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England 38-18 Scotland

The opening weekend of the Six Nations continued in style as the Auld Enemies faced off at Twickenham this afternoon. It has been 30 years since Scotland have won at English Rugby HQ, and they were there today full of fight, determined to cause an upset.

It started as a game that was evenly matched and with both sides showing plenty of skill and initiative, was shaping up to be a close encounter. It was small margins that proved costly in the first half, with Stuart Hogg taking full advantage of a napping English defence to break through the line, and Scottish ill discipline that meant England’s Owen Farrell could keep the scoreboard ticking over.

The later stages of the game saw victory escape the Scots, as England, buoyed by the integration of an impressive bench, gave the tired Scots little opportunity to get points on the board, and sought to wear them down through constant defence.

Despite this there was lots to take from this game for Scotland, who looked so different from the side that lost in Aberdeen two months ago: a debut try for Sean Maitland, a team that was cohesive and swift, showed some real attacking spirit and occasional skill at the breakdown.

There was none of the cagey opening minute rugby that usually characterises such encounters; the home side got the match underway, but were able to launch an early attack as Ruaridh Jackson kicked possession away to the waiting Ben Morgan who threw himself at the line of players in blue, shrugging off the first tackle from Tim Visser.

Scotland were on the back foot as they were penalised for hands in at the ruck, handing the first three points to the home side, two minutes into the game.

England came again, building through the phases and edging closer to the line, Tom Wood had the home crowd screaming as he broke through the line, prop Euan Murray had his blinkers on and Wood was able to drift with worrying ease past him, but the pressure was relieved as Scotland earned themselves a defensive scrum, and Stuart Hogg was able to push England back with a solid clearance kick.

It was Hogg who broke through for Scotland, catching Mike Brown’s long kick and darting past Brown, Dan Cole and shrugging off a tackle from Alex Goode, entering the English 22 for the first time. It was his Glasgow teammate and Scotland debutant Sean Maitland who crossed the line, after quick phases from Scotland, Ryan Grant got the initial carry with Greig Laidlaw spotting the gap and flinging the ball to Maitland who crossed in the far corner. Laidlaw was unsuccessful with his conversion, meaning Scotland were two points ahead.

England struck back moments later, as Sean Lamont was penalised for not releasing, and received a short talking to from referee Alain Rolland. Again it was within Farrell’s range, and they took the lead once more. This lead then stretched to a four point lead, only moments later as England won the penalty almost directly in front of the posts.

As the opening quarter closed out, Laidlaw closed the points gap to a mere one point, with English hooker Tom Youngs penalised for coming in at the side right in front of Rolland.

Scotland came close to the try line again, with blood replacement (later made a permanent substitution) David Denton getting the offload to Tim Visser who chipped the ball forward, gaining yards, and then putting England on the back foot from a tight line out. This attempt came to naught as Ryan Grant held onto the ball too long for Rolland’s liking.

Scotland’s defence was sorely tested and left scrambling on the half hour mark, as Owen Farrell charged down Jackson’s kick and England built through the phases, Joe Launchbury nearly crossed the line, but was dragged down by Richie Gray. Launchbury was able to get the ball out to his teammates though and Chris Ashton managed to ground the ball just over the line, despite Jackson and Hogg doing their best to prevent him; with Farrell’s conversion, Scotland found themselves trailing by seven points.

Farrell took the English lead to 19-8 minutes before half time, as returning international Johnnie Beattie was penalised for a high tackle on Morgan. However Laidlaw was able to claw it back on the stroke of half time with a comfortable penalty kick

Half Time: England 19-11

Scotland had a high penalty count in the first half, and discipline cost them straight away in the second half, as Euan Murray was penalised for holding on. Choosing to kick for touch, England piled the pressure on Scotland as they went for the early score. Tom Wood threatened the Scottish defence as he sought to break through, however it fell to captain Chris Robshaw and Ben Morgan to make the ground for the home side before English debutant Billy Twelvetrees caught what was a very flat pass and darted through a gap between Jim Hamilton and Dougie Hall to cross the line, Farrell added the extras and took the English to a fifteen point lead.

Scotland needed to react immediately and there was a real contest in the middle of the pitch, as both teams fought for the ball. For England, Ben Morgan injured himself trying to break through and was replaced by James Haskell. For Scotland Dougie Hall sustained a knee injury trying to break the line, and was replaced by Ross Ford.

Ford’s first duty was a scrum, from which Scotland won the penalty as England engaged too early, Jackosn took the quick tap before booting the ball into the English 22, and plenty of blue shirts gave chase. Scotland began to gain ground as they built through the phases but Richie Gray was penalised for going off his feet, perhaps harshly as he did look to have tripped.

Farrell smashed the ball deep into the Scottish 22, and the line out gave England a solid platform to launch a sustained attack from, during which Alex Goode crossed the line but was held up by excellent defence from Kelly Brown. Moments later though Joe Launchbury got the ball from the ruck and grounded in amongst a mass of English and Scottish bodies.

The celebrations for this were cut short for the home crowd, as Alain Rolland spotted that his touch judge’s flag was up, the two had a long talk resulting in the try being disallowed, and England’s hooker Tom Youngs being penalised for foul play.

Two minutes later there was nothing to stop Rolland awarding the try. English scrum half Ben Youngs evaded Jackson, and Jim Hamilton before being brought down by Maitland. Replacement Dylan Hartley was able to get the ball out to Farrell who sent a long floating pass to an unmarked Geoff Parling who ran in the points, fly half Farrell showed an uncharacteristic stutter though, pushing the conversion wide. England had a twenty point lead, and Scotland had twenty five minutes to do something about it.

With a swathe of changes for England giving them fresh legs against a flagging Scotland, who had only made three changes, the Scots were being sore pressed all over the park. England came close to the line again, with captain Robshaw darting for the line in the far corner, excellent defence from Scotland saw Visser bundle him into touch. Hogg showed his class under pressure with a long clearance kick, but it was collected by Goode, and replacement Mako Vunipola launched another attack for the home side. More excellent defence from Scotland’s Matt Scott and captain Kelly Brown resulted in Scotland getting the turnover ball. Hogg chose to run with it, from behind his own line, getting an offload to Visser who sprinted forward before going for the chip and chase, but he did not have the legs to reach it before English full back Alex Goode.

Goode, following Hogg’s example, chose to run with the ball, but did not get far before being surrounded by Scottish bodies, Hartley had come back in support but after some good work by Jackson in the tackle, was penalised for not releasing. Jackson’s kick for touch gave Scotland a line out a few metres from the try line, definitely their best chance of the half so far.

The ball came out to Johnnie Beattie, who had been playing the entire game like a man with a point to prove, and he forced his way forward, with Vunipola and Parling clinging to him. He got the pass away to Laidlaw, and then Jackson who flung it wide, Denton tried to catch it, but failed and Robshaw bundled it into touch.

Scotland were still metres from the try line as England had a defensive scrum. Scotland challenged valiantly and earns themselves the attacking scrum, from which Kelly Brown and Johnnie Beattie worked like men possessed to gain yards.

Scotland scored their first points of the second half with only ten minutes remaining, as Maitland got the ball out wide, he did not have the legs to chase his own chip forward, but Stuart Hogg came sprinting from deep in midfield with impressive pace, to kick the ball forward before grounding it over the line to the delight of the vocal visiting crowd. Laidlaw did not miss with his conversion, and Scotland had closed the gap to 13 points.

Fresh legs from Henry Pyrgos and Alastair Kellock could do little to rejuvenate the Scots, who held out against more English attack in the final minutes. The home side found the final try that they were looking for as the clock went red, with replacement scrum half Danny Care grounding the ball between the posts, and Farrell converted as Alain Rolland blew the whistle for full time.

England: Alex Goode, Chris Ashton, Brad Barritt, Billy Twelvetrees, Mike Brown, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Geoff Parling, Tom Wood, Chris Robshaw (c), Ben Morgan.

Replacements: Dylan Hartley (Youngs T 53), Dave Wilson (Cole 74), Mako Vunipola (Marler 57) Courtney Lawes (Launchbury 64), James Haskell (Morgan 46), Danny Care (Youngs B 57), Toby Flood (Twelvetrees 67), Dave Strettle (Goode 67).

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland, Sean Lamont, Matt Scott, Tim Visser, Ruaridh Jackson, Greig Laidlaw; Ryan Grant, Dougie Hall, Euan Murray, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Alasdair Strokosch, Kelly Brown (c), Johnnie Beattie.

Replacements: Ross Ford (Hall 47), Moray Low, Geoff Cross, Alastair Kellock (Hamilton 55), David Denton (Strokosch 14), Henry Pyrgos (Laidlaw 72), Duncan Weir, Max Evans (Hogg 77).

Ref: Alain Rolland

INJURY AND SQUAD UPDATE:

Alasdair Strokosch will see a specialist surgeon on Tuesday to decide if he can play any further part in this year’s RBS 6 Nations Championship, having retired early on Saturday. Team doctor James Robson said: “It would seem he has a fractured orbit (area around the eye) but, as ever with such collision-type injuries, they can take time to settle. He will be examined by to determine the extent of the injury and any recovery schedule.”

In addition to Strokosch, a number of other Scotland forwards will require medical assessment over the next few days. Hooker Dougie Hall (knee), back-row forwards David Denton (knee) and Johnnie Beattie (ankle) will be under the care of physiotherapists Paul McGinley and Stephen Mutch.

The Scotland squad reassemble in Edinburgh tonight. At this stage, with medical evaluation still ongoing with the Scotland A squad, 13 players will be added to the 23 who were on match-day duty yesterday.

Pat MacArthur, Robert Harley, Peter Murchie and Grant Gilchrist had all travelled with the main party to Twickenham. Peter Horne will also return to camp having been ruled out of the England game due to a thumb injury (presumably the reason for Weir’s call up).

Eight players are promoted from the Scotland A squad following their 13-9 win over England Saxons at Newcastle on Friday – namely props Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors) and Alasdair Dickinson (Sale Sharks), hooker Steve Lawrie (Edinburgh Rugby), back-rower Richie Vernon (Sale Sharks), scrum-half Sean Kennedy (Glasgow Warriors), stand-off Tom Heathcote (Bath Rugby) and wings Nikki Walker (Worcester Warriors) and debutant try-scorer Duncan Taylor (Saracens). Interestingly with Denton and Beattie recovering from knocks, no sign of Ryan Wilson who was an excellent captain, but he could well be on the injured list.

Additional reporting: Scottish Rugby Blog Staff

60 Responses

  1. Still amazed that Grove hasn’t got a shout. Solid defensively and picked out for praise by greenwood on Friday. He’s been playing really well for Worcestr this year. Why do people think that is?

  2. There were some positives (Maitland, Hogg, a reborn Beattie) but, for me, there was still a distinctly gutless period in the 2nd half. Too many players looked like they didn’t fancy it and as such didn’t, as a team, approach there work with the aggression required. With Italy beating France today and showing a calm head and bottle I really worry for Scotland next week. Some hard words are required and some honesty in the players to say that as a team effort yesterday just was boo’d good enough. Bring in Pyrgos, drop Laudlaw to 10 and see if they can a actually get the ball moving. Jackson is a good player but not convinced at this stage he has the decision making for international rugby. Farrell showed yesterday what the no.10 should be doing.

  3. Heathcote could be put straight in at 10 after his performance for the A team, I think Jackson’s had his last chance. Horne deserves a start and as much as I admire him Sean Lamont needs to be moved from the starting lineup. I doubt Denton will be anywhere in the team next week, Kelly Brown at 6 and Harley at 7?
    I’d give Kellock a start with Gilchrist on the bench.

  4. Disguseted by Ackfords ratings in the Torygraph. A bully as a player, now a bully as a journalist! We werent great but certainly not as dire as he makes out!

    Changes in the pack for next week. Italy look strong up front so we cant afford to give an inch. Murray denton and hamilton out. New tighthead, lock and a genuine openside required. Would be tempted to stick harley in the second row. Switch brown to 6 and bring in fusaro if he is fit. If not, take a gamble on mcinally. No other changes needed if we can secure quick, go forward possession. Hope Ryan beasts them this week on the training paddock.

    Does anyone know if the A team are playing again this week?

    1. For some reason Scotland A only play one game per year against England. It’s a pity as a few of Them staked a claim for a place in the first team and I can see benefits for them playing Wales A and the Irish wolfhounds.

    2. Welsh don’t have an ‘A’ team. Under 20s is their feeder team. Hence all the faffing with Stephen Shingler last year.

  5. Does anybody have a clue what Jackson actually brings to the table. He doesn’t get the line going or spot attacking opportunies like Laidlaw and his kicking/ defence isn’t close to the same level as Weir.

    I sincerely hope we are going to get to see what a player like Heathcote can do with such a potent attacking back 3 as ours now is.

  6. The back 3 are so dangerous with the ball, but if we continue to play Lamont at 13 they aren’t going to get much of the ball as he never passes! We need to play to our strengths!!!

  7. What a let down, off to a great start then back on the English line and flop. Through the whole game we were penalised for being off our feet. At an international level, surely it would ingrained in there brains, stay on your feet and if you cant, DONT TOUCH THE BALL!

    Hamilton has to go. Said this last year. He sits in the back line on defence and is an easy target for a centre to run around.

    I live in NZ so I have no idea what Weir or Heathcote play like, but without even seeing them play, we need someone else in at 10 to get the game moving.

    Last comment, Denton was schoolboyish on the field.

  8. Thought Ackfords ratings were fairly accurate. Scotland could have lost by a lot more if the English had been more clinical. Scotland need to stop persisting in this god awful game plan of kicking decent possession away.

  9. Returned from London last night and certainly paying the price at work today.

    Great weekend but I think people need to give some credit to England. As has been said, we lost at the breakdown but England were very very efficient generating quick ball at every opportunity. Not usually a comment about Scotland but our backs did not lose this game, the forwards did.

    Not all bad as we looked exciting in patches and still have high hopes for our home games. All teams will struggle against a team playing like that.

    Another point to make was Maitland was fantastic. Brown did not make a yard all day with some great defence and dangerous in attack.

    It is not all bad! However a genuine 7 must start next weekend as we need to slow down opposition ball. Hopefully Fusaro is fit.

    On a side note i have completely lost my voice from trying to sing at every opprtunity. A personal favourite was ‘How many tries have England got? Nadda Nadda. How many tries have England got? Nadda Nadda tries!’…. then they scored… damn!

    1. My voice is completely gone. Was really impressed with the travelling support. Lots of singing and chanting where we were right up until the death… Couldn’t get Loch Lomond going but thought I heard it off in the distance

    2. Agree with pretty much most of that, Pheonix, altho the official stats credit Brown with 133m with ball in hand – best player on pitch for that stat. Didn’t seem to me like he got any change out of Maitland, so perhaphs it was up against other defenders, or running kicks back down the middle?

  10. In my view we were completely outplayed by England, it was only English mistakes and individual brilliance from Stuart Hogg that kept the score respectable. Hitting rucks etc in ones and twos doesn’t work, we still didn’t have anything like enough cover several times in the game and were turned over frequently. Positive performances from Hogg, Maitland, Laidlaw, Grant, Gray, Brown and Beattie (so good to see him back at his best). I agree with other postings in that it’s time we replaced Murray, Hamilton and Lamont, I’d bring in Welch, Kellock and Evans.I also agree that, although he tried hard, Jackson looked out of place at this level. I’m not sure whether Heatcote or Weir is the answer but I suggest we try both in the next three games, one playing the other coming off the bench. Finally, we must try and get a genuine 7 in although the latest squad doesn’t seem to include one.

    1. I think Fusaro and Roddy Grant are both broken so not sure who that leaves in terms of a scavanging 7? Think Vernon’s spent some time there at Sale this season

  11. Second highlight of the day…. sitting two rows behind the man, the myth, the legend…. Dan Parks. (he turned down my request for an ass slap)..

    1. A highlight certainly has to be showing the English how to really scrummage at London Scottish afterwards. Maybe the Scots front row should read Pigeon, Phoenix, Bull?

  12. I’m not in favour of wholesale changes for the Italy game. I would also like to see a 7 in, but in the absence of a miracle worker this seems unlikely to happen. However I’d very much like to see Brown back at 6 and then it’s a toss up between Vernon for speed or Harley for mischief and work rate. Wouldn’t be opposed to starting Weir or Heatcote at 7, and Horne or Dunbar coming in at 13 with Shlong on the bench. The selection of Murray and Hamilton will depend on how much Johnson wants to focus on scrummaging or the loose.

    1. Matto, I think you have it spot on – Harley for me at 7 (Dozer and Jnr are just too similar, and I want Brown at 6), and its a question of power vs fitness for me with the tighthead and tighthead lock selections. The rest of the team stays as is, with Horne replacing Max Evans on the bench

  13. Positive was the ability to score two tries from virtualy zero possession, the biggest negative for me was the penalty count. There were to many times when good forward momentum ended in a penalty to the english. I think the game illustrated just how good Ross Rennie was last year, he’s a huge loss.

    My starting line up v Italy would be (from the squad selected): Grant, Lawrie, Welsh, Gray, Gilchrist, Brown, Vernon, Beattie, Laidlaw, Heathcoate, Visser, Scott, Horne, Maitland, Hogg. Bench of Low, MacArthur, Cross, Kellock, Harley, Kennedy, Weir and Taylor.

    Its going to be a tough game but the Scotland A performance, glasgow’s league form and hom advantaged are hopefully enough. Time to really ring the changes if we’re going to move forward. England have benefited massively from the big changes they made a year ago, admittedly England had substanially more depth to make the changes from but the Scotland A performance showed that there is some depth to scottish rugby (and the U20 performance was encouraging too). We need that third pro team though…

    1. Team I wouldn’t mind seing out of those who I know are fit an not injured.

      15 – Hoggy
      14 – Maitland
      13 – Evans/Dunbar
      12 – Horne
      11 – Taylor
      10 – Weir

      9 – Pyrgos

      8 – Beattie
      7 – Harley
      6 – Brown
      5 – Kellock
      4 – Gray
      3 – Low
      2 – Ford
      1 – Grant

      16 – MacCarthur
      17 – Murray
      18 – Cross/Welsh
      19 – Gilchrist
      20 – Vernon
      21 – Kennedy
      22 – Heathcote
      23 – Dunbar/Visser

  14. Starting team looks good. Nice to see Johnson building some consistency though I would have preferred to see Vernon in at 7 and Brown moving across. Vernon has played 7 at Sale and has been scoring tries all season.

    The bench feels like a wasted opportunity. Good starting 15 but are Kellock and Evans the future? I see Horne is still injured but it would have been good to give Dunbar,Grove or Tonks a run out.

    1. Scotland not in a position to ‘look to the future’.

      Has to be the best team, and best bench possible. Kellock has been in great form for Glasgow and Evans does offer something different off the bench.

    2. Think you might have got your stats/years mixed up on Vernon, Pheonix – he’s scored 4 tries in all competitions this season, has played mostly at 6 or 8, with just the one appearance at 7 in a Premiership or Heino fixture

    3. Fair enough, he has played 7 in the past and is one of the fastest back rows we have. I thought it was more than 4 tries but Sale have not exactly been doing well. We basically need Fusaro to be fit, if he is back i would imagine he will be involved against Zebre next week for some game time.

      Hamish – not in a position to look to the future. I dont think this is right. My point was more that we have seen what this bench can do and it is not much. We should at least be giving some younger guys the opportunity to impress on the big stage.

    4. Totally agree that Vernon’s pace is certainly a virtue, but I’m not at all sure it’s what Scotland needs right now – bear with me, I’ll try and back that up! In terms of pacy ball-carrying, there’s few in the Scottish game that can hold a candle to Vernon, but in terms of getting to a breakdown first, being generally awkward and effecting turnovers, Vernon is a long way behind Rennie, Fusaro, Barclay and Grant for me. He’s almost too tall and gangly for that role, and has a tendency to be fairly easily unbalanced or knocked back at the contact area, which is where I think our weakness principally lies at the moment. Hope that makes sense

    5. It makes perfect sense Eion, unfortunately the 4 players you mention are all injured at the moment! Vernon should not replace a genuine 7 but we are a bit short on those at the moment. He would do a good job there though. Lets just hope Harley steps up!

    6. Hamish, I’ll have to agree with Phoenix here. We need to blood some of our young guys at this level and get them involved in the squad. People like Evans don’t really offer anything off the bench as they’ve offered very little in general during their careers other than a safe pair of hands.

      I think we have to be positive with our young lads and get them in the mix. I’d rather see Dunbar/Scott/Grove/ Horne etc being given a go from the bench and maybe getting a little beat up than seeing the same old faces come on simply because they can be trusted to not miss tackles.

  15. Agree with regards to the bench. Evans is not going to offer a great deal. Dunbar and Tonks have shown up well this season while I am keen to see more of Heathcote.
    I think Harley deserves his chance although I too would have liked to have seen Vernon (or even Wilson) involved as he offers something different from Denton whose form is struggling a touch.
    Lastly I thought Steve Lawrie could’ve forced his way into the squad after an outstanding game for the A’s.

  16. I hope Ryan Wilson get’s an opportunity during the tournament. He’s been going well for Glasgow and outshone Denton in the 1872 Cup and has been keeping Strauss out the number 8 shirt.

    I understand Johnson wanting to give players a chance to prove themselves but if Denton’s passing and body position in contact doesn’t improve then Wilson needs to be given a chance even if it is from the bench. Hope he hasn’t pissed in anyone’s chips

  17. Was down at Twickenham for the game and the only joy I got from the weekend was in the pubs.. Fair play to the English supporters (that we met anyway) for making us very welcome and having some good banter!
    What really is sad is the ticket sales for the Italy game at Murrayfield. Its so bad the SRU have sent me two free tickets on top of the ones I have purchased for ‘friends that may like to go’ I think Italy visiting Scotland deserve a good turn out, with the help of a few thousand of us they managed to fill the Olympic Stadium in Rome last season!!

  18. Some interesting comments coming out from Scott Johnston at his press conference – sounds like young Grant Gilchrist is seen as pressing the 3 incumbent locks hard, and equally that it’s not viewed that there’s much between the three stand-off options of Jackson, Weir and Heathcote (all relative youngsters, Rhubarb the oldest at 24). I would assume that there’s one or two other similar thoughts for other positions

    1. I suspect that if Jackson does not improve in this game and Weir shows promise then the Ireland game may look very different with Weir and Heithcote stepping up. I think the centre partnership for the Ireland game will be the most important decision. Horne seemed to be Johnsons preferred 12 but has a thumb injury. Missing Italy but quite possible he can be fit for Ireland. If he is then I would prefer Evans or Dunbar outside of him.

  19. Cameron is spot on about Wilson. I think we really need to Fusaro at 7 before this 6N is over, Brown is better utilised at 6 for me. Can’t wait to head to Murrayfield on Saturday, mind.

  20. England were pretty impressive on Saturday but I am dissapointed that we have reversed our approach from last season which was focused on possession and territory. On this outing we are back to Frank Hadden days in terms of possession and we will not win with that approach.

    We have potentially outstanding backs which would deliver points if we can run through the phases. Let’s not have another one sided affair like that next week

  21. I like Johnson’s approach here. He is giving the same team a chance to perform against a team of similar quality and at home. A very different stage to that away to a well-firing England. Players that do not turn up in either game will have had their opportunities and should be replaced, whereas those that do perform should be retained to build a consistent core of the team. It’s pragmatic and helps to build consistency, whilst also maintaining competition and creating opportunities. The problems set in if everyone’s gash… I’m sure that won’t happen though…

  22. Based on that I think the players on the thinnest ice (given potential usurpers knocking) are probably Hamilton and Jackson. However, Jacko was sound in defence and didn’t have much ball to work with in attack.

  23. Feeling quite despondent after reading the telegraph and guardian today – plenty of people calling for a Euro 2nd division and relegation from the 6N. Maybe pie-in-the-sky thinking but the importance of this game cannot be overstated. Scotland HAVE to win games and drag ourselves from the bottom of the 6N heap. Our professional game is struggling for survival and the only thing that can secure its future is some measure of success and renewed credibility.

    1. Wouldnt mind the 6Nations having a 2nd tier with relegation and promotion involved. Have them running side by side like the Hein and Amlin cups

    2. This stuff gets trotted out a fair bit, usually by ex England internationals. I think Probyn is still bitter about 1990 and will put the boot into Scotland at any opportunity.

      Considering the average winning margin in the 4 previous Scotland-England games before Saturday’s shocker was 4 points and that England didn’t win at Murrayfield between 2004 and 2012, I think this is an incredibly arrogant suggestion from an ex England internationalist. Also, despite our dismal 6Ns record, our recent record is better than most of the NH teams versus the big 3 of the SH (although admittedly a couple of these victories were a bit fortuitous).

      Also, we are at a significant disadvantage to the other 6Ns due to our lack of financial resources and as a result playing resources. Should the other unions not be trying to support us where they can. I think most people would agree that the 6Ns would be much improved if it involved a more competitive Scotland. Instead there are suggestions about casting us adrift from the 6Ns. David Dailly, would you honestly not mind us being relegated to a second tier European competition and having our main source of revenue cut off? That really would be a nail in the coffin of Scottish rugby.

    3. Don’t think people would stop going to Scotland matches because they weren’t playing England, France, Wales, Italy or Ireland. If the tournament is played alongside and gets the coverage of the 6Nations, then I am sure we would still get some decent revenue. Also a good chance that we will beat the other 5 teams on the tournament and gain promotion back into the 1st tier. So, Scotland winning matches, promotion to the tier one completion along with the silverware that comes with it. Good thing I think. Also, I woulnt speak out against a 2nd tier tournament that will benefit rugby as a whole, specifically in Europe, just so Scotland can keep a hold of 6th spot in the current tournament. All our excuses about number of pro teams and finances are beginning to look pathetic. Italy are in a worse situation than us and they have been on an upward trajectory since they entered the competition.

      Anyway, I thought the more serious cause of our financial woes was the massive debt we have with Murrayfield, no?

    4. If the tournament gets the same coverage as the 6N? Come on – the Scotland games on BBC Alba, possibly STV, but that would be it I reckon. As for the other point – how many supporters turn up to see us play e.g. Japan, Canada (even Argentina and Italy can be low) versus higher tier teams?

    5. Scotland’s pro teams are run largely on the revenue made from 6 Nations and Autumn Tests so are reliant on selling tickets for these matches. If Scotland were to be playing against Portugal and Spain etc nobody would pay £25 let alone £75 for a ticket so Scotland’s finances would be in a worse state. This would be the end of Scottish rugby as we know it and an absolute disaster. To say this would be a good thing is naive and a financial disaster. People go to Murrayfield to watch the good teams in the knowledge you are going to watch something entertaining. I admit this may not always be the case given the performances in the recent past but should we end up playing Micky Mouse nations I for one would not pay to watch it.

    6. I am sorry, but Italy used to be a “micky mouse” nation. I would just rather be in the 6Nations on merit, NOT default. The fact that we are playing these high profile teams and STILL not selling out at Murrayfiled says it all.

      Maybe we need to get our two pro teams involved in another competition, maybe get some more advertising revenues out of it as well as ticket sales. The Welsh manage to play in the Rabo, Heineken and LV cups. Unfortunately I don’t think there is another competition for us to go into.

    7. Looking out with Scotland, it would be good to give other European countries an opportunity to compete in the 6 nations. Sadly Scotland haven’t adapted to professional rugby and haven’t shown much sign of development since the 6 nations was introduced. Is it really fair that Scotland keeps it’s place playing in the premier rugby tournament in Europe despite this? Perhaps the possibility of relegation is what Scottish players require to get out of their comfort zones.

    8. There is also a lot of noise being made about Scotland’s 2 pro teams automatically qualifying for the Heineken cup. It’s either a move to the Amlin and qualify by good results there, or justify qualification another way. Been a while since I read up on this, actually it’s been a while since the issue has been discussed between the powers that be.

      Regardless of people’s feelings, I believe there will be a change of sorts happening anyway within the 6 Nations. Talk of introducing a bonus point system has been getting aired more and more.

      World rankings have Scotland at 12th place, and Georgia, Romania, Russia, Spain and Belgium taking 17th through 21st. In a European continent context we are looking at England, France, Ireland, Italy, Wales, Scotland, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Spain, Belgium then Portugal for 1st through 12th spots.

  24. Interesting to read the Italian coach Brunel talking up the Scots today in the meeja – “always a hard game …” – slightly embarrassing that he’s now got to find some positive things to say about his opponents on Saturday when I suspect he may be expecting another victory?

    No Euan Murray for the next fixture against Ireland, so would you opt for Moray Low or Geoff Cross? Interesting to see that Jon Welch is turning out for Glasgow against Zebre on the tight head side of the scrum this weekend too.

    And also great to see that John Barclay is back from injury in the 7 shirt for Glasgow as well – will that preface a return to the Scotland squad and a reunification of the Killer B’s?

    1. At the same time, dissappointed not to see Fusaro feature though. His injury must be worse than anticipated.

  25. Fusaro will have his time it’s just bad luck, and if he steps up to international he will be a brilliant asset I still believe he is the best number seven we have, everyone is talking about relegation and its been blown out of preportion, yes we lost against England we only have two professional teams what do you expect! I am always hopeful, we just need to give abit of time for this team to progress maybe put in a few international fixtures against lesser teams to boost confidence.

  26. Geez, i was in a pretty good mood till i read all this chat…. we’ve only played one match against the team I think will do to everyone else something similar to what they did to us.. England are really coming onto a strong game indicative of their place in world rugby. We are not England, we are Scotland and our rugby needs work, our national squad is young, it lacks depth, the management team are very new. but there is talent in the squad, lets see how tomorrow goes and the rest of the campaign.

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