The height of reason?

7th March 1997 at 00:00
A post-mortem is under way after Scotland again finished third in both the boys' and girls' tournaments in the Four Countries under-16 schools international basketball championships last weekend.

Ireland won both events to retain the titles while Wales again took the wooden spoons. In the girls event at Bury, Scotland were well in contention, losing only narrowly to England and Ireland as well as beating Wales, but the boys were totally outgunned at Athlone, losing 101-32 to England and 104-43 to Ireland. An 80-49 win over Wales was scant comfort.

Coach John Grant believes that height was the main factor. "We were the smallest team there including the Welsh," he says. "We were taken apart by England but, despite the score, we did a lot better against Ireland."

England had six players over 6ft 4ins tall, including three at 6ft 5ins, one at 6ft 6ins and one at 6ft 7ins; Ireland had five over 6ft 3ins, including one at 6ft 7ins, while Wales had one at 6ft 7ins and one at 6ft 6ins. Scotland's tallest player was 6ft 4ins.

Wales have successfully integrated a "big man" policy between sports which means that rugby players have been training with basketball players and vice versa at the national institute in Cardiff, to their mutual benefit. But Scotland fear that the money coming into rugby will mean that even more tall players will be lured away by the long-term prospects of a professional career.

The most obvious example at present is 6ft 7ins Scott Murray, who, two years ago was a member of the Scottish Schools basketball squad, and is now on a six-figure contract as a lock forward with Bedford.

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