Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Wales 27-23 Scotland

Tommy Seymour - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Tommy Seymour - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Scotland headed to Cardiff in search of a first win since 2002 and a first win against Wales anywhere since Warren Gatland took charge. With the roof shut in the Principality Stadium (as it is now known) the crowd were against them, history was against them and the pre-tournament favourites were against them.

That they came away so close (again) to a victory is a testament to the effort Scotland put in, but sadly also there were many familiar failings on show.

The Scots lined up in the tunnel with looks of grim determination on their faces and even Vern Cotter and our Welsh forwards coach Jonathan Humphries sang along to Flower of Scotland to aid the visiting support.

Scotland reacted accordingly, fired up from the start but still contrived to fumble two high balls in as many minutes. The scrum also had a rocky start giving the Welsh an early attacking lineout and the usual maul to try and elicit a penalty or at best a try but a Welsh knock on killed the move.

Perhaps stung by criticism last weekend, Tommy Seymour was grabbing every high kick put his way and some that he had no right to in a purposeful performance, but it was a batted hand from Jamie Roberts or Duncan Taylor into the hands of Gareth Davies – who was certainly offside before the kick went up and possibly still offside when the ball came down to him (Law 11.1 states “A player who receives an unintentional throw forward is not offside” so it may come down to who touched it last). Davies led the Scots defence a merry dance before touching down for the game’s first try.

Scotland came right back led by Laidlaw who was suddenly delivering quick ball and an attacking threat which kept the Welsh defence honest and opened up more space. Just when it seemed like they might run out of ideas in the face of a sturdy red defensive line, Finn Russell much improved on last weekend – jinked a perfectly weighted kick into the in-goal area, and Tommy Seymour capped a brilliant opening spell to pounce on it for an instant response.

From there Hogg and Seymour were causing Wales all sorts of trouble during a breathless opening 20 minutes and there was a repeat of last week when John Barclay found himself with unexpected ball and was ambling down the touchline with a pace man outside him. His kick forward was marginally better than Finn’s effort last week, but only just and denied Bennett a chance to impose himself on the tournament.

Hogg was then unfortunately lost to the game to his obvious disgust (believed to be a back spasm – Hogg was still 4th on the metres made list despite only playing for half an hour). His replacement was Ruaridh Jackson, on the bench at the last minute for Sean Lamont, who was in turn starting in place of the injured Sean Maitland. Not long after that bit of bad news though, Laidlaw put Scotland in the lead with a long range penalty.

Dan Biggar (not injured) levelled the score on 35 minutes after another 50/50 call at the scrum from referee George Clancy but Scotland were looking comfortable on the ball and late starter Sean Lamont was to the fore as the visiting team secured another good set of phases and a penalty kick to take the lead on the stroke of half time.

Half-time: Wales 10-13 Scotland

Tommy Seymour resumed his impressive performance with another brilliant take in the air and John Hardie was tackling everything once again but there was always the worry that Scotland were on the wrong side of the officiating and so it proved as Biggar equalised within 6 minutes of the restart.

Scotland looked far more assured than last week against England and it was a helter-skelter game that seemed to suit them, with plenty of chances to either play the ball that was kicked to them, or kick for territory with both Russell and Jackson making gains initially.

The scrum too finally exerted some pressure on 53 mins giving another chance to take the lead back.

From there, Wales looked to move away from “Gatlandball” slightly and were starting to eke out chances out wide. They were also starting to pounce on Scottish mistakes as Hardie spilled the ball after a good line break and Tom James streaked down the left wing. Only the determined tackle of Duncan Taylor prevented a try but with Welsh pressure on, Laidlaw spilled it over his own line allowing Wales to put the pressure on.

A series of scrums on the Scottish 5m line saw the navy pack hold firm despite the roars of the home crowd. Clancy whistled and reset repeatedly and while Nel could handle that he was powerless to stop Jamie Roberts at full tilt whose try made it 20-16.

From there it was sadly familiar as Scottish lapses in concentration and a weaker bench gave George North some huge holes to run through that just hadn’t been there in the game to that point. For the Welsh it was the try of the tournament, for us it was like “A Nightmare on Caroline Street 5”.

Taylor, who like Scott the week before had been given scant opportunities with ball in hand scored a fantastic individual try at the death as Sam Hidalgo-Clyne tried to up the pace where Laidlaw had perhaps been flagging alongside other starters like Nel who had been asked to go the distance.

Wales brought on a better bench, and in the end that was the difference. With a mere minute to try and grab a win in this of all venues there was no Shane Williams-style last minute magic for Scotland, just more of the same. Our search for a fairytale goes on.

Chase, fumble, repeat.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Laidlaw and the Gray brothers were much improved this week but for responding so nobly to the aerial challenge when the Welsh obviously thought Scotland would succumb it has to be try scorer Tommy Seymour.

141 Responses

  1. Roberts (and Basteraud) should be told that the next head high (head butt?) tackle results in a red card. And as for Clancy’s hurried review of the first Welsh try, typical, he’s done it before – once he has taken his random decision, he sticks to it. Honestly, I am sick of this. His decision as the difference between and L and a W.

  2. we have such quality in our starting 15, but until that quality stretches to 23 and more, we will always be up against it. I thought that was a great performance considering and more positive than vs England. We can win the next 3 I know it, if we keep our heads up. Credit to all of the Scotland support, in much better voice than the whole of Murrayfield last week. Supporting Scotland has never been straight forward, but I feel this group of players can do something special. Maybe I have blind faith, blind hope and blind loyalty, but we will get our reward soon, it will be deserved and all the more great for all we have suffered.

    1. We are crucified by injuries due to the lack of depth. Currently MIA: Dunbar, Scott, Pyrgos, Gilchrist, Ashe, Maitland. Add in a just returned Horne and out of form Strauss and we have no backup with any experience. A fully fit squad has talent but it’s rare for them all to be available at the same time sadly.

      1. To be honest, Josh Strauss needs more game time with the team, this will improve his game and confidence after his injury to be the good player we all know him to be. Why would he lose his mojo after playing such good rugby for so many years.

    2. I’m 54 supported Scotland forever. Live in England, sat in the pub in my Scotland shirt for the last two games and taken the grief. But I think I’ve just about given up. We have the best team in years who seem incapable of holding a ball, schoolboy errors. Yes I agree refs don’t give us much but we have a team who should be able to rise above that!

  3. What’s the point in playing if we’re given absolutely no chance by a terrible referee? We were laughably better than Wales today. The only reason they won was a certain George Clancy. Sick of it!

    1. Think yourself thankful he’s a tax inspector only in Ireland. Frankly it is a toss up between him and Joubert (who allowed NZ to field 8 in the latest sevens round) who is the worst on the International Panel.

      1. Clancy was, as per usual, hopeless at the scrums, but we lost principally because of Fords appalling line outs gifting possession, props dropping passes due to piss poor skill sets and one lapse of concentration that let North in. On such small margins etc etc.

      2. The line outs are a team effort. Why’s Barclay jumping against AWJ?! That’s not on Ford. Young Gray needs to call them better.

        The scrums were a joke, every time the Welsh felt pressure they popped up or collapsed and got reset. The mauls in the first half AWJ wasn’t even trying to look onside. And the offside was a joke. We lost because we had a -14 handicap in that game.

  4. Much better performance but same result unfortunately. Think today really highlighted our lack of squad depth as our replacements were just not at the same level as Wales’.

    Seymour – So much better than last week. Really dangerous and brilliant under the high ball)
    Hogg – Shame he had to go off as was by far the most confident he’s seemed all season.
    Taylor – Brilliant tackle on James, well-taken try and just generally brought his Saracen’s form.

    Ford – Lineout was awful and he seems to make negative two metres every carry
    Denton – Out of form and inneffectual
    Richie Gray – Anonymous again

    Laidlaw – Far more dangerous than last week but his crabbing across the pitch really annoys me. Hope Hidalgo-Clyne gets at least 20 minutes next match to prove himself.
    Bennett – Not sure if he’s fit but doesn’t seem the same player as last year.
    Lamont – Time to give someone else a go. No pace but generally pretty solid in defence.

    Tempting to start Mcinally and Toolis against Italy. No idea what to do about the Lamont’s spot (Hoyland maybe? I know he’s young and inexperienced but a pretty effective try-scorer). Other than that I’d keep the same team for the next match.

    1. Think I agree about Hoyland – give him a go, see what he can do. Definitely a prospect. Sean Lamont has been a great servant, but time for him to step down. Maybe Maitland will be fit again in two weeks time. Taylor has to start next game. Seymour, thankfully, has found some form again.
      The line out was frankly appalling.
      Think Bennett is only about 95% – for a guy that really needs his gas that is borderline.

      1. Tom Brown is in excellent form for Edinburgh and could come into consideration for the wing. Also think Richie Gray had a good game today, maybe doesn’t carry as much but was heavy in defence and had a good charge down.

      2. Might have been a little harsh on Richie. His work rate is pretty high and I’d forgotten about the charge-down.

        Think I’m just desperate to see the Richie Gray we had about four years ago again!

  5. Hey guys get over it. We’ve been on the wrong end of refs decisions.
    You weren’t good enough today. Scotland are a good side and you will get patient!

  6. How many cameras and officials will it take to get it right …..these games are so close it has an affect directly on the out come and for some reason it seems to affect Scotland more than the rest ? I really do think when this happens were the score is so close and a wrong call affects the out come the matter can be raised after the game in the same way as dangerous play can be looked at after the match

  7. First time commenter. Can anyone discuss Fords lineout technique? He seems to have his hands beyond the middle of the ball and it looks terrible to me. Could not tell if he is right or left handed from throw-in. Some big opportunities lost at line outs as well.

    So close to a win and the next 2 games are critical for sure! Win them and it’s game on in Ireland!

    C’mon Scotland!!!

    1. If you think his throwing is bad, count us lucky refs don’t insist on a straight scrum put in, we would never win a single scrummage!!

      1. I don’t think we’re the only side in that situation. Danny Care’s put ins last weekend went straight to the second row and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Conor Murray put the ball into the middle of a scrum!

      2. Aye but watch the Irish at a scrum and the feeding is concealed by Best actually hooking the ball, even though he should in fact be penalised for foot up instead! It infuriates me to see how blatant the cheating of the Irish is and considerably more brazen than any other side yet ignored by officials.

  8. What is the point of bringing on Hidalgo-Clyne to replaces Laidlaw so late in the game, at least give a player time to get going. Surely it’s time for Laidlaw to go, yes he was better in this game but I get fed up with his lack of quick ball!

    1. He was excellent in the first half then got progressively slower as the second half went on. At one point he walked, yes walked to a ruck and the Welsh lads just came over the top and kicked it away. SHC came on and then threw possibly the worst pass of the day! Ali Price for me until Henry is fit!

  9. Most frustrating part for me was when we marched Wales scrum back on our 5m line and Clancy kept giving put in back to Wales despite their front row popping up. Every other ref gives the advancing scrum a penalty – can anyone explain to a frankly mystified back!?!

    Also – I find it a bit bizarre that supporters are still calling for Laidlaw’s head after he was totally instrumental in our good performance yesterday. If Pyrgos was fit, SHC would be nowhere near the 23 – he just isn’t ready for test rugby yet.

    I think the performance showed the value in sticking with players who are under fire and giving them an opportunity to improve. That was a game we lost because of a lack of impact off the bench but we went toe to toe with probably the strongest NH team at the moment and scored to cracking tries.

    1. Spot on about Laidlaw, he was great. I wondered whether he should be dropped last week but he improved hugely, as did Seymour. Denton and Ford were still anonymous though, I don’t know how many more chances I’d be willing to give Ford.

      Clancy is an awful referee and my heart sank when I saw he would be doing this game. I thought he’d probably let himself be influenced by the crowd at the Principality Stadium or whatever they call it these days and so it proved.

    2. Agreed, Laidlaw should have bought himself some clemency after his great performance but still has so many haters. SHC is no saviour, the performance of a SH is so heavily dependent on the pack performance. SHC won’t be quite as effective at this level due the pace and intensity of international rugby being much higher than at Edinburgh where he does shine. Laidlaw is a star at Gloucester where he plays at a very high level surrounded by quality players and with quality opposition. I doubt very much those calling for laidlaws head have watched the english prem. I would however rather the captain comes from the pack, but no obvious candidates stick out (Jonny or Hardie ones for the future perhaps, Barclay experienced but only just breaking back into the squad) which is probably why Laidlaw is there.

  10. The lack of any depth in Scottish rugby is exposed yet again. Players coming off the bench are not of international quality. To have a reasonable chance of winning a match we need our first XV on the pitch and playing at near full potential. Yesterday that didn’t happen. Old war-horses such as Lamont and Ford have had their best days in a blue jersey and are not the future. Others such as Richie Gray may have peaked early in their international career. The selectors will have to bite the bullet sooner or later, and roll the dice even if this weakens the team in the short term. Whether we like it or not the Six Nations is no longer the pinnacle of Northern Hemisphere rugby – the Rugby World Cup cycle means teams need to start rebuilding now. We have allowed ourselves to be distracted from this by the over-achievement of the team last autumn.
    Everyone on this blog agrees that the SRU model for professional rugby has been a massive fail. Two professional clubs are insufficient to develop a strong core of international quality players that the international team requires. I don’t have any magic solutions but we need more of our young aspiring professionals playing abroad to grow the playing pool.

    1. I think two professional sides is fine (not ideal – but not the be all and end all that some claim) providing we get right what is underneath it. Argentina succeeded by having an extraordinarily successful elite youth programme and professional pathways despite having no professional sides to place them in. Their high water mark remains the 2007 RWC semi-final. Scotland have only just established our first four academies – that says it all about what we got wrong in our disastrous transition to professionalism, we focused all our investment on the top level of the game without the depth of talent or popular support to sustain it. Then went bust. Thankfully the SRU seems to be focusing on the right things now. We might not boast the European champions any time soon but we have two competitive pro-sides (essentially on the cheap) and are finally giving our young players professional academy environments to develop in.

      I think Lamont and Ford have plenty still to offer. Our total focus should be on winning now. Everything else is basically irrelevant until we have some victories under our belt.

      1. Fords coat must be on a shoogly peg after yesterdays awful effort at the line out and his continuing lack of hooking!!!

      2. Short-termism is a legitimate strategy but relying on over-the-hill players with the hope that on the basis of ‘experience’ they will deliver victory is chancy. What happens if the victories don’t come? We have serial losers throughout the squad who do not have winning mentality. The longer they, as experienced players are allowed the set the culture in the team, the longer the vying for the wooden spoon. Will the players you recommend keeping be central to the 2015 World Cup?

        The selectors in 1986 backed new blood, notwithstanding Scotland winning the Grand Slam 2 years earlier. They were rewarded by the 1990 Grand Slam team.

      3. I don’t think we rely on over the hill players. Our squad is relatively young and callow, we only have a handful of more experienced players and if they are the best in their position they should play. Ford and Laidlaw are for me still the best we have at 2 and 9. Mcinally/Brown/MacArthur and Prygos/SHC need to demand the shirts of the incumbents. In fact, when they have had their opportunities they have generally been less impressive. Prygos is the only one really running close and he’s been injured all season.

      4. I agree with the personnel you have as the players pushing for the 2 and 9 spots FF, but not your assessment that Ford is the best we have at hooker. McInally was much more dynamic in the loose than Ford, as was Brown when he was tried. The lineout was under pressure for most of the match, and only when they mixed up the calls and used some guile were they successful. It didn’t hide some poor throws from Ford.
        If McInally is the more dynamic player in the loose then he should be tried. His throwing can’t be much worse than Fords. How many times does Ford get away with it before someone says”enough”?
        Just because he adds ballast to the scrum isn’t sufficient reason to keep him in the team.

    2. You’re right about those getting distracted by over achievement. There was none. We beat Japan, USA and Samoa. Did we over achieve because Samoa were a higher ranking? We were a better team on paper so I don’t think so. We lost to SA and Oz. A team we had beaten 2/3 of the last meetings. We ran Oz within a score which is exactly what we are doing now. Expectation levels have risen and we are a small margin from winning these games. When we get over the line and get a win, in the current structure and with resource we have, then we will be over achieving.

    3. The last part of your comment hits the nail on the head…and was forseen before the changes…. It’s refreshing partly ….that we know the causes… there is a lot of talent out there who don’t get the chance to show their worth and this problem exists in lots of other areas not just on the playing field of sport

  11. Laidlaw, excellent yesterday so good on him.

    Weir ,in this Scotland team playing (or trying to play) in this way, is like a fish out of water. Russell should’ve been kept on yesterday. In the future it should be either Jackson or Hogg as replacement 10.

    I won’t even mention a 3rd pro team, which would allow the likes of Nairn, Hastings, Kinghorn, Farndale, Dean, Price, Eadie, Cummings, Bradbury, Malcolm etc etc etc can get regular game-time.

    Is it reasonable to have your 2 pro teams playing totally different styles?

    Re Wales a grudging well done, they could’ve “done an England” & played a limited strangling game but they didn’t.

    Duncan Taylor looks a different beast to the guy I watched playing for Scotland the season before last.

    1. I thought Jackson was very good when he came on. With Horne and Visser playing on the weekend maybe we could have a stronger bench against Italy – Weir doesn’t offer enough for me and we do have options when we get a couple of these guys back.

      Would also like to see Ben Toolis replace Swinson and Strauss replace Cowan. We need our replacements to provide some impact rather than just be steady eddies.

      1. Strauss was terrible when he came on against Ulster on Friday. I’d rather give Rob Harley a shot from the bench. I agree on Swinson, I don’t see what he has that Toolis hasn’t and Toolis is better at the line out (although that’s moot if your hooker can’t hit a barn door with a shotgun)

    2. Agree on weir, not the style of player we need Jackson or Finn at ten. Cotter really baffles me, why keep ford on when lineout a shambles? why keep nel on when he’s exhausted? why change to kicking to corners when or back line was making inroads with ball in hand? All very confusing,

      1. If Strauss’ form remains poor then we don’t really have too many options – Harley is a workhorse and totally unsuited to being a 65min impact sub. Watson can make an impact but is more or less and out an out seven that doesn’t jump in the lineout.

  12. Another game, another inability to react to what’s working and what’s not. Not sure if cotters to blame or laidlaw but we had them all day in the back line, Bennett, Taylor, Jackson and Tommy s looked like they were going to have a field day, then second half we change tactics, kick to corners when our lineout was pish. On that note it’s really time ford hanged up his jersey and see what one of the young guys offers. He was mince yesterday. Cotter also should have taken nel off as he was knackered

    1. Ford wasn’t mince. His carrying and tackle stats over the last two games have been very good and he is an important part of our strongest front row that has fixed our scrum which had been horrendous for years.

      Our line out was poor but that is not simply the fault of the hooker, unless it is overthrown, not straight or similar. Actually it was obvious Wales had our line out sussed – it is Jonny that is calling the line out and at least three other players responsible for executing the plays.

  13. Scotland are a well coached side now and have vastly improved under Vern Cotter, the only thing holding us back is an obvious lack of depth.

  14. Basically we have a Scotland who have the potential to win games but who love to lose and whinge that it was everyone else’s fault. The blame must lie in lack of leadership both on and off the pitch. Lawson is not a leader and should not be captain. Cotter needs to be less accepting of continual sub-standard performances at the basic level (generally different players each week) especially Ford who still cannot throw in. When was the last time Scotland was beaten by a team you could genuinely say played better than Scotland could have played if they’d cut out the basic errors and had proper leadership.

    1. The players get a free ride from the press/media. A series of poor results eventually does for the coach but the usual suspects remain in the reckoning for caps.
      In the run-up to the matches individuals have been rolled out to mouth platitudes and how things are going to be different when the mistakes are cut out etc. Plenty of ‘talking the talk’ but no evidence of ‘walking the walk’ where it matters.

  15. Spot on Cavok, last week when we were 5 yards out from the English try line instead of pulling the supporting players in near the ruck Laidlaw leave them deep and throws the ball back 5 yards behind him, the English charge out and hey presto we are 10 yards from their try line, this happened on a few occasions, where as in the same position the English played it tight and at least didn’t loose ground!

  16. Careful what you all wish for.A Scotland team without Laidlaw’s kicking would not even get close to
    modern international teams.Last week any SH in the world would have struggled with the slow ball
    that was coming back to them.The difference this week was quick ball that allowed Laidlaw time and
    space to snipe or give Russell a pass that kept the Welsh forwards honest.
    The only trouble with Scotland is that these guys just cannot catch a break,be it from the Ref,TMO or even
    an opposing player making a mistake.I am more than happy at our play for about 75% of a match (apart
    from Ford’s throw in’s)We just need to sort out the other 25%.
    ps if Laidlaw had still been on that final pass to ground would not have happened

    1. I would rather lose a game lamenting the number of penalty kicks we missed than lamenting the fact that we couldn’t play winning rugby! It would be acceptable to have the post match debrief be along the lines of ‘We were beaten by a better team’ rather than the usual whinging, apologetic, huffy Laidlaw grudgingly muttering ‘….. we’ll get it right next time!’

      1. Can’t point fingers at Laidlaw this week, and the whole muttering, I don’t think that’s what he does he speaks his mind and does tell it how it is i.e. we made to many errors. Laidlaw did very little wrong this week, and a lot right. I would rather not miss kicks at goal as points on the board is all that anyone really remembers about a game going forward. If he didn’t truly believe they’ll going to sort the mistakes out then he wouldn’t deserve to be there.

  17. Much better performance and the tactics were right.

    Ahead at half time, and at 60 minutes. Laidlaw breaking from the base as he did in the RWC, great quick ball, and we did have the welsh scrum on the retreat. At the breakdown the welsh were being knocked back and forced to kick to get over the gainline. Under the high ball we were better , not perfect , however competent.

    For the life of me I cannot understand why Clancy thought he made the right scrum calls and it took forever to sort it out (suited the Welsh to leak time post the second half trys and when they were suffereing post the 6 day turnaround).

    The front row stick their neck between stones of meat and agression , they know how to look after themselves without intervention from the likes of Clancy.

    We had a penalty on the welsh ten metre line, Just inside second half , had Hogg been on, an easy 3 points, however Mark Bennett can kick them from Half way. Kicking for touch when we are losing our own lineout was a bad decision. I do not know why we do not understand the potential of our squad.

    Great to see Taylor and Jackson showing us what they can do. Good post match comments by Warburton and Roberts.

  18. A step up from last week for sure, its a shame to have to learn lessons as you go, re passing /looking for hogg running lines.
    Agree regarding scrum decisions, wales under the cosh and go cute,…. we need to get cute or streetwise or whatever the parlance is.
    We did have wales rattled, of that I am assured, if you can sustain your defence they run out of ideas – the bludgeon runs out of steam. Rather illuminating was the chat on the radio prematch, granted we dinna score tries with any regularity but this “great” welsh side don’t either – if you remove the Italy game last year it was 4 in 4, the same the year before if you remove the hogg red card game. Granted they can bosh and do it well but good lord , open things up a bit. who knows you might get a greater reward.
    We are struggling for depth but I do think we are in a decent place. keep Barclay and hardie alongside each other,… send denton back to bath (whom you replace him with I’m nae sure ).
    I think we can still target the other games, Italy will be a challenge but ride it out and get rewards, Ireland are slowly crippling themselves with injuries and the French pack are gash.
    I’m sure I had a point in here somewhere but lost it, so I apologise for the rambling nature of this post

  19. Sorry cavok but I would just settle for a win whether we play winning rugby or are just plain old lucky
    and to do that you need a reliable kicker which Lawson,sorry,Laidlaw is.The media ask for Scotland players take on the game,which they give honestly.That is not making excuses or whinging.

    1. Ah ha Tee Cee. That’s where we differ and wherein lies, I believe, the fundamental problem with Scotland: thelack of true ambition and the acceptance of second best. This leads to complacency which, in turn, leads to the basic errors that riddle the team. This is compounded by the lack of leadership from Laidlaw who, in every interview I’ve seen, comes over to me as an apologetic whinger.

  20. Some really good points made. I am not Laidlaw’s biggest fan but on yesterday’s performance he deserves to be back in the team. The captaincy is another issue but we lack leaders on the pitch. The fact that injury-prone Gilchrist, who was not even sure of his place in the team, was previously earmarked as captain says it all.
    What I cannot understand the way that individuals who underperformed yesterday will appear in the starting 15 next match – breeds a climate of complacency with lack of any consequences. At least a couple should be cut from the international squad and sent back to their clubs to refind their form. How can the international players of the future be motivated when they see careers based on serial failure?

  21. Please please please can we get rid of these unprofessional collars on the shirts. Dave Brailsford has made a career on marginal gains and the importance of the attention to detail. Even my children play with tight collarless shirts and yet our so called professional teams think it collars are a good idea – they are 5% more to grab onto – the marginal mindset is what we need to find a victory – Players please cut them off! And we need a number 8 fast – Ashe/ Strauss we need you.

    1. Collars on shirts are the least of our worries, don’t remember anyone getting grabbed by the collar in this game or any other. Strauss completely out of form and Ashe injured. Denton our only real option at 8.

  22. Let’s discuss lineouts, who is at fault? I have been critical of Ford lately but is it all his fault? Remember a few years ago when Al Kellock was in, our lineout was a force to be reckoned with, he was well know for being a master at the lineout, Ford was the hooker then and did fine. Does the fault lie with the jumpers / caller? I believe it’s jonny gray at the moment.

    Whatever it’s an area for serious concern, why when we improve on some areas (breakdown intensity, defending mauls etc) do we always take a step back in an area we were previously not bad at?


    1. Grrr is the operative expression. Leave Ford aside for one minute, Jonny Grey calls the line out & the Welsh boys play Glasgow regularly. Without totally breaking the code is it not impossible they have enough idea to seriously disrupt the line out. A question – I was a lazy back so no doubt some of you forward wizards will enlighten me.
      For sure the amount of line out ball we lost was criminal, and I can remember when nothing else at all worked the line out did!

      1. Looking at the line out there does seem to be some truth that the calls are easily read. Not enough deception in the lineout. Ford was to blame for a couple of the misses (e.g overthrows) but not all, AWJ got himself up and competing with our intended recipient which Ford can’t do much about. I think a complete rethink of line out calls may be required which could be doable in the two week turnaround we have but would take our focus away from many other areas. Maybe we should have a few more options for our shortened line outs with only 3 or 5 involved and use these more as it can be a way of instantly creating more deception (easier to get more movement for the jumpers) and disrupts the established opposition line out jumpers/lifters as they need to drop some out.

    2. I’ve never been a fan of either Laidlaw or Ford. Laidlaw did have a decent game against Wales, so I’ll leave him out.
      Ford is another matter altogether. People always find excuses and reasons for keeping him in the team. The current one is “the scrum is now strong, so we have to leave him in”. Or, “it’s the entire pack who are responsible for the line-out, not just the hooker”.
      Trueisms, but in Fords case utter tosh.
      We’ve always known he has issues throwing, particularly under pressure. We also know he’s too big to hook properly, so god help us if the other pack don’t give any ground at the point of impact. The ball just sits in the tunnel in those cases.
      In the loose, he’s so slow there isn’t really a lot of point. No dynamism at all.
      He can tackle, but an international player needs a lot more in the armoury.
      His throws at the weekend were a mix of flat, overthrown and underthrown. It really drained confidence from the pack. And yet, he’s still being defended.
      Please explain?

      McInally, Macarthur and Brown should be given an opportunity.
      Seems very unlikely with BVC. He’s not one for changing a losing team it would appear. Where is the ruthlessness?

  23. I think it’s time to stop being typical glass half empty Scots and start looking how good we are starting to become. If we are basing our displays on the fantastic World Cup we had then we are not quite there, but if we compare it to last years Six Nations then already it’s a whole lot better. We are starting to get competition for places, centre for example a choice between 4 decent centres, once Visser and Maitland are fit we have depth on the wing. We always seem to do this to ourselves a, I believe in 2 years time we wil have a team to compete with anybody, especially with the young talents we have in our backs.

  24. Towards the end of the first half we were given the choice of scrum or lineout. I thought well that’s a catch 22 lol

    Backs – we have players who can make breaks there is no question of that but they invariably always go to ground with the ball as opposed to offloading. In the main that is due to a lack of support players

    For Taylor’s try that was different he had 4 players on the inside of him and that is great and a big improvement. What is not great is that he appeared totally oblivious of them and chose to go himself. He backed himself and scored and that is great but what is not great is that he took a gamble and did not pass it inside for a 100% guaranteed try under the posts

    An All Black would have passed it and that is the difference

      1. Sorry, its early and I didn’t get much sleep. I thought you were somehow having a go at one of our best players and his outstanding individual try. My mistake.

      2. In somewhat agreement with you Angus, not enough interplay when we do break the line. We sometimes expect an extra pass to go wrong so don’t fancy trying it, although I do think Taylor made the right call but hindsight is a wonderful thing as that led to a try.

      3. No problems Doug :)

        Don’t get me wrong I am all for a man backing themselves but they have to get the score if they do

        Just thought of Russell last week not having the peripheral vision to see Hogg outside him and then on Saturday Barclay was it putting that kick ahead when Hogg had run an inside line to support

        We have proven we can make the breaks and the next step is to make them pay off

  25. Clancy is piss poor for both teams and we know it. However we were in the lead even after his intervention. I think the issue this week was that as others have said our wafer thin squad of international class players is being badly stretched by loss of form and injury.
    Visser, Hogg, maybe Dunbar, Horne, Scott, Mailtland (who cares) should be back. We need carriers in the back five of scrum, at the moment we barely have 2. Laidlaw was vastly improved but SHC will never prove himself if he doesn’t get a chance. Get a decent 15 on the pitch and we will sneak a win in Italy. Possibly.

    1. Think SHC is great prospect for the future, but needs to find form at club level again before rolling the dice in the national team.
      Despite all our woes about lack of depth in the squad we would have buried wales by half time if our lineout had only clicked. On the plus side, of all the aspects of the game it should be one of the easier to fix at fairly short notice.

  26. Does anyone feel that Jackson can feel a bit aggrieved at being left out of the original match day 23. I feel he should be on the bench at the start as cover for 10 instead of Weir. We are all talking about form at the moment and he is one of our form players who has done very well at Wasps this season (scored a try and set up another against Toulon earlier in the season). When we do need a change it should not be to bring on Weir who doesn’t offer a great attacking threat. Jackson showed he his good at the basics (delayed pass for Taylor try). Weir can see out a match we’re winning but Jackson could maybe find the try in the last 10 when we’re not. Bring someone else in (Hoyland or Tonks) to cover the back 3.

    1. Yes and No – I think he could be miffed if he is left out after the Italian game. Weir has been with the squad through the RWC and would have been the obvious, safe pair of hands. That opens a new argument up, do we want safe, are we willing to gamble more . Scotland are one big win away from having the confidence to be in contention once again. Nugget confirmed that with his post match commentary on Saturday. I think we will stay safe and then off load players later in the tournament. The weekend results showed that there is not a lot between the sides and England, arguably, are looking very good for the tournament. So the Wales match is the real benchmark of where we are , and it is better.

  27. Really interesting comments. Broad agreement with the consensus. Laidlaw & Russell improved. Seymour fantastic. Hogg great. Gray Jnr, Taylor, Nel, Hardie, Barclay all very good. Bennett not there yet (quite). Slammed Ross Ford but reading the above perhaps lineout not all down to him. Denton needs to be dropped, anonymous again.
    So painful but really is a case of ‘going again’ and surely that win will come.
    However, for all the positives, could you argue that the only improvement in 12 months is the introduction of a kiwi and a saffer (namely Hardie and Nel)? If you took these two out of the side where would we be? I also thought Wales were well off their best and did make some basic errors (someone above suggested we need a bit of luck – i.e. opposition to make errors).
    On the flip side, having now seen 2 rounds of matches, it does look as though we have perhaps played the 2 strongest sides already. If we’d have had France fixtures (Italy home, then Ireland at home) we may well still be looking at a Grandslam!
    2 week break should hopefully give us more options to work with despite the knocks from Saturday.
    Anyway, off to Rome in two weeks. Just hope I’m toasting a win!

  28. I was less perturbed by this loss than the England game, as we clearly gave it a right good go this week, but it’s still massively frustrating. I thought when the Glasgow boys won the Pro12 final, that we were starting to crack the ‘winning mentality’ that we’ve so sorely lacked over the last 20 odd years, but it’s just not made it’s way over into the international team yet. I think the difference is the likes of Al Kellock, standing up and dragging a team over the line with his leadership, and as talented as our young team are, the older heads are not those sort of player. The Welsh have Roberts, Jenkins, Alun-Wynn Jones and the like to drag them over the line, where we have Ford, Laidlaw and Lamont who are all quiet guys and you just can’t imagine them having that kind of impact. that said, I think Martyn Williams was spot on on Saturday in suggesting that a big win to boost the confidence is exactly what Scotland need to get the ball rolling properly.

  29. A lot of comments and lot of them are perhaps looking for the silver bullet that doesn’t really exist. We have played arguably the 2 best teams in the tournament and come out with marginal defeats in both – I don’t think there is any real regression in regards to the the scores, but I suppose what is more frustrating is that within the games there are moments where we have not capitalised on momentum and at the other end messed up some basics that have resulted in us conceding points.

    The telling things for me from the match were: If Denton does not break the gainline he is pretty ineffectual, he doesn’t seem to link well when he is in the midfield and he doesn’t look to bring it to the line and pass/offload. Next time out against Parisse he needs a huge game.

    As much as people have questioned Maitland’s potency and Vissers defensive skills I felt like we really missed out on their pace – especially when Hogg went off. Personally I would have liked to have seen Tom Brown on the bench for his gas alone ahead of Weir – I know it was late circumstance that prevented this from happening but with Lamont / Seymour we really lacked the gas to exploit the space the wingers got once it got through the midfield.

    2 weeks now we have had genuine counter attack ball and we have kicked it out of play – even if the ball stayed in (both times) I am not sure that the best option wasn’t to give the ball to Hogg and let him go. This isn’t a skill issue but more an issue to do with panic. Perhaps this comes with losing streaks, but the mindset here, must surely be to relax, scan and pick the best pass.

    lineouts are also an area where we need to strengthen – all to often we missed jumpers or we were too predictable. If we get this aspect of set-piece right then perhaps it means that we have more sustained control and we have more confidence executing attacking patterns and putting teams under more sustained pressure.

    Lack of front row strength from the bench is a concern, but there is no silver bullet here either. we must work on developing and strengthening Reid, Sutherland, Fagerson and Low and hope that we see the fruits in a year or 2 from now.

    Positives – Our scrum has parity. We bled some penalties but won some penalties – this is a marked improvement over the past couple of years.

    Our Maul looked quite effective – with a bit of control when Hardie / Laidlaw snipes and it will be an effective platform

    We defended the maul a bit better as well – I personally think a mixture between chaotically disruption and structured counter drives are the best way for us to mitigate. Disappointingly we actually managed to stave of the Welsh when they went for the corner instead of taking the easy 3 points – but then messed up our exit (again) and re-invited pressure. If we can better defend this then teams won’t automatically think 7 points but instead be happy to take 3 next time we are in that position.

    Breakdown – We are as good as any NH team from what I have seen recently. Its such a key aspect of the game and one that if we get right could play to our strengths.

    Midfield – The strength in depth in the midfield is terrific – so much so that i would look to Bennett and Taylor to work on their wing play to offer greater depth and in-game re-shuffle.

    1. Let’s face it – a lot better than last week. I can’t help but agree with a lot of what you’ve said here. Hogg was sorely missed when he went off – no offence to Ruaridh but Hogg was getting back to his best, if not better! Hopefully he’ll be back for the trip to Italy.
      I don’t think we can completely cut out the mistakes without taking the best out of this team – taking chances and playing on the edge. However, some of the errors were horrendous and we need to get rid of those. Examples:
      1. Ford had a tough time at the lineout, but at least one of the lineout losses was entirely his fault and a loss of concentration at the set piece is unforgivable.
      2. Hardie left a good rolling maul then ran away from support down the blind side, and then was stripped of the ball is another example. One or two of those is almost acceptable (eg getting stripped of the ball in midfield at least gives our defence a chance), but all three meant we lost an attacking position and very nearly a try.
      3. Four defenders getting wrongfooted by North – FOUR! Surely one of them could have covered the switchback move?
      Having said all that, we were close to beating the 6N favourites in their back yard. Then again, close but no cigar. Anyone else having a feeling of deja vu? In 2015 we played well and lost the first couple of games then gave away the 3rd game to Italy? Scary.

      1. The coaching team appears to have decided on ‘organised chaos’ as the way to make best use of the skills of the players. One would anticipate errors given that some of the players are unsuited to a looser, more high risk type of game plan.
        At the moment we are too dependant on individuals performing and not making errors. What is missing is a sense of team collective that can make up for individual shortcomings. Players (Russell; Barclay) do not anticipate that team-mates might be busting a gut to get up in support. Why did the other back-rowers not follow in support when Hardie burst away? The best teams are more than the some of the individuals and do not necessarily have to include the best individual players in their positions. Our bench in the 2 matches so far has been a failure with no impact and indeed a falling off in performance. Time to identify the younger players who might grow into future internationalists.
        I note the comments about the poor club form of Hidalgo-Clyne who yet sits on the Scottish bench. He is clearly not being pushed at Edinburgh and needs to head south to fight for his place and realises the levels consistency required for an international scrum-half.

      2. Highland Bear. I agree, I like the “organised chaos” plan, without going all misty eyed and purist I think it is the “proper” way to play rugby. It makes for exciting games and is a joy to watch. We played some wild stuff at the WC, but it was exciting to watch and apart from the travesty of a reffing decision I didn’t mind losing to Australia because we gave it a damn good go, was far less annoyed about that than the result against England which was the result of dull, uninspiring, error strewn play.

        You also need to pick a team that can do organised chaos. Laidlaw is great so long as the pack very much has the upper hand, if they don’t he is useless. Duncan Weir is not conducive to organised chaos either, safe pair of hands yes and a good tactical kicker but not the guy that can conjure a break from no where. The forwards need to get with it. While the backrow have improved leaps and bounds on breakdown skills they need to up their game when it comes to interplay and support play. Denton is a bulldozer if he is on form but is worse than useless if he is not. We need those guys to be right on the shoulder of the likes of Hogg and Bennett when they are making breaks. That’s how you get quick ball / offloads that create tries. Equally as much the player making the break has to start assuming support will be there. When you look at the All Blacks, they throw offloads without even looking because they know someone will be there to pick it up, that’s the kind of trust and team play we need.

  30. The failure at the line out is simply not good enough. The team fights so hard to get into that position and the set piece line out fails.

  31. I’d pick the following for Italy
    15. Hogg, 14.Seymour, 13.Bennett, 12.Taylor, 11.Brown, 10.Russell, 9.Laidlaw
    8.Wilson, 7.Hardie, 6.Barclay, 5.Gray, 4.Gray, 3. Nel, 2.Ford, 1.Dickinson

    Jackson, Visser, SHC
    Denton, Toolis, Grant, McInally, Fagarson

    Ford is needed for his ballast, Toolis is better than Swinson. Russell centre option if needed.

    Still think we could do with a 2nd 5/8 option

    1. If Scott is fit (or any other centre – Dunbar?) I’d be inclined to put Taylor on the wing (as I said pre tournament). Make use of our best players/confident players even if (loosely) out of position. Other than that, a change definitely needed at 8. But who? Anyone know how Ashe is getting on? Failing that, Strauss? Dare I say it…. Johnnie Beattie! In all seriousness the latter was arguably at his best when playing alongside Barclay (and Brown) and so may be lifted to his best in a trio with Barclay and Hardie?

    2. Wouldn’t be against benching Ford as when the other front row changes are made and weaken the scrum, his extra weight would mitigate against it slightly.

      1. Agreed, Ford is in need of a benching. Give the other guys a chance, we know what Ford can / can’t do and in his current form he is not offering much. Jackson has earned his place, and can cover FH and FB so I would have SHC and whichever fit centre doesn’t start on the bench. Taylor also earned his start on last weeks performance, one of the form players in the country at the moment (apparently, I don’t pay much attention to the premiership) so would be stupid not to.

        Is Visser fit? I know he couldn’t tackle a fish supper but he is a 1st class poacher and if you are buying into the “organised chaos” theory (see my previous post) then your attitude should be “score more than them” rather than “don’t let them score” in which case Visser is your man.

        Hardie and Barclay is a combo that is working at the moment so leave them we just need someone a bit better at 8. I’m in two minds, do we want a Denton type blunt instrument or someone a bit more dynamic? Where is Beattie now a days? I was always a big fan but remember him being dreadful last time he played for Scotland.

        I always say this and get flack for it but the Gray’s especially Richie need a rocket up their arses. Yes they put a shift in and rarely do anything wrong (apart from lineouts) but we all know what Richie is capable of when on form. Where’s the dummys, the palming off half the opposition to crash over the line? Has he peaked too soon? I would be tempted to bench him but there’s a lack of serious alternatives, I have never liked Swinson and have never seen Toolis set the heather on fire, Gilchirst unfortunately looks like one of those guys who is perennially injured.

    3. I think it looks unlikely Seymour will be fit, but I hope I’m wrong…he could do a “Biggar” and recover miraculously.

      1. Seymour apparently came out of his ankle protection “boot” almost immediately so his sprain may not be as serious as big Richie’s, two weeks could be enough time but with Visser and Brown fit and Maitland expected to recover in time too, there are options.

      2. Ah I see….I thought it was the other way round and Richie came out of his boot immediately and Seymour was in his a bit longer. Shame about Richie, while not setting the world alight like he did he’s been solid. Maybe Gilchrist will be back for Edinburgh this week. That would be a boost. Selections for Glasgow and Edin this week could be interesting. Having Dunbar back for even two of the remaining games would be good…

      3. Right first time – it is Seymour that is still in the boot and undergoing further ‘care and assessment’. We probably have more wing cover than lock cover but Seymour was back to his best against Wales.

      4. Rob Harley is training with the squad, so I guess he could be brought in as cover for the 2nd row.

      5. Harley doesn’t offer much grunt or ball carrying but is a good extra safe pair of hands in the lineout at 6

  32. Reviewing the injury update following the game – we’re being told that Hoggy had a back strain, if I remember right, didn’t he have issues during RWC with his back cramping midway through second half of a couple of the games? I’ve always thought his running style looked a wee bit like unusual – with very little knee lift with short, stabby strides and this seems to have become more exagerated recently…perhaps his ‘style’ is putting mechanical pressure on his back?

  33. Interesting that the current training squad has both Wilson and Harley back in the mix. Cotter surely looking at putting Denton on the bench or even out the squad. He can be a great No8 …he has the physique …he just isn’t doing it tho.
    Id select Barclay 6 Hardie 7 Wilson 8 bench Harley/Denton.. the worry is Wilson is a ticking time bomb and could get us a man down. He is strong and tenacious tho … and Denton has been playing like a fairy…and that is useless for a N08. I think Wilson has a ton of potential if he can finally mature as a player.
    I think Ford is a good bench option… for when opponents scrum runs out of gas. Moray Low surely needs to be on bench ..he is playing at a good club level..and holding his own.
    A fit Gilchrist in place of Ritchie Gray…Gray on the Bench.
    Seymour and Taylor on the wings Visser on the bench
    Centre Bennet and Scott…Taylor and Horne as cover.
    Jackson looked much improved player… he should be on the bench.

    1. I don’t know why but I’ve never rated Harley, he’s not imposing enough to be a back row forward. He’s barely imposing enough to be a scrum-half!

      My friend and I were bemoaning the lack of options at hooker Scotland have had for a long time and we came to the conclusion that Ross Ford has led a charmed life. It’s a shame that Fraser Brown is injured as I think he is a better option than Ford.

      1. I’ve never rated him either. Good Pro12 level player, but not international class. Fusaro as well. I cringe when I see people clamouring for his inclusion in the Scotland team.

  34. I’ve tried posting a couple of comments but they have not appeared. Is there some sort of problem?

    1. Most likely due to the length of the posts, I have approved one just now. If your comments are continually rejected by the system please get in touch as they were not flagged as spam but sent straight to “deleted”.

      1. Naturally though if you have something long enough to be a blog post on its own get in touch! Also to be honest I’m not really sure why your posts got auto-junked, that was the only thing I can think of. Anything contentious usually goes to pending/spam, but this was neither…

  35. Finally reviewed the game from tv. Was it not for our dismal 6N record, I would not be too disappointed.

    Goods: scrum held its own and possibly edged it overall. Can’t for the life of me understand some of Lacey’s decisions, even without my blue tinted glasses, but overall a strong showing. Individual performances from Hogg and Seymour who were at as good a level as I’ve seen for a while. I hope their injuries are sorted quickly. The partnership of Barclay and Hardie was superb and made Warburton, Tipuric and Faletau almost anonymous. Laidlaw had his best game for a while and justifies his continuation at both position and captaincy especially considering SHCs contribution (see below). Just goes to show what a difference quick, well presented ball does for a team and SH.

    Bads. Line out. Lack of control and organisation. Why didn’t someone notice that AWJ had moved to jump with JB and change the call? Individual decisions and lack of awareness. Despite being ultimately successful, I thought both tries had wrong decisions. FR ran a good line and drew two defenders, he should have fixed and passed to DT, who in turn, fixes the last defender and passes to TS who runs in unopposed nearer to the posts. On the second try. Excellent pass from RJ to DT who picked a good line. As he approached the line, instead of going himself DT should have passed inside to the three unopposed runners who again, would be under the posts. Finally JB kicking ahead when he had a speedster either side. Where was the communication or awareness? Finally SHC, currently and apparently our only alternative SH. He did not get a lot of time granted, but he should have used it to make his case. The last pass of the game, when we needed the miracle moment, was woeful. He’s not ready yet.

    Other general points and opinions. I don’t understand the negative comments on Lamont. 110% Again, solid in defence and gained some hard yards, a real workhorse. I do not agree with any suggestion of playing DT out of position on the wing, unless forced through injury and lack of cover. The first Welsh try, should not have been given. I’ve listened to and read the arguments that say it was legal, but they are wrong. Davies was offside from the original kick AND when Roberts tapped it back (although I also judge it went forward from his hand). The TMO was asked if there was a knock on and then I am sure Clancy also asks try yes or no. The TMO got the call wrong on both counts. However, we need to get ourselves in positions so that such mistakes, which will regularly happen, are not pivotal, we’re not that good, yet.

    Looking forward. I have confidence (notwithstanding the regular Scottish foot shooting ability) that the team against Italy should not need to be changed, injuries aside. With that type of performance (and hopefully with continued improvement) they should be too good for Italy, and, from what I’ve seen so far, also too strong for France. Don’t understand why Fagerson was not used. Did Nel’s monitor show he lasting better than he looked in the last 10 or was there a realisation that the Welsh strength in depth against Fagersons lack of experience would have negated any benefits of bringing him on?

    Let’s hope for a positive result in a couple of weeks.

    1. Are you seriously going to bitch about two tries that Scotland scored? Good tries I might add! The Rev I.M. Jolly I presume?

      1. Allan. Not a bitch. Absolutely delighted they both came off, but when there is continuous talk about ‘small margins’ it’s those sort of individual option decisions that make a difference at international level. The first try was because of a good bounce if it had bounced any other way TS may not have been able to secure it, in fact he has to contort to get to it, for the second it is minor, but making the conversion easier makes additional 2 points more likely and quicker as the kicker does not have to be so precise. As for the I M Jolly tag, as I stated previously, if our track record was not as woeful, I would be less disappointed, but 7 6N defeats in a row, and the fact that we have beaten the Welsh once in 15 years ( and I have been at every one of those….hey maybe that’s it am I a jinx?) does not give me much to be jolly about. I also remind you that the overall performance was such that I am confident of the next two games being wins and possibly three. Now that would make me jolly.

      2. Deflated, I’m with you on the right as a knowledgeable fan to be as critical as the coaching team would be behind closed doors of the ‘fine margins’ decisions that could have backfired. If we had a track record of creating chance after chance after chance then things would be different of course. But sadly we haven’t been as prolific as that in recent years. And also like you, I have taken heart from these two narrow defeats and am really hoping for Rome being the turning point for us in this 6N. Especially as I have a ticket for it!

  36. I reckon Harley should be exclusively a lock (being about the same size as POC) I get the impression he lacks the movement to be a top class back rower, in my mythical 3rd pro team I’ve got Richie Gray & Harley as my locks. Harley is hard & not averse to being in where it hurts.

    Re comments above I re the team, we need wingers on the wing

    1. I agree re Harley as a 2nd row option. Personally I dont feel Swinson has added much off the bench whereas I believe Harley coming on for the last 20min in the 2nd row will make a difference especially if it is an open game. Also agree that Low is surely in contention for a spot on the bench and after Wilson had a good game against Ulster for Glasgow he may be in line for a start at 8 with Denton being effective off the bench against tiring defences.

    2. The mythical 3rd pro12 team is a good little game to play.

      Mine would be, assuming we’re not going to tempt anyone from the big teams in France or the Aviva any time soon….

      K Bryce
      A Toolis
      G Bryce

  37. Lots of good analysis and comment above. There has been varying degree of fall out from the game and so many folks coming up with bad referee calls on various situations throughout the match. Even Mike Blair couldn’t stop himself which says a lot I feel. More so than any other game that Scotland has been involved with has there been so many contentious issues littered throughout the whole 80 mins. Even with the fall out from Joubert and Australia that was one bad call at terrible time which is awful but nothing the same as the Wales match. I’m sure there were errors that Scotland enjoyed the benefit from but I didn’t see many. I have limited info on how the laws of rugby are interpreted but I know what looks right and what doesn’t and that is often a clue in rugby and to a lesser extent in the round ball game when an infringement is made. Referees will use their experience and also will use their gut feeling especially in the scrum. I’d like to take the main referee talking points throughout this game that various folks have commented on and maybe see where I’d imagine the referee was coming from but also how the Scotland players should have played it better.

    Davies Try (9th min)

    This is disappointing to say the least more so on the TMO rather than the referee. He may not have asked the general question “Is there any reason…” which would have opened it all up but I think the TMO can say I’ve got something else we need to consider here before awarding the try. Football people (and many referees involved in it) are envious of this ability to review for the right decision. However it is come about it the right decision is what the referee wants as well as the players. Again for me when the kick was made I have no idea why alarm bells weren’t ringing in the referee for offside offside offside as the breakdown was in front of the kicker for players outwith the jumper. I think when Jonathan Davies analyses it and says it wasn’t a try on the Rugby special then it wasn’t a try. Could Scotland have done much? Maybe catch the kick or disrupt better but not much blame here.


    Mike Blair made this point in his column and I feel as others have said that more often than not the maul going forward gets the penalty and they are easy to spot. AWJ was the main culprit here but why was he not pinged for Swimming up the side? It’s a puzzler here for many said it was obvious. Charteris was highlighted at one point for playing the scrum half which is illegal and Chris Paterson said Wales got away with that. So it’s playing on the edges of legal and Wales got away with it time and time again at the Maul. Here I feel Scotland knowing that the line out was dodgy and knowing that they had lost more lineout ball than the 3 as they officially lost. There were many more turnovers straight after the lineout as well either from a knock on or the ball being held in the maul. This is where they should really should have said right we are not getting clean ball from this lets get it away early off the top to at least have a clean attack with a bit of a front foot play rather than get it turned over in a wrestle that the referee is clearing favouring the opposition in rightly or wrongly. In the end the turning point in this game came from a maul that actually initially worked well but Hardies knock on came about as he was isolated on the ground changed the game. As has been said why was Laidlaw the only support and no cover down the narrow side. 13-16 up into the opponents 22 and Scotland then succumbed to 7 minutes of real pressure on their own line.

    The Scrum (and particularly 63rd minute just before the try)

    As I’ve said we made errors that brought us to within 5 metres of our line. Again Mike Blair has talked about this in the past that one error leads to another which leads to real pressure. In this particular move we made error after error. Hardie’s knock on, Loose ball after Taylor’s tackle which should have somehow have been put into touch giving us some breathing space. Lost lineout 5 metres out put us right on the line and in the end the pressure was too much. The scrum that I would like to highlight here was the lineout after 6 mins of pressure that was continually reset for Wales benefit (who were more than likely up to their old tricks) right infront of Scotland’s posts. At last we got the edge and completely destroyed their scrum. Can anyone work out why this was not given as a penalty to Scotland? This was crucial and had we cleared to halfway Scotland may have got to a 6 point lead. We could have worked this passage much better but this to me was clear and not sure why the penalty wasn’t given. Generally in the scrum so far this six nations I like that they are not automatically going for a penalty when the scrum goes down at the front but it has to be quickened up for when a scrum comes 10 minutes out from full-time and a good team can effectively work it so that that is the last play of the game. It is ridiculous.

    These were the three areas that stuck out to me but there maybe more if I can watch the whole match back in detail. We often bemoan referees making mistakes and yet players make so many more and are not as highlighted. One bad error and the referee is the fall guy. What stood out in this performance was the way some clear decisions that are made by top referees time and again were not made, the amount of these errors and the fact that the TMO was used terribly when it could be used. Take an extra minute and get it right. I know at the top level of UEFA matches in football are dissected in slow motion after the game to see the most minute errors that could be improved on from the angle of the refeere. I’d hope that was done in rugby but I suspect not. Clancy isn’t doing it deliberately but it really was a poor performance and from what others say it happens too often for one of the top 20 referees in the world.

    1. Referendum. You sparked me in to looking at it again (Glutton that I am). Davies try. Davies was never onside from the kick which is one point. Secondly, I’ve listened hard and I can only hear Clancy asking whether there was a knock on and the TMO has ruled not, despite Andy Nicol saying he asked try yes or no. I believe his ruling stems from the fact that it appears that Roberts taps the ball ( back or forward is difficult to call) onto DTs hand. You could argue that at the point DT comes in to contact with ball everyone is onside, but it does not change the fact that Davies makes no effort, i.e. Does not retreat, to get back onside from the kick, no try. Also note that Roberts is definitely onside from the kick. You asked if Scotland could have done any more? I can only say that RG and WN are the nearest players to Davies, at about 2 m, when he catches the ball. WN has a chance to grab Davies but is hampered by Charteris and RG is hampered by….wait for it…. Clancy. Davies then does a good job in finishing it off. So I don’t think the boys could have done any more.

      Maul. I agree we did not have the sympathy of the ref (did he have it in his mind that we have a poor maul record? As per my previous comments re Dean Ryan’s article). I was particularly dumbfounded on the maul at 15 minutes where AWJ actually crawls across the top of the maul, so off feet and should therefor be out of the game, before sliding off and collapsing it. Decision scrum put in to Wales. Where is the logic? Even more galling is that Clancy is stood right in front of AWJ. Also was Charteris legal?

      Scrums. 60th minute. Wales get the initial shunt but are held and Lee’s head pops out, reset same put in. So not a Sco pen for ‘standing up’. I can just about accept that. 63rd minute and you’re point. First reset 50 50 so fair enough. But why does Clancy tell JB to stop talking to his pack? 2nd reset can’t see what the issue was but assume it was both sides again. 3rd go. Again Wales get the initial nudge but Sco hold and then Lee, again, steps to be at 45 degrees driving illegally, Sco surge forward and because Lee is at an angle the scrum collapses. We have hands on the ball in the ensuing ruck/maul. So pen to Scotland for either collapsing or holding on, take your pick? No, play on and Wales score. So you are as confused as I am. All of that said, we will always be on the wrong side of doubt with referees until we actually show we are a dominant force capable of challenging teams when we might start getting the balance of them. I also make a final point, you said “Wales….were….up to their usual tricks”. That is a area of the game we are behind in. Call it cheating or gamesmanship, but we’re not as streetwise as the other teams, especially Ireland and Wales, we’re too nice and don’t get away with as much as we could. Our captain also has to be coached on how to talk to the ref to get him looking at those areas without getting up his nose and sounding like a whinger. That is not easy and depends on individual referees.

  38. All in all there were so many things that were different to Scotland’s usual fare in Six Nations and real stand out differences to the way they played.

    1. Tries we scored two good solid patient tries and created at least 2 more clear chances. We scored 10 points in the second half where we haven’t in most 6 nations matches in the last few years.

    2. Discipline. We gave away 5 penalties in the whole match and 9 against England. That is 14 in two matches that is usually what we do in one match. issue with that is that England an Wales gave much more away so why did we not capitalise? No yellow or red cards due to the good discipline. What a difference it made.

    3. We scored before and after half-time. Mike Blair calls it the Championship minutes 5 mins before and after this time. This shows we are on it.

    4. Restarts much better and under the high ball we more often than not made it to our advantage.

    Often our mistakes cost us but I think we forget that all teams make mistakes and they cost the teams more often than you’d think. The best teams recover, make fewer and manage to work out really pressure situations to their advantage. We are so close and the winning habit will come. Martin Williams said he sees Scotland in the place that Wales were ten years ago. Lets hope so we just need big win. We can easily win the next three, with more confidence we can so it just needs to be done. Do that and we have a bright future. Scotland play their game against Italy, open and organised chaos and we’ll be fine. I just worry if it’s close with time going away that we won’t be able to cope with the pressure with this run they are on.

    1. I agree… we are not far away from being a very good …attacking…good to watch team.
      We are still not quite sure what are best team is tho… still looks like it need some tweaks to me…combined with requiring the rapid progression of fringe and backup players.
      I disagree with comments in the media etc that trading results over performance is advantages. Results are like stats they can gloss over performance progression I think. Results are needed for self belief tho.
      Coaching that is in place is the best it has been for a long long time tho I think.

      1. Results are an outcome. All the performance progress in the world won’t give us any comfort if we finish the 6N with 5 losses. We need wins and we need them pretty desperately.

    2. FF I agree but with you but in these things we can take comfort that we are close. Should it not materialise then we are in trouble. That is what is so gauling about Australia. Will we ever get a better chance to reach a semi or final ever again? But would you rather be 3rd in the championship with 2 wins under Scott Johnson with no plan and no real hope for future or this now? It’s a difficult question cos if you win all the time playing badly does it really matter? But there has been very little chance of us gaining wins on a regular basis with the stats we have had over the last two/three six nations and that is why we are on this run. If and it’s a big if the wins come we are in a good place. Like I’ve said we get an easy win in Italy that will bring with it more wins because we have got over the line.

      1. Yes, I thought we played well against Wales and never expected a win in Cardiff so was pretty satisfied, if also frustrated. But the Italy game is now win at all costs – lose and I can see Cotte leaving not to mention our place in the 6N being under intense scrutiny. Win and we he a little momentum and a decent shot at following up with two more victories. So no pressure guys!

  39. Interesting article in the rugby blog using stats compiled by Accenture for first two rounds of 6N. Puts Ross Ford in top three Scots for their breakdown work in terms of rucks hit and success rate (other two being both Grays). The 6N official stats put Ford among Scotland’s top tacklers and ball carriers too. Given probably only one lost line out was directly related to a poor throw (as opposed to a poor call or jump) I’d say Ford is getting pretty unfair treatment on this thread. Although I do like Rambo and he deserves an opportunity, I don’t think Ford should be dropped. He’s just our latest scapegoat.

    1. Wow. I have seen the Accenture sight before and it looks really interesting. The stat table that jumped for me is the momentum chart predicting the likelihood of a win. Before the game on Saturday, I could not see how we would eek out a win until about the 55th minute when I actually thought ‘ we’re in with a real shout here’. Sadly as we know that was not to be. The momentum chart shows that Wales were the most likely to win for the whole game except for a brief period starting from 60 minutes. Maybe I have to rethink the old pun about lies, damn lies and statistics. Also, and slightly off thread, I read dean Ryan’s comments about refereeing decisions with interest. I have suspected for a few years now that a lot of referees go in to games with a perception (sub-consciously probably) of which team is more likely to offend or make mistakes and that influences their decisions, especially fifty fifty ones. Could that explain some of my bafflement at clancy’s scrum decisions? Interested to hear opinions.

    2. Yeah.. some harsh views on Ford. And in defeat there is always a scapegoat… however..’statistics are like miniskirts: they give you good ideas but hide the most important thing’

      1. Could not disagree more. The marginal difference between players’ breakdown work does not justify the ongoing failure at the lineout, which at this level is binary and game changing. See our last 3 losses! Drop Ford and maybe find a way to bring in Swinson too. I said it before the game and it is not…

      2. J Gray was more at fault for the line out performance against Wales, our line out was sussed and he makes the calls. I think only one was a poor throw from Ford. If he throws it where it is supposed to go and AWJ leaps in front of Barclay that is a bad call, not bad execution from our much maligned hooker.

        You also want Swinson to start? Is that a joke? We’ll improve the line out by bringing in a shorter less athletic lock?

    3. FF – I can’t take your defence of Ford seriously. One poor throw!?!?! Did you watch the game?

      1. I do not have a great deal of sympathy for Ford. However, unless some of you guys are line out experts and know better, the guy who calls them is the (supposed) King. In this case Jonny. I still think the Taffery had some of our calls.

  40. This post is almost a blog in itself so going to put it in parts hoping that it’ll stay together.

    Lots of good analysis and comment above. There has been varying degree of fall out from the game and so many folks coming up with bad referee calls on various situations throughout the match. Even Mike Blair couldn’t stop himself which says a lot I feel. More so than any other game that Scotland has been involved with has there been so many contentious issues littered throughout the whole 80 mins. Even with the fall out from Joubert and Australia that was one bad call at terrible time which is awful but nothing the same as the Wales match. I’m sure there were errors that Scotland enjoyed the benefit from but I didn’t see many. I have limited info on how the laws of rugby are interpreted but I know what looks right and what doesn’t and that is often a clue in rugby and to a lesser extent in the round ball game when an infringement is made. Referees will use their experience and also will use their gut feeling especially in the scrum. I’d like to take the main referee talking points throughout this game that various folks have commented on and maybe see where I’d imagine the referee was coming from but also how the Scotland players should have played it better.

  41. Taking a holistic view, the evidence from the World Cup and the Six Nations to date is that we are getting better/closer to the top teams but are not there yet. That will only come with experience in my view. I think we all believe we’ve got the talent now and some decent coaches on board. We can tweak the team here and there, e.g. hooker, No. 8 and we need more international props and scrum halves, but, arguably, that apart, we’re developing a decent team now. I also believe that some referees come into games with preconceived views and, as a result, the so-called weaker teams suffer. Also the better teams come into games against teams like us with a high degree of confidence because they feel that they can beat us and confidence is everything the higher the level you get in any sport. The only way to deal with the last two points is by winning and changing opposition and referees attitudes. This will come with experience. Imagine how much better we will be come the next World Cup when players like, Nel, J Gray, Hardie, Ashe, Cowan, Russell, Bennett, Dunbar, Taylor, Seymour, Hogg and others have another 30 caps or so behind them. Meantime, as we improve we should perform better in the Six Nations, on Summer tours and in the Autumn internationals.
    Hard to swallow given our lack of success in the last 15 years but we need to be patient a bit longer.
    I would like to see changes at hooker and No. 8 for the Italian match, McInally and Strauss, if he plays well tonight.

    1. I didn’t see the game but apparently Strauss had a blinder which may push him into contention for the Italy game. I’ve been disappointed by Denton whom, after a solid World Cup, seems to have reverted to ineffectual type.

      1. Chaps. I was at the Warriors game last night. Strauss played well, but I wouldn’t go as far to say a blinder though. That said I expect he done enough to make VC consider him as an option at 8, either to start or from the bench. Personally I think he done enough to get the start especially with a remit to keep Parisse (spelling?) quiet. My only concern was that he received treatment about midway through the first half and did not seem to be comfortable afterwards, I hope all is ok. As far as the other internationals on display, Harley was quiet and Lamont was solid if unspectacular (that’s him all over). Duncan Weir put in a solid and controlled performance, including a very good individual try, and for the Laidlaw doubters, Ali Price had a decent game but not enough to justify a start ahead of GL or, indeed SHC probably.

      2. At last we have almost our full centre conundrum with Scott, Bennett, Horne and Taylor all currently in the squad and seemingly fit.

        I think I’d have Horne and Taylor starting, with Bennett on the bench and Scott edged out. Gotta go with form and Bennett has yet to shine in this year’s 6N. Italy could potentially field Campagnaro and Morisi (yet to be called up but played for Treviso last weekend) which is a seriously strong centre partnership.

        Does Visser come straight into the team in place of Lamont? For me, Visser in form adds so much threat and Italy are not the best at attacking wide. If you have Bennett on the bench there’s no place for Lamont and no wing cover (except Taylor on the field). I think Jackson/SHC/Bennett adds some real impact and quality for the last 30 minutes.

  42. I know that Ali Price is being talked up as being a good young SH, how about Scott Steele at London Irish? I must confess I don’t know much about him other than that he is regularly starting, is young (same age as Price), and is Scottish!

    Any further info?

    1. Scott Steele was part of a successful Scottish school team where he played 9 and SHC played at 10. They were a very potent attacking combination. The powers to be then decided SHC would play at 15,or be a sevens player or why not a 9. Scott went south ( probably a smart move). Always assumed he was SQ, but not sure.

      1. He is, but hardly forcing his way forward at LI. There are others, Jamie Stevenson at Wasps and,one for the future, George Horne, Peter’s brother, who has put in some terrific shifts at London Scottish, needs a year or three but very promising. Doesn’t look at all out of place in the English Championship despite mostly playing behind a pack in retreat.
        SHC needs to find his form again. Pyrgos needs to get fit. I am not a fan of Laidlaw, but if he plays as he did against Wales and in the WC he is the best we have.

  43. Jackson starting at 10 for Wasps V Bath today, up against Priestland. Will be interesting to see how he fairs as I think he’s almost back to his best, could push Finn Russell for a starting place.

  44. To sum my post up, there are a string of very young inexperienced, but talented young guys @ 9. Price would be top of that league for me. Laidlaw is not the future, but also, now is not the time to replace him. Not sure I see Pyrgos as anything more than a stop gap until some of the younger guys develop. I hope he proves me wrong!!!

    1. I think we have stop gaps in all positions these days. Very few players are getting through a season without injurys and that is a huge disruption. They may come back as good as before and go on to improve , or they may not fulfill their potential at all. In the interim a new talent has emerged to fill the gap and a new cycle begins. Or they lose form as we are seeking with many of our players. Or they change club and need to adapt to a new team, which may or may not be compatible to the international environment. I think we have patterns emerging and it will be harder to see an incumbent in a jersey.

  45. Great posts! I have to say that I am surprised at how many people are calling for Taylor to be on the wing and have Scott in center. Taylor is the form centre and is doing real damage in that position. Without Dunbar, he has to be the starting 12. We have excellent bench cover in Horne and Jackson. Horne runs awesome support lines and Jackson is a good playmaker. Cant wait to see these guys in action this weekend.

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