Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


The Resurrection Of The Paterson…

Keeping in line with Rory’s Episcopal writings Chris Paterson has risen from his resting place on the subs bench to take his place in the Scotland starting XV for the game against Wales. Paterson has come in at 15 and Kelly Brown (8) has come in to replace David Callum who has dropped out the squad entirely. Ally Hogg has been called into the subs bench and will no doubt be looking to make a big impact if (when?) he gets on the pitch. The rest of the first XV have remained unchanged and means that Dan Parks and Nick De Luca, neither of whom set the heather alight on Sunday, will face up to the Welsh.

Here is a look at the starting XV for the game down in Cardiff on Saturday (2pm kick-off):

1) Allan Jacobsen – Scotlands main attacking drive from the forwards against France. Having a good season for Edinburgh and encouraging to see that being carried into the international arena.
2) Ross Ford – Coped ok on Sunday but is he able to cope in the scrum with the strongest nations? Will be interesting to see how he holds up against the Welsh.
3) Euan Murray – Big, powerful but not a real threat at the lineout.
4) Nathan Hines – The aggressive drive for Scotland but never really fired against France. If he can up his game Scotland can prosper.
5) Jim Hamilton – Another big player and helped stabilise the Scottish scrum, very noticeable when he went off. Question marks over his effectiveness in the lineout (compared to say Scott Murray).
6) Jason White (C) – a big game for Jason. Was disappointing against the French and question mark remains over his ability to lead when the going gets tough. He needs to demonstrate his ability to put the big hits in and make the metres up otherwise his place is surely at risk.
7) John Barclay – one of the brighter spots on Sunday and will look to take the game to the Welsh. Expect him to be a big player on Saturday.
8 ) Kelly Brown – looked good when he came on and has been in fine form this season.

9) Mike Blair – Hmmmm, wasn’t amazing on Sunday and thought Cusiter may have got the nod. His form for his club has been good but he needs to move the ball quicker.
10) Dan Parks – Still a fan but this suddenly becomes a big game for Scotland’s #1 ass-patter. Another stinker will put him under huge pressure but if he can do the basics well and kick Scotland into good position he could become a very large thorn in Wales side. His passing needs to improve though.
11) Simon Webster – struggled in a Scotland shirt lately but in a thankless role of Scotland winger starved of service.
12) Andy Henderson – dodged a bullet, twice, when neither carded nor cited for his ‘head-butt’ on Traille. He will no doubt want to make a positive impression against Wales and will look to make some hard yards, which unlike head-butting, is something he does well.
13) Nick de Luca – had a shocking start to his international career but came onto a game as the match progressed. Glad he is back in the team and hopefully being in an atmosphere where the pressure will be off him he will have a chance to show just what he is capable off. By the end of this 6 Nations he may prove to be a permanent fixture at 13.
14) Nikki Walker – probably had his best game in a Scotland shirt in the France match. A couple of very good runs and looked a handful for the French. If he can take that form into the Wales game he has the potential to be explosive and surely the opportunity to get one over so many of his team mates will spur him on. Will be a valuable source of intel on the opposition.
15) Chris ‘The Prodigal Son’ Paterson – having been dropped Paterson will have it all to prove. As Rory mentioned in another section Paterson looked as sharp as he has in a awful long time and 15 may yet prove to be the best place for him as he will be able to run the ball and he can beat his men. Could this be the game that Paterson cements his status as a modern legend of the Scotland game? Bold prediction but I expect him to score a try and maintain his kicking prowess.

On paper it is another fairly strong Scotland squad and I don’t think they will be able to play as badly again as they did on Sunday. Wales had a superb result against England but it is important to remember that for 40 minutes of that match the Welsh were abysmal and to a certain degree the English shot themselves in the foot. In saying all that, the Welsh crowd will expect a win against Scotland and they will go in big favourites and rightfully so. It promises to be a fascinating battle with 2 very distinct styles of play coming up against each other. I imagine Scotland will try to keep it tight, utilise Parks kicking from hand and play for territory while the Welsh will play the usual high tempo game based on running and moving the ball out wide – just like France… A big area for Scotland will be the lineout, a notoriously weak area for the Welsh, where they failed to apply any real pressure against the French. The kicking of Dan Parks only becomes a weapon if the Scots can pressure the Welsh lineout and either force bad ball or, even better, a turnover. If Scotland dominate in the set pieces they will likely go on and win the game but if they struggle as in the second half against the French then Scotland could be in for a very long afternoon.

In my pre-tournament piece I predicted Scotland would win against France and lose to Wales. Obviously I got the France game horribly wrong but I suspect I may be closer to the mark against Wales. That’s not to say that I don’t think Scotland can win, they have a good chance of doing damage against the Welsh but Wales are on a high and will be out to impress against Scotland…

Actually, sod all that, I’m an optimist, Scotland to win by 10 points in a hugely inspiring and disciplined display of aggressive rugby!

God loves an optimist…

Over and out.

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17 Responses

  1. Surely the Paterson of the Christ would have been a better – if more offensive – title? I think the bench looks a wee bit weak now too, without the glorious tomfoolery of WorldClass Phil.

  2. I’m not an offensive person…cough!

    Agree the bench does not look amazing but who else do you have? My main worry is that the bench does not have an abundance of creativity. On the bright side Ally Hogg could be a big impact player and I like the look of Scott McLeod who at least can add some attacking verve to teh forwards. You need Southwell to cover 15 so really just missing some wing cover, but who would you pick?

    I suspect Hadden has looked at the guys on the pitch and thought that, if need be, he can shuffle folk on the pitch to cover positions.

    Thought the bench against France was a wee bit strange (no Ally Hogg) and I guess i agree that its not bursting with attackign talent this time either.

    God help us if get lots of injuries!!!

  3. I just wish could grow a set. His experience over talent scheme ain’t working. Southwell could be 21, as he could cover centre (!) and full back. On the other hand, Godman can cover 10 and 12, maybe he would be a better 21 shirter. He is also a very good impact sub. It’s time to bring out and out pace in either Cairns or Evans to the 22 spot. It has to happen. But will it happen?! Not a sausage because Hadden is a chump.

  4. The best impact sub Scotland have in terms of pace, versatility and enthusiasm is probably Malkovich Webster. So he might have been better starting Southwell, and playing Mossy at 11 with Webster on the bench.

  5. Mossy gets lost out on the wing – its Scotland! To Scotland the wing is a hinterland where the ball should never be allowed to venture unless on its merry little way into touch. At least at full back Mossy can get some time on the ball and, if he’s as sharp as we think (hope), will be able to have a positive impact.

    Would have been good to see Godman get on the bench with chance come on an influence the game but don’t think Hadden could really justify having 3 players all capable (preferred?) at 10.

    What would have been nice, as mentioned by Johnny, is if one of the younger contingent could have been given a chance on the bench, say Cairns. He certainly has the pace and handling skills to trouble teams and brought on for the final 20 minutes may have been the sort of impact sub Scotland are looking for.

    My worry with Hadden is not so much his lack of adventure in team selection but rather his apparent fasination with trying to stop the opposition rather than getting his team to play the game best suited to them. I would also like, for once, for Hadden to be honest about our weaknesses (i.e. switching off at penalties etc). Too often he has blamed the poor bounce of a ball but thats just rugby – the ball still has to get there and the opposition still have to be in position to capitalise and Scotland need to be more alive in those situations.

  6. Webster should never be given a shirt again! I don’t care if he is bald he is a wing/centre and shouldn’t wear a scrm cap either!

    Would be interesting to see Walker/Patterson/Posh play in an unsturcture back three in a way the Welsh did 5 or so seasons ago. It would give them all oppertunities to use the direct style of rugby they are better. We don’t have wingers that are good enough at beating the man on the outside, so play to the strengths.

    Is it just me or is anyone else worried about Henson taking our centres apart.

  7. Full agreed Al. If you listen carefully to a Hadden interview, he always mentions how well the opposition played rather than how badly our team played. It’s like he’s on a damage limitation exercise from the very start. I know Matt Williams used to criticise the players so much, but now Frank just gives them a little cuddle and says everything will be alright; he’s gone too far to the other extreme. When asked what he said in the changing room after the France match, he said we just calmly looked back upon the match. What was needed was a bollocking. Basic errors, scrum collapsing, stuff like that. They need to know exactly how bad they were. Good cop, bad cop.

    By the by, you guys would be very welcome on

  8. Jonny, thanks, we’ll be sure to check it out. Dan, I have to admit Henson does worry me a little, depending on whether he turns up or not. I think it also depends on what sort of day De Luca is having. If he’s playing well, Henson won’t phase him. But if he’s having another one like Sunday, then we could see him become Matthew Tait v2…

  9. Welcom Dan!

    For clarity Posh is Hugooooooooo Southwell – one for the nicknames Rory?

    Henson’s a strange player but seems to be in a good vein of form and if he fires Scotland could struggle. Isolate him (or give him a ruddy great big thump in the first 5 minutes) then Scotland may get some luck.

    Johnny, the Hadden way is pretty infuraiting. I’m all for building the players up but it needs to be tempered with an occasional bollocking! On Sunday too many players were not alive to what was going on at the dead ball and basic errors killed us. This is schoolboy problems and Hadden should be ripping into the guys and explaining just how unacceptable it is. Jason White also needs to be more vocal, if Hadden is going to be good cop White needs to step up and be bad cop i.e. pull up players for sleeping on the job and give the players around him a kick up the arse. Saying he leads by example is just not good enough for an international captain I’m afraid.

    This weekend I just want to see some god damn passion – it was missing last week and that, possibly, was the most upsetting thing.

  10. Does Hadden just give them a wee cuddle, or is he just respectful of them and keeps the bollocking to the team room and not in front of the press? Gatland made comments to the press this week openly criticising Hook, if Hadden had done the same to say Parks, who already had to deal with the mass cheer he got for leaving the field on Sunday (and not in a good way), do you really think it would have helped the teams confidence in themselves?

  11. Well well well….the plot thickens!

    Dan is in Wales for the game, he hates Webster with a passion.

    Webster has been removed from the squad “due to injury”.

    I demand to know if Dan and Malkovich were in the same pub last night! :-)

    As it is Hugo Southwell is in at full back and Paterson moves out to the wing. A missed opportunity to bring in one of the young wingers but hopefully it’ll all work out fine!

  12. What about Al Strokach -spelling?- he seems to be playing consistently well in England ?

  13. I think if White is not careful he might be “rested” on the bench one week and Strokosch given a chance. Stroker’s problem is that he is an out and out 6, while Hoggy or Kelly Brown can fit in anywhere so are more likely bench options. Glad to see Hugooooo getting a run.

  14. Al,

    something funny here right enough. Big puff piece for DP in today’s Herald- he has the players support. Call me a conspiracy theorist but is that just coincidence or is SW’s injury a convenient truth ?

  15. Posh was rubbish! but not as bad as Parks! Right Mossy at 10, Danielli on the wilng with Walker, A small girl at full back would be better than we have at the moment. Centres are not horrible, Malko wasn’t missed, I may or may not have crocked him, couldn’t possibly say. Argh! It is a good job there was a lot of beer in Cardiff!

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion