Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


USA v Scotland: Match Preview

Stuart Hogg
Stuart Hogg - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

KO 2.00am Sunday 17th June 2018
(8.00pm local time, 
Sat 16th June)

BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston

TV coverage – BBC1 Scotland from 1.45am
Dougie Vipond, Andy Nicol and John Barclay return in the studio with John Beattie and Chris Paterson again providing commentary.

The summer has tended to be the time of year for experimentation for Scotland coaches over the last decade. Nearly half of the 90 players who have picked up their first caps for the dark blues have done so in what is nominally the off-season.

Scotland debutants in the last 10 years:

Summer – 42 in 26 matches
6 Nations 
– 23 in 50 matches
– 22 in 27 matches
Rugby World Cup – 1 in 9 matches
Total – 90 in 112 matches

Gregor Townsend has followed in this tradition with his inexperienced squad, capping James Lang, Jamie Ritchie, Adam Hastings and Lewis Carmichael versus Canada and following up this week with debuts for Matt Fagerson and George Horne against the USA Eagles while Hastings, Carmichael, Jamie Bhatti, George Turner and Luke Hamilton also make their first starts at this level.

The current tour is still 4 short of the 10 players who won their first caps in the quadrangular tournament played in South Africa during June 2013. Six of those men are current internationals – who among the current crop of fresh faces will still be playing for Scotland in five years time?

USA Scouting Report

Record in this RWC cycle

Played – 22
Won – 13
Drawn – 1
Lost – 8

Games against Tier 1 opposition

Similar to Canada last week this will be just the third match against a Tier 1 side for the US since the last World Cup. They lost 20 – 24 at home to Italy in summer of 2016 and conceded over 50 points on their own turf in a heavy defeat to a second-string Irish side last year.

Route to RWC 2019

USA have only missed out on one Rugby World Cup (in 1995) and comfortably qualified for this year’s edition in Japan with an 80 – 44 aggregate victory over Canada across a two-legged playoff. That’s taken the Americans into what looks like a brutally tough Pool D alongside England, France, Argentina and Tonga. Matching their best ever performance of 1 group stage win (as they managed in 1987, 2003 and 2011) will be a real challenge.

Danger man

AJ MacGinty is the player who makes the Eagles backline tick. After being Pat Lam’s first choice stand off in Connacht’s run to the PRO12 title, MacGinty’s move to Sale produced a mixed bag of performances in his first season. Much improved consistency across 2017/18 mean he’s a man that Scotland have to take very seriously if they want to come away from Houston with a win.

Rising star

He might be only an outside bet to feature on Saturday but there’s a good chance that Scottish rugby fans will be seeing more of 19 year old scrum half Ruben de Haas over the next years. Not only will he trying to take the 9 shirt for the USA but he’s also recently signed a 2 year contract with the Cheetahs in the PRO14.

A precocious talent, de Haas was playing for United States U20 while still only 17. He’s unlikely to be a regular starter for the full national side at this stage but he can provide energy off the bench as he builds his reputation and looks to have the potential to be the future at half back for the US. Essentially their George Horne, then.

Previous results

This will be the 6th time the two sides have met in a capped international. Past matches:

Scotland 53 – 6 USA

Murrayfield, 4 November 2000
Scotland: John Leslie (2T); Chris Paterson (1T); Budge Pountney (1T); Gregor Townsend (2T; 4C, 5P)
USA: Grant Wells (2P)

USA 23 – 65 Scotland

San Francisco, 22 June 2002
USA: Jason Keyter (1T); Mose Timoteo (1T); Link Wilfley (2C, 3P)
Scotland: Andy Craig (1T); Andy Henderson (1T); Nathan Hines (1T); Duncan Hodge (2T); Rory Kerr (1T); Chris Paterson (2T); Jason White (1T); Brendan Laney (1T, 6C, 1P)

Scotland 39 – 15 USA

Brisbane (RWC), 20 October 2003
Scotland: Simon Danielli (2T); Gavin Kerr (1T); Gregor Townsend (1T); Chris Paterson (1T, 4C, 2P)
USA: Mike Hercus (5P)

USA 6 – 24 Scotland

Houston, 7 June 2014
USA: Chris Wyles (2P)
Scotland: Tim Visser (1T); Stuart Hogg (1T); Penalty try (1T); Greig Laidlaw (3C, 1P)

Scotland 39 – 16 USA

Leeds (RWC), 27 September 2015
Scotland: Tim Visser (1T); Sean Maitland (1T); WP Nel (1T); Matt Scott (1T); Duncan Weir (1T); Stuart Hogg (1P); Finn Russell (1C; 1P); Greig Laidlaw (3C)
USA: Titi Lamositele (1T); AJ MacGinty (1C; 3P)


Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant 1: Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
Assistant 2: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: David Grashoff (USA)

Scotland have struggled to get on the right side of the penalty count when Mr. Barnes has been the referee. A streak of 4 consecutive games with Scottish forwards being sent to the sin bin by the barrister was at least snapped against Ireland in the most recent 6 Nations. There do still seem to be issues that other teams remain better at communicating with and adapting to the English official though. The challenge for new skipper Stuart Hogg will be to see if he can get on the wavelength of one of the most talkative referees in the Test arena.

Scotland’s last 5 games with Mr. Barnes in charge:

  • 2013 – beat Ireland (H)
    Penalties: 29 (For 13 – 16 Against)
    Cards: Scotland 1 YC (Ryan Grant)
  • 2014 – beat Argentina (H)
    Penalties: 28 (For 13 – 15 Against)
    Cards: Scotland 2 YCs (Rob Harley, Jim Hamilton); Argentina 1 YC
  • 2015 – lost to France (A)
    Pens: 26 (For 10 – 16 Against)
    Cards: Scotland 1 YC (David Denton)
  • 2017 – beat Australia (A)
    Pens: 23 (For 8 – 15 Against)
    Cards: Scotland 1 YC (Ryan Wilson); Australia 1 YC
  • 2018 – lost to Ireland (A)
    Pens: 19 (For 9 – 10 Against)
    Cards: none

The Squad

There are changes galore as Gregor Townsend explores the depth in his squad and ensures as many players as possible have a chance to impress. 12 changes to the starting XV mean that only Stuart McInally and Duncan Taylor of the original tour party have yet to be involved.

Blair Kinghorn and Byron McGuigan are the only backs to return from the game against Canada. King Blairhorn slides over to the wing to accommodate the returning Stuart Hogg who will captain his country for the first time on Saturday.

While the combinations among the inside backs may be brand new for Scotland there should be plenty of familiarity with four Glasgow players. Peter Horne and Nick Grigg have a handful of appearances as a centre pairing for the Warriors. The “Hornstings” (we’re calling it now) half-back combination of Adam Hastings and George Horne started together 5 times this season in the PRO14 as both young men had breakthrough campaigns for their club.

In the front row Jamie Bhatti and George Turner have 12 caps between them – but all from the bench and this will be a first Test start for both men. They’re joined by Zander Fagerson who is a relative veteran of the Scotland set-up despite still only being 22!

The athletic Edinburgh lock pairing of Lewis Carmichael and Ben Toolis will look to dominate the lineout and help stretch the US around the pitch. A powerful back row trio of Luke Hamilton, Tim Swinson and debutant Matt Fagerson should provide plenty of go forward with ball in hand.

7 of the 8 players on the bench featured in the 48-10 shellacking of Canada with Dougie Fife the one new face. The flying wing could feature for Scotland more than 3 years after his last appearance having rehabilitated his career, first through the 7s circuit and latterly with Richard Cockerill’s rejuvenated Edinburgh side.

USA should be another step up from Canada last week and more of a challenge in attack and defence. The Scottish 23 this week is a bit more experienced (327 caps v 224 caps) but this is still another development game from Gregor Townsend’s point of view. Even allowing for this though, the head coach will be expecting his charges to come away with a win in Houston.

Scotland XV: Stuart Hogg (c), Blair Kinghorn, Nick Grigg, Peter Horne, Byron McGuigan, Adam Hastings, George Horne; Jamie Bhatti, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Lewis Carmichael, Ben Toolis, Tim Swinson, Luke Hamilton, Matt Fagerson.

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Allan Dell, Murray McCallum, Grant Gilchrist, David Denton, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Mark Bennett, Dougie Fife

86 Responses

  1. Decent team – the US a bit of an unknown quantity. Good to see Dell on the bench after that scandalous late hit last Saturday. Really feared for him at the time.
    It would be nice to see Zander Fagerson going forward whilst still in the scrum, rather than running round doing his”I’m the enforcer” stuff afterwards. And I wasn’t expecting Swinson at 6. Pretty muscular back row, although nothing approaching a serious jackaler in there.

    1. I think it’s a good idea with such an inexperienced half back combination to have two Pete Hornes out there adding a bit of experience.

  2. Toony looks to have selected a very mobile pack, perhaps to tire the US team (who you would assume won’t be as well conditioned as Scotland) then make use of the strong bench into the 2nd half. My only concern is that they are quite lightweight and may get bullied by a physical USA.

    It looks an exciting backline though and may make hay against a tier 2 defence.

  3. A surprisingly good-looking team, but Swinno at 6 is odd given how well last week’s back row went. He’s better off the bench in internationals, IMO. Really looking forward to seeing George Horne step up, and taking a drink every time Beattie sickens me with a sycophantic comment. Did you guys know that Adam Hastings is related to Gavin Hastings and that Johnnie Beattie knows them?

    Interesting to see how Hogg will fare with the captaincy and how the backline goes – hopefully we’ll see an improvement over the Canada game.

    1. don’t get me started on Beattie. Has the ability to ruin a match with his banal, inspid and yes, sycophantic creepery. surely BBC Scotland could get Hugh Dan commentating instead???

  4. Exciting looking team. Look for the forwards to do much of the early “heavy lifting” maybe for space to be made after the hour. Backs look dangerous, Hoggy’s kicking for position may be a key weapon.

  5. Pretty much the side I would have selected for this match. Only changes I would make is Bennett (who was phenomenal against Canada) in for Grigg and Bradburry in for Swinson. Apart from that looks like Gregor has got the selection spot on.

  6. Fledgling pro league translates into better fitness and depth for USA so expect improved 2nd half competitiveness with less of a runaway compared to Canada. ARC competition serves to make the team more cohesive and capable. USA front row has
    real experience, so scrums will be more of a contest than past encounters. Close matches with Georgia signal improved USA. Nevertheless… deeply below Tier 1 and the Pacific Islanders. Scotland + 18.

  7. Presumably Taylor is still injured as apart from Rambo I think he’s the only player yet to feature. Did I miss something and he’s gone home? Pity, because IMO he’s our best all round centre. I’m not sure he started a game at club level last season, let alone for Scotland.

    1. I can’t remember seeing Taylor play for a long time – hardly played at all for Saracens last season I think, so I’m not sure he’d be near match fitness If he is selected.

    2. And I quote: “12 changes to the starting XV mean that only Stuart McInally and Duncan Taylor of the original tour party have yet to be involved.”

      1. He was injured for the Canada game, Toony was hoping to have him in the side for this week but maybe they’re just giving him that extra weeks recovery. Expect if he’s still on tour it’s so they can unleash him in the big games vs Arg.

  8. Unreasonably excited for a summer test now…

    I’ve yet to be convinced by Grigg at international level so hoping he comes out and proves me wrong with a storming performance.

    Swinson at 6 seems odd when you consider how strong our back row is but could be an old head to help out the youngsters in the pack and but still allow Toonie to try a Toolis/Carmichael second row pairing.

    I hope the back 3 and half backs have cracking games. The

  9. Our guys are very fit but I don’t think we should underestimate the conditions in Houston. It will be hot and humid. Expect the water boys to be busy. Good looking team though.

    Congratulations to Hoggy on the captaincy. Nice to see the footage of him handing out shirts to the first caps and being mr motivator on the sidelines!

  10. I there no way Glasgow or Edinburgh could sign up Richie Gray and Duncan Taylor? , even for a 1 year loan deal just to manage them correctly.
    Would ofc boost our chances in the club play-offs also having those 2 and there would be some motivation with a world cup on the horizon despite perhaps a slightly pay cut.

    2 potentially crucial players for Scotlands chances, lets try bring them to us..

    Glasgow could certainly use a good 2nd row and versaile centre/back 3.

    Also… bring in Hamilton he is unatached still!

    1. Absolutely agree with this but can’t see it happening, especially with Taylor. He’s not called super dunc at sarries and voted player of the year a season ago for nothing. Think he only played a handful of games for them this season but can’t see him moving. Would be great to see big Richie back in Scotland and getting properly looked after. Still think he’s our number one lock with his size and athleticism.
      Really hope that Hamilton signs for the warriors. No room for him at Edinburgh now and Glasgow are still crying out for ball carrying options. Never been convinced by Wilson at 8 (or any position for that matter) and until Ashe can get a run of more than 3 games without getting injured it leaves our back row underpowered which has been shown time and time again.

      As for the Scotland team I’m not really sure why they’re bothering to play swinson at 6. He’s played there before at Glasgow to no great effect so not sure what Scotland are going to gain from him there. Would much rather see Bradbury or Denton getting an extended run in the team and get game time (and experience in Bradbury’s case) before the world cup.
      On another note when are Glasgow actually going to sign any marquee players?

  11. This will be far more competitive than last week. USA are a bit more like Japan with the pace they play but with a more abrasive pack. I don’t know If the USA side has been announced but I’d assume McGinty is starting in which case our newbies are up against a genuine international quality fly half. Id expect us to be receiving a lot of kicks to the corners. We should have enough in the tank to see it out comfortably but I’d be worried if the young heads show a lack of game control and composure that the USA may get under their skin.

  12. Remember Nathan Hines getting picked at 6 on the 2009 Lions – remember how lost he was?

    What on earth is the justification for picking Swinson, it’s as if Toonie just cant be without him.

    He’s not a test lock anymore and neither is he a test blindside.

    1. Probably depends how Carmichael goes in this very game. If he continues his form and gets picked against Arg he could edge Swinson or Toolis out of the 4th lock spot come RWC. On the other hand, Swinson might prove his versatility which is useful in a 31 man World Cup squad…

      1. Luke Crosbie coming up on the rails for the 6 slot. Thought he might just have sneaked a tour place this time. Hopefully training with the full squad pre Japan, although it’s maybe too soon for a full place in a RWC year.
        Can I also say in my day Carmichael would and should have been given absolute pelters for that outrageous dummy ? I nearly spilled my drink ! :)

      2. It’s worth noting that Carmichael can play in the BR too, so perhaps Toonie is testing his two potential utility pack players across these games.

  13. I quite like Swinson, a bit of brain as well as a bit of dog but like others, don’t understand playing him at 6 for this game, unless Toonie more or less knows he’s going to start Ritchie, Bradbury and Denton vs Arg and therefore wants to give them a break? Playing guys out of position is rarely a good idea (Jason White as lock for a number of matches, that just wasn’t right) – hope this is one of those rare times when it works.

    Glad Dell has recovered from that awful tackle/assault in the last game. We all accept rugby is a physical game and you should accept that you will get some rough treatment within the laws of the game. Powers that be must clamp down hard on incidents like this – and that even worse “tackle” on Grosso – which are clearly outside of what is permissible and could and do lead to serious injury. I would love my daughter to get involved in the sport but if incidents like this aren’t treated seriously enough by world rugby, I do worry about the level of protection that players at any level will receive.

  14. Taylor is going to be very rusty if they throw him in against Arg – but I would like to see him at 12, Bennett at 13 and Horne on the bench.

    1. He shouldn’t have been sexted given his injury run. Let him have the summer off. Saracens manage their players very very well. Give him a season to prove long term fitness and let him hit the RWC at full capacity. Dragging him half way round the world when he is still on the comeback is silly. Especially when bennet needs time in the blue jersey.

  15. I think how successful Scotland are at the WC will depend on how George Horne, Hastings, Kinghorn, Matt Fagerson and Bradburry develop over the next year. 5 fantastic talents there. Hastings could be the back-up 10 we desperately need, Bradburry/Fagerson could be the ball-carrying 8 we crave, G.Horne is the fast passing creative try-scoring 9 we need and Kinghorn is potentially world-class

  16. Toonie inherited the two 7s system and without doubt Watson and Barclay have been the outstanding back rows over the past 2-3 years…BUT Glasgow’s title-winning back row was Strauss-Wilson-Harley. I think he might prefer a big strong, back row if push comes to shove. So this tour is really interesting as all 3 of our outstanding 7s (if you include Barclay in his former position) are out of action through injury or exile. I wonder if this could see the return of a more physical backrow for Scotland for longer than this tour. Denton, Ritchie, Bradbury, Fagerson are all pretty well placed to break up that Wilson, Barclay, Watson backrow – Wilson obviously most in danger. That is before you add Hamilton too – it’ll be fascinating to see if Toonie sticks or twists. The two 7s thing worked spectacularly well sometimes but on others it looked like we got bullied out of matches.

    1. I’m hoping it will be different back rows depending upon the opposition and the tactics. So the 6N match against France next year could see a Bradbury/Ritchie/Denton back row, but the match against Wales might see us play Barclay/Watson/Wilson. That’s an exciting prospect.

      1. I know it’s Toonie we are talking about and he will pick Wilson at all costs – but we desperately need to replace him.

        I read somewhere that he has only scored 1 try in his whole pro career – embarrassing stats for an 8.

        Plus he can be a brainless loose canon – he’s a handy bench player but Scotland need to move on from him.

      2. I agree. I thought he was good against Wales last year, but he’s too small and too much of a liability. Plus we’ve plenty who can play across the back row: Barclay (6, 7, 8), Bradbury (6, 8), Ritchie (6, 7), Fagerson (6, 7, 8), Denton (6, 8), Hardie (6, 7). It’s not like we’re lacking options. Barclay/Watson/Fagerson is a fast, athletic back row.

    2. My take is the big back row works best when you have a substantially better tight 5…otherwise you need at least one proper jackal to disrupt their ball and secure your own.

      So big works against Canada, USA…Argentina? Not so sure.

      Top 5 teams…much less so (see England). Injuries aside I think we’ll see at least one of Barclay/Watson at 7 for a while.

  17. Especially in that position you will never have all players fit but I think Watson, Bradbury and Dents would be my pick.

    I know Dentons gets a lot of stick but I think we need a gainline winning forward at 8 and I like him for that plus he is very good in the lineout. Watson is great over the ball and gets pinged less than Barclay.

    Bradbury is more contentious I think depending on his tackling but I would prefer his size over a second 7 I think. The only guy I would not have there is Swinson, ever. He is just too slow for a backrow.

      1. To an extent but even then we are 2 – 3 metres further forward than the previous ruck. The times we make loss after loss up close is our biggest problem sometimes. Front foot ball from a rucks is not to be sniffed at.

      2. We seem to put a lot of faith in an occasional Aviva Premiership stater, saddens me to hear so much hype for an average big unit. We are right to be wary of the USA . Hogg is no a captain either and I can see him taking it all on himself if we fail to get ahead. A loss in unlikely however I cannot see us winning by 20.

      3. You called it right. Dreadful leadership , poor selection, showed no respect to the USA. Best team won. Argentina have just put more points on Wales than Scotland did in the 6n , so it does not get easier,

  18. Excited about this upcoming match; expect the USA to throw everything and the kitchen sink at us. If I remember correctly, the 1014 Rugby boys reckoned the US will be a force to be reckoned with world cup after next. Apparently the sevens has really taken off there and the 6nations was televised for the first time with high viewing numbers – the sleeping giant awakens at last!

  19. I’m assuming Swinson will be used as a battering ram, I reckon he is best as an impact player, he could well be that impact player (just during the 1st part of the game) looks like we are most short of centres with a bit of beef….

  20. Betfair have Scotland by 20 odd points. Is that likely or do the bookies know very little about US rugby? People on this thread have been suggesting the US will be hard to beat. It’d be good to see another try filled performance from Scotland.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Horne / Hastings at 9&10 and how Carmichael, M Fagerson and Hamilton get on in the pack. It does seem like we’re building a squad with talent and strength in depth; my question is when do people see this squad being the ‘finished’ article and are they good enough to win a 6N?

    1. The depth is definitely improving massively. With the probable exception of stand off (maybe not for long if Hastings or Lang do well) there is at least two players in every position that you wouldn’t cringe to see starting any big game for us. And in many there is several options of equally good standard to pick from.

      This is streets ahead of the team from not long ago that saw our prop choices reduced to Gavin Kerr, Bruce Douglas and Craig Smith or had to pick two from three in the centres with Graeme Morrison, Andy Craig and Andy Henderson the options. Solid and hard working players but look at the riches at centre now or even just at tighthead where we have Nel, Fagerson and Berghan with McCallum developing rapidly and Welsh and Rae as a backup players let alone the other side of the scrum with Dell, Reid, Bhatti, Sutherland and others like Dickinson, Marfo or Allan with a bit more to prove or injuries to recover from.

    2. Our depth has improved a lot and there is no comparison between the quality of our squad and even just five years ago.

      However, this is the first fully professional USA squad, they have serious quality at FH and a big physical backline, especially in the centres, and if we don’t front up there is definitely room for a scare. I think 20pts is pretty generous and think it’ll be much tighter with USA scoring a few tries. USA definitely aren’t among the top ranked of the second tier but at home, in sweltering heat, if our forwards don’t stamp their mark on them this has banana skin written all over it.

      I do think our pack will be good enough to suppress them but a little dubious about the back row selection.

  21. Nice to see those dirty players in the england squad get smashed again. loved when Vermuelan grabbed Itoje and smashed him back after his little push, aswell as running over the top of him 2-3 times.

  22. Wales making Argentina look poor by being clinical, composed, thorough and fast. Scotland will need to do every bit as much to win. Seemed to be lots of high tackles ignored.

  23. This looks like a fantastic match so far and with that high shot Scotland should have some breathing space which is definitely needed. Disappointed Horne isn’t going to get credited for that try on debut.

    Just realising how much depth we are developing. We now have depth beyond depth in so many positions now. There are going to be players over the next few years who’ll get a few caps or maybe not even capped that eight years ago would be starters for sure.

    Think about the players who were seen as the great new hope for Scotland at various times over the last wee while, and now for various reasons are now nowhere to be seen.

    Visser, Hardie, Dickinson, Cowan, McArthur, Weir, add your own.

    Many of things players I have a real fondness for but right or wrong things have moved on and you can’t really argue too much as we are being successful and building for the future.

    And lastly Scott (Bikini) Johnston has to take some credit too for the plan too and the bringing through of real talent in a very small pool of players compared to many countries around the world. Getting quite excited about the World Cup next year now.

  24. Poor leadership on the pitch. Trying too hard ,great commitment.,Leadership needed.

  25. If Scotland want to be taken seriously then we should not be losing against USA. I’ll get that statement in there before the inevitable excuses are trotted out on here.

    Absolutely feeble. Ireland or Wales for instance would have won that game by 20 points. Lose to Argentina and it will have been a disaster of a tour.

  26. Well, that was awful.
    USA deserved to win, second half embarrassing.

    I said it last week, but McGuigan is a liability. Can’t kick, looks like he has never even thought about passing in his life and multiple errors in defence.

    Hamilton was disappointing. Fagerson had a couple of nightmare moments but otherwise played ok.

    Reasonable positives – G.Horne, Hastings decent. Kinghorn probably our best player (needs to think about offloading and stop punching at the ball from kicks).

    Bennett added a lot when he came on, as did Fife.

    I don’t think Hogg is really captain material.

    We will have learned a lot from that game, but looked a bit too much like the old Scotland for large parts of it.

    1. Agree re Hogg. Has done a good job recently of using his aura to draw defences in, then putting someone through a hole. But tonight for parts of the game he clearly didn’t trust anyone and tried to do too much himself.

      Also, as much as this was a “develolment” game, why – when we were behind – did we decide to play a chunk of the match with a lock, a hooker, and an uncapped teenager as our back row?

  27. Naturally a poor result but some positives in Turner, Kinghorn, Horne Jnr and Hastings all playing well. Lack of experience lost that game, we needed to slow the game right down in second half when it was clear we were knackered.

    Fagerson jnr is nowhere near big enough to play 8 yet. Sadly he had no real impact, which at 19 is hardly surprising. Should have had Bradbury there for power.

  28. Because we kept changing the first receiver, it seemed like we never gave any one player the chance to dictate the pace of the game. A real mixed bag from Hastings, but I think he would have been served better by just having him as the consistent 10 throughout so he could develop some rhythm and patterns. I understand taking pressure off him, but he never had the chance to control things like MacGinty did so well. Then, if it’s not working after 45-50, move Horne to 10 and bring on Bennett.

    The USA played with great accuracy and power in the second half. We didn’t have the players on the pitch to dictate territory. I agree that Kinghorn played well. It was difficult for Hogg to influence the team from 15. The very few times we had possession between the 40th and 70th minute, our errors killed us (e.g. McGuigan’s dodgy kicks).

    It was also a bad moment for Matt Fagerson (who had a good first half)
    when he dropped the ball, but why were we playing punt ping-pong with a great tactician like MacGinty? It felt like we’d rewound about 8-10 years to one of the worst periods in rugby union’s tactical history.

    Well done, USA. Well deserved.

    1. Agree it was a mixed bag from Hastings, he seemed to do the miracle passes really well and struggle with the big standard passes. I thought he defended really well though. Looks good for the future.

  29. This reality check has really taken the shine of my enjoyment of England’s test series. Interesting to see how we respond in Argentina with a more experienced team.

  30. Was it fair &/or wise to have a 19 year old starting against those big american beasts. And often fielding the kick-offs. USA were very well coached, have huge physicality and had the best player on the park (AJ Macginty) to orchestrate proceedings. Grigg has a big heart but given the way he plays and being barely 14st…..not an international centre for me. We really missed a genuine 7, Hardie should be very much in GTs plans for AI, 6N & RWC. Obviously Watson to return. Hastings did ok, McGuigan is a curates egg he is a scorer of try’s but not the greatest all-round. Still with Nel, McInally, Berghan, Gray x 2, Barclay, Watson, Hardie, Wilson, Laidlaw, Russell, Dunbar, Taylor, Jones, Maitland, Seymour all to return……..

    1. Agree that Grigg is not of International class and that Hardie was missed for that game.

  31. That was an abysmal result and there are no excuses. Whoever was missing was missing – end of. The players chosen should have had enough to put away the USA.
    There is no other top tier nation that would have lost that game even with their so called development team.
    No excuses.
    As for beating Argentina in Argentina – chances are probably somewhere between zero and nil – hope I’m wrong.

    1. I’d say Argentina are favourites but Scotland have won their last 3 games against them and Argentina have lost twice to Wales now. To say we have zero chance is ridiculously pessimistic.

  32. A shocking result that no excuses can be made for. But a word for the USA. They’ve gone from having a fairly powderpuff pack to building one that is big and strong and willing to be brutally physical, there is a lesson there for us.

    Big performance required against Argentina now.

  33. Argentina play in the rugby championship and don’t disgrace themselves. Not sure or interested if their results against Wales was due to their development team being involved.
    Correct about having zero chance – but based on yesterday I’m not being pessimistic, only realistic.

  34. I don’t see why people are so shocked by this, anyone who has watched Major Leavue Rugby this year will know American rugby is of a high standard. I enjoyed the game as a good contest and ultimately the loss doesn’t actually matter. we put out a very young team against the USA first team and narrowly lost and we benefited from seeing some young talent on display.

    Players who were good:
    Kinghorn, Hastings, G Horne, Turner

  35. This was lost off the pitch, what is going on ? Players playing out of position, in the humidity, with a vocal crowd. Hogg is no captain , no leadership presence and not objective. Hogg taking line kicks over Hastings !!!! (That told him who was boss did’nt it.)

    I have no idea what we are doing, every other nation (England aside) appear to have a solid platform for the RWC while we are still trying to put square pegs in round holes.

    1. I disagree, the decision for Hogg to take the touch finders will have been Toonie’s and part of the plan to allow Hastings to concentrate on other parts of his game, and I think it was the correct call. I also think Toonie will have learnt a lot about his squad from this game.

  36. Positives: Kinghorn and G. Horne looked really sharp, albeit inexperienced; Fagerson was pretty good with only one mistake sticking out; Swinno was fairly decent and kept going right until the end; Turner was pretty dynamic (again); Brown made a difference at flanker; McCallum was bulldozing his way to the tryline; Bennett looked good again; our maul and scrum were pretty good; Denton got another famous offload away.

    Negatives: We got blown away in the second half; Hogg seemed subdued and frustrated, and was getting visibly angry, which isn’t great for morale or leadership; pack was a bit underpowered; we weren’t able to control the game when USA were dominating; too many daft and unforced errors; McGuigan was pretty poor, especially when kicking (why were we kicking so much anyway?! For his first wayward kick there were men outside him ready to go…); Hamilton underwhelmed; the chaps looked freaking knackered at several points; we’ve dropped to 7th while Wales are now 3rd…

    Yes, it’s an embarrassing loss, one that one feels wouldn’t have happened to other tier one teams, but The Eagles are on the up and part of me was definitely routing for them. Hopefully this loss will encourage more Americans to start following rugby and supporting MLR. I can see them winning a game in their pool in the RWC.

    With Toonie as coach, the tombola is always going to strike and sometimes it’ll miss. We should leave playing players out of position to EJ and England. With last week’s back row and a captain who’s more in the thick of things, that match could have been a reasonable victory (although The Eagles were ever going to be as bad as the bookies thought). I think Toonie can assemble a team to beat the Argies:

    15. Hogg
    14. Kinghorn
    13. Bennett
    12. Horne
    11. Fife (?)
    10. Jackson
    9. Horne
    8. Denton
    7. Ritchie
    6. Bradbury
    5. Toolis
    4. Gilchrist
    3. Berghan
    2. Turner
    1. Dell

    16. Brown
    17. Bhatti
    18. McCallum
    19. Swinson
    20. Fagerson
    21. SHC
    22. Hastings
    23. Taylor

    1. Couple more negatives:

      -Depth and wing is not great; looks like we’ve got Maitland, Seymour and Kinghorn and then a big drop-off
      -Depth at centre is once again being tested by injury. A Dunbar/Taylor midfield would have been hugely beneficial, or even a Taylor/Bennett midfield.

      1. We have some extremely promising young wingers especially Robbie Nairn and Darcy Graham, but they are very young and short of exposure to top level rugby.
        Hopefully they’ll both get starts for Edinburgh next season.

      2. Not sure Jackson at 10 will be enough to beat Argentina, he looked like he struggled against Canada.

  37. Team I’d start against Argentina:

    Bhatti, Brown, Berghan

    I think that’s our strongest front row unless McInally is fit. Turner and Dell have gone well but I’d look for bulk from the start against Argentina with the dynamism of Dell, Turner and McCallum on the bench.

    Gilchrist, Toolis

    Edinburgh pair in the boiler house provide good balance.

    Bradbury, Ritchie, Denton

    I don’t think there is any doubt that this backrow showed up better than last nights albeit against weaker opposition but it’s big and athletic so what’s not to like.

    Horne, Horne

    I’d start the brothers at half back I think Hastings will come again but Horne is our best option at 10 for now, Jackson could also be an option but an uninspiring one for me. Argentina have played poorly against Wales and I think they will come out looking to smash us so important to have the level head and experience of the elder Horne.


    Bennett looks in decent touch but I worry if neither of Lang or Taylor is fit as would probably need Horne to move there and Jackson to start.


    Pretty easy selection in the back three. Fife is a much better player than the previous incarnation so I’d give him a shot from the start.

  38. Our strength is width and movement, and I’m sorry to pick one player who tackled and showed great work rate and heart, but Nick Grigg takes the width out of the team.
    The signs of this were there in Rome, obviously unheeded, and today we came a cropper.
    Our best centres are Taylor, Dunbar, Jones and Bennett and the starting combination comes from those 4.
    People can say it was a development xv and the US are coming along, but I suspect Wales or Ireland development xv would have won that game and you don’t want too many results like that. It effects a losing mentality.
    Better selection next week and a better performance needed.

  39. No need for gnashing of teeth here. This was a RIDICULOUSLY inexperienced Scotland side (26 caps between our 10 least experienced players) against a strong US outfit. For me, it was worth the risk to give these players exposure to adverse match circumstances, weather conditions, vocal away crowd.

    I take Johnny john John’s point about breeding confidence and a winning mentality, but this will also probably be by far the best learning experience for these young players who will mostly come through for the 2023 WC. Remember a similarly experimental England team getting beaten 76-0 by the Aussies in the late 1990s and what happened in the early 2000s? And don’t forget that, under pressure, they did actually score an inventive try (Finn-esque pass from Hastings) which could have won the game.

    Townsend will have learned a lot about his charges from this, positive and negative, which is what you want at a point when ranking points don’t really matter (at least not for WC seeding) and we’re one year out from the main event.

    1. Well said Andrew. I think the last time we toured The Americas and Canada and then went to South Africa a few years ago I think it was USA we beat comfortably and Canada was closer and we had to rely on a last minute inventive try to close out Argentina. I don’t think we deserved that victory then either but won the game.

      We do have the ability to close out tight matches these days with the team that has experience and clearly we didn’t have quite enough on the day. You’d have put your mortgage on Laidlaw to put that over. Russell too would have had a high chance of putting that over. Kinghorn was very close but it’s a learning experience.

      I suppose the most worrying aspect is the way we lost so many unanswered points over the minutes round the half-time interval and into the second half. We were dominated. I do think that was exaggerated as well though cos they had a man off for 10 mins which gave us a picture of more dominance that we actually had. We did start very well however.

      I think we’ll come out a beat Argentina and bring some confidence back.

      This will be a result we will look back on and say we learned a lot and blooded some good future prospects.

  40. Bottom line is we went 21-6 up and managed to lose.
    Some questions need to be asked because that looks like we just too our foot off the accelerator.

    1. Fair point. We should not lose from that position. I would suggest that the huge improvement in the USA’s tactics and accuracy was the primary cause for our loss + some bad mistakes in a crucial few moments in the 2nd half (Fagerson’s drop; McGuigan’s kicks; Turner/Hamilton’s missed tackle on their outrageously huge hooker).

      1. Who knows. They’re at the end of a long season and perhaps strength sapped in that heat.
        It was a very callow ream full of debutants or players with just a handful of caps as you say, and a number of reserves and even reserves to the reserves starting.
        It’s disappointing though.
        A mentality where it’s ok to lose can creep up on you very quickly.
        Look at Edinburgh. They’ve always had at least mid table pro 14 talent yet they festered around the bottom because it was just expected that they’d lose.
        Or even England. A team that can access incredible player resources with a coach whose track record is very good that won back to back 6N championships and they’ve gone from that to forgetting how to win in a season.
        You just have to be careful. All this experimenting can cause the side to lose direction if Townsend isn’t careful.
        He’s now presumably going to pick a bunch of players who’ll be rusty because they haven’t played for a while to play Argentina, who’ll be both steaming and battle hardened after 2 tests against Wales.

  41. I think this was a game in which we learned a fair bit about some players.

    Bhatti – Was ok and done his job
    Turner – Stepped up and his one major weakness, scrummaging appears to possibly be improving.
    Fagerson – Same as Bhatti

    Carmichael – Help his own for the most part but needs to be partnered with a powerhouse lock to compliment his agility and speed.
    Toolis – Solid and looks to have cleared abit of distance between Swinson and Carmichael for that 4th lock spot.

    Swinson – Did ok but the backrow lacked power and we have no need for him to be there with our depth, poor and overthought selection desicion.
    Hamilton -Not as effective at the breakdown as i was hoping, would like to see him play 6 or 8 to make my mind up about him.
    Fagerson – Not powerful enough to play 8 at this stage of his career and likely out of the running for a backrow spot for WC now, give him a few years.

    Horne/Hastings seemed composed enough for the most part under extreme conditions and strong pressure from USA. Pass Marks but they needs to add more.

    Horne – Solid and experience was nescesarry.

    Grigg – For me i dont know why he is being selected.. despite hitting hard in defense he gets exposed alot, his hard carrying at the line is average at international level, a decent club player but should not be close to the squad again with the others options we have.

    Mcguigan – Can carry hard somtimes … Jones overtakes him as 4th winger for all round game.

    Kinghorn – Impressed and is showing real confidence, a genuine option at wing now, kicking was decent overall also.

    Hogg – Played ok by his standards and kicked amazingly, Captain is perhaps not for him just due to his position as much as anything else.

  42. My team for Argentina.

    1. Dell
    2. Mcinally
    3. Mcallum
    4. Gilchrist
    5. Swinson
    6. Hamilton
    7. Ritchie
    8. Bradbury

    9. SHC
    10. Lang
    11. Fife
    12. Taylor
    13. Bennett
    14. Hogg
    15. Kinghorn

    16. Brown
    17. Bhatti
    18. Berghan
    19. Toolis
    20. Denton
    21. Horne
    22. Horne
    23. Harris (Last chance!)

    Main people to have a look at are Mcallum who i think has played well whenever he has gotten the opportunity, and Lang at 10.

    Would like to see Hogg/Kinghorn switch positions just to see how Kinghorn copes against a tier 1 side in his favoured position. Cant leave Hogg out with the others options available and he is experienced and talented enough to cope for a day on the wing.

    1. Interesting team, I assume you’ve a few last chance salooners in there as well? Switching Hogg and Kinghorn is and interesting call. Overall I expect this might be too experimental even for Toonie though!

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion