Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 19-22 Italy

And could have had the lead...

If Italy haven’t exactly kicked on from the promise shown since they beat France a few years back, their fans have been taken to heart and supporters of both sides turned up to BT Murrayfield in record numbers for the midway point of Scotland’s Six Nations campaign.

Scotland had the perfect start, as almost directly from Hogg’s kickoff – perhaps giving new boy Pete Horne a chance to settle in – Scotland earned their first penalty from referee George Clancy. Laidlaw made short work of it to open the scoring.

Scotland then had a couple of good breaks with Cowan making good yards up front and Dunbar then Hogg finding plenty of space to work in out wide – exactly what they had lacked against Wales.

Italy were looking to run the ball themselves and it promised a game with plenty of pace and attacking rugby. With that comes the risk of the intercept and Mark Bennett made the most of it to pick up his first try for Scotland, running over unopposed from just inside the Italian half.

Italy struck right back though with something perhaps more their cup of espresso: a driving maul that may or may not have crossed the line. Josh Furno was given the try but the conversion was missed. It’s a wonder they didn’t try it more.

Scotland looked pretty unconcerned and kept attacking, earning another penalty after Italian attackers swamped Seymour who had burst through the line off Horne’s well-timed pass.

Kelly Haimona kicked a penalty for Italy to keep the scores close and although Italy were as keen to run as Scotland (Parisse to the fore as usual) most of the play was in the right areas of the field for the home side, which meant that when the whistle blew Laidlaw could kick the points.

If there is a side as poorly disciplined as us in the tournament then it is the Italians so Clancy had plenty to do, especially at scrum time where he cut an increasingly frustrated figure as both front rows seemed unwilling to bend to his will.

Dickinson in particular seemed to displease him but luckily only one of the penalties was kickable for Haimona.

That one bounced innocuously off the post but caused a frantic scramble that went to the TMO after an incredible round the back catch from Venditti that materialised through a pack of Scotland defenders round the other side of the post just over the line. The grounding was good but how it got there is anyone’s guess. The Scottish part of the crowd didn’t like it.

Down by only a point, Italy clearly looked the side with the momentum going into half time and suddenly the territory in use switched to mostly Scotland’s half.

A stern word from Vern would be required.

Half-time: Scotland 16-15 Italy

Suddenly it looked like a Scotland v Italy game from 8 years ago. Nervy, with neither side putting the other to the sword and both – perhaps Scotland most – looking apprehensive to try anything too risky.

What they needed was solid set piece and strong carries from the forwards but there wasn’t too much of that, so it was perhaps unsurprising that Watson was given his first cap early, on for Beattie after only 51 minutes.

Endless scrums started to play into Italian hands – even without the absent Castro – and the Italian fans kept singing even as Tommy Allan narrowly missed a penalty.

Away from the scrum the game was vastly more entertaining, with the Glasgow backline (plus Laidlaw) all offering a threat with ball in hand that kept the Italians on their toes, and the Italians not restricting their “champagne rugby” to just the backs with Furno and Parisse ever present.

The game finally livened up for the home fans after some nice offloading by Gray and Swinson created a bit of space for Lamont but his try-creating pass to Hogg was well forward. Still, it showed the Italians could be opened up given some patience. As usual for this stage of a tight game  featuring Scotland, it seemed in short supply.

Laidlaw settled the nerves a little with a penalty just after the hour mark as the sun started to go down and the usual substitutions began. Ross Ford limped off and Mark Bennett – good in patches, but not yet spectacular – restoring the promising partnership of Dunbar and Matt Scott when he went off.

By the time Greig Laidlaw came off there were 6 minutes to go and Scotland were defending another scrum on their own 5 metre line.

And it was raining.

Perfect for a scenario of Scots misery.

Not initially, as Scotland with Cross, Brown and Grant on scrummed manfully and held firm. To the joy of the crowd; a penalty. Kick it long, hold on to the lineout and scrape away with a win.

Then the key moment: as Russell had done the week before, Horne’s left boot (rather than Hogg’s right) missed touch from the penalty and gave the visitors one last chance to maul their way to the win. Their first attempt was adjudged pulled down by Ben Toolis on his debut (yellow card) and it was starting to get St Etienne ’07 levels of nervy.

Italy, as they had been all game, were too strong in the maul and when the next one was pulled down, Hamish Watson was binned (also on debut) and Clancy went beneath the posts to send to make the Italians very happy, and Scotland staring down the miserable prospect of another Wooden Spoon.

Attendance: 62,188

SRBlog Man of the Match: A pretty dire outcome for Scotland players. Jonny Gray put in the usual power of work and the biggest effort behind the ball came from Tommy Seymour (Dunbar had a listless first half) who was blameless in the defeat which has to be lain largely at the foot of the pack.

99 Responses

  1. No idea where we go from here. These forwards face a tough, tough couple of days against England and Ireland. The back line didn’t get a chance to fire, Horne was ok aside from that kick but I don’t blame him. Hopefully his hamstring isn’t too bad (if that’s what he’s done)

    Felt Laidlaw was poor today again, although again it’s difficult to say one player let us down. Collectively, we’ve been found wanting and our lack of depth has been shown up.

    Subs could have maybe came on sooner but that’s hindsight. Jesus I’m gutted.

    1. I agree McChin. Gutted.

      I felt our backline went from being the most dangerous in the six nations, to directionless and lost. I think Russell is eve more of a key player than I initially thought. Also, I like Laidlaw but I think he was poor today, in almost every aspect.

      Where do we go from here (other than the pub?).

      1. Aye that’s it Jimmy, it’s been easy to pinpoint one person costing us a game but with today…I honestly don’t know.

        Back line were ok to a point, and yeah Russell’s absence cost us but Horne’s distribution wasn’t so bad. Slow ball from Laidlaw, crabbing everywhere.

        I feel we may see quite a few changes for the remaining games.

        I’m focusing on the pub now. That’s all.

  2. Laidlaw had another poor game, both in terms of his own personal performance and the way he lead the team. The way the belief drained out of them in the second half was very worrying. It surely has to be the time to give S H-C have a start, if Laidlaw is not adding anything to the team as a leader, then why is he there.

    The other to have a really poor game was Beattie again. I do wonder if that might be his last game for Scotland with better players now coming back and qualifying. We were really crying out for a big ball carrying back row to take the ball up to them and make some space. Neither he, nor anyone else was doing that.

    Horne missing touch at the end was criminal, but we had plenty chances to wrap the game up prior to that so he can’t take all the blame. Finn Russell will be back in for the next game though and Horne still has to convince that he is a true international player!

  3. I really though we had turned a corner last Autumn but today was as low as it gets. I feel ashamed to be Scottish today and so should that entire shower who “played” today.

    Horne was average, distinctly average and at the end of the day, he made a mistake and we lost. He will have to live with that fact and i just cant forgive an error as basic as that. The front row were awful. Ford has regressed again to being nothing more than a lump that cant throw, run, hook, or ruck. Murray is a passenger who cant even prop effectively any more so i cant fathom why he stayed on for 75 minutes. Unforgivable blunder by Cotter. Beattie, well, all i can say is thank god Adam Ashe is fit again because if he ever plays for scotland again it’ll be too soon. Laidlaw is dire as both a scrum half and a captain.

    The only players who played well today were Gray, Dunbar, Seymour, and Bennett. Hogg was far far too loose today and needs to focus on running fast, straight and passing properly, not trying to be Gareth Edwards!

    Agree that we look rubbish when our best fifteen are not playing. Thankfully, i dont believe that was anywhere near our best fifteen today. There were eight players starting today i wouldnt have anywhere near the team if i had my way. Cotter has to earn his salary this week thats for sure.

    1. I though Blair Cowan played very well but his back row mates were totally anonymous.i also though Hogg played well although took the wrong option occasionally.

      We lost because our pack got humped though.

      1. I havent seen a pack play as badly since the majority of Scots pack was picked to play Hawkes Bay(?) for the Lions in 1991 and got totally stuffed. Fat useless lump Peter Wright was particulary sh!te that day and Murray was as bad today! He does a great jack in the box impersonation, popping out of scrums!

        Cowan did play well, shame about the rest of them. Gray i give benefit of the doubt to.

      2. Cowan and Gray were the only 2 up front who got pass marks – Swinson was decent in the loose. Beattie was simply awful, provides no go forward, leadership or focal point for the team. Also, his ball control with feet at the back of the scrum is like an elephant with a tennis ball. I can’t see him coming back in, or at least I hope not.

        Harley was also poor, and this is the type of game is where his battling qualities would have been useful but he was anonymous.

        11-15 were fine. They all made one or two bad decisions perhaps but weren’t given too much to work with.

        Biggest sinner for me? Laidlaw. A spell out, or coming off the bench, may be what he needs.

  4. That was just so GUFF. The forwards were pathetic. It was almost as if we had stepped back into the early-mid 2000’s. I feel really sorry for the fans that forked out money to watch that garbage. I bought a VPN to watch the game but Scotland were so poor that I wont be watching them again in the 6 nations. They were an effing embarrassment and a national disgrace. They should be made to give a public apology to the fans because that was bull. I think I’m going to take up bowls.Imagine losing at home to Italy!

    We will be guaranteed the wooden spoon and I dont give our boys a chance in the next two games. We could be losing 51:3 against England and Ireland. I would recommend just voting with your feet- stay away.

      1. I sure did and just to watch the 6 nations. I really regret it. I took out 2 months membership but now I have no intention of watching the remaining games. Why watch a bunch of dum-asses when there are more interesting things on regular TV- such as the second division football matches in Iraq with commentary in Arabic.

  5. I’ve never been so frustrated with a Scotland performace. That was despicable the backs were decent but the poor effort from the pack, in particular Ford, Dickinson, Beattie and Harley. The latter lost ground every time he carried. Cowan was good again, probably our best forward, and I personally think Murray did well to stay on for so long. SHC, Ashe, Denton (at 6) and Grant must start against England if we want to avoid a hiding. Although if Laidlaw is dropped then we are without an established captain yet again, it’ll have to be someone like Gray Jr. or even Murray.

  6. Totally agree Allan.

    We were fairly consistent throughout the summer tour and Autumn tests. Losing Finn Russel should not be an excuse; and yes, what us Murray and Ford still doing there.

    The point is: You can’t win a game of rugga if your forwards are being bullied at the breakdown and your backline is misfiring. The ref had a good game, and Italy were better- its the same old Scotland again – a false dawn.

    1. Not so sure about the ref having a good game, although he did offer us a get out of jail card which Horne decided to tear up. Why did Horne take the kick when I seem to remember Hogg kicking out of hand during the rest of the match?

      Forwards had a very poor day (Cowan and Gray apart). But I think we don’t have any leadership on the park. Laidlaw is too passive and his own game is slipping back into old habits. The Italians were able to line us up as the ball was so slow getting out to the runners. This was mainly down to Laidlaw once again. We need quicker service. But I think Vern will stick by him as there does’t seem to be another captain who is guaranteed his place now.

      Very depressed.

    2. So who then instead of Ford? Brown? His first throw was squint. MacArthur? Not international class. Shiells? Scott Lawson? McInally?! None a great improvement on Ford to be honest. I’m afraid we pay the price for lack of strength and depth. So cor me Ford it still us. Difference between hooker and scrum half us we have a couple of better options than Laidlaw.

      1. You are damning Brown because of one squint throw??? Ford is hardly an example in that regard is he?

        This “better the devil you know” approach to selection is why we keep losing. Players need to perform or be dropped.

      2. Yes Browns 1st throw was squint, the decision to call for a throw right to the back on his first throw was the dodgy thing. Running the game and decision making on the park have been a big issue for a long time now. I didn’t see a senior player put his arm around Horne to tell him to make sure the ball goes into stand, little things and leadership are lacking. Hopefully that will come to the younger players, the older experienced players seem like a lost cause to me.

  7. The worst thing is my missus wants to go see Fifty Shades of Grey later on.

    I think we can safely say I’ve had enough sado-machinism for one night.

  8. I really thought we would take 30 points off them. No excuses – we have a weak pack, no fight, and our scrum half is woeful – if laidlaw isn’t dumped after this I won’t return

  9. Grim. As I posted elsewhere why do we find it impossible to stop a driving maul? Apart from opening ten minutes we did nothing and didn’t deserve to win against a weakened Italian side. Laidlaw HAS to go. Too slow in everything he did and questions must be asked of his captaincy. I don’t think anyone in the pack deserves pass marks. Horne was okay off incredibly slow ball. Missed kick to touch was criminal but that wasn’t why we lost. Disappointing doesn’t scratch the surface.

  10. My first ever post will probably be my last as I don’t think I could bear to watch them again. The whole team were pathetic. The three major problems are: Laidlaw – no leadership (why is he captain); Laidlaw – the worst scrum half in the whole six nations; Laidlaw – can’t kick from hand. Oh! Maybe four: Hogg – loves to send aimless kicks into the opposition’s hands to give the Scottish team more defensive practice. I said in the days of Haddock et al that they could not get any worse. Well they’ve confounded me by being even worse. What has Cotter achieved other than to raise our hopes yet again – and then dash them.

    1. Agreed, Scotland’s kicking was woefully bad and aimless. I’m not sure we actually contested any of laidlaw’s box kicks. Hogg should only be allowed to kick if he fields the ball in his own 22!

  11. Bloody awful. What a shower of nonsense. Just when I thought we were about to click, when the new era was about to actually happen, we produce that performance. A false dawn indeed.

    Seeing as they may as well wrap the wooden spoon in Scotland colours now, can we please just bite the bullet and try something different for England? What have we got to lose?

    There’s some players that are now completely out of their depth. Ford, Murray, Beattie, Laidlaw & Lamont need to go.

    There was complete zilch aggression or desire in that team today. Nobody carries as if they can be bothered. Even Denton would have been welcome today.

    We need a leader. Desperately. BVC and Johnson, swallow your pride. Bring back Barclay and Brown. Lads that actually care about wearing the jersey.

  12. I wonder why Scotland seem to fair better outside the 6 Nations championship? In the autumn we put 6 tries (if I remember correct) past Argentina, but produce this rubbish in the championship.

    1. Million dollar question! I suspect it was down to certain players trying to prove their worth to a new coach and having done so, think they are now undroppable!

      1. That does make sense Allan. Doesn’t seem like there is any pride in putting on the jersey though.

  13. The Six Nations is a big step up from the AI’s, neither Argentina or NZ were at full strength against us. We’re simply not good enough yet. Why is there nearly always at least one farcical moment in our Six Nations games? It’s been going on for years and is embarrassing. We seem to be totally unable to do the simple things well, hold our composure and close out games.
    We need a change of captain and maybe Ashe, Brown at hooker and the return of Russell will make a difference. I’d also retain Cross and Grant in the front row. Hogg has got to be told to stop the aimless kicking straight at full backs and we need to step up our support play. I’ve said it before, when other SN teams get a half (or full) break they get there in numbers and seize the chance, we rarely seem to. I thought Swinson and Horne had decent games.

  14. OK, the consensus seems to be that Scotland needs a new pack but keep Cowan and the Gray bros. Agreed?

    1. Is that really the consensus though?

      I can only speak for myself, but given the choice I’d have Barclay over Cowan every day of the week. That said, that bird has probably flown…

      In the last two outings R Gray has frustrated me. Little aggression, leadership or effectiveness at the breakdown. Gray Jnr puts in about 3 times the graft. I’d have Gilchrist instead, injury permitting.

      1. The general consensus is that we need to pray to the good man upstairs fopr a miracle.

    1. They dont have any- over paid, over rated and over here. here lies the problem. See may later message in this thread about replcing our team with the U20’s.

  15. It’s been a bad February for Internationals if you are a Scot – 3 defeats on the rugby field ,3 yellow cards and a suspension
    On the cricket field it hasn’t been much better -3 defeats and a penalty for slow play !

    Oh dear- 6 matches 6 defeats
    Thank goodness there are only 28 days in the month. Lets hope March turns out better
    Sadly I can’t offer any solutions but maybe playing Italy at cricket and Afghanistan at rugby might produce more favourable results next year

    1. Yeah, beaten by Afghanistan in Cricket, Zebre/Treviso select in Rugby..I believe the football team is playing Gibraltar soon..wouldn’t hold my breath for a win there either. Depressing.

  16. ** partial removed – profanity and too much trainspotting

    Let’s face it we’re mince and this current crop are no exception. No skill, no heart, no passion and allegedly professional…. Drop the lot and as for Laidlaw not manning up right after the game for an interview says it all, loser.

  17. In the last 3 games Scotland have shown a lack of intensity which I find worrying.

    BVC needs to make some big decisions about some of the players. That is what people said he would do and I expect him to live up to his reputation.
    If he continually keeps playing the same players irrespective of bad performances, what kind of message does that send.
    The pack were not good enough today and were dominated yet again (same against France and Wales).
    The backs appear capable, but are being starved of quick ball.
    For me the ‘Indian summer’ for Ford, Murray, Laidlaw and Lamont was short-lived, and they are reverting back to type. They are all too slow for the fast ‘chaotic’ game Scotland are trying to play.

  18. Oh and can we get our Warriors back so at least we can win something rather than than being universally shite.

    1. I often wonder if we would be better off only fielding Glasgow Warriors players for Scotland.

      1. The back line were all glasgow and produced virtually nothing of note in an attacking sense. At times they ran back and forth across the pitch as if they were still playing mini rugby !

  19. There is only 1 thing Vern Cotter and the Scottish team can do now to put this right.

    Unfortunately that now means against one or other of the two best teams in the 6 Nations. Or preferably both.

    There is little point in detailed analysis of what, who, how – the only way out is to WIN games however they can manage to do that..

  20. Italy deserved to win although only through highly cynical rugby in the part of the game which everybody now realises is not about re-starting the game but about seeking a penalty advantage. Italy played that masterfully well.

    Not sure what can be done in terms of rule changes but in every international the scrum is a scene of refereeing disaster and inconsistency.

    Maybe we should follow league but that would be a pity? A minimum packing height is required as it is the distance from the floor that renders them fragile. Another alternative would be that a penalty from a scrum can only be kicked? Line outs are much more fun, Italy would then still have won but there would have been more for the crowd to watch.

    I do not think the referee had a good day – he never got the scrum to function – he is quoted as saying he could do no more early in the first half. I am sorry but he is a referee for the whole game. One reason the scrum went down so frequently was the delayed put in by the Italian 9. That is a free kick offence. If the referee had ruled correctly the ball would have gone in quicker, it would have been better contested and it would not have gone down so often.

    Nonetheless scotland did not deserve the win, McGeechan called it right when he said that Italy stopped putting men at the breakdown in the second half leaving more defenders across the field. At the this short yards were called for and they were not delivered. Putting a young ten under intense pressure to playmake.

    Yet again naive kicking at key points gave the game to Italy.

  21. It’s pretty much all been said on previous posts. The only things I’d add are that even though we didn’t really deserve to win, we almost certainly would have done if we’d closed the Test out with a touch find from that last penalty for us. Not being able to do that was unforgivable schoolboy stuff, not the work of a professional player. And the seemingly desperate, criss-cross running lines chosen by the backs throughout the game smacked of a team of 12 year olds charging around like headless chickens.
    Looking forwards, we may have to grit our teeth during the two remaining 6N games, as Vern will have to make changes now. Not all of them will come off, and that could be costly against two sides who are better than the first three we’ve lost against so far. Really quite depressed about all of this actually.

    1. Against Italy, we shoukd have been 3 scores up going into the last minute. we shoukd never be involved in a close game againt such a poor team.

  22. Seems to me that this Scotland squad is fully capable but has a joint mental issue much like Andy Murray used to before Ivan Lendl. Second issue is a lack of leaders,people who know what to do at the right time and say the right things to galvanise the team..unfortuntately the only way to get either is through winning experiences which is why you try and bring new player into a settled team rather than bring them in all at once. I look around the scotland team and don’t see anyone who’s sticking their hand up to be a leader other than maybe Laidlaw and I’m not convinced he merits being in the starting line up. The Laidlaw who played against Argentina does. The new one doesn’t.
    The Glasgow back line is talented but but there needs to be more than one person who can unlock the defence particularly with Italy flooding the defence and no one having the nous to go over the top of the ruck. Laidlaw doesn’t keep defenders honest,Horne was trying to distribute (which actually he did well) rather than.offer a threat, Favaro kept Dunbar out of the game and that leaves Bennett and Hogg to do everything.

    1. Are they really capable- I dont think so. Ask yourself this- how many of our players would be picked for the British lions based on current form? I can only think of 4 at a real push: Finn Russel, Hogg, Gray brothers. The others are GUFF.

      1. Yes I do think they’re capable.
        The majority of this squad are from Glasgow who until the last match were top of the pro 12,destroyed Bath at home, with a first choice backrow could have beaten then away, beat Montpelier at home and away and were only undone by inexperience against toulouse.
        And do you not think Dunbar and Seymour woukd be lions? And Bennett is certainly not GUFF.

      2. As with Alex, I think Alex Dunbar, Tommy Seymour and Mark Bennet would disagree with you there, and so do I.

    2. I think we have a talented squad. What we don’t have is leadership, experience and in the absence of a few key players decent replacements.

      However, we should still have won that game whilst playing like drains and didn’t because of a couple of very poor decisions and execution. It was a very dark day but as Scotland fans we should be used to them, we are in no worse position than we have been for the last decade.

      I think the players really let themselves down and had gone in to their shells after the France and Wales defeats. Where was the organised chaos? Where was the tempo? Where was the offloading? We should have been home and dry before the last 10minutes but had lost the initiative to home the game was being played.

    3. Alex.What dismays me is that our mental fragility has been a malaise affecting our players at key moments for the last 15 years. Mostly been when we have been in the ascendancy,v Wales 2010,France 2014, but yesterday we weren’t and unlike Wales game the referee gave us a lifeline to win the game in the closing minutes and we still botched it. Two elementary kicks by Russell and Horne have lost us the momentum to go on and win.There appears more confidence in the team but why do players still freeze?

      Agree leadership been lacking and Ally Kellock the last real captain we have had.Should be part of the squad as England cricket team used Mike Brearley in the 70s,too valuable to leave out and a cool head in a crisis which is where we are at the moment.

      Am hurting as every true fan over another fall
      and the laughing stock tag which is resurfacing on blogs.
      The team need to have a good look at themselves and surprise us all,perhaps.

      1. I absolutely agree and I think that this malaise is mostly borne of two things-our professional teams until last year had never got to a final and had never felt that pressure before and a lack of really competitive matches at junior level which is where coolness under pressure should be learnt.
        I hope that the new academy systems, Glasgow regularly getting to pro 12 semis and finals and maybe even Edinburgh getting to the latter stages of the challenge cup will help.

        In terms of the kicks to touch, someone simply should have got hold of the kicker and said it doesn’t matter how far up it goes as long as it goes out,just to reassure two young and inexperienced kickers that the line out had been going well and that the forwards needed a rest, and that with 2minutes left on the clock, the clock could easily be wound down.

        My main concern is that I don’t see any leaders coming through. Maybe Jonny Gray but he’s got enough going on as a new cap and the line out. There’s josh Strauss but he’s not qualified yet.

  23. So how much has really changed. Its interesting how so many of us feel that Scotland did well in the Autumn internations and wonder how everything has gone wrong in the 6 nations. however, lets take a look at the Autumn internations in more detail. We beat Tonga convincingly but we were expeted to do so. We playyed very well against Argentina but was that mopre down to the fact that Scotland were good or Argentina were poor- the jury is out. we then lost to New Zealand- a close game but NZ fielded what was equivalent to their B team and we still lost. Before that we had a terrible summer tour only beating rubbish teams of USa and Canada by relatively fine margins, followied by a 50+ point thrashing by SA. So if you look closely enough instead of being caried along with the euphoria, we did not do fantastically well in the Summer and Autumn and we have probably only made very slight progress. We are still miles behind the other 6 nation teams.

    1. You’ve changed your tune haven’t you? Based upon the same rationale (i.e. performanaces in the AI and our current squad) you said that we were miles better than Italy and more or less on a par with the other 6N teams other than England (or something along those lines). I think perhaps you were getting carried along with the euphoria a wee bit more than most of the rest of us (who were cautiously optimistic).

      1. Perhaps I was to an extent but I genuinely thought that we wouold be playing at a higher level by now and I really didnt expect us to lose to Italy on home soil. We had a very good game againt Argentia but was that really just a one off. Glasgow had been playing well and Edinburgh were on the up, so I thought we could do some damage. I dont think our performances were too bad against France or Wales but I think we still played below par in both games. However, against Italy it was a dissaster. I genuinely thought that we had turned the clock back a few years.

        I initially thought we couold get within 10 points of England but i now thinks we couold be thrashed by 30 points or more (dont be surprised if the score is something like 65:7 against us). We are playing Ireland in the final game. Because it is at Murrayfield we may be able to get the scoreboard close but I would still expect Ireland to win by arround 10-15 points. Sorry for being so pessimistic but I really dont see where a win could come from.

      2. I think a lot of people managed to get carried away as usual. We were never as good as we thought after the autumn and 2/3 wins would have been massive progress for us. As it is, we didn’t get those wins but the performance level of the first two games was a huge step up from last year.

        The wheels came off against Italy but I don’t think we are nearly as bad as that game suggested. We have an inexperienced team who didn’t know how to close out a game when everything was going against us. The performance was dreadful but if you thought Cotter was doing a good job before the game, you should probably have more patience and trust that the squad can make progress under him. There is no hiding that this was a disaster and a huge setback. Nevertheless, I think he is a good coach and we have enough talent in the squad to prosper. I hope we see a reaction against England – a win is almost certainly beyond us but we need to show that the Italy game was an aberration and put it behind us.

      3. VC is a great coach but not a magician. I just cant see where the next win will come from. It will by damage limitation in the next two games and probably a 50 point loss to England.

  24. I noticed that our U20 team thrashed Italy. perhaps a video of the game shown be shown to the current squad. they may then understand what it means to play for the jersey. Our U20 team lack a bit of talent but at least they try.

    Better still- replace the full squad, bar maybe 4 or 5 players with the U20 team- we are never going to win the next 2 games but at least we can give the opprtunity to play to enthusiastic kids (who would appreciate it) rather than useless has beens. If nothing else it would send a message to the useless prats that pretended to represent our nation on Saturday that there is competion in the ranks and their places are by no means a certainty. Laidlaw and the forward pack take note- you are the useless prats I am talking about in particular.

  25. Very bad day at office but we have moved on so far starting back at the USA game. We have a limited playing pool (ravaged by injuries) and we don’t have players experienced in winning Test matches yet. Sure England and Ireland will be massive matches for us but against France and Wales I thought we were getting there. Difficult to put any blame on BVC as he didnt miss tackles, kicks, give away penalties. Perhaps we need to question his selection of Captain and SH, reasons for not selecting JB in squad at least and also reason in dropping Big Jim when against Italy he is exactly who we needed, (was it because of the fight v Wales?).

    1. Big Jim picked up a groin injury in training. I imagine he would have been in if not for that!

    2. Big Jim may have been listed as injured, but I’m pretty sure I just saw him come on as a sub for Sarries in the premiership highlights…

      1. Big Jim is just rubbish. He is the right sort of weight but is about as intimidating as the honey monster. He is also slow and plays with little intensity so Sarries can keep him.

  26. Cheers FF can’t say I read that anywhere. So the question now is what route do we go down now for selection?

    1. No idea – due to injuries we have few options so it may be a case of giving players a chance to redeem themselves. Our scrum struggled because we lacked the bulk of Gray or Hamilton to lock the scrum so maybe bring Toolis in in place of Swinson? I don’t know if he is ready to be honest.

      I’d drop Laidlaw, I think he really struggled. Maybe Cus would be a better experienced replacement for Twickenham. Beattie must be dropped assuming Ashe or Denton came through the weekend unscathed. Beyond that I don’t think there is much else we can do except work hard and perform better.

  27. Ooft – absolutely hopeless. Another Scotland Italy classic… I think it’s probably mostly been said above, but my tuppence worth is that our forward pack failed as a whole in every aspect. The only exceptions in individual performances for me were J Gray and perhaps Cowan. Generally speaking (from my perspective in the stands) the Italian packed looked superior in every aspect. Parisse was everywhere that the ball was and made Beattie look like a shadow. This is a problem for both Scotland and Glasgow who seem to suffer against big physical packs (e.g. Toulouse). I’m not sure what the answer is. Perhaps with BIg Richie and a bit more umph in the back row (Strauss would seem certain to roll straight into the current set up) might make us more competitive. Service from the ruck yesterday was largely awful, so change at SH required. Just massively disheartening though. We really needed to win this one. Of three games where wev’e been within a score at the end, this was by far the worst performance and the game that we least deserved to win. Fair play to the Azzurri who deserved it.

  28. The lack of leadership on the field is disastrous. The result was looking likely with 10 minutes to go. Why were the mauls allowed to develop time and again .Who was the the team captain at the final whistle?

  29. I seem to have seen in the intro that the Scottish pack was heavier than the Italian pack – so no excuse there. Quite what the English pack will do to them does not bear thinking about. OK Clancy did us no favours turning the game into a slow affair but a good team would have dealt with that. Need a hard man leader in the pack – an enforcer. Question is who?
    If we keep England below 50 points I will be very surprised.
    Finally 11 of that Italian side were Zebre and Treviso two sides Glasgow and Edinburgh beat easily so why did they take the Scottish XV apart as they did?

  30. Is there anywhere to source the net yardage gain/loss from kicks in open play and how many yards away the nearest Scottish player was on average from the Italian who caught the ball

    Also, when the winger runs the ball up the side of the field into contact (Lamont second half) and a ruck forms with him at the bottom of it, who is the box kick expected to be chased by?

    1. On average, about 10 yards of gain and an 80% chance of the opposition gaining possession. As for the box kicks, who knows what the strategy was. I think Father Xmas was supposed to chase these. Or was that Jack Daniels on the wing?

  31. A winger running into contact and an aimless box kick….so last season….or is it??

  32. Absolutely dire performance but I don’t think anyone needs to read another of these posts . The main blame should be passed to the SRU. While loosing to France and England with 2 divisions of teams to pick from and brilliant Ireland team , loosing to Italy ( a weakened Italy at that) is never acceptable. For too long Scots have had to withstand average to terrible Scotland performances and only now are they investing in the youth . My son plays u16 rugby for Glasgow and Scotland and I have to say the players are phenomenal , the future looks very bright indeed . In 10 years when we win the grand slam we will look back on this performance and think of how far we have come . The future is bright!

    1. Win lose or draw at least these youth player try their best- something that the senior squad fail to do. Most of them could not care less whether the team wins or not. All they care about is raping the game of its wealth. They certainly could not give a damn about the fans and a lot of them are not even Scottish. I wont re-ignite that old debate but I’m just fed up of watching unfit overpaid buffoons wearing the blue jersey.

  33. Probably be the 12 nations by then with Romania et all allowed to compete

    1. Absolutely delighted to hear that! As someone closer to the action, do you believe the academies and regular interdistrict matches are making a difference? In reply to your above post?

      1. Yes most definitely , apologies if I sounded too much like a proud boastful father up there . The crop of young talent is diverse and to be honest really exciting . You’ve got 6 ft 6 boys from the highlands and menacing South African flankers playing with half Fijian scrum halfs. ( the Caledonia u16 scrum half is fantastic) with the regular ties these guys will really develop and I think they will watch these games and want to make a difference . If they implemented these systems 10 years ago instead of just now Scottish Rugby would be in a different place .

      2. Honestly I do . I apologise for sounding too much like a boastful father in the post above and I can’t speak for the u18s but what I’ve seen of the u16s has been magnificent . We have huge Glasgow wings , powerful Edinburgh props ( would scare me in a dark alley) and 6 ft 6 boys from the highlands playing with menacing South African flankers and half Fijian scrum halfs ( Caledonias scum half is incredible) these guys genuinely seem incredibly talented and the foreigners seem passionate about the jersey opposed to our current stock . Christ Patterson has already echoed what I’m saying that the future is indeed bright . If the SRU had implemented these changes 10 years ago instead of just now , Scottish rugby would be in a very different place

    2. No boastful father at all!

      Im really glad that the SRU has started to invest in grass roots as we’ll hopefully get some players through who do player led training at club and international rather than relying on the coach. Hopefully we’ll also get some players who actually have all the skills to play for scotland rather than having to learn on the job as there’s no one else better.

      Not sure where there’ll all go though mind you. Maybe they’ll really boost the BT premiershi and only the real best will go through to the pro ranks. I know there’s been a lot of talk about a third pro team and I absolutely believe we need one but not yet,simply because Im not sure there are sufficient Scots players of a decent calibre to fill the ranks..

  34. I have been taking my son,nephew and son in law to 1 six nations game each year for the last 6 years.Last year we saw our first scotland try in the defeat to France.We then decided to go to the Italy game to experience a Scotland victory,how wrong we were.Arriving at the match we were in great spirits anticipating a stylish Scottish win that the players had been promising us in the press for 2 weeks.What we actually got was just about the worst performance we had ever seen.Disgust does not even come close to how we feel.Now the same players are promising that they will use “their” pain and learn the lessons.How about they do their talking on the field and give their long suffering supporters something to shout about.I keep saying that I won’t be back but I like most of you will probably roll up to the next game hoping for the best but fearing the worst

  35. Just been watching The England Vs Ireland game. It was a real thriller played at three times the pace of any Scotland team. Seriously, we are going to be absolutely KO’d. Both forward packs are strong and play with purpose, while the backs play at lightening speed. I know that I claimed that we may lose these games by 20 points but if we can keep the margin to under 50 we could be doing well- we don’t stand a chance. I know exactly what will happen. VC will pick Laidlaw yet again (seriously, is this guy sir love child?). Laidlaw will do a serious of ill judged Garryowens and box kicks gaining about 10 yards each time. The opposition will expect this and gain possession every time he makes these kicks. Our forwards will be dominated and we may get 40% possession if we are lucky, combined with 20% territory. I’m afraid to watch either game.

  36. Does anyone know what pub the team were training in before the game. I assume that they were drunk in order to play like that.

  37. Drunk? Well I think the whole scottish nation must be to think that it was really a new dawn,I believe you all fooled ourselves into thinking Scotland had really improved that much,trouble is you have no strength in depth.And to also think you have the most dangerous back line in the 6 nations is misguided.Wales for example have proved they are improving in each match and when they played Scotland you could see they where only playing at 70% that’s why Scotland competed on that day as Scotland were at 100%.thats the sad reality really.
    Cotter has done a lot of good things but he needs to find strength in depth and that will take years to achieve, if it is at all possible.Either that or he could maybe get the players to eat more porridge before playing!

  38. In 10 years when you win the grand slam? And with all the talent you have at under 16? Well Michael every other 6 nation country has huge amounts of talent at that age group to with strong structures set up from school level upwards,so you are not unique,sadly you are clutching at straws fella.

    1. Hi DP. We’re always happy to see contributions from other nationalities on the blog. However trolling isn’t something we’re willing to tolerate. Please feel free to contribute to the debate but try to stick to the facts and avoid sweeping generalisations. We’re in the process of putting together some guidelines for the comments section but consider this a friendly warning for now.

  39. Dp- you just tell yourself that. Remember that things can change in the space of only 2 years. Remember how great the Welsh team were in the 70’s but by the early 80’s-early 90’s they could not buy a win. By the ealy 90’s they were losing at home to teams like Western Samoa (remember that- you were concenred that you would loose to the whole of Samoa not just Western samoa) Romania. We used to kick your backsides in every game.
    Look at Ireland- they were the 5 nations whipping boys through the 1990’s yet by the year 2001 they had a decent squad and were competing for top honours. So what does the future hold for Scotland?- I do not know. But what I do know is that opur fate is not sealed and things can change for the better or worse in a blink of an eye. So be careful what you say- thats all I’m going to say on the matter.

  40. DP- think about this one. Ireland started to improve arround 1998 but everyone waas puzzled why their club sides were really good but the national team still lagged behind the other 5 nation teams most of the time. Then about 2-3 years later, the national team were winning on a regulr basis and were one of the teams to beat in the 6 nations. they then went on to compete for top honours in the competion from the mid 2000’s and have not looked back since.

    Drawing analogies can be dangerous but think of this one. Glasgow are one of the top pro 12 teams and may well win the competiion this year, while Edinburgh have improved massively over the last 6 months. Our youth teams alre also improving. Sure, out nation team still falls short but probably not for much longer. we have an exceptional coach but it wil take him a couple of years to build the squad. Similar to Ireland in the late 1990’s come to think of it.

    Wales, on the other hand, have an ageing squad and their U20 team lost to Scotland recently. The Welsh club teams are a shadow of their former selves so everything is not so bright and rose in the Welsh camp at the moment.

    Stick that one in you pipe and smoke it!

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