Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland Team for Wallabies Quarter Final

Vern Cotter - pic © Al Ross
Vern Cotter - pic © Al Ross

Blair Cowan and Pete Horne have been called into the Scotland team to face Australia on Sunday, at the expense of Ryan Wilson and Matt Scott who drop out of the 23 entirely. Perhaps looking to combat Pocock and Hooper at the breakdown – so far nigh on unstoppable – Cotter has picked openside Cowan alongside openside John Hardie who fills the 7 shirt.

Elsewhere, Cotter has picked the strongest team allowed by disciplinary bans with Fraser Brown starting at hooker and Swinson taking the place of Jonny Gray. On the bench are 2 back row forwards with potentially more breakdown/lineout usefulness available in the guise of Richie Vernon.

In the backs, only Horne is a real surprise but he does at least offer a second playmaker at 12 and while less hefty in some areas it is perhaps the most Australia-esque team we could pick.

One thing is for certain, this is a mobile team and does not look designed for boshing contests, but for speed. Can we outskill the Wallabies? If both teams play it could be fun to watch for the neutral.

It’s a long wait until Sunday to find out.

Scotland team to play Australia at Twickenham in the Rugby World Cup 2015 Quarter-Final
Sunday 18 October (kick-off 4pm) – live on ITV:

Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland, Mark Bennett, Peter Horne, Tommy Seymour, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (captain); Alasdair Dickinson, Fraser Brown, WP Nel, Tim Swinson, Richie Gray, Blair Cowan, John Hardie, David Denton.
Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Gordon Reid, Jon Welsh, Alasdair Strokosch, Josh Strauss, Henry Pyrgos, Richie Vernon, Sean Lamont


52 Responses

  1. Team up, Cowan at blind side, Horne at centre, Scott and Wilson drop out of match day 23. Denton keeps his place, personally I would have preferred Strauss, who’s on the bench. Horne is an interesting choice but he is a form player. Strokosch and Vernon also on the bench. All in all a good team despite Ford and Gray being out. Come on Scotland you can do it.

    1. I’d also have preferred Strauss over Denton.
      (Bit disappointed the citing commissioner didn’t notice his role at the bottom of that infamous ruck. Looked like the back of his knee was briefly in contact with the Samoan’s head- 3 wk ban for a Scottish player?)

  2. There were rumours flying around last night that Scott had failed a fitness test so maybe the Horne decision was a forced one? If they knew that yesterday wouldn’t they have had time to draft in replacement cover (possibly for 2nd row?)

  3. Fighting fire with fire! Well done BVC for bravery. Selecting 2 openside to try to stifle the Hocock/Pooper double whammy.

    I’m really not sure about Horne at inside over Scott but I guess that’s why Vern makes the big bucks and I’m sat in the office pretending to work. I’d suggest that if Scott is all the way out the 23, he’s injured rather than this being purely technical.

    Back three look ‘money’ as my friends in the US would say.

    1. I’m guessing Scott would have been first choice if fit, but I reckon this game could suit Horny. If we can get on the front foot and impress our own game, in the words of Maximus Aurelius – we might just “give them something they’ve never seen before”, or at least not so far in this tournament. Well maybe a bit like a less talented Fiji :-) We’re massive underdogs, so I hope the boys just get out there and gie it laldy.

  4. I like this, all things considered. Two sevens which I thought might happen. Seems like a a good lot of players who can run into and through contact (Dents, Strauss, Stoker, Bennett, Hogg, Vernon) which we will need to break that Aussie defence whilst Horne in at 12 gives us in effect a third half back to control the game. Looking forward to it after a tough week rugby wise.

  5. This is a good looking team aiming to play positive heads up rugby. Now go out there lads and put a huge marker down to the rest of the rugby playing world. And win !

  6. Agree with Scott maybe being injured. In the past our approach was to try out muscle teams which sometimes worked and sometimes did not. I like the look of this squad. It’s built for speed and attack which is positive. The talent is there, the depth of squad is there, now lets go and dump the Criminal Element out of the Cup!

  7. With two 7s on the pitch, and three more converted backrowers scattered about the place, not to mention yet another backrower covering 2nd row (presumably) we might just have enough breakdown nous to counter Pocock and Hooper. I wonder about the other 13 Aussies though!

    More seriously it looks a good team with a strong Glasgow back 6 (Maitland remains a Warrior until he actually plays for London Irish in my book) so there should be good understanding in both attack and defence. Shaping up to be an exciting game.

  8. Scott is injured – lower back ligament damage I’ve been told and he was given until the team announcement to prove his fitness. He will be a loss but Horne will be an able replacement I’m sure.

    1. Back ligament sounds like a potential long term injury. Perhaps we could call up Alex Dunbar in time for the semi-final!!

  9. I’ve got a good feeling about this team. It should be able to play with real pace and if the accuracy is there it should be a really good game. Its not our biggest tackling mid field but the Glasgow line should be well acquainted and have some telepathy in both defence and attack. I’m a bit surprised at the replacements but there is enough there to be confident in the last 20.

    1. The best case scenario is that they both get 1 week. They still miss this game so the squad will not change, barring any injuries. I have never seen a ban completely overturned either.

      1. As I understand it, they *could* get the ban quashed but it is basically unprecedented. Plus I believe the hearing won’t be until tomorrow at least which is far too late to prepare a team.

        All in all, regardless of whether or not the bans are reduced or quashed neither will play a part this weekend. Poor.

    2. Although it’s all a bit annoying the whole ban thing I don’t think it’s going to be too bad for this match. If Ausie have a dominate scrum then we at least have to secure ball from our ball and there is no way Ford will hook under any circumstance so we have no plan B should the scrum not hold. Brown is another 7 convert so effectively we have three 7’s on the pitch and Nel seems to be adapt in pinching ball too. Brown is very good and has been visible in the loose where Ford isn’t. Did you see Bryce’s first World Cup Line Out? Done with a throw of perfection in every facet so he’ll be fine if needed.

      As for Jonny Gray. I am not doubting his ability annd unseen work but from people who are better informed than me he seems to be off form recently and Swinson has always come on and made a good few yards each time. It is the obvious issue of no one else to back them up is the issue.

      I think it may work for us not against us especially with the extra “We’ve been done here” mentality to come with it

  10. No Pocock or Falau but strong looking team regardless. Still, can’t help but feel a little more positive having seen both line ups (more fool me).

    WALLABIES TEAM: 15. Kurtley Beale, 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Matt Giteau, 11. Drew Mitchell, 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Will Genia, 8. Ben McCalman, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Rob Simmons, 4. Kane Douglas, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Scott Sio. Likely reserves: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. James Slipper, 18. Toby Smith/Greg Holmes, 19. Dean Mumm, 20. Sean McMahon, 21. Nick Phipps, 22. Matt Toomua, 23. Quade Cooper/Henry Speight/Joseph Tomane

  11. I like the look of the team (ours). As long as we don’t take a massive step backwards and embarrass ourselves I don’t think we have anything to lose on Sunday. The pressure is all on Australia to not slip up against the underdogs. How many people out there in the wider rugby community didn’t think we’d get this far? We have an opportunity to prove people wrong and as long as we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot, like we have many times before, then we can come out smiling.

  12. Here’s hoping our lads will remember they’ve already done enough for us to be proud of them and that they are no longer under pressure to prove themselves to us other than to give their best shot for the full 80!

    To the team:

    “Tackle like demons,
    ambush like lions,
    baffle like haggis,
    but remember, above all, be brave.”

    Good luck lads!

    1. Baffle like haggis!!?? Brilliant!

      I just about laughed myself into an early grave with that one :-)

  13. Like others, I feel this is a bold selection by Vern and I’m upbeat about it. I also think we’ve at least six in this starting pack who are quite capable of competing in a ‘boshing contest’ should it come to it – remember Stade de France only a few weeks ago. I just want to see our boys give it everything they’ve got on Sunday, backed by enough Scotland fans in the stadium to make it feel like a home game.
    Come on, Scotland!!!!

  14. Could be quite a lot of neutrals in the crowd. If we can start well and get them on our side then the extra vocal support will definitely help. Looking forward to it!

  15. Pleased with the team. We’ve got a very creative backline there backed up by a very combative looking bench. Interesting to see that Wilson appears to have been dumped unceremoniously from the squad in favour of Strokosch – can we assume this is because of his silly stamp in the Samoa game?

  16. This is it. The chance to see how far we have come. Best squad for a long time. Good forwards backs who can score, the Aussies with out their turnover king and most potent attacking threat! This is winnable game and putting away the Aussies after Wales and England failed 2 will give Scottish rugby a major boost!

  17. Now from the comfort of my armchair, are you listening Mr Cotter (vastly experienced player/ very successfull coach)

    Back-row – For the type of game (traditional Scottish) required to combat the Aussies are Barclay/Watson not more effective than Cowan?? Strangely enough the Aussies seem to have gone for the bludgeon McCalman rather than the rapier McMahon, interesting……….

    Lock – With Toolis injured & Hamilton peed off/retired/Harley not a lock…….yet, little choice. I’d assume Denton/Strauss will cover

    Backs – without the magnificent Mr Dunbar as positive choice a choice as I’d have hoped.


    1. Looks to me that OZ are at full strength. We are missing around 6 players to injury and suspension

  18. Alex Dunbar was man of the match tonights in Glasgows win! Glad he’s back! If Scotland can do the business on Sunday and Scott is still injured what chance we’ll see him called into the team?

    1. Hate to say it but you have more chance of winning the National Lottery. There is a 100% guarantee that the Austalian RFU/World Rugby (exactly the same thing) will not risk losing face or OZ losing the QF to a full strength Scotland team. You may find that, as a token gesture to keep the SRU quiet, the bans are reduced after we are eliminated from the competition.

      1. I’m sure you said above that we were about 6 players short of full strength? Also the appeals will be decided today, not after the game tomorrow. Finally, odds of winning the National Lottery: 13,983,816/1, odds of beating Australia: 15/2.

      2. same chance as neil actually being banned longer than it takes him to come up with a new name and troll some more

      3. I dont believe these odds for a second. Was the bookie drunk when he gave you them? OZ put 20 points on England at Twickenham and beat Wales. When was the last time Scotland did that? Even at full strength the odds would have been against us. The Ozzir RFU/World Rugby (basically the same thing,in the same way that ISIS and the Taliban are difficult to distinguish) has also ensured that two of our most promising players will not take part in the game. They clearly want to win this one and arent taking the 1/100 chance that a full strength Scotland team could upset the odds.

  19. It would not have been first choice team. Blair Cowan and a few others would not have featured but with so many injuries and suspensions, and such a small pool of players, Big VC had little choice. It’s not easy when the Australian RFU are effectively World Rugby and have geared the rules and competition to suit themselves.

      1. Point taken Cameron.I think you know where I stand on this. Its just so frustrating that World Rugby get away with being so corrupt when our game is meant for gentlemen.
        I’m so fed up of it I think I will take up lawn bowls.Do you know of a good blog site for that sport.

  20. I have been reading over on and almost every single aussie on it is of the opinion that this match is a done deal already, despite them loosing Falou and Pocock and that we are merely a “bump” in the road.

    While I approach this game with trepidation, at least one person made a sensible comment on their forum. Wales were missing plenty of their best players and they should have beat the Wallas. Perhaps too much focus was given to their heroic 13 man 21 minute defensive effort, elevating the aussies to “team of the tournament” based on that one effort alone?

    Overconfidence is ripe down in the Penal Colony. If we win, and it is more doable than perhaps most neutrals would make out, a swift “get it round ye!” will be required!

    1. My boss is an Aussie. He also use the term road bump.

      I pointed out that the spine of the Scotland team was potentially: Hardie, Strauss / Denton, Russell, Hogg.

      He still said road bump.

      I pointed out Laidlaw (though personally not a fan) would keep the board ticking over.

      He still said road bump.

      I pointed out that the team would be fired up from the injustice of the bans and that the enforced switches probably resulted in two world class props being paired with a hooker who could actually hook and that it would now be a 6,5 second rower alongside the 12 foot brother of said banned player.

      He still said road bump.

      I pointed out Seymour and Maitland were finishers, that Bennett was a game changed but could probably do with a stabilising, influence inside and that Horne (Glasgow player of the season, Pro 12 winners) was his regular team mate, not to mention Russell.

      He still said road bump.

      I pointed Falaeu (who has never before missed a test in 26 internationals) was surprisingly injured and that Pocock was out too. And that Australia had not suddenly become the World’s best team in three games against a rudderless England and decimated Wales. And that I’d rather be facing Oz than South Africa or NZ given the respective strengths.

      He still said road bump.

      I also said that despite the chatter I thought Twickenham was more a home venue for us, there was more pressure on the Aussie Team and that the players in both the current sides had experienced Scotland wins. While the world media was absurdly hyping the team.

      He still said road bump.

  21. For anyone who happened to be at the Glasgow game last night, Dunbar’s MotM award was clearly a token ‘welcome back’ award because, whilst he performed competently and was subbed half way through the 2nd half, he was nowhere near as impactive as Zander Fagerson (nor for that matter Fergus Scott who was a 3rd min sub for MacArthur and did really well). Let’s not get too desperate to rush Dunbar back to test level yet – it generally doesn’t work, case in point being Matt Scott who was fired straight back into the test team at the 6N without even having a club game for 3 months and was clearly undercooked.

    1. Duncan Taylor starting for Saracens this weekend, Heathcote had a big part to play in Worcester’s win last night. Hopefully we’re building enough strength in depth that we don’t have to rush players back.

      1. Really hope Heathcote bounces back at Worcester after his miserable time in Edinburgh. He still has the potential to become a classy FH and we are massively over reliant on Finn staying fit at the moment.

  22. Both Gray and Ford cleared to play. Looks like Nigel’s Australian world domination conspiracy is not as powerful as first feared. I’m sure you can get a refund on your tin foil hat ;-)

    Will they both start do we think?

    1. I thought this was a wind up but just saw teletext! Quick, where’s the rule book – if there is one – on declared match day 23s??

  23. Well it is not the best way to prepare for such a game, however I believe our lads are a close squad and I just hope our we turn all this frustration into power and focus. I think we are in for a cracker tomorrow. The citing commissioner is on his way home, who is next !

  24. I’m delighted, but this is just weird now. Will the 23 be thrilled or will it just be an unhelpful adjustment psychologically having used the last days’ events as motivation? Will Ford and Gray be ‘parachuted’ into the 23 or can’t they do that after the 23 has already been announced? If they can be included, how difficult will it be for the boys left out?
    As I say, delighted, but almost feel more frustrated at the bizarre inconsistencies. Quinlan QC’s thoughts would be interesting right now.

  25. Great to see the bans overturned. What a waste of a week! What will Cotter do now? Will he stick with the team as published or do the boys go on to the bench or straight back in to the team? I’d be inclined to stick Gray straight in with Swinson on the bench and put Ford on the bench instead of Bryce. Hard on him but its one for the team. If I was Cotter I’d keep everyone guessing as long as possible.

    1. I agree. Gray in the 15, Swinson on the bench. Ford on the bench, Bryce out the 23. I think Bryce will know it’s a no-brainer that he is down the pecking order, even though I feel for him as it will be a tough one for him. But who else to take off the bench? Strokosch or Vernon?

  26. Both Ford and Gray have been training all week with the team (as normal) ahead of tomorrow’s match and according to the other players, very positively. As a result, I don’t believe there will be any upset other than, possibly, the replaced players.

    On the contrary, I was thinking of what it must have been like having to live with the knowledge of missing out on this world cup (and for one of them, the last ever opportunity). Must have been a personal hell for Ross and Gray – perhaps through this week they have each built their own deep convictions on how they would play if given the chance, if things could have been different (no ban). And here we are!

    I suspect that we may see very big personal performances (maybe their best ever) tomorrow – it may raise the rest of the team tomorrow when they really need it. Maybe, just maybe, it might just be enough to add that final element, the final click..

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