Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


John Hardie Added To Scotland Squad

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Much to the delight of the guy over on comments who’s been selecting him in his fantasy Scotland XVs for nigh on 2 years, Highlanders back row John Hardie has been added to the extended Scotland squad training for the World Cup. While that guy – and Mr Hardie – will be delighted, it’s sure to rile up Kelly Brown and Roddy Grant fans once again…

Hardie missed the recent Super 15 final that the Highlanders won with a rib injury but is presumably now fit enough to jump right in. The flanker qualifies for the country through his grandmother Christina Lumsden from Low Valleyfield, Culross in Fife, and his brother Grant played for Peebles RFC in the 2009/10 season.

With this news it’s a fair bet he’ll be announced as playing somewhere in the Northern hemisphere next season. Vern wouldn’t bring in a ringer just for the World Cup, would he?

46 Responses

  1. He’s been touted for a while as coming over,… i thought it was all dead and buried and forgotten about.
    Fair enough but like you say,.. grant and brown remaining cast out for a 26yr old kiwi to waltz over and stake a claim, how much did he actually feature in their winning season too?

    1. I’ve seen lots of verbs used to describe the process that happened resulting in Hardie being added to the Scotland squad – waltzed, squirmed (scrum magazine), parachuted etc.

      The accurate one is headhunted. The SRU targeted their man years ago and have just landed him before biggest tournament in the world. His rivals and some fans might not like it but I don’t think there are any credible doubts about his quality. If Grant, Brown or Fusaro were remotely close to being test quality at openside rather than just doing a job, the SRU wouldn’t have bent over backwards to recruit Hardie.

      I just hope Cotter picks him and Barclay in the squad. It would be a novel position to have two top quality 7s in the squad and we’ll need two strong 15s to make it out of the RWC group.

  2. This is a great move. He is scottish qualified and a very strong player.

    Always wondered when they took Blake over to Glasgow whether this was to free up space for Edinburgh to sign Hardie. Adding him and Manu to the backrow gives a huge addition to an area of edinburghs squad that was decimated last season.

    With 4 warm up games there is no guarantee that we will have 100% of our 7s fit for the World Cup. It’s a short shelf life these days in that position. We can anticipate at least a couple being injured before the World Cup, which could even end up being Barclay or Hardie. Strength in depth is the key.

    Agree with FF, if we had quality in this position then there wouldn’t be a push to bring Hardie in. A welcome addition.

  3. Yet another second rate foreign players added to the squad. Obviously nowhere near good enough to make it to the All Blacks national team but he manages to find a best mate that happens to have a Scottish grandmother twice removed and hey presto he is Scottish. Just goes to show how poor our team must be. We may have never had a team that could have won the WC but at least our team was Scottish in years gone by. Our team reads- A few Scots along with second rate SA, English and NZ players that could not get a game for their nation of choice. I’m now going to bang my head against a brick wall and then follow that with a triple Highland Park.

      1. You have no idea. I’ve actually traveled the world. I assume you have only lived in the one place.

  4. Neil with the broken record approach once again…..

    I am all in favour of this and all other project signings/scottish grannies. We live in a world where people move. Period! Look at other sports and decide if rugby residency laws are all that out of line…

  5. As a Scotsman living in New Zealand I have watched this guy closely over the past few years and he is the real deal. In his debut season for the highlanders he kept James Haskell (the same Haskell that started all of England’s 6 nations games this year)warming the bench all season. He has got better since but has his career has been stalled by injuries.

    He is really rated by Jamie Joseph, was awesome for the Highlanders in the super rugby season just passed and was their 1st choice openside until he got injured- pryor took over then they uses lentjes/christie in the semis and final but if hardie had been fit he would have started.

    I think he was an age grade all black. Just listening to the rugby phone-ins today and they are pretty upset he is going-the radio host awarded txt of the day to a guy that suggested he would be the starting Lions openside when they come and play the highlanders in 2017

    He is certainly not a second rate-the thinking here is the the ABs are going with the tried and tested in the forwards-hence the inclusion of Matt Todd in the squadover him this year- Todd has been nothing special but has been in the group in the past. Think of it as a Stroker/Roddy Grant scenario.
    There is also a conspiracy theory that the deep south is being ignored (no all blacks in the highlanders forwards even though they won super rugby)and anyone who saw them monster the chiefs (3 times) and the crusaders (McCaw and Reid in situ)up front knows they are more than capable

    1. Awesome update Ste, I (along with others I’m sure) was really keen to find out what the lay of the land was in Highlander in terms of Hardie’s playing time and quality. Couldnt be happier that the SRU have secured another top quality foreign born Scot to the squad.

  6. also Hardie probably realised that with the emergence of the incredible Ardie Savea (Julian Savea’s brother) at the Hurricanes this season-playing in his position- his all blacks chances were diminishing

  7. Totally agree that John Hardie is a very good 7 and is Scottish qualified. I also agree that Barclay, Cowan, Fusaro, Grant, Watson and Wilson are all very good players and Hugh Blake will become a good player. If these players push each other the quality will be even better. We should embrace the depth we have at 7.
    If he arrived as a 10 or midfield player given the injuries we’ve got, what would the reaction be?

  8. Very happy with this move by the sru. Hardie is in one of the top brackets in terms of quality, and will no doubt strengthen an are of the squad which is already bursting with quality. However, we risk making ourselves a but of a talking point if we haven’t already with regards to the number of players who dont have a scottish accent in the side. From here forward, there are only two more players id like to see play for scotland, naiyaravoro but that’s looking less and less likely, although we may see him play for glasgow briefly, which is very exciting, the other is robbie robinson If he can get his serious injuries back on track. I think hes quality and has something we dont have a lot of. Id like to see him at edinburgh playing either centre or fullback and offering competition with hogg and the midfield.
    That raises the question for me, where does hardie play, club wise? I feel edinburgh’s backrow depth is better than glasgows, at 6 theres denton and coman, 7 theres watson and grant, and 8 manu and du preez, thats 2 players of very high quality in each position, nit to mention jamie ritchie and the edps. At glasgow, 6 theres harley then maybe kieran low, 8 strauss and ashe, 7 fusaro, favaro and holmes. I think hardie should play 7 for glasgow, hes better than all three in my eyes.
    In terms of scotland , its more Tricky, i really like cowan, a lot more than a lot of people on here it seems. And i feel that cotter likes cowan too, and reckon if hardie is in the squad, it could be at the cost of barclay which would no doubt cause uproar.

    1. It would be great if Hardie could play for Glasgow and add to their push for European success but I don’t think it is necessary for him to play for either of the pro-sides. In fact, it might be better to have another pro based outside the country as it will help add depth to our squad without taking up a pro-squad place or cash for contracts. I suspect this is why the SRU and Glasgow were fairly relaxed about Maitland leaving, he was on a fair wedge and it is better if LI pay it.

      I must disagree about Naiyaravoro though. Whilst I would be delighted for him to rock up at Scotstoun he really should be representing Fiji. It is a shame that more and more Fijians like Naiyaravoro, Speight, Hughes (holding out for an England cap next year) are choosing not to represent countries who would love to cap them but can’t afford their salaries. This might seem hypocritical but I think it is different when players look abroad after being passed over by their ‘home’ country because we aren’t depriving anyone else of a test player.

      Fiji seem most effected by this whilst Samoa cap more Samoans born and bred in NZ than in the islands. I have no idea why there is such a big difference between the two.

      1. i actually hadnt thought of that. I remember how annoyed i was when tommy allen picked italy, although its turned out hes nothing special now anyway, but your right about naiyaravoro, from a morale point of view anyway. Theres no chance he’ll play for fiji now though, if he doesnt get capped for australia i fully expect us to pay him handsomely enough to stay away from the international arena until he is qualified to play for us. Id say the naiyaravoro case is a bad example of how the system works, id say josh strauss is a good example, he was a player who recognised that he had limited opportunities in his home country and so made the conscious decision to commit to a country for at least three years until he could make an impact on the internationlal stage.
        Back to hardie, whilst i agree he could theoretically stay in NZ and be a scotland player, surely that will cause complications. I agree he could play in another european team and be a scotland player, but i reckon he could be one of our best players and id like him to strengthen one of our teams too. Id send him to glasgow to be first choice and have fusaro as second choice and the others as back up.

      2. I think Allan getting capped for Italy so early hasn’t done him any favours. He was a player with lots of potential and getting chucked in the deep end to sink or swim isn’t the best way to realise it in most cases. Maybe he’ll come good eventually?

        At the end of last year I said I thought Glasgow needed a test standard 7, a rampaging Fijian wing and a monster tight head to turn them into a team who could make a serious impact in Europe. With Favaro and Naiyaravoro they’ve got the first two (although Hardie would be even better). Outstanding tight head props are probably the rarest of all rugby breeds, but Fagerson may well turn out to be just that. Hopefully exciting times ahead for Glasgow.

  9. I’m all for this. By all accounts, the guy has been in the conversation regarding the All Blacks which would perhaps put him in the bracket below ‘elite’ in terms of world rugby. He’s also Scottish. He has family ties here. His brother saw fit to come across and play in the old country. He said ‘I want to play All Blacks rugby’ but who wouldn’t! It’s the bleeding AB’s.

    Sad to say that none of our options at 7 is particularly lighting the world up (despite the nigh on cult of Barclay, he’s not at a genuinely great team and he hasn’t been good for Scotland for some time) so adding a Kiwi trained, proper 7 that can spoil/steal ball is fantastic.

    I don’t like the residency rule in rugby as I think it is massively unfair and is pillaging South Sea teams that would, despite the relative poverty of their Unions, be much better if given access to the best of their nation. Having said that, I’d like us to keep pinching the best of the rest from other nations given that we are approaching the bottom of the chart in terms of participation. I hope in a few years project players are a thing of the past due to improved training and management of talent but until then, I’m excited to see what damage Nel, Strauss et al can cause.

    I’m also a fan of how this works on here. If a player does well, he’s adopted as being Scottish and nobody makes a mention of him being ‘plastic’ or ‘a kilted Kiwi.’ Congratulations to Maitland on that. He’s been truly adopted. If however you are occasionally not that great then you’ll get slated for being 2nd rate. The consistency is wonderful. If not outwardly xenophobic.

  10. I guess, if there hadn’t been so much messing about with coaches then we would be further down the road, You build your team in cycles, preferably 4yr cycles but given that Cotter has had a year, what are we to do. Do you stick or do you fold. I’m a bit of a piss with the c£$k you’ve got in terms of the national side,… we have who we have and provided they don’t make a complete hash of it, so be it, granted our backrows are good if hardly world class at times, but its nae like we’re short on numbers in that respect.
    Sentimentality comes into it too, a few lads winna get another RWC, granted if picking them is detrimental to the side then it shouldn’t be done but that’s sport, At times cruel (more often than not for us) but at same time, why the heck shouldn’t there be some sentiment if a player has given there all for the jersey.

  11. Scotland doing well at the RWC (or REALLY well at the RWC) can have a massive positive effect on rugby in Scotland. If Hardie can make that more likely then this is a great move.

    You have to play the game according to the rules as written, and ignore all the jingoistic and emotional guff around every decision. Bringing Hardie in (we have waited on him for over a year) is an excellent move, and should be used to push all our own players to up their games and really compete for a place.

    If Hardie gets a place in the final 31 then that will be very hard on some others, but I hope they will feel that they had a real chance and that they gave it everything they had.

  12. In all honesty, I’m absolutely fine with this.

    We were (rightly) sceptical when Hugh Blake ‘parachuted’ over as none of us had heard of him. His name came out of nowhere, and considering that Barclay, Brown, Grant etc were still being left out, it didn’t sit comfortably.

    Hardie is different. We’ve known about him for years, and he’s been on the SRU radar for years. As SRBlog say, people have been putting him in their ‘fantasy XV’ for ages. If he wants to represent Scotland, I want him to represent Scotland.

    Besides, by all accounts he is an excellent player, and we can never have too many of them. I hope we see him ‘live’ in one of the warm up games – in fact I’d like him, Blake, Watson & Barclay to all start one game at 7 each

  13. I had never heard of John Hardie before yesterday and at first I was confused as to why another back rower had even been included. But from reading these comments I have become genuinely excited to see what kind of an impact he can have on Scottish rugby. He sounds as if he would fit in well at Glasgow but Edinburgh are in greater need of more quality players. I if the choice is up to him I expect he will choose Glasgow, which in my opinion would be a shame, since they have three good quality 7s already and Hugh Blake coming through. Let’s hope Hardie brings a good mindset to the national side, I’d love to see a new face in the final 31.

  14. So it seems as if I am in the minority as most fans welcome the inclusion of other nationals to our squad. I find it really sad and a complete mochery of our national squad. We may have never been the best team in the world but at least previous teams were Scottish born and bred. Where is this going to end. Don’t be surprised if, in 20 years time, the best players in the world are ‘bought’ by the USA and that the Scottish team do not field a single player born in our country. The selection criteria is a farce. Its one thing to have a pro club side fielding foreign players and quite another to have them play for our national team. Do they even know the words to our national anthem and do they even care? I wonder. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea is shortermistic in their viewpoint or does not really care about the future of international rugby.

    1. You understand you can have short term AND long term goals yeah? You can even have medium term goals.

      I’d suggest that it looks something like:

      Short term:

      Get the best POSSIBLE team on the park using the frankly daft rules that govern the game while setting up things like academies to build on the players for the future

      Medium term:

      Use the relative success that project and imported players have to drive participation in the sport puting academies to good use while slowly introducing players we think can make it into the team

      Long term:

      Have a factory of scottish youth getting pumped out of our academies who can fill every position on the international team bar those that we ae able to beg/steal/borrow from the numeous countries that Scotland has seen significant migration to.

      Of course we could go for the full Scottish contingent, ruthlessly enforced by Neil’s definition of Scottishness (I lived in ngland for 3 and a half years: do I still qualify?) and have a really, really great sing song before our European Nations Cup game against the Netherlands.

      1. Hope no one lets slip that David Sole (Grand Slam winning Captain of Scotland, not one of Starsky and or Hutch) was born in England!! Neil might explode.

    2. Would you like to tell which teams you refer too ? “at least previous teams were Scottish born and bred”
      Scotland have been picking players born outwith Scotland but with Scottish parents/Grandparents for 100 years or more.
      Ian Smith (joint top try scorer for Scotland) was born in Australia and raised in NZ and played in the 1920s .

    3. Neil – I suspect you just like to stir it a bit – However ‘the selection criteria is a farce’ really ? So what is new in that? Telfer was always biased towards borderers.

      As for always born and bred , Damien Cronin , born Germany.

      One, Frans Herman ten Boss, yes , he played for Scotland, guess where he was born? you are wrong, he was actually born in England to dutch parents, not even a scottish granny. A plate of Cock a Leekie soup and an ootsider and he was in the squad.

      Excuse the exageration , he was actually educated at Fettes.

      I think you need to take your protests to the English Rugby Union who actually started this and the debate (and apparently there was a hoo ha) was won and lost back in the 1930’s when England played the Russian born Prince, Alexander Obolensky.

      So just to draw a line under this, if he is good enough, he is in the squad , no question and all the better if he can :

      Eat a ‘George Bower’ of Raeburn Place Stockbridge, Haggis
      Stomach a square sausage
      Drink a steaming hot bowl of Royal Game Soup wi an Oatcake
      Can pronounce the words ‘Granny Sookir’
      knows that Oor Wullies moose is called Wee Jeemy
      Can say ‘awayegoanbileyerheid’to the doubters.

      What else is there to being Scottish other than oor wullie, good grub and attitude !

      1. Bulldog- at least Cronin knew our national anthem. I wonder if the same holds true for Strauss, Hardie etc.

    4. Fair point Cameron. In an insane world we have to use the rules to our advantage even if it means fielding so called project players. Other teams do it so why not us. However you cannot see this as morally right. The rules need to change otherwise we could be facing a scenario where the worlds best players end up playing for USA, Dubai, Japan, Qatar etc- i.e. the countries that can afford to buy them and give them citizenship. Ultimately it will make a mockery of national team selection processes. Don’t be surprised if the final of the WC in 8 years time reads USA vs. Qatar. All that will happen to Scotland is that we end up with a team full of foreign nationals who have little/no affinity or who hold no obligation or loyalty to our once proud nation. Our young home grown rugby boys will have almost no chance of making it into our national team. You must know that the current rules w.r.t.citizenship area farce.

      1. You keep mentioning citizenship but there are no citizenship criteria in World Rugby’s eligibility criteria. It is birth country of a player, their parent or their grandparent or three years continuous residency.

        Our RWC squad for 2015 will almost certainly have fewer players born outside of Scotland than 1999. So, 16 years of professionalism has not damaged the chances of home grown players making it into the team. The biggest barrier is of course the poor professional set up in Scotland to develop young talent. I’m sure you will share our delight that Scotland has finally set up four regional academies, over a decade after Wales and Ireland did, in order to increase the ability of Scottish players to make it as professional players.

        I think we should also judge the EDP programme it replaces as a success given the bright young talent that has emerged over the last few years and the recent improvements in results from the u-20s. So, the SRU are putting in place improvements to the youth system to make sure home grown players remain able to step up to the test stage. That strikes me as a good thing and totally compatible with recruiting the best players from the Scottish diaspora and project players to fill gaps in talent where they exist.

      2. Id also like to add that you seem to think, neil, that all players will abandon all national pride and ambition to play for their country for money. Maybe im being naïve, but i believe that the vast majority of players harbour a burning ambition to represent their nation and win with their nation, and in some cases if they dont have the opportunity to represent their country of birth, they would look for further opportunities elsewhere. Is that so wrong? I dont think so. As FF mentioned earlier, in the case of some of the Pacific islands, the laws are being somewhat exploited.
        In another point, your prediction of the usa being a power in rugby could be pretty accurate, but not due to your views that theyll sign everyone, but because they have enormous potential, and if they can increase their participation they could be very good at rugby. NFL players undrafted, athletes who dont make olympic squads etc., or others playing rugby for the love of it, they could be a sleeping giant.

      3. Neil – Oh me miserum, you are getting me all confussed, these blokes are rugby players, not singers. So if its blokes that tickle their tonsils you want, get booked up for a night at the Royal National Mod, or mibbies a wee session of the ‘X Factor on tour’ if yer less traditional.

        A few born n bred scots can not sing the anthem either , so if Hardie can not manage it he could just go for the fitba version , ‘Oh Flower of Scotland, Na nan , na na, na nan, na na, do do dee do dee …….and send him homeward tae think again’.

        Some solid advice in that last line.

    5. As a grandfather whose children live abroad I find this easy to accept.
      We live in a small country. Rugby is a middle class game here and a disproportionate number of our rugby players tend to move to England or further to earn their post rugby livings.
      If we have to bring home the odd grandchild to reverse the drain then that seems just.

  15. A lot of frothing at the mouth and gnashing of teeth on this story. I was born in Scotland whole family is Scottish and class myself as 100% Scottish but I have only lived there for 4 years before moving to England. Would you say I have to play in Scotland before representing my country? (I’m terrible at rugby so that’s a laugh in itself).

    Yes Scotland need to increase playing numbers. Success breeds interest (look at Glasgow – 90% Scottish), season tickets and attendances up. Is throwing a team of 20 year olds into the Pro 12 team so they get beat every week going to do anyone any good, or picking an under 20 team into the main six nations? Getting another team into the main euro cup brings an extra couple of million. Winning the six nations brings a windfall of approx 6 million. That would run a pro team for a year, a massive amount for Scottish rugby. We need to balance the team out to ensure we can compete. Yes, let’s put out a young home grown Scots team in the six nations and watch them get beat by even more points than they do now so that it gives even more fuel to the brigade who want to boot us out the competition. Is a no win situation for the SRU.

    What does annoy me is the myth that these “kilted kiwis” possess supposedly supernatural rugby skills that no one in Scotland has. Despite the fact that I have watched Hugh Blake be completely dismantled by a 33 year old part time window cleaner when playing for Melrose, Blair Cowan overshadowed by Hamish Watson in the Challenge cup, Jade te Rure run around like a headless chicken v the Ospreys – Blair Kinghorn (18 and on a pro contract at Edinburgh) is a far better prospect at fly half, and as for Sean Maitland, good all round player he undoubtedly is, but has produced little for Scotland and Glasgow what warrants the tears being shed for him being out injured and leaving Glasgow (DTH Van Der Merwe is a far bigger loss). I’d have Sam Hidalgo Cycle and Henry Pyrgos over Grayson Hart any day too. Is it because these players are Scottish that they give that 10% more? Who know’s. Watson, Bordil and Ritchie are all good prospects. If they want Hardies shirt, be better than him. If Roddy Grant and Chris Fusaro feel aggrieved, play better than Hardie. The fact is both Fusaro and Grant are good club players but not in the class of Hardie (although criminal Grant has never been given a chance). Professional rugby isn’t a popularity contest. It’s not first come first served.

    Yes poor Kelly Brown, poor John Barclay but these guys have played when Scotland achieved nothing so why complain when they’re not picked now? John Barclay is playing some of the best rugby of his career. Could that be down to being challenged to fight for his place?

    If Hardie comes in and gives the young players a kick up the backside to perform better then great. If these young players just shrug and say why bother then I question their commitment in the first place. Fraser Lyle, Jason Hill both Scottish, amateur players, mid 20s who have worked hard and have now been rewarded by professional contracts at Glasgow.

    Also don’t lay blame towards Dodson, Cotter or the Scots fans. The former jobs are based on results and the latter just want to see their team competitive again. The rules are there. Petition World Rugby if you don’t like it.

    People on other sites (planet rugby etc..) are saying Scotland just steal cast offs, and where does it put Scottish youngsters – ask Jonny Gray, first cap at 19, Mark Bennett (22), Stuart Hogg (first cap 19), Finn Russell (first cap at 21 after a year of pro rugby), Matt Scott (first cap at 21), Adam Ashe, Sam Hidalgo Clyne, Grant Gilchrist etc… At Edinburgh Rory Sutherland (22 years old) has shown far better skills than Alan Dell (I admit he’s had injuries) has. Zander Fagerson (18) who did immensely well at the under 20 world cup has had starts for Glasgow and again has shown far more in the shirt than Simon Berghan has. Magnus Bradbury (20) and Jamie Ritchie (19) have both had starts at Edinburgh, Alan Solomons has already stated they will get more game time along with Chris Dean, Scottish born Centre (21 year old), next year. Damian Hoyland is a fantastic little player with a good future ahead of him. If you’re good enough you will play. At the moment without the coaching structure and state of rugby in schools these players are exceptions rather than the norm. Hopefully that will change.

    It’s a balancing act. Scotland has got professionalism horrifically wrong in the past, they’re in debt and we’re playing catch up. We need to balance being competitive and being in a position to win with bringing through youngsters which we are actually trying to do, hence John Hardie being called up along with Damian Hoyland for example. The debt is being balanced. Mark Dodson has stated within 6 years he wants both Pro teams at least 90% Scottish if not 100%. SRU has set up 4 new academies, something we’ve never had but other countries have had for years. The District championships are being (re)set up. SRU are trying to push through a Semi pro league to bridge the gap. Our under 20s have had their best 6 nations and JWC ever. I even watched a fantastic game of rugby between Eng u18s v Sco u18s last year. England are far away better at that age group historically but we played really well with great skills on display with good tries scored.

    People have issues with Dodson and the SRU (the appointment of Scott Johnson is baffling) and they do get somethings really wrong. But I can see that they are trying and Scottish rugby is in a better place than it has been since professionalism started. But lack of money is hampering us.

    There will be criticism towards the SRU and Scottish rugby but as fans we just have to strap ourselves in, support our team and a hope that better times are on the way.

    Sorry that was so long winded!! Lol!

    1. That’s a lot of words Mike but I agree with almost all of them. The only thing I’d say is that Blake and Te Rure are over here on peanuts so I have no problem them adding to our playing numbers and being given a shot. I agree though that neither has done anything so far to impress and Watson and Kinghorn and far more likely to make an impression in the navy blue shirt.

      Although we haven’t got anything to show for it yet, I really do think we are on the path to some sort of redemption, even if there is a long way to go.

  16. I read an article today back here in NZ. The general comments below it were that the Scots were poaching NZ’s best and have been doing it for a while.

    Truth is these players have nothing to stay in NZ for, the money is better overseas, and for a few of them they have an opportunity to play international rugby.

    I have watched Scotland play for 25 years, we are in no position to kick up a fuss about the inclusion of Hardie. I read articles from former Scottish players who are disgusted, I really do think that some of these ex players need to look at their past performances before they comment. As I have read in some comments above, Hardie will bring competition to the squad and get some players to actually fight for their positions. The ones that winge about it are the spoon fed ones that are there for the stigma not the pride.

    I say let the man play, see how he goes. Scotland need all the help they can get. The World Cup Rugby Pool is going to be tough enough. Japan with all its home grown talent!

  17. A lot of good opinions in here as usual. I cannot see the problem, a load of paper talk, just making a story out of nothing.

    jokingly, we would play a martian if we thought we could win the 6N.

    In truth, here are my fact based opinions.

    The days of the borderer or the Edinburgh school tie bank manager going back to his job on Monday after wooing the Edinburgh crowds on the pitch at Saturdays International are over and thank goodness.

    To start off with it is sometimes a Sunday now which is less attractive for travelling fans both scots and opposition.

    Scotland have the lowest number of players by a country in the 6N.

    A satellite TV package will give you several international standard games any weekend from you livingroom.

    With such contraints and competition for fans a wooden spoon Scotland will not keep the cash flowing.

    If you were running the SRU you would be concerned about how long you can maintain fan loyalty and ticket sales. So they will and should play whomever if they think can get out of the current low and boost optimism. I cannot see this man alone being the answer, however, more of the same might work.

    Personally never heard of the guy before (no surprise there as regular bloggers will agree). I wish he was a tighthead and not a back row, we have enough back rows, however , there is no reason not to play him. Even England are playing overseas players and they have a massive resource to draw on. NZ have always played Islanders.

    Go with the flow on this one.

  18. Absolutely delighted. Only problem I have is that the timing could have been better, as Hardie has evidently decided he wants to play in the WC. However the bottom line is he is a class act, he has chosen to play for Scotland, and he is better than the other players we have in his position. We are in no position to turn away a player of his calibre. Given that for me both Hardie and Strauss are shoe ins for the back row, who gets the 6 jersey?

    1. For me it has to be Denton, with Cowan or Barclay on the bench. With Denton, Hardie and Strauss we would have something I feel we have really lacked in recent years, a back row that poses serious threat both with ball in hand and at the breakdown. Cowan and Barclay can both cover the entire back row, and would provide extra bite to our breakdown game if we needed it. Another thought also: I remember seeing someone suggest a while back that Barclay and Cowan start at 7 and 6 against Ireland to counter their breakdown game. What about Cowan at 6, Haride at 7 and Barclay at 8? We’d lose some of the previously mentioned carrying power but our breakdown game would surely be a firm match for theirs.

      1. I’m not sold that Denton should be in the 31 man squad. (For me anyway), Strauss can do everything that Denton can, plus an awful lot more. We’ll see though, he’s a brilliant athlete, so it all depends if Cotter’s been teaching him how to pass…

        I’d personally have a backrow of Strauss, Barclay & Ashe, with Cowan on the bench. Those four can achieve a fairly balanced backrow no matter which 3 are actually on the pitch.

        And I’d take Wilson & Harley along to the RWC for good measure.

        As for Hardie, I’m reserving judgement until I get a proper look at him ‘live’ (not just in highlight clips). So watch this space!

        (In saying all of this, I’d love a backrow 4 of Strauss, Denton, Hardie & Cowan. None of them did their rugby ‘education’ in Scotland – it’d send Neil mad!)

      2. I don’t care where they learned to play rugby so long asthey are Scottish i.e. born in Scotland or with at least one parent who is Scottish. If the latter is true then the player should have spent at least 3 years living/working in Scotland before being eligible for selection. Simply having a best mate who happens to be Scottish or a great Uncle Bulgaria from Skye should never qualify a player for selection to our national team regardless of how good bad or indifferent he is as a player.

  19. I reckon I’m “the guy” that Rory B alludes to at the start of his blog. Since the magnificent Ross Rennie was forced to retire we have lacked a truly great 7 (in my opinion absolutely crucial to Scottish fortunes) Fusaro is too small, Cowan is not a 7, Barclay seems to be on constant detention, Watson is in-experienced &…………… that’s………. it. John Hardie has Scottish blood in his veins & a highly respected 7 in the S15, I have no idea why anyone (inc. the entertaining Peter Wright) would have any negative attitudes about John Hardie playing for Scotland

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