Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Heineken Champions Cup Round 2: The teams

Sam Johnson
Sam Johnson was one of a number of players who impressed - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Time is against us to do a full write up today but here are the teams for the weekend’s European clashes.

Edinburgh welcome back Jaco van der Walt as playmaker, in what has become a pretty settled team. Luke Crosbie on the bench will be a welcome sight as he returns from injury. No-one would really have given Edinburgh a chance against Toulon but they stuttered against the high-flying Newcastle Falcons last weekend. If the capital men get a good crowd behind them it could be a real tussle this one.

Edinburgh: 15. Blair Kinghorn, 14. Darcy Graham, 13. James Johnstone, 12. Matt Scott, 11. Dougie Fife, 10. Jaco van der Walt, 9. Henry Pyrgos; 1. Allan Dell, 2. Stuart McInally (c), 3. WP Nel, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Magnus Bradbury, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Viliame Mata.
Replacements: 16. Ross Ford, 17. Rory Sutherland, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Luke Crosbie, 20. Jamie Ritchie, 21. Nathan Fowles, 22. Simon Hickey, 23. Chris Dean.

RC Toulon: 15. Hugo Bonneval, 14. Josua Tuisova, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 12. Mathieu Bastareaud (c), 11. Julian Savea, 10. Anthony Belleau, 9. Anthony Meric; 1. Florian Fresia, 2. Anthony Etrillard, 3. Sébastien Taofifenua, 4. Juandre Kruger, 5. Romain Taofifenua, 6. Swan Rebbadj, 7. Raphael Lakafia, 8. Florent Vanverberghe.
Replacements: 16. Bastien Soury, 17. Xavier Chiocci, 18. Emerick Setiano, 19. Jacques Potgieter, 20. Daniel Ikpefan, 21. Francois Trinh-Duc, 22. Eric Escande, 23. Rudy Gahetau.

Referee: JP Doyle (England)

Sat 20 October 2018 15:15 (BST), BT Murrayfield Stadium

Tommy Seymour and Sam Johnson both missed the defeat to Saracens but return now, Seymour in the unfamiliar position of fullback. Other than that the team looks pretty similar to the unit that fronted up admirably against a powerful Sarries outfit. Having lost at home, this is a must win for Glasgow but Cardiff are not in the disarray of recent seasons and it will be tricky.

Cardiff Blues: 15. Gareth Anscombe, 14. Aled Summerhill, 13. Rey Lee-Lo, 12. Willis Halaholo, 11. Jason Harries, 10. Jarrod Evans, 9. Tomos Williams; 1. Rhys Gill, 2. Kristian Dacey, 3. Dillon Lewis, 4. George Earle, 5. Josh Turnbull, 6. Olly Robinson, 7. Ellis Jenkins (c), 8. Nick Williams.
Replacements: 16. Ethan Lewis, 17. Brad Thyer, 18. Scott Andrews, 19. Rory Thornton, 20. Samu Manoa, 21. Lloyd Williams, 22. Garyn Smith, 23. Matthew Morgan.

Glasgow Warriors: 15. Tommy Seymour, 14. Lee Jones, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Sam Johnson, 11. DTH van der Merwe, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. Ali Price; 1. Oli Kebble, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. D’Arcy Rae, 4. Robert Harley, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Ryan Wilson, 7. Callum Gibbins (c), 8. Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: 16. George Turner, 17. Alex Allan, 18. Petrus du Plessis, 19. Scott Cummings, 20. Chris Fusaro, 21. George Horne, 22. Peter Horne, 23. Niko Matawalu.

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)

Sun 21 October 2018 15:15 (BST), Cardiff Arms Park

130 Responses

  1. Looks like Zander ‘dealt with’ the SK forward next to him immediately prior to the picture being taken.

    Strong squads who can do some damage, but I still have a bad feeling about this weekend: both opponents have really strong 23s listed and both looking for a result. Any kind of win will be gladly welcomed! That said, if all four teams play as they did last round, we should get two wins.

    Think Hoggy and vdM2 are the big misses for Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively. Glad to see Niko back in the mid to terrify everyone with his antics, too. I prefer him when starts, though, because he seems to try to hard when he comes on as a replacement.

    1. Glasgow defended well last week. If there is no way through it could be frustrating for a maturing home side and a crowd that expect success. I do think we underestimate Jacko at the back. He can read the game amd defend.

    2. We all recognise Hogg is a loss .It is a chance for the rest to step up as they did against Munster and Scotland against Australia.Get behind Glasgow a great side,a diverse team with a broad spectrum of skills.Lets back them tomorrow and not bemoan the losses. Agree on Niko , Cardiff can not plan for him , even he does not know the script.

    3. Surprise surprise ..It looks like you are the only one missing these guys.Their colleagues are cracking on and previously hidden strengths are emerging.

  2. Looking at the Edinburgh team it’s pretty concerning that Carmichael and Hunter-Hill nowhere to be seen either for Edinburgh or any club teams this weekend. Who the hell is going to play second row against the Scarlets in 2 weeks when Toolis & Gilchrist are on Scotland duty? Or tighthead for that matter. By a quick count(and assuming Carmichael & Hunter-Hill are injured) I reckon Edinburgh might be down to 8 fit forwards not on Scotland duty for that game and 3 of them are looseheads. Think this might actually merit the overworked phrase “injury crisis”.

    1. It’s a 40 man Scotland squad, that doesn’t mean all are unable for club duty. Several who are not going to be involved for that weeks game will be released back to their it respective clubs.

      1. But which Edinburgh forwards are likely to get released? Tools or Gilchrist? Doubt it given there will be only them Gray and Harley available to Townsend. Which tighthead? Maccallum maybe but will Townsend only take 2 down to Cardiff or will maccallum go as a reserve?

    2. Edinburgh pack vs Scarlets
      1. Schoemann/Sutherland
      2. Ford (he won’t go with Scotland)
      3. McCallum
      4. McKenzie
      5. Hunter-Hill
      6. Crosbie
      7. Nayalo/Hamilton
      8. Mata/Hamilton

      16. Fenton
      17. Sutherland/Schoemann
      18. Ceccarelli
      19. Hamish Bain/Jamie Ure (Academy)
      20. Nayalo/Hamilton

      1. Spoke to Fraser McKenzie trackside yesterday before the game. He is still injured and leg still in a brace but hopes to be back before Christmas. Won’t be for Scarlets though.

      2. McKenzie injured
        Hunter-Hill, presume injured as hasn’t played for anyone for weeks
        Nayolo went off injured last week for Boroughmuir and didn’t feature this week
        Fenton injured
        Bain at Stade Nicois
        Ure, dont think he’s in the academy any more. Hodgson or Atkinson from academy possible but zero pro experience

  3. Strong Edinburgh pack.

    Glasgow backline has more menace with Johnson partnering Jones (a sign of things to come for club and country if injuries persist), Seymour at fullback and Matawalu on the bench. Fagerson to have a big game.

    Fancy Glasgow to do the job. Edinburgh have a chance…

    1. P.S. Don’t know why Rennie has been trashing Johnson in the media – saying he’s good enough to play for Australia.

      1. I think it’s a joke based on Aus’s post-2015 RWC performances. At least I hope so, because I laughed at it on that basis…

  4. Think the Glasgow game could be a try-fest on Sunday. That backline looks like scoring a few and conceding a few. Seymour is probably going to run as many back as he kicks. And it isn’t going to get any more conservative when Horne jnr and Niko come on, either. Breakdown should be an interesting contest. Blues are much improved from years gone by, so all in all, could be a bit of a classic.

    1. If you watched the Blues v Lyon game it wasn’t exactly a classic. Blues are decent around the breakdown (mostly Navidi and their tighthead had a couple of good turnovers also) but they were literally blown away at the scrum. Gareth Anscombe is their danger man in the backline, he can spot a gap. Glasgow shoild have them on toast based on both of last week’s performances. Lyon were very poor, can’t believe with the platform they had they didn’t win the game.

      1. Navidi is missing in Sunday. Also I think Cardiff’s backline is bristling with threats, promising young halfbacks, robust and skilful Pacifika centres and Anscombe at fullback. We have to win the battle up front.

      2. Reading the posts one thing everyone agrees on is the standard of refereeing is not going our way. Sunday’s ref is Luke Pearce who has made a few bad decisions at International level (NZ v France). According to Wikipedia he played for Exeter Saracens Rugby Club and captained a Welsh Exiles Under-16’s team.

      3. Just for the record. I though Referee Pearce had a decent, nOt perfect game . A few dodgy scrum penalties 1st half but a decent game IMO. It is great when the ref isnt the talking point of the game. Well done LP.

      4. I thought Pearce had a good game. Nobody ever has a perfect game but he didn’t have any howlers. Blues fans have been complaining that we were offside at ‘every ruck’, watched it back again and I can’t say I saw anything obviously offside. Luckily neither he or the touch judges were swayed by the partisan crowd.

      5. Yeah thought his reffing was pretty good. Can’t have been easy with the similarities in strip. Anything in the corner of his vision could have gone against either side!

      6. I think we were offside a fair bit, but I don’t think we were any worse than Blues were in that regard. He did penalise us early for stepping to the side in the scrum, which seemed pretty fair, and then Blues won a penalty by boring in. I think he or an AR spotted that, because he penalised them a bit later for boring in and from then the scrums were even at best, dominant for us at worst.

        I think he did a good job. I don’t remember getting particularly irate at any of his decisions, especially once a replay had been shown. Of course this is all is in the glorious post-win bliss, but I wouldn’t be concerned if he were refereeing us again. Even after the first Leicester game I was concerned about Raynal refereeing us again, and I’ve not seen him have a good game since then, regardless of wins (Leicester, Australia) or losses (England, Sarries).

  5. Dunbar is a big loss in attack, its overlooked abit due to his world class defense and breakdown work for a 12, he brings in defenders and makes the hard yards which gives the space for others. Johnson is the next best thing but will be interesting to see how he copes on 1st game back.

  6. Come on Edinburgh. Love the Cockerill press conference. ‘[If it kills me, I’m going to get rid of this Scottish plucky loser attitude] I’m an arrogant Englishman and expect to win.’

    Dunbar was injured in the first half last week. So Johnson Jones is potentially a step up from Horne Jones. Eager to see how Johnson gets on at inside centre.

    Was deadly serious above :)

  7. Great performance from Edinburgh against a completely disinterested Toulon. Really good start to the Champions Cup this season. Not sure who the ‘bankers’ are other than Probably Sarries and Leinster. The other groups and the runners up spots look wide open.

    Matt Scott very good today. Darcy Graham looks a great prospect and over time could offer Scotland something different.

    Pack was good. Ross Ford- the Renaissance man- is a fantastic option of the bench when some control needed.

    Pyrgos should be mentioned in dispatches. Control the game from 9. Well done. And well done to Jim Hamilton for clearly articulating the Edinburgh game plan. Really helped with the enjoyment of the game, not something that can be levied at all commentators or summarisers!

    One gripe, if I may. For a city that claims to be the rugby capital of Scotland, it is embarrassing for the city that only 7,000 people turned up. Interested to understand this? Is it parochialism with people supporting clubs not Edinburgh? Or, is it disinterest? I would guess that if Glasgow played Toulon with a good chance of giving them a shellacking the crowd would be 15,000 minimum. Thinking it was only 20 quid for adults today.

    1. If you look back at say 2012-2016 Edinburgh as a club did almost everything wrong. Poor performances, uninspiring style of play, journeyman signings etc.

      I think once players in the Edinburgh backline become household names in the Scottish backline we will see a big increase in attendance. Glasgow had Russell, Hogg, Dunbar, Seymour + a PRO14 win. If players like Scott and Bennett, Kinghorn and even Graham string some international games than they should be able to build crowds like Glasgow started doing 5-6 years ago. It will take time.

      Another season or 2 in champs cup + a club stadium I think will be cherry on top. Great thing is that these look like genuine possibilities over next couple of seasons.

    2. You look back to 2013 and Glasgow warriors were lucky to get 3000 fans turn up to their game. Fast Forward to 2018 and if they had a larger stadium they could easily get 20 thousand plus fans into a match.

      End of the day, rightly or wrongly, fans are far more likely to turn up and pay money to get in if their is a good chance they are going to see their team win and play some good rugby.

      Look at Scotland. Wasn’t until 2017 until we finally sold out Murrayfield in the six nations era, just after we’d beaten Wales and Ireland for the 1st time in yonks and since then they have sold out every single game.

      Up until really the last year Edinburgh have had very few players in Scotland’s 1st choice 15 and none of them were really anything special.

      Now all of a sudden they have so many international level quality players such as Watson, Barclay, Mata, Gilchrist, Toolis, Nel, Dell, McInally, Kinghorn, Pyrgos, Ford and Scott as well as some potential future international stars such as Bradburry, Ritchie and Darcy Graham.

      Think if Edinburgh reach a pro-14/champions cup semi final it won’t be long before attendances rise to around 10-15 thousand.

      1. I doubt we will see that at cavernous BT Murrayfield. They can enjoy great rugby in their lounge or the rugby club. Attendance and loyalty is about something else.

      2. Last time Edinburgh got to a European quarter final we got something like 35,000 through the gates against Toulouse.

        If Edinburgh somehow won their group and got a home QF this year I reckon they’d top that now. Frankly who knows what is going to happen in that group it has defied virtually all expectations and I think we can beat Newcastle twice and take control of it.

      3. Good luck to Edinburgh and Glasgow and I have no doubt we could see huge numbers for an exceptional game , however I dont think you are saying you expect to see 10 to 15 K coming through the gates for every home pro 14 match anytime soon ? Which is my point/counter argument.

        Previous EU Cup winners Leinster, Ulster and Munster have capacity of 18k (RDS), 18k (Kingspan) and 28k at Thormond.

        if Edinburgh were to win the cup, I might change my opinion based on that fact however as we have been saying, a 90% empty Murrayfield is the wrong home for Edinburgh rugby. Once agian if Leinster were to use Aviva Stadium for every home match , I might ask how they can do it and we cannot , but they dont.

  8. I’ve been saying this for a couple of years, how come Edinburgh get about 5k per match when Murrayfield sells out every scotland home match. Many of the players are the same, the standard is good. I think the club is poorly marketed.

  9. Busy bee, I don’t think it is to do with marketing. I work in Edinburgh and everyone is aware of the team. More so than the awareness of The Warriors in Glasgow. To me the apathy makes the super six decision even more bizarre. How can Edinburgh as a city support all of this professional and semi-professional rugby given that its professional team is effectively on life support. This is no criticism of Edinburgh the rugby team, more an observation of the city. It would be awesome to see a Murrayfield sell out for a European home game. Sadly unlikely to happen.

    1. There’s also 3 AI’s fast approaching during November, all ridiculously scheduled for Murrayfield. To me that’s a parochial attitude from the SRU. The majority of Scotland’s fans at Murrayfield do not come from Edinburgh, they travel from out with the city boundaries. Rugby is not alone, look at the governance of football and golf in Scotland. How many times do we say on the release of fixtures or competitions, “get away to Falkirk” or “four foot snake”.

      Edinburgh, as a club, needs its own community identity to encourage local support.

      As a national team, at its various levels, the Test matches need to be taken all round the mainland and islands to create a national interest, with local clubs flourishing. NZ can provide a blue print, they’ve been pretty successful.

      Excellent result for Edinburgh, here’s to Glasgow tomorrow.

      1. I meant to add that Edinburgh need their own stadium before they can forge ahead as a community club.

  10. The stadium fills as the nation appear to support Scotland.Glasgow is well positioned within 1 hr drive of Scotlands highest populated regions …Edinburgh is not and they are grippy.Watch Glasgow swell if they move the stadium closer to city centre.

  11. Truth Fairy,not sure I grasp your point re Glasgow vrs Edinburgh’s geographic position. I have read some east coast media recently saying Edinburgh was, magically, bigger than Glasgow. (Ed: apologies for being churlish).

    My point is Edinburgh as a city and regional hub should still be able to provide more than 7,000 for a major European game. If I was from Edinburgh and a rugby fan, I would be embarrassed by that attendance and also ‘game 3’ between Ed and Gla last year. I would estimate that 2/3rds of the crowd that day had travelled from Glasgow.

    I’ll repeat my question- as a city that claims to be the home of Scottish rugby, why is no-one interested in supporting the pro side? I think it is obvious that a successful pro side and well supported pro side in Edinburgh is good for Scottish rugby. Please support your team!

    1. I’m not quite sure what your point is? Edinburgh doesn’t claim to be the home of Scottish rugby, Scotland is the home of Scottish rugby!

      You can’t be embarrassed by an attendance figure – that is completely pointless. There is a problem with atmosphere and club feel with Murrayfield for smaller crowds. We all know that and it keeps some people away.

      Edinburgh is building, both on the pitch and also off it in terms of club feel etc. You can’t suddenly attract an additional 10,000 fans just because Richard Cockerill is turning it around with his management team. It takes time.

      If you look at comparisons, Cardiff Blues average crowd is around the 6,000 mark. Capital city, etc etc – Edinburgh are not unusual.

    2. Having lived in both the one benefit Glasgow has is connectivity to the rest of Scotland.You can be over the border in less than an hour from Edinburg and it is isolated by the Forth from the North.It is supported by the borders which has its own problems funding local clubs in addition to being plain old hard up.I do take your point .In the 90s when I lived in Edinburgh there was in excess of thirty clubs in the city and an away game was a bike ride away.In facr some clubs are just over the road or another end of a park.In both cities clubs have amalgamated to survive. Edinburgh should do better but they are not.Fans disappear back into the cold streets however they hang about the bar at scotstoun.It is bigger than geography however if we look at where most of our pro players come from there are as many from glasgow as there is Edinburgh and more from the rest of Scotland than either city.Maybe you are right the grippy easties should get up there and support the side.

  12. Need to have a place with atmosphere for edinburgh to attract fans, performances will not account for huge increase in fans until they have a stadium suitable.

  13. Things they could do to increase fan attendance.

    1. Make sure domestic amateur games dont clash, you would imagine alot of people are supporting there local clubs on a saturday then staying at there clubhouse to watch the matches. (have amateur club games on the days the pro teams are not playing)

    2. Find a way to to promote rugby as a whole, example, Youths/Adults who are playing for there locals clubs can go to a select number of Edinburgh Games for free (Heineken Cup games using this as a promotion would be fantastic)

    3. Halftime Stripp.. Cheerleaders.

    4. Promote the game more in schools, Majority of the non-private schools still play barely any rugby. Again give out tickets for free for pupils who are partaking in rugby after school clubs etc, (they have so many empty spaces in murrayfield, dont think it would cost them much)

    5. This is a stab in the dark, but do they really need the whole stadium for rugby ? surely you could section off a 6th to a quarter and look to sell it, rent it, whatever into somthing in the entertainment/food industry to attract a different audience.

    1. I’ve been an Edinburgh fan throughout the pro era. Why don’t fans go to the games? Because you pay for an experience. Playing in a cavernous stadium irrelevant of the rugby on show is no experience at all for a fan. Put Glasgow in that stadium with a Scotstoun crowd and it would still be a crap fan experience. Everything is in place for building a successful all round club. The final piece is the ground. Everyone commenting on here is a bit of a die hard, wouldn’t be commenting on a niche blog otherwise. More casual fans need more than the game to justify ticket prices. Need an atmosphere.

    2. In fairness Neil,

      1. This was done, pro games used to be a Friday night deal with the Scottish amateur leagues playing Saturday afternoon. It’s only changed due to the increase in TV revenues

      2. My rugby club used to receive free Glasgow tickets for Firhill, I went as often as I could but back then it was even hard to give them away (I could buy a student ticket got £5, now it can cost up to about £30). Nowadays people would bite your hand off for a Glasgow ticket, giving them away free now would cost the club revenue.

      3. This could come back to bite you with the #metoo movement and the family friendly atmosphere. We’re trying to encourage women to get involved in sport not just cheer on the men. It’s be seen as sexist and rightly so.

      4. State schools in the West of Scotland have made significant progress in just the last 8 years. The SRU expanded on its school of rugby programme and now runs midweek school conferences across much of Glasgow and the West which compliments the club Rugby scene.

      5. The SRU did look to expand on murrayfield with some sort of hotel experience but I’m not sure where this would stand now the plans for minifield are out. Also with Murrayfield selling out regularly is it really the time to reduce capacity?

      1. It is just no fun in an empty stadium, you do not feel part of something. The team are excellent, I did consider going to yesterdays match and I am a Glasgow fan, but it was the draw of Toulon , not Edinburgh. In the end , too long a journey to stand in a half empty stand, to watch a Toulon side which is no longer what it once was. However it is worth taking a look at Toulons business model, they have coffee shops, fan shops all over town. The gound is more centrally located but unless they played in the Gardens , they already have that. They should have bought Morrison Street Car Park and built a place there. It all takes time, but they do have a cracking side to support now.

      2. Scott M alot of the points your adressing are coming from whats being done in glasgow, from somone who lives in Edinburgh this does not feel like its happening to the same affect atm.

        Point 3 was a half joke. They should make it more Entertaining (Americanized) in some way when the new stadium arrives though.
        Nothing wrong or sexist with having hot cheerleaders on match day to increase the atmosphere though. commonly done still at scotland events/7s etc.

        Point 1 you adressed fair enough, just a shame as it would help i believe.

        For point 5, would they need to reduce capacity to rent sell a section of the lower outer stadium ?

        Even a Restaurant chain, Pub, supermarket branch etc for people to enjoys themselfs before or after a match,

      3. Ben, I agree… The sooner Edinburgh get minifield sorted out the better as they have no chance of filling that stadium… no matter how well the team plays.

        Neil, I can see your point. My expertise is in Glasgow and the West as it’s where I live and work. I worked a year in a school in Dunfermline which I have to say had a brilliant rugby programme but it was more of the exception rather than the rule. Theres no reason why whats been done over here couldnt be replicated on the east coast.

        Match-day experience is something which clubs can always work on but I’d like to think it goes beyond just having cheerleaders. Glasgow used to have the Rockettes at their games now and again and it wasn’t the main draw. Having the mascots outs regularly, good food and drinks outlets, youth rugby events before games and maybes some live music would all make more of a difference in my opinion. Scotland always have live music in and around the stadium on game days and a crowd will gather to watch.

  14. A lot of chat on here about why Edinburgh don’t attract bigger crowds, and not enough on how good they were yesterday!

    From start to finish they were, to a man, outstanding. For players like Darcy Graham, James Johnstone and Magnus Bradbury to front up to the galacticos of Toulon is remarkable. Darcy Graham in particular might be forgiven for being overawed by the size, both in literal and metaphorical terms, of the man directly opposite him, but he never took a backwards step.

    At the start of the season if you’d said to even the most fervent of Edinburgh supporters that the team would have deserved to have beaten Montpellier away and then got a bonus point win at home to Toulon they’d have called you insane!

    Yes Toulon were shambolic but that takes nothing away from the fact that not one of the 23 didn’t perform.

    1. Listened in radio and just caught highlights. Graham’s take of the pass above his head at pace in the build up to the third try was a piece of incredible skill. Let’s hope he fulfills his potential – he could be dynamite.

      Also next two rounds are a huge opportunity. We were better than Newcastle and if we can roll them twice we’ll be in touching distance of the QFs.

  15. DArcy Graham reminds me a lot of Damian Mackenzie. He is going to push Kinghorn close for the bench spot come the World Cup.

    His skills from catching high balls to tackling and clearing out are as good as anyone I’ve seen, amazing at such a young age.

    1. I would not be surprised it its a backline Kinghorn/Maitland/Hogg
      with Graham on the bench.

      If Those 2 Maintain there form and keep developing, Seymour will be hard pressed to keep his spot if he does not return to his 2015/16 form

  16. Anyone heard of the extent of Bradbury’s injury? Hoping it was just a stinger and he’ll be ok for November.

  17. Great start from Glasgow – Hastings try after 90 seconds.
    Someone really should be wearing a different kit though!

    …. and another try within time to edit my post!

    1. Get the party started. Cutting apart at will. What a second try! And the trickier conversion nailed. This back line is way too hot to handle.

  18. Saw Watson and Cornell Du preez walking down the west end earlier.. Possible return of Du Preez?, would be an odd one.

  19. Hastings has been excellent, Huw Jones firing as well. DTH looking very dangerous.
    Horne looks so much sharper than Price, who is still nowhere near where he used to be – really slow service again, solid but not special.
    BP try was class.

    Very positive weekend for Scottish rugby.

    1. Great wins for both teams this weekend!!! Glasgow away to Munster next week … another very hard game

    2. I thought Price played very well. Good control through a tough first half. Quick service and a lot of responsibility. G Horne is almost made for the last 20 when players are tiring. Otherwise agree!

  20. What a pair of results. Both teams back in the chase but need to wins from their head to heads. On paper, Newcastle should be there for the taking but their Euro form is inspired. What a huge achievement it would be if both Scottish sides made the QFs, maybe that is getting a little far ahead!

  21. Great work from both teams this weekend.

    I didn’t see the Edinburgh game, sadly, but there was some filth in the highlights, and it’s good to here that Graham is knocking this up a notch.

    Glasgow were a class above Blues, despite switching off a few too many times, for example in the build up to Blues’ first try. Still, four lovely tries scored, and some powerful defence and lineout work. Brown was my MotM, but Jones, Gray, Gibbins and Fagerson were all excellent. Blues got away with serious shenanigans at the breakdown, especially in the second half, and both teams were miles offside at times, but the ref seemed fairly even. Thought Anscombe, Morgan and T. Williams were good – especially the latter’s mid-air scoop ‘n’ pass! – but Blues really lacked composure compared to last week.

    Lyon home and away should be winnable, but, as a fan of Scottish rugby, I’m still nervous as.

    Newcastle got quite lucky against Montpellier, and I actually fancy Edinburgh to do the double on them as long as Cockers keeps them riled up.

    1. I would add DTH to your list. It was the lines of DTH and Jones that did the damage in attack . Seymour was better than average at Full Back. Johnson was a menace for Cardiff . Their Back three were as good as anyone in the competiton and I was impressed and proud of our defence which has to be concerning anyone in the group. It also augers well for the AI’s.

    1. I think something has changed since the debacle against the kings! Much more together as a team, more aggression, better defence, backs starting to click. I think Rennie has a much better idea of who can do the job for him! If they can cut out the mistakes they are a match for anyone! Big challenge ahead though with a game against Munster and the first choice team away with Scotland.

  22. A great pair of bonus point results for both clubs in Europe this weekend after last week’s frustrations and disappointments. Adam Hastings was impressive today – a couple of yards quicker than his Dad, who was no slouch – and he looks like he is becoming a genuine contender for the 10 jersey with Finn, who by all accounts is doing very well thank you very much for Racing 92. Also impressed by Huw Jones’s work in defence as well as attack.
    A nod to Glasgow’s oppo today : Anscombe looked classy and quick and could do some serious damage for Wales if he stays fit and on form.

  23. Have to say DTH VDM needs a special mention. He is an exceptional player , I was disappointed when he left, never expected him to come back and never expected him to reach the same standards yet again. When he steps on the park, I know what to expect , yet he always overdelivers on that expectation.

    Get your kids down to Scotstoun , dont miss a minute, if ever there was an icon for Glasgow Warriors, it is DTH Van Der Merve. I believe we are about to see an amazing side rise yet again and while we have an embarassment of riches , this guy for me brings a pressence like no other.

    1. Seymour played well , he was solid under the high Ball, solid in defense, great positional sense, got involved in the attack and a few good kicks. The lines of Hastings , Jones and VDM are confusing the opposition , they dont know what to expect.

      The welsh are blaming a kit clash for their performance,

      1. I’ve not seen one Welsh person blame the kit for the loss, they’ve just rightly laughed at how ridiculous it was that a more distinct kit could not be found. Lets be fair it was a pretty hilarious and at the same time ludicrous F up.

      2. I dont think they are laughing.They have been complaining and the referees told them it was the home sides responsibiity to change.

      3. In fairness to the blues, Dave Rennie was also complaining about the kit clash after the game. I think more is being made of it in the Welsh media as the Scottish media have 2 good wins to talk about.

        Interestingly, Glasgow say they wouldn’t have minded playing in their black jersey but as the game was planned for them to wear their alternate that was all that was brought down to Cardiff. In my experience it has always been the home team to change if there’s a clash as they should have there other kit on hand, Cardiffs other kit was apparently at their training ground so they didn’t have an alternative on hand either.

        Lessons learned by both teams perhaps? Bring two sets of kit just in case.

  24. You are right Blake , it was ridiculous , there is a BBC article about it. It is just my opinion that they are blaming it, might be too strong. Like you, I cannot believe it happened.

    1. Anscombe is right to complain about the clash of kit, as it should never have happened. However, as the ref said, it is the home team’s responsibility to change strip if there is a clash (it always has been – it’s a tradition/courtesy thing – you’re the hosts). He said that was unfair and it should’ve been Glasgow to change strip. Much as I admired Anscombes performance in the match, he comes across as a bit of a knob now.
      To be fair though, he is not blaming the result on the clash, nor saying it was unfair on Cardiff that the kit clashed.

  25. Do we now have a repeat of Kinghorn/Hogg with Brown and McInally. They’ve been Scotland’s best performing players this season by a mile. Brown has been outstanding.

    After his performance against Argentina, I’d have no problem seeing a back row of Brown, Watson and Bradbury/Thompson

    1. Let’s kill this before it starts or we’ll have Hogg at 10 all over again! Brown is a hooker, he should be played as a hooker. Just because he was half-decent as a back row in one international does not mean we should weaken the team in two positions permanently. We have a plethora of fantastic back row players, and a good international team needs two quality hookers anyway.

      Should he have a sustained number of games in the back row for Glasgow and be a standout, then we can consider him for that position.

    2. Interesting to see what happens.
      I think each offers something different (though with considerable overlap). Brown absolutely stands out at the breakdown and is a physical menace in defence whereas McInally is most dangerous with ball in hand and probably edges it on dynamism.

      To me this suggests they should each get their chances according to the opposition. Gregor was always a very considered selector at Glasgow, taking a horses for courses approach. He’s been burned badly doing this at international level, though, and it feels like he’s been edging toward a defined ‘first team’. Interesting to see how it spins out.

  26. I think what we shouldn’t ignore is that actually this is where we want to be: with a decent bench that maintains or increases intensity. For years there was a lack of outstanding talent so we shuffled players to accommodate the best of them – and didn’t get the best *out* of them anyway – and had a bench with little to no impact.

    You don’t play Brown out of position just to get him on the park (except in an injury crisis mid game), you play him at 2/16 so that when he comes off the bench there is no drop in level and McInally knows he has to play well to stay there. How do you think Fordy got so many caps?

    Your 1-23 should ALL be starters, not just “the next best”.

    1. An exception being with the 31 man world cup squad…where you are always a few players short.

      You need 3 hookers but also enough cover at lock and in back row…so a #3 hooker who can also play back row eases the burden at the back, cos otherwise he’s twiddling his thumbs….or the hookers might have some sort of rotation.


      Ire: #1/#2
      Sam: #2/#3
      Rus: #2/#1 (#3 as BR cover)
      Jap: #1/#3

      Whoever it might be, they are still a hooker though…its just as cover (e.g. vs Russia prior to Japan).

      I think this was worth a practice in the summer…but not the higher stakes of the AIs.

      1. Last World Cup we brought 3 hookers, 4 second row and 6 back row. No need for hooker-come-flankers.

        We only took one FB as easy to cover by back three subs.

      2. FF: The last world cup we only took

        3 hookers
        5 props
        4 locks
        5 back row

        We replaced Grant Gilchrist with Blair Cowan after GG got injured against the US.

        we also took
        3 scrum halves
        2 fly halfs
        4 centres
        4 wingers
        1 fullback.

        Your comment that a FB can be covered by a winger should be considered as nonsense if you have ever watched Visser at FB for Quins.
        Also, imagine Sean Lamont as a FB!

      3. You are right I did not notice Cowan was a late addition. Point remains that our wingers are likely Maitland, Seymour, Kinghorn and Graham/Fife/Jones. All those except Jones have played 15 so we will only take Hogg at FB just like last time.

        I’d bet that hookers will be McInally, Brown and Ford
        and none of them will play a minute in the back row.

      4. Q: Will we be we taking 5 props, or 6?

        Jon Welsh is presumably not on the list for 2019, but McCallum might be able to cover both sides.

        If 6 then that’s another spot gone…so you’re down to 3 locks, or 4 back row…or maybe losing a back (scrum-half?).

        With modern front row requirements, 31 is a pretty horrible number!

  27. Telegraph has 4 Scottish players in their team of the weekend – Darcy Graham, Adam Hastings and Henry Pyrgos in the backs and Fraser Brown in the forwards (plus Bill Mata).
    Honourable mentions to Huw Jones, Matt Scott, Finn Russell, Stuart McInally, Jonny Gray and Hamish Watson.
    That’s a total of 10 SQPs named out of 30. It bodes well for the AIs that most of our key players are in form. Those that aren’t injured anyway!
    Personally I was also impressed by Rob Harley – his work-rate was tremendous and for once didn’t give a penalty away. Can’t compare to Jonny Gray but who can?

    1. Graham seems to me to have bulked up a wee bit, and if he carries on that form he’ll be a real bolter for the RWC.
      In a great weekend for picking out Scottish excellence, from those not mentioned yet I thought Nel showed real signs of getting back to his pre – injury form. And I’m still grinning at that tackle from Berghan . . . .

      1. Shame I didn’t get to see that Berghan tackle, but even just listening on the radio you got the sense that was an amazing cover tackle. I just wish I could’ve seen Tuisova’s face.

    2. Even the Manchester Guardian included three players from Scottish Teams. Those crazy Irish over at Ultimate Rugby could only bring themselves to include Russell, though.

    1. Excellent news and very topical. The Cardiff Arms park takes 8000 there is no reason why an ambitious Edinburgh could not hold this volume of support with the right surroounding infrastructure.

      1. CAP had 9500 yesterday and was not full. 2 sections of South stand almost empty and standing space had plenty room. I think it takes about 12500 but averaged 6300 for pro14 last year.

  28. Understandable – all through my formative years (the 90s) we made them our bitches (I think the stats are 10-1-1) – it is fair to assume this has left an indelible scar on the national psyche that cannot be erased, even by their current dominance!

  29. With Magnus Bradbury probably injured for a couple of weeks (or months?) maybe GT could persuade Mr Graham of Newcastle back to Scotland after a stonking performance against Montpellier? Considering he’s still not in the England squad even with England’s much trumpeted back row injury list, and at the only real time left for experimentation pre World Cup in the Autumn Internationals he must be wondering if he’ll get another call up! Feel
    more and more like he and Vellacott were brought into the England squad to prevent them being added to Scotland’s.

    1. Think Townsend said they will not be approaching Graham at all now unless he contacts them first or declares he is internested in Scotland.

      Tbh i dont want people who dont have Scotland as there first choice.

      Graham can rot in England and not get selected for all i care.

      We are in a position now that we Depth in EVERY position.

      Our last 2 weak spots for Depth have been covered in Kinghorn and Hastings.

  30. I’ve had a go at a RWC squad, keeping in mind there is a helluva lot of rugby to be played so the names may not be accurate but the numbers per position is what I see happening.

    Allan Dell, Jamie Bhatti
    WP Nel, Zander Fagerson, Murray McCallum
    Stuart McInally, Fraser Brown, George Turner
    Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Scott Cummings, Sam Skinner
    Blade Thomson, John Barclay, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury

    Greig Laidlaw, George Horne, Ali Price
    Finn Russell, Adam Hastings
    Alex Dunbar, Huw Jones, Matt Scott, Sam Johnson
    Darcy Graham, Sean Maitland, Dougie Fife, Blair Kinghorn, Stuart Hogg

    Simon Berghan & Ryan Wilson were hard to leave out, as were Richie Gray, Duncan Taylor and Mark Bennett but for different (injury) reasons.

    Byron McGuigan and Chris Harris were not too difficult.

    Alex Allan, Ross Ford, Rory Sutherland, Ben Toolis, Lewis Carmichael, David Denton, Luke Hamilton, Matt Fagerson, Henry Pyrgos, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Pete Horne, Nick Grigg, Tommy Seymour, Lee Jones & Ruiraidh Jackson all miss out, as they just have too much competition for places. Its a nice problem to have with all these names I have left out could still form a cracking club side, and still more I haven’t mentioned.

    1. Townsend dropped Wilson once already and got badly stung for it. I doubt he’ll leave him out the World Cup squad. Wilson shows up in big games as we have seen the past two weekends.

      It’s also worth noting that Townsend has pick Tommy Seymour in every single important match he’s had as a coach. Against Ireland in Japan I know who i’d want under Murray’s box kicks and it’s not Graham or Fife.

      Cummins has been poor for Glasgow this season. Toolis has been excellent for Edinburgh. That’s another head to head which will take a significant reversal of fortunes.

      1. I’d agree with SB, Toolis is probably our form lock while Cummings (who I am a big fan of) has gone off the boil since last season. Can’t see that swap happening even in a year.

      2. Cummings arms are too thin at the moment. Once he bulks up and adds a good stone he will be much more intimidating and brutal in the tight.

    2. Toonie’s Advisor this would be an awful selection and so unrealistic. You make Theresa May’s advisors seem as if they are doing a good job.

      1. Bhatti isn’t even getting into Glasgow 23 at the moment, isn’t in Scotland’s current squad, behind Allan for both Scotland and Glasgow. Sutherland, Dell, Allan are all more likely to go than him.

      2. Scott Cummings ahead of Ben Toolis is that a joke.

      3. If Richie Gray cannot regain match fitness before the world cup then yes Skinner probably will go as 4th lock but if both are fit can’t see how someone with Richie’s experience is going to be left behind for someone yet to play international rugby.

      4. Ryan Wilson, rightly or wrongly, is one of Gregor’s most consistently selected players. Thomson or Bradburry could take his place in the side before the world cup but doubt someone with his experience will be left behind especially considering his versatility across the back-row.

      5. I think if Mark Bennett or Duncan Taylor can regain match fitness they will be on the plane ahead of Johnson and/or Scott.

      6. Dougie Fife ahead of Tommy Seymour if you are not joking you must be a troll. Seymour has been one of our most consistent and experienced performers and you want to drop him for someone who at 28 has started for Scotland 4 times. Even during his period of bad form he’s still been better than Fife.

      This is just a joke squad and i’d be highly disappointed if this was the squad selected.

    3. Here’s my 31 man squad to go to the world cup. Can’t see there being too many drastic changes with the autumn internationals and the 6 nations being Scotland’s only competitive fixtures before the world cup however if certain players have incredible seasons or if players take their chances when injuries arise new faces could forces themselves into the reckoning. Anyway here’s my squad.

      Front 3; Dell, Allan, McInally, Brown, Turner, Nel, Fagerson, McCallum

      Locks: Richie Gray, Jonny Gray, Toolis, Gilchrist

      Back Row; Barclay, Watson, Wilson, Bradbury, Thompson

      Half-backs; Price, George Horne, Laidlaw, Hastings, Russell

      Centres; Huw Jones, Bennett (Scott if unfit), Dunbar, Duncan Taylor (Johnson if unfit)

      Back 3; Hogg, Seymour, Maitland, Graham, Kinghorn

      1. Wrong.

        Marfo, Dell, Sutherland
        Nel, Berghan, Fagerson
        Hooker: Mcinally, Brown, Ford
        Lock: Gray, Gray, Gilchrist, Skinner

        Backrow:Barclay, Bradbury, Watson, Wilson, Thompson

        Scrumhalf – Laidlaw, Price, Pyrgos
        Halfback – Russell, Hastings
        Centre – Scott, Dunbar, Taylor, Jones
        Back 3 – Hogg, Maitland, Kinghorn, Seymour

      2. Neil agree with most of that but here is where I disagree with you on;

        1) I agree with the OP and the general consensus on here that bringing a prop who can play both sides of the scrum would make sense as it would allow us to take an extra back and Murray McCallum fits the bill perfectly. So far in his short Scotland career has looked a very effective scrummager and ball carrier.

        2) Marfo showed what he can do against NZ and Australia. His problem has always been his fitness. At 27 he’s only played 30 professional game, mainly due to his injury problems. If he can somehow return from injury, get some game-time and form then maybe he could be on the plane but with his career has gone so far it’s unlikely.

        3. Dell and Allan have been the form Scottish Looseheads this season and we’ve not seen much from Sutherland since his return from injury but if he can reach old heights could challenge Allan and Dell for a place in the squad.

        4. Haven’t seen Skinner play yet. What I do know is that Toolis has been exceptional the past few seasons for Edinburgh and played great in the summer and autumn tests for Scotland. If Skinner plays well in the autumn he may change my mind.

        5. George Horne has been the former number 9 Scotland over the past year so despite a return to form not sure how you can select Pyrgos ahead of him.

        6. Having just 4 back 3 players seems a bit short so as suggested earlier bring 1 less prop and bring a prop who can play both sides of the scrum. Think we agree pretty much everything else.

  31. Toonie Advisor – it’s an interesting post in terms of how do you distill down to a 31 man squad. Adds to the intrigue of World Cup selections.

    Looking at 2015, your composition is the same as the original squad: 5 props, 3 hookers, 4 locks, 5 back-rows etc, so should be fairly accurate.

    I am not sure on the rules in terms of what happens if you only have two looseheads and one gets injured? Presumably you need another on bench. If a temporary replacement can’t be called up (ie an injury replacement rules the injured player out of whole tournament) then there is logic in McCallum,otherwise there isn’t as he is not one of the best 5 props in Scotland.

    I think Ross Ford might go. I would prefer him in an attritional game to Turner.

    Think Toolis goes and Richie Gray, if fit. Unless of course Sam Skinner is world class between now and the WC- if so would he not be in England squad?

    Wilson will go if fit – I don’t think Jamie Richie will make the cut. Blade Thomson also has to prove he is better than Fagerson and Denton in a Scotland shirt.

    Pete Horne could very well miss out.

    I think Seymour goes, with Maitland,Kinghorn and Hogg. If Taylor fit, perhaps he goes instead of Johnson and then you can pick a 6th prop as Taylor can cover centre and wing (as I understand Huw Jones can). D Graham has potential but basically has to set the ground on fire in European cup and 6N to get near squad.

  32. Sotonsaltire. Suggesting Skinner being world class means he would be in the England squad ignores the competition, genuinely stupidly deep at lock and also that Jones doesn’t select on form and generally doesnt pick Chiefs forwards irrelevant of form or class see Ewers and Armand two of the best English qualified back rows over the past 2 years and not a look in. or Waldrom despite being the leagues top try scorer two seasons on the bounce. Cowan Dickie is easily England’s best hooker after George and it’s taken an age plus injuries to force his hand for Hepburn. Skinner will make RWC. I could see him and Gray starting in the 6 nations and if it weren’t for Thomspson Skinner would be the player I was most excited to see this autumn in the squad. That squad from Toonies Advisor is indeed garbage.

  33. What people seem to forget when picking a 31 player squad is experience counts for alot, you should only really pick 5 players at most who are under 10-15 caps for a word cup team. in the past this might have been different but we now have experienced Quality depth in all positions except loosehead, 10 and 15.

    Im highly confident after the world cup players like Graham/Horne will be big stars for the international side, But there is no rush to bring them into the side as there positions have to much quality with experience.

    Players who this will be there 4th Rugby world cup squad if selected

    Ross Ford (2007,2011,2015,2019) 1

    3rd world cup

    John Barclay (07,11,19)
    Richie Gray (11,15,19) 2

    2nd world Cup
    (All 15,19)
    Hogg 12

    Players playing There first world cup


    Looking at this we will have a Ridiculously experienced talented Squad for 2023 with between 19-24 people on 2-4 world cups.

    1. Most likely we’ll pick three SHs. You seriously saying Horne should be left at home instead of travelling as THIRD scrum half and epic impact sub?

      I do think experience is important but that doesn’t mean leaving better players at home especially when you have experienced guys ahead of them in the pecking order.

      1. Blake what you fail to understand is that Pyrgos will be starting almost all the games for Edinburgh and is rediscovering his form with a strong pack.

        Horne is getting less and less game time now Price has taken his spot at glasgow back.

        I want a player who can control the game. Not somone who despite being exceptional at certain things still has alot of areas of his game that are not international standard.

  34. Might be a controversial statement but…

    Is Richie Gray really a shoe-in for the squad if fit?

    1. Richie Gray has the rare combination of being massive, athletic and pretty skillful (great lineout operator). For Scotland in recent times that is basically unheard of. His abilities dovetail perfectly with Jonny (workrate, defence, ruck, tight carry).

      Yes, we all sometimes wish he was a bit more brutal in contact, but there is no way you drop him from the squad.

    2. Richie is definitely in the wider squad but is starting to face more competition to be in the matchday 23. Gilchrist & Skinner will both push him close, I’m not a fan of BBT but he’s probably in the conversation as well.

  35. I’d take Malcolm, Lawson and Ford as the WC bookers and that way you can pick Turner, McInally and Brown in the back row. Some of the current back rowers are getting old and that selection would mean you have 6 players to cover the grueling hooker position if need be. Nobody else at the WC would have such coverage at hooker.

You might also like these:

World Rugby has taken steps to ban Dupont's Law amongst three new law changes to be brought in in July.
Scotland came up frustratingly short in their final Six Nations match against Ireland, losing out on a place in WXV1 in the dying minutes. It was a disappointing end to what has been a very good, if not spectacular, tournament from Scotland. Eleanor has the talking points.
Scotland's Womens Six Nations came to a frustrating end with an eminently achievable third place slipping out of their fingers in the final minutes. Skye rates the players.
Scotland Women travel to Ireland this weekend to face down the chance of their first 3rd place finish in the Six Nations since 2005.

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion