Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Away wins are the next step for Scotland

Richie Gray at the lineout
Ritchie Gray wins a lineout for Scotland - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

If the Calcutta Cup match was the biggest test to date of the Toonaissance™ (although it’s a bit of a Vernaissance too really), Scotland passed it with flying colours.

That sort of tester comes thick and fast in the Six Nations though and this weekend the side travel to Dublin to face the only side left with a chance of a Grand Slam: Ireland. As was worryingly highlighted in Cardiff in the opening game, Scotland’s away performances are a far cry from those we’ve seen at home since the autumn and if they really want to be in with a chance of influencing the tournament outcome on the final weekend they’ve a big hill to climb to match those levels.

Of course, they aren’t alone. Away wins for any team outside of Rome are something of a rarity in the modern tournament and Scotland’s last one was at Croke Park in 2010. If we are putting records to bed, that 8 year gap for an away win (not Italy) is almost as long a margin as the “wins against England” one that we bade farewell to last weekend. Of the current team, only John Barclay has experience of that day – even if fellow Killer Bee Johnnie Beattie caught the eye with his rampaging try – and current skills coach Mike Blair was on the bench.

Scotland could also look to more recent history for a blueprint, when they ransacked Ireland in the opening game of last year’s 6 Nations then hung on grimly as Ireland slowly turned the tide. If that game had been an extra fifteen minutes longer, Scotland would have lost it but the first half finishing was spot on and matches what we saw against England, where their overall execution was far better.

If Scotland can overcome an English side very few of them had experience of winning against, at least we know with Ireland that mental hoodoo shouldn’t be there quite as much. Furthermore, the way Glasgow dismantled Munster in an all-court Pro12 final performance should also be a touchstone for inspiration. The players have familiarity, even if we have Grant Gilchrist instead of Uncle BigNaks.

Ireland have played some lovely rugby so far in the tournament but there have still been enough mis-steps – Jonny Sexton’s kicking against Wales for example – to suggest there could be a chink or two in the armour that could be exploited.

Joe Schmidt is astute enough that he’ll have figured out some flaws in Scotland’s defensive line too but John Barclay has said that Townsend introduces a new playbook for attack for every game. Innovative indeed, and harder for the opposition to guess what is coming. It is weirdly the perfect approach for a game plan in which the attack absolutely has to function – provided you can execute it. But it must require intense concentration, not to mention research. And presumably it also means that if the defence does something different to what you planned for, you have to fall back on your wits. Was that what happened in Wales?

One thing is for sure, Ireland are not going to give Scotland a pass at the breakdown as England did, and a fair amount of that could come down to the interpretation of Wayne Barnes. The fact remains that they are supremely confident at home, and unbeaten. They can almost taste that grandslam.

It won’t come into their thoughts much this week, but from Scotland’s point of view it can be seen as a dress rehearsal for their encounter in the Rugby World Cup in 2019. A win in Dublin would add massive levels of confidence heading to Yokohama; we might start creating some mental hoodoos of our own.

It seems unlikely there will be changes made to the starting XV, with no word on Tommy Seymour in today’s squad announcement suggesting he is fit to play or at least close enough that they don’t want Schmidt dusting off Kinghorn’s highlight’s reel just yet.

But that doesn’t mean that Toony hasn’t made call ups to the squad, with Richie Gray (calf), Fraser Brown (head), Zander Fagerson (foot), Alex Dunbar (thigh), Byron McGuigan (hamstring), Lee Jones (head) and Darryl Marfo (back) all recovering from injuries to be in the mix for selection from a 40 man training squad. Magnus Bradbury, John Hardie and George Horne have also been added.

Tim Visser and Rob Harley have been dropped for injury reasons, while Josh Strauss isn’t listed either. So you can stop picking Tim in your comment XVs, this week at least.

Richie Gray perhaps will come into contention on the bench. Any one of Toolis, Swinson or Gray would you feel be a worthy inclusion, but picking Gray does have a double benefit of freeing up some resources to the pro teams, both of whom are struggling a little for fit second rows.

It will also add to pressure on the front row selections thus far, with Fagerson’s addition making a tricky situation for Townsend who has seen Berghan thrive in the last two games but now also has WP Nel fit. Reid and Bhatti have also gone well and the scrum has been far from the weakness it was viewed as, but Tadhg Furlong is reported to be back in full training this week for Ireland. Calling up Darryl Marfo might do a disservice to Bhatti but don’t rule it out. Fraser Brown on the bench at hooker could make an instant difference though with McInally no longer having to reserve energy for a full 80 minutes.

So far, since the Wales game, the team has done what has been asked of them but this weekend should see a similar level of intensity without a crowd to carry them along.

And that’s before we even discuss what would be a typically Scottish (aka “arse” prediction) outcome: winning in Dublin and then losing in Rome.

Possible Scotland XV to face Ireland: Hogg, Seymour, Jones, Horne, Maitland, Russell, Laidlaw; Reid, McInally, Berghan, J Gray, Gilchrist, Barclay, Watson, Wilson.
Replacements: Bhatti, Brown, Nel, R Gray, Denton, Price, Dunbar, Kinghorn.

84 Responses

  1. I think that 23 looks about right – with some real game changers from the bench. Not convinced by the validity of Dunbar on the bench – other than to shore things up if we are defending a lead – but he’s a Toonie favourite. He’s going to be off the pace though and I would much rather we had Bennett.

    We have to remember – no pack with Toner at lock can ever be called ferocious. We are used to beating their pro sides – this isn’t a step into the unknown for us.

  2. I suspect if Dunbar is fully fit (is he ever fully fit?) then there is a good chance that he will start at 12 and Horne will be the utility back on the bench. Wouldn’t be surprised if George Horne is sitting beside his brother on the bench. If Seymour is fit then the other backs will stay the same.

    Big calls in the front row. We’ve suddenly got an embarrassment of top class tight heads available and options at loose head. Brown will surely come on to the bench. Also a big call between Gilchrist and Richie Gray. Be very surprised if the back row changes but there might be a different name on the bench.

  3. I think Toonie should stick with the team that beat France and England.

    Agree with Ritchie on the bench.

    I am umming and ahing about bringing in Dunbar to start and Horne Sr. on the bench. I feel Dunbar would be better starting as he doesn’t offer the same versatility that Horne has where he can cover 10/12, but Horne good games against France and England, probably a 50/50 call.

    Dunbar is handy at the breakdown which could see him nudge in front of Horne.

    Probably another 50/50 for Lee Jones instead of Blair Kinghorn on the bench. Kinghorn again is more versatile but Jones has been on great form for both Scotland and Glasgow.

  4. The ‘6 that miss out’, though not detailed fully on the SRU article are:
    Harley and Visser due to injury – shame, Visser scored at the weekend
    Welsh, Malcolm, and fan favourites Scott and Strauss.

    On another note, a fair bunch of our non-Scotland based squad members played at the weekend – Greig, Ritchie, Lawson, Harris, and Denton. Hamilton and McGuigan were unused subs, Reid, SuperDunc and Maitland weren’t in their respective squads.

    Non-squad members Scott, Visser, Strauss, Welsh and Cowen also played.

    Good thing or a bad thing? Visser injury an obvious downside. Nothing that can be done I guess. Feel for Grieg, he must be tired playing his 5th week in a row and traveling back and forth.

    1. I think Laidlaw will play this week, then perhaps Price to start v Italy with Laidlaw/Horne on the bench

  5. good article. I think Grigg should maintain his bench sport over Dunbar on current form. He keeps getting better and better and will cause Ireland a massive headache in the last 20 minutes. His carry against England was unreal.

  6. I’m still surprised to see Harris over Scott and CdP over Strauss. And Pyrgos at all.

    1. Me too. Something must have happened behind the scenes with Strauss and Townsend. He went from being one his first picks at Glasgow, to getting bumped off down south and seemingly shunned for the national squad.

  7. Can’t see the starting 15 changing barring injury.
    On the bench maybe Marfo for Bhatti and Dunbar for Grigg.
    If Seymour isn’t 100% I think Townsend might go for McGuigan or Jones and leave Kinghorn on the bench.

    Anyone who is suggesting George Horne will be on the bench (which I have seen a few times in various places) is dreaming. We have 2 excellent scrum halfs in possession at the moment and this is literally his first week with the squad. I am a huge fan of his, but this really isn’t the time. Maybe a slim chance versus Italy (moreso if we lose to Ireland), but more likely in the summer.

  8. In terms of changes I think Nel has to start – I worry that Healy could get under Berghan and milk some cheap points – Berghan has played well but its horses for courses. Second row, I think Richie needs to start – we have looked a bit shaky at lineout time and against the giant Toner and excellent O’Mahony we need to hold our own but also put pressure on their lineout. We have to do this otherwise Hogg and co, will get zero counter-attack ball as it will be set-piece to set-piece all day long.

    In the backs, I think its the same as before with Horne snr a vastly underrated organiser and reader of the game outside Russell – his decision making (butchered overlap aside) was brilliant against England and really subtle but allowed us to recycle through a few extra phases where traditionally we would have coughed up earlier (also once you hit phase 3 or 4 with even small gainline success our backs come into their own because they play whats in front of them, whereas Ireland so destructively brilliant as they are, are more structured – We need to disrupt their structure to get them into our type of game).

    Who covers the bench is far more difficult to guess but wouldn’t be surprised to see Harris there, though Grigg would be my choice

  9. Feels like a v strong team this, playing against familiar opposition. Quietly hopeful against all stats. Do expect Toonie to freshen / tombala it up in some way. I reckon changes could be made at:

    TH – Berghan has been brilliant, but if all the chat about dodgy technique and being on the knees is true, then why risk it. Also Furlong is back on the other side for Ireland. If Nell is now up to pace, get that world class player starting.

    LH – The scrum has not creaked. Reid has been solid. But Marfo rampaged against NZ and OZ and looked like the strongest man on the pitch (against Samoa too).

    Inside centre – Dunbar for Horne for the battle at the breakdown (McInally, Barclay, Watson, Wilson, Dunbar) and to defend Bundee Aki. But if Laidlaw is too knackered , need another decision maker, Horne, outside Finn.

    No.8 – I’m torn about this one, but could see the case for starting Denton over Wilson. He is He-Man after all. And who doesn’t want the power of grey skull?… I’ve changed my mind, let’s have him on to finish the game.

    Which means the replacements are: Reid, Brown, Berghan, R Gray, Denton, Price, Horne, Kinghorn. I’m not an Edinburgh fan, but am itching to see how Kinghorn gets on in a Scotland shirt (good signing in Socino btw!).

      1. Because he’s good and been called into the squad. Presumably not to hold tackle bags. Would you say the same about Hogg, Jones or Russell?

    1. You are right about one point ‘Reid has been solid’. Dont get your knicks in a twist over Denton and Wilson. One is a pussycat and one is thuggish. I know who I would want alongside me in the pack.

  10. The battle at the breakdown will be huge and so with that…

    1. Marfo
    2. Mcinally
    3. Berghan
    4. Gilchrist
    5. J.Gray
    6. Barclay
    7. Watson
    8. Wilson
    9. Laidlaw
    10. Russell
    11. Seymour
    12. Dunbar
    13. Jones
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg
    16. Brown
    17. Bhatti
    18. Fagerson
    19. R.Gray
    20. Denton
    21.G. Horne
    22.P. Horne
    23. Kinghorn

    Bring the bench on early and pray to punch holes in their defense, who do you want on the ends of those breaks ? George Horne.

    1. That’s a hell of a first cap for George Horne, and a hell of a second cap for Blair Kinghorn!

    2. I dont think it will happen but I think George Horne is a risk worth discussing. He’s arguably the form scrum half in the Pro14. Also worth remembering he’s played against most of the Irish boys in the Pro14. He gives their back row and Murray something different to worry about, especially compared to Laidlaw. You’d fancy him to come on and score a try at the death if that was what was required.

      1. I doubt it will happen, but I think a Price / Horne combo against Italy isn’t out of the question. Kinghorn, I think will either start or get a decent run out against Italy. As things stand, it’s all to play for in Dublin, and imho that’s not a place for rookies.

      2. Depends if we’re still in contention for the title, doesn’t it? Or maybe, it doesn’t, and Toonie will play his strongest, most trusted side regardless.

      3. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Price start. He’s ahead of Horne in the pecking order, Toonie doesn’t like to be wrong (chance to right the wrong of Wales), as someone else said could be Laidlaw is blowing after playing each weekend and we might look to start fast. If it’s too wild he could easily come off the bench. But NOT saying that’s what I want.

  11. First of all I need to apologise to Finn Russell as I called for him to be dropped for the England game, I’m glad he had a mom performance and was happy to be proved wrong. He is a world class player I just felt he had to be reminded that his place wasn’t guaranteed.
    For this game I doubt the 15 will change, they are on a winning run, albeit at home, and continuity of selection is always good. I would only add Brown to the bench and keep Swinson and Grigg as I think they are dynamic players who will maintain the intensity in the last 15/20 minutes.

    1. World Class player , really ? I dont think world class players are as polarised as Finn Russell. This will not go away you know. Do not beat yourself up BTW.

  12. Much more competitive squad now with returning players. Difficult to see where GT can make changes though..considering the teams performance last week.
    I feel like we will need some GT surprise specials in selection though. Is a no brainer Ire will have looked very closely at, not only, the sides who have played thus far in the 6N… but also the AIs …as in the media the Ire players and coaches have referenced those scottish performances too. They need this win to go to England in a good position….they’ll be right up for it.. no doubt.
    Can see R Gray & Brown coming back to the bench…6,7 or 8 could be shaken up somewhat I think.. depending on how GT sees the breakdown matchup…we aren’t going to boss it like we did against England. Not convinced playing Dunbar is great option… his fitness is too unreliable…does he ever complete a match? Seymour probably isn’t a cert to fit…hence calling up extra wingers. Id like to see Marfo come straight back in at LH…he came right in against 2 of the worlds top teams in the AIs and gave them both a game. Reid hasn’t let anyone down though. Great to see G Horne involved, although this 6N is a bit early for him to play in I think…and Laidlaw / Price combo has done well.
    Will be an interesting selection from GT.

  13. It’s great to have the liked of Richie, Marfo, Dunbar and Brown back after injury, but given how little they have played it’s surely a pipe dream to parachute any of them into the starting XV, especially given how well that XV played against England. The only changes I would expect will be on the bench where we may see Brown in for Lawson, Richie for Swinson, and maybe Dunbar in for Grigg.

    However, depending on the result and injuries we may see greater use of the tombola for the Italy game.

    1. Have to agree, this is where we are most likely to see a bit of a shake up. BUT conversely if results go our way this weekend, then then the least likely. I sense these ???? again.

  14. G Horne is in for the squad experience – Price will be on the bench. Price was good against England – showed another side to his game.

  15. Couple of thoughts……
    R.Gray straight into the starting line up, Gilchrist out of the squad.

    I really rate Hardie but its hard to see GT leaving out Wilson, Denton adds much needed beef.

    Dunbar straight back in to the team, Horne ready to come on when he fades.

    Brown on bench, Lawson out of squad

    1. Why would you put Gray straight back in the team? He’s just coming back to full fitness. Whay would you dump Gilchrist altogether? He’s played really well so far. Why would Dunbar come straight into the team? Horne has been great so far and Dunbar’s not played at all for weeks.

      As I said above I reckon the XV will be unchanged. The only possible change I could see is Nel in for Berghan. Certainly nobody has done anything that would warrant being dropped from the squad altogether.

  16. Unchanged would do for me Frazer & I broadly agree with most of what you say…………….

    However R.Gray is simply better than Gilchrist (harsh on GG i know, but true).

    Ireland will likely play (at least initially) 10 man rugby, Dunbar’s extra physicality would be handy. I have no idea if Dunbar can be fit, Nel was/is & he hadn’t played for months (centre/prop I know)

    1. If they were both at peak form Richie would edge it, but Grant currently is hitting his, while Richie has completed a couple of games in the last month and we have no idea of his test match form as of now (not as of the last time he had a good game). Dropping Gilchrist when he’s finally fulfilling his potential would be crazy, and also send a dangerous message about reputation over form, an issue Scotland have struggled with in the past. Rugby is a team sport and this team are playing for each other. We could assemble a pretty talented XV based on the players available but throwing new cogs into an engine that is just starting to purr would be folly, IMO. For me this was also the reason not to drop Dunbar straight in.

      1. Interesting. I’m tempted to go for Richie, but a big plus for Gilchrist at the moment is his defensive work in the maul. I think he’s made a big difference there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Irish tested us out early and often from lineouts.

        Not the worst problem to have as a selector, however…

  17. No point us turning up…..a quote from a piece by Neil Best, ex-Ireland flanker….

    “Scotland have had their “big performance” of this year’s Championship and I fully expect their bubble to be well and truly burst in Dublin next weekend. Joe Schmidt’s attention to detail will make sure Scottish vulnerabilities are well and truly exposed.”

    Some love to believe that the English are both arrogant and dismissive, but it is a number of the Irish that now have a “guid conceit” of themselves.

    I love the Irish, but this increasing arrogance by a number of Irish pundits needs to be shoved somewhere…appropriate.

    1. The Irish are insufferable. They conveniently ignore their historic utter drossness of the 70s 80s and 90s and are comfortably the most arrogant blawhards of all home nations “Fans”

  18. Only change I’d make is Brown for Lawson on the bench but I’d be very tempted to swap Reid and Bhatti as Bhatti is great in the loose and has stood up to Furlong without major issues once already this season. Reid won’t let us down though.

  19. If it were up to me this would be my 23

    1. Bhatti
    2. McInally
    3. Nel
    4. Gilchrist
    5. Jonny Gray
    6. Barclay
    7. Watson
    8. Wilson
    9. Laidlaw
    10. Russell
    11. Seymour
    12. Dunbar
    13. Huw Jones
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg

    16. Brown
    17. Marfo
    18. Berghan
    19. Richie Gray
    20. Denton
    21. George Horne/Price
    22. Peter Horne
    23. Kinghorn

    Everytime Bhatti has came on for Reid not only has he shown he is a far better player in the loose but the scrum has improved and Marfo has shown what a phenomenal scrummager he is. Hard on Berghan and P.Horne but against such a strong Irish team we need someone with Nel’s expertise in the scrum and Dunbar’s defensive capabilities. Gilchrist has had two good games in a row proving his performance against France was no fluke and would therefore start Richie Gray on the bench. The rest of the starting line-up picks itself with Brown replacing the god awful Lawson on the bench and with the form George Horne is in he could certainly challenge Price for a place on the bench

    1. agree on Bhatti… everyone thought he was just a backup to a backup. Every time I’ve seen him he gets better and better. Test level is improving his game pretty dramatically . Reid has given what he has to the team…he has played his part. Marfo and Bhatti are better rugby players though..and its not like they don’t give 100%.
      Not convinced on Dunbar though. Never seems to be ‘in form’..and plagued by injury. Im starting to think Horne is actually the right type of player for our system..he seems to work well with Jones. Would like to see Grigg get a good shot off the bench too.
      Agree Brown for Lawson..Gray on bench.
      Would much rather see Kinghorn than Mcguigan or Jones.Hardie or Denton on bench. Denton can play 6 or 8 though…whereas Hardie is a straight 7.

      1. I am surprised at Blake and Ruggers selecting Seymour , recent posts have all been about his poor form. I thought you pair loved Kinghorn.

      2. The Horne/Jones combination has 100% success rate so far – against Australia, France and England …. so all on a par with Ireland. Absolute madness to change this combination for Dunbar, who is returning to fitness.

      3. I’ve been a great Dunbar fan in the past but I can’t remember the last time he had a really good game. His reputation for sturdy defence and 7 like tactics at the breakdown make him a popular choice. But I think that Horne will retain his slot at 12 with Grigg on the bench. He (Grigg) is the man in form and makes line breaks for fun.

  20. Grigg will surely be on the bench as a powerful player that he is especially useful – seeing it will be a wet afternoon from what the weather reports show. Or does Dunbar have the nudge on instead carrying the ball up field making hard yards with a greasy ball?Townsends got some interesting calls to make – those coming off the bench are sure to make a huge impact.

  21. What I would like to say is with Brown on the bench, this is a big day for McInally and he could inspire the others. Surely a future Scotland captain. Does anyone think Brown is fit for this game, if I was his mither I would be asking him to think of the future and quit ! Head injuries are for life, this game is only 90 minutes long.

    An offloading Richie Gray brings an opportunity the question for me is Swinston or Gilchrist , neither of whom have had a bad game. Swinston has a lot more experience IMO ( Glasgow , finals, semis versus a lot of sick notes). Who is getting the flat pint ?

    1. I would have to go with McInally starting with Turner on the bench for this game, if Brown is fit then we let him play against Italy (Potentially in the starting spot) but at this point we cant be taking risks with player management when we have other options available.

    2. Gilchrist played in the HEC Semi.

      Swinson just doesn’t really offer much now – there was no reason to replace Toolis with him last week and there is no reason why he should be near the 23 now.

      1. Swinson is handy for the bench for his versatility – he can provide an option at 6.

  22. Rain forecast for Dublin on Saturday. Just wondering if Toonie might go for a bigger backrow to start or even a 6:2 split on the bench for what might be an 80 minute forward battle.
    We’ll find out on Wednesday.

    1. Ireland have a fine pack – but so do we, lets not get carried away.

      They have Toner in their pack fer christsakes.

      1. Toner is a carthorse of the highest level. Spends the majority of each game loitering offside at ruck’s obstructing defenders. Barnes is likely to let it go as he’s one of the worst for perception bias and he will come into this game with the view that ireland are better and should win ergo, Scotland will be the cheating team.

      2. Don’t think Toner will be in starting team…Henderson & Ryan will start.. Id think. Simply better players than Toner whose ability resembles something across between a giraffe and a traffic cone.

      3. Disagree about Toner. You don’t get into that Ireland team without being mighty effective at what you do. He looks ungainly, but is a powerful nuisance in lineouts, mauls and rucks. He also has decent hands. I’m not saying there aren’t better players nor that we can’t outplay him on our day, but it would be unwise to underestimate any player starting for Ireland in this era and with their coach.

        I think a greater area of potential weakness for Ireland, ironically, will be two of their best players returning from injury – Ringrose and Furlong. Having said that, they may play blinders, but some Irish commentators are questioning the wisdom of bringing Furlong right back in (admittedly much as some of us did for Nel), and Ireland have struggled with their defending because of new centre combinations and rookie wingers. Ringrose is potentially a great player but hasn’t been in sparkling form since his first injury and as a relatively inexperienced test player may take some time to get back up to speed. He also hasn’t played with Stockdale because of his injuries, so I’m sure Scotland will be looking to stress the cohesion of that back line, perhaps by tying in Bundee Aki and creating the extra man on Stockdale’s wing.

  23. I just re watched the first 30 mins of last year’s Ireland match. How did we win that match? Scrum penalty after scrum penalty. 5 m line out after 5 m line out. Penalties galore and a warning of a yellow card after the third scrum penalty at third scrum.
    And we were 21-5 up after 30 minutes.

    Looking back at that how far has this team come? We lost bad in Wales and score clearly showing Welsh dominance but I’d argue against Ireland we were all over the place and should have been well down by the time we approached half-time.
    It was a perfect storm of a few things going in our favour.

    1. Ireland making basic errors getting us off the hook at just the right time. Ireland gave us gifts of Bad line outs, loose at ruck time and changing lane when charging over our try line at 0-0. And yes some decent scramble defence.
    2. 3 chances of a try and we take them all. Great conversion kicking to build the score.
    3. Managing to let Ireland score the try (more accident than design) when we were clearly going to get yellow carded had they not at least twice.
    4. Somehow getting the scrum in order. Brown taking a bang to nose to get Ford on probably helped that. Reid coming on prob helped eventually. Would Dell see a place in team now it did seem to be him at fault in scrum? It was against Furlong tbf.
    5. Stubborn mindedness and great mental strength, will to win and cool heads to take it home in last ten mins. The defense was immense mostly too.

    Overall that was a steal to end all steals of a game. Look at that in contrast to the England game. We deserved that and dominated. Our scrum is much firmer now not exactly sure why? Maybe getting a front row that is solid in scrum first rather than ability in loose?
    But we need to feel more hopeful with the way the team is going. Ireland in Ireland is the ultimate right now but we shouldn’t be as light in the scrum nor maul. Another major improvement. How the breakdown is reffed is crucial.

    1. Wasn’t a steal, as soon as Ire had to scrum straight we had parity. And though they scored some nice tries they didn’t have the composure to finish the job, whereas we did. It was a deserved victory.

      1. If memory serves me well (unlikely, on the whole), wasn’t there only just the one scrum in the second half?

      2. Totally agree, it wasn’t a steal. We rode our luck at times tbh but the abiding memory for me was Ireland’s inability to get anywhere near a scoring chance in the closing ten minutes. And all of this happening after most of us in the crowd thought we’d blown our lead and would end up gallant losers again – until Barclay’s crucial line out steal. And that was a proper steal!

    2. I can see ur points and the last ten were so impressive nothing lucky or a steal at that point. I’m looking at the first 30mins where we took all our chances but rode our luck numerous times. Some of it was good defence but alot was just ridiculously silly mistakes a few yards out from the Irish. We weren’t coming back had the Irish been 3 scores up.

      What is great now is that we don’t have the dread of a maul five out being a definite try eventually.

      1. Can’t disagree with your analysis of the first 30 minutes last year. But hey, that’s Test rugby – rugby at any level actually. They didn’t take their chances; we took ours.
        Ireland are a very good side especially at home but they do play like the Saffers when they used to be good. It was clear they were practising a more adventurous style against Italy because they knew they could try it out with little risk in that match. Whether dry or wet, I can see them falling back on their Saffer-style approach on Saturday as the less risky option for them.
        It’s going to be a mighty battle up front on Saturday.

      2. But that’s my point. How many times in the past have we not taken our chances? White line fever nor the verve to get through defence? Not now…

        ..Now it seems to have more often than not progressed to taking our chances but no even more than that…

        ..we had to take advantage of Ireland’s incompetence last year which was good that we did but we didn’t need to against England we won because we were on top and the better team. No one would have said we didn’t deserve to beat New Zealand had we won it at the last, again more progress.

        This isn’t a fluke that we beat top teams now and beating Ireland puts us as one of the top teams in the world if we aren’t already. A huge step to do so away but it’s not impossible. It’s more than that it’s a definite realistic proposition now.

  24. How will the projected weather effect the selection and game? Can see the rain being in Irelands favor more so than Scotland. Ireland like to retain the ball and slowly make their way up the pitch with multiple phases. Scotland like to play higher risk and shift the ball pretty quickly. Can see Scotland dropping the ball multiple times giving away vital possession and playing into Irelands game style.

    Scotlands handling will have to be especially top notch to play the game they want.

    1. That’s one way of looking at it but another is that it takes Ireland 20 phases to score a try which creates a lot of scope for error. We can score a try in 3 or 4 phases. Obviously it involves riskier handling but get a couple of passes just right and we can go the length of the park.

      I think the wet conditions also suit Russell’s grubber kicks and put pressure on the weakest part of Ireland’s defence.

      1. Yeah …might be that handling errors, in particular, have a big say in the result. Irelands defense didn’t look too clever vs Wales. They look slow in defense when they are turned around.

  25. Can anyone remind me when the starting 23 will be announced? The SRU website is often unhelpful in this regard…

    1. I heard someone say Wednesday. Townsend usually announces between 11am and 12 onthe day of announcement.

    2. 6 Nations site does indeed confirm it is 11am tomorrow (wednesday). Ireland follow on Thursday.

      1. Why don’t both teams have to announce on same day? Seems weird to me.

        anyway…a typical Ire fan view from one of their fansites? ..

        ‘Ireland to a man are better than Scotland, there aren’t many in blue that you would pick to wear a tracksuit in green on game day. The injury list is shortening with players coming back in to the fold.
        Ireland should be looking to train hard all week and win well on Saturday. There is no need to talk about grand slams, permutations and combinations or points at this stage. Ireland win 2 games they win. End of. France plays England which will be very interesting too. Both sides now playing for pride that will be some scrap.
        But when the Scots arrive in Dublin, it will be great craic in the stadium and the streets but on the pitch, Ireland will be too much. ‘

        We’ll see Oyerlund……..

  26. I’m hearing we won’t be watching the pro 14 games on Alba next season, some Irish station has won the rights.
    Does anybody know where we can watch the games and whether it will be ppv or not ? Concerned!!!

    1. PPV on premier sports £9.99 pm at present, available through Sky and Virgin.

      Pretty rubbish situation all round.

      1. At present is the key phrase. Expect a hike. And there’s no way they’ll show the amount of Glasgow / Edinburgh games we currently get across the current providers. And no Hugh Dan !
        And at a less parochial level, what about the reduction in TMOs if less games are covered ?

      2. It is a rubbish situation but apparently BBC Alba only paid £160k for the rights – I don’t know what viewing figures were like but I think we can assume they were very low.

        I like Rory’s idea of BBC Alba screening Super 6. If it could be done it would be something of a silver lining.

      3. Yes, worrying that the future arrangement will only show matches that feature Irish teams and even then only at a price. A really poor situation.

  27. Six Nations Rugby Live Stream Free satellite TV, cable TV to watch the pay per view online live and in HD on the PC, Laptop, iPhone, Ipad and Android over the Internet en vivo. Everyone watch the live Rugby live stream and other Sporting events live has so easy. When you talk about a major sporting event, this term is one of the best. Get instant access to the widest possible coverage of Rugby matches on the web directly to your desktop from anywhere.

      1. Rugby audiences even for AV premier league are modest at best, small following for pro rugby in Scotland, on gaelic channel with limited promotion so many rugby fans aren’t even aware it shows regular games, ‘Big’ gamesmoved to BBC Scotland. I think it is pretty obvious that Pro-14 rugby is a pretty niche interest in Scotland (much more so than in Ireland and Wales).

  28. Re Alba losing Pro14. Myopic BBC Sport Scotland – still providing radio commentary for lower league football games with more players than spectators.

  29. Alan, I agree with your comment, “Barnes is……….one of the worst for perception bias”. It seems that a dismissal of Scotland as a force in international rugby pervades English rugby at all levels. I read in yesterday’s Times the following comment by Eddie Jones, “I can’t sleep at night because it annoys me losing a game we shouldn’t have lost” — the implication being that if England had played to their potential the result would have been a foregone conclusion (the truth was that we nullified what they perceived as an overwhelming strength — their set-piece — and cut loose with our superior backs). Thus we often have to play with a referee pre-armed to award 50/50 decisions in the opposition’s favour. In that respect Nigel Owens bucked the trend, especially in giving due regard to Barclay’s turnover prowess, which had been heavily punished in the Welsh game.

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