The epic post Six Nations chat continues with a look at scrum halves, and the coming World Cup.
3. Why do all good Scottish scrum halves end up crabbing after a few games?
GH: I thought Sam Hidalgo-Clyne controlled Edinburgh brilliantly against London Irish, and Scott Steele had a good game opposite him. I think Hart gets away with crabbing because he’s a bit bigger but it is a real problem for Laidlaw, who denies Bennett, Russell etc, the space they need.
BJ: Is that what the issue with selecting Cus is? He doesn’t crab??
CB: Even Cusiter crabs! People used to have a go at him for it. Don’t know whether he’s cut it out now. Only time will tell.
BJ: Watched a weekend of English rugby recently with coverage of a Gloucester game with Laidlaw and a Sale game with Cusiter; crabbing from Laidlaw and slow ball, no crabbing from Cus, quick delivery and go forward. So is it coaching philosophy? The 10s? Gloucester’s win on Friday night in the Challenge Cup seemed to be down to James Hook despite the best efforts of Laidlaw and Twelvetrees to give Connacht every chance.
RB: Crabbing is semi-permissible if there’s a chance the scrum-half might actually make a break instead of passing. Hidalgo-Clyne is the only one threatening that at the moment.
AK: And he can kick.
4. So the old chestnut: can Scotland win the World Cup? Or even get out of the pool?
GH: Absolutely not a chance of us winning it – that’s pie in the sky, but we should get out the pool if we sort out or discipline
Jack Dmytro Mysyk: Getting out of the group will take a strong effort as it is, not to mention how many injuries we are likely to pick up in bruising encounters vs Samoa and South Africa, we may not have too much of a squad left! Anything beyond that should be considered a bonus, we have the ability to cause sides problems in one-off matches but at the moment lack the experience in seeing out test matches.
RC: I agree. There’s no chance of us realistically winning the world cup but I still think that we will escape the pool stages with Samoa being the real test.
CB: When the pool was announced I thought there might be an outside chance of us topping the group. However South Africa have only gotten better whilst we’ve crabbed along occasionally spluttering into life. I think we’ll finish second with room to spare but after that it’ll take a miracle to see us progress further
AK: Personally, I don’t think a fit team should fear Wales, England or Australia in a one-off game if we can get a strong support.
BJ: Scotland struggle to string together a consistent 80 mins of rugby never mind backing it up over several back to back fixtures. Currently not convinced we’ll get out of the group unless we do better in the warm up games (and with four of those how many are likely to get injured?). I honestly think at least two of the 6 Nations teams are going to come a cropper at Pool stages this year (one for definite out of Pool D). Hopefully Scotland aren’t one.
RB: If Fiji turn up you could be looking at 2 going from Pool A alone…
AM: My only hope is the extra time the squad have together allied with the 4 warm up games means we’ll finally see a Cotter Scotland side string together a full 80 mins. I think we’ll get out the group but win it? No. We’re too far behind some of the bigger boys and whilst on our day, I would fancy us to cause an upset (blind optimism really) in a one off match but expecting us to do it more than once is probably a step too far.
Plus, as noted on several occasions a couple of injuries to some key players and we’re knackered. We dropped players at an alarming rate through the 6N and with the Glasgow boys playing bruising play-offs and Edinburgh going deeper in Europe I worry one or two more knocks will crop up.
On a more general note, I don’t have a problem with Dodson saying our target was the win. It’s perhaps pie in the sky but is rather hear that rhetoric than get out of the pool, win our home games mentality we’ve seen in the past.
5. Are things really all that bad? Do you find any hope in your hearts?
BJ: With Alan Dymock’s piece for Rugby World about a possible demise of the Scotland Sevens set-up the hope in my heart is slowly dying. It was another avenue to develop fringe players and give them exposure to larger crowds and experience pressure situations and it has of late paid off; two seasons(?) ago they were in the play-offs to remain a core side now they are currently 7th with two legs to go. However if the SRU aren’t going to continue to invest then what chance do the full XV have?
AM: Yes, there’s hope but I find the sevens thing disheartening. To pull funding from an aspect of the game sets us down a dangerous road and coming so closely on the heels of the Commonwealth games would be a real smack in the chops.
RB: Especially as they are doing well now with a coach they seem to like and a settled squad.
AM: At pro level though, Glasgow continue to impress and I like the way they’re going about their business but they need to win the Pro 12 this year in my opinion. Edinburgh need consistency but I was impressed with them vs London Irish and regardless of the manner of victory a result is a result.
At international level, as ever, we’re lacking the depth but I sadistically enjoy the air of unpredictability we have. We’ve served up some rotten fare down the years after all but i still believe there’s a very good team in there waiting to get out.
Finally, with the 4 academies still to come there’s always hope. Whether they’ll produce we won’t know for some time but it’s a step in the right direction none the less.
RC: As I’ve already stated, the future does look bright. This world cup is probably too early to see any success but providing this new wave of talent builds up the necessary experience, there is no reason why we can’t be competing with the bigger boys in the future. I remember though that I said something similar in 2012 when Laidlaw, Weir and Denton all came through.
RB: We’ve been “building for the future” for 15 years…
CB: The future always looks bright for Scotland… We just never develop quickly enough to keep up. The U20s look more promising than before. They certainly look physically on a par with other home nations at that age which is a start. If that’s going to continue though then Vern Cotter’s ideas of playing the Scottish way needs to filter through all levels so players have experience and skill set by time they come to play for Scotland. That’s how Alex Ferguson did it at Man United by instilling the same ethos right down through youth levels.
Thanks to all the writers for their contributions. Let us know your thoughts on these points in the comments below.