Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Who Makes the Plays Now?

Ruaridh Jackson - pic © Al Ross
Ruaridh Jackson - pic © Al Ross

With Finn Russell now almost certain to be on the sidelines for the summer tour to Japan, it represents a chance for someone else to put their hand up in the number 10 jersey.

Vern Cotter has a number of options, including Ruaridh Jackson and Peter Horne, who are both already among the touring party.

Jackson is the front-runner to take over from Russell at stand-off although his recent appearances in navy were at fullback. Horne hasn’t worn the jersey much since that disastrous afternoon against Italy – the less said on that, the better – although he was an impressive stand in for Russell when he left the 2016 Six Nations game against France early (another head knock).

There is also the prospect of Greig Laidlaw moving from 9 to 10 which might free up the logjam behind him waiting for test experience at scrum-half but is unlikely to be a long term fix.

What, though, if Cotter wants to reinforce his touring ranks and add another playmaker to the mix?

He has options there too.

Duncan Weir has been around the national set-up a lot, but flattered to deceive during his most recent appearance, in the Six Nations loss to Ireland and was only solid in the PRO12 semi-final when Glasgow needed magic. He may be given time to make the move to Edinburgh Rugby, rather than travel to Japan.

Worcester Warrior Tom Heathcote is another in the mix to don the national team colours after he caught the eye during the Premiership finale at Sixways. Inverness-born Heathcote hasn’t had much of a look-in internationally, but has rediscovered some form at Sixways and may come into Cotter’s thinking.

If neither of those pair are viable options, Cotter may opt for youth and expose Bath youngster Adam Hastings – son of Gavin – to the Test arena. The U20s star has not looked out of place when he’s deputised for messrs Ford and Priestland at The Rec this season, and was a stand-out performer during the under-20 Six Nations when allowed to play. He’s already been named in John Dalziel’s squad for the U20 World Championships, but behind Jackson it could be a great opportunity to get him involved in the senior Scotland set-up.

Cotter will likely need Horne to cover the midfield in the absence of both Bennett, Dunbar and Richie Vernon, so Jackson will most likely start at number 10, but don’t be surprised if there’s a first cap for the familiar name of Hastings on this year’s summer tour.

26 Responses

  1. Hopefully Jackson will finally get the chance to start at 10. In form and deserving a decent run at it. Weir’s had some great games for Glasgow recently but he just never seems to gel with the current Scotland squad – Ireland game being case and point. I’d like to keep Horne on the bench as back-up for him (considering his outstanding performance against France) but that begs the question of who would fill in at center alongside Taylor? Missing Dunbar, Bennet, Vernon… can anyone suggest a decent 12 other than Horne? Hopefully Japan won’t be the same force without Eddie. Also looks like they’ll be without Goromaru.

    Also who has less luck, Dunbar or Finn?

    1. I agree, great chance for Jackson to put his best foot forward again.

      12 isn’t really the problem, hopefully Matt Scott can step up, 13 is a bigger concern, maybe hook Bennett back fron the sevens. Pete Horne as cover.

      1. Ah, of course, no idea how I forgot about Scott. Perhaps use the free spot to bring in more cover elsewhere – another lock perhaps.

    2. Also without Michael Leitch who was injured playing for the Chiefs – so that is probably their two most important leaders out injured. Reckon they’ll miss Borthwick as much as Jones – systems will still be there but I don’t think their execution will reach the levels it did at the World Cup.

  2. Taylor, hmmmmm, think I would start him at 13, Scott inside, Horne as cover, but leaves us exposed. Still only two games. Priceless chance for Jackson.

  3. I would have Horne and Laidlaw cover Jackson in the 10 role
    Add Hidalgo-Clyne to the squad for Japan.

    1. Agree. And, a shame if the injury to Finn means it less likely that Pyrgos gets to start, could point either way…

      1. Not a bad shout – agree there’s an argument for Laidlaw to cover 10 but just feel he’s too important at the moment to move away from scrum-half, hence why SHC doesn’t come in to this piece

  4. By ‘disastrous afternoon against Italy’, presumably you refer to the team result or are you singling Horne out for one missed touch finder penalty at the end of an otherwise fine debut at ten, when he was clearly exhausted?

    1. Hi Jim,
      Each to their own, and all that, but I thought Horne was poor at 10 vs Italy. He ran a lot of ball back towards their big man & we struggled to break down their defence, something that can’t be said when Finn’s there

  5. I’d add Glenn Bryce to the squad. Have Horne,Hogg covering Jackson. The way Scotland play its essential we have a threat at 10. Weir is simply not up to the task, his style doesn’t not. Laidlaw shouldn’t be an option at 10, he is needed at 9. Big chance for Jackson.
    What Edinburgh are doing (been allowed to do) having weir and a Welshman as their S O options is beyond me

  6. Heathcote would do for me, performed week in and out for a struggling EP side. Time for him to get another chance.

  7. I so hope they don’t bring in Hastings. He will make it but we need the success at u20.

    1. On this occasion I agree – we need youngsters to get top-level exposure but keeping this 20s team together could be key. Hastings an option, but not the right one this time round

  8. Heathecoate is probably the way to go. He’s had a consistent run of starts this season (albeit at a lower-table club), which is more than Weir and arguably deserves a call up to the bench given his form.

    Laidlaw could probably fill in but it would probably make more sense to keep him at 9 and avoid any further disruption. Also 10 is one of the harder positions to play without regular practice.

    Hastings is a ridiculous call and only highlights the total lack of depth in this position. He’s 19 and has only played for Bath twice this season so chucking him in at the deep end would only repeat what happened to Heathcoate a few years ago. Let him settle at his new club and gain as much experience as possible at u20s before even considering him for the senior squad.

    1. I feel that Heathcote has been treated rather shabbily over the last couple of years, I think he is a much better 10 than Duncan Weir, who has, IMO, benefitted from his familiarity with the majority of the starting backline.

      Agree that Hastings should remain with the u20s, but one for the future certainly.

  9. So nobody called this but Huw Jones has been called up with Horne covering 10. I must admit I don’t know much about him but he plays for the Stormers so is likely to be halfway decent.

    1. 24 April 2016 article by The Scotsman suggests he might be playing his rugby for Glasgow next season. Quick centre who went to Millfield, then South Africa. Exciting.

      1. Would be a great addition to Glasgow. With Bennett (who I think Jones is most likely to replace), Dunbar, Horne, Hogg and Seymour all out of contract at the end of next season, critical for Glasgow and Scottish Rugby that the Warriors are able to maintain a strong backline given their style of play. Paddy Kelly at 12, Huw Jones at 13 and Gavin Lowe at 15/10 could be vital additions to the squad. With Toonie out of contract at the end of next season too, it becomes even more critical that whoever comes in (assuming Gregor moves on) has a talented squad to build with.

        Strange that Edinburgh keep buying up back 3 players when they don’t have a solid midfield to service them with ball. If you include peripharal options they’ve now got access to Kinghorn, Hoyland, Northam, Scholes, Farndale, Helu, Tofilau, Robbins, Brown, & Bryce with Appleson, McCann, Tait, Graham, & Macdowell on the horizon. Given Glasgow’s dearth of young options out wide, I’m guessing a couple lads will be making the westward trip along the M8 at the end of next year.

    2. Still young but highly rated. Only has 6 bench appearances from 14 rounds this season but Stormers centres are Damien De Allende and Juan Do Jonge who are both amazing. We probably shouldn’t expect him to make an immediate impact but he’s come up the hard way so he’s obviously got something.

      1. As an aside, could he have a more Welsh name? It’s about as incongruous as WP Nel. Or Pat Lambie for SA. Or who remembers that West Indian cricket legend, Angus Logie?

  10. Very interesting indeed, had heard of him as a SQ back playing in the S15 (only guy in Stormers squad not South African). Stated ages ago Edinburgh should sign him, Glasgow don’t need another centre. Horne to cover 10 in Japan.
    Interesting re Cotters opinion of Duncan Weir (see my previous blog above) also interesting that Edinburgh have signed a guy who is no longer wanted by Scotland (in my opinion quite rightly)

  11. Really chuffed about the Jones news. Saw a Stormers game where they brought up that he was Scottish and have been trying to remember who he was since. Another one to add to our list of talented, fairly young versatile backs

  12. I was really concerned to read about the end of the SRU – London Scottish partnership after all of 4 months in Morrison’s SoS article. Without knowing all of the in’s & out’s, (including the finances), it’s difficult to judge with too much certainty but this does seem to be hugely mismanaged by the SRU and the loss of a fantastic opportunity to give fringe players good exposure to a high quality of competition in the Championship. Does anyone have any information to add to Morrison’s column, or any other news / opinions re this as it seems on the face of it truly woeful ineptness by the SRU?

  13. Go to London Scottish website. Under “news” there is a full club statement. If true LS have been well and truly sold down the river by the SRU.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion