Scottish Rugby Blog

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion

Ben Toolis
Ben Toolis celebrates a great win - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography Photo Credit: Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Thanks to everyone who has been a reader or commenter over the last ten years we’ve been covering Scottish rugby. It feels like a pretty long road but it has been a blast, and it is great to see the lows finally turning into highs for the national team, and for the Pro Teams.

Do you have any rugby-related resolutions?

What are you hoping for in Scottish rugby this year: a grand slam? A Calcutta Cup win? PRO14 win? World Series, World Cup or Commonwealth Sevens wins? New podcast jingles? The Super Six making sense?

All the best to you and yours for 2018

Rory, Al, Cammy and the team

44 Responses

  1. Happy new year all!

    I think a big sucsess and what im hoping we can do is for Scotland to get into the top 2 in Six nations.

    Edinburgh to reach the playoffs

    Glasgow to Execute their game plan and skills well and reach the Final.

    Sevens i would like to see a team of regulars playing well for each other and linking nicely, get consistently back in the cup stages.

    A slightly longer monthly podcast mabey covering news and games when the big tournaments are not on would be nice.

  2. Health , happiness and success to all.

    I am hoping for a front row seat at Scotstoun on the 28th February and I do not want to miss a single high kick at the national universities cheerleading championships. Would somebody stop me please.

    Hic &*%$£^^”

  3. For me 2018 is a huge year for Scottish rugby. I would say that Wales in Cardiff is the biggest game for Scotland in, at least, a generation. Beating Australia is one thing, winning a big six nations game away from home is the next step. My fear is that other teams will work us out and this is another false dawn. I hope not for the players and fans.

    I think anything less than a final for Glasgow is a failure and a step backwards under Rennie.

    Don’t see much of Edinburgh but a Challenge Cup win or a European Cup place next season will be an improvement and it seems Cockerill is doing a great job.

    Exciting times to be a Scotland rugby fan, can’t wait for the action to get started.

    1. Absolutely right. Since the start of the 6Ns Scotland have only won TWO away games, excluding victories against Italy (Wales 2002; Ireland 2010). That is one hell of a monkey on our back.

      So, Cardiff is huge. Win and we have a reasonably good bet at home against France before we play England at home with potentially some momentum and a puncher’s chance. We could be going to Dublin 3/3 and competing for a title.

      Lose and there is a good chance we’ll we fighting to avoid the wooden spoon, momentum being the golden rule in the 6N.

      Scotland simply have to confirm their progress as this group of players are nearing their peak and we need to raise the ambitions of Scottish rugby before their stars begin to wane.

      1. FF: All the best to you in 2018. There will be new stars prop ing up all the time :) I see it as a short life in rugby these days , albeit they can amass a load of caps quickly.

        With Cockerell in charge we should see some old style Leicester forwards emerging from Edinburgh, we have always been good on forward agility, poor on power, guile and flyboyness.

        Not sure about Rennies future , I think it is going well however suspect he is a jorneyman. Think he gets results short term but in the long run, but give me stern Vern anyday.

        Scottish rugby is in by far the best place it has been for years and as long as they keep listening to us, what can go wrong !! :)

        In seriousness now, your point is well made, we need to beat the boyos and I hope we hammer them. I suspect Townsend needs this as well.

        The biggest issue for Scotland is injuries in the 6N and I feel you get less of them when you are winning. No talk of fine margins and all that, only wins will do this year.

      2. Really agree on the influence we hope Cockerill will have on the Edinburgh pack. I think in:

        Sutherland/the other 3
        Bradbury/Du Preez

        He’s got all the raw materials to forge forwards with a level of size, grit and aggression that you don’t normally see in our packs. I’ve only named the Scots above as well and most are either in their prime or yet to reach it! Just need another younger option at hooked as Fordy and Cochrane wind down.

      3. Rennie is apparently being lined up to take over Wales after the RWC. They had been trying to recruit him when Gatland went on the Lions tour but we snuck in and got him from under their noses.

  4. Scotland team by end of 2018.


    Sutherland, Brown, Z.Fagerson, J.Gray, M.Fagerson, G.Horne, Hastings, Mayland.

  5. Well Scrummo, assuming you haven’t been at the advocaat ……..




    Wilson/Du Preez?

    Visser?? – forgotten about but still a remarkable try scoring record.

    Longwell??? I know he plays for Ayr but how does he make the breakthrough (considering he WON’T play in the 6N) by the AI in 10months??

    1. I think Nel has a massive amount to prove in terms of fitness and a return to form before we can consider him again.

      R.Gray similar but I think Cockerill will mould the Edinburgh pairing into a very capable all round unit.

      I like Marfo but think Bhatti could be exceptional.

      I think Ritchie, Smith, Bradbury and M.Fagerson will push out Wilson and Du Preez.

      I like Visser but I just think the others are better all round options and we have enough threat and try scoring in our backs not to need an out and out poacher.

      There is a dearth of Scottish tightheads at the moment beyond Fagerson with Berghan looking solid at best, Nel crocked, McCallum still developing and needed on the other side at the moment and Welsh and Rae unfavoured. Longwell is massive and a truly destructive scrummager who I’d like to see get a chance. I’ll admit this one is a long shot though. ;)

      1. What is the rest of longwells game like ? can he only scrum or does he have to the fitness, skills and all round ability and drive to make it on the international stage ?

      1. I’m not sure if you’re serious or taking the p…

        Unfortunately for every Welsh or Reid there is a Beavon or a McQuillan.

      2. Always deadly serious! Ashamed to admit I have little clue about goings on in Prem 1 ore elsewhere further south due to a lack of time and geographic proximity…

  6. Fine retort sir.

    I reckon R.Gray was starting to show a “different” side to his game (especially v Wales last year).

    Marfo looked like he was shaping up to be excellent in the AI.

    I have to admit to having a “soft spot” for Du Preez – brutal, destructive with the hands of a 2nd 5/8.

    1. Aye you could be right about Gray, competition in the second row is going to be intense!

      I have to say I do like a player who can bounce people off at pace. I am a big fan of Denton. Du Preez can do the same but like you say has much, much better hands. I actually think the younger Fagerson will come through to usurp all of them as he carries hard but brings that ‘can play anywhere across the backrow’ skillset that coaches love.

      Marfo is a cult hero sort of figure for sure. Shame he hasn’t been fit as if he’d carried on his international form he might have cemented his place at Edinburgh.

  7. Happy New Year in return to the SR Blog team and all the Blog users. Thanks very much for the regular stream of articles and the podcasts. The blog’s a great place to visit whether just to read or to comment and debate. Also good to see new people joining in on comments.
    Great work, lads.

  8. Great stuff and well done to all the writers and contributors at SRB. Here is to another year of highs, lows and controversial player ratings!!

    Looking back, 2017 was a real high point for Scottish Rugby – 2 wins against Oz, 3 Six nations wins, new players emerging. Lets hope that continues in ’18……!

  9. Happy New Year everyone!

    For 2018, I am hoping to witness Scotland’s continued positive team and game development…win against England, win against wales.

  10. Belated Happy New Year Scottish Rugby Blog and Scottish Rugby fans. Thanks for all your work in 2017 and long may it continue.

  11. Happy New Year to all at the SR blog. Loving your work guys!

    2017 has been the most positive year for Scottish rugby that I can remember for years. Onwards and upwards in 2018!

  12. I have only ONE wish for 2018, should the New Year Fairy be minded to grant it – a WIN in Cardiff. That by some distance over and above anything else. Get that, and it’s game on for the 6N.

      1. Just noticed that Zach Mercer went to Merchiston. English born, brought through England junior levels and now at Bath. Had we been a greater force I wonder if he could have been turned?

        Good and bad sign to see the English are trying to snap up our players. Shows that our development and youth identification systems are working. However the RFU are able to throw big money offers down and the SRU must find a permanent solution to combat this (e.g you’ll have a better chance of playing international rugby with us). Scottish Qualified launch was always going to provoke a backlash I guess.

      2. Zach Mercer played for Scotland u-18s didn’t he? Pretty sure he is bona fide English so can’t be too sore about losing him.

        Problem is to get Contracts in English academies and teams as young players, they need to be EQ. Vellacott may just be keeping his options open but if he is offered a place in the England team he isn’t likely to turn down a £22,000 match fee. Also he was born and raised in England I believe?

      3. I think Jones might just be playing mind games. Publically we should just smile and take the complement that he is interested in players on the fringes of our system. Then behind the scenes the powers that be should be having a serious chat with these guys about their future plans.

  13. Graham, 0n the other hand, was born and brought up in Scotland with his dad playing for the team. He only qualifies for England through the residency rule. No idea what’s going on in that boy’s head.

    1. Yeah can’t be too sore about missing out on Mercer. Graham is quite a disappointing one though.He’s going to be in such hot competition to keep his place in the England squad and I worry for his international career with this move. Vellacott will be another sore one. Hope this doesn’t continue and the SRU are effectively fighting back for this kind of talent.

  14. Happy New Year, everyone!

    I would be satisfied with a win in Wales, but only if the rest of the season was not pre-ordained. I.e. I wouldn’t be satisfied with a win in Wales if we knew it meant we’d only win one other 6N game, for example.

    A win in Wales would need to be a springboard for further success to make it a good year.

  15. Does anyone know if Scotland has contacted him? Is his father persona non grata with SRU?
    It seems crazy to me that we recruit Hamilton from Leicester yet no word of young Graham at any point.
    Is there a hidden agenda here? Only guessing.

    1. I think it is more that Graham has been plucked from relative obscurity by Jones. First season for Newcastle and has only played a handful of games. Previously spent a few years with Jersey and before that Gala. So he isn’t exactly a premiership marquee player – I think most England fans are scratching their heads about this one. It isn’t really clear if he is any good or not – anyone seen him play?

  16. We have been doing a bit of it ourselves , loads of our lads were qualified to play elsewhere Marfo, Huw Jones and Luke Hamilton to name just a few recent accquisitions.

    We cannot win them all . So lets not focus on the ones that get away and celebrate what we have plundered.

    1. Jones on his own would suffice actually. Top drawer. Personally I’m not bothered about the poison dwarf’s antics, and I very much doubt Toonie will be.

      I would trade proven quality, Jones, over Vellacott (nice to have) any day of the week. Right now Horne jnr is working within our system and we should be capable of pushing him along at the right speed.

  17. For clarity, I am well aware that Jones is NOT a SH, more along the lines of snapping up unconsidered trifles.

    1. I shall be there with the missus. Can’t decide which I want more. A victory in the Calcutta Cup or a FU to Gatland after the Lions insults.

  18. Ignoring so-far unconfirmed AIs, New Years resolutions should be…

    Win these key games:

    Wales V Scotland — Home/Away adjusted rankings puts them 1 pt ahead but they are on the wane and we are on the rise — so the reality is probably approaching 50/50. Absolutely winnable if we play well. This game is the difference between progress and “par”.

    Scotland V France — Home/Away adjusted rankings puts us 9 pts ahead, so should be a clear win for us, but they are nonetheless a talent-rich and physical outfit and danger still lurks.

    Avoid slipping on these banana skins:

    Italy v Scotland
    USA v Scotland
    Canada v Scotland

    Despite being away these should all be comfortable wins, with 10 ranking points difference or more.

    Win one of these:

    Scotland v England:
    Home/Away adjusted rankings puts them about 4 pts ahead…A tough ask but we need to make Murrayfield a place to fear visiting…after last year’s debacle, a key match for developing global perceptions.

    Ireland v Scotland:
    Home/Away adjusted rankings puts them about 5 pts ahead…Arguably an even tougher ask to pinch one in Dublin, but far from impossible. Strategically important going into RWC pool.

    On balance then, 7 wins would be spectacular, 6 is well above expectations, 5 is good progress, 4 is par, 3 or less represents a backward step.

  19. Thanks to all concerned in writing the blog and recording the podcast. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

    I want to see any player pulling on a blue jersey, for any of our representative sides, playing like they are having the best time of their lives. If you are happy with what you are doing then you are able to express yourself more freely.

    If the players are capable of doing this then I expect to see a couple of away wins in the Men’s tournament, and at least 1 home win. The games against Italy, Wales and France are winnable. The games against Ireland and England are probably longer odds for a win, but as mentioned above, momentum is everything in the 6N.

    I would hope that the Women’s and U20s’ sides follow the same pattern. They may not win more games, but there is more depth to the playing pool, and the trend has been for games to be closer, and for Scottish teams to score more tries than in previous years. This echoes the Men’s team, and we have all seen the progress made there.

    Post 6N? Glasgow to win the Pro14, Edinburgh to progress as far as possible in the Challenge Cup, and sneak in the league play offs if they can.

    Internationals? Just get through the 6N first, then reassess injuries/form for the rest of the year.

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