Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


England 61-21 Scotland

ohn Hardie, John Barclay, Zander Fagerson and Richie Gray pictured during Scotland vs Australia
John Hardie, John Barclay, Zander Fagerson and Richie Gray pictured during Scotland vs Australia in the Autumn Test at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

The most eagerly anticipated Calcutta Cup match since the Grand Slam decider of 1990 came and went, and with it went Scotland’s chance of a first ever 6 Nations title, whilst seeing England claim the title, equal New Zealand’s record of eighteen consecutive Test wins, and set a new record of eleven 6 Nations games on the bounce.

England came firing out of the blocks, and practically as soon as Fraser Brown had gone in the bin for a dangerous tackle on Elliot Daly, England opened the scoring in only the 3rd minute through Jonathan Joseph, the outside centre showing great gas to evade the sprawling Alex Dunbar and coast over.

In the 18th minute, Stuart Hogg was replaced by Mark Bennett for an HIA, but it was to be a brief cameo for Bennett, who had to be replaced by Henry Pyrgos. This meant a major re-shuffle in the backs, Seymour now at full-back, Price on the wing, with Pyrgos taking Price’s place at scrum-half. Hogg was not to return, so these changes became permanent.

The disarray of the reshuffle soon became apparent, and again it was the dancing feet of Joseph that  cut through the Scottish line, a wonderful finish from the Bath player taking the ball at pace, weaving past Watson and Visser, to claim his second of the afternoon.

Scotland hit back almost immediately. A kickable penalty was instead taken to the line, and after concerted pressure, big Gordon Reid eventually muscled over from close range.

Tormentor in chief Joseph though, was not to be stopped. A wonderfully worked move off the line-out led to Joseph scything through the middle again, and club team-mate Anthony Watson, a replacement for the injured Elliot Daly, put the game beyond all reasonable doubt.

Half-time: England 30-7 Scotland

Have I mentioned Jonathan Joseph yet? He completed his hat-trick shortly after the interval, Nathan Hughes found a gap round the side of a ruck to blast through, and Joseph was on hand to further compile Scottish misery.

After a long consultation with the TMO, referee Mahieu Raynal decided that Nathan Hughes could avoid 10-minutes off the park for a late hit on Tommy Seymour, who was not to be so fortunate and was the latest Scotland back to see his afternoon prematurely ended with Weir his replacement in the unusual position of full-back. From the resulting penalty Finn Russell found a good touch, but the line-out went awry and soon England were to earn a penalty within 3-point range. Farrell obliged, and the score was now an embarrassing 40-7 to England.

Finn Russell agonisingly kicked the restart straight out. It was that kind of afternoon. Scotland won a penalty from the resultant scrum, went for the line-out, and after patient, probing phase-play, Huw Jones out-stretched his left-arm to score.

Russell’s successful conversion reduced the deficit, but there was still no chance of a comeback, especially with the bombastic figure of Billy Vunipola coming off the bench to further strengthen the England ball-carrying threat, and he was in possession at the back of the maul as the Red Roses surged closer to the 50-point mark.

After an hour the lesser-spotted tight head Simon Berghan, natural habitat: the bench, came on, and making his first appearance in Dark Blue after yet another injury, this time to back-rower Ryan Wilson, was Cornell Du Preez.

Tim Visser, who had been completely anonymous in the first half, then made two powerful line-breaks, only to give the ball away first by an attempt at a hail-Mary pass, then he knock on 15m from the line, but he was involved again as Scotland breached England’s defence once more, Huw Jones finding a bit of space out wide, before dancing through to finish brilliantly again.

But the further respectability that brought to the score-line was then wiped out by Danny Care’s try and Owen Farrell’s sixth successful conversion. Deep into time added-on, the sniping scrum-half eventually found space to rub salt, lemon juice, vinegar and chilli sauce into the already gaping wound, and seal the 6 Nations Championship.

The  dream, and let’s be honest, that’s all it really ever was, is over for another year, but with one more game under Vern Cotter’s tutelage, and second place in the championship to play for, there is still plenty of cause for optimism in this young Scotland side. They came up against a powerful, dominant and record-crushing England unit, and soon found themselves forced into a major back division reshuffle. England will be going for consecutive Grand Slams next weekend in Dublin, and you have to congratulate them for producing by far their best performance of the tournament.

And this has probably hammered the price down on tickets for the Italy game on Viagogo, so, you know, silver linings and that.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)

SRBlog Man of the Match: Jonathan Joseph rightly won the overall award, but for Scotland the award goes to opposite number Huw Jones. Took his two tries brilliantly.

117 Responses

  1. Poor in the lineout, rudder less in defence – awful at the breakdown and conceded penalty after penalty meaning England never had to earn field position. There are many horrible things that stand out but I will go with 4 for starters. Firstly the bench replacements felt wrong from the start and so with the injuries it was clear that it was – should have been Horne and Maitland covering the standoff/centre and back 3. Our back row is just not good enough at this level – as manfully as they tried they had no answer to the power that hit them and never isolated the carrier or got turnover ball – I have to say that I thought a couple of times the ref could have blown when England clearly weren’t releasing when we were on our feet, but we allowed those marginal decisions to go against by getting cleared out too soon. We had no answer to England attacking the line with power runners and pulling he ball back – we were cheating in the line outs to stop mauls (instead of competing to steal or disrupt – we are very poor at this) and did not get the defensive structure right at the lineout fringe – England exploited expertly mind. 4th let’s put to bed the notion of our players going on the lions tour. To a man England were better and actually when a top tier nation hits their straps against us we proved we are nowhere near as good as we thought we were (did a lot of talking this week – didn’t like it – had the feeling that it would come back to us).

    Only positive is that there should be no complacency for Italy and a lot of players need to look in the mirror instead of talking.

    Injuries dependent but for me Ford for Brown, Swinson for J.Gray, Maitland for Seymour and I think unlikely as he got injured for Sarries but Taylor for Dunbar

    1. An honest appraisal Martin. For me Saturday’s debacle was a disaster waiting to happen.
      1. Scotland’s away form in the Six Nations has been indifferent for many years. Apart from Italy, Scotland’s last away victory in in tournament was in 2010. Two matches have been won at Twickenham since World War 2.
      2. The opposition were the reigning Grand Slam champions and undefeated in their previous seventeen matches. They are ranked no. 2 in the world. Scotland last beat them in 2008.
      3. The current team is inexperienced at international level and a number of years away from its peak. The front row in particular is callow. The team lacks players who have won international tournaments or been capped for the British & Irish Lions.
      4. The team lacks strength in depth with the bench made up of honest toilers who lack the ability to change the direction of the match. In the lead up to the match injuries to the best starting XV have denuded reserves. The bench chosen for the match lacked players with the ability to cover for those backs who were injured in the match, resulting in multiple players being played out of position.
      5. In the lead up to the match players allowed themselves to be caught up in journalistic hype leading to their over-estimating their own ability and underestimating the opposition.
      6. Poor discipline from the start of the match gave the opposition frequent opportunities to gain field position and points.
      7. Defensive frailties were ruthlessly exposed. The English coaching team did a job on weaknesses that we hadn’t seen exposed before.
      8. The team lacked the qualities of physicality to match the opposition, which would enable them to implement their own game plan.

      Looking forward to the Podcast this week. Hopefully the tartan-coloured specs will be off to be replaced by a realistic analysis of the team and the coaching.

      1. Not sure i’ll make the podcast after that Highland Bear. After that summing up you might find me at the end of a noose. Ur ability to trawl everything out that is negative shows exactly what’s wrong with the Scottish mentality. Poor fare nearly as bad as the ratings on this blog actually it’s worse. Ur minus score for ur comment resembles ur negativity.

  2. I can see your point on some of the above Martin but we are just going from one extreme to another with each game in this six nations.

    You said…
    “To a man England were better and actually when a top tier nation hits their straps against us we proved we are nowhere near as good as we thought we were (did a lot of talking this week – didn’t like it – had the feeling that it would come back to us).”

    Just like Wales couldn’t handle us when we hit our straps? Or how we hung on when Ireland hit their straps in the second half of that game or how Ireland couldn’t handle us when we hit our straps in the 1st half? Or how we hung on when France came at us (Not to mention huge amount of injuries hit us) with huge power and we made a real game of it?

    England just beat Wales, We beat both Ireland and Wales, France lost narrowly to England and Ireland then Wales go and beat Ireland last night. It’s all a bit stupid to throw everything out because of such a poor one off, performance. I still predict an Irish win fairly comfortably next weekend against England.

    No one saw this coming, maybe a high scoring try fest and fairly comfortable victory for England but not that performance and that dominance from England.

    So before the flood of doom and gloom posts come in and that the sky is indeed falling and the world is at an end….please take a breath and think a bit first.

    1.We have scored 10 tries in this tournament and up until today we had lost 5 and only one to France away and Wales.

    2.We were hailing how wonderful our back row has been and will continue to be so, up until this week and now we say that they should be thrown out with the bath water.

    3.Dunbar and Jones have been hailed for their defence up till now, now we say they are the worst centre pairing in all of professional rugby.

    What have we really learned negatively today about this young team?

    1.Certain injuries mean we can’t cope or adapt the game plan on the hoof and yes we probably should have had a better balance on the bench in backs.

    2.Yellow cards should be avoided at all costs. Scotland just can’t seem to adapt with losing of a man for 10 mins. They never have and this must be rectified asap. Reminded me of how badly we did with Scott Johnson at the helm in Wales when Hogg got his marching orders.

    3.Have never seen a team defend three off the top lineouts that badly and not adapt to what was happening and at least stop it happening a second or third time. That was very poor.

    4.How ever ridiculous the referee was in interpreting the breakdown you have to adapt and not lose it completely as the players seemed to at times. That’ll be music to O’Sheas ears this week. However it must have been so frustrating when you’ve been doing certain things all tournament and getting rewards for someone to come in, in the 4th game and change the script completely. How on earth is a scrum given to the team who has a player lying right across where the ball should be available and not moving? I’m no expert on the laws of rugby but that was ridiculous.

    But in reality is it all that bad? We lost to England which was probably accepted as a very real possibility in amidst the optimism. We beat Italy on Saturday and we have three wins, and a real chance of second place. We have beaten each of the other teams in the six nations over the last 12 months other than England whom no one has beaten in 18 months. We have reached our highest ever ranking and are unlikely to lose many points from this loss today with it being away and whether it’s a 15 point loss or nearly 40 points is irrelevant to the ranking system.

    Let us not be downcast oh my soul but be ready for a Sunny Spring Day in a few days time.

    1. Agree that one poor game does not undo the progress made, and we’re still looking at the best 6N for ages. We are back in the pack, but I think this game showed that we don’t have the game plan/personnel/mindset to be true global contenders.

    2. In amongst your rational reply and in someways defence of the general progress you asked was it really that bad? The answer is Yes it was shocking. If we say it’s one game and the general progress has been good and actually if you look at the injuries we suffered was too debilitating in the end, you by default make it acceptable for the players. It is not acceptable and especially because of the progress it is absolutely unacceptable.
      Also I do actually believe point differentials do count towards the rankings but in the scheme of things that’s irrelevant.

      1. I would agree with you that the performance was shocking but I was referring to the overall situation rather than the particular match being all that bad. I still hold to that. One terrible show doesn’t negate the good stuff we’ve seen in other matches and to do so is incorrect in my view. It was a perfect storm with ref calls, injuries and an early yellow but even then some of the play was very poor.

        I don’t think the players need to be told how bad it was, they’ll be fine on their own to see that and beating people up about how bad they were is really not going to help. They’ll see in the analysis and take it on the chin as they must. They don’t need more than that. I am concerned about Italy now and we need them to not be lacking in belief for that. That is exactly what will happen if they take on board all this negativity.

    3. You make good points as to contributors as to why Scotland lost. A number relate to the psychological preparation of the players and their inability to deal with setbacks on the day. Saturday, in my view, saw the players ‘up’ for the match in the way supporters are, but not mentally prepared to play a game of test match rugby.

  3. Wee bit off thread, sorry, but it’s time for world rugby to recognize 4 tiers in rugby….not 2.

    Tier 1: teams with plenty of cash a big development program and a massive player base (England, NZ)…these teams should always be near the top.

    Tier 2: teams with most parts of the potentially tier 1…but often missing something (Aus, S. Af., France, Ireland, Wales)….these teams have ups and downs.

    Tier 3: teams with limited resources and few players trying to make ends meet…(Scotland, Italy, Argentina, Japan)…occasional highlights but generally low win rate.

    Tier 4: teams that are unable to foster talent due to lack of opportunity (Pacific Islands, Georgia etc)

    In general you might expect to beat one tier up sometimes, two tiers up hardly ever, three tiers is a major upset.

    We will forever be in tier 3…

    1. Agree up to a point… but then if sporting results were that predictable I wouldn’t bother watching.

      There are other important factors and variables.

      Sporting success comes in unpredictable cycles regardless of money and player pools. England were very ordinary and beatable until they changed coaches… and inherited better players.

      Same for Scotland…. it can go pear shaped pretty quickly for any country. It can also turn around positively very quickly …and it can also be slow and steady improvements with occasional steps back aka Scotland.

      I’d say we are on the upcycle with alot of room for improvement….I feel we can compete with ‘top tier’ during the peak of that cycle which we haven’t reached yet.

      England, for all their hype too, need to improve. No team is perfect.

      1. Yes…Individual teams cycles and phases means one team is up another down and either team can win any individual game — these are not very predictable

        Average these ups and downs out either over a long period, like a decade, or for a shorter period but over multiple teams, and success-rate becomes predictable – driven by resources.

        The SRU challenge of the next few years is to turn an up-phase at pro/international level into genuine growth, e.g. by increasing player numbers, building new rugby communities, re-attracting long-term supporters to the game and so on…and hoping they stick through the coming down-phase.

      2. Yeah. Most countries have been guilty of failing to prepare for the down cycle…lulled into thinking they have solved all their issues in an upcycle. NZ are really the example for everyone because of how they put so much emphasis into rugby development at all times. Its why they barely ever drop in standards despite natural attrition of world class players.
        SRU seem to be making better development decisions these days …long way to go tho. Much of their developments depend on a successful snr side. Success has a huge bearing on attracting youth to the sport..

  4. Congratulations England that’s how you play a game of rugby. Unfortunately I don’t support England.

    The defense was similar to the days of of 2012, under Scott Johnston…terrible. Dunbar who I rate highly was very poor . Jones was also poor in defense but did score two good tries. Similar to football when a big game comes about the team runs about like headless chickens and opens up and concedes heavily.

    Really angry as I was expecting a close game that Scotland would eventually win….nothing like it.

    It makes me wonder about just how much progress the team has actually made, the two games that have been won could have went either way.

    I am hoping that this game was a one off and we win against Italy with a good result.

  5. Well played England. Horror show from Scotland magnified by series of desparately unfortunate injuries in the backs. Couldn’t have scripted for this, but the bench we chose simply couldn’t cope, so many playing out of position. Did this make something that was already going badly into something much much worse? I would say definitely yes to this. It also makes it tricky to get perspective on this “performance”. We learned things like – Ali price isn’t that great on the wing etc but then he’s not a winger.

    As an aside, I thought that TMO Ben skeet seemed to overrule and instruct the referee not to award a yellow for tackle on Seymour – ‘ok ref I’ve heard what you think but here’s how it’s going to go’. Very odd intervention from this official.

    1. Ref seemed in over his head and a bit lost..maybe Calcutta cup with championship on the line is not the ideal 6N debut.

      1. We would have lost with any ref the way we played, but I agree Raynal more or less lost control of the breakdown. England seemed to be free to lie all over the ball and when we tried competing we got penalised. There were a few high shots that he let go too

    2. It was not a yellow, the right decision was made. The fact that Scotland was not red carded at the start was more surprising. Ps I am an England fan and i did think England got the rub at the break down. At least 3 or 4 times i thought we were guilty of holding on at the breakdown and waited for the whistle to blow but it never did. I think the combination of injuries for Scotland and England clicking was just a perfect storm and nothing more. Scotland has a good team and plenty to build from. Sorry to say but you need bigger backs, it is just the way the game has gone. You have talent but you also need size. Such is the modern game.

      1. Dulls – If someone is poleaxed at chest height when he doesn’t have the ball, it’s a yellow card at least. If the player is then carted off, how can you possibly say it wasn’t dangerous? You’re clearly suffering from the same myopic illness as Dallaglio and the TMO. There is a question of whether this one was even a tackle as no arms seemed to be used. It was not the right decision. Agree that Brown should have been red carded. Again, wrong decision.

  6. Firstly any news on Hogg?

    England played really well, played with pace, power & precision. Scotland were knocked onto the back foot throughout (a place we couldn’t afford to be).

    However fate did not smile on Scotland, Nel, Dickinson, Strauss, Hardie, Sutherland, Laidlaw, Taylor unavailable, then all the injuries during the game really made it difficult. That’s not mentioning Fraser Brown’s YC.

    Cotter mentioned 2 away games – 8 concussion injuries – that’s really quite worrying.

    The english back row were 8st heavier than ours!!!!!!!!! that’s also quite worrying.

    However a win next Saturday V Italy would present us a situation that every single Scotland fan would have taken pre 6N.

    1. As Eddie Jones said post match…he normally talks garbage but he did hit the nail on head…. Scotland are a good side…but it takes Power, Pace and Skill to win trophies. We have pace and skill…. England have all 3 at the moment. The power advantage won the match from the first whistle. We need to find power to achieve the dream…otherwise we’ll continually have these disappointments.

  7. It was a horror show, but we need to put it behind us rather than lament in our inadequacies. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong….
    -We lost key points due to being down a man and the opposition (somehow) kept their quota on the pitch
    -England were a different team to what they’ve shown so far in the championship. On that form, we probably can’t beat them regardless of other factors.
    -We had significant early injuries in key positions where we had no adequate cover. Any gameplan that we had was completely shot once both Bennett and Hogg were off. Seymour’s injury exaccerbated things further.
    -Whatever gameplan we had wasn’t sufficient in any case. Our defence was appaling throughout, but particularly off the set piece. We should have been more prepared for defending quick ball off the line out.
    -The referee was unbelievably one sided in his decisions. We barely had anything to celebrate, but somehow Barclay got the penalty against him for this as a repeated offence. Every other time, it was started by an Englishman rubbing it in, but all they ever got was a warning. Shouldn’t Care’s swallow dive have been a penalty at the end under the same standards (regardless of 3 potential knock ons in the lead up)?

    Talking on referee decisions, how on earth was the high tackle on Hogg not reviewed? We got a penalty for it, so its not like the ref didn’t see it. If Hogg had stayed down like Daly did, I think it could have been red. As for Seymour’s concussion, unbelievable that a ref would make a decision, have the crowd boo it and then let the TMO overrule him. He even said he was making the decision because it was a repeat offence and he hadn’t yellowed the earlier one. What’s the point in having a ref if the TMO makes these calls? The bottom line is that they had two clearly dangerous tackles on potentially our two most dangerous attackers that resulted in HIA failures. Both were seen, and neither was carded.

    We’ll get past this and be the stronger from it in the future.

    1. good answer in parts but the cards were about right, it was a late tackle by Hughes and nothing else, to be honest i think the laws are now over zealous regardless of whos playing and this over reffing of the tackle could end up ruining many games as a competition. While i think Scotland should have got a red card at the start i am also glad one was not given. Game one or lost on a ref decision at the start would stuff the game for all fans.

  8. I think the biggest question for me was why did a team that had shown so much resilience in the face of adversity in previous games fold so easily yesterday? Something with the preparation went badly wrong.

    Let’s just hope the players we have left fit atone next week.

    1. I may get pelters for this, but i think this was a game where we really needed Laidlaw. He has been the cool head in the past when we’ve started to lose control, and the loss of composure yesterday was catastrophic. Saying that, i think we would have still lost badly, but perhaps not fallen apart so emphatically.
      The defence was terrible, but i think our midfield struggled a fair bit due to having a scrum half and standoff outside them in the line. Maitland and Horne would have been better bench options in the circumstances. It all did highlight how much we rely on our starting players. With Nel and Dicko, Hogg and Seymour playing the 80 I’m sure we would have faired better. Hopefully Toony will have some luck with players available and then our next target scalp is welcoming England to Murrayfield. It is a formidable challenge, but we were also badly beaten by Wales and Ireland in the recent past. For now, time to regroup and put together a performance worthy of Vern’s last game. Alas, I don’t think we’ll see Hoggy or Seymour back in a week, and Bennett looked longer term, so for me it’s probably Jones to 15, Matt Scott in the midfield and Maitland on the wing. Horne on the bench. Not sure who replaces Wilson now. Possibly Bradbury.

      1. I would have killed to have Laidlaw on the field after ten minutes, maybe not even so much for the way he plays but for how he deals with the ref. It was obvious that Barclay was getting frustrated with some of the decisions, and the fact that he was involved in the breakdown where we kept getting penalised didn’t help him win favour. Laidlaw might have fared better.

      2. Let’s not pretend Laidlaw is good with the ref! Barclay was masterful with the ref two weeks ago but the ref yesterday seemed set against him and us and I don’t think Laidlaw’s huffy face and arms thrown in the air would have made a difference. What would have made a difference would have been his ability to get the team to calm down and focus and cut out the mistakes!

      3. England played fantastic , especially their back and middle rows. They pulled in our half backs, resulting in our defence systems out wide going up in smoke. Worried a bit about Zander and Jonny, it looks like a long season for them is catching up with them.

        It was a bad night, but overall the season has been a positive one (Glasgow and Scotland). Though a bit overpowered in the end there was some good stuff in the U20s, people like Fagerson junior and Darcy Graham. I am hopeful just a blip and not a trend.

    2. To answer your question, it might be worth remembering what happened to Glasgow in their first Pro 12 final. After a couple of semi-final losses in previous years, they finally cleared that hurdle in an epic game against Munster. There was something like 300 tackles made that day; the intensity was unbelievable, and the euphoria on display afterward showed how much it meant to actually best their previous efforts. Leinster had looked very unconvincing in their semi, so it really seemed like Glasgow could go and win the whole thing.

      Then they went over to Dublin for the final and Leinster won comfortably by 20 points. Glasgow got off to a decent start but when things started to turn in Leinster’s favour they had no answers. The feeling then was similar to the feeling today; that after improving on so many things that season Glasgow had collectively and individually let themselves down on the biggest stage.

      I think when you achieve something, whether that’s getting to a final or ending a 10 year losing streak, you probably haven’t prepared to deal with what comes after. The Wales win was a huge step forward, but the collective panic that set in after yesterday’s awful start showed that Scotland simply weren’t ready mentally to deal with playing in such a high stakes game. Add to that the injuries and an England team who have been planning Grand Slam II for a year, and you get a 40 point thrashing.

      Glasgow took their disappointment and learnt how to take the next step. Can Scotland? Ireland, Wales and England have Grand Slam winners and European Cup winners to mentor their young guys, who themselves were mentored by winners who came before. Our lot are first generation, they will have to figure this out for themselves. Vern Cotter said before the tournament started that this group of players were still 2 years away from peaking. Lets hope that’s the case.

  9. It was just the perfect storm of an early yellow (should probably have been red), and those injuries. Perhaps in that situation a couple of our hugely talented players in key positions still just lack the maturity to deal with that, regroup, make tactical decisions and take the pace out of things. Available bench options, and the use of those options didn’t help.

    That was an abaration, in an otherwise upwards trajectory for the national team. Some painful lessons though for them all.

    As an aside, you do wonder what a difference a couple of penalties early on would have made for us for England’s repeated holding on at the breakdown. Wouldn’t have changed overall outcome of a loss, but would been a very different game.

    Look on the bright side, it sets up next year’s revenge match at Murrayfield beautifully!

    1. If we get a BP win against Italy it is still possible for us to finish 2nd, as someone else pointed out yesterday and I disbelieved. It would require Ireland to lose and Wales to win without a BP, but it is possible. Forgetting this horror show, 3 wins and an upper half finish is actual progress. The key is Townshend figures out how to keep playing to our strengths but neutralise the many weakness the England thrashing revealed. Remember, even Cotter started with Strauss and Wilson in the back row against Ireland – it is only chronic injury problems that led us to fielding the lightest, quickest back row against the championship’s biggest most powerful set of forwards.

      1. I don’t think its important whether we finish 2nd …what is important is that we show good progress by fairly and squarely winning all our home games.

        Next year we should be looking to win our home games + 1 away…. again good progress.

        We’re just not quite trophy material yet. IMO we can be …but we need to unearth talent with power to add to what we have…combined with better fortune with injuries.

      2. Only problem RuggersB is next year’s round of fixtures bring England & France to Murrayfield. Winning just one home match will be a big ask. Ireland and Wales away will be tough to win.

      3. Yeah definately 2 tough home games…however if we are talking about progression as a team… they are winnable at home.
        What I think this 6 nations has shown (with the exception of Italy who haven’t performed.. yet..) is that home advantage is a critical advantage. England clicked against us this time… but we also really underperformed for a variety of reasons. Next year ..and at Murrayfield things could be very different. France sneaked a home win against us…and we didn’t play to our potential in that match either. Wales & Ireland are not the teams they were IMO. We could get a win at one of them… its not pie in the sky to believe that.
        There are possibilities there… and we should be aiming higher each year…so why not? Why not 2 home games + 2 away games? It would represent very good progress.

    2. You summed it up (I am an England supporter) I thought red at the start but also thought England seemed to get away with holding on at the breakdown. A good Scotland team met a perfect storm of injuries etc and England clicking for the first time this 6 nations.

  10. England played well (partly because we allowed them to) and we couldn’t cater for the injuries we had. That’s my assessment of the game.

    I’ve been saying all week that our first XV was the equal of the the English one and I still believe that (beyond the car crash yesterday) but the bench concerned me.

    It would’ve made a difference if Horne and Maitland had been on the bench, but the biggest concern is Vern’s lack of faith in his bench.

    What game-changers have we really had on the bench during the tournament?

    Also, Finn needs to be told to sort his weaknesses out – he can’t win the game by himself at present so stop forcing the game and he needs to start practicing drop goals.

    1. You have to be joking if you can still argue that the current Scotland team is a match for the England one. A 40 point difference is surely enough evidence.

      1. Bear in mind that for the majority of the game that team was unable to call upon the talents of Nel, Dickinson, Sutherland, Strauss, Hardie, Denton, Laidlaw, Taylor, Bennett, Maitland and Hogg due to injury of varying degree.

        Difficult to read too much into that game other than it was an unacceptable performance and hopefully a one off

      2. Very true. Can’t criticize VC for not having ‘game-changers’ on the bench when so many 1st choice players couldn’t be selected due to injury.
        We are at such a disadvantage off the bat with the small pro player pool we have…..injuries have a far greater impact to our team than it does to England, Ireland etc

    2. Finn’s drop goal attempts and generally his touch kicking are atrocious for test level. Just not good enough.

      1. I’m a big Russell fan, but I agree on both points. We shouldn’t even be attempting drop goals as there’s every bit as much chance of him engineering a try in the 22 as getting it over the sticks.

        I’ve always thought Hogg was better suited for kicking penalties to touch. I’m surprised that Vern and Gregor haven’t made that switch before now.

  11. I don’t know if anyone else has watched after the England vs Scotland debacle to see how else the Scotland rugby team is performing in other rugby competitions:

    Ladies, England: 64 vs Scotland: 0.
    Sevens, Scotland has lost all matches in Vancouver against, Canada, New Zealand and Russia.
    The Under 20’s, England 33 vs Scotland 5.

    A pretty dismal Saturday day for us Scots. Somebody in the SRU should be having a video conference with all respective coaches and ask, “What the hell is going on?” and put these coaches on a PIP or else contracts are terminated.

    However in retrospect I do believe we can beat Italy and go for 2nd place in the championship which Scotland have not done in a long time ago. Fingers cross for a victory to send Vern Cotter a farewell, not a party to celebrate, handshake only, then Gregor needs to start thinking long term and implement his own coaches/strategy,etc.

    1. Both our u20 and senior were beaten by power. Nothing a coach can do about that if the option isn’t there.
      England have a far larger pro pool for men and women…these results are really just in proportion to that really. Rugby is a highly physical contact sport…..size has a huge bearing.
      The sevens have been playing very well… they had a bad day the other day…but have punched above their weight in many matches.
      Simply blaming the coaches doesn’t reflect the truth.

  12. No point being angry. It can happen.

    Everything about this match was bad from even before Kick off.

    First, we talked ourselves up, trumpeting that we were coming. Meanwhile England, who have been winning while playing poorly, had their press on their backs. They also have a smart coach who can rile them up. A reaction was going to happen, and the only way for us to have dealt with that would have been to get up in English faces right from the start and try to put some doubt in their minds.

    Instead it looked like we stood back and let them play. Our line speed just didn’t seem to be what it has been. No idea why, was it nerves?

    Once Fraser Brown went off you could sense the players shrinking, then key players exited in quick succession with serious injuries which compounded everything. During the time Brown was off they built up a lead of more than a score and that just gave England the cushion they needed to play and cemented the doubts in our heads to let them.

    Mental state is important. Does anyone remember an England team, many of whom are still involved in their current squad, taking a similar battering from Wales in 2013? Or, for that matter, the complete battering we handed Argentina in the 2014 AIs (which would have been a 30-40 pointer if we hadn’t got silly in the final quarter). In terms of quality on paper there wasnt 30 or 40 points between those teams, and there isn’t 40 between Scotland and England today either. In all those games and yesterday only 1 team really turned up.

    The Scotland team is still young. We’ve been playing with a couple of early 20 year olds in the front row, a hooker in his first starting season, an openside in his first starting season, a centre in his first season and we’ve been minced by injury. The team talisman is Stuart Hogg. Yesterday he went off after 18 minutes.

    England are strong in all the areas we are weak, especially forward power.

    We’re developing an effective game based on movement and dynamism, just like Glasgow, but just like Glasgow, if we don’t really turn up and if we stand off a bit then teams with huge forwards will steamroller us.

    We will learn from this. I hope there is a reaction against Italy. If we win that one then not only do we have a good chance of finishing high up the table, but a few of our players should make the Lions, and that will be very important for their development.

    1. Glasgow are mobile but Townshend also favours a muscular back row of Strauss, Wilson and Harley for many of the big games. It’ll be interesting how he builds on the foundations Cotter has laid.

      1. Agree. This ‘multiple 7s’ theory has done its dash. Its fine in some tactical scenarios… but on the whole.. power has the upper hand.
        If GT changes anything … the 1st thing Id want him to change is the idea a lightweight front pack is going to win matches against heavyweight packs. Will be very interesting to see his style imposed… and his selections.

      2. I don’t think Cotter is picking a back row of natural opensides because he wants to. His hand is forced by injury.

        I think generally when form and injury has allowed he’s supplemented the quick opensides by starting either Denton or Strauss at 8 with the other on the bench.

        I think that’s a good approach too, because it gives us just enough ball carrying power to balance things out without taking us away from our natural game.

        I have watched a ton of unsuccessful Scotland teams trying to play a power game which doesn’t come naturally to them badly.

        It’s not our game, and Cotter with Scotland and Toonie at Glasgow have been right to take us in a different direction.

        I think Denton has survived a couple of starts for Bath. Ryan Wilson took a nasty head knock, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Cotter freshens things up and brings Denton back in.

      3. Before everyone goes mad with the size thing again. Remember that the Welsh back row of Moriarty, Tipuric and Warburton largely outplayed the English back row. They’re not that big! So how do they make it work?
        Faletau only came on as a sub and wasn’t nearly as effective as Moriarty.

    2. A battering of Italy is the only satisfactory way to come back from this, I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again, Italy only care about playing us they roll over far to easily against the others but never do so against us so it will be a tough game, especially if we start anything like as poorly as yesterday.

      As for the lions a fair few of our guys put paid to any hopes (however slim they were previously). Fatland needed irrefutable evidence to take scots with him and Brown, Russell and Dunbar who were being mentioned had absolute howlers. Hogg did himself a favour by getting carted off, stat boy and Watson were outclassed.

      P.s. I give up on fantasy league, I dropped Rhys Webb, Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph from my squad for Murray, sexton and Dunbar! Fail.

    3. Interesting point about us talking ourselves up, does anyone else feel that whenever we do that we end up getting a kicking? I am amazed that the SRU press team still allow this to go on. Better to say little and do your talking on the pitch than talking yourselves up and not being able to follow it up on the pitch.

      An Irish friend of mine before and after the game said that we’d been getting cocky and handed England all the motivation they needed. It certainly seemed that way on the pitch. This is something that should be easy to sort so please get it fixed asap!

      1. Agree with you. All we’ve heard for the past fortnight are
        – reminiscences of 1983
        -the current squad talking up their chances
        – commentators (some of whom had a knowledge of the sport) saying the game was as good as won
        Jim Telfer’s contribution was particularly unhelpful and just what Eddie Jones, the master of pre-match psychology, could have wished for.

      2. Yup. Change the game and no one needs reminding (if they’re old enough to remember) of Ally’s Tartan Army and their absurd pretensions. All talk and nae draws, never mind wins.

        And we all know the best thing about David Sole’s 1990 team was the slow walk onto the pitch. No shouting required.

        Dignity. As Ricky Ross once pointed out.

  13. Lack of depth on the bench is one thing. What about lack of depth in individual players’ skills?

    Fraser Brown’s lunacy within 90 seconds is absolutely to blame for the instant disintegration of balance within the team that let England build up steam. His major contribution on return was poor line-out delivery (just as it was his overthrow in the final seconds of the WC semi-final against Australia that led to their penalty score). Surely there is a hooker with a brain to be found somewhere in Scotland?

    What’s also needed is a trustable stand-off. Russell’s popularity is curious. Someone elsewhere on this forum rightly questions the “fragility of his mentality”. He may be spritely but how many more times do we have to see him miss touch or send restarts straight out? What other Six Nations No 10s fail in these basic skills with such regularity? Add his Hail Mary passes within the 22 and we’re back to the hands-over-the-eyes days of watching Dan Parks. His under-the-post conversion against France was his doing, not Nathan Hines’.

    The population of Scotland is nearly twice that of Wales. Let’s see how that proportions plays out on the plane for the Lions tour.

    1. What’s population got to do with it? Have you seen the respective player numbers between the two countries?

      It’s easy to blame Finn Russell when things don’t go our way. However, we wouldn’t have scored 10 tries this far with any other stand off since Townsend. It’s not like he’s being chosen ahead of someone else more suited. He’s still young and will hopefully develop his game to the point where the mistakes become less and less regular.

      1. Agree. There’s nothing wrong with the way Russell plays. He presents more of a threat than Biggar and for me has outplayed Ford this championship until yesterday. He’s a fine player, but in the wings should he ever get injured I think Weir is pretty average. Adam Hastings may develop well – we wait to see on that. But somewhere we need to develop a quality second 10. Jackson for Ireland and Davies for Wales are coming along nicely….

      2. To me Hastings looks like he can be a more complete 10 than Russell.
        Finn can be great to watch…. and embarrassing to watch. To say there is nothing wrong with how he plays is stretching the reality.
        Finn needs to really work on his composure and decision making. He is currently far too erratic.
        Hastings, to me, looks like a player who plays head up rugby … who tries to create things at the right moment with nice flicks and movement combined with a more assured kicking awareness. Good decision to join D Rennie at Glasgow…I wouldn’t be surprised to see Russell to be replaced by Hastings as 1st choice there eventually.

      3. Finn can be infuriating and obviously didn’t do his reputation any favours yesterday. The missed touch and restart out on the full were basic errors. Tell me I am too generous but I was impressed that he didn’t hide. Put his body on the line tackling some big men and kept trying to create something. Hope they put this down to experience and redeem themselves against Italy.

    2. Was a daft decision by Brown to do what he did. I’d bench/drop him for that…..he let his team mates down. It gave England easy momentum.

  14. I’d like to see scott come in. Dunbar has not been up to scratch defensively in every game. Against Ireland he and jones conceded a few tries, same again here. He seems to have lost his strength in the tackle, he is too easily brushed off.

    1. I was thinking, before the England match, that Dunbar looks to have lost the bulk he had before his series of injuries. There was a time when he looked very strong.
      Think this has affected his tackling.

  15. England deserved their win – Scotland were poor and clearly the injuries completely threw them.

    However, the referee was, imho, completely out of his depth – I don’t mind refs who have different interpretations of the laws – what I object to is one that quite clearly is applying his interpretations inconsistently.

    The other disturbing thing was this move to using neck rolls by the England team – something the IRB needs to clamp down – a neck roll is in many ways far more dangerous than a high tackle – and it was used repeatedly by the English players to clear out the Scottish forwards – sometimes there was a penalty – sometimes not – I am inclined to say that it really should be a yellow card offence – the same as the high tackle.

    1. Could u explain what he was so inconsistent on exactly? I was left feeling very frustrated but don’t know why was just going on what I would normally see being penalised

  16. Looking past yesterday (no bad thing) I feel Scotland need to be looking at the next step in improving our team, which will include assessing why our back row players are so much slighter than our opposition, and I include Wales and Ireland in that. We may have fit players but they are lacking in bulk. The front five of both teams yesterday was pretty even size wise but our loose forwards gave away more than a stone a man, sometimes more. This needs to be dealt with in terms of our next generation of players (Ritchie, Bradbury, Wynne, Ashe, Smith, Fagerson etc). This must also go along with looking at whether we are developing the skills to go with the size improvements needed. Are we coaching skills properly at an early enough age so that all we need to do is bulk up a skilful player or are we too late on identifying those lads with the necessary innate ability to be improved on? I think the same assessment needs to be applied across the board as our results this eeekend would testify to (six nations, U20, sevens). I’m not gonna be too harsh on our women’s team as they are starting out on a long road and womens rugby player numbers are very low compared to the rest of the home nations but the men’s game is now at a development point where we have the structures in place, but now need to look at where the incremental improvements can be made.

    1. 359kg compared to our 305kg back row. That was the main difference. It made playing 3 7s redundant as their back row just marched over the top of ours.

    2. Size is a bit of a red herring. It’s more about power and pace than size/weight. Let us not forget what happened to poor old Simon Taylor when it was decided he should bulk up. There is absolutely no point in bulking up and increasing max power if speed is lost and agility sacrificed. Getting the right S and C programmes in place will help create the power and speed but there is never a guarantee that every big guy has the genetics to develop. With a player base the size of Scotland I’m afraid size is a luxury we cannot afford to focus on. Hamish Watson has done well and he is powerful and quick. Nothing wrong in that. In terms of skills actually I think the skills pathway developed years ago has reaped huge benefits. As an exiles coach in England I can see that the need for every player to be able to execute a core skills requirement has produced a team that can stand toe to toe with anyone in the NH. The game was lost yesterday in the top 2 inches, not by poor skills or players who were too “small”

      1. Agree that S & C needs to be optimized for each player. Not just bulking for weight gain.
        However, all teams have significant s&c teams….then it just becomes a level field…in terms of optimization. An optimized 6′ 4″ player with pace & technique, over the course of a match, is going to just run over the top of an optimized 6′ player all things being equal.

  17. Update on injuries:

    he Scotland medical team provided the following squad update after yesterday’s defeat to England in the RBS 6 Nations at Twickenham.

    Replacement back Mark Bennett – who replaced injured full-back Stuart Hogg in the 18th minute – left the field after four minutes with a knee and arm injury.

    He will subject to further care and assessment however it is expected that he will take no further part in the current RBS 6 Nations Championship.

    Three players are being treated for concussion (Hogg, Tommy Seymour and Ryan Wilson) and are now subject to the completion of the HIA protocol.

    Finn Russell, Huw Jones (knee) and Richie Gray (hamstring) will also have precautionary scans at Spire Murrayfield Hospital early in the week following musculoskeletal complaints the morning after the match.

  18. Good points, Al, much of which I too was making under the PLAYER RATINGS article. We were simply outgunned yesterday.

  19. Did Anyone see that one coming? well, we are all in good company because the rugby gods missed it as well.

    Let’s get positive, we remain top 8, yesterday started badly and just got worse, the squad is young and we came second to a much better side.

    Yes, they are and we can never have that depth available to us. However, we have moved forward and while we will never have the resources of English Rugby, we just need to get to a critical mass.

    Buy and English side and flood it with scots. Then we can say the trouble with English rugby, is, that there are too many scots in it. That is a serious comment laced with humor by the way.

  20. On a serious point, I think the after match enthusiasm by Clive Woodward was marginally inappropriate and my marginal I mean, worth mentioning, no more.

    In rugby, we are dignified and should respect the opposition win or lose. The late Bill McLaren being the perfect example of this point, he always remembered it takes two sides to make a game.

    I can and have heard Bill say, it would be a dreadful day if the other side never turned up. Some of us will argue they did not, I would suggest the injury count says they did and to their personal cost.

    A bit more humility in front of the camera, allow the score line to talk and the respectful spirit of rugby to win the day. I fully expect him to drink beer and celebrate in private.

    I am not bitter, just disappointed that respected people in the game do not try and promote what sets our game apart, dignity and respect, when in front of the nation, whether rugby or non rugby folk.

    1. That is very well said. And thank you, Bulldog. Humility and respect are what fronts our game beyond others. I remember seething at Martin Johnson’s complete disrespect of Scotland in a TV interview some years ago. Schooling in the arts of politesse is as important as not hoiking the legs in a lineout. We need to rise above and stay there.

    2. Well said sir! Dignified behaviour off the pitch helps a great deal in maintaining a stable mental attitude amid the chaos of play.

  21. No excuses at the result, England were outstanding, we were very poor, although clearly the early yellow and injuries unsettles us hugely!

    However, and in no way am I suggesting it altered the outcome, I HAVE NEVER seen such an inept and inconsistent refereeing performance. I know that I may be accused of watching through biased eyes, and in fairness Brown could have seen red, but quite aside from the fact that Itoje, Hartley and Hughes could, and maybe should, have gotten their own yellow cards, there was 2 incidents in the 1st half that infuriated me.

    No 1: About the 20th minute we were attacking down near the England line, Haskell had made the tackle then held onto the Scotland player for about 3 seconds, released, then lay on the wrong side making no effort to move, hindering the scrum half – result was slow ball and no penalty.

    No 2: At the end of the half, Brown tackled the England player and the referee blew for penalty within half a second for not releasing. I actually yelled at the TV!

    I have accepted the result, come to terms that we were terrible on the day, but I am still livid about the refereeing performance and the fact that a ref who had never officiated a 6N game before was awarded this high pressure, high profile game.

    I have tried to stay measured in this post, I even took a bit of time to take stock and consider everything I could remember (don’t have the heart to watch it back), but it’s hard enough to play away from home against 15 men at this level, near impossible against 16.

    1. England dominated the ref as much as they dominated us.

      Having said that, perhaps the ref was swithering between yellow an red for Brown and subconsciously gave us feck all after that.

      1. Another ref might have given a red and the game was over in the first minute. Brown really did not make a huge effort to place him down.

        We should move on, the difference between the 2nd best team in the world at home and the newly arrived 5th which is compromised by injury is huge. We got tires on them and we could hardly hold onto the ball.

        We might be deflated, Vern, who is truly inspirational and the players will be inconsolable. Let’s get positive and look towards next week’s performance, as we say goodbye to Cotter.

    2. A fair assessment amongst the rage. I feel a little like after the match against Wales two years ago at murrayfield when Glen Jackson looked like a rabbit in the headlights in his first encounter. Ten minutes to go and SHC raced to the line and got closelined. He offloaded to Bennett I think and scored. He brought it back for the penalty as he said it was a forward pass yet could have had a look. it wasn’t forward. In doing so never gave a yellow for professional foul in try scoring opportunity. We take 8 mins to score then Wales and Big Jim waste another 2 mins with handbags. Not enough time to get another we needed to win. That was one incident, this was consistent throughout the match.

    3. There were a couple of moments where I thought the ref was a bit harsh on us, but I do think most of our angst about his performance was based on our sheer desperation at the nightmare unfolding before us. I take your points about those specific instances, Frazer, but to add a different perspective, I re-watched the Scotland-Wales game and Jonny Gray was consistently holding on to Wales players’ ankles (at several rucks) to prevent them moving. Totally illegal, totally deliberate (?professional?) and from our own saintly Jonny, no less. It seemed blatant to me, but Lacey didn’t pick up on it once. I think the ref is as influenced by the momentum of the game as anyone else, even though he shouldn’t be.

  22. I still reckon John Hardie was missed yesterday, Horne & Maitland should’ve been on the bench yesterday

    For Italy I’d go
    Hogg, Maitland, Jones, Dunbar, Seymour, Russell, Pygros
    Barclay, Watson, Du Preez, Gray, Gray, Fagarson, Brown, Reid

    However injuries will likely take their toll.

    1. Agree bar one: I’d keep Price. He has greater potential despite a rather erratic service at times, and needs to be given time.

      1. If I were the coach I’d bring Price on 30mins to go where his speed & style will likely be better suited.

        It was funny yesterday as our defence was previously tremendous, maybe England are the real deal (I’d previously doubted it)

        Given we are missing 1/2 a team 3 wins (fingers crossed) is a tremendous effort, so i truely hope we give Cotter, Hines, JOH the send off they deserve on Saturday

  23. So much for my comments about Bannockburn, more like Culloden. Was in pub with English fans and it was a return to the dark days I’m afraid , remember that game v Italy at Murrayfield? Anyway we need a top drawer performance next Saturday, if that happens then I am prepared to put yesterday’s margin of defeat down to a freakish set of circumstances. I hope I am right as I truly believe this is a squad that at full strength has got great potential and can be consistently top 6 in world rankings and a Six Nations threat. We need to take our current home form and competitiveness and Star t winning in intimidating venues like Dublin, Cardiff and of course Twickenham. That’s the next step we need Townshend to accomplish. Vern has laid strong foundations next is the breakthrough. Keep the faith guys

    1. This post sums up my view exactly – it is exactly where I am at. Yesterday was a blip…there is no denying Scotland’s progress under VC. I would start the same team to give them a chance to redeem themselves – we need them to have this chance…

    1. There’s a reason why it was 1983 since we last won there – pure psychology. I remember a game years ago that had a similar feel. Chalmers got injured early and the team fell apart. Whatever the reason we have a huge psychological block about playing at Twickenham. I see the same with my school sides every time we play Millfield. It’s about nerves, belief, fear and a mix of other emotions. Control is lost, time stands still, brains revert to reptilian survival mode. I thought our line speed was poor – sure sign of autopilot engaged – and confidence was sucked out of the squad in a matter of minutes. One for the sports psych attached to the squad to chew over…

      1. Rubbish. It’s a difficult place to go purely because England usually have a half-decent team (currently better than that).
        What’s the excuse for struggling in Cardiff? Or Paris?
        All this talk does is to exacerbate the small team mentality.
        Let’s just be content with beating Italy every other year if that’s all we’re good for?

  24. Bright side:

    The av age of the team is around 25.

    This game was over after 15 mins, everything that happened after was irrelevant.

    GT is coming in with enough time for the WC. If Maitland was not injured, the Visser call was wrong from the start. There’s more cause for hope in terms of tactics, player development and motivation from GT’s time at Glasgow than Cotter’s at Scotland.

    None of this team will make the Lions save for Hogg and possibly Jones. They’ll have to learn to play without him in OZ.

    There is a very simple, very obvious route to redemption. Beat England at Murrayfield next year. There is an entire year to build to that. Nothing has ever mattered more. If along the way and with that focus in mind, Glasgow can turn over Saracens, Hogg can star for the Lions and Scotland can snatch a couple of victories in Australia then that will help. But these players need to get this monkey of our back. There is no point turning up for the WC if they have not achieved that first. Turn this almighty shellacking into motivation. Beat England next year.

    1. Yep. I turned my TV off at 19mins – the game was done at that point. Will be fascinating to see how Gregor takes them forward. I’m not at all sad that few will go with The Lions. Most have time on their side and need to gel with the new coach and new structure. Let Gatland pick his team of straight running carriers and let them break themselves on Black shoulders. I’ll cheer on the Lions as we all will, but I won’t be upset to see a young Scottish squad left to develop down under.

    2. “This game was over after 15 mins, everything that happened after was irrelevant.”

      Having just spunked north of £600 on a weekend in London built around this game, I have to wholeheartedly disagree with the sentiment.

      1. Ref your disregard of psychology and claim that “All this talk does is to exacerbate the small team mentality.” – you have made the point exactly. When it comes to Twickenham that is exactly what we have. We play much better in all venues than we do at Twickenham. It is not just about a half decent English side at all. Any coach with experience knows full well the mental hurdle some sides have to overcome, and for many years now Scotland have failed to believe they can win at Twickenham.

  25. Agree that a few took themselves out of Lions consideration. This team is Warriors plus and Glasgow have shown they can get bullied and lose shape. Add the shuffling due to injuries and England clicking for the first time this 6N and you have a shellacking. I just hope we can perform next week and secure that third win and that the (painful) experience does result in learning for some of our young players.

  26. Hello Mr Administrator – apologies if I caused any offence with my previous point, not intended at all. I guess your removal of my comment kind of proves my point. Apologies once again and don’t worry I won’t comment again.

    1. Rob, you’re more than welcome to comment here all opinions are welcome as long as they don’t break the rules, and as far as I can see there has been no removal of your previous comment on the player ratings post.

  27. I managed 10 minutes then went out to enjoy the sun. Nae way I was watching that next to my England supporting other half !

    Everything that could go wrong, went wrong quickly and a battering was on the cards from that first yellow.

    Italy next week. Lets bounce back and get the winning BP.

    On the plus side it should mean less Lions to the Gatland slaughter and good touring squad for Scotland.

  28. OK, reality check. With the card, injuries and rejigged backline anytime, and the way England played, ANY of the other teams in the 6 Nations would have been beaten by a similar margin. Scotland stuck at it to the end and scored three tries. However, it will be a measure of the team to see how they bounce back and what if any psychological damage has been done. Injuries aside, I would follow Wales lead and select the same team, redemption and reward for the season will be order of the day.
    The bonus is I live in Sydney, and this result probably means that a stronger side will play Down Under, with less players likely to be on Lions duty. :-(

  29. I see Jones, Russell and R Gray are all injury concerns for the weekend. If this comes to pass, who comes in? Presumably Swinson will start, Toolis on the bench? Backline of Maitland, Hoyland, Scott, Dunbar, Visser, Horne, Price for me. Not ideal, but far from disastrous. Bench: Pyrgos, Weir, Kinghorn(?). I’m guessing perhaps du Preez will start if Wilson doesn’t make it, with Harley on the bench. I don’t think Kinghorn is even in the squad, but if those injured dln’t come through, i think the cupboard is short of a player, so someone’s going to need called in.

    1. I wonder if Johnie Beattie will be considered for Scotland again.

      He didn’t offer much in his last half dozen games and I have no idea how his form is now. He was a good player on his day.

  30. If all injuries come to pass our remaining official squad is:

    Allan, Berghan, Dell, Fagerson, Reid, Welsh
    Brown, Ford, McInally
    J. Gray, Gilchrist, Swinson, Toolis
    Barclay, Du Preez, Harley, Watson
    Price, Pyrgos, Weir
    Dunbar, Scott
    Hoyland, Maitland, Visser

    17 forwards and only 8 backs – so call ups needed for sure. I reckon we will see Vern call up any number of Grigg, Kinghorn, Horne, Jackson, Bradbury (injured?), Denton to train as a precaution unless we know straight away how many of those 6 doubts are going to make it.

    We should also consider the possibility that Brown could get cited and upgraded, but there is cover there for that.

      1. Naturally the English fans are screaming thrir heads off on twitter. Some are pretty much accusing Brown of attempted murder! He’ll get a ban similar to Matt Toomua which is reasonable and deserved. Rather disappointed at no citing for Haskell stiff arming Hogg to the head though. Disappointed but not surprised.

  31. I think I have calmed down enough to be reasonable.

    Italy will be the making or breaking, a resounding victory will prove that the resurgence is true and our humping by a very good England team was a mere blip and shows we can bounce back from poor performances. Losing to Italy proves we are really no better than we have been in the last few seasons.

    Injuries aside I would go for as much of the same again as possible, give them the chance to redeem themselves and rebuild their confidence. I was an advocate of Visser starting at the weekend but Maitland really should have been on the bench, impact players are all fine and well but surely the primary purpose of the bench is to cover for injury as best as you can? Maitland and Weir on the bench cover most positions. Maitland covers the back three, Jones can supposedly also cover there too (why didn’t he?) Russell can shuffle out to 12 if necessary and Weir covers 10.

    I think Brown needs another chance, not going to lie I was calling for his head given that his sole contributions in the first 15 were a yellow card and a lost line out. He is a very lucky boy that it wasn’t red.

    On the other controversial one, was it Hughes? I have to say I don’t think it was a yellow, it was a bit high but I don’t think it was late. I think some refs would have yellowed it which leads us to the inconsistency issue but it was a borderline / no one for me.

    Even if we had turned up with our A game I think we would have been soundly beaten by that England performance. What worried me though was the “rabbits in headlights” appearance from a lot of the players in the first quarter when it all went wrong. I said before the match that the team (deservedly) had confidence and had no reason to fear England, however that did just not come across.

    Russell is (probably rightfully) getting a lot of pelters but that’ s the flip side of a mercurial player such as him. I looked away when he threw that pass in our 22, and got flashbacks of Cusiter / Godman 10 years ago, but no one can deny we would be singing his praises if it came off and Jones or whoever got it ran the length of the pitch.

    Fagerson and co really need to concentrate on learning how to scrummage rather than getting involved in the handbags, that said I thought the scrum held up ok. I like handbags and getting a bit niggly with the opposition but there’s a right and wrong way of doing it, doing it to fluster the opposition works, doing it because you are flustered has the opposite effect.

    Did anyone see what actually happened to Hogg? He looked sprightly enough sprinting up the tunnel, I thought he was blood subbed for a burst lip or something at first?

    1. Some fair points. I completely agree re:redemption next weekend and going with the same group.
      One point I disagree on is Finn Russell. I’m sorry but I don’t accept the ‘mercurial’ argument. At this level you can’t have off and on days, certainly not to that extent. I like Finn Russell but I also am far from convinced that he should be held in the same light at Stuart Hogg.
      Hogg performs consistently with the same ingenuity and speed of thought that for Finn is considered mercurial and therefore something that you can dip in and out of.
      Finn is undoubtedly our No.10 for the foreseeable but let’s not elevate him to a status he is yet to achieve. For me, he is on a par with perhaps Richie Gray or Alex Dunbar – integral members of the team whose form can come and go.
      Not the likes of Hogg or Johnny Gray who by and large smash it week in, week out at Test level. I don’t accept that this is in any way to be expected because he is ‘mercurial’. The argument wouldn’t hold for someone playing tighthead.
      In fairness to Finn, he can’t hide at No.10 so he of course is picked out for (sometimes unfair) criticism. However, it’s a position that also gets the glory. Live by the sword…

      1. I understand what you are saying regarding Russell but Hoggy used to have days where he was pretty terrible and things didn’t come off but we stuck with him and now we have one of the best full-backs in world rugby.

        We have to stick together here and not batter our players from pillar to post saying that ‘we are back to the the old days’. This is a young team that have lost a match and will lose more matches in the future. Getting on their backs will not help anyone it will just erode confidence.

  32. Quite agree with WestCountryTA about Finn Russell. He has quite a way to go in terms of consistency and completing his skillset. He had a stinker on Saturday with the various errors liked missed touch, out on the full kick, and the dire drop goal attempt. Like most of the team he lacked composure on the day, but we can only wish him well in his future development.

    Saturday was a hard lesson; Scotland were thrashed by a very good England team. It was never going too be easy with the early yellow card, and the injuries, especially to Hogg, and Scotland did not help themselves with their mind set. There is no doubt that some of Scotland’s weaknesses were cruelly exposed, like defensive frailty and the lack of strength in depth. One positive you can take from the match though is the three well constructed tries.

    Scotland now have to remember what they have achieved in this Six Nations, namely two good wins against the strong teams that are Ireland and Wales and go all out to beat Italy next Saturday. There is still every possibility of finishing in the top half of the table!

  33. Now that I’ve calmed down and sobered up from Saturday thought I would try and post a more rational diatribe regarding everything that went wrong on Saturday.

    Firstly, it was me that introduced the term “Globogym” to describe the England side, but I did use inspiration from someone else who had used it to describe Saracens. It wasn’t meant to be derogatory in any way towards England but merely a humorous attempt at a collective noun for the England pack. Globogym did what we feared and ran all over the top of our pack, effectively nullifying any benefit of playing with 2 open sides and a very small 8. Regarding the size of the players, our back row was on average 18kg lighter and 8cm shorter than their counterparts. This was the main reason for their utter dominance over us. They walked right over the top of our back row (not always legally) at will and provided their half backs with a never ending supply of quick ball while slowing our ball.

    The culture in Scottish Rugby is fundamentally different regarding Globogym physiques and we have almost took the moral high ground at team like England and Wales filling their team with monsters, bemoaning anti-rugby as we face our latest loss after they run over the top of us. The last few years has saw Rugby players reach new heights of fitness and size and unfortunately we have been behind the curve (again) with this. We have assumed incorrectly that France and England would tire themselves out due to their size, but the converse was true, when we were dead on our feet at having to tackle bigger men coming at us with pace and aggression.

    We need to do more and to rethink our entire S&C strategy. Although there is a problem with undersized players (e.g. Stuart McInally for a 6ft3” front rower should really be at least 8-10kg heavier, likewise Ashe and Wilson in the back row are lacking bulk when compared to their peers Falteau, Heaslip, Moriarty etc. ) one thing I’ve noticed is that we seem to be lacking is explosive power. Ireland for instance show scarcely believable strength, guys like Paddy Jackson being able to successfully choke tackle back rowers 20kg heavier than him.

    We’ve made some big strides in the last few years, but need to make a good few more if we want to really be part of the top table.

    As for the game itself, it was the perfect storm of poor performance, yellow card (could have been red and led to the…), referee being unbelievably pro England for the rest of the game, injuries both prior to and during the game, players having to play out of position, and most importantly England having the game of their lives and the best they have played under Eddie Jones, best they have played maybe in 14 years. I think it can be written off as just hopefully an isolated, unacceptable performance with some harsh lessons to learn. Unfortunately it will put paid to any hopes of significant Scottish representation for the Lions – Dunbar and Russell ruling themselves out completely.

    Regroup, get some fresh legs in against Italy, go at them full steam ahead and take stock of how we’ve improved under Cotter. Get Musclefood deliveries of chicken addressed to Ritchie, Bradbury, McCallum, Fagerson, Cummings et al. New era for Scottish Rugby.

    1. Well said Andy. The team have taken a forward step under VC’s reign but Saturday was a wake-up call. We now have players with the skills for international rugby at the top level. Other countries have taken major steps forward in strength & conditioning and are well ahead of Scotland. The old adage of a good big ‘un always beating a good little ‘un still applies.
      The Calcutta Cup defeat will only be damaging if lessons aren’t learnt and applied. Contributions highlighting how the sport in Scotland can be taken forward should be welcomed. Scotland in the past has led the way in international coaching, national leagues and other innovations that have allowed the national team to outperform other countries with greater resources.

      1. I watch the All Blacks a lot on the net. Of the many things they do relentlessly well, their decision-making is second to none. They may scramble, but they don’t panic. Their last-gasp try against Ireland a couple of years ago summed them up. Trust in their own ability, trust in their team-mates and reliance on doing the basics well. When Savea got the ball on the right he could have gone for death or glory and been pushed into touch. He turned back to where the support was; eventually Crotty scored at the end of a long phase of play in which I don’t think an All Black even beat a man. They just ground on and on.
        When, and how, is that very deep seated confidence inculcated into these guys? And how do they produce backs who are so comfortable playing anywhere from stand – off to full-back? Is there something we could be doing?
        And that’s apart from being able to replace Dan Carter with Beauden Barrett!

    2. Good comments chaps. Much more measured than previous stuff. Can u explain Andy why we managed to win against what u see as a giant back row in Wales and get stuffed by the giant back row in England? It was basically the same back row. Watson shows huge amount of power and grunt in attack and defense so does Hardie for small men. Please explain if u can.

      Looked at an article in the London standard and the chap says Brown is still well worth taking on lions and Russell needs a good performance against italy to cement his place so perhaps someone out looking in has a more balanced view?

      1. I’d put a lot of saturday down to a porous midfield and a ref who didn’t allow us to compete as well as we have done previously at the breakdown rather than being simply outmuscled in the back row. However, a bigger more powerful back row might, just might, have mitigated the loss to a smaller margin.

      2. Hey Referendum, you’ll be a happy man today, eh? In response as to why our back row competed and arguably won the battle v Wales when they were a lighter trio, you need look no further than the way each match was reffed. That and the fact that England contested each breakdown far more aggressively and in greater numbers than Wales did. Both of Huw Jones’ tries came after lengthy phase play. As England continued to commit players to each breakdown in an attempt to slow our ball down space was developed in the wider channels to give Jones his opportunities and he took them well. In conversations with whoever before each and every rugby international, 6 nations or not, if asked as to how I think it might go I always respond by saying it totally depends on how it is refereed. M Reynal did not lose us the match last Sat but he was indeed a contributory factor in the scale of that defeat. He effectively neutered our back row and I cannot recall a single floor turnover effected by our trio.

  34. Hugely disappointing after such high hopes. Consistency needed.
    We ran into an unsweet chariot no doubt. However the maturity and composure in rallying at key moments in the wins over Ireland and Wales was starkly missing. Accepting the impact that injuries made the panic and sloppy play not what most of us could have envisaged from this group of players.

    Agree with some of the comments on Russell and yes some fine tuning required in his game management. Recall Townsend being
    similarly pilloried for forcing the game and slight of hand blips but preferable as both their mercurial talents have produced Scotland’s best rugby. Gregor steadied his game with the Lions in ’97,think Finn can do the same in NZ this summer with his X Factor rating a dire need to crack that nut. Proof required that shading Dan Carter(twice)and steering wins v Leicester was no fluke.

    Best riposte to Saturday a convincing win against Italy,hesitate to say taking them to the cleaners! More important for Scottish rugby that Glasgow play a belter away to Saracens in ERC semi,make it 2 out of 3 wins on English soil this year and restore some pride and our credibility against top class opposition.

  35. An off topic question but I was reading the match report for the u18’s match and a certain Cameron Redpath was mentioned scoring for England, I thought it may be a typo but when I checked the squads it was correct. Not only that but another that caught my eye was that of Fraser Dingwall. Both played for Scotland u18’s last year , so have we lost these boys to the auld enemy or is it just because they play in England at Sale and Northampton respectfully ?

  36. Interesting that Cotter quoted as saying this week is not all about his last week… but also the coaching staff and perhaps some of the players. Which players is he referring to? Does he already have knowledge of who GT is going go for in his squads?

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