Coaches Must Take the Blame for Murrayfield Disaster

The rain falls on the just and unjust alike and the downpour that promised to disrupt the English at Murrayfield on Saturday evening failed to arrive until late into the game. By that time Scotland had exhausted all possible chances of redemption, and were painfully and slowly going through the motions of a well-worn damage limitation exercise. The true injustice however of this latest awful chapter in the ‘Saga of Scottish Rugby since 1990’ was that roughly 65,000 people paid to watch this insipid and turgid excuse for a rugby match.

One honest England fan said to me on Saturday night “We were awful but Scotland were worse…”, neatly summing up not only how poor our shrinking reputation at international level is but also how lucky we were that we didn’t come away with a forty or fifty point shellacking. Perhaps that would have been a better result in the long term for us? Perhaps then we would take the decisive and bold action that painfully needs to administered. A long-term sea change of culture, approach and mentality to the game that starts at grass roots level and rises all the way to the top. In the short term a true drubbing on Saturday may have at least led to a review of Scott Johnson’s position with the SRU.

The blame for Saturday’s toothless Calcutta Cup performance should rest with the coach and the coach alone. I stand by my player rating article in the aftermath of Saturday. The tactical approach killed Scotland not the individual player performances. Yes there were errors, yes there were discipline problems and yes there were some bad performances (I’m looking at you Jim Hamilton) but ultimately the game was lost before it started. The team selection was bizarre, the dropping of Kelly Brown inexcusable and the tactical approach a complete joke. The Autumn Test debacle against South Africa should have proven that chip chases to the corners is beyond the capabilities of this particular squad.

Against a big, physical side such as England with a rush defence there are (classically) three ways to get past them. You either go through them, over them or round them.  We lack the ball carriers to go through them (Denton aside) and we showed against South Africa we lack the pace on the wings or the kicking skills at 10 to go over them so why not try going round them? It worked for the French…

No, instead we persist with a flawed policy of trying to catch their ‘inexperienced’ wingers out with little dinks over the top. With some rain, a dirty pitch, a hostile atmosphere and some luck we may rattle them into making some errors in their own 22, Right?

Wrong. Instead, Nowell and May countered easily and looked comfortable all game. The Scottish players on the other hand looked confused, frustrated and helplessly hamstrung.

The set piece also limps from bad to worse. Under Andy Robinson, and perhaps more tellingly, Stevie Scott, our line-out was the envy of our Northern Hemisphere rivals. It is now reduced to a calamitous sideshow in which the Murrayfield crowd jeer and ironically cheer with equal pantomime gusto depending on the outcome. Our scrum, particularly the front five are as vulnerable as I can remember and lack any kind of depth on the bench to assist late in the game. I’m not a great fan of Ross Ford but this ‘tactic’ of not hooking the ball and instead playing with three props in the front row is embarrassing. Forwards Coach Jonathan Humphreys needs to take the blame for a lot of this but ultimately not at the expense of the Head Coach.

Classically passive aggressive, Johnson’s post match response was to label his players “naïve” and assert that “The plan was fine, the execution wasn’t great”.  No Scott, the plan was awful and subsequently the execution equally flawed. Rumours have persisted for a while now about discord between players and staff in this current set-up. Denton visibly struggled to contain his frustration when being inexplicably substituted before the hour mark on Saturday and one can only assume Kelly Brown must have voiced some serious frustration with the coaching team after the Ireland game to warrant his immediate exile from the dressing room. One thing is for sure all is not well off the field.

On the field, a lot has been said in the aftermath of Saturday. In particular Paul Hayward’s article in the Telegraph suggests Scotland should re-assess our membership to the Six Nations.

I wouldn’t go that far with my own knee jerk but it’s clear things need to change and quickly. It begins with a coaching clear out. Johnson and Humphreys need to go. Johnson both from his Head Coach role and from his future Director of Rugby post too. Put an interim coaching team in place (Townsend, Lineen, Scott, Hodge, whoever…) until Vern Cotter is in place. From there on in we need to rebuild the game in Scotland as a whole. More games, more professional teams, more choice for selectors.  All built from the bottom up in a solid and controlled way. The maggots that infest the grass roots of the Murrayfield pitch provide a timely metaphor for the state of rugby in Scotland.

Unless this rot is addressed quickly we will be left behind by our current International counterparts and eventually overtaken by emerging rugby nations. Unfortunately for Johnson and Humphreys, it needs to start with them.

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Journalist and rugby player for @LangholmRugby and the @PigbariansRFC, please follow @brodiesmithers

47 comments on “Coaches Must Take the Blame for Murrayfield Disaster

  1. Cammy on

    Well said.

    The silence coming from the SRU has, thus far, been deafening. I suppose that they might be waiting to see what we do against the Italians before making a costly decision to jettison an already expensive coaching team but the rumours of unrest have to be addressed and soon. My worry is that due to the nature of Scottish rugby, we will limp to the end of this championship, nothing will be done, Johnstone moves upstairs quietly and the next outrage will be in the summer but glossed over by having a new coach.

    Without a major overhaul of the entire system, it’s hard to see where improvements will come. I’ve never been so despondent about Scottish rugby as I am just now but all the way from elite coaching, through 1st class amateur to grass roots and age grade rugby we (not just the SRU but those of us who largely ignore non international rugby) are failing. That is borne out in poor results on the pitch and the lack of interest of the general public.

  2. FF on

    I’m not normally one to blame the coaches when unrealistic ambitions aren’t reached but in this case SJ and Humphreys have proved all their naysayers correct. I don’t believe for a second the players don’t have the will to win, and the squad has plenty of talent. The problems they are having are often things they’ve done well in the past as you’ve mentioned. So I agree, this season’s disaster is a coaching malaise rather than a player one. Look at the impact Solomons has had on Edinburgh after Bradley? Cotter can’t come soon enough.

  3. Ruairidh Campbell on

    Scotland’s main problem is not having the same squad depth as most of the other top 10 countries have. If we want to sort this, then the clubs have to accept the SRU’s proposal to make the top amateur league semi professional. Add in some proper development sides (not the ones that play a couple of matches a season like they do at the minute) and possibly a 3rd professional side and then the country can start to get back on its feet. Sure, it will take a while to develop, but it is needed if we are to have the success in future years.

  4. Derek Walmsley on

    FF as an expat Scot I would recommend that we Scots be prepared to begin to see ourselves as others see us!! It would be very educative not only as regards our sporting prowess or lack thereof but in other facets of life. Where are the great Scottish leaders of the past. Obviously not in the SRU or SFA. Never mind all will be well when we get rid of the English like Paul Hayward in September (and of course expats like me who have taken the English shilling!). Parochialism and an inability to recognise how the world see us will see us descend even further in importance in all spheres of life. Paul Hayward is absolutely right …. So what are we going to do about it out of respect to the great Scots of the past!

  5. Roger Graham on

    I agree. All we get from Johnson is a continual load of drivel about ‘building for the future’ and the ‘naivety’ of young players.
    When you can’t accomplish the absolute basics of the game satisfactorily there is something seriously wrong on the coaching side. When good players are turned to average, average to bad, it is a coaching failing.
    And if we are ‘building for the future’ then what are the Gray brothers doing on the periphery? Why is Hogg not playing at fly-half?
    The building for the future mantra is not one I believe in anyway. You play your best side and introduce young players to it as and when. The best introduction is to a side which is not in continual disarray.
    Quick action has to be taken by the SRU. Of course, it won’t happen. Johnson will continue on his merry, wise-cracking way, trotting out the same old drivel while the morale within the squad, and among the supporters, continues to nose-dive.
    Paul Hayward’s remarks ought to act as a catalyst for a realistic appraisal. If they aren’t, Scotland will find out what it is like to play to a half-empty Murrayfield.

  6. Sheila Spence on

    I totally agree that the coaching has a great deal to do with the current woeful state of affairs, but I also believe that the set-up in Scotland, far from encouraging the development of the game in Scotland – is having the opposite effect. young players coming through what little official development there is from school onwards, look at our 2 pro teams and see them filling up with overseas players. Where is the incentive there and just exactly how is that furthering the International game in Scotland?

    • Stuart on

      Spot on. I think part of the problem with Scottish Rugby at the moment stems from a complete lack of faith by the SRU in the schools + youth systems.

      From the 23 on Saturday, 8 of those players developed their early age-grade rugby outside of the SRU (Seymour, Lamont, Swinson, Hamilton, Denton, Wilson, Taylor + Evans). We were massively excited at last years 6N with the most dangerous looking back 3 we’ve had for years – where 2 of them developed their talents elsewhere (Visser & Maitland).

      I’m not saying we’re the only country to do it (a certain ‘Tommasso’ Allan springs to mind) or that it’s a new thing (Parksy + Hines). But it seems our elite team are increasingly relying on it.

      Surely the SRU should spend more money + time in developing our current batch of youngsters, than they do filling up Edinbokke and Glasgow with All Black and Springbok rejects with some loose Scottish heritage?

    • Rory Baldwin on

      To be fair Visser was pretty undeveloped as a player before he came to Edinburgh, despite being Dutch and coming through the English system (like many before him) I suspect he would credit that to a lot of his success.

  7. Richard James Digance on

    It is ludicrous that players chosen to play at international level still seem to need training in basic skills EG the forwards lineout performances would shame a secondary school game AND their Scrums were a disgrace. Either the coaching routines are inadequate OR the players are more interested in building muscle in the weight room than practising skills, drills and team movements. It does not matter how heavily muscled a player is if he can not perform all of the basic skills consistently well.These skills are supposed to be taught and learned and practised in your early years (usually school days) and then practised and honed until you are worthy of an international jersey!!!! Players surely by international level should have their bodies and reflexes sufficienly trained to perform the basics in their sleep and be looking to overperform and not just scrape through a game at less than club player standard. EG The forwards: their timing in their lineouts was pitiful AND they can not scrum down properly. THREE PROPS do not make a front row!!!! AND in any case if you have 3 “burly PROP” forwards how can they not handle an opposite front row when their middle “PROP” forward does not have to be a skilled HOOKER!!!!!

    • Russell on

      This is the most accurate comment I’ve heard so far, it is right on the money. Scottish rugby as a whole approach is obsessed with the biggest gym monkeys they can find, never mind how deficient they are at the basic skills. Speaking to a number of people I know inside the Edinburgh set up, their approach to training is questionable. One person said ‘all we seem to do is weights and contact and theres international players who can’t complete a basic 2 v 1 drill’. Having watched guys like Nick DeLuca butcher several tries over the season, it’s apparent he (as one example)should spend more time on the fundamentals. Watching Greg Laidlaw the last few months, I’d question his position as well. If he’s not kicking goals, why is he in the team? He takes three quarters of an hour to clear the base of the ruck, Scotland/Edinburgh can’t generate quick ball as a result of this. Skills are the most overlooked aspect of Scottish rugby. Look at the All Blacks, they are so far ahead of world rugby and it all boils down to how well they do the basics, they have 2ndrowers like Retallick throwing miss passes and putting people into holes…can any of our forwards to this?

  8. Rod mitchell on

    On sat we were very poor , who shall we blame well where do I start. The biggest problem is coaching at age grade rugby , If a good young player doesn’t get involved in that , they don’t get looked at again , that is one massive mistake I could name a few 9s and 10s had they been kept in the system or looked at later played for Scotland now ,stop looking for players who because they have a Scottish ancestry and are not good enough to get in there own country team . Get a grip sru have a look down south scots lads who moved down there to play a better standered of rugby

  9. Warrior4 on

    The SRU need to look at the state of Rugby as a whole in Scotland. The senior team has highlighted this more but look at the under 20’s and the women side who are also not getting the best of results.
    When you look at the under 20 squad you see that not many have EDP contracts or are supported by Sport Scotland. These boys are potentially the future of Scottish rugby. They should be supported more. Let them train with the pro teams and experience full time training. Who knows how good they could become with the right training and pathway. Surely this would only benefit Scotland in years to come.
    I do believe we need another Pro team, whether it be in the Aberdeen area or the Borders (never going to happen although you would get better support from Borderers). Opportunities need to be given to youngsters.
    And lastly Glasgow and Edinburgh need to stop bringing in players from other nations. Develop our own!

  10. Alastair Kidd on

    Well written and difficult/impossible to argue against. I have watched, coached and (very occasionally!) played rugby for 35 years – including a young Kelly Brown at school. Yes SJ is wholly culpable, and yes the SRU will not do the obvious thing. As for a 3rd pro team? Twice the SRU have shafted the Borders! What would be the point of a 3rd team if it were to be stuffed full of workmanlike, up and coming or past their best Kiwis, Aussies and Boks? It’s a great pass-time trying to think of any other organisation that would put up with a character like SJ – failure, inability to motivate, can’t tell a 6 from a 7 from an 8, random substitutions, dropping the only guy capable of pulling the forwards/team together, and the only constsnt? a great line in sardonic jokes and claims of “it wasnae me!”
    Emperor’s New Clothes anyone?

  11. David Dods on

    Good article and representative of what most people are thinking and saying. There’s no proper structure for young players and even less for coaches!
    Time to be radical, disband the pro teams, put the Scottish players back into a semi pro league. Let the good players migrate to Pro teams down south if they’re good enough they tend to of that anyway. It’ll take a few years for the clubs to develop but in the meantime revert back to District Championship and enter these teams in the B&I Cup this will give local up and coming talent the opportunity to showcase their skills at a higher level.

    • Ray on

      With the best will in the world, our club sides will never be able to compete with top fully pro sides down south. How do you suppose they will raise the cash for a 4million pounds plus wage bill? The SRU certainly can’t afford to give them it, they struggle enough to fund 2 teams. District rugby is the only plausible option, so please give the club thing a rest. Glasgow is actually a growing success story and Edinburgh can be too. The only way forward is to continue to grow the district model to a third and
      fourth franchise.

  12. Grimace on

    So to put some context to this, given this is SJ’s fault does that mean the 3rd place finish last season was because of him? Or was it a legacy of the good work that Robinson did before he got sacked …. sorry, resigned.
    The reality is the state of Scottish rugby is more than the coaches – Hadden, Robinson, Johnson – but the system in general. If they had their house in border that would not have given the job to SJ and would have not have appointed someone 12 months out or at least had the money to buy him out. No try wins v Ireland, South Africa, australia and Ireland in the last 5-6 years don’t represent progress but instead are brief highs that buck the norm. None of them them had any legacy for the game but paper over cracks, perfectly represented by the failure to make the RWC quarters in 2011. Passion gets you in the game, occasionally wins it, but skill gets you resu

  13. Steve on

    I agree with most youve said but not about Jim Hamilton i thought he disrupted a lot of england ball and gave them someone to worry about at rucks and mauls. Indeed same as last week.ross forcs throwing isnt the best but the lifting and positioning of lifters is shocking. I have also for last few years now asked why do we kick away so much ball to the opposition. Scrums and lineouts we have no one talking to the reffs as per other teams.
    Rgds steve k

    • Allan on

      Yes, Hamilton gave them something to worry about alright, whether to go for the posts or the corners with the penalties he gave away.,!!

  14. Mr Pedant on

    Brodie,

    could you write a piece explaining and evaluating the possible options for reorganising the game in Scotland? All I hear (or read) is one guy cries out passionately more pro teams! while another yells equally fervently scrap the pro teams! and go with the clubs…who is right if either…or is there a third way, even a fourth way?

    It would be really useful – for me at least – if someone could do that.

    Thanks

  15. Borderer on

    I agree with most of your article Brodie. The pitch was a disgrace, it’s hard to judge any team on that surface, England were also poor on it and would probably have sored a few more on a decent surface. However, we are unlikely to see any changes until Cotter arrives, meanwhile we have to hope for some sensible selections and a positive attitude for the rest of the Six Nations. The evidence so far isn’t good. I also agreed pretty much with your scores on the players.
    Time now to drop Hamilton and Lamont as both give away far too many penalties and are never going to improve. Also drop Ford, how many chances? We need to get that line out right. Let’s try MacArthur and bring back a proper line out jumper like Richie Gray. Restore Kelly Brown at 6 and captain and play Beattie at 8, still a better option than Denton. I guess, however, that, apart from Strokosch at 6, we probably won’t get any changes.

    • David Flak on

      I agree with Borderer on his pack choices. I was a huge advocate of Jim Hamilton in the early years, and last year his disruption at the lineout helped keep us in the Ireland game when we shouldnt have been. But for a second row who doesn’t understand what ‘In at the side’ means is staggering. Ford needs to go, his power in the scrum is irrelevant now as its back to proper hooking and the less said about his chucking in the better. How we left out our other Lion is a mystery. Dropping our Captain, and stating at the beginning of the 6N that you don;t have confidence in him to nail down a starting berth was staggering. If thats SJ’s opinion then why make Brown the captain in the first place?
      Denton has earned his 8 shirt be because apart from Hoggy he’s the only player who seemed to want to cross the gain line.
      We all need to get this idea of SJ resigning/ being sacked 2 games in, it won’t happen and we have enough disruption as it is. If we can pick up a win in Italy, and who knows, maybe distrupt the Welsh, who aren’t playing great, then this past fortnight will be forgotten.
      What we need now is a motivator, a Telfer or a Jefferies, someone to get a grip of the boys and remind them what that shirt means.

  16. Steve on

    My son played at Scotland delevelopement age group level, the SRU had invested in him by sending him to training camps in Spain etc.. Unfortunatley he damaged his shoulder very badly and needed an operation but there wasn’t one phone call or follow up to see what his progress was during or after his recuperation.He was actually contacted by Ulster Rugby to see if he would be interested in joining a training camp,they even offered to put him in to university in N.Ireland , if they saw potential in his intial trail. My point being a great deal of potential talent is going under the radar, talent that was being developed in Scotland . Look at the Irish set up, it took a number of years to implement their strategy,now every province has strength in dept, with few imports but the vast majority are home bred through schools, academies and a well managed club structure , they keep and develop their talent in their country.

  17. Kev on

    Oh and how they are re-building Ravenshill to be a 1st class stadium for rugby. We’re all dancing because Edinburgh are playing a match at Meggatland (no disrespect ‘muir). Belfast city is skint but they support and partner their rugby (and sporting) community

  18. JohnD on

    I would tend to agree with most of the above particularly the comments on coaching. I put 4 individuals who had won the Edinburgh under 15 league 10 years ago to the development training by the SRU. The 3 best left after 2/3 weeks, I went to have a word with the coaches advising the boys wanted to leave because there was no fun. I was rebuked and told the boys were not there for fun, what 14 year olds! Point being those lads are 24 now and lost to the game because of over prescriptive training regimes.
    Oh and what about the Scottish coach that at a training update, started by saying ‘some of you coaches are just teaching your boys just to win, we don’t want that’. Really! Seems he got his way, sadly.
    Main problem is ATTITUDE and you will not change things until that is sorted.
    It is a simple and beautiful game being made complicated and ugly by those that should know better

  19. Billy on

    Agree with most of the article. SJ is a con man and the sooner he is shown the door the better. How he gets the D.o.R. job god only knows. Humphreys inherited a good lineout and decent pack and has decimated it in 6 months. SJs’s selections are bizarre to say the least. Scrap the 7s team which is a complete waste of money and start a 3rd pro team. With Treviso pulling out the pro 12 there is a vacancy that we need to fill. We have far too many players not playing enough rugby ( Jackson and Weir being perfect examples) and a 3rd pro team would help in that regard.

  20. Billy on

    I would like to see a team along these lines for Italy
    15)Hogg
    14)Seymour
    13)Dunbar
    12)Scott
    11)Lamont (only because Visser and Maitland are out)
    10)Weir (best of a bad bunch)
    9)Cusiter
    8)Beattie
    7)Rennie , R.Grant , Fusaro , Barclay
    6)Brown , Stroker , Denton
    5)Gray
    4)Gray
    3)Welsh
    2)Hall
    1)Grant
    Subs Fyfe ,Bennett , Hart , Gilchrist , Denton , Low , McArthur ,Dickenson

  21. fat focker on

    The SRU are a disgrace and frankly have been for years. I was on the sru radar 20yrs ago and attended development camps/trials at struan and heriot watt and the like but came from a poor background and non rugby playing school which clearly held me back compared to the rich kids from the private schools.

  22. Doug H on

    A well reasoned argument and chasing the link back to your player scores from the weekend I find myself broadly agreeing with you .
    As an expat Scot in Hong Kong , I have taken my fair share of abuse from my English, Irish , Hong Kong, in fact all my friends in the HK Rugby community over the paucity of the Scotland performance on Sat. Two things i would like to say , if you want to compete against full time pro’s you have to be a full time pro. In HK we now see a number of players , centrally contracted with the HKRFU and in full time training , to have a crack at being a core team in the IRB 7’s series. the change physically and skills wise in the boys is very obvious just after a few months, and this will”I hope” allow them to compete better with the main sides in the series . So if you let the good players go to England and France , those who are left to go semi pro will just get further and further away from the level required to play and be competitive outside Scotland , and never be up to international Standard.
    Schools rugby , in the last few days I read an article which asks the question why do so few of the players who play national age grade rugby go on to represent the full squad: could it be because of our two tier( rugby wise) and generally separate school systems?
    State and Independent schools being don’t generally play against each other and those who select the schoolboy squads are often coaches and teachers at the same independent schools.
    Is there a case to say that they pick a disproportionate number of their own players in place of those they never have the chance to see ?
    players who may be better given more opportunities.
    And one last thing , teaching young players just to win IS a bad thing , teaching them to play well and by playing well winning , IS a good thing.
    Don’t know I am not in Scotland , but I would be interested to hear some views ,

  23. 333 on

    There appears to be a broad consensus that the SRU are indeed failing Scottish Rugby on a whole range of issues.
    Scott Johnson is no more than a plausible chancer, who has convinced those in power that he is the man for the job thus merely confirms the stTe of the union! We must assume that as he and Cotter are represented by the same agent that they “got a deal” on a job lot.
    However the coaches are a symptom rather than the disease I would suggest!
    Until we address the culture, structure and the flawed relationship with the clubs Scottish rugby is doomed to continue on this treadmill of decline.
    There are models in professional sport (outside rugby) which could be studied to give pointers to the way forward but the self serving, self perpetuating union will never in a million years take the brave steps to acknowledge the problem and build a roadmap for the future.
    Turkey’s voting for Christmas analogy springs readily to mind!

  24. Russell on

    This is the most accurate comment I’ve heard so far, it is right on the money. Scottish rugby as a whole approach is obsessed with the biggest gym monkeys they can find, never mind how deficient they are at the basic skills. Speaking to a number of people I know inside the Edinburgh set up, their approach to training is questionable. One person said ‘all we seem to do is weights and contact and theres international players who can’t complete a basic 2 v 1 drill’. Having watched guys like Nick DeLuca butcher several tries over the season, it’s apparent he (as one example)should spend more time on the fundamentals. Watching Greg Laidlaw the last few months, I’d question his position as well. If he’s not kicking goals, why is he in the team? He takes three quarters of an hour to clear the base of the ruck, Scotland/Edinburgh can’t generate quick ball as a result of this. Skills are the most overlooked aspect of Scottish rugby. Look at the All Blacks, they are so far ahead of world rugby and it all boils down to how well they do the basics, they have 2ndrowers like Retallick throwing miss passes and putting people into holes…can any of our forwards to this?

  25. Phoenix on

    The thing that annoys me is the ‘but we came 3rd last year’ defence for SJ coaching ability. People forget a key difference from last year. To me SJ seams like the media frontman and a lot of the ‘success’ last year probably came down to the coaching of Dean Ryan. Now that Dean Ryan has left, the coaching set up is not there and instead we have a creppy uncle front man who has some one liners but apparently no actual coaching strategy.

    • Hamish on

      We came 3rd last year because Ireland butchered the game against us and Italy beat Ireland and France. We had one really good performance against Italy, and a good backs to the wall defensive effort against the Irish.

      In the summer, we had a poor game against Samoa, a good hour against Samoa and sneaked a win against Italy. (Incidentally,
      what has Strockosch done since he was pretty much the best forward on tour….)

      Have we really progressed at all, barring a good day against Italy and a good hour against SA? Since SA, we have gone backwards at an alarming rate.

    • FF on

      Dean Ryan is a very poor coach. Tonga game aside, where the team looked exhausted after games on successive weekends versus NZ and SA, Robinson had the forwards coached very well. We were strong at the set piece and competitive at the breakdown. That starting coming apart in last year’s 6N and has completely disintegrated now. I think Ryan, Johnson and Humphrey’s have all to shoulder the responsibility for turning a competitive team lacking the cutting edge in the backs to a shambles.

      Scotland’s results up until this point have been OK under SJ and we’ll see what the ledger says at the end of this 6N. It is just shocking to see how far the performance has fallen. I wonder if Robinson would have performed better with the current backline and squad. He was a poor selector but certainly didn’t have the strength in the backs we currently are squandering.

    • mark on

      Spot on F2F. It is a real shame that Andy Robinson didn’t stay on. The backs are talented now and the forwards are the same players, plus some new like Swindon. Finishing was the only thing that was wrong under Robinson, matches were dominated in many cases and I always had hope that a successful period was coming.

      Having said that there are still the obvious problems with player development that are being discussed. State schools are the key, more players, more interest and more spectators are needed. 3rd pro team in Aberdeen is a must.

  26. Gail on

    TIME FOR THE WOMEN TO TAKE CHARGE?

    The TIME is right for me to offer my services, Mary (Lafaiki) can coach the backs, Gillian (Paterson) the Forwards and I’ll be the Head Coach & Social organiser our motto will be “We’ll play to the DEATH and PARTY HARDER” – Never bet against me it will take a Yorkshire woman to sort this mess out ! Gail Gyi

  27. Dumbledore on

    Sadly Gail the only thing worse than the Scotland team is the Scotland Womens team. Feel free to take charge of that…..

  28. Tayte Cozens on

    What a load of absolute rubbish and shock journalism at its worst. You Scots have to wake up and smell the roses with the game of rugby and here’s why.
    Your rugby system from grassroots rugby is flawed. Right from primary school to secondary school you have no idea for the concept of producing athletes for the future across all sports.
    The problem with Scottish rugby is not the coaches or the way they are being coached but athletes themselves or more importantly the lack of them.
    Rugby is fundamentally a sport and children in Scotland do not play enough sports in the schools. 2 hours a week is the target in New Zealand they probably get that everyday.
    New Zealand has 4 million people they have world champions in over 30 different major sports and sporting teams that beat or compete with the best in he world from rugby, netball, basketball to football. Why????? certainly not money! Because we encourage children to be as active by showing them how to play all sports, netball, cricket, rugby, badminton, swimming you name it they learn as part of their curriculum at schools . Now I can hear some saying the private schools do!! That’s the Private schools. The problem of team sport in Scotland is due to the fact you lack the numbers playing sport which means you lack the number of athletes coming through the ranks. Furthermore you have a PC culture that raps children up in cotton wall and doesn’t allow them to experience other sports….just in case they get hurt.

    Rugby cannot rely of athletes from a few private schools. The blinkers have to be taken off and rugby players need to be selected for their athletism and not their School badge.

  29. Ruairidh Campbell on

    I do agree with your points Tayte, however if you have a look at the article published on the SRU website (www.scottishrugby.org) when the autumn test squad last year was announced, it says that of the 26 Scottish players educated in Scotland, 20 attended a state school and just 6 attended a private school. And if you go to a state school that does not play rugby, you join the local club. But yes, I do agree that compared to New Zealand, a lot of countries lack behind them in terms of how committed they are to sport at a young age.

  30. Sporty Jock on

    re.Tayte Cozens,

    Rory, actually Tayte’s ‘good points’ aren’t that good.

    That’s quite a swipe you take at Scotland, Tayte, and, for what it’s worth, Scottish sport. I recall Australians taking a similar swipe at Britain as a whole before the London Olympics and then being humiliated at the Games. Smug arrogance didn’t get them anywhere. I also can’t think of much memorable about New Zealand (I assume from your post you’re a Kiwi) in any aspect of life outside sport (apart from Peter Jackson’s output, Maori tatoos and the countryside – oh, and sheep), i.e. sport isn’t the be all and end all. Having said that, I do like sport and, surprisingly, Scotland does have great sportsmen and women, to name just a few, Chris Hoy, Andy Murray, Dario Franchitti, Tim Baillie, Scott Brash and Katherine Grainger & Heather Stanning, oh and Alex Ferguson (coach). In 2012, Scots contributed 24 medals (7 Gold) to Britain’s haul in athletics, cycling, hockey, judo, rowing, sailing, slalom canoeing, swimming and tennis. New Zealand won 13 (6 Gold). I can’t be bothered looking up the events.

    As for schools, I wonder when your kids do their homework when they seemingly spend 2 hours (“probably get that everyday” you said) a day on sport. I’m sure schools in Scotland will fit your description but that cannot be said of all, even many, of them. My 9-year-old son gets to do all kinds of sports at his (state) school, including rugby (which he does anyway), hockey, football, badminton, in fact oddly enough most of the sports you say your kids do! :o) He is not untypical of his co-pupils and mates in his sporting activities: rugby, swimming, taekwondo, gymnastics, badminton, mountain biking and he’s now demanding to add snow boarding to his portfolio after watching the snowboard slopestyle events at Sochi (any Kiwis there? Australia is and won a medal). We struggle to get him to do his homework.

    So, I took the trouble to respond – people like you shouldn’t have such time wasted on them – because you judge a whole country on a misfiring and troubled rugby team and a crap football team (Scotland 37 in FIFA rankings – not that I’m exactly crowing – New Zealand 91, though Scotland and New Zealand drew 1-1 in 2003!).

    I would also add that I like New Zealand as a country and admire the All Blacks – in fact, there are a quite a few things to admire about your country but it’s not perfect otherwise why else is Europe full of looooong-term Kiwi expats. I know some too.

  31. John Ireland on

    Its time to get back to grass routes inside Scottish rugby and get those teams that used to supply the Scotland team stronger and playing at higher levels of rugby than they currently are. The Kenny Logan’s Gavin Hastings are no longer being thrust forward inside Scottish rugby and teams like Edinburgh are now beginning to destroy Scottish rugby at international rugby by bringing in foreign players. Yes it may be nice to watch Edinburgh play some good ruby now and a while but 5000 crowds do not overtake 60000 crowds, totals that will soon start to dwindle if this slide continues. SRU sort it before it implodes, something very likely soon with HC completion and Rabo uncertainties looming.

  32. Neville Reilly on

    I don’t know where to start reading all these points. I was a ‘public school’ pupil and I know the wrongs of that system but it doesn’t make you disinterested in the good of Scottish Rugby. When I played in the 80’s most sides, of which there were many, fielded numerous teams…3rds/4ths and social, U-21’s etc. In the 90’s many of our clubs amalgamated due to lack of players, now these amalgamated sides field 1sts only and call off their 2nds fixtures due to lack of players!

    Yet, we laud the club structure and say the SRU are getting it wrong! There are the occasional clubs making progress against the odds….Marr being one….we should identify what they are doing right and copy it elsewhere.

    As for the pro teams….Glasgow don’t look too bad. They have let their style of last season slide but they are still winning in the main…against the odds!

    Why can’t we progress like the Irish? It would take government support but a winning side(s) has a great input to the national positivity…remember ’84 and ’90! Our problem maybe wendyball….but that sport is in disarray as well. Therefore we need to identify why our kids don’t play sport in the numbers that once did?

    As for the national team….the thread has said it all. I would also like to ask why Barclay didn’t even make the national squad, from what I have seen he ended last season playing very well for Glasgow and has done well with Scarlets!

    As for 10, Jackson performance at the weekend should see him discarded completely….Russell looks a good future bet and Hogg is a 15 or maybe a 13 at best!

    • doom on

      I was a public school boy. None of the PE teachers at the school knew how to play, or anything about rugby. So we subsequently played football. And nothing but.
      Distinct memories of being palpably illequiped for the game next to the lads whom were training every other day.
      This, coupled with nepotism: rife at age grass roots level, is why the game is far from ‘open-to-all’, and on its last legs.
      *n.b* I went to highschool in Perth, left in 08.

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