Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Italy 13-6 Scotland

Italy vs Scotland

The sun was shining on Rome yesterday but for the quality of rugby on display it might as well have been pouring rain and howling a gale.

Scotland turned up with only the wooden spoon to win and they duly obliged. You can’t doubt that these players did not want to lose, but the only team that seemed capable of doing anything about it were Italy.

The first half was uneventful as both sides struggled to find a rhythm or any sort of useful possession. Scotland gave away too many penalties, or perhaps Alain Rolland awarded too many. Regardless, the Italians dominated the possession and got the first points. They could have had plenty more with two further penalties and a charged down from Kris Burton (the Dan Parks-lite of Italy), while most of Scotland’s opportunities were out of kicking range of Greig Laidlaw. Even the one he confidently put over to send the teams in at half time at 3 apiece. Unfortunately there wasn’t parity in the team numbers as seconds before, Nick De Luca had thoughtlessly booted the ball from between the hands of scrum half Gori.

You could see from the look on De Luca’s face that a yellow card was the last thing he wanted to give away given his rollercoaster ride in this year’s Six Nations, but sadly Rolland is no great lover of romance, sentiment or anything intangible like that. If he spots it, you’re going. And so Scotland faced the start of the half down a man.

They battled well to hold Italy off but eventually the numbers proved the wee edge Italy had been seeking to get round Scotland’s nuggety defence, Venditi bursting through Hogg’s inneffectual tackle to score. From then on Italy held firm while Scotland struggled to put any sort of shape or pace on the game. No sooner had De Luca come back on than Jim Hamilton went to the bin for another silly indiscretion around a ruck.

In the face of this, even traditionally reliable men like Gray or Denton toiled to make headway. Gray was replaced for the lively Al Kellock early, but even as Italy started to tire and Scotland got the bounce of the ball (or should that be the rub of Rolland?), the home team did enough to prevent Scotland from scoring anything more than an additional penalty.

While hugely frustrating, late substitution to the starting XV Jon Welsh bolstered the scrum and did not give away any silly penalties that I saw and if he can make more impact in the loose, Chunk’s place could finally be under threat. Stuart Hogg still had little ball, but showed brief snatches in attack and was much better under the high ball and with his clearance kicks. The defence was largely sound, but discipline, line-out and tactics were mostly dreadful. Fix one thing, and another thing goes wrong.

It was looking fairly rosy before the tournament began, as it always does. It stuttered, but then came (mostly) good against France. We had an exciting new defence coach coming in, talent was being unearthed here and abroad, the SRU seemed like things were going in the right direction and tries were being scored. Okay, the results weren’t coming in but we’d put up with that for a wee while, in return for more performances like that. In return for progress.

Now we have a coach who may be making progress but the results point to the contrary, an untried and possibly unsuccessful coach in charge of Glasgow next season and a team that looks like it has regressed severely. The SRU with the handling of the announcement over Lineen and Townsend took a backwards step too.

In short, doom and gloom.

Where next for Scotland? We’ll be watching.

Keep an eye out for our tournament roundups next week and ongoing league and Heineken Cup coverage.

19 Responses

  1. You’ve alluded to I there but all the good feeling surrounding Scottish rugby has been bled out over the last 120 minutes of rugby.

    Insipid performance from a team that has looked at least competent before.

    People will call for Robinson’s head but unless his instructions have been to go out and make stupid decisions, I don’t understand what else he can do. Would braver team selection make that much difference?

    Oh well, I look forward to Edinburgh and Glasgow getting their formally confident ‘stars’ back and discovering they have been crushed by another terrible time with the international team.

  2. Same blog as last week now 2/15 Robinson must go.
    As for our attack coach Mr Townsend I pity Glasgow.
    SRU have once more made matters even worse and now we are
    officially poorest team in 6 Nations soon to be defeated by
    Fiji,Samoa,Australia,SA and New Zealand.
    Robinson will have a record of 2/20.
    Carry on Regardless !

  3. AR has to walk away now, if only to maintain his own dignity. That was abject, against a limited Italy team. Perhaps we all expect too much, maybe we are poorer than Italy. On todays evidence its hard to argue. AR can’t be blamed for De Luca’s repeated stupidity, but he can blamed for selecting him. De Luca really should never be seen in a Scotland jersey again. Sorry Andy, time to do the decent thing and walk away. Especially when Sean Lineen’s available! SRU masterplan anyone?

    1. Sean Lineen is not going to save scottish rugby. He got Glasgow strangling the life out of teams yes, but they havent stepped up to big games, and he needs to prove he can get teams doing that before he can be considered. Robinson must go, but id rather see someone fresh brought in, with no loyalties to under-performing players, and no loyalty to gameplans that are clearly utter bollox. We need to be looking at Mallett, Kirwan, even Lancaster if the RFU dont want him.

      Basically, a clear out is required. It shouldve happened between the world cup and the start of the 6N, but didnt. Get rid of underperforming players, staff and tactics. DO it soon before this stuff seeps into the young guys games and turns them into the next generation of guff. I dont care if we scrape the bottom of the barrell in terms of bringing in alternatives, they cant be any worse than these failures.

      Finally, since Robinson has harped on for three years about how he has no intention of building a side, merely looking to win each game as it comes (although the players look more like theyre just trying not to lose), why O why was he given a new contract without a clause for termination if the results dont come? We cant get rid of him now, and are relying on him walking which he doesnt sound like hes going to do. You only offer those kind of contracts to someone if they are planning on building a side with a long term view, not someone with such a narrow and short mindedness as Robinson.

    2. The Sean Lineen comment was very much tongue in cheek. Mallet might be a good option given his experience with Italy. We definitely need someone with a fresh perspective. And if AR walks what happens to Scott Johnson?

  4. don’t really know what to say.. I know Ross Ford is captain but surely he should have been off at half time? Was it a throwing or lifting issue? I don’t know but I thought that was what training sessions were meant to iron out..put us under pressure all front of kicker at re-start..dear me..knock on’s..turnovers..shipping the ball along the line against a drifting defence..ever heard of drawing the man? Simply awful. Now, like many Scotland fans, I do not expect us to win every game. I am a realist. But I do expect basic skills to be executed. I do expect a bit of enterprise. Did we not have the weight advantage over every other pack? Seems size isn’t everything. Seems we are expecting our new internationalists to carry us. Where is the experience stepping up. Jim Hamilton 3 times in from the side of a ruck! Not even subtley! Don’t know where we go from here but i agree with Stuart above..where is the next win going to come from..

  5. Who told the players the result was important today. We have had a poor season, no less poor if we had won today. If there was ever a game when the coach would send the team out to enjoy themselves this was the one.
    Poor afternoon. Hope the coaches can get the players’ belief back for Heineken/Rabo success. At least the SRU haven’t done anything to undermine their proteam coaches.
    Is laughter appropriate?

  6. Having watched Scotland play rugby for c.50 years, I have NEVER felt so despondent than I did after today’s game. Forget ability, there was no attitude,passion,leadership or will to win from the players today(with a couple of exceptions). It is a professional sport with huge rewards. EFFORT is the least we should expect. The sight of the forwards walking slowly(and independently)up to a lineout with a few minutes remaining and a possibility of still winning the game was utterly apalling.
    Andy Robinson has to learn to use substitutes to replace players for a valid reason, not because 50 or 60 minutes of the game has elapsed. Was Ritchie Gray injured? Does Euan Murray only have the drive and passion required to play international rugby on a Saturday 55 minutes into the game? Show the lot of them a video of Alun Wyn Jones singing his national anthem.
    Robinson, if he remains, has got to be able to spot failure when he sees it. Jacobson has done nothing in this tournament. His obvious lack of athleticism has caught up with him. Ross Ford was having a howler, captain or not, he should have been hooked before half time. NDL seems to have short span of attention. If he thinks he got Twitter abuse the last time, trying to kick a ball in a player’s hand would have got him yellowcard in the Fat Boys 3rd XV and laughed at in the bar afterwards.
    It is time for a clearout. Max Evans flatters to deceive. Sean Lamont just deceives. Can’t pass, can’t offload, can talk! Jones unfortunately is too lightweight ever to be an international rugby player. Laidlaw’s physique means he can only operate at scrumhalf at international level.
    Bye bye Euan Murray, doing NOTHING and only on a Saturday. Bye bye and thanks Chunk. Back five and reserves not too bad. Need a hard man to replace Wagga. We have to toughen up and get much more street wise. Even the Italian hooker had the nous to pretend he was injured when they were men short. We have nobody that would even think of doing that.
    When your captain looks and acts as if his main aim is to win a “bonny baby” competion, then that is the only competion that you are likely to win. Geech and Telfer made Johnston Lion’s captain because he was HUGE! Look at the video, Keith Wood ran the show.
    Watch ALL the other countries using “lazy runners”, guys “wandering” in front of of full backs firing up & unders, forwards “falling” apologetically on the wrong side of rucks and LEARN! Hamilton is the closest we have to a hard man but he got pinged twice,and correctly, for coming in from the side of the ruck. We can’t even cheat well!
    My final comment relates to Scotland’s attack coach and his promotion. All I will say is that in all of my years avidly following all kinds of sport,especially in Scotland,this is the only time where everyone I have spoken to, read or listened to in the media and followed on the net, are all in total agreement and without any single dissenting voice that the SRU have made a horrendous decision and it has set Scottish rugby back YEARS to the bad old days.

  7. This was the worst display in the tournament I have ever seen. Robinson needs to go, thats simple. Theres no point arguing that one because his record is unfixable.
    Down here in NZ you would have left on your own accord.
    New players, new frontrowers, loosies, its time to shake it up. Get a coach from NZ, S.A or Australian. Not Kirwan though, he’s lost touch.
    Someone or something needs to save Scotland.
    Train harder, train better. All starts with a better coach.
    Hastings, save us.

  8. At last a blogger with a true appreciation of the needs for a Scottish XV – well said “Ian from Ayr”. Some the comments from previous bloggers have beggared belief in their complete lack of the basic understanding of the simple fundamentals of the game of rugby football union.
    Ian, we are kindred spirits and if we add some other ingredients to the recipe, namely team work and operating as a cohesive unit then we may address some of our weaknesses. However we need to start now to build the TEAM for the future and get the SRU to stop tinkering around the edges. Make a bold statement SRU – get rid of Gregor Townsend because he has not added any value to our game, in fact it may be fairer to say that he has hindered it and certainly Glasgow will not benefit.
    Let’s get rid of the old SRU mentality – “that once we select/hire you, you have a job for life” – WHY – because we hate to be proved wrong! As someone who has witnessed the SRU in action the old adage of its more difficult to get dropped from the Scottish XV than get selected, still unfortunately rings true.
    Reading the press reports about the Premier A games suggests that these games were a better option than watching Scotland or paint dry?

  9. I’ve asked this question before…who do we want to replace Robinson with?
    next question…Who would want to coach Scotland right now?
    I reckon any new coach would be considered the saviour for about 3 matches then we’d all turn on him as well. We simply don’t have enough battle hardened players. In fact we simply don’t have enough players.
    2 pro teams doesn’t work.
    Scottish Rugby from Schoolboy,Club U18s, the National Clubs, Premier Clubs and Pro Clubs is just not good enough! In fact our sporting culture on the whole just isn’t that great.
    I just cannot see anyone wanting the Scottish job after the last 2 matches….

  10. As a Scotland supporter living in Sunderland Tyne & Wear, am Ientitled to a full refund for the £50 I spent 4 years ago for the official Rugby shirt????? I laid it over a chair, got wooden spoon from kitchen, placed said spoon on shirt, took photo, and mailed it to all my friends who are all England supporters!!!! At least I can admit to people that other teams have more passion for the game than the one I claim to back!!! New blood is needed – even if they have to be twice removed cousins to be qualified to represent Scotland. Very disgruntled.

  11. I have tried to pick up the positives from Scotland’s performances this season and look for some hope for the future. That optimism was largely blown away yesterday by an abject performance, it was even lacking the one character trait you should always be able to associate with a Scotland team, i.e. passion. I’ve lived in England now for over 30 years and am fed up defending our poor performances, we are a laughing stock down here! We looked a good side agains France and for parts of the games against England, Wales and Ireland but what happened yesterday? We’ve gone backwards, there’s something fundamentally wrong with team spirit and/or coaching. I suspect we’re over coached, the players seem to have to think twice before they do anything. However, there is no excuse for silly mistakes and blatant persistent infringement by experienced international players, e.g. De Luca and Hamilton. We can point to costly silly mistakes and unnecessary infringement in all our games this season. The players have to take responsibility for that.

    What have we learnt during this Six Nations?

    Welsh looks to be a good loosehead prop, Ford is not a captain, Laidlaw is not an international fly half (although worth a chance
    at scrum half), Lamont is not a centre. Our defence is too passive, no other side in this championship sat back like we did and let teams run at them, something which builds confidence in your opponents. We are not supporting in numbers and at speed in attack, just watch Wales when they get half a chance, e.g. their try yesterday.
    Time for a clear out; Jacobsen, Ford, Murray, Hamilton, Cusiter, De Luca, Morrison and both Lamonts, they’ve all had enough chances and are probably passed their best. I agree with the comment above that suggested most of these should have gone after the World Cup.
    Time to balance this with a few positives, e.g Welsh, Cross, Gray, Denton, Rennie, Jones, Hogg and possibly Laidlaw, as a scrum half, all look to be established or, at least, good prospects. With Brown, Visser, Ansbro, Beattie returning to form, Weir, who must be given a chance, all to come in, we may be able to rebuild with a half decent team in time for the next World Cup but probably should target the one after that. I would retain Blair, still our best player when on form, Kellock, may not be the best second row around but seems to be our best option for now as captain, Jackson, Brown and Beattie from the ‘old guard’.
    What about the coaching? The changes in personnel, currently agreed, must help, I would give Lineen a role as backs coach and stick with Robinson a bit longer. Somebody does need to talk to him about his misguided loyalty to some players and to get over his reluctance to try younger players. Look no futher than the resurgence of Wales, emerging as a world force following the introduction of a raft of young players, including the captain! However, if AR still believes in selecting a team for the next match with no eye on the future, as mentioned by a fellow blogger above, then he should be sacked now.
    Finally, as a small rugby nation with limited resources, we don’t help ourselves. If, as it seems, the SRU has influence over our two District sides, then they should insist on internationals playing in their international positions at the Districts(or vice versa, i.e. Scotland should pick players in their club positions) , give them some help to retain all our best Scottish players, which will stop them having to sign non-Scottish qualified players to strengthen their teams, and get some consistency in coaching between the Districts and Scotland. We also need changes at the very top, I don’t know who, but surely there are some ex players, e.g. Gavin Hastings, who could get involved and help bring a winning mentality to our game, from the very top.

  12. What a complete disgrace, watched it today on BBC IPlayer and wish I hadn’t!!!! Even though the referee was a complete twat that is no reason for Scotlands lack of ambition, creativity or desire to win. I am sick and tired at the beginning of each six nations believing we have a chance to win a few games and gain a bit of momentum, but oh no the same old shite over and over again.

  13. Borderer has got it spot on. Ford is built like a brick out house but compare him to Rory Best he’s borderline useless. What the hell has happened to Johnny Beattie? I would suspend their salaries till they win.

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