Optimistic Scots get set for 2014 Six Nations campaign

23/11/2013, TSPL, Scotsman, Sport, Rugby, Viagogo Autumn Test Scotland v Australia, Murrayfield, Scotland.  Scotland's captain Kelly Brown walks off after the final whistle. Pic Ian Rutherford
23/11/2013, TSPL, Scotsman, Sport, Rugby, Viagogo Autumn Test Scotland v Australia, Murrayfield, Scotland. Scotland's captain Kelly Brown walks off after the final whistle. Pic Ian Rutherford
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Another Six Nations and again the battle-weary Scottish supporters will be passionate, waving flags, donning kilts and telling anyone who will listen to them that: “This is the year we’ll win the Grand Slam.”

1990 and our last Grand Slam seems such a long time ago, and of course it is a long time ago. 24 years of disappointment with the exception of that incredible year in 1999 when we somehow managed to pull off the (then) Five Nations Championship.

I can still see Scott Gibbs skipping and dancing in for a late try at Wembley (yes, Wembley!) against England to give Wales the win in that match and hand Scotland the trophy. Oh, how we loved that!

But even that was 15 years ago and there’s a whole generation of fans who have had very little to cheer about while supporting Scotland.

Professionalism has come into the sport and we are still struggling to keep up. Our budget is dwarfed by the other unions, our playing numbers are tiny compared with England and France, and, frankly, it’s amazing how we can still beat some of the top-ranked teams.

Off the park there is much work to do, but we must accept that we are living off scraps and as far off winning a Grand Slam as we’ve ever been, let alone a World Cup next year. That’s the harsh reality and deep inside we all know that. There’s no point in kidding ourselves.

But even off the back of a humping we still turn out and wipe the slate clean ready for the next challenge. That kind of support is fantastic and for that 80 minutes or so in the stadium we all have the ability to get behind the team and give them such an incredible lift.

Scotland has talent and when things click the team can beat anyone. The players and coaches believe when they go out onto the pitch they can win. On Sunday (3pm) we visit Dublin, kicking off our campaign. There is nothing worse than a defeat in the first game of the season.

At a stroke it’s goodbye to Triple Crowns and Grand Slams for another year, so it is imperative Scotland gets a good start – particularly with England up next six days later.

So, can we spring surprises? Only if we do the basics right and get in the faces of the opposition for all five games. I want to see a performance we can be proud of, and you can’t ask for much more than that.

Good luck to all our Borderers and the rest of the team. Make us proud.