5 Questions The Autumn Tests Will Answer – The Answers?

Prior to the Autumn Tests we posed five questions that we thought would be answered by Scotland’s games against Argentina, New Zealand and Tonga. Scotland have undoubtedly enjoyed a successful autumn but for every commentator that hails their progress another pops up to urge caution and the possibility of yet another false dawn.

We’ll be looking back at the Autumn Tests in more detail in the next week or so but in the meantime we’re going to look back and see whether or not our questions have been answered.

1. Russell? Heathcote? Weir?

Russell looks like the real deal. There are still rough edges that need smoothing off such as charged down clearance kicks but Russell plays with the confidence and swagger of a drunken matador. His game management is superb leaving opposition teams guessing which direction he was going to send the ball and then there’s THAT dance. His relationship with Laidlaw also looks solid despite the limited game time they’ve had together.

Weir has been solid from the bench aside from a moment of madness at the close of the Argentina game. Although some have attributed that to Laidlaw’s call to take a tap penalty rather than clearing the lines. Weir is a decent enough option but he lacks Russell’s game management skills and quick thinking which makes it easier for the opposition to read what’s going to happen. That doesn’t fit with Big Vern’s organised chaos tactics.

Heathcote didn’t feature which is a shame as he deserved a run from the bench. There is nothing to suggest that he’s a better option than Russell based on his performances for Edinburgh so far this season. However he should have been given the chance to show that he might offer something different to Weir’s skillset.

2. Are Blair Cowan and Kieran Low good enough?

Blair Cowan is good enough and it’s likely to take an injury to shift him from Scotland’s openside berth. Cowan has grown with every match and capped it off with a man of the match performance against Tonga. This writer still has some concerns about Cowan’s body position when tackled with the ball in hand which saw him driven backwards on occasion. However he has demonstrated an ability to learn quickly from his mistakes so hopefully this is something he will be working on between now and the Six Nations.

Kieran Low only made a short appearance at the end of the Tonga game and aside from taking part in one scrum didn’t really have an opportunity to do much else. Clearly marked as one for the future but he needs to start playing more regularly for London Irish or seek a move if he is to start pushing the likes of Hamilton and Swinson for a place on the bench.

3. Why is there only one openside in the squad?

The reason Vern Cotter only has one openside in the squad appears to hark back to this idea of organised chaos. Scotland have begun to vary their tackling throughout the game. In the past Scotland would look to get opposition players on the deck by taking their legs in order to try and nick the ball in the ruck. That still happens but now Scotland are more focussed on preventing the opposition from offloading in the tackle by hitting players above the waist and we also saw some very effective choke tackles from the Gray brothers. The Scotland coaches also appear to have been working on body positions at the ruck with the whole squad. In short the whole team is playing as openside in defence. Whilst that may keep the opposition guessing it might also be the reason why Scotland are giving away too many penalties at the breakdown in attack and defence. It’s one thing to have one Richie McCaw figure trying to evade the attention of the referee and quite another to have a whole team of fifteen players playing fast and loose with the rules.

Overall Scotland’s new varied approach to the tackle battle makes it difficult for opposition teams to attack. Before they could run through the phases of ruck, pass, ruck, pass with the hope of eventually finding a chink in the defence. Now players are left wondering how they are going to be hit making it harder for the attacking side to keep any sort of rhythm and shape.

4. What does Scotland’s best front row look like and is it good enough?

Unfortunately we haven’t really been able to answer this question.

Ross Ford has performed so well during the Autumn Tests that it’s almost hard to remember what we were all complaining about. Ford seems to be thriving under Cotter and long may that continue. His work in the loose and line out throwing should see him start as first choice hooker but there are still concerns in the scrum.

Ford can hook. We’ve seen him hook. The problem is that Scotland have been using him as a third prop for so long that frailties either side of him have never been properly addressed. If Ford tries to hook the Scottish scrum goes backwards. The blame then shifts to those outside him.

Ali Dickinson had a good series although Ryan Grant’s return from injury will put some pressure on him and it’s not hard to imagine that Grant might regain the shirt for the start of the 6 Nations. Scotland’s problem remains at tighthead with neither Euan Murray or Geoff Cross quite nailing the shirt (which is a shame because I think we can all agree that we’d like to see a lot more of Girth’s beard). Cross perhaps had the better time of it in the scrum against Tonga but allowances have to be made for the quality of the opposition and the stability offered by the artificial playing surface.

Zander Ferguson waits in the wings but is nowhere near ready for international rugby. Vern Cotter may need to have Scottish scouts scouring the Southern Hemisphere for a 20 stone tighthead with a Scottish granny before the World Cup.

5. Can Scotland win the Grand Slam and World Cup in the same year?

Scotland can be more confident of progressing beyond the group stages in what remains a difficult group. Japan, the USA and Samoa have all dropped off the pace after showing significant improvements but 12 months is a long time in international sport. None of them should be treated lightly by Scotland regardless of their position in the World Rankings next autumn.

Further progress seems unlikely although Scotland have beaten Australia in recent memory. However games at Twickenham or the Millennium Stadium against England or Wales are a distinct possibility. Scotland will need to improve at a much faster rate if they are to make the semi finals let alone win the tournament.

This year’s 6 Nations is another matter. Wales, France, England and Italy are not without their own internal struggles and Scotland play a resurgent Ireland at Murrayfield. Somehow it doesn’t seem that much of a stretch to begin to start hoping that we can dream of hoping that we might dream of hoping that we might just not do too badly this year.

The relationship between Scotland and their fans is not dissimilar to a real relationship where one partner keeps spending the housekeeping online gambling. They promise they won’t do it again but then we’ve been here before. We’ve had our hearts broken before. Perhaps after the Autumn Tests we’re ready to let Scotland back in. But not into our beds. They can sleep on the sofa for now. Maybe, after the 6 Nations, if they’ve managed not to p*** the housekeeping away playing online poker, we might think about asking them up the stairs.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Born a Souter but brought up just south of the Border in Berwick where he played for Berwick RFC as a kid any any position where cover was needed.
Follow Cammy on twitter @CammyBlack

69 comments on “5 Questions The Autumn Tests Will Answer – The Answers?

  1. pragmatic optimist on

    Based on your comment that “it doesn’t seem much of a stretch to 1 begin to start hoping that we 2 can dream of hoping that 3 we might dream of hoping that 4 we might just not do too badly this year”, I can only presume that you are a seriously damaged individual Mr Black. You’re certainly taking caution to an unparalleled level!

    Of course, speaking as another ‘twisted and broken’ Scotland fan in England, I hope to be able to make arrangements to meet friends in the pub to watch the matches, rather than watch in the privacy of my household cocoon. It’s been such a long time since I felt confident enough to do this. Can we escape our mental chains during the 6N I wonder?
    About the front row. No one, as you say, has nailed one of these positions yet.
    I’d have liked to see Scotland try some quick ‘hooks’ against Tonga, just to either prove or disprove a few current theories, but it was not to be. You say that you’ve seen Ross Ford ‘hooking’.
    Can you confirm where and when please?

    • Cameron Black on

      He hooked against Argentina and New Zealand once it became clear that they weren’t going to drive over the ball and it was just going to sit in the channel. Neither was a quick hook admittedly. I think the tactics were different against Tonga because the drive was possible. In some ways the drive is prefereable as there’s the prospect of a penalty and by sucking in the forwards it opens up space for the backs. It’s been interested to look at how the backs are lining up behind the scrum with Hogg coming forward as second receiver.

      • pragmatic optimist on

        Cameron, I’ll re-run the matches and have a look. I’m not sure that leading slightly with one leg and allowing the scrum half to deflect the ball off it counts as ‘hooking’.
        I do accept that it’s an inexact science and any ‘quick’ hook can rebound from a stray leg at any point. I almost wish the IRB would introduce a size ceiling for hookers.
        I can’t agree with you that the drive is a preferable option, except when one pack has a clear advantage. All that happens when the packs are fairly equal is
        1- the timing is good to get that initial 6 inches, so the ball comes back on the right side or
        2- the ball is stuck so eventually the scrum caves in or
        3 – the ref gives a ‘squint feed’ free kick. (Also happens at 1 above.)

        I realise I’ll be upsetting the front row specialists here, but I’d rather see the ball hooked out quickly and with the half backs asap. Constant scrumming and re-scrumming while looking for penalties and positive interpretations from the ref is not my idea of ‘the beautiful game’.

      • Cameron Black on

        I’m not sure that a quick hook is something we can expect at international level anymore given the size of players.
        One of the problems with the new laws is that one intended consequence was to reduce the number of scrums collapsing and that was only really a problem at the top level. I’ve heard from some club hookers who think the new engagement feels more risky because its easier to get caught in an awkward twisted position.

  2. andrew lone on

    I think I would be happy if we come second or third has Ireland are inform at the moment so the six nations is there to lose and the more Scotland play and gel together it is looking pretty good for the RWC and get into the last eight or better ,Vern is bringing the right etho’s to the squad and a bit of new Zealand magic to boot

  3. Neil on

    Regardignm the world curp. I dont think our group is particualrly difficult. I expect us to win all of the games except for the one against SA. That will be much more of an ask but dont forget that Ireland beat hem convincingly and they only just managed a win against Eglnad so who knows. can we progreess beyond the Quarters- well thats the hundred dollar quaestion and where I have my doubts.

    • Cameron Black on

      We laboured against the US in the summer although the heat would have played a part in that. I can confirm that the temperature in Leeds shouldn’t be an issue come next October. I think Samoa will prove difficult. We’ve not got the greatest record against Samoa and they are a better side that Tonga. They’re not in the same place as when the draw for the group stages were made but I don’t think they can be written off.

      • FF on

        Samoa’s current form is quite poor though. They lost to Italy, in the summer they drew with Tonga and beat Fiji by 5 pts (although they did beat Italy 15-0) so they aren’t miles ahead of other tier 2 sides.

        I think despite protests to the contrary they have been unsettled by their conflict with the Samoan RU which has exiled some of their best players and may claim more squad leaders. They are nowhere near their strength at the last world cup and are some way off performances in SA in June 2013.

        I’m far more relaxed about our meeting with Samoa now than when the draw was made.

      • Jack on

        Cameron, just to clarify your “we’ve not got the greatest record against Samoa”, wasn’t their first win vs Scotland only the last meeting? Pretty sure we were unbeaten to that point

  4. Nicholas on

    Great article by Cameron Black. Both entertaining and realistic. I loved Fin Russell’s dance and love that he’s establishing it as a trademark. It shows great character and personally I’ve been longing for a controversially entertaining character in the Scotland squad, as far too often we seem to have bla bla professionals with predictable and uninteresting interview answers. Adding a touch of inspirational controversy might be detriment to the individual professionalism of a player but it gives the fans/press something to feast on and can only be good for the SRU profile which is painfully lurking in the shadows of international rugby media.

    Now, I left some admittedly pecismistic comments below the Tonga report about Scotland’s 6Nations chances which may have disagreed with many a blog viewer (including FF and Ruairidh Campbell). However, I’d strongly urge our fans to not get over exited about our recently encouraging results. I still maintain that we will come up against better drilled/competitive opposition in both 6N2015 and RWC2015 which we were not truly exposed to in the Autumn International series. Since the 6Nations began I’ve turned off the TV before full time and let Scotland depress me for too many weekends post encouraging Autumn Internationals. It hurts, and we need to remind ourselves that professional rugby in Scotland has a lot to catch up on.

    • Neil on

      Nicholas- likeyou I have also switched off the TV midway through 6 nation games over the last 10 years- not because we were always loosing at that point but because of the way we were playing. I felt that some players like Hugo Southwell were just useless, while others such as Ross Ford were good did not fullfill their obvious potential. We seemed to give away alot of penalties and most games became a damage limitation excercise. In short theteam were a disgrace and it was embarrassing. Furthermore, the SRU did not seem to care and we had a succession of mediocre coaches culminating in the fat toad SJ. I believe the SRU are still useless but our team are much better- playing with purpose and scoring tries. For the first time in almost 20 years I hope to watch 6 nation games from start to finish. I dont even mind if we loose along as we play well and to our potential. Its as much as the fans deserve after decades of watching pansies and prats coached by useless tubs of lard.

      • Nicholas on

        I think a few people have commented on this issue before, but does anyone know why we have played one less Autumn Internationals than England and Wales? I suspect it has to do with television viewers world wide (money). However, it gives Gatland and Lancaster a clear advantage in testing their sides against better quality opposition more often. They’ll learn more about their combinations, better gel their squads and automatically increase the team playing standards whilst Scottish players break up and go play for their club sides.

        Neil, this comes back to your point about SRU ability. We all know we were left wanting by a bit of an ‘old boys club’ stuck in the upper/middle classed ametuer mind frame for so long. England moved ahead with strength in numbers, the Irish invested wisely in provincial grass routes, and the WRU maintained their sense of nation wide belonging to rugby union despite their professional club set up issues – their community playing standards feed their professional outfits with plentiful talent.

        Over the last 2-3 years I’ve felt the SRU have become a more commercially savvy outfit. From what I’ve read the Macron kit supplier deal was more financially rewarding than the previous Canterbury deal and they’ve listened to the fans over how it should look, although Macron won’t have as many retail suppliers which can be frustrating when looking for a Scottish rugby shirt in the likes of JJB in the St James centre, Edinburgh). BT Murrayfield was a much needed financial boost if the rumoured figure of £24m/4years is true. However, there is still a lot to worry about. Our online media is still lagging way behind our competitors (in following and content quality). The Pitch International media partnership has already been questionable at times in terms of performance. The exclusive House of Frazer retail supplier deal seems to provide less international distribution options worldwide and at home. The professional 7s team situation is a real headache especially after losing Glasgow as an IRB event.

        Good teams will come and go, but I hope to God the SRU can catch up with the other home nations in terms of brand equity, and improve the rugby union profile in Scotland.

      • FF on

        Nicholas – a little information about the AI tests. Only England and Wales in the NH play an additional international because they are played outside the official IRB release windows. That is why both Wales and South Africa were missing a handful of players each, because their English or French clubs refused to release them

        In England’s contract with the PRL a clause allows them to play an extra international once every 4 years. They effectively pay the clubs (who own the players contracts) for this privilege through their deal. In Wales the fourth international has caused a great deal of conflict because the clubs argue it damages their prospects in the pro-12 and Europe by denying them their international players for a further week. Obviously, the WRU needs the cash to pay off their stadium debt but this is one of many issues between the WRU and Regional Rugby Wales that caused the recent domestic war between them (which seems to be settled with the benefit of extra cash to the regions).

        Would a fourth international benefit Scotland? Maybe, but it would certainly harm Edinburgh and Glasgow. Also, the last time we played a Big 3 power with only our domestic players was our loss to SA in June. It is arguable whether we need another very high intensity test in the middle of the season whilst we have such shallow squad depth and to do so when we’d be denied 10 or so squad players invites a disaster like the summer. It should be obvious that Wales and England playing a fourth AI is all about money and not about rugby.

        As I’ve written before, I agree that the SRU has slowly got to grips with pro-rugby and we are getting our house in order. What lots of people oerlook when assessing why we fell so far behind is that the game went professional just as we were saddled with huge debts from redeveloping Murrayfield in the wake of the Taylor report and the introduction of requirements for major stadia to be all-seater. We didn’t have access to the required funds to invest in pro-rugby and when we took on debt to do so it resulted in dissolving the Borders and Caledonia Reds – the original basis of four pro-teams based on historic districts was pursued and failed because of financial problems (this is not to deny the SRUs responsibility for the godawful mess they created).

        I suspect the SRU was also complacent because the game went pro after Scotland had enjoyed a rare golden period in its history, unlike Ireland who were in the middle of a terrible rut.

      • Nicholas on

        Thanks FF, I’d heard somewhere about the Murrayfield stadium costs being an issue before but didn’t realise it was such a crippling factor on the SRU books. I’m a big fan of the Millenium stadium in Cardiff and wish the Murrayfield gave its spectators a close up view of the pitch as that. That 100 meters track seems to distance West stand spectators from the action and serve no great purpose.

        I’d agree that a 4th international would harm Edinburgh and Glasgow but I guess it’s the quality of opposition the Scotland faces that annoys me. England have played a full strength Wallaby, Springbok, and All Black side. Maybe we would have taken a pummelling had we faced the same opposition but we’d have learnt to deal with greater intensity and pulled our socks up in time for the 6Nations. I guess it’s harder for the SRU to agree those top level fixtures when our form has been so woeful. It just seems like we’re only going to fall further behind the other home nations playing a poor All Blacks side, a seemingly complacent Argentinian side and Tonga.

  5. Wee crater on

    Secured Scotland v Samoa RWC tickets which opened back up on official site on Friday to those of us not down in original ballot. Prices steep at £115 and being the cheapest available. Looking forward to St James Park in October and hope we can give a good account of ourselves this time and make others sit up and take notice of us.It really pains me the way we have been relegated to also rans as a team and individually albeit justifiably so due to our lack of genuine quality in the wilderness years.We were admired and equally feared when
    Finlay Calder and his like strutted their stuff in ’87 and ’91.
    Now is the time to change perceptions.

    Just hope our young talent emerging like Finn Russell and Jonny Gray make a real impact and put Scotland back on everyone’s radar and be more the talking point again for all the right reasons.
    The yearning to restore some pride is strong.

  6. Neil on

    WOW- 115GBP is unbelievable and more expensive than going to watch a top Permiership football game. I really hope its worth it. I stoped going to watch Scotland games in the late 90s when our top players were retiring and were being replaced by very mediocre ones and equally mediocre coaches. It was then made worse by the fact that we couold no longer rely on a token win against Ireland as they were on the rise with players such as Keith Woods and co. It then got even worse when we lost to Italy on two or three occassions. At one stage it was so bad that I would only watch the first 50 mins of rugby and switch of the TV (I dared not to spend any hard earned cash to visit a stadium to watch them play guff).
    I really do hope that we have turned a corner as I suspect we have but the 6 nations will be the test followed by the WC. On current form I would expect us to beat Samoa by arround 12 points and thump USA and Japan by 30 points or more. The SA game will be an interesting one as I watched SA vs Wales and thought SA were quite poor but I’m sure they will be a changed team for the WC. I also remember them beating us by more than 50 points a few months ago so I would predict a narrow loss to SA. Regarding the 6 nations, I expects us to win all of the games except for England at Twickenham where we cant get a win for love or money. France could go either way as you can never be sure which French team will turn up. However, I would expect narrow wins against Wales and Ireland and to thump Italy by 25 points or more.

    • Frazer on

      The 6 Nations will hopefully give a further indication of how much we have progressed, however there is no way of knowing how well we will do. That sounds like an obvious statement, but the way I see it is that England at Twickenham is probably a bridge too far, we should comfortably beat Italy at home as I feel we have stepped up whereas they have stagnated over the last 3 or 4 years. The other 3 games could easily go either way – we could end the 6N with 4 wins, or we could end up with 1 win! A great deal will depend on injuries (other team’s as well as our own. My own (realistic) forecast is a comfortable win against Italy, narrow wins against Wales and France, but narrow losses to Ireland and England.

      • FF on

        3 wins would be bloody marvellous. 2 wins and no capitulation would still be good. Let’s face it – any win against a team apart from Italy will be something of an upset.

  7. Neil on

    I think we are just as likely to win the 6 nations than to come 5th- note that i think a good win against italy should be a foregone conclusion. I just feel that there is so little between Ireland, Wales and Scotland at the momnet that it all depends on what happens on the day, injuries, yellow cards etc. as for France, who knows- they could be brilliant or rubbish but definately nothing in between. The important point for me is that we dont lose by more than 5 points to any team and we certainly dont lose by 51:3 scorelines as we did in Wales last year.

    • FF on

      I think Scotland has the potential to be a very good test side. They could even win the 6N if everything goes their way. However, to say that we have as much chance of winning as coming 5th is absurd. To say there is little between Scotland, Wales and Ireland is patently untrue.

      We haven’t beaten France since 2006 and contrived to lose last year at home to the worst French team since rugby became professional.
      We haven’t beaten Wales since 2007.
      We haven’t beaten England at Twickenham since 1983.
      We have beaten Ireland only 3 times in 15 6N matches.
      We will field the least capped team in the 6N by some distance.

      Wales and Ireland are packed full of British Lions, have a cabinet full of trophies and have beaten Big 3 teams this autumn.

      Now, I love Scotland, I’ve never turned the TV off in disgust whilst watching them, I keep going to as many matches at Murrayfield as I can afford to (admittedly only 1 or 2 a year as I have to travel to Edinburgh), I’ve lost plenty of money betting on them (and will probably do so again this year) and I constantly live in hope that the next year will be our year to prove everyone wrong. But if we win the 6N this year it will be a massive shock and cost the bookies a hell of a lot of money. If we come 5th it will be business as usual. I suspect that the first time we win the 6N it will be the result of two or three years of gradual improvement rather than a big bang breakthrough.

      Still, who really knows what will happen? If any of us actually did there wouldn’t be much point watching rugby at all. Whatever happens, I’m glad we have cause for optimism again after last year’s calamity.

      • Neil on

        FF- you have to look at recent results in the autumn internationals. I’ve watched almost all of them and I really don’t see much difference between the 6 nation sides except Italy are some way off the pace. Results would also indicate that I am right. I know that our recent record against England Wales and Ireland is pathetic but I also think we have turned a corner and matches against these teams will be close- they could go any way. A loss or a win by 2 or 3 points can mean the difference between a 5th place or a 1st place finish.
        The big bang is an interesting theory you have but what a difference a good coach can make. Just look at Ireland in the 80s and early 90s- they were the whipping boys but a succession of good coaches turned things around in the space of 2 years. We could do the same in spite of the inactivity of the part of the SRU. My only real worry is that we lose our coach at some stage then we would be back to square 1. Where I disagree with the SRU is that I don’t think we have a hope in hell of winning the 2015 world cup- an 8th place finish would be good and probably as much as we can expect.

  8. Neil on

    I have something to raise- why is our sevens team so useless and why do we spend any money on these jokers? Why not just pull out of the world series and spend the money developing a third pro side or on youth development. Think about it- Ireland don’t compete in this and look at what they have achieved in the last 10 years. At present we are simply paying a bunch of useless idiots to go on holiday to nice locations such as the Gold Coast and Dubai. The theory is that good sevens players may progress into the full squad but that does not seem to be happening so much. I also think our womens game is poor, so perhaps there is a case of the SRU to abandon both and just concentrate on our club teams, youth development and improving our national team. Then again, the SRU seem to like losers so I suppose we will have to put up with the pathetic failing of out sevens and womens team for some time to come. I just feel that the players and coaches of these teams should be taken to task and told that if they don’t improve thy will be out of a job as funding will be withdrawn. Any thoughts on this???

    • Mike on

      Ireland have recently announced they’re in the process of setting up a 7s team. I think 7s can be a useful tool in a players development, but like you say I think that at the current time the funds could be better served somewhere else ie youth development. I’d like it to be put on hiatus until our house is in order financially and our pro game has grown more then look to invest in a 7s team. I suspect pride is at the core of it, as the inventors of the 7s game the SRU probably would see it as an embarrassment on the global stage if we dropped it. As to the womens game, I think it needs more development not less, why should they have any less of a opportunity representing their country then men? Improvements have to be made though, as they really have struggled, cant be any fun stepping out on to the pitch and getting pumped every game. But the mens game has been terrible for the last 15 years should we just scrap them too? Its defeatist to say ‘jeez we’re rubbish lets stop playing’ thats not what sport is about. How did you feel the last 6 nations when there were calls for us to be booted out due to our results and performances? In short, stop 7s for the time being, grow the womens game. Those are my thoughts!

    • Ruairidh Campbell on

      “Why is our sevens team so useless”? Well, this weekend at the Dubai 7s, Scotland finished as Plate runners-up which is fairly good going compared to the results that they have been used to over the past few years. As Mike correctly explains, Ireland has just invested in setting up a new 7s team. Why? Because 7s is one of the world’s fastest growing sports in terms of popularity, so why, after doing all of the hard work of making 7s popular would you suddenly chuck away the chance of reaping the benefits of the growing sport? Of course, the SRU over the past few years has struggled to work out whether 7s should be used for player development or as a full-time team. Focus has now switched to the latter and now that the team has been restructured, they are getting used to actually competing and giving fairly decent performances against the likes of Fiji and Australia. Development is something that takes time, you just have to give it a chance.

  9. Neil on

    Actually Mike, For the last couple of years I though we should pull out of the 6 nations. Our team was a national disgrace and an embarassments to all true scots. How long do we really have to wait for improvement in the sevns and wonmens teams? Regarding Ireland, they have done just fine at international level without a sevens team. Why they are starting one now i have no idea. Given the lack of resources we have, and the fact that full game is still much more popular than sevens, even with fans dressed in carazy outfits, I just feel the money would be far better spent on developing a team in teh Scottish borders and on youth development.

    • Angus on

      Neil

      I think the point of Mike’s post was that we have just seen an improvement and I for one am looking forward to the South African leg to see if it can be consolidated

      FYI The subject of money for 7s has been covered pretty extensively and it comes predominantly from outside the SRU so doing away with the 7s teams would also see the money disappear, not see it go to SRU coffers

  10. Neil on

    FF- yes i would like to publish an article on that subject and many others in national newspapers

    Angus, Mike- lets see exaxctly what improvements have been made in the 7s but as far as i can see they are a bit of a disgrace. i just dont think it right to send teams to tournaments that are an embarassment. We have to take pride in what we have- unless they can demonstrate significant improvment and finish in the top 6 of sevens tournaments then i feel we should withdraw our team until we can assembale one that can compete. Alternatively, drop the whole idea altogether. Dont even get me started on the womens game.

    • FF on

      A few points:

      1. In Dubai, Scotland was runner up in the plate which means they did come 6th after losing their Cup QF to eventual runners up Australia by 5pts.

      2. After two World Series events Scotland are 9th. I’m not sure which of the 8 teams above us you think it is embarrassing to be behind. 7s is far more competitive than 15s as not only are there long established leading teams like Fiji and Samoa but tier 2 sides at 15s like Canada, Kenya and Portugal are genuinely quality sides. This is because they invest in their 7s programmes and in 7s you don’t need a wide professional base to develop talent, you need good athletes who get professional exposure on the 7s circuit. It is more competitive because it is a more level playing field. Scotland are a core team and always have been and that is a genuine achievement for a country that has run its 7s team as an afterthought for so long.

      3. I’m not a huge fan of 7s but it’s Olympic status means it will attract a lot of exposure and investment and Scotland would be foolish to ignore that.

      4. Women’s rugby in Scotland is poor because it has always been chronically underfunded. Scottish women deserve the opportunity to play rugby for their country and deserve the support of the rugby community. They need more money not less.

      5. Withdrawing from the 6N would have bankrupted the Scottish game, meaning no pro team in the borders and no cash to support borders clubs. It is a completely ridiculous suggestion.

      6. In the last 15 years or so Scotland have been poor, largely because Scotland has had a weak professional infrastructure and so did not produce enough players with skills and condiitioning at a high enough level for test rugby. Fine – they were bad at rugby. But your constant desire to label them disgraces and declare your embarrassment says more about you than the players who have represented Scotland in my opinion. Remember these teams contained Scottish heroes like Jason White, Chris Patterson, Mike Blair, Nathan Hines who gave their all for the shirt. I don’t think anyone should call themselves a fan if they also call the teams these guys played for a disgrace.

      Rant over.

  11. Angus on

    All good points FF

    Neil – I am specifically talking about this new 7s series with a new coach. On the Gold Coast they were rudderless and seemed to lack purpose and organisation. In Dubai that changed and the result was our best since …. Was that a one off or is it a real sign of progress? We only have to wait a few days to find out so how about hanging fire until then. For me a poitive result would b top 2 of pool. Failing that a win in the shield would get a pass mark.

    • Angus on

      PS here keep forgetting where to hit reply :)

      Although a few days is not a lot to work with I am looking for an improvement in their man on defence because multiple tries came in a similar fashion in the 15 yard channel when the opposition changed direction and glided between 2 or 3 defenders

  12. Neil on

    FF and Angus- dont you find it a bit embarasing when we perform so badly. I get both embarassed and ashamed. I wonder what the NZ, OZ, SA or even the English public would think if there team could only finish 8th or less in a tounament. They would be embarassed and ashamed. It seems that Scottish fans are just happy to accept mediocrity. Is it part of our national psychy to have such a loser mentality without any ambition. Thats exactly why I emigrated from the place and havent lived there since aged 20. Regarding the heros that you mentioned- are you drunk? The only player that even approached something decent was Chris Paterson. Mike Blair (little guy who was pushed arround very easily and made loads of mistakes), Jason white, Nathan Hines- at best just run of the mill utility club players only slightly better than Hugo Southwell who was useless. If you really want to talk about heros you should think in terms of Gavin Hastings, Finlay Calder, John Calder, Gary Armstrong, John Jeffries or the players outside Scotland such as Martin Johnson, Jona Lomu, Sergie Blanco, Percy Montgomery etc. Do you realy think Nathan Hines, Jason White and Mike Blair would compete with these guys- not in a million years. So you think they were heros. I think they were a waste of space. However you have brightened my day up with that joke as I have just fallen off my seat with laughter.

    Regarding the sevens- sure we may have to wait and see what happens but for how long. Maybe there is an argument to be made for keeping our team in the tounament if there is so much money to be made. But lets not forget that we could only finish in 6th place in the Dubai tournament- hardly fantastic. Lets not forget that we are curretly ranked 9th after playing in a number of tounaments- hardly fantastic either dont you think.
    The wonmens game probably needs a bit more funding but, as with the sevens, the players need to fullfil thier side of the bargain by showing a bit more drive and commitment. They need to be warned that a losing mentality is not acceptable.

    • Ruairidh Campbell on

      The reason why the big thee southern hemisphere teams can do so well is because not only do they have a lot of money pumped into the game, but they also have enough popularity and a strong enough club structure to be able to nurture young talent. Rugby is not the national sport of Scotland and still needs to find more support in the club game. You call yourself “embarrassed and ashamed” whenever we continuously lose to these big sides; what I would like to know is how did you feel after the recent Autumn internationals? If you were embarrassed and ashamed at that then to be honest you are probably wasting your time supporting Scottish rugby.

      As for the 7s, the Dubai tournament was only the 2nd, so no, there had not been a “number of tournaments”. Bear in mind, if you also look at the tail end of last season, Scotland qualified for the cup in 3 of their last 5 tournaments (excluding European competition). As has already been mentioned, 7s is a much more competitive game with teams who may be weak in 15s (Canada, Portugal) having very strong 7s setups, hence why Canada now compete (and beat) the likes of Fiji and Australia. Why? Because the Canadian Rugby Union was happy to try and focus on 7s to nurture young talent. These players are now coming into 15s and that is why Canada have become much more competitive over recent years. I can assure you that Scottish players do show drive an commitment which is why they do beat the top 7s teams, right now it is about finding the consistency which is definitely coming.

    • FF on

      Guys like Gavin Hastings, Finlay Calder, John Calder, Gary Armstrong, and John Jeffries didn’t just spring out of the womb as world class players. Scotland throughout the 80’s had a ‘golden generation’ because Scotland was the first of the home nations to establish a national club league in 1973 which meant young players came through into a hugely competitive environment. Until then, Scotland had largely been terrible. So if you knew anything about rugby you’d know that the test side is only ever going to be as good as the fundamentals that underpin it. New Zealand aren’t the best team in the world because they want to win more than other teams or are more ambitious than other teams it is because they have the most competitive and high quality domestic structure in the world and produce the best standard of players.

      Scotland’s domestic structure completely failed to adapt to professionalism but is beginning to make up ground. It is nothing to do with accepting mediocrity, just being realistic about where we are in the rugby world and what we need to do to progress. I think the players deserve our support because they pull on the jersey to represent us and day in day out, sweat blood and guts to try to win. But it is professional sport, passion alone doesn’t cut it and you need the structure around you to excel.

      I don’t expect you to agree as you are clearly a very angry person but I find it hard to believe you are even a Scottish rugby supporter if you think Jason White was a waste of space.

      • Allan on

        Agreed FF

        I’m afraid Neil is a borderline internet troll when it comes to Rugby. His suggestion of running a pro team on a one million pound budget revealed hus total lack of understanding of modern rugby. Just another pub bore with a keyboard!

      • Neil on

        Allan- so you think I’m an internet troll and a pub bore. I think you must just be one of those fans (we seem to have many of them) that supports the status quo by accepting mediocrity. You may laugh but before you laugh too hard chew on this fact- they also laughed at Charles Darwin and Thomas Eddison. If people like you had won over them then we wouold still think the Earth wa flat, the world was created in 10 days, man would never fly or create electricity etc. It is only by challenging the status quo, however painfull that me be, that things will ever imporove. Do you believe in miracles? I do.

  13. Neil on

    Scotland were not, infact a poor team in the 50’s and 60’s but I know a lot more about the post 1975 era as I was born in the very early 70’s. Sure rugby is not our national sport but that holds true for England, Wales, Ireland, France and pretty much everyone except SA and NZ. And for the record, I thought we did really well in the Autumn internationals, probably because we employed a coach from NZ with a winning attitude. I just feel there is a much deeper problem associated with our national psyche where we tend to aim low and are happy at accept mediocrity. Jasaon White was probably an average cluib player but really isnt in the same league as the legends of the past such as Damian Cronin, Gavin Hastings, Finlay Calder etc. You cant be serious if you think he was. Just look at the last 15 mins against NZ. We had competed well up until that point but NZ then started to play as if thier lives depended on winning. I dontr get that from the Scotland team. I think the fans are as bad. What would happen in NZ if they only finished 10th in a tounament. there wouold be an uproar, street protests ets. In scotland the fans would just accept it and noboday would be taken to task. that is what separates an average team from a great one- attitide. Just look at how many games NZ win by 7 points or less and ask yourself why? The reason is that they nevr give up and play for thwe full 80 mins or more with the same commitment that they started the game. If Scotland are ebver to win the World Cup we would need that level of commitmant in every game.

    • Ruairidh Campbell on

      Firstly, I don’t think there would exactly be “street protests”. However, the reason why the New Zealand population would be disappointed with their team if that were to ever happen is because they have long been established as the best team in rugby union. Do Scotland currently have that same rating? No. In the world rankings, New Zealand are 1st, Scotland are 8th. Therefore, it is quite obvious each country is going to react differently in the way that they perform in a competition.

      • Nei on

        Ruairidh- that just states the obvious point I was trying to make- in Scotland we just accept mediocrity. For the last 15 years or more we have had a rubbish team yet we don’t complain we just accept it. We could probably claim to be in the top 4 in the late 80s-early 90s yet when we became poor in the early 2000s people just accepted it. Contesting the wooden spoon with Italy in the last game of the season was all we could hope for and WE ACCEPTED IT. Well I did not, hence my somewhat angry mails. I’m sure NZ fans would really be so accepting of their team if they finished last in the 4 nations and behind Argentina. There would be an outcry. In Scotland we would just forget it and accept it. We would also make excuses- the moon was in the wrong place, if only the other team did not turn up etc etc

    • FF on

      It is not attitude that separates the best teams from the rest. That is a deeply misguided (though popular) idea that has no basis in fact at all.

      You are also wrong on some other facts. Scotland didn’t win a single Grand Slam, Championship or Triple Crown between 1948 (when the tournament began again following the Second World War) and 1984.

      In the 1950’s and 1960’s our records were:

      Vs England Played: 20 Won: 3 Drawn: 4 Lost: 13
      Vs Ireland Played: 20 Won: 7 Lost: 13
      Vs Wales Played: 20 Won: 7 Lost: 13
      Vs France Played: 20 Won: 8 Draw: 1 Lost: 11

      So we were the worst team in the 5N. Remarkably, our record vs the SH in this period was better –
      Vs SH Played: 11 Won: 5 Drawn: 1 Lost: 5

      You can see all the results here: http://www.lassen.co.nz/pickandgo.php

      We improved steadily from the 1970 until our greatest ever period of success in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Those are the facts.

      • Neil on

        I had no idea we were quite that poor in the 50s and 60s. Seems just like the years 2001- 2014. Lets hope we have turned a corner.

      • Wee crater on

        Neil- Don’t know why you are banging on about the 50s and 60s results in cahoots with FF and dwelling on negatives.
        Also your dousing of Jason White is misinformed as unlike some others captaining Scotland in recent years he lead from the front and was a rare inspirational figure in the mid noughties. Clermont would not pick a run of the mill player.

        Yes as I have expressed before I share your angst over the poor performances from Scotland each time 6N and RWC come around.But we are making steady progress now with Cotter imbuing a new confidence and direction which is attributable to Glasgow Warriors raising standards and their winning mentality. Attitude is not irrelevant FF…ask the All Blacks.

        Yes acknowledge the past but stick to the positives guys.
        We will shock a few next year and win more…France for starters when cold, England edge at Twickers not mission impossible and good preparation for RWC QF there.

    • FF on

      Hmm my reply is awaiting moderation because it has a link in it. Copied below without link:

      It is not attitude that separates the best teams from the rest. That is a deeply misguided (though popular) idea that has no basis in fact at all.

      You are also wrong on some other facts. Scotland didn’t win a single Grand Slam, Championship or Triple Crown between 1948 (when the tournament began again following the Second World War) and 1984.

      In the 1950’s and 1960’s our records were:
      Vs England Played: 20 Won: 3 Drawn: 4 Lost: 13
      Vs Ireland Played: 20 Won: 7 Lost: 13
      Vs Wales Played: 20 Won: 7 Lost: 13
      Vs France Played: 20 Won: 8 Draw: 1 Lost: 11

      So we were the worst team in the 5N. Remarkably, our record vs the SH in this period was better –
      Vs SH Played: 11 Won: 5 Drawn: 1 Lost: 5

      (You can see all the results on a website called pick and go so take a look if you don;t believe me)

      We improved steadily from the start of the 1970s until our greatest ever period of success in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Those are the facts.

  14. Neil on

    FF- I’m not angry but I am very passionate and have just been fed up with watching mediocre players pull on the Scotland jersey over the years. I’m also fed up with the fans who seem to have just accepted this level of mediocrity without question. I just hope that we have turned a corner.

  15. Angus on

    Well Scotland have qualified for the Quarter Finals of the cup with some mixed performances which shows room for improvement. So that is a good thing. They are up v Argentina who topped their pool after knocking off Aus

    Good game on the cards today.

  16. Neil on

    Couldnt find the results of the SA sevens tournament but I make the assumption that we didnt get beyond the semi finals. We also lost to the mighty CANADA. I dont mind losing to Canada at Ice Hockey but Rugby. It really just proves the point I made earlier- we are guff at sevens. The players and coaches should be taken to task and told that we expect an improvement over the next 2 years, otherwise we will withdraw the team altogether. At present, i think the team must view this as one fantastic free holiday. Do they train in the pub? As for the womens team- dont even get me started. Thats the problem with Scottish rugby- there is no accountability for poor results and performances.

    • Ruairidh Campbell on

      Neil, firstly Scotland made it to the plate semi-finals (equivalent of finishing 7th/8th). One thing that it is important to note is that just because a country is not too great at XVs does not mean that they are at the same level in 7s – for example, I’m sure you would be disappointed if Scotland lost a XVs game to Fiji, yet they are one of the top teams in world 7s. Canada, quite like the USA and Kenya, are a team who have seen huge investment focusing more on 7s. As I have previously said, Canada have fast become a very strong side, competing with the top teams in 7s, reaching the women’s RWC final and now having close games with the likes of Tonga and Fiji in XVs. What I would recommend you do Neil is actually watch a World Series tournament (streamed on their website) and then that will allow you to see for yourself at what level the Scottish 7s team are compared to the rest.

    • FF on

      Neil, yet again you show that you are a bit of a keyboard warrior, full of strident talk but with not much actual insight into the game. Scotland have moved into the top 8 of the world series a third of the way through the season and above our 6N rivals Wales and France. If anything, this season our 7s squad has actually been outperforming the 15s squad – they are higher ranked in a more competitive code of rugby with the Glasgow and London series still to come where we generally get our best results.

      FYI Fiji, second in the standings and historically the second best sevens team behind NZ lost to USA in the Plate final. That just goes to show how much more competitive sevens is than 15s. Any of the core teams can beat each other and occasionally do, unlike 15s.

  17. Neil on

    If we are really that good at 7s why are we ranked only 8th- hardly fantastic is it. Lets just see how this season goes and I’m sure there will be the odd upset along the way but the core nations such as Fiji, NZ, OZ and SA always seem to be in the top ranks at sevens while we seem to be the also rans. My point is that we should not get used to the Scottish mentality that its the taking part that counts rather than the winning. The fact is that the players are paid professionals and need to be held accountable as they should be at the full 15 a side game.

  18. Allan on

    And what pray tell should these “paid professionals” be paid Neil? You recently prattled on about running a pro side on £1m a year operating costs. Care to break that down for us again just to reveal to us all how out of touch with reality you really are?

    For a nation with around 10,000 rugby participants (a tiny amount compared to England, SA, France, Wales, NZ, Ireland, Australia) I would say eighth is a pretty good effort and not to be mocked and insulted as you seem to enjoy doing. How would you feel if you were constantly told you are rubbish at your job and should be sacked (maybe you are, which would certainly explain your chippiness)?

    You won’t be happy till Scotland are winning World Cups and grand Slams constantly. By all means we should aspire but let’s not be deluded about how realistic that is.

    • Neil on

      Allan- I just remember growing up in the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s when we finnished in first second or third place in the 5 nations on a regular basis and were rarely wooden spoon condtenders. Even when we did get the wooden spoon in 1985 I felt we were very unlucky as all of our games were close results appart from the one against France in Paris. I also recall us winning the grand slam in 1984 and 1990 and the championship in 2000. Since then it has been a downhill spiral.
      My expectations are to be a top 4 nation rather than a top 8 one. I dont expect us to win the world cup but, as a bare minimum, we should reach the quarter finals and hopefully go beyond this to the semis. I dont think these are unrealistic expectations. I just hate the loser mentality that you seem to have- its not the winning its the taking part philosophy. If the Scots showed a bit more ambition we would be a top 4 nation. Are you just another one of those also rans or do you have any ambition. I’m sure you feel right at home in Scotland with plent of other people lacking ambition and drive.

      I do agree with one point that you make though- we need more pro players but this can only be achieved with more pro teams. You seem to like bringing up a previous comment I made about running a pro team on 1 million GBP per annum,. If you had read the messages carefully, which you clearly have not, you would note that I mentioned this figure as a start up cost for the first year only when the team would be renting a stadium, have a minimal amount of paid professionals and relay heavily on semi-pro-amature players. I think that formula would work in the short term until sponsorship and money from merchandise/gate tickets would allow for expansion. The trouble is we are dealing with a bunch of people with no ambition or drive so I dont think it will be possible to set up a third pro team in the foreseable future. The money from BT to the SRU wouold certainly help us do that but they seem to want to use this money to fund 1st class air fairs for a fat Ozzie who used to pretend to be a coach and 5 star hotel accomodation for execs etc.
      So yes I am bitter and angry but not for the reasons you think. I am bitter and angry because I grew up supporting a team that I was proud of and I dont see much action on the part of the SRU to improve things. The only positive thing they have done is to appoint Vern Cotter as coach and his efforts are beginning to show but what can only one man do? The SRU need to do so much more- we need to do alot more at grass routes (our youth teams are poor), encourage young players to take up the game, coach them properly and set up at least another two pro teams. That formula will work. At the moment we have a short term fix- a great coach who will probably leave in a couple of years time and then where will we be. Let me guess- a team with players at the level of Hugo Southwell or Mike Blair or Lawson and coached by fat usless Ozzie. I would say the best we can hope for is to contest the wooden spoon each year with Italy. Perhaps that is all you wish to hope for but I want so much more.

      • FF on

        You don’t remember it that well; we won the championship in 1999 and only avoided the wooden spoon in 2000 by beating England on the last day in the tournament in a rain lashed Murrayfield after losing to Italy on the first day.

      • FF on

        Anyway, regarding your points: a lack of ambition was a charge that could be levelled against the SRU in the McKie era but not before, when it was an almost total lack of professional business acumen that was the problem (we did after all have 4 pro-teams, they just went bust) or since. Although you refuse to recognise it, the SRU has actually been taking steps to develop a professional and youth structure that will allow Scotland to compete; some of this is bearing fruit, some not, but to claim that the SRU hasn’t even shown the ambition to tackle the issues our game faces is nonsense.

        All the other points are old ground we’ve been over on these boards: a significant amount of the BT funds is being invested in the youth and community game and academy structure; £1m per annum is not enough to establish a team that is sustainable and an attractive sponsorship proposition; Vern Cotter has done wonders so far but he isn’t responsible for the fact that we have more young quality players in the squad than any time I can remember since the 90’s.

        The problem with critiques like yours, is you want to reduce everything to aspects of character so you can blame individuals and pretend there are easy solutions.

        I think we agree that at the RWC we’ll reach the QFs and have an outside chance of making a semi-final. I hope you remember that those Scotland players you deride for the most part did exactly that – it was only at the last world cup where Scotland failed to make the QFs because of conceding a try to Argentina in the last 10 minutes. The margins at test level are incredibly fine.

      • Neil on

        FF- do you seriously think that we were asgood a team from 2000-2013 that wewere in the 80s and 90s. The fact is wehave been an embarassment from 2000 up until the Autumn tests of this year. It was just pathetic and yes I do blame the SRU for financial mismanagemnt and general lack of ambition over these years. So you recon things have changed- I’m not convinced. Our youth teams are still only average at best and we still only have 2 pro teams, one of which is fairly mediocre. Lets face it, without Vern Cotter we would be f.ck.d. He has done the job of a magician in the face of adversity and I have so much respect for him- a man with a vision, a mission and ambition. As forthe SRU- they got a massive cash handout from BT but where is the third pro team? If they have doneso muchat youth level why are our youth teams so poor. Pleas explain. You are correct about one thing-now that I remember it, we did win the championship in 1999 not 2000. Its just so long ago and we have been subjected to so much rubbish ever since that I forgot. One rubbish year for the Scots national team tends to roll into another for me. In the last world cup we may have been a bit unlucky but Argentina really deserved to win that game by a country mile. Lets face it, our WC performances have not been great since 1991 when we got to the semis. Since that time we have looked like an 8th place team or worse. I just have higher ambitions for us to be atop 4 team or higher.

      • FF on

        Neil – your talking rubbish again. I’ve never said that we have been anything other than dire between 2000 and now. I was just pointing out that those teams you lambast achieved the QF target you say is a minimum and which we have only surpassed once.

        You talk like Cotter has achieved the best results for Scotland since 2000, which is frankly nonsense. We have beaten Tonga and Argentina in the AIs. I was hugely impressed with the manner of those victories but they are hardly earth shattering results. Robinson managed to beat SH teams in the AIs and win series away in Argentina and his team still failed in the 6N and world cup. Hadden managed to get 3 victories in his first 6N in 2006 and finish 3rd, before qualifying for the QF in the world cup. He is still largely seen as a failure because he led the team nowhere.

        Your rush to anoint Cotter the new Great White Hope of Scottish rugby and ridicule anyone else involved in the game who isn’t part of the Golden generation (despite many of them being involved in the decline of the Scottish game when they were no longer players) shows how little you understand about the game. Cotter is a very good coach, he is not the messiah and he can’t turn water into wine. it is the players who go on the pitch and play the game, the coach can just prepare them as well as possible. We actually have a very good generation of players coming through, even if strength in depth remains an issue. Why do you think that is Neil?

      • Mike on

        Neil – I desperately want a 3rd pro team to but we’re just not in the position at the moment, working in finance the the situation is nowhere as simplistic as you make out. As a start I want both Glas & Edn to be consistently top 6 pro 12, with at least one making the playoff, with mainly homegrown players and Scotland to be winning all their home games in 6 nations. Then move it up a notch, one of those teams winning the pro 12, 6 nations. Once we have some consistency then look to a 3rd team. We can’t afford to mess professionalism up again, we need to take it one step at a time which unfortunately means a degree of caution with how we use our finances.

      • Neil on

        FF- you still didnt answer my question. If the SRU are doing so much at youth level why are our youth teams so poor? I notice you like to deflect things and give politicians answers but I still like our communications. I stand by thae fact that uCotter is to Scotland what Warren Gatland is to Wales. True, it is the players who reperesent us but without proper coaching and encouragement they are useless. You make the point that many of the players were arround in the bad old days of 2012 and 2013 but, with good coaching from Cotter and Gary Armstrong at Glasgow, these players have been transformed overnight. Since taking over we have only lost two games- a very narrow defeat to NZ and a thumping by SA. He can probably be excused for the latter as it was only his third game in charge. It is true that Ander Andy Robinson we beat Australlia twice but did you see the games. On the first occassion the ball was not out of our half in the last 40 minutes and OZ were running us ragged. We defended well but we go a bit pucky and I felt OZ were robbed of victory. The second game was played in OZ but the weather conditions were nasty and that suited us perfectly. We played reasonabkly well but used the weather to outr advantage. The following year I believe we beat SA at home but that had more to do with the fact that SA were rubbish than Sxcotland were good.
        It is interesting that you seem to think third place in the 6 nations is a great thing. Believe me it is not. In the 70s, 80′ and 90’s we consisdered 3rd place in the then 5 nations to be only average. We were aiming for 1st spot most of the time, though we often came second. A third place finish was never special or something we felt we had to celebrate.I recall an Ozzie coaching us buy the name of Matty Williams and he was useless. He could not motivate a drunk in a brew.y and lost the faith of his players. As it happened I thought Frank Hadden was a poor coach- he needed to have a bit more bottle- be a bit more of an Alex Fergusson and less of a grandmother. Andy Robinson was a slightly better coach and I felt we should have stuck with him for 1 or 2 more seasons but results were not going his way and I felt he was lacking support from the SRU. Dont even get me started on Scott Johnson- the worst coach in the history of world rugby- where the h.ll did he come from and why did we apoint someone that made such a hash of the Wales job? We may never know but what happened in the past happened in the past and we cant change that.

        My point is that we had a series of mediocre-average coaches from 2000-2013. Just look at how the appointment of good national coaches has lifted the Welsh National team. The same could probably be said for Ireland, so it was a godsend when we finally appointed a great coach in the face of Vern Cotter. We havent had one for the last 15-20 years or more so it has been a massive lift for the team. But credit shiould also go to Gary Armstron as he has worked wonders at Glasgow.

        I seem to get alot of responses about the possibility of setting uop a third pro tem. This is necessary and I’ve explained how it can be achieved but the SRU dont seem to support it inspite of the funding they receieved from BT- so what are they actually spending it on and what are they doing? Why are our yourth teams so poor?

        Answers on a postcard please

      • Neil on

        Allan-Correction to my ealier post- I should have refered to Gregor Townsend as the Glasgow coach not Gary Armstrong. We all make mistakes early on Thursday morning. Most people look beyond occassional spelling/grammar error and minor facts to see the full reason/theme behind the message. Maybe you should try it. My point was that Townsend has done a fantastic job at Glasgow, as has Cotter for our nation squad. Without these two individuals we would still be in the backwaters or world rugby, loosing by 50 points or more to the top tier nations and contesting the wooden spoon with Italy each year.

        I assume thats what you want- a mediocre team contesting the wooden spoon. Jundging be your earlier messages you seem to accept that level of mediocrity. Maybe you shood aim a bit higher in life- it would help you in so many different ways, not just in the field of rugby.

  19. Mike on

    On the back of my previous post and the reponses I found some highlights of the Dubai 7s. Scotland had 3 in 10 of the best tries of the weekend. We seem to be a side that’s building a name for ourselves with our passing ability, I now realise that we’re actually better than I thought! Also I see young Hoyland was being scoring tries. If it gives good exposure for our younger players then I all for it!

  20. Angus on

    Hoyland went well

    The passing a lot, a hell of a lot is something Scotland have been doing for the last 3 or 4 years. The thing is 7s is not about how many passes you can make it is about how many tries you can score. Fiji for example average 5 point something passes per try whereas Scotland are at a guess 12?

    I think Scotland played better at Dubai but got to the Semis in SA without playing very well which I guess has to be a good thing. And only lost on sudden death v Arg in the Semi

    As the season goes on we will see but my thoughts are there is potential there and steps are being made in the right direction without question

    We are lacking raw pace though to make the most of opportunities that are created or present themselves and we need a live wire i the midfield who can zip through the same holes

  21. Andy Fairbairn on

    That’s the impression I got from the last 2 tournaments in particular. They are doing “ok” and have probably found their level.

    We lack the power to break through tackles and the pace to finish off half-breaks.
    Neither do we have the outright pace to finish many 1 on 1’s. The tackling has at times been disappointing as well.

    Bit like the Xv’s a few years back. Umpteen phases on the opposition line rewarded…… by a drop goal. The 7’s pass and pass and pass for 2 minutes to score. Kick off and the opposition reply in 15 seconds. Hard work and always likely to fall on the wrong side of a close game – the sucker punch etc.

    Also a bit like the Xv’s recent years, they follow up a bad performance with a good one because the coach demanded a “reaction”. Why?, why wasn’t the standard maintained in the first place?

    Its the style we have and is built around the players at our disposal. Making the Cup knockout is a good effort. The feeling I get is that getting that far, or further depends more on how badly the opposition play rather than how well we play.

  22. Mike on

    Angus & Andy – Fair enough. I’ll be honestand say im not totally up to speed with the ins and outs of 7s apart from the basic rules and watching a bit of the Melrose 7s. I was just pleasantly suprised to see we’re not as poor as I admittedly first thought.

  23. Angus on

    Neil – Everyone here wants the best for Scottish rugby. I for one want to look at the here and now and forwards. That means what is happening right now, where we are at and where we can go from here

    That does not mean constantly referring back to what happened in the past good or bad. Please give that a rest

    Pro teams – already done this one to death. Quite honestly you have to be barking mad to be campaigning for a 3rd pro team when we can’t fill 2 with Scottish players – lets get that sorted then revisit the 3rd team

    Coaches and players – I have said for 3 – 4 years we have the players of international standard but they are not being coached properly. That has changed

    7s – said my bit on this but like 15s or anything in life you measure yourself by the ability to do better than the last time. In 7s this ultimately means finishing higher up the rankings than last season but along the way you look to achieve milestones eg qualifying for more cup quarter finals than last year, looking to go better than you did last year in the individual tournaments. Achieve those and the overall target takes care of its self

    Neil – You want Scotland to be at the top of the world and I applaud that. Yes, in the past we have done great things for a small country such as the Grand Slams and Championship wins that have been mentioned.

    The reality is we have gone through some bad years and again noone is saying they were ok and making excuses for them.Does a couple of wins in the AIs mean everything in the garden is rosy now? Of course not but the WAY Scotland as a team and the players individually played in getting those victories does signify a big change for the better

    So, how about giving the chicken little impression a break and let us enjoy some results that have been a long time coming.

    If you have any ideas about how Scottish rugby can be improved at any level (3rd pro team not included) then please let’s hear them as opposed to just telling us how bad things are

    Thanks :)

    • Neil on

      Angus, I can tell that you are a true passionate fan of Scottish rugby and you make some very good points. The reason I bring up the past is that we need to learn lessons from it. I think we may have turned a corner but I dont want to go back to the bad old days- losing 51:3 to Wales, fielding players like Mike Blair (would be better off with Lionel Blair) and Hugo Southwell (worst Scottish player of all time in my opinion) and coached but useless fat Ozzie. WE MUST NEVER GO BACK TO THAT.
      The ways in which we can get more success are as follows:

      1. Good coaching at grass routes
      2. Encourage more players to take up the game at all levels
      3. Encourage Edinburgh to concentrate on fielding good home grown talent rather that foriegn players who are has beens or never weres. Just look how well Glasgow have done with home grown talent. Edinburgh could easily do the same but they need tosack their coach as his philosophy does not work.
      4. Yes I will bring it up again. We need at least another pro team and probably two or three. Dont worry I’mnot going to revisit argument in any detail
      5. What the h.ll are the SRU doing with all the money from BT?
      6.We need supporters who hold the team to account- not to accept mediocrity or vie a third place finish in the 6 nations as a great thing. The team needs to be praised when we play well but to be taken to task if it does not.

      Let me know if you agree with these points.

      • Angus on

        Neill, i don’t think anyone would argue with your desired bigger picture. I think the point is you seem to be going straight to Nirvana without factoring in the steps that need to get there from the her and now

        Goal – 3rd Pro Team

        Current situation – one team (Glasgow) with a predominantly Scottish squad doing well and one with a lot of foreigners below half way in table regularly

        Reality – There are not enough players in Scotland at the moment to fill the squads of 2 teams and everyone complains about Embra having so many foreigners so from a purely player point of view a third dream is completely unfeasible

        Solution – Slowly replace the foreigners with Scottish eligible players until it reaches the same balance as Glasgow.

        Reality – if these players exist at the moment why haven’t they already been signed by Edinburgh? Until such time as they are all talk of a 3rd team has to be put on hold

        Re your points

        1. Yes
        2. Yes
        3. Yes
        4. Yes one day but at the moment No
        5. No idea but I hope someone of it is invested to generate ongoing income in the future
        6. Absolutely and during the World Cup in Aus many years ago I made this very point (I included Journalists as being responsible) The result was an article in the P&J taking the piss out of me for the first column and a half then agreeing with everything I had said for the next 3 columns :)

  24. Neil on

    Angus, Its good that we have agreement on many of the points that I raised. I agree that it takes time to change things but I believe it can happen in less than 5 years, Just look at how poor some of the Wales and Ireland teams were from 1985-1988 but the fortunes of both nations were transformed in under 5 years, mainly by the appointment of good quality coaches.
    The problem is that we have great players playing from some of the borders and Edinbugh teams but they never get the chance to play for Edinburgh because the coach/manager is so keen to fill the team with second rate foreiners. The best solution would be to force his hand. Either sack him or, better still the SRU could introduce the following ruling:

    1. All pro teams must only employ a maximum of 25% forieng player
    2. Each pro team must field a minimum of 11 Scottish nationals in any game or part of game.

    That would result in the Edinburgh team being as good as Glasgow. The problem is one of perception and an unwillingness to see the bigger picture. We will never be able to attract the best players such as Dan Carter so, instead of relying on second rate players from other nations, would it not be a much better and more cost effective idea to develop home bead talent. It works in NZ, OZ, Ireland and other countries after all so why not here. The only way our players can develop is if they are playing at the highest level over a long period of time. Just look at what has been achieved at Glasgow- a team with hardly any non-Scots. Edinbugh could do the same with just a little thought and ability to see the bigger picture, not just concentrating on short term fixes. However, they probably have to get rid of their coach first.

  25. Angus on

    Neil – quotas in any context show a failure at a higher level. Sorry but I am going round in circles here – if there were Scottish eligible players of a sufficient standard to play pro rugby they would be playing of Edinburgh now – there aren’t and that’s a fact so you need to accept that in order to move on and it is also why a 3rd team is simply fantasy atm

    If you can’t accept that basic principle then it is pointless continuing any discussion

    Now that Edinburgh have a team that is stabilising they can continue the development of Scottish eligible players and and start feeding them in but that will not happen overnight or in one season. Once and only Once that happens and Edinburgh has say a 75% of Scottish eligible players on average every week can any talk of a 3rd team be entertained

    As for the 11 internationals per game I am not even going to dignify that with a response

Comments are closed.