Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland: The Calcutta Cup Player Ratings

Matt Scott tackles Mike Brown of England - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Matt Scott tackles Mike Brown of England - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Dispiriting again from Scotland but some players can hold their heads higher than others.

15. Stuart Hogg: 7 – most potent Scotland attacker by some distance, always looking to run and pick holes but had little real luck on the day and was always hauled down. Couple of dodgy moments in defence but did well under high ball.

14. Sean Maitland: 5 – Poor, almost anonymous. Everyone would expect better as he hasn’t really hit the heights of his early appearances in a Scotland shirt. Must do better but not enough pressure for his shirt just yet.

13. Mark Bennett: 5 – he plays, Scotland plays. He didn’t play. Never had much to do and like a lot of the back line was limited to defending and not getting a chance to influence the game for the positive.

12. Matt Scott: 5 – very solid in defence but showed little going forward until a couple of late bursts. Clearly in the team to straighten things up and stop static phases, but can do it much better.

11. Tommy Seymour: 6 – Strong running and a peach of a run just before half time but struggled to make any real difference in the second half until substituted for Taylor.

10. Finn Russell: 5.5 – not one of his best days, unable to really influence the flow of the game despite some confident kicking in the first half.  Scotland crabbed when in possession and he must take some responsibility for this. Did at least resist the temptation to throw dangerous missed passes, but in turn missed the chance to give Hoggy a foot race for a try in the second half.

9. Greig Laidlaw: 6 – always puts in a shift but never seemed to be in control of the game. Put in some crucial tackles but you can see his box kicks coming a mile off.

1. Alasdair Dickinson: 7 – another solid shift in the scrum and good in the loose.  Continues to be a key member of the Scotland pack, just a shame he’s not an 80 minute player, but then what prop is these days?

2. Ross Ford: 5 – regressed back to being ineffectual, offered little with ball in hand, didn’t do enough dirty work and not great in the line out.  Looks short of confidence and now has McInally hard on his heels.

3. WP Nel: 7 – continues to be a class act, both at the set piece and in the loose.  Not an 80 minutes player – just the 78 today!  Deserved better from those around him as the scrum was largely solid when he was on the park.

4. Richie Gray: 5 – Quiet day at the office, worked hard in defence but little change from the English defence to add any go forward. On a day when wrestling momentum was key Scotland needed more from the big lock, especially in the second half.

5. Jonny Gray: 5.5 – Much like his brother was unable to influence the game and was part of a Scotland side second best in too many areas.  A couple of decent carries but also pinged twice for collapsing a maul, and was taken off before yellow carded as he was on his last warning.

6. John Barclay: 6.5 – Showed enough to merit his place and should keep his place in the starting line up next week.  Formed a decent partnership with Hardie and went through a furious amount of defensive work. Hopefully in future games he’ll get more offensive ball to work with as he made ground regularly.

7. John Hardie: 8 – The one real class act in the Scotland side. Carried well, tackled like a demon and caused issues for the English at the breakdown. Probably as fit a player as Scotland has had, was a strong at the end as at the start. Fear for Scotland if he gets injured.

8. David Denton: 5 – Poor, regressed to ineffectual lump.  Offered little to no go forward on a day when his country needed his ‘up and at ’em’ style displayed so well last year.  When he’s good, he’s a wrecking ball, when he plays like today he’s the Andrex puppy.


16. Stuart McInally: 5 – Didn’t have a huge amount of time on the pitch but was solid in lineout and had one bursting run.  Deserves a start in this tournament to show what he can do.

17. Gordon Reid: 5 – Decent in the loose but a step down from Dickinson in the scrum.

18. Zander Fagerson: 4 – A brief cameo for his first cap, but didn’t get a chance to show what he can do. The scrum still went backwards though.

19. Tim Swinson: 4 – Little time to do anything, but didn’t punch anyone.

20. Blair Cowan: 5 – Came on for Barclay but on a day like today, with little momentum to work with, it made it difficult to impose himself on the game. Works well with Hardie but maybe not as well as Barclay did.

23. Duncan Taylor: 5 – Made a couple of decent runs but little time to make any real impression.  Came onto the wing today, maybe could replace Maitland next week.

Not used: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Duncan Weir

85 Responses

  1. All ratings (other than Hardie) are overly generous. Especially Laidlaw, who not only fails as a world class scrum half but, worse, is meant to be the captain, yet evidence of his leadership is sorely lacking. And as for Russell, he has been, and is, overhyped and needs to get back to doing the basics right. Of the four No 8s on show today, Denton was, by a long way, the least effectual.

    1. Completely agree regarding Laidlaw. He spends his time trying to milk penalties at EVERY opportunity. When Vunipola broke off the scrum before the England try, he was bumping into Care trying to get an obstruction penalty. Once we get into a scoring position, he actively slows the game down to milk a penalty (either that, or he’s really unfit).

      Disagree about Russell. I think if he got good ball from Laidlaw (or if Laidlaw was a threat around the ruck)it would be a different story.

  2. Seymour gets a 6?

    Awful under the high ball and after a break dropped the ball. Worst game for us in a long , long time.

    Hardie and Hogg were superb, everyone else meh.

    1. Hogg was average and is a little diva, ways looking for glory. Blair Kinghorn looks twice the player and person he is.

      1. Kinghorn is a real prospect but Hogg was excellent. Solid under the high ball, good in defence, great kicking game and our only attacking threat.

        A diva, yes, but a damn fine rugby player.

    2. Completely agree with you JSC. Seymour was very disappointing. High balls were a real issue for him and he clearly hasn’t got the all round skill set to compete at this level.

  3. I have watch rugby ever since Bill McLaren made the game so interesting
    but something no right the way the ball is put into the scrum and the wee tricks that go on at line oots and and a few other things to numerous to mention and so the game has…..
    Now become keep the other team from having the ball at all cost what’s more surprising even when the refs looking….. that one I finding hard to work oot… the trick book Scotland or you’ve nae chance you ll find it under the blund refs section any Good book shop

  4. Overall forwards seemed fairly solid but backs were awful! Poor form from Glasgow backs seem to have transferred to international stage.

    Hogg – 7 – Our best back
    Maitland – 4 – didn’t do much but did not have much opportunity due to farce from 9-10 starving our backs from ball
    Bennett – 4 – Quiet – brought back too early maybe?
    Scott – 5 – Glimpses of something
    Seymour – 2 – Terrible terrible night.
    Russell – 3 – went missing. The opposite of what you need your 10 to do.
    Laidlaw – 2 – I normally defend him but the service from the bottom of the ruck was painfully painfully slow. Worst I have seen.

    Front row – I agree with the article
    Gray brothers – Sorry but they were the weak link in the forwards today. Bad missed tackle by Richie for their try – 4. Jonny gets a 3. I normally highly rate them both but today was not their day.
    Barclay – good 6
    Hardie – Our best player but 8 is a bit high.
    Denton – not his best day with ball in hand but made some big plays defensively – 6.5

    I would have liked to see SHC come on sooner to speed up service. I think Russell should have been replaced with Weir (you is in form recently) sooner.

    Next week Seymour should be pulled and replaced with Taylor. He has not been in form for Glasgow or Scotland. He is a class player I hope rediscovers his form soon! Russell and Laidlaw need a kick up the ar** but I think everyone else should be able to improve next week if they get better service.

      1. Why have him on the bench then? Same for Weir – we can debate between Weir and Jackson – but today he should have been brought on sooner (in my opinion)

      2. Totally agree SHC has lost so much form this year. All thanks to being taken away to the world cup and not played. Developing players gone wrong?

  5. Sorry but I’d rather have Jackson at 10 than Weir. In the few times that Jackson has been able to start at 10 for Wasps (now ousted by Gopperth), he’s been good. Having said that, Finn Russell on a good day is better than both Jackson and Weir.

    1. He’s had very few good days this year. Maybe give Weir or Jackson again, won’t be much worse than Russell at present.

  6. Seymour was shocking today. Two carries, two knock ons. Laidlaw moves slower than a glacier. Denton playing like he does for Bath…shite. The grays were…average. Russell hamstrung by guff service. Maitland terribly out of form. Taylor, Strauss, Ali Price (I know he is raw but he is frigging rapid), Weir, Tom Brown in for next game please. What have we to lose?

  7. Yes, same old same old. England, reasonably powerful but not really a very impressive all-round performance, but good enough to beat this Scotland team.

    Italy looked decent, a little unlucky to lose in Paris – may be too good for Scotland. Hard to see Scotland winning away in Cardiff or Dublin.

    1. Not playing like today but if Cotter bites the bullet and makes the changes necessary, we can beat Ireland AND Wales. Players just need to man up.

  8. The game was lost in the backs. I thought the forwards on the whole were decent, it didn’t look to me like we were giving away much there on the whole. Maitland needs a bit of time on the bench to rediscover his ambition. Really frustrating because I think he has a bucket full of skill, but just doesn’t seem to deliver these days. Seymour had a poor game by his standards. I thought the intent was there, but the execution was poor. Bennett never really got going. Unfortunately much of the difference between winning and losing lies with Russell in this case. We lost by 6 and he slaughtered a very good opportunity for 7. Saying that, I don’t agree that he is over-hyped etc. When he has the ball in hand he creates space by keeping the opposition guessing. Natural talent, but he had a poor game. I thought Scott was decent, as was Taylor when he came on (deserves a start in Wales). I thought the breakdown work was heartening – a number of good turnovers in the first half. The forwards on the whole get a pass from me. If the backs had performed we would have won.

    1. Matto, I think you are right! The English backs were a backline whilst ours were individuals. Their defensive kicking was much better than ours (we did have a couple of great attacking kicks, Hogg and Seymour catching Ford with the ball and forcing a penalty and a long touch finder from Russell) and they caught the ball much better. They had the skill to strip the ball in contact – twice on Seymour and once on Laidlaw – and in Newell they had the best player on the pitch. But most of all they worked as a unit whilst we just ran headlong as individuals.
      The English pack was better, too but I agree that it was the backs that won the game for England

  9. I think Bennett did badly because he hardly got the ball, and when he did it was first phase or crabbing sideways. I think Scott was really poor and was a big source of problems as he never made any ground for Bennett to play off.

    Also think that Laidlaw was woeful, not one snipe to fix defenders on the fringe, lots of slow ball, and lots of wasted box kicks. Russle was also guilty of some very poor high balls. I don’t understand it, we don’t seem to be great under the high balls, or have a good chase yet we always kick away our possession!!

    Forwards were good in defence but we seem to have no one that can make any of the hard yards. Was hoping for more from Richie and Jonnie in that department and Denton needs to be benched after that performance.

  10. None of the backs can play as they never get the ball before the defensive line is set. Laidlaw trots about as if he’s got a carrot wedged up his arse trying to keep as far away from anything physical as possible. SHC hasn’t been great this year but he’s got to get a shot. Embarrassing performance and captaincy.

    1. Agreed but BVC has to take the heat for that. He picks a team that are built to run and then throttles them back with laidlaw, I think he’s actually got slower. It’s now walk, look left, look right, point, moan at ref, step, CRANK ARM BACK, and pass. And the defence have reset by look left. Watching how quick Ireland get the ball away is night and day, also they let the 4 man to breakdown pass, don’t always wait for Murry

  11. Agreed performances were mostly awful but what did we expect. Glasgow have been rotten all season and Ed only slightly better. Key players have been badly out of form, and it’s no wonder – there is very little to challenge the likes of Russell as Jackson left and weir has been terrible when he gets game time. We have little options …why pick a team who are destined to play quick heads up rugby, and then play the worlds slowest scrum half – cause there is no one else.

    1. Whoever we picked, if he played at pace would be an improvement on Laidlaw. He isn’t the future so why persist. It’s not as though Cotter has anything against youth, rather the opposite. I wonder who his first choice 9 would be now, had Gilchrist not been injured after being nominated captain. Not Laidlaw I think.

  12. Thought Russell had a decent game despite most comments here – kicked well, passed safely, was actually able to catch the high ball and tackled. As the quarter back, he moved the team into striking distance, even if the chances were not taken. I thought the worst players on display were: Ford – cannot throw (and remember he cannot hook, or lead, so what is his point exactly?) and is too soft; Laidlaw gives toooooo slow ball when you are near the opposition line, just does not have the hand or brain speed (so relieve him of the kicking duties and get Russell or SHC kicking regularly at this level while the team is young); Seymour is way off form and was a liability. On the plus side, the scrum was awesome – Nel has made such a difference; and whether you like him or not Hogg was wonderful. We can still win the tournament!

  13. Unconvinced by a Scott, Bennett pairing after that too, particularly the Scott part. The back line was too small and will get battered by Wales. Changes please: Strauss for Denton (but only if fit); Cowan for Barclay; McInally for Ford; SHC for Laidlaw; Dunbar (fingers crossed!) for Scott; and maybe Taylor for Seymour, if only to sting him back into some kind of form.

    1. Unconvinced by Scott and Bennett? And Scott is the problem? And the back line is too small so you want to get rid of the heaviest guy? Maybe its brain surgery not rocket science?

      1. Scott is bigger than Dunbar is he? Or Taylor? Bennett is my preferred starter to Scott even if he cedes an inch; and for a number of reasons I don’t think those two should play together in the centres, not least if you are looking for club combinations. Let me guess you were a De Luca fan too and now think Weir should oust Russell?

      2. Dunbar was ruled out of the Wales game 2 weeks ago.
        SRU website – Taylor 15st 7lbs, Scott 15st 12lbs, . Scott and De Luca are very different players and in the RWC Scott looked very sharp. Bennett is a huge talent and needs game time. Shame Horne wasn’t fit. I just happen to think they are the best we have. Taylor must start on the wing for Maitland who is a waste of space at the moment. Russell should play ahead of Weir despite his brain farts.

      3. You can’t believe everything you read on that site, it says Laidlaw is 5’9 and 12st, 8lb – when we all know he is 3’1 and lighter than a feather. Taylor is 6’3 and as strong as an Ox. In fairness, I really rate Scott, especially the 2013 version and is the best Edinburgh back for sure, but you really want him over Bennett, or the pair of them together? I also think it is a shame Horne is missing. Hands up, I missed that Dunbar / Ashe statement, though actually it says “for the coming weeks”, so you never know…

  14. That was bloody depressing – lots of hype and then the underwhelming performances that we’re all used to. A 5 for Ford is generous, I think: he’s one of our most experienced players but always seems to go missing in big games like this. I haven’t watched McInally much this season but he can’t offer any less than Ford does and deserves a go, if only to give Ford a much-needed kick up the arse.

    As much as it pains me to say it (I’m a Gloucester fan and feel he sometimes gets harshly criticised), Laidlaw was awful. If your team’s pack has parity he can control the game quite well and get you rumbling forward, but he’s useless when the opposition have dominant forwards. Do we risk losing his goal kicking and try SHC?

    Denton was disappointing but has been playing in a struggling team all season (look where Bath are in the Premiership table) and probably deserves another chance to play his way into some form. Ditto Bennett who has been out injured for a while and will get better with more game time. I’d be tempted to drop Seymour were Visser not injured, hopefully he won’t knock on so often next week. Hardie and Barclay were good, as were the props. Onwards to next week.

      1. Agree. Seymour had scored five in five leading up this and his effort and intent was good in this game – the ball just wasn’t sticking. I thought he showed much more endeavour than Maitland and at least deserves a chance to right his wrongs. The frustrating thing with Maitland is that he has the class to be an international winger, but I don’t feel like we’ve seen it for a while. Taylor looked lively when he came on – should definitely start in Wales.

      2. Bar the last game, Seymour has been off form for Glasgow for a while and butchered his moments in the England game. And, until we stop the fumbling errors every team is going to Garryowen us to death. Perhaps he has enough goodwill, but Taylor is in real form (but, possibly he replaces Scott if Dunbar does not make it). Maitland, like Bennett, was anonymous, though as far as I can recall made no errors. If the team wasn’t getting it wide and he did his defensive duties how has he played poorly?

      3. Brendan Laney has had a greater positive impact on Scottish rugby than Sean Maitland. That sums it up really. Taylor deserves a go for tearing up for the Premiership leaders while Maitland plays the odd game for the bottom side. Just a shame Visser is out and none of the Edinburgh wingers is making a case. Seymour is a try scorer. Not entirely sure what Maitland is.

      4. Seymour has 11 tries in 23 tests. Visser has 10 tries in 23 tests. Maitland has 2 tries in 21 tests. Maitland doesn’t make mistakes because he doesn’t try anything. He’s content to sit at the back of the bus quietly minding his own. As much as Seymour messed up at the weekend, Taylor should take Maitland’s place next week. If we are to persist with 2 7s, then Watson has to take Barclay’s place with Hardie moving to 6. Next week’s game is going to be a lot more open and exciting. England came to suffocate us and succeeded – it was the perfect tactics.

      5. Seymour was exposed by his lack of skill in fielding the high ball. Utterly uncomposed and clearly not cut out for this level of competition. The tries he scored in the build up have all been opportunist intercepts or pace. He has a handy skip and step but his tackling is quite weak by top class standard.

        He really needs to work on his composure and technique if he is going to cut it at this level.

      6. Guys, why are you all clamouring to put Taylor on the wing? He has played consistently well for his club in his true position at centre, granted I have seen, recently, that they put him on the wing but that is because of availability. Putting him on the wing for Scotland will only just add to unfamiliarity and heighten the chances of him not making the impact we want. Because of injuries, I suspect we may have to stick with Maitland and Seymour, although Lamont may have to come in to the thinking to put a bit if bulk against North and Roberts. Not the most talented of players, but flexible, experienced and always gives 100%.

  15. Laidlaw is too slow, and his box kick just gives back possession. But since he’s captain will he ever be replaced…? We need faster ball, more sniping attack from a scrum half, and maybe more imagination from the backs. Finn Russell is the man, but he needs the ball quicker. Hogg is epic, Seymour too. Front five were fairly solid. Nel is awesome. But where’s the depth in the squad? The scrum buckled after replacements. This team could do so well with just a bit more confidence. They have to play like it’s knock out rugby. Vern has down an great job, and this is an exciting team, should be a great team.

  16. I do not understand why Laidlaw continues to be picked. It is a key position and he is consistently terrible and holds the play back by TAKING FAR TOO LONG. Everyone can see this, so why is he continually chosen? What’s going on? Ali Price has done well enough to be picked, Laidlaw should go to amateur rugby.

    Strauss needs to be in the starting line-up also – far better player than Denton or Barclay.

    1. Laidlaw is picked because he is the best available at present.
      Pyrgos is injured, SHC came distinctly second best in Challenge cup final. Ali Price has negligible experience, Mike Blair and Chris Cusiter have retired, as has Gary Armstrong, Conor Murray is distinctly too Irish.

      1. What about Sean Kennedy? He would speed things up. Just a shame Solomon doesn’t give him a look in. We need quick ball if the strategy is “organised chaos”.

    2. Sorry, but despite being a Strauss fan myself, I would not use him to replace Barclay. Watch Saturday’s game again, if you can, keeping an eye on Barclay. Alongside Hardie, he was a terrier. When we did not sill the ball ourselves it was those two that secured it for us and they won more turnovers than England did. Strauss is not playing at his best at the moment, but when on form him alongside Hardie and Barclay is mouth watering.

  17. For months now we seem to have struggled in the basic art of throwing the ball straight at the line-out.England on the other hand were well drilled.Surely we must get the basics right before we can expect results.

    1. Maybe it is improve one basic skill per game. Last game was the restarts, the next one could be lineouts…

    2. We’ll never get it right while we insist on playing non hookers in a specialist position. Lawson and Macarthur are hookers. Ford, McInally and Brown are not. Simples. As soon as the pressure is on, they tighten up.

  18. Ali Price is definitely one for the future. His performance at Glasgow on the last few games has been impressive. But Laidlaw is not going anywhere; his goal kicking performance will ensure that. SHC showed promise but his form with Edinburgh has been decidedly luke-warm. I think that the Bennett/Scott pairing will be maintained for the Wales game, I don’t think that there are other realistic alternatives (assuming Dunbar unfit). I thought that Scott had a reasonable game on Saturday and he’s generally been in form recently. I agree with most of the comments about Maitland. He’s been so disappointing for a while now. I would keep Seymour (he deserves another go) but Taylor in for Maitland.

    1. We need to do more in getting guys like Price through the ranks quicker (although we’re better at it than we used to be). Having said that, the impriveemnt in Price, game on game, in the last few weeks, has been nothing short of sensational. When he learns game management (Mike Blair a huge help here) then that electric pace will make him suited to the organised chaos mantra.

  19. Leave Ali Price where he is… Sort of fed up sacrificing all for the Scotland side, the RWC was on a high of Edinburgh in Europe and Glasgow winning the Pro 12. I think they are knackered and peaked in the RWC.

    Wales in Cardiff is a big one , however they can be volatile and emotional if they do not get on top quick and the crowd go silent. We should wind them up and see what happens.

    Laidlaw is there as a captain and survives week in week out in a very competative environment. I do not get it either, however , right now we are settling for a safe pair of hands in the absence of Grant Gilchrist and dare I say it, yes I will , Pyrgos.

  20. Everytime we lose a close arm wrestle (as we invariaby do against England), the dissection begins.
    It might be true that Laidlaw inhibits the style of rugby we want to play, and I’ve always believed that Ford couldn’t hit sand if he fell off a camel, but we’re short of options. Only one week before Wales away, we can’t make too many changes.
    Seymour needs a kick in the arse for not looking after the ball, but he’s been our best kick chaser and catcher in the air for the last 2 years.
    The thought of Jamie Roberts running at Matt Scott is an unpleasant one. Duncan Taylor would fare better in my view. Yes, too many players are out of form, but we can’t make wholesale changes just because we lost a tight game against a team like England.
    We just need the players (mostly the same ones) to think on their feet, use their brains and show some more composure on the ball.

    1. Have to disagree with you on Matt Scott. People expect him to be carving through defences like Ma’a Nonu but he’s evolved his game into a more undemonstrative style. He hits hard when he tackles and he’s very rarely turned over when he carries. Inside centres nowadays are there to make the hard yards, not slice and dice like O’Driscoll did. Dunbar is slightly the better 12 but he is unfit so Scott is the next best option. I would prefer Taylor to Maitland on the wing though.

      1. I agree Allan. If people are looking at Matt Scott and thinking his tackling is his biggest issue, they’ve been watching different matches to the ones I have. He tackles ferociously. He carries well. He also carries without much impact when the 10 is having an awful day and the 13 isn’t in the game because he is, to my mind, back from injury far too quickly.

        Not sure why Taylor is being seen as the solution now. He’s been playing well in the Aviva but then again, he’s always been playing well in the Aviva. He’s just never been that good for Scotland. I agree though that Maitland needs dropped after having shown very little in the last handful of tests and that Taylor should probably play there.

      2. Scott also jumps out of the line and leaves holes for the opposition. His defensive frailties cost us tries in the last 6N. We’ll see if he’s improved. Still think Taylor is best suited to take on Roberts. It’ll be intersting to see the teamsheet this weekend.

      3. Taylor in place of Scott – as Scott is a jinky runner. I do not believe he is reinvented as a never miss a tackle battering ram.

      4. Seymour can keep his place, I’m persuaded. Maitland too, I even fancy him to keep North quiet. But Ford, Laidlaw… please!!!

  21. My team for the future.

    1.Ryan Grant
    2.Pat MacArthur
    3.Grant Shields
    4.Grant Gilchrist
    5.Jonny Gray
    6.Rob Harley
    7.Chris Fusaro
    8.Josh Strauss
    9.Sam Hidalgo Cline
    10.Gregor Hunter
    11.Robbie Ferguson
    12.Sam Johnson
    13.Richie Vernon
    14.Junior Bulumakau
    15.Jack Cuthbert

    16.Stuart McInally
    17.Alex Allan
    18.Zander Fagerson
    19.Tim Swinson
    20.James Eddie
    21.Brendan McKibbin
    22.Blair Kinghorn
    23.Stuart Hogg

    1. 1. Too old, and gets dismantled every scrum
      2. Too small, will get dismantled every scrum. McInally please
      3. Don’t know much about him but surely Faggerson a better bet?
      4. Gilchrist or Richie Gray much of a muchness
      5. Yup
      6. Offers good balance at 6 but needs to increase mass and muscle
      7. Has 4 better players ahead of him.
      8. Strauss or Denton much of a muchness
      9. Yup, maybe Ali Price can continue to improve
      10. Nearly 25 and has barely played. Will never make it
      11. Don’t know much about him
      12. Starting to shine for Glasgow, could be an option
      13. Too old, not better than current incumbents
      14. Not exactly a youngster and has limited experience
      15. Seriously?

      1. I don’t think he was signed for any other reason. Only 22 so will be getting to his peak years when he becomes eligible.

      2. I am starting to agree with the comment on Gregor Hunter, what ever happened to Harry Leonard at Edinburgh? He was a great talent.

      3. Points taken on board, what about this?

        1.Alex Allan
        2.Stuart McInally
        3.Zander Fagerson
        4.Grant Gilchrist
        5.Jonny Gray
        6.Rob Harley
        7.John Hardie
        8.Josh Strauss
        9.Sam Hidalgo Cline
        10.Blair Kinghorn
        11.Robbie Ferguson
        12.Sam Johnson
        13.Mark Bennett
        14.Damien Hoyland
        15.Glenn Bryce

        16.Fraser Brown
        17.Alastair Dickinson
        18.Grant Shields
        19.Tim Swinson
        20.James Eddie
        21.Brendan McKibbin
        22.Harry Leonard
        23.Stuart Hogg

      4. Pat Mc is a hooker and always has been. You put a lot of faith in a no 8 who can’t throw, can’t hook, and is unproven at any level, never mind international. I’ve had this argument befoe. Check the relative weights on the website.

    2. Phil, that is the trolliest selection in the long and illustrious history of this blog. Laughable is too kind.

      1. Doug, sorry if you think it’s trolling but I was taking a realistic but alternative look on players who have either been forgotten about or overlooked, I mean surely we need to be taking a look at the likes of Blair Kinghorn and Brendan McKibbin?

      2. 30 year old Brendan is currently plying his trade at the Premiership’s worst team and this season has a red card for standing on someone’s head. Blair needs and will get time in the Edinburgh team soon I hope. Anyone in front of Cuthbert or Tonks is fine by me. I think it’s fair to say Stuart Hogg will be our full back for as long as he is fit. I think there are few players not in the squad who should be. I do however think the ones in the squad need to deliver.

  22. After watching the match at the weekend I think some real changes need to be made, this is a real shame after the attacking prowess that we showed as a unit during the World Cup but we are looking to being knocked right back to being involved in a scrap with Italy! Yes I agree with continuity BUT I believe that the time has come to start giving the current players a bit of a fright by bringing in guys that might just be able to show them how it’s done properly. I have also been thinking that Stuart Hogg needs a rest for a couple of games, he doesn’t look tired but he’s not been firing at his usual best, the problem is where do we find a fullback capable of filing his shoes?

      1. McKibbin is eligible as long as he doesn’t get capped by the aussies at least 18 months from the point that he last sat on the Aussie bench…

  23. Things to consider for Wales – They are ferocious at the tackle and will look to really quickly get men over the ball and secure turnover. The most effective way to combat this is for – Our forwards to ensure they do not take the ball into contact and not get isolated. Also to look to release the ball backwards (not just made available but released backwards) the very instant they go to ground so that Laidlaw can move it again (hopefully a lot quicker than Saturday) – With Warburton, Tipuric and Lydiate (depending on their flanker combination) they are so well drilled in the tackle and breakdown that you can almost take it away from them if you genuinely have the mindset that your objective when crashing/straightening off first receiver ball is not to get over the gainline or even to draw the defence per se but to get their backrow on the deck- slow ball will kill us just as much as turnovers in this game – Again with this mindset you can also look for offloads (its such a component of the game that was succesful for Glasgow last year – and one that will pay articular dividend against Wales) and crucially quick ball. The reason quick ball is so important against Wales is because of how quick their midfield defence flys up – if you keep it really quick they will either be offside or they will not be set and be staggered – this plays into the hands of Hogg and Bennett who otherwise will not have any room to maneouvre – also we have seen that Seymour comes off his wing well for the inside ball – again if you have quick ball with their backrow unable to reset with a staggered midfield defence this becomes a really really effective attacking platform. To that end you need to pick a backrow that is not focussed on forward grunt but is picked based on handling ability and tackling ability. Unless Denton has learned to pass or step in the last 4 days I think I would be tempted to go with Strauss, with Barclay and Hardie retaining their place – continuity is far more important than gaining 1/2 yards now and then.

    Also due to the scrum deficiency we have to look again at the front row replacements – Low???

    For the rest I say let the players atone

    1. This is absolutely correct we need to be looking to not get sucked into the Wales game, we should look to play maybe 1..2 phases then kick overhead against Wales, Wales will try and win the tackle and brakedown area whereas we should be looking to get our big runners like Strauss, Barclay or Gray running for a crash ball ball off the centres. The bottom line is we can’t play a pretty backs running game against Wales or we will get destroyed.

      1. Running big guys at the Welsh centers is pointless for the exact reasons you’ve outlined. They eat up contact. The only time they looked stretched against the Irish was when the game became unstructured. Turnover ball and broken fields are the only things that make a difference to a defense as well drilled as the Welsh.

        Not entirely sure what to do about No. 8. Denton didn’t look anywhere near his best on Saturday but Strauss hasn’t been in form for not far off 9 months now since his injury playing for Glasgow. He’s also not played well for Scotland. I’d probably retain Denton because if he plays a good game, he can be the extra carrier that we were crying out for on Saturday.

    2. Scrum deficiency? The scrum was rock solid last weekend. What game were you watching Martin?
      Agree with the comments about Welsh line speed and pressure. Hope Russell keeps them vervous with some well placed chip kicks.

      1. Just watched the first half again and Dickenson had Cole on toast. The scrum was solid. In fact there was a lot to be positive about and I am glad to see Laidlaw talking up the team before the game.

        Now how much pressure and frustration will Wales feel (6 day turnaround remember), at home , if Scotland get a score or two ahead.

        Can it be done, yes, we need to pin them in their half from the off, hit hard, stop the forwards coming over the gainline , which we did in patches with England.

        There is a 16th man in Cardiff , the crowd, split them from Wales and they will resort to type (indiscipline). The way to do it ,is disrupt and stop them getting into their game.

        With only 6 days to recover , we have an advantage in the second half and I for one, cannot wait to hear them whinging about the turnaround at the end of the game , when we win.

        All to play for , lets hear the positive talk now.

      2. Can see how I wrote it could be interpreted differently from what I intended – I meant to say that when we make our front row replacements the drop off is far too pronounced. In no way want to slight Reid or especially Fagerson, but we will contineu to be vulnerable at the end of matches unless we have a solid scrum for 80 minutes.

  24. The Fordy comments seem unduly harsh, not his best game ever but to point him out as a key issue misses the bigger picture. The forwards were not the problem. The fact that Scotland gained nearly 3x as many meters as England yet couldn’t score says it all. For as much praise is given to Hoggy, it’s very rarely acknowledged that his showy tactics only work once in a blue moon. They’re impressive and worth remembering when they do, but just because he runs a lot doesn’t make up for his (or Russel’s) failure to play as a team member and pass the ball in crucial moments.

    1. I think you are absolutely right! We really need to be looking at guys that can play as a team unit, Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg have a tendency to play as if there is nobody else on the park which at times allows the forwards to become increasingly tired trying to run support lines, we should be looking at playing these guys tactically at the right times after the forwards have done the hard graft. I think the bottom line is that we have a solid group of players that definitely know how to play rugby but need to start working better as a team.

  25. Does anyone also have any views on the performance of the “not quite there” players such as Gordon Reid and Duncan Taylor?

  26. In my opinion Reid struggled. A solid honest player at club level, this was just a step just a little too far. The difference between England’s second string front row and ours was substantial. That said, Reid and Fagerson right now are as good as we have got. I am not a fan of Moray Low.

    Taylor, frankly didn’t get a chance to show anything, but on the basis he has been a regular starter for Saracens, the best side in England, think he needs a start so we can better assess how well he can cut it on the big stage. The question is – which position?

    1. Answer to your question is simple. Taylor is a centre and that’s where he should be playing. We don’t have the resources to play people out of their regular club places. He is selected by the premierships leading team at centre (mostly) and that’s where he should start for country.

  27. I think after several years of poor starts to the 6 nations we should ask some questions about the preparation. Something needs to change there. Could the players be released from the clubs earlier? Should we bring back the blues against reds selection match? How much work are the international coaches doing with the players ahead of the tournament? Richie Gray is a good appointment but he cant do much in a few weeks consultancy. The attack coach is new in. How long does it take to bed in new systems?

  28. Hardies first appearance at Murrayfield has silenced all the doubters. Turns out he’s world class and willing to put his body on the line for the shirt. First name on the sheet for next week. Hope he can get an injury free run in the tournament.

  29. Do my eyes deceive me or was it Barclay giving away penalties for collapsing mauls, Denton and Richie missing tackles for the first try, and Seymour missing a tackle for the second try? Be bold Vern choose SHC, Pro-12 young player of the year, and victor of the 1872 cup as scrum half against the Welsh…

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