Podcast Series 2 Episode 4 – Harry Potter & The Unused Bench

In the last spisode of the series Cammy, Rory and John look back at Scotland’s summer tour, wonder what Harry Potter teaches us about the Lions and have (several) rants about Warren Gatland.

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19 comments on “Podcast Series 2 Episode 4 – Harry Potter & The Unused Bench

  1. TeamCam on

    Regarding the ‘hands in the ruck’ comments on the failure of grand slam-winning players etc. to beat the ABs: I think you’re forgetting the quality of the coaching in deciding a team’s success. Look at Lancaster’s England vs. Jones’ England, or Johnson’s Scotland vs. Cotter’s Scotland, for example. Would the Lions have won with a different coach with the same squad? Would a different coach picked the same squad? Would the assistant coaches be the same? Obviously we can’t say, but there are a fair few players on the tour who are inferior to the Scottish players who could’ve gone in there place. I don’t think our best players would look out of place with the best that the other three nations have to offer.

    • Cammy Black on

      I think you’re right but Rory’s point was more that until Scotland get some consistency it’s hard to get too uppity about our guys getting overlooked

      • TeamCam on

        Which is a fair point, but then when has Payne or Te’o or Sinckler etc. ever been consistently top-drawer? Or even ever top-drawer? When was the last time that North strung together even two good performances? I think that my issue is that, as far as I can tell, there’s no logical pattern to the players Gatland et al. have selected at any point in this tour. Parisse consistently plays in losing sides, but if he were eligible there’d be no-one questioning his inclusion. Same with Naks. So it’s not even necessarily about being in a team that wins consistently, it’s more “I like this player/the look of this player so he’s in”, which is fine, but don’t then spout nonsense about picking on form or class or consistency or that even the lowest-placed home nations team in the 6N should still have 8 Lions players.

        Anyway, as ever an entertaining podcast, and I for one am looking forward to more of Standing-Leg-Gait in the next few tests and into next season!

      • Stouff on

        The thing I have constantly said is so frustrating is the Scottish players are held to a different standard to the others. The slightest mistake or misstep is pounced upon and used as a cudgel to beat our boys down with. How else can you explain the media spin over the Hurricanes game where Henderson carried well but had a brain fart and cost us the game, yet is being touted as test match material, whereas Seymour has 2 chances and gets two tries and that’s somehow not enough to merit test selection. What more could he have done? I thought scoring tries was what wingers were supposed to do, but clearly scoring against the easiest side the Lions faced and making 2 half breaks against the Crusaders is preferable to actually dotting down behind the whitewash. And then there’s Gatland saying he was going to pick on form and results in the 6n, and then crucifying us for an away loss, when the only team to lose at home other than Italy was Wales. Again, held to a different standard. I’ve been a Lions fan for years but this is really stretching my patience. And to be told, ‘get over it’, ‘we’re all one team now so it’s just whinging’ and the rest, and then look at the petulant nature of the English press against the ‘Geography 6’ really makes me mad.

      • Ross on

        Have to agree with Stouff, really a bit annoyed about how Seymour has been treated. I will grant you, I have not seen every minute of his game time, but I had a look at the stats and this is how it looks.

        He’s started 3 games. The first game against the Babas he wasn’t great. But neither was anyone, they were all completely jet lagged. My memory is that he was ok, better than Hogg and Laidlaw and miles better than Sexton. I am of a mind to excuse all of those players in that game to an extent if the stories coming out about how bad the jet lag was are to be believed.

        He then started another midweek game where he scored a try. I didnt see the game so I can’t comment on his performance. I did see his intercept try and it was exceptionally well taken I thought.

        He then came off the bench in the next game and made that storming run and then passed the ball forward, which wasn’t very good.

        Then he started his 3rd game and scored a brace. And yet on Tuesday and Wednesday I read two articles which said that he had made amends a bit for a lacklustre tour or similar, and that he was ‘never threatening the test team’. 3 starts (one of which could arguably be forgiven) and 3 tries, 2 of which were a fair bit of work and not just as a result of being in the right place at the right time.

  2. Frazer on

    I love the SRB podcasts, always informative, light hearted, and a perfect way to while away an hour!

    I am going to take the opportunity to have a bit of a rant now so bear with…

    When Gatland was appointed I said to my friend at the time that it was the wrong appointment for a number of reasons. I argued that his style of play would have little impact against the All Blacks and that we needed a more progressive coach, someone willing to try and play expansive rugby – McCall, Cotter or Schmidt for example. I said at the time he would fill his coaching team with ‘yes men’, who subscribed to the same style of play as him – and so it has come to pass (Howley as attack coach????). I said that he would show a bias to Welsh players, and a bias against Scottish players.

    Before I bang on about the players selected, I should say that I have tried to be as measured as possible but I will look at this from a Scottish supporter’s POV.

    At the time I had serious misgivings about several players selected. Sinckler and Te’o were mystifying because they had little International experience. Warburton, Biggar, North, AWJ, and Henderson looked to be out of form, still coming back from injury, or were (in my eyes) just not good enough. Even Laidlaw, after he was called up when Youngs unfortunately had to withdraw, I didn’t feel he merited a place over Danny Care – it felt he was included to boost the Scots contingent and he had little chance of actually featuring.

    In fairness, Henderson and Biggar have played pretty well, even Sinckler has been decent, but the rest of the players I had doubts over haven’t exactly set the heather on fire.

    Who would I like to have seen on tour instead of the aforementioneds? Russell should have gone instead of Biggar, even Ford was playing better than him. Launchbury should definitely have been there ahead of Henderson and AWJ, possible even J. Gray – although I can see why he wasn’t selected. Watson was in great form and should certainly have gone ahead of Warburton, and Ringrose should have gone instead of Te’o.

    We have all had a bit of a moan at the lack of Scottish players included, but injuries to key players had an impact on the representation. Had Nel, Taylor, Jones, and Maitland not been injured I reckon all 4 of those would have toured, however I reckon Seymour wouldn’t have.

    Now to the tour itself. I was raging mad that Toonie and O’Halloran were offered the role of Howley’s assistant, and I was chuffed to bits they both told them where to go, even though there would be no Scottish voice in the coaches meetings. I was also fuming that Dr Robson was left off the tour, although I hear that this is because he has issue with North and his many concussions. I read that Gatland would take note of what Clive Woodward had done and learn from the mistake of having a distinct and separate dirttracker team – seems to me he has done exactly what SCW did. I also made the error in thinking that he would pick players based on merit, if that was the case why was AWJ even in the Test 23, let alone starting? Surely it should have been 2 from Lawes, Kruis and Itoje. Why is Sexton in the 23? Much as I dislike him Biggar has played far better than Sexton. Why isn’t Seymour even being considered for the 23? He’s not played any worse than Watson or Daly, and he’s top scorer in the touring party, even when playing directly against Naholo and Milner-Skudder – and that’s not even counting the one he may have been awarded when he was held up just short.

    I’m not even going to start on the 6 players called up or I would go on all night, suffice to say that they have all been treated shockingly, and Gatland’s decision to call up Russell was probably the defining factor in Scotland dropping down the World rankings, but maybe he’d already considered that.

    The Wales game in this years 6N is the game I have most wanted to win for a long time, but if we can really hammer them in Cardiff next year it’ll be like all my birthdays at once.

    Anyway, rant over, and I feel loads better for getting some things off my chest! Oh, and sorry for such a long post!

    • JohnMc on

      Good post, Frazer.
      I’ve been quite active on BBC HYS (with a different user name) in recent days challenging some of the anti-Scots and ignore-the-Scots posts. I haven’t seen anything derogatory about us from Irish posters, and tbf I haven’t seen much from the England fans (apart from the obvious trolls) that we’d deem unfair. In fact, most England posters have been pretty sympathetic to the Scots’ posters contributions.
      And then there’s the Welsh, most of whom are objective and fair in their posts and want to engage in a genuine discussion about Lions selection, tactics etc. But some of whom are insufferable, one-eyed, anti-Scots numpties. So much so that I almost don’t mind if we lose to England and Ireland in next year’s 6N (as long as we play well of course), if we can just stuff Wales in Cardiff out of sight. On quick reflection, of course I’d love us to beat Ire and Eng into the bargain, but let’s just stuff the Welsh as a priority next year please, Toonie!

  3. Jamie on

    The only scots I would have picked for the lions tour (assuming no injuries would have been the following:
    Huw Jones
    WP Nel

    The only other maybe was Watson but that’s just a 50/50 call between those already on tour and experience means I’d have taken them over Watson. I don’t think anyone else can be justified being included given the Calibre of players left behind, Hartley, Launch, Brown, Zebo, Ashton, May, Care, Ford etc.

    6/7 scots would have been a fair reflection and I doubt anyone would have complained had these guys all been picked. Of course 4 of these guys were injured most of the seaso. so really the final selection was about right, Russell excluded.

    On a side note, Scots need to kick on this year, win against oz at home convincingly with our full strength team, and win one of Ireland or Wales away and try come 3rd or higher.

  4. Jamie on

    P.s very excited to see how Glasgow and Edinburgh do this season. Glasgows pack and backs look awesome and I think they’ll go latter stages in both competitions. I reckon Edinburgh with that squad will come 7th. I suspect they’ve told Cockerill that and he can further rebuild squad next year if they make Champions Cup.

  5. Alanyst on

    4 things I’ve learnt from the Lions tour:

    1 – Gatland is a terrible short-term team coach. Tactics, player selection etc are all bonkers. Maybe he is stronger in long term as he has presided over one of Wales’ more successful periods, so not a bad coach necessarily but a poor choice for the Lions tour.

    2 – “Pacific Islands A” (aka All Blacks TM) vs “British Isles A” would be a fair test if British Isles A had had more than a few weeks together to gel. New Zealand is conveniently located within an impoverished zone of rugby-playing willing migrants; the UK/Ireland is not!

    3 – The AB spin machine is the best in the game — The notion of Kiwi “champagne rugby” is supported only by the occasional brief effervescences. Their game is founded on one ethic alone – win at whatever cost it takes. You name it they’ll do it if they think it will help get the win…

    4 – In contrast, the only ethic the Lions managment have is profit….so the team is selected to maximise this. In particular the TV ratings — England is by far the biggest market, then Ireland, Wales then Scotland dead last. Winning is not very important to their financial model…

    Pacific Islands A and Lions aside, the rest of rugby is developing into a nicely competitive international environment — last weekend I saw 4th ranked vs 15th and 5th v 10th with very little in either game — There’s hope yet of 12 competitive teams in the RWC19 pool stages.

  6. Ross on

    I feel really very sorry for Finn. He’s one of his countries most high profile players, developing quicker and having a stormer of a year with M0tM worthy (or close to) performances against Ireland, Wales, Italy and Australia this year. There would have been few serious complaints if he has been picked to tour originally.

    As its happened he’s been pulled out of his summer tour to go sit on the bench for two games (and apparently not been made to feel welcome in the camp along with the other 5). Now he’s got 4 mins and become an official Lion, only to be effectively labelled after the game as devaluing the shirt. Before being promptly sent home. How’s that gotta feel?

    Now he has to sit through 4 years of anyone who wants to slight him being able to mock him for ‘not being a real lion’, ending up as the butt of a joke or the answer to the pub quiz question ‘which BIL has only played 4 minutes’, or told he was just a mercenary who was going along to fill a space and get the cash.

    To a lesser extent I also have sympathy for Dell, who also became an official lion but isn’t as high profile as Russell, and for the other 4 Welsh guys who have also been put in this position.

    If there’s any positives to take its that everyone realises this is unfair on them, so no reasonable people can blame him. By not being picked originally he’s also had the chance to go play a couple of blinders against Italy and Aus and get a bit more respect consistency wise, where he would likely have been consigned to midweek games and a style of play that doesn’t suit him had he gone to begin with.

    On a side point, have noted a number of stories coming out about Gatland and his team being quite unpleasant to the players recently. Talk of how the Geo6 have been treated, Ryan Grant’s chat in the BBC about Rowntree today and also Stephen Ferris on the Rugby Pod this week recounting getting injured in training during the 2009 tour when he was nailed on for a test spot and Gatland walking up to him at the treatment table, patting him on the leg and saying ‘you’ll learn from this’. Em, what?

  7. Andrew cairns on

    Enjoying this. The whitewash by sky, the media etc is risible. I keep hearing about the fact we need tries. Yet the top scorer is not even on the bench. Can you imagine if this was a football tournament and the top scorer isn’t even on the bench !

  8. Mikelinds on

    Anything other than a series win, of which there are two hopes, one of which is Bob, and that, thankfully that will be the end of Fatland and most of his team as Lions coaches.

    There’s a well made point that really we don’t want National Coaches to do the Lions. So an outsider next time, Cotter anyone?

  9. Kate on

    Ooh yes! I think Vern would make a good Lions coach – great shout!
    While I am coming off Rant Mode on another forum, is it terrible to confess I don’t care if the Lions win or lose now?
    I would have backed them had no Scots been picked because no Scots were up to the mark but not to give your top try scorer a Test place – even were it on the bench- is daft. Not to use your bench when your players are clearly knackered and thus settle for a draw when a win was….well, winnable is, again, daft. And when you add in the terms Gatland has used to describe those called up late, as if none – not one- were worthy of that call up, and my disgust is total. Sorry, guys, call it petty, unsporting, whatever but there you go.

  10. Andy C on

    Not terrible at all Kate. It’s almost spiteful the way it’s handled. It’s not as if Nowell is so far ahead of Seymour, who in his last two games as played as well as any and is better under the high ball then most

    • JohnMc on

      Jack Nowell is a very good player. He’s not however a certain first team starter for England, which is fine so far as it goes as England are powerful and have great depth from 1 to 15. What he isn’t is better than our first on the team sheet wing Tommy Seymour. He hasn’t played as well as Tommy on this tour overall – both were indifferent in the early games tbf – as it has moved on.
      Sorry to have to predict this, but if the Lions by some miracle tomorrow win the second Test and there are no injuries in the back three, Tommy won’t get a start or a seat on the bench for the decider. And if as seems likely Laidlaw neither starts nor benches for the third Test either, then we Scots can really let rip because it would be the first time in the entire history of the Lions that no Scot has been capped in a Test.
      On reflection, not even Gatland would want to be stigmatised for ever for that, so maybe win or lose tomorrow one of our lads will get ten minutes or so in what’s likely to be a dead rubber.

      • Frazer on

        I believe that the AB’s will win tomorrow, and win with a fair bit to spare. Then for the 3rd Test Gatland will play something like this team – Vunipola, Owens, Sinckler, Lawes, Itoje, O’Mahoney (c), Tipuric, Faletau, Webb, Farrell, Daly, Te’o, Davies, Nowell, Williams, Subs – George, McGrath, Furlong, Henderson, Stander, Murray, Sexton, SEYMOUR….with a token 10 minutes for Tommy just to keep the Jocks sweet!

        This, however, will not be enough to prevent another tanking at the hands of the AB’s.

  11. Jamie on

    Nowhere else to put this. Just spend today watching the Southern Kings and Cheetahs on Sky. Both teams will definitely add value. I think both are better than the blues or Edinburgh. Certainly look top 6 sides, which is good for the league, and it will bring more money for Glasgow and Edinburgh to keep their best players.

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