Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Five Added to Scotland Squad

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

Not the band, thankfully, but Scotland head coach Vern Cotter today added five previously capped internationalists to Scotland’s training squad ahead of the must-win game against Italy this Saturday at BT Murrayfield (28 February, kick-off 2.30pm).

Scrum-half Chris Cusiter and prop Moray Low have been called up from Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs, along with young Edinburgh prop Alex Allan and back rowers Adam Ashe and David Denton.

Cusiter (knee) and Ashe (neck) were absent from Cotter’s initial squad selection due to injury, but have recovered to earn the recall – Cusiter started for Sale at the weekend although Ashe will be very short of game time. David Denton has recovered from the calf tear sustained in the national team’s pre-Championship camp in Glasgow last month but there is no sign of Sean Maitland. There were suggestions that Tommy Seymour might be also fit in time for the weekend which would be a welcome boost to the Scotland backline.

Low and Allan are direct replacements for Glasgow Warriors pair Jon Welsh (hand) and Gordon Reid (knee), who were injured in the previous match against Wales on Sunday 15 February.

The quintet began training with the squad this morning.

86 Responses

    1. Aye me too, but I haven’t heard any news about him now for a while. Here’s hoping something get’s released soon!

  1. I’m a little confused. Seymour and Maitland were already part of the squad as they were injured after the squad was named before the first match against France. So the fact they aren’t listed here shouldn’t be taken as any indication they will not be fit for Saturday, no? Or do you know for certain that Maitland will not be fit?

    Great that Denton and Ashe will be fit for selection for Twickenham. I really can’t see them playing against Italy on Saturday though and Ashe should really be selected for Glasgow against Munster to get some match practice as he has been out for a significant period.

    I’d be a little disappointed if Cusiter came in for SHC on the bench but happier if he replaced Laidlaw in the starting line up. I suppose that would require us to be fielding a decent kicker elsewhere.

    Low and Allan are there just for squad cover and hopefully won’t take the field at any point in the remaining games.

    1. Unfortunately Laidlaw wont be dropped, although he probably should. I agree that SHC should not be replaced by Cusiter although I will say I have always rated Cus. Shame we still don’t have Maitland, but hopefully Seymour will be fit.

      The big talking point is surely who is going to play at stand off. I reckon it’s worth putting Hogg at 10 with Tonks at 15, but since Cusiter’s been called up, maybe BVC will slot Laidlaw at 10 with SHC or Cusiter at SH.

      1. I really hope that Laidlaw doesn’t go to ten. Not strong enough in the tackle and was consistently a weak link defensively when played there previously. Laidlaw won’t be dropped unfortunately so he’ll still assume goal kicking duties, so I would play Horne at ten. Kicking to touch was excellent, he’s brave in the tackle and is good with the ball in hand. Both he and Tonks aren’t the best at kicking from hand but I would say that Horne is the more natural ten of the two.

      2. Italy have a FH who can’t kick, is quite slow and is an average playmaker. However, he is 17 1/2 stone. Picking Laidlaw at 10 would seem like inviting disaster by making a huge virtue out of Haimona’s only ‘point of difference’ (in Cotter speak).

        If Maitland is out injured i’d probably edge towards Horne, then Hogg (with Tonks at FB).

      3. Thinking about it, it seems likely that Cusiter has been called up because SHC was undergoing the return to play concussion protocols. This requires 6 days without symptoms before being passed as fit to play. SHC displayed delayed concussion so maybe he is yet to pass 6 days or even be under some doubt that he will be passed fit.

      4. My first impression was the Cotter would switch Laidlaw to 10 and bring in SHC/Cusiter at 9 but I’m not sure now. As FF rightly pointed out, having Haimona run at Laidlaw is a terrifying prospect and would probably end in disaster. I think Laidlaw will stay at 9 for both captaincy and goal kicking reasons, although his form hasn’t been good enough up to now.

        I’d bring in Horne at 10. Hogg has been a stand out coming from deep at full back and one of our most potent weapons. With Maitland and Seymour potentially missing, I wouldn’t want to disrupt things anymore so for me, I’d keep him there and bring a specialist 10.

        At the end of the day, Russell has been very good thus far (Wales game aside) but we do need to develop more strength in depth to cover injures/suspensions/form etc so best do it now to stand any chance of winning the WC (that’s a joke)

        Alternatively, Italy once tried Mauro Bergamasco playing at 9 so perhaps we should stick a back rower out there…anyone fancy John Barclay making a triumphant return to the national set up by launching a last minute drop goal from the 10 channel. No?

      5. For the world cup presumably Duncan Weir will be back in the frame who is a pretty able understudy in my opinion. But then, I also thought Jackson was alright despite his various brainfarts. Not sure if he’ll be back for the world cup but I’d be happy with those two backing up Russell.

        Tonks for me isn’t a test FH. Horne should be there as the fourth centre and to provide a little more cover on the bench.

      6. On the other hand, for me Horne isn’t a test centre. However he looks more useful at 10 where his power (or lack thereof) is less of an issue. I think based on who played at the weekend we’ll see Tonks at 10, his tackling should be up to Haimona or Allan but expect Hogg to appear at first receiver a fair amount.

      7. Yeah I agree about Weir. Have no problem with him as a back up – solid and reasonably dependable.

        As for Jackson, I’m sorry but have to disagree with you. I don’t rate the guy. At times it appears as if he was covered in treacle he was so slow and I really wouldn’t be disappointed to not see him in the Scotland squad again. Harsh, I’m sure, but that’s just my thought.

        I guess one of the arguments for the World Cup squad would be to take Russell and Weir as 1 and 2 and then have Hogg as “cover” as well as Horne perhaps.

        Or, again, Vernon has been playing center, take him for cover at 10. Simple.

        But more seriously, when is Russell’s appeal? Must be relatively soon surely?

      8. I take it Pyrgos is still injured? I thought SHC was electric when he came on against Wales and should keep his bench place if fit. I actually figured at least one of Seymour and Maitland must be fit with Visser and Fife being released back to Edinburgh for Friday nights horror show.

      9. Rory – who would your fourth centre be?

        Dunbar, Bennett, Scott are obviously all nailed on.

        I like Lamont but he can’t pass (I’d probably have him in the squad as a winger anyway to be honest).
        Taylor is Lamont-lite.

        That’s about it isn’t it?

      10. McChin I agree with you regarding Jackson. I once saw him attempt a restart for Glasgow that went all of about 5 yards. Yet probably the most complete performance I ever saw from a ten was during Glasgow’s 50 point demolition of Munster at Scotstoun a few seasons back when he was simply immaculate. If ever there was a confidence player….

      11. Ah Joe Ansbro, such a shame injury curtailed his career. Would definitely make it into a “what if” XV along with Thom Evans and Ross Rennie. Could also make a case for Simon Taylor and Rory Lamont never really being the players we all thought they were going to be, although 60 odd caps for the former is still a pretty decent return!

        standoffalot, sounds like classic Jackson. There was more than one occasion I can remember where in the space of 10 minutes he could go from looking like a calm, assured presence to full on rabbit in the headlights panic mode. Say what you like about Russell, but you always get the impression he backs himself in any situation.

        FF, I have a huge amount of respect for Sean Lamont and it was heartening to hear him speak a few weeks ago about never turning his back on the country but I do feel we’ve seen the best of him. He seems to be lacking the burst of pace or awareness of what’s going on around him to really be effective.

        I know Wales have used North in the the centers once or twice to good effect but I can’t really see any of our guys moving in there to cover if need to be. Do you rate Duncan Taylor? I’ve not seen a huge amount of him but have heard decent things from a Sarrie supporting mate…

      12. I’ve only really seen Duncan Taylor play in his few test appearances but he’s always been totally anonymous. He’s very direct but I’m not sure he has the distribution or pace the rest of the new look backline possesses which is starting to ask questions of the opposition.

        Speaking of unfulfilled talents, does anyone remember Tom Philip? He broke through when Matt Williams coached Scotland, debuted at the age of 20 or something like that, looked fantastic for one seasons 6N, got crocked and retired from pro-rugby with 5 caps in his mid-20s. If ever there was a time we needed a talented centre to come through it was the early 2000s…

      13. Yeah, fair enough. I wasn’t blown away the few times I saw him but as I say, I’ve heard positive things. If he’s going to develop in a battering ram of a center then Saracens is the probably the best place for him.

        I posted a link below but not sure if it’s shown up, apparently the SRU are being linked with a NZ born league player for Salford Devils. The article is on the Manchester Evening News and seems pretty clued up on Dodson and Johnson’s plans…

    2. Maitland and Denton were both announced as on the injured list/set to miss out on the original squad hence why Denton has been re-included here. Seymour is presumably still part of the squad as his injury wasn’t serious enough to miss the whole tournament.

    3. Yeah not sure what’s happening with Pyrgos so can only presume he’s still injured.

      Agreed, SHC looked a proper live wire when he came on but as has been noted, he didn’t make the protocols a couple of days later and was showing signs of concussion so not sure. As you say, I’d be hopeful he’s on the bench anyway.

      The BBC website have updated their article about Cotter’s additions to the squad and both Maitland and Seymour have (expected to be fit) next to their names! Hopefully that’s true! SHC simply says recovering from concussion however so no further info on that.

    4. Also, Martin Castrogiovanni is out due for Saturday’s game with that age old excuse of the dog ate…his nose.

      Seriously, he’s had to get 14 stitches in his face after a mate’s dog bit him on the nose. Bizarre!

  2. Just looked at BBC website which states that Maitland and Seymour are recovering from their respective injuries and expected to be fit, which potentially opens the door for Hogg to move to ten if BVC sees fit.

  3. To be fair to Laidlaw, he was fantastic in the autumn and played pretty well against France.

    To drop him after one average performance (I didn’t think he was poor v Wales) seems a bit reactionary.

    Scotland’s 1st team needs as much game time as possible between now and the RWC, and if Vern’s decided Laidlaw’s his number 1 scrum half, he has to pick him. Keep chopping and changing and we’ll end up like the England cricket team.

  4. If you check the Scottish rugby Twitter account they’ve posted some photos of today’s training session, one of which appears to feature an in-action Tommy seymour. I hope to god he’s back playing, Visser is an absolute clown and Lamont is better coming off the bench. I hope to see Denton or Ashe start at 8 also, Beattie has lost his shine. As for halfbacks, I’d keep laidlaw and start Horne at 10 with SHC and Tonks on the bench.

    1. Ashe hasn’t played in over three months. I’m not sure he should make his 6N debut with so little match practice. He should play for Glasgow against Munster, if he looks good and isn’t off the pace he can start the remaining two games.

      1. Better that he starts against Italy to get some match experience/fitness rather than starting him against the big guns of Ireland or England. lets face it, we are only playing Italy- not exactly the New Zealand All Blacks.

      2. Scotland are not in a position to take victory for granted against any of our 6N opponents. It would be a huge risk for Ashe to start his first ever 6N game with no match practice under his belt against the best number 8 in the northern hemisphere for a decade.

        We have to win this game. It looks almost certain we’ll be going into the match with a fourth choice FH with no 6N experience whether it is Horne or Tonks or even Hogg in that position. Asking someone to make their 6N debut with no match practice would be inviting disaster and handing Italy a massive advantage.

      3. But if you look at Italy, they anormally either win zero or only one game in the 6 nations each year and are prone to heavy 30+ point losess. I dont think we should completely underrate them but we are playing the game at Murryfield and wouold expect to win the game with quite a few points to spare. With that in mind, I would say that we should consider fielding less experienced and youth players just to give them experience and find out how good they are. After all, this is probably the only game that we can afford to do that in. If we tried that against Ireland or England we would run the risk of being tanked.

      4. Italy’s results against the other 6N teams are totally irrelevant.

        The only results that might be relevant are the ones between us and Italy. We have won 9 games and lost 6 6N games against them. That tells you everything you need to know about how stupid it would be to take a win for granted on Saturday.

      5. FF- You have to look at recent form. We lost to Italy on more ocassions that we should have from 2000-2013 when we had a rubbish team- probably not much better than Italy in reality. Now our team is much better while Italy have stayed in the same place or perhaps got worse. You also have to bear in mind that we are playing at Murryfield- a ground where Italy rarely seem to get much joy. The danger is that Italy could drag us down to their level, as they are enclined to do but I would still expect a good win. Lets hope so.

      6. Neil, what would you class as a good win? Winning by 5? 10? 15? More?

        The reason I ask is if we go out and beat Italy having played appallingly the team gets criticised and people say we should be doing better (and I include myself in that). See last year as an example. Win by 15/20 points and people say, “Oh it’s only Italy, let’s see if they can do it against the big teams”.

        In my opinion, the team – both Cotter and the players I mean – are at a juncture. Winning, at this stage, is all that matters. Italy scored within the first 3 minutes against England last week and then went on to score 2 more. England came to life and dominated, true, but Italy still posed them questions. If we get dragged into a dogfight with them – and Castrogiovanni is an expert on that now – then it tests the mettle and character of the players, something that maybe at times has been lacking.

        When we played France, they almost reminded me of the Italian’s we’re used to seeing. Big, strong and aggressive. They dragged us down, or at least tried too, to their level and ultimately, won the game.

        Anyway, in my eyes, at this stage any win is a good win.

      7. Too right McChin. We are now under a lot of pressure to get a win. Fortunately, there is zero chance Cotter will treat this as anything other than a top-class test match.

        For the record, the last two times we beat Italy the margins were by a single point and we won with the last kick of the game. I am confident we will win and I expect it to be more like our last game against them at Murrayfield than our previous two encounters, but I don’t think we can count on an easy ride. Even that last win at Murrayfield could have swung back to Italy if Hogg hadn’t made a hugely risky interception with the try line begging and the Italians two on one against him. No easy games for us in the 6N.

    2. Yeah I agree with you here FF, as already stated starting with an internationally inexperienced 10 isn’t exactly ideal and hopefully won’t invite too many Phil Godman-related flashbacks so chucking in an inexperienced and not match fit 8 isn’t going to help. And as you rightly state, they’ll be up against the best European 8 for a decade and one of the best around so it’s a double whammy in that regard. I’d start with Beattie, who I’m not a huge fan of, and if we’re going well bring on Denton/Ashe for the last 20.

      I think the win is all that matters on Saturday. I’ll happily watch us play stodgy, brutal rugby for 80 mins as long as we come away with the points. It’s been great seeing Scotland throw the ball about with a bit of verve, but this group needs to win as soon as possible.

      Italy, in my opinion, cannot be underestimated. They scored 3 against England and made life difficult for Ireland as well as competed strongly against SA in the autumn for 60 mins before tiring. Morisi looks dangerous too and remember Haimona missed what, 4 kicks against England? He might find his shooting boots at Murrayfield…

      So whilst I expect us to win, I simply don’t think it’ll be a case of turning up and steam rolling them (of course, I hope I’m wrong and we put on a great show).

      The other thing I guess that’s worth nothing regarding this match, is this is the first time in this 6N we’ve gone in as favourites. It’s the old cliche, but away to France and at home to Wales there hasn’t been the pressure on his to win as such. I’m not saying that has anything to do with it, but it could be a factor. We’ve seen Scotland teams in the past on the few times we have been billed as “favourites” struggle to live up to that tag.

  5. Good to see Denton back in the picture. I know he takes a bit of stick for his lack of vision when carrying, but he’s got doggedness in him and I like that. Also, if anyone has re-watched (as I have, several times now) the last five minutes in Stadio Olimpico last year, they will see him make two superb interventions to retain the continuous possession we needed for Chunky’s drop. His last retention was brilliant, from a disintegrating Italian scrum where we should have had a penalty but there was no way Steve Walsh was going to give one at that stage of the game.

      1. Everything I have read has had him down as a Fullback/Wing.

        Regardless, questions have to be asked about the circumstances of this offer. The SRU tried to recruit him when he left Auckland Warriors but he joined Salford in May 2014. It is a little unsettling that they want to unload him so swiftly and he is apparently troubled with groin injuries that have limited his recent appearances.

        Nevertheless, probably worth pursuing as he could be a valuable squad member and crossing codes is easier if you are a wide player.

    1. Mibbes aye, mibbes naw as they say…

      No seriously, I’m a bit bemused by this. If you check his wikipedia page (not 100% reliable I know) it states both Edinburgh and Glasgow were in for him before he signed for Salford last year. Seems worrying that they now want to offload him so quickly. Both that entry and the article I’ve linked to also state that he’s had a few injury issues which doesn’t bode well for a guy at 25.

      I’d also question the desire to bring in a league convert and talk about world cup squads when it’s a matter of months away. But, I guess it shows the paucity of resources at our disposal in that position.

      Plus, and again this only going from wikipedia, at 5 foot 9…is he big enough to play in there for us? I’m not saying either way. It’s worth checking him out on youtube though, he does looks lightening quick.

      1. He’s currently tweeting that he intends to stay at Salford. Not sure of that is before or after his meeting with the SRU though.

  6. I agree with Mc Chin abiout one point- Joe Ansbro was a great player and i would have ertainly included him in the squad. he was instrumental in an away win over OZ and really made an impact. What ever happened to him.
    I think Adam Ashe should be included in the squad as it is only Italy that we are playing and he needs the practice. I think this would be the perfect game to experiament with an introduce a slightly different squad. I would even consider puting some of the U21 players in the squad just to give them experience of playing in a full international. Come to think of it, I would’nt mind playing myself. Anyway, before I cause a stirr I’m going to leave it there.

    1. Joe Ansbro, suffered a career ending broken neck a couple of years ago.
      Sergio Parisse is one of the best number 8s in the world – not really who you want to be up against after a long injury lay off – hardly a wee bit of ‘practice’.
      I think Cotter is trying to develop a settled squad for the RWC and will quite rightly make as few unenforced changes to his preferred 23 as possible. These players have not won yet in this 6N and need the confidence boost of a win. We would underestimate Italy at our peril.

    1. Game is on Saturday so has to be announced Thursday I think. Cotter hasn’t named any of his teams earlier than the latest deadline so far.

      Russell appeal is expected on Wednesday.

  7. Alex Allan – GLASGOW PROP!!! Mr Baldwin

    Hard to see either Ashe or Denton making their return from not insignificant injury lay offs in a 6N game.

    Cusiter must be there due to the doubt over SHC’s concussion return.

    In the event that Russell remains suspended, you could argue that the inclusion of Horne at 10 would cause less disruption than Tonks. Horne will have much more connection with Dunbar and Bennett (although considering Dunbar hasnt finished 80 for us yet, you may see Matt Scott at 12 to give him a rest??).

    The Laidlaw argument has been done to death (see also the Barclay and Brown argument). The two back-rowers have been cast assunder and it will take a pretty serious injury crisis for them to re-appear, so we might as well get on with it and back the players that the coach rates. This weekend will be a good indicator on whether a) Cotter rates Laidlaw and b) whether Cotter picks on form and not reputation. Is it too late to change plans for No.9 (and captain) before the WC??

  8. re. Saturday’s half back pairing:

    Laidlaw will keep the 9 jersey. Not saying he should, but he will. Perhaps it may actually be the best option long term – dropping him this week would kill his confidence, and he only plays well when he’s confident. Besides, our track record of dropping our captain is not ideal… (Kellock, Brown).

    If he’s not firing though, BVC should have the balls to bring SHC early on (~50 mins), instead of persevering and hoping Laidlaw starts playing well. Although SHC may well be concussed, but the same argument stands if Cusiter is on the bench.

    10 is trickier. I’d back Horne, mostly because he plays with Dunbar and Bennett regularly, and bench Tonks. Neither are really 10s though, so I am slightly hesitant that it will work…

    But Horne did had a cracker against Ospreys at 10 so he’s coming into it in good form. He’s never looked all that good in a Scotland jersey (to be fair, I remember him being used as a Jamie-Roberts-esque crash ball 12 in last year’s summer tour…) but if it works, it works.

    I know that Russell and Hogg have been playing well and it’s been difficult to take them off, but Tonks has been unused from the bench in both games so far. I wonder if the coaches aren’t brimming with confidence in him yet…?

    Laidlaw at 10 should not be an option this weekend. It would be a complete backwards step.

    I see the Hogg at 10 argument, just not sure it’s the best move. He is undeniably a cracking player, played 10 at age-grade and played 10 (well) for the Lions. But I’d have a fair crack at 10 if I was behind a Lions pack with Roberts and BOD sitting outside me against some plumbers (on second thoughts, maybe not…)

    Besides, he’s our best FB and should be seen purely as a FB. We shouldn’t do a Chris Paterson and play our first choice 15 out of position. I’d sooner have Hogg at 13 than 10 for Scotland, purely because he’s actually played 13 for Glasgow. So I’ll stick with Horne for that reason.

    (if we’re suggesting players who played 10 at age-grade, I’ll make a wildly unrealistic and leftfield call and say Matt Scott at 10.)

    Of course, we can hope that Russell actually wins the appeal…
    I won’t hold my breath.

  9. Dont like the fact that Lailaw is still in the team. I hold him partly responsible for our loss to Wales. His open play is OK but he is rubbish at kicking and persistes with the somewhat dated tactic of up and under Garryowens that gain us about 10 yards in teritory but we always lose posession so whats the point. Why does he not realise that? To me there has to be a better option- maybe bring one of the youth or U21 players into the side to gain experience. Far better than persevering with old rubbish. I wish they couold bring back ROY Laidlaw- a much better player in my opinion.
    The fact is that we will beat Italy but the real tests will be against Ireland and England. Thats where Laidlaw’s inabilities will be exposed. This game against Italy is utterly pointless in my opnion and does nothing for the players. If we win by 5-20 points then it wont impress anyone as it was only a home game against Italy. If we lose then everyone will be slating the team. In my opinion Italy are not really good enough to be in this competition but thats another argument. I may start to watch this game but I dont see much point. I would far rather watch France thrash wales or a episode from Coronation Street made two years ago.

    1. I didn’t realise the team had been announced. I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been.

      Give it a rest about Italy, if you want anyone else on here to take your posts seriously, you would do well to stop being so disparaging about the Italian national team. They have some excellent players and given were Scotland are at, should be given respect.

    2. This whole “Italy aren’t good enough for the tournament” argument has also been leveled at Scotland in the last couple of years from various English and Welsh journalists and pundits.

      I remember reading somewhere last year about an argument of introducing a 2nd tier competition with promotion too, and relegation from, the 6 Nations which was quite compelling. It would give the likes of Romania, Georgia and other European nations an opportunity to play more competitive rugby on the international stage as well as up the ante on finishing bottom in the 6 Nations.

      The problem being we, Scotland, have finished bottom on 3 occasions which in this proposed format means relegation/demotion to a 2nd tier tournament.

      It’s relevant to your point here, because England, Wales and to a lesser degree Ireland will have, probably, at times held the same view you have regarding Italy – toward us. This whole “it’s only Italy” spiel is counter productive. They’ve been a welcome addition to the tournament and the only way to grow the sport is to include the so called “smaller” nations – a category we, Scotland, are currently in (or close too).

      Argentina joining the tri-nations is another example.

      Also, think of the Italian fans. I’ve been to Murrayfield on 3 occasions when we’ve played them and their numbers increase every time (or at least seem too, I could be wrong). For a country that’s mad about football, it’s brilliant to see more and more people get involved with rugby – a problem we, Scotland, also suffer from. Removing them from the 6 Nations is a backward step and reinforces the image that World Rugby only care about the big, tier one nations when really, their remit should be to expand the sport globally.

      Imagine your reaction if more and more people started calling for Scotland to be removed from the tournament – hell, we’ve finished bottom on 3 occasions and unless I’m mistaken have never came higher than 3rd since the 6 Nations came about so why should we be in the tournament?

      Finally, if Italy were removed, as you’ve suggested, we’d be deprived of seeing Sergio Parisse. And to be totally honest, he alone is enough for me to welcome Italy in to the competition with open arms. Along with their consistently fantastic strips. And the pipe dream of going to Italy to see a match. And watching the jubilation on every player and fan’s face when they beat France.

      1. There already is a 6N 2nd division, it’s called the European Nations Cup and is dominated by Georgia. However, its teams run the gamut from Georgia (only victory against Tier 1 side is a 2pt win against Samoa in Tbilisi), who I think are probably not too far behind Italy, to Belgium, who are amateur and only have 1 or 2 players in professional leagues.

        This is the crux of the matter. Relegation would mean bankruptcy for Italy, Scotland or Wales if they were relegated to a competition that offered them no meaningful rugby or commercial values – all under the guise of spreading the game. Not to mention the fact there is no reason to believe adding Georgia would make the 6N more competitive or more commercially valuable (almost certainly the opposite in fact).

        So for me, this issue is only ever raised because World Rugby is struggling to find a way to meet the aspirations of Georgia. Relegation from the 6N, or excluding Italy/Scotland/whoever would be a huge retrograde step as you say and do nothing to cultivate more competition in Europe. The first thing that should happen is that 6N teams should regularly play Georgia in AIs/summer tours.

      2. FF, totally agree with what you’re saying although I have to admit I totally forgot about the European Nations Cup – thanks for bringing it up.

        I personally get bored of these calls for Italy to be excluded – I love the 6 Nations as it is and I think most European rugby fans would say the same. Also, Saturday’s game is apparently going to be the biggest home crowd Scotland have had for a match versus Italy, so the appetite is obviously there from the fee paying public. (I appreciate this will be in large part to our recent improved performances.)

        I do agree, to a point, about your suggestion of 6N teams should play Georgia in AIs, summer tours etc. How World Rugby could implement that I’m not sure and I’m sure England, Wales and Ireland would counter the suggestion by arguing they want to test themselves against NZ, SA, Oz etc. Although I appreciate the Pacific Island nations get involved too.

        Anyway, my suggestion would be have the winner of the European Nations Cup play the bottom team of the 6N, perhaps over 2 legs at the conclusion of both tournaments or at an agreeable date. I’m sure there’ll be arguments about fitting extra dates into the calendar and all that, but that’d be my idea…for what it’s worth! As a spectator, I’d be delighted to see more international matches in general. For Georgia, it’s an opporotunity to test themselves against a higher calibre of opposition and for Italy/Scotland/whoever finishes bottom I guess it’s a chance to prove they deserve their place.

        Not going to happen though, I do appreciate that. Purely the ramblings of somebody who wants more international matches…

      3. I agree the 6N is great as it is.

        If Georgia or anyone else is really good enough to compete in the 6N we need to find a way to include them without it being at the expense of someone else. It is important to grow the rugby family which the deficit model of relegation just doesn’t do.

        I can’t see that being possible until international rugby is played in a block (like in the SH) as part of a global calendar. Then you might be able to add an extra weekend at the expense of an international weekend somewhere else, without upsetting the clubs by exposing their players to more injury risk midway through a season. At the moment that all looks like pie in the sky.

      4. Yeah absolutely – I don’t think changing the format of the 6N is the right way to go, although I would say that following a team who’s part of it. However, I would like to see more nations being competitive and, as you rightly put it, grow the rugby family (sounds very Mafia-esque!)

        I wonder if we’ll get to a stage where Georgia are so dominant in the 2nd tier comp, that they start making serious noises about joining the 6N – they’re not exactly far away from that level of dominance I guess. Maybe they are already speaking to World Rugby and I’m oblivious to it of course. But it’s difficult to see how they can improve or sell the sport to their public without serious competition.

        Anyway, as you say it’s all pie in the sky and we should probably focus on actually trying to beat the existing teams in the 6N. I do bloomin’ love Mamuka Gogodze (sp) though, that man is a beast.

      5. I think they are already lobbying the 6N and World Rugby. They have won every European Nations Cup since it was reorganised half a dozen years go, except for once.

        If we beat Italy on Saturday and Georgia win their next two ENC games I believe Georgia leapfrog Italy into 14th in the world rankings. Of course, all it would take would be for Italy to have one morale boosting victory against Wales in Rome (come on Italy!) for that situation to be immediately put out of Georgia’s reach. Italy’s plunge in the rankings has largely been because of a disastrous 2014 in which they lost to Samoa (who they did beat last time out in the AIs at home but lost in the summer away), Fiji, Japan, Argentina and all the 6N sides. Whereas Georgia have been picking up wins against USA, Canada etc. So I’m not sure the comparison is entirely fair.

      6. I think the idea that the losers of the 6N plays home and away fixtures against the winners of the ENC, with an aggregate result sounds fair. However, it’s another two games in an already packed calendar. It could constitute part of the summer tour, but then they are usually scheduled some time in advance are they not? I would agree with FF that the fairest and most sensible way to proceed is for tier 1 nations to play Georgia regularly. They should be getting one or two games per summer in order to develop and to provide an indication of where they are at. I also agree that it would be a bit of a disaster for either Scotland or Italy. I’ve traveled to Rome every second year since 2006 and it’s been incredible to watch the rise in popularity of rugby there. It’s not all die hard rugby fans, but the general public are interested now and love to go to the matches. The home crowds have increased dramatically. I am actually bewildered that we manage to hold our position in the rankings given the number of players, academies and money at our similarly ranked opposition (e.g. Italy). We shouldn’t be talking about booting Italy out of the 6N, we should be worried about making sure they don’t overtake us. Given the resources at their disposal the mathematics would suggest it’s just a matter of time. Well the whole argument is ludicrous anyway. Italy have been a great addition to the tournament from a fan’s perspective and have beaten all but England. I wonder if those/he calling for their relegation somehow blames them for Scotland’s awful turn of form through the transition to the 6N…

  10. Just a thought- we seem to get alot of injuries and, though I could be wrong, the NZ, SA and OZ teams dont seem to get anywhere near the number of injuries that 6 Nation temas do. Is there a reason for that? Do they have better training methods, warm ups etc. I could be wrong with this assumption as I dont have the statistics to prove it but its just a general feeling I get. I would be intereted to hear your views on this one.

      1. Lets just keep the discussion to rugby. If you cant say anything positive or provide a useful response related to this thred or my message then why not just leave it there and dont comment at all.

        Are you trying to antagonise me? There are two ways of looking at this.

  11. Another left field call. Who saw Mark Bennett play 7’s for Scotland at the commonwealth games? He generally played in the scrum half position, and his stepping allowed him some good breaks from that position.
    Just a thought.

  12. I get the sense that BVC is awaiting the outcome of the appeal before naming his team. This, IMO, is an exercise in futility as there is no way the ban will be overturned, even though it would be the right thing to do.

    Off topic, this forum is usually a great place to come to communicate with otherrugby fans, however of late it has often descended into a long trolling session! I appeciate it is often difficult, I just wish there was a greater level of moderation on the forum.

    1. We try our best, but often during the day there is no one to a) post breaking news so that the comments can be relevant to the topic in hand and b) moderate comments and the bickering that pops up now and then.

      We are actively looking at other options to improve the commenting system (for example up/down voting) and have a survey in the works (still) to canvas people’s opinions on how they would best like it to work.

      1. Not sure if the voting up/down on specific comments is really a good idea as it may put readers off from making contributions in the first instance. However, what could be interesting is to introduce surveys from time to time in which fans get the opportunity to vote on specific issues. For example, ‘do you support a 3rd pro team based in the Borders’- Yes/No.
        Regarding the bickering/troling etc, yes this can get out of hand from time to time but generally it does not. Its just my opinion- but as long as the subject is about rugby and there are no personal insults then it should not be a problem. Lets not forget that free speech is one of the most important civil liberties an individual can have. Also lets not forget that noboday is forced to read or respond to a particualr message if they feel that it is offensive.

    2. For clarity here Neil, you are the troll, unless this is the “other” Neil, in which case you should start putting Neil (Not the Troll One) at the top of your posts.!!

  13. After following Scotland for a long time I must say that this is the best squad since 99, unfortunately it is still a little immature to have held the last two matches. In actual fact, the Welsh match was actually ours and if the team had vee be lightly more mature it could have been a healthy victory, even with the poor refereeing on display. I look forward to the news of Russell’s appeal. I hope Beattie stays in the squad with either Ashe or Denton on bench. I have read that both maitland and Seymour are from fit so expect them to start. Cotter has earned a lot of plaudits to Scotland’s upturn of form. I think he is great, but sense that he has been lucky in the sense of piggybacking on Glasgows ever improving form. How much does form carry through from club to international?! I think Townsend has done a really great job and I imagine when he watches scotland play he will feel proud of the contribution he has made. Ps I was always a doubter of Townsend, until Glasgow!

    1. I agree Cotter is a very good coach but has taken over Scotland at a time when more talented young players are available than any time since the 80-90s ‘Golden Era’. This isn’t just the influence of Townshend, who has been extremely erudite, but also the SRU finally developing pathways that concentrate on producing players who can compete at pro-level. To take the next step we really need the system to expand to produce a greater depth of players and a broader base by raising the competitive level of school, youth and club rugby.

      I hope we can hang on to Cotter for as long as possible. Townshend is clearly being groomed for the top job and I expect him to succeed Cotter, but Townshend and Glasgow deserve the opportunity to finish what Sean Lineen started and Townshend took on in earnest. A victory in the pro-12 is hugely important and a challenge in Europe would be even better. Either way it is brilliant watching these young players grow in stature and their potential is huge.

  14. So no surprises Russell has lost his appeal. If nothing else it makes the Scotland team announcement a bit more interesting!!

    1. Predictable but disappointing. SRU should ask World Rugby for a rule clarification because the current interpretation of the guidelines seems to go beyond the meaning of the laws. WR did offer a clarification in regard to the timing issue and the rule interpretation group have ruled that a kick off should have taken place, before bizarrely saying that they backed the refs decision despite undermining it by saying he was wrong.

      Either way, the 6Ns citing commission have said Glen Jackson was wrong in not sending off Russell and World Rugby said he was wrong in not allowing a kick off at the end. Not to mention his linesman insisting he was wrong in awarding a try that was overturned by the TMO after he signaled for a try. I expect he has blown his chance of getting a big game at the world cup.

      1. Why have the SRU remained silent on the lack of any citing for Welsh foul play when it was clearly viewable to everyone, including the citing officer, that SHC was hit high and that Jenkins was shoulder charging into rucks all match? I was under the impression that both teams could bring certain incidents to his attention within 24 hours of the game. If this still holds, did they do this or not?

        Supporting Russell is all well and good but doing nothing about the citing officers incompetence is another.

  15. The whole decision smacks of favouritism if you ask me and also Italy are not up to 6n level. I think maybe there should be a petition started here and that we can all group together (one direction) and get this back to being five nations again. Think Hogg should play at 10 and mainland at 15 (another nz exile – but at least he’s good) . Tournament has been disappointing. What do you think guys?

  16. On another note. Just read that salfords Reds have released a player who is eligible for Scotland. I think we don’t need another full back and also he qualifies via his grandparent being born in Scotland. It should be parental this is what’s wrong with scottish rugby. Just my opinion so don’t shoot me down again

  17. Just to jump in on the centre debate, I’d take Richie Vernon to the World Cup, could come in handy if there’s a crisis in the backs or back row. I really like the look of him at centre and he’s got a very powerful fend, he just needs to learn to pass a wee bit more.

  18. let’s here the squad!

    1 Murray
    2 Ford
    3 Cross
    4 Grey
    5 Swinson
    6 Harley
    7 Cowan
    8 Beattie/Ashe

    9 – Laidlaw (clyne/cussiter to come on for impact)
    10 – Horne/Hogg (familiarity with Glasgow back line)
    11 – Seymour
    12 – Dunbar
    13 – Bennett
    14 – Scott(Maitland if hogg stays at FB)
    15 – Maitland (Hogg if doesn’t move to 10)

    Who do you boys think will ge the nod for the 10 jersey?!? Intrigued!

  19. Squad’s out and looking good!

    15 Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); 29 caps, 9 tries, 1 pen, 48 points

    14 Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors); 14 caps, 6 tries, 30 points
    13 Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors); 4 caps
    12 Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors); 13 caps, 4 tries, 20 points
    11 Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors); 92 caps, 12 tries, 60 points

    10 Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors); 6 caps
    9 Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN (Gloucester); 36 caps, 3 tries, 38 cons, 74 pens, 313 points

    1 Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby); 41 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
    2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby); 82 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
    3 Euan Murray (Glasgow Warriors); 63 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
    4 Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors); 9 caps
    5 Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors); 10 caps, 1 try, 5 points
    6 Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors); 12 caps, 1 try, 5 points
    7 Blair Cowan (London Irish); 8 caps, 1 try, 5 points
    8 Johnnie Beattie (Castres); 36 caps, 3 tries, 15 points

    16 Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors); 5 caps
    17 Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors); 19 caps
    18 Geoff Cross (London Irish); 37 caps, 2 tries, 10 points
    19 Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby); uncapped
    20 Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby); uncapped
    21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby); 2 caps
    22 Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby); 1 cap
    23 Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby); 22 caps, 3 tries, 15 points

    1. Like the look of that! Disappointed not to see Denton or Ashe on there but more than happy to see SHC on the bench. If he comes up, that is one quick, quick backline.

      Surprised Visser has dropped out completely though. He hasn’t done a right lot thus far, but I would have fancied him to have got on the score sheet against Italy.

  20. I have to say that’s a pretty tasty looking bench. Nice to see young form players being considered.

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