Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland off to a flyer at U20s World Championships

Scotland U20s v Australia U20
Scotland U20s v Australia U20 - pic courtesy World Rugby

Scotland kicked off their World Rugby U20 Championships with a hugely impressive 15-10 win over Australia yesterday.

Second half tries from Glasgow prop Zander Fagerson and Hawick’s Darcy Graham, the latter a magnificent solo effort through a maze of defenders, were enough to win the game against 14-man Australia.

The young Wallabies had their numbers reduced when centre Campbell Magnay was sent off early in the second half for a second yellow card. His first offence had been a tip tackle early in the first half and over-enthusiasm did for him in the second with a neck roll on Adam Hastings that was also worthy of a yellow.

An assured performance from Hastings at stand-off kept Scotland playing in the right parts of the field, and despite the pack struggling somewhat at the scrum when loosehead Murray McCallum went off, they held on for a memorable victory.

The back-row trio of Ritchie, Smith and Miller – the latter a fifth-minute replacement for Lewis Wynne, was imperious, while the exciting second row pairing of Andy Davidson and Scott Cummings carried hard and marshalled the set-piece well.

Behind the pack, Blair Kinghorn was a steadying influence at full-back, while Hugh Fraser controlled the tempo well despite kicking a lot of possession away. As is common with a Scottish age grade side, the scramble defence had to be up to scratch with centres Hutchison and Galbraith making a lot of covering tackles. Positively though, the impressive Australian back three didn’t cut them open as often as they would have planned to despite plenty of ball to run at the navy shirts with.

Head coach John Dalziel was delighted with the win.

He said: “The result is really special and I’m really pleased for the boys as they’ve put in so much work ahead of the game.

“A lot of people may have thought we were the underdogs, but there’s real belief here.”

Their second pool match, against England, takes place on Saturday.

16 Responses

  1. Well done to the u20’s! Unfortunately I didn’t see the game but I’ve watched the highlights and I thought Darcy Graham finished his try off tremendously, also Hugh Fraser looks like continuing the tradition of quality Scottish SH’s. Lots of positive signs for the future.

  2. Bravo to the youngsters. A short turnround before England on Saturday but this group has self belief and bags of potential right through the team.

    1. At least it’s the same turnaround for everyone. I think we have a few who can come in to freshen things up. It will be very, very hard on Saturday, England have a stronger squad than they put up in the six nations. Now – one huge result in, can we back it up with another?

      I loved Dalziel’s approach, good – but not good enough. We need much more of this. Time we stopped thinking one good result and we were round the corner.

      BELIEVE on Saturday.

  3. Oh dear, Graham and Hutchison out for rest of tournament. Still – a door opens for others to step up.

  4. Much changed side, in addition to the two above, Hastings and Wynne have failed HIA, unsurprisingly given a four day turn around. Kinghorn moves up to fly half, but most surprising to me, Fagerson is rested, would have thought he was essential against England (should have enough to see off Italy without him). Curious. We shall see.

  5. Just watched the U-20’s being comprehensively drubbed by England.
    That wasn’t part of the game plan I’m sure!
    Where to start? It was one of those games where nothing went right. Whenever Scotland got into good positions, someone would knock on. The passing was terribly insensitive and entirely unhelpful to the catchers. Yes, it was a wet day in Manchester, but England seemed to cope.
    The scrum was a nightmare for the entire match, and it’s never good to see a side shunted backwards as comprehensively as this.
    It seems harsh to single anyone out, but our 10 had a nightmare with the boot, both off the tee and out of hand, and it seemed to affect morale quite badly.
    A reality check today, and although there are a few stronger players to come into the side, their confidence must be shattered after a match like that one. I hope they can recover quickly.

    1. Illustrated the complete lack of depth in the squad. When the first team are all fit and on form they are a match for any top level opposition. Injuries to or loss of form by a few key players means the team is not competitive.

      1. Agreed, bit too much shuffling was required. Similar situation vs Wales in the Six Nations where key players were withdrawn, although the result then was less demoralising…

  6. Everything in Scotland seems to be in extremes. Having just enjoyed two weeks of wonderful weather, we have reverted to the gloomy norm. So it has been with our Under-20s’ performances. It’s easy to say in the comfort of a chair but we do seem to have a mental block when faced with certain nations, for example, England. Either we must concede that the English are better-equipped genetically for rugby or we must ensure that we are as well prepared physically, principally in strength-conditioning, as they are. I think preparation rather than genes is the crucial factor and until we address this issue properly, and at a young enough age, we will continue to witness our packs being abjectly shunted backwards, to the negation of whatever talent we may have in our backline.

    1. I think England have nailed their colours to the mast both in the U20s and the senior side in that they are the rugby equivalent of Globogym. Bit of a physical lesson for our side who were probably 10kg lighter than their opposite number.

      1. Further evidence tonight that England have their eggs in the 8 man rugby basket. Their front row is 42kg heavier than the Aussies

    2. I honestly don’t believe it is either – try weight of numbers. England have many times more at this level. Statistically that says they will have many more size wise.

      That should not really be the end of the story, technique should always level matters out, there are countless examples. Problem is under 20 props are just learning their trade, so at this level, big is always likely to bully.

      I hear what you say about strength and conditioning, and definitely we have to work harder on this, but it is not the sole solution.

      I find it hard to see how anyone, new Academy set up and all, can convince young guys well below the system that it’s great to want to be a prop, so come in and enjoy!!

      Time for Fagerson and Willie McNel to go on a school tour.

    3. Having grown up in South Africa and also witnessed a small slice of Scottish rugby I think the main issue is numbers and the formative years of Rugby training at school and then club level. In South Africa schoolboy rugby is a big event. Some of the derby matches host some 5-10 thousand spectators, games are televised and also have a channel on youtube.
      This translates into a great deal of exposure for young talent and a culture of high quality rugby. I would argue that the South African school boy rugby system is one of the finest in the world, our sides regularly go to New Zealand and other Rugby nations and do very well there. Our schoolboys are no more genetically gifted than any other nation, they are just honed in a very competitive rugby environment. Schoolboys are drawn to the sport and its prestige as the “top sport” at school. This leads these same players to want to pursue this sport at age group and finally national level. We put the numbers in early and that translates later into strong teams. (The boks are hopeless at present.)

      The main problem though is numbers. In a competitive system with tens of thousands of players to select a national side you will inevitably produce a good team.
      On this list it shows how massive a rugby nation England is compared to anyone in the world. They have almost half of ALL rugby players in the world (1.9 million of 4.5 million registered players). This is going to make them strong no matter what and actually makes the reason for them being so unsuccessful (compared to the smaller Southern Hemisphere contingents) so baffling. Scotland has approximately 39 thousand players. That is 2% of the English player base. Scotland will always struggle in this environment as they have far fewer players to draw from. The reason New Zealand is so competitive is due to the fact that they worship Rugby. It is their be all and end all, their economy has been known to take a hit when their team loses! Their structure is so well organised and fine tuned that the players they have are inevitably nurtured and developed into great players. When I watch them play they often have an “organic” movement to their game. It feels natural and structured, a perfect balance of power and skill. I am South African and I have to admit they are a consistently brilliant team.

      Anyway, my point is this; Scotland do well for their size. Unless they can grow their player base dramatically or create a culture where Rugby is the nation’s only real pursuit they will always produce sides that will fare well but generally be outclassed by bigger nations. No amount of conditioning or training is going to make up for the deficit in player base. Some players are more gifted than others and with a player base as wide as England’s it is obvious to me why Scotland has a hard time. As an outsider I have always considered the Scottish team one that is stoic but lacking critical skills associated with the finest test playing nations. Generally, the Scots have got one to five world class players and the rest are considered journeymen or top club players. It doesn’t stop me from supporting them though and Ill still back them against anyone. (Except the boks)

  7. Pretty decent side named for tomorrow night. Just remember a win will guarantee a 5 – 8 seed spot and therefore guarantee at least equaling our best ever finish. Highly improbable we can get into to 4, but let’s hope for a good display. I suspect those coming 5 – 8 will have at least one really decent result behind them so not sure it matters too much where we finish, they will all be tough.

  8. Well, a BP win, albeit the score line was closer than we might have liked. So – where will that get us. Top 8 certainly.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion