Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Should Vern Turn to Youth in Japan?

Damien Hoyland evades Munster's defence - pic © Al Ross
Damien Hoyland evades Munster's defence - pic © Al Ross

Vern Cotter will now turn his attention to the summer tour, and faces some tough decisions over who should board the plane to Japan.

The Scotland head coach must decide whether he wants to keep the squad that has served him so well recently, together for the two-match series, or introduce some new faces.

With a British and Irish Lions tour at the end of next season, and a number of Cotter’s men having played their way into contention, some may find themselves left to rest with a long 2016/17 season ahead.

Ross Ford, for example, may be afforded a break and the honour of winning his 100th cap in the Autumn at BT Murrayfield. The skipper, Greig Laidlaw, might also be given some time off as Cotter takes a look at his scrum-half options.

While Japan pose a much greater threat than they did a few years ago, Scotland should win both matches, but it is important for Cotter to develop the squad, and he may even choose to give a number of youngsters a go.

The likes of Jamie Ritchie and Scott Cummings have caught the eye for Edinburgh and Glasgow this season and for the U20s, so they may be included in a wider squad to give them national team experience.

That would, though, rob the duo of a chance to represent the U20s at the World Championships in England.

The difficulty for Cotter is there still isn’t a huge depth of choice in some positions.

While there are a plethora of opensides that would ensure Hardie – who went into this season hard on the back of the previous Super Rugby season – and Barclay can both enjoy the beach, there are few stand-offs good enough for the Test arena.

Does that mean Finn Russell has to go?

There is always the option of another look at messrs Jackson, Tonks and Heathcote in the playmaking jersey, while Peter Horne proved himself an able deputy in the France win but wasn’t trusted against Ireland.

So what is best for Vern? Stick with the tried and tested? Give some of the stalwarts a break? Or blood youth and hope they develop on tour?

In reality, it’s probably an option that covers all those bases.

My Scotland squad for summer tour to Japan.

Forwards: Rory Sutherland, Gordon Reid, Moray Low, Zander Fagerson, Ryan Grant, Stuart McInally, Fraser Brown, Kevin Bryce, Grant Gilchrist, Tim Swinson, Ben Toolis, Rob Harley, Jamie Ritchie, Blair Cowan, Hamish Watson, Chris Fusaro, David Denton, Adam Ashe

Backs: Henry Pyrgos, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Grayson Hart, Greig Tonks, Pete Horne, Matt Scott, Duncan Taylor, Richie Vernon, Chris Dean, Damien Hoyland, Rory Hughes, Sean Maitland, Tom Brown, Ruaridh Jackson

66 Responses

  1. Interesting choices there Gav, I think Vern isn’t quite as radical! Even if they do go for a new blood/testing combinations type of tour as you have suggested it’s hard to think that at least one Gray and certainly Weir (if Finn doesn’t go) will be included and probably Bennett too, who has a thing or two to prove, to give it a bit of a spine from the “big” team.

    Who do you see as captain? I’d go for McInally.

  2. Certainly Hardie, Nel and Dicko deserve a summer off. Ford should go in my opinion because he needs to be made aware that he’s not the be all and end all at hooker. Gilchrist and Toolis deserve a match at least and I suspect Johnny rather than Richie will be taken simply because of the length of the season in France. Backs wise, I see no point in taking Maitland or Lamont. Hoyland and Hughes should go. I’d have Jacko and Russell as my tens but I think we’ve all come to realise Vern is a very conservative selector so I am not expecting wholesale changes to the squad.

  3. I’d include Heathcote (inform at Worcester), Bradbury (looks decent on his Edinburgh Cameos) and Andy Cramond (if allowed time off from Toulon). Take Maitland for fullback.

    1. I thought Bradbury was superb tonight, looks like the big ball carrying 6 we’ve been waiting for.

  4. Squad above is ripe for a humiliating loss in Japan – and we’d deserve it if we felt as entitled to stroll to victory as these selections suggest. Take out all our leaders, throw in a handful of newly turned pros and guys that are never going to make the grade, what you end up is not more depth it is our newly found confidence coming to an abrupt end.

    Tonks should be nowhere near a Scotland squad, let alone be starting a test at 10.

  5. For me you leave the U20s to soak up as many international minutes and as much confidence as they can from the WC.

    Japan are no mugs. Every game against a side beneath us in the world rankings has to be viewed as must win, summer test or no. Also many of the guys we have are still low on caps so I’d have (bearing in mind they take about 27):

    Alasdair Dickinson
    Stuart McInally
    WP Nel
    Jonny Gray
    Richie Gray
    Mitch Eadie
    Hamish Watson
    David Denton
    Henry Pyrgos
    Finn Russell
    Alex Dunbar
    Mark Bennett
    Duncan Taylor
    Tommy Seymour
    Stuart Hogg
    Rory Sutherland
    George Turner
    Zander Fagerson
    Grant Gilchrist
    Ryan Wilson
    Ali Price
    Peter Horne
    Damien Hoyland
    Rob Harley
    Sam HC
    Chris Dean
    Gavin Lowe

  6. Reid, Sutherland
    McInally, Brown
    Fagerson, Low
    J Gray, Gilchrist
    B Toolis, Cummings
    Harley, Wilson
    Barclay, Watson
    Strauss, Denton
    H-Clyne, Prygos, Price
    Russell, Jackson
    Visser, Hughes
    Horne, Scott
    Taylor, Bennett
    Hoyland, Farndale

    1. I’d largely agree with that squad, I’d change Dunbar for Scott, Scott needs a summer to recover, Dunbar hasn’t played much rugby. Dean for Bennett, Bennett needs a summer off to recover his Mojo, Dean for Experience. Heathcote for Russell and Alex Toolis for Cummings, Andy Cramond for J Gray. Bradbury for Denton. I’d like Fagerson to stay with the u20s, a full strength u20s could do some damage at this JRWC in Manchester, but lack of TH options looks like he will go.

  7. I think Vern will quite rightly maintain the spine of the team for the tour. He may give the front row the summer off, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were on the bench to shore things up if the set piece is going awry. Other than that I think he has identified his squad – he has his starting 15 (Dicko, Ford, Nel, Gray, Gray, Barclay, ? [probably Denton], Hardie, Hogg, Seymour, ?, ?, Visser, Russell, Laidlaw) with a bit to spare in a handful of positions (e.g. centre). I think his focus will be in continuing the development of that group, with a little bit of drip-feeding in the up and coming talent, and relatively little experimenting with depth that has already been tested. Of those relatively untested I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of Toolis, Watson, Bradbury, Ritchie, Hoyland, Price, Farndale, Cummings included in the touring squad. Hastings and Smith as bolters. BVC has intimated that he’s been keeping an eye on the u20s with a view to the future and I wonder if he may focus there, rather than dipping back into players that haven’t really made the grade in the past.

    1. I agree, develop the current squad, those who aren’t quite up to it to step down for development. We will not win the under 20’s so rather see one or two on tour to speed their development. Hoyland must be knocking on the door.
      We must not be in the least complacent, Hardie needs a break, and there is a decent argument for resting Laidlaw. Lamont should not go, and Maitland should, on the basis he is close to the last chance saloon.

  8. Laidlaw is having a good game for Gloucester against Leicester today.

    1. Literally as I type that he misses a 1 on 1 tackle and try Leicester. He is decent just too weak in defence and, for Scotland’s game, slow. No matter how good his game management going forward. Let’s see Pyrgos, SHC and Hart.

  9. Cotter will take an experienced squad to Japan with just a sprinkling of younger, inexperienced players. I would rest one or two of the older players like Dickinson, Ford, Barclay, Lamont and Laidlaw ( a chance to try out another captain, maybe Pyrgos or Gilchrist ). Very impressed with Bradbury last night. I think we should also add Hoyland to the squad, not sure about his defence, but he is an exciting attacker who will get tries, even at international level.

  10. J Gray needs a rest! Give the lad some time off, hit the gym and try out other locks. Hoyland should travel – looking like a real predator in an area where we don’t have the depth that we do at centre.

  11. Why not try playing Chris Dean at Fullback and move Stuart Hogg to Fly Half for the Japan tour? This surely would give us more options, it would mean that in the 2017 Six Nations we could have a situation where both Hogg and Russell would be fly halves, imagine……

    1. I’ll need to see a lot more from Dean before he gets anywhere near the test backline in any position, but moving either Hoggy or Russell out of the team to accommodate the experiment is just loopy.

  12. Absolutely NOT. Hogg is a FB, full stop. This is NOT a development tour, Border has it about right and Hardie should be rested, ranking points are essential and if we think the ‘cherries’ will roll over, then we are mugs.

    1. Not that it is something that will concern Cotter, but I would like Scotland to smash Japan and demonstrate we belong as a tier 1 side and our World Cup victory over Japan was because we are superior and not because we benefitted from the schedule. I’d also like this Scotland team to treat every game as a precious opportunity to win test matches and young players to come into a confident side with an identity and a core of leaders. I don’t think we will create that culture by treating these matches as a development tour, giving away cheap caps and breaking up the momentum we have built up by changing half the squad from the 6N. There are some gaps that need filled, there are some guys at the end of their careers, and there are some guys knocking on the door but there are some names floating round on this thread that are nowhere near ready for test rugby.

      1. Yep, a lot of work has already gone into selecting and developing the current squad, who, following a decent showing at the RWC and 6N, have a bit of confidence and momentum. Now is not the time to undermine that, but rather to build on it. We should be looking to beat Japan twice on their home turf, and then looking forward to how we have a successful autumn series, so that we are going into the 3 home games in 6N 2017 riding high. I can see why Cotter might want to bring along one or two up and comings to get a better look and for their development, but then it could also be argued that they’d be better off building momentum and success with the under 20s.

    2. Got to agree with that.. thought a player of tourney win would put the ‘Hogg to 10’ shout to bed….

  13. Does anyone know how to get match tickets for these tests? Any info would be much appreciated, thanks.

    1. I’ve been on several tours and always got my tickets from the squad. There have always been extras available

      I am going to Japan for the tour and have organised tickets so happy to help out if you want to go

  14. My thoughts would be to rest some players: front row,
    Hardie, Laidlaw – all deserve a rest;
    R. Gray (long French season);
    Hogg & J. Gray – they’ll be with the Lions.

    That allows you to take a squad of
    Maitland / Jackson
    Visser / Seymour / Hoyland
    Bennett / Dunbar / Scott / Taylor
    Russell / Horne
    Pyrgos / SHC / Price
    Rory S / Reid
    McInally / Brown
    Low / Fagerson
    Gilchrist (capt.) / Toolis / Cummings / Swinson
    Watson / Wilson
    Strauss / Bradbury
    Ashe / Harley
    That should be a strong enough team to see off Japan & allow good experience to be gained whilst not denuding the U20’s.

    1. Have you dropped Barclay on purpose? Wilson proved some doubters wrong against Italy but he is not a test standard 7 by any stretch of the imagination.

      1. No my mistake – I have forgotten both Barclay – who I would take ahead of Bradbury so that he could be with U20’s – & Weir who for me is 50 / 50 with Horne

    1. Even if he’s not fit to play he should still tour IMO.

      Regarding the selection, I don’t think anyone over the age of 30 (with exception of Low) should be touring, world cup planning starts now and we will need a new front row that hopefully has 100 caps between them by the time the next World Cup comes round.

      Jonny I’m undecided on whether he’d be best served with a rest or if he should be given the tour captaincy and groomed as the replacement to Laidlaw.

    1. I agree. They should be allow to play at their full potential and strength in the World Cup

  15. It’s only a two-week tour – why on earth are you all picking 30+ players? 28 tourists maximum, otherwise you are just taking them to train for two weeks. I believe the priorities should be
    1: Win both tests – we have to be in the top 8 of World Rankings by Autumn to give us a chance of staying there for the RWC19 seedings.
    2: Leave the U20s – the experience of the U20 RWC will be much greater than a two-test tour. This includes Fagerson!
    3: Rest only those players you have strength in depth for.
    Bear in mind that it is likely Edinburgh’s last game of the season is likely to be 7th May – a month before the tour – those guys such as WP, Ford and Dicko will have had a good rest already. The same cannot be said for Glasgow.
    I’d agree with resting Laidlaw and Hardie, and add in Richie Gray and Duncan Taylor as their seasons are likely to run into June. I’d also probably rest Ford and Barclay in order to give others some test time, given the depth in those positions. Other than that I’d take a 1st team with a full bench, plus cover for lock, backrow, scrumhalf, flyhalf/centre, back 3.
    Dicko; McInally; Nel.
    J Gray; Swinson.
    Wilson; Watson; Denton.
    Pyrgos; Russell.
    Visser; Dunbar; Bennett; Seymour.
    Subs (forwards): Reid; Brown; Low; Gilchrist; Strauss.
    Subs (backs): SHC; Horne; Jackson.
    Also (forwards): Toolis; Ashe/Bradbury.
    Also (backs): Hart; Bennett; Hoyland/Maitland

    1. Agree with the selection but would probably take Sutherland instead of Reid as I think he would stand to gain more from the tour. I would also add Harley given we don’t know how much game time Gilchrist will manage and his versatility would be useful.

      1. I agree with both your changes (assuming everyone is fit and performing) but my comment was more about the principles of taking a full strength match-day squad and only a handful of others, leaving out U20s and those whose “rest” can be covered by others.

  16. As has been said by others a near 1st team has to be taken to ensure an 8th place ranking come WC seeding. By all means give Hardie, Laidlaw, Barclay, R Gray and Taylor the summer off but only because we have depth in their positions that need experience and game time.

    Jackson shouldn’t be taken as he’s had almost no game time for Wasps this season and we shouldn’t be rewarding 2nd choice club players with international caps (with the exception of several Glasgow players as the Toonie tombola generally makes sure they all get a game anyway). Same argument to be made for Denton at present. Unfortunate because he was brilliant at RWC

    Tonks, Cowan and T Brown all not international class I’m afraid and Maitland has done nothing to warrant selection recently. Can’t see Reid and Swinson as anything other than lesser versions of our 1st choice either.

    I’d bring along Fagerson and Cummings for experience – both have already made the step up to professional rugby and will benefit from added exposure. Potentially Kinghorn as well given that there is nobody of any proper quality mentoring him at Edinburgh and might be worthwhile spending time with Hogg/Russell. Only for training purposes though.

    Sutherland/Dicko, Mcinally/Brown, Low/Nel, J Gray/B Toolis/Gilchrist, Ashe/Watson/Wilson, Pyrgos/SHC, Russell/Horne, Dunbar/Bennett, Seymour/Visser/Hoyland, Hogg

    Also: Fagerson, Bryce, Cummings, Harley, Strauss, Kinghorn, Dean

  17. This blog has made me realise how thankfull I am we pay Vern Cotter and his management team to make the decisions and its not a public phone in like the x factor.

    It looks like this test is about world cup seedings and we do not have the luxury of being in the top 6 IRB ratings , according to Wickepedia we are 9th . So, no gambles, no lame ducks,no development opportunities this summer.

    We must send the best test side we can muster and drive them intae the rising sun tae think again.

    This is about consolidating on the 6N squad and securing our RWC seeding,so its the same squad IMO.

    As for the Lions , come on , as scots fans do we want to risk a poor RWC draw for resting potential Lions a year early,

    The priority is Scotland and then if a few of our lads are given a contract for a Lions place, they will learn from that (they will earn from that as well) , but as a squad and a nation, we will lean more by being at the next RWC.

    1. Bulldog, according to the recent article in the Hootsmon, the RWC seedings will be delayed until 2017, so this tour would not impact our position directly. We could afford to lose ranking points this year and blood a few younger guys which will put us in better stead going forward.

      Although, I’d prefer to blood the youngsters AND win this series. Link to the article below.

  18. I’ll stick my head above the parapet and say that I think Lamont should tour. Not necessarily as someone who is going to play as first choice, but who can act as a mentor for what could be a callow set of backs. I’d rest Russell and Laidlaw, allowing them the benefit of a good off season. The same for Seymour, Hogg and possibly Bennett.

    Instead look at Taylor, Horne and Scott in midfield, with SHC, Pyrgos, Weir and Jackson as half backs. The back three would be a combination of Hoyland, Visser, Hughes, Jones and Kinghorn – and this is where Lamont comes in. Yes, he’s at the tail end of his international career, and he may not be the most gifted, but listening to James Eddie commentating on the Glasgow v Treviso game the other night and it would seem that Lamont still clocks up some of the fastest times in the Warriors squad.
    For a guy his age in the pro game that is fairly impressive. All the comments from his colleagues that I have read have always praised his commitment and professionalism – much like Nathan Hines. I feel he would be a good example for a young squad to be set and Japan would be an opportunity for this to happen.

    In the forwards Hardie has to have a rest, as does Ford. McInally and Brown as hookers. Props I don’t think we are over-blessed with so Nel and Dickinson have to go. Same with the Grays. Watson, Ritchie, Ashe and Strauss go, possibly Wilson too. Sutherland, Fagerson, Reid, Low as props?

    Quite glad I don’t have to pick the squad to be honest. Luckily we have a year to play with before the RWC 2019 seedings are decided, so if this isn’t a compete success we have time to regain any seedings losses.

    1. We do not have a year to play with – the seedings are made after the Autumn Internationals so we have just 5 games. 2 tests against Japan then Australia, Argentina and Georgia. My guess is that Georgia will be a dead rubber (ranking points wise) as if it means anything in terms of World Rankings we’d already be out of the top 8.
      So we only have four games really before the seedings.
      IF the AI’s go to form, I believe we need to be in (at worst) 7 in the standings after the Summer tours. This means winning both tests vs Japan.

      1. Doesn’t change how we should be thinking. Ranking points are important, to get top eight we need all we can get. We have a little momentum, losing in Japan will wipe that out. Blood one or two, fine, especially if it is in a position where we aren’t well covered.

      2. Rankings points still important particularly as we will play France in Paris in next year’s 6N. If we are to move into the top 8 it will almost certainly be at their expense. Anyway, as the cliche goes, ‘winning is a habit…’ that you don’t pick up by testing out fringe players against the coming force in tier 2 rugby at the end of a long season, half way round the world. FFS

      3. Yeah, I believe they are must wins too. Just that the discussion seemed to be being shaped by the belief that the seedings are being determined at the end of this year when that’s no longer the case.

      4. Good comments, thanks for the clarity on the seeding and the counter arguments. I am of the same opinion , I see no point in experimenting on the tour of Japan. We just do not have that luxury.

        Japan will see this tour as being impotant to boosting their ranking. They are 10th , 1.27 points behind us .We are 0.04 points behind France.

        We have managed to lay many ghosts behind us and this team is working, we should build on that platform. Now, I will not say it is a perfect , lots of areas to improve, some players will fade away, however i will say ‘Its not broken so why fix it?’

        Why risk giving Japan the opportunity to close the gap on us. France do not appear as settled as Scotland , that will not last forever , so its our time to get on the move in the rankings.

        ‘winning is a habit’ as pointed out by FF , that makes perfect sense.

  19. Absolutely needs to be a full test squad – Vern will not want to lose either of these matches.
    I suspect he will take Hardie as he is now a key figure in the squad and will be close enough to NZ for a visit. I would not risk Gilchrist. I would also not reward any player who is not a first club team regular (Glasgow excepted) – so no Jackson or Cowan.
    I think we can afford to rest Ford as Mcinally and Brown are getting much closer. Both Gray’s need to go. I’d like to see Pyrgos start but definately take Laidlaw.

  20. Agree with AMW first & foremost 2 wins are required, lack of depth means most of the guys in the 6N squad will need to go.

    Wasn’t Hardie injured for a while in NZ so maybe not played as too much rugby, with the excellent Hamish Watson playing well Hardie could well be only playing 2 or 3 games before the seasons end.

    Denton is a guy I want to see back in form, he has the size & the physicality to be very useful in the test arena.

    I’d not bother taking Weir, he simply doesn’t suit Scotland’s style

  21. I would probably send the current “1st team” plus the backups we have been using but just give them some more game time, have them start and the established guys on the bench / rested. Vern has shown that he doesn’t empty the bench at 60mins just for the sake of it and we quite often had unused subs, a good thing IMO but it does mean the less experienced guys don’t get good game time.

    That said I would leave out a few notable names. Ford and Laidlaw can stay at home, Ford because we have two other options at Hooker who are probably better than him anyway. Laidlaw because we seriously need to get some other guys built up at 9. Someone else needs to be taking place kicks and Russell needs the experience of having to do it all in a Scotland shirt. I would leave Dickinson and Nel but fear for the scrum and we may need them to bail us out. By all means take Hardie and Denton but I don’t want to see them starting, the back row probably more than most positions needs a bit of tinkering to see what out A-team should be. In the centre we are blessed with 4 guys with not a lot to pick between them at the moment so horses for courses. Back 3 I would like to see Visser, Seymour and Hogg all go, with one of them starting, one on the bench and the other one rested, giving others a chance in positions we are a bit thin on the ground. Lamont is a difficult one, we gain nothing new by playing him, we know what to expect, he’ll put in a shift, deviously push / block a defender (he’s brilliant at it), and probably won’t score a try. But he is a good guy to have in the squad in terms of experience and mentoring and ability to cover basically anywhere. He said it himself, he’s not retiring he wants to be forced from the squad by younger guys stepping up to the plate, that’s difficult though if they never get the chance.

    I don’t care about world rankings, every match is a must win, we need to be winning for development as much as blooding new guys for development. We need to beat the Argies and I would dearly love us to stuff Australia in our rematch, who’s the ref? Can’t help but feel we are playing them the wrong way round, although if we did beat Australia in the first match I would fancy us to hammer Argentina and Georgia whereas losing to Australia might have the opposite effect.

  22. Living in Bath, you get more detail on the Scots playing down here. Definitely would take Heathcote. He is on fire with Worcester, especially now he is playing with a top class 9 and the club don’t have to contend with relegation issues. Jackson is not getting picked for Wasps so is difficult to judge his form. He will have to make a good move as next season Wasps have Gopperth and Cipriani. Don’t see what taking him to Japan would achieve. Tonks is not international standard. Despite his claims to being the one who will keep Irish up he has been poor in his games for them. Denton is out of it now. Always thought he was a one trick pony and amazed at Bath signing him. He is rarely picked for the 23 but when he comes on as sub offers very little and seems to be on another planet. Bath looking to offload him to free up cap. Another knee jerk from Ford Snr

    1. Hanuman thanks. Back when we started out the blog I used to see a lot of English rugby and was able to keep an eye on the exiled guys but now there are many more demands on my time (and that of the others) and I no longer get to see those games. Always keen for tidbits on how they are getting on, interesting to hear about Heathcote as I always fancied his chances – plus he was born in Inverness…

    2. I have to agree about Dave Denton. Hasn’t really settled and, although when he was signed Bath were in desperate need of backrow, that’s no longer the case and a couple more are joining next season. He needs to look very carefully at his next move – I can see a good fit for him at Newcastle, as their backrow are coming to the end of their careers (eg 33/34), and there are quite a few Scots there already.

      1. Dave Denton needs to be playing at a better club than Newcastle if he wants to push himself on.

      2. FF – True but where? Remember Denton is currently 3rd choice No.8 at Bath behind Mafi and Houston (who isn’t even internationally capped). A quick scan of the Aviva team squads show that all have of them have international No.8’s held in higher esteem than Denton. Exceptions could be made for Harlequins and Sale although both have strong up-and-comers in Clifford and Beaumont.

        Perhaps a run of starts in a club like Newcastle for a season might give him time to find his form and allow him push on the season after that? Somewhere in France is a possibility as well but the quality of that league is dropping every season and none of the big clubs are going to want to spend money on him at the moment

      3. Reasonable to point out that Hogg’s international career ended as he moved to Newcastle. Who may yet be relegated.

      4. Colm – apart from the Worcester, Newcastle and London Irish (presumably getting relegated anyway) who are perennial basement dwellers, and Harlequins and Sale who you’ve conceded are exceptions, I’d certainly add Leicester and Northampton as teams Denton could make the starting XV. Suddenly, that’s more than half the league. Denton might have had a disastrous time at Bath but after the RWC his reputation was sky high. Rugby fans can be a fickle lot but he hasn’t suddenly become a rubbish player who should be grateful for a stint in the Newcastle squad. Also, waldrom might be a legend at Exeter but he was utter dross for England.

      5. Forgot Picamoles is on his way to Northampton. Still think if Denton can’t get him a better club than Newcastle he needs a better agent.

  23. The people I worry about are the ones at London Irish. If they go down how many of the Scots can get out of their contracts?

    1. There is an article about this on the Scottish rugby news website – quotes from Tom Coventry suggest that at least Cowan and Maitland may have release clauses. The latter has apparently been sounding of about his unhappiness at LI to the media so doubtful they’d keep paying him a wedge to not give his all.

    2. Here’s hoping. I think it was silly for anyone to go there in the first place as they have been a basket case for a few years

      So who would that leave there of Scots?

      1. According to the article that would leave Scott Steele, Greig Tonks and Brendan McKibbin as well as the dually qualified David Sisi and Johnny Williams.

        I’ve watched a few London Irish games this season and they haven’t been as bad as you might expect. Had no idea that Johnny williams was Scottish qualified but he’s been excellent. Steele’s a bit raw and could probably survive a season starting down in the championship but perhaps one for the future. McKibbin and Tonks aren’t international quality so no problem there.

        Here’s the article:

      2. Maitland (mojo intact) would add a bit of composure to the Edinburgh attack. Despite his apparent unhappiness I’ve heard positive noises on his performances with the Prem media. I don’t know much about Williams, but a barn storming centre would not go amiss. Saying that, I like Burley at 12 and I’m warming to Mike Allen and Chris Dean. However, there is certainly room to spare in the midfield for some talent. I wonder how much there is to spare in the Edinburgh budget though? Also, making the top 6 and the chance of top flight rugby next year will make us a much more attractive destination for all in general, but particularly those fleeing relegation.

  24. What’s Hoggy’s contract like at Glasgow? Hard to believe that the big clubs aren’t interested…..

  25. Any idea on when the squad will be announced? They must be due to leave in under 8 weeks

  26. I think now we can be confident that the team for the next 2 years will be based around the same group of 20-odd players, and should be using this opportunity to identify the areas of weakness in the squad and address them so we have more depth in the games that matter.
    Front row – Dickinson Ford and Nel remains the number 1 for the foreseeable future, so I’d be looking at whether Brown or McInally, Sutherland or Grant, Fagerson or Low should be the first choice back-up, so a game each for them.
    Lock – We have three great choices at 2nd row, but still need to decide whether Richie or Gilchrist is the best partner for Jonny. So I’d give them a game each, maybe as captain. Also, I’d be trying to decide which youngster should be getting the 4th second row slot in a squad, so likewise Cummings and Crammond.
    Back row – we’re especially well served here, but we have a lot of guys who could find themselves in the team through injury who need some caps. So I’d take Ritchie and Harley as 6s, Watson and Fusaro as 7s, Bradbury and Ashe as 8s.
    Scrummies – Hidalgo-Clyne and Pyrgos to start a game each with Ali Price on the bench
    Fly half – I’d take Pete Horne along as a fly half as I suspect he will take the 22 jersey on most occasions due to his ability to play a few positions. Also worth having another look at Heathcoate, who by all accounts has looked ok with Worcester and is still young.
    Centres – I’d take Dean, Dunbar, Bennett and Taylor, not too fussed who plays where/when. Scott needs a wee recovery time though I think
    Wings – Maybe the area of the squad where we have the least strength in depth, two injuries puts Lamont back in the side and he’s only getting older. I’d take Hoyland and Hughes, as well as trying Richie Vernon out there in one game, he’s got the gas and can finish. Maybe take Tom Brown too although never been too impressed with him.
    Full back – we need a firm 2nd choice to Hoggy. I’d take Maitland as again his versatility means he’ll probably take the 23 shirt. Would also like to see kinghorn get a look in, he’s very young but Edinburgh supporters I know have been very impressed with him.
    So my team (1st test/2nd test) would be

    Very experimental but gives some of the more important players a crucial break, bloods some youngsters and gets the cap count up for guys who may have a crucial role to play. I know some of these fellas may be injured but I’ve been out of the country for a while so haven’t quite been keeping up

  27. I have read a lot about experimentation – I know a lot of people have provided the alternative view so sorry if I am repeating what they have already said but here’s the salient points as I see them:

    As the 9th ranked test team it is imperative that we work towards getting in the top 8 – with France in Argentina and Ireland in South Africa a 2 win tour of Japan could see us overtake or close the gap

    We need 2 loose-heads, 2 tight-heads, 3 hookers and prop who can cover both – as the flight is so long we cannot afford to take less than 8 for the front row due to the difficulty in mobilisation and travel should a last minute injury occur.

    There are players who have stepped up of late who perhaps deserve to tour (though anyone still qualified for u-20 should play in England) and there may be a couple of players who will benefit from a rest, but lets bear in mind that the official season will start late August / Early September and these players will be back on June 26th. I’d like to think that most if not all the guys will want to put their hand up for selection and representation so we should only consider development where the pathway to the top is based on merit and imminence.

    Match winners invariably are the difference between winning matches and not when we provide a solid platform (stating the obvious I know !). As I see it, we need our best 5 to provide the platform for Hogg and Russell (the only reason Hogg wouldn’t travel would be to represent team GB in the Olympics – I sincerely hope this isn’t the case).

    Nel/Low/Berghan (bolter !)
    J. Gray, Swinson, Gilchrist
    Harley, Ashe, Barclay
    Cowan, Strauss
    Pyrgos, Laidlaw
    Russell, Weir
    Dunbar, Bennett, Scott
    Maitland, Visser, Hoyland
    Hogg, Jackson

    There is no science and a lot might depend on how the individuals themselves feel, but I reckon R. Gray will need time to recover the season and prepare for Toulouse. Seymour is a workhorse and could possibly sit this one out to let Maitland and Hoyland re-integrate – this is an area where development is definitely needed to build in more depth. Hardie the same (ie. rest) to let Cowan come back in and perhaps shake of the slump of relegation. Ashe for me has to travel – he was a colossus for Glasgow during the international windows and has certainly earned his spurs. Harley is in by virtue of flexibility. Scott gets the shout as the 3rd centre due to Taylor likely being involved through the playoffs, but it also seems harsh on Horne as he is arguably the most intelligent player in our available backline.

You might also like these:

The Scotland team to face Chile this weekend has been announced and features 10 changes from the side that beat the USA last weekend.
Rory watches as Scotland reach the half way point in their tour with victory over the USA in Washington.
Craig is joined by Rory and Iain to look at the latest news including Scotland's win over Canada and the upcoming test against the USA.
Gregor Townsend has picked the strongest XV possible from his touring squad for the visit to Washington DC to play the USA, writes Rory.

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion