Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Wins for Edinburgh and Glasgow

Finn Russell - pic © Al Ross
Finn Russell - pic © Al Ross

Glasgow 27-17 Ulster

Glasgow put themselves back in the playoff hunt with a hard-fought victory over fellow contenders Ulster. The win was put together in the second half, after Glasgow went in at half time 9-10 down after Finn Russell conjured several moments of brilliance that put Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg respectively in for tries. Admittedly Hogg still had to chip and chase himself but for once the miss pass gave him the time to get the kick right.

The first half was less pleasant viewing with Ulster playing some great rugby and several of the Glasgow players looking as if they had only just met rather than spending weeks together in Scotland camp. Dunbar had a much better second half and there is now a chance for the Dunbar/Bennett axis to bed in.

Talking point: Would Scotland have fared better in Dublin if Jonny Gray and Finn Russell had played? Both players had a marked impact on Glasgow when they were struggling, with Gray’s carrying and Russell’s creativity putting Glasgow in control of the second half. Two things Scotland badly missed.

Talking point (part two): Should John Lacey have gone to the TMO to check the Ulster try from a quick throw? There was some doubt if it was their throw (it was) and if they took it from the right spot (possibly), if it went 5 metres in (hmm) or was forward (double hmm). Raised eyebrows all-round.

Best bit: Stuart Hogg’s kick to take Glasgow clear and deny Ulster the bonus point was of immeasurable value in terms of the league, but it was wonderful to see Russell’s kick executed perfectly for Seymour to be able to catch it at full-tilt and on such an angle that he both cut the Ulster defence to pieces and didn’t have to break stride.

Newport Gwent Dragons 15-16 Edinburgh

Competition with Scotstoun for most awful surface of the weekend was keen at Rodney Parade, where an Edinburgh side with a lot more grunt up front took on the Dragons and sneaked away with a single point victory that keeps them in the hunt for a top-six finish. Hamish Watson scored their only try and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne took the rest of the points with his boot, leaving a few out there although whether the cat-calls from the stands put him off more than the unsteady surface is debatable.

Solomons will worry a little that they didn’t score more tries during several periods of heavy pressure where the Dragons were able to resist until the inevitable knock-on. Edinburgh play a little bit like Scotland of a couple of years ago

Their growing depth in the front row will be good for the club and potentially Scotland longer term with Rory Sutherland and Stuart McInally starting to fully challenge for starting spots. Jonny Petrie has talked of more signings to bolster the squad but what they really need is Nasi Manu fit to add a bit more heft to the back row until the promise of Ritchie and Bradbury is hopefully fulfilled.

Talking point: Edinburgh’s defence was solid for large portions of the game but their attack still stagnates from time to time. Michael Allen, Damien Hoyland and Blair Kinghorn look good going forward but with poor footing and conditions for a bouncing ball, the young fullback struggled with a couple of key errors he will want to forget.

Best bit: Edinburgh coming away with the win, just barely.

44 Responses

  1. Thanks Rory.

    In a rare occurrence, I managed to catch both games. I agree with your assessment for Glasgow. Ulter try was probably a marginal call and being magnanimous, I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt for being inventive, smart and far more alert that the Glasgow defense.

    As for Edinburgh, my goodness that was a slog. There is absolutely nothing to be excited about in the midfield. You’ll seldom see such a pedestrian 10/12/13. I know the surface wasn’t up to much but bringing in some real attacking talent to complement one of the best packs in the league is sorely needed. Hopefully some of the moves getting made just now will mean that happens. Weir, while not being international class has shown he can be excellent in the Pro 12 and I look forward to seeing Bryce and Rasolea. maybe making a difference. That Edinburgh have only 1 try bonus point is a damning statistic.

    1. Hoping and expecting Weir will demand higher standards, both from SHC and in terms of backline play. With so much of the next generation of Scottish talent heading to Edinburgh, we need them to be entering a positive, successful environment. The difference in confidence and top level experience that Cummings, Fagerson, Price etc. will be gaining at Glasgow will be huge.

      1. Absolutely agree. I like Weir. I think he’s an intelligent, very capable 10. I’d imagine him coming in and demanding more from a back-line that has been a rotating cast of faces for some seasons would help us greatly. He’s just really not quite there against the big boys in international rugby but as I said earlier, he’d definitely a step up in terms of what we already have.

        Hopefully we find more attacking intent from the academy but I’d be worried about just throwing them in as people suggest. Sending out boys (talented as they might be) to play against men is possibly the closest you can come to the metaphorical throwing a person under the bus.

      2. Yeah, I know what you mean about the youngsters, but I feel like they’d fair better learning together, than being drip fed (in some cases out of position) into the squad over a number of years. Also given Edinburgh’s lack of depth (they always seem to be 1 or 2 injuries away from a “crisis”) having more of the youngsters on the books would alleviate this and allow Solomons to rotate them in and out a la Townsend, without sending them all out to fail at once as he did against London Irish in the Challenge Cup.

        For me Kinghorn needs to be gaining experience playing at 10, whether it’s in the latter stages of a match or starting. He’s way too tall and slim to be an effective 15 – he can’t get down to make effective last ditch cover tackles. Ben Robbins needs to be brought in at the back longterm – his pace, size, balance and eye for a gap make him an ideal 15 but he will inevitably end up misplaced on the wing with KH at 15 as in the U20s. Short of Hogg getting injured longterm (God Forbid!) whoever is playing there is likely to be struggling to make an impact on the international scene as anything other than a sub, which would make Robbins even more ideal as a back 3 super sub.

      3. Fair comment. Rotating lads in and out the side is the best way to do that. I’m hoping that the number of solid but not spectacular, ‘cheap’ non-scot qualified players are really a means to an end. They have bodies that are toughened by years of top level rugby so can be counted on to be able to take the wear and tear of top level rugby and releive the need for 18-20 year olds taking a pasting every week.

        I completely agree about Kinghorn. Doesn’t look like a normal fit at 15 but as I’ve always pointed out, Dan Carter was a 10 all the way through school and junior rugby. He was given the opportunity to learn how to take care of himself by being played out of position at 12 for both Canterbury and NZ by standing outside Mehrtens for the first season of his pro career.

        Perhaps the logic with Kinghorn?

      4. Meatball is tough as old boots – hardly ever goes down injured for us, but he can’t play every game so hopefully he and KH will rotate a bit with Robbins filling in at fullback.

      5. Yeah, I was including Weir in that bracket of guys that are tough enough to play almost every match.

      6. Just thought of something and had a look. Excluding Will Helu, Duncan Weir is bringing more caps (with 23) to Edinburgh next year than all the rest of their squad’s backs combined :( No wonder Edinburgh are struggling to find cutting edge.

        With the planned transfers, Edinburgh’s proposed backline players have 64 caps in total (including Weir & Helu’s 23 a piece). Meanwhile Glasgow’s have 297.

  2. Great to see Glasgow pull off 5 in a row – makes you wonder where they would be without the WC/pitch disruption – the power of the home crowd is so strong for us. Just need the Italian games and one of Connacht or Scarlets to ensure the playoffs. Going to be so tight at the top though!

    Dragons & Edinburgh was such an odd game to watch. Weekly, I keep fluctuating between dismay at the lack of killer edge they have – 1 try bonus this season! – to optimism at the quality of young players coming through. There seemed to be gaps everywhere in the Dragons defense but Edinburgh just couldn’t exploit them. Still feels like they’re missing any real support play – when Watson came close, he could have just popped the ball to his teammate but instead stretched for the line – doesn’t suggest a team playing with cohesion and collective confidence. Counter-intuitively, I think the more Academy guys they introduce the more cohesive they will become – would be interested to know if John Dalziel is being consulted as the U20s seem to have a good structure to their play that Edinburgh could benefit from. Likes of Hugh Fraser, Tom Galbraith and Ben Robbins could do with a shot soon. Again Chris Dean, when he finally got on, looked really good – getting stronger in the contact every game. Definitely a starter next weekend. Would love to see Galbraith and him in tandem – Galbraith chopping them down and Dean getting over the ball. Tom Brown on the wing is just not right – Edinburgh need an out and out danger man on the left.

    Also thought Bradbury looked really good off the bench and Ritchie is growing into his role. With the addition of Ally Miller and return of Manu, Edinburgh’s back row options are going to be crazy. This makes the lack of 2nd row quality all the more galling. Just 1 decent experienced international second row would change so much for Edinburgh. With Gray, Cummings, Davidson and Hunter-Hill all at Glasgow, I don’t see where it’s going to come from for Edinburgh unless they buy in someone?

  3. The Ulster try may have looked a bit iffy, but the pass to Hogg for his try looked forward to me when watching the game back on tv, even if it was referred to the TMO and given. On balance Glasgow were the better side with far more possession. Some dodgy tackling seemed to let Ulster penetrate the line. An away win for Edinburgh is a good result – Dragons have been playing quite well when I’ve seen them – but agree they need to step up the attack.

    1. When Hogg’s try was referred to the TMO Lacey specifically said the pass was good. The TMO was only looking at the grounding and asked ‘any reason I can’t award the try’. If I was an Ulster supporter I’d be livid – not sure why Lacey was so confident pass was ok but he was confident enough that he didn’t need another look, just as he had been with Ulster’a second try.

    2. Looking at the game on the BBC i player there is an Irish panel on the BBC Ireland version and they were aggrieved at Hogg’s try. They did not consider the wind was behind Glasgow when the pass was made, they just focused on the hands.

      I am off course biased however I think it is a difficult one to call given the camera angle and the amount of time the ball was in the air, it was after all a drift pass.

      My view is that Russell’s hands were not going back however were they really going forward. Another day , another referee , another TMO , another touch judge , perhaps, but today it went Glasgow’s way.

      I have to say the Ulster protests were a bit annoying for Lacey and for that reason I think they deserved what they got. Perhaps they would have been better to allow him to run the game rather than distract him at that time. However a great try and combination of Russell and Hogg. Lets not take away the credit.

      1. You’re never going to convince me that pass was flat/backwards I’m afraid. As you say the hands are moving forward and that’s how the pass is judged. However, I am very happy for Glasgow (or any Scottish side for that matter) to be on the favourable end of a bad decision given how we seem to suffer badly in the other direction!

  4. Nice wee article Rory, and good comments above. In response to the talking points: #1 Aye, definitely; #2 Maybe, but a few Ulster fans would maybe have asked for a review of Russell’s mis-pass. All in all a greatly entertaining game. Ulster are quite a team when they get going as well. What I love about watching Glasgow, and Scotland too, is that they now produce moments of pure rugby delight. Hoggy is just sublime at the moment and as highlighted some of Finn’s touches were just superb. Jonny Gray is an absolute machine and is central to almost every aspect of Glasgow’s play. You never know exactly how things would’ve panned out with what ifs, but it would be reasonable to predict that the momentum he brings ball in hand and his presence at the breakdown and huge defense would have made an impact in the Ireland game. I also felt Duncy took one step away from being a longer term contender for the 10 jersey in the national team. I know he’s put in some great performances recently, but it just feels like a step backwards from the style of rugby that has emerged. I would probably put in Horne after Russell – he just has that ability to do something fantastic that lifts the entire game up a notch.
    As an Edinburgh fan, unfortunately I can’t see us coming in top 6 at the end of the season. As others have pointed out it just feels like there is something missing entirely from the attack. Solomons is walking the talk in terms of bringing through players, but between himself and Hodge they need to come up with something a bit more inspirational and bring in someone inspiring in the midfield. Michael Allen is fair enough as a squad player, but not the answer in terms of lifting the bar. I would have much rather have seen us pinch Marshall, McCloskey or Payne, but Ulster probably wouldn’t want to sell them, and we probably couldn’t have afforded them! It is however very encouraging to see so many good young players around though, so hopefully this is us nearing the end of a transitional period. I’ll be interested to see what happens with signings through the summer.

    1. Weir and Bryce are good recruits from Glasgow but Edinburgh still need at least one winger and centre with some pace or an absolute destructor. Chris Dean & Hoyland not quite ready to be main men yet and the likes of Dougie Fife or Tom Brown are just never going to be good enough.

      1. Andy, I largely agree with that. I would however say that both Fife and Brown will be more than good enough as solid if not spectacular squad players of there was a bit more invention in the centers.

        Matto, Agree regarding Weir. Felt like he got into this team and looked out of his depth given the talent he’s surrounded with. Feel like he might be your archetypal club man. An stalwart for a team that is indisputably first choice in the league but not the answer for an international side.

        As I’ve said though, I’m delighted he’s coming to Scotland as he is far, FAR, superior to anything we have just now.

      2. Rory Scholes seems like a decent signing on the wing, certainly played well enough against Glasgow this week. Fife, Brown and Hoyland competing for the other side should raise standards a little.

        I expect Jamie Farndale will be graduating from the 7s game at some point as well. If memory serves he was once associated with Edinburgh but I don’t know if that is still the case?

        Major problems are the midfield, lock and FB. Replacing Scott with Junior is not enough and we are just light on options across the back. Currently only Ben Toolis signed on for next year in the lock department. Internal options are, what? Bresler, Alex Toolis and McKenzie (presuming that Gilchrist is as good as gone).

        Seems weird considering the strength in depth in the front and back rows, even with Andress heading off. I await good news on the signing front. In particular I am worried that Edinburgh have no contract in place past this season for WP Nel, Hardie and Watson (think Glasgow have some work to do as well signing wise). I realise its early doors and they both only have 20 players signed but it does make me nervous. Particularly given that we have readily admitted that we can’t compete wage wise with down south (or anywhere?).

        Could see some of Edinburghs remaining talent head out if they miss out on top 6. A likely scenario given their unconvincing performance against a poor Dragons team with a near first choice XV out.

      3. I think we have to get used to the fact that our pro-sides will struggle to hold onto our biggest names given the money sloshing around in the English and French games. French press reports have just confirmed that Nakarawa has signed for Racing Metro, who have bought out the final year on his Glasgow contract for a measly e150,000. Rugby still doesn’t have a transfer system in place so until then, players will sign one and two year extensions, negotiate in their final year and transfer fees will be wholly dependent on the value of contracts in place. Glasgow are hanging onto their Scots stars because they have a great culture and are successful. As Scotland become more successful it probably won’t last unless we can bring in competition winnings from Europe/6N, bigger crowds and better TV deals. Tough times ahead.

      4. FF – bigger crowds a must. I think that Glasgow have outgrown Scotstoun and we should look at an alternative that allows Glasgow to keep the gradual increase in attendance by 3-4% every year. Edinburgh could also do with something a bit more atmospheric that a 90% empty Murrayfield. Two custom built 10,000 stadiums with long term sponsorship deals and decent commercial facilities would be a large capital expense but maybe long term would be a good source of higher income?

      5. Last summer we were all getting excited about the arrival of big T at Scotstoun.

        Well that has an exciting time all the talk and expectation. He finally arrived and the changing room talk was that he was returning before he arrived. I hope we have learned the lessons from this signing.

        Other than a the Scarletts game where he demolished the second string he has been average at best , a man of that size and ability should be winging in, hunting for the ball, both on the end of and providing offloads.

        He is a delightful lad, no question and no offence big T, but I want to remember you for more than that. Lets see more of you seeking opportunities to knock the smiles off the opposition faces, not watching the season counting down on the touchline.

        This signing has been a lose / lose and I would prefer to see us paying the going rate to hold our play makers.

        There is still time for big T to give us something to remember, lets look forward to him making a fool of those Scarlett’s once again in that all important game.

        Now he may argue the pitches here are not up to it and who could argue with that. I do not believe the Scotstoun situation is sustainable, however I think going back to a bigger half empty stadium is a backward step.

        We have some some tough decisions ahead of us however they are very different to the decisions we needed to make when we were still aspiring to reach the top 4.

      6. Edinburgh need a smaller stadium. The pitch is there, at the back, . The same idea as Cardiff with the Arms Park, would work well. If you have ever been to the Req at Bath there is a great model to follow. Some classy buildings for the sponsors (and no shortage of them in Edinburgh) and lots of temp stadia. However as always, ideas are cheap, funding is not.

        Oh I lived in Edinburgh and the water of Leith used to flood onto the pitches however I understand the defences are now robust.So worth considering.

  5. #1 Missing Gray and Russell certainly changed the dynamic of Scotland. However you could say the same for Ireland – missing O’Brien and Kearney.
    #2 Glasgow fell asleep and so deserved to leak a try. Maybe Lacey could have gone to the TMO but I, for one, didn’t want to see the replay for the lack of awareness by the boys.
    #3 Edinburgh are missing a midfield a la Scotland of pre-2016. Wee Duncan will help to provide more structure and ideas. Burleigh has been solid but perhaps may make more plays at 12?
    Unfortunately I can see Glasgow failing to reach the top 4 as the boys would have to beat either Scarlets (3rd) or Connacht (top) away. Similarly I can see Edinburgh staying 7th as we need to beat either Leinster (2nd) or Munster (4th) away. Going on form I cannot see us with 2 teams in the ERC2017.

    1. Edinburgh’s best hope is a Munster capitulation which is actually not inconceivable given their next fixtures are Leinster and Connacht AWAY. With Edinburgh having Zebre at home next, it could well come down to the crunch match between the two of them at the end of next month in Limerick…

      I think Glasgow have enough to make top 4 (Is top 2 being greedy ;) ). If we win the 3 games against the Italians with a couple bonuses, Ulster will have to win all of their remaining matches to even challenge us – no small task with games against Leinster, Connacht, and Ospreys. As stated above Munster have a pretty rocky road ahead too and so should fall away.

      Hopefully Bennett’s dropped try won’t come back to haunt him AND us!

  6. Merlot,
    Glasgow have 3 games v the Italian teams & the Irish provinces play one another, the games @ Scarlets & Munster will prove whether Glasgow are still prospective champions (I think Glasgow will finish 3rd)

    Edinburgh’s backs are really average, can’t see why average NSQ players are being recruited when there are (Robbie above – excellent article) young Scottish guys with rich potential available.

    I carped on about John Hardie for long enough, Robbie Robinson is deja vu……….

    1. Robbie Robinson had real injury issues, maybe too much of a risk? He’s also playing in Japan where he’s probably earning more than Edinburgh could give him, lastly how do you know the SRU havn’t tried to sign him? Maybe he just didn’t fancy it.

  7. You are correct in everything you say MK, however Hardie had injury concerns before moving to Edinburgh.

    I see Robinson (if he is same (ish) level he was at when playing @ Waikato Chiefs) as same level as Maitland. (maybe wee bit better)

    I believe Robinson has been playing regularly in Japan too.

    1. Yeah. He’d be an interesting signing if we could get him. Ben Smith is 29 though, probably wont be at the next RWC, his pals at Edinburgh..could we dream!? Lol!!

  8. I have been trying to work the statistics might say in terms of the Pro 12 and looking at the last Worldcup season the lead side had 82 points and lthe 4th 65. This is generally a consistent rule of thumb in recent seasons however last year we had a closer top 4 clustered around 70 points. So my view is that Glasgow need between 65 and 71 to be in the playoffs.

    My view , all italian games with bonus points and target the Scarletts , that is our key game., The last gasp saviour is that Connaught may not need a win against Glasgow to go through 1st and may elect to rest key players.

    What is interesting about this season compared with previous is the number of losses. In previous years the top side has fluctuated between 3 – 5 losses. This year we are already at 5 for the top 3 sides. Glasgow have 5 losses however in previous years made the playoffs with this number of losses. One other could be an issue. Ulster are at 8 losses andlevel with Glasgow , so they must be picking up winning and losing bonus points more than most , however I would say that this is a high number to make the top 4.

    So all Eyes on Connaught , we need them to be way ahead come the last game and to rest their key players. That said, they appear to have that golden thread that runs through all great sides, they believe in themselves regardless of who is on the pitch.

    Those 2 away games against Edinburgh were a faux pas. We need Scotstoun to have a decent pitch for next season.

    1. 72pts will guarantee we progress regardless of other results. In practice, it is very unlikely the fourth place team is going to pick up maximum points from their remaining games so we are unlikely to need 21pt from our remaining matches. I think Italian teams plus Scarlets, plus a couple of bonus points is about right.

      Connacht now have their front 3 FHs injured, at least for their games coming up against Ulster and Munster and maybe longer. The likely starter has only one game this season in European competition. So they are unlikely to break away at the top and that might keep the finish tight.

      On the plus side, we are on a roll, Scarlets away is a tight match but we better them all over the park, and by the time we play Connacht they may/should have a FH back but no doubt will be struggling with the pressure of the run in (and maybe a couple if interpro losses) plus Europe. They need a home tie to make the final, can’t see them travelling to RDS or Scotstoun and winning and I’m sure they know it.

    2. I would back Glasgow to win all of their remaining fixtures with a couple of BP along the way, although Scarlets and Connacht will be significant tests. It’s great to see Connacht do so well and that should be a great game, but I think Glasgow have Connacht’s team spirit with the addition of a bit more star dust now that the whole team are pretty much fit and on form. I’ve got tickets for the final and it would nice to have a bit of Scottish interest. Glasgow Connacht would be superb!

  9. Bulldog – I think your idea is great – using temp stadia at the back (some could be permanent). The Rec at Bath has a superb atmosphere and is a good size for club matches. Same with Cardiff Blues.
    My only concern is – aren’t the Murrayfield changing rooms under the East Stand? If so we’d have to build new ones or make players run around Murrayfield to get to the pitch.

    1. I also think it’s a good idea, but I find it difficult to imagine that this possibility hasn’t been thoroughly considered. The SRU no longer seems to be populated by the numpties that oversaw the calamitous transition from amateur to professional and beyond; a number of very positive actions have been undertaken in the last couple of years. Surely this has been looked at?

    2. Merlot – Thanks for the feedback, The changing rooms are in the west stand as I recall however the distance point is not lost on me.

      Murrayfield Wanderers have their clubhouse and changing rooms in their relativley modern building on the south west corner (just on the edge of the back pitch near the railway. It sits alongside the tractor shed) .

      The creative solution is temporary buildings (you can rent fully kitted portacabin ablutions ) alongside MW building.

      The obvious and practical option is share facilities , if that was acceptable to MW ! (We should never assume that that is an option and I do not know how I would feel as a MW player about all of this, so no one should be presumptions, it is MW’s turf and temple.)

      There must be reasons why this has never been considered , it is far too obvious not to be in the mix. It may be MW themsleves (who may even own the ground) and upgraded floodlights will be another alongside, what I hope is a historical issue the flood plains for the Water of Leith. That said, the MW building sets the precident for further recreational development on the site.

      Rome was not built in a day. It needs a phased approach , however unlike Glasgow , Edinburgh have the space and ownership to build in phases. I suspect the first change needs to be from within . Get top 6 or a playoff to galvanise the ideas.

      1. Apropos Glasgow, if the G3/G4 pitch goes in then they will be stuck there for a bit. G3/G4 should suit Glasgow’s style, so better to stay there short term, there has never (as far as I know) been an issue with temporary stands to boost capacity.

        Doubt SRU have anything like the funds, or the appetite to take on debt to much else.

        The Embra issue wants a solution though.

      2. I think Glasgow are probably in the position just now that they are playing in front of a large crowd by Pro 12 standards and being very successful. Hunkering down and making themselves really comfortable there would appear to make sense. Unless I’m very wrong, they aren’t sold out every week, are they?

        If only Edinburgh could have the same. That said, there are machinations at the council about doing up Meadow Bank to a nice standard. Could be that Edinburgh find themselves a home back there.

        Bit of a lack of pubs in the area though. Maybe an excuse to make more revenue.

      3. Crucial that Glasgow don’t twist and go bust. With the threat of the English and French teams pilfering our top talent as their salary caps rise, would be disastrous to invest heavily in a stadium and find in a couple years we couldn’t fill it because we no longer have the competitiveness or players to attract the fanbase – Wales are already experiencing this – Ospreys and Scarlets crowds are dismal outside of derby days.

        Also wages are going to go up so retaining enough experienced internationals has to be our priority to ensure the long-term competitiveness and the right environment for our Academy players to enter. Scotstoun with a 4G is just fine for now. Edinburgh obviously do need to find a better option, though I know they’ve already had discussions about temporary stands out the back and it was a non-starter for some reason.

      4. Glasgow’s recent success has resulted in the larger crowds and a ‘sold out’ Scotstoun for games this season. I think they should remain at Scotstoun in the short to medium term and show that the 6-7k crowds can be maintained and then perhaps think about a custom stadium elsewhere. At the moment the two temporary end stands are very small. I would be pushing for bigger temporary stands for next season, similar in size to those that were in place for the 7s. This would allow expansion in crowds without major, permanent investment.

        Edinburgh desperately need a more appropriate home and even as a Glasgow man I would suggest the SRU focus on that problem first.

  10. Just wanted to add that I thought George Clancy had a good game at the weekend for Edinburgh/Dragons- the polar opposite of Lacey on the Friday night. And that is after his abysmal showing the week before when officiating for Glasgow against Leinster.
    A lot of comments have been made about the neutrality of this pair over the last few weeks. I think there is not a single piece of evidence to show that they are biased for or against particular sides. Ulster fans were equally as dismissive of Lacey last week because they felt that he was biased against them as he is a Munster man. Just goes to show that when it comes to the man in the middle fans are rarely happy.
    Where I think that they struggle is in coping with the speed and complexity of the modern game, and how it is played by the very best teams. Clancy made some poor decisions when trying to cope with 2 strong, smart teams in Glasgow and Leinster. Both playing the game at a high tempo, and both coached with enough savvy to ensure that every breakdown becomes an opportunity to con the referee. Fast forward to Glasgow/Ulster and Lacey finds himself in the same position – pace, power, bending of the rules at very opportunity. The game between Edinburgh and Dragons must have seemed like a u10s game for Clancy. Without being disrespectful, the players were nowhere near as quick-witted, and therefore were easier to control.
    It isn’t right for any ref’s to cover games that including teams from their own union – this is something that the Pro12 desperately need to address as it leaves the whistler open to all sorts of abuse. That is a matter for the Pro12 admin.
    However, World Rugby needs to look at simplifying the Laws to give the man in the middle more of a chance at the very top level of the game.
    Just my thoughts. Thanks Rory for the article.

    1. Good post and I am glad someone has mentioned the refs, we bash them when it goes the other way quickly enough in here.

      If anything I thought both Clancy and Lacey were aware they were in a position where they could have been called biased and it worked in our favour. A few 50/5o’s went our way , the alleged Russell Hogg forward pass try (which I think was ok by the way, reasons posted earlier) being one example.

      1. Yeah, Clancy was OK, but the issue is that these guys should not be put in that position. Lacey had a shocker in the Glasgow v Ulster game. How on earth is he on the International Panel?

  11. Whatever happens, that win 12-6 against Leinster was won of the best performances I have seen from a Scottish side.

  12. I wasn’t going to bother going to the Edinburgh game tonight but having seen the team as announced in the Scotsman newspaper just now I’ve changed my mind – Edinburgh have Mark Bennett, Adam Ashe, Nakarawa & Favaro playing. Mind you Zebre seem to have signed Nacewa, Kirchener & Ringrose amongst others – should be a cracker!
    April Fools or just an incompetent Editor – you decide.

    1. Almost as good as the SRU e-mail saying Kellock was going to ref the Pro 12 Final. Should give them a pat on the back – never known them to have any humour!!

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