Jonny Gray set to make 50th cap for Scotland

Jonny Gray

Gray excited for Wales clash (Credit: David Ronney)

Glasgow Warriors lock, Jonny Gray will start against Wales on Saturday and will join an illustrious club of players who have racked up a half century of caps for Scotland rugby team.

The 24-year-old made his first full debut for the national side back in November 2013 and since then has impressed spectators with a number of solid performances. He is quickly catching up with older brother, Richie Gray, who has 62 national caps and one for the British and Irish Lions.

So far this tournament Jonny Gray has played 134 minutes making 15 carries and 37 tackles as part of the first line of defence against Ireland and France.

Jonny Gray is proud of his achievments but was quick to emphasise the weekends match will be a team effort. Wales are currently the only unbeaten team in this years Six Nations tournamnet.

“It’s not about me. This week is huge, last week was very tough to take.

“To be here is such a special feeling. It’s something I never thought that I would do when I was younger. To be here I’m very lucky.”

Even though Scotland can no longer challenge for the championship title, Gray insisted that playing for the country was an honour.

“When you are playing for Scotland there is always something to play for.”

 

Scotland welcome Grand Slam chasers Wales to the capital – The Six Nations Preview Show

Greig Laidlaw

Scotland captain, Greig Laidlaw is dropped to the bench for home match against Wales. (Credit: David Ronney)

Following back to back defeats in this Six Nations Championship, Scotland prepare for their last home match of the tournament against Grand Slam chasers, Wales.

With Scotland at terms with themselves out of the running to win the competition, they’ll be looking to upset the Welsh party with a win against the visitors.

David Ronney is joined by Bryce Donaldson and Fraser Munro for The Six Nations Preview Show.

Watch it below:

Mary Queen of Scots documents uncovered after almost 100 years

It’s International Women’s Day and one unlikely woman is in the lime light this year.

A group of documents believed to have been signed by Mary Queen of Scots have been uncovered after sitting in storage since 1920.

The handwritten documents give insight into the busy commercial life of Edinburgh in the 16th Century. During the inventory and conservation process, it was discovered that two of the documents have watermarks that can only be seen when held up to the light. One of these water marks features a goat while the other is a hand holding a flower.

 

Vicky Garrington, History Curator at Museum of Edinburgh said:

“The documents provide us with an amazing bridge to the past. It’s incredible to think of Mary Queen of Scots reading through these documents before carefully applying her signature. We all know the story of Scotland’s Queen, her eventful life and eventual execution, but in these documents, we see a different side to Mary. Here, she can be seen carefully managing the everyday affairs of Edinburgh and Scotland. These documents help us to better understand her reign”.

The documents are very fragile and can’t currently be displayed to the public, so have been made available online to view. Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener at City of Edinburgh Council said:

“Museum & Galleries Edinburgh hold thousands of historic treasures on behalf of the City and its visitors, many of which are on display in our venues. However, some items, such as these documents, are too fragile to be on long-term display, so putting them online is a great way to showcase them and tell their stories.”

The documents were donated to the Museum in 1920s but were lost in storage, Frank Little, Service Manager for Cultural Venues, Museums & Galleries in Edinburgh is optimistic that more treasures will be found in the archives:

“Our hope is that ongoing inventory work within Museums & Galleries Edinburgh will turn up new treasures. We are constantly reviewing, caring for and researching our collections, and look forward to sharing more of the City’s rich heritage with residents and visitors through our programme of exhibitions and online activities.”

The full collection of documents can be found here.

 

Inquiry into Glasgow school of art fire should be held, say MSPs

The Glasgow School of Art was destroyed in a 2018 fire (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Glasgow School of Art fires should be launched, MSPs have said. 

Holyrood politicians on the Culture Committee made the calls in a highly critical report into the 2018 fire, published today.

The report scrutinised what fire prevention methods were introduced between the first fire in 2014 and the second, which totally destroyed ‘The Mack’ building in central Glasgow, in June 2018.

The report criticises the Glasgow School of Art board and makes a recommendation that the building be placed in the care of a trust in the future.

“The Committee is not convinced that the GSA gave sufficient priority to the safeguarding of the Mackintosh Building” the report concludes.

“The Committee considers it would have been desirable for there to have been more specific expertise at Board level which reflected the importance of the Mack.”

‘The Mack’ before the 2018 fire (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Glasgow School of Art building is known as ‘The Mack’ because it was designed by renowned architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

It first opened in 1909 and was widely considered a world class example of the Art Nouveau style.

The building stood for over 100 years before being almost totally destroyed in a fire in 2014.

Reconstruction was nearly complete when in June 2018 another fire broke out causing even greater damage than the blaze four years earlier.

The cause of the 2018 fire has not been conclusively proven, as the damage to the building and surrounding Sauchiehall Street was so severe. Much scrutiny has been focussed on the contractors, Kier Construction, although no liability has been established.

Stephen McKenzie, the independent fire, security & resilience advisor to the Holyrood Committee gave evidence to the report, saying:

“I suggest that there is a potential need for a full, detailed forensic investigation of not only the fire ground, but all the project documentation, roles and responsibilities. As in 2014 and 2018, because of the complexity of these hearings, I press upon the committee that there may be a case for a public inquiry”.

The full report can be read on the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee website.

Wilson: Scotland can bounce back against Welsh

Matt Taylor

Danny Wilson is confident Scotland can put on a good performance in front of a home support (Credit: Bryce Donaldson)

Scotland Rugby Assistant Coach, Danny Wilson, believes his side can return to Edinburgh with a win against Wales after a disappointing 27-10 defeat in Paris.

The Scots will face off against a grand-slam hopeful Wales on Saturday at BT Murrayfield.

A number of key players have returned to the squad in the past week and many in the Scotland camp are quietly confident they can cause an upset and delay celebrations in Cardiff.

Wilson said: “We know we didn’t do ourselves justice in France but we need to bounce back this weekend.

“We had a blip in performance, and we have to make sure that we raise our performance to a level where we can put Wales under huge pressure.

“There is no better opposition to bounce back against. The motivation levels should be through the roof to play a side that is coming [to BT Murrayfield] and looking for a grand slam.”

Scotland will undoubtedly start the match as underdogs but Wilson doesn’t believe this is necessarily a bad thing.

He added: “From my experience, when Scotland have been underdogs they have been pretty dangerous and have produced some outstanding performances against some of the best opposition out there. That’s what this weekend is about.

Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw

Finn Russell comes back into the Scotland lineup while Greig Laidlaw has been dropped to the bench (Credit: David Ronney)

“This is an extremely passionate group of players. As a collective, coaches and players, we weren’t happy with our performances at the weekend against France and we have come back very keen to make sure we put that right this weekend. That starts first and foremost with a performance full of identity and passion.”

Scotland currently sit fifth in the table, above only a pointless Italy.

Should Wales be triumphant at the weekend they will still be on course for their first Grand Slam since 2012, whilst a Scottish victory (and a favour from Ireland) could see them leapfrog last weeks opponents. To do that, Wilson knows the importance of home form.

He said: “The pressure of playing in front of a home crowd is an important one, a driving one and we will want to put in a performance that will make that home crowd proud.”

If Scotland are able to live up to what they claim they are capable of it will restore confidence in the squad after back-to-back defeats.

Though Scotland are out of the running for the championship there is still a chance for silverware. Their reward, regardless of result, is sure to be a contentious final game at Twickenham against England to defend their title as the current holders of the Calcutta Cup.

Scotland secure fifth place in Algarve Cup

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The Scotland women’s team celebrate a goal (Credit: SNS Group)

Shelley Kerr’s Scotland side clinched an impressive fifth place in the Algarve Cup on Wednesday after beating Denmark, with West Ham’s Jane Ross scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win.

Despite making 10 changes from the 4-1 win over Iceland on Monday, the Scots recorded a well earned victory over the Danes – who were finalists at the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017.

Glasgow City’s Jo Love, now only 11 caps short of astonishing double century, was made captain for the day in the absence of the rested Rachael Corsie.

A heavily rotated Denmark struggled throughout the 90 minutes to test Hibernian keeper, Jenna Fife who made only her second ever start between the sticks.

Fife was finally beaten deep into the second half when Frankie Brown was short with a pass back, allowing Nicoline Sorensen to nip in and slip the ball past the keeper. But substiute Rachel Corsie provided some last minute heroics and was able to get back in time to prevent the ball crossing the line.

The Danes may feel flattered by the scoreline after Scotland hit the woodwork on three occasions in the first half amongst numerous other chances to extend the lead.

However, Ross’ 58th international goal just after the half hour mark proved decisive and saw Scotland win their second and final game of the tournament

Despite being the third lowest ranked side in the 12 team competition, Scotland managed to finish above countries such as Spain and the Netherlands.

A last minute penalty saw Scotland beaten on the opening day of the Algarve Cup by Canada, who were the highest ranked team in the competition. EN4 News discussed the match further in this podcast.

The Canadians went on to secure bronze in the competition after topping the group and beating Sweden on penalties in the third place play off.

Norway emerged as emphatic winners of the tournament by seeing off Poland in the final, winning 3-0 and claiming their fifth major title.

 

Beavers given protected status by Scottish Government

Beavers have been given protected status in Scotland, meaning it is now illegal to kill, injure or capture the animal.

The Eurasian or European species of beaver will be added to the list of European Protected Species of Animals, protected under Scottish law. This means that from May 1st 2019, shooting of the animals will only be allowed under licence, managed by the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Any licences given will be issued in accordance with the law on European Protected Species.

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(Credit: Steve Hersey)

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“The Scottish Government believes in the highest standards of animal welfare – for both wild and domestic animals – and we felt it was high time that beavers enjoyed the same legal protection as other species like bats, dolphins, wildcats and otters.

“There are few species that have such a significant and largely positive, influence on the health and function of our ecosystems. The importance of beavers to Scotland’s biodiversity is huge.”

The National Farmers Union (NFU) of Scotland has given a mixed reaction to the announcement. NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick acknowledged how important beavers can be and what they can add to Scotland’s biodiversity, but he also mention the population has rapidly grown in the last few years and will “have an effect on farmers in years to come”. NFU Scotland said proper management of the species is key to avoid a substantial impact on the Scottish agriculture. A number of farmers have spoken out regarding the considerable damage beavers have done to their farmland.

Adrian Ivory, a livestock and arable farmer in Strathmore, mentioned it was costing him up to £5,000 a year to remove dams from his land. He said:

“In the past six years there’s been far more damage being created, more bank erosion, more trees coming down, more dams being built, more and more evidence of them causing issues”.

A SNH report published in October 2018 estimated there was about 430 beavers living in more than 100 active beaver territories on Tayside. Beavers initially became extinct in Britain in the 16th century, mainly due to over-hunting. Between 2009 and 2014, sixteen Eurasian beavers were introduced to Argyll and Bute. It was the first successful reintroduction of any wild mammal to the UK.

SNP: ‘an Independent Scotland should have its own currency’

The SNP has announced it wishes to introduce its own currency within the first few years of leaving the UK, if Scotland were to become independent.

In the new policy the SNP say the pound would be kept initially for a “transition period”.

However the Scottish Parliament will make the decision on when to introduce a new Scottish currency within their first term.

This announcement is far from the policies outlined during the 2014 independence referendum, which suggested Scotland keep the pound in a formal currency union with the rest of the United Kingdom.

This suggestion was ruled out by the UK – an issue which some in the Yes campaign believe may have contributed to the referendum defeat.

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SNP deputy leader Keith Brown hopes the new currency policy will help gain support for the independence movement (Credit: Scottish Government)

SNP Deputy Leader Keith Brown stresses that although party policy will be to establish a new independent currency, Sterling will remain in place until this can be done “safely and securely”.

 

Scotland to suffer under UK immigration proposals

The number of workers in Scotland could reduce by up to five percent over the next twenty years due to the UK Government immigration plans, an expert panel has warned.

The independent panel indicated that the proposals put forward in the UK Government’s White Paper, released in December 2018, could see net migration to Scotland reduce between one third and one half after 2020.

The White Paper recommends a minimum salary threshold of £30,000, meaning those wishing to come into the United Kingdom must earn more than £30,000 yearly. However, the independent report found that 63% of workers in Scotland currently earn less than the threshold. The group also suggests that the threshold would exclude a greater number of women compared to men, as well as young people who are looking to begin their careers.

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The Scottish border (Credit: Kim Traynor)

One area that would be severely affected by a threshold is social care. In Scotland, less than 10% of those in caring personal service occupations earn above £25,000 and none earn more than £30,000. Local authorities are currently facing pressure to save money, leaving no room to raise salaries to attract more UK workers. This forces the friends and families of those in care to assume responsibility for their personal care, with female family members more likely to have to take up the role.

The report also found that the UK Government’s proposals would harm Scotland’s economy, public services and future population growth significantly. UK evidence suggests that EU migrants contribute more through tax revenues than they consume via public services. Like the rest of the UK, EU migrants coming into Scotland are typically young and relatively active, meaning they are consuming a small amount of public services due to their lack of use of health care services and are less likely to receive welfare benefits. If these migrants remain in Scotland or choose to have children, they will inevitably consume health services or publicly provided education services but their long-term contribution to tax revenues will outweigh the financial cost they will receive in services.

Ben Macpherson, Migration Minister said: “The Scottish Government has been consistently clear that freedom of movement has enriched Scotland and should be allowed to continue. The UK Government’s focus on reducing immigration will damage Scotland and does not reflect the needs of our economy, our public services or our communities.

“This independent report raises additional concerns about the effect UK Government immigration proposals will have on Scotland’s rural and suburban areas and demographics.”

Mr Macpherson said the report shows that Westminster should consider devolving immigration powers to allow Holyrood to support Scottish economic growth, public services and rural communities in ways that will benefit them.

Scotland v Canada: Algarve Cup Preview

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Scotland Women’s National Team (Credit: SNS Group)

 

Scotland kick off their 2019 Algarve Cup campaign this afternoon when they play Canada in Lagos.

Shelley Kerr‘s side will appear at the invitational tournament for the first time since 2002, ahead of appearing at their first ever Women’s World Cup this summer.

The Scotland head coach will look to use this tournament as a confidence booster for her side, who have lost their last three games. In fact, they haven’t won since defeating Albania in September, a result that booked their place at the World Cup in France.

Another boost for the women’s side was the funding from the Scottish Government for the team to train full time in the months leading up to this summer’s tournament.

The Canadians, who are ranked fifth in the world rankings, drew 0-0 with Iceland in the opening match in Group A.

A win for Scotland would put them top of the group.

Kick-off is at 2.15pm local time (1.15pm UK time) and live on BBC Sport website.

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