Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland v South Africa: A History

David Denton is tackled by JP Pietersen - pic © Al Ross
David Denton is tackled by JP Pietersen - pic © Al Ross

Unlike Japan and the USA the history of Scotland versus South Africa in rugby is a long one with the sides having met twenty five times in over an hundred years. That history might have been longer were it not for South Africa being out in the cold during Apartheid.

Scotland’s win rate against the Springboks does not make for great reading. Played twenty five, won five, lost twenty. No Scotland South Africa game has ever resulted in a draw. Despite Scotland gaining maximum points from their opening games Pool B remains wide open with four teams still very much in contention. Come Saturday afternoon Scotland and the Springboks will know the outcome of the Samoa versus Japan game. Depending on that result a draw may suit both sides and we may see a little bit of history being made.

Scotland’s campaign has started brightly and this writer has no desire to ruin the mood. So rather than looking back over the entire history of games between the two nations we’ll just look at the Scotland’s wins.

17 November 1906 – Scotland 6 South Africa 0

This was the inaugural tour for the South African rugby team and is recognised as the first time the team were dubbed the “Springboks”. In fact the game against Scotland was the first international match ever played by a South African side.

International rugby tours in the early 1900s were not like today’s. South Africa played a staggering twenty nine matches on the tour winning twenty six, losing two and drawing one. Apart from games against the home nations South Africa also played a number of games against regional sides such as Devon and Monmouthshire. In fact the only other defeat on the tour came in a 17-0 defeat to Cardiff.

The game against Scotland was played at Hampden Park in front of a crowd of 32,500 on rain sodden turf. The Boks had already demolished a South Of Scotland side, but Scotland was a much harder challenge. Records from the time show the match was dominated by Scottish forwards and despite the score being 0-0 at half time Scotland ran out eventual winners.

The issue of language on the pitch was also a great issue at the time. A South African rugby “enthusiast” writing to the New Zealand Herald said:

“South Africans now playing Rugger in England are able to shout directions on the field to each other (they are mostly Dutch-Boers) and their opponents can’t make out what is being said. I can just fancy Japie Krige [a South African player] being displeased with a referee and slanging him for all he is worth to the great amusement of his team, while the poor referee is blissfully ignorant of what is being said. It’s a great advantage, you see, to know the language.”

There are three players in Scotland’s line up with the advantage of knowing the language. I’d imagine Nigel Owens has brushed up on his Big Book Of Afrikaans Swear Words too.

Scotland tries: Purves, MacLeod.

17 April 1965 – Scotland 8 South Africa 5

It would be almost sixty years before Scotland beat South Africa again. By the time the South Africans arrived at Murrayfield they had already been beaten by a Combined Universities side from Ireland as well as Ireland themselves. The week prior to the game at Murrayfield, a Scottish District side ran out 16-8 winners against a Springboks side described as being “uneven of talent” and “tactically suspect” by the Scotsman at the time.

Scotland didn’t cover themselves in glory and the back row was described as being of “alarming fragility.” None of the four (yes four) centres managed to beat their man but their defence was described as being solid. James Shackleton, a Scottish centre, was singled out for criticism for kicking too much late in the game. Plus ca change eh?

The Scotsman article covering the game opened with a PG Wodehouse quote and also featured some latin. You don’t get quality high brow writing like that these days eh? (apart from on here – Ed.) However as good as the match report is, it doesn’t include a full list of who scored the points.

6 December 1969 – Scotland 6 South Africa 3

The 1969/70 South African tour was overshadowed by protests about Apartheid. Protests in Scotland were organised by future Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The match would be the last between the two sides until the end of Apartheid and South Africa’s tour of Britain and Ireland in 1994.

You can watch highlights of the match and surrounding protests on Youtube. The game was halted a number of times due to protesters on the pitch with a number taking residence in the centre and on the posts.

16 November 2002 – Scotland 21 South Africa 6

It would be some time before Scotland beat South Africa again but the 2002 win is by far the most emphatic win against the Springboks.

Reports from the time indicate that South Africa were not firing on all cylinders and Scotland dominated the scrum and the line out with Scott Murray grabbing everything that came his way. The scores were tied at 6-6 at half time but the Scots carved the Springboks up in the second half with tries from Budge Poutney and Nikki Walker.

The Guardian described the South African team as “the worst and certainly the most ineffective to have pulled on the green and yellow in Britain.” Parallels might be drawn with the misfiring and broken Boks that will face us at St James’ Park on Saturday.

“We were told to go at them from the start,” said the Scots hooker Gordon Bulloch. “No big pack likes turning and trying to rectify their backs’ mistakes, and with Jim Telfer’s help we are a wee bit more hard nosed these days.” Sound familiar?

Scotland tries: Poutney, Walker
Scotland cons: Laney
Scotland pens: Laney 2
South Africa pens: James 2

20 November 2010 – Scotland 21 South Africa 17

Scotland’s most recent win came just 5 years ago and the match day squad featured four players who are likely to turn out on Saturday. Sean Lamont, Ross Ford, Richie Gray and Richie Vernon. Coach Nathan Hines also played that day. A number of the South African team also played that day and we can only hope it plays heavy on their minds.

The match was a scrappy rain soaked affair and all Scotland’s points came from the boot of Dan Parks. The highlight of the match was a break by then back row Richie Vernon, who was surprised to find himself deep in Springbok territory after a break from his own half only to have no support.

With Scotland 9 points to the good in the last 10 minutes South Africa crashed over for a try from a line out. However the conversion was missed and Scotland held on for a famous win. The BBC website still has highlights available.

Anyone looking for parallels with Saturday’s game may wish to note that the South African’s had been decimated by injuries.

Scotland pens: Parks 6
Scotland Drop goal: Parks
South Africa tries: Alberts
South Africa pens: Steyn 4


There are parallels between this South African side and the teams Scotland have beaten in 2002 and 2010. This is by no means a vintage Springboks side and they have been decimated by injuries. However Scotland only overcame those diminished sides with huge effort and determination. The same will be required on Saturday. On the plus side Scotland have four players and one coach in their ranks who do know what it’s like to beat the Boks.

Here are the team announcements:


Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Richie Vernon, Matt Scott, Tim Visser, Duncan Weir, Greig Laidlaw (captain); Gordon Reid, Fraser Brown, WP Nel, Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Josh Strauss, Blair Cowan, David Denton.

Replacements: Ross Ford, Al Dickinson, Jon Welsh, Tim Swinson, Ryan Wilson, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Pete Horne, Sean Lamont

South Africa

Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana, Handre Pollard, Fourie du Preez (captain); Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Willem Alberts, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein.

76 Responses

  1. Bit surprised at the team. Can’t help but feel Bennett’s dynamism in midfield is being traded off for a purely defensive structure – perhaps Weir at 10 forces the hand a bit. Also questioning how Cowan can come in and be ready for such a game on the back of 3 (official) training sessions. Be interested in the thoughts about splitting the front row up – I suppose its a hedged bet to ensure that there is strength throughout

    Not unhappy to see Visser playing – personally would have went for Maitland but still think that is a strong back 3. I do like SHC on the bench, if we are chasing a game late on we will likely need to take risks. I think he and Horne are both sharp, incisive and intuitively intelligent players

    1. Cowan trained all over the summer with the team and has been training to play with London Irish, need to compete with Louw as he’s a specialist 7, Hardie obviously still injured. Bennett took a smack to the face last game so maybe injured too. At the end of the day its a squad based game, these players have to be ready to step up. That said, if we can squeeze a losing bonus point out of this game that would be a decent achievement.

  2. Gutted there is no Bennett, Hardie or Russell, worried about splitting the front row like Martin but also worried about Visser re: his defensive frailties. Still a strong team but BVC has shaken me a little with this selection. However I have faith that he knows what he is doing.

  3. Front Row: Not our strongest front row but Dickinson and Ford need a break – simple as that. To be fair, Nel does as well but we don’t have that luxury with the power of the SA pack – maybe also hoping a bit of Afrikaans will be helpful in the forwards banter. On the plus side, quite a mobile unit so should see all 3 of them popping up all over the park.

    Second Row: No brainer – best option available.

    Back Row: Ah crap – have we broken Hardie?!? I think first choice back row would have been Denton and Strauss with Hardie, so cowan logical choice – just glad we’ve gone for a proper openside.

    Half backs: Laidlaw increasingly feeling like a safe pair of hands, but his clearance kicks need to go deeper to take SA forwards out of the game – maybe use Hogg/Weir more rather than box. I think Weir was always the right call for this game and has brobably been pencilled in for a while.

    Centre: What can I say, Scott should think himself V Lucky to be able to play with the legend that is Richie Vernon – something to tell his grandkids. The best thing is, SA will have no clue what to expect – whatch our for Richie V MOTM performance #weareallrichievernon

    Back 3: I think I would have rathered see Lamont instead of Visser. I think however Visser will have been selected to provide a faster kick chase – hopefully he gets the message and busts a gut to put SA under pressure.

  4. I am also slightly surprised. I can’t help but feel that Cotter is anticipating a loss; saving for next weekends ‘knockout’ game. Perhaps not though, he is a smart chap afterall! Is anyone else perplexed?

    1. As MK said injuries and fatigue have played a big part. I don’t think he’s anticipating a loss, I don’t believe Stern Vern does that. I can get spreading out the front row strength and I like the idea of a Visser chasing everyball (as long as he does chase them) but what are peoples thoughts on what Vernon brings?

      1. Extra nuance at the breakdown being a converted backrower? Kriel is still a bit inexperienced at 13 so maybe he can get some joy out of that channel.

  5. Not unhappy with this team. I like the way BVC is using his squad, a bit like Gregor at Glasgow. Weir did well when he came on against the USA and is a decent kicking ten, which might be the way to play against SA. Vernon has earned his shot and will let no one down. I agree some of the changes are probably injury enforced and some with one eye on Samoa, but I don’t feel that the team is diminished overall which isn’t something I’ve been able to say for a while. Cowan must feel like a man who has had his guts ripped out to one who has won the lottery. I would have prefered Barclay in the squad personally, but Cowan will give his all and has carried himself with dignity since being dropped from the squad, good luck to him and all the boys.

  6. If you rate our first 15 now, are these the number of starts…

    Dickinson (1), Ford (2), Nel (2), Gray (2), Gray (2), Strauss (2), Hardie (1), Denton (2),
    Laidlaw (2), Russell (2), Maitland (1), Scott (2), Bennett (2), Seymour (2), Hogg (3)…

    It’s not immediately obvious because of the injuries being to key players but we’re basically rotating aren’t we? Nobody is explicitly saying it but the first 15 by design are playing 2 of the 3 group games before Samoa – presumably that’s deliberate and has informed a lot of the decisions in these first 3 games.

    So in the decision whether you go for it against S.A. or save people we’ve done a kind of halfway house and everyone gets a full weeks’ rest before the decider – the advantage being we had a good number of the senior guys playing to win the first 2 with bonus points.

    Also most of the big combinations – front row, back row, halfbacks, centres we’ve run out the first choice as a group

    1. Agree. What worries me most is an injury to Nel or Hogg. Not losing the game!

  7. On a slightly different note. Can anyone ever remember being so fixated by a match squad announcement? I seem to be consumed with wandering thoughts about almost every aspect of Saturday’s match and I can’t recall ever being so in the past…

  8. A bit disappointed to be honest. It may be injury enforced in which case, as a good a team as we can field. However, if this is tactical in order to have a rested team to face Samoa then it is quite negative. Can you imagine the fallout if England put out a second string team against Australia, so that their big guns were ready for Wales (assuming that the fixtures were reversed). It would not happen. Scotland are a team on the up and we should be targeting SA for a win, not a damage limitation exercise. If this first strategy failed, we would have the luxery of still having a game v Samoa. Now, it feels like we are targeting the last game like we did with Italy in 07, lets hope it is not repeat of the All Blacks. Still at least RV gets some game time!

    1. I don’t think that is what is going on. Hardie and Russell have been enforced by injury which necessitates some changes in thinking in terms of the back line size too with Weir not the biggest. Vernon is a solid defender and a strong runner who might get more change out of the South African defence than Bennett who is likely to suffer from a lack of space. If there is space late on, Horne and SHC well primed to take advantage so Bennett might have been a bench option but offers less versatility than Horne. In the front row, Brown is worthy of a shot as Ford hasn’t set the World Cup aflame so the only really contentious selection for me could be said to be Reid over Dickinson. But again, Vern will have a reason for that I’m sure…

      1. I don’t disagree but Bennett v Kriel would have been exciting to watch. He has quickly become one of our best attacking threats. I may be in the minority but, with Finn being injured, I would have preferred to see Horne in at 10. Weir may be good for closing out a game and pinging a team back in the corners, but for me, he does not inspire creative attack. I hope I am wrong. I just hope we are still going in with the mindset to win the game (which for the avoidance of doubt, I am sure is the case).

      2. I wouldn’t have minded Horne at 10 either, he was on great form in the warm-ups but coming on late in the game might be the best chance for him to look for half-gaps as he does so well for Glasgow.

  9. Interesting selection. Ford and Dickinson have played a lot of rugby so can see why they’ve been benched. With the smaller (but more mobile and an extra fetcher) Brown we’ve went for the larger Reid to hopefully provide some extra grunt up front.

    Very robust side. Think the plan will be to keep it tight, hoping the score will be a narrow win or loss, and keeping a lot of mobility in reserve (Maitland, Bennett, Hardie, Wilson, Russell) to focus on the lack of Samoan fitness.

    1. The Boks props are certainly large but are not the most mobile, so we’re right in not setting our most mobile props against them.
      Brown is more dynamic than Ford and will be up against Bismarck du Plessis, who’s a bit of an animal. Should be good.
      ‘Sink the Bismarck’ I say.
      I was looking forward to seeing Strauss/Denton?Hardie, but will have to wait like everyone else. Not sure why Denton is at 8 and Strauss at 7. I’ve always thought of Denton as a flanker.

      1. Denton has played pretty much exclusively at 8 for Edinburgh and Scotland for the last few years, although perhaps has a better skill set for blindside. Also, Strauss is picked at 6 rather than 7…

      2. I can see Strauss and Denton alternating between 6/8 depending on if we’re attacking or defending the scrum etc.

    2. I’ll also be interested in seeing if Brown attempts to ‘hook’ the ball, rather than going for the ‘3 prop shove’.

  10. Was thinking to myself why is Vernon giving an interview, hogging the back pages (no pun intended). Surely he won’t be playing instead of Bennett especially against the relatively untried Kriel. Yep he is. Will he read the runs of Scott, on the line breaks? No but he’ll be robust unless of course RSA offer too much pace. Is this more a defensive line-up sending out the wrong signals?

    I think Mr Cotter has been prudent. Rest Russell, Hardie & Bennett as still have injury concerns. SHC deserves a chance from bench, Reid will have his work cut out. Strauss – time to shine. Think Scott will play really really well.

    1. I would not worry about pace. Vernon is said to be one of the fastest players in the Glasgow squad

  11. I am impressed with this team selection. BVC creates very clear roles within the team for each game and therefore I believe that each player has a simpler task to execute. Only surprise is that Hardie is not in (but that must be injury related) and that Stroker is not on the bench (he made 17 tackles on Saturday against a powerful US squad).
    So, looking at the roles Richie Vernon has been brought in to tighten up the midfield as we all know Burger and the two centres will hammer it all game. Visser is going to be chasing high balls all game along with Seymour. Prior to the match on Saturday, Visser was doing a lot of catching routines off high balls and during the game he took his catches well.
    Gordon Reid will have to step up, but he is big and ugly and I think will like the confrontation in the front row.
    Whilst not having Bennett might weaken our chances of scoring five tries, but we don’t need to do that anyway and I still think this is a front foot team looking to win.

  12. It’s a decent squad but with a different dynamic (a bit less creativity, a bit more physicality) than our first choice 15. It sounds like Hardie and Bennett are precautions, rather than clearly ruled out. Russell not making it is not a big surprise, hopefully he’ll be fit for next week. All possibly gave Vern an excuse for keeping something special for Samoa. Wonder if Maitland will start at 15 against Samoa with Hoggy rested for a hopeful QF spot.

  13. So Cowan is in the starting line up. That is a big concern as he is lightweight and easily pushed arround (as he was in every 6 nation game he played in). SA will try to exploit this in lose rucks and scrums where we now have no chance. Lets just hope that it is an open quick game and we can get the ball out of the rucks/scrums at a rapid rate of knots. Dont be surprised if the boks score a try of two by pushing a ruck or scrum 40 yards down the pitch.

    1. A maul maybe but that’s a solid scrummaging unit we’ve picked with plenty heft, so I would indeed be surprised if they pedalled backwards to that extent.

    2. Against the USA we lost 8 turnovers and won 1, whilst playing Ryan Wilson at openside.

      With Hardie out, Cotter has taken the opportunity to get another 7 in the squad and contest the breakdown more effectively. We’ve picked our two hardest running 6/8s to get us over the gainline. If anything, the back row mix will improve our performance at the ruck area. Cowan won more turnovers than any other player in the 6N.

      Also, claiming that picking Cowan over Wilson at 7 will have any bearing on the scrum performance is just bizarre. The 7 has less impact on scrum so than any other forward.

      It isn’t the team I’d pick to beat SA, but then I’m sure neither would Citter if it was a one off test. Let’s hope we put in a performance worthy of the optimism the squad have picked up so far. But let’s face it, the game against Samoa will decide whether the RWC campaign has been a success or failure.

      1. It’s Neil who’s the lightweight!
        It’ll be a match up between Cowan and Loew much of the time.

    3. It feels like someone (Neil) really needs Scotland to loose to have something to talk about.

  14. Mirabile dictu, there is a typo in the super soaraway Hootsmon’s Latin.

    Slice it where you will, it’s still a comic.

  15. Wasn’t expecting that side!! But after mulling it over it makes sense (it’s easy once you see Big Vern’s selection).
    Obviously Hardie and Russell are either injured or being kept safe, either of which I agree with. Neither (at 90%) are better than their replacements at 100%.
    Vernon for Bennett? Defence over attack, with the added bonus of potential turnovers. Also Kriel won’t know how Richie plays.
    Visser over Lamont? We need versatility on the bench. I still think I’d have started Lamont, because of defence and experience, but the Flying Dutchman is more likely to get that breakaway try after a turnover (see Vernon, above).
    Brown over Ford? With the number of big carriers in the side already, we need somebody who can offer a supporting role – get on the shoulder of Denton/Strauss/Vernon/Weir!
    Reid over Dickinson? Not sure about this one although we don’t know what’s been going on in training. Gordo’s a great scrummager when he gets it right.
    Cowan over Wilson? No contest at 7, and Wilson can cover all back 3, so bench it is, unfortunately for him.
    Overall I’m with Martin – this is the first time for a long time I’ve been waiting with baited breath for the squad announcement. Suddenly the coach has had choices, REAL choices, in so many positions.
    Yours Contentedly, Hopeful and overly Optimistic.

  16. Like most, I saw the line up and thought we could put out a better 15 but the more I think about it, really ain’t too bad a team. Problem we have is we’re all Scotland supporters who have been starved of success and the glimpse of gold, we’re desperate to grab it. Vern’s remit is not hearts and minds but to get to the QFs. For this game he can use the squad as well as having a pretty strong line-up that allows us to put some key players back in the following week. We do have a shot at winning this game. RSA don’t have a choice, they badly need to win, we want to but not a necessity. My only concern in terms of injury is Nel. Ironic going into a brutal physical match against South Africa that I hope a South African plays well, stays fit & injury free.

  17. The success of this World Cup will not be judged on the back of Saturday’s result but on the following weekend so what has been done here makes perfect sense and in my opinion this team is still well positioned to have a real go at SA. SA have come into this world cup on a shocking run of results, they have lost to Japan and beaten what was a fairly average Samoa team so all the pressure is on them. We can go into this knowing that if we defend well and kick our goals we will be there or thereabouts. If our strongest team had been put out here and we had lost and injured 3 or 4 key boys for next weekend then the management would look very foolish particularly as England look like they might not go through and I would back us to give Wales or Australia a far closer game than England at HQ. SA have a huge pack and still play the same way they did 8 years ago, kicking the ball a lot and playing to their physical strengths, something that organisation can nullify to an extent. This is as big a Scotland team as we have seen in years (with the exception of GL and DW) so we can be confident about taking them on physically. Our strongest team will beat Samoa so long as they turn up on the day and we will go through.

  18. This isn’t our most flambuoyant attacking team and not all the players are considered as 1st choice picks, but it’s still a very strong team.
    The Saffers have put out their best team (all the saffers are in raptures on the blogs, as they get rid of Matfield and De Villiers)
    I’m hoping that Scotland believe in themselves and can show the kind of aggression needed against SA right from the start. If they can it’ll be a close game.

  19. I’ve thought Vernon’s name has been on this game for a while. He’s good at restarts and he’s probably our best back other than Dunbar at the breakdown. He played in the Pro12 final and links well with the Glasgow outside backs. He’s faster than many give him credit for and solid in defence. He’s not as jinky as Bennett and he wont have a telepathic connection with Scott but I don’t think he’ll let us down.

  20. Reid did well against France in the warm up game when coming on to replace Dickenson after 6 minutes. This could be a game that suits him well.

  21. Not that disappointed at all with this squad. Like everyone else I would rather have Hardie and Russell in there but I would rather have them fit next weekend than finish them off this weekend. Reid over Dickenson makes sense, Dickenson and Nel are our best front row, maybe splitting them up will give us half decent scrums all match rather than good ones when they are on and bad ones when they are not. Brown for Ford is fine, perhaps Brown will hook? Ford is more valuable as a ball carrier but with Gray’s, Strauss, Denton, and Vernon in the squad we have plenty of them anyway. I hope Cowan doesn’t get pushed about too much like he did in the 6N because he is a proper truffle pig if he gets there first.

    Laidlaw had to start as does Weir. Not sure about the Scott / Vernon combo, Vernon played the latter part of last season at Glasgow with Horne at 12 didn’t he not after Dunbar and Bennett got injured? I would have thought they would have more of a partnership? That said individually I would have Scott over Horne, safer pair of hands. Think Vernon is the right choice for 13, he is very fast, direct, and should come in handy with his breakdown knowledge. Only thing that possibly concerns me is his ball handling, will Visser / Seymour get the ball? Seymour and Visser are the best choices on the wing they are the two most likely to score tries which is what we should be trying to do, two absolute poachers with a knack for interceptions. Hopefully Hogg has a better game, he hasn’t been great so far, not for the want of trying, maybe that’s his problem?

  22. Very “disappointed” to see comments elsewhere that Scotland is fielding a 2nd XV for the RSA game – wtth all the innuendos that brings. IMHO the comments above in this excellent Blog (from knowledgeable supporters) give a much better reaction and understanding of the Scottish team selection. We seem to get it!

    I think VC is making excellent use of his full squad to meet the challenge of these close (in timescale) big games. He also has to balance the impact of injuries (Gilchrist, Hardie & Russell), players physical & mental reserves, and the right tactics for each game. We also seem to have enough quality strength across the whole squad to make this work (except unfortunately the front row).

    I note that Warren Gatland bleated that games need to be spread-out farther (i.e. change the rules). Whereas VC has deployed his full 31 squad appropriately to meet the challenge presented.

    1. I agree. BVC has shown both Plan A and Plan B, now I think we get to see Plan C ?. With Hardie and Russell out and Bennett well due a rest, the more you look at it, the smarter it is. Clear to me that a LOT of thought has gone into how we approach the whole group stage. Unsurprisingly, Wales were below par with their short turn around. This has to be sorted for 2019. It is wholly wrong for TV money to come in front of player well-being. (I am not holding my breath on that front).

  23. My thoughts on the team

    Reid…..I think he has been in reserve for this game after an impressive showing against France.
    Brown…..deserves his chance, no issues here.
    Nel……please no injuries.
    Gray….no brainer.
    Gray….see above.
    Strauss….time for some of the glasgow form.
    Cowan….glad to see him back, yes he may seem lightweight but I felt he had a decent 6n.
    Denton…..let him loose.
    Laidlaw….needs to play, yes has many faults but such a calm head.
    Weir…..always felt it was only game he would start.
    Visser…..?? Id prefer Lamont.
    Scott…..finally fulfilling his potential in dark blue.
    Vernon….see Weir. No issue with him playing, played well for Glasgow last season, for the most part.
    Seymour……hopefully adds to his burgeoning intercept stats.
    Hogg…..been a bit disappointed with him so far, trying a little to hard to force things perhaps.

    Happy with the bench, strong enough and feel it could make a difference to a, hopefully, tiring SA team. Very impressed with Verns choices, management and game plans so far n feel he is a level, perhaps two, above our recent coaches. Roll on Saturday.

    1. Mike, Right on target with your analysis.

      And we have (outside the whole Saturday squad of 23) rested & fresh for the Samoa game: Maitland, Bennett, Russell, Pyrgos, Strokosch, Grant and Hardie + those who only get a little game time from the bench on Sat.

      1. Agreed, I think we will be back to full strength for Samoa, but this is still a pretty strong line up. Capable of keeping it tight, sticking to the plan. The rotation of the squad has been excellent, and we look the fittest for a long time, just look at the Welsh guys after the Fiji game, and they had an extra day. Admittedly they have had horrendous luck with injuries

    2. This summary turned out to be just about right, well done.

      Laidlaw lost his cool head on the yellow. He was frustrated and I think his raport with Nigel Owens was not good. There is a way to communicate with NO and the Pro 12 Players are used to him and vice versa. perhaps not the best captain or the day , his ‘crabbit , huffy old man’ thing just turned NO off completely.

      BTW , I loved it when NO told Burger to ‘get away, this has got nothing to do with you’

      Denton: was active defending but a hard day to standout in attack. He has set himself high standards of late.

      Duncan Weir while unfashionable has pulled us (and Glasgow) through many times, kicked well and a run that would make any fan proud.

  24. Part of me is already hiding behind the couch given previous history with the Springboks :) However, this is the first time in a long time I feel we have some steel and hardness in the team. I don’t see this as a 2nd XV either – a pragmatic selection specifically to front up to the team playing us.

    There is no sense in risking Russell or Bennett or Hardie if they are not 100% and we’ll need them going forward. Long memory recalls back to the 1987 World Cup – a half fit Rutherford was crocked early on and our foil was gone. Russell is growing into being our foil now and we need him to release our line (nothing against Weir either – he’s a hardy boy who I hope has a stormer on Saturday).

    The game that still fills me with dread is Samoa – not because we can’t beat them but because of the attrition that match could have on our players. We played Samoa in a mini-tournament in South Africa a few years ago and I think by 1/2 time we’d lost 3 or 4 players to injury following some huge hits. Anyway – roll on Saturday … nervous drinking may commence early.

    1. Well Fraser, if we make the quarters that will be an achievement in itself and punching above our weight in the rankings over the last good while. The fallout from the Samoa game could indeed be nasty, but if we make the quarters we’ll face one of Wales, England, Aussies, who will have all had to play each other! So their depth will also be well tested, though that is the biggest issue for Wales. It may actually be more significant for our Pro sides as they will bear the brunt longer…

    2. So what would you rather do Fraser- field a seconds team against SA and end up cheating the thousands of supporters watching the game. I seemed to remember that was Haddens tactics against NZ some years ago and look at what happened to him and his team. They were a shambles and an embarrassment. We need to field our strongest.The time to muck about with the team will be in the final group match once we have beaten SA and assured qualification. .

      1. Oh well, it’s a reminder that we can still call in Brown, Beattie, Barclay, Macarthur and Cross if it all goes tits up!

  25. We really need Adam Ashe in this game. Desperately unlucky to lose out on selection but we really need him in this game. I feel that we could be fielding a pseudo-B team and we will get stuffed.

      1. I did use the term ‘pseudo B team’. Players like Cowan and SHC would definitely not be first choice in my opinion. Even with talented players like Strauss we are fielding a weakened side against SA and that concerns me.

      2. You may have said pseudo- but then you followed it up with getting stuffed, which puts it in a non-pseudo negative context. And you also don’t explain where Ashe fits in. Are you suggesting he should be at 7 instead of Cowan?

  26. Does anyone know the state of Hardies injury. Will he be available for the Samoa and QF games?

  27. Arguably our strongest team so far was against Japan.
    Against USA and RSA we had/have at least 50% of our best team in each game.
    Following the logic here our team for Samoa could also again feature at least 50% of our so-called “best team”.
    In each game there could be (say) 10 players who did not play in the majority of the previous game – so being refreshed and reenergised.

    IMHO all this looks like excellent squad and game management with a clear view to giving us a good chance to win every game. If we do so, this VC approach will be lauded by all as a canny genius. If we do not qualify for the QFs he will be blamed and humiliated. This is a professional game and thats the way it goes.

  28. @ neil’s comment of “field a seconds team against SA and end up cheating the thousands of supporters watching the game”

    Not what I was saying at all … in fact I think I did say “I don’t see this as a 2nd XV either” :)

    Point was more that if we have players who are borderline injured, playing them against the Springboks is daft.

  29. This side looks good, as I’ll be at the Samoa game.

    Anyone heard any real news on Russell’s injury?

  30. Well I feel this team is ok and are capable of winning , if not taking a bonus point.

    As I see it , SA really need to win , Scotland do not, so we start with less pressure (particularly if Samoa win). It will be the 16th man on our side. If you agree with my attitude the game we need to follow is Japan and Samoa. The bookmakers slightly favour Japan which is a bad sign but I feel that we really need Samoa to win and then take our destiny in our own hands in the final game.

    I feel Gordon Reid has a big game ahead. Nel and Strauss will understand the language which will be a bit of a problem for SA. All to play for.

    1. The result of Japan v Samoa doesn’t really affect us too much. Both are on 4pts (1 win each no BP). The maximum points they can end up with is 14pts (BP wins in final two games). We are on 10pts, so one more win without BP gives us 14pts. If we tie with Japan on 14pts we progress as we won our head to head. If we tie with Samoa on 14pts by beating SA and them beating us and Japan, we progress with Samoa. If we beat Samoa, we go through regardless of results elsewhere.

      So, I think the best result for us is actually for Japan to beat Samoa. In that case, we play a Samoan team no longer playing for World Cup survival. In addition, if Japan subsequently lost to USA (possible, they have lost to USA on many occasions including the latest PNC) we could go through without actually beating Samoa, as Samoa, Japan and Scotland could end up with W2 L2 records.

      It is also possible for SA to end up with 14pts even if we beat them, (2LBP plus win v USA+BP), but if there was a three way tie on 14pts with conflicting head to head results we’d almost certainly have a better points difference than at least one of our rivals.

      1. FF- Thanks for the clarity . It is sad that this early we are considering how we can go through other than winning. Our players will only have one aim and that is to win. I suspect that this will be discussed after the Japan match, well, if the commentators can draw themseles away from the England game.

      2. I think you’re reading my post wrong if you think there is anything sad about it. I was just pointing out that our two bonus points mean we are already in control of whether we go through and don’t need to rely on any other results, as you posted. Win against SA or Samoa and we are through regardless of the result in the Samoa v Japan game. That is a great position to be in.

      3. You might be reading my post wrong , I am not being critical at all , I was just not wholly aware of all the facts , but like always, I know who will, and can explain it better than anyone I know. Genuine Thanks. Also just trying to work out how the players will be thinking , feels like we are under the least pressure of all the sides playing today so that might bring a very entertaining match.

  31. Wouldnt it be funny if both England and SA failed to make it to the semis. I would be laughing my socks off.

  32. Good Luck to the 23 playing today. Reckon we’ll need to score 25pts to win.

    Glasgow got a narrow away loss against Munster. I consider that a decent result with players stepping up in a depleted squad. I hope that when the Internationals go back to the club we don’t stop their development. Badly need a 3rd team.

    1. A third team to further dilute our player pool, exhaust our funds, end up losing to stronger opponents, which will demotivate fans further. Why not, lets kill the game in Scotland, You should get together with Neil and structure a case.

      You can locate him down at the Flat Earth Society or with a sandwich board on Princess Street gardens.He might even have no socks on if it works out.

  33. Nice to see Bulldog arrived into Scotland a fortnight ago. Yep Scotland had a great 6 nations, in fact the last 15 have been fantastic. Moving teams from 2-3 is diluting our pool. Yep you must be a Maths teacher too. If you agree that the residency rule is the way forward that’s your opinion, I’d prefer to nurture our own talent with a limited amount of excellent foreign talent in the team. I’m not interested in following the same as our football counterparts with a larger number of foreign players of average quality. Before you think I’m the William Wallace type, I genuinely think our residency players have all played extremely well, in fact Nel may be our key player because of the lack of adequate cover which is the main point.

    SRU have made large strides forward in coaching programmes and introductions into more state schools which was badly needed to develop the game. The MacPhail scholarship is a brilliant programme which helps budding players with ability compete in stronger nations leagues and might stop us losing talent through university induction. Instead they can come back and take first steps into professional rugby. SRU has more private investment that ever before and we need to use it wisely. Do I think an Fiji Australian winger or Scott Johnson’s salary is a good way to use £350-£400k a year, not really. Do I think that attracting more private investment when there have been prominent people in the North-east interested in sponsoring a 3rd team for many a year then yes. SRU debt reducing and if we think 2 team league is the way forward then let’s hope we don’t lose 3 players against RSA today and another 3 against Samoa because we will be calling players up from our amateur league. That would be a suicidal.

    Anyway better get the sandwiches ready as Neil’s been out for a while.
    Good Luck Scotland!

    1. No been in Scotland since birth and have stayed with my investment through thick and thin, pay my taxes in the UK and support the grass roots game.

      As such I realise the wider constraining facts. We have posted often on the 3rd team so if you want answers to your quetions just trawl through the posts. Neil gets it in on every single post and agree with him or otherwise , he is consistent. I would never say never but right now we do not have the supporting structure.

      However what I would be keen to know is what all the advocates of a third team are doing about it , other than posting here off course.

      You are way off the line and looking at repairing symptoms and not the root cuase.

      If you all really want to know how Scotland can progress, we need to consider when Rugby was last thriving and that was when teachers did extra cirricular activity in the Comprehensive schools. These schools fed the clubs but importantly all school boys understod the game. That goes back to the 80’s. As a result, many pupils of the 80s do not understand the game , and they will not be encouraging their kids to take part now.

      The one point I always agree with Neil Upon when we spat about the third team is that the game needs to stop being for the elite only. Spot on Neil.

      The rules need to be communicated to the masses and they need to understand it better. We need to work out how we plug the gap left when Scotland stopped having schools rugby in the comprehensives. Public Schools are under pressure to quit from parents , so the status quo cannot continue.

  34. If you think I’m being highly critical of the SRU then I would just like to say that I genuinely think Mark Dodson is doing an excellent job.

    Kind Regards
    Mark Dodson

    Lottery numbers for tonight.
    We will start with a 1 – after all we’re going to win the World Cup followed by another four 1s because that’s how serious I am about it and a 2 please for 2 professional teams to ensure it works.

    In case I start to get lots of unwanted replies, I do think MD has made significant improvements and hope he continues in his position for a good number of years. I’m just trying to illustrate the point. Scotland has a good team, good coach and I hope in the years ahead we are able to put a stronger playing structure behind it.

    1. So stop tinkering about the edges – The SRU are what they are , and they are far from perfect, no argument there , but right now , they are the body who run rugby inour nation. However , they are fishing in what was once a small pond which is now no more than a puddle.

      I had the pleasure of meeting Bill McLaren and one thing he told me is how aware he was that the Saturday afternnon audience were not rugby people and he always tried to educate on the rules and tactics in his commentary. We need a bit more of that , and it would not cost a fortune to make sure we do educate the masses om the rules of a complex game.

      We are miles off of a third team .

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