Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland Player Ratings

Can Ross Ford Make Up Ground against South Africa? - pic © Al Ross

Sean Maitland – Consistent if unexciting. Made the majority of his kicks, covered well, did his defensive duties but offered little going forward. Slightly wasted at full-back on this showing. Looked miserable too. 6/10

Tommy Seymour – Some good, some bad. Today would have been a good lesson for the young Glasgow winger in what is expected at this level. It was a good lesson for the whole squad for that matter.  5/10

Nick De Luca – So wrapped up in the colossal defensive effort that he was all but anonymous in the rare Scotland attacks that did occur. Given little ball but at least managed to keep his discipline in check, which was a pleasant change. Got nothing from Taylor inside him either. 5/10

Duncan Taylor – Not great. Kicked out on the full in the first half, missed a tackle for the third try and generally looked a bit terrified at 12. Safe to say centre isn’t his best position. The guy next to me kept thinking he was Matt Scott too. Poor Matt Scott. 4/10

Sean Lamont – Arguably the pick of the backs. Ran purposefully and aggressively. Tackled and rucked like a back rower and looked like he was up for it throughout. Was made Captain for the last 10 minutes. 7/10

Ruaridh Jackson – Poor.  From the off he put his team under pressure with a bad kick, made some odd decisions and then threw an interception pass for their second try. Failed to make the ‘box-kick-to-the-corners’ tactic work either. Stupid moustache, bad game of rugby. 3/10

Greig Laidlaw – It’s fair to say the normally consistent and aggressive Mr Laidlaw was not at the races today, by his high standards that is… Rattled by the physicality of the Boks his service began to suffer and he was increasingly drawn into rucks and niggles. 5/10

Ali Dickinson – Heroic effort at both the breakdown and the South African gainline. No opportunities in the loose to add value and contributed to a poor scrummaging spectacle. Paid the price of his exertions and was subbed early in the second half. 5/10

Ross Ford – The lineouts to begin with were an unbridled disaster. They stabilised later in the first half but the damage was done by that point and ironic cheers greeted every successful one thereafter.  Tackled well but was poor is the scrum, totally failing to strike for the ball at any point. A really, shockingly poor effort. 3/10

Moray Low – Looked hopelessly out of his depth at times as wave after wave of massive Boks ball carriers washed over him. I wonder if the watching Vern Cotter is likely to ever give him another full 80 minutes for Scotland again. When I see him up against a front row like today, he gives me the fear. 4/10

 Richie Gray – Under-par showing from the ever popular lock. For want of a better description he looked a bit knackered. Perhaps the Lions tour is taking its toll now but he lacked his usual energy and desire to get around the park. Did nothing particularly wrong but wasn’t the Richie Gray we know and (seemingly) love. 5/10

Jim Hamilton – Big Jim did everything you expect of him. Shouted a lot, started fights, had a beard, slipped off the occasional tackle and performed amateur dramatics in the line out. He’s emotional, aggressive and sometimes ham fisted. Not the best today, not the worst either. 6/10

Ally Strokosch – What ‘Stroker’ lacks in finesse he makes up for in his sheer desire to take on his opposite number. For every knock on or clumsy penalty he adds a tough tackle or some excellent rucking. Big part of a Spartan defensive effort by the back row. 6/10

John Barclay – A rare glimmer of optimism in an otherwise grim first half. Was a pest on the deck, solid in the trenches and at least tried to do something with the meagre possession thrown his way. The pick of the starting forwards. 7/10

David Denton – Promised lots, delivered little. Did his bit in defence but was melted everytime he tried to carry ball. His body position on the ball concerns me. Recently he looks like the opposition have sussed his Plan A out and he has no Plan B. 5/10


Geoff Cross – Not used. Should have started. Poor Geoff.

Ryan Grant  – Stabilised the scrum and slotted in quite well to the second half renaissance. 6/10

Max Evans – Showing frightening pace to nearly score in the corner. 7/10

Chris Cusiter – Changed little when he came on but did no wrong either. 6/10

Scott Lawson – Brought consistency to the line out and relief from the Ford car crash (see what I did there?). 6/10

Jonny Gray – Looks like a child, plays like a man. Good debut in a horrible game.  6/10

Duncan Weir – Silly knock ons and mazy runs failed to ignite the backline. 5/10

Johnnie Beattie – Played out of position at seven but made a positive impact, stealing line out and winning turnovers. 7/10


12 Responses

  1. I really wish people would stop defending the indefensible. richie gray went to oz on the basis of performances two years ago, he has been a lazy prima donna for over a year now and is being found out in France. Will soon return to scotland where he will no doubt enjoy being a big fish in a small pond.

    Ross Fords body language is terrible and he just does not have the skillset to play hooker at international level. I wonder if he is responsible for Edinburghs current problems? One bad apple etc etc

    Laidlaw is another preening show pony who thinks each game is some sort of teddy bears picnic. Get the f@@king ball out of the rucks quicker you muppet! Learn to pass flat and quick and how to box kick!

    Taylor and De luca were terrible today, they did not even look like running onto the ball at pace or cutting different lines. Stood still, flat and god crushed, as they deserved to be.

    God, i could go on but i am too depressed….

  2. Allan,
    Let’s not forget that this is the most physical side in international rugby right now. They were always going to expose frailties.

    However there are clearly great improvements to be made and I really hope the boys learn from this and step up to the next level, particularly Jackson who was startled.

    I must say, Ross Ford really needs to show the fans something. He looks the real deal physically, but hasn’t delivered on the pitch for a long time.

    It could have been worse, and actually I think the score line is an accurate reflection of where we are on the international pecking order.

    1. Mate, i agree that SA are a very very strong team but i hope yesterdays result is a wake up call to a lot of players and the coaches. Players need to know that poor performances will result in being replaced. Gray, Ford, Laidlaw, are the worst culprits in my view of coasting through games not putting in the effort or playing selfishly. I was appalled at home slow and bereft of ideas we looked yesterday. I like Jacko but i think he suffers from playing outside Laidlaw who just kills momentum every time he gets his hands in the ball . If only Niko was Scottish….

      Glasgow have started the season a little bit shakily but have ground out wins through sheer effort but for some reason, Edinburgh players, playing in a team that are really struggling, somehow win all the key selection battles. Ford ahead of Macarthur, laidlaw ahead of Cusiter\pyrgos, de luca ahead of Bennett. I just don’t get it…..

  3. I think Laidlaw played poorly but it is not just his responsibility to get the ball out quickly. One of the problems we had was that after a couple of phases we had a single runner taking the ball into two or three Bok tacklers and the Scottish support failing to clear them out effectively. This has been our perennial problem whether in the 6N, against Tonga etc.

    The problems in that game all stemmed from our inability to secure our own lineout ball. We lost our first 5 lineouts according to the BBC match report. This meant even when we got a penalty we couldn’t clear our lines or set up an attacking platform, it gifted the Boks the ball over and over again and it clearly made Jackson panic as he didn’t know what to do with the ball to get it away from our 22. Now I don’w know where blame should be placed for our lineout problems but it clearly must start with Ross Ford, his Scotland career should be over unless he can prove he has fixed his throwing. Either MacArthur or Lawson should always be considered above him now. No international team can expect to win a game of rugby whilst losing every single one of their lineouts for the first 30 minutes of a rugby game.

    Beyond that in the pack it is hard to know what to say. Our breakdown work was poor but we were playing the most physical pack in the world and were forced to make 150 tackles in the first 30 minutes according to the BBC coverage. That is going to exhaust any team. Our defence in the 22 was actually very good, we conceded two tries from lineouts on the 5m line, an interception and a soft try when our centres were all at sea.

    Personally, I wish we had kicked for some points. I know we were chasing a 21-0 deficit but that big fat 0 hurts and we had plenty of opportunities to get points on the board. The only positive is that we have the chance to atone next week.

  4. I’ve counted three fights involving Jim Hamilton in international games this season, that coupled with his tendency to give away penalties for being offside could prove to end up being costly but he I think he offers more positives than negatives. Ford and Jackson need to be dropped from the team. Jackson gave away tries and Ford butchered the line out and scrum, both improved when Lawson came off the bench. I agree that the determination shown by Glasgow players so far this season should put them above the Edinburgh guys. I can’t really see past a Glasgow front five of Grant, MacArthur, Welsh, Swinson and Gray for Australia (maybe Murray instead of Welsh) it might be a relatively inexperienced group but I’m sure they’d offer much more than the guys they’d be replacing. Cusiter and Weir to start with Pyrgos and Heathcote on the bench, Dunbar if he’s fit and Bennett in the centre, Lamont and Maitland on the wings and either Tonks or Cuthbert who was solid against Munster at fullback. You never know with Johnson though, he could even throw in some of the guys you’re really not expecting like Mcguigan or even McColl. Any change is a welcome change after yesterday’s performance.

  5. I no i am starting to sound like a broken record but a team with swinson, fusaro, Macarthur, wee gray and beatie sound like a breath of fresh air just now!

  6. I agree we need some changes and it was a shocking performance but I also think there is a danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water. We simply don’t have huge reserves of players to draw on. The game should have brought some clarity to a few positions though, principally that Ford is no longer up to it and Jackson is too unreliable to be a test 10.

  7. Agree with much of the above regards players not performing. There are promising guys waiting in the wings; get them exposed to hard games before the 6N, otherwise Scotland could be looking at another whitewash.

  8. Agree with FF.
    We have gained some clarity about certain players. I remember losing in Rome a couple of seasons back when Ford just couldn’t hit his line. Same thing yesterday. Don’t know if was all his fault as some of the throws looked so far from the jumper it looked like a miss call. He seems to choke and he should not be considered before MacArthur now. Jackson was poor and so was Gray. He looks a bit timid at the moment.

    Positives are:
    – SA is 2nd beat team in the world
    – we played the worst first half I think i have ever seen and we only lost by 28
    – we almost had points parity in the second half
    – tackling was immense
    – bench was strong
    – the starting line up was full of second string
    – Barclay played well
    – Big Jim showed remarkable discipline
    Bring on the Oz!

  9. The most worrying thing about Sunday is comparing it to the summer score line and then factoring in home advantage, and bad weather (which Scotland have historicaly done better in). Vern Cotter can not start soon enough!

    The Scot Johnson regime has generaly been well received, but form me the only improvement from Andy Robinson is a positive atmosphere – A win was scraped against Ireland in the 6N, but in general the performances have been lower quality than 2011/12. Last years defeat to Tonga can easily be compared to the summer defeat against Samoa. From 2010 – 2012 you could argue that Scotland were the most effective 6N team in the middle 90% of the pitch, but try’s were not scored for some reason.

    The Glasgow influence in the team must be strengthen as they have the mentality to grind out wins. Ross Ford must be dropped, and I think he should leave Edinburgh, to give others a chance, or to be revitalised in a new environment (has worked well for Johnie Beattie).

    Sean Lamont is the only player to have impressed me in both games, definitely deserves to continue to be arround the squad.

    1. Disagree. Samoa are a top 8 side, above us in the IRB rankings and we were playing them without home advantage. Losing to them was nowhere near as bad as losing to Tonga.

      Saturday’s loss was dispiriting but I don’t think the team has regressed. After a horrendous start for the first 30 minutes were were only 7-0 down and in the position to chip away at their lead and get a toe-hold in the game. Then Jackson goes for a no-look miracle pass and Maitland overruns it and within 5 minutes the game is over. It was a bad day at the office and we were punished severely for our mistakes. On another day we could have got right back in the game.

      It was sad we couldn’t score a try but guess what? The Boks have one of the best defenses in world rugby and knew we wouldn’t kick our penalties. If we had chosen to kick our penalties we would have finished with 12-15 points on the board.

      I think fans need to appraise our team realistically. We are deservedly ranked 9th in the world, we have a lot of work and progress to do before we can regularly compete with the top 5-6 teams. We haven’t suddenly become much poorer, it was a tough result to take, any more than we were suddenly on the verge of a new golden era just because we’d won 2 6N games, had a narrow loss to the Boks in the summer and have a clutch of fresh faces in the squad.

  10. Harsh on Moray Low, what exactly did he do wrong?

    Our scrum stood up well against a powerful Bok 8.

    He tackled non-stop for a full 80, may not have been knocking the Bokke backwards but very few do.

    Carried a bit with purpose and generally stayed out the way of backs in attack.

    Best performance since Argentina from the lad in my book.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion