Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland vs Italy – Player Ratings

Al Dickinson - pic © Al Ross
Al Dickinson - pic © Al Ross

Here are our player ratings for the Scotland vs Italy match. Needless to say they are all subjective, without the benefit of instant replay, and of course relative to each other not necessarily, say, the All Blacks… anyone stand out for you?

15. Stuart Hogg – another improved performance under the high ball, always looking for space. Too often going a bit sideways (especially 2nd half) and aimless kicking. The up and under is only a threat if you are as good in the air as Dan Biggar (and Finn’s not about). 6/10

14. Tommy Seymour – a reasonable threat all afternoon. One of Scotland’s better performers. On another day against a less dogged defence he’d have had more success – but not many of them in this tournament. 7

13. Mark Bennett – read the interception try well and was always busy but not always effective. Solid in defence but yet to light up the attack as we know/hope he can. Gained most metres of anyone on the park. 6

12. Alex Dunbar – only really made the impact he should in the second half. A player as difficult to bring down as him should be used more to carry (© A. Dymock). Our centres are good in defence but too often bypassed in attack when for the first time in years they’re worth giving the ball to. 6

11. Sean Lamont – on the few occasions he got the ball he looked solid going forward and was clearly determined. Did little wrong but had little opportunity to influence the outcome… much like a lot of his performances over the years. Can’t be blamed for the forward pass that would have given a try, Hogg overran him. 6

10. Pete Horne – started steadily. He did make breaks and picked occasional good lines but didn’t seem to really control or influence the game which is essential as a ten. Other than the kick that put Scotland right back in the doodoo when they seemed like they might have extricated themselves from it. That was an influence on the outcome. 5

9. Greig Laidlaw – started well, as he has done so often this tournament, but faded as an influence as the game progressed. Not sure where the Laidlaw who shredded Argentina has gone but if someone finds him can we have him back please! Should and could have done more in the second half to bring some calm to the game but despite that there is a nagging feeling that if he had been on the park those last 5 minutes Scotland would have squeaked home. 5

1. Al Dickinson – Stood up generally well in the scrum (albeit coughed up a couple of scrum penalties, one of which led to the bizarro try) but little opportunity to do much in the loose. Needed better in close quarters action. Average is simply not good enough at this level and considering his form to this point. 5

2. Ross Ford – did nothing much in the loose, but other than the odd wonky lineout he was solid at that particular set piece. It was noticeable that when he went off lineout wobbled. Like so many of the forwards he made no individual howlers but as a unit it was inaccurate and poor execution in too many situations. 5

3. Euan Murray – Relatively solid in the scrum, but anyomous in the loose even when lurking on the wing, and failed to add his girth to the maul situation. (as did Girth himself). Like the rest of the pack he was utterly bested in open play at close quarters. 5

4. Tim Swinson – Poor. Did little in the loose save one ball carry before half time, and was very poor at the nitty gritty stuff. The absence of Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton shone out today and Swinson looked a poor deputy for either. Must improve if he has long term ambitions in this Scotland team. 3

5. Jonny Gray – as ever he got through a power of work and was top tackler with 14. Always looking for work but as a second row he needs to do better defending the maul. He’s an honest player and deserved better from his fellow forwards but he must take his share of the blame for a lacklustre second half especially as he usually leads by example. 6

6. Rob Harley – best of a mediocre bunch in the back three, tackled well and looked to carry when opportunity arose but little opportunity to influence game and at the end of the day was part of a pack which was collectively beaten. 5

7. Blair Cowan – defence in the loose was solid but like the rest of the forward pack struggled at close quarters. A couple of threatening carries in the first half but his quietest performance in a Scotland shirt and like the rest of the forwards will likely have a restless night. 5

8. Johnnie Beattie – spotted very few carries, which seems to be the point of a Number 8 in Vern Cotter’s team. If Ashe or Denton are fit after the Pro12 game tonight we could well see one of them come in to give the team go forward that they need. One of those games where he seems to go missing – needs to work more. 4

Bench – made no discernable impact but at least the scrum held up. 5, 4 each for Toolis and Watson for a Yellow card. Welcome to your Scotland careers…

46 Responses

  1. Ridiculously generous to Laidlaw, Harley, Murray, Horne and Ford. Threes at best. I can’t believe you actually posted that we would have won if Laidlaw had stayed on! Did you never stop to think we could have been perhaps ten points further ahead if he had been hooked at half time????

  2. Very unfair on Swinson who was very far from the worst forward in the pack. At least he went looking for work. Unfortunately that tag has to go to the anonymous Johnny Beattie. Swinson should get a 5, Front row a 3 each, Johnny Gray and Cowan a 5 and Harley a 4. Laidlaw a 1. Ok a bit harsh there but a 4 at most for kicking his goals and doing nothing else.

  3. Can someone explain what Laidlaw would have done in the last 5 minutes to have allowed Scotland to “squeak home”!
    Not even sure SHC touched the ball in the last 5 minutes.
    Sorry, but it was basic errors,lack of structure,lack of on field leadership and lack of off field decision-making that lost Scotland that game.

  4. That was rubbish. Why do we persist with Laidlaw when he is so poor. the forwards were completely outmuscled. Overall we were very disappointing- a complete disgrace and embarrassment. I wont be watching the next two games as they will involve 40+ point humiliations. Coronation Street is more interesting.

  5. The problem is that the tem lacks fitness. That’s why we lose so many games in the last 10 mins. BVC needs to address this a=fact as well as dropping Laidlaw and most of the forward pack.

  6. Hogg – A class act but tried to force it too much today. 6
    Seymour – One of the few bright spots. 7
    Bennett – Same as Seymour. 7
    Dunbar – Our most direct runner but never brought into the game. 5
    Lamont – Please don’t let this man get 100 caps. 3
    Horne – Unsurprisingly played like a 12. Let’s not mention the attempted touch finder. 4
    Laidlaw – A blind tortoise would have injected more tempo and played with more decisiveness. Sucked the life out of the Scotland attack. 3 (extra point for kicking goals)
    Dickinson – Scotland’s most improved player over last year but beasted today. 4
    Ford – For the love of God man would you use your bulk. 4
    Murray – Past sell by date unfortunately. 4
    Swinson – Not big enough for test rugby. 4
    Gray – One of only two members of the pack who stood up. 6
    Harley – He’s at his best when he’s disrupting the breakdown and tackling yet today he played at second receiver and tried to carry. Bizarre. Not match fit. I miss Kelly Brown. 4
    Beattie – WTF has happened to him. 3
    Cowan – wholehearted performance. 6

    Bench – no offence to Watson but the back row became even more lightweight when he came on. H-C should have come on far earlier.

    1. Beatie, Ford, Harley Dickinson and Laidlaw were the weakest links- They have got to go.

  7. Nobody (outside of Gray and Seymour) played above average today. In fact a 5 is generous for most. Dickinson was acceptable.

    How can we play the same 11/15 players that took apart Argentina and almost beat NZ, and produce that mince against Italy? I suspect that today’s problems weren’t solely down to the 4 changes (Lamont, Horne, Beattie, Swinson).

    Questions needing asked of a lot of players. Laidlaw is no leader and I suspect, not our current best 9. Beattie needs retired to the list of promising Scottish talent that never kicked on. Fraser Brown needs gametime and Harley needs rested.

    Seeing as I’m frustrated (and slightly merry), here’s my completely unrealistic team selection for England.

    Dickinson, Brown, Cross, Gray, Hamilton, Brown, Barclay, Ashe.
    SHC, Russell, Seymour, Scott, Dunbar, Bennett, Hogg.

    Both Denton and Cowan on the bench.

    Actually, maybe BVC should make his team selections after the pub…

    1. Thats a 12 point start for the opposition with the 4 penalties that horrifically lightweight front row will inevitably give away!!

      1. I invite you to compare those players with the australian front row. Comparable in size so its down to technique, which the Aussies have in spades after realising a few years ago they couldnt compete bulk-wise. We need better props/hookers, not bigger ones! Oh, and refs that dont ref the scrum based on reputation!

      2. Dickinson is 1kg lighter than Grant, Brown 10kg lighter than Ford, and Cross 2kg lighter than Murray.

        I wouldn’t say that a 13kg drop is “horrifically lightweight”, but considering that the majority of that weight is Brown/Ford: Brown is basically an extra flanker who is endlessly more useful than Ford, who hasn’t done anything in recent years to justify being his size that you cherish.

        As Allan said: better, not bigger.

  8. Absolutely gutting. Any optimism about the way that side was shaping up just extinguished by a solid Italy side that kept believing and some familiar failings. Is it a coaching issue?

    Kick offs. What can you say about that at this point.

    Stopping the line out drive.

    The aimless kicking. Some of Laidlaws were stunningly wasteful. There was one under no pressure he literally chipped into a two pass Italian overlap with no chaser.

    I actually don’t think many of the guys were that far off average today, swinson isn’t one id single out.

    Cussiter, Ashe, Russell in and see how we go. Disappointed with Harley today but he’s one to stick with, as is ford and Murray

  9. The players are only half the problem. Yes a few were particularly poor today and there is a few which need to retire. BUT The coaching set up is clearly not working. When Scotland come up against a team which uses bulk they have no plan to deal with it, no idea how to defend rolling mauls. What are these coaches being paid for because the players look clueless at this level. Also we need to choose a leader who can inspire and make good decisions under pressure.

    And for what is worth I think laidlaw is bloody awful at 9 as well

  10. It comes down to a simple game today. They had bigger players than ours, size and power wins in modern rugby. I think Watson is great, and plays so well for Edinburgh. I was delighted to see him get capped. But today? Too slight for international rugby, our team on the park is too small generally. Endless scrums decide games, not creativity. Partly the laws are a problem, they don’t encourage creativity play but war of attrition. In an era of marginal gains, small nations lose out, but also some of the decision making. Lamont trying to keep a kick off that was going straight out in – why? Hornes missed kick – he appeared to get a calf injury, but even though it was his side, give it to hogg, who had been safe all day. Throw long for Fraser brown when he had just come on – should have gone short.

    None of this is playing the percentages.

    Let’s face up to it, Scotland are never going to regularly place in the top 4 of the six nations table because we have a tiny playing pool. I have followed the team for 30 years, played national league rugby and now retired. I’ve stopped enjoying following the scotland team, too many new dawns, but over the last 15 years no real progress forward. It’s a shame, I don’t think there is anything that can be done to improve it, the game is now down to bulk and our players don’t seem to be prepared for the decision making at international level.

    1. I think your wrong about bulk. NZ don’t pack their teams full of mammoths, and still manage to compete against South Africa and the likes. The difference is that they don’t aim to take them one in that department. They are excellently coached to work round the problems, they can stop mauls, tackle low etc. I honestly question the coaches that are working with the Scotland squad. They need to start thinking smarter.

      Scotland’s other problem and to a certain extent Glasgow’s is their inability to recognise when a game starts to become a dog fight and change their game plan. There was no plan b today. Then the italian pack decided to grab the game by the horns and the lack of leadership and coaching meant that the team lost their shape.

      I think BVC needs to look at the people around him and also who else can captain! We desperately need a captain who can keep the team on track.

      1. So now it’s the coaches Ken!?!

        How many coaches have we had in the last 15 years? We’re they all just no good? Next it will be the analysts. Surely we can find a better analyst who can work an iMac with an #asone sticker on it. Or water carriers that can run on quicker.

        Ok, I’m being narky I don’t know where we go from here, it’s so frustrating., I think the coaches are probably getting their best from these players. This is what they are capable of given their size and ability.

        If we get rid of the coaches I suspect that we won’t see a difference. Then we will need to be rid of big vern, and next we start again. I think, to be fair to scottish rugby, they have tried most permutations of coaches since the 6 nations started, all with limited success.

    2. I don’t go for the size argument and never have. BVC and his staff have gone for the size argument and it hasn’t worked so far. They’ve chosen the largest player in most forward positions, irrespective of their ability. International rugby is being ruined by the size argument, and all players careers are shortened by it, yet we’re still taking part in the ‘arms race’and trying to find bigger players.

  11. Top 2 inches is our problem as much as anything. If there’s a time not to make a mistake, that’s when we’ll make it, if there’s a wrong decision to take, you can bet we’ll make it……..Just look at the last 7-8 minutes of that game – We’d played poorly (as every team does occasionally) but we were still in a winning position, but we just took wrong options, made basic errors and went mistake, pen, mistake, pen…….Even when Horne missed touch it was still salvageable, they had possession around halfway, we could’ve defended that for a couple of mins. Instead immediately we give away a brainless pen and we’re defending a rolling maul 5 yards out.

    I’m really not sure it matters who’s playing, players seem to lose all accuracy and judgement when they pull on a Scotland shirt. What makes it doubly frustrating is that we’ve seen the likes of Glasgow repeatedly close out or salvage wins from tight games this season and earlier, but many of the same players seem to completely lose that skill when playing for Scotland. Who knows how you sort it, though a good captain could help I guess.

    Unless we can start winning these games then we’ll never improve I feel.

    Absolutely sick at another 6N that started with hope and has turned to complete ****!

  12. Slow ball played slowly. Agree with above re kicks from Laidlaw but on a few occasions there is literally no chase. Is there no communication or instinct that a chase may be required. Ashe looked for Glasgow tonight. He’ll be in and a bigger lump required in pack or we will get truly monstered at Twickers.
    Dunbar – give him the ball. 6(six) carries
    AN other – genuine hole at 11
    Cusiter – I don’t think Twickers is ideal first start for SHC
    Brown – not an easy time for a sub to come on
    Ashe carries and tackles from six.
    Cowan-don’t tell Iain Morrison but Scotland’s most consistent player
    Denton – not a huge fan but we need some go forward

  13. The forwards didn’t create any forward momentum, this lead to static ball, not helped by Laidlaw, who as I have being saying since Argentina is all about “Greg Laidlaw – Scottish legend”. Crabbing and clueless box kicks were joined by a new, never before seen flaw – indecisiveness! The guy didn’t seem to know what the backs were doing and paused for an absurd length before making up his mind. I don’t think 10-15 did much wrong: poor, slow service from 1-9. I don’t blame Horne, where was the CAPTAIN forcing B+I Lion Hogg to step up and take responsibility? Where was a prop going down for some treatment to slow the thing down? There were more than enough caps in the team for one of them to intervene – they just utterly failed to help a young, inexperienced 10 out of a hole. Rob Harley is literally the most over-hyped, under powered guy in the team. He’s a bean pole and if he really wants to make it he needs to go and have a long hard look at someone like Marcell Coetzee,Francois Louw or even Peter O’ Mahony. To be honest, Harley is no better than Strokosch – today he was consistently knocked back in the tackle and I reckon ended up with a -ve score in metres carried. The front row needs to generate at least 3 turnovers per game and contribute in carries. I really think the future may be Strauss at 8 and Ashe at 6. The 2 Edinburgh yellow cards looked like children out there, absolutely not ready for international rugby.

      1. Be honest with yourself. I’ve had a feeling for a while that Harley is performing better through the eyes of the commentators than is actually the case. An international blindside flanker should be doing a lot more than tackling and clearing rucks. if that is to be his role then he should be doing a Chris Robshaw and posting a higher count than he does. I agree he clears rucks, not always well and certainly not with the intensity, technique or effectiveness of his peers. My point is that as a professional you should be always looking to improve and I believe he is way behind the other 6s in world rugby – I would much prefer a Haskell, Lydiate or even Minto based on his recent performance. His ball carrying is very, very poor and he has no jackelling skills at all. Considering Brussow pioneered jackelling in 2009, he has no excuse not to have trained and developed a fundamental facet of his game given he is only 24.

    1. Lots of complaint and not many alternatives being suggested here Ruaridh.
      Who do you have in mind to replace Harley?

      1. That only leaves Denton unless you are BVC!
        Strokosch is too slow, Barclay and Brown are out of favour for reasons unknown.

        That gives us Denton, Ashe, Cowan

        Looks ok on paper, but for away match at twickenham?

      2. P.O., fair call, just needed a massive rant but I like to justify my views rather than simply criticise. I actually love the way we play, our backline is brilliant, I just wish the group of forwards we have were more professional and focused on self improvement. I think the culture of commentators and journalists over-hyping guys and singing their praises for mediocre achievements is a real issue. As stated elsewhere, there is obviously a bias with the exclusion of a number of players. Anyway, I reckon Ash at 6 and Strauss at 8. This 6 Nations is a lost cause, your right there are v. few alternatives. Certainly, Du Preez is an option at 6 if the SRU really want to walk down that particular route. I think Harley is a decent player but unless he sets the bar much higher, he will sit at 6 for Glasgow for the next 8 years, touching nothing more than mediocrity. As a professional, I cannot imagine one would be happy settling for that – being a big fish in Glasgow may be all he is after! I suspect if the journalists in Scotland started actually honestly reporting a players performance, without the usual hyperbole or over-enthusiasm then the players in question may respond to some negativity. I read the NZ Herald’s player review for the NZ game in Autumn, it was damning but fair.

  14. Sorry Vern this is how it will be. Scotland lack the bulk for the modern game. They lack the depth for 8 man subs. It used to be that you could run the legs out of bigger teams, no more. Teams are constructed around units. We have a front row where one man gets to chose when he will be available. How many pens are from an inconsistent front row trying to compensate ? We certainly missed ‘ big’ Gray at line-out and Hamilton in the darker arts. Add a poor back row and a new partner outside and even I begin to have sympathy for ( one dimensional,wholly predictable, introverted) Laidlaw!

  15. Mr Kelly.
    If the modern game is all about height, weight and bulk as you call it, how many of us will continue to watch and support rugby? It’s not an argument we should accept, or the kind of game we want to see.
    NZ are continually the best without the kind of bulk supplied by S Africa, England and others.
    Ireland also make the most of their teams and they’re nobody’s idea of size monsters.Why can’t we?
    Ypur arguments are defeatist and futile Mr Kelly. The biggest team always wins is what you’re saying. Stuff and Nonsense.
    We just need to ensure the team play the right way and are technically good.

    After the depression of yesterday, we need a sense of perspective. We’ve now lost 3 in row, narrow losses in all 3, where we had chances to win all matches.
    A disaster, possibly, but not the end of civilisation as we know it surely?

    We agree some of the main issues.
    They need to find a way to deal with the rolling mauls, particularly as England will target that area. The scrum is slightly under performing, but not by much. It was a secondary surge which they couldn’t deal with yesterday. Yes, the forwards have been outmuscled in patches of all 3 matches so far, have not shown enough aggression or fight in many cases, but where do we go from here?
    This collective chest beating and hair rending isn’t constructive.

    There were some bad player decisions made yesterday, and worse execution in some cases, which collectively cost the match, but we can’t just give up, and we need to come out fighting here.

    They can’t change the team too much now without destabilising it, I would say.
    Changes do need to be made.

    Laidlaw – Has to go. Doesn’t offer a running threat so is predictable. Service is slow motion.
    Pyrgos and Cusiter have faster service and they very both snipe well.
    ( SHC might be the future, but hasn’t even done anything at club level)

    Ford – His Indian summer in AI’s has ended. As BVC has gone for size, let’s see what the second best hooker at Glasgow can do. ( Brown)

    Props – Clearly an issue, but probably need to be Cross and Dickinson

    Backs – speak for themselves Hogg, Seymour, Bennett, Dunbar, Maitland

  16. Goodness knows where we go next. We’ve got an NZ coach who will know full well that one of the Blacks’ underlying strengths is their absolute confidence in their default position of doing the very basics of the game relentlessly, to a high standard, and, nearly always, for longer than the opposition. I hope he can get us going in that direction. Again, I know that it has nothing to do with actual results, but Southern Hemisphere commentators seem to me more ready to call a spade a spade – or, rather, a bad mistake, a bad mistake. ‘He’ll be disappointed……’ is about as critical as some of ours get. Are we expecting too little from our players?

    1. Re commentators on tv here, the problem i see is that too many of them are far too close to the players either through club or management connections. None will say anything that is critical for fear of being cut off from their buddies and the nice dinners etc. Paid to give impartial comment, they resort to banal soundbites that offer no insight at all, and definitely wont say “x was poor and must be dropped!” Nicol, Paterson, Blair, Beattie snr et al, do you job properly. I’ve said it elsewhere but Peter Wright may be a blow hard but at least he doesnt sit on the fence!

  17. I think the worst part of yesterday was Italy wanted it more. Ireland and England are good enough to half ass it against Italy why on earth Scotland thought they were is beyond me. Easy playing well as an underdog easy for pundits to say they played well but the performance was so gutless it was shocking.

  18. The Sunday times have done their own ratings for both teams, and have bafflingly given Laidlaw a 7 out of 10. No mention of his performance, just the points he gained. Absurd. His “leadership” was non-existent and he went about his options like he was swot hearing over courses in a restaurant. If more people don’t call Laidlaw out on his unacceptable performances then it looks like he’ll be guiding us to a humping at Twickers.

  19. The despairing issue is that everyone on all blogs is calling for laidlaw to go but it is unlikely scotland will axe their captain again mid tournament. Therein lies the problem. We have a lack of leaderships due to the young age and inexperience of the bulk of the team. Those who should provide thst, Barclay and brown, for example,are overlooked because of the useless Scott Johnson I understand. Laidlaw should never have been captain and we are stuck with his crabbing, poor service and shocking leadership until the end of the season

  20. i just had to comment to vent my frustration at the team vern cotter picks, we have 2 professional clubs in Scotland yet we still pick amateur players, why , my 2 kids on Saturday we saying things like, why is he not going to touch with that kick, why is he holding the ball when we have an overlap, why can a 10 and 12 year old understand the basics more than the p;layers on the park, sorry rant over

  21. It’s interesting that Jim Hamilton was listed as injured but played for Saracens at the weekend. Is that Cotter giving an excuse for dropping him or governing body rules being taken advantage of?

  22. My personal rankings

    Hogg – 6 – Was an attacking threat, went looking for the ball, did chase his own kicks, though were often too long.
    Seymour – 7 – Good all game – should have offloaded to Dunbar for an easy run in.
    Bennett – 6 – Didn’t do much wrong, was often bypassed
    Dunbar – 6 – As with Bennett didn’t seem to get his hands on the ball, Horne seemed to prefer the missed pass.
    Lamont – 5 – The restart really put us in a hole, otherwise didn’t do much wrong.
    Horne – 6 – Played too much like a centre, though did make some good breaks – his lack of kicking from hand and playing in the right areas hurt them a lot, something Russell has shown much improvement in.
    Laidlaw – 3 – Slow, no sniping, total lack of communication or thought from his box kicks which no one was in a position to chase. No idea how to influence the referee. Had no idea what to do once arrived at a ruck, every time allowed the Italian defence to get set.
    Dickinson – 5 – Not much wrong in the scrum, Clancy made it tricky for them in the first half. Once he shut up not too much wrong.
    Ford – 5 – Set piece was good – showed how much his bulk is needed once he went off at scrum time. Little in the loose unfortunately.
    Murray – 5 – I know this might seem high, but his scrum work was actually very good.
    Swinson – 4 – Did little, was underpowered, was of no help in the mauls.
    Gray – 6 – As always consistent, though as pointed out above the second rows have to take control of the opposition mauls and get their long levers onto the ball carrier quickly.
    Harley – 4 – Got knocked back everytime he carried, didn’t do enough in the scrum to support his man. Needs to add 10 kg if he wants to compete at international level
    Cowan – 6 – Like Gray consistently good performances, carried well, good on the ground.
    Beattie – 3 – Anonymous, slow, no physicality, errors. His days must be numbered. Really hoping either Ashe or Denton are fit.

    I think the team played poorly, and failed to deal with the dogfight they were drawn into. Should have been two scores ahead before the break and Italy would have to have chased the game and would have lost by a wide margin.

    The pack was massively underpowered and missed Gray/Hamilton at the mauls with their long levers. Also Hamilton is cuter than most of the Scotland team in the dark arts which were very much necessary in this match. Beattie was shocking, just shocking, he has done nothing in any of the three matches except go backwards.

    The team with the changes of fit players – Swinson, Beattie, Lamont (he wasn’t bad) out with Hamilton, Ashe and Maitland improves the side a lot. Russell in and whenever they realise that Laidlaw is part of the problem the team isn’t shocking.

    I think we will get pumped by the Irish, but have a chance against England.

  23. Before we got the penalty that Horne failed to put into touch I was resigned to defeat, it just seemed inevitable. When we got the penalty I felt it was Great Escape time, once they got back into the corner it was only a matter of time. At the final whistle I sat in my seat shellshocked – too numb to trudge down the steps out of the stadium!

    Where to go from here? Laidlaw has to go – it smacks of blind loyalty keeping him in there. His kicking is good, but he is not a captain, and is the 4th best SH available to us. Get him out, get any of Cusiter, Pyrgos or SHC in, give the kicking duties to Hogg, Russell or Bennett, and give the captaincy to Gray the Younger.

    I think it’s the lack of leadership that is hurting us most of all – a rudderless ship will sometimes point in the right direction, but will usually have no direction. Gray needs to be groomed for the role and hold it for years to come

  24. Note to the Scotland Team

    All will be forgiven if you beat England – so lads if you really do care about the jersey and the fans…..

    Prove it

    Until then I have no sympathy after Saturday’s truly awful display

  25. Who is the pack leader? They looked as if they hadn’t met each other at times on Saturday.
    We need a couple of players in there who can talk, and do talk. The strong silent type on these occasions are as useful as a handbrake on a canoe. Someone needs to take the responsibility to set the pack up to do whatever is necessary during the match
    A few discussions with whoever the captain is to clarify tactics, wouldn’t go amiss.
    I’m not sure if this is a confidence thing, or players simply won’t put themselves forward.
    It should just be a straight choice by BVC. If they don’t respond, he chooses someone else.

  26. I must get myself to Spec Savers. Either that or I was watching a different match. These ratings just don’t relate to what I was watching.
    I’m going to risk the wrath of the forum by making some very politically incorrect observations:
    Stuart Hogg had a shocker, making several really costly unforced errors. These included two passes yards behind the intended recipient, over-running Sean Lamont in the forward pass disallowed try and kicking poorly all match. He is such an X-factor runner his selection is probably safe but I can see why Townsend frequenly prefers Peter Murchie and given the kicking bombardments that are coming our way in the next two matches I’d be moree confident if BVC did too.
    Big Sean had a shocker, too. Catching the kick off in touch that led to Italy’s first try was a schoolboy error. Passing forwards to Hogg in the disallowed try was not entirely his fault but was still very poor for a player of his experience.
    Harley had a poor game. He did not make dominant tackles, was absolutely flattened twice and was culpable in the first Italy try for his positioning (coming in to back up the already well defended open side leaving Peter Horne on his own against a pod of Italians). Just being a nuisance at the breakdown is not enough. I’ve always had my doubts that he has the power and speed for test rugby but right now he certainkly does not. He should be replaced by Denton or Brown.
    I thought Dickinson and Swinson did OK. Swinson nailed Parisse several times and Dickinson made more hard yards than any other forward. Hamilton played very well when he came on in the previous two matches and is a stronger scrummager but if he’s not fit I’d stick with Swinson.
    Laidlaw played well and does not deserve the criticism he is getting. I can’t remember him missing any tackles, throwing any bad passes and he box-kicked far less than he used to. Sure, he does not carry a running threat but I think that only (the unfit) Pyrgos has a quicker service. Also, his immaculate place kicking was the only reason we were ahead going into the last minutee – otherwise we would have been behind from about 20 minutes.
    But my worst rating would go to BVC. Our kicking strategy is non-existent under BVC. This has been evident since the All Blacks game. We spurn chance after chance to clear our lines in defence, kick conservatively for touch when taking attacking penalties and then go for high-risk ambitious kicks when in desperate defence. Our up and unders never put opponents under pressure so why do we persist with them? Our kick defence is a shambles. A kicking game strategy is something BVC can sort out in the next few days. He should lay down a simple plan and hammer it home.
    Equally damning for BVC was that when he pulled Laidlaw off no one knew who was captain and there was no leadership left on the pitch. He should have made it clear to the team what the hierachy was. (Laidlaw was culpable here, too. Before walking off he should have made sure his deputy knew he was in charge).
    BVC has a better crop of players than SJ had last year (J Gray, Cowan, Russell, Bennett all coming to the fore) but is not delivering. In fairness, Scotland is producing more exciting rugby, the lineout is light years better and the 3Qs look more dangerous but our kicking game is worse, scrummaging and contest at the tackle area are no better, we were complacent against Italy and the list of disgarded players is longer than ever. I’m starting to worry that BVC is not living up to the hype.

    1. Nobody is going to shoot you down, I don’t think anyway, for expressing a valid opinion mate!

      I do disagree with you on a couple of points though, yeah Hogg wasn’t at his best (certainly compared to his own high standards) but as you rightly note, he has the “X-Factor” in his running game. I think the thing with Hogg, and especially Russell, is that if they’re going to be the dynamic, exciting players we’ve craved for years we have to expect that they’ll have off days. I personally wouldn’t single Hogg out for a huge amount of criticism because of his past performances and he wasn’t the worst player on the pitch.

      I do agree about Lamont though. The kick off error aside, I didn’t feel he was great throughout the game and for a guy of his experience, should have imposed himself abit more when the Italian’s started rousing themselves.

      I think a lot of people’s issue, and mine included, with Laidlaw is he’s shown in the past that he has a lot to offer and can be a threat. However, so far in this 6 Nations he hasn’t imposed himself on a game in the way that Webb, Youngs etc have done. Take away the captaincy stuff (which I don’t think he’s vocal enough for) his game management hasn’t been great. His service has been slow, painfully at times, and on Saturday with Horne outside him it made even worse. He is good goal kicker and can be, on his day, a cracking player but from the 3 results thus far he’s not exciting me or generating enough zip to get the back line firing. He’s not solely to blame of course.

      As for Vern Cotter, I think we need to be more patient. Everybody got carried away pre-tournament about us doing some damage, and whilst Italy was a massive set back, it’s not the end of the world. We put in some good shifts in the autumn, but we had a pretty much fully fit squad of players, and good performances in the first 2 games. But he needs time in charge to work out who’s up to it and who isn’t. He’s not a magician.

      Plus, Wales hammered us last year. Utterly hammered us. Competing with them is an improvement. Same with France. The fact we’re playing these teams and challenging and walking away thinking “we should have won” is an improvement and get 30,40 points stuck on us. Don’t take that to mean I’m happy to have simply competed, of course not, but I think it’s also unrealistic to expect a new coach to win the 6 Nations – or at least come close too – at his first attempt with a pretty young, inexperienced group of players.

      Saturday was a shambles, granted. But let’s see how the last 2 games go before we really judge how much we’ve improved.

      But then I might disagree if we get hammered by the Irish and English!

  27. Cmon Scotland beat the English! You know you want to!! Remember the really great scottish sides with players like the hasting bros,doddy weir,jim renwick etc now they were great players.Keep going and never give up on your team.Wales were in this position a number of years ago,but with a never say die attitude from all the fans and players they have risen from the ashes.I remember when Wales.were losing all their games,but the fans still packed the millennium stadium to capacity.You have to believe all the time and keep getting a little better every year.And keep smiling! You will get there.

  28. The captain has limited presense, is predictable in his play, and is not making full use of his resources. He kicks the shorties himself , excellent, thank you.

    Penalties in and around halfway,and going forward we should also kick them. Hogg is itching (he must be so frustrated) and would do fine, but Mark Benett used to do it for Ayr regularly, years ago. What is keeping us.

    Our pack outweighed Italy – YES they did. We never used that to our advantage.

    Who is managing the referee? They are human , so nice touches go a long way…An assertive and approachable captain will help.

    Euan Murray, like it or not, is our best tight head (almost said only) and is good for morale. Stop knocking him, take a look at the alternative. Enough said.

    Kicking – well call me old fashioned , but you cannot win the game without the ball?

    Simple game in the Bulldogs Kennel.

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