Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


No Paterson but De Luca gets a chance…Scotland Team Announced

Franky ‘Baws’ Hadden today named his XV for the game against France on Sunday. My initial thought was that this is a team set up to attack the French, and that seems like a fair plan but the big shock is the omission of Chris Paterson from the XV. Paterson will start Scotland’s 6 Nations campaign on the bench and presumably Dan Parks will take over kicking duties. Parks has been on good form for Glasgow as of late and will be hoping that this can be carried over to the international arena.

So here is the XV:

1. Allan Jacobsen
2. Ross Ford
3. Euan Murray
4. Nathan Hines
5. Jim Hamilton
6. Jason White (c)
7. John Barclay
8. Dave Callam

9. Mike Blair
10. Dan Parks
11. Simon Webster
12. Andy Henderson
13. Nick de Luca
14. Nikki Walker
15. Rory Lamont

Looking at that team makes me think that Scotland are going to try and attack France from the off and it is a brave (note: brave in the Scottish way i.e. tinged with prudence and not the French manner of 6 uncapped players!). I have to admit to some shock at Paterson admission since he is possibly the most reliable goal kicker in International rugby but it also shows just how much faith Hadden now has in Parks. There has always been a sneaky suspicion that Paterson doesn’t provide enough in open play and that may well have gone against him in this game.

Having now had a chance to look at the team I can see the logic that is possibly at work. Initially I was also surprised to see Mike Blair rather than Chris Cusiter start as I have always felt that he (Blair) is slightly more defensive and not as creative as Cusiter. In the main the backs are exciting, dynamic players and I’m sure that Hadden will look at Blair and Parks to be the more fulcrum around which the rest of the backs will operate. A tighter control in these areas may help Scotland provide a more focussed attack. This is certainly a very attacking line-up, the forwards are all capable ball carriers and able to put in BIG hits and the backs will hopefully look to utilise any space that opens up. With France making so many changes Scotland are out to unsettle the French and be as aggressive and offensive as possible. Could we see Scotland dominate the French? Lets hope so!

A couple of other quick points. The addition of Nick De Luca is heartening. He is a young guy who is playing great rugby at Edinburgh and deserves his chance. His experience of 7s should ensure his handling skill and lightning quick pace make an impact at international level. His inclusion also allows us to play Webster on the wing, his best position, and should hopefully see more from him. Couple that with Nikki Walker on the other side and Scotland presents 2 very different types of winger. The inclusion of John Barclay is also encouraging as he is another young player with the potential to make a mark at this level. His ability to put in big hits is coupled with good handling skills, especially in the contact areas, and hopefully he can go some way to helping to provide a strong base which Scotland can attack from.

Overall an exciting team and a hint of the future. Paterson can count himself unlucky and no doubt he will start other games (particularly away) but with the chance of France blooding so many new players Scotland are looking to attack from the off and get right in amongst the French. In a previous piece I predicted Scotland to win and having seen the team I stick by that…I just hope I’m right!!!

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5 Responses

  1. A few quibbles with the team: I think Rory Lawson is worth a shot on the bench (I would disagree about Cusiter being a more attacking player than Blair but we can argue about that on Sunday), indeed he and Blair are in such form it must have been quite a challenge to choose one. And where is Ally Hogg – Callam is coming back from injury and Hogg, surely, is the in form No8 from Edinburgh? At least he picked “little” Lamont at full back. Sunday could showcase two teams looking to play counter-attacking rugby.

  2. Disagree about Lawson, Scotland need a fairly ‘tight’ control and think Blair will provide this. In the main the backs are fairly attacking and this is nicely balanced by having the control of Parks and Blair.

    Cusiter is more attacking…so nah nah nah!

    Agree about the omission of Hogg, can cover 3 positions and been in decent, if not spectacular, form for Edinburgh. Actually now having had a look at the bench it actually seems week. First XV look good to me though, and think Scotland will play more on the front foot than the French who’s starting XV has 4(!) uncapped players, including a new number 10….

  3. I’m with Rory. Lawson deserves a slot in the 22. There is a reason why Gloucester are Number 1 in the Guinness Premiership….

    As for Cusiter being more attacking….I think it’s the other way around. Blair is the most potent attacking threat we have, as many will have seen in his appearances for Edinburgh. Until a month ago, Cusiter was second choice at Perpignan. He’s only guaranteed number 1 now because of Durand’s injury.

    I’m aware Cusiter might hold a special candle in people’s hearts, but the fact of the matter is Blair and Lawson are streets ahead in form at the moment and why Hadden hasn’t seen that is quite unforgiveable. Maybe it’s because we’re playing France, but then again, that would be a pitiful reason.

    Other than Walker (WHY!), it’s a very strong team. Maybe I would have Callam on the bench and either Hogg or Beattie at 8.

  4. Also, where is World Class Phil? He is on the form of his life – arguably better than Parks – and is place kicking very well too.

  5. Thanks for the comments Johnny – good to see it isn’t just Rory and I reading this stuff!

    Personally I just think that when Cusiter plays there is an extra spark and that was certainly the case in the game v Argentina at RWC’07. When Cusiter came on Scotland seemed far more creative and able to attack. On a bright note though it is good that we are able to have this debate and goes some way to demonstrating the depth that we have in the Scotland side. Lawson can probably consider himself unluckly to not even be on the bench but I’m sure he’ll get game time during the championship and unless Blair has a stormer on Sunday I can see these guys rotating through the Championship.

    I’m not that worried about Walker being in, he’s been doing ok at Ospreys (or shall we just call them the Welsh national side?) and I’m not sure who else you could have put in? Any thoughts?

    World class Phil probably has still to live down his ‘blip’ against Italy last year so not sure France would be the best game to pitch him into. Actually think stick him in during an away game as the pressure might be slightly less.

    Still, even after a night to think about it I’m happy with that Scotland XV but think the bench could be stronger! Just hope its enough…

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion