Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


How Do You Solve A Problem Like J. Beattie?

There’s an elephant in the room. The kind of elephant that once had the most poach-worthy tusks in the savannah but is now dozing in the shadows of his team mates. Johnnie Beattie is the missing man at Glasgow and no one is pointing out his absence with so much as a hushed murmur.

Last week in a dismal draw with the Dragons Beattie was one of the few to make a positive impression on the game. He crunched into contact; he raced into defensive holes; he absorbed fallen balls; he put his hand up; he shouted. We are told that he is not currently injured and we have seen that he was capable of playing 65 minutes in Newport. Now we are told that he missed out because there must be a reward for guys like “Ryan Wilson for the outstanding form they’ve been showing.” Guys like Ryan Wilson are rewarded with a start, sure, but Beattie is not even on the bench.

For balance it is fair to point out that Moray Low is also not in the squad, despite being fit. His situation is hugely different, though. He is having a crisis of confidence. After first being dropped he played for Aberdeen Grammar in RBS Premier One and was yellow carded before he had a chance to make an impact. He then came back to Glasgow but has not elbowed his way back to the front of the queue. He is not going to be out of contract in the summer, though, and he is needed by Scotland. Glasgow will be using him again soon.

As for his back-row cohort: it must be frustrating. A good performance after being out in the cold is followed by a week of no rugby. He is not back with Ayr* for their trip to Tralee Park to face Munster ‘A’ in the British & Irish Cup. He has history in that competition having played in Ayr’s win over Plymouth a few weeks back, scoring the winner at the death. This not only showed he could still be in the mood for a rugby game, but also that he was fit enough to play. He isn’t playing.

For now he is missing opportunities. Lineen has said that he and Low will get other chances but for Beattie the clock is ticking. There are breakaways ahead of him in the pecking order right now and his contract is up in about six months time. If he does want to leave, is he still in the shop window?

As I pointed out in my piece ‘Rory Lamont: Free Agent’ it is becoming acceptable for a club and a player to agree a mutual termination if it is not working out for either. Lamont did it to move from Toulon to Glasgow and Euan Murray did it to move from Northampton to Newcastle. This week it happened in another way. Peter Stringer of Ireland moved ‘on loan’ to Saracens because he was not getting any game time at Munster and the London club were having issues with their scrum-halves.

Now I am not saying a mutual termination will happen or even that this is the best thing for both parties. Nonetheless, with Beattie out in the cold and Aviva Premiership teams like Worcester having a back-row “mini-crisis” perhaps a loan could be possible. Perhaps a change could happen as the prized elephant trumpets a reminder to Mr. Robinson.

*Ayr have been given Low, Callum Forrester, Murray McConnell and a rehabilitating Fergus Thomson for their away trip to Munster ‘A’. Here’s the team:

15. Grant Anderson
14. Richard Dalgleish
13. Ross Curle
12. Mark Stewart (captain)
11. Cammy Taylor
10. Robbie Fergusson
9. AJ McFarlane

1. Gordon Reid
2. Hayden Wisnewski
3. Moray Low
4. Josh Dunning
5. Colin White
6. Andy Dunlop
7. Robbie Colhoun
8. John Willis

16. Fergus Thomson
17. Stuart Fenwick
18. Craig Davidson
19. Scott Sutherland
20. Calum Forrester
21. Murray McConnell
22. Sylvain Diez

23. Murray Beckwith

Best of luck goes to Currie and Melrose who also have important B&I Cup ties.

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5 Responses

  1. Good piece, interesting read.

    Amazing to think how a player as impressive as he was in very recent history can have gone from and outside Lions bet to not even featuring in his regional squad.

  2. To say that no-one is pointing to his absence is not accurate as both the Herald and the Scotsman have been talking about his absence for weeks and the Herald today talks about his absence and Wilson’s inclusion.

    To be honest I thought he’d done enough down at Newport to gain selection, especially after Wilson’s poor game against Ulster. However, I think what is keeping him off the bench is the battle between Fusaro and Barclay. If Wilson is not playing well Fusaro will come off the bench and go to 7 and Barclay will move to No 8. If Wilson is doing ok and Barclay is below par then he can take Barclay off and put Fusaro on.

    I am surprised that Beattie has not been included in Ayr’s side, but I guess you’ve also got to see things from their point of view. I doubt their regular squad would feel to happy if all their hard work is rewarded by players from the Warriors being parachuted into the team. Perhaps Ayr said, “four is pushing it but five, your having a laugh?”

    The problem for Glasgow if he does go – and I’m off the opinion that it might be in his interest to go – is that it would leave us with no specialist cover at 8. Pitman, not that I really rated him, has gone back to Wales and has not broken into the Osprey’s match day squads, but is at least getting regular game time at club level. That leave us with Callum Templeton from the elite development set up who is listed as a No8/lock.

  3. bmg99:
    Today the Herald doesn’t really look at his long-term future, and the scotsman interview with Wilson does not either. Both went up after this article, so I couldn’t really mention them. However, it has been talked about. A little. But none of them point out some harsh truths: if Glasgow go out of the HCup then he will not really have been seen at that level. He will now realistically have 1 HC game to make before AR picks his squad. He has just over a month to break into the Scotland 6N squad from scratch. If he doesn’t do that then he becomes a less attractive proposition should he decide not to re-sign with Warriors. We are at the fork in the road. He must make a choice about his future ASAP if he is not to end up fading like so many other hugely talented players have. At least that is my view.

  4. Hard to disagree with you, A.D.

    One thing I would say, however, is that Robinson was very eager to play Beattie in last year’s 6N, and pretty much rushed him back into the national team way before he was ready. I think Robinson will give him quite a few chances to play, and woukld probably pick him over an in-form Wilson.

    However, now that McInally and Denton have emerged at Edinburgh, he’s got way more competition than this time last year. On form, he’s our best 8 by a country mile. Let’s just hope he manages to hit the heights of 2010 soon.

  5. Beattie did look good last week. Is there something going on behind the scenes? If Glasgow don’t need him, loan him out! Scotland need him!

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion