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Posted by sonny 04/29/2009 @ 00:09

Tags : scotland, united kingdom, europe, world

News headlines
David Marshall: I'll be No.1 at Cardiff and Scotland -
After landing a transfer to Dave Jones' Championship hopefuls Cardiff City, keeper David Marshall has targeted the Scotland number one jersey as his next goal. Marshall moved to the Welsh outfit in a four-year deal £500000 deal which Jones hopes will...
100s of BT jobs to go in Scotland - BBC News
The telecoms company BT has said job losses in Scotland will be in the hundreds rather than the thousands. BT hopes to cut 15000 posts over the next year, after reporting a loss over the last 12 months of £134m. The firm said it hoped to lose the jobs...
Scotland sunk by evergreen Udal - BBC Sport
Shaun Udal rolled back the years with a fine all-round performance as Middlesex thrashed Scotland by 138 runs in their FP Trophy clash at The Grange. The 40-year-old smashed three sixes and five fours in an unbeaten 79 from only 46 balls as Middlesex...
Brewer resigns from Scotland role - Times Online
Mike Brewer, the Scotland forwards coach, has resigned from his job after failing to make the final shortlist to take over from Frank Hadden as the next national head coach. He leaves immediately, while the interview process for the top job moves into...
Scotland must endure its fair share of recovery pain, says Osborne - Times Online
Scotland will have to take its share of the financial pain if a future Conservative government is to tackle Britain's burden of debt, the Shadow Chancellor indicated yesterday. George Osborne delivered his uncompromising message in a speech to the...
'Mixed picture' on mental health - BBC News
Its waiting times are among the longest in Scotland. Audit Scotland, the public spending watchdog, found waits of between 58 and 77 weeks for psychological therapies in two areas covered by the board. However, NHS Highland's spending on mental health...
The best player you haven't heard about: Adam Jones -
It's an upside-down season, one in which the Blue Jays, Royals, Rangers and Reds all began Thursday's play with at least a share of first place. In addition to some new teams in contention, we've seen some promising young players emerge....
Scotland told 'build America links' - The Press Association
Historic links between Scotland and North America should be strengthened to build new opportunities, msps have been told. Mike Russell, the Minister for External Affairs, said the Scottish Government wanted to further capitalise on American markets....
Church split warning over gay row - BBC News
A minister has warned that "many people will have nothing more to do with the Church of Scotland" if the appointment of an openly gay colleague is approved. The Kirk's General Assembly is due to rule next week whether the Reverend Scott Rennie takes up...
Goldie: 'Don't judge us on past' - BBC News
Miss Goldie - who made no mention of Margaret Thatcher - told delegates: "Let me take something right on the chin - I know for many people, voting Conservative in Scotland is a big ask. "Some have never done it, some last did it a long time ago....


Flag of Scotland

Scotland (Gaelic: Alba) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest. In addition to the mainland, Scotland consists of over 790 islands including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Edinburgh, the country's capital and second largest city, is one of Europe's largest financial centres. Edinburgh was the hub of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, which transformed Scotland into one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, was once one of the world's leading industrial cities and now lies at the centre of the Greater Glasgow conurbation, which dominates the Scottish Lowlands. Scottish waters consist of a large sector of the North Atlantic and the North Sea, containing the largest oil reserves in the European Union.

The Kingdom of Scotland was an independent sovereign state prior to 1st May 1707, upon which date she entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England to create the united Kingdom of Great Britain. This union resulted from the Treaty of Union agreed in 1706 and enacted by the twin Acts of Union passed by the Parliaments of both countries, despite widespread protest across Scotland. Scotland's legal system continues to be separate from those of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and Scotland still constitutes a distinct jurisdiction in public and in private law. The continued independence of Scots law, the Scottish education system, and the Church of Scotland have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and Scottish national identity since the Union. Although Scotland is no longer a separate sovereign state, the constitutional future of Scotland continues to give rise to debate.

Scotland is from the Latin Scoti, the term applied to Gaels. The Late Latin word Scotia (land of the Gaels) was initially used to refer to Ireland. By the 11th century at the latest, Scotia was being used to refer to (Gaelic-speaking) Scotland north of the river Forth, alongside Albania or Albany, both derived from the Gaelic Alba. The use of the words Scots and Scotland to encompass all of what is now Scotland became common in the Late Middle Ages.

Repeated glaciations, which covered the entire land-mass of modern Scotland, have destroyed any traces of human habitation that may have existed before the Mesolithic period. It is believed that the first post-glacial groups of hunter-gatherers arrived in Scotland around 12,800 years ago, as the ice sheet retreated after the last glaciation. Groups of settlers began building the first known permanent houses on Scottish soil around 9,500 years ago, and the first villages around 6,000 years ago. The well-preserved village of Skara Brae on the Mainland of Orkney dates from this period. Neolithic habitation, burial and ritual sites are particularly common and well-preserved in the Northern Isles and Western Isles, where a lack of trees led to most structures being built of local stone.

The written protohistory of Scotland began with the arrival of the Roman Empire in southern and central Great Britain, when the Romans occupied what is now England and Wales, administering it as a province called Britannia. Roman invasions and occupations of southern Scotland were a series of brief interludes. In AD 83–84 the general Gnaeus Julius Agricola defeated the Caledonians at the Battle of Mons Graupius, and Roman forts were briefly set along the Gask Ridge close to the Highland line (none are known to have been constructed beyond that line). Three years after the battle the Roman armies had withdrawn to the Southern Uplands. They erected Hadrian's Wall to control tribes on both sides of the wall, and the Limes Britannicus became the northern border of the empire, although the army held the Antonine Wall in the Central Lowlands for two short periods—the last of these during the time of Emperor Septimius Severus from 208 until 210. The extent of Roman military occupation of any significant part of Scotland was limited to a total of about 40 years, although their influence on the southern section of the country occupied by Brythonic tribes such as the Votadini and Damnonii would still have been considerable.

The Kingdom of the Picts (based in Fortriu by the 6th century) was the state which eventually became known as "Alba" or "Scotland". The development of "Pictland", according to the historical model developed by Peter Heather, was a natural response to Roman imperialism. Another view places emphasis on the Battle of Dunnichen, and the reign of Bridei m. Beli (671–693), with another period of consolidation in the reign of Óengus mac Fergusa (732–761). The Kingdom of the Picts as it was in the early 8th century, when Bede was writing, was largely the same as the kingdom of the Scots in the reign of Alexander (1107–1124). However, by the tenth century, the Pictish kingdom was dominated by what we can recognise as Gaelic culture, and had developed an Irish conquest myth around the ancestor of the contemporary royal dynasty, Cináed mac Ailpín (Kenneth MacAlpin).

From a base of territory in eastern Scotland north of the River Forth and south of the River Oykel, the kingdom acquired control of the lands lying to the north and south. By the 12th century, the kings of Alba had added to their territories the English-speaking land in the south-east and attained overlordship of Gaelic-speaking Galloway and Norse-speaking Caithness; by the end of the 13th century, the kingdom had assumed approximately its modern borders. However, processes of cultural and economic change beginning in the 12th century ensured Scotland looked very different in the later Middle Ages. The stimulus for this was the reign of King David I and the Davidian Revolution. Feudalism, government reorganisation and the first legally defined towns (called burghs) began in this period. These institutions and the immigration of French and Anglo-French knights and churchmen facilitated a process of cultural osmosis, whereby the culture and language of the low-lying and coastal parts of the kingdom's original territory in the east became, like the newly acquired south-east, English-speaking, while the rest of the country retained the Gaelic language, apart from the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland, which remained under Norse rule until 1468.

The death of Alexander III in March 1286, followed by the death of his granddaughter Margaret, Maid of Norway, broke the succession line of Scotland's kings. This led to the intervention of Edward I of England, who manipulated this period of confusion to have himself recognised as feudal overlord of Scotland. Edward organised a process to identify the person with the best claim to the vacant crown, which became known as the Great Cause, and this resulted in the enthronement of John Balliol as king. The Scots were resentful of Edward's meddling in their affairs and this relationship quickly broke down. War ensued and King John was deposed by his overlord, who took personal control of Scotland. Andrew Moray and William Wallace initially emerged as the principal leaders of the resistance to English rule in what became known as the Wars of Scottish Independence. The nature of the struggle changed dramatically when Robert de Brus, Earl of Carrick, became king (as Robert I) in 1307. Robert I battled to win Scottish Independence as King for over 20 years, beginning by winning Scotland back from the English invaders piece by piece. Victory at The Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 proved that the Scots had won their kingdom, but it took 14 more years and the production of the world's first documented declaration of independence the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 to finally win legal recognition by the English. But war with England was to continue for several decades after the death of Bruce, and a civil war between the Bruce dynasty and their long-term Comyn-Balliol rivals, the flashpoint of which could be traced to the slaying in a Dumfries church of John 'the Red' Comyn of Badenoch by Robert I and his supporters, lasted until the middle of the 14th century. Although the Bruce dynasty was successful, David II's lack of an heir allowed his nephew Robert II to come to the throne and establish the Stewart Dynasty. The Stewarts ruled Scotland for the remainder of the Middle Ages. The country they ruled experienced greater prosperity from the end of the 14th century through the Scottish Renaissance to the Reformation. This was despite continual warfare with England, the increasing division between Highlands and Lowlands, and a large number of royal minorities.

In 1603, James VI King of Scots inherited the throne of the Kingdom of England, and became King James I of England, and left Edinburgh for London. With the exception of a short period under the Protectorate, Scotland remained a separate state, but there was considerable conflict between the crown and the Covenanters over the form of church government. After the Glorious Revolution, the abolition of episcopacy and the overthrow of the Roman Catholic James VII by William and Mary, Scotland briefly threatened to select a different Protestant monarch from England. On 22 July 1706 the Treaty of Union was agreed between representatives of the Scots Parliament and the Parliament of England and the following year twin Acts of Union were passed by both parliaments to create the united Kingdom of Great Britain with effect from 1 May 1707.

The deposed Jacobite Stuart claimants had remained popular in the Highlands and north-east, particularly amongst non-Presbyterians. However, two major Jacobite risings launched in 1715 and 1745 failed to remove the House of Hanover from the British throne. The threat of the Jacobite movement to the United Kingdom and its monarchs effectively ended at the Battle of Culloden, Great Britain's last pitched battle. This defeat paved the way for large-scale removals of the indigenous populations of the Highlands and Islands, known as the Highland Clearances.

The Scottish Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution made Scotland into an intellectual, commercial and industrial powerhouse. After World War II, Scotland experienced an industrial decline which was particularly severe. Only in recent decades has the country enjoyed something of a cultural and economic renaissance. Economic factors which have contributed to this recovery include a resurgent financial services industry, electronics manufacturing, (see Silicon Glen), and the North Sea oil and gas industry.

Following a referendum on devolution proposals in 1997, the Scotland Act 1998 was passed by the United Kingdom Parliament to establish a devolved Scottish Parliament.

Scotland's head of state is the monarch of the United Kingdom, currently Queen Elizabeth II (since 1952). The title Elizabeth II caused controversy around the time of the queen's coronation, as there had never been an Elizabeth I in Scotland. A legal case, MacCormick v. Lord Advocate (1953 SC 396), was taken to contest the right of the Queen to title herself Elizabeth II within Scotland, arguing that to do so would be a breach of Article 1 of the Treaty of Union. The case was lost and it was decided that future British monarchs would be numbered according to either their English or Scottish predecessors, whichever number is higher.

Scotland has limited self-government within the United Kingdom as well as representation in the UK Parliament. Executive and legislative powers have been devolved to, respectively, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh. The United Kingdom Parliament retains power over a set list of areas explicitly specified in the Scotland Act 1998 as reserved matters, including, for example, levels of UK taxes, social security, defence, international relations and broadcasting, with all other matters being devolved.

The Scottish Parliament has legislative authority for all other areas relating to Scotland, as well as limited power to vary income tax, a power it has yet to exercise. The Scottish Parliament can give legislative consent over devolved matters back to Westminster by passing a Legislative Consent Motion if United Kingdom-wide legislation is considered to be more appropriate for a certain issue. The programmes of legislation enacted by the Scottish Parliament have seen a divergence in the provision of public services compared to the rest of the United Kingdom. For instance, the costs of a university education, and care services for the elderly are free at point of use in Scotland, while fees are paid in the rest of the UK. Scotland was the first country in the UK to ban smoking in enclosed public places.

The Scottish Parliament is a unicameral legislature comprising 129 Members, 73 of whom represent individual constituencies and are elected on a first past the post system; 56 are elected in eight different electoral regions by the additional member system, serving for a four year period. The Queen appoints one Member of the Scottish Parliament, (MSP), on the nomination of the Parliament, to be First Minister. Other Ministers are also appointed by the Queen on the nomination of the Parliament and together with the First Minister they make up the Scottish Government, the executive arm of government.

In the 2007 election, the Scottish National Party (SNP), which campaigns for Scottish independence, won the largest number of seats of any single party and the leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, was elected First Minister on 16 May 2007 as head of a minority government. The Labour Party became the largest opposition party, with the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats, and the Green Party are also represented in the Parliament. Margo MacDonald is the only independent MSP sitting in Parliament.

Scotland is represented in the British House of Commons by 59 MPs elected from territory-based Scottish constituencies. The Scotland Office represents the UK government in Scotland on reserved matters and represents Scottish interests within the UK government. The Scotland office is led by the Secretary of State for Scotland, who sits in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, the current incumbent being Jim Murphy.

Historical types subdivisions of Scotland include the mormaerdom, stewartry, earldom, burgh, parish, county and regions and districts. The names of these areas are still sometimes used as geographical descriptors.

Modern Scotland is subdivided in various ways depending on the purpose. For local government, there have been 32 council areas since 1996, whose councils are unitary authorities responsible for the provision of all local government services. Community councils are informal organisations that represent specific sub-divisions of a council area.

For the Scottish Parliament, there are 73 constituencies and eight regions. For the Parliament of the United Kingdom, there are 59 constituencies. The Scottish fire brigades and police forces are still based on the system of regions introduced in 1975. For healthcare and postal districts, and a number of other governmental and non-governmental organisations such as the churches, there are other long-standing methods of subdividing Scotland for the purposes of administration.

City status in the United Kingdom is determined by letters patent. There are six cities in Scotland: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, most recently Inverness, and Stirling.

A policy of devolution had been advocated by the three main UK parties with varying enthusiasm during recent history. The late Labour leader John Smith described the revival of a Scottish parliament as the "settled will of the Scottish people". The constitutional status of Scotland is nonetheless subject to ongoing debate. In 2007, the Scottish Government established a "National Conversation" on constitutional issues, proposing a number of options such as increasing the powers of the Scottish Parliament, federalism, or a referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. In rejecting the last option, the three main opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament have proposed a separate Scottish Constitutional Commission to investigate the distribution of powers between devolved Scottish and UK-wide bodies.

Scots law has a basis derived from Roman law, combining features of both uncodified civil law, dating back to the Corpus Juris Civilis, and common law with medieval sources. The terms of the Treaty of Union with England in 1707 guaranteed the continued existence of a separate legal system in Scotland from that of England and Wales. Prior to 1611, there were several regional law systems in Scotland, most notably Udal law in Orkney and Shetland, based on old Norse law. Various other systems derived from common Celtic or Brehon laws survived in the Highlands until the 1800s.

Scots law provides for three types of courts responsible for the administration of justice: civil, criminal and heraldic. The supreme civil court is the Court of Session, although civil appeals can be taken to the House of Lords. The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court in Scotland. Both courts are housed at Parliament House, in Edinburgh, which was the home of the pre-Union Parliament of Scotland. The sheriff court is the main criminal and civil court, hearing most of the cases. There are 49 sheriff courts throughout the country. District courts were introduced in 1975 for minor offences and small claims. The Court of the Lord Lyon regulates heraldry.

For many decades the Scots legal system was unique for a period in being the only legal system without a parliament. This ended with the advent of the Scottish Parliament which legislates for Scotland. Many features within the system have been preserved. Within criminal law, the Scots legal system is unique in having three possible verdicts: "guilty", "not guilty" and "not proven". Both "not guilty" and "not proven" result in an acquittal with no possibility of retrial. Many laws differ between Scotland and the rest of Britain, whereas many terms differ. Manslaughter, in England and Wales, becomes culpable homocide in Scotland, and arson becomes wilful fireraising. Procedure also differs. Scots juries consist of fifteen, not twelve jurors as is more common in English-speaking countries.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) manages the prisons in Scotland which contain between them over 7,500 prisoners. The Cabinet Secretary for Justice is responsible for the Scottish Prison Service within the Scottish Government.

The main land of Scotland comprises the northern third of the land mass of the island of Great Britain, which lies off the northwest coast of Continental Europe. The total area is 78,772 km² (30,414 sq mi), comparable to the size of the Czech Republic, making Scotland the 117th largest country in the world. Scotland's only land border is with England, and runs for 96 kilometres (60 mi) between the basin of the River Tweed on the east coast and the Solway Firth in the west. The Atlantic Ocean borders the west coast and the North Sea is to the east. The island of Ireland lies only 30 kilometres (20 mi) from the southwestern peninsula of Kintyre; Norway is 305 kilometres (190 mi) to the east and the Faroes, 270 kilometres (168 mi) to the north.

The territorial extent of Scotland is generally that established by the 1237 Treaty of York between Scotland and England and the 1266 Treaty of Perth between Scotland and Norway. Important exceptions include the Isle of Man, which having been lost to England in the 14th century is now a crown dependency outside of the United Kingdom; the island groups Orkney and Shetland, which were acquired from Norway in 1472; and Berwick-upon-Tweed, lost to England in 1482.

The geographical centre of Scotland lies a few miles from the village of Newtonmore in Badenoch. Rising to 1,344 metres (4,406 ft) above sea level, Scotland's highest point is the summit of Ben Nevis, in Lochaber, while Scotland's longest river, the River Tay, flows for a distance of 190 km (120 miles).

The whole of Scotland was covered by ice sheets during the Pleistocene ice ages and the landscape is much affected by glaciation. From a geological perspective the country has three main sub-divisions.

The Highlands and Islands lie to the north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, which runs from Arran to Stonehaven. This part of Scotland largely comprises ancient rocks from the Cambrian and Precambrian which were uplifted during the later Caledonian Orogeny. It is interspersed with igneous intrusions of a more recent age, the remnants of which have formed mountain massifs such as the Cairngorms and Skye Cuillins. A significant exception to the above are the fossil-bearing beds of Old Red Sandstones found principally along the Moray Firth coast. The Highlands are generally mountainous and the highest elevations in the British Isles are found here. Scotland has over 790 islands, divided into four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, and the Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides. There are numerous bodies of freshwater including Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. Some parts of the coastline consist of machair, a low lying dune pasture land.

The Central Lowlands is a rift valley mainly comprising Paleozoic formations. Many of these sediments have economic significance for it is here that the coal and iron bearing rocks that fuelled Scotland's industrial revolution are to be found. This area has also experienced intense volcanism, Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh being the remnant of a once much larger volcano. This area is relatively low-lying, although even here hills such as the Ochils and Campsie Fells are rarely far from view.

The Southern Uplands are a range of hills almost 200 kilometres (125 mi) long, interspersed with broad valleys. They lie south of a second fault line (the Southern Uplands fault) that runs from Girvan to Dunbar. The geological foundations largely comprise Silurian deposits laid down some 4–500 million years ago. The high point of the Southern Uplands is Merrick with an elevation of 843 m (2,766 ft).

The Southern Uplands is home to the UK's highest village, Wanlockhead (430m/1411ft above sea level).

The climate of Scotland is temperate and oceanic, and tends to be very changeable. It is warmed by the Gulf Stream from the Atlantic, and as such has much milder winters (but cooler, wetter summers) than areas on similar latitudes, for example Labrador, Canada, Moscow, or the Kamchatka Peninsula on the opposite side of Eurasia. However, temperatures are generally lower than in the rest of the UK, with the coldest ever UK temperature of -27.2 °C (-16.96 °F) recorded at Braemar in the Grampian Mountains, on 11 February 1895. Winter maximums average 6 °C (42.8 °F) in the lowlands, with summer maximums averaging 18 °C (64.4 °F). The highest temperature recorded was 32.9 °C (91.22 °F) at Greycrook, Scottish Borders on 9 August 2003.

In general, the west of Scotland is usually warmer than the east, owing to the influence of Atlantic ocean currents and the colder surface temperatures of the North Sea. Tiree, in the Inner Hebrides, is one of the sunniest places in the country: it had 300 days of sunshine in 1975. Rainfall varies widely across Scotland. The western highlands of Scotland are the wettest place, with annual rainfall exceeding 3,000 mm (120 in). In comparison, much of lowland Scotland receives less than 800 mm (31 in) annually. Heavy snowfall is not common in the lowlands, but becomes more common with altitude. Braemar experiences an average of 59 snow days per year, while coastal areas have an average of fewer than 10 days.

Scotland's wildlife is typical of the north west of Europe, although several of the larger mammals such as the Lynx, Brown Bear, Wolf, Elk and Walrus were hunted to extinction in historic times along with smaller mammals such as Beaver and Boar. There are important populations of seals and internationally significant nesting grounds for a variety of seabirds such as Gannets. The Golden Eagle is something of a national icon.

On the high mountain tops species including Ptarmigan, Mountain Hare and Stoat can be seen in their white colour phase during winter months. Remnants of native Scots Pine forest exist and within these areas the Scottish Crossbill, Britain's only endemic bird, can be found alongside Capercaillie, Wildcat, Red Squirrel and Pine Marten.

The flora of the country is varied incorporating both deciduous and coniferous woodland and moorland and tundra species. However, large scale commercial tree planting and the management of upland moorland habitat for the grazing of sheep and commercial field sport activities impacts upon the distribution of indigenous plants and animals. The UK's tallest tree is the Stronardron Douglas Fir located in Argyll, and the Fortingall Yew may be 5,000 years old and is probably the oldest living thing in Europe. Although the number of native vascular plants is low by world standards, Scotland's substantial bryophyte flora is of global importance.

Scotland has a western style open mixed economy which is closely linked with that of the rest of Europe and the wider world. Traditionally, the Scottish economy has been dominated by heavy industry underpinned by the shipbuilding in Glasgow, coal mining and steel industries. Petroleum related industries associated with the extraction of North Sea oil have also been important employers from the 1970s, especially in the north east of Scotland. De-industrialisation during the 1970s and 1980s saw a shift from a manufacturing focus towards a more service-oriented economy. Edinburgh is the financial services centre of Scotland and the sixth largest financial centre in Europe in terms of funds under management, behind London, Paris, Frankfurt, Zurich and Amsterdam, with many large finance firms based there, including: the Royal Bank of Scotland (the second largest bank in Europe); HBOS (owners of the Bank of Scotland); and Standard Life.

In 2005, total Scottish exports (excluding intra-UK trade) were provisionally estimated to be £17.5 billion, of which 70% (£12.2 billion) were attributable to manufacturing. Scotland's primary exports include whisky, electronics and financial services. The United States, The Netherlands, Germany, France and Spain constitute the country's major export markets. In 2006, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Scotland (excluding oil and gas production from 'Scottish' waters) was just over £86 billion, giving a per capita GDP of £16,900.

Tourism is widely recognised as a key contributor to the Scottish economy. A briefing published in 2002 by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, (SPICe), for the Scottish Parliament's Enterprise and Life Long Learning Committee, stated that tourism accounted for up to 5% of GDP and 7.5% of employment.

As of November 2007 the unemployment rate in Scotland stood at 4.9%—lower than the UK average and that of the majority of EU countries.

The most recent government figures (for 2006/7) suggest that Scotland would be in budget surplus to the tune of more than £800m if it received its geographical share of North Sea revenues. The net fiscal balance, which is the budget balance plus capital investment, reported a deficit of £2.7 billion (2.1% of GDP) including Scotland's full geographical share of North Sea revenue, or a £10.2bn deficit if the North Sea share is excluded.

Although the Bank of England is the central bank for the UK, three Scottish clearing banks still issue their own Sterling banknotes: the Bank of Scotland; the Royal Bank of Scotland; and the Clydesdale Bank. The current value of the Scottish banknotes in circulation is £1.5 billion.

Scotland has five main international airports (Glasgow International, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow Prestwick and Inverness) which together serve 150 international destinations with a wide variety of scheduled and chartered flights. BAA operates three airports, (Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen), and Highland and Islands Airports operates 11 regional airports, (including Inverness), which serve the more remote locations of Scotland. Infratil operates Glasgow Prestwick.

The Scottish motorways and major trunk roads are managed by Transport Scotland. The rest of the road network is managed by the Scottish local authorities in each of their areas.

Regular ferry services operate between the Scottish mainland and island communities. These services are mostly run by Caledonian MacBrayne, but some are operated by local councils. Other ferry routes, served by multiple companies, connect to Northern Ireland, Belgium, Norway, the Faroe Islands and also Iceland.

Network Rail Infrastructure Limited owns and operates the fixed infrastructure assets of the railway system in Scotland, while the Scottish Government maintains overall responsibility for rail strategy and funding in Scotland. Scotland’s rail network has around 340 railway stations and 3,000 kilometres of track with over 62 million passenger journeys made each year.

Scotland's rail network is managed by Transport Scotland. The East Coast and West Coast Main Railway lines and the Cross Country Line connect the major cities and towns of Scotland with each other and with the rail network in England. Domestic rail services within Scotland are operated by First ScotRail. Furthermore in Glasgow there is a small integrated subway system which has been in existence since 1896. There are currently 15 stations and there is a daily ridership of just under 40,000. There are plans to extend the subway system in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The East Coast Main Line includes that section of the network which crosses the Firth of Forth via the Forth Bridge. Completed in 1890, this cantilever bridge has been described as "the one internationally recognised Scottish landmark".

The population of Scotland in the 2001 census was 5,062,011. This has risen to 5,168,500 according to June 2008 estimates. This would make Scotland the 112th largest country by population if it were a sovereign state. Although Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland it is not the largest city. With a population of just over 584,000 this honour falls to Glasgow. Indeed, the Greater Glasgow conurbation, with a population of over 1.1 million, is home to over a fifth of Scotland's population.

The Central Belt is where most of the main towns and cities are located. Glasgow is to the west, while Edinburgh and Dundee lie on the east coast. Scotland's only major city outside the Central Belt is Aberdeen, on the east coast to the north. Apart from Aberdeen, the Highlands are sparsely populated, although the city of Inverness has experienced rapid growth in recent years. In general only the more accessible and larger islands retain human populations, and fewer than 90 are currently inhabited. The Southern Uplands are essentially rural in nature and dominated by agriculture and forestry. Because of housing problems in Glasgow and Edinburgh, five new towns were created between 1947 and 1966. They are East Kilbride, Glenrothes, Livingston, Cumbernauld, and Irvine.

Due to immigration since World War II, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee have small Asian communities. Since the recent Enlargement of the European Union there has been an increased number of people from Central and Eastern Europe moving to Scotland, and it is estimated that between 40,000 and 50,000 Poles are now living in the country. As of 2001, there are 16,310 ethnic Chinese residents in Scotland. The ethnic groups within Scotland are as follows: White, 97.99%; South Asian, 1.09%; Black, 0.16%; Mixed, 0.25%; Chinese, 0.32% and Other, 0.19%.

Scotland has three officially recognised languages: English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic. Almost all Scots speak Scottish Standard English, and in 1996 the General Register Office for Scotland estimated that 30% of the population are fluent in Scots. Gaelic is mostly spoken in the Western Isles, where a large number of people still speak it; however, nationally its use is confined to just 1% of the population.

The Scottish education system has always remained distinct from education in the rest of United Kingdom, with a characteristic emphasis on a broad education. Scotland was the first country since Sparta in classical Greece to implement a system of general public education. Schooling was made compulsory for the first time in Scotland with the Education Act of 1496, then, in 1561, the Church of Scotland set out a national programme for spiritual reform, including a school in every parish. Education continued to be a matter for the church rather than the state until the Education Act (1872).

All 3- and 4-year-old children in Scotland are entitled to a free nursery place with "a curriculum framework for children 3–5" providing the curricular guidelines. Formal primary education begins at approximately 5 years old and lasts for 7 years (P1–P7); The "5–14 guidelines" provides the curricular framework. Today, children in Scotland sit Standard Grade, or more recently Intermediate exams at approximately 15 or 16. The school leaving age is 16, after which students may choose to remain at school and study for Access, Intermediate or Higher Grade and Advanced Higher exams. A small number of students at certain private, independent schools may follow the English system and study towards GCSEs and A and AS-Levels instead.

There are 14 Scottish universities, some of which are amongst the oldest in the world. These include the University of St Andrews, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow and the University of Aberdeen - many of which are ranked amongst the best in the UK. The country produces 1% of the world's published research with less than 0.1% of the world's population, and higher education institutions account for nine per cent of Scotland's service sector exports.

Just over two-thirds (67%) of the Scottish population reported having a religion in 2001 with Christianity representing all but 2% of these. 28% of the population reported having no religious adherence.

Since the Scottish Reformation of 1560, the national church (the Church of Scotland, also known as The Kirk) has been Protestant and Reformed in theology. Since 1689 it has had a Presbyterian system of church government, and enjoys independence from the state. About 12% of the population are currently members of the Church of Scotland, with 40% claiming affinity. The Church operates a territorial parish structure, with every community in Scotland having a local congregation. Scotland also has a significant Roman Catholic population, 17% claiming that faith, particularly in the west. After the Reformation, Roman Catholicism continued in the Highlands and some western islands like Uist and Barra, and was strengthened, during the 19th century by immigration from Ireland. Other Christian denominations in Scotland include the Free Church of Scotland, various other Presbyterian offshoots, and the Scottish Episcopal Church. Islam is the largest non-Christian religion (estimated at around 40,000, which is less than 0.9% of the population), and there are also significant Jewish, Hindu and Sikh communities, especially in Glasgow. The Samyé Ling monastery near Eskdalemuir, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2007, includes the largest Buddhist temple in western Europe.

Healthcare in Scotland is mainly provided by NHS Scotland, Scotland's public healthcare system. The service was founded by the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1947 (later repealed by the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978) that took effect on 5 July 1948 to coincide with the launch of the NHS in England and Wales. However, even prior to 1948, half of Scotland's landmass was already covered by state funded healthcare, provided by the Highlands and Islands Medical Service. In 2006, NHS Scotland employed around 158,000 staff including more than 47,500 nurses, midwives and health visitors and over 3,800 consultants. In addition, there were also more than 12,000 doctors, family practitioners and allied health professionals, including dentists, opticians and community pharmacists, who operate as independent contractors providing a range of services within the NHS in return for fees and allowances. The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing is responsible to the Scottish Parliament for the work of NHS Scotland.

Although Scotland has a long military tradition that predates the Treaty of Union with England, its armed forces now form part of the British Armed Forces, with the notable exception of the Atholl Highlanders, Europe's only legal private army. In 2006, the infantry regiments of the Scottish Division were amalgamated to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland. Other distinctively Scottish regiments in the British Army include the Scots Guards and Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

Due to their topography and perceived remoteness, parts of Scotland have housed many sensitive defence establishments, with mixed public feelings. Between 1960 and 1991, the Holy Loch was a base for the U.S. fleet of Polaris ballistic missile submarines. Today, Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde, 25 miles (40 km) west of Glasgow, is the base for the four Trident-armed Vanguard class ballistic missile submarines that comprise the UK's nuclear deterrent.

Three frontline Royal Air Force bases are also located in Scotland. These are RAF Lossiemouth, RAF Kinloss and RAF Leuchars, the last of which is the most northerly air defence fighter base in the United Kingdom.

The only open-air live depleted uranium weapons test range in the British Isles is located near Dundrennan. As a result, over 7000 radioactive munitions lie on the seabed of the Solway Firth.

Scottish music is a significant aspect of the nation's culture, with both traditional and modern influences. A famous traditional Scottish instrument is the Great Highland Bagpipe, a wind instrument consisting of three drones and a melody pipe (called the chanter), which are fed continuously by a reservoir of air in a bag. Bagpipe bands, featuring bagpipes and various types of drums, and showcasing Scottish music styles while creating new ones, have spread throughout the world. The clàrsach (harp), fiddle and accordion are also traditional Scottish instruments, the latter two heavily featured in Scottish country dance bands. Today, there are many successful Scottish bands and individual artists in varying styles.

Scottish literature includes text written in English, Scottish Gaelic, Scots, French, and Latin. The poet and songwriter Robert Burns wrote in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and in a "light" Scots dialect which is more accessible to a wider audience. Similarly, the writings of Sir Walter Scott and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were internationally successful during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. J. M. Barrie introduced the movement known as the "Kailyard school" at the end of the 19th century, which brought elements of fantasy and folklore back into fashion. This tradition has been viewed as a major stumbling block for Scottish literature, as it focused on an idealised, pastoral picture of Scottish culture. Some modern novelists, such as Irvine Welsh (of Trainspotting fame), write in a distinctly Scottish English that reflects the harsher realities of contemporary life. More recently, author J.K. Rowling has become one of the most popular authors in the world (and one of the wealthiest) through her Harry Potter series, which she began writing from a coffee-shop in Edinburgh.

The national broadcaster is BBC Scotland (BBC Alba in Gaelic), a constituent part of the British Broadcasting Corporation, the publicly funded broadcaster of the United Kingdom. It runs two national television stations and the national radio stations, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio nan Gaidheal, amongst others. The main Scottish commercial television station is STV. National newspapers such as the Daily Record, The Herald, and The Scotsman are all produced in Scotland. Important regional dailies include The Courier in Dundee in the east, and The Press and Journal serving Aberdeen and the north.

Sport is an important element in Scottish culture, with the country hosting many of its own national sporting competitions. It enjoys independent representation at many international sporting events including the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby Union World Cup, the Rugby League World Cup, the Cricket World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, but it is not represented at the Olympic Games. Scotland has its own national governing bodies, such as the Scottish Football Association (the second oldest national football association in the world) and the Scottish Rugby Union. Variations of football have been played in Scotland for centuries with the earliest reference dating back to 1424. Association football is now the national sport and the Scottish Cup is the world's oldest national trophy. Scotland (and England) fielded the first international football team.Scottish clubs have been successful in European competitions with Celtic winning the European Cup in 1967, Rangers and Aberdeen winning the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1972 and 1983 respectively, and Aberdeen also winning the UEFA Super Cup in 1983. The Fife town of St. Andrews is known internationally as the Home of Golf and to many golfers the Old Course, an ancient links course dating to before 1574, is considered to be a site of pilgrimage. There are many other famous golf courses in Scotland, including Carnoustie, Gleneagles, Muirfield and Royal Troon. Other distinctive features of the national sporting culture include the Highland games, curling and shinty. Scotland played host to the Commonwealth Games in 1970 and 1986, and will do so again in 2014.

The national flag of Scotland, known as the Saltire or St. Andrew's Cross, dates (at least in legend) from the 9th century, and is thus the oldest national flag still in use. Since 1606 the Saltire has also formed part of the design of the Union Flag. There are numerous other symbols and symbolic artefacts, both official and unofficial, including the thistle, the nation's floral emblem, the 6 April 1320 statement of political independence the Declaration of Arbroath, the textile pattern tartan that often signifies a particular Scottish clan, and the Lion Rampant flag.

Flower of Scotland is popularly held to be the National Anthem of Scotland, and is played at events such as football or rugby matches involving the Scotland national team. Scotland the Brave is used for the Scottish team at the Commonwealth Games. However, since devolution, more serious discussion of the issue has led to the use of Flower of Scotland being disputed. Other candidates include Highland Cathedral, Scots Wha Hae and A Man's A Man for A' That.

St Andrew's Day, 30 November, is the national day, although Burns' Night tends to be more widely observed. Tartan Day is a recent innovation from Canada. In 2006, the Scottish Parliament passed the St. Andrew's Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007, designating the day to be an official bank holiday.

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Scotland national rugby league team

Firhill Stadium played host to Scotland's first ever home fixture.

The Scotland national rugby league team represent Scotland in international rugby league tournaments. The team is run under the auspices of the Scotland Rugby League, and are nicknamed The Bravehearts. Scotland are not regarded as a test nation. Following the breakup of the Great Britain team, Scottish players will now play solely for Scotland, apart from occasional Southern Hemisphere tours, for which the Great Britain team is expected to be revived.

Though its foundations may date back to as early as 1904, the team formally began in 1995, making them the newest international rugby league team in Great Britain. In their first match they played Ireland, losing narrowly. Since then, Ireland has become the team's main rival, the two teams having played each other many times in their short histories. Scotland have also played the United States, France and Russia amongst others, although they have never played their traditional rival England. In 2000 they qualified for their first ever World Cup, but failed to make an impact, losing all three of their group matches; however, their biggest losing margin was just 12 points. In 2008 they beat Wales over two matches to qualify for the 2008 World Cup.

Scotland play in a dark blue strip, similar to the nation's football and rugby union teams, with blue shirt, shorts and socks. A blue and white shield with a thistle, the Scottish emblem, is the team's badge. The shirt has rarely been significantly changed, although in the early days of the team, white was also used on the shirts.

Currently the team are ranked eleventh in the world, ahead of Samoa and Russia but behind neighbours Wales and Ireland. In the Rugby League European Federation, Scotland are ranked fourth behind Ireland but ahead of Lebanon. Englishman Steve McCormack is the teams coach, having coached since 2004, with Danny Brough captaining the side.

It could be argued that the foundations for the Scottish team began in 1904. On 5 April 1904 England played an international match against the "Other Nationalities", a team comprising of Welshmen and Scotsmen, in Wigan. It was a 12-a-side game. Of the twelve players who played for the Other Nationalities team two of them were Scotsmen coming from Northern English clubs, including captain George Frater. After 80 minutes the Other Nationalities had beaten England 9-3. The team carried on for another two years, playing England in 1905, losing 26-11, and in 1906, drawing 3-3. The team was regularly revived, most notably in the early 1930s and in 1949.

Both Scotland and Ireland had been developing rugby league in their respective nations for several years. This was especially true at student level, with a Scotland student team having played regularly since 1987 and having competed in the 1992 Students World Cup. But it was decided that the time was right for an open-age national team to attempt to be entered into an Emerging Nations Tournament that would coincide with the 1995 World Cup, that the Rugby League International Federation had recently announced.

Both Scotland Rugby League and Rugby League Ireland arranged a match on 13 August, 1995 at the Royal Dublin Showground in Dublin, Ireland. However the Rugby Football League provided no financial support to either team. Luckily the Scotland team managed to get sponsored, and the money was used for the ferry crossing, but each individual player had to pay for basic accommodation. The Scotland squad was largely made up of players who had played in the student squads, but a few professionals were also included.

Just before the start of the match, after the Scottish team had spent a night at a youth hostel, the Irish Rugby Football Union prevented the teams from getting changed at the arranged Blackrook College. A new location was quickly found but it was half a mile away from the ground, and so the players had to walk that distance in their playing kit.

The match was looking like it would be scoreless at half-time until just before the break, centre Lee Child scored to put Ireland ahead. After the break Scotland hit back, Sean Cusack scoring Scotland's first ever try. Gavin Manclark then scored to propel Scotland into the lead. This did not last long though, as Leo Casey scored for Ireland in the 55th minute. Ireland then scored again, with Seamus McCallion going over. Four minutes later in the 69th minute, Scotland quickly scored two tries with Manclark and Shelford sealing the eight points. However, this was not enough as Ketteridge had only successfully kicked three conversions compared to Ireland's Ian Devery who had kicked five. The match finished with Ireland winning 26-22, but Thompson for Scotland did win Man Of The Match.

After this international Scotland where allowed to take place in the Emerging Nations Tournament, which was to be held in England. On 16 October, 1995 at Featherstone they faced Russia, who had been playing international rugby league since 1991, in their opening game in Group A. Coached by former Great Britain and England (despite the fact he was Scottish) player, George Fairbairn, who put together a team of former Scotland students, rugby union players, and a few league professionals including Alan Tait, who played for Leeds, and who would captain the side. The whole of the Scotland team had hired kilts to be worn pre-match.

The game started off well for Scotland, student James How scoring after just four minutes. And then minutes later Tait doubled the Bravehearts lead. But the Russia Bears dragged themselves back into the match, stand-off Victor Netchaev scoring first, and in the 30th minute Alexander Otradnov scored. Scotland were ahead though at half-time by four points because Russia had failed to convert their tries. In the second half it was all Scotland with only Andrey Scheglov's drop goal adding to the Bears points. On the other hand former Great Britain international Hugh Waddell, Ali Blee and Tait again all scored to seal a Scottish victory.

Scotland's second match was against the United States in Northampton, traditionally a rugby union city. The Tomahawks were made up of AMNRL players but Scotland took a while to get going. In the twelfth minute winger Rory Lewis unexpected put America ahead, which caused The Bravehearts to start playing well for the remainder fo the first half, Scotland eventually going into the second half leading three tries to one. Graeme Thompson had kicked a penalty very early on in the game, and then after the America try added another four points. McAlister, who had missed the conversion, set up Ketteridge and Smith for Scotland's second and third tries respectively. The Bravehearts extended their lead in the second half, Shelford going over and then David Niu, who could have played for Scotland because of his Dunfermline born mother, got one back for the States. But Scotland put a victory beyond doubt with Alan Tait setting up Shelford twice for his hat-trick. Late in the game Niu and Steve Tait scored for the United States and Scotland respectively to end the match 38-16 in Scotland's favour.

Scotland's two victories, coupled with the Cook Islands ability to beat the United States and Russia too, set up a deciding match in Castleford where the winner would reach the final. 3,000 people turned up to first see Thompson score a penalty after 15 minutes, but then Nigere Tariu slid voer to put the Islanders ahead. Just before the break however, Tait charged through three players to put Scotland back in the game. In the second half the Cook Islands, with several NRL players in their ranks, showed their strength as Sonny Shepherd scored a controversial try as Scottish players complained about the grounding. From a play the ball Shepherd went over again and in the 73rd minute Tariu scored a converted try. The Bravehearts did get a late consolation, skipper Tait going over for Scotland's last try before Islander Ali Davys sealed Scotland's fate with a drop-goal. The match finished Scotland 10-21 Cook Islands. In the final the Cook Islands beat Ireland 22-6 in Bury to win the tournament and secure a place in the next World Cup. Despite losing this final match the Scotland team and supporters thought that they had done very well considering how young the team was and how well their performances had been against Russia and the USA.

In 1996 the Rugby League International Federation rewarded Scotland with full international status which meant that they could start organising more fixtures and there was no longer a limit to the amount of professionals they could use. Before this status Scotland had been restricted to playing just three professionals in a match.

Scotland faced Ireland again in August of that year, and it was to be their first home game, with the match being played at the Firhill Stadium in Glasgow. After 5 minutes Alan Tait touched down with Matt Crowther converting. And then hooker Danny Russell and professional Darren Shaw have the Bravehearts a 14-0 lead at half-time. In the second half after 52 minutes Lee Hanlon scored Ireland's only try of the match, but Martin Ketteridge soon kicked a penalty for Scotland to extend the lead. In the closing stages of the match, after three Irish players had been sinbinned, Darrall Shaleford and Nick Mardon got themselves on the scoreboard with a try each. The match finished Scotland 26-6 Ireland. This is the only time in eight attempts that Scotland have beaten Ireland.

A second match in Glasgow was held in July 1997 against France. The match was to end in controversy surrounding a late try and French referee Thierry Alibert. France had got of to a good start, with Freddie Banquet scoring before Danny Russell and Gary Christie scored a try each to send the Scots in front. However, with a few minutes to go before half-time, Jerome Guisset scored under the posts to give the French side a 12-10 lead after 40 minutes. After half-time France extended their lead through Fabien Devecchi but once again Scotland rallied together and Stuart McCarthy scored a crucial try, which was not converted. In the 70th minute Matt Crowther scored a try, and converted it, to put Scotland into a 20-18 lead. With just seconds remaining, a storm brewed when referee Alibert awarded a try to France's Arnauld Dulac. The Bravehearts and coaching staff said that the ball was knocked on, and therefore a scrum should have occurred. English touch judge Peter Walton signalled the knock-on but play continued. The match finished Scotland 20-22 France.

The Clash Of The Nations was a new tournament designed to make November 1998 a month of international league as Great Britain was touring the Southern Hemisphere. Scotland, France and Ireland would play two matches each and the winner of the two matches would be crowned champion. Scotland first faced France in Perpignan, the first match since they were controversially denied a victory in 1996. New coach Billy McGinty promised "the strongest ever Scotland squad" and just three players survived from Scotland's last international match. Débutant Jason Flowers put Scotland ahead, before France leveled the scores. But Danny Arnold once again put the Bravehearts ahead. Scotland excelled and Jason Raoch further strengthened Scotland's lead before France narrowed the lead to four points at half-time. In the 55th minute France scored to take the lead for the first time in the match. Roach got his second try, but France retaliated by scoring one of their own. Ten minutes from full-time France scored another try to confirm the two points. The match finished France 26-22 Scotland, with Lee Penny earning Man Of The Match award. France went onto beat Ireland in their second match, therefore clinching the trophy, however Scotland still played Ireland in Glasgow, the first meeting between these nations since 1995. The first-half was to prove uneventful, with Ireland scoring a single try to make the score 6-0 after 40 minutes. On the 46th minute Ireland drifted into a 10 point lead, but John Duffy kept the Bravehearts in the match with 20 minutes of the match remaining. Campbell got a try for Scotland but then Ireland scored another, a successfully scored a drop-goal to win the match 17-10. Colin Wilson was awarded the Man Of The Match award, and significantly became the first player from the Scottish Conference domestic league to represent Scotland. With two defeats Scotland finished bottom of the table.

With The Clash Of The Nations tournament over, the Celtic nations were to play each other once over October and November in a new competition. The matches were to coincide with the Great Britain versus Australia matches, in which Great Britain ended up being badly beaten. Dale Laughton was the only Scotman in the Great Britain team and so the Bravehearts didn't suffer from withdrawals as much as Ireland and Wales did. It is generally regarded that the Rugby Football League made the same mistakes as the 1998 tournament with matches being held on Friday nights and competing against both the football and rugby union seasons and consequently attendances were very low for the matches. The first of Scotland's matches was against Wales in which many of the best Welsh players were with Great Britain. Scotland took the lead through Danny Arnold but The Dragons quickly made the game level. Captain Danny Russell went over for Scotland's second try, but once again Wales hit back within minutes. Andrew Lambert scored just before half-time for The Bravehearts but the lead did not last long after the break with Wales scoring. However, the Welsh were unable to reply to the next four tries, with Mike Wainwright and Matt Crowther each getting themselves onto the scoreboard and both Lambert and Arnold getting their second tries. A win or a draw would seal Scotland's place at the top of the table but Ireland mixture of Super League and local players were too good for Scotland. They raced into a 1ten point lead before Russell and Arnold, with Crowther converting one, allowed Scotland to claw their way back into the match. In the final quarter the Bravehearts fell apart, leaking in 21 points to lose the match.

Scotland were placed in Group 4 in the 16-team Rugby League World Cup for 2000, which was held in the United Kingdom and France. This meant that they would face Ireland, Samoa and New Zealand Maori, with one match being played at Glasgow, and one match being played in Edinburgh. Out of the four teams, two would then qualify for the Quarter Finals, playing the top teams from other groups. The Scots World Cup campaign was criticised though, before the tournament was even started when the 24 man squad was named, as not one of the players were born in Scotland.

In their first match after the World Cup campaign, Scotland faced France in the southern French town of Lezignan. Shaun McRae, citing his domestic coaching at Hull FC, departed as Scotland coach and Glasgow-born Billy McGinty took over the role with the then Swinton Lions coach and former Great Britain player Mike Gregory taking the role of assistant coach. The squad for this match included 13 survivors from the World Cup matches and three new players who were each earning their first international cap. The Scots got off to a great start, scoring three tries in the first 13 minutes and never looked back as they won the match 42-20. The heat in the French summer was thought to be a problem going into the match, but Scotland scored seven tries in total to record their first win against the French and arguably their best win yet in international competition. Two tries each were scored by Danny Arnold and Jason Flowers, and Matt Crowther converted all seven tries. Seven years later this victory is Scotland's biggest win and is still recognised as one of their best amongst supporters.

Scotland joined the prestigious European Nations Cup tournament in 2003, now being regarded as the seventh best national nation. This newly expanded competition, which also featured Russia and Ireland for the first time, as well as England A, France and Wales, was split into two groups with the winner of each group playing each other to become the competition's champions. Scotland were placed in a group with rivals Ireland and France. In May 2003, several months before the start of the tournament, Scotland Rugby League announced that Mike Gregory would become the new coach of the Scottish team, with David Lyon being appointed as his assistant. However it was later announced that due to Mike Gregorys commitments to Wigan Warriors, McGinty will continue to coach the side. Scotland's first match was against Ireland at Old Anniesland. The Scots lost by just two points, with Lee Penny, Danny Arnold and Jason Roach all scoring tries for Scotland, but John Duffy had missed one of his crucial four goals. Scotland were 12-2 up after 21 minutes and were level at half-time, but Irish substitute Karl Fitzpatrick gave the Wolfhounds the win in the last few minutes of the match. With France then beating Ireland in Dublin, Scotland now knew that they could clinch first place. The match held in Narbonne, between France and Scotland turned out to be closely fought. However, the Scots came out on top with an Andrew Henderson try and two Oliver Wilkes goals sealing the victory by two points. This scoreline meant that all three teams had finished on two points, but it was France, with the better points difference, that went on to face England in the final.

On 17 May, 2006 Scotland received word that they would play two matches against Wales for a place in the 2008 World Cup. The two matches of Group 1 (there were two European groups) would be contested in late 2006 and 2007, with the first being in Bridgend and the second being in Glasgow.

Before the first match, coach Steve McCormack had time with the players in training camps in Huddersfield and Swansea, and admitted that he was not threatened by the likes of Super League giants Iestyn Harris and Lee Briers in the Welsh team. This is despite many fans and journalists favouring the Dragons to easily win. McCormack later named his squad for the match, which included a mixture of Super League, National League and Rugby League Conference players. Five of them would be making their début, but long-serving player Ian Henderson, who had played in every Scottish match since 2001, was unable to play for in this match.

Scotland started well in Bridgend with Wade Liddell giving the Bravehearts the lead after just 8 minutes. This try was converted by Gareth Morton. But things got bad as Wales pulled a try back through Richard Johnson, and then Danny Brough was sinbinned for dissent on 26 minutes. In the next ten minutes a Wales team minus Iestyn Harris, who failed a fitness test prior to the match, capitalised on Scotland's shortfall and scored two tries to create a 14-6 lead going into half-time. However after the break the Scots immediately got back into the match, Danny Brough singlehandedly scoring a try after 70 seconds of the interval, and Jamie Benn a little later leeching on to a grubber kick. Mick Nanyn missed both conversions and so the scores were tied. On the 67th minute Scotland went in front, Nanyn converting his own try. And to seal a 21-14 victory Danny Brough scored a drop-goal. He would later get Man Of The Match award.

To prepare for the second qualification match, Scotland travelled to Perpignan to play test nation France. Scotland rested several key players, like Danny Brough and Ian Henderson, and gave caps to six début players. It turned out to be a bad decision as Scotland suffered their heaviest defeat in their history. After 15 minutes Scotland were trailing 18-0, and despite tries from Benn, Nanyn and Paterson, plus two successful conversions from Nanyn, France were always well ahead. The match finished France 46-16 Scotland.

Before the second qualification match in Glasgow, Wales were still confident of victory with the Dragons assistant coach Kevin Ellis saying that his Welsh team had some fantastic players, and that it was the best since Wales golden era of 1991-95. But Scotland had the advantage going into the match, for a win or draw or even a small loss would guarantee them a place in the cup. Before the match Danny Brough was announced as captain before the match, thus earning his sixth cap too.

In the first half of the match Wales were on top, with Scotland only managing to score four points overall, two penalties by Danny Brough. Richard Fletcher had been carried off after an aerial collision, which caused the game to be stopped for six minutes. At half time the score was 14-4 in favour of the Dragons, meaning Scotland would not qualify. In the 52nd minute Ben Fisher darted over the line to score Scotland's first try. Importantly this was converted by Danny Brough. And with seven minutes remaining Jamie Benn latched onto Mick Nanyn's speculative pass to score Scotland's second try, which Brough successfully converted. Wales scored late on but it was not enough. The match finished Scotland 16-18 Wales, with an aggregate score of Scotland 37-32, and Mick Nanyn received Man Of The Match award.

On 9 July, 2008, Scotland Rugby League announced that Steve McCormack had signed a 12 month deal to continue his job as head coach of the Scotland team. Danny Brough will continue to skipper the team into the World Cup, providing he stays fit.

Since their first match Scotland have always played in royal blue, with a royal blue shirt, shorts and socks. In their two World Cup qualifying matches in 2007, the Scottish flag, featuring the white cross on a blue background, was on each shoulder and also on the shirt was a white collar. On the left of the shirt is the Scotland badge, and on the right is the Great Britain badge which is split into four and then has the England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland rugby league badges in a shield. This is to signify Scotland's part in the Great Britain setup.

In early 2008 Scotland Rugby League announced that they had secured a five-figure sponsorship deal with The Co-operative which would see the world's largest consumer-owned businesses logo on the front of the shirts for the 2008 World Cup and for all 2009 matches too.

A new shirt has recently been designed for the World Cup and it is expected that fans will be able to buy it sometime in the Summer 2008. Instead of the Great Britain badge on the right, there will be the World Cup logo, similar to each of the ten teams shirts. The shirt is made by German sportswear company Puma.

The emblem of the Scotland team is the thistle, which is on the team's badge in a crest. The thistle is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth and is the symbol of the Order of the Thistle a high chivalric order of Scotland. There is also a well-known Scottish legend that in Medieval times a Viking, wanting to invade Scotland, stood on a thistle and suddenly yelped in pain, alerting the defenders of a Scottish castle. The thistle is used on the badges of many national and domestic sports teams.

A 40-man World Cup squad was due to be announced by Steve McCormack by 1 August, 2008. However this squad was not made announced to the public until 27 August, 2008.

Since 2004, the Scottish management team have given the Dave Valentine Award to their player of the year. The award uses a voting system and is given to the player in early January.

Located in Maryhill, in north west Glasgow, Firhill Stadium was used on five occasions and was the first home of Scottish rugby league. The ground was built in 1909 and is the home for football club Partick Thistle. It is also now being used by Glasgow Warriors rugby union team. The stadium can hold nearly 11,000 although the highest attendance for a rugby league match was just over 2,000. The first match held at Firhill was against Ireland on 6 August, 1996. One game was played in 1997, 1998 and 1999, before Scotland hosted the New Zealand Maori team in their opening World Cup match on 29 October 2000. This was the last time that the Bravehearts played at Firhill.

Scotland's third World Cup match against Samoa was held at Tynecastle in Gorgie, Edinburgh. It was the first time that the Scotland team had played a home fixture outside of Glasgow, but it was also the last, with the team moving back to Glasgow after this one match. The ground was opened in 1886 and is owned by Hearts football club. It has a capacity of 17,000 making it one of the largest sports stadiums in the whole of Scotland, but the World Cup match attracted just under 2,000 people. It is thought that the Rugby Football League and Scotland Rugby League hugely overestimated the appeal of rugby league in Edinburgh, particularly as many Scottish rugby league teams are based in and around Glasgow.

For their opening European Nations Cup match against Ireland on 26 October 2003, the Bravehearts returned to Glasgow and to Old Anniesland. They have stayed their ever since. Old Anniesland is home to Glasgow Hawks rugby union club, one of the best Scottish amateur union sides, and houses one stand, gym facilities and an astroturfed training pitch. Apart from the three European Nations Cup matches Old Anniesland has also hosted a World Cup qualifying matches on 4 November 2007. This match was televised live on Sky Sports and saw Scotland qualify for the 2008 World Cup.

Scotland have only competed in one World Cup, in the 2000 tournament held in the United Kingdom and France. Scotland were drawn in Group 4, with Ireland, Samoa and New Zealand Maori. It was to be the tougest group in the competition, with many of the matches being very close. Scotland finished bottom of the group after losing 17-16 to New Zealand Maori, 18-6 to Ireland and 20-12 to Samoa. Before the 2000 tournament, except for in 1975 and 1995, Scotland were represented at the World Cup by Great Britain with several Scottish players making the team over the years. Scotland will compete in their second World Cup, the 2008 competition in Australia after successfully qualifying.

Scotland joined the cup in 2003, as one of the three new nations to make the competition a six team tournament split into two groups. Their group consisted of Ireland, who beat them 24-22, and France who Scotland beat 8-6. However it was France that went through to the final, despite each team winning one match, because of their better points difference. In 2004 they contested the cup again, being put into a group with Ireland and Wales. Scotland beat Wales in the first match, but once again lost to Ireland, suffering their heaviest ever defeat. For the third and last time Scotland played in the 2005 competition and were again placed with Celtic rivals Wales and Ireland. This time they lost both of their games to finish bottom of the group. The European Nations Cup has not been placed since 2005.

As France proved that they were no longer strong enough for England, losing 73-6 in Gateshead, the European Nations Cup once again was brought to an end. Instead France, Ireland and Scotland competed in a new tournament which would make November 1998 a month of international rugby league, as Great Britain and New Zealand would be playing Test matches. However to avoid rugby union internationals the Rugby Football League organised the matches at night, which meant that the matches themselves received poor media coverage, especially in Scotland and Ireland, and small crowds, again particularly in Scotland and Ireland. France won the only tournament, it being axed after just one year, Scotland finished last losing against both teams.

With the Clash Of The Nations matches not doing well off the pitch, the RFL organised a new round-robin tournament featuring Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The three international matches coincided with Great Britain test matches in Australia, which meant that Wales and Ireland suffered heavy withdrawals and Scotland lost Dale Laughton. Matches were played on Friday nights and competed against rugby union and football domestic seasons that were in full-swing. The tournament produced record low attendance figures in the three nations histories and so the competition was quickly axed.

Rugby League is not a hugely popular sport in Scotland, with the country never having had a professional club. This means that the national team is nowhere near as well supported as the countries football or rugby union teams. Usually matches get between 1,000 to 2,000 supporters, and those figures haven't really increased or decreased since the teams first home international in 1996. Participation in rugby league has increased though, with a Scottish division in the Rugby League Conference with seven teams, including four in the Glasgow/West Scotland area having formed in 2006. But, unlike in England, rugby league is not one of the ten most played sports in Scotland amongst adults. Junior development has been much more rapid, with several Conference teams having junior squads as well as other clubs who don't run an open-age squad having various junior squads. An estimated 2,500 children play rugby league in Scotland, with that figure growing to 12,500 when you add the amount of children who play the sport in various school programmes. In terms of media coverage, apart from Challenge Cup matches rugby league is not shown on Scottish terrestrial television and no matches are usually broadcast on radio. However, Scotland international matches usually get reported in national newspapers like The Scotsman and sometimes in Scottish editions of London based newspapers.

In 13 years of international rugby league Scotland have played 23 matches, winning 34% of them. Their most regular opponent has been Ireland, who similarly starting playing Rugby League in the mid-1990s. However, in eight matches, four of them being played in Scotland, the Scots have only managed to beat the Wolfhounds once - a 26-6 victory in 1996 in Glasgow. They fare better against France and Wales though, the only other Northern Hemisphere opponents that they have faced more than once. Scotland have never beaten any team from the Southern Hemisphere. They have also yet to score 50 points in one match, but have also never conceded 50 points in one match. And they have yet to draw a match.

The Scotland A national rugby league team is made up of amateur players, who either play in the Rugby League Conference or university leagues. The Scotland team is usually made up of some players who play in the Scottish division of the RLC, but also of players who play in the English or Welsh divisions. Napier University has also played a huge part in the team, with many Napier students having played in the side over the years. The team regularly compete against England, Wales and Ireland, playing them annually in the Home Nations Championship. Since the creation of this tournament, in 2002, Scotland have never won the league although have finished second on two occasions in 2004 and 2005. Recently the Scotland team have toured Holland, Italy and Serbia, helping expand rugby league in those country by playing domestic and national sides. Angus McNab currently coaches the side, whilst Andrew Todd of Edinburgh Eagles is captain.

Roy Kinnear, David Rose, Alan Tait, Dave Valentine, Rob Valentine and George Wilson; all played for both Great Britain (RL) and Scotland (RU).

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Scotland national football team

Alex Ferguson managed Scotland at the 1986 World Cup.

The Scotland national football team represents Scotland in international football and is controlled by the Scottish Football Association. Scotland are the joint oldest national football team in the world, alongside England, whom they played in the world's first international football match in 1872. Scotland maintains its own national side that competes in all major professional tournaments, with the exception of the Olympics as Scotland is not a member of the International Olympic Committee. The majority of Scotland's home matches are held at the national stadium, Hampden Park, with friendlies sometimes hosted at club stadiums.

Scotland have qualified for the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Football Championship several times, but have never progressed beyond the first stage of a tournament. The team have achieved some noteworthy results, however, such as beating the 1966 FIFA World Cup winners England 3–2 at Wembley Stadium in 1967. Archie Gemmill scored what has been described as one of the greatest World Cup goals ever in a 3–2 win during the 1978 World Cup against Holland, who reached the final of the tournament. In their qualifying group for UEFA Euro 2008, Scotland defeated 2006 World Cup runners-up France 1–0 in both fixtures.

Scotland's supporters are collectively known as the Tartan Army. Their traditional rivals are England, who they played annually from 1872 until 1989, but there have only been three senior level fixtures since then. The last match between the sides was the second leg of a Euro 2000 qualifying play-off at Wembley in 1999, which Scotland won 1–0, although England won the tie 2–1 on aggregate.

Scotland and England are the oldest national football teams in the world. The two countries contested the first ever international football match, at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, Scotland on 30 November 1872. The match ended in a goalless draw. All eleven players who represented Scotland that day played for Glasgow amateur club Queen's Park. Over the next forty years, Scotland played matches exclusively against the other three Home nations—England, Wales and Ireland. The British Home Championship began in 1883, making these games competitive. The encounters against England were particularly fierce and a rivalry quickly developed.

A noteworthy victory for Scotland before the Second World War was the 5–1 victory over England in 1928, which led to that Scotland side being known as the Wembley Wizards. Scotland won the British Home Championship outright on 24 occasions, and shared the title 17 times with at least one other team. In 1929, Scotland played their first match outside the British Isles, beating Norway 7–3 in Bergen. Scotland continued to contest regular friendly matches against European opposition and enjoyed wins against Germany and France before losing to the Austrian Wunderteam and Italy in 1931.

The Home Nations did not enter the three World Cups before the Second World War because they were not members of FIFA. Prior to the 1950 FIFA World Cup, FIFA advised that places would be awarded to the top two teams in the 1950 British Home Championship. George Graham of the SFA announced, however, that Scotland would only attend the finals if Scotland won the competition. When the Scots finished runners-up to England, Graham stuck to his guns despite pleas from the Scotland players, supported by England captain Billy Wright and the England players. Instead Graham sent the Scots on a tour of North America.

The 1954 FIFA World Cup in Switzerland was the first FIFA World Cup at which the Scotland national team competed. To quote the SFA website, "The preparation was atrocious". The SFA only sent 13 players to the finals, even though FIFA allowed 22 man squads. Despite this self-imposed hardship in terms of players, the SFA dignitaries travelled in numbers, accompanied with their wives. Scotland lost 1–0 against Austria in their first game in the finals. This prompted the team manager Andy Beattie to resign hours before the game against Uruguay. Uruguay were reigning champions and had never before lost a game at the World Cup finals. The gulf in class was exposed in horrific fashion as Uruguay won 7–0.

The 1958 FIFA World Cup finals saw Scotland draw their first game against Yugoslavia 1–1, but they then lost to Paraguay and France and went out at the first stage. March 1959 saw the re-appointment of Andy Beattie as manager until October 1960.

Under the management of Ian McColl, Scotland enjoyed consecutive British Home Championship successes in 1962 and 1963. Jock Stein, John Prentice and Malcolm MacDonald all had brief spells as manager before Bobby Brown was appointed in 1967. Brown's first match as manager was against the newly crowned world champions England at Wembley Stadium. Despite being underdogs, Scotland won 3–2 thanks to goals from Denis Law, Bobby Lennox and Jim McCalliog. Having defeated the world champions on their own turf, the Scotland fans hailed their team as the unofficial world champions.

After Tommy Docherty's brief spell as manager, Willie Ormond was hired in 1973. Ormond lost his first match in charge 5–0 to England, but recovered to steer Scotland to their first World Cup finals in 16 years in 1974. At the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany, Scotland were unbeaten but failed to progress beyond the group stages on goal difference. After beating Zaire, they drew with both Brazil and Yugoslavia, and went out because they had beaten Zaire by the smallest margin.

Scotland appointed Ally MacLeod as manager in 1977 with qualification for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina far from assured. The team made a strong start under MacLeod by winning the 1977 British Home Championship, largely thanks to a 2–1 victory over England at Wembley Stadium. The Scotland fans invaded the pitch after the match, ripping up the turf and breaking a crossbar. Scotland's good form continued as they secured qualification for the World Cup with victories over Czechoslovakia and Wales.

During the build-up to the 1978 FIFA World Cup, MacLeod fuelled the hopes of the nation by stating that Scotland would come home with a medal. As the squad left for the finals in Argentina, they were given an enthusiastic send off as they were paraded around a packed Hampden Park. Thousands more fans lined the route to Prestwick Airport as the team set off for South America. Scotland's first game was against Peru in Cordoba. Two spectacular goals by Teófilo Cubillas meant that the result was a 3–1 loss. The second game was a very disappointing 1–1 draw against Iran. The disconsolate mood of the nation was reflected by footage of Ally MacLeod in the dugout with his head in his hands.

After taking a single point from their opening two games, Scotland had to defeat Holland by three clear goals to progress. Despite the Dutch taking the lead, Scotland fought back to win 3–2 with a goal from Kenny Dalglish and two from Archie Gemmill, the second of which is considered one of the greatest World Cup goals ever; Gemmill beat three Dutch defenders before lifting the ball over goalkeeper Jan Jongbloed into the net. The victory was not sufficient to secure a place in the second round, however, as Scotland were eliminated on goal difference for the second successive World Cup.

MacLeod resigned as manager shortly after the 1978 World Cup. Jock Stein, who had won nine consecutive Scottish league titles and the European Cup as manager of Celtic, appointed as his successor. After failing to qualify for the 1980 European Championship, Scotland qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup from a tough group including Sweden, Portugal, Israel and Northern Ireland, losing just one match in the process. They beat New Zealand 5–2 in their first game at the World Cup, but lost 4–1 to a Brazil team containing Socrates, Zico, Eder and Falcão. Scotland were eliminated on goal difference after a 2–2 draw with the Soviet Union.

Scotland qualified for their fourth successive World Cup in 1986 in traumatic circumstances. The squad went into their last qualification match against Wales needing a point to reach the tournament in Mexico. With only nine minutes remaining and Wales leading, Scotland were awarded a penalty kick which was calmly scored by Davie Cooper. However, as the players and fans celebrated, national coach Jock Stein suffered a heart attack and died shortly afterwards. Alex Ferguson was handed the role of manager for the World Cup, for which Scotland gained qualification by triumphing over Australia in a two-leg playoff, but Scotland were eliminated from the tournament with just one point from their three matches, a goalless draw with Uruguay.

Scotland qualified for their fifth consecutive World Cup in 1990 by finishing second in their qualifying group, ahead of France. Scotland were drawn in a group with Costa Rica, Sweden, and Brazil, but the Scots lost 1–0 to Costa Rica. While they recovered to beat Sweden 2–1 in their second game, they lost to Brazil in their third match 1–0 and were once again eliminated after the first round.

By a narrow margin, Scotland qualified for the UEFA European Football Championship for the first time in 1992. A 1–0 defeat to Romania away from home left qualification dependent upon other results, but a 1–1 draw between Bulgaria and Romania in the final group match saw Scotland squeeze through. Despite playing well in matches against the Netherlands and Germany and a fine win against the CIS, the team was knocked out at the group stage. Scotland failed to qualify, however, for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The team finished fourth in their qualifying group behind Italy, Switzerland and Portugal. When it became clear that Scotland could not qualify, Andy Roxburgh resigned from his position as team manager.

New manager Craig Brown successfully guided Scotland to the 1996 European Championship tournament. The first game against the Netherlands ended 0–0, raising morale ahead of a much anticipated game against England at Wembley Stadium. Gary McAllister missed a penalty kick and a goal by Paul Gascoigne led to a 2–0 defeat. Scotland recovered to beat Switzerland 1–0. The score in the other match meant Scotland were briefly in a position to qualify, but a late goal for Holland meant that the team were once again knocked out on goal difference.

Brown again guided Scotland to qualification for a major tournament in 1998, and Scotland were drawn against Brazil in the opening game of the 1998 World Cup. John Collins equalised from the penalty spot to level the score at 1–1, but a Tom Boyd own goal led to a 2–1 defeat. Scotland drew their next game 1–1 with Norway in Bordeaux, but the final match against Morocco ended in an embarrassing 3–0 defeat.

During the qualification for the 2000 European Championship, Scotland faced England in a two-legged playoff nicknamed the "Battle of Britain" by the media. Scotland won the second match 1–0, but lost the tie 2–1 on aggregate. Scotland failed to qualify for the finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, finishing third in their qualifying group behind Croatia and Belgium. This second successive failure to qualify prompted Brown to resign from his position after the final qualifying match.

The Scottish Football Association appointed former Germany manager Berti Vogts as manager in 2002. Scotland performed badly under Vogts and suffered a series of heavy defeats, including 6–0 to Holland, 5–0 to France, 4–0 to Wales, 4–1 to South Korea and 3–0 to Hungary, which caused the team to drop to a record low in the FIFA World Rankings. Vogts announced his resignation in 2004, blaming the hostile media for his departure.

Former Rangers and Everton manager, Walter Smith was brought in as manager in the wake of Vogts' departure. Smith secured victories against Bulgaria, Norway, the Faroe Islands and most notably against France in a far more productive period, with Scotland rising up the FIFA Rankings. The Scottish players also lifted their first trophy in years after winning the Kirin Cup in Japan. Scotland failed to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany with a 3–4–3 win–draw–loss record, finishing third in their group behind Italy and Norway.

Smith left the national side in early 2007 to return to club football, with Scotland leading their Euro 2008 qualification group largely thanks to a 1–0 win against France at Hampden. Alex McLeish was named as Smith's successor and Scotland's twentieth manager. McLeish's first match in charge was a 2008 European Championship qualifying match against Georgia which was won 2–1 by Scotland, making McLeish only the third Scotland manager to win his first match in charge. McLeish then guided Scotland to wins against the Faroe Islands, Lithuania, France and Ukraine before defeats to Georgia and Italy ended their chances of qualification. These overall improved results, particularly the wins against France, lifted Scotland into the top 20 in the FIFA rankings for the first time since their conception in the mid 1990s. Scotland's best ranking was 13th in October 2007.

After the narrow failure to qualify for Euro 2008, Alex McLeish resigned the managerial position to join Birmingham City a few days after the draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup was made. Scotland's improved results in the last two campaigns meant the team were seeded second for 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying, and they were drawn with the Netherlands, Norway, Macedonia and Iceland. Southampton manager George Burley was hired as the new manager, but the team failed to win three preparatory friendlies against Croatia, Czech Republic and Northern Ireland. Burley came in for criticism from the media after the team lost their first qualifier against Macedonia, but they recovered to win 2–1 in Iceland. The next match was a goalless draw at home against Norway, during which debutant Chris Iwelumo missed an open goal from three yards.

Scotland lost their fourth match 3–0 away to the Netherlands. captain Barry Ferguson and goalkeeper Allan McGregor, who had both played in that match, were dropped for the following match against Iceland due to a "breach of discipline". George Burley made five changes in all for the match, which ended in a 2–1 win for Scotland, with Ross McCormack and Steven Fletcher both scoring on their competitive home debuts.

Scotland have played at eight World Cup Finals, including five consecutive tournaments from 1974 to 1990. During the preparations for the 1928 Olympic Football Tournament, FIFA ruled that all its member associations must provide "broken-time" payments to cover the expenses of players from their country who participated. In response to what they considered to be unacceptable interference, the football associations of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales held a meeting at which they agreed to resign from FIFA. As a result, Scotland did not compete in the three interwar World Cup competitions. The Scottish Football Association did not rejoin FIFA as a permanent member until 1946.

Scotland have never advanced beyond the first round of the finals competition. They have missed out on progressing to the second round three times on goal difference: in 1974, when Brazil edged them out; in 1978, when the Netherlands progressed; and in 1982, when the USSR went through. Although Scotland have played at eight finals tournaments, they have actually qualified on nine occasions. The Scottish Football Association declined to participate in 1950 as Scotland were not the British champions.

Scotland have qualified for two European Championships but have failed to advance beyond the first round on both occasions, most recently at the 1996 European Championship, where the Netherlands progressed on goals scored.

Hampden Park in Glasgow is the traditional home of the Scotland team and is described by the Scottish Football Association as the National Stadium. The present stadium, which has a 52,000 capacity, is one of several stadiums to have used the name. Hampden and its predecessors have hosted international matches since 1878. The attendance record of 149,415 was set by the Scotland v England match in 1937. Hampden is one of only two Scottish football stadiums to receive a UEFA 5–star rating.

Some friendly matches are played at smaller venues, such as when Scotland played South Africa at Pittodrie Stadium in Aberdeen during August 2007. Easter Road Stadium in Edinburgh has hosted four friendly matches since 1998. Other stadiums were also used while Hampden was being redeveloped during the late 1990s. Celtic Park, Pittodrie, Ibrox Stadium and Rugby Park all hosted matches during the 1998 World Cup qualifying campaign, while Tynecastle Stadium, Pittodrie, Celtic Park and Ibrox were used for Euro 2000 qualifying matches.

Since the last redevelopment to Hampden was completed in 1999, Scotland have played all but one of their competitive matches there. The exception to this rule was when Celtic Park hosted the first Euro 2008 qualification match against the Faroe Islands. Celtic Park was used because the fixtures were decided by a random draw and Hampden had already been booked for a Robbie Williams concert on the same date.

Scotland's home matches are presently covered by the pay-TV broadcaster Sky Sports. Extended highlights of every Scotland home international are shown on terrestrial television by BBC Sport Scotland. Television rights to away games vary, although the rights to all of Scotland's away matches in qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup are held by Setanta Sports, another pay-TV broadcaster. This has come in for criticism from the Scottish Government, who have argued that Scotland's competitive games should be included in the list of events which can only be broadcast on free-to-air television.

BBC Sport Scotland, STV, Sky Sports, and Five are among other networks that have previously shown live fixtures. All matches are broadcast with full commentary on BBC Radio Scotland and, when schedules allow, BBC Radio 5 Live also.

In Australia, Scotland's national football team home games and selected away games are broadcast by Setanta Sports Australia.

Scotland traditionally wear dark blue shirts with white shorts and dark blue socks, the colours of the Queens Park team who represented Scotland in the first international. The shirt is embroidered with a crest based upon the lion rampant of the Royal Standard of Scotland. The current change kit is all white with a pastel blue saltire across the chest. Another style often used by Scotland comprises blue shirts, white shorts and red socks. Change colours vary, but are most commonly white or yellow shirts with blue shorts. From 1994–96 a tartan kit was used. The current version of the crest includes the Scottish flag and a background of thistles, representing the national flower of Scotland, in addition to the lion rampant.

Scotland have not always played in dark blue; on a number of occasions between 1881 and 1951 they played in the primrose and pink racing colours of Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery. A former Prime Minister, Lord Rosebery was an influential figure in Scottish football, serving as honorary President of the Scottish Football Association and Edinburgh team Hearts. His colours were used most frequently in the first decade of the twentieth century, but were discontinued in 1909. The colours were briefly reprised in 1949, and were last used against France in 1951. In 1900, when Scotland defeated England 4–1. Lord Rosebery remarked, "I have never seen my colours so well sported since Ladas won the Derby".

Since 2005, the SFA have supported the use of Scots Gaelic on the national team's strip in recognition of the language's revival in Scotland.

Scotland fans are collectively known as the Tartan Army. During the 1970s, Scotland fans became notorious for their hooliganism, particularly after they invaded the Wembley pitch and destroyed the goalposts after the England v Scotland match in 1977. Since then, the Tartan Army have won awards from UEFA for their combination of vocal support, friendly nature and charity work. The Tartan Army have been awarded a Fair Play prize by the Belgian Olympic Committee and were named as the best supporters during the 1992 European Championship. The fans were also presented with a trophy for non-violence in sport and were voted by journalists to be the best supporters for their sense of fair play and sporting spirit at the 1998 World Cup in France.

The following players were selected for the squad to play Netherlands on 28 March 2009 and Iceland on 1 April 2009.

The following players are not in the current squad, but have been selected to play for Scotland since 3 April 2008.

The Scottish Football Association operates a roll of honour for every player who has made more than 50 appearances for Scotland. As of 2008, there are 25 members of this roll, with David Weir the most recent addition to the list. The qualifying mark of 50 appearances means that many notable Scotland players including Jim Baxter, Hughie Gallacher, John Greig, Jimmy Johnstone, Billy McNeill, Bobby Murdoch and Lawrie Reilly are not on the roll of honour.

The Scottish Football Museum operates a hall of fame which is open to players and managers involved in Scottish football. This means that membership is not restricted to people who have played for Scotland; inductees include Brian Laudrup and Henrik Larsson. At the most recent induction ceremony, John Thomson, Bill Struth, Billy Liddell, Jim Leighton, Derek Johnstone, Bobby Evans, Archie Gemmill and Ian St. John were added to its membership. Sportscotland operates the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame, which has inducted some footballers.

From 1872 to 1954 and 1954 to 1958 the Scotland national team was appointed by a selection committee. Andy Beattie was manager for six matches in 1954 when Scotland competed at their first World Cup. After the tournament the selection committee resumed their duties, continuing until the appointment of Matt Busby in 1958.

Statistically the most successful manager was Alex McLeish, who won seven of the ten games he took charge of. Discounting managers who have managed less than ten games, the least successful manager was Berti Vogts, who only won eight out of 31 games. As of March 2009, the current manager is George Burley, who was appointed on 23 January 2008 after leaving English Championship club Southampton.

Last updated: Scotland 2–1 Iceland, 1 April 2009. Statistics include official FIFA-recognised matches only.

Kenny Dalglish holds the record for Scotland appearances, having played 102 times between 1971 and 1986. He is the only Scotland player to have reached 100 caps. Jim Leighton is second, having played 91 times, a record for appearances by a goalkeeper. Former Scotland manager Alex McLeish played for Scotland 77 times and is the third most capped player.

The title of Scotland's highest goalscorer is shared by two players. Denis Law scored 30 goals between 1958 and 1974, during which time he played for Scotland on 55 occasions. Kenny Dalglish scored an equal number from 102 appearances. Hughie Gallacher as well as being the third highest scorer is also the most prolific with his 23 goals coming from only 20 games (averaging 1.15 goals per game). Other notable strikers include, Lawrie Reilly, Ally McCoist, Mo Johnston and Joe Jordan.

The largest margin of victory achieved by a Scotland side is 11–0 against Ireland in the 1901 British Home Championship. The record defeat occurred during the 1954 FIFA World Cup, a 7–0 deficit against reigning world champions Uruguay.

Scotland's 1937 British Home Championship match against England set a new world record for a football attendance. The Hampden Park crowd was officially recorded as 149,415, though the true figure is unknown as a large number of additional fans gained unauthorised entry. This attendance was surpassed 13 years later by the 1950 World Cup final, but remains a European record.

Scotland has always participated by itself in most of the major tournaments, such as the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship. At the Olympic Games, however, the rules only permit a United Kingdom team to compete. London's successful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics, prompted suggestions that a combined UK team be created for the tournament. However, the Scottish Football Association has stated that it will not participate in such a team as doing so would threaten the independent status of the Scottish side. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has stated that a UK team would not threaten the continued existence of the Scotland team, but the SFA has expressed concern that a future President could take a different view.

Despite the opposition of the Scottish FA, the Welsh FA and the Northern Irish FA, the formation of a squad comprising players only from England remains a possibility. Indeed, Blatter has encouraged this possibility. In response, groups representing the supporters of all four national teams have stated their opposition to a UK team and have issued a joint statement.

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Source : Wikipedia