Time for Scottish rugby to realise that if the cap fits ..

SUPPORT was growing today for the 30 players who have represented Scotland in non-cap rugby matches to be retrospectively honoured with full international status.

In the build-up to last month's Scotland-Argentina clash at Murrayfield, the Evening News revealed the names of those who had worn the thistle in the Test arena but had only memories to show for their efforts, including some against the Pumas.

We asked for readers' thoughts and several have come forward, urging Scottish Rugby to take a leaf out of the book of its football counterparts.

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In 2006, the Scottish Football Association decided it was appropriate to cap players – including Hibs legend Eddie Turnbull – who had previously needed to have faced opposition from the home associations to merit top recognition.

Among those from rugby circles who contacted us was Nick Grecian, a blockbusting centre, who toured the South Seas with Scotland in 1993 playing against Fiji and Western Samoa. Despite the fact that, two years earlier, Western Samoa had beaten Wales in a World Cup tie in Cardiff, the islanders were not deemed worthy of full Test status – primarily because Scotland were touring without players who were with the Lions in New Zealand at the same time.

While modestly content with his lot, Grecian admitted it would be the icing on the cake for caps to be given to those who missed out subsequently on the top honour. "I remember the circumstances of my two Tests well," he recalled, adding: "It was not until we were on the tour that the management announced no caps would be awarded. To be honest, it was initially disappointing but I was delighted to be on tour as a late replacement and immensely proud to wear the jersey.

"It's strange to tell people that you have played Tests for your country but are uncapped. I don't really understand why it should be the case or was at the time.

"I can only surmise that the SRU were wary of us taking a beating down there with a squad that was weakened due to the Lions tour. If that was the reasoning then it was clearly flawed and would never be accepted by anyone now."

Gordon McKie, SRU chief executive, offered some hope for those affected when he pledged to "look into" an issue of which he had previously been unaware until approached by the Evening News.

Mr McKie, a prime mover in reducing governing body debt and who usually demurs on purely rugby matters, said he was unable to give indications either way as to what might happen. But he did indicate he would inquire as to why no caps were originally awarded.

Months after the 1993 tour temporary substitutions for blood-related injuries became permissible and any player crossing the touchline in those circumstances goes into the record books regardless of how long the stint.

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Similarly, it has become commonplace for entire benches to be emptied and. in only one of their last 12 matches. have Scotland failed to utilise all seven substitutes.

Grecian, originally from London Scottish and who has recently moved back to England after several years coaching mini-rugby near his home in North Berwick, adds: "I would love the SRU to reward players. The fact there are so few of us might make the decision easier. It's a bit sad to think of those guys left out in the cold for a poor decision in the past!"

Today, Grecian stressed: "The fact no caps were awarded didn't make the slightest difference to the effort that was put in and it is only with the passing years that I have thought about how nice it would have been to be capped. What a great statement it would be by the SRU to the rugby community if they revisited this matter."

The issue has arisen at a time when Scotland face three more Tests in the next two years including a World Cup sectional tie against the once unworthy Pumas who have actually won eight out of the ten meetings between the countries since the 1990 decision to grant them full status.

THE players who would be eligible for any retrospective cap are: Willie Anderson (Kirkcaldy), David Ashton (Ayr), David Butcher (Harlequins), Jim Carswell (Jordanhill), Ally Donaldson (Currie), Ian Elliot (Hawick), Steve Ferguson (Peebles), Gareth Flockhart (Stirling County), Nick Grecian (London Scottish), Gary Isaac (Gala), Stuart Johnston (Watsonians), Ronnie Kirkpatrick (Jed-Forest), Bruce Laidlaw (Royal High FPs), Stuart Lang (Heriot's), Colin Mair (West), Rob Moffat (Melrose), Mark Moncrieff (Gala), Stewart McAslan (Heriot's), Ruari Maclean (Gloucester), Ian Murchie (West), Arthur Orr (Royal High FPs), Hugh Parker (Wigtownshire), Stuart Paul (Heriot's and Watsonians), Kevin Rafferty (Heriot's), Craig Redpath (Melrose), Rob Scott (Selkirk and London Scottish), Kevin Troup (London Scottish and Edinburgh Accies), Garry Waite (Kelso), Fergus Wallace (GHK), Grant Wilson (Boroughmuir).

Your say: Just some of the comments received by the Evening News.

Andrew Dixey: "These lads really should be recognised. They represented their country at an international level and should not be denied the right due to the politics of the day."

Julian Frostwick: "I simply wish to add support to the view these men should share the honour that their football counterparts have enjoyed."

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Mr David Chalmers: "Come on, get these internationalists retrospectively recognised especially with the modern game and blood injury replacements getting capped. It would mean a lot to the few involved."

Ed Stott: "During my time at Edinburgh Accies, I played with and against a few of those listed and it seems a great shame they should have missed out on being recognised publicly when we within the game as players knew of their achievement. I know the SRU have been known to move in mysterious ways but maybe it is time they made a populist move."

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