Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 29-18 France

Scotland ended a 10-year wait for victory over France with an enterprising three-try victory at BT Murrayfield this afternoon.

Vern Cotter’s men recorded a second consecutive Championship victory by virtue of tries from man of the match Stuart Hogg, Duncan Taylor and Tim Visser, with Greig Laidlaw adding the rest of the points as the skipper marked his 50th cap with a 14-point haul.

It wasn’t all straightforward, though, and the visitors opened the scoring inside four minutes when skipper Guilhem Guirado went over after great work by Les Bleus’ three-quarters.

Gael Fickou made the initial break, and the ball was worked between the returning Wesley Fofana and Scott Spedding put skipper Guirado away to score.

The conversion was missed by Francois Trinh-Duc but the French should have extended their lead when the Montpellier man sliced a kick from straight in front to the left of the posts.

Scotland’s early problems were compounded when Finn Russell was forced off with a head injury just five minutes in ­­– he failed to recover from the knock and Peter Horne was thrust into action early on.

Vern Cotter’s men grew into the match after their initial setbacks, though, and a pair of Greig Laidlaw penalties gave them the lead as the first quarter drew to a close.

France looked dangerous in attack, and dominated territory and possession inside the first half hour. Scotland were reliant on good scramble defending to keep Guy Noves’ side at bay.

The home side showed a glimpse of their attacking capabilities as Hogg cut open the defence to score his 10th Test try on 33 minutes.

The man of the match full-back exploited some weak tackling to dance over after strong carries by centre pairing Dunbar and Taylor put the hosts on the front foot.

Laidlaw couldn’t convert, but Cotter’s men led 11-5.

And they extended their lead just moments later when Taylor burst away after a quickly taken tap penalty from the skipper.

The Sarries man went the length and Laidlaw’s conversion extended the Scotland lead to 18-5.

France hit back, though, with Fickou diving over on the stroke of half-time after several phases close to the home line.

Trinh-Duc converted to cut the Scotland lead to six points after a pulsating opening 40 minutes.

Half-time: Scotland 18-12 France

The pace dropped as both sides battled for supremacy, and the home side used their dominance up front to work the half’s first points-scoring opportunity.

Another powerful scrum yielded a penalty about 55m out, and Hogg lashed the ball between the posts to extend the home lead to 21-12.

Machenaud reduced the arrears with a penalty of his own before the visitors passed up a chance to draw nearer with the Scots.

They elected to kick for touch from a penalty, and drove towards the line before losing the ball and allowing the hosts to clear.

Machenaud made no mistake from the tee shortly after to cut the gap to three points at 21-18.

A hugely enterprising Scotland performance was summed up with 15 minutes to go as Visser scored his 11th Test try.

Referee Jackson signalled penalty advantage with the Scots 5m out, so Laidlaw threw a speculative pass, and Hogg in turn slipped the ball over his head to the Quins man, who dived over out wide.

Laidlaw could not convert, but added a penalty late on to allow the hosts to enjoy the final few moments as they sealed a first victory over France for a decade.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw; 1 Al Dickinson, 2 Ross Ford, 3 WP Nel, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Jonny Gray, 6 John Barclay, 7 John Hardie, 8 Josh Strauss

Replacements: 16 Stuart McInall (on for Ford 66’), 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Moray Low (on for Nel 72’), 19 Tim Swinson (on for R Gray 75’), 20 Ryan Wilson (on for Strauss 60’), 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Peter Horne (on for Russell 5’), 23 Sean Lamont

France: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Wesley Fofana, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Maxime Macheneaud; 1 Jefferson Poirot, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 3 Rabah Slimani, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 5 Yoann Maestri, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 7 Yacouba Camara, 8 Damien Chouly

Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Uini Atonio (on for Poirot 60’), 18 Vincent Pelo (on for Slimani 60’) (by Poirot 64’), 19 Sebastien Vahaamahina (for Flanquart, 51’), 20 Loann Goujon, 21 Sebastien Bezy (on for Machenaud 75’), 22 Jules Plisson (on for Trinh-Duc 67’), 23 Maxime Medard (on for Mermoz 67’)

84 Responses

  1. When they scored that early try and we lost Finn so early I thought it was going to be a very bad day. So happy that we’ve moved on to the point where my worries rest on less stable foundations :-)

  2. Great job, Scotland!! The key was around the 60-65 minute mark when we’d been under pressure for 10-12 minutes and were only 3 ahead. We probably all had that feeling of being here before, but they made good choices when they must have been really tired. That’s the big difference – belief and accuracy maintained and built even when exhausted and under pressure. Well done!

    1. I think the social media effort is admirable, and necessary. But there is nothing quite like a win to get the crowd singing!

      1. I watched on the telly and did hear lochre lomond on the 22nd minute. Not as loud as I would a liked though!

      2. Well I hope that it is persisted with as it will take time to catch on. I wonder if the SRU marketing team would slip something into their supporter email before the next home game in November?

        But yes – winning rugby is the best catalyst for some full throated singing!

      3. Too much was happening in the 22nd minute, and although there was some attempt to sing it wasn’t very effective. We had another go at 72 minutes, but again the timing wasn’t great – the obvious weakness of the plan. Interestingly enough, Flower of Scotland took off on several occasions and rang around the ground. So maybe there’s a lesson there, right song, right moment, and apparently spontaneous.

    1. Horne is one of the most underrated players we have and today when he was most needed he delivered!! A huge round of applause is in order.
      All stood up to be counted today, and after Visser’s try I never saw us losing. What a change.

  3. Well done, Scotland. Up against it first 15/20, then up against it again first 15/20 of the second half. Then managing to get out of both troughs, the second much more threatening than the first. Apart from his missed tackle for the early France try, Hogg was excellent, dangerous and inventive throughout. Strauss put in a pretty mighty shift in his 60 odd minutes, much needed against this France pack. There was a time, not that long ago, where being on the back foot for two extended periods of play usually augured defeat for us. Not so today, and maybe that’s another sign that Vern is taking this team in the right direction. It will be a tough one in Dublin next week, but I don’t think this squad will lack in confidence after two wins on the bounce. Pleased to see Horne make the most of his chance, surely exorcising any lingering demons in his mind from the horror of the Italy match last year. Get in there, Scotland!

  4. For the third game in a row, Laidlaw was excellent -cool head, goal kicking, leadership and organisation all very good.

    Horne/Hogg deserve major props too. Losing your main play-maker after 5 minutes could have been disastrous but both players stood up and worked well together.

    Lineout was a bit shaky and wide defence never looks airtight but overall brilliant performance and result!

  5. Wow – what a performance in holding it together when the tide was against us then making and taking opportunities. The white line fever seems to have been eliminated. Great win because it was not a bad French performance, it was a collective effort and there is more to come from this team. The lineout has improved some but must get better, some of the infringements at the breakdown were poor and can be reduced. But the team spirit, the knowledge of the game plan and improvement in the execution each game is brilliant. Also, the fitness that allows good decision making in the last 20 minutes when Brian Moore said we would fade and France would take the game.

  6. I noticed that although the breakdown was decent all game the ball placement from some of the lads needs to better it just turns quick ball into slow ball that won’t get anywhere. Still a great win though.

    1. There is so much room for improvement in a team that has upped the pace and precision already. Some silly penalties when we got over eager and it Seems to me that we should be able to make a few more turnovers as well given the pressure we put on the ball carriers at times.

  7. Nearly switched off after the first try and Russell’s injury, was expecting the same old story.

    Fantastic effort from all the lads – richly deserved. France are no longer a great team but still some top individual talents.

  8. Question. Would Scotland have won if Russell had not been injured? I suspect not. The sight of him laughing after his injury causes me to seriously question his commitment to the cause.

    1. Pardon? Barclay accidentally kicked him n the head, and because he is on the bench with a smile after being assessed you want to drop him. Maybe he should have being holding his head asking for sympathy.
      The good thing about our current side is it plays the game with a smile on its face. Bit ironic he got kicked in the head by Barclay.
      What do you want him to do – cry. Grrrrrrrr

      1. Agreed Mike, Russell was visibly annoyed at being taken off for his HIA. Dr Robson would quite rightly not let him back on if there is a suspected concussion so unless you want him acting like a footballer and throwing a temper tantrum then a smile and a joke whilst cheering on his teammates seems more than appropriate. It let’s the supporters know he’s alright and puts the attention back onto the rugby.

    2. Get a grip cavok! Russell is the best stand-off we’ve had for maybe 15 years, maybe more. He’s one of those people who has a light hearted attitude towards life and stressful situations that’s all. Horne was excellent and impeccable in his deputising today, but he doesn’t have anywhere near the natural talent that finn has at stand-off.

      1. Agree about Russell’s talent but he has not been as sharp with his decision making since RWC. Headless chicken at times. Horne noticeably varied his kicking game so well,one Garryowen from inside our 22 in the 2nd half which we reclaimed showed how intuitive he is besides his instigating the move when piercing France’s defence in the run-up to Hogg’s try.

      2. I am a big fan of Russell but now having seen what Horne did I wonder if he suits the game plan better. He attacked the line and made breaks and as a result he fixes the defence in the 10/12 channel

        Russell on the other hand is more of a distributor

        The fact we have 2 different styles of 10 means we can choose horses for courses in line with which will suit the game plan on any given day

        Great situation

      3. An aside to this is that with Russell off Hogg took over the kicks to touch which is usually left to Russell. it was notable that each kick whether down field or to touch was at least 10 yards further. This is significant and should be adopted whoever is stand off as this gives Scotland huge tactical advantage.

      4. I note no one has answered the question, just got huffy that I may have cast aspersions on sainted Russell! I agree he is potentially our best stand off since Townsend but. But how often has he played to his potential? And, in my view, that’s down to attitude and application. I’ve said before on other posts that the lack of depth of talent in Scotland and competition for places appears to create a mood of complacency in some of our top players. That was completely absent yesterday but would it have been with Russell on the pitch for longer. I also think it significant that after Hogg missed the early tackle, he gave himself a kick up the proverbial and played a blinder. Attitude and application is what’s needed – just look at what Jones has done with virtually the same bunch of English who failed in the World Cup. When Russell went off, Scotland were headless and I, for one, was not laughing and joking and Cotter and the rest of the team on the pitch didn’t look as if they were either. We won without Russell (QED?). Who will VC pick for Ireland? I know who I would start with.

    3. You seem offended that no one has answered your question.
      Yes Scotland would still have won if Russell had stayed on.
      What does seem daft is that you think he should have been the only Scotsman at Murrayfield who was miserable.
      His team was playing really well.
      He might have been a bit worried to see his replacement playing so well but his ‘commitment to the cause’ means he can enjoy great play from his team even if not involved.
      Remember he came off after an HIA. This suggests his symptoms were minimal. A couple of years ago he would almost certainly have come back on, indeed might never have gone off.

      1. Don. Not offended in the slightest but you appear to completely miss the point. You were obviously at a different match from me. The team was not playing well at that point. If France had been able to kick, we would have been down by 10-0, instead of 5-0. Other posts have suggested that France played well. I doubt French supporters would agree, given the early missed kicks and number of spilled passes. But we won and I am convinced we would not have done so with Russell on the pitch. How many games have we won with him at stand off against teams at France’s level?

      2. How many teams have we beaten at France’s level with Russell at 10 – well obviously 0, because we haven’t beaten any teams at France’s level in 3 years! Other players you could blame by the same rapier-sharp logic include – Hardie, Gray Jr, WP Nel, Bennett, Dunbar, Strauss, Seymour, Taylor, Horne himself, Absolutely nothing to do with Russell. The whole team is basically new since 2012. I smell Neil…

      3. Scotland conceded those early points because they didn’t do the school boy thing of getting back 10 quickly without turning your back on the opposition.

    4. Idiot. Ever heard of a ‘wry smile’? I suppose any form of enjoyment is banned in your house too you grumpy git.

      1. Pathetic response from someone with a dirth of thoughts. You too appear to be incapable of comprehending the point.

      2. Do you mean ‘dearth’? To my mind your point is that scots players should not be showing any enjoyment in seeing their teammates playing well. They should be stone faced misery guts at all times. Just because the lad wasn’t kicking and screaming like a petulant child, he isnt committed to the cause? Don’t be so judgmental.

      3. So you did miss the point! (Dirth = Urban Dictionary). The point is that certain Scotland players do not play to their potential, in my view, due to complacency aggravated by lack of competition for places.

      4. So, because he was smiling he is complacent? Utter drivel. The lad was grafting in all weathers as an apprentice stonemason before getting his chance to play rugby as a career. Could it be perhaps he’s just got a more pragmatic view on life to a curmudgeon (look it up) like yourself? Admit you just don’t like him.

      5. It’s sad when someone runs out of good arguments and has to start with the personal insults.

      6. I think you’ll need to (mis)spell curmudgeonly phonetically for him to find it in his urban dictionary.

      7. Time to leave this alone. CAVOK has his opinions- so do the rest of us. I do not see anyone supporting his line of thought. Can’t see any line of argument that might convince him he is wrong, in his mind he is clearly right. So – debate over. No point in discussing further.

    5. Cabot. Get a grip man. If you look closer everyone around Finn were laughing. I suspect that Finn, on camera was getting bit of a slating “pretty boy comes off for a small slap” or something by the rest of the bench. So laughing is no problem. I also do think we would have won if FR had stayed on. It was an overall superb TEAM effort, and a massive well done to Peter Horne for the way he filled in.

      1. I hate predictive texting. I do, of course mean cavok and not Cabot. Oh and now you’ve added more of your intuitive thoughts, I now suspect a wind up artist at work.

      2. Fact. Scotland’s best performance in years came with Russell in the stand for most of the game. No wind up. Fact.

      3. FACT: Scotland won when Mark Bennett and Matt Scott weren’t playing. Are they rubbish too? My point, in case it’s not clear, is that you cannot say for certain we won because Russell got injured. Correct me if I’m wrong but I suspect you just don’t like Russell for some unfathomable reason.

      4. You’re wrong. I think Russell’s potential is enormous. But I think he needs a good boot up the proverbial to achieve that potential on a regular basis and having competition for his place is the best way, in my view, of focussing his mind. And the use of the word rubbish is your use. I have never used such a term. I suggest you deal with what I say and not in what you think I say.

      5. Joke for you Cavok:

        A guy phones his girlfriend, who’s driving down to see him.

        Says, “I just wanted to let you know: apparently there’s a maniac driving the wrong way up the motorway.”

        “One?” she replies, “there’s f**king hundreds of them!”

      6. Ok so assuming your not on the wind up. I actually agree that to get the best out of a player is to have serious competition for the place. At FH we have Russle, Weir, Jackson and (following yesterday’s display), Horne. At centre we have Dunbar, Taylor, Bennett, Scott, Horne, Vernon..and more. So competition is the strongest I can remember since the 90s (and I haven’t got into the other places). However to go back to you original post, to question FRs commitment just because he was seen on camera smiling/laughing (with the rest of the bench) is just wrong. That said I must admit I had stern thoughts when he was caught smiling after he butchered an almost certain score against England (kick ahead instead of passing to Hoggy), but I have since accepted that that is probably due to his laid back, enjoying his game, type attitude and not anything to do with commitment.

      7. Agreement of sorts Deflated. And, to my mind, the injury to Russell provided an opportunity for Horne to show his worth and, hopefully, Russell will feel under increased pressure for his place and respond accordingly.

    6. Correlation is not causation, and even then, this could only be considered as the most tenuous form of correlation. Your ‘fact’ is anything but. It is a single observation. N = 1. Meaningless. As others have pointed out, the same could be applied to a number of other players who did not feature on Sunday. I also smell a Neil. You’re either a wind up merchant, a troll, or just suffering (and trying to spread it) from a generally pernicious personality.

      1. Could not agree more. Pernicious is perhaps a bit strong, inadequate will do quite nicely.

      2. Matto, I like your style man. Cavok, so are you agreeing that your initial questioning of FRs commitment was, let’s say, excessive?

      3. Nope. And as I’ve said before, it’s sad when a paucity of argument leads to personal insults.

  9. It should be said that that’s the best France have played all tournament. They brought their best game against us and our defence held pretty well whilst our attack found some chinks in the armour.

    1. France did look like a much improved side however Scotland were clearly the better side, fantastic, just marvellous.

      I am pleased for Laidlaw who has so often had to explain away the defeats, he was so proud after the match and he deserves that moment more than most.

      For me, the moment this sides maturity turned the corner, was a tactic I have been banging on about for 2 years. Hogg and Mark Bennett can both kick long range penaltys and today we finally asked Stuart Hogg to take a pot which resulted in 3 points.

      Play restarts almost where you took the kick and you are three points better off. If you fail , the opposition need to do something with the ball, probably on their 22. It is a no brainer for me.

  10. Great performance by scotland. Lots of good attacking play, but still some weaknesses (driving maul), but a win is a win.

    great 6 nations so far. Hopefully put the cherry on the cake v ireland, but no matter what happens it has been improvement. C mon scotland

    1. The maul is a nonsense because it’s virtually impossible to legally stop a maul. The defending team is at the mercy of the ref i.e. did it go down or was it pulled down? Trouble is that every time they tweak the laws it makes it worse. Until we figure a better way to defend it, we will always be at risk of losing points to it.

      1. There is a proposal to change the law, in fact, it may already be in place in the SH. From what I remember, it’s not significant and will leave decisions with the referee. I am at a loss with the failing to legislate sensibly about this, as in any other phase of play it would be a penalty for obstruction. I know there is the option to stand back and not engage, but given the quality of refereeing decisions generally I can’t see any coach telling his team to go down that road. It needs sorted – I watch a lot of English Championship games via London Scottish, and it is a blight on the game.

      2. Teams should be allowed to pull the maul down, or a law change to stop the blatant offside, also why can teams not lose scrums, why is there a need to give free kicks/penalties?

      3. They tried allowing pulling the maul down and felt it was dangerous having nearly a dozen players deliberately trying to collapse on top of each other. Not engaging works but only if refs are sharp enough to pick up on whether the ball has been moved to the back before the first attempted tackle comes in. It’s a tactic you can use outside the 22 but too risky close to the try line. I’d prefer to see a maul called as over as soon as it stops moving forward. The attacking team shouldnt be allowed to restart it. The ball carrier should also be penalised if not fully bound but this, like squint feeds, foot up, sealing off, etc seem to be in the laws but ignored by ‘elite’ refs.

      4. Would like to see them make it illegal for a player in possession to move backwards through the maul. It’s too easy to create chains of untouchable players and reduce any contest for the ball. Ensuring there’s a challenge would reduce the effectiveness of driving mails and increase the propensity to move the ball away from the contact area.

      5. Thing is, creating a really strong, well crafted maul is really difficult. You have to either be fantastic at setting them up or useless at defending them.

        Scotland have very much been providing opposition teams with the latter option, to the extent that it almost became an embarrassment for a while. We were much better against the French, despite them setting them up well.

        I think that we might have either Richie Gray or Nathan Hines to thank for the improvement. Given that 1 is a breakdown specialist and the other was a skillful but hard… gent… I think they would both have the requisite understanding of the dark art of getting to the ball/illegally bringing the maul down without getting caught.

      6. Robbie As far as I am aware it is now illegal for a player with the ball to move backwards through the maul.

        It is a new law, at least I saw it mentioned and am pretty sure it is in force in the Southern Hemisphere

  11. The new day with its true dawn is arriving…we’ve endured a long and painful wait for the authentic change to happen.

    Well played Scotland…so looking forward to the many many great years ahead of you!

  12. Notice that no mention of restarts… sign of a great coach that bit by bit we are ironing out the issues. Small tweaks and constant progression. Hats off Cotter! Oh, and man for man all the players were exceptional yesterday. As for Finn smiling, give me a break, he’s gallus and that confidence is invaluable, especially in that position.

    1. Well said on the re-starts. Yesterday France were very good , good enough to have won, but Scotland were better. This french side slugged out a win against Ireland and I am keen to see how they deal with England next week.

      Peter Horne is undervalued and I would always have him in my match day 23 , Finn Russell is a risk taker , sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. Both have years ahead of them. We left Jackson off the 23 this week as well.

  13. As I said at the end of the game: “yaaaaaaaaaaaaassss, f**kin yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasss, f**kin yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasss!!!” I didn’t realise how much pent up frustration I’d accumulated over the years. There is nothing quite like a good win. Likewise for the crowd. Felt like the place was totally buzzing and it would seem good rugby and a good win is indeed the panacea for a flat and jaded atmosphere.

  14. Fantastic. Not dissimilar to Rome in that we fluctuated from looking comfortable to potentially throwing it away but again the defence was absolutely outstanding and when we get a chance going forward we take it. The years of white line fever seem a distant memory. I said it after Wales and I’ll say it again, the order of fixtures has not done us any favours. Yes we were poor against England but managed to lift ourselves for Wales. Imagine if we still had those two to come on the back of yesterday? I’d like to think it would be a different story. Anyway, pre-tournament I felt 2 wins was ‘par’ for the tournament, so 3 will be one under and we can officially declare it a success. Roll on Dublin!

  15. I don’t think anyone has mentioned Hardie yet. Again I thought he was superb and the amount of work that man gets through is insane.

    There was at least 2 or 3 times he not only made the tackle but held up the man to get the maul and our put in at the scrum. Little things like that make such a big difference in stopping momentum building against us.

  16. Well well
    All the pieces are slotting together.
    Restarts much better contesting the ball well on theirs and good variation on ours.
    Strong set piece although I think we overcomplicate the line out and were close to fluffing it.
    Maul and defence were superb.
    Ability to soak up pressure and then attack.
    Things to work on … More direct running we were crabbing at times leading to the carrier being isolated. When we attacked the midfield channels we looked dangerous
    For me the defining moment of a team coming of age was Hoggs kick to the corner and final try. How many times in the past would we have pointed to the sticks?
    Fabulous collective effort but
    for me front 3 were awesome
    Strauss always made hard yards and Horne slotted in to 10 beautifully. Lots and lots of positives through out the team.
    Let’s have the icing on the cake next week and 3 in a row.

    1. Did anyone else read this as a poem? i found it impossible not to haha
      Also, i really want a caramac now

  17. Because I am a huge critic of the guy I will reserve my comment for him alone. Grieg Laidlaw…..well done. Fantastic performance.

    1. He’s a damn good 9 behind a go-forward pack. I love that he’s now getting in the refs ear much more too.

  18. The attitude of the whole team was fantastic. I said in a previous post that if we had the right mental approach we could and would win. I really hope the boys carry this belief into all future matches, 6N and pro 12, as it seems to have been the players and fans downfall in the past.
    We might not have the squad depth of the other 6N but we have world class players in our fully fit starting 15 and a really good squad that, barring a load of injuries, can be there or abouts in the 6N for years to come, what a wonderful thought!

  19. Having been at the game and now watched the recording, there is not enough room for me to say everything I want. And it’s all praise. Of course it wasn’t perfect but very few teams are. The main thing was that it was a supreme team effort. This group appear to be getting that collective feeling which augers well for the future. What was not apparent on the TV footage was the number of leaders. Laidlaw was the captain and led well, but others stepped up and especially Hogg. I noticed, especially after FR went off that Hogg was running around putting words in people’s ears directing play and giving GL advice, and support. I was also very delighted to see the forwards stand up for themselves. Hardie took no steps back, Barclay was in their faces the whole game and RG was winding them up, no doubt in their own language. We have been too nice in recent times and, although I don’t want to see us be a dirty team, I do want us to have grit (it was one of Jim hamilton’s biggest pluses).
    Overall the performance yesterday, following the Italian job previously, has given me belief that this group of players are now on the verge of becoming true competitors. Work still to do of course but it’s looking good. I may even change my tag name……….but not until next Saturday night.

    1. Well said, ‘Soon to be less than deflated’. Things do seem to be coming together at last at Test level. And all the more admirable given the tiny pro club and registered player base we have now and will continue to have, probably for ever. Makes it feel so much sweeter to savour two 6N wins on the bounce. I don’t want to get ahead of myself or shoot for the moon, but wouldn’t it be good if Vern and co can take this team to the point where other Tier 1 sides take us seriously on a continuous basis?

    2. I think you are spot on with the team culture. If you look back at Glasgow, who were at one stage basket cases, they built the team ethic and results came, not overnight but they came. Earlier comments about “Laidlaw has the dressing room” – absolutely right.
      Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but this is by and large a young side. There are obvious gaps in the squad, most specifically quality front row back up, with lock closely behind. This is why we have coaches and whatever else you wish to title the guys behind the scenes. Identify the gaps, spot the possibilities and put a plan into place to bring them on.

      1. Mike – How do you feel things are things going with the London Scottish? It looks like they are in a better place with 4 games to go (2 against teams below them) . I can see a role for LS in the SRUs plan to bring on the emerging talent and plug the gaps.

      2. Bulldog,

        Unless Moseley do the unthinkable and win all their remaing 4 games (including the top 2) LS are safe. First part of mission accomplished. Second and harder part is for Lineen to reshape the squad taking into account, RFU funding for fielding enough EQPs, having a strong enough side to compete higher up the table and to give a chance for serious game time to some of the fringe youngsters. English Championship is a serious step up from top Scottish League. I make my comment about RFU funding on the basis the SRU have not agreed to underwrite this in exchange for taking more youngsters aboard. Horne and Fergusson have done well this season and there’s no reason to think suitably talented players can’t boost our rather slim squad.
        Futher out is where I think life gets a bit more interesting. Possible ring fencing of the English Premiership, the future of the useless B & I cup etc, etc. There is due to be a new “settlement” with the clubs and the RFU and no-one at our level can guess as to the outcome of that. There has just been a huge exercise by the RFU to restructure lower divisions to a more regional basis, it was voted through against the wishes of the clubs – then thrown out by Beaumont!! Sorry to bore you with all of this but it is relevant. Any major changes in league structure, might, just might, lead to LW and LS seceding to a restructured Pro 12 or 14. It has been mentioned, but no more than that. Now THAT would create a very serious chance for more than a handful of fringe players.
        In the meanwhile I shall enjoy the rest of the season. I know two of the remaining games are against teams below us, but traditionally we do not travel well, so I am not overly optimistic. It’s nonetheless been a good start by Lineen and Grant. Hope that helps.

      3. Mike LS did well last year up the top of the table didn’t they?

        What went wrong this year?

      4. Mike , Many thanks for such a detailed explanation on the situation. It feels largely positive. I have heard (indirectly) about some of the behind the scenes issues arising and it just feels a bit chaotic. Lineen and Grant needed to sort out the coaching as well as player welfare issues. So it feels like some basic care and maintenace is manifesting itself in a better performance and importantly , survival in the league next season. I feel excited about the opportunities the LS alliance might bring. I Might even plan a trip (next season) around a game and take in the usual London stuff when there. Enjoy the remainder of the season and keep us posted on any developments.

    3. Absolutely loved Richie Gray laughing and shoving Flanquart and Lauret when their scrum went down. Absolutely harmless, but it wound the French guys up no end. That’s the right side of confrontational – something Hamilton never understood, got himself sent off more than he wound up opposition.

  20. I am really looking forward to the next game against Ireland. After our team’s two victories against Italy and France, I have been holding back providing more criticism against our team. I am pleased our team is now back to winning habits. Scotland concentrate on the game to win against Ireland to make it 3 out of 3. Sweet. :-D. Yay!

    1. The magnitude of that task can be easily summed up as we last achieved it in 1996!!! Even the 5 Nations winners in 1999 did not.
      Ireland, for all the difficulties they have faced this year will not be easy, but it is possible.

  21. At last a coaching team that brings the best out of talented players. VC is showing his class.

  22. Now some 32 hours or so after the final whistle, and no one has mentioned THAT pass. We have revelled with the ‘Toonie flip’ for years, are we now destined to be recalling the ‘Hoggy slap’ for the next 10 or so?

    1. Talking of the ‘Toonie Flip’, does anyone know where to find footage of that 1995 match? I’ve checked on You Tube for years hoping somebody would post it. I can find footage of the amazing first quarter of the 1999 Paris match, but no 1995. Surely somebody somewhere must have it and can post it?

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion