Scotland v USA: A History

This Sunday’s game should, by all rights, be THE game of the tournament. After all the current Olympic Gold Medallists are taking on the reigning Five Nations Champions. It’s been over 90 years since the United States won Olympic Gold and 16 years since the last Five Nations but let’s not let trivial matters like the passing of time and long dead tournaments get in the way of THE MATCH UP OF THE TOURNAMENT!

The SRU have been making inroads in the US trying to expand Scotland’s appeal to ex-pats and those with Scottish ancestry in a country that is slowly beginning to embrace rugby. The Eagles have improved immeasurably over the last decade but then so have other countries around them in the World Rankings.

4 November 2000 – Scotland 53 USA 6

Scotland’s first meeting with the USA came during the 2000 Autumn Tests. The result was overshadowed by off field events with New Zealand born back row Gordon Simpson being dropped from the test squad for disciplinary reasons. Although not named in the match day squad Simpson was seen drinking the night before the USA match and unceremoniously dumped. Simpson wouldn’t be recalled until a year later.

The USA squad was young and inexperienced and Scotland ran out easy winners.

Scotland tries: Leslie (2), Paterson, Putney, Townsend (2)

Scotland cons: Townsend (4)

Pens: Townsend (5)

Pens: Wells (2)

22 June 2002 – Scotland 65 USA 23

Scotland faced the USA during a tour of North America which also included a full international against Canada that Scotland narrowly lost.

The match against the USA was not without incident with Nathan Hines becoming the first Scottish male player in over a 120 years to receive a red card. Hines threw a punch towards the end of the first half knocking out an America player. Speaking to the Scotsman on his return from tour Hines said “I have never been given a red card before, and I’ve even been accused of not being aggressive enough by some coaches. This guy had been rucking all over my hands and arms, pretty violently, even though the ball was away, and I’d just had enough and reacted, which I know was wrong.”

Hines received a two match ban which seems tame by today’s standards.

Scotland tries: Craig, Henderson, Hines, Hodge 2, Kerr, Laney, Paterson 2, White

Scotland cons: Laney (6)

Scotland pen: Laney

USA tries: Keyter, Timoteo

USA cons: Wilfley (2)

Scotland pens: Wilfley (3)

20 October 2003 – Scotland 39 USA 15

Scotland met the USA in Pool B during the World Cup. The Pool also featured Japan. Spooky eh?

The USA had lost narrowly to Fiji in the previous game and were targeting a win against Scotland side that had struggled to beat Japan. Scotland ran out easy winners against a tough USA side but the match marked the end of Martin Leslie’s international career. The back-row forward received a 12 week ban having been cited for kneeing an American player in the head 67 minutes into the match. The ban was reduced the eight weeks on appeal but that was long enough to mean Leslie wouldn’t appear for Scotland again.

The Scotland players paid tribute to Leslie in the following game against France each turning their head as the camera panned along the line during the national anthems. Scotland were well beaten by the French but made it to the Quarter Finals where they were beaten by Australia.

Scotland tries: Danielli (2), Kerr, Townsend, Paterson

Scotland cons: Paterson (4)

Scotland pens: Paterson (2)

USA pens: Hercus (5)

24 June 2014 – Scotland 24 – 6 USA

Scotland faced the USA in Big Vern’s first match in charge. Cotter gave debuts to Blair Cowan, Gordon Reid and Alex Allan as well as a certain Finn Russell.

The game was played in blistering 40 degree heat. Not something Scotland will have to contend with in Leeds. The USA troubled Scotland early on Scotland were eventually able to put them away. You can find our match report here including Rory’s review of some excellent commentating:

Scotland tries: Visser, penalty try, Hogg

Scotland cons: Laidlaw (3)

Scotland pens: Laidlaw

USA pens: Wyles 2


If we can learn anything from Scotland’s history of facing off against the USA it’s that discipline has been a real issue. Sunday’s match promises to be a physical one and although Scotland kept discipline against Japan they will need to keep their heads. With two big matches coming up and the group wide open Scotland cannot afford to lose anyone to a lengthy ban.

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36 comments on “Scotland v USA: A History

  1. Matto on

    So the team for Sunday’s out (see below). I wonder if this signals a reverse strategy to Japan? Hit them fast and hard early, try to build a lead and then bring on Laidlaw and Weir to keep them pinned back in the 2nd half and get Russell, Hogg and Bennett off the pitch. It’s not an easy strategy to execute (i.e. Glasgow tend to break free in the last 20 in many of their games). So maybe Vern thinks the young lads can take the short turn around…

    Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Maitland (London Irish), Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Tim Visser (Harlequins), Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors), Henry Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors) capt; Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons), Richie Gray (Castres), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Alasdair Strokosch (Perpignan), John Hardie (unattached), Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors).

    Replacements: Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester), Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh).

    • FF on

      Considering Cotter has made 10 changes from the starting line up it’s looking pretty strong. it will be interesting to see how the back row copes with Manoa.

  2. Darren on

    For the first time in a long time I can look at this team with 10 changes from what I basically consider to be our best team that started against Japan, and honestly say it is just as good! Front row is the only bit that gives me slight concern but I see we have the A team on the bench.

  3. Scott on

    Not sure about subs bench for this only because an injury(or precautionary withdrawal) of anyone in the back 3 wouldn’t be easily covered. Obviously a loss of Hogg would move Maitland to full back but can any of our bench players do a job on the wing? Definitely not meatball, but maybe Scott can. Or move Bennett out who definitely has the legs but has played at centre since his Cumnock days. Lamont on the bench would have made more sense but two games in 4 days might be too much for the old boy. Oh well, in BVC we trust.

  4. FF on

    Hardie ruled out of USA match due to failing a precautionary concussion test despite being symptom free. Wilson replaces in starting lineup.

    Considering how good the USA back row is, we’re looking a little underwhelming here without Denton on the bench. Brown is now covering back row with Bryce covering hooker and Ford starting. I think a lot of fans will wistfully be wishing Cowan or Barclay was available for selection…

      • FF on

        Is Ryan Wilson a test standard openside? Is Brown? Because they are whose playing there against the USA, a game we have to win, with a bonus point if at all possible.

      • MK on

        Suprised Hardie was in the starting line up in the first place. Brown played well at 7 in a Euro cup game against Bath, a Bath back row which included Francois Louw. Ryan Wilson played 7 in the pro 12 final. USA are no chumps and with some high calibre players shouldn’t be underestimated, but if there was any game in this group to maybe get away with players out of position this was it. I’d also be shocked if Cotter hasn’t had these “utility” players training in these positions for this eventuality. I wish Barclay was in there but he’s not so we have to deal with it and move on. Come on Scotland!

      • pragmatic optomist on

        We have one open side who is going through concussion protocols. The rest are covering at best. Hate to say I told you so, but just about everyone did.
        Who’s the idiot who thinks our next best opensides are crap?
        Is he a troll, or just brainless?

      • Ross Andrews on

        I’m neither a troll or brainless, Barclay has had his chance and couldn’t live up to it and as for Cowan, if he was that good he would be in the squad!

  5. Ross Andrews on

    My team to face Samoa would be as follows

    1.Ryan Grant,
    2.Kevin Bryce
    3.Jon Welsh
    4.Richie Gray
    5.Jonny Gray
    6.Josh Strauss
    7.John Hardie (IF FIT)
    8.David Denton
    9.Sam Hidalgo Cline
    10.Duncan Weir (NEEDS TESTED)
    11.Tommy Seymour
    12.Finn Russell (WORTH A PUNT?? Anyone wish to discuss??)
    13.Richie Vernon
    14.Tim Visser
    15.Sean Maitland

    16.Ross Ford
    17.Gordon Reid
    18.WP Nel
    19.Rob Harley
    20.Fraser Brown
    21.Greig Laidlaw
    22.Finn Russell
    23.Stuart Hogg

      • FF on

        Ross – Harley isn’t in the squad he is back playing for Glasgow, in fact he was a try scorer against Connact in the last match.

        Back rows are Hardie, Wilson, Strauss, Denton, Strokosch.

  6. Ross Andrews on

    My team to face South Africa would be as follows

    1.Ryan Grant
    2.Fraser Brown
    3.WP Nel
    4.Richie Gray
    5.Grant Gilchrist (Jonny Gray isn’t up to this test yet, too inexperienced!)
    6.Ryan Wilson
    7.Josh Strauss
    8.David Denton
    9.Henry Pyrgos
    10.Finn Russell
    11.Tommy Seymour
    12.Peter Horne
    13.Matt Scott
    14.Sean Maitland
    15.Stuart Hogg

    16.Ross Ford
    18.Jon Welsh
    19.Jonny Gray
    20.John Hardie
    21.Sam Hidalgo Cline
    22.Duncan Weir
    23.Sean Lamont

  7. Tony Steedman on

    In reply to Ross Andrews.
    Firstly you should mind your language when replying to contributions. It’s called good manners.
    Secondly Jonny Gray is a racing certainty to start against S.Africa. He is already streets ahead of Gilchrist and well on the way to being a world class second row.
    Thirdly Finn Russell at 12. We just may have the best stand off since John Rutherford and you want to try him at 12. Why ???
    Fourthly Duncan Weir needs tested. We know what he can do and it’s not what Russell can do. Bring Weir on when the game is in the bag and rest Russell.

      • Ross Andrews on

        I think Mark Bennett is one of our best attacking players but I don’t think he has the tactical awareness on the international stage yet and should gain a bit more experience either playing for Glasgow Warriors or the Scotland A side

  8. Ross Andrews on

    To be honest, I don’t believe Scotland will make the quarter finals as I am predicting losses to Samoa and South Africa, I also don’t belive Vern Cotter is the right man to be the Scotland Head Coach after the 2015 RWC? Anyone wish to discuss?

  9. Ross Andrews on

    Also I hope Josh Strauss shows more than in the previous game as to me he looked like a player we don’t need!

  10. Ross Andrews on

    Guys yous are all happy to talk complete and utter bullshit on this forum but you won’t discuss any opinions / selections, get a grip and find a proper blog!

  11. Dan Mac on

    Wow. When my life gets so sad that I have nothing better to do than troll a rugby forum I hope I’m taken out back and shot :-)

    Jesus dude even masturbation must be more fulfilling for you than this? Or is this your only social interaction? ;-)

    Oh…and its “your” not “you’re”. We expect a better educated class of troll round here.

  12. pragmatic optomist on

    There seems to be a bit of a trend here. Poor first half, followed by a very good second half. I hope they can do something in the first half against the Boks, otherwise we’ll be so far behind it could be embarassing.
    I do agree that Dickinson and Nel solidify the scrum, but the scrum wdidn’t advantage us anyway, and that’s not where they were good. Where they excelled was in the loose, particularly Nel who hits the line at top speed and always seems to get over the gain line.
    Manoa was quiet for USA. Partly because the Scottish back row kept him quiet. Probably at the expense of their own attacking games.
    Hardie and Russell are serious worries I agree. They don’t have ‘like for like’ replacements in the squad.
    10 points from 2 games is all we could have asked. Now on to South Africa. They gave the backlash to Samoa on Saturday. Can they do the same to Scotland?
    Maybe we should ask Ross Andrews for his opinion?
    Does his guard know that he’s escaped?

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