Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 2015 World Cup Training Squad Announced

Vern Cotter has announced the Scotland training squad for the Rugby World Cup at 46 players, to be reduced down to 31 come the tournament. There’s no room for Roddy Grant, but John Barclay will appear for the first time since 2013 having been named the Scarlets management player of the season and making a case all season that has proved more powerful than any past grudges and will delight many. Grant is unlucky to miss out in favour of Hugh Blake (Rob Harley’s being counted as a lock) while there are a few speculative selections including Grant Gilchrist, Ryan Grant, Tim Swinson and most of the centres who are on the injury comeback trail.

Vern has also left the door open for players to play their way in. But that could be tricky given the season is over.

A few more old heads reappear in the shape of Chris Cusiter, Ruaridh Jackson and Al Strokosch but surely they will now assume the role of outside options and valuable leadership/brains trust rather than incumbents, with a lot of work to do to unseat the young tyros currently holding sway.

Project players WP Nel and Josh Strauss who don’t qualify just yet but will soon have largely earned their call-ups, while congratulations to Mike Cusack who has qualified on residency unheralded, Stuart McInally who has kept more obvious hookers out (MacArthur, Hall, Lawson), and Rory Hughes (completing the rehabilitation of the Chip Shop 3/4 all of whom are in this squad), Allan Dell and Damien Hoyland who earn first chances of a cap.

Big names absent are Johnnie Beattie, Geoff Cross, Chris Fusaro and Dougie Fife along with Roddy Grant and Ben Toolis.

Assuming they are all fit come late summer (definitely not the case right now), pick your team out of this lot!



Prop (7):
Mike Cusack (Glasgow Warriors) – Uncapped
Allan Dell (Edinburgh Rugby) – uncapped
Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby) – 44 caps; 4 RWC appearances (2007 and 2011)
Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors) – 22 caps
Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) – Uncapped
Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps
Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons) – 4 caps

Hooker (3):
Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps
Ross Ford (Edinburgh Rugby) – 85 caps; 8 RWC appearances (2007 and 2011)
Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby) – Uncapped

Secondrow (6):
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) – 8 caps
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
Richie Gray (Castres) – 44 caps
Jim Hamilton (Saracens) – 61 caps; 6 RWC appearances (2007 and 2011)
Robert Harley (Glasgow Warriors) – 15 caps
Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) – 12 caps

Backrow (9):
Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors) – 5 caps
John Barclay (Scarlets) – 43 caps; 4 RWC appearances (2007 and 2011)
Hugh Blake (Glasgow Warriors) – Uncapped
Blair Cowan (London Irish) – 11 caps
David Denton (Edinburgh Rugby) – 25 caps
Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors) – Uncapped
Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan) – 44 caps; 3 RWC appearances (2011)
Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) – 1 cap

BACKS (x21)

Scrumhalf (4):
Chris Cusiter (Sale Sharks) – 70 caps; 6 RWC appearances (2007 and 2011)
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby) – 5 caps
Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester) – 39 caps
Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps

Standoff (3):
Ruaridh Jackson (Wasps) – 25 caps; 3 RWC appearances (2011)
Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps
Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) – 18 caps

Centre (6):
Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors) – 7 caps
Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors) – 14 caps
Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 7 caps
Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby) – 25 caps
Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 12 caps
Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors) – 20 caps; 3 RWC appearances (2011)

Backthree (8):
Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps
Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby) – Uncapped
Rory Hughes (Glasgow Warriors) – Uncapped
Sean Lamont (Glasgow Warriors) – 93 caps; 8 RWC appearances (2007 and 2011)
Sean Maitland (London Irish) – 15 caps
Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors) – 17 caps
Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby) – 4 caps
Tim Visser (Harlequins) – 18 caps

Summer Test schedule:
Saturday 15 August: Ireland v Scotland, Aviva Stadium, Dublin (kick-off 5pm)
Saturday 22 August: Italy v Scotland, Stadio Olympico, Turin (kick-off tbc)
Saturday 29 August: Scotland v Italy, BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh (kick-off 3.15pm)
Saturday 5 September: France v Scotland, Stade de France, Paris (kick-off 8pm GMT)

RWC 2015 Pool stages:
Wednesday 23 September: Scotland v Japan, Kingsholm (kick-off 2.30pm)
Sunday 27 September: Scotland v USA, Elland Road (kick-off 2.30pm)
Saturday 3 October: South Africa v Scotland, St James Park (kick-off 4.45pm)
Saturday 10 October: Samoa v Scotland, St James Park (kick-off 2.30pm)

74 Responses

  1. Good stuff. The squad is pretty much as I expected, save from a few names (Hughes, Hoyland etc). While they probably won’t make the final 31, it will be excellent experience for them going forward at Glasgow + Edinburgh.

    A few notable omissions in Pat MacArthur, Geoff Cross, Ben Toolis, Kelly Brown, Chris Fusaro, Roddy Grant, Johnnie Beattie and Dougie Fife.

    I can’t say I’m too bothered on the others, but I did hope Roddy Grant would have finally made it in.

    Likewise with Toolis, who’s been in great form in the last few months of the season. I don’t really understand that omission.

    Good to see Jackson making a comeback from that season-long injury.

    Also good for Cusack to be involved, he’s a rock in the scrum. Now that Cross + Murray are gone, our TH berth does look rather thin.

    Also nice to see Richie Vernon recognised, who’s transition to centre I think can be called a genuine success. He might become very useful with his versatility, and the injury plague we have in the centre.

    And of course, I couldn’t not mention a certain JB being back in the picture – I imagine most of this board are delighted – myself included!

    If everyone were fit, (which of course they won’t be), this would be a particularly exciting XV…

    Dickinson, Ford, Nel, J Gray, Gilchrist, Strauss, Barclay, Ashe

    SHC, Russell, Seymour, Dunbar, Bennett, Maitland, Hogg

      1. Out of the notable omissions (Pat MacArthur, Geoff Cross, Ben Toolis, Kelly Brown, Chris Fusaro, Roddy Grant, Johnnie Beattie and Dougie Fife) I think only Toolis is disappointing for me.

        J Gray is a hardcore grafter and I really liked the blend of him with Nakarawa for Glasgow – a out and out workhorse with a lock who brings more athletic virtues. I think this is why R Gray makes a great combination with his brother and Toolis can also fulfill this role as well as having a notable workrate. I think J Gray combined with any other lock lacks the same dynamism. For me, Swinson doesn’t quite bring enough to test level and Harley is a 6 playing lock, so really Toolis should be in there. It goes without saying that Hamilton is a carthorse (although it would be a close call between Gilchrist and Hamilton for the role of Jonny’s backup).

    1. Think that’s a really strong team but I think R Gray would get in ahead of Gilchrist after the two Gray’s going so well in the autumn.

    2. FWIW, my bench would be MacInally, Grant, Welsh, R Gray, Cowan, Cusiter, Horne, Taylor.

      The bench hooker and bench back-row need to reflect each other. If we take MacInally, who’s very much a ‘carrying’ hooker, then we need a jackler back row, a la Cowan.

      If we take Fraser Brown, who plays basically like an extra 7, then it opens up the back-row bench spot for a carrier like Denton.

      I’ll take the first option, as between Ashe, Barclay, Cowan & Strauss I feel there’s enough talent and experience to achieve a balanced back-row, no matter which 3 are on the pitch.

      Richie Gray on the bench because I think he’s best suited to running at tired bodies in the wide channels and stealing the lineouts of a fragmented opposition pack. That and I feel that all things considered, Jonny and Gilchrist are simply better locks.

      Cus over Laidlaw/ Pyrgos is really just personal preference, but I’ll take his experience and leadership to close out a tight match. He still has a fair bit of spark left in him…

      Horne has to play. He’s too good right now not to be in the 23. I’ve put him at 10/12 cover because I don’t feel that Weir, Jacko or Tonks could bring the spark needed with 20 minutes to go, even if they are more ‘natural’ 10s.

      And lastly I’ll admit that Taylor is a bit of a left field call. But he’s our only true utility back, having played everywhere from 12-15 for Sarries. The lad was born for the 23 jersey! He’s also a very underrated talent, who offers far more than the other options in Visser, Lamont, Tonks, Vernon etc. That said, I’m not convinced he’ll actually make the 31…

  2. Does anyone know what the aquad spilt with regards to positions is likely to be? Also really feel for Roddy Grant who’s been oustanding for Edinburgh all season and is probably, along with Kelly Brown, more deserving of a place in the squad than the likes of Strokosh, Blake and even Ryan Wilson despite being fantastic in the Warriors run in. Brilliant to see John Barclay back in the squad though, fully deserved

    1. Usually 17-14 forwards backs although some coaches opt for 18-13 if they have lots of utility backs.

  3. but…. but…. Girth? What has happened to Girth? What am I supposed to do with this now?! *points at 3 month old stubble which has just progressed past the categorisation point of bum fluff*…. *weeps*

  4. harley as a lock?, Blake?? Strokosh and Wilson?
    No Beattie (guess Castres being pish doesn’t help, but then again Richie gets in)
    Laidlaw will go since he kick and can cover 10…. he shouldn’t though, since the template should be glasgows quick/offloading game….since he isn’t quick
    Nae Cross is a bit harsh
    CAn’t really comment on the outside backs but there are clear 1st choices if fit, but less of a concern given glasgows recent performances
    McInally + Brown both cover backrow well.
    Grant might as well declare unavailable for international now, shame he couldn’t get a shout for another country since he’s been “A” capped…i think.Shame for Fusaro, to be overlooked also.
    No Kelly Brown for some leadership??

    1. I doubt Wilson was much in Cotter’s thoughts until he put in two storming displays against Ulster and Munster. Bristling with aggressiveness, perhaps unsurprisingly!

    2. Wilson also covers the entire back row. Having played most of his Glasgow career at 8, his Scotland career at 6, and now showing strong performances as a 7, he could come off the bench to add considerable grunt to the pack in a number of scenarios.

  5. No ‘bolters’ or major surprises in this selection, considering what happened in the 6N.
    Pleased to see Barclay, Cusack and Strauss involved.
    Not sure about Stroker, Rory Hughes or Hugh Blake.
    Forwards look really strong at lock and back row, but the combinations in the front row will be key. Current incumbents (ie 6N picks) don’t cut it for me.
    On my count, there are 8 potential first XV players in recovery from lomg term injury, and it’s possible that none of them make it to the world cup final 31.
    Jackson, Denton, Scott, Dunbar,Maitland, Bennett, Gilchrist, R Gray.
    A strong team listed by ‘Beard of Cross’which I’d also like to see play (plus McInally at hooker if he can throw, rather than Ford)

    1. Not sure I would call all of them first XV players, albeit you’ve said “potential”. Jackson is 3rd choice at the moment, and probably 4th after Laidlaw.
      I’d put Denton behind Ashe and Strauss on form, irrespective of injury.
      Both Grays will be picked over Gilchrist, with either Hamilton or Swinton on the bench.
      Obviously you’ve named 3 out of 6 centres, which is a worry but I’d hazard a guess that at least two of those will be fit come the warm-ups.
      R.Gray and Maitland I’ll give you!!

  6. The ones I would drop would be Jackson, Laidlaw, Hamilton, Strokosh and Tonks. These players have not done very much when they have pulled on the Scotland jersey in the past.

    1. Got in one Merlot. FF was obviously had a crazy moment and did not realise that I meant dropping certain plyers from the cut. Obviously, others will have to be dropped as well but lets leave that choice to BVC.
      I would love to say that we should field some of our youngsters but, having watched our pathetic U20 performance against NZ last night, I dont thinik that should happen. Our team was pathetic- one of the worst performances I have ever watched. NZ did not even have to break a sweat. I’m convinced they could have won the game but playing at walking pace. I expected NZ to win but not by such a margin and I had hoped that our boys would at least try. Were they training in the pub??????

  7. I would probably say Hughes and Hoyland come into the category of bolters, Blake as well really, but he has been there before. None are likely to make the final cut, but all will benefit from the experience.

    Cross and Beattie missing out is no great surprise, Fife as well, as none of them had a great 6N. Cross is struggling to get game time at LI, hardly a scrummaging super power. We need better than that and Big Mike Cussack could be it if we can get him properly fit over the next few months.

    Roddy G is unlucky, but he has been for the past 8 years and that was hardly likely to change at this stage of his career. There should be no caps for sentimental reasons! Barclay probably deserves his chance, but will find he is no shoe in now, which tended to be his feeling sometimes when he was picked before!

    The really lucky one is Al Stroks, I am really not sure what he brings anymore and it would be hard to see him making the cut as well.

  8. Good squad, probably everyone who deserves has been included with a few disappointing but expected inclusions (Laidlaw, Lamont).

    Glad to see Barclay and Vernon back in the team and hopeful that Watson and Mcinally gets a shot as both have been excellent this season. I’m also interested to see how well Wilson takes this chance after all the controversy this season and his great run of form recently.

    Also interestingly, given the performances at the weekend, our former ‘backs player of the future’ Matt Scott is looking more and more like our 6th choice centre..

    My 1st choice team is very close to beard of cross’s :
    Dickinson, Mcinally, Nel, J Gray, R Gray, Ashe, Barclay, Strauss, SHC, Russell, Seymour, Dunbar, Bennett, Maitland, Hogg

    1. I’m really not sure SHC is ready to be the front line SH. I think he is suitable to bring on if we are chasing a game as his pace can be a real weapon. I think Pyrgos has the game management and experience to replace Laidlaw and he showed that in abundance in the pro-12 final.

      1. Good point FF

        While I agree that Pyrgos had been outstanding for Glasgow this season, I think SHC would fit better into Cotter’s ‘organised chaos’ game plan. He’s a quicker thinker than Pyrgos who won’t be afforded the same amount of time to make decisions at international level, and would definitely benefit from quality backs outside him instead of the turgid Strauss-Beard combination.

        However it’s probably a case of picking the right 9 for the specific game and so long as one of them is picked ahead of Laidlaw I’ll be happy

    2. Do you rate Nel above Cusack as a scrummager ‘Out-and -out’?
      I didn’t think the Scotland scrum was good enough at 6N and needs to find a bit more.
      Also think that Russell-Pyrgos might be a better club combo and save SHC for impact later in matches.

      I’m sure that if players are ‘on form’ it’ll show in the training camps, and hopefully BVC will go with the form players, whoever they might be.

    3. We have 3 top centres (when all are fit) in Bennett , Dunbar and Scott. The other 3 are not even close so saying Scott is 6th is crazy.

      1. Sadly, Scott hasn’t shown his best for a while and it will be touch and go whether he recovers with any form that he can take into the RWC. Horne and Vernon have been playing excellently for Glasgow and could be worthy stand ins. Horne in particular is an excellent passer and understands how to find gaps and put runners through them. We can get bosh if we need it, but replacing rugby intelligence is much harder.

        Obviously, Dunbar and Scott are nailed on. Scott needs to show he can live up to his early promise.

      2. I agree that Scott will have to up his game. Offensively he is excellent but defensively he is suspect, as we saw when he was responsible for conceding at least two tries during the 6N. I’ve also heard disturbing rumours about the extent of his shoulder injury, and that it may actually be Ross Rennie-esque, and Scott lacks confidence in it’s ability to stand up in contact. Obviously that could all be tosh and I certainly hope it is, as the Matt Scott we saw in SA is a fantastic player. However currently I would agree that he could find himself way down the pecking order, unless he proves otherwise as Horne, Vernon and Taylor are all playing very well at the moment, and Dunbar and Bennett proved themselves during the 6N.

    4. Pragmatic Optimist – No doubt Cusack is the better scrummager but Nel is competent (see Edinburgh’s dominant scrum against Dragons) and his ball-carrying/try-scoring is too great to leave him out.
      Both are good players so again probably a case of picking a team for the specific game.

      Billy – Basically what FF said. Scott at his best is top class but he’s struggling for form and game time. Plus Horne, Vernon and Taylor all started in final-winning teams at the weekend

  9. Let’s hope they all get a chance to show what they’re made of in the warm-ups. I’d hope VC will give everyone at least two appearances, otherwise what’s the point?
    I can see the France warm-up game being a 2nd string in order to protect the big guns.

  10. Some food for thought; after an impressive 6N for Cowan, how about he drops into 6 and Barclay into 7? We don’t seem to have an international standard blindside (bar harley who is still developing a carrying presence) yet, and could well be an interesting tactic to try against the breakdown dominant Irish in the warm ups.

    1. I seem to be in a minority in that I’m not overly impressed with Cowan. I think he started well in the 6N, then faded away, although that accusation could be leveled at the whole team. Similarly I haven’t been blown away when watching him for LI, being particularly poor against Edinburgh. I would rather Ashe or Denton at 6, Barclay 7 and Strauss has no competition at 8.

    2. In theory it’s a good idea Jack, and one I’d be interested in seeing on a pitch. Barclay has been playing 8 this year at Llanelli, so playing 7 shouldn’t bother him. He’s bulked up considerably in comparison to the sylph like figure of 2009.
      Like Standoff, I’m still not convinced by Cowan. He hasn’t nailed down the 6 position yet for me.
      How about Harley, Strauss, Barclay as another option?
      Agree that the Irish back row demands a different mindset.
      O Brian, Heaslip and O Donnel would be a quick back row. Factor in Henderson and Henry and they become a large one. (Think that Ashe is cover for Strauss.)

      1. BVC likes all his back row to be strong ball carriers and apparently it is the improvement in this part of Barclay’s game that impressed him over the past season (presumably since Barclay has been playing 8 a lot, but also as someone else commented he has bulked up considerably). Against prevailing opinion, Cotter had actually been in contact with Barclay to tell him what he needed to do to get in the squad.

      2. Harley is aggressive but needs to work on his ball carrying. I’d like to see a Denton (6) Strauss (8) amd Barclay (7) given a shot in the warm up games. I know Denton has is issues (passing!!) But he’s athletic, committed and gets you over the gainline.

  11. Does anyone know the injury status and when the likes of Gilchrist, Ryan Grant, Richie Gray, Jackson, Bennett, Scott, Dunbar & Maitland are likely to be back in full training and whether they are likely to be fit for the first warm-up game? A lot of these guys have been out for a while so one suspects they will need the most amount of game time leading up to the WC as on paper they could all make the squad (I suspect VC has his doubts on Weir since his return from injury thus the inclusion of Jackson).

    1. Cotter spoke briefly about the injured players at the press event announcing the training squad. Dunbar is the least likely to recover in time. He is anticipated to ‘be back on the paddock’ by mid-August at the latest. If that is the case it leaves little room for his rehab to progress poorly not to mention the risk that the ACL breaks down again if he returns too quickly. It is also unclear whether that means Dunbar will have a month for conditioning and will go to the RWC without match practice or whether he’ll be ready to take part in one of the warm up games.

      Cotter seemed fairly confident that Maitland, Bennett and Scott would be back in time for the warm up games and he said the whole squad should be available by the beginning of August. Gilchrist will be in full contact from mid-June, Denton is already cleared to play full contact etc.

      So potentially, we could have our key guys back with only Dunbar being very undercooked.

  12. If we’re adding in Hoyland and Blake for experience I would have put Dean in there too. With Scott, Dunbar and Bennett injured,Scott possible unlikely to come back at all and Dunbar surely out of the RWC unless the injury wasn’t as bad as first thought, it would have been good to give him a chance as our centre options are thin. Solomons has indicated Dean will play a bigger part next year. Also, sorry guys, but as good as Horne and Vernon have been at Pro 12 level I think they struggle at test level.

    1. Scott struggled in the last 6N. So, given the choice do you play someone who is in the form of his life and hope his test appearances grow with experience or do you play someone who was great two years ago and has spent most of the years in between rebounding from injury and flattering to deceive?

      Personally, I think I’d have Scott and Horne in the squad and play Scott if he shows any kind of form at all. I’d bring Taylor as an auxiliary wing/centre if you need a bit more muscle in midfield (although he too has struggled in his few test appearances – has Vernon even been capped as a centre?). But Horne is more than capable of outwitting the American and Japanese midfields and will do a job against tougher opposition if called upon. Bennett and Dunbar could be a world class midfield – they are simply in a different class to the others at the moment.

      1. True. Good points. Still have nightmares about Tuilagi bumping off Horne in that Test in SA! In fairness his defence has improved. Real shame about Scott though, he really was looking world class.

      2. I think half of Scotland has judged Peter Horne on one missed kick to touch. He is a solid 12, with good defense (better than Scott) and excellent distribution. He also has a knack of picking good lines. I’m a big Matt Scott fan but he’s been plagued with injury and he’s got a way to go before he’s back to where he was. Dunbar and Bennett are different class, after that for me Peter Horne is due a crack in the warm up games to prove if he can cut it. Vernon has done a job for Glasgow, very well if I’m honest (I took a lot of persuasion he’s actually a centre, and I still prefer him at 12) and should also get a run out in the warm up games.

    2. I agree with all the support for Horne.Every team I have ever played in has a Horne , never the standout player, a bit of an underdog however more than passable, I will grant him that . However as I see it , right now we need his greatest asset, which is his resiliance and longevity.

      He is no underdog in my eyes, off course he is not the Bulldog either (chortle chortle). Injury has not blighted his ascendency and he will remain consistent and available. Building a team around Horne in it, is a safer bet, than any of the others right now.

      He is an 8 out of 10 guy and on their day you might squeeze 8.5 or 9 out of the others , but they also have off days and they most definately have, carry them off, days.

      As I recall Peter Horne was called up, into a key position, in a key game and handed a lot of responsibility in the 6N. Up to that ugly moment we were loving him. The opposition targetted him, with no success. The kick that went astray was when his leg cramped up, he should have been off sooner or an alternative asked to kick. (Captaincy error).

      The final squad must have Horne in my opinion.

      1. Horne is probably the best passer of the ball in Scottish rugby.

        We should also remember that he would have collected more caps by now we’re it not for injuries – he was called up into the 6N Scotland squad and promptly broke his finger. He played in SA and destroyed his knee and was out for the best part of a year.

        Most players take a little time to become comfortable at test level and Scottish players do not have the luxury of coming into a winning side. I think Horne can become a fine test player.

      2. FF thanks for that – I am just looking at Glasgow this season and when others have fallen to injury, Horne has remained consistent.

        I am not sure he would have had more caps as we have had emergent talent who would have gazumpted him as the threads in here indicate.Rugby is not immune from the desire to find a quick fix and the hope that the fix is always going to be better than what we already have. Even at Glasgow we can see he is not considered the top centre. I feel he is seen as a bit of an underdog, these threads indicate that, and Like you , I feel a bit unfairly. I do not know how to rate passing the ball, however he certainly has found his way through of late and been in the right places at the right time IMO.

  13. Anyway just cos I’ve not put it out there, assuming everyone is fit and available my first choice Scotland XV would be: Dickinson, Brown (needs to sort throwing but Ford needs a bit of a wake up call), Cusack (not convinced by all the hype around Nel), J Gray, R Gray, Ashe, Barclay, Strauss, Pyrgos (Better than Laidlaw, too early for SHC who will be a good impact player), Russell, Seymour, Dunbar, Bennett, Maitland, Hogg. Backs pick themselves from 10 onwards. Forwards and 9 there is obviously some considerable debate.

    Talking of the omissions, Toolis can feel very hard done by, and I really feel for K Brown who wears his heart on his sleeve and has been poorly treated IMO. R Grant, like Fusaro good Pro12 player not international class for me. That said I do think it’s criminal that he’s never been awarded a cap even in a friendly against a lower ranked nation.

    1. I would agree on Nel, I have been watching him and cannot see it.

      Cusack and Welsh are steady, dependable players, and on what I have seem this far, either, will pip Nel even on a bad day. Stay fit with lots of grit.

      Ryan Grant has fallen away in form of late and I think may never fulfill his early promise. We are re-enforcing adequacy by continually picking him. Something not quite right there. This prop should face the drop.

      Dickinson will do a job and it might just be his time when it all comes together. A brave guy who has worked on developing his shortfalls. The most likely front row to have a complete game.My fingers are crossed for him as he is still not there. True prop grit. Shine on.

      It may just be too soon for Gordon Reid however he is improving. I am not sure where the ceiling is for Gordon, but he is a tryer and making steady progress.

      With regret I cannot see our Front rows as being anything more than passable in the WC.

      But what more do we want !!!!!!

      Glasgow have just won a game and the Prop ratings were the lowest on the pitch , so maybe its just a lot of huff n puff in there.

      Personally I doubt we will achieve much without these wee square people.

    2. I think someone has already said it however I do not see Jonny and Richie Gray being a combination. Perhaps I just do not see enough of Richie Gray any more however what I do see is a standard certainly no better than when he was at Glasgow and maybe less decisive and threatening than those early years. I cannot see him not being in the squad but I would agree with an earlier poster, for second half impact at best and more for his benefit that Scotland’s.

  14. I think he’ll take an 18/13 split:
    2LHP 3H 2THP 4L+ Harley 2No8 4BR
    Dickinson Reid
    Brown Ford McInally
    Nel Welsh
    Gilchrist Gray Gray Harley Swinson
    Ashe Strauss
    Barclay Cowan Denton Wilson

  15. I dont want to change the subject of the thred but, believe it or not, I got to watch the U20 NZ vs Scotland match last night. I really wish I had missed it. We were absolutely awful (to put it mildly) NZ dictate the game from start to finnish and our boys just gave up in the end. It was truely embarassing to watch and scares me about the future of our game. If these players have a ‘give up mentality’ at the age of 18-20 it does not bode well for the future. I don’t expect our teams to win evevy game but when they just give up it upsets me. If this is the future that we can look forward to then I think I will remain in the Middle East for some years to come. Please let me know your thoughts on the game if you watched it.

    1. Seems like a harsh judgement on the u20s. They were playing New Zealand who have several players (Tevita Li and Akira Ioane are just a couple) who are already playing every week in Super Rugby. Quite a few of them are playing in an atrocious Auckland Blues side but they’re still playing at a far higher level than any of our u20 players. Just as pointless getting downhearted about a defeat to a New Zealand side as it is to get depressed about a defeat to the All Blacks – it’s inevitable. Things will get better against the other sides who are closer to us (although I won’t be so bold as to predict that we beat them).

      1. I realise this is off topic, will there be a report of the game up at some point?

      2. Every single u-20s player in the NZ squad is attached to a Super Rugby side and is a full-time pro. As Will said, many are already in Super Rugby starting line ups. By contrast only a handful of the Scottish u-20s are attached to a pro-side as EDPs and they probably have half a dozen pro-12 appearances between them. The rest play amateur rugby for clubs.

        It really is not reasonable to slate amateur players for getting humped by a team of professionals. The difference in size, conditioning and skill is overwhelming. Let’s hope when all the new academies are up and running the mis match in development at this age is not so great. We know that our system is producing a steady stream of talent like J Gray, Russell, Hogg, Bennett so we shouldn’t be too despondent. These guys did not play in successful u-20s teams either but the talent makes it through. The difference is the NZ (and notably the English) systems means that even the moderately talented are well prepared for professional rugby at this age.

      3. I can understand the reasons why our U20 boys lost but the fact that they just seemed to give up on the game is the most upsetting part. Rather like watching the senoir squads efforts against Ireland in the 6 nations. Sure we need to change things and get these players signed up by pro clubs at the age of 18 or less but their attitude towards the game also has to change. They were just content to lie back and dream of Scotland. That scares me for the future.

    2. If you do not mean to change the subject , dont do it. We will have lots of time to discuss that later. Perhaps the wrong team to be drawing comparisons with at this time.

  16. I actually love the 1st squad announcement pre tournament whether its the AI, 6N or RWC.Now we need to establish a squad of 31, then we need to pick a team to beat each of the pool sides. This may be different especially as SA and then Samoa are the last 2 games.

  17. Last thought from me –

    Lots of commentators talk about the ‘spine’ of the team running from Hooker, Lock, Number 8, Scrum Half, Fly Half. All key positions in decision-making, leadership and execution. I think from this squad we could put together a pretty impressive spine, mostly based on Glasgow – Russell, Pyrgos, Strauss, J Gray. The issue remains at hooker where we have developed depth without identifying one player who is consistently good at the hooker’s core skills of throwing to the lineout and scrummaging (whether choosing to hook the ball or not). If that means our set piece creaks under pressure we could be goosed when the big games roll around. I think I’d still lump for Ford and hope to God his throwing form stands up.

  18. We probably have about 5 or 6 world class players, a further 5-6 moderately good players and the rest are average at best. The biggest problem is getting these guys to gel as a team so maybe the best philosophy is to field as many players as possible from the Glasgow squad. Of course there can be one or two notable exceptions but I would avoid picking players who are likely to mess things up for us and who have a game riddled with errors. Laidlaw is the one to avaid at all costs and I’m sure there are other to avoid such as Hamilton- a big goy but he makes lots of mistakes and has been sent off in previous games. We just need to avoid players who are likely to score OG’s against us. If we can just do the basic things right then we will have a fighting chance..

    1. World Class ? What does that mean ? Does that mean that if a world XV was picked we would get 5 or 6 in it? Give me strength Neil and give them a break.

  19. World class means that these players could turn out for almost any team. Before he retired Euan Murray would have been in that category and Stuart Hogg is certainly there as is possibly Finn Russel, Jonny Gray, Strauss and maybe a couple of others. In the past, Finlay Calder, Jeffiries and Gavin Hastings would have been in that upper elite to mention but a further three names. That’s what I mean by world class.
    The problem is that we have too many players in the mediocre-average range and they are the ones that drop the ball, give away penalties in crazy places, lack fitness and drive, pass to the opposition, deliver garrowen kicks that make 5 yards but give the ball back to the oppsition etc.
    We basically need a teamfull of Gavin Hastings, Euan Murray, Hogg, Strauss etc but we have too many players like Laidlaw at present. That’s why I think we will have just about enough talent to finish second in the group but will struggle to get any further. It pains me to say it but I really cant see us finishing any higher than 4th or 5th in the 6 nations either. What do you think Bulldog?

    1. I don’t get all the antipathy towards Laidlaw here. He’s been a stalwart player with the odd flash of brilliance, often playing behind a pack that is going backwards. His defence and kicking are better than any of the other options and against the bigger teams (and I include Samoa) these skills will make the difference. I’d take his experience and leadership over SHC’s pace or Pyrgos’ distribution any day.
      Never underestimate the step up to Test rugby – especially the first hour, which Sam and Henry haven’t really experienced (yet). It’s easy to come off the bench and show your pace when the others have all been slogging it out for 60 minutes.
      That being said I think it’ll be horses for courses, and I can see Vern picking different half-back combinations to start against USA (SHC/Russell), SA (Laidlaw/Weir) and then Samoa (Pyrgos/Russell).

      1. Interesting thoughts on the half backs Merlot. I have no doubt that BVC will see Russell as standoff numero uno, but how much will he risk his key players (Russell, Hogg etc) in the less crucial matches (USA, Japan, warm ups etc). I would expect him to pick his best team against both Samoa and SA though; so that would be Russell and whoever he decides is first choice 9. I reckon through the warm ups we’ll see a fair bit of experimentation at 9, the front row and the back row in particular, which will provide excellent fodder for this forum! I guess there will be a fair bit of getting recovering players match fit for the SA Samoa tests too. I felt our main weakness in the 6N was around the breakdown and will be very interested to see which combinations BVC tries to address that issue.

      2. We shouldn’t take Japan lightly. They have shown continual improvement over the last few years under Eddie Jones and are going to the world cup intent on scalping someone – it is a banana skin waiting to happen for a complacent team. I hope we start with a strongish side against Japan, put the game to bed early and haul our key players off.

      3. Aye that’s a fair point. I was impressed by them the last time they visited and they’ve had some good results. Trying to establish a good lead (which I think took a while the last time we played them…) and then taking off the key players sounds like a sensible option. Saying that, for the backs would you have faith in e.g. Weir, Horne, Vernon & Maitland being strong enough? So that Russell, Dunbar/Scott, Bennett & Hogg could be preserved, notwithstanding that 3 of the latter may actually need the game time to get match fit.

  20. I think the words ‘world class’ are not appropriate for a rugby team. A meaningless , subjective word that is best kept for boardroom wags. We have said it all before , if you picked a lions team , how many would be in it? Lets just settle for them being able to stand side by side with their home nations counterparts.

  21. So by world class, you mean that these players would be picked for a lions team. I would say we probably have arround 5 players that would fit that category assuming they are on form- Hogg, Russel, Strauss and the Gray brothers (Euan Murray if he had not retired). Bennet may be a possibility but he tends to blow hot and cold. There you go- do you agree?

    Unfortunately, the rest of the squad range from mediocre to average and that is the problem we have- lack of strenghth in depth. Solution- more pro teams. Problem- lack of a will to do so (dont worry I’m not going to go through that age old argument again). So I guess we are stuck with what we have at present which aint much.

    1. Neil – No that is not what I mean – I just do not undestand the words, they are meaningless and from what I understand a huge exageration. If they work as a team they could get out of the group and that would be a success. The Autum tests went well because the injury count was low and being open, it was nearly all Glasgow players in the better games such as Argentina. so the teamwork was there before the game. Getting the best fit on paper will be ome thing, working as a team quite another. As for the schoolboy howlers , well , get them in a good place with each other and hopefully they will go,

  22. Dickinson, Ford, Nel, Johnny, Richie, Strauss, Barclay, Denton
    SHC, Russell, Seymour, Dunbar, Bennett, Maitland, Hogg

    Reid, Brown, Welsh, Gilchrist, Ashe, Laidlaw, Horne, Visser

    + McInally, Cusack, Harley, Cowan, Pyrgos, Weir, Scott, Tonks

  23. That’s quite a lot of non-verbal Andy.
    Assuming that first 15 names are the team. The ones between Reid and Visser are the subs, and the rest are ‘ambulance chasers’?
    A decent team generally, but I’d structure it differently.

    Time to be provacative.

    Which part of the 6N scrum shellacking we received suggests we only need to tweak the front row by putting in Nel? Please explain?

    If we need 2 x mobile props, they should be on as impact players.
    Remove Ford, Dickinson and Nel for me.

    Revised version

    Reid, McInally, Cusack, R Gray, J Gray, Denton, Strauss, Barclay.
    Pyrgos, Russell, Seymour, Bennett, Vernon, Maitland, Hogg. (Dunbar unlikely to be ready)

    Subs: SHC, Dickinson, Nel, Brown, Welsh, Gilchrist, Ashe, Horne

    Laidlaw and Ford have tried and failed so many times, and been given so many opportunities, it’s just becoming really, really boring. Drop.

    As you’d expect, lots of caveats about how they all play in the warmups and what injuries occur, which could be extensive.

    I realise that this would mean only 2x Edinburgh players (Denton, McInally) in the starting line up, 2 x others (Barclay, Maitland)and and 11 x Glasgow, but that just reflects the current form guide.

    1. i’d agree, the only major worry is folk getting crocked in the FOUR??? warm ups we have. Granted i think ireland have the same number but everyone else has 3 or less. 4 just means an additional banana skin

  24. Too many guys trying to pick their “best XV”. As I’ve already said it will be horses for courses – nobody really believes that we’ll play the same XV in each WC game do they? In the same way VC will mix it up during the warm up games, to give everyone game time and a chance to prove themselves, I cannot see a single player starting every game in the pool matches (not even Finn Russell).
    The possible exception is Hogg, as there isn’t really another (international level) fullback, with all due respect to Tonks & Maitland.

    1. Full back is Maitlands preferred role, one of the reasons he’s left to go to LI. He played there for the NZ Maoris and Crusaders. In a few aspects he’s a better fullback than Hogg. I’d have no qualms about putting him in at 15.

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