Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Cotter Has Captaincy Choice to Make

Jonny Gray - pic © Al Ross
Jonny Gray - pic © Al Ross

With the announcement that Grant Gilchrist has broken his arm and will miss the Autumn Internationals – and beyond – Scotland’s training camp may not be quite as settled as the management team would have hoped.

Coming off the back of a successful European start by both Edinburgh and Glasgow and with several players hitting form at just the right time – although Tommy Seymour hit his head as well, he should recover – things were looking good, but now the new coach has to find a captain in short order.

It does allow Cotter to sidestep the sticky issue of whether Gilchrist was in the form to justify his place, which was in doubt.

Both Gray brothers are in very good tune at the moment, with Jonny definitely due a run of starts for Scotland. Reports of a dramatic increase in workrate from Richie Gray would point to a potential Gray family second row, and Tim Swinson has been playing well for Glasgow also. Jim Hamilton is in the squad now although was absent initially due to the pace of the game Scotland may want to play.

So Gilchrist might have snuck into the team, but here at Blog Towers we’re a firm believer in picking your captain from your team, not picking your captain then your team.

So with that in mind, Jonny Gray – who has captained at age grade level – would be a good choice. He fits the mould Cotter seems to be looking for – someone near certain to be in the team for years to come, with leadership capabilities and plenty of time to mature into the role. Almost a like for like swap.

There are candidates elsewhere in the squad too.

Ross Ford should be mentioned as he has done the job before. But with concerns on his set-piece skills (throwing, hooking) he is best left to concentrate on those, especially has he seems to react quite well to being dropped – and should no longer be a certainty at hooker.

Another senior leader is Sean Lamont, who would give no shortage of heart and effort wherever he was played but barring injury elsewhere, he may be unlikely to start unless there is another crisis in the centre.

Which leads us back to Andy Robinson’s previously tried policy of “the 9 is captain”. This was criticised, but perhaps unjustly. It allows you to select your team with a free hand which for Scotland is a blessing. And Cotter’s squad has 3 able leaders at scrum-half in Greig Laidlaw, Chris Cusiter and Henry Pyrgos. Pyrgos is an outside bet to captain (maybe not to start though) but has led Glasgow well when asked. Cusiter and Laidlaw are both experienced captains and while Laidlaw is experiencing a resurgence at Gloucester, Cusiter’s has continued from last season since moving to Sale so he would edge it for me.

For me the likely choice would be Jonny Gray as it wouldn’t mean Cotter having to change plans too much. Gray/Gilchrist could be a second row pairing that lasts the next decade. Why bet one of them turns into Scotland’s Paul O’Connell when you could double down? Of course the best leader Scottish rugby has is another second row, Al Kellock; however he may well have played his last for Scotland.

Picking his protege for November could be a sound decision though.

12 Responses

  1. I think Laidlaw will probably first pick with his experience or either big Jim Hamilton or Lawson I would like to see Johnny captain one day but not just yet maybe a bit more first team experience in the scotland squad before going for him

  2. None of the old guard are good enough to demand a place. The exception is one of Laidlaw or Cusiter, both of whom are fine players and leaders who are reported to be in good form.

    Give Jonny the captaincy once he has a few more caps under his belt, maybe just before or after the world cup.

  3. If Cotter really wants to stamp this emphasis on youth then Gray Jr has got to be the choice, he leads by example and always gives everything. Quite frankly, he should be one of few that and inked in for all 3 tests based on current form. With guys like Ford, Laidlaw, Cusiter hanging around in the squad, he will be well equipped to learn and grow further into one of Scotland’s top players

  4. I’m always surprised at the knots that teams tie themselves into, with their choice of captains.
    It’s very rare that a captain is ‘head and shoulders’ above everyone else in the position, and there is loss of form and other issues to consider. Is it really necessary to choose a regular captain?
    Why can’t they just choose on a game by game basis?

  5. I think it will be a game by game approach probably meaning Ford or one of the scrum halves. If we wanted to be bold we could go for J Gray or maybe Hogg or Maitland?

    1. No I doubt Hogg would be made captain and Maitland is not seen as the strongest leader. Gray is certainly a front runner to be captain in the future, I just don’t think it will happen this year.

  6. Cus would be my choice as captain. It will be interesting when Strauss becomes Scotland qualified as I would install him into the side immediately, as he’s head and shoulders above anyone else at 8. Possibly after a few years in the dark blue, captain material? I can understand objections to this as he’s not really Scottish, but he leads front the front and has done a fine job captaining Glasgow.

    1. He’s not Scottish at all!

      However, I’d still have him in the team in a shot. My preference would be to bring him in at 6 with Beattie at 8 and Denton covering both positions from the bench. That would bring some real ball carrying power.

    2. What about Johnnie Beattie as captain?
      I’d be interested to know the ‘players choice’ of who should be captain.

  7. Ginger Bob anyone? Has captained the Warriors successfully, and must be a near shoe-in for the no6 shirt?

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion