Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


McInally and Maitland Join Scotland Squad

Sean Maitland - photo © Alastair Ross

Head Coach Vern Cotter today added two players to the Scotland squad ahead of this Saturday’s Calcutta Cup match against England at Twickenham in the RBS 6 Nations (14 March, kick-off 5pm).

British & Irish Lions full-back / wing Sean Maitland, still recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in January, has taken the place of Glasgow Warriors club mate, Sean Lamont, who has been ruled out of the rest of the Championship with a knee injury suffered in the Warriors’ 26-5 win over Zebre.

Lamont has returned to the care of his club’s medical team for further assessment and treatment.

Edinburgh Rugby hooker, Stuart McInally, has also been drafted into the squad as precautionary cover for Ross Ford, who continues his recuperation from the back spasm suffered against Italy in the RBS 6 Nations.

McInally, 24, a Scotland captain at every age-grade, was an unused back-row replacement against South Africa in the autumn of 2012, but began a switch from number 8 to the front-row in August 2013 after 58 appearances for his club.

He went on to ply his new trade in the BT Premiership and English Championship as part of a season-long positional apprenticeship, before returning to the capital.

This season he has scored three tries in his seven appearances for his Guinness PRO12 side – once covering back-row out of necessity – and started his first game for the club at hooker on Saturday, as they recorded a four-try win over Treviso in Italy (29-8).

The Scotland medical team also confirmed that Glasgow Warriors centre / stand-off Peter Horne suffered a concussion in his club’s match against Zebre and is expected to begin his graduated return to play protocol this morning.

64 Responses

  1. Still no john Barclay even though he played such a prominent role in Scarlett’s beating Leinster. The form Scottish back row at this time and not even in the squad. A squad crying out for leadership and experience – has this been Scott johnsons call as most suggest. If so, bin him now! In any event, bin him now! And send laidlaw away with him.

    1. Totally agree that both are useless and need to go. I’m sure they would find useful employment elsewhere, maybe managing a youth them somewhere, but respresenting Scotland- come off it.

  2. Interesting to see McInally in there, would’ve thought MacArthur or even Bryce would’ve been more obvious options. The latter scored a beauty of a solo try against Zebre, and his power could be a useful asset for us. Anyhow, I’m glad to see Maitland back, no more Mr commitment Tim Visser for us. Barclay is clearly playing his heart out for a place in this squad, it must be very frustrating for him to be overlooked this badly. He could form a formidable trip with Cowan at 6 and Denton at 8. The only reason I’d have Scott Johnson stick around is because he might have faster service than Grieg Laidlaw.

    1. I thought that it was strange going for Mcinally considering his relative inexperience in the position-particularly considering MacArthur and the fact that he missed a couple of lineouts at the weekend. Then realised that mcinally captained every Scottish age grade team he played in (which I think was all) so maybe it’s a leadership thing. Can also cover the back row…

      1. Matt Scott played too well at the weekend to be dropped from the bench, he’ll keep the 23 shirt. Contrastingly, Visser flapped about, made one excellent take in the air (which I’ve never seen him do before) and conceded a try. Maitland should start with Scott as cover, with Bennett able to move out to the wings.
        As for McInally providing back row cover and leadership, Barclay is surely the better call for both? I’m not disputing McInally’s credentials, from what I’ve seen he’s a good player, but VC must have seen more than that.

    2. It’s a disgrace that McInally is ahead of MacArthur in the pecking order. The best hooker in Scotland and they bring in 3rd choice at Edinburgh abd Glasgow as cover. Unbelievable

  3. Interesting piece on PlanetRugby. Barclay said he definitely wants to play for Scotland, thinks hes playing well but apparently not well enough. He’s showing a better attitude than some of his Footballing countrymen have in the past by not tnrowing his toys ou. the pram. I just cant believe theres been no communication between Cotter and Barclay, like Cotter did with Brown. We’re not coaches so I bend to their judgement but the whole escapade just seems comical..and not in a good way.

  4. McInally, never heard of him, good luck to him mind you. The other pair are safe hands, so what does McInally bring? bulk , speed? back row know how perhaps. Right now, I want straight , accurate throwing and scrum stability. Back to basics. Less schoolboy howlers. I would be surprised if Maitland is match fit.

    Denton ? not the answer IMO. Great sideways, none better, direct , direct, direct is what we need right now. Nice chap I am sure, no offense to him.

    We usually bring Strokosh in for the England game to add some fire.Never worked before , but I cannot fault the tactic. I hate to say it , but if Scotland want to salvage a result , it wont be clever stuff and it will need a lot of discipline on our part, and , the ability to bring indiscipline in their ranks. So go for goal at every opportunity , do not let them run away. We have distance kickers in hogg and Bennett. Use them and keep the scoreboard ticking.

    Scotland need a tactic for each quarter and the rugby gods on our side.


  5. Dont know anything about McInally but why not give him a chance if VC feels he is good enough.

  6. Scotland need to get fit and play for the full 80 mins + injury time. all too often they can only play for 65 mins or less. However, against England I think we would need a miracle. Even in the late 80’s-early 90’s when we had some really useful teams we could not get a win at Twickenham, so the current crop have no chance, though I hope that I am proved wrong. What I do know for sure is that we will almost certainly lose if VC continues to field Laidlaw. If Laidlaw is in the starting line up then I would suggest switching the set over to Corronation Street as it will be a 51:3 whitewash.
    I just wonder if there are any other options for the forward pack as most of our forwards are big guys but dont play with the required level of intensity and dont use their strenghth to their advantage. They can be pushed arround by 70Kg Italians so what chance do they have against the England heavyweights. Any other options in the Pro 12 teams or maybe at club level?

  7. Good news for McInally, he’s a player with some potential. Started off his pro career at 8 so has an understanding of back row play, and as mentioned above, a long experience of captaincy. If Ford is ruled unfit, that’ll be some baptism of fire for McInallly. (I know he’s injured) but I wonder why MacArthur has never got close to the squad under the BVC regime. BVC and Toonie clearly disagree on who the best Glasgow hooker is. I did hear a rumour that MacArthur falls into the Barclay/Brown category of faces who do not fit, but that may just be a rumour. Such rumours are quite fashionable right now…

    We could see close to our first choice backline if Maitland is match fit. I say ‘close’ because who plays 9 is anyone’s guess. Laidlaw is the *safe* option, Cus is the clear option, and SHC the ballsy option. I suspect SHC will definitely bench, and it’s then between Cus/Laidlaw for the starting 9 jersey. Whoever gets it will captain.

    8 is tricky. Beattie should really be dropped, but I’m not convinced that Denton is the answer. However, I imagine Denton or Ashe will bring far greater fire to the team than Beattie has. Ashe had to pull out of Glasgow’s game at the weekend so unless I hear anything different, I’ll assume he’s not fit. Denton played well against Treviso and he’s definitely been training with the squad. He’ll start at 8. We’ll hope he’s covered his hands with glue.

    My guess for England:

    1. Dickinson
    2. Brown
    3. Murray
    4. J Gray
    5. Hamilton
    6. Harley
    7. Cowan
    8. Denton

    9. Laidlaw/Cusiter
    10. Russell
    11. Seymour
    12. Dunbar
    13. Bennett
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg

    16. McInally
    17. Grant
    18. Cross
    19. Swinson
    20. anyone’s guess… Stroker/Watson/Beattie/Ashe if fit
    21. SHC
    22. Horne/Tonks
    23. Scott

    1. Because SJ has assumed the status of the anti-Christ in Scottish rugby circles everyone assumes that his influence touches every corner of the Scottish game and is invariably malignant. Now any fan favourite who doesn’t make the cut is assumed to be excluded by SJ’s diktat. Does he actually wield this influence over squad selection? I don’t think it sounds plausible at all.

      The reason for MacArthur’s selection is pretty obvious – he is considered too small. He is a talented played but Scotland’s scrum has long been a weak point and Ford is a big lump who provides a huge amount of weight to the front row. It is no mystery that successive Scotland coaches have identified hooker as a huge weak spot, we have converted two back rows to playing hooker (Brown and McInally) to try to cover this position because they were both considered too small for backrow but big enough for the front row. Both are excellent in the loose and breakdown but suffer at throwing into the lineout. Maybe MacArthur would have fared better if he’d played well in his brief Scotland appearances but he hasn’t and crucially his throwing in (claimed by supporters to be a strength) was every bit as poor as Ford’s. Who knows whether Brown and McInally will make the grade at test level but it is obvious the coaching team think they have more potential to than MacArthur. Sadly Scottish rugby is in the position of having to include players in the test squad for development purposes because of our lack of depth. But as you say, McInally has a lot of potential so let’s hope if he is thrust onto the bench he doesn’t have to throw into a lineout if he makes the pitch.

      1. Sorry FF, I have to stick up for Pat Macarthur here.
        Your argument might have some substance if he was indeed too small. He isn’t.
        Check the Glasgow and Scotland websites and see the weights. I’ll save you the trouble, they’re below.

        Ford – 113kg (17 st 11lb)
        Macurthue 104kg (16st 5 lb)
        Brown 103kg (16st 2lb)
        McInally 104 kg
        Cochrane 103kg

        As you can see,the only hooker who is significantly heavier than the rest is Ross Ford. So why is Macartur too small while rest are not.
        You’re being unfair here, or at least the selectors are and you’re standing up for them for some reason.

        Your comment that his throwing is no better than Ford’s is also some way off the mark. I’ve watched most Scottish pro club matches for longer than I care to remember, and from what I’ve seen Macarthur is a much superior dart thrower. Neither has he been too guilty of gifting away vital possession at line outs at critical times.
        Ross Ford has done this ad bloody nauseum.
        IMO. he’s a better player than the rest and is faster to boot. Putting in 3rd choice Glasgow hookers to cover Ross Ford is more than insulting, it’s a bloody disgrace.

        I accept what you say about Johnston, as he’s being set up as a scapegoat by some, for all omissions and selection issues.
        I suppose if he has a purpose , it’s to take the weight of the selection team and BVC, who are probably responsible for the omissions.

      2. Yes I’ve read that below the line on the Scotsman but I think you always have to take this kind of information online with a pinch of salt. Elsewhere MacArthur’s weight is listed as 15st 10lbs (like the Glasgow fan forum) which usually just means the official weight has been listed differently at different times – obviously, player’s weights change particularly if they’ve been told to bulk up.

        In any case, this is the story that has come out about his non-selection. Why else would they not select him except because they think he is underpowered? Townshend may prefer him to Brown but he isn’t putting out a front row against test sides. Let’s face it, Glasgow’s scrum has been their biggest weakness and they have been marmalised by top level sides like Bath and Toulouse. Personally, I’ve never been that impressed with MacArthur and when he has appeared for Scotland his throwing in hasn’t been any improvement – I suspect we’ll have to disagree on this one. I think he is a bit like Fusaro, very good player, full of heart and so his team’s fans love him, but never going to make a mark at test level.

        I don’t think Brown or McInally are necessarily test standard hookers, but that is why Ford has been nigh-on undroppable for most of his career – Scotland have a serious dearth of options here.

      3. It’s not often I disagree with you FF, but as you say , we will have to agree to differ on this one.

        I accept that the Glasgow scrum was bested by Toulouse and Bath this year, but only by a small margin, and not by any other teams (regularly) that I can remember.
        Even with those two teams (who are two of the best scrumming teams around), I don’t think it stopped Glasgow getting their own ball out the back most times, although they did concede a few penalties. More of a prop`team issue that I can see.
        I accept that Macarthur didn’t set the heather on fire on the brief occasions when he was given an opportunity for Scotland, but I’m afraid that Ross Ford has had 80 odd opportunities, and the heather is very safe when he’s on the pitch. He’s also way too slow to play any kind of ‘organised chaos’ game that Scotland allegedly want to play.

        There may be things we don’t know about,but we pay the coaches to make their selections, whether we agree with them or not.
        I’d much rather have a fast hooker who can throw (Tom Youngs, Cronin, Pat Macurther),than a big trundler like Ford.

        I’d certainly accept Gregors judgement rather than Vern’s on this subject.

      4. Almost reads as if I was aiming to start gossip re MacArthur – not my intention! Mostly just curious to see what other posters think. My thoughts were largely that Pat was 3rd in line to the Scotland hooker crown. Seeing as BVC’s ‘organised chaos’ gameplan is essentially derived from Glasgow’s play, I did assume that Pat would be the natural next choice as he’s first choice at Glasgow.

        In saying that, I accept that he may just not be in Cotter’s plans. I do agree with FF, he does seem underpowered, which unfortunately is reason enough to overlook him for international modern rugby. Although he does look to have bulked up this season.

        I’m not really hung up on it – I can take or leave Pat for the Scotland squad, unlike others (a certain J Barclay… sorry).

        I’m also happy that MacInally has made the cut. I was a fan of his throughout age-grade, and when he converted to hooker then moved to Bristol, I did worry that he might fade into obscurity. Happy that’s not happened. Good direct carrier, which we’ve been lacking in so far this 6Ns.

        Fraser Brown is also wildly underrated. When he played 7 for Glasgow v Bath, I had him down pre-game as probably the weakest link of the team. How wrong I was – if Glasgow had nabbed a win he was without doubt Man of the Match. Very good turnover play – could be extremely valuable at intl level. Provided he gets his darts consistent, he may well shift Ford out.

        Brown does offer so much more round the park than Ford, who Pragmatic Optimist quite rightly points out doesn’t offer much outside of weight.

    2. I didn’t think you were starting malicious gossip BY THE BEARD, you just hit a nerve, as I’ve always thought that MacArthur is the best we’ve got and is unfairly set aside.
      Changing the subject, I do agree with most of your team your team, although I’m terrified at the prospect of Denton at no 8. He’s a head down and charge kind of man, who doesn’t have good hands, can’t pass well, and rarely appear to have a plan B.
      How about Denton on the blind, Harley at 8 and Cowan?

      1. I agree with your assessment of Denton. He’s never really made good on the promise he showed in his breakout season. However, he always gives it his all and was the best Scotland player in the pitch when England were humiliating us last year. Whatever his limitations he’ll be nowhere near as bad as Beattie – a player who has undermined his entire reputation with his performances this year.

      2. I think most on this board share your hesitations on Denton, myself included. He’s a very good athlete, but not a very good rugby player.

        However, if Ashe is injured and Beattie is dropped, then who else do you play? Even if you rejig the back row to accommodate any 3 of Harley, Cowan, Watson or Stroker, then you’re left with little firepower and carrying ability. For all of his faults (and there are many), firepower and carrying are the two things Denton is consistent on.

        I get the impression that Denton is keeping Josh Strauss’s jersey warm. Strauss is the kind of player Denton could be, but until he works on his passing and general awareness, will never be.

    3. Denton – Could be Josh Strauss… No. Someone is pulling your beard over your eyes with that one.
      He will be heading in a more positive direction when he starts running forward.
      Its like comparing a cardboard cut out to the real thing.
      I cannot see the benefit bringing him in for this game. Beattie has experience of French Pro 14 versus Denton just back from injury with his tin tin hair (French Pro 14 versus French Cartoonist look a like, I know who I want packing alongside me on Saturday if I am a scots forward needing confidence in my pals) .
      My money is on Beattie who will has the guile to handle the english rumbustuousness. He has proved himself at club level and is capable of a big game.
      I feel sure Dave is a decent chap in the wine bar mind you.

      1. If Beattie plays his performance will be exactly the same as the previous three games, he’ll be totally anonymous except for when he is knocking the ball on in contact, again.

        Sorry, but his test career is over as soon as another number 8 passes a fitness test.

      2. I’ve been a Beattie fan from his killer B’s days. That said, he’s been anonymous and gone missing in all three games this season. He seems to one of those players whose head needs to be in the right place before he performs well. From reports in france he’s not favoured by the coaches at his club having been sent off early in the season and has only played sporadically since. One of our biggest disappointments this season so far. Unfortunately I think Vern may give him another chance if ashe isn’t fit enough. Having watched John Barclays No. 8 display for the Scarletts last week against Leinster, I just don’t understand why he isn’t at least in the squad and on the bench to offer experienced cover (and been on form for his club)!

    4. ok Bulldog spits his bone and decides to show his pedigree.

      If you have ever played for a club you will recognise this unexplained and unwritten law. For now lets just call it ‘Bulldogs law’.

      Whether you started in the firsts or ended there, or just toured the teams, or when you moved up to district level, you will have observed that you played better when you are in the higher team. Why is that ? Well it is because everyone round you is of a higher standard and plays better. You rise to it.

      I have never seen that adding a superstar to a average team makes it a better team. He usually ends up falling to their standard.

      So – If Potrugal’s Ronaldo was to play in a Scottish Junior team, he would not be Ronaldo anymore.

      Bulldog growls on :

      So – Beattie plays pro 14 week in week out , proven, a no nonsense league, tried and tested, why are we not seeing it in the Scotland Jersey ? The answer is as clear as the ‘you know whats’ on a Bulldog.

      That is Bulldogs Law, written here for the first time .

      What a load of dug mince .Give me an example? you say. Well unlike most posts in here I can provide an example.

      Everyone is bitching about Laidlaw, if he risked making a break from the base (which he will not-grrrrrr ), who would be running straight and fast behind him with all that experience of le francais Thug 14 ? Would we see Beatties strengths being utilised?

      Le Bouledogue

      1. Castres are also last in the Top-14 but I suppose the rest of the Castres squad are also dragging Beattie down there too.

        Beattie has been comfortably Scotland’s worst forward, there aren’t really any excuses – superstars either live up to their reputation or get found out. Beattie won’t make the World Cup squad if Ashe, Denton and Strauss are fit.

      2. Scafell , Appreciate the correction – The Bulldog was never that well educated, never made it through obedience classes, and never one for detail. However the point was made.

        Now FF you are off course correct Beattie is being pulled down at Castres along with Richie Gray. They would never get a game at Edinburgh, a team that really knows how to snatch defeat , like they did at home to 13 man Ulster.

        I know who I (from a players perspective) would prefer backing me up on Saurday, hardened pros from a tough cosmopolitain league versus those who only know how to come second.

        Time will tell , on balance maybe we should give you the dream team and your choice number 8 lines up against England, you can then work out showboaters versus unseen grafters.

        Beattie will be on his Eurpean tour while DD is still running sideways for auld reekie.


      3. Unseen work my arse – Beattie is probably the laziest member of our pack. He looks good when he is being given an easy ride and he can run around with the ball in one hand. When he has to dig into the trenches he disappears.

        Against France he lost almost every single physical contact and knocked the ball on 4 times, about 50% of the times he actually received a pass. He can’t get us over the gainline, he isn’t big or strong enough to make an impression in the tight and his workrate is nowhere near high enough.

        If the best reason for selecting him is because he plays in France it shows he is on borrowed time. He is living off his reputation – if he gets selected it is time he stands up to be counted.

      4. Sorry Bulldog, I’m with FF here. Beattie can be a great player, I don’t deny that. When the squad was announced I was mad that he wasn’t included.

        But I now see why he wasn’t. He’s been our worst forward this 6Ns. Unfortunately (as he once was one of my favourite players) he’s added zero value to the squad so far. Given that he’s always shied away from the attritional stuff, playing him against England would be daft.

        I agree that Denton isn’t up to much and Ashe is still unproven, but as FF says, as soon as they pass a fitness test Beattie is out.

        Ship him to the Scotland 7s team, he’d tear it up.

        Anyway, I hear Laidlaw will retain his spot and captaincy…

      5. Sorry Bulldog, another Beattie comment and I’m with the others that he’s way off form. And this season he hasn’t been playing week in week out for the worst team in france’s top league. Therefore your rule doesn’t hold water as far as beattie goes. I’ve been a fan as I mentioned in an earlier comment but he just isn’t producing a thing as far as i can see. I would give Denton a go just because he won’t go missing like Beattie has this season.

      6. Ladies and Gents , thank you for responding and including me in your debate.

        The Bulldog has made his points and time will tell.

        Bring on Denton, Beattie out, he will look good running sideways to follow Laidlaw’s predictable passess.

        Let’s hope England do not drop down to 13 men and the Edinburgh contingent take a fear of the wide open spaces.

        Love and kisses,

  8. Hooker – No easy choice for the England match – on balance Fraser Brown.

    Thankfully we do not have anyone shouting about giving Ben Toolis a game. That lad needs to spend Saturday afternoon at the barbers.

    Love and kisses,


    1. Interesting that you mention Toolis, I was just thinking that he seems to have done a switch of some sorts with Hamilton. At the start of the tournament a lot of proposed XVs had him on the bench over big Jim, now after the first three games and Richie’s injury, people seem to have their fingers crossed that he starts, and Toolis isn’t in the 23. I agree that Hamilton should start, he brings the three things we missed against Italy: leadership, hight in the lineout, and abrasiveness. I thought Swinson didn’t play badly, and all Toolis really did was scrum, run to the other side of the pitch, and be on the yellow card end of a string of penalties. Give him another chance I say, but not at Twickers. His size and hands will be useful against POC and the spaghetti monster in the Irish lineout.

      Ford will start if he is fit. Cotter won’t drop him. I’d like too see Brown start, but it won’t happen.

  9. Maybe I was not being clear earlier so lets try again.

    Toolis – Another chance, Not a chance, cat caught in the headlights.

    I see on the telly he is training with the squad. He must have showed up at Murrayfield to assist the groundsman and got co-opted for the routines.


    1. So you’d bin a 23 year old player based on about 7 minutes at the tail end of his debut? He may have got yellow carded for bringing down the maul but given it was rumbling over and was going to win Italy the game anyway and the Scotland pack had been unable to stop the rolling maul before he came on, I’m not sure it is fair to make him a scapegoat for the pack’s failings.

      Toolis is on the fringe of the world cup squad as far as I can see, R Gray and Gilchrist will go ahead of him as soon as they are fit and J Gray, Hamilton and Swinson are ahead of him too, but I really can’t see why you’d rush to exclude a player who is young, athletic and playing consistently well for Edinburgh.

      1. Stats

        Does it matter? – 11 caps , 34 caps (according to the warriors web site as well) , at the least it is 880 minutes which is more than 7 minutes and a yellow card. You cannot help your team in the bin.

        Lack of maturity put him there and shame on us for putting him in that position in the first place.

        I admire your loyalty , are you his mother or is it a bromance? do not stick your neck out on lost cause. He is making up the numbers, and will struggle to hold his place at Edinburgh as quick as the next Grant Gilchrist comes along.

      2. Bulldog – that is how many times he has played for Glasgow warriors, not Scotland.

        I really don’t see what your point is though, literally nobody has said he is better than Jonny Gray who was also on the pitch. I just think it is ridiculous to describe a young player as a lost cause because he had a bad 7 minutes on his debut whilst the team was crumbling around him. I don’t have any loyalty towards him but he has played well for Edinburgh this year to force himself onto the bench and deserves a proper opportunity at some point. As does Watson who had already been sin-binned for the same offence and is also a talented young player.

      3. My point was the same as yours. He is 5th or 6th choice. IMO will never be a test regular.

        Why do you build him up to be more than he is ? Getting a yellow card in an international is not a symptom of latent greatness ? Tell me Why do you see that differnetly ? what are we missing ?

        I would concede , he should never have been there, and for that , we need to make allowances, however a sending off ,being ill prepared and lacking the maturity for the occasion, is not the basis of a sustainable test career? I cannot think of a single regular test player in any nation who could boast that as a strength.

        Oh he was not a scapegoat, he did the deed, he made the choice and that is the differnece at that level, you need to make mature choices.

        As I say time will tell.

      4. I haven’t built him up anywhere. I said he has played consistently well for Edinburgh (which is true) and is young so deserves another chance instead of being written off by an armchair warrior because of a bad 7-minute long debut in a game that was a disaster regardless of his performance. As does Watson who got binned before him.

        I really don’t see why you’re projecting opinions onto me, unless you’re genuinely having problems with basic comprehension (which may be true as you thought Jonny Gray had over 30 caps for Scotland).

      5. I have no problems with basic comprehension, though you may. I am NOT projecting my opinion, I AM answering YOUR question UNSWERVINGLY.

        You want to pay around with nif naff n trivia rather that acknowledge that i have answered you and even if the facts are genuinely misinterpreted (sorry ) the actual facts are still relevant.

        In fact you answered y question r own oume, YOURSELF. He is 6th in line and was only there because of injuries to others (your own admission).

        So in order to ground this (and I am enjoying it) I asked you what you might see that differentiates him from the crowd and you say he is playing well for his club.

        As far as I can see most of this blog is about why we are NOT picking players who ARE playing well for their clubs ?. Clearly that is not a reason to warrant a second chance at the SRU.

        Oh we are all armchair warriors, so no point in insulting your own kind.


      6. You REMIND me of another poster who used to USE capitals and spell badly when he got into ARGUMENTS and then started posting under different NAMES because people got tired of his arguments which made no SENSE.

    2. Sorry , cannot agree.

      I would not bin him based on that at all. However you answered the question yourself, right now he is 5th in line and making up the numbers.

      He lacks maturity. If anyone wants to argue with that , take a look at 20 year old Jonny Gray, 3 years younger , years more mature. A credit to the greats that have stoked the boilerhouse.

      Ok thats the bluster , lets look at the facts :

      Gray (20 years) = 34 caps, 15 points, no time in the bin.
      Toolis (23 years) – 1 cap (7 minutes) one yellow card

      If I thought he could ever have the maturity that Gray has right now, I would stand down.


      1. Bulldog – not sure where you get your ‘facts’.

        Richie Gray (25 years), has 44 caps and 10 pts according to the SRU website.

        Jonny Gray (20 years until Saturday), has 11 caps and 5pts.

        Yes, Jonny Gray is better than Toolis, yes Toolis is a fringe squad member who won his bench place because of injuries, no Toolis is not a bad player who will never make a test standard player.

      2. You wish , this is not an argument, never been here in my life before so it seems like you have all the experience in this department. I assure you I will not be changing my name, it is not that important to me.

        I note you did not refute my comments, you just do not like the answers. I cannot help that.

        I appreciate your comments efforts and input, I just do not share your opinion and time will tell. Thank you for that.

        If you need the last word , the blog is yours.

        Love and kisses,

  10. Denton – Could be Josh Strauss… No. Someone is pulling your beard over your eyes with that one.

    He will be heading in a more positive direction when he starts running forward.

    Its like comparing a cardboard cut out to the real thing.

    I cannot see the benefit bringing him in for this game. Beattie has experience of French Pro 14 versus Denton just back from injury with his tin tin hair (French Pro 14 versus French Cartoonist look a like, I know who I want packing alongside me on Saturday if I am a scots forward needing confidence in my pals) .

    My money is on Beattie who will has the guile to handle the english rumbustuousness. He has proved himself at club level and is capable of a big game.

    I feel sure Dave is a decent chap in the wine bar mind you.


  11. I would like to think Fraser Brown will start against England, if only to give Ford a kick up the backside. Similarly Laidlaw should make way for Cusiter with SHC on the bench. Denton will start as we simply have no other options. Beattie has been mince. A player who should have been so much more.

  12. Todays hootsman states that Laidlaw will retain his possion and captain armband. Changes will be in front row

  13. Where did you get your stats Bulldog? I put J Gray on 11 caps with 1 try…

    However I think that J Gray, R Gray and Gilchrist (if he’s fit) have a RWC spot nailed on.

    It’s then a shootout between Hamilton, Swinson and Toolis for the 4th spot. If Toolis keeps up the form he’s shown at Embra, he’s in with just as much a shout as the other two.

  14. It really is a disgrace that Laidlaw is still being picked (according to The Scotsman). He is genuinely not good enough and that is proven beyond doubt. He was only ever picked for his (non-existent) “rugby brain” in the absence of a decent number 10, and there is now absolutely no justification for his selection whatsoever.

    His continually being picked plus inexplicable exclusion of Barclay and K Brown from squads when we clearly need some steel in the pack is becoming a major irritant/causing me to lose hope. Seems to be a lack of balls in getting rid of some people (Laidlaw, Scott Johnson), whereas others are ignored with no explanation offered.

  15. I’d hate to think there is some kind of clique at the top of Scottish rugby, but it’s beginning to seem that way.
    Although I accept that we are short of numbers at the top level, we do have more than one option in every position, and the continued refusal to drop players who are seriously out of form, or pick players who are in form, is making me think that BVC is not the hardcase he’s been made out to be in the press.

    I’ve always been a big fan of R Gray and J Beattie, but they’ve caught the bug at Castres and have been dire. They should have been sent back to Castres after the France match. They’ll come good again, but not this season.

    Same for Ford and Laidlaw. Is the only option to play all of these players until the end of the six nations?

    I don’t want to restart the Brown/Barclay discussion again, but considering how short we are in the back row, the Scotish management seem prepared to let Scotland take a drubbing rather than pick them.
    It doesn’t make a lot of sense considering the attrition rate in the back row, and how short we are of experience in those positions.

    If one of Denton, Cowan or Harley is injured at the weekend, which is very likely, who comes into the back row to replace them?

    1. Well I think there is influences at that level, do you think your local rugby club always pick the right man at the right time, or is it about who you know? Does the old school tie exist in Rugby ? Probably it is the same as everywhere. If they get injured they will just keep selecting other guys who will ‘put up and shut up’ if the incumbents get injured.

      Thats life, do you think the best guys for the job always get promoted!

    2. I think you may be right. However, it’s not so much a ‘clique’ as it is simply coach loyalty. Lancaster gets a lot of stick for having favourites and being too loyal to certain players (Farrell, Barritt, Goode), Gatland too (Lydiate + Davies over Tipuric + Scott Williams). All coaches, from the top international teams to the U13 school sides will have favourites and loyalties.

      The difference is that Lancaster and Gatland’s teams win most of the time, and Scotland don’t. Cotter is evidently extremely loyal to Laidlaw, even in the face of Cusiter, Pyrgos and SHC quite possibly being better players. However, when coaches are too loyal – as I suspect Cotter may be to Laidlaw – it renders poor players undroppable.

      R Gray, Ford and Beattie I feel are slightly different as they were the only real options at the time, the best of a bad bunch.

      On the KB/JB situation, I feel you’ve got it bang on when you say “the Scotish management seem prepared to let Scotland take a drubbing rather than pick them”. Sadly, too true.

      As for realistic back rowers, I would suspect that the pecking order goes something like: Cowan, Harley, Denton, Stroker, Beattie, Watson, Blake. Then MacInally/F Brown if we were ever seriously stretched. Unfortunately, I feel we may have to wait until all 9 of those players were injured before we saw the return of Brown or Barclay.

      1. Ashe will be straight back in at number 8 when he returns from injury and I suspect Josh Strauss will go straight into the starting line up when he qualifies just ahead of our first RWC game.

      2. Agree about Ashe and Strauss, but it doesn’t help us on Saturday.
        Brown and Barclay could be useful now, even if for one match. Too much for their pride to stomach I suppose!

        I agree mostly with THE BEARD about the back row pecking order, except that they’ll probably put in Beattie based on the same loyalty and lack of credible experienced alternatives.
        I’m due to be watching the match with some English friends at the pub, but I can feel a strategic excuse coming on.

      3. Ashe and Strauss are RWC definites for me, but I was only referring to Saturday’s game. Ashe *could* be fit enough this weekend, but I doubt it. Plus, even if he is fit, he is seriously lacking gametime. That said I’d still rate him over Denton…

        On reflection, perhaps Beattie is higher in BVC’s pecking order (not our pecking order!). He may warrant a bench spot, or he may even start with Denton on the bench. We’ll find out soon.

      4. FF – Ashe has some decent skill sets but do you not think he’s a little underpowered for test rugby? Didn’t get much over the gainline much from what I can remember against Arg, in fact he got knocked back quite a bit. Having said that he’s young so has time.

  16. Ladies and Gents – I am signing off and it may be sometime before I return (got to get back to real life). Thanks for your opinions and inclusion. Best wishes for Saturday and heres hoping we have more positive matters to discuss in the future. In reality, we have a bit of depth these days (hence the chatter), so something is going well. let us get to sleep on that positive thought.


  17. Bulldog – As you are no doubt already aware, there is another Scottish LEGEND who was also yellow carded on his debut. Dr Geoffery ‘the Girth’ Cross and he turned out to be just swell.

    1. He went one better did he not – knocking himself out in the process and being yellow carded as he was removed from the field injured. A true legend.

  18. DP – If you’re reading this we will continue to block you. You can change IPs and sign up for new e-mail addresses but we’ll keep blocking you.
    To everyone else please don’t feed the trolls.

You might also like these:

Craig is joined by Rory and Iain to look at the latest news including Scotland's win over Canada and the upcoming test against the USA.
Gregor Townsend has picked the strongest XV possible from his touring squad for the visit to Washington DC to play the USA, writes Rory.
Gregor Townsend has named his team to face Canada in the first match of the Skyscanner Americas Tour with 10 players given the opportunity to make their Scotland debut.
Craig is joined by Iain, Jonny and Rory to discuss Glasgow's momentous win in the final of the 2024 URC

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion