Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland Player Ratings vs England

Huw Jones
Huw Jones - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

After the dust settles on the first decent Calcutta Cup match in years, and a Scotland win to boot, here’s how I rated the Scotland players.

SPOILER: there are no zeros this time round…

15. Stuart Hogg: never got the chance to fully cut loose, however he kept the English defence honest and was solid in defence. The nature of his talent is such that opposition will actively work to keep him out of the game, however this means opportunities arises for others. 7.5/10

14. Tommy Seymour: a really solid performance with hard running at the English defence.  Went off with a sore looking leg injury and could be a doubt for Dublin, however a good day at the office and a vast improvement on recent showings. 7/10

13. Huw Jones: Outstanding.  Two well taken tries, the second in particular being out of the very top drawer. Almost had a third but it went to Maitland in the end. Fingers will be pointed at a weak English defence but Jones is the sort of player that wins games. 13 tackles, and made more metres (133) than anyone else – he alone accounted for about a third of the metres made by Scotland and was double England’s top carrier Jonny May. Quickly becoming world class. 9/10

12. Pete Horne: Has really taken his chance at 12 in the absence of Dunbar. So very solid in defence and does the right thing in attack. Not spectacular – he leaves that to Finn – but a brilliant effort, a real team player. The only complaint was a poor pass in the second half which butchered a potential bonus point try opportunity. 8.5/10

11. Sean Maitland: Another good performance, another good try. Gave the English no rest and has cemented his position back in the starting XV with one of his best Scotland performances. 8/10

10. Finn Russell: Welcome back Finn! On this form he’s world class and very difficult to contain. Consistency is not always his friend but those calling for his head after the last couple of games really need to consider how today would have gone without him. Took risks, lots of risks, however it was those risky passes which negated the English rush defence – just watch him during that Maitland try start to finish. If he plays this good against Ireland it’s game on for the tournament. 9.5/10

9. Greig Laidlaw: Another very solid performance from the little general. Historically has gotten a barrel load of grief for slowing the game down, however he has come back and pitched the tempo very very well – it’s all about context. Has the ability to mix the tempo up and still has a lot to offer Scotland. 8/10

1. Gordon Reid: Once again solid, carried well and defended like a trojan. The scrum was earmarked as a weak point in each of the last three games and in each of these they’ve been solid. Reid did everything you could realistically want from a prop and can be very pleased with another very good shift. 7.5/10

2. Stuart McInally: Rambo has been a revelation since the Autumn Internationals. Generally good at the set piece and hugely dynamic in the loose, he played another 80 minutes and never stopped working – witness the turnover on 77 minutes. He is the perfect fit for the brand of rugby to which Scotland aspire – 8/10

3. Simon Berghan: nearly played another 80 minutes (came off after 70) and backed up his brilliant shift against the French with another against England. Was remarkably strong at the scrum and was very solid in the loose.  He is another player who has really stepped up over the last 6 months. 7.5/10

4. Grant Gilchrist: A couple of silly penalties aside this was a performance of huge heart, with a dogged determination to do the dirty work.  His efforts help set the foundation for others to shine but maybe wasn’t as good as against France. 7.5/10 

5. Jonny Gray: As usual the top tackler on the park, making 20 stops and forming the central part of a concrete defence. His appetite for work is second to none, and today he made his more vaunted opposite number, Itoje, look decidedly under-powered – 8/10

6. John Barclay (capt): The captains performance we all wanted: 3 vital turnovers and put in a performance that went a long way to making up from the last two games where he has been poor. On this form at the breakdown he’s almost unplayable and was central to a back three who humbled their opposite numbers. At some point this week Barclay may let the English back row out of his pocket – 9/10

7. Hamish Watson: Pinball must be an absolute nightmare to play against! Almost impossible to stop with ball in hand and his work at the breakdown is class. His performance, along with Barclay, was the difference between the sides today. You can’t help but love watching him go about his work. – 9/10

8. Ryan Wilson: Would have been an 8 based on performance whilst on the park, however he get’s a bonus point for picking the fight with Farrell in the tunnel, good work Sir! Not always been his biggest fan but has been in great form recently and this was another cracking performance. – 9/10


16. Scott Lawson: Hey, he did a lovely job at keeping the bench warm and at least never got a chance to be the match assassin – NA/10

17. Jamie Bhatti: Had 25 minutes and continued his good form. Scrum remained solid and carried well in the loose. 7/10

18. WP Nel: Only played 10 minutes but helped win a scrum penalty in that time. Welcome back! – 6.5/10

19. Tim Swinson: Another to play 25 minutes and did everything which was asked of him – 7/10

20. David Denton: Only on for 12 minutes but never let the side down – 6/10

21. Ali Price: Came on for last 20 minutes and, to his credit, kept up Laidlaw’s game plan.  He’ll learn from playing with Laidlaw and be better for it – 7/10

22. Nick Grigg: On for the last few minutes and carried well on a couple of opportunities with a huge tackle – 7/10

23. Blair Kinghorn: Debut off the bench for the last fifteen minutes. Didn’t have much to do aside from a couple of tackles, but that young man will have a cracker of night tonight you suspect! – 6/10

154 Responses

  1. Was Barclays influence more to do with refereeing interpretation or him changing his game slightly to more in line with what ref wanted last two weeks?

    They did their homework on ref which was crucial. Well done lads.

    1. My view is a certain synergy in how the game should be played…i.e. on your feet, ball to be competed for.

      Too many refs consider the ball to “belong” to the attacking team..

      1. Looking back on some of the turnovers and Barclays it looks like he has touched the ground slightly with his hands when he comes across so it’s possible that the referee was the biggest difference.

        In saying that it was minimal and nothing as blatant as offside Global gym. That really is a disgrace just because they are all way offside its allowed to happen.

  2. Isn’t it great when arrogant English ex wingers on another podcast tell us how England can beat Scotland whatever way we want to play because they are better than us all over the field? Then stresses how ‘flaky’ super Finn is? Can you ask him to tell us when England brings their excellent stand-off George Ford on…… oh sorry, he was on!! Just to clarify, Shug Jones intends to run in the Olympic 100 metres with both Mike Brown & Anthony Watson on his back!

    1. To be fair to Ugo Monye, he congratulated Scotland and tweeted about eating ‘humble pie’ after the match. Will be interesting to listen to his podcast when it comes out…

  3. What impressed me about Maitland was how powerfully he ran. Although he really made a clean break he really took some stopping.

    Laidlaw comfortably reestablished himself as Scotland’s #1 scrum half. Gonna be some three-way dogfight to see who is top of the pile come the World Cup.

    A few more performances like that and a fewer like Cardiff will see Russell hailed as world class by opposition fans and not just Weegies.

    After this 6N the front row suddenly looks like a source of unparalleled depth. We have three full front rows of test quality.

    McInally looks like he could become the next Lions hooker if he keeps up this form. Thank God the SRU snagged Cockerill.

    Finally, now we can start bringing through players into a winning confident test side. We can really push on to become consistent challengers in the 6N for years to come 2when guys like McCallum, Cummings, Ritchie, Fagerson, Horne, Hastings, Graham etc. are pushing through for test players.

    Looking forward to the next decade of Scottish rugby. Take a bow Dodson, Cotter, Townshend et al.

    1. First time I’ve seen Maitland back himself to go without cutting inside at the last minute in a long time!

      3 proper good tightheads, Nel, Berghan, Fagerson, then Jon Welsh plus McCallum and D’Arcy Rae.

      On the other side Reid, Allan, Marfo, Bhatti, Sutherland, and Dickinson if he comes back after injury.

      McInally could captain the summer tour of Barclay is getting some time off, his form is tremendous. If Brown gets back to full fitness and doesn’t have any further head injuries he’s number 2 with Turner and Ford fighting over third place.

      It has been a tremendous progression in the past 5 years.

    2. It’s not so long ago the SRU was getting pelters for their decisions…but boy has Dodson & co done a great job getting scottish rugby to catch up to the professional era….to the point where other nations are taking note of us. A far cry from where we were at 5 yrs ago.

  4. The ratings for the backs are just about right however I think we might be robbing the forwards of 0.5 . The foundation of Finn’s magic was the consistent ball and a solid scrum. The English pack were a lot heavier and the scrum was firm all game long.

    I was concerned when Price replaced Laidlaw. I think the gap is wider than the 7 point rating would suggest (if we were comparing man to man). England managed to get it together in the 2nd half and started better than us but we closed the game out and that former weakness is now becoming business as usual.

    1. I think you could be right there remember the concerns about how their much heavier back row would blow us away at the breakdown? Well it was them that was blowing! Same in the scrum where a 40kg advantage meant nothing! Same in the line out where there was parity with their much vaunted locks!

  5. I’d give McInally more than an 8, thought he was immense again. Played the full 80 and still had the energy and ferocity to win a turnover penalty right at the death. One of these players, like Peter Horne, whose intelligence shines through. Was shocked at the way Horne butchered that overlap, not like him. I noticed Dan Parks tweeted his congrats to the team and Russell, calling him ‘pal’. Looks like the mentoring started after the Wales and France matches.

    It’s been a good weekend with the u20 side and edinburgh also winning.

    1. McInally is improving rapidly at test level. Im struggling to think of a better player in his position right now.

      Brown is very good too..but McInally is that and far more disciplined…and can play an entire top level test match at the same pace.

  6. Hope all the guys were well covered when HRH and the 1st Minister went to see them in the changing room after the game!

  7. Scotland was superb, but I mentioned in the build-up that a wee bit of luck wouldn’t go amiss in two areas: the bounce of the ball and the ref’s decisions at key moments. I think it’s fair to say that did happen with the ricochet (kick?!) through by Jones for his first try and a couple of Owens’ decisions, particularly the Danny Care intercept non-try after he penalised Launchbury (rightly, I might add, but it’s the kind of decision that could easily have gone the other way).

    1. Agreed, but all in all Nigel Owens had a good and fair game not calling on the video ref too many times. He played advantage several times for both teams to let the game flow. That amounts to confident refereeing.

    2. I don’t think you can call the Huw Jones try 1 lucky. As pointed out elsewhere, we score too many tries from grubbers for it to be luck. It’s a brilliant tactic that works and keeps the defence uncertain.

      1. I’m not saying it was a lucky try, NRS. What luck there was was engineered. However, I think it’s clear that when Jones shins it through that the ball could easily have squirted in a different direction.

        Murray, I also agree with you. Owens had a very good game. I just think he made a couple of calls that could have gone the other way.

      2. I agree. Don’t think it was lucky. Penalty advantage = intention to try a play. Lot of skill in what Huw Jones did. And if it was even a smidge ‘lucky’ then it was much less so than Teddy Thomas’ second try at Murrayfield (the bounce which took it passed Laidlaw). And I don’t recall anyone calling that try lucky.

  8. Definitely more for everyone hear especially McInally, Swinson, Horne and Neil.
    I’d give everyone at least a 9.5 that was a fabulous 23 man performance.!
    What a game, I’d give the crowd a 9.5 also, atmosphere was tremendous!

    1. Here’s the thing though. We butchered a 3 on 1, we lost too many lineouts. We conceded a scrum penalty, we failed to clear our lines twice (leading to a try) and we didn’t attack with the same verve and get over the gain line in the 2nd half as they did in the 1st. I say this only because we haven’t yet seen the best of this team – That for me is the truly exciting thing – when we get it all right it will be 9.5’s all round – and when we do especially if its at Murrayfield, there is not a team in the world we couldn’t beat.

      1. And this particular view shows how many mistakes are made in an excellent performance. It’s about not compounding errors and making more good than bad decisions. Not dwelling on the past but the present. So u don’t need to be perfect you need to be that bit better when it matters.

        Great post.

  9. I have to say that earlier in the series I expressed doubts about Gregor. But now is the time for large slices of humble pie. This was a brilliant combined effort between team and coaching staff, led very shrewdly by Gregor. He is right, though, that we must learn to win without the extra man which is the Murrayfield crowd. Then we really will be there.

    1. This is going to be a difficult point to make without offending some.

      I am a bit concerned about talk of humble pie, that is bad Craik. Nobody should feel any shame about a negative response to the Wales game.

      On Planet Earth every nation but the welsh were behind Scotland and we got it wrong.

      England showed up and played good rugby , came out after half time and had a go. It was a great game and they only came second.

      We went to Wales and were completely overwhelmed we lost both halfs it was not close, it was humiliation.

      Bad teams dont become good overnight and vice versa as has been commented in recent weeks. How right you were.

      We have just beaten the world’s second ranked side and were humped by what was the 7th ranked side and we dont really know why?

      I am not condoning asking for resignations etc. there was a mass over reaction. We should not feel any disloyalty for expressing disapointment and demanding answers. The best sides dont do the same things over and over again and hope for a different result.

      We are right back in it and everyone (except the Irish) wants us to deal with Ireland.

      Those questions have not gone away, it is just the wrong time to demand answers.

  10. Really fascinating this home V away thing, the 2 big away games in last year have been England and Wales (teams we have/had dispatched comfortably in Edinburgh) both games were uncomfortable to say the least, mental tackles going in, impetuousness resulting in heavy defeats. In Edinburgh we are starting to have a very impressive record, very interesting to see what happens in Dublin. We have better backs than them, not saying we are going to win but at the very least it should be a proper test match.

  11. So fellow Scotland fans; if Tommy’s injury is as bad as it looks do we go for the form, talent and ability of Blair Kinghorn or the experience of Tim Visser for Ireland.

    For me it’s a no-brainer. Kinghorn is a far superior player to both these players. Kinghorn has made the most meters and beaten the most defenders in the pro14 and already has 8 tries this season. I know we need to protect are younger players but everyone has to make their 1st start at some point and the guy is ready.

    1. Don’t forget the aerial bombardment that Ireland play … who is best to cope with it? Visser or Kinghorn?

    2. Has Kinghorn played much on the wing? Seems a big ask to play him out of position.

      But you never know which Visser you are going to get. The wrecking ball one, or the disinterested one?

    3. I quite like the idea of a Kinghorn, Maitland and Hogg back three. All are comfortable at fullback and could interchange around a bit to keep the opposition guessing.

      1. Its a tough call. Kinghorn’s all round game has huge potential. He is the type of player GT likes to see on the wing as he can interchange. He has rapidly improved at pro14 level ..maybe he will be same at test level. He didn’t put a foot wrong when he came on and made his tackles.
        Visser has big game experience and is a very good finisher…but can also go missing.
        Would like to have seen Kinghorn gain more test game time before playing that kind of match. Is very good at the high ball though….and thats Ireland’s goto play.

    4. The only real options to come in for Seymour if he is ruled out are; Kinghorn, Visser and Lee Jones.

      Lee Jones just doesn’t have enough to his game to be a top international. I’m a huge admirer of Tim Visser but he is very often either world class or ominous for the entire match and can struggle defensively and under high balls(Ireland’s main strength) – do we really want to play with 14 men against Ireland if he is not on it.

      Blair Kinghorn’s stats this season are unreal. He has gained the most metres, beaten the most defenders and has the joint 2nd most clean breaks this season in the Pro14 and has 8 tries this season. He has the pace, trickery and skills to play on the wing and most of the tries he has scored have been true winger like tries. Out of the 3 options available he is the most suitable to take on Ireland with his height and ability under the high-ball and follow our game-plan and has earned his chance so I hope he is given his chance over Visser and Lee Jones.

      1. Blake I’m a bit Kinghorn fan also but I think the key point is that his quality and stats this year have come from fullback, that’s where he’s played most of his rugby and his best rugby since at least when I started watching him in the u20s 2 years ago. Combined with his international experience I cant see him starting.

        He has earned his chance but not need to baptise him with fire. Bench against Ireland and potential starting against Italy. He’s 21 so he has plenty of time.

        My money is on Visser or McGuigan if he’s fit again. Let’s also not rule out Seymour making fitness.

      2. Blake W: What are the stats on Visser in the AP this season? It would be useful to compare . They may or may not be as favourable , but once you have them the question has to be are they significantly better or worse?

        Let me give you one fact about visser, 6 feet 4 , 222 lb’s, 33 caps (30 starts) and 14 tries. Circa 1 try every 2 caps.

        Bryan Habana is a truelly ‘world class’ winger (whatever that means) and is 67/124 not much better than Visser.

        Kinghorn 6 ft 5 and 1 cap (no starts) obviously no tries.

        You just cannot get away from the facts, Visser can cross the line and does so for Quins as well.

        Kinghorn was in the England 23 and Visser is not that is fact. You are safer gambling your reputation that he will get picked on that fact than trying to say Visser should not get picked as he has the occasional bad game, after all , they all have bad games.

        From what I recall you have been a sterling defender of Finn Russell and John Barclay this 6N, why not show the same grace to Visser who has demostrated his consistency in crossing the line for Scotland!

      3. Visser has scored 8 tries this season same as Kinghorn. He is the incumbent, for whatever reason, rightly or wrongly so it is Kinghorn’s to lose. I dont really get the point of this comment , seems to be opinion about the next game and not celebrating the win.Good work on the fact based assessment BD.

      4. To add to Bulldog’s point about bad games, it wasn’t that long ago (end of last season) that Kinghorn’s performances were being criticised as not up to scratch and not worthy of international call up just yet.

        I say that as someone who has always been a big fan. I just think we can slide one way or another too often as fans to saying players are rubbish or infallible, when in reality none of these options are either.

    5. I think it will be Kinghorn. The other possibilities haven’t trained with the team and are unlikely to be ready in time.

      1. Correct, just made that point myself , it is more likely than less likely he will go with same squad.

      2. Maybe question should be if Kinghorn starts who comes on to the bench? Actually might change my argument here. Maybe Visser starts and Kinghorn covers the majority of the backline from the bench.

  12. Incredible game and performance. The whole pack should take a bow.

    Before the game, I really wouldn’t have thought many of our forwards would make it into a combined side. I thought England’s pack would blast us away. But we contained them, and picked our moments to force a turnover. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an ineffective English maul.

    We’ve seen our forwards hold their own against England and New Zealand. We now know what they are capable of, even against bigger packs. The challenge for them is to play like that every time.

    I don’t really want to highlight individuals in a fantastic collective performance, but Rambo has been a revelation. I’m a big Fraser Brown fan but Rambo’s form this season makes him first choice.

    Lastly, I still think this side is a couple of years off peaking. If they continue to develop and learn, we could be in for a great world cup. Exciting times, and as a relatively old guy who suffered through some dark days (decades) as a fan, I’m going to enjoy it.

    1. Second pretty much everything you say here. Rambo to me is up there with George and Cronin as the best hookers in the home nations this season. Just need to do it away from home.

  13. I advocate for Little Greig to get a bonus point for post match drunken strip in da club. Truly inspiring.

  14. One thing’s for sure I will enjoy watching Andy Nicol creaming his tartan boxers for the rest of the 6 nations and beyond on the back of this titanic result.

  15. Every time I re-watch Finn’s pass over Joseph’s head I still feel slightly queasy. It’s really worth watching the reaction of the 1014 guys as they watch the build-up to that try (using their Second Screen format). I’d watch it from 50:00. The reaction of one of the presenters (Steve, a Kiwi) to that pass is priceless.

  16. Watched the game again, still in disbelief that we won. Tremendous defence performance with unremitting hard work at the break down were the main factors in this win. Our forwards simply outplayed England’s, a outcome that I absolutely did not expect. Our error rate and discipline were outstanding.
    Ireland away from home will be a tough gig. I suspect the 15 will be unchanged bar Seymour’s likely unavailability due to injury. I would replace him with Kinghorn who has been in fabulous form for Edinburgh and should be safe under the high ball. I might also swap Grigg for Horne. Grigg offers the attacking power that might be needed against the Irish.

    1. I rate Kinghorn very highly as a 15/10 but honestly not sure he is suited to being a winger at international level. Surely we would be better bringing someone like Rory Hughes or Lee Jones?

      1. Rory Hughes is like the 5th or 6th choice winger at Glasgow – would rather a top-class versatile full-back than a rubbish winger to start on the wing and Lee Jones has hardly had a spectacular career and does not have enough to his game to be a decent international player

      2. Blake, I’d suggest you dial back the strength of your opinions if you want people to take your posts seriously.

        You make some very good points, but undermine them by making sweepingly dismissive and inconsistent judgements about players and some of your fellow fans.

        Lee Jones played superbly against New Zealand in November and is a fine player. I find it frustrating when excellent professionals are simply dismissed as ‘not international class’. Even pragmatically we don’t have enough professionals in the Scottish system to dismiss anyone. It also doesn’t allow for development in the future or growth through experience.

    2. There isn’t much that is ‘clever’ in starting a rookie in the cauldron of Dublin. He’d be targeted relentlessly by Ireland and a bad game could be a real set back to his development. Given some of the horrible errors I’ve seen him make for Edingburgh, I’d suspect GT would want more experience against Irelend. Happy to go with GT’s judgement, so we’ll see, but I’d be shocked if GT played Kinghorn at anything other than replacement in the 6N. Has to be Visser or Jones.

      1. I think you’re probably right, PO.

        What a start to Kinghorn’s international career! Coming off the bench to see out a convincing Calcutta Cup win.

      2. Andrew, not sure if this is what you are getting at, but I look forward to the new generation who have developed surrounded by success and used to winning.

        For all the grit of the “auld yins” there must still be that mental 2% of self doubt from decades of losing.

      3. Much easier coming into a match with the edge and up by 12 points with much to hold to. Great he got to enjoy such a wonderful debut but Visser is ur man for Ireland. We needs tries and he’ll finish them off.

      4. Sorry, I wasn’t too clear. Basically, I was trying to say what both you and Referendum were saying: a) I’m not sure Kinghorn should/will start against Ireland; b) it will be great for newcomers not to be burdened with years of defeat.

      5. …on the other hand though…Kinghorn is great at counter attacking …and that is what we’ll be doing for large parts.

  17. The Ireland match will be very tough. Ireland are excellent at the breakdown…much better than England. Our backs are more talented though. Different tactics needed for sure. It’ll all come down to the forward packs….that’ll decide if our backs get to play or not.
    Still, if we can continue to improve, and for me thats the best thing..I think we can. Ireland are in for a real scrap too. I think they already believe they’ll come out on top and the England match is the decider for them.

    NZ bring great intensity to every match ..home or away… that what makes them so formidable. Every team still can only aspire to that level. If we can learn to reach and sustain that mentality we’ll see the success we hope for.

    1. Yes the Irish pundits do believe that. On Irish TV their view was that Scotland played well especially at the breakdown, but England were poor. They think Scotland have had their big performance of the year. Let them think that..


  18. England dominated on field and off by Scotland.

    Ryan Wilson proved that our arseholes are better than their arseholes.

  19. Would love to know if Cockerill was working behind the scenes giving tips to the Edinburgh forwards, or involved in anyway within the Scottish camp before the match. He must have a lot of knowledge on the England players from analysing the premiership teams over the years.

    In saying that though, it looked like the English forwards were exhausted and under powered from the pace and tempo we played at.

    1. Dunno about that….If I were Cockerill I wounldnt tell Scotland Jack. I wouldn’t tell England Jack…so got to expect vice versa.

      Of course Cockerill is coaching a scottish club side so achieve success he has to depart his knowledge onto players who carry on to national stage.

  20. Great review of the players. Definitely agree with your thoughts on Ali Price. Hopefully he’ll learn a lot from Gregg Laidlaw. I’m so glad there was no zeros this year.

    1. ..maybe Laidlaw is learning from Price too. He definately mixed the speed of delivery up nicely v England.

  21. Fantastic result, a real momentum builder. I thought Huw, Finn, Rambo, Barclay and Watson were world class. Although Wilson brings some real Dog to the Scottish Pack, I think we need to develop that mongrel edge.

    As a front rower, I thought Berghan again was great, for a tighthead to go through that much work and be solid in setpiece is a real positive. Fagerson has a lot of talent, however Berghan has the edge for me. Fagerson is possibly the worst enforcer in world rugby and his set piece is solid as best.
    Gordon Reid, did his job. The man with chicken legs, days are numbered in the Scotland Jersey. For me, he needs to do more. He had 2 good carries and was a bit disconnected in defence. Looking forward to Jamie Bhatti getting his chance, a braw laddie with a lot of talent and has a real mongrel edge.

    1. Bit harsh on Fagerson and Reid…but get what you are saying.

      Fagerson is still young and improving and will be great one day. Berghan has taken his opportunity and jumped ahead though. Maybe a wake up to Fagerson to improve more and faster.

      Reid gives everything to the jersey and team…I like him. He isn’t the 1st choice LH..but he is effective at test level in what he is good at.

    2. Gordon Reid has never been a popular choice for many, but he’s massively underrated, and a bloody strong prop. As soon as some of the others prove they can stop the scrums going backwards (Bhatti / Dell) then maybe it’s time to change.

      1. Dell and Bhatti are probably the future as they are the sort of mobile prop everyone likes nowadays. Still there is a lot to be said for holding your end of the scrum up and Reid never let’s us down and should keep the shirt until we know someone else will be as solid for us as he is at scrum time. Sutherland could be the best of the bunch of course and we’re assuming Dickinson won’t return at the same level. Marfo was superb in the Autumn but will need to play at that level for Edinburgh once fit again as I think he got his chance due to injury rather than form but fair play he capitalised.

    3. Fagerson has lots of dog, just because he doesn’t stamp on the heads of international teammates doesn’t mean he has no edge.

      1. Agree, a loosehead in the modern game needs to offer more than just set piece. Gordy Reid hasn’t let the side down, but agree that he’s probably about 4th choice, in my opinion.

        Disagree that Fagerson offers a lot of dog. Picking a fight with anyone isn’t dog.However, he’s got the potential to be one of best tightheads in the game.

        Great to have Tim Swinson back, NOW THATS A MONGUL.

  22. Watched the press conferences after the game. Scotland had a very good game plan but the players quickly tweaked it on the pitch when they realised that the English forwards weren’t committing numbers to the rucks and the ball was there to be pinched. Really smart rugby and if everyone is playing heads up rugby like that then the future is really rosy. Of course the Irish will compete better there so we’ll need another plan for that game but we’ve a couple of weeks to dream that up.

    1. Ireland much better attacking team than England we will have to tackle were hearts out as they are well callable of double figures of attacking phases with and pace.

      1. Irelands game seems to be based on possession and multiple phase attack. Like you say, we’ll have to tackle with intensity but intelligently and efficiently. I think if do that and counter attack with real purpose…and are clinical…we’ll soon see how good Ireland actually are. Basically play our natural game…and play it to a very high standard.

  23. I watched the French and Italy match on Friday and it was really poor. They are clearly way behind the other four teams. I just can’t see how France can contain England at all. Had France hung on against Ireland we’d be having an amazingly tight five way battle now.

    I think it’s likely that we’ll have another mixed performance this year somewhere so we have to be ready not to throw the toys out again. This team can be hot and cold but is clearly doing much more good than bad. We’re building caps and experience across the board and can close out games.

    I don’t think Ireland will be our stinker though. We could do with getting ahead again. But Wales showed vulnerability in Ireland. An exciting match to come

    1. France axed some of their best players for that match because of the post game issues after Sco match…they were not at full strength. eg T Thomas looked the best player Sco have faced in this comp so far. They are transitional under new coaching staff. There were signs vs Sco that they were on the journey to re-finding their natural style. Where Sco were a couple of years back. They will be a real threat once they get into gear….similar to SA…people writing them off are jumping the gun imo. They have the player and sport resources.

  24. I’m a bit late to the party here but have just managed to view a highlights clip on YouTube. Gotta say that Huw Jones’s second try was simply sensational. How many centres in today’s international game could have had the pace, strength, skill and confidence to finish from that far out – with the added bonus of two white shirts hanging off him like Christmas tree decorations?

    Re Wilson, have always said he has the dog in him but I thought the muzzle was usually taken off after the warm up and return to the dressing room. Laughed mao!

  25. I think what feels so good is how suddenly everything seems in place and developing. It’s a win on the way up, not a fluke or a mess.

    We have Townsend, Rennie & Cockerill in place. Dodson making the right moves [*waits for angry shouting..] and the squad for what 2 World Cup cycles?

    1. Reid/Marfo/Sutherland/Bhatti/McCallum, 2. McInally/Brown/Turner, 3. Nel/Berghan/Fagerson/Nicol, 4. Gray/Toolis/Hunter-Hill, 5. R.Gray/Gilchrist/Cummings, 6. Barclay/Bradbury/Ritchie/Fagerson, 7. Watson/Hardie/Ritchie/Fagerson, 8.Wilson/Denton/Strauss/Fagerson/Bradbury, 9. Laidlaw/Price/G.Horne/SHC, 10. Russell/Horne/Hastings, 11. Maitland etc., 12. Dunbar/Taylor/Horne, 13. Jones/Bennett/Scott, 14. Seymour/Visser/Graham/Hoyland, 15. Hogg/Kinghorn/Jackson. Sure I’ve forgotten loads, but maybe add in a few projects: Kebble/Gibbins/Johnson and possibles: Redpath, Blade Thomson. Just need to keep the bulk of the team playing together week in and out!

    Laidlaw, Russell, Hogg to Horne, Hastings, Kinghorn.

    It should be stunning against Ireland. Look at the midfield. Hope it’s a sunny day.

    Stranger things have happened under GT than Kinghorn starting and Graham stepping up from training to the bench…

    P.S. Have already seen England fans calling for Cotter to be appointed… lol

    1. Lol…classic England fan defensive reaction to a defeat. Sack the coach!
      Very intelligent…go right ahead England…you are soo right…you are the best in the world and should win every match! #sarcasm

  26. Got to say, critical as I have been of Russell’s kicking, his vision, passing and running ball in hand is outstanding…when he is focussed he is right there with NZs Barrett. Just needs consistency in his focus.

    G Ford’s face at end of match…priceless. ‘sorry boss!….their 10 is just way better than me…and he’s scottish hoo’

  27. Today’s big question is how is Greg Laidlaw after allegedly being led astray by Finn Russell on Saturday night. Has anyone seen him up and about? With that many brain cells damaged does he need a HIA and a return to play protocol?

    1. Bad form lads. Professional athletes and excessive alcohol consuption do not go together. Some of the American Football teams have a total ban on drinking, and will fine a player who even walks into a bar.

  28. Big points to whoever posted the photo of them both looking the worse for wear on Facebook (Scottish Rugby Forum) this morning. They’s removed it by midday

    1. I feared he might after it was shown that he scraped his hand across the face of Hughes. However, hopefully the full incident will be played through and Hughes was hardly innocent considering he was trying to strangle Wilson at the time.

      1. Its 12 weeks for low end making contact with the eye. Really hope we don’t lose him for the next 2 games and the Glasgow run in as he’s going really well at the moment.

    2. To be honest I can see why, but Hughes could have been cited too and it’s really just fuss over nothing.

      1. It doesn’t look good in slow mo but these things never do. If they choose to go tough then they will claim contact with the eye area, but you might think being throttled would be considered as mitigating circumstances. However, if the panel is dominated by English blazers as usual then he’s up against it. And let’s be honest, he can’t really claim the Ford/Gray “exemplorary previous conduct” line. I know we can replace him with plenty of other good 8s (Strauss, Denton, Ashe) but he is exactly the kind of player for the trip to Ireland.

    3. WTF? For what, the scuffle in the tunnel or the face slap on Hughes whilst being throttled? What an effing joke. What’s the betting we get an all Ireland judging panel who deem it (whatever ‘it’ is!) to be a serious offence requiring numerous weeks suspended.

      1. I can see why too but if you have someone the size of Hughes squashing down on you, and you are upside down, it would be extremely difficult to have too much coordination in your efforts to defend yourself.
        It is possible the citing relates to whatever sparked the incident off which the tv camera missed.
        My final point, which is hardly rumpole of the bailey, is there was no mark showing on Hughes face which you would expect if someone dragged their nails across your face.
        4 weeks prediction, sap to the English and you made a great point re Irish judges.

      2. Just sounds like England throwing their toys out of the stroller/pram.
        they never can take a loss with dignity.

  29. I expect a surge of babies called Finn in about 9 months time…

    What a game Finn Russell had. He is Scotland’s MVP and flew under the radar with Hogg ripping apart defences on counter attack for fun, but the games against Australia show without Hogg you can still cut teams apart with Finn at 10.

    For him to be playing like that and seem almost nonchalant, confident but not in a cocky way in the post match interview was excellent to see. He has truly been at the heart of Scotland’s attacking game and in the few games he’s not played we have lacked his flair.

    I am optimistic about going to Ireland. It will be hard, but the game at the weekend shows there’s no such thing as inevitable in rugby. Scotland will be underdogs going into that because of their previous away form and I think that is probably for the best.

    Ireland will be looking to bring the hammer down and squash any attack out of us, which they’re more than capable of doing, but I have belief in the players and the coaches they will go out and give it one hell of a crack.

    I wonder if Townsend will stick with the team that toppled England (barring injury or disciplinary) as a show of confidence/reward for their performance or will he make many changes?

    1. Will be interesting which path GT goes down for the Ire match. Ire will obviously study up on what Scotland did and didn’t do vs Eng and will adjust accordingly. I think there may be some enforced changes anyway…Seymour & Wilson. Think the focus needs to be much more varied than the breakdown…as Ire are good there…and so the selection may reflect that. Its a tough one as consistent selections produce better long term results I think.

      1. I think we might have bought ourselves some space with that England game. You have to feel teams won’t rush up Finn so much now. Chuck in a Denton and Dunbar to run hard and straight. Have to feel Hogg, Jones etc in the backline will exploit any extra room. It’s a win win.

  30. Let’s talk about Ryan Wilson for a sec. See he has now been cited for the Hughes incident, but let’s sidestep for that a moment.

    Three times in the match English players went for him hard. Farrell in the tunnel and Hughes twice scrapping on the ground. 37th and 67th minutes. Is he just the player everyone hates, or has he said something to Ford in the tunnel that’s got the English up in arms?

    On a related note, Farrell seemed to have no cool about him at times. Tunnel plus a couple of reckless tackles that just managed to stay below the neck-line. I don’t watch him often, so maybe he just has that edge about him (but then why call him the ice-man? Just for the place kicking?), but he seemed riled, whether that was the occasion or something else.

    Oh and on the Wilson citing. It’s a shame, he will probably go down for it given his record. Whilst he fully deserves that record (and may well deserve more for what he gets away with unseen) when someone has you at the neck like that and they don’t get cited whilst you do for what could well have been trying to push him off, that’s a bit harsh imo.

    Itoje was also at his mischievous best on Saturday. He does that well but my god it’s annoying as an opposition fan.

    1. Itoje, Brown, Farrell…they’ve a few of those players you love to hate as an opposition fan. And God does it feel good to beat them :).

      1. I dunno…Brown I think is past his usefulness…playing badly for Quins and England…I’d say he’s feeling pretty beaten.

        Farrell did have to endure the World Cup…and has shown resilience.

        Head-boy Itoje hasn’t really been tested either at Saracens or England…It’s easy to be confident off the back of wins…lets see how he fares once exposed to a string of defeats…

        #backingblue (and bleu and azzuri)

      2. Brown simply isn’t that good…England have no real depth at 15 so he plays.

        Farrell is a good player…probably their best player…but he is a hot head and can be wound up pretty easily.

        Itoje…meh…dont get all the fuss over him. Doesn’t do anything remarkable …athletic lock..who seems to get away with alot of dubious stuff during a match.

    2. I think it is precisely beacuse of his record that they target him. The same way we went after Farrell with little niggles because based on track record they know there’s a chance the discipline slips and you get a penalty or a card out of it. Wilson has actually done very well to improve his discipline in a Scotland shirt.

      1. I don’t doubt for a moment that Wilson is chirping away at the opposition all the way through the match (and before!) and up to all sorts of mischief at the bottom of rucks. That’s part of his charm and value.

        Just seen the ‘new’ footage from the tunnel incident. Its Farrell barging past Wilson that seems to start it, but it doesn’t look like anything much at all.

  31. Oh and kudos to Brodie for nailing the prediction on the pod. Said we would get a reaction from Barclay and Russell this week. Boy did we! Superb.

    1. 36th min 50 secs.

      Looking at it in my opinion it’s minimal contact with the face. He grabs the shirt straight after as if he is just trying to grab at something to keep Hughes at bay.

      He’s clearly has a poor record which can’t be helpful but I can’t see this as clear and obvious. But not getting Hughes cited too is poor.

      I reckon its fifty fifty this one whether a ban is enforced.

      And it’s nothing to do with pre match. You can’t use that with a separate incident without saying so.

      1. Thanks, got it now. Brian Moore trying to make something of it, looked like a lovers tiff and neither seemed concerned when pulled up by NO. Not up on those rules but if Wilson wanted to , he could have got him in the eye , I suggest he chose not to, but that will make no difference.

      2. I agree he was trying to grab something for leverage not Gauge an eye. Had he wanted to cause real damage then it was easier to do it that not in that situation.

        However if the law is contact of the eye area as Brian said then he could be in trouble not cause of the action but more with the law wording which will be there to deter anything getting near the eyes in the first place.

        Why I say it’s fifty fifty which way the ruling lands.

      3. Is it too cynical to suggest that the one game you don’t want to get cited before, is the Irish one?

      4. The tribunal is a Kangaroo Court and the decision to cite is virtually a conviction itself…

        The “independent” citing commissioner has the panel’s backing and their decision will be supported by World Rugby.

        I can’t remember a player who “got off” entirely.

        It may be got down to 2 or 3 weeks so may be back for Italy.

      5. Analyst i heard the minimum punishment is a 4 week ban – hope sense prevails and he is not punished.

      6. Can’t say I’m too bothered if they choose to ban Wilson… He has played well however we also have Denton, Strauss and Bradbury who could all do the job at 8…arguably better too.

      7. Hi Blake,

        I think the 4 weeks is “low end entry point” which I believe means the committee can reduce or increase from there according to circumstances.

        Happy to be corrected of course…

        Once cited, it’s hard to see how they can go back against the video footage..its pretty clear that contact was made with the eye area…

        Also, would a “1 week” suspension mean he just misses this week’s Glasgow game? Or does it have to be an international?

      8. Analyst – yes I believe one week would mean just the Glasgow match, given that he would be perfectly entitled to play in that match without a ban.

        However, can’t see 4 week minimum being reduced, only ever really done so for good previous behaviour. Wilson can’t claim that, to put things mildly.

      9. Maximum reduction is 50% so the minimum ban is 2 weeks. Glasgow game will count (Ireland have set the precedent with Healy on that one!) Wilson has no red cards and no previous upheld citings as far as I can see so should probably be able to get maximum mitigation.

  32. I don’t have a problem with the citing – hand was in the region of the eyes and that’s the law (although a shorter ban than actual contact). I do have a problem with the English player not also being cited for clearly holding him down by the throat.

  33. We’ll not be seeing Wilson for the next 2 six nations games I fear and totally agree with others about the mitigating circumstances. However, it is true that we have good cover at 8 so not too disastrous really

    1. Wilson would be a big loss for Ireland. He isn’t popular on here which I can understand: Batman, silly yellow cards and dare I say not being Billy Vunipola or Talupe Falateu….

      I would be interested to know how bad his disciplinary record on the pitch actually is- anyone know? My feeling is his disciplinary record post 2015 is pretty good- I would wager Barclay has received more yellows at club and country level since then.

      If fit, he is nearly always selected now at club and international level. I guess Rennie and Townsend see his virtues more than some fans.

      I hope he isn’t banned for Ireland as he is exactly the sort of player and leader we need on the pitch. I also think the citing is spurious. Perhaps ask the citing commissioner to make the decision again with Nathan Hughes on top of him and throttling him.

      1. Picking up on his handling just think about what an issue we had in fielding restarts a couple of years back. On Saturday Ryan took them all and I didn’t have my heart in my mouth once. He will be a big miss, but as others have said we have options and two weeks to adjust.

  34. The tunnel, felt like the BBC making something, I hope it just goes away , I would hate it to escalate.

    Citing , Just get it over quickly, I do think there is an appeal process after the decision and I do think some have won their appeal (cannot recall the details) but it is disruptive.

    Where is FF ? He is always good with assessments and recollection .

    Either way, it mutes Wilson. If he does get away he will need to be on his best behaviour and Ireland will provoke him, Wayne Barnes (Barrister) will take the safest option on the pitch. So maybe we need to accept he is out for Ireland.

    I am probably wrong on this, however I have started, is it not in Engand’s interest for us to beat Ireland and make their last match have a meaningful outcome ? I see no benefit in english cynicism .

    1. Sonja McLaughlan was on the Five Live Rugby podcast stating that it “must” have been the Scotland players provoking Farrell. Because Farrell’s not known for being a petulant little hot head. Disappointing that the BBC tries to support the RFU in this instead of staying out of it. I’m all for reporting the facts, but there’s no need for her to make baseless accusations.

      As for Wilson, yes he can be really good, but he’s still a liability. Presumably Toonie et al. like him because of his handling skills and other unquantifiable attributes, but it’s not the end of the world if he’s not playing. Last time we played in Dublin Ireland won by taking advantage of a dubious (being generous here – it was flat out wrong) yellow card against Barclay, and had Owens seen the alleged ‘rake’ at the time I suspect Wilson would have been sent off and the game would most likely have been won by England. Against Ireland, assuming Sexton doesn’t have a glute issue, we need to be disciplined.

      It’s in England’s interest and it’s nothing to do with them, I think – the citing commissioner is French. It’s just that the ‘offence’ is weak as. Just like when Ashton got banned for 10 weeks for what seemed to be clearly accidental contact with the same area in the tackle. Absolutely nothing in it, and he gets 10 weeks. Then, this year, that fathead Sinckler gets 7 weeks for a blatant gouge. The citing and disciplinary processes are a joke. Still.

      1. I think Sonja was wrong to make such a thing of it in the first place, the BBC have made this into something and they actually have no footage that shows a scuffle. Just a mass of high vis at the tunnel.

      2. Sonja McLaughlan was on the Five Live Rugby podcast stating that it “must” have been the Scotland players provoking Farrell. Because Farrell’s not known for being a petulant little hot head. Look at most of the ‘bust-ups’ involving England on the pitch and who is in there …. Farrell. But it is not his fault

  35. Something I didn’t want to say just before the match but which is an interesting side issue is the number of yellow cards in this tournament is way down from previous tournaments. Has there been two so far?

    There has been less foul play and very few yellows for the battering of the line and just getting pinged for repeat infringement.

  36. What I don’t get is that the TMO must have seen the incident replayed, NO spoke to both players and Hughes said nothing (if it had been a gouge or raking the eyes he’d have mentioned it, who wouldn’t?) so what does the citing commissioner think he’s seen that they’ve missed?

    1. The footage I saw at game time looked like nothing. The footage over on the Offside Line looks worse!

  37. Anyone seen the blatant (obviously accidental) eye gouge from sexton on Scott Williams during a hand off at the weekend. If World Rugby ends up banning Wilson and uses the reasoning that intent (or lack thereof) is not a defence, then Townsend should make a fuss about Sexton.

    Fairs fair…

  38. Wilson is simply extending his arm in a natural defence whilst on his back being throttled! It’s unfortunate that he makes contact with the face but it’s not sustained,it’s a brief brush that’s all. If it was a big deal we’d have seen a bigger reaction from Hughes and potentially other players getting involved. To me it’s a bit of handbags and hopefully will be seen that way.

    That said, they Will probably issue a ban it’s not often players get away with these things. The fact the ref and tmo did not see fit to deal with it during the game hopefully will count for something.

    What won’t help is the tunnel incident so I think he may well end serving 4 weeks, hopefully at the most.

    1. I don’t think the tunnel incident can count unless they cite Farrell, can it? May as well throw in his ‘contact with the eye area’ against Moriarty last round, too!

      1. Scots player had a shirt untucked as well, that’ll be a 6 weeks ban seeing as World Rugby love to make examples by of us

      2. The BBC’s Inverdale got onto Wayne Barnes before the match and he confirmed the Referees authority is the game itself.

        On that logic a citing will not apply before or after the final whistle.

        The BBC have nothing to show us however their journalists are reporting an incident took place while they have not shown us a substantion of a scuffle.

        My guess is someone just triped and bumped into another player and got pulled back up by others.

        It is our Stadium, our union, our hospitality and deserves better than slurs and rumours. I think the BBC are the only people who saw anything, if anyone knows different lets hear it ?

        Murrayfield stadium or the street, can have consequences.

        I am going to write to the BBC and make my feelings known. As I recall every letter to the BBC is considered to be the opinion of 10k viewers.

  39. Chris Farrell is out for Ireland with a knee injury. He was a big player for them at the weekend with hard carrying. A midfield of Aki and Ringrose isn’t the most reliable defensively.

    If Wilson is out Denton’s size will come in handy. Ireland have basically one tactic of trucking it up with a man on the ball carrier’s shoulder who effectively tackles the tackler and flops down followed by a couple of superman clear outs. Repeat. When they get in the 22 they may perform the fabled loop. So we will need to stop them at the gainline. Denton to start and Hardie on the bench as he’s our most fearsome tackler. I’d throw Alex Dunbar straight in as well if fit.

    1. Good points, Stuart, but I would stick with the winning team and Horne at 12. They’re feeling comfortable with each other and defended well in the midfield for the last two matches. Horne also gives Finn more distribution options.

      1. Completely agree, did you see Irelands third try where Rory Best tackles Dan Biggar and I think Rob Evans off the ball to make the gap for Leavy. Was astounded that it wasn’t picked up on! Hopefully someone alerts Wayne Barnes to look out for it in 2 weeks.

  40. Just managed to rewatch the first half at least & kept an eye on Wilsons play. The injustice of just citing Wilson has been covered & imagine he will be banned for 4 weeks so not available for Ireland game. This will be a big blow. I wasn’t a fan a couple of years ago & I know we have Denton etc but Wilson has such a varied skill set & almost seems to be the “forward with no portfolio”. He disrupts mauls, is a key line out jumper, additional scrum half at the breakdown when the pace needs to be maintained & as already highlighted his clear out of Launchbury was perfectly timed & won a turnover in England’s 22. In fact I would stick my neck out & say he plays precisely the intelligent & heads up brand of rugby we’re all desperate for. Yes he has an edge which usually is no bad thing & he has definitely learned to control his reactions. No he’s not a massive ball carrier that seems to be part of most No 8s role but offers so much more. Just hope GT has a plan to fill the likely void with another intelligent player & that the citing panel appreciate that if you’re being throttled on the floor,his reaction was not entirely unreasonable.

    1. He has a roughty tuffty edge to him, he is the new Big Jim. lets be honest , who takes a top knot seriously even if he is big and beefy !

  41. Wilson will be banned for 4 weeks. Despite the mitigation the laws (and World Rugby guidelines) are clear. All the players know that it’s risky putting your fingers anywhere near the oppo’s eyes, just as it’s risky charging in without arms – as per Underhill. Ryan was lucky not to have been yellow-carded (or worse). Being held down by the neck is obviously unpleasant but even Ryan realised that going for the face was risky at the time and stopped.
    That being said, not sure why Hughes wasn’t cited for the same incident. If a neck roll is worthy of a penalty/YC then throttling someone should be equivalent.
    WE will definitely miss Wilson against Ireland but Toonie may have been thinking of starting Denton or Strauss anyway, for some beef in the back row against O’Mahony, O’Brien and Stander. I’d like Hardie on the bench, too, now that he’s kicked the habit!

    1. You can only be cited for red card incidents I believe which is why Hughes wasn’t cited.
      We discussed this on the podcast this week. Things look A LOT worse in slow motion. Any ban/action against Wilson would be incredibly harsh.

    1. Good news. I had assumed that the panel would be Irish, but the reps from Wales (x2) and USA have let common sense prevail, I reckon.

      1. It is amazing and very good news. Common sense prevailing and Gregor having more options.

      2. Good news…was ridiculous anyway.. handbags!

        Now, I bet, Wilson will be targeted by the ref in Ireland match. Not sure it’ll be smart to play him in that one.

      3. Really surprised at lack of a ban but delighted too. Assuming no injuries in the pack, then imagine GT will pick the same starting 8 plus forward subs. Any news on Seymour, didn’t look good. If not fit for Ireland, then I like the idea of Visser as a known finisher with Kinghorn on the bench as utility cover but won’t be too disappointed if it’s the other way round.

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