Wales 51-3 Scotland

With both sides taking to a packed Millenium Stadium with the roof shut and a lot to prove, this was either going to be very entertaining in a good way and tight at the end. Or if you are Scottish, like watching a car crash.

It was the car crash.

Scotland had an early penalty and Weir kicked deep into touch for the lineout rather than chance his foot on a kick at the edge of his and Laidlaw’s range. With the pre-game plan from Kelly Brown to ignore the 50-50s but the Welsh defence usually holding firm, it remained to be seen which kicking to the corner would turn out to be. As it was Scotland knocked on, but a Welsh defender offside gave Scotland one they could kick.

The Welsh weren’t in the mood for kicking much either with their early penalty going to the corner and the big battering rams going up Duncan Weir’s channel. Like Scotland though they opted for the points when the kick was more to their liking. This period also saw Kelly Brown sent to the sidelines with a head knock as Scottish defenders paid for keeping Wales out. Worrying, but not catastrophic with Strokosch able to come on. Although it did leave the Scots definitely without a ball-fetching 7.

Wales were using their power well in the fast-paced opening twenty minutes, although Scotland at least had points on the board which they failed to do when lasted refereed by Jerome Garces. They were struggling for quick ball under Welsh pressure at the breakdown and resorting to offloads that weren’t on.

The Welsh approach paid off after fifteen minutes when Liam Williams made the most of the overlap to soar over – possibly soaring more than is necessary – for the game’s opening try. Wales wanted to open it up, and an entertaining game would suit our back three as well which included débutant Dougie Fife and our stand out player of the tournament so far in Stuart Hogg.

Hogg unfortunately made a devastating impact on the game in all the wrong ways by chasing up his ineffectual kick from first receiver, then shoulder barging Dan Biggar’s chin in the air. It was hard to see why he did it, Biggar didn’t need to feel the heat, Hogg shouldn’t have been frustrated as Scotland were still in the game. Perhaps you’d see it late in the game, but there was no need for it at that point.

Garces rightly felt it was a yellow from his initial view and after reviewing it on the big screen with Hogg on his way to the bin, upgraded him to a red which was also hard to argue with. Regardless of whether the referee has the power to change his decision via a big screen, Hogg’s action was needless, stupid and ended the match as a contest, Scotland’s Six Nations for 2014 and Scott Johnson’s tenure as coach an hour too early and all too sadly.

The flood gates didn’t open immediately, as Scotland even found some ball to play with but unable to find a way through with one attacker less. Soon afterwards George North got on the board with an excellently worked try, Roberts grabbed one set up by North and Davies would have had another were it not for Faletau being offside. When put near the back two as they now were, they found space too easy to find and regardless of the aesthetics of Gatland ball his finishers are bracingly effective.

From a game that promised so much, this was only entertaining if you were wearing red.

HT 27-3

North scored another within the first two minutes of the second half and Dougie Fife wasn’t able to tackle North into touch. But to be fair he should have had more time because there should have been a full-back on the pitch.

Roberts scored another after Wales went the length of the pitch and the rout turned quickly to embarrassment as Wales ran in more tries and tired Scottish defenders dropped off tackles. I couldn’t tell you many of the positives as the rest was hard to watch. Cusiter got a good last 20 minutes which as usual was too late, upping the intensity of the game and giving Scotland at least some attacks on the Welsh line. He made line breaks too It’s a shame he hasn’t had more game time this tournament.

When they had some ball Scotland kept possession well, but they were chasing such a target at 44-3 that too much was forced, and too little was achieved. Ford’s line-out was good, Gray and Denton carrid manfully and tackled forcefully as they have done all tournament. Which made the fact this was no sort of contest by this point all the harder to take.

At the end Scotland broke free with some lovely hands and a Ryan Wilson pass into touch pretty much summed up the game, the tournament, and all the tournaments since, well, Matt Williams.

Today though wasn’t about how many pro-teams we have or how we develop our youngsters or whether we import too many players. Hoggy – who is a Lion, has a bunch of caps and is a world-class talent in several areas of his game – had a rush of blood to the head and made life impossible for his team-mates for 60 minutes of an 80 minute game. Against a team with the power and experience of this Welsh group it is not sustainable.

I just hope Hogg doesn’t take it too hard, as I know what playing for his country means to the young man, and I shudder to think the backlash that may await him on Twitter.

This should have been a test of how the young Scotland backline could face up to some world-class opponents who were stuttering a bit and see if they could take advantage, while testing our pack against a very good defence and a genuine open-side to see if we could cope.

Unfortunately we never got to see that, Wales played what was in front of them, we didn’t cope, and another Six Nations tournament best forgotten ends for Scotland.

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104 comments on “Wales 51-3 Scotland

  1. Standoffalot on

    I genuinely don’t think there will be any backlash to Hogg, at least I hope not. Admittedly he cost us the game or any chance of respectability, but we’ve been hamstrung this whole tournament by Johnson’s strange selections and style of play anyway. I’m just glad the tournament is over now, and hopefully we can see more of Cusiter, Barclay etc, Brown in his actual position, under Cotter.

    We are being left behind at the moment. We need another pro team to begin with. I read Colin Dean’s say if money is the problem then why are we pouring so much into the sevens? Scrap that and put the money into another pro team. Today’s defeat wasn’t just about Hogg, it goes way deeper than that.

    • J Webster on

      I like your view of Hogg, especially in light of all the criticism he’s received. I think he’s a brilliant player that made a very bad mistake. However I think you’re last point should be emphasised by all Scotland fans , the fact that we went into the game with the thought of relying on players like him. However skilled he may be, at this point in time we as an international side, cannot be relying on singular players like we have been. There was a definite loss of hope for the game when Hogg was sent off, despite the best efforts of the rest of the team, which showed so much spirit. As you say the money being thrown into the sevens has to at least be split to get some breathing room for the whole squad.

    • Craig bryson on

      It was a shame Ritchie Gray wasn’t sent off!! He would not have been missed! I dnot understand how he gets picked!! They need to be picking players from the first division not just professional teams! There are too many pretty boys that are to comfortable in the Scotland strips and don’t play to earn it!!!!!

  2. Toddy Williams on

    We somehow managed to finish with 55% possession and 58% territory.

    Everyone has been saying it but it is so true- our overall play improved massively when Cusiter came on.

    At least we can sort of say f**k off and goodbye to Scott Johnson.

    I still believe a quality side can emerge from this mess. Lead us into the light Vern!

    • Ruairidh Campbell on

      And I wish we could, but instead he is going to be “watching over us” doing absolutely nothing whilst getting paid a rather large salary. It makes it look like the SRU have money to waste. I wish!

  3. Caramackid on

    Rory I thought the commitment of the remaining 14 of the team was superb they played with great heart but the winning margin was painful and in some ways mirrors the gulf that scotland is adrift from the major nations.

    Cusitier had a good game and cannot see why he is not first choice. Laid law really should be laid up

    Regarding Hogg he got his just deserts and hopefully it will make him better player as a result. I didn’t think he was a particularly combustible character but something must have wound him up.
    Regarding scottish rugby I don’t see a lot of difference in the team over the last 14 years.
    this idea of building for a future is a myth and we will continue to drop in the rankings. We are an after thought in the 6 nations . We are witnessing the death of the game ho hum

  4. alan kemp on

    The Scottish rugby public need to assert themselves following today’s farce. First option is to vote with their feet to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the current setup. Don’t buy tickets for the autumn fixtures! The SRU’s total lack of interest in the Scottish club setup needs revisiting. Jim Telfers disastrous legacy is really coming home to roost. Trying to pick an international XV from two district teams full of South Africans and myriad other nationalities is a total nonsense. Secondly, to promote the ridiculous Johnston to be the new coache’s boss defies belief.

    • Matthew on

      I have to say that I am bitterly disappointed with the Scotland team and the setup even with Johnson g
      Leaving the coaching role he is moving upstairs as director of rugby god help us all! There is a lack of drive and belief that I hope Vern will improve but the current crop of players have the skill to be world class but they need a good kick up the arse!! We also need more finding in grassroots level of rugby across the country and at least one more if not two more professional teams!! If this does not happen then we will slide down the rankings and will have to explain our place in the six nations because at the moment we really don’t deserve to be there!

  5. Andy K on

    Hogg has got to pull out of that shoulder charge.

    Having said that, if you watch the run up to it, ref calls advantage Scotland for a penalty and Hogg kicks ahead which is partially charged by Wales.

    Ref then calls advantage over, which is incorrect due to the charge down.

    I’d guess that got right on Hoggs tits and contributed to his rash decision.

    All that aside, we would have been beaten with 15 anyway.

    I’d love to say roll on next season, but I don’t see a fix. Johnson continued involvement is bewildering!

  6. neville reilly on

    We can’t say it was a surprise, Hogg has been showing signs of frustration recently and, leading up to the incident, he was given another telegraphed slow motion pass by Laidlaw and as a result was pressurised by Wynn Jones into hitting a loose kick which he chased in frustration and had a rush of blood. It may bring benefit though! It exposed SJ’s inability to react, Cuthbert should have been on for Wilson there and then, and his lack of tactics. Do something right SRU for once, send SJ back to Botany Bay and he can take his love child Laidlaw with him! (Plus Fords first contribution, an overthrow in their 22, leading to a try against – you couldn’t script it!

  7. Weggie on

    The signs have been there for a while with Hogg. Think back to the Boxing Day Edin/ Glls game. Even with the first Welsh try, it was touch and go when he hit the guy after he touched down. Just hope it is part of the learning process. Scottish rugby cannot afford a guy with such talent to be a flawed genius (as our football friends would say).

  8. Douglas on

    The players are not to blame. Hogg has been frustrated for games and was too hyped today. A moment of madness. Hopefully 60 minutes in the changing room will have been a very painful lesson. Vern has a group who will welcome someone who knows what he is doing! The only way is up. SJ is a liability who must have nothing to do with the team going forward.

  9. JohnMc on

    Impossible to say what might have happened if Hogg hadn’t been sent off. But we were 10-3 down at the time and not looking particularly threatening. A thoroughly miserable day. Never thought I’d ever see us ship 50 points against Wales, who were themselves ruthlessly exposed by this Six Nations’ best two sides. I suppose we will have to look to our new coach to help turn things round – something sadly we say every two or three years……

  10. ian brydone on

    I played under 19 rugby for scotland in late 1970s,I have never been more embarassed by a scottish rugby performance since.that man Scot Jonhson has to go from scottish rugby altogether,he has dragged scottish rugby to a new low and has made us a laughing stock in the rugby world,he is a disaster ,but unfortunately the people who appointed him are still there,no doubt.embaressing

  11. Gordon on

    It is difficult to accept that the payers are not to blame for such poor performances. Andy Murray is top in his sport because he works at his craft as well as his fitness. The players representing Scotland fail the craftsmanship test by virtue of the fact that they cannot offload, tackle, line break in Test Matches. Scotland more than any other 6 nations side suffer from a lack of composure and professionalism when under pressure. Shipbuilding, steel making, coal mining and soccer are all part of Scotland’s history. Sadly, Rugby Union seems destined to join this group. Very sad that our distinguished rugby history is being lost in such a passive way.

  12. Hutch on

    Spot on Alan Kemp. Don’t disagree with a word you blog.The SRU’s total lack of interest in the Scottish club setup does’nt need revisiting it needs binning altogether. The SRU is full of yesterday’s people and yesterday’s attitudes and tactics.
    I have seen at least 10 first team players in the Scottish club leagues who would have given a better account than today’s team. Its long past time we stopped simply picking from the professional teams( 2 is not enough anyway) and also stopped seeing them crammed full of non Scots stopping homegrown talent getting a break.
    Johnston as Director of Rugby….please!! The link between club and professional sides needs to be strengthened big time .He is not the man to do that. Just look at the club sides whose under 15, 16 and 18 sides are winning big time eg Ayr. That is the right set up and should be copied. Things cannot stay as they are .Just look at the points difference in todays 6 nations closing table. That says it all about the rugby we play at national level.

  13. John Ellis on

    The need for a third team seems obvious but have we got enough qualified players to man it without having to go looking for Southern Hemisphere players to pad out squads which most people seem to be against. How long would it take a third team to get up to being truly competitive enough to supply a Scotland squad.At what level would that third team play? Given the present politics can’t see them being admitted to the Heineken and the Amlin doesn’t seem to be intense enough. The Rabo is not doing the job either so what is the way forward? Glasgow and Edinburgh have big squads but the periphery players get farmed out to Premiership teams, what exactly is the point of that? Club rugby does not supply the intensity required to develop and prepare those players to step up. We have gone the wrong route and need to change now!! Forget next 6N and World Cup we need to get all interested parties both inside and outside the SRU to sit down and thrash out a new, cohesive, long term strategy so that we can become competitive again. Getting rid of this man and that man is just knee jerk the malaise is much deeper. A bit of a rant I’m afraid and I don’t think for one moment that root and branch change will happen but something does or we will just sink further and become a permanent member of the bottom of the second tier nations at best.

  14. Hans Christian Anderson on

    I couldn’t have written this better myself as in their final game the emporor was shown to have no clothes and everything that has led up to this point to have been just smoke and mirrors

  15. Warrior4 on

    I have to disagree, I think frustration had a part to play. A talented guy who doesn’t get enough of the ball to show what he can do. Nevertheless he should never have done that.
    Everyone makes mistakes its just not great that Hogg’s was half way through the first half in a Scotland shirt.
    Everyone needs to have a bit of fire about them to play international rugby.
    There’s one thing for sure, he won’t be doing that again!
    In the heat of the moment some awful things were said on social media sites and I hope he doesn’t get too down on himself.
    And now that an apology has been given I think the matter should be laid to rest.

    As for Laidlaw… do I even have to say anything?!

  16. Tommy 695 on

    Lets face it ,a good team has been turned into a joke by that aussie comedian.Director of rugby, someone is having a laugh.An earlier comment hit home ,Scots fans have got to stop blindly supporting the team and let the numbskulls at the sru know how we feel.As for Stuart Hogg the words Prima Dona spring to you are good pal before you start preening.Technically you are a british Lion but remember,you didn,t play in any tests,so have still to prove you are any good.

  17. Fraser on

    Stuart Hogg has went from SRU posterboy to the villain of Scottish Rugby with one silly mistake.

    Personally I don’t think that the criticism fired at Scott Johnson is entirely warranted. He’s nurtured some really promising new players and threw them in at the deep end in some situations. There is hardly any better way for them to learn. He never asked for the role of head coach and just because some people might not agree with his team selections does not mean that he is unable to oversee the development of Scottish Rugby. In the end it’s the 15 (or 14) guys on the pitch who have to get the job done and blaming the coach who produced the best Six Nations finish in 6 years is not going to benefit anyone. Remember that when Scotland were playing Wales last year they still had a realistic chance of winning not just the game but the tournament with 20 minutes to play at Murrayfield. Since then we’ve seen 14 new players introduced to international rugby, remember the debutants performances against South Africa in the summer? Scott Johnson may have made some bad team selections but I don’t believe that he deserves the amount of criticism directed at him by some supporters who are unable to evaluate how much good he has actually done with the postition that was thrust upon him by the resignation of the also rather unjustly unpopular Andy Robinson.

    • neil on

      Thats where I believe you are wrong. Scott Johnson deserves all the critiscism he gets. The SRU were wrong to appoint him as coach in the first instance as he has a questinable track record and did a fairly poor job as coach of Wales. Admittedly, the skill levels of our players are not great but in previous years we played with passion and conviction (even under Andy Robinson). Now we play like a bunch of wimpish school kids with no passion or care for the fans that have had to watch this garbage. It is up to the coach to install discipline and passion and he has done neither. I believe replacing the coach will help but the SRU are too stupid to realise that we need more professional teams, more players and more happening at grass routes. If you think the results of the first 15 were bad just look at the U18 and U16 results. That actually scares me as it seems that these teams are playing well if they can only loose by 40 points or less. Players at all levels need to know what they are representing when they are picked for our national team. unfortunately, I dont think most of them could care less at any level. After all, they already take home a good salary so whats the point in caring. Its just us poor fans that suffer.

    • Mr on

      First up, it’s ‘lose’ not ‘loose’.

      Second, SJ was an interim appointment pending the arrival of ‘The One’. Did they have much choice? Who would have stepped into the breach on a short term basis as if it were a maternity cover? SJ never applied to be head coach in the first place. Whether he should have been appointed to the coaching team in the frist instance is another matter.

      Third, I don’t think the SRU are as stupid as you maintain. Could you do better with the stakeholders the SRU have to deal with, in particular, the clubs whose SELF-interest seems paramount? I expect not. he main sucker punch for Scottish rugby is…MONEY. You didn’t mention money. The SRU have a very small amount, much of which is distracted shall we say by the 7s (for the Commonwealth Games) and the truly hopeless women’s game (and I’m not a chauvinist).

      Incidentally, besides posting here, what’s your contribution to Scottish rugby? I coach minis at a club in the Borders with a lot of players. You?

    • neil on


      to follow up on your comments I actually live in Saudi so thats limits the amount of rugby I can play/coach, though I am involved in touch rugby- not as good as the real game but its the best I can do in the Arabian desert. Regarding the appointment of SJ, I think I could definately do a better job and I could certainly do a better job than most members of the SRU for one reason- I CARE ABOUT THE STATE OF SCOTTISH RUGBY. It seems that you would be happy for us to LOOSE by 50 points in each game and play like a bunch bunch of pathetic wimps. Central to sorting out our problems is the following:

      1. Accountability- The SRU, players and coach need to understand that it is not acceptable for our team to contest the wooden spoon with Italy almost every year and loose by 50 points to the other teams. By the tone of your reply to me, I feel that you do think this is acceptable.

      2. Grass routes- we need more young players playing the game of rugby. The SRU needs to promote the game in schools, childrens clubs, scouts etc. At the moment the SRU are doing prescicly SFA in this regard- do you agree?

      3. Money- you mention money which ultimately equates to ‘bums on seats’. If there was more passion shown on the part of the players then they would attract more fans, more money etc. Remember, Ireland were rubbish in the 80s and early 90s but then they started to play with a bit of pride and passion and are now the 6 nations champions.

      4. Scottish borders- we need to sort this out. When I was growing up in the 80s the best players played for Kelso, Gala, Melrose etc- these sides could be great once again and I feel that we need a good borders team to reignite the scottish game. If Italy, Wales and Irelant can support 5+ teams each why do we have only two. These teams could probably survive with priviate investment and stick two fingers up to the loosers in the SRU.

      FYI I definately do think I could run the SRU and create a team that the fans would be proud off. I just wish I had the chance.

    • Mr on

      Well, if you don’t mind, it’s ‘Mr’ to you, not Fraser – two different posters.

      Puleeze, you don’t, as an expat, have a monopoly on passion for the game or the team – to suggest the rest of us don’t is a bit of a slur on everyone posting here (why else are we posting?!). Expats (I used to be one too) have a quaint tendency to become a caricature of their national traits (explains how English expats can often be really irritating). Anyway, none of us are happy with the pastings received in this and every other game. I appreciate that perhaps in Saudi there isn’t such a lot to do in your spare time stuck in your compound besides become incandescent at what you’re seeing on the screen.

      Your points:

      1. I think I’ve answered this for myself. I’m sure the team would agree with you too, ‘wimps’ or no.

      2. No I don’t agree. I live in the Borders. Both of my boys are in the town’s club (minis) and the older one has also played rugby at his primary school – the SRU Development Officer is doing a grand job in the face of competition from other sports such as football and the gamut of PE activities including something called ‘creative dancing’ (don’t blame me). Our club has a lot of kids and we have a lot of involvement from the same SRU officer. That’s just my town – we participate in tourneys around the Borders and they are big events. Loads of kids. And SRU Development Officers at the coal face. But that’s the Borders. I cannot comment on other parts of the country.

      3. Come on, money is more than just ‘bums on seats’. That description ‘ultimately’ hides a lot of other money. It’s sponsorship (at least BT are putting money into the two pro teams – outbidding Aberdeen Asset Management’s sponsorship of the Gunners) and start-up capital for a third and a fourth or more pro team but there’s hope! (see It’s also people buying the replica kit. However, you are correct about the Catch-22 of lack of results leading to dwindling crowds (but they are there – for Edinburgh’s match 2 years ago against Toulouse in the HC, 38K turned up). I completely agree about Irish rugby but they injected a whole lot more money than just turnstile takings and besides rugby is second only to the rich recruiting ground of Gaelic footie. Scotland meantime is hamstrung by football. Pride and passion, while important, will only take us so far. Money – and a lot of it – will take us much more of the way.
      4. The Borders. Well, I went to Borders matches at Netherdale and the support was pitiful. Borders folk are their own worst enemy – so provincial and clannish. You can see it in the pathetic comments about Hogg being from Hawick. I hope Aberdeen/Perth do get the third team going as the Borders don’t deserve it (and I write as someone who lives in the region). There are some mitigating factors here such as transport links. I wouldn’t fancy trailing from Langholm or Kelso to Gala to see the Borders play but from Melrose, Jed, Selkirk or Hawick?

      I wish there were some magic dust somewhere but there isn’t and I’m not so sure you appreciate the scale of the problem of getting to grips with the chain from grassroots rugby up to the national team on an inadequate budget, particularly with the extent of polarisation that has occurred among the stakeholders. The clubs are equally at fault as the SRU. The latter cabal in many ways are a mirror of the cabals operating in the clubs! And who’s to say they’d be any better at running the game either? All the stakeholders care about the state of the game but that doesn’t qualify them (or you, even less me) to reorganise and run it. If you do have the talents as you suggest, then come home. It’s of no use to anyone – and never has been anywhere – to blast people from the sidelines. That’s just an empty boast.

    • neil on

      Mr, Fraser (or whatever you wish me to call you),

      I admire what you are doing at youth level and wish you success in the future but it takes more than a few individuals to change the scottish game. An injection of cash is necessary in the modern age but there is so much passion for the sport in the borders that I feel we could probably field 2 or 3 borders teams. I also think a team in Aberdeen would work but my point is that I feel we couold support at least 5 teams in our country. Football is much more popular but that could change in the future- if our team can play with a bit of passion etc.

      Regarding the youth set up, this is where the emphasis should be placed. Rugby may be big at youth level in your hometown (probably in no small part to your efforts) but that is definately not true elsewhere and just look at the results of our youth teams in the 6 nations- they are frightening as the best they seem capable of is a defeat by arround 20 points (most of the time they are thumped). Why does the SRU not recognise this fact and try to get more schools , youth groups etc playing the game?- that would not cost alot in real terms and the national side would benefit- maybe it would take us 10 years to get a decent team but you have to start somewhere.
      Reagrding your other points about expats etc, of course I disagree. I have always felt passionately about scottish rugby regardless of whether I lived in scotland or not. Scotland gave me just about everything appart from a job and the only reason I live elsehere is down to money- the choice- earn a tidy sum abroad or sell the big issue in Kirkcaldy? Regardless of how much I love my country it was a no brainer. I hope I can return one day but. I dont want to get into a political argument but I leave you with one thought- how many famous scots made a name for themselves in Scotland?

    • Mr on

      A salaam alaikum, Neil. It does happen that Fraser is someone else, just in case he gets upset at any comments attributed to him!

      Much as I’d like to think my contribution is big, it is largely a joint effort among a lot of volunteers with some outstanding individuals (I’m not one of them).

      I completely agree with everything you’ve said there! I guess the key is to get everyone involved pushing in the same direction.

      Lovely question you pose at the end there. True lots of Scots made their name abroad but at home, how about:

      Adam Smith (Kirkcaldy hooray!)
      David Hume
      Robert Burns
      Thomas Carlyle
      Thomas Telford
      Robert Adam (Kirkcaldy again – there’s hope for you!)
      Sir Walter Scott
      John Buchan (home & away)
      William Wallace (ably assisted by an Aussie/American)
      James Watt
      James Clerk Maxwell
      er..John Knox…

      How am I doing? Not a bad bunch. Alas all behind us… I’ve tried to think of people in Scotland (and maybe a little time in England – is that ‘abroad’ too. The list would be even bigger otherwise, especially politicos and sports folks like Sir Chris Hoy). I perfectly understand your working abroad – I did it for nearly 10 years and loved it and admittedly occasionally wonder why I came back…has to be the landscape I think. Oh, and the rugby! ;oD

    • neil on

      Thanks for your latest reply. This list you mention is indeed full of impressive gentlemen, including two famous sons of kirkcaldy but alot of these guys made a name for themselves by moving abroad- take adam Smith- he was a relative unknown before becoming famous in the USA.Many of the others became famous because of their ties with the Auld Enemy. This includes robert Burns and alter Scott- terriffic writers but with strong linkls to Engtland. Burns visited London lots of times and the English seemed to love him more than we did at that time (a little known fact). As for the others, Robert Knox was a terrorist in the eys of some people. I caould be wromg but didnt James Watt and Thomas Telford make it big in England and elsewhere? William wallace and robert the Bruce- famous indeed though I’m sure the English would refer to them more as infamous.

      In truth, I feel that in Scotland we dont really appreciate nurture and develop our talent in all walks of life and that includes Rugby. when Jomah Lomu was at his peak the New Zealand RFU fought tooth and nail to keep him at home and playing for the All Blacks. It seems that we are happy for our best players to leave to England and France and then import their mediocres or has beens into our two clubs. That means that talented kids have little hope of playing at the highest level (hence my suggestion for us needing 5 clubs in Scotland). Maybe a long term change of philosophy is required for our nation to change but I just hope that one day our rugby team can once again be the pride of our country and at least compete on level terms with the top teams in the 6 nations and elsewhere.

    • Mr on

      John Knox isn’t regarded as a ‘terrorist’ in Geneva at least, where he features on the Reformation Wall there – I thought I recognised him when I saw the statue from a distance – confirmed on closer inspection! Yes, most of the guys featured in the list did work abroad too – Watt was in Birmingham as well as Falkirk? And Telford all over the place – there is a viaduct of his near Pathhead in Midlothian. And I guess the English know a good poet when they hear one!

      However, once a Scot…

      Ma’a salama!

  18. Angus on

    Fraser or anyone else

    Apart from having capped who knows how many new players (I have lost track) how has our style of play developed and our results improved in lets say the last 12 months and the last 24?

    Can you chart this development eg last 6 nations then how it changed during the June tour to South Africa and then the Autumn internationals and through to its fruition in this 6 nations?

    Not sure how many games that is but surely there should be tangible improvements and developments in our shape, style, gameplans and results

  19. Graham on

    I have said in another thread I think we will see some benefit long term for what SJ has done.he has introduced a lot of young players to international rugby and they now know what is required at that level,it is up to them to up their game.he has ,however,made some strange selections which have not helped this campaign.Personally I think the forwards have have struggled at the breakdown and set piece ever since Humphreys came on board.
    Hogg has made one mistake which he will never forget,he will be one of the mainstays for years to come and hopefully he will be less frustrated under the new coach.
    I think we all agree more pro teams exposing players to high level rugby is essential,the SRU need the revenues generated from internationals and I for one will continue to support scottish rugby through thick and thin!!

  20. neil on

    This scottish team is pathetic. Never mind about the sendng off against Wales, the whole team is SH*T and so is Scott Johnson. It may be acceptable in Austallia to loose games by 40+ points abut he should be held accountable. He has disgraced and embarassed the Scottish nation. More to the point- he does not care as he is receiving a massive salary for doing f-all. He did a C*ap job as coach of Wales but the SRU didnt seem to care about that and made him coach of Scotland- theres a common sencse decision for the SRU to be proud of! I cant wit to get shot of him but I’m not sure whether bringing another foreign coach is a good didea- we need to give the new guy a chance but one thing is for sure- it cant get much worse (I hope).
    However, you cant blaim the coach for everything as the players have their part to play. They just seem to lack passion and skill in nearly all areas of the game- have they been training in the pub? Like most Scottish fans, I dont mind loosing when the team has played as well as it can in a closely contested game (this happened against France two weeks ago) but this rarely seems to happen. In fact, it has probably only happended 3 or 4 timessince 2001.
    On a more fundamental issue, we just dont have enough professional teams or players at grass routes- this is obvious to any fan but the SRU are so bl**dy thick they cannot seem to grasp that there is a problem. QUETION- arre they genuinely thick or do they have an alterior motive (I wonder)? I would urge every true scottish fan to write letters of complaint to the SRU. I suspect that they probably dont give two hoots about the fans but at least they need to know wha we think of them- overpaid, overrated f’wits that happen to be over here.I woould welcome any feedback.

  21. neil on

    Can anyone shed light on the following- Wales and Ireland have much smaller populations that Scotland (about half the population) but they field five or six teams at they highest level and we only have two- WHY?
    Why have we become so poor when out national team in the 80s and 90s couold beat these teams on a regular basis?
    Why are our U16 and U18 terams so poor?
    Why did the SRU let the game die in the borders where, historically, there was a real passion for the game and the best players were born and bred there?

    I challenge anyone to provide an answer to these question which I believe are absolutely fundemental to the future success of out national team.

  22. Alexander Coldwell on

    Well said, Frazer! I have been taken aback by the virulence and negativity of the personal attacks directed against some of our players and their coach, in his case including xenophobia. Have any of us been to Scotland training sessions? Perhaps they are very high-quality and the fault lies simply in the team’s inability to translate the ideas effectively to action on the field of play.
    Clearly the clan system is alive and well in Scottish rugby, with bickering, warring parties refusing to depart in the slightest degree from their entrenched and contradictory positions. I think even the most diplomatic supremo in the world, armed with the best possible strategy and initiatives, would be unable to prevent their being compromised to such a degree by the “clans” that their ideals all but evaporated.
    Let me give an example of contradictory messages, to illustrate my general point: recently Rob Wainwright decried the import of southern hemisphere teenagers into private schools to bolster their rugby teams. He complained that their level of physical development endangered Scottish schoolboys. In another message a correspondent complained that Edinbugh Rugby players were being turned into “gym monkeys”……and then one often reads in match reports of our age-group teams (and sometimes our full international team) being “outmuscled”. How therefore are we to compete unless huge emphasis is put on strength-conditioning? — and I would suggest it starts at school.
    Short-term we must do our best to “fix” the international team, which should be an inspiration to budding players at the base of the pyramid, the primary school children. Long-term the whole pyramid needs to be overhauled……but can either be accomplished in the face of the “clan system”?

    • Hutch on

      Not critiscm, just one example : Tommy Allan. He may not be the very best but why did he go to play for Italy? That sums up much of the professional and national team quandry. There is no “short term” in all this to “fix” the national team. The structure now being followed by the SRU copy of may be a copy of other nations. It is welcomed in some places but it is too little too late. This problem of the national team isn’t that new.The SRU has been mismanaged for years and the debt is pretty crippling. However, somewhere there must be a successful Scottish entrepreneur with real pride who will help bail out the SRU or maybe fund a 3rd professional team. Come on Tom Hunter or Jim McColl , forget football ,what about it?

    • FF on

      Allan probably decided to opt for Italy because he was offered a place in their squad after 2 professional appearances. If he was Scottish he’d have struggled to make the A team this season.

      Given that he was subsequently dropped for Orquera and Italy were whitewashed I’m nit sure what his example is meant to show. Italy are struggling even more than us!

    • Angus on

      Tommy Allan went purely and simply because he was not offered a contract at Edinburgh or Glasgow

      His first choice was Scotland but with no contract being offered…..

      I don’t believe it gets any simpler than that

    • neil on

      You mention about physical conditioning but thats exactly what we need. Our young players need to be stronmger and play with the degtree of intensity that exists in New zealand and south Africa. At the momnet all our youth teams know how to do is loose. Thaye are young and can be forgiven but the coaches and SRU cannot.

    • FF on

      Angus – re Allan: Perpignan offered him a contract not an Italian club. If he was really so offended that he turned his back on Scotland to play for Italy than I don’t really care if he plays for someone else as we need players committed to the cause.

      The truth is that at present he is a reserve for Perpignan and is nowhere near test standard.

  23. kiwiscot on

    What a joke!

    Not just the coach that needs to go.

    Long list of players to. Cotter will hopefully shake things up.

    Team needs some sort of spark. Laidlaw by looks of it has no understanding of flow on attack, and the 3 step pass. Incredible how he is on the field. Surely not for his kicking.

    14 or 15 men it still shouldnt have been that bad.

    Been watching for 23 years. This is the worst.

  24. Angus Niven on

    We can all harp on about the coaches, the players and the SRU but the fundamental reason Scottish rugby is so poor and in decline is simply the lack/ depth of talent. Rugby in Scotland at grass root level is private school dominated, I went a state school in Glasgow in the late seventies and we managed to play almost every weekend against other state schools with one exception (Hutchinson Grammer), numerous players from my school played at district level, is this still the case, NO. There has been a steady decline in the numbers of young kids playing rugby over the last 30 years and I am afraid we are now paying the price. The SRU need a root and branch change in policy with regard to youth participation. I coached at mini/midi level in Yorkshire for many years and almost every club in Yorkshire boasts a very healthy youth section with up to 200 children and parents turning up for rugby on Sunday mornings, can the same be said of Scottish youth set up? It may take 10 to 15 years before any real change is seen in Scottish rugby, England and Wales implemented their youth schemes years ago and are reaping the benefits.

    • Argyll on

      Totally agree with you. When I played school rugby 25 years ago there were a dozen schools fielding teams in the North, now I reckon there are 3. I now coach minis in the central belt and the numbers are good but training through the winter is an endurance test for youngsters and this makes skill development extremely difficult. The powers need to realise that rugby is competing with other sports for these kids and we are losing. How about summer touch rugby for the kids? And what exactly do development officers do?

  25. Douglas on

    Is there any raw rugby talent in Scotland? Let’s have Scotland Club XV versus the international team and see what he have got. I think it is the coaching rather than the talent that is the problem. Any Scottish coaches like a challenge? Just don’t ask the SRU to organise it. Motions get passed in a democratic vote, the SRU procrastinate hoping everyone will forget about it, and still nothing happens. U18 school / club competition? It is quite unbelievable that the SRU are getting away with this shambles funded by a very loyal rugby support. Enough

  26. Angus on

    So what are records for the other International sides over the past 3 years?

    The A team, club side, university and age group sides

  27. Alexander Coldwell on

    I’ve talked about the rugby “pyramid” but I think it is important to look outside rugby altogether for factors which affect our performance in sport. Firstly there should be concern about the health of the population at large and more specifically, its youth. Scotland has the highest obesity rate outside the USA; ally that to self-destruct habits such as smoking (and even non-smokers’ health can be blighted by passive smoking), excessive drinking, greasy diets devoid of fruit and vegetables, and what is tantamount to a tradition of non-exercise amongst a large sector of society and the sports talent pool is already severely depleted. And look at the risible two-hours-per-week exercise TARGET for primary school children!
    Then there is the apathy which pervades Scottish society with reference to all cultural and sporting pursuits (except football!viz. the BBC Sports News). I coached a successful club locally but was often dismayed by parents asking if the practice was off when there was a mere drizzle. There was also a strong correlation between player-attendance and the general level of aspiration within their families. Only the dedicated core accounted for our match success. Compare that to the keen attendance of both players and parents in Yorkshire which Angus Niven refers to above. Rather than lashing out at our international players and coach, we should be aware of the motes in our own eyes.

  28. Mcoptimist on

    I have had some low times watching scotland over the years but yesterday was thoroughly depressing. I’m going to have to have word with myself and work out if I am thinking clearly, because I seem to be the only person who thinks Hogg should not have been carded, never mind given a red. I thought Biggar went down like an overpaid footballer then , surprise surprise, he gets up and kicks the goal. That moment stopped the contest. I’m not convinced we would have won the game anyway but that was it done. To make it worse, as someone else has said where was the tactical rethink to try and fill the back three gap?. When scotland did start to threaten, we were awarded three or four penalties in the welsh 22, but the ref didn’t even appear to issue a warning, Richie gray had his legs taken out from under him in a line out and he was penalised for touching the Welshman. The whole game was a complete farce.
    I’ve said before, I think this current crop of players are good enough to be competitive but there is a serious coaching problem. Ref knowledge, game management, opposition analysis, these are not happening and hopefully Cotter has then nounce to introduce that to the regime.
    I’m not sure what i am more dismal about. The utter completeness of our routing yesterday, or the patronising sympathy I got from countless thousands of Welshmen during and after the game.
    I think I might go and support our curling team for a while (and change my posting name).

    • FF on

      I thought the red was harsh and the ref bottled it in front of a partisan crowd. It was a late high hit but the actual contact wasn’t that strong. Online reaction has been hysterical as usual and hearing more calls for Scotland to be booted out. Why don’t these appear below Italian threads?

      It is moot anyway, it was a bloody stupid and cynical thing to do and Hogg needs to catch himself on and concentrate on his rugby. Whenever you do something like that you leave yourself at the mercy of catching them badly or a ref giving you the full sanction available. So just don’t do it.

      Disastrous end to an awful 6N. Only plus is cotter will start with a clean slate.

  29. Ruairidh Campbell on

    This is a case of Scottish rugby needing to look ahead to the future. Vern Cotter is well known for helping produce some very strong attacking rugby and brings with him the experience of making Clermont into the powerhouse of Europe which we have seen in the past few seasons. Hopefully, he will see that Laidlaw is not the quickest at the breakdown (although he did look better in the first 1/2 hour in Cardiff) and develop the team so that they can make the most of the chances that they get and not just kick it every time we have advantage in the opposition 22.

    Looking at grassroots rugby, there has been a lot of comments about why we are not doing something about at least getting a 3rd pro side. The SRU had proposed to the clubs that the top two leagues in Scotland become semi-pro to help try and bring on talent. However, the lower clubs rejected this because they felt that the gap would become too wide between the top and lower clubs. If a change is to be made, the earliest it would happen would be the 2017 season. Finally, they did however decide that steps would be taken to opening up a new academy system to try and catch up with the likes of England and France. Their plans for apparently winning the 2015 World Cup should simply be forgotten about and I think that now it is just about building up youth. We should really just focus on that so that we could potentially be one of the stronger sides by the time we get to 2017-18. At least after Saturday’s performance, we can only improve…

  30. Bill on

    Scottish team have got good players but have been poorly coached. Selection has been mystifying and use of subs unfathomable. Johnson is clearly out of his depth and should be sacked but unfortunately won’t be. If Cotter is as good as he is cracked up to be he should at least be able to get a lot more out of this group of players. We should at least be much more difficult to beat and be able to put teams away when the chance arises. However there are still deeper problems in Scottish rugby to sort out.

  31. Caramackid on

    Good players – tosh. What2 lions ? one of whom played 5 mins in the last test as an after thought please dont delude yourself. The skill set is at best poor my 13 yr olds have a quicker distribution than laidlaw ( name rather than ability poor passer poor kicker)- or perhaps you are referring to our front row heros- who have poor body positions, cant hook and cant throw in. Or are you referring to the back line who can’t pass catch or run into space? The problem has been there for decades regarding squads. It is all to do with nepotism and old school ties. Many of my friends managed schoolboys U19 U20 scotA but no further – why ? Because they were Not the right sort – ie no Edinburgh or public SB connections I defy someone to tell me otherwise -our chickens are coming home to roost and I really don’t give a damn anymore…. I coach in England. the RFU are truly are trying to engage and change grass roots rugby ie at local level I don’t see it working in scotland as the elitism in the game is too high profile
    Re scotland team I HOPE IT GOES BELLY UP we don’t deserve any better. What a pathetic national set up the SRU are -a laughing stock and a disgrace. The only way things will get better is a total clear out once we hit 50 in the world rankings! Things are about to get a lot worse. We have treaded water for a decade and a half and are about to sink
    Ps before you have a go this is not a troll – just the unpalatable truth from someone that has been at the sharp end since 84 and seen it all before

    • PAC man on

      Strong words Caramackid. Watching Scotland in the 90’s got me into rugby and sport as a whole. I find it tragic that we haven’t had a national team capable of inspiring youngsters in so long.

      Any suggestions how normal punters can help effect some change in the SRU?

    • Alastair Anderson on

      I think you are off target here. I also coach in England – and the picture is far from rosy all over. There is horrendously narrow minded selection at district and county level still on going, and a clear bias in favour of certain schools. It is also very difficult for a young player in England to forge a path through the chaos – here in Somerset it is not good at all, and the only shining light is a level headed academy system down the road in Exeter where a true club type ethos is breeding success.

      In addition you are wrong in your assertion that Scottish rugby is dominated by independent school graduates. Do your homework – it is all online. Of the current squad of 44 players only 13 went to independent schools in Scotland or England.

      There is a problem with the coaching structure for sure, and we have had a succession of average coaches who have struggled to create a winning ethos. There is certainly a problem with playing numbers, and when I compare the conversations with coaches and staff in the Borders when I go up there on school tours with the numbers of players and clubs in Somerset alone it is chalk and cheese. Very hard work and something that needs to be tackled if at all possible.

      I would agree with others that 2 franchises is not enough. In many respects it is a tragedy that the Borders were unable to stay afloat or catch the imagination of the Borders public. Maybe the answer lies in an Exile setup in London or perhaps a second club in Edinburgh or Glasgow – but agreed that there is a problem here.

      Finally I tire of those so called die hard fans who then turn around and say “dont support the setup!” What a farce. Anyone that says such things understands nothing of loyalty and is not a fan worth listening to. Unless we stick together things will not improve, and there is no use firing off criticisms in all directions unless tangible solutions can be offered. The reality is that the pro era has brought a physicality that semi-pro players cannot front up to. So pro rugby must be here to stay or else we will go under and we must get behind the best efforts of all concerned. Clubs and Schools have a role to play – but only if we all stand together.

  32. Fraser on

    If anyone is interested, have a look/listen at the RBS video on YouTube of Hogg’s sending off. Without the BBC commentary you can hear Sam Warburton requesting a red card and it then cuts to the ref issuing one.

    • neil on

      Why do we even care about the sending off. we were playing rubbish before that even happened. If Hogg wasnt sent off the score wouold have probably been 40-15 in favor of Wales but it should not retract from the fact that Scotland were SH*T. These are menat to be professional players- what a buch of muppets!

    • Alastair Anderson on

      Are you saying it wasnt a red card offence? Of course it was. A flying shoulder made contact with the head a mile off the ball. It could only be a red card. So why bother quote SW and his words? Waste of time. Hogg will learn. Move on.

  33. Alan D on

    Having finally arrived home , and had time to reflect , am wondering whether I should write to Stuart Hogg to get a refund. I can’t imagine how many Scottish supporters were in Cardiff yesterday, and how much money we had spent to get there to see our team , only to see a game finish after 22 minutes by the actions of one professional rugby player earning ….???a lot. Nobody on here can blame the referee. If that happened in any game not involving Scotland you would KNOW that it was a sending off. Having seen it again on TV , full ,marks to mr Garces. And full marks to the rest of our team who put their bodies on the line-repeatedly-while their no 15 was sitting in the dressing room.

  34. Mitigating Circumstances on

    Firstly, Hogg’s deliberate follow-through was wrong and he deserved to be punished. But am I the only one to view Biggar’s actions as a contributory factor in the eventual contact being worse than it should have been or than Hogg intended? Seen live, it looks very bad indeed and deserving of red. However numerous super-slow mo repeats clearly show that Biggar sees the late challenge coming. The natural reaction should have been to turn away from the contact and bring his arms up for protection. Had Biggar done this, the contact probably would have been shoulder to shoulder and I suspect only a yellow would have ensued even with a theatrical collapse. But instead, Biggar opens up his body and keeps his hands down. He invites the contact. He plays for the penalty. It saddens me to see football’s antics encroaching further and further into rugby.

    • Ruairidh Campbell on

      What you said about Biggar knowing is quite wrong. I just watched it again and you can see that he has just kicked the ball and it watching where it goes and does not look at what is coming in on his side. Something like that can be quite painful and he could have broken his jaw from that hit (I will admit the slo-mo made it look quite bad). Anyway, its done. We have to move on. Hogg will get his ban for a few weeks and hopefully in the summer we can look ahead to see some winning rugby (we play Canada and the USA so we better win something)…

    • Mcoptimist on

      At last someone else who has, at least in part,a similar view. Biggar exaggerated the effect and played for the card. If he had been hurt as bad as his fall suggested he should have been off checking he wasn’t concussed instead of making a remarkable recovery to kick the points. That does not detract from Hogg being wrong, but it indicates a trend in cynical actions which are creeping into the game. I also reiterate that our coaching and management is such that there was no effort to try and limit the damage with a sensible substitution. Cutch beret on, at the expense of a back row player, be choosy on what breakdowns to compete at, and use possession and territory (look at the stats in these two areas) to frustrate the opposition. It’s basic game coaching which SJ obviously has no idea about.

    • Alastair Anderson on

      Rubbish. For goodness sake – if that wasnt a red card then what is?? It matters not a jot that Hogg had turned the other way. He had taken off into the air, led with his shoulder and made contact with the head a mile away from the ball. There is nothing in the laws that allows for that – and a player is responsible for his actions on the field of play. The referee had no choice and it was the right decision. Hogg was clearly frustrated – dropping on Williams after the first try was scored demonstrated that earlier on – and he lost control. Lesson learned. Stop bleating foul at the referee or suggesting Biggar played for it. That is sour grapes of the worst kind.

    • doom on

      I agree, it is a full contact sport after all. It was my belief that the players are obligated to keep themselves out of harms way: within reason. Slow-mo makes falling over under your own accord look painful, and whilst it was youthful petulance on Hogg’s behalf, Biggar new the challenge was coming and in my opinion; had the time to at least lift an arm to protect himself.

  35. Weggie on

    I am totally amazed that anyone is seriously considering contesting the Hogg decision. It was a stick on red card wherever your loyalties lie. The concern must be what the citing board might impose.

    • FF on

      That will be interesting – I expect all those wailing and gnashing will be disappointed when he gets a one or two game ban.

    • Mcoptimist on

      Citing board should not be involved. He got his ‘rewards’ from the Ref (and SW and the Welsh crowd), so it’s the disciplinary board that should decide the length of the ban.

  36. Mark on

    I have to admit I haven’t read all of the comments but I personally would refocus on the club games. I am personally of the opinion Scotlands best period was when the clubs were going strong. I here what people were and still are saying you need professionalism in the game but if we could play players based on for instance getting in the national team individuals even if they were at clubs may have the security of a years wages. I’m sure that there would be players who while not wanting to dedicate there whole life would consider putting in a period 2-3 years of really hard effort to play for their national squad before moving on with their lives.

    The present setup has vastly reduced the talent coming from the borders which I suspect is still producing really excellent potential players that may not want to be professional sportsmen.

  37. Coully on

    I’m just sick to the back teeth of Johnsons “aussie bloke schtick”, like he’s just giving it a lash till he can go upstairs, incidentally to come back downstairs to be part of Cotters coaching team. so tha man whom reports to him can also be potentially telling him what to do,… sorry but that’s beyond farce.
    Just hope he doesn’t expect 2 paypackets for 2 jobs. He’s probably wanting to stay on “coaching” just in case he has to undermine Cotter.
    I’ll admit I fell for his different take on press conferences but it has become wearysome.
    No one can plan for a red card but it’s your paid employement to look at all the angles “mate”!

  38. Alexander Coldwell on

    It’s a truism that rugby is a highly-physical sport. When you look at the most successful rugby nations, one aspect that is common to all of them is that they have the physicality to be able to impose their game-pattern on their opposition. Even where their physicality is matched, they are able to preserve sufficient of their playing-style to translate pracice-ground theory into test-practice.
    Perhaps much of what Scotland has been coached is theoretically sound but we lack the physicality to be able to impose our game.
    This then is an echo of Rob Wainwright’s complaint about “big-boned” imports from the southern hemisphere into private schools actually endangering home-grown schoolboys. If this imbalance is evident amongst 17-/18- year-olds, can “gym-monkey” treatment correct things for players, potentially internationalists, in their early twenties? I rather doubt it.
    This would imply that, faced with certain nations, we should wave the white flag and confine our fixtures to sides of similar physique. Hence my concern, expressed in other blogs, that we are simply unable to “breed” sporting stock with the necessary physical attributes, something that could only be corrected by sea-changes in the traditional Scottish life-style.

  39. mike on

    Truely depressing state of affairs all round. Scottish international rugby is a joke. In jiffy’s day the welsh team was a joke off and on. Unfortunately I can’t see beyond the current disaster. SJ was run out of wales and will now be our director of rugby! God help us and god help Vern Cotter.
    Our game management and leadership is totally lacking whether it be trying to close out a close game or trying to minimize damage after our star player acts like a petulent child and drops evryone in the sh*t. Our international team seems to be totally unable to adapt during a game. One plan (dumb or otherwise) at the start and stick with it until it fails miserably.
    SJ has been a joke all season long, bad selections and bad or no substitutions at baffling times. He should write a how not to coach international rugby manual.
    Welcome to the mad house Vern.

  40. Alesandro on

    Worth reading article on Scotsman Rugby pages by David Ferguson. Explains a bit about SJ in his DOR role instead of just slagging him to within an inch of his life. We have done this for every coach we have had recently. Sad really. Anyway on another subject, does anyone have an opinion on the Flying Headbutt by Cian Healy on Picamoles. It was glossed over at the time and never really mentioned since. I personally thought it was very dangerous and deliberate!

  41. Andrew on

    Gordon above says. ‘Scotland fail the craftsmanship test by virtue of the fact that they cannot offload, tackle, line break in Test Matches.’

    I can’t agree more. Watch any other IRB top 10 team pass and it’s fluid, line outs aren’t a lottery and when they get to the try line they more often than not get over it due to a good advanced game plan. Scotland inevitably give a penalty away and we all go ‘oh well at least we got that far up the field’. Scotland’s play is measured by the how small a margin we lose by not by the strond desire to win, win & win again. Just imagine if we won the 6 nations again, Scotland would declare a months holiday. That’s quite sad. The fact that our p!ss poor lower league joke football gets more coverage in the Scottish press tells me everything.

  42. Alexander Coldwell on

    Well said, Alesandro(if that is the Italian for Alexander, it should have two -Ss)! Some outrageous invective has been levelled at Scott Johnson from positions of total ignorance. For example, that he simply revels in his large salary and doesn’t care a fig for Scottish rugby. Has his accuser observed him through every hour of his working day, day after day? Of course not.
    As for the effectiveness of his coaching, I’ve pointed out elsewhere that training-ground theory, however sound, can only be put into practice on the field-of-play if the team possesses sufficient physicality to impose, or at least partially impose, its game. I suspect that Scotland falls short of this physicality in certain key positions. As for the skill-set, if players haven’t acquired all the basic skills by the time they are selected for the international squad, something is seriously lacking further down the line — back to the “pyramid”!

    • Angus on

      This is not leveled at SJ but follows on a theme put forward by you – if you are right and the players are not capable of enacting the game plan due to their failings physical and otherwise then does that not mean the plan is flawed?

  43. Alexander Coldwell on

    Angus, a fair question…….obviously a coach must tailor his plan(s) to fit his team. I remember in the past how Scotland tried to defeat larger opponents by superior game-speed and fitness. In the amateur days it often worked but in today’s world of super-efficient defences and rugby-league style yardage-plays it falls short. I would argue that it wouldn’t matter what game-plan a coach instilled in his team pre-match — or game-plans, if plan A (or even plan B!) wasn’t working — if his team lacked sufficient all-round physicality to impose its patterns on the opposition. A key, modern phrase here is “winning the collisions” — this allows the sort of continuity to execute the game-plan and overstretch defences. Without that requisite ANY plan is doomed to failure. A coach can inculcate all the correct practices in his players…body position etc…..but they will not be effective without sufficient physicality.

    • neil on

      Alexander, this is a really good point you make. I feel that the Scottish team does indeed lack physical strength even if we do have big guys in the team such as Jim Hamilton- a true forward but he lacks strength. We also need to improve on basic fitness as we seem to loose out in the last quarter, particualrly against southern hemisphere teams. Finally, we just need to play the game with alot more instensity. Compare us with the All Blacks- the All Blacks just dont give the opposition any time on the ball and when they go in to tackle the aim to put the player 5 yards back. They play as if they wouold rather die than loose. Thats the sort of mentality we need but it needs to be installed at youth level and reinforced throughout the players carreer. The jokers that play fopr us at the moment arre beyond reach- they shoud just stick to doing what they know best- training in the pub.

      Sadly, I the SRU, coaches etc are too stupid to realise that there are very simple low cost strategies to improving out game. Either the SRU are stupid or they just domt care. Its probably a bit of both but I cant see anything improving unless there is a change in personnel. With SJ moving upstairs that certinly doesnt bode well for the future. He was a rubbish coach for both Scotland and wales so why dont we just get shot of him. Hes absolutely useless.

  44. neil on

    I just hope that the new coach lives up to the mark. He is from New Zealand so hopefully he understands that the objective is to win the game. This was certainly not the case with outr last two Australlian coaches. Both were happy to pick up salary cheques but they were usefless What is it with OZ- do they just seem to think it is acceptable to loose?
    Rome wanst built in a day but look at the transformation Walse made under Gatland. I’m hoping for the same.
    The only unfortunate thing is that SJ is still going to be working in the SRU. If I had anything to do with it he would be on the next plain out of here.

  45. Alexander Coldwell on

    Somewhere in my memory banks I had stored the idea that Polynesians have an abundance of “fast-twitch” i.e. explosive muscle-fibre. This led me to Mark Calverley’s excellent website in which he writes in reference to Polynesian (incl. Maori)players:

    “The ‘it’ in question is explosive power combined with excellent timing and efficient body positions. The aggressive and explosive element of the game is so important to players from these ethnicities that they learn it and celebrate it very early on — and boy, do they pracise it!
    In the land of the ‘long white cloud’, I have, as I slow down even more, been increasingly on the receiving end of the Maori and Polynesian ‘welcome committee’ — namely the shuddering and explosive tackle or being trampled on like some hapless cartoon character…….it gives a huge psychological, territorial and possession advantage to the team that offers the ‘welcome’…..”.
    Mark is an English sports scientist working in NZ and advising the RFU. The benefits of the input of men like him to the development of the English team are conspicuous.
    A key excerpt with reference to Scottish rugby is “they (Polynesians)learn it (i.e. explosiveness) and celebrate it VERY EARLY ON — and boy, do they practise it!”. Yes, it is important, to maximise numbers at the base of the pyramid, NOT to introduce the more physical elements of the game immediately but ultimately they are unavoidable and part of inculcating the physical AND mental strength that are intrinsic to the game…..and, if we are to compete, our players have to become inured to this physicality EARLY in their development. The All Blacks are always raising the bar ever higher and the Haka is decidedly NOT an empty gesture but a choreographed expression of all the things Mark writes about. The question is, do we rise to the challenge or give up?

    • neil on

      I could not agree more with your comments- fancy a job at the SRU? I think a blind monkey on methadone could do a better job than the current bunch of clowns but thats another matter. The Polynesians are indeed really stromg (I’ve worked with some of them in the past) and the game in New Zealand is played at probably 10 times the intensity it is in Scotland. Changing a national ethos is something that needs to happen but it wont be overnight. I bang on about this all the time but me need to get more players playing the game at youth level and install that sort of winning mentality at an early age.
      I doubt if anyone at the SRU would lower themsleves of their thrones to read this blog but there are so many good points raised by yourself and others. I just wish they would take note rather than atttending their parties with champagne and cucumber and tuna sandwiches.

  46. neil on

    Does anyone at the SRU read this blog? I feel they should as they would get a feel for what needs to be done to change things. However, I fear that they would be too full of self importance to even read these articles let alone offer any feedback or comments.

  47. Andrew Fairbairn on

    A ban was inevitable, could have been more and equally could have been less.
    Take it and move on……………
    We need to speak up for ourselves. If we are too ‘nice’ on the field we are certainly too nice off it as well.
    Next time Healy or whoever gets away with it. Point it out, publicly.
    Next time the ref fails to act on something the Murrayfield big screen shows – get a message on to the captain to make sure he watches it. If he still ignores it point it out in the press conference.
    We’ll get called ‘whingeing Jocks” or some such, who cares. Gatland does it, everyone does but it in a particular way.
    Same goes with the internal exmaple setting of the SRU when sanctioning their own players. England et al applaud then ban (rest) their own players for a period up to the day before the next important match.

  48. ian pittendreigh on

    As usual lots of interesting and amusing stuff on the blog as the search for a solution to Scotland’s woes continues – The answer must be in getting the best out of who we have – How can players be Lions (or potential ones) one year then so off the boil the next? There’s been mention of Polynesians and their impact (which is impressive and undeniable) but in the All Blacks (the best team to measure your standards by) the current player who both makes and breaks tackles is a slight guy from Dunedin, Ben Smith, his namesake Conrad has been one of the best AB centers ever (I’m writing from NZ). I’m mystified by Scotland’s inability to perform, consistently make terrible decisions (we should easily have been in the quarter finals of the last World Cup). We need consistent good leadership on the field and a set up that will get the best out of the quality that does exist.

  49. FF on

    So, Italy has just established 10 youth academies based on its Top -10 domestic league whilst we’re struggling to get two based on the pro-teams off the ground. The SRU need to move quick otherwise we’ll fall further behind. SJ has recognised this problem but we have to get this right and clubs and the SRU need to work together to sort out the structure of the game in Scotland for good. The long war in Scottish rugby needs to come to an end.

  50. Kev on

    IMO the Youth Academies are the priority with Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, Stirling, Glasgow, each having 1, Edinburgh having 2 and an Academy in Highland, the Borders and Fife (unsure of the exact location but possibly Inverness, Galashiels and Kirkcaldy). That would give us 10 Academies.
    Simple BUT there would be a few years for pain for the senior game.

  51. neil on

    FF and Kev,

    These actions are so simpple and obvious but why cant the SRU understand this?

    Answers on a postcard.

    I asked the SRU to respomd in a previous message but they are such a bunch of guttless wimps that I doubt they ever will.

  52. neil on

    Why cant the SRU at least offer us an appology for presiding over a team that has been useless for the last decade or more?

  53. doom on

    What has really come to light is the contempt for Scotland exhibited by the other UK nations, with the exemption of the Irish. Can’t get my head around the campaign of belittling from “reputable” media outlets: SKY, BBC and so on.

    I’d have no issues if it were founded upon something. But recent articles from the likes of Lewis Moody; every Rugby Club this year and even recent episodes of Total Rugby have clearly gone out of there way to slander the Scottish game.

    At least solace can be sought from the fact that the hatred is reciprocated 10-fold.

  54. David D on

    I keep seeing reference to “people voting with their feet”……It won’t happen. What could happen is a protest. Set up a facebook page, stack up a decent following and set a date for a protest outside Murrayfeild. Inform the press and make a day of it. Pick nick, bit of music and a few balls flying around.

    Hold them to account!

  55. Alexander Coldwell on

    Ian (Pittendreigh), though I’ve written much on the question of physicality and used the Polynesians as exemplars of this facet of the game, I’m not suggesting we need behemoths from one to fifteen. The key is dynamism relative to body weight. You mention Ben Smith as a “slight guy”; I can think of the ABs Aaron Smith and Aaron Cruden as falling into this category of fairly small players — but both have that dynamism (i.e. explosiveness/aggression) that characterises all All Blacks. This is not something which they have acquired simply by donning that hallowed jersey or performing the Haka — it has been BRED into them from their EARLIEST days in the game or indeed is almost innate in their culture. We have a good example of this type of player here in Scotland — NIKO MATAWALU, who plays for Glasgow. He, a Fijian, is phenomenably dynamic!
    Either our coaches try to instil this physicality into our players early in their development — VERY EARLY — or we must accept that those at the top of the pyramid, our international team, will become, relative to the top nations, players of “sociable” rugby or providers of good “semi-opposed” opposition. The future choice is that stark.

    • ian pittendreigh on

      You are right Alexander which is why I’m confident Scottish rugby can be better – We’ve always had players with the dynamism, in the past Hastings, Sole, Calder, Jeffrey and more recently Hogg and others (the list could go on)It needs leadership to bring that fire and self belief out.

  56. FF on

    I seem to remember Gavin Hastings teaching a Samoan team something about physicality in 1991. So, no it is nothing to do with innate characteristics and everything to do with our poor playing culture which lacks competitiveness between the teens and pro-rugby.

    We need a focus on improving youth rugby by creating an academy structure fit for purpose, having an outreach programme to get rugby into every school in Scotland, and having a proper national competition for schools and clubs. If we create good rugby players they’ll find clubs to play for somewhere, just ask any of the Argentinian national team who incidentally were all developed in an amateur club system.

    So there is nothing to stop us becoming good again despite our relative poverty of resources. It does mean we need a more scientific approach and to get away from the idea that the right coach or a golden generation, or a run of good games or a gifted individual will somehow cure all our ills because nothing happens by chance. I think the SRU is grasping some of these issues but we need to be more ruthless at targeting funding to long term aims and do more to develop partnerships with business and government.

  57. Alexander Coldwell on

    FF, an excellent reply but I would argue a good “playing culture” ultimately becomes innate. The way the father played becomes automatically inherited by the son. I’m convinced this happens in New Zealand where what Andy Robinson called “the winning mentality” is passed down from generation to generation.
    In fact the scientific basis for the three muscle types and the preponderance of “twitch-muscle” in Polynesians is incontrovertible. Furthermore, the ratios between the three muscle-groups ARE innate.
    What I and many others, including yourself, are arguing for is a much more rational, well-considered approach to the development “pyramid”, from its base of primary school children to its peak represented by our international players. One of my themes is that coaches’ expectations at the start-level are too low and the method too haphazard. At that point it’s a fine balance between maintaining the maximum number of participants and not alienating or frustrating those with real talent. This is only a reflection of what applies in academia.
    In a game such as rugby the relationship between physical and mental toughness is symbiotic. I don’t think we develop these characteristics in our children adequately, partly, I believe, because the whole exercise “landscape” in Scotland is in such a parlous state. Yes, I agree, if we take the necessary steps to eliminate the disadvantages we have, through long complacency and parochial attitudes, inflicted on ourselves, there is no reason why we shouldn’t become a real force again — and perhaps in the not-too-distant future!

    • FF on

      I think our difference of opinion is merely semantic. Also, when I said scientific this was maybe not the right word. If we take football for example, some small nations thrive by concentrating on developing skilful technical players and putting real thought into the tactical aspect of the sport. It is not all about playing numbers and financial resources. Scotland flounder because any kind of thoughtful approach to football is anathema and we think playing with passion is more important than playing with skill and tactics.

      Scottish rugby is in a rut but it is not too late unlike for our football counterparts – I think we need to flex our head as well as our biceps. We need to examine how we can cultivate the most skilful players we can within our constraints and how we can develop a rugby philosophy that is suitable for us. Maybe that is all just hot air!?! Not sure if it makes sense.

  58. Graham on

    I have been taking my 11 year old to the minis at my local club,over this winter period there have been more sessions and games cancelled than have been played.alexander talks about a well considered approach to development from a primary school much easier would it be if the kids started there season while the 6 nations was being played,maybe it would encourage a few more into the sport,then played games on firmer and faster ground during the early part of summer- had a break during school hols and then finish the season in the autumn.Perhaps we may gain a more athletic group of players who would grace the new hybrid pitch at Murrayfield.

  59. Kev on

    British Summer Time Rugby…..all the way! Watch the numbers and skills rocket.
    The Private Schools can play their 12 games whenever they want!!!

  60. Alexander Coldwell on

    Funnily enough, FF, that very word “semantics” (in its noun form) was going through my head as I wrote. I do think we are largely in agreement as to the best way forward for our game. I don’t follow football but I remember one international manager left early because he felt his charges were too thick or inflexible to implement his tactical approach!
    Whatever strategy is hammered out for Scottish rugby, and I mean a cohesive one that embraces every level in the “pyramid” and ensures that each level is part of an efficient progression towards the best possible national team, I worry about its implementation. There are so many people in entrenched positions with the power to obstruct. I fear the “clans” may prevail, to the long-term or perhaps even permanent detriment of the game. For this reason I am far more sympathetic to the SRU than most! I’ve seen good initiatives ruined.
    Truly Graham, I was also thinking of summer rugby for children before your comments appeared. I was thinking along the lines of a small sector of clubs’ grounds being fitted (where possible)with astroturf for top-of-the-ground skills practices, while grass pitches would be used for rucking /scrummaging /tackling drills (etc) and for practice games. The other advantage of summer rugby for children would be helpful coaching input and general inspiration from club players, then in THEIR off-season. I’ve used all-weather surfaces for coaching specific skills and it helps enormously.

  61. Alexander Coldwell on

    A Roman poet, Horace, said it all more than 2,000 years ago:

    “Force without intelligent control falls to ruin under its own weight”

    In rugby terms “force”(VIS) = physicality i.e. explosiveness/ aggression/athleticism enhanced by good coaching, cardio-vascular & strength training — and “attitude”.
    “Intelligent control” (CONSILI(UM))= good coaching, good pre-match planning, good opposition analysis, good game-plan(s),good on-field tactical awareness, mental strength.

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