Callaghan as her surrogate mum.
She said: “There’s a bunch of us who are really close and Anne knows exactly what we’re all doing at all times. My husband Steve is convinced she has a huge war map like Churchill and plots us all on it.
“But, joking apart, she is a wonderful neighbour.
“My husband is away this week and Anne phoned to re-assure me that I can phone her if I’m scared on my own.
“I came home today to two messages from her. She told me she hoped that I was doing OK on my own and she was there if I needed her.”
Ex-hairdresser Anne cuts Steve’s hair – and Steve mows Anne’s lawn in return.
Fiona said: “If I go away on holiday I’ll ask her to put some milk in the fridge and I’ll get home and find my fridge packed with rolls and square sausage. She’s wonderful.”
Fiona’s flat is party central on Citadel Place.
She said: “The door bell goes non-stop and there’s always somebody around.
“Anne is the cook and we always have the bar ready.
“If you’re in the garden and you hear someone’s voice, you go and join them.
“Doreen, upstairs from us, is always ready with a gin and tonic, or a glass of wine.
“She’s lived here for 30 years so she has all the local gossip.”
Fiona is close to Anne, Doreen and next-door neighbour Robert Landsburgh but says it’s Anne who holds the group together.
“She drops by with dinner and her kitchen is fantastic. She just wants to feed and water you.”
Robert, 62, a designer, lives upstairs from Anne.
He said: “I moved there about 25 years ago. Over the years, I thought about moving as the house was getting a bit big for me.
“But when Anne moved in 15 years ago, she was such a nice person and we all got on so well together, it stopped me moving.”
Robert claims it’s the little things his neighbours do for him that mean so much.
He said: “Anne always looks out for you – she puts the bins out on Thursday night.
“She takes in my washing if it’s raining and parcels if I’m not in.
“She always has a wee whisky ready for me if I pop in.
“We call her Anna Banana. She is like a big Italian Mamma, she looks very Italian.
“In fact, we say Citadel Place is like Little Italy because of her. It’s like a little Italian town of its own.”
Doreen Cunningham, 68, has lived in the street since 1979.
She said: “We are like-minded people. We chat together.
“We have spontaneous nights when somebody comes into the garden. It starts off with a coffee and goes into a glass of wine. It makes me feel very secure, especially as I was widowed 10 years ago.
“I try not to be intrusive and we all know when to step back but if somebody needs help we are there.”
Some of Doreen’s best memories of Citadel Place have been the street parties and BBQs.
“There have been lots of good times. Fiona and Steve’s wedding was a lovely day and we were all there and we had Royal Wedding parties too.
“I love my neighbours and love their company.”
Anne Callaghan, 70, lives in Citadel Place with husband Peter.
The gran-of-11 said: “I moved here 18 years ago and my neighbours feel like family. We all talk over the wall if we’re doing our garden.
“They even pop in for sherry and a mince pie on Christmas morning. You can always rely on them all to be there for you.”
Her close-knit group of neighbours make Anne feel safe, too.
She said: “It makes me very secure, especially with Peter’s situation. He’s had a stroke.
“If Robert is in the back garden, we end up having a glass of wine, or Robert likes a can of Guinness.
“I’ve always had good neighbours but I’m more aware now. When you’re younger you have children and a busy life.
“Now I’m aware of the support of my neighbours and I’m never lonely.”
Next page: I don’t know anybody in my tenement
A woman who stabbed her housemate to death after they played sex games is due to be sentenced.
Eliska Novotna admitted stabbing Arunas Ramanauskas up to six times at a remote farm house near Peebles on October 7 last year.
She was found guilty of culpable homicide after standing trial for murder. Novotna claimed she was acting in self defence as she feared being the victim of a sex attack.
On Tuesday, the 23-year-old is due to be sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh.
During the trial, the court heard Novotna admitted to the killing just hours after the incident.
PC Vanessa Hamilton had told how she came across Novotna walking on a road into Peebles near the town’s police station in the early hours of October 8.
Novotna later told her: “We played some sexual games, then I killed him.”
Novotna told the court how she tied a dressing gown cord round her housemate’s eyes and neck before arming herself with a knife, walking topless into his room then stabbing him to death.
Former chancellor Alistair Darling is meeting Finance Secretary John Swinney to debate the economics of an independent Scotland.
The pair are being joined by experts from the oil, business and finance sectors at the Economics of Independence Conference in Edinburgh on Tuesday.
They are discussing whether an independent Scotland could survive economically.
Mr Swinney has already said that if Scots vote yes in the referendum in 2014, Scotland will keep the pound sterling.
The SNP also plan to keep the UK regulatory framework over the banking sector. The Bank of England would continue to oversee monetary policy and set interest rates.
The party are hopeful that an independent Scotland could have a seat on the Monetary Policy Committee.
There are still questions about the revenue from oil in the North Sea and the possibility of Scotland joining the Euro.
Jun 19 2012
Exclusive by John Ferguson
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TROUBLED eighties radio star and comedian Mr Abie has died aged 68.
The former Radio Clyde presenter – whose real name was Robert Abraham – died while visiting his son Darren in Ireland.
His death was confirmed last night by friend and fellow entertainer Dean Park.
He said: “Robert was a great guy and it is very sad to see him go. He had been very ill lately and had been over in Ireland visiting his son when he had a bad fall a couple of weeks ago.
“His condition deteriorated and he died on Sunday.”
Mr Abie, from East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, had a huge following in the 70s and 80s – and even recorded a World Cup song.
But in 1996, the star was diagnosed with throat cancer and was forced to quit his popular Radio Clyde show.
His battle with the disease meant he had to cancel £20,000 of cabaret work – and was left relying on benefits.
Since then, his life became increasingly dogged by tragedy and controversy.
In August 2010, it was revealed he planned to remarry his ex-wife Jennifer – just eight months after their sons battered her lover David Linning to death.
Christopher, 26, and Robert, 20, were each jailed for 10 years when they pled guilty to his culpable homicide.
In December 2010, Mr Abie received a six-year ban for operating as a director of his home-help company while bankrupt and failing to pay £62,980 in taxes.
Before marrying Jennifer – with whom he had five children – Mr Abie had son Darren with his first wife Avril.
Jun 19 2012
By Keith McLeod
BUNGLING airport bosses flogged £100,000-worth of jewellery owned by the Duchess of Argyll for £5000 after it turned up in their lost property office.
The historic pieces included a stunning diamond tiara, a Cartier brooch and a necklace given to the duchess as a 21st birthday present.
She reported the missing gems to police and the Art Loss Register but heard nothing more until she spotted the brooch in Scottish auction house Lyon Turnbull’s catalogue earlier this year.
That prompted an investigation by Art Loss Register lawyer Christopher Marinello. He found the jewellery had reappeared just months after its loss.
But bosses at the BAA-owned airport had not told police they had found the cache – they just held it for a short time and sold it on, as was their policy.
The sale was made to a diamond merchant for a fee said to be “less than £5000”.
Mr Marinello said: “Apparently the airport found the jewels or they were turned in to lost and found by someone.
“The question remains – what did they do to help find the owner? They didn’t call the police even though the airport police had a record of the theft.
“They didn’t call the Art Loss Register. The only thing they did was sell them.”
The duchess lost the jewels when she was returning to Clan Campbell’s ancestral home at Inveraray Castle on a flight from London.
She spotted the Cartier brooch in the catalogue earlier this year –six years after the gems went missing.
The duchess, 68, voiced disbelief over the airport’s actions.
She said: “I’m absolutely amazed. I thought that after six years, I’d lost them forever.
“The tiara was a Victorian family one and the necklace was given to me for my 21st birthday so everything was very special.”
All of the missing jewellery has now been returned to the duchess after the airport reimbursed the diamond merchant they had sold it to.
A BAA Glasgow spokesman said yesterday: “This occured in 2006.
“The following year, we completely overhauled our lost possessions operation which involved it being contracted out to a company who are subject to monitoring by both ourselves and Strathclyde Police.
“Originally, the items were retained for three months and, when they were not claimed, they were sold.
“All funds raised went to one of the various charities we supported at the time and continue to support.
“We have since paid the equivalent to the body they were sold to at the time.
“We are delighted that the items have now been returned to their rightful owner.”