Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Podcast: Episode 51 – We’re Horne(y)


This week Cammy is joined by Iain and Rory to look back at how Scotland performed over the Autumn. We find out which Scotland player is rated as best in his position in the world right now and there’s some exclusive news about Richard Cockerill’s myserty dining companion.

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76 Responses

  1. Not sure where to put this but the Scotland team that played Canada looked pretty impressive; strong carrying, powerful tackling, good running lines etc, very unlucky not to get the win.

    Need to work on there kicking though.

  2. Kept forgetting to post to the correct article but I bumped into Dave Rennie in Edinburgh airport departure lounge a few weeks back. Had been up all night though so forgot to get a photo, the handshake will suffice

  3. disagree J.Gray is nailed on,

    1st choices for me are R.Gray/Skinner

    Gray and Gilchrist are in the mix for 3rd with toolis 5th

    1. Absolute Bobbins!!!
      Richie is injured and Sam has only played twice at international level, and one of those at blindside. Admittedly there is a way to go but at the moment Jonny is the nailed-on lock.

    2. Jonny Gray starts every time unless injured. He’s never an impact player from the bench and is far to good to leave out altogether and as was highlighted on the pod, his carrying stats are no different to other international locks.

      1. That was based on only the weekends games wasnt it ? i would be interested to know the average over a season for club/country

      2. This is for PRO14 matches only for the 2017/18 season:

        Name – carries per 80 mins / metres per carry

        Gilchrist – 7.8 / 1.1
        Gray – 9.9 / 1.0
        Swinson – 9.8 / 1.4
        Toolis – 6.4 / 1.0

        Ryan – 14.1 / 3.7
        Toner – 4.8 / 1.6

        Ball – 7.8 / 1.2
        Hill – 7.8 / 1.5
        AW Jones – 10.2 / 1.2

        I think James Ryan is playing a different sport from everyone else!

      3. So J.Gray makes the joint least amount of meters made per carry with toolis.
        What do yous have to say to that Podcast ?

        and thats only at pro lvl not international.

      4. Gray’s a weak and upright carrier. I fail to see what Gray would do better than Denton if Denton was played at lock.

        Denton would give us even better carrying than Ryan and would be fine at set piece and in the tight. We’ve plenty of tackle machines.

      5. Neil – I think the takeaway is that (Ryan apart) they’re all very similar. 10cm-40cm is not much in the grand scheme of things when you’re talking about guys who are 200cm tall carrying the ball.

      6. Hersch – I’d say passing and offloading the ball; not turning over possession as much; making 50% more tackles; not missing as many tackles; winning lineouts; stealing ball at the lineout; calling the lineout; pushing in the scrum; staying focused and in the game for the full 80 minutes.

        Denton averages 2.1m per carry for Scotland as a back row so I’m not sure he’d be putting up better than James Ryan numbers as a second row.

  4. Rumours seem to be emerging that Huw Jones has signed a very sizeable new deal with Glasgow for 2 years, scotching his potential transfer to Leicester.

    Given Pete Horne is still under contract, and Sam Johnson is going to be far easier to keep, you’d assume that this would mean Alex Dunbar will be allowed to leave (probably rightly, he needs a kick up the backside in my opinion). Also given the small number of £300k contracts the SRU can afford it seems to increase the chances of Seymour being given blessings to look for a French pay day.

    These would be sensible moves, Glasgow need to keep some stars but also make room for younger talent like Johnson and McDowell. But whilst they are stacked in midfield there is an obvious gap in the back 3 that would be made worse if Seymour does go on his way. Any young talents coming through?

    1. Would like to see Robbie Nairn given ago. Apparently some people see him as an athlete first and rugby player second due to taking the game up a bit later. Still he has that rare scottish trait of size, pace and power that so few of our players lack.

      1. I’ll second that. Also, if poor old Rory Hughes can stay fit, he’s looked lively in a few cameos at fullback.

  5. There are a few good young wingers at Prem 1 but don’t know if they could step up to Pro14.

    Jordan Edmunds at Boroughmuir
    Ben Robbins at Currie

    Heriots have an absolute flyer too but cannot remember his name.

  6. What are our opinions on Matt Fagerson’s heft?

    If he can get to 119kg (Same as Denton) do we have a world class 8?

    1. I put that on a different thread. He class all the ball playing abilities, just isn’t big enough

      1. Cracking idea Neil, need to be flexible like this. I think if both props are brothers they play better too.

      1. Ok a potential world class 8…if he was taller I’d groom him for the second row as we need more dynamism there. Denton is probably the only carrier with the right frame to move up though, maybe Crosbie if he bulk heavily.

        A further idea. Would our forwards benefit from a conditioning program to get their arms more ripped? Other than John Hardie, Brown and a couple others I think they would look more intimidating to other sides.

    2. He’s only 20, so I’d imagine he could possibly beef up to about 110-115kg in the next few years, which gives you a Faletau/ Stander/Read sized number 8. Denton is bigger than average; plenty of very good backrow units don’t feature a player greater than 110-115kg. Someone of 110kg with the pound for pound strength of Hamish (like Sean O’brien) would be more than sufficient!
      We seem to be getting increasingly obsessed with harnessing a back row behemoth, but Gordon Strachan will tell you it’s just not going to happen! In all seriousness though I don’t think we need a monster, we just need strong hard men in the usual size range (105 – 110 kg). It’s about strength, attitude and technique. If we want a Billy Vunipola-esque figure we’re really going to have to lobby hard for a pro-Pacific islander immigration policy in the post-Brexit era, because I don’t think I’ve met anyone that heavy in Scotland who can easily get out of a seat, let alone run with a ball.

      1. For interest:

        Kieran Reid 111kg
        Kieran Reid 111kg
        Danie Rossouw 119kg
        Lawrence Dallaglio 112kg
        Toutai Kefu 113kg
        Mark Andrews 116kg

        Matt Fagerson listed at 108kg. Suggests you want +110kg.

      2. All this discussion on size….time for some physics and physiology!

        Kicking aside, progress may be made up a rugby field by a) getting through a gap, b) winning the collision, c) winning the post-collision contact

        a) is not really relevant to this discussion

        for b), the relevant thing is mass* velocity…so a big and fast line-hitter (e.g. Lomu, Ioane, Vunipola)

        for c) the relevant thing is power: work done/time, so in this case you are looking for high work-rate (i.e. a leg drive).

        I think the players for b) are pretty rare specimens….not too many big fast guys out there and they are worth a few quid and mostly Pacific Islanders.

        For c, anyone can improve this…its a matter of conditioning and getting the right amount of muscle mass, core strength and leg-speed to optimise work rate for your physiology.

        Bulking-up done badly will cost you work-rate and you’ll lose effectiveness.

        e.g. someone like Pinball or O’Brien or Simmonds or Hooper is smallish, but has enormous work rate in the tackle; someone like Denton or J. Gray is big but has low work rate (leg speed), so less effective despite the kgs…

        So yes, Fagerson, Ritchie etc could do with a few more kgs, but not at the expense of work rate

      3. I agree with everything you say though I’d argue Denton is a much more dynamic carrier than Gray. You’re right though Fagerson doesn’t need to be 119kg (unless he converts to loosehead as Neil wants) to carry well. If he adds a few kilos over the coming seasons and maintains his pace he will go well.

    3. I know he’s got a lot of progress to make, but I wouldn’t mind betting that Lewis Carmichael is the answer to the dynamic, ball carrying problem by RWC 2023 – either as lock or No 8. But I have been known to be wrong before…

      1. I know he moves between 6&8 for Edinburgh, but Magnus Bradbury is still an option at 8. He’s allegedly 113kg, so has the bulk that some here are asking for. Also he’s hard to bring down and makes decent metres with the ball in hand.

      2. The next generation of backrow at Edinburgh like Ritchie, Bradbury, Crosbie and Carmichael if he stays at 6 are certainly a step up stature wise on some of our current options for Scotland. Flockhart at the Warriors is also a big lad and has looked abrasive in his admittedly very limited game time so far.

  7. If we could produce the male equivelant of Jade Konkel wed be onto something. Knock on for game winning try aside (as much a great tackle by canada), watching her and the tighthead Megan kennedy last night just made it hit home how much the mens team misses a proper carrier. Canada had to throw multiple defenders at her every time she carried, otherwise shed just run right over the top of them, and even then she still dragged them across the gainline. In relative terms it was a Billy Vunipolaesque display of carrying. If we can produce a monster like Jade, why cant we produce a monster called… Jayden?

  8. Not sure where to put this but have seen no discussion on the 2 tackles that a certain Mr Farrell got away with !!!!! Bet if he was a Scot he would have been banned!

  9. Just on the discussion of the change in Willem Nel’s body shape – in Summer 2017 he was listed as 120kg (18st 13lbs) by Scotland and Edinburgh. Currently he’s listed at 113kg (17st 11lbs) by both. Always need to take these ‘official’ weights with a pinch of salt – but I think it does back up that he’s definitely slimmed down. Must be some impact on his scrummaging from that.

    1. I agree Nell hasn’t looked as impressive in the scrum this autumn but is that due the penalties he has been pinged for or his actual scrumagging? I know nothing about this but being penalised for something doesn’t always mean you are in the wrong. It’s that the ref sees it that way. Certainly Brian Moore was commenting a lot on the illegal actions of many of Nel’s opposite number. Is Nel’s fault not adapting to new techniques rather than his actual ability?

      Interested in hearing some views.

  10. Pretty much spot on there with the review of the last game and Autumn I would say (and I’m not just saying that just because I got a mention…..).
    Particularly with regards to taking conditions into account for the performances in the Argentina game, lack of game time for G.Horne etc.

    Italy at home for the first 6n game will be interesting for selection. As it’s the first game, we really want to start well and build momentum so you want to field the strongest team, but it’s also the best game to give a few players some much needed game time. If we had them a bit later in the tournament, I think a bit more rotation might be used. I suspect maybe start with our strongest 15 and if things are going well at 50-60 minutes, give some combinations a decent run out.

    There is definitely a big concern that if some backup young players don’t get any game time, an injury or two would be much more problematic to us later on.

    1. I think the time to give young backup players some game time is over. We’ve had the Summer tour and Autumn internationals to blood some players, give others second chances, and try out some different combinations.
      Put the tombola away for a year and play your best team (where available), consistently, for the next 10 games. And when I say best team I mean best 23 – stop trying to give players game experience by having them on the bench. The subs should be the next best in the position, or the best impact players – preferably both.

      1. I mostly agree. I didn’t mean giving fringe players game time, but I think in our strongest 23 quite a few bench players would be the young guys – G.Horne, Kinghorn, Skinner, Ritchie for example. These guys have to get a reasonable run out to progress and make our 23 as consistently strong as possible. This has to mean either starting them in some games, or bringing them on with a decent amount of time left- 5 or 10 minutes really isn’t much use.

      2. Merlot, I don’t really agree with that. 4 are warm up games, which should be ideal for game time for squad members. And if you stick to your same 23 for 10 games you’re one injury away from a real problem. Or stopping a bolter like Darcy Rae ( or is it Graham ) or a comeback from Duncan Taylor.
        Plus no-one should have the idea that their place is secure. We’ve been there before, particularly at Edinburgh.

  11. For me Townsend needs to bring consistency now in 10+ places in the starting 15 who will consistently be selected leading up the WC regardless of opposition (except mabey 1 warm up game) and 15 + of the 23.

    This is the core of the team i would be starting with from now on with (?)open to competition.

    1. Allan Dell
    2. Stuart Mcinally
    3. Zander Fagerson
    4. Richie Gray
    5. ?
    6. John Barclay (C)
    7. Hamish Watson
    8. ?
    9. ?
    10. Finn Russell
    11. Tommy Seymour
    12. ?
    13. Huw Jones
    14. Sean Maitland
    15. Stuart Hogg

    16. Fraser Brown
    17. ?
    18. ?
    19. ?
    20. ?
    21. ?
    22. ?
    23. Kinghorn

    Problem areas that need to be decided quickly is who will partner Richie Gray

    Who our 9 should be.

    our 12 ?

    We have so many options to pick for 8/benches it that it may vary depending on opposition.

    for me those core players are missing heft/go forward.

    So would probaly add Skinner to lock or bench.

    Bradbury/Denton/Strauss to 8 with Thomson on bench.

    Greig and Horne both make the 23 its just who starts and who closes out is the conundrum.

    12 ? no idea.

      1. Not all day just 80 % of it, do you always make second accounts to troll with ?

        Stop being negative on the blog, be constructive, what is the point of a post just to slam somone which you have been doing alot of recently.

    1. I think further to my ideas and your suggestion above Neil that we go:


      1. I have been thinking about the criticism of Ryan Wilson at 8. Given he is one of the quickest players in the squad, has good hands and is decent at the ruck let’s move him to 12. He can take the crash ball and when it is on wide Finn can throw a miss pass straight to Jones.

      2. I’m not sure about that. Why move Wilson to 12 when we are so strong there with Horne and Dunbar not to mention Scott, Johnson, Grigg and maybe Taylor. I think any moves should be sensible not just for the sake of it.

      3. Hersch, are you Neil in disguise?
        This isn’t fantasy football. You are disrespecting the whole front-row union by thinking any player can play there. You have obviously no idea about the different disciplines needed in the different positions in the pack.
        Prop is a very specialist position and, although I’m sure Denton could fill in at lock if there were injuries, you’d be mad to think he could be as effective in the boiler room.
        As for swapping Watson and Brown, I’m not even going to explain why not.

      4. Andy going on that critism of no.8 i have had a fantastic idea.

        I have always compared Richie Gray to Leone Nakarawa in terms of strature, Agility, pace and offloading skills.

        I think Richie Gray could be the solution to our number 8 issue.

      5. We have two of the best hookers in the world and Hersch put one in the back row and replaced him with our best flanker. I was just joining in the creative thinking. It was fun.

  12. Just to join in on the lists, I dont think we have that many positions in the 1st 15 who are in doubt when all fit. As far as I see it the nailed on starters (based on form, frequency of selection and selection for the big games) are
    1. ?
    2. Brown/Rambo
    4. JG
    7. Watson
    8. ?
    9. Greig
    10. Finn
    11. Maitland
    12. Horne
    13. Jones
    14. Seymour
    15. Hogg

    1. Me and Neil think Matt Fagerson is young enough to bulk up and make the switch to loosehead which would give us propping brothers. I think they may have another brother who perhaps could be a hooker also.

      Also Denton at 5 would be a revolution for us with his carrying.

    2. Given Barclay is injured, I doubt he is “nailed on”. Equally I think Horne and Seymour have things to prove.
      That being said, the 12 names you’ve put down are those nailed on for the RWC squad, fitness permitting.

    3. We could bring Ross Ford in at tighthead like the Boks did with John Smit at the end of his career, that experience could be vital.

      Don’t know why rugby is so fixated on structure and positions. In football they change the formation. Why not try picking 10 forwards and using all 10 in the scrum, I believe it’s legal to use as many players as you want in the scrum.

      1. The scrum – law 19.5:

        “When both teams have 15 players, eight players from each team bind together in formation as outlined in the diagram. Each team must have two props and one hooker in the front row and two locks in the second row. Three back-row players from each team complete the scrum. Sanction: Penalty.”

      2. Kevin does that rule only apply to when a team has 15 players ?

        Where does it say if a player on one team is yellow carded that we cannot increase our pack size above 8 ?

        In theory if there is no law that says we cannot increase or decrease our scrum size when we are down a player, we could then on our own put-in 5 meters from there tryline put in 13 players with the scrumhalf outside.

        would love to see Toony do something like that against England just to wind them up. EJ would be outraged and the england squad would not be able to adapt to it.

      3. What do you smoke Hersch? So while everyone else is calling out for an end to the tombola you are advocating converting Watson to hooker, Ford to tight head, Denton to lock, I’m sure I’m missing another, oh and innovating the ten man scrum???

      4. Neil – Law 19.6:
        “When a team is reduced to fewer than 15 for any reason, then the number of players in each team in the scrum may be similarly reduced.”

        That’s down to a minimum of 5 (ie if you only had 12 players left on the pitch). Still a maximum of 8 and in the layout proscribed by law 19.5.

        If scrums are uncontested because your side ran out of front row replacements you still need to keep 8 men in the scrum even if you have less than 15 on the pitch.

      5. Neil knows what I’m on about. Innovation.

        Fair play though Kevin the law must have changed since I last looked thanks for setting me straight.

    4. 1 and 3 I’m pretty sure they will go with the Edinburgh/Glasgow combinations so whoever plays with the hooker they start. Seems pretty consistent.
      I would be very tempted to continue with Skinner in the second row. I’m discounting Richie Gray until there is some sign of him being fit and playing regularly (and as well as he used to), and I just don’t think Gilchrist or Toolis are quite good enough (decent players but will they ever be top class?).
      8 is the tricky one – it will probably be Wilson, but I think Strauss has been the best player at 8 this autumn. This may be the position where some experimentation will still have to take place.

      Backs I completely agree with.

    1. Sorry JP I didn’t know you thought the same, didn’t mean to not mention you. Perhaps this idea could gain momentum.

  13. Ooft – I don’t like to be pessimistic, but Edinburgh could be in for a techt weekend. Cockers is clearly resting the internationalists/ holding back for Europe, whereas Munster look like they are going more or less full strength. It’s going to be a tough shift.

  14. Just a wee note to encourage everyone not to feed the trolls. It makes it hard for people to engage in the genuine chat and hard for me to pick out decent points for the podcast.
    Genuine debate is welcome but some of the points made on this thread have obviously been posted to get a reaction. Try not to rise to the bait.

  15. Time to sanction some of the village idiots who continually blog fantasy teams which display their ignorance?

    1. That’s harsh on Neil who I assume it’s aimed at, he’s still contributing even if you don’t like what he adds. At least he doesn’t insult people.

      1. We had a bit of a Neilgate on the blog a couple of years ago but I’m pretty sure it was a different Neil.
        Then, we had Neilgate 2 recently when the latest Neil accused someone else of using his name on the blog.
        I never respond to Neil’s teamsheet suggestion posts. Partly because they’re often too radical for me. But also because he’s got a right to post his views, and his enthusiasm for Scotland rugby is indisputable.
        As I type this, listening to Embra getting humped by Munster. Very disappointing, even with our internationals being held back tonight.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion