Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland v England Player Ratings

David Denton - pic © Al Ross
David Denton - pic © Al Ross

Stuart Hogg – A shrewd operator. Made good decisions and crucially showed that his kicking game has turned from a onetime weakness into a true strength of his game. One of the better performers in a turgid game. 7/10

Tommy Seymour – Brought in for his ‘aerial ability’ and proved his worth a few times from Scottish kick-offs. Caught the eye with a few line breaks but spent most of the afternoon fruitlessly chasing chip kicks into the corners. Subbed on 65 minutes. 6/10

Alex Dunbar – Very little chance to shine in the first half due to a deluge of defensive duties, which he performed faultlessly. Slowing down ball at rucks and leading the line with good speed. His try saving tackle on May was marred by a yellow card for not releasing. 7/10

Matt Scott – Showed a bit of invention, often in the middle of heavy traffic but got little ball from Weir. Had to step up when his midfield co-pilot was sin-binned and looked exhausted as a result. Taylor eventually relieved him from the coalface. 5/10

Sean Lamont –Gave away a stupid penalty in front of our posts in the first half. Worked tirelessly but his lack of gas was horribly exposed on several occasions when chasing down garry owens to Nowell. 5/10

Duncan Weir – I didn’t enjoy the tactical choice but his chip kicks to the corners were generally executed well. Solid in defence and made some telling tackles, for the second week running. A good genral game but didn’t set the heather on fire. 6/10

Greig Laidlaw – Slow ball, quick ball, slow ball, quick ball. Frustrating service to the little scrum half and he showed, in glimpses, what he can do with a good platform. Had a rare off day with the goal kicking and subsequently exposed the lack of other options in this department we have. 5/10

Ryan Grant – Achieved parity in the few scrums he had to deal with and generally showed up well in the loose. Lucky to get away with allowing Farrell through at the end of the first half. Shepards crook came out three minutes into the second half. Not his best game. 5/10

Ross Ford – Scotland are scrummaging with three props in the front row. Line outs improved though. Not enough to save him from an early substitution in the second half. 5/10

Moray Low – A couple of booming line breaks. Held his own in the scrum without dominating his opposite number. An all-round solid game from the big tighthead. 6/10

Tim Swinson – Fairly anonymous. Worked hard at the breakdown, smothered and stifled in defence and solid in the set pieces but failed to make a genuine impact or to catch the eye. Will need to show some of his summer form if he is to keep the jersey. 5/10

Jim Hamilton – A penalty machine and, at times, a total liability. The English pack made him look clumsy and we paid through the scoreboard. Thankfully Farrell was off-form with his kicking. Picking him ahead of Richie Gray backfired badly on this occasion. 4/10

Ryan Wilson – Worked well in the line outs but was often found wanting in the contact areas. Showed heart and battled as best he could but looked fairly limited at this level. Can’t help but feel Strokosch may have offered more, not to mention Brown… 5/10

David Denton – Took contact when better options were available a few times. Tireless effort from the young number eight. So much so that he was deemed spent 50 minutes into the action and subbed off. 6/10

Chris Fusaro – Looked like the adrenaline of his first cap was taking its toll late in the first half but Scotlands better showing at the breakdown this week must be partly attributed to his groundwork. A good debut in a difficult game. Will hope for more opportunities in better times for the blue shirt of Scotland. 7/10



Scott Lawson – Put Ford out of his misery early in the second period and almost immediately gave away two penalties in consecutives scrums. Did that scuttling thing he does when ball carrying, to not much effect.  4/10

Alisdair Dickinson – Like his predecessor was stepped in midfield by Farrell but managed to recover. Part of a period of poor scrum work by Scotland but put in an honest, if limited, shift. 5/10

Geoff Cross – Came into things late. Got a good cheer. Wore a scrum cap. We like Geoff.  5/10

Johnnie Beattie – Entered the fray on 52 minutes to add some spark in attack.Succeeded in making things a bit more dynamic at the breakdown and was part of several good breaks late in the game. Should have started. 7/10

Chris Cusiter – A popular substitute in the 65th minute. Tried to speed things up amongst tired bodies but just couldn’t get his hands on it. Given the armband as compensation but was very much skippering a sinking ship. 6/10

Duncan Taylor – Came on for Matt Scott with 7 minutes left. Left little impression. 5/10

Max Evans – Came on for Seymour, tried his best to impose his speed on the game but ended up defending and rucking most of the time. The poor lad. 5/10

Jonny Gray – Got 10 minutes at the end after everyone’s patience with Jim Hamilton wore out. 5/10

27 Responses

  1. Bizarre scores. Denton was Scotland’s best player by far. The only one who carried properly into England with any oomph. The only one who showed any heart or fire. Should never have been taken off.

    Ford a 5? Hmm…

  2. Hogg Seymour Dunbar Fusaro all plus marks.
    Matt Scott will be very good but has had little rugby this season to get match fit.Looked knackered
    But the biggest thing for me would be that we looked like rabbits in headlights. Are we really putting our bodies on the line (like the Irish forwards do)? Look at how they approach their basic jobs. Smash, smash and smash, Never take a step backwards and back each other up… IN NUMBERS
    Were England good? Not convinced.

  3. Denton is a great ball carrier but sometimes the better option is to pass the ball, which he clearly lacks the ability to do.
    Dunbar and Hogg have been the only bright sparks from the first 2 games.

  4. Hogg did nothing do justify a 7. Either did Dunbar. Line out improved by Ford? Still awful though.

  5. Totally abysmal, no reaction from last week.

    Scottish forwards have deteriorated at an alarming rate.

    If I was being kind, I think they have been sold down the river by the sru stupidly appointing a temporary coach and his mates for 2 years!

    If I were Vern cotter I’d run a mile from this shambles.

    I honestly can’t think of a single positive thing about Scotland’s performance. If conditions and the pitch were reasonable we would have lost by at least 40 points.

  6. Scottish Rugby is in an awful state. Rugby is a simple game, we need to learn to do the basics well! secure line-outs & scrums, good field position. Players that can get across the gain line and pass under pressure. The priority is to get numbers playing the game in a competitive environment at a young age and a decade later it would pay, but it will take that.

  7. Like watching Celtic play Stranraer.
    Pitch a write off, team very sub standard and not fit for 80 minutes when playing like they do , coaches and tactics wholly inadequate. Vern Cotter has some job to do and must start from scratch to replace the whole set up.
    If the SRU had any pride they would have asked for the home games to be relocated. Murrayfield is embarassing. Too little action too late .
    Last week’s captain is’nt the only one who should have been dropped. 7 or 8 phases every single time to get over the gain line. Come on !!
    Every single commentator today said Scotland lacked any edge. That was being polite .The total number of missed tackles, the penalty count, and the possession and very small gains per man sums the whole game up.
    A shocker. be radical and lets see some new blood tried out. We are set up for the wooden spoon anyway based on today’s effort so we have nothing to lose.

  8. Have the coaches lost the changing room? The team spirit is non existent. The selection needs radical changes. A hooker that can fit between the props and hook. And by the way he needs to be able to throw a ball in straight and to the correct call! After great service Ford in the wrong shape for the role. Get the Gray brothers in second row, they will look after each other and win some line out ball. Back row Brown at 6 Beattie at 8 a and a 7 either Fusaro, R Grant, to J Balclay. Perhaps we will see if the backs can play but Cusiter might be needed to speed up service.

  9. Every single score here is far too high, no one on the team deserved more than a 6, and the majority of them were on 2s and 3s. Scott and Weir were huge disappointments this game, terrible in defence and clueless in attack. Scott looked far from being match fit and the rush to get him back in the squad looks like yet another blunder from Johnson.

    Wilson was probably the worst player on the park, smashed back every time he ran the ball and part of our worst lineout in years.

    This performance was one of the worst Scotland have ever put out, absolutely awful in every area.

    1. The only contact Wilson has seen recently was McLays face in the kebab shop, let’s pick guys who play and actually care

  10. I have been watching Scotland since 1976 and was at all the games in’84 and the grand slam in ’90. I can say without question that was the worst Scottish performance I have ever seen. The coaches must take the blame. The wrong team was selected for Dublin and if there had been wholesale changes they would have had to admit that. Our team played like individuals, we had a hooker that wont hook and cant throw and a second row that gives away penalties and supposedly calls the ineffectual lineouts. we have a scrum half that telegraphs his passes and is consistent normally kicking close to the posts but also tries from range when he has no chance of reaching! Worst of all we sub our best player in the day at 53 minutes! What is going on? Bring back Frank Hadden or Matt Williams, we at least had a plan with them! SJ’s quaint joking manner has lost its shine, he is the joke!!!!

    1. You have a very short memory if you think this was our worst performance in your lifetime. We conceded two tries and looked hamfisted in attack.

      But what about losing at Murrayfield:

      51-15 in 1993 against New Zealand and conceding 7 tries
      68-10 in 1997 against South Africa and conceding 10 tries
      51-16 against France and conceding 7 tries
      29-3 against England in 2002 and conceding 4 tries
      36-6 against Ireland in 2003 and conceding 3 tries
      44-15 in 2006 against Australia and conceding 5 tries

      We have a squad that has plenty of talent but is very poorly coached. The fact that the set piece fundamentals have disintegrated has meant we have performed appallingly but these are very fixable and I am sure Cotter has the coaching ability to fix them.

      This season has been terrible but the reaction is getting a little hysterical.

  11. Agree with all you say Neville and I’ve been supporting the Scots since 1973 through thick and a lot of thin. I am losing interest fast and am getting to the point where I don’t care. A terrible place to be. Very early on yesterday I wanted England to really stuff them and that’s through anger and frustration and just knowing that we weren’t going to win!! Crap lineout, dodgy scrum, pathetic box kicking, non-existent kick chase, stupid errors, no leadership, senseless substitutions and senseless non-substitutions (with the game lost and both locks having rubbish games why was Jonny Gray not bought on earlier?), These are professional players and coaches who do this for a well paid living week in week out and have been for years, even the younger ones. It’s a joke!! And you know what? the joke is on us, the one’s that really care.

  12. Scotland were absolutely attrocious. I think there’s some very generous. Ross Ford was woeful again. Surely a team should be picked on form and not because they have always been in the team! I agree with Jim, Vern Cotter must be thinking why didn’t I just stay at Clermont Auvergne!

  13. Take two points from everyone except Denton, Beattie, Fusaro, Hogg. Just one off for each of them.

  14. Yes, a dismal, spiritless performance. As a devoted fan of Scottish rugby I surprise even myself in my increasing lack of interest, occasioned by the conviction that every game now will be a foregone conclusion — a Scottish loss. This was the nadir. I think the Gray brothers should both be in the second
    row and Beattie should start, perhaps at no.6.
    However, whatever changes the coaches make, I believe the malaise starts in Scottish society as a whole and its satisfaction with — almost pursuit of — mediocrity. As a long-term coach I’ve always been bemused by the apparent “philosophy” to make things as easy as possible. Rugby is a hard, demanding game and the character to rise above those challenges is evident very early on in a player’s development. Amongst the majority., sloppiness prevails and the competitive edge is forever lost.

  15. Like most of us, I was not surprised by the poor performance; last Sunday had fore warned us.
    What I have noticed is the my frustration has changed. Under AR I used to get irate by unconverted opportunities after many phases of controlled play. Our solid scrums and line outs allowed us secure ball on which to build. The arrival of Hogg, Maitland, Visser and Scott suggested that offensively we would get better converting these opportunities. Of course we had our bad days e.g. Tonga.

    My frustration is now around basics – the error count is horrendous…. self inflicted pain and destruction. Technical weakness individually and collectively. Squad spirit seems broken and i cant help feeling
    SJ has undone a lot of the positives AR had built. We lose line outs which are more or less unchallenged. The scrum tactics are odd – not hooking massively reduces probability of success. Yesterday, when we did hook ball, Beattie managed to slow it down so much we lost possession.

    Anyway, enough whining – here are five suggestions for immediate improvement

    – line outs are a top priority – TECHNICAL SKILL
    – need to hook at scrums and make fast ball out our goal
    – recycle phase ball at same speed as All Blacks
    – play simple patterns to achieve a simple goal – get into opposition 22
    – need to kick penalties wherever we get them in opposition half – our main points route

  16. Marks are a bit generous. Ford needs replaced but by who? McCarthur or Lawson going to show a vast improvement? Are any of the other hookers showing exceptional promise…..bryce, brown, cochrane, turner, mcinally? Give fusaro another run at 7 with brown at 6. I’m still not convinced by Denton. Runs hard and straight but thats it. Reminds me of Andy Powell when he burst on the scene. Beattie offers more. Would rather see 2 out of the Grays or Gilchrist in the row. Backs wise we are desperately short of good 10. Anyone who has actually had the expereince (Weir & Jackson) of playing there does not seem up tot it. And to think of the pelters Parks use to take. He was limited but could control a game

  17. Assuming 50% is a pass, all but one starter gained pass marks!!!

    Accepting any aspect of Saturdays performance makes you part of the problem.

  18. Yet another disaster. Our problem stems from a lack of numbers who actually play professional rugby. The SRU cut their link with London Scottish some years back and thus threw away the many Scots-qualified lads down south. Blaming the coaches is too easy, but our professional sides are mediocre at best.

  19. Hoggy is our one true talent at the moment and I wouldn’t grade him higher than a 5. The pack would get a collective 4. None of them game, apart from Dave Denton, at least he tried to go forward. He’s an 8, his job is to batter up, not pass. what should happen is two or three should secure the breakdown and produce quick ball. But if your support forwards aren’t doing this then, as we saw the firsdt reciever gets smashed well back from the gain line. The Welsh do this brilliantly (except against Ireland.) the rest of the backs can’t be graded really as they never got involved except rucking and tackling. NO MORE CHIPPING AND CHASING!!!

  20. Vunipola also a big 8. Also carries hard and crashes it up. Manages to get offloads in to release others. has a wider skill set. As does Heaslip and Faletau. As does Beattie. I’m not asking Dento to fling 20m spin passes, but to at least look to offload out of contact when it is on.

  21. I see your point dumbledore, but I have one comment. Vunipola is surrounded by a team that keeps handling errors down. He knows if he offloads theres decent chance it’ll get gathered in. If I was a current Scotland international I wouldn’t have that confidence to go for a 50/50 offload. The basics aren’t there. Just look at Dickinson in the England game. We finally string phases together, an offload comes in, takes his eye off it. Dropped. If its on the pass will come from Dave, if its a 50/50, the safe bet is take it in, at least we still have the ball.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion