Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Plenty for Scotland and Cotter to work on after Paris defeat

Greig Laidlaw plans with his troops - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography
Greig Laidlaw plans with his troops - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Two late Camille Lopez penalties condemned Scotland to an eighth consecutive defeat in Paris on Sunday, but what do Vern Cotter’s side need to do to turn the performance round and see off Wales a week on Saturday?

There were obvious problems – Scotland lost captain and deputy, Greig Laidlaw and John Barclay, in the opening 40 minutes, while the scrum was going rapidly in reverse all afternoon.

In fact, the situation seemed to get worse when Gordy Reid and Ross Ford, the perceived ‘better scrummagers’ took the field, albeit along with Edinburgh’s second-choice tighthead Simon Berghan, for his Test bow.

The excellent Fraser Brown, along with centre Alex Dunbar, are both now following the graduated return to play protocol. Dunbar passed his HIA 1 during the match but developed some symptoms, possibly in keeping with concussion, after the match.

The scrum must be top of Cotter’s priorities as Wales travel north buoyed by their display against England and with destructive scrummagers aplenty in the shape of Rob Evans, Nicky Smith, Samson Lee and Tomas Francis.

Set-piece is not the only issue, though. Scotland looked bereft of leadership in the closing stages, and if Laidlaw is to miss the Wales match, there could be an argument made for parachuting Henry Pyrgos back into the side, and keeping two-cap Price on the bench.

Pyrgos has captained the national side before, and his experience could be vital if Cotter is robbed of both Barclay and his talismanic number nine. Laidlaw injured his ankle in the 24th minute and was wearing a medical boot afterwards. As an exile player, he now returns to his club, Gloucester, for further assessment during the fallow week of the RBS 6 Nations.

There are others to lead, though – Jonny Gray would be the prime candidate given his leadership experience with Glasgow – while Price is the man on form for the Warriors, so probably deserves the scrum-half berth if Laidlaw doesn’t make it.

Tim Swinson and Henry Pyrgos Scotland - pic © Al Ross
Henry Pyrgos (right) could come in if Scotland are without Greig Laidlaw against Wales, while Tim Swinson has been impressive off the bench vs Ireland & France. Pic © Al Ross

France were wise to Scottish forwards carrying short off our scrum-halves – and Wales will be similarly well prepared, but Scotland must stick with it. Against a much bigger Les Bleus pack, they made ground, and strong carrying close to the ruck could tie in Warburton/Tipuric and allow for room out wide.

Perhaps we went to Paris to move the colossal French pack all over the Stade de France pitch, but that did not materialise, on the whole, and Wales are a better and fitter side in that regard.

Back-row forwards John Barclay, and his replacement John Hardie, both sustained head knocks in the game and are subject to the completion of the HIA process. Barclay also requires further assessment on a shoulder injury which will take place at his club, Scarlets.

Regardless of injuries to the Johns, there might be a need for more ballast to join the back-row, to aid the immense Josh Strauss, Fraser Brown (both of whom played their best games in Scotland colours) and the Gray brothers in their carrying efforts. Strauss sustained a “heavy blow to his flank” and will be monitored by Scotland’s medical staff.

Ryan Wilson will come back into the mix, while Cornell Du Preez could be thrust into a Test debut and Rob Harley could come into contention for his work at the breakdown, where the 25-year-old is a constant menace. Magnus Bradbury and Adam Ashe may also be recalled to the training squad if the losses are longer term.

Cornell du Preez - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Could Cornell du Preez be set for his Scotland debut against Wales next Saturday? Pic © Al Ross

Finn Russell’s performance was below his best, but remember the Glasgow man was  the catalyst for Tim Swinson’s try with a lovely pass to Seymour, and ‘conversion-gate’ only came about because of a mix-up in communication between the referee and Nathan Hines, who instructed Russell to hurry the kick.

There is no question he is Scotland’s number one stand-off, and he will hope to get the back division firing at BT Murrayfield as they did against Ireland. Alex Dunbar may be a doubt after his head knock, so Matt Scott could come into contention to wear the 12 jersey, but expect the rest of the backs to remain.

Dunbar has been to the fore in both attack and defence, but against France Scotland struggled to get the ball into the hands of Seymour and Sean Maitland, and they may look to bring Huw Jones into the match more. All that, though, comes from securing clean ball at the breakdown and having a solid set-piece to play from. Scotland’s primary gameplan was stifled but they still outscored the French in tries and were in it with ten minutes to go.

The loss on Sunday might have extended Scotland’s run of defeats in the French capital, but there is no need for it to be doom and gloom when Wales come calling in two weeks.

48 Responses

  1. I think it would be ludicrous to bring in Pyrgos to start. We have a proper leader in Stat Boy, he’s the captain of one the best clubs teams in Europe. Price is also the in form 9 at Glasgow. We have to pick our best in form players, not picking the best players available is a backwards step. A loss against Wales would dump us out the top 8 in the world for the RWC pool seedings, so we need the best 15 and 23 available. I think Greig is a goner but can’t dwell on it too long, we can’t play the ‘Greig wasn’t playing’ card because he’s not going to be here in 5 or so years time.

  2. Dunbar and Brown are subject to Return to Play Protocols (treated for concussion) which takes at least 19 days to complete according to RFU information online. So they will not play against Wales. Ford and Scott to start against Wales? McInally to the bench.

    Hardie and Barclay are subject to ongoing Head Injury Assessments (monitoring but no evidence of concussion) so may be fit so long as they don’t fail any assessments in the next week. My guess is both will pass HIAs and Barclay’s availability will depend on his shoulder.

    Wales were immensely powerful up front against England but except for one inspired move, struggled to breakdown England’s defence. We desperately need the same aggression and competitiveness at the breakdown whoever is playing. Best case scenario is probably Wilson-Strauss-Watson (Barclay). Worst case may be Harley-Du Preez-Watson (Bradbury) if we don’t get anyone back. Swinson also an option at 6. Not a disaster by any means but long shot for the win even at home.

    How on earth we fix the scrum in two weeks I don’t know.

    1. The longer timescales only apply where there is no doctor present on a daily basis to monitor the players return to play. That’s intended to protect amateur players and players for clubs without access or resources to daily medical assessments.
      The minimum period of rest for a player under daily supervision of a doctor is 6 days providing they pass all the different tests.

      1. Good facting Cammy. That is a brighter outlook then, Dunbar in particular would be a massive loss. In a way we’re lucky this has happened before a two week break.

    2. Jon Welsh at Loosehead? I know he’s been playing tighthead for falcons but he’s pretty experienced.

  3. Pyrgos on his current form is a bench-warmer at best. Laidlaw’s leadership, tactical management and general nous will be missed, given the lack of leaders in the squad.

    It will be interesting to see if Cotter changes the game plan again to move the focus of decision-making wider than the 9/10 axis. Seymour in particular needs to get involved more than on Sunday given he is one of the team’s strike runners.

    Relying on committed defending and an organised chaos game plan won’t work against Wales unless the scrum can be sorted in less than a fortnight.

  4. You obviously didn’t see Pyrgos’ horror show on Friday night. No way he should get near the starting 15.

  5. Laidlaw in his after match interview said it was a twisted ankle so it’s not broken and he’ll be weight bearing as soon as possible to strengthen it. They can take longer than two weeks but they also can recover very quickly. Just depends on injury and the ability to aid the recovery. Just need to wait and see. Anyone else feel the head knocks to players were self inflicted in their tackle technique? Certainly Hardie was.

  6. IF Laidlaw does not make it for the Wales game, we need to have a LEADER in the backs. Against France this was a real problem in the 4th Qtr – where Russell & backs lost focus, clear tactics and a collective determination.
    Pyrgos is the only possibility here, although clearly he is not ahead of Price.

  7. If injuries factor, I would have a makeshift 15 with some changes in the Backline to give us some attacking edge, obviously if Alex Dunbar, John Barclay and Co are fit then this changes things, it’s got to be better than nothing though?

    1.Allan Dell
    2.Ross Ford
    3.Simon Berghan
    4.Richie Gray
    5.Tim Swinson
    6.Rob Harley
    7.Hamish Watson
    8.Cornell Du Preez
    9.Henry Pyrgos (C)
    10.Finn Russell
    11.Tommy Seymour
    12.Peter Horne
    13.Stuart Hogg
    14.Sean Maitland
    15.Peter Murchie

    Before anyone goes mad about Pyrgos, he is Glasgow Co-Captain for a reason and it pains me to say it but Jonny is more of a poster boy than a captain at the moment so I believe leadership may be vital. I watched Jonny play for bothe Cambuslang and Whitecraigs and he really isn’t what everyone makes him out to be IMHO Swinson or Harley are far superior players.

    1. Swinson or Harley are far superior players to Jonny Gray???

      Unorthodox opinion, i’ll give you that!

    2. Hello Mrs Swinson :0)
      Do you not think Gray has perhaps matured as a player since you saw him run out for Cambuslang and Whitecraigs? The general concensus amongst the public (not just in Scotland), press and pundits is that he is coming along nicely

    3. Murchie, great Glasgow servant though he is, is no where near international class and I’d be livid if he played for Scotland again frankly. Maitland to fullback and Visser to wing, failing that Hoyland or Hughes on wing. I’d even rather throw Kinghorn in at the deep end and give him his debut than play Murchie

    4. Suggesting an injured Pete Horne instead of Matt Scott and Stuart Hogg out of position instead of Bennett? Whit?

    5. Hi Eddie,

      Not sure if you were trolling here, or not but your selection is absolutely farcical. It also illustrates a real lack of general rugby knowledge, particularly as Horne is still out.

      The fact you’d pick Berghan over Fagerson is idiocy. The fact you are dropping Johnny Gray, who has been immense for two years (stats don’t lie, personal opinion does), and that you’ve dropped Wilson for not reason shows you don’t know much about forwards rugby. Why would you pick Du Preez?!

      In terms of backs rugby, it really annoys me that you’ve put Murchie at 15, over playing Hoyland (actually in the squad) with Maitland at full-back – you know he’s played there for Sarries this year and L.Irish last year right? Also the fact you’ve dropped Matt Scott (third top Prem try scorer) for Horne is irritating, partly due to the injury and partly there isn’t actually a reason.

      The only decision I agree with is Hogg to 13 (though he’s done that once for Glasgow in his career) and Pyrgos, though I’d actually probably have him on the bench to close up the game in the last 20. Price deserves his shot, but you probably think he’s more of a post boy than a scrum half.

    1. He was bad but I think he would bring vital leadership which is needed, Price is definitely in better form though…

      1. there is leadership within the group. I think we lacked it last game because we kept on changing the captain. but i think in form players have to be picked, unless they’re world class players

  8. I would suggest as few changes as possible, we have got to keep consistency in selection, most of us were singing the praises of this squad after the Irish game, one defeat, especially under the circumstances, doesn’t change that. Vern, like all NZ coaches will make minimum changes, quite rightly in my view. The problem areas that need to be addressed are captaincy, assuming Greig doesn’t make it and props. We should stick with Ali Price at scrum half and we should think about bringing Welsh in at Loosehead as MK suggested.

    1. Agree with you. There was consensus here before the France match that the XV was the best based on form. Those calling for radical selection changes ignore:
      1. Its not going to happen. Cotter has been evolutionary with selection.
      2. The bench is not full of players who are game changers. In a number of cases they are a significant downgrade on the players they replace.
      3. There is no pool of in-form international quality players for key positions. Many of the ‘usual suspects’ being bandied about (Harley, Pyrgos) are reliable club players at best.
      Other than injury replacements the one area where Cotter does need to act is the scrummage. Dell is likely to be replaced by Reid who has better scrummage potential. When Berghan is your ‘finisher’ then one is scraping the barrel on the tighthead. Ford, of whom I am not the biggest fan, might come into the frame due to experience and bulk. It might also be worth bringing in a stronger scrummaging lock (Swinson?;Gilchrist?) instead of Richie Gray to bolster the tight 5.

  9. Captaincy v Wales

    Contenders :

    Ali Price (Unlikely)

    John Barclay (If Fit – Captain)

    Josh Strauss (If Fit – Vice Captain)

    Ross Ford (If selected to start?)

    Henry Pyrgos (Outside Bet)

    Finn Russell (Too much pressure for young Finn?)

    Stuart Hogg (Fullback? Captain? Really?

    1. what about jonny gray? anyway at the end of the day i dont think lack of leadership is the problem. would we have won if we had greig for the whole game? i dont think we would have

  10. Poor old Finn had a decent game apart from the grubber kick, re-start and conversion :)

    That offload at the end was fair enough given the MO. The conversion I don’t think we can blame him for either and it wasn’t quite as bad as Gavin Hastings’ against England. The number of time Hines gave away stupid points as a player and he’s still doing it as a coach! Maybe he should quit the grubber kicks though for the tournament tho, apart from in their 22. What’s the bet he does it again against Wales and it’s a try.

    Was bitterly disappointed after the game. But that’s because if a few things had gone differently it could have been a win.

    Strauss was immense. IMMENSE. Don’t know how he was standing by the end.

    Any word on Dickinson? Can’t help but feel it’s loosehead where the problems lie.

    Wales is a must-win. Then, we have puncher’s chance at Twickenham (really) and a gimme against the Italians.

    Captain has to be Greig, Pyrgos, Barclay, Ford, Gray depending on who is playing.

    1. I’ve not rewatched the match, but didn’t Finn recover the ball after the grubber and feed it out go Seymour for the try? As Mike aif says the rough comes with the smooth with a creative fly half like Finn. I don’t have any doubts he’s our best optioni. I like the fact that he plays with a smile on his face and if he has a shocker moment he is likely to follow it with a touch of genius.

      1. I’m a big fan of Russell. I really want him to kick on and go from test class to world class. I really hope all the negative press doesn’t affect his game. The way he recovered from the Munster knock was very important impressive. If he goes out and plays a blinder against Wales that’s another sign of maturity.

        I’ll take your word for it on the grubber as haven’t had a chance to re watch! And despite all the undoubted positives not sure I want to!

  11. Shame we gave up 2 (Laidlaw), 3 (Hogg) and 2 (Russell) points through misses. All forgivable, but on a different day. Also if Finn slots the conversion, somehow I don’t think we give up that immediate score.

  12. All we need is to get (easier said than done) front foot ball.

    Du Preez did not play well V Munster but could you have plcked a worse game for him to show his talents – filthy night, small pitch, “extra difficult to play” opponents. Give him the wide open spaces of Murrayfield

    1. So if he can’t produce against a club side (a good one admittedly) what hope is there that du Preez would fare any better against an international side with a potential back row of Warburton (Lions captain), Tipuric (incredible skill set) and possibly Faletau (coming back to fitness now).

      I just don’t get the calls for CdP. He is a decent player, no doubt of that, but what does he offer – consistently – that the players in front of him don’t?

      1. Truth be told, before his injury mind, he had the ball carrying threat of Strauss combined with the hands of Wilson. If he got back to that form he’d be straight into my 23

      2. I suspect his questionable nationality actually works in his favour here (i.e. some will, perhaps subconsciously, view a South African project player as likely to be better than the home-grown equivalent). Not suggesting it is in any way a fair or correct assessment, but I suspect that this has a significant impact on how he is viewed.

  13. The aftermath of Sundays game is almost worst case scenario for “New Scotland” in terms of injuries to key players. However much has been made recently of the improved depth in the squad and it may be that the Wales game is the proof of that particular pudding.

    Front row – there are no miracles at prop, and we knew it was an area where the cupboard was bare. Wales aren’t going to put the same bulk in their 8 so that will give Fagerson and Dell some breathing space. If Brown is out, Ford starts and McInally benches. A shame because Brown has been good.

    Second row – as is.

    Back row – if Hardie and Barclay are out then I think Harley most likely to come in, although Swinson has had 2 good cameos off the bench.

    Scrum half – many people have been calling for it, and now we may get to see if Price is the real deal at the top level or another nearly man a la Pyrgos/SHC. Rhys Webb is a canny player, so Price would be up against it, and we would miss Laidlaw, but if that is the way it must be I’m sure VC and team will have their plans.

    Centre – Dunbar missing out is “possibly” the least worrying loss even though he has been superb in both games. Jones, Bennett and Scott are there to step in – is Taylor fit yet? We have options in the midfield.

    We lost a tight game – but the 6N isn’t a cakewalk and hard battles should be expected. I think Scotland have enough to beat Wales, but the plans for the scrum are key to this. Two weeks is a long time so we’ll see what happens.

    1. Pretty good summary Ade. The injury list is not a crisis only because we have strength in depth in the back row and centre. Imagine if we’re without Fagerson, Russell or Hogg in 2 weeks?
      As for worries about captaincy – either Ford or Jonny Gray can fill that role. A relatively inexperienced midfield of Price-Russell-Scott-Jones is a slight worry but worth the cost for the excitement value! Bringing on Weir and Pyrgos in the last 10 to keep the Welsh back and secure victory isn’t a bad plan.

    2. 6N is the hardest tournament because the teams are fairly even. So every game (barring Italy-out-of-Italy and England-in-England) is a must-win for both teams….This is especially tough for us as the first three are crucial, the last two not so much.

      Even in the Rugby championship, there is a dead rubber or two to “recover” in (i.e. Argentina can go to NZ, try stuff out, get gubbed, and not worry too much; simultaneously NZ can rest a few players and still get the win)…not so the 6N. I think this is an underappreciated aspect to the difficulty of the 6N

  14. I think now I have calmed down and sobered up I am less disappointed than I was initially. We lost a very tight game, plagued by injuries and a wrecked scrum, by rights the French should have walked it but they didn’t. I still think Mr Pepyer is due a Christmas present this year as I think many others would have awarded that “try” and taken a dim view of our scrummaging.

    Whether it was us failing to do so or them not letting us, we never got the game going on our terms. I still think we needed to play for territory more, all the running did was lead to minimal gains (they were dominating the contact) and eventual knock ons (i.e. a penalty to them). I was somewhat surprised at how even the stats were at the end, even the penalty and offload count were comparable.

    At the beginning of the championship if I was being honest I would have taken 2 of 3 wins over Ireland, Wales and France with a loss at Twickenham and a win against Italy. All we need to do now is make sure we beat Wales.

    I don’t think Wales will be a pushover, they were ferocious against England although ultimately lacked the skills to put them away, a bit like how France were against England. Should technically get an easier time in the scrum but we will be on every refs watch list now and Wales are good at dirty tactics in the scrum.

    Hopefully with the 2 week break some of our walking wounded will heal up. I have no fears over Price as a scrumhalf but I think Laidlaw has proven to myself and others these last two games how important he is as a captain. At least at centre and the backrow we are blessed with alternatives although Barclay / Hardie and Dunbar would be a big loss. Big Tim has fully vindicated himself and I have to confess to being a fan now, sorry I ever doubted you! Maybe he could fill in at 6 full time, his two cameos there have been impressive.

    1. I wonder why Swinson appears to have taken to six quicker than the great white hope Itoje – is it because he finds it easier, there’s less expectation, or Scotland’s preparation and game plan?

      1. Otoje, to me , looks very athletic and very mobile around the park with very good handling skills….however I think he is a bit of a fairy for no6 role. Swinson is not as athletic… however is far more aggressive and no nonsense…essential for the 6 position I reckon. He has improved his handling skills and is clearly more confident than he has been in the past. He also showed good pace for his try. Looks a different player to the one I watched 2-3 yrs ago. Far better at 6 than lock for me.

  15. With regard to our chances of picking up the all important 3rd win of a tournament, I’ve had a bit of a look at our fixture order over the years and how this is a factor in how well we perform.

    18 years of 6Nations (including 2017).
    2/3s (12 seasons) we start with either France or England.
    HALF (9 seasons) we play Wales in Week 2.
    8 out of 18 seasons (44%) we play Italy in Week 3. 6 seasons we have them in Week 5 (so 78% of the time, or nearly 4 in every 5 seasons, they are wither Week 3 or Week 5).
    Only once first (the very first 6N in 2000).
    Even in a season with 3 home games – 2/3 of the time we start with either England or France away (6 seasons of 9).

    We have a pretty fair spread in terms of when we play England. Typically beginning or end!
    Ireland tends to be a little later, Wales a little earlier in tournaments.
    France typically early (France away has never been Week 3 or Week 4) and Italy late (never started at home to Italy).

    8 out of 18 years Ireland START with Italy. With them up 2nd twice that is 10 times in 18 years they get them early doors.
    Still not a match for England with a whopping 11 of 18 – of which 10 are 2nd round. So no, England don’t often start against Italy, but 10 times of 18 they play them next.
    Scotland have had Italy in Week 1 or Week 2 just 3 times (and two were the first two 6N seasons).
    To be fair the Welsh have only had Italy in Week 1 or 2 on five occasions (3 times 1st).
    It’s most definitely Ireland and England who get the rub of the green here. France have done pretty well on opening games too.

    So 9 of 18 seasons Scotland-Wales is week 2, 10 out of 18 England – Italy is week 2. So safe to say that France-Ireland Week 2 is pretty common (after the Irish typically open up with Italy).

    Playing Italy second is arguably better than first. Gives England the chance to go all out guns blazing week 1, knowing they have Italy week 2 on a back to back.

    The only previous occasion we won our opening game (France at home, 2006) is also the only time we have managed more than 2 wins in a campaign.

    We’ve started at home just 7 out of 17 tournaments. Our average total points haul when we do is 3.28.
    Of the 10 tournaments we start away, we average 2.5 points.
    Of the 3 tournaments where we’ve had Italy in the opening two games, our average for the tournament is 3.33 points.
    Of the 7 tournaments with England in the first two games, we average just 2.29 pts in the whole tournament.

    So, this season, no England in the opening two plus starting at home bodes well.

    The difference in average points obtained in a 3 home game season vs a 3 away season is actually very small. Which makes sense when the 2 home games are England and France so in those years it’s arguably more likely to pick up a win/wins on the road.
    A bigger differential is as above (fixture sequence and whether or not we open up at home).
    This year is an opportunity in that it is both a 3 game home season AND we open at home. That has only happened twice before, and we managed an average of 3 points.
    The 4 points in 2003 was with the exact same order of fixtures and despite an opening defeat to Ireland.
    In conclusion, regardless of the improved side we now have, the 2017 order offers up the best chance of a 3 win tournament in 14 years, by my calculations.

    1. Anyone have idea how the fixture is determined? Its obviously always been a “fixture” and not a “draw”, but still it seems a ripe opportunity for the more influential unions to make sure the fixture is fixed in their favour!

      1. Upon further research the same ‘groupings’ of fixtures occur EVERY season – i.e. when we play England it is Ireland-Wales and Italy-France and so on (regardless of who is at home on any given year). So that requires no extra thinking, the fixtures can be made without having to play around too much.
        Taking these grouping as rightly assumed, the first 5 years of the 6N was almost perfect, with everyone playing each other in a different week across the 5 years, up until that 5th year where the two final weeks were switched (we should have finished with France and had Ireland in Week 4).
        From 2005 onwards, trends emerged (almost as though a favoured pattern/s had emerged).

        On an ‘even year’ – as per 2018 – in recent years it’s pretty much nailed on Wales-Scotland Week 2 (and therefore Italy-England, France-Ireland).
        Other than that, probably 3 ‘likely’ combinations by my reckoning, of which one was the 2016 order so I’m ruling that out. That gives us 2 combinations (1 as per 2008, 1 as per 2010). Week 1 and 4 interchangable:
        Week 1: Scotland-France, England-Wales, Ireland-Italy
        Week 2: Italy-England, Wales-Scotland, France-Ireland
        Week 3: France-England, Wales-Italy, Ireland-Scotland
        Week 4: France-Italy, Ireland-Wales, Scotland-England
        Week 5: Italy-Scotland, England-Ireland, Wales-France

        Even if keeping these groupings, and recognising that no-one is likely to play 3 at home or away in a row (and even allowing for everyone to have a home game in the final 2 weeks), the below are all slots that have never happened on an ‘even’ year (other than Scotland-France block on Week 3 once in 2012) – so would represent a massive departure:

        Week 1: Italy-England, Wales-Scotland, France-Ireland
        Week 2: France-England, Wales-Italy, Ireland-Scotland
        Week 3: Scotland-France, England-Wales, Ireland-Italy
        Week 4: Italy-Scotland, England-Ireland, Wales-France
        Week 5: France-Italy, Ireland-Wales, Scotland-England

        Would also be a massive departure to go to Rome in either of the opening 2 weekends – it’s never happened!

  16. IMHO Missing Dunbar (if he is) is a huge loss, inside and outside centres are not that easily interchangable as some people think. Scott is the most likely replacement and it’s been a while since he played in that position and he would be our 3rd choice. Dunbar acts as an extra back row at times and wins load of turn overs.

    1. Have to agree. Dunbar was outstanding on Sunday and we don’t have a like for like alternative.

  17. IMO to get the win against Wales we need to get either Barclay or Hardie fit….Strauss and Dunbar. Without them the team is considerably weaker. All 4 of them are looking right back to their prime form…especially Dunbar and Strauss

    Every time we go to scrum the weak spot seems to be at loose head….both Ireland and France put alot of emphasis on destabilizing that side. Fagerson and Brown look very good to me. As much as is made of WP being out…I think Dickinson has been the bigger loss. Such a shame he he isn’t fit yet. Dell is very good around the park…but a poor & naive scrummager…he is relatively young tho and can only get better at it.

    We really need to sort out the leadership….because that clearly fell apart when Laidlaw and Barclay left the field. Price actually looks a natural captain to me…tho obviously too inexperienced at the moment. As soon as he came on he started talking and instructing the players around him.
    He has a tonne of potential.

    1. Picking up on the ‘naive’ suggestion. I didn’t see this but am told that in the Ireland game their 8 angled at the put in and this fed through causing instability. Did anything other than sheer brute power disrupt us against the French? Naivety / inexperience? Their low cunning?

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