Scottish Rugby Blog

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Ireland 35-25 Scotland

Richie Gray - pic © Al Ross
Richie Gray - pic © Al Ross

This game started with kicking from both teams, in a contest that promised much more by way of attack. Duncan Weir was being tested, and Ryan Wilson and Tim Visser were both guilty of fumbles which meant Ireland generally getting the better of things.

It was also a half that John Barclay may wish to forget on the occasion of his 50th cap, as he was the first to give away points – Sexton had a further two penalties inside the first 12 minutes, missing one – as the Scots frantically tried to secure some possession.

When they finally got some ball they earned a penalty of their own pretty easily but almost instantly were whistled up by Pascal Gauzere to make it 9-3. It was worryingly different to the team that have a pretty decent disciplinary record in the tournament.

Stuart Hogg had the one bright moment of the half and scored one of the tries of the tournament when he fielded an aimless kick with space to run into. It looked like he was running sideways but he was angling for the gap between Best and a prop in the defensive line which he ghosted through and pure pace made him unstoppable, sending a decent-sized visiting support delirious.

The happiness was short lived as a yellow card always looked likely – the match ended with a total of 3 and could have seen 4 – and it was Barclay on the receiving end for killing the ball close to his own line. There was some heroic defending but something in the Scottish tactics on the deck seemed fundamentally at odds with Gauzere’s world view.

While Barclay was off Ireland scored two tries, one almost straight away for CJ Stander who dove over the top of the ruck and one for Keith Earls after a keystone cops mix-up between Hogg and Tommy Seymour.

The half ended with a visibly frustrated Greig Laidlaw kicking a penalty to keep Scotland in range, only just.

Half-time: Ireland 21-13 Scotland

The Scots came out in the second half with a noticeable increase in tempo, but their efforts came to nothing with Weir battling manfully to make things happen in heavy traffic.

Led in defence by Ross Ford and Duncan Taylor, the Scots were tackling hard but just gave Ireland far too much ball to play with, and should have had a try when they found a 4 on 1, Weir being the one, but he was able to scramble back and snaffle the scoring pass from Trimble, running into touch.

Inevitably though, Ireland were near irresistible once in the “red” zone and Conor Murray darted though the gap at the side of a ruck.

At 28-13 the game seemed all but done with only 48 minutes on the clock.

Where last week Scotland looked composed and confident in their own abilities, at times against Ireland they looked aimless and were too reliant on Hogg. When you have so little ball unfortunately you need a little more magic when you do finally get a chance. Weir is many things, but a conjurer is not one of them and the Irish centres Henshaw and Payne were tackling everything that came near them.

When they did put some phases together, Scotland showed that they are still perfectly capable of scoring tries with simple pick and go close to the line. They pushed right, Nel almost snuck over but with the defence tied in Laidlaw and Weir had plenty of time to send Richie Gray over for an easy try. The margin was back to just 8, despite Scotland never really having seemed in the game.

Scotland, though, needed to play with the ball and were trying not to kick it, which resulted in them stuck inside their own half, battering away. Horne joined the fray on the hour mark in an effort to get Scotland back on track, no easy feat in the face of a merciless Irish defence.

Tactically it became a high-stakes game from Scotland, with Taylor and the impressive Stuart McInally creating a nice break but the final forced pass – like the one Richie Gray didn’t give last week, that then created Hogg’s try – went to ground and was snaffled by Devin Toner.

Strangely enough, Strauss came on for Hardie which left the Scottish backrow looking a little short on intensity and Ireland were up to shackling them.

Just when there was a glimmer of hope with the approach looking a lot better, Alex Dunbar cleared Jonny Sexton out of a ruck with some sort of wrestling move that lifted him up and dumped him on his back. It looked worse than it was but once the replays went up Gauzere really had no option but to yellow card him – even if Sexton did have time to complain to the referee before the pain obviously “overcame” him.

Requiring two scores, it was now too much to hope that even Scotland on top of their game – how that seems like a distant memory – would have come back. Instead, Toner scored a try after a nice offload from Heaslip and Scotland’s dream of a third place finish disappeared down the Liffey.

Ireland should have had a first card of their own when Hogg was tackled chasing down a neat John Barclay grubber, but our old friend Craig Joubert, although flagging it, recommended only a penalty. Still, with the game in the bag Ireland were infringing like it was going out of style and there were some ill-tempered exchanges at the end with Jonny Sexton the recipient of some words from the usually mild-mannered Richie Gray before being carded for yet another breakdown infringement.

Although the all in pile-ups were ugly and meaningless it was at least refreshing to see a Scotland team sticking up for themselves, although I am sure they would rather not have had such frustration requiring an outlet, a large part of which sadly must be laid at the referee’s feet rather than Ireland’s. Joe Schmidt might also take some credit for an Irish approach at the breakdown that with the referee’s implicit agreement seemed to all but nullify Scotland for large parts of the game.

Dunbar scored a late try to tighten up the gap on the scoreboard to ten points. They ran for the conversion as if there was still a chance to salvage something but it was a vain hope with the damage already done.

Scotland proved they can score tries pretty easily if the tactical approach is right to get them in the positions, but during this frustrating test match it was only occasionally so and they were too slow to adapt to an Irish team who are tactically very well prepared.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Tricky one this, with too many individual errors costing the team . Richie Gray took his try well, nicked a lineout and made a passable impression of his brother, but could just have easily gone to the workrate of Hardie or Ford who were notable by not making silly mistakes. McInally too had a very decent spell in the second half that did his future prospects no harm.

135 Responses

  1. Same old Scotland. Wrong fly half, wrong tactics, inability to adapt due to lack of on field leadership and failure of discipline. Cotter should take most of the blame followed by Laidlaw.

    1. Why? Cotter selects the players but those picked are still in control of what they do on the field. Cotter isn’t to blame for the Dunbar yellow card, knock ons, refereeing interpretations and so forth. Laidlaw was trying to get Gauzere to explain what we were doing wrong at the breakdown in the first half and wasn’t getting anything. Don’t know whether it was a language problem but “It has to change” isn’t an adequate explanation for a referee to give.
      If the referee penalises a team consistently for breakdown play he should give a clear explanation as to his reasons so that they can adapt. Gauzere didn’t give Laidlaw a chance to do that.

      1. Richie McCaw was a master at adapting but made a point of asking the ref what the problem was so he knew what he could get away with. Gauzerre just whistled. Young Welsh ref in recent Edinburgh game was outstanding at managing the game and gave clear indications for every decision. More like him and less like Gauzerre or Lacey

      2. Wrong tactics and wrong selections all down to Cotter.
        Lack of on field leadership all down to Laidlaw.

      3. I’m interested how Ireland manage to wangle a French ref a week after we beat them it’s amazing what the ref doesn’t see and what he does see …..that worries me

      4. Gauzere even shoved Laidlaw away at one point! If not biased he was weak and inept to say the least.

      5. Agreed. Very poor refereeing. He also continually penalised Scotland at breakdown but rarely Ireland for holding on. When he finally did give a yellow to Ireland it was far too late.

  2. Cavok. Are you really Scott Johnstone? Selection was not wrong, things didn’t go any better when PH came on, which was one of your pre match gripes. Tactics? To be fair to Ireland they came out and stopped anything we tried to do, which meant having to adapt during the game and I don’t think we have progressed that far yet. Your constant criticism of Laidlaw is almost obsessional.

    I hate having to constantly pick out ref decisions, but for toners try the maul before hand split and the Irish trio were then ‘truck and trailering’ so it should have been called back.

    Overall progress during the competition but lots more to do.

  3. Curates egg of a six nations; some entertaining games, some absolutely dire games, and a plethora of highly questionable decisions from match officials. Three things urgently need improve World Rugby: 1) Sanction for scrum offences to be a free kick instead of a penalty; 2) Abandon the rolling maul; 3) Refeering standards must be consistent in terms of interpretation of the laws of the game.

    1. I have to agree, some terrific games some awful, but the elephant in the room is the quality, or rather lack of consistency, of the refereeing. One game a good contest at the breakdown, the next, incessant whistling. It is quite clear different referees have different ‘pet hates’ for want of a better expression. Already they, the referees, are allowed to ignore the rules in that a squint scrum feed is never, or exceptionally penalised.
      It is about time they were given clear directives from the top (I believe there is a high heidin of referees) and told to ALL conform. That way the players would have NO excuses.
      Consistency is what we all want, and lamentably do not get right now.

  4. If a referee is going to be pedantic around the maul and ruck, he has to be consistent. Ireland spent the whole game slowing the ball down in various ways. Three penalties in quick succession near the line should have been a penalty try. Ireland were also consistently offside as they often are. Barclay’s yellow was a wrong decision and Dunbar’s was borne out of frustration at Irish tactics in general and Sexton’s consistent foul play in particular.
    Having said all that, the game proved that we still have a way to go to mature into a good international side. We need to read the game, understand what’s happening and deal with it. Things weren’t helped by the wrong selection, Horne and Strauss should have been in from the start.
    I think that should be the end of Ford’s international career now and Weir and Visser don’t look international class. Taylor, Nel, Gray, Hardie, Strauss and McInally had good games. All in all, we made progress as a team during this Six Nations, they just need more experience together at this level.

  5. Very frustrating game to watch and play by the looks of it with the constant handbag flare-ups, with one belter of a try shining through, as well as a very well worked team try. Got to think Weir won’t play in a Scotland shirt for a while after that performance, especially if Jackson and Horne can keep up any kind of form. Was a little surprised at the lack of tactical kicking, but Weir’s missed touches and Hogg’s too, perhaps that is the reasoning. Positives though: We have a plethora of truly test class players now with a coach who knows how to get the best out of them. Dickinson, Nel, both Grays but especially Jonny, Hardie, Laidlaw, Russell, 4 centres, and the jewel in the crown Hogg. The rest are excellent players too and hopefully more depth will come with the U20s having another decent tournament as well as players still maturing in the domestic game.
    Moving on to the summer tour, I fully expect us to hammer Japan in both games, but hopefully there will be some new faces in the squad, either mixed in or in one of the games where perhaps a more inexperienced side can be fielded. Some of the old heads I’d expect to start to wind down their game time, mainly Ford and Lamont, especially with McInally’s performance today, I think the metres made table had him 5th or 6th and he only played about half an hour, not bad for a hooker. Id also love to see Hamish Watson get some proper game time in Japan, perhaps in some kind of Pooper style combo with Hardie, although the name won’t be anywhere near as good. Was about to say du Preez would hopefully debut in Japan but I think he doesnt qualify until October? Rory Sutherland is another who should have more game time, he was very good when he finally made it off the bench for his debut, I felt that collision with CJ Stander from Dundee!
    Overall, bit of a dampener of a game to finish, especially that first 40 minutes, we never got on the refs good side it seemed. Found a new level of distaste in Sexton and his antics, and a new level of respect for big Richie Gray, he seems to have taken the “enforcer” role on board and seems to be much more fired up and ready to swing his handbag about with the best of them.
    Be interesting to see the player of the tournament with no real favourites. Perhaps Hoggy, B.Vunipola, CJ Stander, Dr Jamie Roberts or Guirado are on the shortlist? And we must have a decent representation in team of the tournament, with J.Gray’s tackle stats, Laidlaw’s point tally and leadership, Hardie’s work rate, Dickinson and Nel’s dominance up front, Taylor’s rise to prominence and Hoggy’s stardust moments, I expect a fair few.

  6. So before letting the dust settle, we need to be looking forward to the tour of Japan and consider what we have learned and where we think improvements need to be made. Firstly I think it’s a matter of time before McInally usurps Ford – should Ford be willing to play second fiddle I would still keep him there as second choice. Thought Sutherland really fronted up when he came on and was aggressive – I would really like to see him be given more game time. We need Gilchrist back fit and firing – we lacked a bit of grunt especially in the first half. I think he would have been ideal in a game like that. The back row selection didnt work in this game we really lacked bulk both in defence and attack – I would like to see Strauss at 6 and either Ashe or Denton at 8 – especially in those types of games. Generally having hardie and Barclay as flankers has worked, but today’s game was always going to be less about subtlety…He has knockers and I have been one – but Laidlaw has been top class for the best part of a year and a half and did his rep no harm- he is the outstanding 9 with Pyrgos the first deputy.

    Weir I’m afraid is not intl class and as I feared he could not bring the control we needed to the game let alone the flatness to utilise Dunbar and Taylor’s carrying ability – I would not like to deride either if they 2 today as they were not brought into the line flat enough to penetrate. Still going forward If Bennett is fit he has to be a starter possibly with Taylor inside him – speed and step fits in with our game plan better. Back to fly-half if Russell isn’t fit we really should go either Jackson or Horne – they fit the mould if the play we want to execute and the play that best suits our players – today was a harsh lesson but one I hope the coaching staff have learned… Weir could still have a future with the team but it is horses for courses and just now the ground is good to firm so you have to pick players accordingly. In the wing positions I think we are ok, without to much depth and I do worry when lamont is the go too man of the bench – Japan will likely be fast paced and that generally is the way of intl rugby as such we want our speedsters in the bench a maitland, Hoyland and Jones fit the brief better.

    Team for Japan.
    Dickinson, McInally, Nel, Gilchrist, J. Gray, Strauss, Hardie, Ashe, Laidlaw, Russell, Taylor, Bennett, Maitland, Seymour & lions fullback

    1. I hope you do not take offence to my style of writing , however I just want to balance this a bit.

      I think we should bear in mind that McInally and Sutherland came on when the game was lost. Both looked great when those around were flagging and there was nothing to lose by playing fast and loose with fresh legs. It was a different game in the early stages, we had only 20% possession in the first half.

      Well I do not get the Gilchrist thing, he may be great in the playstation team, however we need to build a team around men who are readily available. His record is not inspiring and I really do feel for him. But right now the SRU are paying him his contracted wage and getting nada in return.

      1. Oh I never said (with the exception of Gilchrist) they were not the future, Ross Ford is according to the stats still performing well, and Dickenson is capable of dealing with any opponent at any level. France used to change out 50% of their team after a defeat.I am not sure we have the flair in our domestic setup to adopt the same.

    2. Half tempted to use the Japan tour primarily to get a few of the fringe players some experience of winning international matches.

      Sutherland McInally Fagerson
      Toolis Gilchrist (if fit)
      Harley Ashe Watson


      Hughes Dunbar Bennett Hoyland

      Also guys like Brown, Scott, Prygos who have had time out injured.

    3. I agree McInally looks great and not sure he has lost a line out so I’d say yes he’s been impressive. U also have to remember Fraser Brown was excellent until he was injured too and is doing well back at Glasgow. They both offer much more pace and something different. If they can hook then huge bonus. We need to be able to hook a scrum. It’s been an issue for years

      1. Now then, hooking – can’t we find a coach to deal with this. Swift channel one ball by Japan was a revelation. Yes we have a fine front row right now, but how much better if the opposition was worrying about fast or slow ball. Just a thought, as Ross Ford must be on the way out. Time to school his successors.

    4. I think if you read the reports this is sort of what we are going to get, the core plus some resting for those who have done a lot. Hardie, for a start needs a summer off, he has practically done a double season and we need him fresh. Chance for Watson maybe. Maitland I am unconvinced about, maybe time for young blood, Hoyland would get my vote. Agree about no Ford, he is not the future, and either McInally or Brown should do just fine.
      Basically I would blood youngsters where it is a toss up, but not a whole heap at once given the need to look at world standings. Plenty of bench slots for guys to stake a claim. I suspect we have seen the last of Big Sean, he will never say so, but I think it would need an injury crisis of biblical proportions before he is in the squad again. He ought to be given a rousing send off, not the most skillful, but most certainly one of the most whole hearted players who ever pulled THE shirt on. Plenty for him still to do at Glasgow.

  7. we lost to an irish side well drilled in playing or should that be not playing rugby. hoof it up, and either regather or pressure for a knock on, its a fair shout if that’s all you want to do but good god it can’t be any fun surely. they only had a crack when a score or two up. Sour grapes I know, but I’m happy in part that we kept playing, we had to anyway. So all in all happy enough that we are moving forward, just tweaking and improving skills, but have to agree we need to work on depth in some positions.

  8. Couple of random ponderings
    Why is it allowed for our TWO pro teams have completely different styles?

    Why do the SRU allow the signings of NSQ players (ok if its a Conrad Smith or a project player).

    Anyway to the game, Ireland were more streetwise, Weir was in the team (presumably) for his kicking & kicked very poorly, he adds little to the attacking side of the game.
    Laidlaw has proven to be a good captain / organiser but his limitations are shown up when you compare him to the other SH’s in the 6N.
    Need a fit Bennett, he has an innate ability.
    If Russell isn’t fit, Jackson/Horne need to play, alas simply Weir isn’t up to it.
    Dunbar got a daft yellow yesterday but for me one of the 1st names on the teamsheet……….more later, away to plant somes peas

  9. Didn’t really expect we would win yesterday, but had been looking forward to a real contest. Sadly, we just looked utterly rattled from the very start.

    The ref definitely played his part in destroying it as a contest – a very poor communicator – but Laidlaw was clearly getting on his wick, which I don’t think helped.

    It’s the first time we’ve failed to stand toe to toe with an opposition for at least a significant part of the game – though we seem to have become specialists in scoring against the tide.

    Two wins might well be a significant improvement for us, but that was a rather unsatisfactory end to the tournament.

  10. Will reports above that the referee answered Laidlaw’s query about what we were doing wrong at the breakdown with “It has to change”. This nebulous non-instruction must have had a profound effect on the course of the game. A mantra in modern rugby is “winning the collisions” — but “instruction” such as Gauzerre’s leaves one side (in this case Scotland) at a decided — and decisive — disadvantage at the breakdown, constantly afraid that to contest it at all will result in a penalty.
    One has to give credit to Ireland’s ability to recycle when in possession but Gauzerre allowed them to commit all sorts of illegalities to spoil our ball when we were in possession, and sheer frustration at this inconsistency eventually expressed itself in Dunbar’s offence against Sexton. Sexton’s late yellow card was a token gesture of “balance” by the ref at a time when it would have no bearing on the game: several Irish players, Sexton (especially) included, qualified for that sanction far earlier, for example for the blocking of one, and early tackle of another Scottish player, both following up a promising kick-ahead.
    I complete agree with the call to ban the rolling maul, at least from line-outs within the 22. Ireland are specialists at earning cheap tries from this phase. The overall picture from this game was that it was a street-brawl in which the Irish “roughed us up”. Effective — but ugly.

    1. The rolling obstruction is a blight on modern rugby. Ireland are experts at it and it is a fundamental of their cheating repetoire.

      1. We will have to adapt and get on with it. Just get more savvy, cheat like Ireland , if that is possible, because , according to the referees, its not cheating. Look at the alternative , it is called rugby league , heaven forbid.

        If you look at the forwards game in the 80s and the game today, very different, so think forward another 30 years , we will be in rugby league.

    2. I’m glad someone else seen the same game as me…refs are having a say on the out come of the game and that’s not what the jobs about… the game fans and players deserve better I believe football is quietly looking to see if they can learn something from rugby… ?

  11. How come Ireland are allowed to lie on top of rucks and take players out past the rucks, and Scotland aren’t? Poor inconsistent refereeing

    1. Because they are so good at it. Munster pioneered the cheating at the breakdown 10 years ago when they were top of the pile in Europe. It is part of the DNA of an Irish forward now to cheat. There’s no point in us trying to take the moral high ground – we need to fight fire with fire. Hopefully Glasgow’s forwards coach can have an impact in the youngsters coming through in this regard.

  12. Wow, interesting to see the change in tone on here after the game. When we knew how it would go the moment the team was picked. Surprise, surprise:
    1. The kicking game (albeit poorly executed) did not work. Visser and Weir under the high ball, genius. Trading kicks with Sexton, clever!
    2. Weir was embarrassing at this level, again. Errors include: Kick-off that led directly to the second Ireland try (a big momentum moment). Terrible pass, under no pressure, probably forward, that bounced off Seymour to end the period of sustained pressure at the start of second half (a big momentum moment). Missed his tackle in build up to third try. Up and under well inside our own half – somehow got away with that one! Kick out on the full. This combined with an uncanny ability to find never a decent pass, or run, led to his too slow replacement.
    3. Barclay at least was consistent as ever. Penalty. Penalty. Penalty…
    4. OK, maybe this one is a stretch, but Dunbar was not up to his own high standards. That much was clear in the first half. Rushed back into the side and maybe as has been said he is too similar to be at his best with Taylor. If Bennett had been on the bench at half time, maybe just maybe…
    5. Wilson is not Strauss. A shock to all Glasgow fans.
    6. Everyone is now complaining about the ref and assistants. Get over it! Both yellows were yellows. No-one can hear what he was really saying all game. It may have killed the contest yes, but this was not the world cup final and there is no clearly wrong decision. Actually anyone who has googled Gauzerre would have known before the game that he demands zero infringements at the breakdown. If we had set the team up to play positive running rugby (our strength!) with half-backs to get the team moving we would have benefited. Saw a bit of that in the second half and happily have him in future games.
    7. Sexton is an ar*e. Everyone has known this for years!

    A few concluding thoughts:
    1. Vern Cotter is not the second coming. He picked the wrong players and the wrong tactics. And for all the chat, under him we are yet to win a game we were not supposed to. Our best result was France, creditable yes, but the bookies had us as favourites, it was at home and against the worst French side for years.
    2. This tournment was not good enough (D+) given the quality in the team. But that much was true was before the game. Will Cotter learn? Do Weir, Laidlaw and Ford continue in the Scotland jersey? There is a great team waiting to be built around Nel, the Grays, Hardie, Strauss, Russell, the centres, and Hogg.
    3. The weekend was not completely ruined: Glasgow beat Leinster and it is vital they qualify for Europe. We fixed the line out. McInally stepped up at international level, at least in open play, so let’s see him from the start against a better scrum… Hogg – wonderful! It does makes me wonder about Scottish rugby fans when he garners criticism so easily for being arrogant or off-form when Weir, Ford and Laidlaw are so fiercely defended.

    1. Good to see a strong opinion , I trust my gut and we were never going to win this game, so I just look to the positives. There are however some areas to ponder.

      I see a fellow doubter on Barclay has emerged. I recognise his hard skills but do not trust his temperament or softer skills.

      We might debate the reasons , try and fault the referee, however the fact stands, too many breakdown penaltys, in this particular game (what has changed ? maybe the referee , but read on, you need to adapt to the referee).

      At the end of the day , you cannot change anyone but yourself and Barclay finally worked that one out, in the bin, while his overworked colleagues lost the game. I was going to say friends, and that may or may not be the issue, sometimes good guys come at a price, they do not bond in a team.

      Barclay did not take one for the team, the right man went off and the situation was remedied immediately.

      The referees are known months in advance , I wonder what we do to work with them or research in advance? I believe our liasion is John Jeffrey who is out of the modern game a long time ago.

      Now Martin Johnson, impersonable man as he is / was, was never out of the referees face on and off the pitch, I suspect we need a captain in the future that can build a relationship with the referee, soft skills.

      As i say I look at the positives , however it is worth considering the lessons learned and applying them. Now the latter is something I do trust Cotter on.

      Oh he is not there forever either, however he does have a successor and in the interim, needs to do enough to win his next job. So lets not get too sore on him, for now, next season is another must move season for Scotland with three home games , we must win them and aim to take France away.

    2. I feel the change in tone all round is pretty poor to be honest. Scotland lost and that is dissappointing but there was many good things yesterday in amongst the clear, blantant and poor mistakes/decisions.

      I am beginning to watch the game back and have got to the first penalty against Barclay. Can someone please explain to me why that was a penalty? He was the tackler, he got to his feet, had the ruck formed? There were no Scots involved. Does that matter?

      Anyway I’ll say more later but while you agree or disagree on Refs you need to adapt and Scotland didn’t. However I’m not sure Pascal explained why he had given things so that didn’t help.

      The mains reasons Scotland lost yesterday were not adapting to the Referee and his obviously different interpretation from the rest of the refs in the tournament but also compounding error with another error. All teams make errors but you need to not let one lead to another. They had stopped doing that before they were back to it with avengance yesterday.

      All in all a performance like that usually would have led to a hammering in the past and that didn’t happen.

      I find (as most do probably) the amount of time scrums eats up ridiculous and always aids the team in front and the way the teams can get away with penalty after penalty on their line late in the game without the adequate punishment. Had Scotland scored Dunbars try on the 71st minute I think Scotland had two more good try scoring opportunities in us. Remember Scotland were against 14 men. That was down to Irish playing the ref well and our lack of ability to overcome what they do I’ll describe for lack of a better word… Cheating!!!

    3. A lot of misguided criticism of Laidlaw and Ford IMO. Ford’s stats are way up there in terms of our team, he doesn’t miss many tackles when compared to e.g. Nel who has been hailed as the next messiah. Laidlaw yes he has his limitations but is the best goal kicker in the world and distance isn’t really an issue any more as he’s now kicking them up to near enough 50m.

      McInally offers a lot in the loose but if his stats on the Edinburgh Rugby website are correct, at 105kg he needs to be at least 5-6kg heavier at his height if we don’t want our scrum to become a problem area again.

      1. Agreed. Ford is also unfairly castigated for our lack of success at the lineout. Very little of it is down to perceived errors on his throw.

      2. Yep… I think that too re:McInally. He really needs to bulk up …as do some others. My concern is that if he bulks does he lose some mobility that we were shooting for in converting him from Back to front?

  13. Andy’s term, “rolling obstruction”, is very apt. Let’s look at how, for example, a dominant scrum can “engineer” 5 to 7 points quite easily, even from the half way or further back. (1) one of your team deliberately knocks on (2) your dominant scrum forces a penalty in the ensuing scrum (3) kick long for touch, win your line-out and score from your “rolling obstruction” — 5 to 7 easy points for minimal entertaining rugby.
    The kick-for-touch, rolling-maul procedure following penalties is just one of several aspects of modern rugby that are becoming boringly predictable and indeed are spoiling the game. I used to liken rugby to opera — long passages of fairly mundane stuff interspersed with beautiful “arias”. The equivalent in rugby is now very rare — Hogg’s try was a good example of an “aria”. Now, for most of the afternoon, we have to watch endless short-yardage recycling…..reminds me of another game!

    1. Wish they’d introduce a “Use It” rule for mauls that go more than 5 yards. Think it would improve the game massively.

      1. I like that idea because a well formed maul from a lineout is next to impossible to stop legally

      2. Also gets rid of the ludicrous “Same Maul” nonsense, which is literally impossible to stop without giving away a penalty or a try.

    2. You can still use the driving maul to get the opposition on the back foot, but not to bludgeon the opposition into submission. And if you’ve done enough to get a lineout on the 5 metre line, fair enough, you deserve a crack at a try from it.

  14. Just read your post through again Bulldog and you are right on many things you have said. It is the nature of a loss that there is negative reaction. But many praised Laidlaw for the way he captained last week and the way he handled the ref so that means he can and will do it so I feel that the this guy was rubbish etc is what many do and it’s pretty pintless. What he really should have said to Barclay was “What you are doing is not going down well with this ref we need to change it.” Scotland lost (and often do) 19 points while down to 14 twice in the game I think. Yellow cards mean more pain for Scotland that most other teams. With the first yellow card, Scotland should have allowed that try when it became clear the yellow was coming next. But the kick off from that was criminal. Play it safe, play it long and make sure we have some territory while down and hold on to ball when it is kicked.

    1. I think we are largely in agreement here. I have posted support for Laidlaw often and that has not changed.He plays in a tough league and is well respected there, its just his fellow scots who are critical. I noticed he also made a great break from the base yesterday despite the lack of clean ball and when Horne was on.

      I wont step back on the referee thing , I suspect yesterdays ref was not brilliant at communicating ,(even in french , he is more a whistler than a coaching ref) however watch the game again and ask yourself , were Ireland surprised by him as much as the scots?I doubt we are as a nation being cute with the referees and some are more manipulable than others.

      My feeling is we need to prepare better and up till now our preparation has had other priorities. I think all of this tells us just how big a challenge it is as a tier 1 nation , with the least players of all tier 1’s , trying to maintain a standard , when the standard is getting higher year on year.

      Let’s learn the lesson, soft skills, research the referee, condition him before and during the game. Start after the last game, get to know him, he is just another bloke , except he gave up his afternoon, to allow us all to enjoy ours. (thought provoking)

      I was not expecting a win and on reflection , we could have done better. However this season has moved us forward, we are now away from the bottom 2 .

      Bring on the Pro 12 – There is still goals to achieve and a league to be won.

    2. PS: I dont think it was Laidlaws shortfall that failed to stop the Penalties. Like I say , 10 mins to think it over worked wonders.

      1. I agree with you and the offence that directly came to the yellow card was clear and lazy and on your last warning you are asking for it. The chap who was in as well was actually legal so Barclay could have let it go. Could someone answer my previous question as below?

        I am beginning to watch the game back and have got to the first penalty against Barclay. Can someone please explain to me why that was a penalty? He was the tackler, he got to his feet, had the ruck formed? There were no Scots involved. Does that matter?

        More so in Rugby than football you have to research the ref and adapt before, during the after the game. Correct 100%. Ireland have done that and have gained huge advantage to it but they also cheat without getting noticed and that is what you require at this level. The referee cannot see everything on the breakdown so you look for what he won’t notice and do that. Scotland must be more street wise in preparation.

      2. I am no referee , good luck to them, however it all happened fast and on this one he was a bit unlucky and visible as he was on the irish side when the ruck was formed. Barclay was in contact with three Irish players and his hands were not on the ball when the ruck was formed is my opinion. The rules which most likely apply are as follows.

        16.1 (b) How can a ruck form. Players are on their feet. At least one player must be in physical contact with an opponent. The ball must be on the ground. If the ball is off the ground for any reason, the ruck is not formed.

        Rule 16.4 (b)Players must not handle the ball in a ruck except after a tackle if they are on their feet and have their hands on the ball before the ruck is formed.

        The laws can be located in

  15. In the Autumn internationals I reckon a back row of Strauss, Hardie, Du Preez would be very interesting, as much as I like Barclay & the playing of 2 7s, Du Preez is a different animal & very much adds something (physicality & soft hands).

    Re the captain, it appears that BVC always fancied Gilchrist as his captain but events have overtaken this situation.

    Kinghorn & Hoyland need to be in Japan

    1. That would certainly give the ball carrying and physicality that was missing first half yesterday.

      1. Du Preez is great – I must however admit it does make me wince a little to consider a back row with two saffas qualified on residency and a 7 who’s eligibility relies on a Scottish grandparent. Hopefully Ashe can emerge as the grafting, skilful, ball-carrying 6 we need.

    2. On the topic of Japan, other than the games are Toyota on 18th and Tokyo 25th, does anyone know how to get tickets?

      1. Mike are you looking to head over? I am going. I will be getting tickets from the squad and can look to get some for you if you like

      2. Angus,

        Yes I am giving it serious thought, difficulty getting tickets is my main obstacle at the moment.

      3. Mike
        I suggest if you meet Angus in Japan for the rugby you take a large wallet. I’ve been waiting for 35 years to get a wee swalley off the man!

      4. Mike if you’re going to bring a wallet don’t bring Kev’s apparently it has been empty for 35 years or at least that’s what he’s always said……….

  16. Not a bad 6N showing overall. No humpings, and no danger of any either. Close-ish but never near enough against England; could have won in Cardiff and looked like doing so until just after 60 minutes; tough task yesterday against a canny, to say the least, Ireland outfit, but we scored three more tries – two good team efforts and a moment of brilliance from Hoggy that will be replayed as one of the tournament highlights. A good win in Rome, not a scrape like 2014; and an excellent win against France where, unlike Paris 2015, we refused to be outmuscled around the park and, at scrum time, put it to them.
    For me, the clear signs of gradual turn round for the better include the growing acknowledgements from all the 6N opponents that we are becoming, again, a very hard side to play against.
    Time now as others have said to focus on the two pro teams for the Rabo run in, keep an eye on the lads playing outside the Pro 12 and speculate about Japan tour selections.
    All in all I am not at all ‘deflated’!

  17. FF re nationality I’m with you but the 3 I mention are likely to be the best, Ashe, Watson, Ritchie are home-grown contenders but presently they are not ready

    1. Matt Smith, Ally Miller and Magnus Bradbury are also contenders going forward. Plenty of young Scottish back-rowers coming through now. Hopefully they’re learning from the likes of Du Preez, Favaro, Strauss and Manu.

  18. Think the other comments here have covered yesterday’s game pretty well.

    Reffing very frustrating but we should know we have to start squeaky clean with a ref that pedantic and that should be practised to death. Everything to be said about Sexton has been said. A few too many mistakes from us but a much more credible performance than previous years in terms of staying in the game and scoring tries.


    The last year has been about some great individuals rising in the Scotland team and competence across the whole XV. Nel, Hardie, Bennett, Laidlaw, Gray, Gray at RWC. Taylor, Barclay, Hogg, Sutherland, McInally during 6N. The next year HAS to be about maintaining that and building strength in depth. Particularly at 10, 15 and the boiler house imo.

    That is what Japan should be about. On the one hand we need to win to keep up our ranking places or risk being seeded in pot 3 if there is another really early RWC draw. On the other hand playing the same 10-15 players in Japan that have gone title winning/european finalists with Glasgow/Edinburgh straight into a big RWC, straight into a tough club season and a 6 Nations during the summer is just not sustainable. They need a break.

    Imo that means the Toolis brothers and Cummings need to go and see if they can step up. Ditto for some combination of Fife, Brown, Hoyland on the wings. Fraser Brown has a good RWC and deserves another shot, despite the rise of McInally. Experiment at 15 and 10 with Kinghorn, Jackson, Horne etc and in the back row – plenty of talent there to pick from. I would take all 5 centres and try and establish 1 or 2 two preferred partnerships for 6N 2017.

    I would also take players like SHC, Russell, Seymour, Visser, Pyrgos who all have undoubted talent but either haven’t had enough time to prove it (the 9s) or can take up the consistency a level (Finn, Seymour). Tempted to leave behind Laidlaw, Dickinson, Ford, Hardie and Weir as you basically always get the same out of them and they are due a rest. Hogg should go to prove consistency for the lions squad push.

  19. Re: Japan tests

    According to Wikipedia the pool draw for 2019 will take place in Dec 2016. France are just ahead of us in 8th place in the rankings but only the summer tests and AIs are left to play. For Scotland, that means we play Japan (A), Japan (A), Australia (H), Argentina (H), Georgia (H). France play Argentina (A), Argentina (A), Samoa (H), Australia (H), New Zealand (H).

    The issue for us is that Argentina usually field a second team during their home summer tests, but this is not reflected in the ranking points awarded as it is a full capped test. France have a great opportunity to stretch out of reach before we even get to the AIs.

    So, basically we have no margin for error – we must beat Japan and beat Argentina at home to stand a chance of overhauling France. If 8th place is an important objective for us we should play our full test side and respect Japan’s achievements at the last World Cup. At present England, Argentina, Ireland and France occupy positions 5-8. Apart from France, any of those opponents would make progressing to the QF a tall order.

    1. Have to agree, we simply cannot afford to lose either test in Japan. Please do not let us think they will be easy, so the bulk of the current 23. One or two exceptions in my mind to that – Hardie who has just about done a double season, Ford who we know about so I think McInally or Brown should get a run, plus a bench spot for Hoyland perhaps and Toolis.
      We cannot afford to be complacent. Then we have the Autumn series and we may have a better idea then what we need to do.
      Argentina may well change their policy, who knows, we cannot control what other federations do.

      1. Completely agree. I know the importance of these tests and the qualify of Japan, who will play full strength at home and have a new sunwolves team doing decently in super rugby now (if still in search of a first victory). My comments about improving depth are more about who we take over there, the bench and any other games we play against local sides.

      2. I have actually been surprised at the sunwolves. While they haven’t got a victory, as you say, they have not been pumped as badly as I expected and their players are the majority of their national side and so is their coach

        Having said that they are inferior

    2. It’s true that Argentina have, in the past, played lesser teams in the summer months but I wonder if, now they have their pro team in Super Rugby, they won’t start to view these tests as being worthy of close to full strength rugby?

      Purely speculative on my part but I’d be surprised if they are as weak as they have been in the past.

      1. There might be reason to hope -I think they used home-based players because European based players couldn’t do a NH domestic season, summer tours and straight into the Rugby Championship. So maybe this year they’ll play their Jaguars players from Super 12 – which is about 75% of the national squad. We’ll see…

      2. That was my understanding as well.

        It will be interesting to see how those players might do. Playing as a team week in week out then turning up at internationals. An enjoyable experience to watch.

        That said, I think the Sun Wolves would eviscerate this French team. If you look past the off loads and Vakatawa, there is very little going for them.

    3. I cannot believe they are making the same mistake as last time in making the draw 3 years before the tournament!
      Having said that, I agree with the sentiment that we shouldn’t underestimate the Blossoms. They are only just below us in the rankings and will fancy their chances at home (indeed they should be favourites).
      With France playing Argentina twice, either of those teams could slip below us in the rankings over the summer – assuming we win in Japan.
      On the other hand Ireland may be within reach by the time the AI’s come around, assuming the Boks beat them 3-0 in the summer.
      If you take the rest of the year – 5 matches, I am confident of at least 3 wins and we should get 4. I am going to put a bet on us winning all 5, as we won’t be scared of any of them unless Joubert is officiating.

  20. Thought the more ’rounded’ of the bloggers here would be interested in what ‘The Telegraph’ reporter Richard Bath ( I use the word reporter in jest) said about the match.
    “Forget the scoreline, this was a thrashing to rank alongside last week’s disembowelment of Italy in Dublin. Scotland had come hoping to ascend to the Six Nation’s top tier and to atone for last year’s final-day humiliation at Murrayfield, but with the exception of one brief ten minute spell in the second half, Ireland were magnificent in every aspect and totally dominant in every phase of play.”
    This is supposed to be ‘the Telegraphs man at the Aviva’.
    Clearly the standards of reporting in the Telegraph are going downhill, or he had an Irishman in a bar ‘borrow his laptop’

      1. I don’t read The Telegraph. Never have. Never will. I think it was George Orwell who once wrote, ‘Some things are true. Even if the Daily Telegraph says so.’ Better educated people on this blog than me will be able to confirm or deny that. Maybe Bath should just take one ( a bath that is).

  21. We cannot afford any losses in Japan – we must take the strongest side possible. Saying that would include Hoyland over Visser, Watson over Barclay, Price & Pyrgos over SHC. Toolis bros just aren’t international class rugby players, neither are the likes of Brown or Fife. We just have to be patient over the depth during the next four years – wait for guys to really prove themselves at club level and drip feed them in. I think the days of rushing guys to full international rugby (like we did with Hogg, J Gray and Fagerson) should be coming to an end.

    1. If they’re good enough they’re old enough. We can’t afford to have 23-24 year olds who have a handful of caps. No coincidence that our best players to come through recently, British Lions Hogg and Richie and Lion next Year Jonny will all have gained in excess of 25 caps by the time they were 23

  22. Would also like to reiterate my happiness with the progress of this tournament, despite a slightly deflating ending.

    BVC was brought in to change our style. It’s clear from watching that he has, and if that’s not enough proof consider this. This was he first EVER six nations that Scotland have:

    Scored 10+ tries.
    Scored 100+ points
    Had a positive PD.

    Also we took a huge step forward in improving our awful record against tier one sides with that defeat of France. Last 3 or 4 years we’ve, what, beaten Italy a couple of times and Argentina in 2 friendlies. France is a big scalp.

    On top of that we have a deepening pool of internal quality talent and I reckon one of the youngest squads in northern hemisphere.

    *stats courtesy of the Daily Mails Scottish Rugby 6N podcast. This week they also has the stat that our front row, as a unit, have the best scrummaging record in the entire world at international level, as measured by penalties and points won and lost at scrums. Nels 2-3 pens conceeded this 6 nations to grand slam winning Dan Cole’s 13+ speaks for itself.

    Future is bright.

  23. There have been huge strides and plenty more to come
    but our main problems are with the biggest names.
    Ford is quite big. That’s it, offers nothing. Ditto Lamont. Weir is not an international. Laidlaw needs chopped if this team is going anywhere. Watch the game back and its embarrassing . Poor box kick, he could make tackle anyway but stands signalling to the ref for an imaginary knock on and the ball is moved. For the Irish try off Sexton’s kick he actually slows down when he thinks he might have to get involved. Too slow and too weak to offer any threat when sniping and still slows down so much good ball. He also puts ridiculous effort into avoiding as much physicality as possible. Yet that’s our captain? Every ref in the world loathes him too for the pathetic moaning and whinging. Get Pyrgos in asap. God knows what’s going on as Uncle Roy used to ridicule these sorts of performances by club players not too long ago yet Grieg is bulletproof.
    So many pluses. Nell has been outstanding, Richie Grey is back on form, Hardie is a Lions 7, Horne, Dunbar, Taylor, Seymour and Hogg all playing well.
    There’s loads of potential but a few key changes need making.

    1. You are living in fantasy land if you think that a couple of change to senior players (only two of whom are in our actual starting line up) is the difference between our current performance and reaching our potential. That is setting aside the issue that both Laidlaw and Ford had a good championship and performed well.

      Key things to address:
      Defence – we conceded far too many tries to win more games than we lose. Within 10m of our try line we seemed to lack a bit of physicality to hold out. Elsewhere line speed generally good but every team found gaps.
      Breakdown – big improvements this season but we got schooled by Ireland. Need to be much better at adapting to what the ref is requiring of us.
      Defending rolling mauls – improvements here too but it still looks like our Achilles heel. Ditto restarts.
      Ball carriers – we don’t have a first choice number 8 and in the absence of Jonny Gray we had too few ball carriers who could make hard yards close to the ruck. McInally could help, Strauss could help, but this is likely to be an ongoing weakness – we have no one of the calibre of Faletau, O’Brien, Parisse, Vunipola. Denton isn’t going to offer it more than once in a blue moon, Strauss is still to settle into test rugby and selecting a lightweight 6 exacerbates the problem. Ashe might offer something, otherwise we’ll be waiting for some of the u-20s to make their mark in the senior game in a few years time – Cummings, Fagerson, Bradbury all have this part to their game.

      1. On his day, Denton is a destructive ball carrier as there is in world rugby. With a solid/dominant scrum with a hooker that can provide quick ball he can really deliver the hard yards, alongside Strauss at 6 (I think the two 7’s thing has ran it’s course especially if Wilson is in the mix as it leaves our back row about 25kg lighter than the opponent)

      2. Ross,

        Absolutely not!! In my view the missing piece of the puzzle. Big brutal carrier, soft hands, what’s not to like with a back row of Du Preez, Hardie, Strauss. Doubt many teams will be kicking sand in our face with these three.
        OK – I hear the squeals about how they qualify, but when the rest stop, that’s when we should.

      3. I agree Mike,

        Du Preez has an element of excitement as well, he isn’t just a battering ram like Denton. Mind you his mistimed passes out the back door have put Edinburgh in some bother once or twice of late.

        For me, as long as we are developing the junior game and bringing talent through I dont have a problem with them playing. Even the Scotland football team is 1/3rd born outside Scotland. When you have around 40,000 players in the country compared to +1m in England, you have to take what you can get!

  24. Naturally much disappointment after Saturday. On reflection post-tournament (and as I’ve maintained since day 1) a final tally of 2 wins is just about ‘par’. It’s also probably a fair reflection of where we are. 1 more win would have tipped it into a successful Six Nations (a win in Dublin or Cardiff) but 1 less and it could realistically be seen as a step back. Looking ahead, next season offers 3 winnable home games and with France in Paris as sloppy as they are I think 3 wins has to be the 2017 ‘par’. Sometimes it feels as though the other Home Nations are consistently way ahead but looking at the history it’s notable that Wales first 6N GrandSlam back in 2005 was on the back of the following finishes in previous years: 4,4,5,6,4. They then finished 5th twice before another GS in 2008. They then failed to finish above 4th until another GS in 2012. Now I’m not saying we will win a GrandSlam next season but the nature of the fixtures means that with 3 home games in a season, you win once on the road and suddenly you are in the mix (order of fixtures a little kinder next year also). The point with Wales is that judging by final tables, they effectively became contenders over night – 3 times. In 13 seasons of 6 nations, they won 3 GrandSlams and 10 times finished 4th or lower! It’s fine margins. The same can be said of the French, capable of a GS but also a wooden spoon chucked in for good measure. It’s only really the Irish and English that consistently finish top half. So, are we really that far away? Next year England have 3 home games but of course have to go to Dublin and Cardiff. Wales only get 2 home games but will fancy winning all their away games. For what it is worth next season looks like it could be wide open again.

    1. Ah, but other teams learn and move forward. How can picking Weir for the Ireland game have been anything but a regressive step? Surely we should have had greater ambition?

      1. It was the right call but the wrong performance. There are no other tangible options with Russell injured. Jackson has shown time again that he isn’t international class. Horne was needed for his versatility especially with our other two centres Bennett and Scott off form and injured respectively. Weir was in career form going into this game and was challenged by the management to make the position his. Unfortunately he chose not to make the position his and will find himself shunted back down the queue until he becomes established at Edinburgh.

      2. Jackson is a decent player and covers both 10 and 15. However, longer term, he needs to move from Wasps as he will be third pick behind Gopperth and Cipriani. Not an international option right now, hard to see how he will get game time to justify it.

  25. Not same old at all. This is the most exciting that Scotland have been in years and Cotter has done an excellent job. Scotland were causing Ireland huge problems and presented a very good attacking force. The problem was the two yellow cards, simple. They weren’t, imho, completely deserved. Contesting the breakdown was being penalised negatively, whilst Ireland holding on seemed to evade the ref. This was a very frustrating game with some less than great ref decisions. Laidlaw deserved more explanation from the ref. How else can he lead the team? Frankly, more consistency is needed in how to ref the breakdown. At the risk of conspiracy theory….;) neither the the ref nor Ireland wanted to entertain Scotland winning as it potentially determines the seed for next wc….. France at 8th, Ireland 7th, Scotland 9th. All would have changed with a Scotland win, especially given a possible tour to Japan, while Ireland go to SA…. just saying.

    1. 2016: 122 points, 11 tries
      2015: 73 points, 6 tries
      2014: 47 points, 4 tries
      2013: 98 points, 7 tries
      2012: 56 points, 4 tries
      2011: 82 points, 6 tries
      2010: 83 points, 3 tries
      2009: 79 points, 4 tries
      2008: 69 points, 3 tries
      2007: 95 points, 7 tries
      2006: 78 points, 5 tries
      2005: 84 points, 8 tries
      2004: 53 points, 4 tries
      2003: 81 points, 7 tries
      2002: 91 points, 6 tries
      2001: 92 points, 8 tries
      2000: 95 points, 9 tries

      1. Don’t have the info to hand but the trend for defence has been good

        115 against this year
        128 last year
        138 year previous

        If we continue that trend next year and score the same amount of points we’ll end up with three wins

      2. Ok, so I had a look. Little bit selective there! Yes 2014 and 2015 were more points conceded than this year, but the previous 5 to that were – 107, 108, 109, 100 and 102! Of course, a more expansive rugby can lead to more points/tries conceded but I guess my point is that we do need to focus on this area also. It’s all well and good putting 25 points on the board in Dublin and 23 in Cardiff but the reason we haven’t won those games is at least in part due to conceding 1 (if not 2) poor tries (from a defensive POV) per game. Eradicate those ‘errors’ and your 115 points against is back down to 100 or so (or under) and of course 2 wins becomes 3 or 4.

    2. Cotter hasn’t done that much at all. Gregor Townsend has turned Scottish rugby round at Glasgow, that’s where we get the inventive players and good back play. Solomon has brought on our scrummaging, and getting Nel helped a huge amount too.

      Cotter chose the wrong player at fly-half on Saturday for no apparent reason. A very strange decision given how well Horne played the week before. I don’t know why Laidlaw is continually picked also, he has put in some absolutely terrible performances but never seems to be dropped.

      1. So no Laidlaw? So who would you have chosen? SHC? He’s had a shocking season. Pyrgos? Just back from injury. Ali Price? Scott Steele? At this moment are they really better options? He chose Duncan Weir who’s a recognised fly half and been in good form, Peter Horne while he had a good game against a poor French team he’s a centre that occasionally plays fly half – decent against a rubbish pro 12 team or a badly out of form test team. Try these role swapping experiments in the AI’s – not the six nations. Simply we have little depth, that’s for Dodson and Johnson to work on, unlike Italy we were lucky with injuries this six nations with little disruption. On Saturday, we were bullied by a more aggressive streetwise Irish team.

      2. Laidlaw has his faults but he gets a disproportionate bashing for them. Remember just a few months ago he was nominated for world player of the year! His goal kicking has carried us through the RWC and 6N as well. The alternatives in that department simply aren’t consistent enough yet to credibly replace him.

      3. Bit daft to give GT all the credit for Scotland’s improvement, superb coach though he undoubtedly is. He has access to those brilliant players because the EDP system and now academy system is producing young guys much more prepared for pro-rugby, together with the emergence of unique talents like Hogg and Bennett. Don’t forget he inherited a team from Lineen that had made the play-offs twice. GT has done a great job at building a winning culture and developing those players abilities but he is building in the work of others. Just as Cotter is doing with the Scotland team – to deny the change in tactics and confidence is to deny the evidence right in front of us. Cotter is doing a great job and long may he continue. Let’s not forget how toothless Scotland were when GT was backs coach – at RWC 2011 we failed to score tries against Argentina, England or Georgia. He isn’t infallible and works with the material he has like everyone else.

      4. Laidlaw got nominated due to his goal kicking. If he wasn’t a kicker would anyone pick him? The rest of his game is club level at best.

      5. That’s the problem in making players captain. You have to be really sure that is the player you want to build a team around…otherwise it creates issues dropping the captain during a comp.

        Gilchrist will be Cotters captain. He basically has already shown that in selection prior to Gilchrist run of injuries. McInally he rates as a leader also.

        Laidlaw will not be captain much longer imo…and when he isn’t will be far more easily dropped or replaced.

      6. Not to mention Gray Jnr! Potential captain for sure, having already stepped up for Glasgow.
        In terms of the captain being undroppable – there is a good case for that and it has applied recently with England and Robshaw and – more surprisingly perhaps – with Wales and Warburton. Of course, for a captain you want a leader rather than just a shoo-in for a starting place but ideally you need to find someone who is both – hence why in years to come Jonny is a real contender.

    3. But we didn’t win. And most bloggers seem to blame the ref. Head in sand stuff. This is the best squad we’ve had in years (maybe ever) and all they can deliver is a win over Italy, who were dire this year, and one over France, who are equally struggling for form. As I’ve said before, poor tactics, lack of leadership and inability to adapt. Sort those and we’ve got a chance. Eddie Jones sorted England (who ain’t perfect) so come on Vern. I agree he’s delivered very little.

      1. You have to have some patience. Some of our best players are still incredibly young. Russell is, what? in his 3rd year of pro rugby. Jonny Gray is captain of Glasgow but he’s only been that for 1 year and he’s 22! Bennett 22 or so aswell, SHC 21. Others including Weir, Horne, Seymour, McInally, Hogg all under 25 and relatively inexperienced compared to England.

        Hogg has shown this year what happens when you give a promising young player time to mature. He’s only 23/24 but been around a long time and maddeningly inconsistent for a while. He will start to peek now and we need to give the rest of the young squad time to do the same.

        Upward trajectory is all that matters at this stage in my opinion.

  26. A disappointing end. Well schooled at the breakdown and I suspect we seriously missed Jonny’s physical presence in both attack and defence. However, all in all we remain on an upward trend. Huge improvement on last year’s tournament, and in fact most of the 6 N tournaments ever. Ireland’s back row taught us a lesson and there’s plenty more to work on. Midfield aside, our starting 15, and pretty much the bench too, picks itself. I am not at all in favour of revolution on the team sheet; we have a decent core and it should be a case of drip-feeding new talent into a side that hopefully will continue to improve. I agree with others that the main focus of upcoming tests should not be about blooding new talent, but rather should concentrate on developing this team, building leadership, and securing a top 8 ranking prior to the RWC draw. The targets for 6N 2017 should be 3 wins, similar points/tries for, fewer against. We have three home games, which I believe we can win, although we really will need close to all of our starting 15 fit to do it.

    1. As an amendment to the above – Tom English highlighted that our front row really needs a rest and we also really need to develop the support in that area, so perhaps leave Dicko, Ford and Nel at home for the summer tour. Sutherland, McInally, Fagerson starting with Grant/Reid, Brown and Low as back up?

      1. Ford yes, Dicko, probably yes, like to keep Wullie McNel in case it goes pear shaped. Sutherland and Fagerson need to be starting, but I would like some cover.

  27. Laidlaw is far too slow for an international SH and offers nothing but a pass. Kicking aside. Watch Super Rugby and check the pace of the game and the all round skills from the players, especially SH. Quick ruck ball doesn’t exist in the Scottish international game.
    Weir wouldn’t make any SR squad.

  28. We’re now agonisingly close to the top 8, with France just 0.04 ahead of us. It shouldn’t hurt but it does… I wanna sit at the grownups table!

  29. David Denton has the size & physicality to be a British Lion & he looked back to his best in the RWC, however his form is infuriatingly wayward.

      1. Neither would any of our other 8s.
        Would you pick Strauss over Vunipola? Wilson over Parisse? Ashe over Faletau?
        Hardie is our only backrower with a chance to get on the Lions tour, based on current form.

      2. That is the point I’ve been making upthread – we lack ball carriers, specifically at 6 and 8. Denton is our best ball carrier and is inconsistent and lacks an all round game. I’d say Strauss is our best 8 but has some way to go before he gets the respect those other players have earned.

      3. If his carrying is at it’s destructive best and he presents quick ball then he doesn’t need to be a magnificent all rounder (FWIW he has excellent defence – far better than the likes of Wilson, and is a lineout option). Look at Vunipola – he offers crash ball and little else, but it takes the second man to complete the tackle, meaning that there’s no competition for the ball on the floor from the defence. Denton and Strauss in the team and Jonny fit and we would have huge go forward. I think the two 7’s thing has run its course.

      4. That ‘if’ is exactly the reason he isn’t nailed on as first choice. He can do one thing very very well, but unfortunately quite often he doesn’t do it at all. I only we could get Denton v Australia every game.

  30. Will Greenwood in the Telegraph has picked Hogg, Nel and Hardie in his Lion’s 15. Honourable mention for Grays, Taylor and Laidlaw. What do people think of that? Joseph over Taylor seems the harshest to me.

    1. Can’t really argue with Mr Greenwood – he knows his centres. He also admits to having one with an outside break and neither Taylor nor Davies – the other centre he mentions – have shown us that (yet).
      Having just read his article again I see no mention of the Gray brothers – maybe I’m missing something. I have to agree with Will that the Lions will be “blessed with options at Lock”. That’ll be an excuse when neither Gray goes on tour.
      He also mentions Dicko – and I think he’s been a revelation this season. Probably one of those players who won’t get picked for the Lions because he’s Scottish and not in the limelight.
      I’m not usually one for “quotas” when picking Lions squads, but surely if everything else is equal, there is room for a bit of positive discrimination?

    2. Better that you should never read the Telegraph! It’s bias on many many topics is nauseating.

    3. I’m not a fan of the Telegraph, but that seems like a fair enough selection to me. It is also a huge improvement on zero, which would have been the case pre- the last tour. Will Greenwood is actually a decent and balanced pundit and I’m sure he would have other Scots in the wider squad. In truth those are the only likely starters on current form.

      1. No Jonny Gray in the xv ? Head and shoulders above all second rows in 6 Nations .

      2. Doesn’t matter what the pundits think, they will not be picking the side / squad. That at present is most likely Gatland, with a fairly predictable outcome.

      3. Jonny Gray is quality and should definitely be on the tour. He is still making his mark on the international scene though and second row is an area of depth across the home nations. He would make my squad, but I could understand why Kruis, AWJ, Itoje and Toner would also be in the mix.

      4. They’ll take at least 5 second rows I would have thought. It is a crowded field with Itoje (now anointed the best lock in the world after four caps), Kruis, Launchbury, AWJ, Charteris, Henderson, Toner, Gray, Gray all credible tourists.

      5. Itoje despite all of the pathetic and predictable hyperbole is probably a justifiable stick on for the squad as he also brings and option at 6. If he’s the 5th lock then the other 4 for me are AWJ, Jonny, Kruis and whichever one of Henderson, Richie or Launchbury is in the best form.

    4. If Gatland is the selected coach, you can expect the squad to consist of 15 or so Welshmen, 8-10 English, a sprinkling of Irish and a token Scot. Don’t bother to waste your time trying to work out which of our boys merits a place, Gatland can’t see past his own squad.

      1. I am not a fan of Gatland, but I think he would be pushed to be as red-eyed this time around, unless of course Wales get a GS in 2017, which gave him the mandate last time around (and also we did not have the quality of players that we do now – it was England and possibly Ireland that were more disenfranchised). Best antidote – beat Wales at Murrayfield next 6 Nations. That should pretty much be the essence of Vern’s motivational speech for the game, because I’m sure Gatland won’t fail to use it with the Welsh boys.

      2. It’s a bit too soon to get ourselves worked up about the 17 Lions like the Harry Enfield angry man in the pub character. A whole series of summer tours, AIs then a 6N. Anything in terms of form and fitness can happen to teams and individuals in the run up Spring 17. I just hope our side continues to develop as they are, and that our established and rising stars stay fit and on form and find room for even more improvement. I am looking forward to going to Paris next February!

    5. No mention of either of the Gray brothers. I can see both of them being overlooked in favour of Welsh/English locks for the Lions. Not that Itoje/Kruis/Launchbury/AWJ/Charteris are better players, just believe that when everything else is equal, whoever is coach picks from the stock he knows.
      Similarly with Al Dickinson – would probably get the “most improved player in the 6N”, never mind in the Scottish Squad. Unfortunately the media pick up on Nel’s contribution more, and certainly would blame English/WElsh oppo rather than give any credit to Dicko. Such is the way.
      That being said (and quietly removing the chip from my shoulder), Will Greenwood did mention Dicko, and if I was honest I’d probably pick Joseph over Taylor at the moment. He also picked Joseph over Jonathan Davies so it’s not as if Taylor’s in bad company!

  31. He also picked Joseph over Davies – so not bad company for Taylor to be in!
    Don’t think he mentioned the Grays – unless I missed something. Just alluded to the fact that the Lions are blessed with locks. Is that an excuse in advance as to why no Scottish second-rows will be in the party? (sorry – that’s the chip off my shoulder).
    Also honourable mention for Dicko, which I’m pleased to see. Think he’s the “most improved player” in the 6N and deserves more credit. However, he’ll be overlooked because he plays for Scotland and is not talked about in the media. Oops, looks like the chip is still there!!

  32. When I looked at Dunbar and his clean out in the 66th minute I said out loud “He’s just lost the game for Scotland” It was milked by Sexton, his momentum helped it look worse but it was stupid. Scotland had just broke up the park with McInally doing damage and won a lineout against the throw. Scotland score next and Ireland would be rocking. Even with all the mistakes that had gone on before, the yellow card, Scotland were well in it. I would like to look at the influence of the ref in the last 13 minutes and how clever Ireland were.

    Ireland kicked for the corner, rolled the maul and took the 7 points. Yet crossing the line something happened and it seemed something more than just a scuffle. As Andy Nicol said at the time, you have to look at that again with the TMO. It seemed the only person to be singled out for special mention from Pascal was Horne who was pushed over and was what started the melee. I suspect there was something more afoot for Horne to get so agitated.

    Then Scotland do it again, out on the full from the restart then Hogg kicks out on the full from the resultant scrum. Ireland press but somehow they survive. Scotland run it from deep and get through the defence and a cute kick puts Hogg through and he’s taken out while not in possession. Scotland’s old friend Mr Joubert helped out his buddies by not going to the TMO and making sure it was only a penalty. Something many felt was not enough. There were six minutes left at that point. Enough for three scores? Maybe not but two very probably and then with the last play who knows? Scotland need to score and need to score now. The yellow card then would have greatly helped there chances.

    So with the kick to the corner Pascal then decides that now is the time to waste another 20 seconds on making sure the gap in the lineout is big enough. Is that helping the team who’s time is running out who have had a try scoring opportunity taken away by blatant foul play? Another minute gone and another penalty in the red zone from Ireland. Better to lose minutes than tries so why not? It’s so blatant, spooning the ball off the ground is the second penalty in the same play and still no warning. Another lineout and then at last a yellow but by this time the game is gone. 4 minutes left and it’s just not enough time. Scotland eventually go over with 2 minutes remaining and five penalties later but the game has gone. Back to the full complement and Ireland down to 14.

    Then Scotland make the obvious error once again from kick-off yet the ball didn’t go forward in this case. The referee started with a mistake and he finishes with one. The last 13 minutes of this thrilling match was a small window into the full 80 minutes. Stupid errors from Scotland, Ireland playing the referee and the referee making some pretty poor calls throughout. Just another day at the office for Scotland.

    It will change, it has to change and I still have hope for this team going forward.

    Grand Slam 2017 anyone?

    1. I haven’t watched back but I believe the issue was Horne’s attempted tackle on Toner in the act of scoring where Toner part jumped, part lifted. It looked a bit dump-y so I suspect that is why the Irish players waded in for the first bout of handbags.

      1. Perhaps. Horne bent down to pick the ball up and was pushed into Toner on the ground. and it all kicked off. Not sure Horne did anything wrong. How can u have responsibility for someone who jumps through u? But the way it continued and didn’t calm down suggested there was more. A punch maybe? The Scots seemed very unhappy. As a ref u can tell very often after an event that u haven’t properly seen if the protests are genuine or trying to play u. Those protests were genuine in my opinion. Laidlaw maybe be annoying and chirpy but he often is right. It’s whether they’re are other things to consider as well. There was so much going on in that incident I was expecting Jim Hamilton to be the last to get up.

  33. With time to consider I thought about the following:

    We did not do enough to slow down the breakdown until we were close to the line and then you run the risk of being pinged for penalties and cards (though for the 1st penalty there was no ruck and Barclay was perfectly within his rights and the 4th one resulting in the yellow, I thought was harsh as the call was side-entry). We allowed Ireland to rumble through far too easily and get over the gain line and they made relatively easy yards from half way.

    By effectively playing 2 open-sides and being a bit lightweight we needed to win more turnovers and clear out better – We started doing this in the second half where the likes of Dunbar, Taylor and McInally are also very effective over the ball both for slowing and for turnovers but by this chance we were chasing our tails.

    Another thing that did strike me through the game was that if you do play 2 opensides you do so for quick ball – if you get quick ball you can then attack the defensive line and with our superior back line (sure many Irish would disagree but they would be wrong !). Problem is we had a ten who is more comfortable in the structured game and sits back in the pocket – when you actually consider that the Irish defend quite narrow we really missed a trick by having Horne play flatter.

    If you then say no we needed the structure why did Weir nearly always pass and try to run it out from our own 22 – again to do so effectively you need to commit the narrow defenders and create the space on the outside. I can very rarely remember Weir putting in the high kick for chase – when he did kick (including place kicks) they went out on the full or were too deep to exert any kind of pressure.

    Thought Visser looked very shakey under the high ball as well – for a big unit he was a bit like Bambi on ice. Great finisher but he should be working on high ball and defence all day long to make him our North.

    All in all, the team picked was not set-up for the game we wanted to play. In hindsight we missed J.Gray but nothing we can do about that, but Strauss should have been in for Wilson and Horne should have started.

    1. Good post. I think the two 7’s experiment has run it’s course. May see it in future as a horses for courses type thing but against a Globogym back row like England or Ireland you always run the risk that they won’t even try and compete for the ball on the floor and will just blast everyone out of a ruck.

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