France 19-16 Scotland

This was a game where a good outcome probably looked like ‘a solid performance with no injuries’. In that respect, it looks like we may have succeeded, although we await news on Alasdair Dickinson’s knock.

There was heavy rain before kick off in Paris tonight, and the conditions made it difficult for expansive rugby to be played, however what we did see was an atritional game with aggressive defence from both teams.

France started the brighter with Nakaittaci stretching the Scotland defence as early as the 1st minute although Tommy Seymour was up to the challenge defensively.

After only 6 minutes Dickinson was bumped off a tackle by the giant Louis Picamoles. He was replaced by Gordon Reid.

Scotland’s early lineout out was finding itself under huge pressure with the first 2 being lost, and it was from a lineout that Ritchie Gray conceded a penalty for having hands on Pascal Pape. Fortunately for Scotland Michalak’s penalty drifted wide.

After 13 minutes the Scots are awarded a penalty form the scrum by referee Wayne Barnes, and Grey Laidlaw converted to give Scotland a 3-0 lead.

The errors were coming thick and fast, as contact ball was spilled by both teams. However on 19 minutes the heavyweight centre Mathieu Bastereaud stormed through a Ryan Wilson tackle and a penalty was awarded to France for not rolling away. Michalak made no mistake this time (France 3-3 Scotland). However minutes later Scotland were back ahead again following a further Laidlaw penalty from straight in front of the posts (France 3-6 Scotland).

The favour was returned once more by Michalak who was successful from the mark following another Ritchie Gray infringement at the lineout (France 6-6 Scotland).

At this stage of proceedings Scotland were having to dig deep with some ferocious tackling from the whole team, although every time you looked up Jonny Gray and John Hardie seemed to be making hits. Discipline was slipping though and the continued defensive effort was leading to a high penalty count.

On 34 minutes a Scott Spedding run opened up the Scotland defence and from a resulting maul, Wesley Fofana appeared to have got the better of Seymour and scored in the left hand corner. Much to the relief of the Scotland winger there had been a forward pass from Bastereaud and the try ruled out.

Scotland had to defend some strong ball carrying from the French as the first half drew to a close. They did this well, and got their reward when a penalty on the half way line was kicked to the corner by Finn Russell. From the resulting line out the French strayed offside and Laidlaw gratefully kicked the penalty goal to send Scotland in at half time in the lead (France 6-9 Scotland).

The penalty count continued to mount up for Scotland early in the second half with Gordon Reid penalised for holding the attacker on the floor, although it looked like he was being held in himself. Either way, it was the easiest of 3 points for Michalak who appeared to have recovered from his early kicking blip (France 9-9 Scotland).

On 48 minutes a scything run from Yoann Huget from a Matt Scott spill saw the French winger round Ryan Wilson and step inside Tim Visser. A certain French score was stopped by a great cover tackle from Sean Maitland.

Scotland enjoyed a good 5 minute spell of possession in the French half following a great touch find from Russell, however once again they were finding it difficult to find a way to unlock the French defence. It has been blitzing effectively all day and giving the Scots midfield little room to operate. Eventually a Finn Russell chip over the oncoming defence found space behind, he collected and passed to Mark Bennet to start to really threaten for the first time, but the support didn’t arrive on time and the ball was turned over.

Just before the hour mark, Jonny Gray was unfortunate to be penalised as he appeared to be over the ball legally, but referee Barnes did not agree. From long range Scott Spedding found his target to put France back in front (France 12-9 Scotland).

Just as France were starting to cut loose, and we were worried the scoreboard might be troubled again, Laidlaw looked up to see a huge space in the French 22. Scott Spedding was woefully out of position, and Tommy Seymour showed dazzling pace to get there marginally ahead of him, poking the ball through with his foot he found himself only needing to pick up and run round underneath the posts for the first try of the match. A great return to the international frame for the Glasgow winger. Laidlaw converted easily (France 12-16 Scotland).

As we entered the last 10 minutes, Welsh, Lamont, Swinson and Brown had all joined the defensive effort to keep the French out. A series of scrums 5 metres out really tested what is probably regarded as the second string Scottish front row, but they held firm. More penalties were conceded, and eventually the referee lost his patience and yellow carded Dave Denton. Matt Scott had to pack down on the flank at the next two scrums, and remarkably they continued to deny the strength of the French pack from the set piece and from their heavy ball carrying. There was some wonderful covering tackling from John Hardie who showed fantastic speed to the tackle are all night. Eventually the pressure told though, and on 73 minutes Nakaitaci ran a great line for a Parra and Spedding move off the base, and dived over the line to put France back in front once more. Parra converted (France 19-16 Scotland).

The 14 men threw everything at France in the last 5 minutes. A further moment of brilliance from Russell who found a beautiful inside run from Bennett nearly saw the centre make it all the way to the try line, but the cover tackle was made just in time. From the ruck, Matt Scott spurned a golden opportunity to send Tim Visser in when a 3 on 2 overlap presented itself, choosing instead to float a long pass out to Hardie near the touchline. Visser did not look best pleased.

Inside injury time, Scotland were awarded a penalty, which was certainly kickable and would have delivered a draw, but captain Laidlaw turned down the kick and tapped instead. Despite their best efforts, the French defence held out (Final Score: France 19-16 Scotland).

There can be much encouragement taken from this performance. Aggressive defence with John Hardie and Jonny Gray showing up particularly well , some bright attacking sparked by Russell and Bennett especially in the second half, and a welcome return to international rugby for Seymour and Maitland who both contributed well. Things to work on? Well, the lineout struggled at times this evening and once again the penalty count was too high. On the basis of this final dress rehearsal though, Scotland are looking in pretty good shape.

Scorers:

France

Tries: Nakaitaci

Cons: Parra

Pen: Michalak (3) Spedding

Scotland

Tries: Seymour

Cons: Laidlaw

Pens: Laidlaw (3)

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

SR Man of the Match: Mark Bennett

Tags: , , ,

137 comments on “France 19-16 Scotland

  1. AMW on

    I would have taken a draw. Parity in Paris is actually a win.
    Think it was a mistake to run it.
    Otherwise a strong Scottish display with excellent defence. I hope the team takes a lot of heart from the performance, but they need to sort the line out. What went on there tonight?

  2. Andrew B. on

    Maitland was superb at full back tonight..crunching tackle on Y.Huguet to save him from scoring…
    Looked fit & comfortable on the field
    Finn Russel has class written all over him…talented player…
    Thought R.wilson was poor..
    @ traîner i agree Visser brings nothing to the team..
    @AMW totally agree Hardie was immense! A fine asset to the back-row..
    Anyway valiant effort but….a draw would have Been better … I would have kicked the last minute penalty…
    Lost too many times in a row against the french…

  3. Flat Pass on

    Parity with ref would have been a help.
    Would have welcomed the draw too, but in a pre tournament friendly was happy to see them have a go. Probably felt they’d earned it.
    That lineout is going to keep me awake at nights over next few weeks though.

  4. John on

    Visser was invisible. Hardie is s class act. I would have given the final kick for a draw to Russel, he may need to do that against SA or Samoa

  5. aligator on

    I liked that GL went for a win at the end and did not settle for a draw – good attitude for a pre-RWC game.
    Very competitive performance against a strong French team. Nearly sneaked it at the last gasp.
    Buts lots still to work on like: lineouts, winning rucks, first-time tackling etc.

    Did well: Maitland, Seymour, Bennett, Russell, Gray R, Gray J, Hardie, Denton, 1st front row.
    (My how Denton’s game has improved over the least few months)

    Not so well: Scott, Wilson

    • pragmatic optomist on

      “the 1st front row did well huh? “. Is that because you’re so biased towards the Edinburgh front row that you didn’t realise Dickinson was only on the pitch 6 minutes and contributed next to nothing?
      Suggest you take off the blinkers.

    • pragmatic optomist on

      I haven’t started being rude yet. The effort of the scots scrum with 7 players with Denton off, was positively herculean.
      I’ll remind you of the names. Reid, Brown and Welsh.
      This against a scrum that knocked England back yards last week.
      So what do you do? Give pass marks to the ‘1st fromt row’.
      The adjective I used was ‘biased’. I can think of a few other though.

      • neil on

        Now now gents. Rugby is a gentlemens game so you should be prepared to just say nothing if you cant say anything nice.

      • aligator on

        I will give you the benefit of the doubt and applaud your passion here.
        My 1st (half) front row comment stands.

      • pragmatic optomist on

        It wouldn’t be much fun if we all agreed.
        Being told off by Neil was rather unexpected.
        Satire isn’t dead.

      • devils advocate on

        Far better to disagree as to who put in the more herculean effort than to agree with the regrettably more usual “yes, they were crap”

  6. AMW on

    Does anyone know where you can see the player stats – tackles, turnovers, missed tackles etc…?
    I think even the second front row did ok when we were locked down in our 22.

  7. Allan on

    Tonight confirmed to me that Laidlaw may well be a perfectly sound 9 but he is so far from being an effective captain it’s unreal. Barnes had a terrible last fifteen and totally dismissed Laidlaw’s weak protests at the number of penalties he was dishing out (most of which were farcically in favour of the French) or the squint feeds at the scrum he was ignoring. Then he topped it off by running the pen when kicking to secure at least a draw was what I think 99% of us wanted. Idiocy, naivety and a complete lack of any ability to influence the referee in any way.

    I’d sooner have Ford back as captain than put up with Laidlaw’s awfulness. He played well as a scrum half tonight but we can’t go into games against the Saffers or the Samoans with him as captain when we will need every bit of help we can get from the ref.

    Oh and we would have won that game if Matt Scott had made just one pass. Such small margins decide games, but we shouldn’t crucify him for this as he had a solid game up till then. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who didn’t play pretty bloody well tonight. Even Visser gets a passing grade tonight but thankfully will be replaced by Maitland once Hoggy comes back in.

  8. Ross on

    Think its a shame that we get comments like Visser has no place in the squad. Of course he does! He is a try scoring machine. Defensively he is not solid but a great athlete and you’d bank on him to finish chances when we are on top/against weaker or equal opposition, something the Scotland team has been lacking a bit in recent years. Similar to Laidlaw in that he is at his best when we are on top so I would play him against Japan and USA and possibly Samoa to get us points then put in Lamont or Maitland against stronger teams. He still has his place though, would pick him over Fife for his speed and finish (despite liking Fife). Don’t crucify him cos he had a bad game in tricky conditions.

    Agree with most other comments here, great to see some good performances from a number of players. Russell is top class its clear but could work a bit on his kicking, a number of mistakes today and over the last 6 months, handling is second to none though. Also think we did very well at the breakdown especially in first half. Work needed on lineouts, which is a shame because we seem to have sorted that, even turning that to a strength at one point, then it seems to have slipped a bit again lately as we focus on our scrum and exit instead.

    Overall not bad in the conditions, still optimistic for the RWC :)

    • Ian on

      I disagree. He has gone back to looking left and right before passing off tbe back of scrum and ruck. He was so slow to recycle the ball. Against Italy he knew what to do on rrival. This match he was too cautious.

  9. neil on

    I thoiught Scotland played very well at a venue we normally get thumped at. OK so we lost but it was an evenly balanced game that either side could have taken. Like most fans, a thought we shouold have kicked for goal in the last minute as that would have given us the draw- a fair result based on the balance of play. However, i thought most of our players were outstanding. I’m probably one of the biggest critics of Laidlaw but he played well and seemed to organise the forwards. However, I still dont think he shoudl be our number 1 SH as his kicking is not great- still to many box kicks and garryowens when playing allong the backs would be the best option. Nevertheless, France also made the same mistakes- too many garryowens/box kicks making 10 yards and giving away possession. In spite of that maybe we should not cticise him too much as one of his wayward kicks led to a Scotland try.

    The main cause for concern was the lineout- what went wrong there? It needs to be sorted out.

    Overall a good solid Scottish performance- I dont mond losing a closely contested game when both teams are trying. I think we will alsmost certainly secure second spot in the group if we play like that.

  10. Mako on

    Will make a fuller comet when my head clears but think my first pass, in light of my criticism of GL, should be some praise for GL. Had two good games on the bounce now. If he has any more he may just have cracked that inconsistentcy issue I bang on about. Good stuff!

    Still needs to sort his ref handling.

    • FF on

      Cotter has obviously got a lot of players performing at a high level. Laidlaw was able to play well because we got quick ball at the breakdown. He is a much better player than most Scotland fans give him credit for – it’s bizarre that even after a strong performance like that some fans want to find any excuse to run him down or justify replacing him. We’re lucky we have two SHs who can run the game well and are on form. Most fans would have had SHC in the starting lineup since the beginning of the 6N – he just isn’t ready yet.

      • Ross on

        Exactly FF! It just astounds me that Scotland fans continue to bash Laidlaw and seem to have the scrum half options ranked SHC, then Pyrgos then Laidlaw, which seems back to from to me. Great fan of SHC having watched him at Edinburgh a few times this year but, whilst promising, he hasn’t warranted first or even second choice based on his performances in the blue jersey this summer whilst Pyrgos and Laidlaw have both looked strong. As painful as it is to say as an Edinburgh fan Laidlaw also outclassed Sam in the challenge cup final this year. Fan’s need to stop blindly backing their favourites to the detriment of good performers. This world cup will be a great experience for SHC at his age regardless if he is 1st or 3rd choice and will do us no harm a few years down the line depth and experience wise.

      • Andrew McG on

        I think a lot of folks don’t appreciate the step up in pace of international rugby, and therefore how comparatively little time the SHs have, as well as how little time supporting runners have to get into position. This last point explains a lot of the organizing (or ‘arm-waving’ as Laidlaw detractors tend to call it). I’m not saying Laidlaw can’t improve in this area – I certainly think he can. I also like SHC, but it was noticeable to me when he came on in the 6N that he was also taking a long time to assess his options with the ball at his feet, but that never seemed to get a mention in forums. He IS very quick, but his brain is still catching up with his body when it comes to international level.

      • pragmatic optomist on

        We seem to compare Laidlaw unfavourably with Robshaw and O Connel in terms of captaincy. He’ll just never be as ‘talkative’ or confrontational as those two.
        At least a dozen times every game, Nigel Owens tells Robshaw to go away. It’s his unerring and insidious persistence that grabs the attention of the referees.
        Always quietly spoken, but with an air of ‘casual menace’ that Laidlaw will just never have.
        Personally I thought Laidlaw had a good game on Saturday, even if I prefer Pyrgos.
        I would though, much rather have a hairy arsed forward as captain.
        (NB Apart from Ross Ford who was far too quiet)

  11. Stevomc on

    Interesting split in the fans. On the scotsman board which is usually negative the vast majority are saying well done scotland for tapping and going. On here we would prefer the draw.

    Given it was a chance in a non-important game to win in Paris for the first time in a long game, on balance I think you take that chance. And that’s after thinking about it.

    A good call on the field. A team that sees itself winning, not going for second best. What we’ll need for the World Cup.

    • FF on

      The group I was with cheered when Laidlaw chose to tap – we were delighted Scotland were going for the jugular. It was the right decision in a game that was all about performance and not the result. I have no doubt if it had been a 6N game or RWC group game we would have kicked.

  12. neil on

    I suppose that a win in France would have been fantastic and, given that it was a friendly match, I suppose that we had a right to go for that. However, facing the facts that the French defense was so good and we were on the very last play of the game then it did not make much sense at all. Sometimes a cool head is what is required. A draw in France would have been worth going for.

    Much has been made of GL’s perfomace. On the whole it was reasonable without being outstanding. He falls short in the following areas:

    1. Too many garryowen and box kicks when passing to our talented backs would be much more effective.
    2. Too slow execution- he spent too much time checking field positions, organising the backs etc when a quick pass was required. This time wasting allowed the opposition to set their defense.

    I dont accept some readers viewpoints about his refationship with the ref as what was he supposed to do about it?- shoot the ref? kick his backside in public? Organise a 99 call? The referees decision is final and once it has been made there is no referee on the planet that will go back on it based on what has been emmitted from a players mouth. So I don’t have a problem with that as his powers are somewhat limited when it comes to referee decisions. He may lack a one or two leadershipo skills but I think the biggest problems are with his kicking and slow exection of play. For me, Pyrgos is a far better option at SH and should be first choice.

  13. Ian on

    Can’t underline how important this result and performance was. Do not over analyse or look at any player critically. This match day squad was close to our strongest team, quite inexperienced and still learning a game plan under BVC so it was essential for continued progression and momentum – and I am not just talking about the RWC – that we put up a strong team display and they were immense. How many times do we have a couple of good matches and then the wheels come off? To go to Paris and boss the first half like we did was fantastic and to cling on in the second took a great defensive effort. Well done lads.

  14. neil on

    In a sense I agree but I still feel there is room for improvement, particularly in the lineout and we still play too many box kicks and garryowens. Appart from that, there have been signs of improvement in the last 4 games and at least our players are trying their level best- something that did not happen in the 6 nations.
    I just hope that this is not yet another false dawn. All too aften we put in 2 or 3 decent perfomances followed by another 7 ot 8 of playing like a bunch of n.ncy boys at a grandmas tea party in Essex.

    • Bulldog on

      As I have never been to a Grandmas Teaparty in Essex I will just need to take your word for it. What were you doing there ?

  15. Andrew McG on

    Given the physicality of the game, I found myself (to my surprise) feeling grateful that it was Strokosch coming on in the last 20 and not Cowan or, to some extent, Barclay. The biggest plus of the night for me was the immense effort of both first choice and second choice packs, particularly the front rows. Although the awful turf situation made it harder for any one pack to dominate, for what was effectively our second pack to hold them out like they did was gargantuan. Reid in particular went way up in my estimation.

    There were a few crucial and silly penalties/errors, though, including Reid blatantly lying all over the ball at the beginning of the 2nd half. And what was Wilson doing saying ‘Set!’ in the scrum. That was beyond belief! Russell is a wonderful player, but must cut out the kicking errors as they really hurt us.

    Overall, though, a great effort from the whole squad and coaching team..

    • pragmatic optomist on

      Nice to see that the French have the same turf problem we had with Murrayfield.
      The nematodes can now be treated with French garlic, which is, of course much stronger. They’ll probably add a few more ingredients for good measure.

  16. Standoffalot on

    Thoroughly enjoyable match and a great defensive effort. Thought Hardie and Bennett were the two stand outs. Bennett truly is a brilliant player and for me is genuinely world class. Hardie was everywhere and just showing what we had seen previously from him for the Highlanders. Also mention to Tommy Seymour who bust a gut to win the ball for the try. Different class. Wee bit disappointed in both Scott and Maitland going forward. Both were excellent in defense but I felt were a bit greedy in possession when there were better options out wide. Still good to have them both fit and it’s going to be interesting to see who gets the 12 jersey. Maitland will just shift to the wing once Hogg returns. As for the pounding of Visser, for me it’s because he lacks heart. He doesn’t always commit 100% to tackles or challenges, especially the high ball or if he thinks he might get hurt, and the fans recognise this. Especially when you compare him to someone like Seymour or big Sean, who wears his heart on his sleeve and gives his all. Visser is a good enough player, whose weaknesses are well documented, but I can’t help but feel he has all the attributes to be a great player if only he would be braver and give that extra ten percent.

    • Angus on

      I don’t think Maitland got many attacking opportunities which is why when he got the ball he had a run

      Thought there were a few kicks on the far side in the second half that the receiver ran when they should have been spread wide away form the traffic

  17. Bulldog on

    We came through these warmups relatively unscatherd (look at Wales) and with a strong team. We left some quality at home but they are well tested, familiar and capable of stepping in if required. Tim Visser is 6ft 4, 240 Lbs and fast , he should be a benefit in the air. We will not see any of the training ground moves till the tournament arrives so lets give him a break.

    Radio Scotland were all making a thing of Nathan Hines being the water boy and communicating frequently with the players and the referee. This looks savvy, he has presennce, credibility, experience and can backchat the ref where the players will be penalised for the same. Nice one Vern.

    I think this side is well prepared for the WC.

  18. Ruairidh M on

    Laidlaw kicked hard won possession away. The line-out was a disaster. The last 15-20 mins the referee thought “OMG Scotland may just do it, I better do everything in my power to stop them”. I know it’ a gentleman’s game and I’m the first to walk away calmly from a poor decision but seriously, we get the absolute dregs. Remember the Kiwi against Wales in the 6 Nations – apparently he used to play before an injury – he had no idea and cost us the match. We need an intelligent, articulate captain who can strike a dialogue at club level and continue it through the season. Too many of the current bunch of referees have pre-judged views on Scotland, how we play and what they expect from us. They miss a heap of infringements against us and ping us mercilessly. I’m sick of it. Watch the scrums – we, like Glasgow vs Bath, seem to be honest in engaging and driving straight, whilst the clever Irish, NZ, English, Welsh – burrow in at the side, push before the ball is placed, etc. Physically, the men are of equal size, weight, height, experience but somehow one team gets ownded every time – it’s bullshit. If you disagree, fair enough but just consider this. Scotland gave away a penalty(1st one of the match at a lineout for a shove in the air by Gray – looked pretty petty but fair enough – he made contact). Very next line-out – Gray has the ball ripped from his hands in mid-air and it’s a turnover. Ref thinks that’s ok? It’s the little things that make a difference. Where’s tha captain having a word?

    • Angus on

      Laidlaw did speak to the ref who told him what the French were doing was completely different. GL looked confused and didn’t have a comeback but in fairness neither did I

      • Michael on

        If you watch the two moments again. You’ll see that Richie is actually grabbing out at the frenchman as he is tipping over due to his lifters. He grabs at the back of his opponents shirt, which could be dangerous if he upended him. The frenchman however is making a fair attempt for the ball, yes on the very edge of legality by going for Ritchie’s arms, but he isnt causing a risky situation to jumper himself.

  19. Standoffalot on

    On a side note, I was at the Glasgow game before it as per and Barclay was hands down the best player on the park, admittedly against an abject Glasgow side. Still find it very difficult to understand why he was overlooked. I’m all for Hardie being first choice 7, but I don’t see how he can maintain that level of intensity over 4 games in such a short period of time. Just saying.

    • pragmatic optomist on

      ‘ABJECT’ was the same word I thought about the Glasgow performance last night. The young guys need to step up, but they didn’t perform to their best last night.
      In the first half they didn’t receive much encouragement from the senior players either. If they don’t step up, Glasgow will be a long way behind in the Pro 12 when the world cup finishes.

      • Andy on

        In fairness, Glasgow were missing around 20 players to WC duty so the squad is bare bones. The likes of Bryce x 2, Wight etc. will never be good enough so this type of result was expected.

    • Bulldog on

      It will be tough, however the second half showed improvement and I am hoping it is a confidence thing. As long as we do enough to be in the top 4 , I

  20. Matto on

    I think we can take a lot from this. The game was effectively a draw, but Laidlaw opted to go for the win in keeping with the spirit of it being a warm up match. Of course he would have kicked it if it had been in a tournament proper. I actually argued the opposite of that at the time, as it would have been very nice to come away with a result from Paris after so many years, but I can see I was wrong. Scotland were serving up some nice clean ball and Laidlaw did very well on the back of that. His kicking from the spot was excellent too. Visser was indeed largely absent, but the ball rarely made it out to his wing. Maitland was my choice of the back 5. Busy, tricky, error free, and excellent try saving defensive work. The defense as a whole was very good and miles ahead of the 6 Nations. No idea what was going on in the lineout? It looked to me like France were reading it, rather than any technical failing by any of our players. Something that needs corrected at any rate.

  21. pragmatic optomist on

    It’s the first time for many years that I’ve seen Scotland play and didn’t think that they would cave in to severe pressure within their own 22. Stoic and muleish. Formidable.
    The defence was superb from 1 to 23 and they fought the French in a slugfest all night.
    Considering how well the scrum stood up to the onslought, the line-out was a huge dissapointment.
    Our throw-ins were a lottery from start to finish.
    How were France able to exert so much pressure on our line-out, while we could exert so little on theirs? I believe Richie Gray stole one of their throws and we caught a deflection, but I counted that we lost our first 5 throws into the lineout and it was a struggle all night.
    Otherwise there were no poor performances from any of the Scots on show, although I did want to smack Scott when he threw that stupid miss pass straight into touch. I thought he’d been rediscovering much of his old form up to that point.
    No issues with Laidlaw refusing to kick and going for the win.
    Shows some bottle.

  22. AMW on

    Agree with an earlier comment that the team looks well prepared and thankfully we have no serious injuries (Dickinson aside). We were not outgunned up front and I was encouraged by how many French had to be substituted due to injury … our boys were properly hard last night. So we have a strong pack and a back line that can open up teams. We lost last night because we botched the line out – threw too long. This needs to be sorted but other than that, we are looking very competitive.
    As an aside, I thought Wayne Barnes had a pretty balanced game. He caught the forward pass on Fofana’s try and pinged the Scots & French in a pretty even handed way.

    • Angus on

      I don’t believe that pass was in any way forward. It was just that from the side line the camera showed it looking as if the action was forward which is what the touchie reported

  23. Kevin on

    I thought it was a good performance by Scotland last night. The French tried to bully us in the forwards and take control of the play but failed. At no point did they have sustained control of the game and I think that was not down to an off night for les bleus but to the quality of our forward play. I thought the front row were excellent and Gordon Reid in particular was immense.

    My man of the match was probably Bennett who carries real threat every time he gets the ball. I thought there a lot of good performances throughout the team. Below par for me were Wilson and R Gray ( whom I’d replace with Strauss and Gilchrist in 1st choice line up ). Thought Matt Scott was okay until the missed pass but his decision making under pressure also cost us a try in the 6N against Wales and I would start with Horne as partner for Bennett.

    Negative aspects for me were the much mentioned line outs ( especially the kamikaze one after we’d held the French out for 4-5 mins ) and the poor quality of tactical kicking from 9 and 10 ( though both had reasonable games overall ).

    Oh and I’d definitely have kicked the penalty for 19-19. Someone has already made the point – the chances of us breaking a very powerful and well marshalled French defence from 10 metres out were very small indeed !

  24. aligator on

    Like most of the postings above, I think that Scotland were very competitive, with lots of heart & never overwhelmed physically. All this against one of the best teams and one that had dominated England last week. Our defense was truly heoric and our attack penetrating when they got a chance.

    Good to see all that VC has already achieved with this group. This is now truly a competitive and physical team for the RWC. Now on to a few more technical things to fix like the lineout and Scott passing etc.

  25. Bruce on

    i am intrigued by who was calling the line out, presume Gray Jnr. I also wonder who called in his absence later? It creaked a little to often for my liking, this was an area where Wilson did appear to be on top his game. With some of criticism I am intrigued to know how much many games Wilson, Scott, Bennett and Maitland have played in the last 6 months. Is it possible that we are coming to the boil just in time.
    My main point is a fair critique of this team is compared to Italy and Ireland in the 6N we are very a very different outfit. Has anyone heard a bad word about Hardies performance last night? Such strength at the breakdown and in the tackle, I for one am very impressed.

    • pragmatic optomist on

      Hardie is one helluva player and I’m as impressed as you are. I still have an issue with him being the only true open side in the squad and think we we might regret this.
      I’d rather have had an extra open side than a third scrum half.
      I don’t remember any of the players talking about the line out calls, but I’d be surprised if J Gray made the calls rather than big brother?

      • Stevomc on

        Richie Gray isn’t a line out caller, or at least wasn’t able to at 6 nations time. His wee brother is along with jim Hamilton. Not sure about Gilchrist but presume he can.

  26. Matto on

    I am looking forward to getting France on our home turf in the 6 Nations now. We willingly let them off the hook yesterday, but we are overdue a result on them. I actually expect it.

  27. John mc on

    Really interesting thread to read. I could only hear the last five minutes with BlackBerry pressed to ear in Menorca! So pleased to read we were not outmuscled up front. As the last warm up before the RWC, this could have been the kind of morale crushing episode some of us feared it might be. It must have given France a real shock, and no doubt all other major sides will have sat up and paid close attention to this Scotland performance. Well done, Vern, back up team – and most importantly, the players.

  28. yaya on

    Watched the match on French telly. Their coach and some players were an embarrassment (Pape, Dussautoir) in saying all that counted was a win, which they deserved. I can only imagine they didn’t realise Scotland passed up the injury time penalty.

    I have to say everyone else in France I spoke to was stunned by that decision. Scotland lost, but won massive respect last night, showed a lot of character!

  29. Douglas H on

    The error count still is pretty horrendous. I am not convinced it is going to improve during the pressure of a World Cup. The arguments about 7 during th six nations was about ball winners. Hardie is undoubtedly a good player. I don’t know why SJ didn’t cap him a few years ago. The process of parachuting him into the squad and jettisoning everyone else is crazy. Please don’t say Ryan Wilson as back up is a better 7 than Cowan or Barclay! The chat is all about performance this is professional sport we snatched defeat from the hands of victory the time to win has arrived.

    • Spandex on

      We tried to get Hardie over a year ago but the NZRU/ Highlanders played hardball and made him see out his contract, there was nothing the SRU could do about it.

  30. Matto on

    I see Samoa just sneaked past Wasps at the weekend. Anyone know how close their team in this game and against the Barbarians has been to their 1st choice RWC squad?

    • Stevomc on

      I don’t know that, but I wouldn’t have thought that either Samoa or the USA would get within 3 points and striking distance of a win in Paris. So this performance bodes well, but we need to be able to handle the situation when it is us 3 points ahead with 2 mins to go against Samoa or USA. Otherwise we are stuffed!

  31. Ian on

    Good positive comments from everyone on a great team performance. Taking it to the French and then soaking up huge pressure in Paris was a fantastic achievement from firstly a relatively inexperienced team and secondly a team where a large number of players have played little rugby the last few months. Picking up on an earlier comment I think this has really helped us. Wales, Ireland and England all appear jaded to me. We played at an intensity with skill levels and discipline – even though a warm up – that seems to show this team under Cotter is just coming together nicely. That is what I wanted not nessasarily a win, however should have taken the kick and come away with the draw. Never mind it’s done and I’m happy – great performance.

  32. coully on

    I’d hae kicked for the draw, gives us more credit and it’s not a loss for us or a win for the french so would cheese them off and give us more of a fillip than glorious defeat (hate that cliche). 2 front rows of almost equal standing. Quite a novelty to replace one unit with another, and the series of 5m scrums were immense (as a lock i didna fancy being in any of them though :) ) I will say though that the hero miss pass didn’t need to be done, miss one but not 2, that sent me apoplectic.
    We seemed content to defend narrow and then scramble wide. Couldn’t believe my eyes for seymours try,… a genuine treat to see.

    • FF on

      Two things about that try –

      Laidlaw showed superb vision to see Spedding was out of position and then put in a pinpoint kick for Seymour to run onto. Really good heads up rugby.

      How unbelievably slow was Spedding? He’s a big lump and his straight line speed isn’t bad but he has the turning circle of an oil tanker and Seymour must have taken 20 yards off him.

      • FF on

        Well he didn’t miskick it, and he kicked it towards an acre of open space whilst Seymour was stood right up in the line to chase. The only surprising thing about it was that Spedding and the French wing had conspired between them to leave a gaping hole in their back field so instead of Seymour making a tackle he just had to pick it up and stroll over the try line. There is absolutely no reason to think it wasn’t intentional unless you are one of those Scotland fans who has a pathological inability to give credit to Laidlaw when he does something well.

  33. neil on

    FF- you must admit it that the try was a bit of a fluke. I’m absolutely convinced therre was only one thing on Laidlaw’s mind- boot the ball in any old direction up the park to relkieve pressure on the team. It was just fortunate that Seymour spotted an opportunity and that spedding was slow and complacent. Even then he was fortunate with the bounce of the ball. So you can compliment Seymour for spotting an opportunity but please dont give Laidlaw any credit for it becaue it was unplanned and a bit of a fluke. For the roecord Spedding was not out of position- he was simply slow to react and a bit complacent- it happens to the best of us. On the other side of the coin, Laidlaw’s wayward kicking put our team under tremendous pressure during other parts of the game- not good at all!

    • Matto on

      “Bias is an inclination of temperament or outlook to present or hold a partial perspective, often accompanied by a refusal to consider the possible merits of alternative points of view. People may be biased toward or against an individual, a race, a religion, a social class, a political party, or a species. Biased means one-sided, lacking a neutral viewpoint, not having an open mind. Bias can come in many forms and is often considered to be synonymous with prejudice or bigotry.”

    • Merlot on

      Laidlaw went for that kick into space – he looked up and saw the space. Whether he knew that Spedding was a bit slow off the mark or that Tommy was in position to chase is neither here nor there. He saw where the space was, kicked into it. Maybe it wasn’t well executed and he meant it to bounce into touch, maybe it went exactly as he wanted. We’ll never know unless he owns up to it, but either way it put pressure on Spedding to either deal with it,probably putting it into touch for us to have an attacking lineout, or not, in which case we saw what happened.
      neil – it’s obvious you don’t like box kicks or garryowens, but every team uses them and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but sometimes they are the only serious choice. Running everything (especially out of our 22) just gives the oppo a chance for a turnover or penalty at any ruck.

    • FF on

      Neil – you are a WUM.

      No genuine rugby fan could be so consistently wrong about everything that happens on a rugby pitch unless they are taking the piss.

      • neil on

        Well for a start I’m in no way biased against Laidlaw and will always give credit where it is due. In an earlier message I disagreed with fans about him not doing enough to suck up to the ref. A.se licking refs is cringe worthy but, to his credit he just concentrated on the game without getting involved in that nonsense.
        Regarding the kick, I think FF is living in cloud cookoo land. It clearly was just one of his kick and hopes into nowhere. 99 times out of 100 Spedding would have picked up the ball and kicked it to touch. On this occasion he was slow and complacent. Seymour was amazingly fast to get to the ball but, even when he did, he got a lucky touch/bounce. In any case, had Laidlaw played the ball to the backs instead of kicking it there would have been an outside chance we would have scored in any case.
        So for the record I have nothing against Laidlaw and I think he played slightly better on Saturday. The problem I have is with his kicking game and the fact that he does not feed ball to the backs quickly enough.

        FF- if you must criticize me at least do credit to yourself by offering reasons why you disagree with me. Just posting sweeping statements shows a lack of ingenuity. Come to think of it- just like Laidlaw’s kicking and passing game. Are you related?

  34. neil on

    Does anyone know how Strauss got on iwhen playing for Glasgow against the Scarlets. He is a great player but I have concerns that he may be a bit rusty, having not played so much since May.

    • Andrew McG on

      Like most of the team, he was pretty anonymous in the first half – not one single carry! Gregor lit a fire under the team in the second half and obviously asked his senior players to step up, so he carried powerfully on a few occasions without doing anything too dramatic that I can remember. He certainly didn’t seem quite as explosive as Denton has been in recent performances. Hopefully, he’ll peak at just the right time for the final group matches.

      • Standoffalot on

        I’m a massive fan of Strauss but on Saturday he played like a man trying to avoid injury. That said the rest of the team were poor as well, particularly in the first half. I think we’ll see the real Strauss when he pulls on the navy blue.

      • neil on

        Probably just needs a bit of match practice. If we field him against Japan and USA that should be enough to get him in shape.

  35. Eoin on

    I personally think the decision to run the ball in injury time was exactly the right one – you could see that all the players knew that at that point they could have at the very least drawn the game, and they recognised that all the upside was in going for the win, with no real downside. That reflects a level of confidence in their own abilities that we haven’t seen in a Scotland side for many years – bravo! I think we might just be in a cracking position for the RWC, but am trying desparately not to get my hopes up

  36. John Mc on

    Interesting and thoughtful article by Tom English on the Beeb website yesterday. He was critical of Scotland’s decision making and execution at crucial points towards the end of the Test. But his underlying theme was how frustrating it was to have battled so well to get into very rare win territory in SdF and then not finish it off. Altogether a considered piece containing another strand of how well this squad is developing under VC.

    • Merlot on

      I read it as “same old Scotland”. Failing to close out the match. Only one proper mistake – the lineout going long – but it led to the French try. In the 6N it was the same (against France and Wales and definitely Italy) where we had chances and competed well but still came away with nothing.
      The call for the lineout was wrong, the execution worse, and then defensive errors to compound the mistake. Everything which happened afterwards was positive, but that final lineout was inexcusable.
      The thing I agree with is that these are the sorts of things we can correct and plan for – what we cannot do is fix a crumbling scrum or a back row that can’t get over the gain line or a back line which fails to put the tries away, all of which I think we have now.

  37. neil on

    So here’s a question- assuming we do reach the semis what do you recon the chances are of us winning the tournament? On present form (an I do stress present form as things can change in a heartbeat with Scotland) I think we are every bit as good as other 6 nation temas. There does not seem much between them, though I would say that Italy will struggle.

    I just wonder- Scotland world champions? If we play to out absolute potential in the QF, SF and finals does anyone think we have a chance to win it?

    A lot seems to depend on getting the rub of the green as we are not good at winning close games. We also need to play to form but, after the group stages we would only have to win another 3 games. Let me know what you think?

    • FF on

      If we are every bit as good as the other 6 Nations team, why was the last time we beat any other 6N side apart from Italy, against Ireland in 2013? That’s two and a half years ago. Our form extends to beating Italy twice.

    • Stevomc on

      We are around 10th in the world. Getting to the quarter finals would be a par tournament, which is good. Semis would be utterly amazing. Final? No chance!

      Am I being negative? It’s just how I feel about it.

    • Matto on

      I don’t think it’s negative. We can all have hope and belief in these players (at least they seem to believe in themselves for the first time in quite a while), but you also have to consider all of the other teams, who will be doing there best to progress, and many of whom are starting from a better baseline than us. I think Wales could really struggle now. I actually don’t think Ireland are going to excel as predicted (unless Schmidt has been holding a lot back, which is entirely possible). Beyond that you can’t predict anything with France, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the last 4 (or knocked out in the group stages…). England will be there or thereabouts, as will SA, and Australia. No need to mention the ABs. So England, NZ, SA, Australia, all well beyond us on current form. Then you still have France, Ireland, and Wales, none of which we’ve got a good record against in recent years. And then you still have the likes of Argentina, Fiji and Samoa, who are actually more around our level given the form. Until we actually do something to show we are better than those teams, then you’re not being negative.

    • pragmatic optomist on

      I do think we’ll make the quarter finals and that we might even top the group. The Boks are having a rough time in many ways and are not the force they were. The game is also in the UK which will give us an advantage.
      We have the players to beat anyone on a good day, but I’d prefer Wales or Australia anywhere,than playing England at Twickenham in front of 85,000.

      • Matto on

        Absolutely agree with that. What a quandry it would be for the Twickenham faithful to choose between Scotland and either of Australia or Wales. Could be the quietest crowd ever. We do have a strong starting team (now that the breakdown power issue seems resolved) my fear would be our depth. I know it has improved, but I think we could be badly exposed by a handful of injuries compared to a number of the other teams.

    • Bulldog on

      Get out the group first then we can answer that question based on the injury status, experience of games played in a competative situation and the oppositions injury position. However getting out that group will be success for Scotland.

  38. AMW on

    I agree that if we get out the group we will have played to our normal ranking. However, the games against Italy and France show we are currently playing above this ranking. I think our first team would beat Ireland right now and they are 3rd (or were). Our pro teams are regularly beating Irish teams now (GLA thumped Munster in the pro12 and EDI have just beaten Leinster) so this team knows how to beat the Irish …. and they are an older team.
    We have also managed to beat Oz, SA and Arg in the recent past. I think our problem will be England and ABs. Home advantage for England will be massive and 100 years of rugby supremacy for ABs will really make it difficult. But Vern is a Kiwi and this will help us.

  39. Angus on

    Great overall performance. A lot still to work on but still heading in the right direction. I think BVC and the World Cup have arrived together at the right time because it gives him so much more time to develop the group

    Time that would not have been available for a 6 nations

    Keep it going guys

  40. Matto on

    He’s going through the concussion protocols according to an article in the Scotsman. Hopefully it all goes well and he’ll be fit to start.

  41. Ian on

    You know what guys everyone is getting on hung up on the RWC. I am far more concerned watching these recent performances about next years six nations and beyond. I am sick of my team being the fall guy and competing with bloody Italy for the wooden spoon. The question is are we achieving any kind of parity with Wales and Ireland? The answer I feel now is YES I think we are nearly there and finally caught them up post professional era. World Cup? We should get out the group – again not to will knock us back to the dark old days again. What happens after that depends on who we play, keeping mistakes to a minimum, injuries and confidence.

    • FF on

      I think next year’s 6N should be exciting with Cotter’s own backroom team finally in situ. Hopefully Jason O’Halloran will add a little accuracy and new ideas to our attacking promise. Humphries’ contract expires after the world cup too so with any luck we’ll see the man who oversaw the collapse of our breakdown and set piece play out the door. Not sure if Hines will be made the forward coach or if Cotter has other plans but at least we’ll know that for two 6Ns at least, the buck stops with Vern.

      We really need to beat France in Murrayfield, should have beaten them two seasons ago, could have beaten them last season, could have beaten them last week. We just need to get across the line. Italy is a game we have to win for it to be a successful season. Then, win any one of the remaining three games would result on our best 6N since 2006.

    • Bulldog on

      The world cup is next on the horizon (so we are focussed on that) and it looks like VC has really galvanised a squad.

      Just look at the talent that is not going , that is an indication of depth which should carry through to the 6N. For me Scotland’s games always hinge on incidents (the commentators call them fine margins) such as the sin bin of Finn Russell against Wales. There is always an incient where we lose confidence and shape however in these warm ups I can see Scotland having confidence to ride the unforseen incidents. The refereeing of the Scrum in Turin for example, was poor, however we rode that out , in the past we would have let it get to us.

      With regret, I can see the WC and 6N having a significant impact on the Pro Sides. There is a rumour that Glasgow have more players committed to the RWC than any other side on the planet.

      Now that will be a test of what is coming through behind our senior players and Edinburgh beat Leinster last weekend – Now that is a result to dwell upon. Glasgow had a poor first half but ended up second, but only just, against the Scarlets.

      In addition we have yet to see the impact of the regional rugby academy’s which were started with the BT Sponsorship. I would say we have much to look forward to this season.

      Now, if this post does not energise our Middle Eastern correspndent to post the merits of cautious optimism , false dawns, reforming of the border reivers, the world must in meltdown.

  42. Mike on

    Discovered the site last week and have to say i have been hooked, reading through all the archives n comments.
    Being someone who was always keen on rugby when younger (6nations, autumn internationals, world cups) its only in the last years my interest has grown into the club scene, (mainly due to bbc alba coverage of glasgow and edinburgh). Thus I have been searching for anywhere to increase my knowledge of the game, players, tactics, etc, particularly scottish orientated, and this page is by far the best I have come across yet. Keep up the good work guys.

    Re, the world cup squad, its pretty much the same as I had imagined apart from cowan, which was a shock as I feel he has been one of our more consistent players over the last year. Swinson was out of nowhere, n I feel for harley, but I think its a solid choice as harley has never convinced as a lock, much better in back row. Hardie…..great addition n fuss is a bit over the top. Backs look strong. Steady progress through warm ups n I think we will get out the group….which well is better than previous so has to be a success, right?

  43. neil on

    We have a bit more talent than we have had in previous years but I still questing whether we really have strenghth in depth. Bulldog mentioned the talent we have left behind but these are mostly just utility players. Ask yourself this question- how many players would get into the AB squad based on current form. I can really only think of two at the very most- Hogg and Russel. Copuld you really have seen the AB, England or any of the top tier teams fielding Adam Ashe, Jim Halilton or Dougie Fife- come on! The others probably would’nt even make it into the AB B team. To me that is the difference between the WC champions and the also rans. I think we have the ability to match most 6 nation teams as long we are playing at 100% and that we dont pick up too many injuries. However,it would concern me if we ever had to take on the AB, a team we have never beaten even when we had great teams in the 80’s and early 90’s. I also wouldn’t fancy our chances at all against England, having never beaten them at Twickenham in goodness known how many attempts. Another issue is whether we have the mental strenghth to win close games. We seem to come up short when there are 5 points or less between the sides with 15 minutes to go. Don’t ask me why but we kind of need a cushion of 10 points or more going into the last 10-15 minutes regardles of who we play. So I don’t think Scotland can win the WC but I do think we are capable of beating almost any 6 nation side, as well as OZ and SA on our day and with the rub of the green
    Bulldog does make another good point for a change (he normally posts rubbish)- the high number of Scotland players turning out for Glasgow is a massive plus point as these guys know each others games and moves intimately. This is another very good reason why Pyrgos should be fielded instead of Laidlaw. I remember in a games against Italy and Ireland in this years 6 nations, the players were not used to dealing with Laidlaw’s wayward kicks. Had Pyrgos been playing, I’m sure there would be far less kicking and more ball to hand- i.e. the way that the Glasgow team are used to playing.

    Anyway. I’ll close on that point but wish outr boys the best of luck and hope that they don’t need it.

    • Bulldog on

      Neil,

      Is the AB squad the British Lions ? Not sure if that is what you mean however, if it is, the BL, I think you are wrong.

      Not sure Finn Russell would make it, right now, love him as I do , too hot and cold compared to Sexton. J Gray is likely to make it as a Lions Tour would make him, Al Dickinson would perhaps, early days but I am watching Hardie and there is an outside chance for Tommy Seymour or a fit Bennett and Dunbar, and I cannot believe I am saying this but a fit Maitland has loads of potential. We have still to test Jock Strauss. I also think Pyrgos could pip Webb if push came to shove.

      Totally I agree I post absolute rubbish by the way.

      What I would be interested in is what do you see as success for Scotland in this WC ?

      How would you run the SRU if you were the man in charge ? What should he be doing more off, what should we be doing less off ?

      • Frazer on

        I have to say that Bennett and Dunbar have more than an outside chance. I think that by the next BL tour that those 2 will be the best centre pairing in the NH.

      • Bulldog on

        Fraser, I hope you are correct though we really do need to see them in action consistently to make that judgement IMO. We will most certainly see Mark Bennett and I do hope we see his long range place kicking as well. He can put them over from Halfway and we are three points ahead for no loss of territory. It is a no brainer to me, but this far , we do not utilise him in that role.

      • Michael on

        Agree about Dunbar & Bennett being on the cusp of taking Lions roles. Realistically, who is ahead of them at this point in time, Burgess? Not playing centre at club, Barritt/Joseph are good but not spectacular so wont guarantee a spot; J Roberts & J Davies are the incumbents but not been as great recently, would expect Scott Williams to be picked ahead of them right now; Cave/Payne/Henshaw/Fitzgerald? Do any of them concern you in the way D’Arcy and O’Driscoll did? No.
        Looking at those names, even the pundits during the 6N disaster commented that Dunbar and Bennett were going to turn into top class players. Can see both being taken if 4 Centres are taken on a Lions tour!

      • FF on

        Barritt is a plodder but Joseph is the form centre in the NH by some distance. He was one of the standout players of the 6N.

        Tuilangi would almost certainly go if fit too. The Irish rate Henshaw every bit as highly as we rate Bennett, although I don’t see it myself.

      • Barclays Beard on

        If Gatland is in charge of the next BL tour forget having many Scots involved. Expect a token one or two at most. We could win the next two 6N and he’d still fill the squad with Welsh players.

  44. neil on

    Bulldog- thanks for the reply. I was referring to the All Blacks (AB) but, come to think of it, I’m not sure how many Scottish players would make it into the British Lions, probably about 5 at the most (I would agree with your choices). However, in a hypothetical world where they were eligible for selection to the AB then I would say probably only two.

    So what would I do if I were to run the SRU- another two pro teams would be the first thing on the agenda- borders and Aberdeen (probably teams in Stirling and Perth in the future). I would also try to get more sponsorship opportunities and probably try to do a bit more at grass routes. I know that the latter is being adressed but I think more could be done. I would also do more in terms of advertising our game to the general public. All too often rugby is seen as elitist- something that does not happen in the southern hemisphere, Wales or Ireland.

    • The never ending story - part three on

      And we are back to Neils familiar refrain. So, oh great one, where does the extra ten million quid come from to pay for all that? Dont try to kid yourself that it can be done on the cheap, it cant. If it could, ireland would have eight pro teams, wales would still have their five and wouldnt be 15 million quid in debt and we wouldnt be seeing some of our best youngsters lost to the game because of lack of opportunities

      • Kev on

        Not sure who mentioned doing anything on the cheap but we will not be considered as serious rugby nation until we have more full pro teams. Don’t have an answer but have lots of ideas on what could be done

      • For clarity on

        Neil has previous for suggesting a full 45 man squad pro team (capable of winning championships no less) plus support, coaching, admin, ground rental etc can be done for less than one million per annum. Hence my reference to doing things cheaply!

        What ideas do you have Kev?

    • Bulldog on

      The all Blacks , got it now, well no chance of those lads making it to an All Blacks side because the do not have a New Zealand Granny . Chortle, Chortle.

    • FF on

      So to summarise Neil – more than twice as many pro-teams, more money into grass roots, more advertising and more sponsorship. Genius! Why haven’t the SRU done that? Please solve world hunger next – more food, more high yield crops, more money for poor people – done!

    • bulldog on

      Cracker FF – Best yet.

      Neil : Back to what would success look like in this world cup ? Given where we have been what would it look like? what would an improved scotland hope to achieve?

      While you are pondering here are a few facts.

      This is a summary of the number of registered payers for the countrys in our group:

      South Africa : 650k
      Japan 122k
      USA : 88k
      Scotland 38k
      Samoa : 23k

      In terms of players, which , arguably is choice, we have the second lowest number.

      New Zealand by the way is 146k.

      Now how do we compare with 6N counterparts

      England : 2 Million
      France :360k
      Ireland : 153k
      Italy : 66k
      Wales : 50k
      Scotland : 38k

      England accounts for 40% of the registered players on the planet.

      I have to agree with you Neil on getting rugby to the masses, no question on that and having a winning team in Glasgow, 2nd City of the empire , 4th largest city by population in the UK, is a huge start IMO.

      So back to that question Neil ? What does improvement look like in this WC ?

      PS : With so few players i can now understand your calls to get Uncle Roy Laidlaw and Damien Cronin back on the touchlines, stripped and ready for action. Ha

      • neil on

        So you pretty much see my point of view now. Even Italy have almost twice as many players, Ireland more than three times, Wales more than 1.5 times etc. The fact is that we are desperate for more players, particularly at the pro level. How the h.ll can we compete with the other nations that you mentioned when we have only two pro teams. Sure, do more at grass routes but then where do these players go? Instead of playing pro rugby they end up working for Halifax Bank and playing for Heriots FP second string.
        So where does the extra money come from?- how about a mix of SRU and private sponsorship. The problem with most scots is attitude and an inability to think big. That’s why most the most famous of scots left the place and made a name for themselves elsewhere (e.g. Andrew Carnegie, Adam Smith etc) Even Robert Burns wasn’t really appreciated in Scotland until he made a name for himself in London.
        The SRU would prefer us to just remain on 38K players, finish bottom of the 6 nations every year and win an occasional game against Japan.
        To be honest, I just hate the apathetic pessimistic no hoper, could not care less attitudes that seem to infect our nation. Probably one of the reasons I left the country I love.
        So more pro teams are definitely a must if we are to progress and why at least some of that BT money could not have been earmarked for that purpose is beyond me.

        So come on Scotland and the SRU- you’re not going to tell me that the best you can do is 38K players, only two pro teams and 5th or 6th place in the 6 nations every year. If that’s all we can hope for then I would urge the SRU to disband and forget about playing or supporting or rugby teams full stop.

        Sorry if I come across as angry but I just know we could achieve so much more.

      • Bulldog on

        Neil – No cannot say that I do agree with you, not on everything, however I do think you have merit on some points and admire your passion.

        You may have missed the point about where we base development. Aberdeen (220K)and the borders (160k) have limited population, Glasgow city 600k, Edinbugh city 500k and that is not accounting for the sattelite towns.

        I am glad you mention and Adam Smith the father of economics and I will assume you understand his principles. Good, that is a start. So you will understand the basic theory of economies of scale (EOS).

        EOS would suggest it is better to pump investment into your existing teams as it is less costly than starting a new team with costly overheads. (Consolidation verses fragmentation). You will get a better return on your investment. Oh and lo and behold , there is more people based around them to get interested and spend their hard earned on gate fees to maintain investment and fund development.

        Well, as I recall Heriots School has a reputation of producing lawyers and they will prefer to play rugby part time anyway as they have careers that are sustanable beyond their playing days. I am sure they produce more than lawyers BTW but the point being , a career in rugby is a short one and not for everyone, so playing for Heriots seconds is a choice and I would not be critical of that if I were you. Their support is necessary to maintain our clubs.

        If you were more local you would understand issues such as , the Private Schools in Glasgow are under attack to play football and move away from rugby (more cash for pros and less injurys in football). So we need to get more of the comprehensives playing . That will come via success of the existing pro teams who are based in the greatest populus. In addition most of Scotland’s densely populated regions (except Aberdeen) are within a 1 hr drive of Edinburgh or Glasgow.

        I think your issue Neil, is that you are remote (for good reasons I feel sure) from the nation you love and cannot get involved in grass roots rugby or understand the issues Scotland’s national squad are all important to you as it is televised.However there needs to be an infrastructure to support it.

        Scotland can benefit from your passion by supporting the grass roots clubs, the academies,the pro sides and I have to say you are right in getting the game away from being eletist (see above about getting comprehensives to play). If you come up with a way to get more players through the pro sides I would agree with that also.

        This week Edinburghs second string beat Leinster’s second string and Glasgow sadly lost , albeit narrowly to a scarletts second string. This season will test if we have depth in our pro sides and we need to get behind that if we care for our national side IMO.

      • Cameron on

        Just as a point of order, in what way did Carnegie (moved with his family at the age of 13) and Smith (a man who spent the vast majority of his career, including formulating his ideas surrounding The Wealth of Nations, published in Scotland, by speaking with Hume during the Scottish enlightenment) have to leave Scotland in order to make a name for themselves? It’s not like Carnegie’s struggling family steal business in Dunfermline was stifled by the close minded views of Scots.

        Interesting you’ve chosen the man that created the field of economic philosophy and one of the greatest captains of industry to illustrate a point you’ve at no point tried to cost other than ‘private business and the SRU.’ I don’t know if you notice but people aren’t queuing up to pay for these things. Aberdeen has just entered a massive crash wages and employment. It’s mostly foreign firms there anyway.

        I also take massive issue with your logic. Tell me, do you think we develop many 12-18 year olds by having a pro team just magically pop up in the area? It’s gone so very well having Edinburgh Rugby as an entity in the city. Can’t move for the number of discarded international class props kicking about here lamenting the fact that if only they had been able to move into pro rugby at age 18 they would have. Oh wait, they stopped developing at 16 because the SRU couldn’t afford to have a mass age grade programme which meant that something like 75% of players were punted out the development streams at that point.

        Know why they couldn’t afford it? We had 3 pro teams that were hanging like a mill stone round the neck of the SRU with the Borders in particular but also Edinburgh and Glasgow costing a fortune to run.

        From the most recent accounts, international and professional rugby in Scotland costs £22,761,000 p.a. SO to add another 3 teams as you suggest would mean

        1. Deplete the squads to the point they have no chance of competing

        2. Finding an extra, at a conservative estimate, £12m from other sources

        3. Fold the entire junior system and any expenditure in the club game.

        It’s not short mindedness that sees us focus on youth rather than extra pro teams, it’s long term vision.

  45. Graeme on

    What if borders and the reds were revived in name (I know reds have) and they are slotted into the very lowest rung of the pyramid and rely purely on their own army of volunteers and fans. Now let’s say they progress through the leagues over next 10 years building their fan Base and increasing club coffers etc etc they start winning and dominating the championship they could apply to join pro 12 but only when they have that infastructure in place the fan Base the staff it would be a much more balanced a sustainable future revive the club’s part time and work towards full time over the decade

    • bulldog on

      Well at least one blogger in here would support that point, I feel sure, maybe even get along to a few games but the fundamental question I would have is where would they be based ?

  46. Graeme on

    The reds my personal preference would be Aberdeen the borders is a can of worms with the rivalry well they both are but I think with starting out in lower leagues that could be settled to the point the majority of fans could get along with such as where ground is club badge the kit I know it’s huge minefield but I feel that route is less dangerous than others and as I said it’s more sustainable for Scottish rugby

    • neil on

      I agree with Aberdeen- plenty of businesses and a desire for top level rugby.

      I’ve had a thought about the borders- how about having two pro teams in the borders- Melrose and Hawick are arguable the best teams and are well supported so why not elevate their status to pro team. These teams are already established which would men that you would not have to create a new team and just hope that it would be possible to prize supporters away from their chosen club team. You could start by making these teams semi pro, paying a full time salary to around 15 players, with the rest as part timers or unpaid volunteers. That would be a start but as the clubs grew they would get more support, more sponsorship etc and then wold bring in more full time paid players. Just a thought.

      • Cameron on

        Aberdeen might sustain a team but it would be heavily reliant on companies investing. I’ve no idea how you would justify spending money on sponsorship of a rugby team when you’re laying off people in record numbers in an industry that is seen in some places as being at the very best outlook, dead in 20 years. In addition, most teams are either entirely foreign owned or international. Why would advertising to the audience for a Pro-12 match be justified as a worthy promotional expense?

        Problem with backing Melrose or Hawick to a pro team is that literally nobody else in the borders is going to change support. Population of the borders is 109k. SO in order to get a half decent turn out, you’d need 10% of the entire population going to watch a pro team every week.

        Quick bit of maths,

        (£15 ticket* 5,000 attendance) * 11 home Pro 12 games = £850k p.a.

        In short, maybe enough for 10 alright players. Certainly not internationalists mind.

        Even if you succeeded in that, you’d kill Gala, Selkirk, Jed etc who would be forced out of the way. Not that, of course, you’d ever get a self respecting borderer supporting a town other than their own.

      • Cameron on

        Apologies, where I say:

        ‘most teams are either entirely foreign owned or international’

        I mean:

        ‘most COMPANIES are either entirely foreign owned or international’

      • neil on

        Cameron,

        there are two things I need to mention in reply:

        1. There is plenty money in Aberdeen. I have been involved in the petroleum industry for 25 years and know it intimately. In the 70s they claimed there would be 30 years of oil to exploit, in the 80’s 30 years, in the 90s also 30 years. We then hit an oil recession in 1999 and everyone predicted the North Sea would die but it did not. In fact, it went on to boom for 16 years, with only a minor blip in 2008-2009. Now there is also meant to be 30 years of oil left so what has changed- one word = technology. Sure the oil price is low at present but that is likely to change in 6-12 months time. The fact is that the oil price goes through a dip every c.7 years. There are still loads of companies based in the Aberdeen area and I’m sure that some would be interested in sponsoring a pro team. There are still more millionaires in Aberdeen than in any other city in the UK outside London even in these tough times.

        2. The borders is an interesting one and you mention bums on seats. That is important but what about TV rights, sponsorship, sale of merchandise etc. All of these things would mean generating much more than 850K. We may even be able to secure a small amount of additional funding through the SRU.

        3- a third point that I’ve just thought of- it would be unfortunate for Kelso, Selkirk etc but that’s they way of things. Sure these would still be provincial feeder teams but I think most people would prefer to get behind the big two. Think about it, more people support Rangers and Celtic in Edinburgh than Hearts or Hibs. There is such a passion for Rugby in the borders that I know it would work. It would make much more sense that trying to set up a new borders team- you would have to spend big on infrastructure- pointless and such a waste when Melrose and Hawick already have that.

  47. Rory Baldwin on

    Hi guys, we’re keen on the debate and all but it’s harder for people to just jump on the site and discuss things they are interested in if the comments wander off topic and are no longer about what they appear to be about. We do have a post on SRU youth structure coming up soon…

  48. neil on

    Point taken Rory but this is a really interesting debate. I agree with Bulldog that it is nearing an end. Maybe it would be an idea to include a thred about the possibility of more pro teams (its a massively important issue to most fans and one that the SRU does not care about). Perhaps after the WC would be a good time to debate this when there will be little to talk about.

    • Oh FFS! on

      To say the SRU does not care about another pro team is a ridiculous statement to make and just shows how out of touch you really are Neil. Perhaps you should take some time to research the statements the SRU have made on their long term plans to grow the game from the ground up rather than just spouting absolute claptrap!

  49. Robert on

    The one lesson about modern pro rugby is that it has to be in an area of reasonable population concentration

    All the Irish provinces are in a decent sized town/ city,Welsh super clubs centred in areas of high population, English clubs the same

    It’s the bottom line

    Aberdeen is the only real alternative as it has the money – Dundee is a possibility bug Stirling doesn’t really provide the geographical separation to forge a distinct identity

  50. Graeme on

    I agree with Neil on one thing could there be a thread set up to debate the issue of more pro teams etc etc as for this thread I would of liked to of seen scotland go for the draw. A loss two wins and a draw just looks better and sounds better than loss two wins a loss. Especially going into world cup campaign

      • Graeme on

        Yeah thanks I do sort of agree with Neil but what I find frustrating is he seems to be looking for overnight fix with shoestring budget. I belive there is a need to project our nation from domestic pro and international level to new levels but understand it takes time resources and determination cheers

      • Graeme on

        On that dodson thread you shared I am unable to comment but can on this do you have to reply within certain amount of time or something it would of been topic related

    • Cameron Black on

      We’ve started limiting time for comments to avoid discussions going off on tangents like this. We’ve covered the issue of a third/fourth pro team before quite a few times. If anyone thinks they can add something new to the debate and wants to write an article you can submit it by visiting the “Write For Us” tab above. Comments on this thread are due to close soon.

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