Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Italy vs Scotland Teams Announced

Italy vs Scotland

Andy Robinson announced pretty much the team we had all suspected today, with Max Evans swapping in for the injured Lee Jones and a bit of reshuffle on the bench as one of the extra boys called up to training this week – in this case Jack Cuthbert – was swapped in to the utility back slot for Matt Scott who had filled in at the last minute last weekend.

It’s perhaps tough on Scott, but if he keeps his form up for Edinburgh there should be plenty more caps for him and I would expect him to tour in the summer; the same probably goes for Duncan Weir as both men will (barring injury) have to settle for a first cap, for now. No place for blog favourite Alex Grove despite a strong showing in the A Team game at the start of the campaign, and regularly crossing the line for Worcester. Hogg, De Luca and Blair have recovered from their knocks and I suspect they would fancy having a crack at the Italians if the conditions favour it.

The pack this tournament has had a consistency of selection that is pleasing (this lineup has been chosen for the last 3 games) while the backline has changed considerably from that which faced England many moons ago, and it is perhaps time for them all to reward Robinson with the win he needs to salvage something from this tournament.

Perhaps if the other games had gone better we’d have seen a more experimental flavour to this team but the days of nonchalance against Italy are long gone. These players got us into the hole and now they have a chance to pull themselves out of it a little way, before it’s all change and some new faces for the summer tour.

Scotland team to face Italy on Saturday: Stuart Hogg, Max Evans, Nick De Luca, Graeme Morrison, Sean Lamont, Greig Laidlaw, Mike Blair; Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, John Barclay, Ross Rennie, David Denton
Replacements: Scott Lawson, Euan Murray, Al Kellock, Richie Vernon, Chris Cusiter, Ruaridh Jackson, Jack Cuthbert

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland).  Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland) and Pascal Gauzere (France).  TMO: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales).


For Italy, Jacques Brunel again makes wholesale changes from the side which lost to Wales. Fit again Martin Castrogiovanni returns at tighthead, Marco Bortolami comes into the second row, and Robert Barbieri is included at openside. In the backs Edoardo Gori resumes at scrum-half, Tomasso Benvenuti comes in at centre, and and Giovanbattista Venditti once more starts on the right-wing. Joshua Furno and Manoa Vosawai are named on the bench for the first time this campaign.
The selected team is the most experienced Italy team of all-time with a total of 787 caps with another 50 caps on the bench.

Italy Team: D’Apice, Masi, Venditti, Benvenuti, Canale, Mirco Bergamasco, Burton, Gori; Lo Cicero, Ghiraldini, Castrogiovanni, Geldenhuys, Bortolami, Zanni, Barbieri, Parisse (capt)
Replacements: Cittadini, Furno, Favaro, Vosawai, Botes, Toniolatti

19 Responses

  1. Given the other games have not gone as we’d all have hoped, then was this not an opportunity to try something new? Start Weir at 10, bring in Welsh for Jacobsen, and put Kalman on the bench in place of Murray.

    Our scrum has been poor all championship, but as Chunk tired and Murray came on it got even worse. Welsh has proved he can scrummage on both sides of the scrum and has scored more tries this season in the Pro 12 than many of our backs :) Kalman could not be worse than Ewan was last week – could he? And would have the advantage of bringing more to open play.

  2. I don’t think the side is as expected. As bmg99 says this team have not clicked during this championship, why does Robinson think that they will in Rome? The subs last week weakened a side struggling to compete even more, but still we see no fresh ideas being introduced even as replacements.

    I know we are struggling for OC and wingers but come on, the pack and the 9/10 axis really haven’t produced.

    Lets hope that some balls are grown before the summer tour and some of the players “who train really well” and “perform as a group” and “are open an honest with each other” get left behind for a rest in the summer and some of the young talent is brought on. Enjoy the Chianti in Rome, I think that’s all you’ve got to look forward to.

  3. Given that Mike Blair appears to be made of glass and Cusiter isn’t in his best form I would have liked to see Greig get a run out at 9. That might have allowed a chance to give Jackson and Weir a run out at 10.

    Laidlaw’s been creative at 10 but I think his size lets him down in defence.

    Kalman did well when he came on against Wales but he didn’t really add anything when he came on against France so I’m not convinced he’s any better than what we’ve already got. I agree it’s time to start looking to the future in terms of the front row. As much as I love Chunk he’s not as young as he used to be and Murray’s past his best. I’d like to see Cross show more of his ball carrying skills though.

    It’s difficult for Robinson as without any results so far it’s a must win or risk slipping further down the rankings (it’s tight as hell in terms of points and teams round us). Can’t blame him for not wanting to experiment at this stage.

  4. Honestly I’m going to give up on Scottish rugby at this rate. What has Weir got to do to start? Laidlaw and Jackson were terrible against Ireland (Jackson missing touch with his first kick). Bmg99 completely agree with the changes you suggested to the team. Cameron, given how crap we were against Ireland do you not think this is the perfect time to make a few changes? Mind you, if Gregor has told them not to . . . .

    1. Personally I do think it’s time to make changes. That’s why I’d like to have seen Greig at 9 and both Jackson and Weir both getting a run out at 10.

      I think Robinson’s trying to protect our standing in the world rankings and is presumably hoping that the Ireland match was a blip after two promising games against Wales and France. There’s not much between 9th and 13th, although if you can work out the scoring system you’re a better man than me.

      I’m not saying I agree with the line up just that I can understand Robinson’s reasons for going for stability. You don’t have to agree with something to understand it.

    2. The major problem positions are both props, 10, and in the backs we have what we have. Personally I just think Weir should have started this 6N and the Italy game would have been the perfect game to blood him. Jackson has been poor for Glasgow, and looked poor in his cameo for Scotland against Ireland. Laidlaw has already cost us two tries. To me, the arguments for starting Weir far outweigh those against. I actually don’t think Blair has done badly when he’s been on the pitch. Delivery has been sharp and some decent breaks. I’ve been far more disappointed in Cusiter, whom I’ve seen put in some sterling performances for Glasgow. Laidlaw, for me, would still be 4th choice scrum half for me behind a fit Lawson, after all he’s been playing at 10 for most of the season. I understand ARs thinking, but it’s his thinking that’s costing us, and I certainly don’t agree with it.

  5. Rory, consistancy of selection could be applauded if you’re winning one or two games. There’s nothing to applaud giving the same players multiple chances after they continually demonstrate the same flaws and weaknesses.

    There have been a number of sucesses and glimpses of potential from the newer players introduced this season.

    I find it hard to reconcile however that a player like Ed Kalman appears to have been judged and discarded on the back of a couple of replacement appearances which could hardly be described as failures in light of everything else that was going on in those matches. A previous poster described his performance against France as not being any better than what we’ve got. I think that it is deeply unfair to judge a replacement prop in this way. It seems to be universally accepted on this site that Chunk is seriously struggling (and cross has been invisible), It is incredibly unfair to condenm Kalman’s replacement appearances when the other side of the scrum is struggling so badly. Picking an open side on the blind side of the scrum and then replacing with a number eight hasn’t helped scotlands scrummage either.

    Our last two defeats have been cemented by our weaknesses in the front row. France reverted to simply pushing us back in the scum in the second half and the penalties followed and our momentum was lost. Ireland effectively managed to do the same thing which then undermined our line out as well. Its difficult to build momentum when you’re going backwards, hence scotlands no show in the second half last week. Kalman/Welsh (the scotland A props) should have been given a chance to show from the start of game if they are up to the task or not. The present incumbants clearly haven’t been up to the job for a while now.

    I can live with the rest of the selection had the management at least tried to fix one of our recurring problems. Our younger players have been treated very poorly re. on the bench one week, dropped off the bench the next. Apologies, for the rant but I’m getting fed up with these selections not to mention the SRU’s recent bizzare behavour. Rant over.

    1. I think this sums it all up perfectly.
      Another 6N has passed us by with the usual pre-tournament optimism quickly extinguished and opportunities to try out new players/combinations missed.
      Would have liked to have seen Harley and Welsh given an opportunity on Saturday.
      It’s funny to read so many comments stating that (Mc)Visser will solve our problems – didn’t realise he played in the front row.

  6. I just don’t AR, what has he got lose o.k. his job! I think this is his problem of sitting on the fence with regards to who is in the team or not very poor decision making.

    So we go on summer tour to Ausi land and use that to bludgeon the youngsters, not likely as we will be so far down the rankings it will be the same all over again.

    The only savior is the new coaches coming in to force the change for us.

    If He Stays?

    Why Cross still there, Welsh, Kalman and Weir e.g. not just defies belief which he AR does not.

    Totally fed up yet again.

  7. How many times…look at the new players to 6N rugby have been played this year. Everyone wanted Laidlaw at 10-you got him. Now you want him at 9. Everyone wanted Matt Scott you got him (a bit early many would say). If Cross got beaten up against France, Kalman was massacred. Please remember the number of injuries we had to deal with just before this campaign. For those of you who criticise AR’s selections you are also criticising the players..maybe they get the negative vibe from us and take it to their performance? I’ve said before IF YOU DON’T WANT TO FOLLOW AND SUPPORT SCOTLAND….SEE YA!

  8. I love how Kev tells us “goodbye….” because we don’t offer unconditional support for Scotland. I support Scotland but I would personally like to see a WINNING TEAM not 15 individuals performing OK at different times and failing miserably to work as a coherent and co-ordinated unit.The evidence of their basic errors, lack of playing nous has been obvious in each game they have played and unless we improve dramatically I foresee us playing against teams like Russia; Georgia; Spain etc (no disrespect to them but we are heading in their direction)

    Cameron – where are your statistics NOW – are we still competing and punching above our weight?? I don’t think so because we have recorded no victories or draws in this 6N campaign, and we are likely to pick up the wooden spoon on Saturday (perhaps this is the prize you guys have wanted all along – some standard to set!!)
    The SRU are shuffling the coaches around again and are bringing two Aussies (sorry Kev – a Scots/Aussie!! an acceptable hybrid?)What about the coaches in Scotland are they totally useless or are simply ignored because they have spoken out against the SRU and as such will never ever be given another chance. We don’t have unlimited resources so we must make the best of what we have.Send our coaches to NZ or SA or Australia to get an insight into how to play a TEAM SPORT – because we all appear to be missing this point.
    I sincerely hope that my prediction that we will end up as wooden spoonists will not materialise. Prayers have been offered.

    1. I agree we were abysmal in the 2nd half in Ireland and we seem to have a real problem dealing with re-starts. There’s no getting away from that.
      I’m just not sure the overall picture is as bleak as you make out. There will come a time when we have to start turning good play and potential into scores and results and that time will come soon but I think Robinson has to be given the next 6 nations campaign to start delivering.
      I think there are real issues in the SRU too. I agree that there seems to be an unwillingness to develop Scottish coaches and the same is true in terms of developing international referees. I don’t have an issue with recruiting Kiwis and Aussies with Scottish grannies but I hope it’s not at the expense of developing the game within Scotland.

  9. Seriously Kev? That’s your argument? If you don’t agree with everything the SRU and AR do then you’re not a true Scotland supporter? People are entitled to their opinion because they care and support Scotland. Not everyone wanted Laidlaw at 10, he’s too small and weak defensively. Most Glasgow supporters wanted Weir. Matt Scott can hardly be judged on a fleeting appearance in a team under the cosh. Your assertion that everything that’s happened at Glasgow is ok is your opinion, and you’re entitled to it, but I don’t have to agree with it. It doesn’t make me any less of a supporter. We go and support the players, we don’t boo them and we pay top money for the priviledge of supporting Scotland, so we’re entitled to a say. The problem is the SRU very rarely consider the fans views, a case in point being Gregor Townsend being given the Glasgow job.

    1. Aye you’re right, bit rash of me! My opinions are my opinions i suppose.
      I don’t agree with everything the SRU does or has done. I do believe that the LEAKS that have happened lately will not help our game in Scotland.
      I also believe that the Club game is resposible for some of the problems facing the Pro game.
      And I do believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

  10. Does anyone know why there haven’t been more Scotland A matches organized this season? We usually get 2 or 3 don’t we?

    1. all down to other countries, only Scotland, Ireland and England actually have A squads (you have been following the Shingler debate yeh?!)

    2. Presumably it would impact the various leagues continuing throughout the 6N’s taking out too many players from the regions/clubs.

      Feel sorry for shingler, but I think scotland didn’t do themselves many favours here. A polite request to WRU for a waiver might have been better if the boy really wanted to play for us. That said, his brother played for Wales this season, presumably he doesn’t feel quite so scottish!

  11. Here we go again, poor selection and misguided loyalty to some players. I hope I’m wrong and Scotland get a win. I’m not bothered about the Wooden Spoon, what’s important is that we build for the next World Cup. This was an opportunity to do that, there are so few internationals that we need to start now, having lost our last four games. I would love to see consistency in selection but we haven’t found a team that can win yet.
    Some players have come through this season, Denton, Rennie, HoggI thought Laidlaw was the answer at stand off but I was wrong, he should be tried at scrum half, we should have given Weir another chance. Jacobsen gives away too many penalties and will not be playing come the next WC, time to try Welsh. Lamont also gets penalised a lot and is well out of position too often, we should have brought in another winger, not sure who though! I also believe we need a new captain, Ford doesn’t strike me as inspirational and we definitely lack leadership on the field at key moments.
    The point I’m making is that we should have started now. I fear the worst on Saturday.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion