Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


News Roundup 2/16

Josh Strauss - pic © Al Ross
Josh Strauss - pic © Al Ross

Glasgow fought back from a half time deficit to overcome a spirited Munster side with some flashes of last season’s brilliance on show during the collection of four tries and the win, vital for their position in the Guinness PRO12. Munster were at pains to point out their side featured several academy players but up-front in particular, the Warriors featured two very inexperienced hookers in James Malcolm and Cammy Fenton as well as youngsters Glenn Bryce and Ali Price (there’s a rap in there somewhere).

Heartening for Vern Cotter will have been the solid performances from Josh Strauss (man of the match) and Peter Horne, as well as capable displays from Duncan Weir and Sean Lamont which will make the selection of the 23 to face Italy a lot trickier.

Also pleasing might have been the return to play of lock Grant Gilchrist for Edinburgh had he not then fractured his arm almost straight away. Gilchrist, who is heavily rumoured to be heading to Toulon next season alongside Leone Nakarawa to join the young Scottish qualified lock on their books in the shape of Andy Cramond. Edinburgh didn’t have a good time of it in Wales for a second week running, with poor discipline costing them dearly against the Ospreys; having put in a commanding first half they wilted in the second and came away with nothing. However the Welsh liked what they saw of Sam Beard the last two weeks, with the Welsh qualified centre having been snapped up by the Dragons for next season.

Also well worth a mention is our friend and former writer Alan Dymock – who was the driving force of this blog, dragging Rory and I up by our collars to increase the scope and readership for many years – who was named Rugby Journalist of the Year (2015). We’re properly chuffed for Alan and while we’d love to take all the credit, the award – his first time nominated – reflects the hard work and deep insight into the game that was a hallmark of his time with us, especially as, like all of us, he was giving up his time for free. Congratulations!

The weekend bits done, Cotter has updated his squad based on injuries to Sean Maitland and Blair Cowan, with the crisp service of Grayson Hart earning him a call up to train and Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson and Rob Harley all returning. George Turner of Edinburgh also gets a nod, with the attempts to rapidly upskill Scottish hookers continuing.

Revised Scotland Squad

Forwards: Ross Ford, Stuart McInally, George Turner, Alasdair Dickinson (all Edinburgh Rugby), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Moray Low (Exeter Chiefs), Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby), Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby) Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Castres), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby). John Barclay (Scarlets), David Denton (Bath), John Hardie (Edinburgh Rugby), Rob Harley, Josh Strauss, Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby).

Backs: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby), Grayson Hart (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester), Finn Russell, Duncan Weir, Mark Bennett, Peter Horne (all Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Sean Lamont, Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Tim Visser (Harlequins), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Ruaridh Jackson (Wasps).

Here’s a potential match day 23 for Rome:

Hogg, Seymour, Bennett, Taylor, Visser, Russell, Laidlaw; Dickinson, McInally, Nel, Gray, Gray, Barclay, Hardie, Strauss.
Bench: Sutherland/Reid, Ford, Fagerson, Toolis, Denton, Hidalgo-Clyne, Jackson, Horne

Who would you pick?

UPDATE: It has been announced that Strauss, Fagerson, Weir and Hart have been released back to Glasgow for the weekend. Given this (slightly conservative?) approach, makes it look more likely to be a team like:

Hogg, Seymour, Bennett, Taylor, Visser, Russell, Laidlaw; Dickinson, Ford, Nel, Gray, Gray, Barclay, Hardie, Denton.
Bench: Sutherland, McInally, M Low, Toolis, Wilson, Hidalgo-Clyne, Jackson, Horne

24 Responses

  1. I like the look of your team however I would be tempted to put Horne/Jackson at 10 and bench Russell.

  2. Its pretty obvious that Fagerson isn’t yet international quality so shouldn’t grace an international bench. I for one remain to be convinced that Strauss is the real deal but Denton needs to be given a reality check and sent back to his club to find some form.
    Otherwise based on current form & injuries, our strongest squad. Scary just how thin the talent pool is. With an Irish-style injury list we would be calling on the Scotland Sevens team.
    On another matter can anyone explain why, in the lead-up to an international, the SRU puts forward to the press a player who will not be part of the starting XV Tim Swinson and now Peter Hornes come to mind?

    1. It isn’t really a matter of putting world class players in every position. Sometimes we have to go with the best available to us.

  3. So it seems we are seeing the last of Nakarawa, Scott, Gilchrist, Beard, Nayaravoro and Coman this season as they head to pastures new (if rumour control is accurate). It pains me to say it but if we are to deepen our player pool to a point where we have at least four players good enough to play internationally in every position then we need to accept Scots lads heading south, and possibly even encourage it in some cases, certainly until we get the third pro team we so desperately need but cannot afford. I hope that any non-scots brought in to replace any of these players are not simply journeymen but can genuinely add something to the teams they join. The U20’s are putting in some great performances so I expect to see more of them getting pro12 game time next year, which can only benefit Scotland in the long term.

      1. I hope his broken arm doesn’t scupper any possible deal as it would be great for him and Scotland if he does go to Toulon (and gets games)! Cummings looks a decent prospect at Glasgow too if Nakarawa does up sticks!

  4. Also of note – London Scottish have not lost a game since it was announced Lineen and Grant where moving down there. They have gone form a dangerous relegation position to mid-table. I can’t say I follow them that closely but this must be more than just coincidence. I for sure would rather Lineen at Edinburgh than our current coach.

    1. No coincidence whatsoever. The LS coaching team were struggling. They have effectively done enough to maintain Championship status (it would need a bizarre set of results for that not to be the case). Roddy Grant has stiffened the defence and improved the breakdown work.
      Next interesting focus will be on player recruitment and retention – that is part of Lineen’s remit. I expect some old hands to move on and some Scottish youngsters to move south, but recruitment not to be exclusively Scottish Qualified – there is the small matter of RFU funding to consider, for which match day squads have to contain a certain number of EQPs on an average basis.

  5. Interesting to see who is named in the Glasgow team at lunchtime as we will know who has been sent back to their clubs. My guess is there won’t be many changes probably just Visser on the wing and Lamont dropping to the bench. Other changes to the bench will probably see Strauss come in for Cowan and possibly Horne for Weir meaning Jackson also dropping out the squad. The only other possible change may see Low coming onto the bench otherwise rightly or wrongly I don’t see any other changes to the 23 (meaning Ford & Denton starting) – although lose this and there will be serious calls for a changing of the guard (probably loudest at 2 & 8!!).

  6. No Strauss in the Scotland extended training squad. Also interesting comment from Bennett about Taylor. I suspect he will be the starting 12, even with Scott being fit again.

    He [Taylor] was very easy to play alongside,” added Bennett, still searching for his first Six Nations victory after seven attempts.

    “He is very vocal so he makes my job a lot easier when you know exactly what he is doing.

    “I also think the fact he is very relaxed as a person helps, so he is quite a calming influence to be around.”

    1. I saw that, interesting, a few of us were commenting on here last week that Scott / Bennett has never really clicked compared to Dunbar / Bennett. Seems that Bennett thinks that too!

      I think Taylor deserves to keep the jersey anyway he played well (not that Scott played badly against England) but give him a chance, he looks far more of a player than he did last time he was playing for Scotland.

  7. Given those released back to clubs, I agree with the projected, and updated, team at the end of the article. After his display against Munster, I am surprised that JS has not, at least, got a bench slot especially given DD’s conservative performances so far. I hope that DT does retain his place he is the form player at the moment in his favoured position.
    JS being released helps to make the Warriors team to face NGDs look very strong, especially with Dunbar and Blair coming back in. Let’s hope they get a win in Wales and that it will boost the international team in their efforts. Gutted to hear about Gilchrists latest injury, the guy has had no luck at all and he must be wondering where his future will go. Let’s hope it’s the last injury and that he can recover and progress in a way he looks capable of.

    1. I was thinking about this. Given that it’s pretty even as to whether Strauss would have any appreciable effect on the Scotland team, maybe leaving him with Glasgow is a tactical decision given Glasgow’s precarious league position. They are far more likely to go well with him at 8. Scotland though can get by, particularly in a tournament that means almost literally nothing now.

      1. Scotland should be targeting at least 2 wins from their 3 remaining games, that’s not nothing if they can get a little run going. They may get by without Strauss this weekend but are going to need his increased skillset against France if his form continues.

      2. Lose the next three games it’ll mean more than nothing. It’ll be be rock bottom. Win the next three and Scotland will have more wins that they have had ever had in a six nations which is significant progress. I think we need to get away from that mentality. This is a hugely important game for Scotland on so many levels.

      3. You know, that thought crossed my mind too, but I found it difficult to comprehend that the national side can be spoilt for choice and can afford to let a potential impact player like Strauss go. On a similar vein of thought was there possibly a thinking that Fagerson would better serve the regional side than a national side at this moment in time?

  8. Denton was a colossus in the RWC, maybe given his stop start career @ Bath he needs/needed a couple of games to get his sharpness back, on form he has what no other Scotsman has (combination of brute force & dynamism).
    Needs a performance as he’s been average so far.

    That’s if he even gets in the squad with Wilson & Watson in form.

    1. Agree Denton had a very good RWC. Having watched the first two 6Ns (including the agony of playing recordings), I don’t think he’s been as poor as some have claimed. But it’s fair to say he hasn’t followed up on his RWC form and there’s room for improvement. Despite two (close) losses, the Barclay/Hardie combination is working well, and if DD can fire up then not only can it help us to a good result this weekend, we could build on that for the final two Tests.
      I’ve got my ticket for Stadio Olimpico and would dearly love to see all 15 firing on the day.

  9. Well I am not convinced the Barclay/ Hardie / Denton combination is adequate It just does not feel right. We need a big game out of Denton , look at his opposite number.

    So DD this is it ,this is your biggest day in that jersey. JB you had better be right on his shoulder. Hardie , you will need all your expeirence hearding sheep to get that pair running in a straight line. I fully expect they will only see the back of your shorts the whole day long, but who cares as long as we win.

    1. Bulldog I agree, it just doesn’t have the balance to it – although we are missing an out and out 6 that is of International standard. It should have been Harley but he hasn’t managed to make the step up from Pro 12 (where he excels) to International level.

    2. Agree on Denton as well. Almost tempted to play Wilson ahead of him in the absence of Ashe/Strauss. I had such high hopes for him after the warm-ups and WC but he’s simply been weak and one-dimensional recently.

      Although Wilson is a liability he’s been playing well for Glasgow and might bring some abrasivity to the team. Added bonus is it might give Denton the kick he needs…

  10. No surprises with the line-up then. Visser in for Lamont the only change. Horne comes onto the bench (excellent news). However, Jackson can feel a little aggrieved to miss out on the 23 altogether especially as Weir dropping out sounded like Jackson in (presume BVC is going with Horne as cover at Centre AND 10 – and full-back!) The change in front row subs is interesting, hoping that they are capable of a greater impact (or at least continuity with those they replace).

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion