1872 Cup: Edinburgh 26-24 Glasgow

Leg 1: 16-6

Leg 1 wasn’t much to write home about, save for an excellent team try by Glasgow that showed them at their attacking best. That was the rare highlight, but there was a welcome return to form for Al Kellock who ruled his particular set piece imperiously. There was bad news for Rob Harley fans as he limped off with a fairly hefty ankle/knee knock that while not requiring surgery, will keep him out of action for several weeks. Glasgow didn’t hit top gear, but didn’t need to and ran out 16-6 winners.

Leg 2: 20-8

And so to the second leg at Murrayfield, that saw Edinburgh make a handful of changes including the return of Tim Visser, and Phil Burleigh the latest in a series of experiments at 12 shuffling arguably our best 12, Matt Scott, out to 13 again. Glasgow made a raft of changes, perhaps suggesting that Townsend felt home advantage was enough to rest some of the key players last weekend, but they would be needed at BT Murrayfield to try and make the most of their 10 point lead.

Both standoffs Finn Russell and Greig Tonks were playing heads-up rugby and looking for space in behind the defensive line with a variety of nice chip kicks. Fife had an early chance when the bouncing ball from just one such kick caught Seymour unaware, but the Edinburgh wing stumbled and couldn’t quite escape Dunbar.

The new look Glasgow front row of Reid, Hall and Welsh had the early advantage in the scrum giving Russell a straightforward penalty kick to open the scoring.

Edinburgh hit back with Coman carrying close to the line but the momentum was deflated by a series of inept passes and fumbles from Fife then Scott.

Glasgow were skating on thin ice at the tackle area and pretty soon referee Nigel Owens gave the home side a chance to equalise. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne sneaked the ball over the upright into the ample breeze and Edinburgh were up and running.

They found some parity in the scrums and Glasgow attracted the ire of Owens again for their breakdown antics as Hall was punished for not rolling away; Hidalgo-Clyne kicked the penalty.

Tim Visser suddenly appeared in the game at that point, narrowly missing out on a speculative kick chase that was deemed in touch, before timing his run on to Tonks’ pass moments later for the games opening try. At 13-3, the aggregate score was suddenly 19-19 and Edinburgh were in the hunt for the 1872 Cup.

The second try was right out of Seymour’s playbook, only it was Visser (again) who snatched the interception and ran it in from distance after Glasgow tried to force things even before half time. At 20-3 Glasgow were looking nothing like the certain victors they had been touted as two weeks ago, unable to open up the Edinburgh miserly defence.

The home side were no longer playing like the Three Stooges in attack and suddenly became a much harder nut to crack.

HT: Edinburgh 20-3 Glasgow

Set piece seemingly cast aside during the team talk, Hall and Kellock were replaced at half time but it was Matawalu who scored one of his famous opportunist tries, scampering round to chase his own kick and lunging past Jack Cuthbert to get the lightest of touches on it in the huge in goal area of BT Murrayfield. The conversion was missed, but that quick try and a couple of galloping runs from Nakarawa  had the large visiting support buzzing.

Tonks had been great in the first half but suddenly his kicking went to pot, and players like Maitland who had been quiet were suddenly everywhere during a breathtaking spell of end to end rugby. It wasn’t quite the BaaBaas – there was a lot of kicking, but at least it was not of the aimless variety, probing for the spaces left by runners out of position.

Russell grew into the game at this point too making another lovely break, something that was refreshing to see from a Scottish standoff. Strauss and Gray were, however, very quiet, a testament to Edinburgh’s defence perhaps but also the root cause of Glasgow’s ills; they had very little go-forward ball until Nakarawa came on.

Edinburgh, rather than collapsing hopelessly in the face of this attack, tightened things up and with Kellock off the park, Toolis and Bresler had a real crack at Jonny Gray’s lineout, stifling the game just as Glasgow were trying to open it up. Hidalgo-Clyne missed a couple of penalties but Edinburgh were where they wanted to be on the pitch, the scoreboard and the clock. With set-piece dominance – Al Dickinson re-appeared late on in the scrums and took Euan Murray to the cleaners – the cup was theirs.

They may never be pretty, but Edinburgh under Alan Solomons had done their homework and while they didn’t seem to have an answer to Glasgow’s Plan A, they managed to stop them deploying it for all but those 10 minutes in the second half.

It was enough for Edinburgh to run out deserved winners of the match, and the 1872 Cup.

Aggregate score: Edinburgh 26-24 Glasgow

SRBlog Man of the Match: difficult to judge, this one. Hidalgo-Clyne was effective and Visser had the maximum impact versus time he was noticed, but Ali Dickinson deserves it for a solid effort in the scrum and the loose, sharing it alongside Ross Ford who never gave an inch and carried powerfully.

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125 comments on “1872 Cup: Edinburgh 26-24 Glasgow

  1. Angus on

    I think that’s a refreshing result for Scottish rugby and will make for some interesting discussions in the selection room leading in to the first of the 6 Nations games

  2. Allan on

    Good defensive display by Edinburgh and it was pleasing to see how much it meant to them at the whistle. Glasgow looked one dimensional at times. Missing Bennett in the midfield more than Gregor would like to admit.

    Nigel Owens, who I rate highly, was all over the shop at scrum time! “Not taking the hit”? I thought the “hit” had been eliminated now that front rows must bind?

  3. FF on

    The strange world of Scottish rugby. As an Edinburgh fan I’m delighted with the win and performance but feel disappointed we’ve put a dent in Glasgow’s title push. I hope we can make amends by battering their rivals as well, especially when the Osprey’s visit in the 6N. It is great for Scottish rugby that we are still in the hunt for a RCC place, although we still look more stodgy than capable. There is the makings of a decent side there although it is a little mystifying how we have gone from a team that played devil-may-care rugby a few years ago to a side that appears to be aspiring to retro-Munster. If we build on this with more wins I couldn’t really care less.

    Wonder if Grant will finally get a place in the 6N squad with Fusaro and potentially Harley out too? No, me neither.

  4. Mike on

    Great result for Edinburgh. Hope they back it up with a win against Connacht, which wont be easy. Good advert for the Pro 12 too. If the Italians can turn it up a notch it has the makings of a great competitive league. Some of the kicking from hand for territory was a bit wayward but kicking to relieve pressure was good. Matt Scott still looks a bit rusty but he will come good I’m sure. Lastly I’m still not 100% about Tonks at 10 (the 1st try was well worked), I think Heathcote has got it in him to be a really good stand off, just needs some belief, with Tonks at 15, but I understand some would disagree.

  5. Standoffalot on

    As a Glasgow supporter, a very disappointing result and performance against a limited Edinburgh side. We seem to have lost our way since the AIs and teams have figured us out. We are seriously missing Mark Bennett. Also Finn Russell seems to have lost his way a little. Bath and Montpellier will hardly be worried on this form. From a Scotland perspective, good to see the Scottish Edinburgh forwards front up, particularly Ford and Dickinson. Visser also took both tries well. Still one of the best finishers in the Pro 12, if only he could tackle. Matt Scott also starting to find his feet again, although I prefer him at 12. It will be interesting to see if Edinburgh kick on from here, I hope so. They were far more up for it last night, the Glasgow players seemed a little complacent.

    • FF on

      Glasgow fans seem to have forgotten that for most of last season their form was dreadful, hence why they got so few bonus points and scored so few tries, but they kept winning ugly and that shows the quality in the squad.

      I do think their European challenge is likely to hit the rocks at Bath and they may struggle with 6N call ups. However, their recent dip in form is normal. No team turns out excellent performances every week in the league and the trick is to be there or thereabouts at the business end of the season. Last year for Glasgow, their form took an upswing after the new year and they had a storming end to the season. They need to repeat the trick; their 6N schedule is OK and I suspect all the teams in the top 6 will drop points. But you are right, they are missing a spark in midfield and Bennett can’t return soon enough.

      I hope the SRU strengthens Glasgow with a couple of big-ish signings. There is chat on other boards that they are pursuing John Hardie, SQ and very highly rated open-side for the Highlanders. If they do the deal he could really add to Glasgow’s squad strength. Otherwise, a huge barnstorming Fijian winger/centre would fit the bill. Surely it can’t be that hard to find one?

      • Neil on

        Please not another signing from a southern hemisphere side. I just hope Glasgow can strengthen their side by promoting/developing youth players or by finding homegrown talent in the Scottish borders. Lets leave the SH second raters to Italy and concentrate on developing our own talent

      • FF on

        Thanks Neil, I’d forgotten your view on SQ and overseas players as you hadn’t mentioned it for at least 10 minutes. Regarding John Hardie being second rate, is your assessment based on not watching Super rugby or not watching the pro-12?

      • Mike on

        Neil – Hardie is a class player, I’d welcome him to Glasgow (even as an Edinburgh fan). Edinburgh played Leinster earlier in the season with young players and even a club player. Was a valiant effort, full of endeavour and promise but there was an evident gulf in class. By all means bring young players through but they have to have class, seasoned professionals around them which Hardie is. Young players WILL get a chance. Have some faith!! : )

      • Neil on

        Mike, FF- I dont know about this fellow Hardie but it begs the question- why would he leave a top club in the SH to join one in Scotland if he was that good? If he was to leave the SH, would it not be be to go to Bath or Leicester or Toulon?- clubs with a far bigger budget. Sure I dont mind the odd foreigner turning out for our club sides but it should be kept to a minimum. Just look at the English Premiership (football)- probably the best league in the World but England always underperform as a national team in the WC and EC. They are probably only the 8th or 9th best football team in the World and I put that down to the number of foreign players in this league. The result is that home grown players never get the opprtunity to shine. Hopefully that will not happen to Scottish rugby- only two pro teams filled with 2nd rate non-Scots.

    • Standoffalot on

      It wasn’t a coincidence that Glasgow were poor at the breakdown without both Harley and Fusaro. I wouldn’t say Glasgow were dreadful last season, but we did make a habit of doing just enough to win games without hitting the heights, which like FF says does show our squad depth. I just think the team that started the season shows what Glasgow on their day are capable of. When I refer to Edinburgh as limited, it is more in reference to their game plan, rather than the players. I think everyone on this forms wants both teams challenging and a strong Scotland team. As for Hardie, I’d take him in a minute.

      • FF on

        I probably overstated it by using the word dreadful – glasgow have been class for years now – just that their performances were all grit and no polish until a huge chunk of the season had gone. At their best they look irresistible but I do think they need a strengthening in a few areas to compete with the best in Europe. I hope they get that support as we need to attract people to the game, Scotland’s pro-sides really need the fans to make them rely on central funding less and fans will come if scottish rugby is on the up. Glasgow look like the best bet to see that happen.

  6. pragmatic optomist on

    Great win for Edinburgh and very much deserved. I’m trying not to become too concerned about Glasgow, but they are misfiring badly and need to find some form. None of the Glasgow players looked either in good form or even motivated for the Edinburgh match, and with Bennett, Ashe, Fusaro and Harley all missing, the back row in particular looks stretched. Early days, but wonder if there will be a marquee signing to replace Matawalu next year and give a different emphasis. Would like to see Nic Cusack get a first team opportunity to shore up the scrum, which started to go into reverse after the substitutions.

  7. Angus on

    Despite my recent requests for threads not to be hijacked I am goign to do it myself

    Neil, I was born in South America to Scottish parents. We moved back to Scotland when I was a year old and I now live in Australia

    So what i would like to know is

    Because I was not born in Scotland would you not want me to be signed to Glasgow or Edinburgh?

    If I had grown up in South America instead of Scotland would you not want me to be signed up because I didn’t learn rugby in Scotland?

    If I have children who are born and grow up in Aus would you not want them to be signed up?

    If my children do not shine but their children so would you want them to be signed up?

    None of these scenarios change the fact I am 100% Scottish but I want to know where you draw the line. I want to know which of these scenarios make me less Scottish in your eyes

  8. Neil on

    Angus,

    Thats an interesting one but for me the criteria to playing for Scotland should be as follows:

    1. Born in Scotland or 2. Parents who are scottish (not grand parents or great uncles twice removed. If point 2 is the case then the individual shouold have spent some time in Scotland before being considered for selection (in my a view a minimum of 6 years). You cannot just put on a Scottish accent and a Kilt at age 25 having never spent a day in Scotland and then expect to turn out for our national team.

    What I oppose is individuals who have had nothing to do with Scotland up to the age of 20 or beyond but then discover that they are not good enough to play for ZN, OZ or SA (i.e. the teams that they would prefer to play for in the first instance). They ‘find’ a Scottish uncle or great grandmother (probably that they never met or even knoew about) and, before you know it, they come of a plane at Edinburgh airport dressed in a kilt and pretending to put on a pseudo Mel Gibson Scottish accent to give a press conference before turning out for our national team a couple of days later. Does this type of scenario sound familiar.

    Its the sort of one we should avaoid at all costs. If someone has had nothing to do with Scotland and has no scottish ancestry beyond parents then they should not be playing for our national tem regardless of how good they are (usually they are not very good in any case). I believe very strongly on this point as a. it stops our home grown talent reaching the national team and developing as players and b. I see it as a bit of an insult to the Scottish fans to take any old castoff from the SH. Team Scotland is not a club side so lets keep it Scottish. How can you expect to compete with SA or NZ if we only take their 3rd rate players? I would like the reverse to be the case- SA and NZ taking Scottish cast offs.

    Regarding the hijacking issue, I dont believe I did on this occassion as the point I was trying to make was that Edinburgh and Glasgow would progress to a greater degree if they concentrated more on developing home grown talent. Perhaps one or two very carefuly chosen foreign players is acceptable but there should be no more than 5 or 6 in any of our pro teams and, idealy none at all in our national team. Let these second rate cast offs head to Italy- they love them there and thats why Italy nearly always end up with the wooden spoon in the 6 nations.

    • FF on

      Nope – you hijacked the thread because you had nothing to say about the game or the prospects of either Edinburgh or Glasgow in the league or Europe this year, preferring to bang your drum for your own pleasure. We get it – you don’t like foreign born players in the team and have a weird delusion that if we get rid of them Scotland’s pro-teams and national team will magically improve.

      Why don’t you tell us your thoughts on Edinburgh and Glasgow instead? On the weekend, I think they are both facing what look like must win games to me.

  9. Mike on

    I’ll give it ago at replying! Connacht away will be a real test I reckon. In Henshaw and Aki they’ve the beginnings of a quality partnership, will give a good incdication to how Scott and Burleigh match up. Not to mention Muliaina at fullback. I really hope Edinburgh back up their performance against Glasgow but I have a feeling Connacht are really starting ot click now under Lam and think they’ll just edge it. But I think Edinburgh will be looking at Connacht development the last few years and try to match it, if they can keep the team consistent in selections and performances..maybe blood some youngsters too : ) Sorry couldnt help it!

  10. Neil on

    FF- I did not hijack the blog as you put it. I merely mentioned that Glasgow should not be looking for another non scot to improve on their somewhat poor performance in the game (this point relates directly to the article) but should be blooding some youngsters- a thought that Mike and others seem to agree with.
    So regarding the prospects of our two pro teams- I recon Glasgow will finish in the top three at the end of the season and Edinburgh probably mid table. Sure the next game will be important for both teams but not any more so than any other game. I prefer to see the bigger long term picture, hence my comments relating to the hire of non scots. I don’t want to mention it yet again but I leave you with this thought- albeit from the word of football- When Celtic won the European cup in 1967 there was not a single non-scot in their ranks and most were born in the greater Glasgow area. When Aberdeen won the cup winners cup in 1983 90% of their squad were born within 20 miles of the city centre. I rest my case.

  11. Ruairidh Campbell on

    Neil, in the 2013-14 Champions League, eventual winners Real Madrid used a total of 22 players, only 4 of which were born in or around Madrid… Your point please? The fact is that the sport has moved on since the days of Aberdeen and Celtic doing well in Europe. Therefore, your references to those examples cannot really be used because like in rugby, the sport has moved on and Scotland has to try and keep up.

    If you focus on rugby, for someone to play for a country, they must either have at least a grandparent from that country or have lived there continuously for 3 years, so you can’t use the “long, distant uncle” excuse… In terms of club rugby, Edinburgh had to bring in so many players last season because the club lacked strength in depth. They had (and do still have) talented players – hence why they did so well in Europe in 2011-12. However, when injuries hit in 2012-13, the club really struggled, having previously relying heavily on the small pool of experienced players. So, when Solomons came in for last season, he brought with him a large number of experienced players so when the injury crisis does hit (as it did in October with 20 injured), there were still talented enough players that were able to take their places, instead of relying on the EDP players with little experience having to fill such huge gaps – a tactic that Connacht used a few years ago and look at them now… The fact is that in a few years, Edinburgh will have been able to successfully develop more young players who will then be able to confidently take their place in a professional team. Although most rugby players want the opportunity to play professionally, just sticking them out and letting them lose with cricket scores does nothing to help confidence or development. Please can we just bring an end to this whole argument?

    • Neil on

      Ruaitidh- sure only 4 of the 22 Real Madrid players were born arround Madrid but most of the players were spanish.

      Going back to Rugby- our club teams are poor compared to those in England Wales, France etc so we canot afford the creme de la creme, meaning we find it difficult to atract anyone other than second rate SH players at best, with the top guys going to Bath, Toulon etc. Furthermore, who would actually want to join a Scottish pro team- there are only two of them and its got to be a more attractive prospect, froma playing point of view, to go to europe.
      I will bring an end to the argument by stating that I just hope Edinburgh will develop more of their young talented players (which I believe they have in abundance)and possible hire one or two good players from local club teams. If they do that then I’m certain they can expect to field much better teams in the future.

  12. Angus on

    With the imports Edinburgh have, anyone know when their contracts expire? I am guessing they were 1 – 2 year contracts which would be ending this season so we should get an indication of the direction the team will be taking for next year when it comes to new contracts

    • FF on

      Listed on the Edinburgh rugby supporter forum (I cannot attest for its accuracy though):

      Hookers: McInally, Hilterbrand, Turner
      Props: Dickinson, Blaauw, Nel, Berghan, Sutherland
      Locks: Atkins, A.Toolis
      Back Row: Leonardi, Coman, Grant, Du Preez

      Scrum Half: Hart, Kennedy
      Fly Half: Heathcote, Tonks, Bezuidenhout
      Centre: Dominguez
      Wings: Visser, Farndale, Thompson

      • Angus on

        Hi FF are those players who are already signed for next season or this season’s squad? I don’t know all the names in order to be able to identify all the non Scottish from Scottish

      • Angus on

        That’s a lot so we will certainly be able to tell the direction Edinburgh are taking in the next few months

  13. Red Clyde on

    Neil, given your assertion that all these foreign players are either mercenaries not good enough to get a game in their own country, or lazy economic migrants looking to top up their pension pot by doing the bare minimum, I’m curious to know what exactly you’re doing in the Middle East? Were you not good enough to get a job in Aberdeen…? Whatever you’re doing there, judging by your comments on here, we’ve not exactly exported a Josh Strauss to the Gulf.

    For someone so patriotic (if we are forced to use that euphemism)you do indeed live an awful long way away.

    You clearly know little (and care less) about the current state of Scottish rugby. Why would anyone be interested in your rants?

  14. Mike on

    Aannyyyyway..back to the rugby. Edinburgh. Will they make the top six? Connacht will be a big test, just hope Edinburgh dont kick aimlessly to the connacht backs, they’re looking pretty dangerous and will be looking to counter attack, Edinburgh seem to indicate the weather would be an issue but Connacht will be more used to it.

    • FF on

      Game against Connact is make or break. Lose and Connacht go ahead by 12 which Edinburgh will never make up over 8 games; win and the gap is closed to 4 (give or take the odd bonus point) which means game on.

      Believe it or not, Edinburgh have won 8 of their last 11 games (losing away to Leinster, Glasgow and er…Zebre) so they’ll be brimming with confidence. Galway is forecast to howl a gale so the game could well be reduced to the kind of upfront slog they excelled at against Glasgow. So, I am upbeat about our chances even if Connacht are unbeaten at home this season. We won’t be weakened too much in the 6N and I think it could well be neck and neck between us, Connacht and Scarlets come the run in. I think we could well do it, IF we win this weekend.

      Also, hoping the days of Strauss, Bez, Beard are behind us. Burleigh and Scott look much more the business.

      • Mike on

        FF- Yeah, I agree. I was taken back by the 8 wins out of 11! Think Beard is a decent squad player, Strauss is decent defensively but a bit like Barrett not a lot going forward. What do you think of shifting Scott to 13? Dunbar seems to do a decent job at 12 & 13, don’t see any reason why Scott cant. Really hope he finds some form soon.

      • FF on

        At the tail end of last season Scott made a huge difference when he appeared at 12. I don’t really see any good reason why he should move but unfortunately Edinbugh have two good 12s, neither of which is Strauss, and no really convincing 13 so it is the best partnership for them at the moment. Hopefully when Scott is match fit he’ll make a decent stab of it and it is very useful to have centres who are more or less interchangeable.

        For Scotland Bennett must be the long term 13 and Dunbar brings something different defensively and a bit more heft so I think Scott will plug in when there are injuries.

      • Standoffalot on

        Its interesting listening to an Edinburgh perspective regarding the centre positions for Scotland. Scott pre injury and positional change would, IMO, be a shoe in for the Scotland 12 jersey. I would still like to see him at 12 with either Dunbar or Bennett beside him, as I think he’s actually our best inside centre, but third choice 13. So given that he currently is playing outside centre, I have to agree with FFs assessment of the centre positions. On another note, first choice back 3? Especially in light of Fridays match.

      • FF on

        I think Scott, Dunbar and Bennett are all outstanding players with real potential to make an impression at test level. The conundrum is who to leave out rather than who to include.

        Bennett can clearly do things in attack that the others can’t; he has out-and-out pace and an excellent ability to beat a man (or three) and he has a nose for the line. Dunbar too brings something different; he gets over the ball in defence and can emulate BOD’s defensive prowess as well as being very capable going forward. Scott is a very talented player but I think we would gain less than we would lose by starting him at the other’s expense. Regardless, it is a great position to be in to have three centres of real quality after having none for years.

        It might not be a popular suggestion but I’d include Lamont as the fourth centre for the world cup. OK – he can’t really pass and he is too slow to be a top-class winger. But he is a rock in defence, a very effective battering ram, he has developed an off-loading game and brings leadership qualities and a great desire to win. I think he could be valuable in the RWC group games and when one or all of our star centres inevitably break down. For me Taylor and Horne are good club players but not test quality. Russell could always do a shift at 12 well enough and Fife may be able to cover 13, but Lamont deserves a squad place at least.

        For me, the back three should remain as it was for the AIs as it is a good blend of attacking ability and reliability. Visser’s time will come again but he needs to be pushed to win his shirt back, one performance isn’t enough to break up an established unit. Hogg is sometimes a worry but again, the pace he brings is worth a hell of a lot.

  15. Mike on

    Jade Te Rue on the bench for Edinburgh. Interesting. Dont know much about him apart from hes from New Zealand and Scots qualified. Played ITM not super rugby. Anyone else know anything about him? Theres a few bits and bobs on you tube but not enough to form an opinionl.

  16. Matto on

    I see Ashe, Hogg, Harley, Bennett (hopefully soon to return) are all AI starters currently on the Glasgow injured list, with bench warmers Weir and Pyrgos for company. Changes the dynamics of the team considerably going into the 6N. Hopefully Bennett will be fit on time, which will at least give us choice/depth in the midfield. Who should start at 15 if Hogg doesn’t recover from his hamstring problem – Murchie, Cuthbert, Tonks? I feel Tonks is a good bench option, comfortably covering 10, 15 and can probably do a shift at 12 or wing too… I thought the grit and dog of the back row was a real plus of the AIs, so who will Big Vern choose to bring the same intensity?

    • FF on

      According to the Scotsman Weir and possibly Hogg are out for the entire 6N which is a bit of a disaster.

      On the plus side Bennett is reportedly returning ahead of schedule and may play against Montpellier.

      I’d move Maitland to FB and put Lamont/Fife/Visser on the wing. I don’t think the other three are any more than very good pro-12 players.

      • Standoffalot on

        Thoughts on Dougie Fife? I’ve yet to be convinced. A bit lightweight for me, and not strong enough defensively, but maybe I’ve not seen enough of him. For me, behind Seymour,Maitland, Visser, Lamont and L Jones(unfairly overlooked, playing well for Glasgow) on the wings.

  17. Neil on

    Jade Te Rue- another New Zealander but that’s all I know as well. It will be interesting to see how he gets on- that’s all I’m going to say on the matter. I dont get to watch pro 12 games so please let me know.

  18. Standoffalot on

    In response to both Matto’s point regarding the current Glasgow/Scotland injury situation, and also tying in a previous discussion about Scotland’s first choice back 3, I would still have Hogg, Seymour (1st choice wing) and Maitland. Hogg can be worrying both defensively and under the high ball, but I agree he brings too much to the attack to leave out. Given he may be out injured my replacement for him would be Murchie who is very secure under the high ball and good defensively, not so good in attack. That said I wouldn’t be unhappy with Tonks, whom I feel is a very good full back and less of a ten. Kicking at restarts and from hand just let’s him down there, although a useful bench option as Mat to states.

    The back row is tough to call. Harley is an excellent player and his work rate is phenomenal, but so is Kelly Brown if Scotland would only play him at 6. Beattie and Cowan will make up 8 and 7 respectively, although I would love to see Barclay back in the squad. Denton for me, has yet to live up to the hype, and Strauss is a must when he becomes eligible.

    Finally, big Sean. As FF states he can’t pass to save himself, but he has the heart of a lion, plays for the jersey, and has been in good form for Glasgow on the wing. He can cover the centre position s as well, he has to go to the world cup.

  19. Matto on

    That’s a good shout actually FF. Certainly a selection that’s more likely to give the opposition something to worry about (with the exception of Fife perhaps, who probably isn’t well known outside of the Pro12). I think Harley’s a big miss. He and J Gray seemed to be at the core of our momentum in the AIs.

  20. Angus on

    What happened to the 2 big locks Edinburgh brought over from GPS in Brisbane 2 years ago? sorry but their names escape me right now.

    • Mike on

      Ben and Alex Toolis? Ben has been playing well for Edinburgh. Not sure about Alex. If that’s who you mean.

      • FF on

        Yeah, Ben Toolis is developing into a very good player am he is still only 22. Alex doesn’t seem to have made any impression yet. Ollie Atkins has done alright too.

      • FF on

        Yep, both Scottish qualified through their mother and signed up on Elite Development Player contracts. Ben has already received an extension after playing all but 15 minutes of the last 8 games. Don’t know if that means the writing is on the wall for Alex or not.

        Interestingly, given some of the previous discussion on these blogs, in today’s Scotsman article Solomons is quoted as saying that the emergence of Scottish qualified young players into the first team has been a real achievement this year and cited Hamish Watson, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Ben Toolis and Rory Sutherland. When Solomons began at Edinburgh he talked about basing the team’s development on a home-grown core, hopefully this is the start of the process.

        It is also worth pointing out that Edinburgh’s starting line up this Friday, for a pivotal game to their season, includes 12 SQ players and 1 of the 3 NSQ is a project player (3 NSQ on the bench).

      • Neil on

        Great news that Solomons is finally giving consideration to the development of home grown talent. Its probably the only way Edinburgh can aspire to0 something more impressive than a mid-table finish. It should benefit our national team as well.

  21. Neil on

    Great result for Glasgow at the weekend and what a great advertisement for Scotland- A Scottish team filled with Scots and at the top of the pro 12. Edinburgh take note.
    I know they came up short last week against the Edinburgh southern hemisphere castoff select but isnt it great that they have bounced right back with a good win against what is, a great Welsh club side. Even though I dont particualrly support Glasgow, i’m so proud of our SCOTTISH lads playing for a SCOTTISH team.

    • FF on

      Edinburgh and Glasgow use very similar numbers of NSQ players. In their last game against each other at Murrayfield Edinburgh started with 4 NSQ with another 2 on the bench. Glasgow had 3 NSQs with 1 on the bench.

      Against the Scarlets on Friday, Glasgow had 4 NSQ with another who is SQ on residency grounds but has not yet chosen to play for Scotland to my knowledge (Cusack) and another 2 NSQ on the bench.

      Both teams have relatively few numbers if NSQ in the first choice squad of 23 by pro standards but largish numbers in their wider squad because Scotland’s pool of talent is not huge and both sides lose significant numbers of players in international weekends.

      All the chat is that the Hardie deal will send him to Edinburgh next year. According to the Glasgow Warriors fan forum it looks like Glasgow will sign Hifhlanders Number 8 and open side Nasi Manu.

      • Neil on

        FF- I dont particularly support either Edinburgh or Glasgow but I like both teams to do well, being a passionate fan of Scottich rugby. As a Fifer (perhaps we ned a new blog- can Fife support a pro-team) I wish my region had a team but I guess I will have to dream on. I tend to favor Glasgow at present as I feel they employ more Scots- particularly true blood home bred Scots and not those born in NZ, Holland etc and Scots qualified having spent 3 years in the country or after finding a grandmother or best fried that happens to be Scottish (I know the latter does not qualify one to play for the country though it feels as if it dioes at times).
        As you know I generally oppose the hiring of non-scots and I oppose this in both of our pro-12 teams. Its good to perhaps have the odd one or two very carefully chosen foreign players but I really hope it does not get to the stage of both teams being filled by them. More worryingly, these players could play for Scotland within 3 years and dont even have to discover a Scottish grandmother or Scottish best friend. That would probably mean our national and club teams being swamped by jolly foreigners. It would also leave any young and promising Scottish player with the near impossible task of making it to a pro-12 team, never mind the national squad. The latter would have no chance against NZ, OZ or SA as there is no way that any of these nations would release their best players to us.
        To summarise the points I have already mad, I think players should be born in Scotland to qualify or, at the very least, have Scottish parents. If the latter is the case, they should spend at least 6 years in Scotland before they can qualify to play for our national team. I also feel our club teams should be restricted to employing a maximum of 5 non-scots. That way- the teams could probably afford far better quality foreign players rather than trying to fill a team with second raters.

      • FF on

        True blood home bred Scots like Tim Swinson (London), Henry Pyrgos (Dorchester), Tommy Seymour (Nashville, Tennessee and represented Ulster schools), Peter Murchie (Carlisle), Ryan Wilson (Aldershot), Alex Allan (Harrogate), Tom Ryder (Nottingham)?

        Your views are out of date and borderline xenophobic. Any Scots born player that is good enough will play for Scotland.

    • FF on

      Neil, you might also be surprised to learn that on Friday Edinburgh became the only team to win at the Galway sports ground this year, something neither Leinster nor Munster were able to do. It has also extended Edinburgh’s winning record to 9 from the last 13 and put them in contention for the final RCC place, currently level on points with the “great Weslh side” the Scarlets. Their side also contained more SQ players than the Glasgow team that faced Scarlets.

      There were also outstanding performances from young Scots Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Hamish Watson and Ben Toolis. But of course you would know all that, if you knew the first thing about Scottish rugby.

  22. Neil on

    FF- Yes I know that Edinburgh are also doing well but there is a difference between true Scots and Scots qualified. See text above for my thoughts on the matter.

    • Angus on

      If someone who is born of Scottish parents and grows up outside Scotland is not Scottish then what about an Icelander who moves to Scotland at 2 years old and grows up in Scotland are they Scottish according to your only being in Scotland makes you Scottish rule

      • Neil on

        There we have a very grey area but I would say if someone was brought up here and was educated in this country then they should qualify but they must have arrived here before the age of say 8 years and then lived here and nowhere else until aged 17. What I am against is the likes of Tim Visser turning out for Scotland. A great player but he only had to spend 3 years as an adult in Scotland to qualify. I read on the net that he also represented England at youth level. Make no mistake, if he thought he could have made the full England squad he would not be playing for us and theres loyalty for you. He was offered the chance to play for his home nation, The Netherlands but turned it down to play for us. I wonder what answer he would give if he was on vacation somewhere outside Europe and someone asked him what nationality he was- he’s not exactly going to answer Scottish is he?
        Sure the Edinburgh team field a number of Scots qualified players but that means precisely b.gg.r all. These are guys that want a place in our national team because they are not good enough to play for NZ, OZ or SA. Answer this question- how do you expect us to compete with these nations if we field their cast offs that cannot make the national squads of their own countries?
        Sure anyone can put on a Scottish pseudo Mel Gibson accent and pretend to be Scottish. However, I fee that our national team should be exclusively Scottish and you know what I mean by that. Answer this question- how many non New Zealanders do the All Blacks Field?

    • Mr P on

      Neil, I think you have perhaps been an expat for too long as you are becoming an uberScot and, in this case, losing touch with Scottish rugby reality. As a former expat myself, I know exactly what it means to be surrounded by other nationalities, especially other Brits (your home drinking pals!) and you end up being even more obsessively Scottish or whatever nationality you happen to be and ever more inclined to split hairs , real or otherwise, rather than live and let live. You are consuming yourself! ;o)

    • Angus on

      Neil I continue to be fascinated and confused by your Scottishness criteria. According to you someone born in Scotland to Scottish parents but who grows up outside Scotland shouldn’t be able to play without spending 6 years in Scotland becoming Scottish

      On the other hand does that mean that someone born in the Sudan to Sudanese parents who move to Scotland when they are 12 and then go on to learn and play rugby in Scotland would be more Scottish than the “Scotsman” who grew up outside Scotland?

  23. Neil on

    To clarify, my criteria for being eligible to play for Scotland would be as follows:

    1. Born in Scotland
    2. At least one parent who is Scottish- if this is the case then it would be necessary to spend at least 6 years in Scotland before being elibible for selection. This is to ensure that the person is fully aware of our culture, not just the information passed down from a parent. For the record, I would include my own daughter in the category.
    3. The only other criterial for elibability would be if a person from another nationality was born in another country but arrived in Scotland before the age of 9 and was educated at a Scottish school. That person would have to spend the following 8 years or more in the country before being considered elibible for selection. I feel that someone who has lived in the country from a very early age, spent more than 8 years there and having been educated in our system and culture is, indeed, every bit as Scottish as someone who was say born in South Africa to Scottish parents and perhaps only spent a minimal amount of time (if any) in the country.

    If we followed these rules then the Scottish team would indeed be Scottish. Even if we won the 6 nations and WC it would mean absolutely nothing if our team comprised maybe 3 home grown players and the rest foreigners who happen to find a Scotish grandmother of Scottish best mate. At the moment it is farsical- 3 years in Scotland at the age of 25 does not make you Scottish, nor does a Scottish grandmother, yet that is the system we have at present. I have explained that it would be a disaster for our game if our club and national teams were filled with these types. It would make it impossible for our youngsters to progress- they would never make it to the top level, recieve the correct coaching to progress their skills etc.

    Just look at the Celtic team of 1967, the Aberdeen team of 1983 or the Scottish grand slam terams of 1984 or 1990- all comprised playetrs that would pass the Scottish test except perhaps for Sean Lineen.

    Angus- you still did not answer my two questions:

    1. How do you expect us to beat OZ, NZ or SA if we were only to employ their cast offs? (having spent so much time in SA and OZ would you actually want us to beat these teams????)

    2. How many non New Zealanders do the All Blacks have in their team?

    And another two quaestions:
    3. How many non South Africans do the Springboks have in their squad?

    4. Do you accept that New Zealand and South Africa have been the top two teams in the world over the last 12 years or more?

    • Angus on

      More than happy to answer your questions Neil

      Angus- you still did not answer my two questions:

      1. How do you expect us to beat OZ, NZ or SA if we were only to employ their cast offs? (having spent so much time in SA and OZ would you actually want us to beat these teams????)

      We have beaten Aus 2 out of the last 3 or is it 4 time we played them so that is at least a 50% record – your argument is therefore redundant with regards to Australia

      Reality check – NZ and SA are 1 and 2 while Scotland is 8th. So their cast offs by the very nature of the rankings would be “better” players than ours

      People are selected because of the beliefs of a coach / selector on the best people for their style of play and game plan. Not necessarily the “best” player just the best player in their eyes and for the job

      How do we beat them? Through team work, a decent game plan and a spirit in the squad that very nearly took them to a win over the ABs a few months ago. How many “foreign” players were in that Scotland team? Not going to bother answering because it screws your argument either way – if none then it shows that home grown Scottish talent isn’t good enough to beat the ABs and if there were a few then it would show that through their inclusion it took us to a position where we almost beat the ABs. Do I personally care that someone in that team Has a Scottish grand parent but wasn’t brought up in Scotland no I couldn’t care less

      2. How many non New Zealanders do the All Blacks have in their team?

      Umm about half or even more. If the ABs went by your selection policy there would be no Samoans, Tongans, Fijians, Cook Islanders or any other flavour of Pacific Islander in their side and how good would they be then? Not arguing the right or wrong of their selections just answering your question

      And another two quaestions:
      3. How many non South Africans do the Springboks have in their squad?

      Mtawarera?? spelling? He was capped by the boks before he even had a south african passport and i dare say there are a few others from Zim and Namibia if someone wants to do the digging so that argument as well is shot

      How many do the Aussies have? Well where do I start? Quade Cooper, Pocock, Genia, etc etc

      4. Do you accept that New Zealand and South Africa have been the top two teams in the world over the last 12 years or more?

      Yes????

      One thing I will agree with you on is this 3 years residency thing I have to say I am not in favour of that

      Scotland Grand Slam 1990 – Sean Lineen the original Kilted Kiwi

      • Neil on

        Angus:
        1. Sure team work and good coaching are significant but we also need good players. I consider Hansen to be a very average coach (did nothing with Wales when he was head coach) but he has the best players in the World to select from so the All Blacks are always going to be a great team. By selecting OZ, NZ and SA players that cannot make thier national squads, we are selecting from thier cast offs that would never be good enough to beat the three aformentioned nations, and probably not good enough to beat most 6 nation teams. Far better to develop our home bread talent in my view.
        2 and 3. I would love to know exaclty how many non-New Zealanders are in the AB team but I would suggest that 90% or more are New Zealanders who would pass my nationality check- please correct me if this is wrong. I’m pretty sure the same holds true for SA. OZ- I’m not so sure about but I think the standard in OZ is nowhere near as good as SA or NZ in any case, particualrly over the last 10 years.
        4. Good that you agree with me on this point. As for the Grand slam team of 1990- yes they were good but still lost to New Zealand and other SH teams in that year or the 2-3 years immediately before or after 1990. What does that tell you?- Sean Lineen was a good player but still nowhere near good enough to play for New Zealand- they would have selected him if he was and there is no way that he would have turned down the All Blacks for Scotland.

        Unlike alot of Scottish fans I have aspirations for our team to actually beat NZ and SA, not just take their cast offs and hope to finish third in the 6 nations. Do you hold the same aspirations?

    • FF on

      So your criteria mean that Tom Heathcote is Scottish because he was born in Inverness, despite both his parents being English, living in England from the age of 3, representing England schools at u-20 level and only opting for Scotland when it became clear he was behind Farrell and Ford in the future England FH pecking order.

      However, David Denton is not Scottish because he was born in Zimbabwe, despite having a Scottish mother and talking about being raised to hold a Scottish identity and support Scotland from a young age, then moving to Edinburgh age 17 and working towards international honours from Edinburgh Academicals 3rd XV.

      You see national identity is to do with sentiment and not easily captured by criteria like yours. I’m happy to leave it to World Rugby to decide eligibility criteria, and anyone who wants to dedicate their professional career to winning in Scotland’s colours is alright by me.

      Most foreign-born Scottish test players are Anglo-Scots like myself and I haven’t supported anyone else since I was 7 years old. Scotland has a huge diaspora of people who care about Scotland and even call it home; it is incredibly small minded to think you know what lies in other peoples hearts and throw around words like loyalty.

      • Neil on

        FF- this is a grey area and no law would ever be perfect or 100% fair. However, Tom Heathcote being born in Scoptland should qualify him to play for our nation regardless of what has happened after birth. Denton has a Scottish mother so, under my rules, he would have to spend at least 6 years living in Scotland to qualify. I dont think 6 years spent in Scotland at the tender age of 17 is too much of hardship as he would then qualify by the age of 23. I know the system is not perfect but it would be far better than the present situation- 3 years spent in the country and you qualify- do you honestly think that is fair? Or ‘finding’ a Scottish grandparent means you qualify- do you think that is fair?

      • Angus on

        hang on just a second

        “Tom Heathcote being born in Scoptland should qualify him to play for our nation regardless of what has happened after birth”

        Pretty sure you made it clear that even if someone was born in Scotland to Scottish parents but then grew up overseas you wouldn’t have them until they completed 6 years of Scottification

        How is it that someone without Scottish parents who left Scotland at 3 years old is suddenly Scottish?

  24. Neil on

    For the record I have spent almost 3 years in Saudi Arabia and dont consider myself to be Saui Arabian in any shape or form, nor wouold I ever expect to be picked to represent the country at any sport. I am Scottish first and British second. It seems that in Scottish rugby we have a group of people who pretend to be psuedo Scottish, put on an accent, ware a kilt and then, before you know it they are playing for our national team, only because they cant play for anyone else and we are desparate to take them.

    • Angus on

      How is it OK for you to be a “Scot” living outside Scotland and still be Scottish but it is not ok for someone else who didn’t grow up in Scotland but whose parents have told brought them up steeped in Scottish history and tradition because they are both born and bred Scots who had to leave their homeland for whatever reason but for whom they will be Scottish until they die and have tried to instill the same sense of history and tradition in their son

      And as for everyone putting up their hand for Scotland being a cast off that is just rubbish. How about John Allan the Scottish hooker in 1991 born in Glasgow but grew up in South Africa. He came “home” to play for his native country because his father still sounds like he just left Glasgow.

      After playing 9 tests for Scotland John went back to South Africa and went on to play 13 tests for the Boks. Nice to see them picking up our cast offs ;)

      • Neil on

        The piont is that you have to draw the line somewhere. In your case, your parents told you all about Scotlans and what it means to be scottish- they have to be commended for that. However, in other families the same does not hold true. What if your parents were not even to mention Scotland when you were growing up to and you had experienced nothing of our culture- would you then consider yourself Scottish and would you have the moral right? Thats why I feel that, where the parents are Scottish, the individual should spend at least 6 years in the country before they are considered for selection.

        Regarding John Alllan- try this one- he grew up in SA but was not good enough to play for the Boks as a yopung and relatively inexperienced player. In any case, the appertide prevented the Boks playing at the highest level in the 80s and early 90s so thay could not take part in the WC (another reason for moving) He then played for Scotland (because we take anyone), develpoed his skills and became good enough to play at a higher level for SA. When he came home he was a much better player and it probably coincided with the end of the appartide (or at least very close to the end) and the emergence of SA as a force in world rugby- a great time to return. So was I right- selfish motives from someone who was always South african but just happened to find another national team to play for in the short term because noboday else would take him. Am I right or am I right? I honestly cant think of any other Scottish cast offs who made it to the national teams of SA, OZ or NZ- perhaps other readers can find some but I think that they would be hard pushed.

      • FF on

        You have absolutely no idea what John Allan’s motivations were and this is part of your problem. You believe you can understand what people think or feel about representing Scotland by a few biographical details that don’t amount to much.

        John Allan played rugby during the amateur era. Maybe he moved to Scotland because his work took him there and he played for the national team because he was half Scottish. Maybe he moved back to SA for work and chose to then play for them because it was where he’d been raised and considered it his home. Lots of people have dual identities – it doesn’t imply ‘selfish motives’ at all. To claim this without knowing him is profoundly ignorant.

  25. Mike on

    Do you get paid for playing for Scotland (expenses aside etc)? If not then surely the players that play for Scotland are doing becasue they want to actually play for Scotland. What do they have to gain? Increase their market value perhaps? Decent performances in the Euro club cup will probably do that. We’re not amazing at international level so it cant be for the Prestige, by not playing international level they have more time off to send with their families, lengthen their careers by a few years. I don’t agree with project players experiment, i’ll admit to be looking forward to seeing Josh Strauss, but if they have a tie to Scotland and give 110% for the jersey thats enough for me. Tim Visser was on Ducth radio discussing the referendum. If he was allowed to vote on the future of the Scotland i’m more than happy for him to run around a rubgy pitch for 80 mins for Scotland. Each to their own I guess. I have a feeling this is an unwinnable argument for both sides!

      • Neil on

        Good comment and I agree with it 100%. There are a whole host of reasons why that has not been the case for 15 years but I reallu just hope that we have turned a corner. The winning formula for me is Glasgow and Vern Cotter. The only thing that could hault progress is if we end up fielding a load of SH pseudo scots. That would probably result in short term gain but the best we could ever hope for is a third place finish in the 6 nations and a quarter final appearance in the WC. I aspire to so much more but the problem is that most Scot fans are just happy to accept mediocrity. If you want to see the result of fielding non-nationals in your club and national squads just look at Italy- a laughing stock at both club and international level. Is that what Scottish fans want? I seriously wonder.

      • FF on

        Well apart from the seven English-born ‘pseudo-Scots’ (as you so ungraciously put it) I mentioned unthread, Glasgow also have on their books: Connor Braid (Canada), James Downey (Ireland), Nico Matawalu (Fiji), Sean Maitland (SQ New Zealander), DTH Van Der Merwe (Canada), Mike Cusack (England), Rossouw De Klerk (South Africa), Tyrone Holmes (South Africa), Leone Nakarawa (Fiji), Josh Strauss (South Africa), Jerry Yanuyanutawa (Fiji).

        Are you seriously telling me that you could take those 18 players out of Glasgow’s team and replace them with guys from the Scottish Premiership and they’d be anywhere near as successful as they now are?

        I wonder how Vern Cotter feels about it? As his XXIII in the AIs typically included Maitland, Seymour, Cowan, Pyrgos and Swinson, I think he is probably ok with capping ‘pseudo-Scots’. Would you like to bet that Cotter won’t cap Josh Strauss as soon as he is eligible?

        Basically you’re talking shite.

      • Neil on

        FF- I know the Glasgow team had some pseudo Scots, though probably not quite that number and I guess Edinburgh have more. My point is- up an coming young scot cannot compete with that- they arent as good as the pseudo scots or imports but, with the correct training, they wouold probably be just as good if not better. At present they have little chance of making either pro team so they will probably be tempted to take up another sport and who could blame them. And yes I do think you could take the best players from the Premiership and train them properly to become good enough to make an impact in the pro-12 and at international level. The problem is that you are so short sighted and unambitious that you cant see that. Maybe you are happy to just accept mediocrity.

        Appart form that problem, how can we expect to take on NZ, OZ and SA and expect to beat them if we only have their cast offs. I NOTICE YOU AND EVERYONE ELSE AVOIDS ANSWERING THIS QUESTION but I would like to know how you feel about it. Strauss is a good player but still not good enough to make the Boks team, hence the reason he in playing for Glasgow. If he had been good enough SA would have capped hin in a heartbeat.

        Vern Cotter’s job is dependent on suceess so you cant blame him for picking the best players available to him but that does not make it morally right or right for the long term future of our game. I think the closest analogy is the Ireland football team of the late 80s/early 90s. They were filled with pseudo Irish players that were, infact, English and became known as the England B team. They did quite well for a few years and reached the quarter finals of the 1990 world cup but that was mainly down to good coaching and mangement. After that it became apparent that they were inferior to Engalnd- again there is no way that they could compete against England when they employed their cast offs. Since the 1990’s Engalnd have nearly always been ranked above Ireland in the World football rankings and faired far better in WC and EC competitions. I can just see Scotland going the same way- the ambition would be to finish thrid in the 6 nations and reaching the quarter finals of the world cup with not a hope in hell of competing with the best teams. A far better option is to pick the best premiership players and train them to a sufficient standard- after all, there is no particular reason why a New zealander should be better than a Scot- both have two arms, two legs, a head and a body. You must know that this is the best appraoch to develop our team in the long term.

        I can just see the following headline- NEW Zealand B Team with two Scots, an Ozzie and a Netherlands player (formely known as Scotland): 15 England 55. Does this sound like the future to you becouse it does to me. Sop maybe I am not talking Shite as you put it.

  26. Neil on

    FF and Mike- the main motivation for playing for a national team is not just money but glory and recognition (something to tell the grandkids). Plus, being on TV in front of millions means that your talents get noticed and you can probably play for a better club team in the future. As for John Allen- is it just coincidence that he came across during the apartate and left when it was in the process of ending. Rugby was semi amature in those days but I’m sure the moves in both directions did him no harm in any shape or form. My question is this- what nationality would he describe for himself if asked?

    Also, what nationality would Tim Visser describe himself as? If Holland had a strong team I wonder if he would choose to play for them given a free choice? LET ME THINK-Would the answer be a big fat YES?

    I agree with Mike, this is just an unwinnable argument but I hope you all catch my drift.

  27. Mike on

    Neil – I don’t really agree with your point of view, although 3 years residency doesn’t sit well with me, BUT I do know that there are people who do feel the same way as you so I can’t criticise to much even if I don’t agree. Unfortunately for you that’s the way the rugby world is at the moment, and unless the IRB change the rules im afraid you’ll either have to live with it or find another Scottish outlet to support. The women’s curling team are all born and bred Scots im led to believe….

    • Neil on

      At the moment I’ll stick to rugby but that could change in the future if outr national team goes down the pseudo scot road. Lets face it, who really wants to watch the NZ B team in Scotland shirts, wearing kilts and putting on Scottish Accents for press conferences. Who also wants to watch out team lose by 50 points to the All Blacks in the years to come when Vern Cotter leaves our shores?. At least our football water polo and curling teams are not full of pseudo scots.

  28. Angus on

    Neil you’re probably right they aren’t good enough to play for the pro sides yet you want them to thinking by doing so they will suddenly get better and Scotland will beat everyone in the world by 50 points.

    Yes the point is better training and better competition is needed and the levels below the pro teams to groom Scottish based players to move into the Pro level

    What is it about that which is so hard for you to grab

    You don’t just put players in at a higher level or make more pro teams and fill them with club players then see them miraculously improve but that is pretty well all that you advocate

    TBH this whole idea that you can click your heels and a new Scottish rugby nirvana will appear overnight is tiresome while you overlook the progress that has been made in the past 12 months and is going on right now right now to move towards that nirvana with a sound base and calculated approach

    Quite honestly you have been told your ideals are good and aim correct but its your snap your fingers and insert miracle here attitude that is getting on everyone’s nerves

    That and your lack of research and knowledge of what has gone in the past and is currently taking place in Scottish rugby of course

  29. Neil on

    Angus- you didnt get my point. If we took players from the Premiership , trained them at Edinburgh and Glasgow and then fed them in to these teams in a gradual basis they would become good. First put them in the B team, then occassional A matches and finally you get a fully fledged A team player.The only reason they may not be good enough at present is that they have a day job to do, dont receive high level training and/or dont play high level teams. They can only progrss if they are forced to play at the highest level and get the best coaching. No I dont expect everything to happen overnight but the trend is not a good one- i.e. just fill your teams with as many non-scots as possible. Not good at all for our national team and probably not good for our club sides except perhaps in the short term.
    Just look at how Wayne Rooneys career developed- Youth player at Everton, then B team with occassional A team matches, then A team followed by a move to Manchester United and then picked for England. The same could happen for our youngsters but the problem is that the coaches of Edinburgh and Glasgow + the SRU tend to think in the short term so that type of scenario rarely happens. Also, the lack of a 3rd or 4th pro team is another problem but lets not go there again.
    In summary, I just feel we should be following the New Zealand model at both club and international level but I guess I just have to dream on and think of Scotland or Saudi Arabia.

    • Ruairidh Campbell on

      Ok Neil, this is how it works… If there is a good youth player, whether at school or club level, they will be signed onto an EDP (although this is soon changing to the 4 academies). Currently, when an EDP signs, they train with their respective professional team during the week before turning out for their premiership club at the weekend. Of course, there are also the 2nd team Edinburgh v Glasgow matches that take place every so often (but again will be replaced by academies soon). So, if a player impresses through this, then he will be given an opportunity with the pro team and if still thought good enough will be offered a full contract. Take Sam Hidalgo-Clyne as an example: He left school in 2011, spent a year on the 7s circuit, then signed an EDP for 2012-13 where he was linked with Heriots. In 2013-14, he signed a full contract and was making appearances off the bench and this season he is Edinburgh’s best scrum half and also trained with the Scotland squad. Does this help explain the system? Seems to have some similarity with your Rooney example!

      • FF on

        Or alternatively, you are Scott Wight, one of the best players in the Scottish Premiership. You captain Melrose to a magnificent haul of Premier 1, Border League and Melrose Sevens titles, and also guide them to the final of the Scottish Cup and represent the Scotland Club International team.

        Then you sign a pro-contract with the Glasgow Warriors at the age of 25 and fill in as a 3rd choice FH behind Ruaridh Jackson and a 19/20 year old Duncan Weir. You play for 2 years before getting a contract extension for another year. Then you are considered surplus to requirements and move into the 7s squad as it is clear you will not progress any further as a pro player.

        Neil – as you can see, if you are good enough, Premiership players might be offered contracts with our pro-teams but they will be destined to be squad-filler because the best players have already been picked up or joined English championship sides to get rugby. There is a not a huge reservoir of untapped talent at the top of Scottish amateur rugby. We need some foreign born players to ensure our pro-squads are competitive and our young players enter competitive environments – until our academies produce a greater number of players with skill levels and conditioning to cope with pro-rugby or until the standard of club rugby is high enough to bridge the gap into the pro-game (given the clubs opposition to creating an elite club tier this seems some way off).

        The only exception I can think of is Jim Thompson but he (1) Never won a cap (2) Was quite average (3) Left Edinburgh for London Scottish, a Championship side.

  30. Neil on

    Fair points and I know it is still possible to make the big time for one or two exceptional individuals but there have got to be good players who have not been noticed and have no chance of making the pro teams- not because they are rubbish but simply because the have not had a chance to perfect their skills by playing at a high level and have not received high level coaching unlike the non-Scots that they are competing against. It must be really dispiriting being a young up and coming rugby star based in Scotland. Regarding the standard in the Premiership, from what I have heard the standard is very high in the Scottish borders and I’m certain that the better players in Melrose, for example, could play for a pro 12 team. Would it not be better, as a long tern strategy, to develop these guys and only employ maybe 5 non scots or pseudo Scots in each pro team- just a thought.

    • FF on

      Of course it would be better and the point of the 4 new BT academies is to expose greater numbers of our young players to high quality training and professional conditioning so that we have more players prepared for the step up to pro-rugby. There are questions though – these young players need regular game time at a high standard that our schools infrastructure rarely provides, and they need professional contracts to move on to. THAT is when Scottsih rugby will have the capacity to expand its number of pro-sides, when it can field 3 or 4 squads of competitive Scottish players. At the moment, without the foreign born players, SQ or not, our 2 pro-sides simply wouldn’t be competitive – as we’ve seen in the past.

    • Angus on

      Neil I think I understand why you think top Melrose players, for example, should be able to play for a Pro 12 team and that is because you may have been brought up in the days of the District Championship where the District players were just that – the best of the club scene

      Nowadays however the gap between Premier and Pro is immense and a lot of players who shine at club level would simply disappear at Pro level without intense training and match practice over an extended period

      So on the subject of hobby horses it’s my turn – what is needed is a semi pro District Championship to develop these club players that do exist with potential of something great. The same model that works in South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina and now Australia

      The talk of clubs turning pro is a pipe dream brought about from being too close to the English and French Premierships. South Africa, New Zealand and Australia – the countries we seek to emulate and beat – None of them have a full time or in most cases even part time Pro club competition in fact none of them even have a national league

  31. Neil on

    Angus, I grew up in Sctland supporting the Watsonians at a time when the borders clubs were superp. Melrose, Selkirk, Gala and Hawick would have given almost any team a run for their money in the 80’s and even up to the easrly 90s. I completely agree that these clubs are probably shadows of their former selves but having lived outside Scotland for a number of years I am pretty much out of touch of how good/bad the club scene is in our country. Maybe some readers could inform me of how the standard has changed from the mid 80s until present. However, my reasoniong is that there are still a number of biorders clubs containing passionate young players. If these guys were given the opprtuinity to be trained at the highest level and play alongside and against the best players in the country and Europe then I’m sure they would be just as good as the non scots/pseudo scots in our two pro teams. Maybe a semi-pro championshiop wouold work- who knows but this could be a problem as I guess these teams would still fall below Edinburgh and Glasgow in terms of standards and wold the players really get the best training or the chance to play at the highest level to develop their skills. I have my doubts and still feel another pro team in the borders or Aberdeen woould be a good idea.
    Regarding the comparison between our nation and the others you mentioned- Both France and England do have a league system with the top clubs (Bath Leicester, Toulouse etc) being professional teams. I was just watching a game yesterday in the top 14 as it was called- the top 14 teams in France, all of which are professional. In the southern hemisphere I also pbelieve they have a championship whereby the top c.4 teams of each of the three nations compete against each other. All of these teams are professional.
    The rouble at the momnebnt is that our pro teams cannot atttractt the best players in the world- the probably dont have enough money and the thought of playing in England or France has got to be more appealing than Scotland, hence we tend to get the cast off players (before anyone criticises me, I fully understand that there are esceptions such as Strauss at Glasgow). These cast off are still trined at the highest level and play at a high level so, by definition, they are probably still going to be better than your average scots born player playing for Melrose. However, if the top players in teh border were given the same opprtunities as the pseudo scots or non-scots I’m sure they would progress to be fantastic players.

    Here we have a problem, few people like to think in the long term in Scotland, or int he UK as a whole and like short term fixes, hence the3 policy of ‘making’ a scots rugby player by getting any old Tom, Dick or Harry, letting tham stay in the country for 3 years and then promoting them to our national team.

    The other problem goes much deepwer. In Scotland we never seem to value out own. The top Scots engineers, scientists etc gehave generally made a name for them selves in other countries as we did not value their talents. Just look at Adam Smith or Andrew Carneigie for example. I find it vary difficult to think of even 7 famous Scottish persons who have made a name for themselves in Scotland. I dont rate myself in the same bracket as Adam Smith et al but I found that my career started to flourish when I moved to Enland, then Wales and then to the Middle East. I just wonder how many Scots have experienced this. Of course, attitudes will never change overnight but, reading many of the replies and textx, I just get the feeling theat alot of fans would prefer to see more pseudo Scots in our team and dont recognise that we couold actoually develop our own home grown talent to be just as good if not much better. It would also save clubs like Edinburgh and Glasgoww a fortune in the long term. the problem is noboday seems to what to think long term in Scotland (for example a drop in the oil price over only 3 months = massive redundances in companies baed in Aberdeen who cannot grasp the concept of the oil price increasing in the following 3 months)

    Anyway, I’ll close there before my message becomes a rant. I’m never going to change the attitude of Scotland but just hope that things will improve with time and I can return to what I believe is the best nation on Earth.

    • Cammy on

      Neil, I think people have covered many of these points in the past; however I think they bear repeating.

      You’ll forgive my ignorance regarding 80’s Scottish rugby (born 1985) but having checked with my father and the several borderers I work with, I am indeed aware of the incredible skill and ability of the great sides of that time.

      What I do not have any confidence of is your assertion that these teams would have given any club a run for their money. Indeed, every time I have spoken to any Scot that played at the highest level (international or club) their stories tend to be plucky spirited performances against the great English, Welsh and Irish teams. Always very much the underdog in resources, talent, coaching and training.

      The standard, as you so correctly point out, has changed massively since then. The key word here is ‘professionalism’ and the difficulty of trying to run the best club possible when you are in towns of a few thousand rather than 10’s of thousands.

      It is fine to say that, to pick one, Melrose has a history that would mean it should be a professional side. Unfortunately, in order to make a professional side work, you need bodies.

      Melrose: Population 1,671 in the 2001 census.

      Toulouse: Population 439,553 in 2008 census

      Exeter (tiny English team by comparison to most) Population 117,773 in 2011

      Munster (a regional team comprising 6 counties funnily enough) Population 1,246,088 in 2011

      Couple that with the borders rivalry meaning all small towns having very distinct and proud histories means that professionalising the sport round our club teams is almost impossible. Due to this, the standard of these clubs has slipped to the point that they cannot even hope to compete with clubs that they might have previously gotten a sniff of.

      Compare the population figures in Scotland with those of the teams in France and England and you’ll find that regional rugby, centred on areas of large populous is the only way you can build any sort of viable professional team.

      Comparing Scottish rugby to Super Rugby as you have done is utterly ridiculous due to levels of interest, importance of the game in the country (SA and NZ revere rugby over all else) and the revenue generated from that through bums on seats, TV deals and advertising. I have to say though that Super Rugby looks a lot like our Pro 12 funnily enough. Large professional teams based in large municipalities, drawing on the network of local clubs.

      As for opportunities afforded to the best players in the Borders, the sad reality is that Scottish rugby has been run on fiscal fumes due to financial mismanagement, the carbuncle of Murrayfield and poor support. In order to maximise our meagre resources, we have concentrated on 2 professional teams and look to bring in the best of our youths. If you are 26 and play 1st class rugby for Gala, the chances are that you are now so far behind a contemporary that has been part of a professional training regime that you can’t hope to compete.

      The team of our best amateur player’s vs Edinburgh or Glasgow reserves would likely be taken apart, as has been proven by our frankly lamentable performances in the B&I Cup, where we send our plucky amateurs up against the reserves from Wales and Ireland’s regional teams and the ‘semi’ pro English Championship. It has to be said though; I’m a big advocate of a semi pro regional league sat between club rugby and the pro teams.

      Your point regarding Scots qualified players, as you have made several times before, smacks of the sort of jingoistic nonsense that is either hopelessly naive or wilfully xenophobic.

      We are not being stupid in bringing in 2nd rate players from around the world at the expense of Scots. The fact is that we are only now starting to see good, international quality Scots coming through the ranks.

      For much of my rugby watching life, talent such as Hogg, Scott, Dunbar, Russell, Bennett etc. has been nowhere to be seen. Even if it does appear, it is so isolated (think Patterson and… eh…) that it is swamped by the poverty of options around it.

      Edinburgh’s recruitment is rightly looked on as a disaster but there are many things wrong with Edinburgh from poor marketing to the local community, poor housing in the cavernous Murrayfield and poor direction.

      If however these foreign players, all signed on short term contracts, manage to plug gaps and pass on some professional advice to young scots in the next generation then they will absolutely have done their job.

      To finish off, your assertion that people tend to do better once they are out of Scotland is, largely correct (although the leading fund managers, bankers, researchers, engineers and medical personally that base themselves here would no doubt disagree) but this is linked to the reason that our teams aren’t the all beating conquerors of the world, with a team born within miss-pass of the stadium.

      We are a small country.

      We have finite resources.

      We tend to do really well at nurturing talent but we often take a while to get it right.

      When we do develop such prodigious talent, we understand that there is the potential for them to go onto bigger and better things. We let them go do it. In essence, this is how Scottish rugby has to operate:

      Acknowledge that we cannot support a full time professional league based on clubs in our country.

      Point what resources we have at nurturing young talent and preparing it for a bright future.

      Build on the small support our pro teams have to build a larger, dedicated support that will grow generation on generation (sadly, we have already lost a generation of people that should likely be regular followers of Edinburgh. Glasgow have done fantastically)

      Bring in talent from abroad that is, where possible, Scots qualified to plug gaps, build a squad and hope that a SANZAR 4th choice player will allow our teams to be better than the sum of their parts (this is truly the hallmark of great Scottish teams, a better team than you’d think, built of talented if not exceptional players)

      This might be the most important of all, let our really good players go. There are better leagues and more coaching philosophies to be exposed to. Let the good guys experience that. Better to have a (for an example I’m pulling out of thin air) Stuart Hogg playing semi regularly (1 in 2 matches say) for a club in England, being pushed every day at training for his position and every match day for his team, than one that can rest on his laurels and phone in a performance most weeks for Glasgow.

      So that you’re able to understand where these points come from, I’d also like to say that I am a Scot, born in Edinburgh to a Scottish mother and father, with 4 Scottish Grandparents. I’ve lived in Scotland all my life and I couldn’t love her or her rugby team any more. My list of criteria for playing for Scotland is:

      1. Is good enough;

      2. Wants to

      End of.

      • Mike on

        Cammy – Good points. I also dislike comparing countries to each other. I always hear ‘we want to have a domestic set up close to Ireland’. I want a set up that is distinctly Scottish, not copy other countries ways of doing things. I think the SRU is finally starting to realise that eg Semi-Pro league, regional acadamies etc. New Zealand live and breath rugby, trying to copy that set up would be wrong.Lets find our own way. We’ve messed up professionalism, we’re playing catch up with other nations. It will take time.

      • FF on

        Mike – The SRU rightly cop a lot of the blame for the disastrous transition to professionalism.

        But let’s not forget that the elite clubs in Scotland also deserve their fair share. After all, clubs like Melrose opposed professionalism, instead of seeing which way the wind was blowing and trying to adapt. Many of the clubs at the top level and just below have remained obstructive to building a Scottish pyramid from the clubs, to the pro sides to the national team, which is why we still have a gaping chasm in class between the Premiership and the pro-sides and no plan in place to bridge it.

        The question of resources is inescapable. As a small country with a shallow pool of talent, we need to focus on identifying talent early, exposing them to the highest level coaching possible to develop technical expertise, and provide opportunities to play top-level competition as early as they are capable. This fantasy that we can develop a club based league that can rival the domestic tournaments in SA, New Zealand or England is ridiculous.

        Neil likes to harp on about ambition. But ambition without realism is just wishful thinking. We need a Scottish plan that makes the most of what we have. The SRU actually understands the problems well, whether they have the right solutions is debateable. Whether they can carry the obstructive clubs and private schools is highly doubtful.

      • Cammy on

        Cheers Mike. Totally agree that any comparison between ourselves and pretty much every other country is hollow. As with every country, we are unique in our set up and we have to find a Scottish solution to a Scottish question. Trying to simulate anything else is pointless. Look at the pain Wales is going through. They initially adapted well to professionalism but are now finding small crowds and warring franchises due to the damage they did to the bond between Union, club and finally supporter.

        FF, I’m a big fan of your contributions on here. You’re right that the SRU should carry the can and also that the ‘elite’ clubs need to take a hammering for this as well. Most of them seemed to think that simply because they have history, the game would stop and let them continue being themselves.

        I’m a big fan of the regional academies and I hope the plan is to get them competing with each other at each age grade level, continuing into seniors rugby. For me the way to bridge this gap between club and pro rugby is to have the best amateurs and pro’s (not including those that are regulars for Edinburgh/Glasgow) playing in a competitive league against one another. Perhaps 1 match a month that pulls a squad together, or a short series intended to prepare some of them for bleeding into sides during the 6 Nations elite pro hiatus.

        That breeds a following, it builds support and it might actually start to engender some sort of feeling of belonging that can be taken forward and make the idea of supporting your local existing region in the first instance and more pro teams viable in the second instance.

        Baby steps. We greeted professionalism with our eyes closed, fingers in our ears and with fossils in charge of the game. Now we are slowly showing signs of recovery, we need to learn how to walk before we can run. Forgetting about walking, I’d say we have just about managed to master standing up with support right now.

  32. Neil on

    Many thanks for your replies. I would just like to raise the following points:

    1. Contrary to Cammy’s message, the bordrs were absolutlely fantastic at rugby in the 70s, 80s and early 90s. Think about it- they must have been good as most of our national team was sourced from this region, their local teams nearly always won the national championship and the Borders regional team were consistently the best in the country. They produced fantastic players such as Roy Laidlaw, john Jeffries, Tony Stanger and Craig chalmers If that isn’t enough evidence of their brilliance I don’t know what is.
    2. The borders are not so dominant at Rugby now, but from what I have learned they still produce good players.
    3. I believe the biggest problem we have is nationl attitude. We just don’t value our own Lets consider the oil industry for example- home gorwn gelogists, engineers etc often find it very difficult to get a job Scotalnd and, even when they do, they often feel that their carreer does not progress in the way it should. It is a familiar story that moving abroad, even to England, often results in a flourishing career in their field. There are good jobs available in Aberdeen but, invariably they are occupied by non Scots who are valued to a much greater degree. Compare this with Norway- a country which really values its own and where the state oil company Statoil have the policy of employing Norwegians first and foremost. Sure they employ non-Norwegians but these are carefully chosen and few in number. They place a massive emphasis on training and developing Norwegian engineers, geophysicists, geologists etc. I see very similar things going on in Rugby- our two pro teams do not really value the natural home grown talent on their doorstep but prefer to employ jolly foreigners. They are too short sighted to understand that they could take the best players at Melrose, Gala etc and then develop their talents to become at least as good if not better than the pseudo scots or non-Scots. Apart from anything else, that philosophy would save these clubs a fortune in the medium-long term. Just look at New Zealand- they always value and develop their own talent as do SA and a host of other teams.
    3. I don’t think it is a good thing to export out talent to clubs in France, England and elsewhere. The reason our national team was so successful in the Autumn internationals is that most of the players were taken from Glasgow so they knew each other skills and were used to playing with/against each other. Taking players from random clubs throughout Europe means that it takes much longer for the team to gel.
    4. Regarding the national academies- I don’t know enough about this but my concern is that it will not receive much support. I feel the best plan would be to promote a third team in the Scottish Borders. Provided this was carefully managed (which is was not on the previous occasions) I believe this would work and it would men more players playing at the highest level week in week out which is what we need.

    5. Regional academies may or may not work at the under 18 levels but beyond that I have my doubts. Who really want to support teams playing at a lower level than the pro 12 teams? They might as well stick with the system they have- amateur club championship and a limited number of pro sides.

    5. The argument that we are less successful because of the size of our population does not really hold true. NZ, Wales and Ireland have very similar populations and look what the have achieved compared to ourselves in the last 15 years.

  33. Neil on

    Just did a bit of research tonight and I discovered the following:

    Glasgow: 45 scots, 4 pseudo scots, 12 non scots

    Edinburgh: 26 scots, 8 pseudo scots, 21 non scots

    Interesting as the backbone of Glasgow is indeed Scottish as I suspected. Edinburgh, on the other hand, employ more peudos and non-scots than Scottish players. The term pseudo in my book is someone who qualifies as being Scottish by either having a grandparent who is Scottish or having lived/worked in Scotland for 3 years or more and therefore qualified as being Scottish.

    In my opinion there are far too many psedo or non scots in both teams but at least Glasgow seem to have a better idea of how to plan for the future, with two-thirds of their players being Scottish.

    • Mike on

      Sorry Neil its getting a bit tiresome now ‘Pseudo this’ ‘Pseudo that’. I hope this last of it. Debate is good but from now from all posters, not just yourself I hope the debate will be on purely rugby matters. Roll on the six nations!!!

  34. FF on

    Big ask for Glasgow to win at the Rec next Sunday in the middle of a backrow crisis. If Strauss doesn’t recover that will leave us without Strauss, Ashe, Holmes, Fusaro, Harley.

    I rate Eddie and both Nakarawa and Wilson are both decent 6/8 but whoever is forced to cover 7 is going to be mincemeat in the hands of Louw.

    The only silver lining is Glasgow are still in it and Bennett should be back and fit.

    • Mike on

      Its going to be a long day at the office im afraid next week at the rec, Bath are looking quality. I hope if they start Sam Burgess he doesn’t smash Dunbar or Bennett into another injury! To be 100% honest for me (even as an Edinburgh fan) success in Europe is commendable but id much rather see Glasgow, for the moment, win the Pro 12. I hope the players confidence isn’t hit if they don’t qualify especially as its the last game for them going into the 6 nations.

      • FF on

        Even if Glasgow don’t get through, this is the first year they’ve made any impression in Europe so that’s progress at least. I agree, I’d want a pro-12 title above success in Europe. I think their current predicament shows they need to strengthen the squad a little and another open side is top of the list.

        The bigger danger is that this injury crisis costs them a chance at the pro-12 title. Wilson is likely to be in the 6N squad if not in the match day squads. That leaves Glasgow relying on EDP players and a lock playing at 6 just to get through the spring (although Wilson may well be released back for matches).

      • FF on

        Also looks like Leinster will be the only pro-12 qualifying for the QFs (they might not even make it) unless Glasgow can perform some kind of miracle.

  35. Neil on

    Great result for Glasgow at the weekend. I would still say that some of the French and English clubs are better, particularly Toulon- they will take some beating. Glasgow are probably the fifth or sixth best club in Europe as I write this and I agree with Mike that they have a much better chance of sucess in the pro 12- that would be a significant achievement given how poorly our pro teams have competed in the past.
    As for Edinburgh- an improving team but I think a mid table finish in the pro 12 is just about all they can hope for this year.

    • FF on

      Hard to sustain Glasgow being the 5th or 6th best side in Europe if they can’t qualify from their group. Next weekend will be the acid test but to me it looks like the pro-12 sides have fallen some way behind the English and French clubs, Glasgow have no European pedigree and they would struggle to be included in a European top 10.

      • Neil on

        Interesting one but if you look at the times that they have taken on top sides from England (e.g. Bath) or France, they have either won the game or the scores have been very close. i dont recall Glasgow being turned over by any side this year. I would say the very best teams of these nations are slightly better than pro12 teams but the margin is not massive in spite of their superior spending power.
        I would like to think that Glasgow could challenge for the top honours within the next 3 years.

      • FF on

        Glasgow lost home and away against Toulouse this year and last year home and away against Toulon. That is really the difference between being competitive in Europe or not – being able to beat any team when you play them at home. Because they only got 1pt from those two games against Toulouse and failed to get a home try bonus point against Montpellier Bath are still alive instead of the game at the Rec being a dead rubber for them. We both want Glasgow to win but if you were a betting man you wouldn’t put your house on them.

        I think you are wrong about the gulf between the pro-12 and the English and French leagues in Europe this year. There is one game to go and only Leinster and Glasgow have mathematical chances of progressing and both are away from home. Munster, Ulster, Ospreys and Scarlets have been nothing more than also-rans. That should be a huge concern to fans of the pro-12.

        Can Glasgow really win a European title in 3 years? I have to say I think it is unlikely despite their improvement so far. European champions usually build up their experience of winning in Europe gradually, especially in learning how to navigate the knock out stages. The added barrier is of course the financial aspect which I expect will act as a glass barrier to ambitious teams. But Glasgow do have a very talented core and a great team ethic. They need a much stronger scrum where the front row is an issue, a top quality openside (I have my doubts about Fusaro at this level) and probably another game breaker to replace Nico’s magic.

  36. Matto on

    Glasgow will be ruing missed chances in the ERC this year. A home win against Toulouse and BP against Montpellier were within their grasp. Notwithstanding, this is a substantial improvement upon previous years and is consistent with the step by step progress they have made in general. It’s good to see Bennett back, but if Strauss is injured, that is a big loss. The loss of Harley, Fusaro and Strauss really weakens the spine of the team for me and I hope to see them return swiftly. Has anyone heard the prognosis for Harley, and also – when is the 6N squad due to be announced?

    • FF on

      6N squad announced Tuesday afternoon.

      I read elsewhere that Harley was ‘in a race to be fit’ for the opening weekend which probably means he won’t be playing as he’ll have no match practice and little exposure to full contact training.

      It will be interesting to see whether Cotter recalls Brown and Barclay to replace Harley and Fusaro. There aren’t a huge number of contenders – Watson will play for Scotland at 7 but this year may be too soon for him. Strokosch is playing D2 rugby in France. Keiran Low is not an international in my book. Denton must be expecting a recall as he covers 6 and 8.

      Either way it looks like the first two weeks of the 6N are going to be a real test of Scotland’s back row resources.

  37. Standoffalot on

    I think it’s a fair comment to say that the standard of the Pro12 has slipped somewhat in the past few years. Munster, Leinster and to a lesser degree Ulster, have been the flag bearers in Europe for the Pro12, and they are not performing to the same level as previously. Glasgow have got better in recent years but the Irish provences in particular, have gone back a bit.

    Glasgow were nowhere near their best on Sunday against Montpellier reserves. I felt we were forcing the game too early. Kick a few penalties, establish a lead then push on for the 4 try BP. That said, Pyrgos made a massive difference when he came on. Matawalu is a fantastic impact player but Pyrgos controls the game so much better and is less prone to Niko’s occasional moments of madness. The pain of seeing him move to Bath is subsiding somewhat the more games he starts. Good to see Bennett back on the pitch, he gives us much more of an attacking threat ans allows Dunbar to move to 12.

    Bath will be a tall ask, especially given our current form. It’s incredibly frustrating especially given that we should have had a losing BP in France (why Niko didn’t run in closer to the posts is beyond me), and we really should have beaten Toulouse at home (uncharacteristic poor goal kicking costing us). Add that to our failure to take a BP on Sunday, that’s a lot of points left on the park. We may yet win on Sunday coming, I hope so, but a winning BP is a lot to ask. The squad needs a couple of marquee signings to take us to the next level, and I genuinely hope that is on the cards in the summer.

    • pragmatic optimistt on

      Agree with much of the comment aboutGlasgow performance in the Euro cup. They know where they lost it this year, and will be kicking themselves. A few moments of pressure for Finn Russell against Toulouse which he didn’t deal with, and we’re back to square 1. (notwithstanding Nico/Weir mistake away to Toulouse)
      Let’s face it, Glasgow lost the home game more than Toulouse won it.
      Too many games this year stranded on 3 tries which must infuriate Gregor. Constant lack of patience and unwilling to go through the phases before spinning it wide.
      Particularly agree with comments about Nico. I always feel Glasgow are are much better with Pyrgos on the pitch.
      A couple of marquee signings would be good. Unlike Neil, I don’t care where they are from.
      If they’re from planet Mars thats OK with me, just as long as they’re game breakers for Glasgow.
      Glasgow are still a very good team and just need the kind of breaks that Nico used to supply.
      We should stop beating ourselves up, just because a few teams are slightly better this year.
      I don’t include Toulouse in that list, as given their wage bill they are big underachievers.
      Would say that Northampton, Clermont, Toulon and Saracens have a small advantage this year, and that Bath could beat any of these if on form. (so could an in form Glasgow with a full side, which I haven’t seen apart from first month of Pro 12.)

  38. Neil on

    I think Glasgow could be the new Leinster in a couple of years and will be the flagbearer of the pro-12 in Europe. The only thing that concerns me is that their best players are non-Scots who probably dont have a great deal of allegiance to the club or city. Niko is going to Bath because they have more money to spend on his wages, while it would not surprise me if some of the others also end up going elsewhere over the summer break. To be honest, this could also affect the Scottish players in the side. Glasgow could become a victim of their own success as they do not have the funding of Bath, Toulon etc. I just wish that salary capping was brought in to give every team a fighting chance but, in order to work, it would require universal acceptance throughout the world of rugby. However, it works in basketball and ice hockey in North America so why not in rugby?

    • FF on

      Neil – you rarely miss an opportunity to hop up on your hobby horse do you?

      Nico will have been on a very cheap deal when he came to Glasgow because he was previously playing amateur club rugby in Fiji when he was scouted playing against us in Suva. He has every right to seek a better deal, it is his profession. Maybe Glasgow just didn’t think he was worth a better deal, he is after all a SH who can’t pass who typically plays as an impact sub. Unless you know as a fact that he turned down an improved offer before looking for a new club I’d hold back on the accusations of disloyalty. He has behaved exactly like plenty of Scots at Glasgow like Richie Gray, John Barclay, Chris Cusiter – they weren’t offered deals they thought their experience and ability warranted so they moved. That is professional sport.

      Anyway, it is interesting to reflect on Leinster’s success. I read a blog recently that claimed that Leinster’s wage bills over their golden age were around £8.5m – more than twice their Welsh rivals and significantly higher than the English salary cap. So, Leinster weren’t European champions just because of good coaching but because they have the economic power to keep all their stars, recruit top level foreign imports (Nacewa, Contempomi, Hines, Rocky Elsom, Brad Thorn) and experienced overseas coaches (Cheika, Smith, O’Connor).

      How did they do this? They spent years improving their results and getting fans through the turnstiles, they built a stronger squad through the most successful academy in the NH and they slowly developed the experience and coaching team they needed.

      Success is a virtuous circle but it does not happen quickly. I think Glasgow are some way along this journey but the economic basis remains weak – they need years of attracting new fans and a bigger stadium when they can rely on bigger gates. At the moment they will struggle to attract the marquee signings they probably need to compete with the best in Europe, they will struggle to hang onto some of their better players as they improve and their squad is a little shallow to cope with 6N, RWC and AI call ups because Scotland relies so heavily on them. I can’t see them becoming the new Leinster in 3 years but to be honest I don’t think the pro-12 will be dominated by one or two teams as it has been in the past. Which is good, because we can enjoy a more competitive league. Regardless, it is obvious Glasgow are moving in the right direction.

      • Neil on

        FF- again you miss my point. I do not blame the SH players or even our own boys for wanting to earn more money. I would do exactly the same thing in their shoes. The point I was trying to make is that the home grown boys are probably more likely to stay at home, given the family/friends links etc whilst the non-scots and psedo scot boys dont have the same links and are more likey to seek the best deal wherever that may be. Dont confuse that for me wishing ill fate on them but thats they way it is- scots born players arer more likely to stick arround.
        Regarding Leinster- I accept it took a long time to build up this team but spending power is not the only answer to success. Good coaching and good home grown players are just as important. However, I agree that the more bums on seats and sponsorship the better. I agree with two of your points- Glasgow will struggle to attract the creme de la creme- you inadvertently agreed with me (though you do not mention it) that the they need to concentrate on developing youth and home bred talent fopr this reason.
        We also agree on one other point- the Glasgow model is good and they are moving in the right direction. Long may it continue.

      • Mike on

        I can’t believe it. Im sorry but a lad who hasnt started a game for Edinburgh (not even heard him interviewed!!) is over an inform, fit Barclay? Even Roddy Grant should have been ahead of Blake. Reckon they’ll give him 5 mins just to tie him to Scotland. Neil will probably blow a fuse and to be honest with him I couldnt blame him. If Barclay was 34 years old then maybe but hes 28, the prime of his career. Something is very fishy. I supect Barclay will cut his losses, accept he wont be picked for Scotland again and tell all. Im a little bit annoyed to be honest!

      • Neil on

        Not good at all. The guy cant play rugby to save himself. Do you really think he would make it to the NZ squad, for example, or even the NZ C team. Why do we bother with such naff players? Next you will be informing me that Hugo Southwell will be making a comeback. It seems that we are only too happy to accept mediocrity in Scotland. “its not the winning but the taking part”- that should be our motto!

      • FF on

        I am very saddened that Blake has been called up and agree with Mike that it is almost certainly to get him on for 5 minutes and tie him to Scotland. We have form with this with getting Heathcote on for 5 minutes at the end of our Tonga humping.

        However, Neil – have you ever seen Blake play? I haven’t but I am very interested in how you have formed your opinion of his abilities.

    • Matto on

      I’d almost forgotten about Who Blake, having never yet seen him play… It does sound a bit like a cynical Heathcotesque scenario. However, BVC probably knows a fair bit that we all don’t. He will have seen his SR performances and perhaps wants to take a closer look himself. All that said, I am perplexed by the absence of Barclay, and a bit surprised that Brown continues to be overlooked. On the other hand I think Toolis and Watson have done enough to get into the wider squad, and BVC seems to be very keen on bringing through promising younger players that he can stamp his mark on.

      • FF on

        Beattie is also not included (nor Wilson and Grant – maybe the SRU are expecting them to be found guilty?) which as far as I know leaves Denton as the only fit number 8 in the squad. Er WTF!?!

        If Cotter’s plan was to dampen down expectations after a successful AI series he has pulled off a masterstroke.

      • Mike on

        Has he played SR? ITM yes but I don’t think he’s played super rugby, he’s tied to the Highlanders I think.

      • FF on

        No, he was included in the Highlanders Super Rugby training squad in the autumn but hasn’t made any appearances (yet). That in itself isn’t unusual as he is only 22. What’s surprising is that Cotter thinks he has enough experience to potentially play in the 6N.

        On the other hand, Hamish Watson has played 26 games for Edinburgh (13 starts) at pro-12 level, which is probably below ITM level. I’m excited to see what Watson will do in a Scotland shirt as he has looked very good this season.

  39. Matto on

    I would hope so FF, given his extended good form for the Scarlets. Also, with Fusaro out who else would cover openside (assuming Cowan will be selected)? Will the perennially overlooked Roddy Grant finally find favour (or is he just 5 kg too light for our test coaches?)? Will Hamish Watson be invited to train? What about blindside? Stroker, Brown, Denton? I guess Harley may make it back into the mix for the later games.

    • FF on

      Well Cotter is the coach and it is his squad, there is really no reason to blame anyone else except him even if it means Scotland fans have to give up our latest Great White Hope.

    • Neil on

      Coully- I agree that SJ is the same thing as SHITE. I always thougth Cotter was a bit better having done well for us in the Autumn internationals. He seemed to have a clear vision of where he wants to take the team. I guess the 6 nations will be the test. I just hope that he doesnt end up filling the team with non/pseudo scots that cant get a game for any other team for love or money.

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