Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland Have Chances to Kill Off This Tour

Scotland Training in Fiji - pic Courtesy of SRU

When Al Kellock told the BBC yesterday that the Fiji match presented an opportunity for the backs to shine he missed out some important factors. One may be led to believe that factor is the sudden resurgence of the scrum, but in truth it is more about which backs will shine.

It is unavoidable: Tim Visser will be made a weapon of against Fiji.

The hype is there, the announcement is set and the interviews have already been done. From the moment it was announced that he was officially eligible, in fact, despite having been out of the country for the last week, it was clear that he was not there just for the experience.

In the first game against Australia the backed but sodden Blue team tried to take a short, slow ball round the side of a ruck, draw the inside cover and then throw a no-look loop to a player coming round the outside very short.

It is a move, three phases in, that Edinburgh have used with Visser all season long. Scotland attempted it with another player, but it is clear that simply by using the moving they are trying to cater for the rangy Dutch winger.

This is understandable because he can burst tackles and find another gear, particularly if there is space in behind for him to greedily make up. He is devastating in open field.

However, it is the other young players that must be considered here. With Visser in, a player drops down. Moves are there for him. He comes into a confident side and the momentum builds. Kellock is not giving away game plans by stating the weight of job for his pack whilst talking up his backs, but this game will be completely different in complexion to the last.

So do Scotland now look for the 3-0 series victory?

If Scotland had lost to Australia this would not be so silly a question, but now they may have to go for all of the fixtures rather than testing youth and preparing for a future four years down the line. This is the instant gratification that Andy Robinson has always needed to make his position look less shaky and so the tactics should probably be those which kill off games. We will know by 6.30, after the squad announcement.

With this, one fears, go the opportunities for Duncan Weir, Rob Harley and Tom Brown. On the other hand it is yet another chance to show that Matt Scott has hidden depths.

It has always been the intention to have a backline used to catering for Visser. It has also, it now appears, been the intention to try and win three games. I openly criticised the last team selection, stating that more youth should have been given a chance, and although the selection was shown right with a win, perhaps more balance is still needed.

With the extremes Scotland aquaplaned through last time out there was an impressive staunchness about the side. Against Fiji they need that with more attack and more ruthlessness from 5 metres out. This could be the time when Scott can display a rugby league-style grubber through and Visser can show his devastating eye for tries. Could he drag Sean Lamont with him or even get a display out of Max Evans, who is trying to get over a disappointing year with ball in hand?

We shall see. One point remains, though. Some commentators tried to tell me that Scotland could lose all 3 games and that it would at least be a good opportunity for the Scots to sun themselves. Those people may have been wrong about the series, but it could still be true that some sections of the squad will see no rugby.

5 Responses

  1. When put like that, you do wonder and worry a little that as you say , some folk will just be away for 3 weeks and be holding tackle bags… Had the Waratahs game gone ahead or some other Xv game, whom extra would’ve come and what would the team selection for that have looked like… a tyro’s 15…just a shame we’ll never know. A canada/USA tour might have been good for some exciting tea changes, 2 games against both…but this can be bracketed with the waratahs game/we’ll never know

  2. Scotland are not in a position to experiment in any test they play against any of the top 12 nations.

    The only way to try out Weir, Harley etc would be in midweek games – surely they could have done something even with a non Super 15 side which would have made this a proper tour.

  3. I don’t agree that playing Weir or Harley would be ‘experimentation’. Both have proved themselves to be solid, dependable and highly talented rugby players at pro level for the last two seasons. You may say that they lack experience at international level, but there are plenty of old heads in the squad – Ford, Kellock, Barclay, NDL – who can ease them into the game.

    If you want experimentation, play Bennett, Leonard or some other u20s player plucked from obscurity. We know exactly what Harley and Weir can offer for the team, and they have arguably been the best Scottish players in their positions throughout this season. It’s not a gamble or a guess to play them.

  4. rememeber fellas Scotland need the ranking points, and Andy Robinson needs to alleviate some of the post 6N pressure that built up, so if its old heads that win games thats what he’s proven he’ll go with. Agree the lack of development time is a bummer, (Churchill Cup was great for that) and that Waratahs game would have been great. Tis a shame nothing else could have been arranged

  5. I would say playing Nick de Luca 30 odd times is experimenting enough that Harley and Weir should both get games!

    Saw a quote in paper today with Visser commenting that anything he can’t defend, de Luca will defend for him. Doesn’t particularly fill me with confidence!

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion