Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Grant Moves To, Um, Warriors

Ryan Grant
Ryan Grant on the run - pic © Alastair Ross

As negotations go on over the big guns, Glasgow Warriors have announced the latest group of players who won’t be seeing the Dave Rennie era.

Former Lions loosehead Ryan Grant is moving to Worcester Warriors, who have also just announced Gary Gold as their director of rugby. Carl Hogg remains Head Coach there.

The other players let go include Jarrod Firth who is moving to France, Sila Puafisi who is going to Brive – at one point they announced the signing of Grant on loan also – and American back row Langilangi Haupeakui who has returned to America for family reasons, which can often be agent speak for “not having much fun” (of course it may not be in this case).

No word yet on the rumours that Adam Hastings is coming to Glasgow next season.

In other news, Lions and Scotland stalwart Dr James Robson will not be travelling with the Lions, in the latest Gatland vs the SRU snubbing war. The coaching and management team is now woefully short of Scottish representation, although Gatland would I am sure maintain it is not for a lack of trying.

The last of the 6 Nations squads are out too:

Wales 2017 Six Nations squad

Forwards: Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Rhodri Jones (Ospreys), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Rory Thornton (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Bath Rugby), Cory Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons), James King (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Olly Cracknell (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby), Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Thomas Young (Wasps).
Backs: Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Aled Davies (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Sam Davies (Ospreys), Owen Williams (Leicester Tigers), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Ashton Hewitt (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Steffan Evans (Scarlets), George North (Northampton Saints), Liam Williams (Scarlets) Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon).

England 2017 Six Nations squad


Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby), Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Jamie George (Saracens), Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Wasps), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Tommy Taylor (Wasps), Mike Williams (Leicester Tigers), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)


Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath Rugby), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Alex Lozowski (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Marland Yarde (Harlequins), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Ireland finished with a monster 40-man squad:

Ireland 2017 Six Nations squad

Forwards: Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Rory Best (Ulster), Jack Conan (Connacht), Ultan Dillane (Connacht), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Billy Holland (Munster), Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), Dan Leavy (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Sean O’Brien (Leinster), Tommy O’Donnell (Munster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), John Ryan (Munster), Niall Scannell (Munster), CJ Stander (Munster), Devin Toner (Leinster), James Tracy (Leinster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster).

Backs: Tommy Bowe (Ulster), Andrew Conway (Munster), Keith Earls (Munster), Craig Gilroy (Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), Luke McGrath (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Tiernan O’Halloran (Connacht), Garry Ringrose (Leinster), Rory Scannell (Munster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Simon Zebo (Munster).

26 Responses

  1. I think it is absolutely shocking that Dr Robson has been snubbed for the Lions. He’s been a mainstay of the tours for as long as I can remember and is well known and respected by the players, but it does feel a bit like a deliberate snub from Gatland.

    I have been beating this drum for a few weeks now but I fully expect, even if Scotland win the Grand Slam, that there will only be one Scottish player in the touring party (Hogg) and that he will only be in the midweek team with Halfpenny as the starting fullback. I hope I am wrong but I genuinely think that will be the case.

    1. As long as we beat Wales this year and next year in Cardiff when Gatland is back in charge I won’t mind the snubs.

      Oh, that and beating the All Blacks in the autumn!

  2. It still sticks in my craw the way Grant was treated before the last Lions tour. Overlooked by a forwards coach, Rowntree, who openly admitted he hadn’t even bothered to see Grant play for Glasgow when at the time he was on fire horsing oppo tight heads left right and centre. Picked Vunipola instead who was well known as a terrible scrummager. This binning of James Robson is a spiteful act by a spiteful man. If Scotland get what I suspect and only two players in the party (gray and Hogg) neither will play in the tests. So much the better for our tour of Oz. The Lions is a dead concept since Woodward shamed himself using it to stroke his own ego and reward his England buddies.

    1. Al, I could not agree more. Clive Woodward taking his cronies on tour instead of far more talented players from other countries, and then being deservedly humilated, destroyed the magic of the Lions for me. Gatland is no better and I have come round to thinking that our players would do better going on tour with GT than being tackle bags/dirttrackers for Gatland.

    2. Whilst I agree that having more players available for the summer tour is not a bad thing, I think we could benefit from having some of the top guys away with the Lions in certain positions that we are lacking depth in, namely lock, 10 and 15. Laidlaw going wouldn’t be the worst either. Would allow Kinghorn, Toolis and co to come through and get a bit more experience. Could have the same effect as the Autumn did for our prop depth, which has now moved from depth level of your average puddle up to something more around the shallow end of a swimming pool.

      Mind you, we need some players to actually bring through for this to work at 10, Hastings only one that comes to mind for me. Might be better just to have Russell there working on his drop goals and kicking.

      1. Connor Eastgate is a 19-year old stand off at Wasps who seems quite highly rated. I’m interested to see how he does in the U20s.

  3. I am still seething that Ryan Grant was an unused sub in the 2nd Lions test in 2013.Vunipola was getting smashed in the scrum too.Gatland got lucky winning that series – if it wasn’t for Kurtley Beale falling on his backside when attempting the last minute penalty in Brisbane they would’ve lost.Very unhappy Gatland got the gig again this year

    1. Gatland and the RFU are always going to treat us, Scotland, our players and the SRU with contempt. See Guscott, Moore and the rest and the way they speak about us on TV. Yes I am bitter and yes I take it personally. We should treat them the same.

      1. I don’t think Brian Moore should be tarred with that particular brush. He’s actually pretty fair as a pundit and often only contemptuous of stupid or foul play by any side (as a player is a different matter, I’m sure you’ve read The Grudge!).

      2. Like Rory, I can’t agree with your view on Brian Moore. A fire-breathing anti-Jock (anti-any oppo actually) he may have been in his Test match days, but I’ve always appreciated his objectivity and impartiality when co-commentating.
        A sub-thread on BBC Have Your Say about this year’s Scotland 6N squad turned into a bit of a Brian Moore love in for Scots contributors!

      3. Brian Moore, Eng v Ire 2006: gives MOTM to Andy Goode, who has had an utterly anonymous match, on the losing side. Decision is greeted first with silence, then with hoots of derision by the crowd.
        Maybe I’ve not heard him if he has mellowed of late, but then I tend to turn the sound down when he, and especially Guscott, come on.

  4. This lions tour is something else in terms of the extent to which commercial greed has overtaken player welfare. The number of fixtures over such a short space of time and so soon after domestic season finishes is going to be an absolute car crash. I wouldn’t be surprised if James Robson has raised concerns, had them ignored and therefore chosen to walk away. There will be players that go on this tour that never recover, and the blame for that will lie right at the door of the Lions Management team.

    Whilst I would love to see our guys get the credit they undoubtedly deserve, I genuinely hope that we don’t see any of them tour with the Lions.

    1. That is an interesting angle on James Robson, who may very well have pointed out the “train crash” you describe to a management who didn’t want to hear it.

  5. If we have minimal participation in the Lions tour, not only will it benefit the Scotland tour to Oz, but it will also expose the obvious disdain that Gatland has for our players (although that is already apparent to Scottish rugby supporters).

    I think most fair minded supporters of the other home nations would accept that Hogg should be starting fullback, and that Gray, and Seymour are pushing for Test starts and should at least make the squad, but none of these will come to pass.

    1. I couldn’t give a stuff about the Lions frankly. I feel going down to Australia and winning would be more beneficial to our players’ development than getting played in the midweek games, no doubt out of position, for the Lions.

      Getting snubbed by the Lions might also help develop a siege mentality in the Scotland squad that I think could be good for us. We are too nice as it is.

  6. I couldn’t care less about Gatland and his crew. Its his position to take whoever he feels and everyone will doubt at least one selection. More importantly we’re on the way up building towards a strong team and a good era ahead, when we pass him (and others) on the way down (hopefully starting in Feb) then that is what really counts.
    Let them burn themselves out in the summer and we can charge through the Welsh and Irish club teams in the new season.
    Out of interest, does anyone know how Steffon Armitage is playing these days, is he still a contender?

  7. Although I share the concerns about Gatland’s coaching style and sincerely hope he won’t be petty when it comes to picking Scots after his spat with the SRU, I disagree with most posters here about the importance of Lions representation for Scots.

    Scotland has always done well in seasons following higher representation on a Lions tour (Grand Slams after 1983 and 1989 tours, anyone?). You could argue this was because they had enough good players actually to get selected for the Lions, but former internationals have consistently said it was an experience that gave them confidence and a greater knowledge of their closest rivals.

    Scotland does need to build greater strength in depth and we will have enough non-Lions to have a strong squad in the summer tour (i.e. we shouldn’t get tanked) and we can bring through a few more young players like Kinghorn. That seems like a win-win to me.

    The reality is that, up to and including the last Lions tour, we were a poor side for a long time, without the culture, belief, skills or depth of squad to compete consistently. Our error count was pretty shocking much of the time because we couldn’t handle the speed of international rugby or execute skills under pressure. It’s not that surprising that even our best players, who might have shone in better sides, didn’t get as much recognition in Lions squads. Our club and national teams made little to no impression on their leagues or cup competitions (barring the aberration of Edinburgh’s Heineken Cup run in 2012). That has changed and continues to change thanks to VC and GT, amongst others, but we’re still on an upward curve.

    I understand the temptation to look back with frustration/bitterness at how unjust we felt certain non-selections (e.g. Grant particularly) were, but it doesn’t do us or our current team any good to dwell on it, especially as the fans and the players are now beginning to thoroughly enjoy themselves. I’d like to let them also enjoy recognition at the highest level if they get selected. It’s up to them to make such a statement in the 6N that they can’t be ignored.

    1. I take your point, although to an extent it’s comparing apples with pears – a Lions Tour back in the day appears from the outside at least to have been a very different experience to a Lions tour today.

      I don’t think going on the last Lions benefitted Hogg or Gray, complete opposite I would argue – and you only have to watch behind the scenes clips on you tube to see that the Lions tour experience of yesteryear is completely different to the post pro rugby Lions experience.

      I don’t really think there is bitterness here, just an honest realisation that the lions tours of old can’t be replicated in the pro rugby era, where demands on players are so high. Rugby has evolved, and so should the Lions. I still think it is a great honour for a player, but there are other consideration now such as how long will my career last, who is paying my wages, can my body continue to take this punishment without an off season?

      How much better would it be if a Lions tour was restricted to a 3 or 4 test series, or even similar to the Autumn tours we see in the Northern hemisphere – single one off test matches against NZ, Aus, Arg, SA and perhaps a Pacific Island team – imagine what a boost Fiji or Samoa or Japan would get from the lions coming to Suva, Apia or Tokyo for a test match.

      1. Fair points. I agree with you about a shortened tour (two warm-up games + three tests would be good) and the organisers don’t seem to have taken the professional playing load into account. Given that Scotland would be going on tour anyway, I don’t think there’s much of an off-season for those who don’t get picked for the Lions either.

        Very interesting point about Hogg and Gray on the last tour. Have they said anything about that? It would be revealing to know how much they want to go this time. It seems each tour is different. In terms of personal development and enjoyment for players, 2005 seemed like a nightmare for everyone, but 2009 seemed much more positive under McGeechan, 2013 maybe somewhere in between…

        I used the word bitterness because it was used by another poster and definitely seems to reflect the contradictory feelings of a significant minority about the Lions (usually along the lines of “We don’t care about the Lions and we’re really angry that our players don’t get selected.”).

        Maybe it’s just my own sense of national insecurity being shown here and I care too much about other nations’ views of us, but after so many years of frustration and sometimes, frankly, embarrassment at our own shortcomings, I find it exciting and enjoyable to: a) see Scottish talent recognised with selection; b) watch Scottish players contributing to a British and Irish effort.

        Overall, though, I agree with you. Our players need to be protected from the unprecedented level of punishment their bodies are taking. It just seems to me that that isn’t the main reason a lot of folks are dismissing the Lions.

  8. No-one has been picked for the tour yet ! There might be 2 Scots on tour there might be 10 – quite frankly and stating the obvious we won’t know until he picks the squad and only then will we be able to reflect on what Scotland, Glasgow and Edinburgh have achieved at the business end of the season to say whether the representation is fair or not.

    All of the assumptions being thrown at Gatland is that he is petty – probably completely unfairly – The man wants to win and he will pick players for a style that he will employ that he thinks has the best chance of winning, to say otherwise defies any form of logic.

    But seeing as we are all engaging in future gazing on the subject…. With the schedule being as brutal as it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he picks players based on established combinations, so unless Scotland pull up trees you can quite frankly see a lot of players miss out because of the marginal decisions favouring known and established combination players coupled with a lack of detailed character knowledge of the Scots players from the coaching team – and honestly can you really say for example if there was a call between Gray the junior and AW Jones, and the Welshman got it, that it would be scandalous???

    When you compare all of our top players with their counterparts in England Ireland and Wales, the only nailed on is Hogg (at present moment) everyone else is marginal and can only be determined by how they perform as part of their immediate combinations and how Scotland (and to a lesser extent Glasgow and Edinburgh) perform and their results….

    1. Excellent summary Martin. My view is that it will be how individuals, units and teams perform against their peers in the 6 Nations that will ultimately decide the selection. (Excelling against Italy will not be count; one would expect high performance levels in at least 2, preferably 3, of the other 4 matches. Other determinants will be:
      -a record of international excellence over a number of recent seasons
      -test level performance from previous Lions tours
      -being part of an international team who have beaten New Zealand, Australia or South Africa
      Performing at club level, and being part of a successful club side, given the lesser intensity, won’t be much of a factor.

      1. Aye, that’s about right, intense tour, no chance to work on combinations. But on that count, if you think WG will go for AWJ, which I think he will, that frees us a space along side him. I would guess Itoje and Kruis would be the other combo plus whoever else he wants to take, think JG has a good shot at going. Same in back three, nobody (I hope) would select any of the entire back 3’s from anyone, but if Hogg goes, then Seymour must also be in with a shout.

        With Willie McNel out injured, hard to see any of our forwards other than Grey getting a call. I could pick 2 all Irish back rows who wouldn’t let the Lions down, never mind Gatland will pick a couple of Welsh guys for sure.

        Half backs, Laidlaw- nope, Russell, next tour if he continues to progress, too risky for Gatland right now. Too many brain farts still – not against the ABs.

        Midfield, we have plenty talent, probably better than all the others, but – back to combos. If Sexton was to fall apart, again, then all bets off. It’s a really tough tour, and I personally think our guys will be better with our squad rather than midweek cannon fodder with the Lions. Hogg and JG to Lions, Seymour with a good 6 Nations. The rest, time to rebuild on the culture with our squad, blood one or two new ones move forward. The three guys Hogg, Seymour, Grey will give us exactly that chance.

        In the meanwhile can we find another 10? Russell blindsided most of us, what is the Fat person who cannot be named doing if he’s not looking for another. 15 is an issue too, but not quite as pressing.

        Please don’t start me on props!! That said, and maybe a separate topic, I find it interesting how seldom the scrum goes awry on an artificial surface. Write essay someone.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion