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Scotland v Wales Player Ratings

15 Stuart Hogg – took his try well, made a crucial tackle on Webb who was in to score and more than made up for last year. Needs to improve under the high ball though, lost too many of those for a top class full-back – 7

14 Sean Lamont – got into the match as it wore on, carried hard but didn’t offer the threat of Seymour or Maitland – 6

13 Mark Bennett – built on Paris display by giving Davies a tough time in defence, familiarity of Glasgow midfield nearly led to scoring chances  – 7

12 Alex Dunbar – more evidence of good work at the breakdown, carried hard and made good break in the first half. Went off early in the second period and midfield threat wasn’t the same. Easily Scotland’s best back – 8

11 Tim Visser – sniped well off Laidlaw’s shoulder but was largely quiet in the first half. Offered himself more after the interval but still questions over his defence, despite one good hit on Alex Cutbert – 6

10 Finn Russell – composed touches, lovely half-break in first half. Silly yellow could have been more costly and looked a bit lost when chasing the game late on. Lots of promise though, and definitely our man going forward – 6

9 Greig Laidlaw (captain) – organised the forwards well, was unlucky to be denied on the stroke of half-time. DIdn’t get into the match at all in the second half and was replaced by the lively Hidalgo-Clyne – 7

1 Al Dickinson – quieter afternoon for the prop who has impressed this season, didn’t get his hands on the ball much and didn’t get the upper hand of Aaron Jarvis – 6

2 Ross Ford – did the unsung work, and got his hands on the ball. Line-out demons of a year ago seem long gone – 6

3 Geoff Cross – fell foul of referee’s whistle at the scrum early on, but recovered and held his own at the set piece. Wasn’t seen about the park much with ball in hand and came off early in the second half. Not the dominant performance he would’ve wanted, and Murray will surely return for Italy – 5

4 Richie Gray – carried around the field well, and heavily involved in good set piece. Went off injured with what looked to be a torn bicep and may well miss the Italy game, and if confirmed, the rest of the championship – 6

5 Jonny Gray – good in defence – excellent tackler – and won a lot of ball at the lineout. Made valuable yards close to the Wales line with ball in hand – 6

6 Rob Harley – tenacious tackling and ferocious at the breakdown, really making the shirt his own – 7

7 Blair Cowan – key figure in Cotter’s line out, and superb at the breakdown. A genuine openside and establishing himself as a very good ‘fetcher’ a la Warburton – 8

8 Johnnie Beattie – quieter than in Paris last weekend, but made one or two good carries when Scotland were on the back foot – 6



16 Fraser Brown – on late and had little time to impress – 5

17 Gordon Reid – only on briefly before head clash ended his involvement – 5

18 Jon Welsh – showed up well at the scrum and nearly scored his maiden Test try before Hamilton went over – 6

19 Jim Hamilton – absence of silly penalties a bonus, and a try. Likely to start against Italy if Richie’s injury is as bad as feared – 6

20 Al Strokosch – replaced Beattie, and tackled well, but change seemed to disrupt back-row with no genuine number eight – 6

21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne – one superb break, should have been finished. Added pace to the game, a real prospect – 7

22 Greig Tonks – unsused

23 Matt Scott – came on for Dunbar who was wonderful at the breakdown, ran and carried hard but failed to shine as his Warriors counterpart had previously – 6

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147 Responses

  1. Finn Russell had an absolute stinker. Yellow card, penalties missing touch, appalling kicking game and lots of wrong choices in the first half. He is our best FH and has the potential to be top class but his lack of experience really showed today. I’m sure he’ll bounce back but today he was poor and lacked the control of a test FH.

    1. Difficult to disagree with you, I thought he was pretty poor at times and his kicking was way off. Made some poor decisions and daft yellow on top of it all.

      However, as you say, I think he’s our best FH. I’d much rather see a young guy trying something and playing with a bit of verve and courage than suffer the Dan Parks era again (as much as I respect what he achieved, it was brutal at times) We need to get the back line firing and for me, he’s the most realistic option to get that going. I think the decision making will come in time, the lad’s only 22 and has played what, 30 games for Glasgow? 7 for Scotland? So I’m still confident in him, even if yesterday was a bit of a nightmare.

  2. Dickinson only a 6? 13 tackles/0 missed and 20 metres made from 7 carries. Had a good game

  3. Laidlaw 7?

    Slow to the ruck, slow to pick the ball out, crabbed two steps sideways before passing, failed to spin it wide on their line, failed to engage with the referee.

    4 at best if only for his goal kicking.

    1. Sorry to jump in on Laidlaw, but he’s reverting to old habits and was very slow gettting the ball away which Wales played on. He should have taken charge when we got white line blindness but caught it too. Another game of what if’s, but still miles better than last year. I thought today was similar to last week and we haven’t gone backward but not gone forward either. The more experienced team won.

      That said what about that ref again!!! What is it with refs and us? No yellow cards for Wales basically killing and handling the ball at most rucks. What about the neck tackle on hidalgo clone near the end? No card, shocking. Not entirely sure he knocked on either!

      The margins are small and we passed up 2 or 3 tries, say no more.

    2. I have to agree with the posts about Laidlaw. He is far too slow at the breakdown and allows the defence far too much time to organise for the next phase. Such a waste. As he did the post match inteview with BVC, he does seem to be in with the coaches. I’ll be interested to see what happens for the next match, but don’t think Laidlaw should start. If he does, then it’s time to question BVC selections.

      Neither do I agree that SHC should be next up for an opportun ity. Why no Cusiter of Pyrgos who are both quicker than Laidlaw?

  4. Depressing, just depressing.
    There were moments when I wanted to scratch my eyes out.
    I don’t understand how we keep managing to put ourselves into a losing situation so consistently. I just hope we can make it to the quarters this year. We had so many chances to turn it around. Poor Vern. He’ll be hoping to get his P45 soon.

    I don’t expect an instant solution but these young lads are going to end up with a losing mentality if we’re not winning games soon. Today was another case of shouldve could’ve.

  5. A lack of intensity from the Scots today, particularly the pack I thought. Given they had a slight nudge at scrum and lineout, they managed to lose the breakdown and all loose play around the park. Speed of thought slow compared to some of the Welsh. To be counter-rucked off the ball by by Halfpint Halfpenny is just enbarassing. Lacklustre performances IMO from Ford, Cross, R Gray, Laidlaw. A ‘curate’s egg’performance from Finn Russell, with a mix of sublime and ridiculous. I do think he’s a class act though and will come good.
    Thought Dunbar, Hogg and Bennett were good against a very predictable Wales. The back rows seemed to cancel each other out.
    The Welsh just seemed to be a bit more cohesive, want it more and were prepared to fight more for it. They deserved to win the game. First time I’ve been disappointed with the tactics and performance under BVC.
    Some of the penalties and decisions also mystified me, and I thought both yellow cards were over-reactions based on slo-mo.

  6. Big game with real endeavour. Ref’s decisions or lack of them had too much influence on the result.

  7. Agreed that the forwards lost the contact area and were a little passive although they were good at the set plays. We just need a decent scalp to get going, and Italy don’t count. Maybe we can spoil Ireland’s chances? A bit of luck would help also.

  8. Laidlaw was poor. Why not just keep the ball in hand and go through the phases. Garry Owen kicks are a waste of time as they nearly always end up with giving the ball to the opposition. Yet we still persist with this tactic- why?????? NZ almost never bother with it and with good reason. I still feel that we lacked possession, We have the backs to make tries but with only around 30% possession they were never going to win the game. Sure the ref did not do us any favors but if Laidlaw had done less Garry owens and if our forwards had tried a bit harder to retain possession then I think we would have won the game. Its frustrating that the next game is against Italy. We will win that on by 20 points but that will mean nothing. Why are they in the competition- they are SHITE and nearly always finish 6th, They should be booted out for sure as it means nothing to beat them. We will almost certainly lose to England and I have no idea how the Ireland game will go but I suspect that we could struggle unless our forwards are prepared to try a bit harder and we get the lions share of possession. In short- very disappointing, particularly form the forwards- they were pathetic.

    1. What does it mean for other teams to beat us? We have scarcely more wins against our other 6N rivals than Italy do since the 6N began. Scotland fans really shouldn’t scream for Italy to be chucked out because we’d be the next in line. But then this is just another of your wind ups – why else would you react to a gutting defeat to the Welsh by calling for Italy to be thrown out of the 6N?

    2. Neil, not only should Italy stay in the 6N, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Tazachstan and any other nations who play rugby should be asked to make up a second division.
      1- They’re the only teams we can beat regularly
      2 – We need to expand the game, not reduce it

      1. The problem is thaty we will beat Italy by arround 20 points but it will mean absolutely nothing. Kind of like ManU winning by 5 goals against Raith rovers- meaningless. If all we can do is finish 5th (on the basis of this performance I gave us alsmost no chance against England and Ireland) then how much progress have we really made? Sure we did not lose by 50 points to wales so I guess some progress has been made but the forwards are poor and we need to work on getting much more posession and playing the game in the correct half of the pitch.
        I have thought for a long time that there should be European cup consisting of 2 leagues where the winner of division 2 get promoted to league 1 and the bottom tem of league 1 is relegated to league 2. So yes, I agree that we should expand the competition but put some thought into it.

  9. Completely lost our way first 20 or so minutes of the second half. Just like the 2nd half v France last week, but fewer excuses this time as Wales shouldn’t have had the muscle to keep on top and had no behemoths to bring on from the bench. Some very poor positional kicking again throughout the entire 80. More or less parity at scrum time these days means the referees aren’t hunting us down like they used to. If Vern follows the long-established track record of ruthless and competent SH coaches he will bring in Sam H-C to start next game. Leaving Laidlaw on the bench or, perhaps to teach Russell a lesson that this is proper Test championship rugby and not a club game or a friendly, shift Laidlaw to stand off. Laidlaw’s step-step slows everything down, and Russell keeps making the wrong choices, or executing the right ones poorly. I’m not blaming the half backs entirely for this defeat, but we do need much quicker ball spun away from set piece and loose and we need greater game management at 10. I don’t disagree with those who think Russell is very much part of our future – but this is Test rugby in a World Cup year and we have to be brave enough to ring changes to get the side better settled and performing. Despite the two defeats this 6N, this is the best Scotland squad we’ve managed to assemble since 2010 and the management team will I hope be bold enough to make some radical selection calls as we progress through this 6N. Alex Dunbar by the way just gets better and better.

  10. Ball’s to all this ‘potential’ talk. Autumn and Summer tests to tinker and develop. Championships to start delivering. Last two games were the games to deliver. We’ve been beaten by two extremely poor teams in France and Wales (who wont be anywhere near the world cup final). The team is young but the life of a professional rugby player, especially at test level, is short. Italy played ok against England, despite the scoreline, and showed enough they can cause us problems.
    Scotland will have to pull their finger out if they want to avoid the wooden spoon..again. Couple of final points 1) Keep Laidlaw in for 6 nations but then that’s him done 2) Liam Williams really is an ugly nasty little s**t. Edinburgh, Glasgow & under 20s all won so not a total loss but the result today just showed we’re along way behind the other 6 nations teams who barring flashes for England have all looked terrible. I’m very disappointed by the Scottish team today and northern hemisphere rugby as a whole.

    1. England have a decent squad, Ireland and France are also good with Wales behind these three. Scotland I think are 5th in the 6 nation rankings, with Italy being the also rans.

  11. Once again lack of support, wrong and silly decisions cost us. Why oh why did we persist with the high ball against Halfpenny, Biggar and Roberts they rarely drop it, we knew that before the game! We should also take the points when they’re easy especially when the scrum and lineouts are working well, meaning we should get plenty more chances. We need to stick with this group of players though they’re just lacking experience and a bit of confidence. I don’t understand what was wrong with Bennett’s try and the Welsh should have been yellow carded for persistent fouling when we were attacking their line twice. I would like to see Jon Welsh and Fraser Brown getting more game time and the return of Maitland and Seymour will make a difference.

    1. Garry Owen kicks are a complete waste of time. You only gain about 10 yards but the opossition get posession more than 70% of the time. Gain 10 yards and give the opposition teritory- pointless if you think about it. A far better option is to just go through the phases and reatin posession as the All Blacks do.
      It was a particularly poor tactic against the Welsh wo have a habit of jumping high for the ball and luring the opposition into tacking them before they haver reached the ground=- maning a yeallow card. The Scots should have known that they are specialists in doing this for of cheating so I agree- why do we peersist with this tactic. I normally like Laidlaw as a player but these Gary Owen kicks need to be coached out of him. It is a pointless tactic that has cost us dear in matches, including this one. Every time Laidlaw got the ball I cringed as i knew exactly what he was going to do with it. More to the point- so did the Welsh. Wales may have played like a bunch of cheating A.abs but we did not do oursleves any favours. The forwards were not strong enough and their were too many Garry Owen kicks. The fact is the we have amazingly talented backs who can hurt the oposition so why not play the ball to them and play a more expansive game. For that they need to get more posession and I would certainly drop Laidlaw unlless he agrees to cut out the Garry Owens.

  12. Agree with Liam Williams comments Mike. He does have that nasty streak which will be good for him at this level. Same can be said for Mike Phillips, Hibbert and Jonathan Davies. I wish the Scots had more of a nasty side. Even Hartley who usually is nasty while playing for Glasgow was very subdued tocay. He needs to revert to normal character and start hitting a few people.

    1. Its not just that, its the smug way Williams goes about it that sticks in my throat. Being an enforcer a la Bakkies Botha is one thing but to be so underhanded and do it with so much glee in his warped little face is another. I really don’t like him.

  13. I’m probably only seeing what I want to see, but we’re not as ‘cute’ as our opponents. I’ll leave it at that.
    On a general note; would the All Blacks, having maneouvred themselves into the kind of excellent attacking situations we set up today, been, in any respect, content with the sort of result we got?
    No, I don’t think so either. We have guys who could not give any more to the cause; no complaints at all there; but we just don’t score when we should. So we don’t win matches.

  14. I don’t think any Scotland fan will be happy with the result today, but put it into the context of where we were a year ago.

    We are needing a missing link, someone to bring a bit of control in those crazy situations whilst we are sitting on the line. Laidlaw is clearly not the man for the job and we need to start looking past him. The pace and energy that S H-C brought to proceedings when he came on have to make him a candidate for that role. he has genuine scary pace and a great quick pass. He has looked like he is going to play for Scotland ever since he burst onto the scene.

    Laidlaw is part of the old guard, who are gently and gradually being discarded. I don’t doubt their commitment to the cause, but their time has past and we want players now that are used to winning, not losing. I am afraid that Beattie, Hamilton and Stroks also come into this category. There are younger, hungrier and better players around now. Time to give them a chance.

    1. There isn’t much time before the world cup Grahame. Any potential replacements need given game time now. (quite a number are injured)
      Although SHC plays a faster game than Laidlaw, both Cusitter and Pyrgos are also faster and arguably, should have been in the squad anyway.

  15. Neil, I think it’s harsh to say the forwards were pathetic. Yes, they did ebb and flow, especially in the first 20 of the second half. But I don’t think they lost us this Test. Over the 80, as against France last week, there wasn’t a lot to choose between the two packs. It’s our game management immediately behind the pack that’s our weakness.

  16. I think it’s fair to say that there were a lot of decisions that were mystifying – could probably name 5 without trying. That said, Scotland made plenty of chances that we didn’t finish-really need maitland and Seymour back to finish off half breaks. Ultimately we need to be able to win despite unhelpful refereeing and opposition gamesmanship.

    Also Rhys Webb must be the best play actor in the northern hemisphere and is superb at milking penalties at the ruck. Although he managed to get one by tripping over Blair Cowan (who although the wrong side was nowhere near the ball), well done to Jackson did tell him to get on with it later on when he was trying it on yet again.

  17. Allan! France and Wales no where near the World Cup final,c’mon you cannot say that with all the talent those teams have ( even thou they are out of form at the mo) Be a bit more respectful.Yes they have not played well but i would say thank the lord they did not play to their potential,because if they had,then Scotland would of got hammered by them.Scotland were unlucky today,but the better teams find a way to win!

    1. It was me who said that and I stand by it. Standard and style of Rugby i’ve seen so far by all teams, apart from England in parts, has been dire. Functional and one dimensional. Wales are a well gelled team, with good youth coming through but with a terrible coaching set up. NZ/SA and OZ will have seen absolutely nothing to worry them come the autumn.

      1. Mike- I also dont think there is anything there to worry NZ or SA but OZ are not so goof so I think most 6 nation teams would fair quite well aginst them, with the exception of Italy. I really dont think Scotland have much of a chance in the World cup. Thats mainly owing to the fact that our forwards lack streghth and determination. They just dont try hard enough or give our backs enough posession to hurt the better 6 nation teams (Ireland, France, England or the SH teams of SA and NZ. Just look at the physique of the England and France forwards- much bigger and stronger than our guys. We have big players such as Jim Hamilton but they lack the strenghth of forwards playing for the top 5 or 6 nations. It was a problem in the 80’s and 90’s as well- lack of big stronmg forwards who play the game at high intensity. If we played NZ or SA tomorrow we would struggel to get 20% posession adn probably 80-90% of the game would be played in our half. It does not matter how good Fin russel or Hogg are- if they dont get the ball they will never be able to score tries. I think Cotter ought to look to replace some of our forwards as they really arent cutting the mustard. If he sticks with this bunch of jokers then I would be very concerned about our visit to Twickenham- it couold be a cricket score against us and we will struggele to get the ball out of our own half and get more than 20% posession. I think we will struggle against Ireland as well as they are a far better Team than Wales. Revised 6 nation standings:

        1. England (+ grand slam)
        2. France (to win all remainiogn matches except one against England)
        3. Ireland (to win all remaining matches except one against england)
        4. Wales (beat Italy by a country mile but lose to Ireland and France
        5. Scotland (beat Italy by 20 points, lose to Ireland by arround 7 and probably a 20 point loss to England)
        6. Italy (wooden spoon- really should be booted out but that may be the subject of another thread)

  18. C’mon on now Scotland no sour grapes,this is what I am seeing in the posts,blaming everything or everyone else for losing to Wales.But Scotland never have the nerve to take their chances against the big boyos! And remember if you lose by 3 you might as well lose by a 100,it goes down as a loss in the books! Scotland need to be more honest.But I admit you are getting better.

    1. I agree, we didn’t take our chances of which we had more than Wales. Moaning about the ref pointless (but makes us feel better!) Wales won. That’s all that matters. Scotland needs to start delivering wins, and soon as this young team with potential will start to have the same losing mentality as past teams. Just hope Cotter is willing to take the big decisions ie drop Laidlaw and give someone else a chance. The 6 nations is over for us for another year, let England and Ireland fight it out. Lets get our team sorted for the world cup.

    2. DP- do Wales bribe the ref before games between our nations? Why is it that they always seem to manage loads of penalties against us, dubious sending offs etc. They dont get the same favorable treatment in other games but they do against Scotland. For example, there were 25 seconds available for a restart at the end of the game but the ref chose not to do so- WHY?. We had a try dissaloud- WHY?. One of our playes was trying to get out of the road of a Welshman jumping to catch a GarryoOwen- it was clearly accidental but he got a yellow card- WHY? The Welsh just had to cough and they got a penalty-WHY? I admit that we could have played better but I can think of at least 5 occassions in the last 10 years when we could have easily beaten Wales had the red/yellow card and crazy refereee decisions not gone against us. Again I come back to the same question- do Wales bribe the refereee just before the Scoptland Vs. Wales encounteres? No other team seems to get quite the same rub of the green against scotland- just too much to be a coincidence in my opinion and I am someone who rarely uses referee decisions as an excuse for a loss. World Rugby need to look into this and review games between wales and Scotland over the last decade.

      I really hope that Ireland and France stuff Wales in games that historically they dont seem to be able to exert the same influence on the referee.

    3. DP – we created enough chances to win that game twice over so I agree that we must accept blame for our loss and I’d go further and say that despite the deficiencies in our game (kicking, breakdown and of course clinical finishing), Wales brought very little to the match and our loss was largely self inflicted.

      However, that was also the worst refereed test match I have ever seen. It is a platitude trotted out by winners who know they have gotten away with it to say the referee’s mistakes did not decisively alter the course of that match. At this level, it just shouldn’t happen – failing to go to the TMO twice, warning Wales and then not yellow carding them whilst repeatedly professionally fouling in the red zone, stopping the game when the ball went dead with time left on the clock. Can you honestly say if Wales were on the end of those decisions you would not be furious? If so you are clearly a saint and unlike the legion of Welsh fans that pissed and moaned after the last world cup semi-final!

  19. Neil! Kick Italy out ? Well I think they are the only side you might beat,so I wouldn’t say to kick them out!

    1. DP- I dont care about glory hunting against rubbish teams. Sure we will get our token win against Italy but I aspitre to so much more (beating other 6 nation and SH teams for a start). Basically a win against Italy is meaningless- like ManU beating Raith rovers by 5 goals. Wales basically cheeted alot in the game. Usual tactics of sucking up to the ref, jumping high to collect Garryowens and then luring our boys into the tackle before the player has reached the ground- resulting in a player being sent off. They always do these dirty tricks against us but it is depressing to notice that we still persist with the Garryowens in light of this. Laidlaw ought to be be shot as it gave Wales all the posession the needed. I adoit that our forwards were also poor in the fact that they did not give our boys posession. Our backs were ace and, though they could have put more chances away, I think they did really well, particularly Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell.
      For punishment of the way Wales cheated, and the completely biased commentry by Jopnathan Davis, I will be supporting both Ireland and France when they take on Wales in the coming weeks. And before anyone accuses me of being xenophobic, I am married to a Welsh lady and my daughter was born in Wrexham. I wont even bother to watch the Scotland:Italy game as it will be a waste of time- I would rather spend my time in the garden or watching loose women on channel 4.

      1. Just recently got hold of a VPN to watch the game but its a real decision to make- lose women, the simpsons of Scotland vs Italy. Come to think of it, the Simpsons are just the same as Italy and, if yesterday was anything to go by, Scotland arent much better.

      2. FF- maybe the SRU should replace the team with loose women- we mayy not win any games but at least we would get entertained- something that failed to happen yesterday. The most entertainment I got during that game was when I plucked a nose hair.

      3. I thought yesterday’s game was very entertaining. Frustrating but full of incident and easily the most exciting game of the weekend. I’ve been at Murrayfield for plenty of dreadful matches, not least the previous clash against Wales which was the second most boring game of rugby I’ve ever seen live (after Saracens v Leicester at the height of the ELVs farrago) and that was not one of them. Absolutely gutting we lost mind.

  20. To add to my comments, I thought Dunbar, Russell, Hogg and Bennet player very well but I would definately drop Laidlaw (too many poorly executed GarryOwen kicks) for the next game. Also- do we have any better options in the forwards. The Gray brothers are good, Cross not bad but the rest were poor- just not strong enough against the Welsh. Unfortunately I dont get a chance to watch enough of our pro and club matches but there must be better options. Perhaps one of the readers can comment on this.

    1. How many times are you going to come on here, tell us what we are doing wrong, then admit you dont watch any rugby??

      1. AndyK- I have watched all of the 6 nation games and all of the autumn internationals but, being based in the Middle East, I dont get a chance to watch club or pro12 games, hence the reason for my question. If you had read my message properly you would have realised that.

  21. Marks a little high for Russell. Does your system start at zero or 10? Took ball to the gainline but you wont see a worse kicking performance from an international 10. He’s great and we must stick by him but if we’re willing to talk him up we must be realistic when he underperforms. Anyone else curious about the back row balance when you take off Beattie and have to move Cowan to 8? And Wales have Tipuric and Warburton on the park? Just think Strock doesnt cover enough positions. How about Watson and Strock on bench and Harley/No8 covers second row?
    Great bit of diagnosis on Gray too, do you have inside knowledge? Looked like an impact injury to me. Hope you’re wrong for all our sakes.

  22. Oh and while I’m on about Russell’s marks, you say silly yellow could have been more costly, they conceded 10 points while he was in the bin! They lost by 3. That’s pretty costly in my book. And I’ll admit I thought Visser was improved I even saw him it a ruck at one point.

    1. Quite right, the yellow card was the turning point in the game. Until then we’d looked pretty comfortable but that passage meant we went from 10-6 up to 16-10 down at half time.

  23. What I dont understand is that we persist with these crazy GarryOwen kicks They nearly always go to the opposition as the ball will land closer to oposition players and it is much easier to catch a ball coming towards you than going away from you. We have a NZ coach and I know that this tactic is rarely perfomed by the All Blacks who prefer to retain posession and run at the opposition. Cotter is not a stupid man so why does he not tell his team to avoid this tactic as it does not work? ANYONE WITH HALF A BRAIN CELL HAS GOT TO REALISE THAT.

    1. Sorry Neil.
      I know it’s part of your schtick on here but you’re just looking silly. Brian Moore re the All Blacks “If you look at the statistics in their games they often do not have the majority of possession. This is because they also kick the ball far more often than people realise; the key being that their kicking game is very good and allied to a highly effective chasing game. They use it to play deep in their opponents’ territory and to generate significant pressure and mistakes.
      The fact that they do not always dominate possession shows the efficacy of their counter-attacks and how much they can do with the ball they do get.” Wales kicked more than us. We need to kick better, not less.

      1. True they do kick the ball but it tends to be by the full back trying to clear their lines. I very rarely see them do Garry owen type kicks- thats the kick that should be avoided. Long distance kicks to touch or kicks to clear your lines are fine. They dont always dominate posession either but I cant rememebr the last time the had less than 40% posession against any team. They are very clinical but always operate with more than 40% posession, something we struggle to achieve against the top 5 or 6 nations. They also play most of the game in the oppositions half, meaning that penalties against them are less harmful. In addition, their forwards play as if their lives depended on winning the game. And who do he have- Jim ‘the honey monster’ Hamilton. I rest my case.

    2. Sorry Neil, you are just making this up. ABs certainly do use box kicks and occasionally garryowens. We had a long exchange about this previously – there are very good tactical reasons for using box kicks as an exit strategy and virtually all teams use it as a strategy because you can clear your lines but still contest possession. Very few of these kicks were garryowens when we were in the Welsh half – in fact I can;t remember a single one. Our main problem is that we are weak under the high ball and the quality of our kicks and kick-chase was poor. That is bad execution, not bad strategy.

      On the ABs, they only run ball in their own half off turnover ball. They kick almost everything else. A big weakness of ours is that because our kicking game is generally poor we often run from deep in our own half, so when we cough up turnovers we are already in the danger zone. Wales dominated the 20mins after half time largely by having a more effective kicking game than ours. Trying to run the ball back from our own 22′ would have been suicidal, particularly as we were giving away so many penalties at the breakdown.

      1. I’m a bit surprised at how poor our (Scotland’s)kick chase is, as I had recently come to view this as something both Glasgow and Edinburgh were getting quite good at. It’s possibly just that the right personnel from the Pro teams are not involved for a variety of reasons i.e. Seymour, Maitland, Van Der Merwe at Glasgow and Cuthbert and Fife at Edinburgh. So I wonder if we may see this improve when Seymour and Maitland return.

      2. FF- do you not think the reason Wales dominated the game was down the fact that our forwards lack strength- I think they were very poor- like watching a bunch of kids take on men. With the exception of the last 5-10mins, the ball was hardly out of our half in the second half and Wales totally dominated possession. Nothing to do with kicking, just lack of strength by the forwards. Why is it we can have big guys playing for us and they play like a bunch of cuddly honey monsters- about as intimidating as a rabbit in a world championship boxing match. I would sack the lot of them if I had the choice.

    3. Neil – can you name a test match where any team has had less than 40% possession? Against Wales we had something like 48% according to the BBC write up.

      1. FF- I’m basing this mainly on the second half when the ball was hardly out of our half and when the TV screnn shown a pie chart indicating 80-% posession and about the same territorial advantage for Wales.

    4. ABs half back doesn’t kick – absolute drivel. Try watching a game. More fantasy from the world of Neil where the facts never get close to getting in the way of a good story

      1. They do kick but they dont do vary many GArrry owen up and under type kicks- thats the point I was trying to make. Again please read the message before criticising.

      2. This does raise an issue- can two people with different email adresses post by the same name. If so, then I think this needs to be tightened up. Alternatively, has someone hijaked my email adress- not hard to do as I beleieve this information could be realeased legally through the national secrets act. I know that a guy by the name of Red Clyde got hold of my details, hacked into my Lindin account then posted personal information about me, alonmg with a highly abusive message, on this blog. Nothing is sacred so I hope the blog team would address my concerns.

      3. Sorry- meant to post this as a reply to a later message which was posted by another guy called Neil- my comments stand though and I hope for a reply from the blog team.

      4. Neil – you do realise you don’t have a user account on this blog, don’t you? Therefore, there are no unique user names and you do not need anyone else’s email address to use the same username.

        I think you may need to take an ‘Introduction to the Internet for senior citizens’ course.

      5. FF- OK but in my naivity I thought there may be a block on two persons using the same name- obviously not. I dont think there is a big problem but it can lead to confusion if there are two or more Neils. I think most people, including myself, can only cope with one.

      6. “They do kick but they dont do vary many GArrry owen up and under type kicks- thats the point I was trying to make. Again please read the message before criticising.”

        YES THEY DO !!! I am talking about half back kicks from the base of a lineout or ruck, typically between the half way and their quarter.

        Please watch an All Blacks game before telling anyone who disagrees with you they don’t understand you are wrong

      7. Angus, of course the All Black do kick for touch and if they are in real trouble in their own 22 but I have watched them many times. They do the odd box kick but not too many up and under Garryowens. They generally have a strong forward pack, close teams down very quickly and have backs that can take on any team in open play. I suggest you infact watch them play and just look at how often they kick Garryowens- it is infact almost never and I have watched many of their games over the years. I think we probably have to agree to disagree on this one.

      8. I despair, I have never once mentioned kicking for touch

        As you say lets agree that All black games must get censored where you watch them or in your head

  24. Very frustrating again but to focus on the positives: Dunbar was superb despite a heavy knock early on; Jonny Gray immense effort around the park; Hogg and Bennett showed flashes of brilliance again; scrum just about won it; Hidalgo-Clyne provided a real spark.
    With 4 probable starters out this wasnt too bad – remember the horry story last year!
    Crack on keep improving and win 2 of the last 3 to prove things are on the up.

  25. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne introduced great pace to the game, Laidlaw take note. Visser and Lamont didn’t look to be getting into the game enough, why has Max Evans been overlooked even with further injuries to the wing?? he is playing great rugby in France. Big performances by J Gray. Don’t know how Wales got away with so many professional fowls on their goal line….

    1. Max Evans? Are you serious? Which games has he impressed you in? You do realise Castres lost every European game and are in the relegation zone. He has been totally ineffectual every time he has played for Scotland in the last three years or so. You are really out of touch if you think Max Evans can add anything to the Scotland squad.

    2. ??????? he is playing great rugby in France ???????? – says the man who lives on the moon and only watches internationals ????

      Quote from above:

      “AndyK- I have watched all of the 6 nation games and all of the autumn internationals but, being based in the Middle East, I dont get a chance to watch club or pro12 games, ”

      Troll Troll Troll

      1. This is a different Neil- I did not write this messgae and I dont think Evans is a good player. I also dont rate Hidaglo-Clyne either- better of with Patsy Clyne.

  26. Is this bad form? I dunno, thought I’d have a bash. It’s not that easy and I’ve had 15hrs to think about it.

    Took try brilliantly even if it was just running round Hibbard and looked to attack making line break for SHC clothesline/”knock-on” debacle. Still not overly secure under high ball. 7/10
    No work in attack, stepped a few times by Williams (no shame there). He’s a solid lump with no real kicking game. The fact that he was a fairly unanimous choice in team speaks volume for back up to Maitland and Seymour. 5/10
    Dangerous in traffic but greedy paw after Dunbar break in first half probably cost a try. Tackling Davies for blocking was silly should have tried to get round and at least get tripped. Also caught behind gainline after Russell tap in red zone was a 50/50 call would probably have created a 2 on 1 if he’d escaped. 6/10
    Brilliant lines, brilliant over the ball. Struggled after blindsided no arms “hit” by Williams early on but battled on. 7/10
    No space in attack. No obvious weak tackles. Quiet day really. 5/10
    Started with a bad kick and didn’t really improve. Team conceded 10 points while he was in the bin. Missed touch from 2 second half penalties. One good run in attack. Took way way too long to kick conversion. 3/10
    Kicked 100% of goals and I think played to plan with crabbing style. Should have gone wide on occasion when pressing for tries in red zone. 5/10
    Carried less conspicuously than last week which meant he got smashed less. Can I really write quiet game again? Quiet game. We don’t really have a tackle breaking offloading 8 available at the moment. 4/10
    Usual nuisance at breakdown, plenty tackles. I wonder if he likes touching the ball? 5/10
    Busy at breakdown but sometimes looked like him against 3 everytime. Get his hands on the ball well, I like him. 6/10
    Gray J
    Heaps of tackles as per usual but too late in game to catch Davies for try. Is he ever used at the line out? 5/10
    Gray R
    Injured in tackle but worked very hard up to then winning line out ball on occasion. Handled a few times. 5/10
    Scrum looked solid enough except for one penalty. Murray will be back in but Cross is decent bench material. 4/10
    Didn’t seem to carry with as much success as earlier in the season but performed “day job” adequately. 5/10
    Lively in loose, tackled hard. Exceptional improvement in a player who was a walking penalty when he had to cover both sides of the scrum. 7/10

    Missed tackle for Davies try. Bit of stepping towards end led to try. Not much rugby recently. 4/10
    I was sceptical early season but he looked sharp. Pacy too and kicks goals. He’s the future. 7/10
    I’ve said it before but he’s a beefy no nonsense tackle/breakdown/lump. Puts all the ball playing onus on Cowan when he comes on though. More ball playing lumps Vern! 4/10
    Mixed it up. Again. And scored try. 6/10
    Little impact before a major sore one. 1/10
    Threw line out or two all right suspect he’ll be Ford’s back up for the foreseeable. 3/10
    Looked injured at end. Held up ok in tight but unlikely to figure in loose. 4/10

  27. Laidlaw was dreadful both in his play, decision making and captaincy. He wants the newspapers to talk about Greg Laidlaw and then the Scotland performance. It has cost us game after game over the years. The Welsh were offside and off the feet at the breakdown for most of the game, yet, yet, did Laidlaw ever stand and converse with the referee about any of it? Of course he didn’t – why – because he let his temper take over and his behavior was that of a petulant child. Compare it to Robshaw who DEMANDED a TMO review of Haskell’s attempt last week. Or, if you watch SH tests Jean de Villiers or McCaw, they pull the ref aside and point out inconsistencies. Laidlaw has neither the diction nor the intelligence to do so. The speculative 60m penalty kicks over kicking to touch, the box kicks to the world’s best full back who reads him like a book and put’s the pressure back on to over-worked fowards. The rule in the SH is never kick turn-over ball.We have a cracking set of outside backs yet Laidlaw suffocated them of possession. When the forwards panicked and reverted to isolated pick and gos at the try line before halftime, Laidlaw as captain and scrum half had a duty to organise the pods 5m out, a tactic which has been so effective of late. He should have marshalled the troops and structured the attack without slowing down the ball and losing all momentum. Instead, he was ringmaster in chief and went for glory. I actually believe the rest of the team, bar Russell, played well and the mistakes were made out of frustration due to the pounding Laidlaw gift wrapped for his team mates. Russell needs to grow up, I saw him laughing and smiling as he sat in the sin bin. Great player but find touch mate, your better than that. Harley needs to learn to carry and fetch. He’s more like an old school lock than a 6. Strokosch and Beattie contributed very little. So frustrated, referee was poor but watch NZ or SA and they talk all about game management. We are 95% of the way there – making tactical decisions at penalty time and pulling the ref up is the difference.

    1. I agree compltely regarding Laidlaw. Definitely time for a change. Russell had a bad day at the office, he’ll come good. I also think he’s burnt out. Not getting a break for Glasgow with Weir’s injury, and only in his second season as a pro. I like his laid back style, it serves him well at FH. You make a mistake, put it behind you and move on. The laughing and joking while in the bin does just smack of immaturity. Hopefully he’ll learn from yesterday.

  28. Small margins. The game was there to be won but we effectively threw it away. A bit like last week, basic errors at crucial times killed us. Russell had a poor game but will learn from it and is still our best FH by a mile. I tend to agree with previous posters that Laidlaw is a large part of the problem. His speed of thought and distribution is still way too slow. It’s his decision to effectively go wide or keep it in the forwards and he has to take a large part of the responsibility for white line fever. If we’re clearing the decks regarding the old guard, go the mile and give Pyrgos if fit, or SHC, the nod against Italy. It has to be the game to do so.

    We really need to work on keeping the ball better, too many turnovers and we really are not good enough under the high ball. Hogg is playing well but that has always been the weakest part of his game. The Welsh kick chase was admittedly excellent whereas ours was non existent.

    The signs going forward are good though. Dunbar is currently one of the best centres in the northern hemisphere, Bennett is growing into the role and Hogg is back on form. J Gray again did well and Dickinson is in the form of his life. We are missing a bit of physicality up front but with a full 15 we can give anyone a game. Seymour should hopefully add to our attacking options and Strauss being available for the WC will add definitely help. In order to maintain momentum we have to beat Italy and Ireland, as England at Twickenham is very unlikely to happen.

  29. It’s now the day after the game and perspective has kicked in. Still think the referee allowed Clancy to make too many of his decisions for him, but Wales still deserved to win. (Mr Clancy does have ‘previous’ as a touchjudge.)
    Too little, too late for Scotland. The pack was still driven inexorably back and couldn’t break the stranglehold the Welsh had.
    Scotlands backs looked much sharper (in the playing sense) than the Welsh, who simply kept trying to get the ball to Roberts up the middle and recycle. Considering the hiding of last year, it was a marked improvement.

    1. Was it not Clancy that talked Jackson into going to the video to review the Welsh try after Jackson had already awarded it?

  30. I think the major frustration on these boards is that the Welsh team were there to be beaten. We effectively were our own worst enemy. Scott will be seeing that tackle in his sleep. I’d love to know what Vern said in the dressing room. Still you learn more in defeat and all that . . . .

    1. Bang on. Tom English wrote a good column on the BBC in the aftermath of the game. We should feel gutted and frustrated but we are assembling a team that can break through the glass ceiling.

      I think Cotter is still the man to do it, but he has probably spent about 5 weeks coaching this team so far and our team is frankly naive. But we now have a quality coach in charge with the ability to smooth out those rough edges and bring out the potential of guys like Russell. This 6N is a huge learning curve for the team but he will have plenty of time with the squad before and during the world cup. If we scrape a QF that will be pass marks and hopefully we’ll then be able to give the 6N a proper shot next year. For the rest of this season we just need to keep our heads and direction and hopefully we’ll get a couple of results.

      1. Just read the Tom English article. Pretty much spot on. I’d not change too much for Italy. Hopefully Seymour and Maitland will be back, and I’d change the scrum half to inject some urgency(what a difference SHC made), but on the whole we’re definitely moving forward, and not too much change necessary.

      2. Angus – I don’t think the details are public but I think it is something like 2 years to beyond the world cup. I’ve interpreted that as to 2016. However, as Steve Hansen has extended his AB contract it gives us some chance of holding on to Cotter until Townshend has won the European Cup with Glasgow ;)

      3. Vern is still the man for the job. think about it, last year we lost by about 50 poionts to Wales, this year it was just 3. Remember that he is only human and not a majician. The players have to take responsibility for a poor perfonmance.

      4. I ask because I think it was a 2 year contract he signed but then his club wouldn’t release him but he was still contracted to Scotland. So does that not mean his 2 year contract started when he signed it? As opposed to last year when the tour left for the USA

        My point being I think his 2 years will be up this year possibly after the World Cup because the SRU and everyone else assumed that would have given him 2 years hands on

        I don’t think that when his club wouldn’t release him he signed a new contract that started last June and went for 2 years from then

        Sorry bit of a ramble there but hopefully you get what I mean

      5. Angus – no idea and no details were made public. However, I’d be surprised if he had signed the contract before entering release negotiations with his club, no?

      6. Pretty sure that is exactly what happened. He signed with Scotland with everyone expecting he wold be released by the club and then the club said no. This is why he was able to be announced as coach and was committed to Scotland but couldn’t start the job for another year

        SRU originally expected he would start at the end of the previous season – this was the whole cock up

        That is how I remember it happening. Hopefully on of the Bloggers can advise

    2. The missed tackle by Scott was unfortunate but every player mikes mistakes so I donmt think we can blame him. I personally blame the lack of posession and too many GarryOwens, combined with poor refereeing. In spuite of all this, lets not forget that we only lost by 3 points and the game could have gone either way.

  31. @Ruairidh M: You’ve hit the nail right on the head.

    Laidlaw is a brilliant goalkicker, (can) be immense in attack and (can) be a great leader for the other 14 boys on the pitch.

    But the one thing he never does is what separates him from the best captains out there (the McCaws, de Villiers, Warburtons, POCs, Robshaws et al): he never, ever wins the ref. Watch Kellock when he plays for Glasgow, he’s in the refs ear all day long. It’s no wonder Toonie selects him (even when he’s 4th choice lock) for the big Euro/Pro12 games ahead of Gray, Swinson, Naka etc, when playing the ref *can* shift the way the ref plays the game.

    Laidlaw does not do this.

    We can talk endlessly about how other teams get the ‘rub of the green’ from referees, but until we have a captain that plays the ref, this will always be the case.

    But, who else? Kellock is the only obvious person in the SRU circle that can play the ref with the best of them. I’m obviously not suggesting he’s in the Scotland team though (realistically he’s ~7th choice).

    I’m not sure who else there is in the current setup that can lead the team AND play the ref. Gilchrist seemed a decent choice, I think he would have been the 6Ns captain if injury hadn’t ruled him out. Maybe he will come the RWC, although the Gray bros have had 5 games on the trot together now to nail down the second row. Suggestions?

  32. I agreee that Laidlaw does not get in the refs ear but shouold players do thei in any case. I remember the day when any backchat to the ref resulted in a red card. Personally I think they should bring that back. No player should be allowed to question the referee under any circumstance. Too much manipulation goes on these days.
    The main problem I have with Laidlaw is that he kicks too many poolry executed Garryowens when he should just go through the phases. either that has to be coached out of him or he should be replaced.

  33. Has someone in cyberspace written some code that just generates comments from Neil going on about “too many Garry Owens”? It’s everywhere.

      1. Kicking game across the board, defence and attack was dreadful. Poor chase and poor blocking of runners when receiving too.Hogg giving away 5 inches to most Welsh backs didn’t help.But don’t run it from your own line just kick it and chase it better.

  34. wont mention it again but I’m just so frustrated by the way we played. That game was there for the taking

  35. Yesterday was a frustrating day at the office, no doubt about that. But still, one swallow does not make a summer and all that. We haven’t become a bad team overnight – losing by 3 points to a team stuffed full of Lions is good. Cotter is slowly, but very surely putting us back on the right track. I think.

    I’ve no major complaints about the front row. Dickinson seemed to have control in the scrum, and carried reasonably well. No qualms about him, he’s continuing his newfound renaissance well. Shame about Gordy Reid’s cameo. We’ll probably see Ryan Grant on the bench next well, who (while he hasn’t recaptured his pre-Lions form), is certainly not a bad option to have.

    Fordy hit his lineout options well. He wasn’t quite the aggressive carrier he can be, but didn’t put much wrong. I’d like to see more leadership from him by the way he plays. He’s a man mountain – surely the biggest and strongest Hooker in the 6Ns? I think he could be far more destructive in the loose. We don’t really have a top-level replacement for Ford, so the longer he’s on good form the better.

    Cross the same as Ford really – he was fine, but needs more aggression in the loose. I actually think TH is our weakest position. We don’t really make them like we used to – Murray is half the player he once was, Cross is able but hardly Lions class (I realise he’s got a sizeable fanbase on here…), and Welsh is a grand scrummager but seriously lacking fitness. Welsh is reportedly injured for the rest of the 6Ns, so I guess it’s between Cross and Murray to battle it out…

    Second Rows: Jonny was fine, carried well and took his lineouts. I’d like to see him running a bit lower into contact, but for 20 years is showing the composure of any top-level lock. Keep him exposed at international level and he’ll develop into some player.

    Richy – for a man who’s 6ft10 and 20st, jesus I wish he was more aggressive. I wish we had a Bakkies Botha/ Brad Thorne-esque enforcer type. Richy’s too ‘nice’. Hamilton’s the closest we have, but boy he loves giving away a penalty. I feel like I’m still waiting for more from Gray Sr – more aggressive carrying and tackling – surely he could trundle over anyone he wants? I’d like to see a Gilchrist and J Gray partnership for the RWC, with Richy off the bench. Perhaps his athleticism is more suited to running at tired bodies. Hopefully yesterday’s injury isn’t too serious, if it is we’ll likely see Hamilton starting v Italy, with Toolis off the bench.

    Back Row: I’m a big Harley fan, but I think he looked a bit off the pace yesterday – understandable given that was his second game back for a while. Harley should have the 6 jersey nailed on for a good while, he’s a complete dog and does all the unnoticed dirty work, like any good 6 should. If he develops a bit more carrying into his game in the next few season, he *could* develop into a serious player.

    Nobody seems to divide opinion like Cowan. Some love him, others are yet to be convinced. I’m in the latter camp. I’m all for a ‘proper’ 7, just not sure he’s the one that will compete with Warburton, Robshaw or O’Brien. Maybe he’ll convince me. Perhaps a move up north to Glasgow might be good for him? (Not Edinburgh, we don’t need another 7 to compete with Grant, Watson and world-class Blake). But Fusaro needs more competition/depth as I don’t think Tyrone Holmes is up to much. I won’t be ‘that guy’ and suggest Barclay, but I’d give Watson a chance v Italy.

    For years I’ve raved and raved about Beattie. I’m just not sure anymore he can cut it. I’m starting to wonder if his intial exclusion was justified… Playing in a failing Castres team seems to have done him no favours, he looked unconfident yesterday and that, as we know, always affects the way he plays. I’m not sure he can cut it at the top anymore. Denton (who again, has his fair share of negatives) for Italy if he’s fit.

    Ashe and Strauss surely for the RWC.

    Stroker gives it everything, but I’m not sure he offers much coming off the bench when we’re chasing a game. That’s probably more indicative of how our lack of depth affects us though (unless you have two immensely talented back rowers playing well down south… sorry, I became ‘that guy’). Cowan may be a good option off the bench, IIRC he can play across the back row.

    I can’t be bothered talking about Laidlaw, but I think he needs a kick up the arse. SHC looked electric. Give him the 9 jersey for Italy. But I don’t want to do a Kelly Brown and drop Laidlaw entirely, just bench him.

    Russell didn’t have the best game yesterday, let’s be honest. A few posters seem to be calling him out for cockiness. I don’t think, however, we should try to rein in his confidence – for how long have we been calling out for a 10 that plays with the ball and doesn’t look petrified?! I think yesterday he was just trying too hard (ie putting too much length on his pens to the corner, instead of just making sure it went out), and ended up playing too ‘loose’ as a result (similar to Matawalu at Glasgow). Keep giving him chances though. He’ll come good. Same with J Gray – at 22 years old, the confidence he’s showing is nothing but promising.

    Centres fine. Dunbar great, not just in attack but his defence yesterday was immense. He was our best player on the pitch yesterday. Bennett hasn’t really clicked in a Scotland jersey yet, but again did nothing wrong. I feel he’s about to burst into his Glasgow form soon. Scott will be kicking himself for the missed tackle yesterday, but again we know how good a player he is. Just needs more gametime, not long back from injury.

    Wings, hmm. Nothing I can say about Lamont hasn’t been said before (110%, good bench option, lump, not very fast etc). Visser looked slightly more interested yesterday than usual. I think the rumoured move away from Edinburgh might do him good. Neither a patch on Seymour/Maitland though. Given their injuries though, I’m not sure that there’s anyone else. Unsure that Fife is international class. Lee Jones? We won’t see Evans in a Scotland jersey again. Keen to see Hoyland + Farndale given more chances at Embra for the future.

    Hogg looked grand yesterday again. Our second best player on the pitch. He looks a far more mature player these days, happy to see that he’s ironing out his downfalls and put his post-Lions form behind him. I still think he could be Scotland’s next great player, as long as he keeps his head screwed on. Would like to see Tonks getting gametime, but difficult to take Hoggy/Rusell off yesterday.

    FWIW, team for Italy (assuming R Gray is injured, and others if fit)
    1. Dickinson
    2. Ford
    3. Murray/Cross
    4. J Gray
    5. Hamilton (sigh)
    6. Harley
    7. Watson
    8. Denton (if fit)

    9. SHC
    10. Russell
    11. Visser (Seymour if fit)
    12. Dunbar
    13. Bennett
    14. Lamont (Maitland if fit)
    15. Hogg

    16. Brown
    17. Grant
    18. Cross/ Murray
    19. Toolis
    20. Cowan
    21. Laidlaw
    22. Scott
    23. Tonks/ Fife

    1. All good points.
      I’d like Vern to have the stones to chuck Watson in. Having seen Blake on Friday I wasn’t exactly blown away. You can have too many grafters, you need some that make things happen and Watson, though not big, carries it like a loony.

      1. Let me be that guy for a moment. Personally I’d have Brown and Barclay in the squad but maybe not the starting line up. I agree that we need to look to the future. Cowan is playing well IMO but I really think Barclay is a good option. It’s also worth taking into account that previous Scotland teams have had a lot of ball provided by packs which included messirs Brown and Barclay, but nothing behind the scrum. Now the reverse is true. I just think we could do with a little experience. Beattie is doing ok at 8 but no more. I would possibly consider Brown there if injuries don’t lessen. Just thinking out loud really.

      2. I don’t think Barclay would be an improvement on Cowan who has played well, but we needed some calm heads and I think Brown might have provided that. Ironically, I think he would only get in the team ahead of Beattie who has massively failed to talk his opportunity to cement a place in the team.

        Everyone remembers Beattie’s great highlight reels but forgets that for huge chunks of his career he has been decidedly average. Very disappointed in a player I desperately wanted to live up to his reputation.

      3. I agree that Cowan would be in ahead of Barclay, but given he can play anywhere in the back row, I think he would be a good bench option.

      4. Agreed FF re. Beattie. He’s very much a ‘highlights reel’ player, a fantastic luxury to have when we’re going forward in broken field running. Fast, ball in one hand, offloading and creating something from nothing. But I’m not sure Scotland can afford a luxury player right now.

        Given that he doesn’t offer much on the ground and isn’t much of a defensive menace, I am imagine that when Ashe, Strauss and Denton are all fit/qualified, we won’t see much of Jr again. Which is a shame. I’d always liked him, hoped he would eventually become a bit of an all-rounder.

        FWIW, I think that Denton is a bit of a ‘luxury’ too, in that he doesn’t offer much outside of bish bash bosh. Would like to him develop an offloading/turnover game (one can hope!). He’d be some player then.

        re. Barclay/Brown (may as well), I’d love for those two to be back. But I’ve convinced myself it won’t happen, and in reality it probably won’t. (The Harley/Barclay/Ashe back row, with KB on the bench would be sublime.) Thinking out loud too.

        Also, out of interest, does anybody who became captain when Laidlaw went off yesterday?

    2. What an excellent article, I agree with most of it and don’t believe we need significant changes. The team has definitely improved under Cotter and is still improving. I disagree on Cowan, the best 7 we’ve had for a while and he is one along with J Gray who provides the aggression you, correctly, mention is lacking elsewhere. I also disagree on replacing Beattie, who will continue to get better playing in this team, with Denton, who I don’t rate at all, rarely makes much ground, gives away penalties and hardly ever offloads when it’s on. It’s a pity about Welch, we should always pick our best scrummager at TH, he was brilliant against Italy at LH a few years ago. What happened to him meantime? I would also like to see Brown given more game time at hooker, at least, the last 20 mins in every game, even a start against Italy, I think he is the real deal, as they say. I doubt the coaches read these forums but they really should read your article.

  36. I agree re; Brown in particular. I’m still slightly miffed at his prior treatment and as far as I’m concerned, hasn’t let us down in the past.

    Yes, we need to look at the future but to discard somebody of his ability and stature, particularly when he’s playing regularly for Saracens is an odd one. In the 2 games we’ve had so far, he would have been, again in my opinion, an excellent option to bring off the bench. Either to calm things down or carry on putting in tackles and hits. Plus, as you point out, he provides cover at 8 which I feel we’re lacking.

    And again, agreed about Beattie. He’s never kicked on in my opinion. He’s decent, without being brilliant. I don’t feel he’s effective enough in clearing out rucks or in and around the break down. He seems to put in 1 or 2 big hits – either in defense or attack – per match and then be a touch anonymous. It’s frustrating.

  37. Well Finn Russell has been cited and will find out his fate at the end of the week.

    We are well and truly scunnered if he is banned for the Italy game. Who on earth will play FH and will we really be staring at a whitewash under Vern Cotter?

    1. Tonks, who’s a 15, Laidlaw, who’s a 9, or Horne, who’s a 12. Take your pick.

      Considering all of the other ill-discipline yesterday, I’m surprised Finn is the the only one to have been cited.

    2. Could do worse than either Horne who put some Italians to the sword at the weekend, or how about Te Rure – that would be a left field one but what the heck

      1. Te Rure is miles away from being ready for test rugby. Saw him play for Edinburgh on Friday and he shows potential but needs at least a couple of years.

        Heathcote came on against Ospreys and have Edinburgh shape, territory and control. I’d rather see him promoted than most of the options already in the squad (he’s also leaving Edinburgh for Worcester as he seems out of favour and nowhere near the Scotland squad).

        Maybe if Maitland has returned we’ll see Hogg moved up to 10.

      2. I recon all we have to do is turn up and we will beat Italy. Italy field a Scotland reject- they must be even more desperate than us fielding SH second raters. Imagine playing a Scottish reject (Ha ha!). We should field a B team of players that have never played for Scotland before. Lets see if they can do any better than the forward pack of jokers that we fielded against Wales. Let face it, they could not do much worse and it would be good to give some of the younger and more enthusiastic forwards the chance. You may be surprised- we need to create more competition for places as the forwards are in a very comfortable position at present.

      3. I reckon Hogg will get the nod. I really would like to see more of Heathcote who really has been hard done by. Horne could certainly do a job as long as he doesn’t have to kick between the posts.

    3. I reckon BVC will shift Hogg to 10 if Maitland’s fit and available at 15. Otherwise Tonks. In either case we should be in decent shape to take on the Azzurri.

  38. Harsh throwing a 5 to Fraser Brown, I assume you watched a different cameo. One fantastic steal at the breakdown where Wales dominated all day, and then piles through a very well set driving maul to give us a penalty to put us back into their 22. His rucking was efficient unlike a lot of our starting XV yesterday and I do believe with Laidlaw’s continued delay in service there is a strong case for having another “fetcher” styled player on the field to speed the ball up. It’s a bonus to have at hooker, would be harsh to drop Ford on form but he warranted a 7 at least.

    1. Laidlaw is one player that I would probably drop or at least relegate to the bench. I agree that he tends to be hesitant and you know what I think about his kicking game.

  39. Sorry but I’m really struggling to come to terms with Finn Russell being cited. Utterly unbelievable. Far worse went unpunished in that game. Looks like we’re being p@#?!d on from on high once again. Honestly what chance have you got? If that doesn’t make our boys feel like the rugby world is against them then nothing will. Suppose we’ve got to use it to our advantage, siege mentality and all that. Raging though. Seriously how on earth is it a dangerous tackle? Ridiculous.

    1. cpmpletely agree that this is crazy. Once seriously wonders whether we ought to agree to play Wales in the forseable future, in light of this decision and their blatant cheeting.

    2. It was totally correct that Russell got yellowed. He came in recklessly was not challenging for the ball and took the guy’s legs out when he was in the air. 100% correct decision. The welsh one on the other hand was 50/50 but in the end he had set a precedent

      1. I disagree that Russell was reckless, he tried to position himself where the ball was landing, Biggar came flying in, he clocked him and he tried to avoid a collision. Is not anticipating Biggar’s leap really reckless? I don’t think so, I think Russell slightly misjudged the situation and is unlucky to get pilloried for it – teams are clearly using the laws to gain an advantage by gaming the situation by leaping as recklessly as possible, if the interpretation didn’t favour the jumper so much they would take more care of themselves by getting under the ball and jumping up as used to happen.

        That is just the law of unintended consequences in my opinion, World Rugby has tried to make a situation safer and has encouraged players to take greater risks – these types of incidents used to be comparatively rare from (flawed) memory and it was usually clear cut if a reckless tackle had occurred.

      2. FF. I am afraid you simply cannot be considered to b competing for the ball in a situation like that when u have both feet on the ground

    3. I totally agree that a yellow card was warranted. It wasn’t malicious though or with any intent to injure the player. The ref called it right at the time, so to cite Russell seems very harsh.

      1. All I know about the citing is what I had read in this blog can anyone elaborate? While I have no problem with the yellow a citing is totally wrong

      2. Angus, according to the Guardian;

        Russell has been called to appear before a three-man disciplinary panel later this week. He is charged with breaching Law 10.4(e) which states players “must not tackle an opponent whose feet are off the ground”.

        He is also accused of breaching Law 10.4(j) which prohibits “lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the player’s head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground”.

        What this all means, I don’t know. Whether he’ll be allowed to argue his case, show contrition or what, I’m not sure. Seems a bit odd in any case.

        Also been confirmed Richie Gray is now out for the rest of the tournament, and Swinson has been called in…

      3. I hope the SRU have a decent lawyer because it is quite apparent that Russell did neither of those things and it is a bit ludicrous that he is cited under those laws.

      4. I hear Scott Johnson has appointed himself the official lawyer for the SRU because he once watched an episode of Ally McBeal.

      5. Law 10.2(a) or 10.4(e) Rhys webb should have been cited for either of these. Intentional offending and high tackling. First one means a penalty try if a try “probably otherwise would have been scored”.

        Law10.4(k) Jenkins should have been cited for this. Charging into a ruck without binding.

        Law10.4(o) obstructing the kicker. Williams on Hogg late in the game. No penalty given!

        Will anyone at the SRU raise this other than over a brandy in the gentlemens lounge with a grovelling apology for doing so? I seriously doubt it.

      6. I agree Allan, but I would hope the SRU (or at the least, Cotter) will argue these cases. I believe coaches submit a summary post-match to World Rugby and Cotter has intimated there would be several things he would raise. I imagine a lot of what you’ve correctly pointed out will be raised.

        I wouldn’t put it past the citing commission to adopt an attitude of two wrongs don’t make a right however and ban Russell. The closest example that comes to mind is Alex Goode and Jared Payne in last years Heineken cup quarter final. I think the laws he fell foul off are the same, although I could be wrong, and Payne was banned for 2 weeks.

      7. McChin’s earlier post on exactly what Russell has been cited for is helpful. I don’t remember him trying to tackle Biggar in the air. And he didn’t lift and drop him, so I suppose the panel will be looking at whether backing off the challenge and backing into Biggar at the same time constitutes ‘driving’.
        Don’t know if anyone else will remember this, but on the Lions tour to New Zealand in 1993 in a match against (I think) NZ Maori, Gavin Hastings was moving forward to catch a high ball when he saw the Maori winger flying through the air towards him with both feet about 6 feet in the air. Gav, like any sane person who didn’t want to be decapitated, backed out of it. It’s still one of the worst high ball challenges I can ever remember. And there was no penalty!

  40. I think a 99 call is what we need against this Welsh team. They need to learn a lesson. We will not have the pi’s taken out of us any more and they need to know that they cannot suck up to the ref to win games against us. The only language the they understand is a 99 call. I generally never condone thuggery on the pitch but sometimes there is no choice. It worked in the Lions tour of 74 when the ref seemed to favor SA thuggerry, arse licking etc. After we did a few 99 calls they soon backed down with the tails between their legs. That’s exactly what we need to do to Wales. I really hope that Ireland and France thump them.

    1. Wow – what an incredibly stupid suggestion.

      Pascal Pape is probably going to be banned from the rest of the tournament because he was spotted giving a cheapshot into Heaslip’s back, and you think our pack could get away with an orchestrated assault on the opposition.

      1. Neil, you’ve totally contradicted yourself. You’ve complained about the Russell citing yet if something like a 99 call is used then the whole team would be cited?

        You’ve lost me at this point, to suggest “they need to learn a lesson” through violent conduct is simply condoning thuggery and frankly, the sport is better off without that attitude. What next? You’ll applaud Pape for kneeing Heaslip in the back, thus breaking 3 vertebrae? Are you going to claim that was justified because he “needed to learn a lesson”? Drivel.

      2. I normally would never normally suggest a 99 call against any team but sometimes it is the only choice. In the 74 tour of SA the Lions became very frastarted by the treatment they were receiving from SA, the lack of action on the part of the ref etc. They just got fed up of being humiliated all the time and decided to stick up for each other. One in all in was the philosophy. If one player got punched by the opposition all 15 would join him to hit and punch any Sa player in their vicinity. The SA team quickly realised that we were a force to be reckoned with and would not be messed arroud- they then started to play fair. The referee could not send of all 15 players so the one in all in 99 call actually worked in our favour. Fast forward to the game against Wales when Wales got one of our players sent off and seemed to get almost every decision going. Jonathan Davies was performing his usual biased commentary and the Welsh were taking the biscuit. A 99 call would have probably worked. We may not have necessarily won the game but it would have sent out a clear message- don’t mess with us and mess with one = mess with all 15. The ref would find it difficult to send off all 15 players and he would think about his own performance in the future. Refs that visited Murryfield in the future would also think twice about giving the advantage to a cheating team such as Wales. The Welsh players would certainly think twice about messing us about, as would other nations. More to the point maybe even Jonathan Davis would think twice about his commentary. Seriously, sometimes it is the only way. I would never advocate that approach under normal circumstances but that match was certainly not normal.

      3. Something like a consensus was threatening to break out across the blog on the subject of Scotland’s shortcomings against the Welsh and the abject performance of the ref and up pops Neil, to suggest the team should react to an undeserved citing by assaulting their opponents.


      4. The fact you’ve written “punch any Sa player in their vicinity” simply makes your entire argument null and void. Yes, players should back their team mates in all situations, but again – and I’ll repeat this – to suggest teams resort to violent conduct (or in fact, any individual) is wrong.

        Scotland were beaten not by the referee, not by under hand Welsh tactics, not by Jonathan Davies, but by our inability to finish sustained phase play or convert our chances. Yes, the aforementioned had a part to play but every team has came up against one or more of these situations, how you deal with it is what defines you as a team. Wales, unfortunately, managed the situation better than we did – like it or not – and we’re left picking up the pieces.

        You going into work tomorrow? Somebody going to try and suck up to the boss in the hope of a promotion? Well, why don’t you and your mates run a 99 call to “teach them lesson”? No? Why? Because violent conduct shouldn’t occur? Correct.

      5. Beleive me, i’ve often felt like organising a 99 call at work but have never gone through with it. And I agreee that it is generally not the way to play a rugby game but, gaianst this bunch of chaeats i think it would have been a good idea, if for no other reason than to send a message to them, the SRU, the ref and IRB- Scotland are here and we wont be messed arround. In the longer term it would benefit us.

  41. Remember, Wales only seem to misbehave on the pitch when they play Scotland. Why? Because the other teams would not put up with that SHITE.

    1. Sorry about the language in that post but I’m still fuming about the loss. I guess I don’t mind losing in a fair even contest but there is no way anyone could call that fair. And Finn Russell now has to face a disciplinary committee- it really makes me want to stop watching the 6 nations altogether, except perhaps if Wales are being stuffed by any other team. I’m so glad that they had similar treatment dished out to them in the semi finals of the last WC. How did they feel then- well they just dished out far worse treatment to us.

  42. Given that we have lots if injuries, suspensions etc, would it not be a good idea to field a few up and coming youngsters for the next match. Its only against Italy- a team we should beat. That would give the players much needed match experience and, if they do well there would be more competition for places which is no bad thing in itself.

    On another note, I’m contemplating going to watch the next 2 Wales games. I’m even more desperate to watch them lose than to watch Scotland win. Come on France, come on Ireland.

    1. We’ve lost to Italy what 5 or 6 times in the 6N? We cannot afford to take them lightly especially as we are probably going to be fielding a makeshift 4th choice FH.

      1. FF- We should not completely right Italy off but I feel it would be the best game in which we could field some new players. A problem we have is lack of strength in depth so maybe we have to look beyond the 6 nations to the WC. Ultimately I really want us to put in a couple of good performances but that should be against a top 6 nations team and Italy aint that. Given that we wont win the 6 nations anyway, would it not be better to see this game as a bit of an experiment.

  43. The squad needs to regroup and start focusing again. The first 2 games are gone. Move on. The citing and the performance while regrettable I hope won’t interfere with their preparations for the next two weeks. Couple of players are injured, hopefully some to come back. Big performance needed against Italy. They’ve some decent young backs coming through and pack led by Parisse (one of, if not thee, best players in the world) is formidable. They seem to fly straight out the traps then tire out towards the 25 min mark. If we can weather the early storm I think we can come away with the 2 points..must not be complacent though!!!

    1. Mike,

      I know that you are keen for us to get a win under our belts but, if we are to be properly assessed it has to be against one of the top 4 teams in the 6 nations or against one of the top 4 SH teams. I’m sure that we will get a win against Italy but that will mean nothing as we normally beat this team, particularly on home ground. If we lose then it really will mean that not much progress (if any) has been made at all. The problem is that Italy tend to drag teams down to their level by playing a very tight slow game in the forwards. We would probably beat them at theat game at present but, if we really want to make sure, we have to get he ball out wide to the talented backs. Do that, then we will win by 20-30 points easily. However, that means nothing as other 6 nation teams beat them by that sort of margin. I would say that if we beat Ireland at home then that will constitute progress. Of course I would love to see us beat England but I have to be realistic. England have the best team in the competition at present and by far the strongest group of forwards, meaning that we will struggle to aqcuire enough posession to get the talented backs into the game to score tries. We will also be playing the game at Twickenham where we never win and I cant see as ever getting a win there (even if we had to wait for another 100 years).

  44. Under BVC I believe we have undoubtedly improved, but only to the extent of consolidating our position as being better than our near medium-term rivals: Argentina, Italy and Samoa; but not yet catching those immediately above us (France, Wales), and a good way off those at the top NZ, SA, Aus, Eng, Ireland. If we do indeed manage to get two wins out of the remaining 3 (which is a big ask now) I would say we have shown improvement (by beating someone in addition to Italy for the second time in 3 years), but not hugely so. I think I would expect us to beat any team below the top 7 now, but we still have that horrendously frustrating lack of nous and ruthless game management that has failed us so many times before, and was evident against Wales and France. Until we sort that out we’re going to be stuck floating between 8th and 10th in the rankings; 3rd (on a jammy year) and 6th in the Six Nations; and maybe scraping into the quarters of the WC.

  45. Garryowen and jumping to catch the ball. If this leads to high risk collisions and cynical play in pursuit of penalties, then perhaps it is time to outlaw the jump. Now, what about the farce that is the modern scrum?

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