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Scotland v Fiji: Player Ratings

Scotland v Fiji
Graphic - © Scottish Rugby Blog

Last time this writer was let lose on the player ratings there was almost a riot in the comments section after the majority of Scotland players were given 0/10 following a dismal performance against England in 2017. Last week former Scotland scrum half Chris Cusiter took to Twitter after the Wales game to express his dissatisfaction with the arbitrary nature of player ratings in general.

He may have a point. There is no perfect scoring system and ratings will always be subject to debate, but that’s part of the fun. This week we’re going to try something different. It’ll probably be for one week only but we’d be interested in your comments and whether it results in fairer ratings all round.

So the starting XV will be scored out of 5 for defence and attack resulting in an overall score out of 10. The replacements/finishers/lads on the bench, will be marked out of 5 based on their impact on the game overall.

Players are marked based on the requirements of their position to try and make it fairer. So, for example, WP Nel’s attacking score will be based on different criteria to Stuart Hogg’s.

15. Stuart Hogg:Hogg jinked and shuffled his way through the Fijian defence but he was well marshalled. However Hogg took full advantage, drawing in defenders and creating space for others. A solid return in attack and defence with one try saving scramble for the ball on the line – (Defence 4/5 Attack 4/5) 8/10

14. Tommy Seymour: Tommy’s back. Three tries and asking all sorts of questions of the Fiji defence running good angles and chasing the ball like a dog after a stick. Popped up all over the park looking for work and put in a solid display in defence – (D 4/5 A 5/5) 9/10

13. Alex Dunbar: Looked really dangerous in attack surging through Fijian tackles and was solid in defence. Made a good attempt to stop Big Bill on the rampage but he’d already built up a head of steam and not even a brick wall could have stopped the Edinburgh number 8 – (D 4/5 A 5/5) 9/10

12. Peter Horne:Townsend says Peter Horne is Scotland’s hardest working player and there was plenty of proof on display here. Tackled hard, scrambling to stop at least one Fiji try and straightened the line in attack. Was guilty of failing to spot Seymour outside him when he was stopped short of the line in the first half but an otherwise assured performance for one so often unfairly maligned – (D 4/5 A 4/5) 8/10

11. Sean Maitland:Maitland looked hungry and was constantly looking for work popping up in midfield and on the wing. Tackled well and caused Fiji all sorts of problems in attack and almost put Peter Horne in for a try with a sublime offload – (D 4/5 A 4/5) 8/10

10. Finn Russell: Virtual Finnsanity all over the shop. An early 50/50 ball from inside his own 22 led to a Fiji penalty but he seemed to tighten things up after that. There were offloads, chips, grubbers and line breaks as well as a couple of missed passes and things that didn’t quite come off. A full greatest hits package. The world didn’t fall apart when he was shifted to 12 but the game was well won by that point. – (D 4/5 A 4/5) 8/10

9. Greig Laidlaw: Laidlaw’s reputation for being slow is unfair. Laidlaw marshalled the forwards well and his relationship with Russell goes from strength to strength. Has to be one of the top kickers in the world right now and is nailed on as Scotland’s first choice 9. The question is who fills the slot on the bench – (D 4/5 A 4/5) 8/10

1. Allan Dell: Took his try well, sniping under Uncle Big Naks. Not built like your typical prop but more than held his own in the scrum despite the noticeable difference in beef – (D 4/5 A 4/5) 8/10

2. Fraser Brown: Unfairly denied a try by TMO Ben Skeen but carried well and was strong in the scrum and defence. On this showing you don’t envy Townsend in having to pick between him and McInally. However he was guilty of overthrowing a lineout inside his own 22 which resulted in a Fiji try – (D 3/5 A 5/5) 8/10

3. Willem Nel: A much improved performance from last week. The scrum held up well against an experience Fijian front row and he carried well in the loose, unlucky not to score when he lost control of the ball right on the line – (D 4/5 A 4/5) 8/10

4. Sam Skinner: The wildcard in Townsend’s Autumn squad. Marked his debut with a man of the match performance making 100% of his tackles and carried like a man who’d played international rugby for years. Appears to have it all. Even a kicking game. No one gets a 10 of course but based on the new scoring system anything less would feel unfair – (D 5/5 A 5/5) 10/10

5. Grant Gilchrist: The competition in the second row has never been so keenly felt and it is clearly having a positive effect on Gilchrist. Carried well punching holes in the Fijian defence and put in some big hits. Very possibly responsible for mistiming his jump for Brown’s overthrow though but strong lineout otherwise – (D 3/5 A 5/5) 8/10

6. Ryan Wilson: One of Wilson’s best games in a Scotland shirt. So often Wilson can disappear in a game, but not here. Carried like an 8 and offloaded like a Fijian. Competition in the backrow is clearly pushing him to raise his game – (D 4/5 A 5/5) 9/10

7. Jamie Ritchie: Hamish who? After last week’s baptism of fire in Wales Ritchie showed he can cut it at international level. He caused Fiji all manner of problems at the breakdown and broke through the Fiji defence time and time again. Was pinged a couple of times but seemed to adapt to referee Andrew Brace’s interpretation of the breakdown as the game went on. Capped off a fine performance with a try – (D 4/5 A 5/5) 9/10

8. Matt Fagerson: Limped off with a dead leg midway through the first half but carried well when given the chance – (D 3/5 A 3/5) 6/10


16. Stuart McInally: Stuart McInally and Fraser Brown driving each other on like Rocky and Apollo Creed in Rocky III – Impact 4/5

17. Alex Allan: Replaced Dell in the 68th minute and played his part in shoring up the defence in the second half denying Fiji any points – 4/5

18. Simon Berghan: Carried well and there were no noticeable issues when he came on to replace Nel – 4/5

19. Jonny Gray: Was Jonny Gray. Shored up the defence and put in some close quarter carries – 4/5

20. Josh Strauss: Came on for an injured Matt Fagerson and didn’t so much grab his chance by the scruff of the neck as stick the nut on it and drag it’s lifeless corpse to the feet of the others challenging for a place in the Scottish back row and say “oan ye go then” – 5/5

21. George Horne:Lively, sniping and never let the tempo drop. A fantastic foil to Laidlaw’s cool control and an effective weapon to deploy from the bench when the opposition are flagging – 5/5

22. Adam Hastings: It happened. The dream ticket of Hastings and Russell playing together with the wee cherry of George Horne on top. Came on and kept the tempo going, spinning through Fijian tackles and running a great support line to grab a late try. Almost docked points for his hair being slightly out of place following his try – 5/5

23. Chris Harris: A mixed time in a Scotland shirt so far but Townsend is convinced Harris has something to contribute. Based on this showing the mantra of “In Toony We Trust” has never been more true. Came on for Alex Dunbar who had contributed so much in defence and attack and the change was barely noticeable save for the shock of blonde hair. It may have taken him time to acclimatise to international rugby but we may be glad that Townsend showed patience – 5/5



Not satisfied with making Sam Skinner a Scotsman this week, Gregor Townsend has now called up Gary (son of George) Graham, who was an unused call-up to England’s 2018 Six Nations squad (on residency grounds). Unlike, say, Ben Vellacott, turns out dual-qualified Graham does actually want to play for Scotland.

He said of the England call up last year: “I’m Scottish through-and-through but England asked me first as I’m eligible through residency. It would have been a silly opportunity to pass up, as I hadn’t been selected for a Scotland squad since U20s.”

“I’m absolutely delighted to get this opportunity. I phoned Gregor to assure him I wanted to play for Scotland, and always wanted to play for my country. It’s where I’m from and where I played most of my rugby.”

Graham replaces Blade Thomson who remains with Scarlets following concussion protocols and may have a wait for his Scotland debut.

It was also announced yesterday that Stuart Hogg will leave Glasgow at the end of the season. His destination is currently unknown but is heavily rumoured to be Exeter Chiefs.

36 Responses

  1. Very much like the new scoring system and the description of Strauss taking his opportunity gave me a timely chuckle.

  2. Two comments. Dunbar wasn’t a rock in defence, early in the first half Radrada glided last him and almost sparked a Fijian length of the pitch try. In fact whenever Radrada ran at him it looked like we were in trouble. Dunbar was fantastic in attack but I’m beginning to think his fabled defensive prowess is a bit of a myth. Defensively Harris was much better although fiji were subdued by then.

    Also Peter Horne didn’t fail to spot Seymour, he went for glory and almost blew the equivalent of an open goal. He owes his forward pack a beer for saving his blushes. That mistake aside, he played well and made good decisions on when to straighten the line and got across the gainline constantly.

    New ratings style does nothing to make them less arbitrary. I’d give them a 4/10 ;)

    1. pretty sure Horne knocked the ball on during the tackle when he should have passed to Seymour – so the ref saved his blushes more than the forwards

    2. 0 – severe errors, lost the game
      1 – well below expectations, a liability
      2 – below expectations, disappointing errors
      3 – as expected, did the basics well
      4 – above expectations, moments of quality
      5 -well above expectations, consistent quality

      No need to be arbitrary …subjective maybe.

  3. Like the new ratings, but maybe half points should be included? The scores seemed a little high to me, I think players were marked too highly in defence. And I think Harris deserves a docking for blowing a try-scoring opportunity with a(n albeit understandable) knock on. Glad he’s settled in more, and it’ll be interesting to see what he does against tier one opposition now.

  4. dock Horne 3 points in attack for blowing 2 of the easiest try scoring opportunities out there and 1 ppint for defense, apart from that i think you need half points as this current rating way is not accurate enough.

  5. Regarding the article I mostly agree with the words so I think this has been one of the better player rating articles. But I do not so much agree with the numbers. I think overall the ratings are too high, if they were based on the second half then maybe but there were large parts of the first half where it looked a lot like Cardiff with unimaginative one up ball.

    I also like the new rating system as it trying something new but perhaps there is a risk of bias when there is an overly attacking or defensive game. For example in this game we had over 70% possession so defensively the players never really had to do much and so the scores for defence have too much weight. Have you every though about doing an overall team score, you could even split it up to backs/forwards or attack/defence.

    I also agree with the comment from FF that Dunbar was not a rock in defence. Our 13s have been exposed in several games so there is something in the defensive structure that needs worked out.

    Finally I not too many people have mentioned him but I thought Maitland had a great game.

    1. To be fair to Dunbar the Fiji 13 was rapid he got his angles wrong once but corrected them after that maybe fact not played 13 for a while

      1. I’m not saying he had a terrible game – just that he was not a rock. If you look back at all the games where we have struggled this year, Wales 6N, Ireland 6N, Italy 6N, Wales Autumn – the 13 channel has always been a point of weakness so maybe rather than picking on the player in that position each time (Jones, Dunbar, Harris) maybe it is more to do with the defensive system?

      2. I am with Ad on this one .

        If we look at the Fijian second try , get it on your BBCI player and freeze at 59.53 ish or You Tube freeze about 4.05 when the blue cap (2nd row i think) takes the ball , there is actually 5 fijians to his left and we have 2 facing off , yet we have no drift coming across at pace.

        This was the same issue last week on the Davies try.

      3. Interesting to see if Harris gets another chance at 13 this series. He is, apparently, in the squad for his defence. I noticed a couple of times on Saturday that his line speed was excellent, and I think he made his tackles.

      4. Harris jumped out the line and grabbed a Fijian in flight and held into to him near halfway line at one point. No lack of commitment there. Yes I think the system is the issue rather personal mostly. Something I doubt south Africa will fail to exploit

  6. Dunbar, Wilson and Harris glaringly highly scored for me in relation to the rest of the team. Dunbar missed almost the same tackle as Jones did last week (and got slated for) – was lucky it was at the other end of the pitch. His attack wasn’t better than anyone else either. Wilson was good, but doesn’t deserve top rating compared to others. Harris had a couple of good moments, but also a couple of poor ones.

    Rest of the high scorers more or less reflect the game, there’s a few players I would probably drop a point (P.Horne and Nel come to mind).

    In other news, Hogg officially leaving Glasgow (and likely to Exeter by all reports).

    1. Is the latter point official ? I do not think that is a final position. In negotiations all parties throw things out just to see what reaction they get. France , England or remaining in Scotland, Family first etc. Unless you know the source of the information it could all be just ‘Fake News’ .It got Trunp to the Whitehouse, so it is powerfull , if you know where you want to be.

      1. Leaving Glasgow is official, Exeter is not official (which is why I said likely).
        Apparently Montpellier have said he isn’t going there though.

    2. Cammy is clearly looking to wind up some with the Wilson rating. Other than giving away a pen and a forward pass he didn’t really so anything.

  7. Good to see running rugby – some of the comments from south of the border (and not for the first time) think that Scotland are playing the more entertaining rugby of any of the home nations. Still, it will not beat the Welsh and English practice of smothering the breakdown – a tactical change will be needed to counter that.

  8. Cammy : It was a tough day to rate individual players because it was such a good team performance. Well done for being brave enough to come back with an innovative system, that does seem like a fair approach and worthy of another outing .

    Some only see the attacking side , while others appreciate the skill it takes to win ball and defend. Your method feels more inclusive given the diverity of rugby positions and skills.

    You could even weight in future . If we are facing a strong attacking side weight the scores 60/40 (defence/attack) etc. That could be a lot of learning and fun.

    Incidently – I liked it when you refused to award a single point before. It was a low low low point in our journey.

  9. Any Exeter fans in the building or anyone sad enough to watch the premiership able to tell me a bit more about Skinner. From 1st viewing looks quality.

    1. More insults , nice. Every nationality in the rugby playing world is on show in the premiership. It is not the kind of place for everyone.

  10. I heard a rumour Hogg is going to Edinburgh.

    I agree with the observation above that there’s probably a small issue with the defensive structure in our 13 channel…unlikely to be a coincidence, after all there is more to defence than just making a tackle.

    Really impressed with all the young guns. I’ve read that Ritchie isn’t big enough but he’s a proper athlete and is better off without any added bulk. Same with the English back rowers Underhill and Simmons who are also so impressive.

  11. Rewatching second half. Taking a critical eye to this. Even with things going our way. 1) Dell still goes backwards in contact, 2) Only Strauss carries over the gain line, 3) Laidlaw is composed but has no zip on pass which is often high, 4) most dangerous thing about the backline is Russell’s quick flat passing, 5) Hogg is actually not brought into play enough, 6) Horne has decent kicks and running lines, but not quick enough passing or running, or big enough, to play in the midfield against top international teams and always looks close to turning the ball over in contact, 7) Maitland’s positioning is brilliant, 8) Ritchie is everywhere, 9) Chris Harris is still meh and just knocked on as first contribution, even the pass on the Seymour try was slightly behind, 20) if GT aspires to play the quickest NH rugby, then George Horne has to start, soon, he is the sort of quick wily scrum half that Scottish rugby has always produced, even at its lowest ebb, so get him in there now!, 21) Hastings / Russell, that really could be an option. I like simple out of 10 ratings.

    1. NRS – that’s not a critical eye that’s your biased eye with lazy, “that’s was my opinion before the match and that’s my opinion now” thinking.
      Only Strauss carries over the gain line?? I assume you’re only talking about forwards but even then most of his team-mates were net contributors to the go-forward, with Skinner making more yards and Brown and Wilson beating as many defenders as Strauss. Don’t get me wrong Strauss had a great game, but don’t diss the rest of the pack needlessly.
      Finn’s quick flat passing is indeed dangerous, but the most dangerous thing about the backline is when they come from deep. Laidlaw may not have the zippy pass of some, but the reverse pass to an oncoming Seymour was a thing of beauty.
      I am also just waiting for Pete Horne to turnover ball in midfield, or have a howler. It doesn’t seem to happen and he seems to be the glue the backline needs to give Finn time, Hoggy space and Dunbar confidence in defence and attack.
      PLaying the quickest NH rugby doesn’t necessarily need George Horne. As it might have occurred to you, coming on with 20 minutes to go against a tired (and demoralised) defence means Horne had more time and space, not to mention cleaner ball.
      As for thinking Hastings/Russell is an option – only in attack and only in extremis.
      Sorry but I hate it when obviously knowledgeable fans just take the prevailing view.

      1. I hate it when people constantly take the “George Horne only looks good because he comes on when the opposition are tired” stance!
        He performs just as well for 80 minutes for Glasgow and it’s completely unfair to him.
        I can’t see him starting against South Africa, but hopefully he gets to start the Argentina game and will maybe stop this nonsense.

  12. Lets settle it. Is there anyone who can actually tell me in a few words what we hope to get from Chris Harris ?

    If we knew what right is , we could make objective evaluation ?I havent a clue we are looking for . We are not short of people who can pull on his strip.

  13. Squad Update

    BBC reporting that it is Gary Graham, not his younger brother Guy, who has been called up to the squad to replace Blade Thomson

  14. I’m thinking of doing player ratings out of 12 for the South Africa game to allow for a third metric alongside Attack and Defence, would this freak everyone out?

    1. I’d just stick with one rating out of 10 tbh. Ratings are arbitrary and done for fun, don’t think breaking them down makes them any less arbitrary or anymore fun.

    2. Agree with Scrummo. What I enjoy about the player rating articles are the descriptions alongside. So long as they continue to be well thought-out and well written I don’t care what the number is next to it. I’d just stick with the rating out of 10 for simplicity

    3. Stick to points from 10, to be honest points out of 5 in whole numbers is about all that’s meaningful. Its a team game, so much depends on the rest of the team. Points from 10 allows different reviews to be easily compared without a calculator.
      As a quick and easy thing just show the net points from 10 for the forwards, backs, perhaps some totally different points from 10 for team attack, defence and also points from 10 for management of the referee ?

      1. In my mind when doing player ratings out of 10 i break it down into the following

        3 points attack
        3 points defense
        3 points on specific role
        The last point is rarely awarded in full as it would require a elite world class performance.

    4. Depends. What is this mystical 3rd Metric of which you speak?

      Penchant for brushing hair to one side? Messrs Russell, Hastings and Wilson will obviously score highly on this, Gordy Reid less so.

      Commitment to the cause? Lose 1/10th of a mark for each time you, or your extended family, has shown a complete disdain for the Scottish cause by not spending the Glasgow Fair each year in a leaking caravan at Largs.

      Or perhaps a point for each tear shed during the anthems at the thought of Hoggy in an Exeter jersey?

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