Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


France 27-10 Scotland

The opening ten minutes of this encounter at the Stade de France were a new statement of intent from the troubled hosts. Led by their excellent young half backs, Ntmack and Dupont, France had come to play, and looked to run at any opportunity.

That, at least, was nice. But for a Scotland fan little of what followed would be pleasant.

Both sides were playing fast and loose and going wide quickly. France had the better of it, with several would-be tries denied by the TMO throughout the game.

The Scottish defence looked physical and up for it in the opening stages but France were varying the point of attack so quickly. Yes, offloading rugby requires precision but it is so hard to defend when done instinctively.

Sloppy kicking gave French fullback Ramos a chance to counter in space and he skipped around Sean Maitland before launching the sort of try scoring movement that everyone wants to see from France. A great covering tackle from Nick Grigg almost snuffed it out, but the ball was recycled quickly left and the numbers were too great, Ntmack diving over.

Tails up, the French pounced on every small error with rapid counter attacks and heavy pressure when Scotland failed to exit their own 22. That earned them a penalty under the posts for a ten point lead.

Scotland did put some nice phases together, Horne and McInally combining for a half break but even that was halted as play drifted close to an injured player receiving treatment. From the restart, Scotland at least took a Laidlaw penalty to get on the board.

Huget paid the price for continued French indiscipline at the breakdown following a lovely high take by Jamie Ritchie (one of the few during the game) and another half-break from Kinghorn.

During the ten minutes when Huget was off – France were also minus their captain to an HIA – Scotland scored no points and France scored a try, although it was again denied by the TMO. The TMO could only save them so long.

Rather than going in quickly for the half time break to regather, Scotland tried to keep on playing. Luckily, I suppose, Greig Laidlaw threw the ball straight into touch between 3 or 4 players.

Half-time: France 10-3 Scotland

Still in the game, it was the worst possible start for Scotland as Dupont led his side down field with a sniping run. You know it’s not your day when even Mathieu Bastareaud is pulling off a chip and chase. Horne was sent for an HIA which brought on Adam Hastings. There may have been an intake of breath, given his form of late, but he was probably the best player in a Scotland shirt even over just 35 minutes and certainly the most threatening.

Kinghorn saved a try running it out from his own line, Hastings picked off a couple of loose passes – France were offloading everything which would have been entertaining for the neutral – but the hosts were dictating where the game was being played and Scotland couldn’t get out of their half.

Sean Maitland had a clear scoring break but didn’t pass to Seymour outside him. Kinghorn would be guilty on a very similar break later on. As was the story against Ireland, errors killed any momentum as the game slipped on.

With 15 minutes to play Scotland emptied the entire bench and it did bring a boost in impetus, particularly from Ali Price and Gary Graham. France were expected to tire, but kept their bench until they really needed it.

It was symptomatic of this poor Scotland performance that they almost conceded a try trying to place a ball back from a hurried ruck on their own line. Again the TMO saved them, but the French pack smelled blood and shunted them over their own line till they splintered and Gregory Alldritt bounced over.

Price grabbed a late consolation try off a nice line by Pete Horne now at inside centre, but the sudden urgency after that to try and earn a losing bonus was completely misplaced. France were happy to soak it up with five minutes to play knowing Scotland couldn’t score twice.

The hosts rubbed noses in the dirt with a penalty on 83 minutes gone that got them close enough for a lineout. There was a double movement off the drive but Scotland were offside and France took a scrum. It was a mess but they did enough to convince Berry that they had scored and got what they wanted as the Scots could only look on in despair.

Counter attacking France were far from great but at least played some lovely stuff; Scotland were devoid of ideas until Hastings came on, and overall were dire.

244 Responses

  1. Most unforgivable part of this game was when we were 15-3 down and Kinghorn and Maitland on separate occasions made breaks only to refuse a simple pass to their side, which would’ve resulted in an easy walk in for us, instead going for glory. I’ve watched just about every Scotland game since 2006. I can accept players who are not very good who play their hearts out but I can never forgive a player who chooses personal glory over team victory.

    1. This was wasn’t a game of what might have been. We were completely outplayed. They scored 4 tries and had 4 others disallowed.

      Only positive I can muster is that with all the injuries we’re getting a better sense of some fringe players. Big plusses for Ritchie, Kinghorn and Hastings today. Big negative for Grigg who’s handling was very poor whenever it mattered most.

      We really need Ritchie Gray in our 2nd row. What I’ll let his brother’s form is worrying, Toolis appears to offer a safe pair of hands in the lineboht and nothing else at this level. Maybe a return for Swinson?

      If Finn doesn’t make the Wales game I’d go with Hastings next to Horne at IC and anyone else at OC. I’d also drop Seymoir for Graham.

  2. No brain no brawn from Scotland. If teams run hard & fast at us, we just seem to fall off. So many missed tackles & screwed up line-outs; it just seems we’ve got massive jet-lag. Better in the last 15 minutes but it was too late. Having admired his game management in the past, I am now thinking that Greig is just too slow at the breakdown when the opposition have themselves upped the tempo. Graham & Price looked sharp when they came on & Horne much happier & more effective at 12. Think we now know that Hastings is definitely the backup 10. Wales will be a tough gig now & this 6N could be a bit of a car crash.

  3. I’ve said it from the beginning, Townsend is not an international level coach. Every other team in the six nations has a world class international coach except for us. I’ll guarantee that we will win nothing under Townsend’s heredity reign. He’s not impartial in his selection, and as for his world cup preparation that is to be ready for 2023 . He never had the killer instinct as a player and doesn’t as a coach.

    1. Absolute bobbins. He’s not able to get any continuity in selection because he has a whole team missing from injury. In his day he was a great player. The players around him weren’t always at his level though.

      1. In his day Townsend was great one week and infuriatingly garbage the next, “mercurial” apparently. We were never going to win today. Every other team has a hard core of players they rally around, players the others don’t want to let down for a multitude of reasons but maybe just out of respect, witness the Welsh and Wynn Jones today. We have a few stars and a team of talented players when all fit but where is the hard nugget O’Mahony type who commands such respect and a willingness to run through walls for? We are unfortunately a bit soft and when the going gets tough away from home we too often capitulate. Cockeril identified this problem when he arrived at Edinburgh and has instilled a bit of character into a bunch who seemed to just turn up and go through the motions. Until we toughen up we’ll continue to get spanked away from home and Townsend will run out of goodwill from the fans.

      2. Absolute rubbish, Townsend admits that he was frightened of the contact area as a player, you tell me another top ten side that would have him as there coach. He’s got a long way to go. And when the SRU start living in the here and now in world rugby , then like the rest of the top 10 we’ll have a world class coach, I pray to the rugby gods that I’ll be around to see it. And yes I’d pick a winning Scotland team even with the injury excuse . But I’m not getting paid for it. Townsend is not ready for this level of rugby. I hear some fools talk about the Townsend way, so I guess that’s just the one way.

      3. Braider – Townsend always looked good running with the ball, and was a lovely player in full flight. However, his kicking was atrocious (“couldn’t find touch with a map and compass” to quote my Dad), which meant Scotland tended to find themselves playing in the wrong parts of the park, and the coaches preferred to have someone more reliable, like Hodge, starting.

    2. Agree that Scotland seem undercoached.

      Toonie doesn’t seem to have a plan or system in the way that the likes of Gatland, Schmidt, Jones do – seemingly preferring to put key decisions in the hands of players.

      Players very often do not make good decisions – they are too involved in their personal role in the game.

      Better perhaps to make the decisions for them (or have a “default action”, to be overridden when an alternative is definitely on.)

      We don’t want the rigidities of American Football, or 2016/2017 England, but “just go and have fun” is way too reliant on Russell to be successful in a tournament.

    3. Townsend is following an established model. He was never quite the player he wanted to be and imagined himself to be, he is as a coach as he was as a player – quixotic. Being an old fart I remember the frustration when the Don would end a Scotland attack by passing to the invisible man only for ball to bounce beyond the touch line. The Townsend manual is written by Cervantes “The Ingenious Nobleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha”. Mostly the manual is a tragedy in which Don Quixote’s idealism and nobility are viewed by the post-chivalric world as insane, and are defeated and rendered useless by common reality.
      The real world of Don Townsend is severely limited by resources of many types, the unachievable pursuit of a glorious ideal will leave the careers of some unfulfilled. I hope I’m wrong but its hard to see the Don beat Gatlandball then roll up at Twickenham to slay the English dragon a well.

      1. Absolute garbage – Townsend was the best Scotland player of his generation and was starting test match 10 for the Lions (on a winning tour against the then best team in the world and world cup winners). Cotter didn’t win a six nations game for his first 9 games (including a whitewash in 2015). Dodgy decisions against Ireland and too many injuries for a shallow player pool against France away. Disappointing game and performance. But Price, Hastings and Darcy Graham – may be the answer against Wales.

  4. not too much to be positive about there. Even though the score was close through the fist half, I couldn’t help feel the floodgates could open for France any time. There could easily have been another 3 or4 tries for France.

    True to say France played more cohesively for the full 80 than they did against Wales or England, but got to face it, that Scotland performance just wasn’t good enough. I’ve often felt, Scotland have some top-class international standard players,… just don’t have 23 top-class international standard players, or more to the point, don’t have 40 plus top-class international standard players – so you can back-fill when so many first-choice players are injured.

    Have to agree with Warks Scot. from starting off with dreams of competing for the championship, now we’re reduced to worrying about whether we can stand up to Wales at home….and avoid a disaster of a 6 Nations ( yeah, I’m taking it as a given we will get hammered at Twickenham, sorry ! )

  5. This was wasn’t a game of what might have been. We were completely outplayed. They scored 4 tries and had 4 others disallowed.

    Only positive I can muster is that with all the injuries we’re getting a better sense of some fringe players. Big plusses for Ritchie, Kinghorn and Hastings today. Big negative for Grigg who’s handling was very poor whenever it mattered most.

    We really need Ritchie Gray in our 2nd row. What I’ll let his brother’s form is worrying, Toolis appears to offer a safe pair of hands in the lineboht and nothing else at this level. Maybe a return for Swinson?

    If Finn doesn’t make the Wales game I’d go with Hastings next to Horne at IC and anyone else at OC. I’d also drop Seymoir for Graham.

  6. Very difficult to know what to make of today because the ridiculous injury list which I have never seen the like of before would test teams with much bigger resources than us.
    It seems to me that Townsend has backed off the fast attacking game, and that was born out by the decision to pick Horne at 10 instead of Hastings.
    But the fast game is our natural game, it’s Townsend’s natural game and it suits the kind of players we have.
    That’s what we should stick to.

  7. How many missed tackles today? Feeble and garbage. The defence coach should have been sacked before we left the stadium.

    1. Were problem is we can’t build pressure only on ourselves and today Grigg proved he is clearly not good enough Johnstone in for next game please. Why did we wait for 70 min to show a bit of urgency and the line speed chase when we kicked was embarrassing rant over.

      1. Apart from losing a couple of balls in the tackle Grigg tackled very well against Basteraux and didn’t let him have a sniff. Take your ‘hater’ mentality out on some of the other players. Johnstone wasn’t playing for a good reason.

    2. And on the odd occasion when we made a decent break , how many butchered opportunities , so the attack coach needs to look over his shoulder ,

      Two late tries , when both games were over is the sum total of our much vaunted attacking style.

      Mayhaps GT is going with the false sense of security ( for our opponents) to allow us to spring the monster surprise in japan
      ( a surprise monster in japan – that would make us godzirra )

      1. It’s uncharacteristic of Maitland. I recall some phenomally selfless play for Scotland. Very much like the kiwis all for the try mentality. Not sure if it’s the Scotland camp, or Sarries which drilled that out of him

  8. Drop Laidlaw. His game management and precision off the tee is more than offset by his labored passes of ruck. Ali price lifted the whole performance and allowed us to build momentum.
    Good to see Gary Graham getting niggly hits in. We need a few more dirty sods in the squad.

    1. Completely agree. He is not up to tier 1 international level as a scrumhalf. NO other team would have him in the 23.

    2. I agree Laidlaw had a poor game. But of course Ali Price lifted the performance, he came on when France were knackered in the last quarter. The substitute SH almost always has that effect because after 60-70 minutes the starting SH is getting to rucks slower. That’s why the SH is almost always substituted.

      1. I’ve looked at the first 30 mins again up until we lost the possession after the yellow and the line-out 5 out. That was really key. Our chance to keep ourselves on their throat. But up to that point Laidlaw was fast from the ruck, he was whipping it away constantly up until then . We lost our way and ur momentum after that Big big moment we let them off the hook and it cost us in the end.

  9. Price and the rest of the bench made such a difference! They actually played fast rugby and it was exciting to watch rather then the previous hour of dross. I’d prefer losing in a high scoring try fest of rugby than in a ‘managed’ game where nothing happens. Plus if we’re playing fast, their brains might be switched on more so less errors!! Was disappointed in Bradbury at 6. Barely noticed him playing which was a shame given the hype…

    1. Too soon for Magnus. Big step up from Dragons to test rugby. JJ is our form 13 and Darcy our form wing yet neither seem to get much of a look in. GTs tendency towards his Glasgow favourites is starting to frustrate. Seymour is so far out of form it’s painful to watch, as it is with Statboy. And as for Laidlaw… I’m sure he’d look world class behind a kiwi pack but he’s not the man for Scotland with the pack we have and even more so if we want to play quick rugby

      1. Bradbury did what you would expect of a six. made 15 tackles – more than everyone other than Dell. Fair he missed three but so did Strauss and Ritchie.
        His defensive breakdown work was good, no turnovers but slowing ball. His attacking Stats aren’t anything to shout about but he did more than Strauss and equalled Ritchie.

        We Scottish get like this, we loose and suddenly start jumping on players who have had the slightest bit of press on the run in to the game.

        What did you want of him? No-one shone bright in that game, the whole side were unable to create space for one an other and when we did the Scotland of old appeared and we knocked the ball on.

  10. I don’t mind the despair.. it’s the hope I can’t stand… :(

    If we’re going to play a fast game, let’s get a fast 9 in there. Laidlaw has been good for us, and I wanted him in today for leadership, but that made no difference. Let’s go for Horne and/or Price.

    Horne Snr. ain’t a 10, so let’s put round pegs in round holes and get Weir or Hastings in if Russel’s crocked. A genuine 10 on a bad patch will always trump a makeshift 10 in an emergency, in my book.

    Grigg. Great Pro, I like the guy, but he seems to fall between the gap of being too good for club level, but just short of international class. I heard Mark Bennet’s coming back, so that’s something.

    Keep the faith in Toonie, because to those calling for the return of Cotter, we had a ‘mare of a 6Ns under him as well.

    We’ll be in a better place when the cavalry comes back from injury.

      1. That is true Alanyst however we did have a pathway through the cup then (maybe we didn’t think so initially with Australia but turned out to be so. This time we can’t expect anything more than quarters and who knows if Japan get some home form we might struggle. I really hope not though.

  11. Not great when your best performer is the TMO.

    It is clear that there is a tipping point for us when you take out enough too players with others not quite as good or just inexperienced at this level. Some boys may become legends,but they aren’t there yet. For example, Kinghorn may become a class international full back but today, he’s no Stuart Hogg. And I don’t mean that personally and I’m not blaming him. Just illustrating that we’re in trouble without enough of our big time players in the pitch.

    Also our big uns are not as good as their big uns. I’d like to see us go to two 7s again – when we have two fit ones.

    1. Ive watched plenty of matches where Hogg was either anonymous or showed too much immaturity in his play. Hogg is a great FB on his day… no doubt about that. Its really only the last year or 2 that he is showing the maturity required for the position. Kinghorn has only played a few matches at FB test level. To me he looks a natural FB at that level but it will take game time and patience for him …..just like it has for Hogg.

      1. The first time Hogg stepped on the pitch for Scotland he was already the best player in the team. Kinghorn is good and hopefully gets better, but is not in the same conversation and will have to play wing until Hogg retires – 2 from: Kinghorn, Graham, Maitland, Seymour.

  12. Forwards win you matches, the backs decide by how much – so true today. The French pack flew out of the blocks, our pack looked like just getting out of bed! Very telling when the best forward is one who comes on for the last 15 minutes (that’s Graham!). Ritchie did ok but the remainder were pretty anonymous. And why can’t we catch & hold onto a ball at international level?? Maybe we really miss our generals like Barclay, Wilson & Hogg. Don’t mind losing a tight game but today was just woeful, so so disappointed & very worried about a rampant Wales if we don’t get our basics right.

  13. Frustrating watch. We’ve got some basic problems.
    Need to sort the lineout. Twice in the first half we kicked a penalty in to their 22 and then fluffed the lineout! Criminal.
    Missing too many tackles. Grigg didnt have a great day with his hands but at least he made all 8 of his tackles and most of those were on his opposite number. Every other back missed tackles along with most of the forwards.
    Jonny Gray looked knackered.
    The Glasgow front row needs to get its scrummaging level up to the same level as the Edinburgh front row. Maybe I’m being too harsh as Fagerson is just back and I don’t think Toolis is as good a scrummager as Gray
    The back row blend didnt work well today although it looked good on paper.
    Laidlaw is only there as captain and looks petulant rather than inspirational when things are going wrong. Someone else needs to step up to be captain and Price or Horne needs to start. For me if the energy isnt there its the captains fault.
    We need to bring the energy for 80 minutes. We’ve looked a really fit team for the last couple of seasons but not so much now.
    We need to be more patient in the opposition 22. At times we looked like the try line fever team of a decade ago.

    On the postive side we made a hell of a lot of metres. Also the French might have stumbled across their best team in years.

  14. Completely agree. He is not up to tier 1 international level as a scrumhalf. NO other team would have him in the 23.

    1. Its like we dont have full confidence in our ability to put the points on the board when we need them….so we feel we need Laidlaw’s penalties to get us into games…which is true somewhat..but its kind of a self created scenario.
      His leadership isn’t that great….neither was Barclay’s….J Gray is like a giant mouse. Lack of a true AWJ type leader is what we lack as much as anything. We need a couple of players who can consistently kick penalties to a healthy ratio…imo. Russell and Kinghorn look to be improving their kicking…perhaps Hogg should kicking more too.
      Laidlaw’s incredibly slow ball release really cuts our nose off trying to play our fast pace attack game. Its frustrating to watch.

      I worry about just how stubborn GT is with his selections…it could easily prove to be his undoing.

  15. Woeful performance. That was an awful French side and we made them look like the all blacks. Basic errors time and time yet again, just like the Ireland game. Easy to say in the wake of defeat, but what progress are we making? Yes we can win games at home on a good day, but teams must love it when they see our name on he guestlist, guaranteed win. Forget the austrialia and Argentina away wins, when it matters we are not good enough.

    1. As bad as we were, that wasn’t the same French side who played the 2nd half against Wales or the full game against England. They sorted out the defensive problems with Ramos at FB. They brought more attacking threat with Ntamack at 10. They got their tails up early and played with confidence.

  16. Yes injuries played a significant factor in the result, but the buck has to stop with Townsend. We have gone backward since the last six nations and I feel that other tier one nations don’t really think we are all that. As a no10 I’m dismayed That Townsend thought that a decent club player could do the job at 10 coupled with Grigg in the centres townsends has made significant errors. I’m now very worried about the drubbing we will get from wales and England. Townsend needs to prove he. Has what it takes and I’m increasingly convinced he hasn’t

  17. Quit the negativity and get behind the team.
    We’ve lost half our back division and all of its established stars to injury, our first choice back row, our tight head prop. In some of these positions we’ve lost the reserves too.
    I thought injuries in 2017 were bad, but this is ridiculous.
    For Townsend’s gameplan to work he needs all those players and they need to be on song. He’s having to compromise it by, for example, picking Horne at 10 even though Hastings fits his gameplan better but would be another 22 year old with 4 caps in a team already full of them.
    Not having those players makes a huge difference. It makes it easier for the opposition to play their game rather than adapt to ours.
    I don’t know who might come back that could make a difference.
    Russell obviously although it sounds like he’s a doubt.
    Not that many, so we’d better stop whining, forget the championship and get behind the team for their remaining 2 fixtures.

    1. I agree and disagree with this post. Yes, we are all Scotland fans and support the team. However, Gatland has been so successful with Wales as he has crafted a style that means even if key men are injured it works. We can’t assume that Russell, Jones,Hogg along with Johnson/Horne and the wingers (probably the coming men in Kinghorn and Graham) are all going to be on song and play the Harlem globetrotters rugby that Townsend wants every international. Both due to injuries and form.

      Is it time for his to accept this and become more pragmatic?

      I am an advocate of the ‘Glasgow way’ but I also want Scotland to win. Should guys like Weir be integrated (or Brandon Thomson when qualified) so we have a plan B?

      We miss too many tackles (as do Glasgow) to compete. I am all for dynamic but tacklers are hugely important too. Ross Moriarty is worth more as a tackler than a ball carrier to Wales. Also why Ryan Wilson and Jonny Gray get picked for Scotland, repeatedly.

      Sometimes you have to dog it out in 6N and world cups. I am not sure Townsend/Rennie’s brand of rugby is the way.

      1. I agree… all this freestyle ‘fijian style’ rugby GT has in his pipe dreams…isnt going to achieve the success everyone is hoping for.
        There is a lack of balance in our play. We need to form a ‘hard as nails’ forward pack and integrate that with our talented backs. Until we do that the Gatland style teams will just continue to steam roll us….every…single…time.

      2. Brandon Thomson is qualified. His dad is Scottish.
        And no.
        Look, I think Wales would struggle if they had our injuries. Look what happened when they fielded some 2nd teamers Italy. They ended up calling the cavalry to win the game.

      3. I agree, but not entirely. A proper plan is needed pronto to build a more resilient team, but in many positions we are lacking depth compared to the other teams (not Italy), so the drop-off in standard is harder to handle within the system…

      4. The style of play is fine if you can score tries. We have managed to score plenty of tries in the last couple of years but this year and last autumn we seem to have reverted to white line fever and cluelessness.

    2. We’re all behind the team. We just want them to get better. We only have the players that are available and we want those coming in to step up and stage a claim.

      France wanted it more today and their youngsters stepped up.

      Not sure about those calling for Toony’s head. I’m not seeing any other coaches that fancy the job that could do much better.

      1. I would also say its not the coaches fault if the players skills let them down (lineout, scrummaging, passing, tackling, positioning, kicking, catching) They should come to international camps with skills already. The coach picks the teams, manages attack and defensive strategies and tells the team all about the game plan for the opposition with the help of his assistants.

      2. Big Al, The coach is perhaps not responsible for any individual skill error. But he should be AWARE of the skill level his players have and not expect them to exceed this (or indeed should restrain them from their own excesses) – the systematic error making is distinctly his responsibility to resolve, through (as you rightly say) selection, game plan and strategy. Evidence suggests these are sub-optimal…albeit partly forced.

    3. How old was France’s half back pairing??… how many caps?
      That’s not the reason we lost….we were an unstructured mess, lacked any leadership, powderpuff in defense…you could see the confidence drain from the team after the first French try. The decision to kick a penalty, which was duly missed, gained meters from the french line summed things up….it showed no real confidence at all.
      The injury list is long sure….but whoever comes in should at least be able to do basics….we couldn’t even do that well. It was a shambles…more shambolic than the last shambles …which err wasn’t that long ago really.

  18. I declared before the match that I had a big bet on France, easy money. I wouldn’t criticize any of the players, I don’t think anyone played particularly badly. We’re just not that good still, especially without Hogg. Russell and Watson. This was the expected result.

    1. With you on that. Some people thought we would win by 15points. Think this is a reality check for some.

  19. In the last two games white line fever has definetly returned.
    If we were playing fast rugby you could accept being caught out defensively now and again, but the rugby hasnt really been that fast by Scotland this 6N and the defence has been bad.
    Line outs are poor, and decision making was poor today with cetain players looking to play the ball around on our goal line.
    We need to the the basic things well and build from there.

  20. And another thing. The next Scotland supporter who moans about not enough Scots getting picked by the Lions, well, I’m going to shove a match report of this game up their rears. No offence.

    This is why Scots don’t get picked for the Lions, and in all honesty, who can blame somebody like Gatland.

    We were woeful today.

    1. Team performance 1 Dell some good runs and good ruck steal scrum penalties against though. 2 Rambo Some good runs Lineouts not good enough why throw long when not working 3 Berghan ok nothing special 4 Gray Tackled that’s all Gilchrist Some good carries shame about line out 6 Bradbury Lacked match fitness will come good. 7Ritchie Tried hard not his day 8 Strauss didn’t really get over gain line 9 Laidlaw too slow today price should come on sooner 10 Horne some nice angles of runs looked better at centre 11 Maitland not great today should of passed or scored 12 Johnson didn’t look as good as last 2 games 13 Grigg made tackles but hands like cows tits 14 Seymour Good player out of form Graham in for me 15 Kinghorn made mistakes in attack and defence today hopefully young enough to learn from them

  21. I doubt Hogg will play this 6N… he could barely move his head/neck when commenting during match analysis. He had to turn around using the swivel chair to face anyone. Think he had a neck brace on under his scarf.

  22. A lot better in last 10 but you can’t be borderline fluent for 10 minutes and think you’re on the cusp of a breakthrough. Hastings needs to be at 10. Horne’s a good 12 but not an international 10. Gary Graham and Ali Price were also good. Need a set-piece that really works and our 4 best players back. Frustrating.

    1. Just realised: Gary Graham and Ali Price were prickly and feisty – like a pair of mismatched maverick New York detectives from the 90s. We do need a set-piece that really works but it’s only a Line-Out for goodness sake, get the call right then jump. It’s probably our 4-7 best players back that we need. Supercharged council estate garden mole Nick Grigg won’t cut it in Japan. Alas, now I have to listen to that Fuzzy Porkpie Andy Goode braying at Jim Hamilton without reproach.

  23. 2 centres with about 5 caps, a full back with about 5 caps, an inside centre playing at 10 because the alternative is another player with 5 caps, 2 flankers with about 5 caps.

    That’s where we are. It’s almost like a Scotland a team.
    Some of the blokes playing might be considered reserves for the reserves.

    Skinner, Richie Gray and a couple of others could make a difference

  24. Scotland under Townsend remind me of a guy “racing” his VW golf around the streets on a Friday night – you win a few against your mates, or the odd unsuspecting gent in a fancy car; but when it comes to a proper race? You get totally stuffed.

    We need a proper systematic process (see Ireland, Wales) to win games, and perhaps more importantly, to not lose them – the rest of the world knows now to just sit back and wait for the error(s), then either turn on the power, or trot through the holes. We, meanwhile, double down on our errors.

    e.g. Pursuing a bonus point we didn’t really need, we lose one we couldn’t afford to. This has condemned us to 5th, even if we do somehow beat Wales (or England haha) – should have just accepted the loss. A smart coach would have had these game exit strategies prearranged…

    Simply put, we are the 8th best side in the world, and the 5th best in the six nations. We have been there for a while, and that is where we will stay for the foreseeable future, unless we get a system that functions against ALL teams, not just the weak ones.

    1. Don’t agree that we shouldn’t have gone for the bonus point, Alanyst. We were making line breaks for fun in the last 15 and had just scored a very good try. A try for us would have been a 2-point swing in the table as it would also have denied France a bonus point. Didn’t work out, but worth taking a risk for, I’d suggest.

      Despite yesterday’s result, I also think we’re the 4th best team in the championship, not the 5th. We had a bad day with a massively injury-hit team against an experimental French team that has now won 4 in their last 20 and clicked on the day. If this had been our 1st XV/XXIII I might agree with you but this result doesn’t define us.

      I usually agree with you on pretty much everything, though!

    2. Hello Andrew, I saw it a bit differently…but I had forgotten France already had a BP from the Wales game…I agree it wasn’t such a bad idea to chase the BP, but regrettable how it turned out…

  25. I’m disappointed we lost. We’re all disappointed. And this ain’t an excuse, and I’ve said this before: but we only have 2 pro teams, a limited player pool, and a major injury crisis.

    Thanks to SRU ineptitude, we’re only now beginning to undo 20 years of the SRU messing up professionalism. Glasgow and Edinburgh are making good progress, slowly and surely, and at least Scotland are hard to beat at home.

    It’s going to take a while to make real progress, but we’ll get there.

  26. Have to say regardless of result that i dont think we have had an outstanding performance since away to Argentina, and even before that the performance against USA was shocking, and its become a little bit less fun to watch.

    Im not to bothered in we lose to Wales and England but lets play the way we are meant to and make a good show of it at least.

    We just seem to have lost our identity a little bit as a team.

  27. Really disappointed with the game today- we were absolutely rank and am struggling to pick out any positives from that performance. We deserved to lose by 50 points and the worst of it was France were pretty poor and only the TMO saved our blushes. With 15 minutes to go I actually thought we might still steal a win but for me the whole game was summed up by a promising attack in the last quarter which came to shuddering halt when Grigg had the ball nicked off him by Huget. It was like a wee boy getting his sweets nicked by the big boy!
    I have always stuck up for Laidlaw and he was always going to play today but his service is slow he has no break and box kicks weren’t brilliant either. Price looked sharp when he came on as did Gary Graham; Hastings did well,Horne looked much more comfortable at 12 and Ritchie and Gilchrist stuck at it otherwise the rest of the pack were missing in action.
    It was like going back 3-4 years as we weren’t even competitive today as emphasised by the fact that we couldn’t score a single point when we had a man advantage. Instead we managed to cock up 2 attacking line outs in that period!
    Never mind a plan B today we didn’t even have a plan A! We have to front up against Wales as can’t see us getting anything out of England game.

  28. I would not hold Townsend responsible for today. It was a mess and he is not liable for the injuries or the inability to cross the gain line. Scotland were dire in that regard. Townsend to his credit has also developed bredth and depth , but he cannot make it count.

    We cannot say where Cotter would have taken Scotland, that is unfair. We made a decision to replace him with Gregor Townsend.

    What we can say without fear of contradiction is that Townsend’s 6 Nations counterparts :Gatland, Scmidt, Eddie Jones and Brunel have solid pedigrees. Cotter is a true peer of these coaches. Personally I think it was a wreckless decision to allow Cotter to go , we had finally landed a coach with the pedigree of our neighbours and he was keen to stay. We now have a coach who is learning his trade while the other nations are benefiting from coaches who have proven themselves.

    No point in calling for his head, protected , the job is toxic, we did away with our proven coach.

    1. I hear what you are saying but do hold Townsend accountable. Every team has injuries, that is an unfortunate part of the modern game, every team in the 6N could field a decent team from their invalids. You have to deal with that. When was the last time we actually played a good game and won? Vs England last year was ok but other than that I am struggling to think of anything if I’m not being disilusional, we beat Australia with a man advantage for basically the whole game and even so gave away some pathetic scores. Stuart Hoggs wonder try vs a half asleep Ireland side 2 years ago won us the game despite our best efforts to lose. We showed up well against NZ because we play the right kind of game to beat them, just not as good as them. We did everything we could do to lose without actually losing against Italy this year (they will show us how bad France are and how lucky we were shortly).

      If any other serious team loses a player it doesn’t matter, the system remains the same, the player is in effect plug and play. Do Wales change if patchell or Biggar are playing? No, the advantage of a particular player are clear but it is not the end of the world if other is crocked!

      1. Totally agree old gramerian.

        Also 1.8…’every team has injuries’ ‘if a serious team loses a player it doesn’t matter’…yeah but no one has nearly as many as we do…it’s a ridiculous list of missing players we have atm. Our victory over Ireland was with cotter.

  29. I think there were serious errors in Toonie’s game management for this one. Horne had been gash all game at 10, Johnson had been ok and Grigg woeful but when Horne’s HIA was passed he took off Johnson and kept on Horne and Grigg?! Hastings definitely had an impact when he came on.

    In the first half we had enough ball and you feel if we had some attacking intent and invention we might have got some tries as the french looked ragged at times. Unfortunately it was painting by numbers from Laidlaw and Horne so the backline never got going.

    Laidlaw was shown up by DuPont. Anyone saying his experience and game management make up for being slower from the base of a ruck are going to struggle to make that argument stick now as DuPont was easily the best SH on the pitch and we looked better when Price came on.

    We looked so devoid of any attacking threat with Horne at 10 it was painful to watch. Johnson never had much to work with and struggled. Grigg was poor in attack.

    The set piece was an embarrassment. Do we not practice line outs? Ritchie looked like he was up for the game but I’m not sure who else added to their reputation.

    On this form we we’re going to get annihilated by Wales and England and won’t get out of our group in the RWC as Japan at least play with passion and don’t make so many mistakes.

    Just not good enough.

    1. Agree about taking Johnson off, seems a strange decision at the time and Horne couldn’t get us moving with any real creativity at all from 10. The backs never got anything going and made far too many errors.
      I’m struggling to remember the forwards really getting over the gain line, even Gilchrist at full speed was stopped in his tracks. Strauss made no real impact and Gray never gets past the first man.
      2nd best all over the park, really frustrating.

  30. I don’t think I’m overreacting here by saying that’s the worst performance I’ve seen by a Scotland team in years. France are terrible, their first two matches have told us thus but we were worse, much worse.

    A lot of folk are blaming laidlaw, I’m not, I thought his performance was one of the better although we certainly played better when price came on. Our forwards need a rocket, Jonny gray has got off being medicore for far too long, why is he our “no 1” lock, sure he makes his tackles but when was the last time if ever you honestly remember him making a game changing impact, he is the embodiment of mediocre.

    I hoped we were better as a team than our “a-list” players (all both of them) but we proved today we are not, no one stood out as particularly bad which made it all the worse, we were systematically and across the board bad, and worst of all, no one seemed to give a ****. I have lived and supported Scotland through dark times as have many of us and I happily put up with average players giving their best for their country and losing spectacularly. This though I can’t handle, sheer ineptitude on all fronts. The next two weeks will show to us again how bad a team France are, we were lucky not to go down by 60 points today, never looked like scoring a try other than the fluke we did, our counter attack defence is the worst I have ever seen, how many other teams has anyone honestly seen go from so close to scoring ourselves to conceding 7 points in the blink of an eye? Our attitudes have not moved on from “plucky losers” we are **** and have the mental fortitude of a team that knows it’s ****. Compare that to Wales today who didn’t deserve to win that match but won it anyway because they decided they wanted to, where are our big game players, our AWJs who leave nothing behind? No one stood up today and that’s disgraceful.

    I’ve rarely said this but I’m disgusted to be a Scotland fan today, hopefully a wooden spoon will be the medicine we need.

    1. I tend to agree with most of this mainly because the players seemed to give up/ accept the result just after half time until the subs came on at come at least.
      This 6N has been a big step backwards in terms of game management and individual skill levels, we are miles away from Wales and England.
      I thought we had just as much to prove as France but they were better than us in every aspect of the game, really poor from Scotland.

  31. Enjoyed Gary Graham coming on and providing a bit of grit and snarl. Also enjoyed Hastings and Darcy Graham running amok.

    Enjoyed nothing else. I think Gregor’s gameplan is reliant on getting the ball into hands of our world class backs as much as possible. Unfortunately both those world class backs were injured today and getting the ball into solid players hands won’t win matches the same way. Beginning to worry that we are so limited that even with them we will struggle against top sides.

    1. Gary Graham made an immediate positive difference when he came on. I would be starting him at 6 or 7 against Wales.

      We seem to have a conveyor belt of impressive up and coming 6’s but an absolute dearth of 8’s.

      1. Bradbury, Wilson, Strauss, Blade Thomspon, Matt Fagerson can all play 8……
        Injured apart from Bradbury and Strauss.

  32. This game was so frustrating to watch, the only reason Scotland got a try was that France allready had the game Won. They could still be playing just now and we wouldnt have scored.

    So frustrating, good wins over the last couple of years agianst all the top teams, then also losses against teams where it was thrown away….USA, Ireland, Fiji…Samoa always coming close.

    The problem is we are so inconsistant. Players are talked up as being top class and too much expectation is put on the team, eg Dunbar, Taylor, Scott but they are never fit and have never really done anything outstanding.

    Other players such as Hogg, Jones are not playing as well as they did two years ago….maybe we peaked then. What has happened to Jones, Dunbar and Seymour. Why are so many players long term injured?…..Taylor, Scott etc.

    The gameplan has also appeared to have changed and I cant see what it is at the moment.I dont see fast rugby any more and the team doesn’t look fit any more, White line fever has returned and the defence is so poor.

  33. This was awful. Scotland’s poorest performances in the last few years. AS bad as the Italy performance in the whitewash year. It feels the same. Huge Frustration and anger during and after that today. Not a happy camper at all.

    But we’ve got all the usual nonsense trotted out as usual. This player is better than this player and why is that player not playing instead of this one (insert the exact opposite last week or last year where the opposite player was selected) This one is not international class when the one that’s been injured for months and years has suddenly become the go to player when he was berated for his performance when he was readily available. Townsend wasn’t a terrible coach last year when we wiped the floor with England and taught France a lesson in how to stay in the game and close it out. What did we say about Price after Cardiff last year and this year? Get Laidlaw back in quick smart. Hastings could have played a blinder today had he started he also could have been shown up, coming into a match is different from starting we all know that. Weir could have been a disaster today could have won it for us who knows. We are all reacting cause we again thought we had turned the corner but we’re back to where we thought we weren’t anymore.

    yes we have ridiculous amount of injuries and keep getting them. But I’m not annoyed by the players picked today cos they weren’t first choice I’m annoyed cause they didn’t perform as I know they all can perform and they failed to get up to the standard they can. We made France look amazing today when I still think they are all over the place and I believe they’ll lose to Italy. We kicked and chased terribly by going for the miracle tackle in the counter and hoping to get it rather than moving up as a group and closing the space making the line break impossible from the full back.

    1. It was no worse than our performance against Wales last year, England in 2017, Fiji in 2017, USA last year….
      We recovered from all of those to produce outstanding performances.

      The challenge for Toonie and the team is to iron out the mental frailties which lead to those blips, otherwise opposing teams will always have it in the back of their minds that we’ll go to pieces if they can just frustrate us enough.

      Be a bit more like Wales.
      Wales are never beaten.
      Even when they’re beaten they’re never beaten.

      This isn’t a recent thing, either. Their victory against England on Saturday was like a re-run of their QF against the same opponents in the 2015 RWC. England were cruising to a 20 pt victory at half time in that game too, but Gatland put the rocket up them at HT, and they just plugged away, needled the English, refused to lie down and Biggar kicked them to victory.

      1. Johnny B you are correct to say this. We’ve had worse shows in more fundamental areas than what was lacking on Saturday. It was just so infuriating on Saturday watching us much up another good play or see us get turned over time and time again

        It was really poor in some areas and actually pretty solid in others. The mistakes were glaring and made a safe situation look anything but in a flash.

        The Line-out fails, the kick chases at times, the passes to feet (Horne which led to the first TMO try I think) the dropped balls in possession (Grigg mostly) all led to turnover ball and with the offload game being played against us we couldn’t recover and caused ourselves all sorts of issues.

        The big issue for this game was after the yellow card Line out 5 out. We had them struggling badly and had we scored then I think we’d have got another one in that time and they then would have been chasing us. It was crucial to make that count and we fluffed it. Strauss I think was a fault there.

        You’re spot on about the mentality of Wales that’s a great thought. But they also know when to take the points (we used to be good at that) they went from 10-3 down to 10-9 over a 50 minute period I think. That is game management and shows skills that are beyond us at present.

  34. We had so many chances today to get out of jail and we threw them away at the line-out. We didn’t use the space out wide when we had a yellow card advantage. We were just all round awful in almost every area. But this was not Townsend’s fault nor the injured players but a collective that I’m sure the players are hurting badly. But we’ve had three halves of rugby which were very decent indeed and three very poor ones this Six Nations now. There are some cases to say players form deserves dropping (Seymour, Jones) over the long period but you can’t give up on players just cause of today. On one hand you say Grigg is out of his depth (handling was poor today, his tackling was outstanding. He at least twice came from nowhere to make the last ditch tackle) and then say he’s not international class then say put JJ in as he’s been tested at this level. Wilson is rubbish and not up to it. We are really missing him now aren’t we? Horne had a some big errors today that cost us but we were all saying how wonderful he was last week.

    It’ll all a bit kneejerk and I’m so disappointed but I do have hope. I’m in Cardiff this weekend and many of the locals think we’ll take them in two weeks. They are worried we’ll be the team that stops their grand slam. We are until two weeks ago a formidable force for years at Murrayfield. It’s not impossible and it would be unexpected. Twickenham worries me now but we could throw it open again with a win against Wales.

    1. Agreed. Both posts very nicely put. Too many people think they know better but only state after the fact when a certain player didn’t go well.

  35. I also dont understand how Edinburgh /Glasgow are where they are in European competition but Scotland are so poor. The other teams just seam to get the job done when it matters.

    1. All the small percentages have gone against Scotland in terms of injuries, slight selection errors and imo some coaching issues thats why Andy and game against Ireland with ref/tmo fiasco. No one thing is responsible which makes it alot harder to fix.

      Really would like some improvements in the backrow staff Toony has.

      The injuries suck and have made it very difficult for new players (alot rusty from injury return) from fitting into the systems on such short notice.

      I guess the one positive from the france game is no one seems to have gotten a serious injury.

      1. All the small percentages , really , we were 4 TMO decisions and some woeful kicking by France away from having 50 points put on us

        We got the breaks today , but the ledger was so far in debt it really didn’t show !

      2. I agree….the coaches supporting GT just dont seem good enough. Hope Taylor does go to Oz at end of 6N ..they can have him…we need some freshness in there to help GT.and progress the players.

  36. I don’t care about bonus points, only about results.
    Yesterday was desperately disappointing, as stated above its the “hope” that gets me.
    Playing a lightweight backline with slow service from Laidlaw was always a risk, but really little choice given the injuries.
    Individual mistakes keep happening, I watched the 1st half of the Edinburgh (quite insightful as it turned out) no missed line-outs….

    1. But results include bonus points, John, especially in the final table. If we had kicked a penalty in the last minute of the match, we’d now be on 6 points and France on 5 instead of the other way round – a 2 point swing. Bonus points could be the difference between between being 3rd, 4th or 5th in the final reckoning. The championship table is the ultimate ‘result’ for the competition.

      1. Agreed Andrew. Wales are only two points in front of England could have been one had they just kicked a pen in the last play than get that amazing try.Bonus points are huge and Wales not getting it against Italy could bite them yet. Ireland at moment right back in it too.

        And bizarrely we’re still in the championship. Yes we need to beat Wales with bonus and England probably without them getting bonus but we’re still in it. Is that possible? Yes but very low odds. Beating Wales at murrayfield isn’t completely out of question but Twickenham…. somehow we have to start winning away but that comes from a different mentality and lack of injuries in the actual game and stupid yellows from enthusiasm.

  37. Good point about backroom coaching staff. Firstly I cannot understand what the new forwards coach has brought to our team. Our set piece has gone backwards, we have no attacking maul – although we can defend one, our attacking line outs are a joke what is going on?, we are poor at challenging, if we ever bother, opposition throws, our scrum gives no attacking options and cannot put us on the front foot, we go backwards when real pressure is applied and have no real plan, technique or pure grunt when hammering away at the opposition try line ending up going sideways.
    As far as Matt Taylor is concerned we seem able to defend when there is structure but are poor and to be honest a complete joke tackling in open field. These problems are getting worse not better.
    The buck stops with Townshend who was way to cautious and negative in the Ireland match dropping Kinghorn for Maitland and yesterday shoving Horne in at 10 rather than Hastings who showed us all what he can do. Of course everybody will say well he hasn’t been in form at Glasgow but Townshend made the wrong decision in selection – again. Why was Graham held back so long when Seymour was getting nowhere? Again look at the impetus he bought when he came on eventually. And Grigg was a mistake too chosen on the evidence of one good game and contiunity with Johnson, very poor decision
    I was worried about throwing out Cotter for Townshend who I believe has many good qualities as a coach but selecting the right team with the right players is not one of them. I hope, really hope he is learning fast that with our Scotland team caution and pragmatism should never come into team selection. Everyone assumes GT is cavalier, he’s not.

    1. I think Toony just needs to find a ruthless edge to his coaching, hopefully that will develop with time. Being methodical and calm is all good and swell but he needs to be able to pump up the team and instill in them a killer instinct.

      Speaking of which… bring back Jason O’halloran, has helped to wonders to Glasgows attack, and who runs the defense at Edinburgh ?

  38. Everybody is calling for Townsend’s head. Same people used to do it to Cotter too!
    First of all, on his selections, there is no compelling reason to pick Johnstone ahead of Nick Grigg and most of you were happy with that selection, as you were with Horne at 10.
    I read a lot of rants about this and it’s horse.
    We’ve had the core ripped out of the team by injuries and anyone would struggle with that.
    Finally, when the team has its core fit, I think it is still just a little short of top class and that gap is mainly found in the forwards.
    An Alun Wynn Jones type would make a big difference- a grumpy lumpy bloke who makes big demands of the players around him.
    Sam Skinner I think will become a key player and we’ll have to see what sort of impact players like Blade Thomson can make. Gary Graham is also a tough bloke and Bradbury is a bit different from our normal forward. They are the kind of players I think can bring some of that edge to our game, but guess what? 2 of them are injured while the other 2 are part of the 5 cap brigade!
    It is where we are this season.

    1. Injuries aside, I fully understand what folks are angry about. There is a major issue there which hasn’t been caused by the missing players and that falls in Toonies lap! I was against getting rid of Cotter and still am. He was doing a good job and just going somewhere. They should have let Toonie go elsewhere and continue his education

      1. I didn’t want Cotter to go when he did, but lets face it, he’s not doing a very good job at Montpellier. Vern is at the core, a forwards coach, and wouldn’t have gone to the fast game we want to see.

      2. Vern identified the fast game as Scotland’s natural game and reintroduced it.
        Toonie came in with a goal of taking the fast game Cotter had instilled to the next level, but I think, injuries notwithstanding, he’s been edging away from it a bit lately.
        That night explain why he picked Horne at 10 instead of Hastings, for example.
        I think he’s just got to go for it.
        The fast game is how we play. We don’t produce forwards who’ll win an arm wrestle, but we do produce forwards who can run about the park.

      3. The typical “big team” response to that is to starve us of ball and force the forwards to use their fitness tackling rather than running about the park. As Ireland did along with slowing what ball we do have right down, as France also did.

  39. Not sure what some of the rants and calling for Townsend’s head are all about. This result was par for the course, what did people expect? Especially shorn of a handful of our best players. I was very confident France would win and bet accordingly.

    Guess Hastings is an acquired taste. Having been brought up on a diet of world class 10s in Rutherford, Chalmers, Parks and Russell I just don’t see the fuss over him. Needs to cut out the cocky winking, no-look passes, smiling and general faux razzamatazz and get the flash haircut gone. Noticed Laidlaw having a pop at him about 2 minutes after he came on for doing something daft. To those who say he was great early season, which match do I need to watch?

    1. I think Laidlaw having a go at Hastings just after he’d come on (it was a slightly loose kick) says more about Laidlaw than Hastings. Given the utter garbage of his performance and leadership up to that point Laidlaw’s anger and criticism should have been solely directed at himself, not a junior member of the team just onto the pitch in a high intensity test match. It was more of a joke as Hastings came on and actually sparked our attack, something Laidlaw failed to do at any point. And Laidlaw’s kicking wasn’t exactly spot on all day either.

    2. I’d check out the highlights of Glasgow’s wins over munster and cheetahs in the early rounds of pro14 and his game against the blues in the champions cup. He was playing really well.

    3. I think you want your 10 being confident/borderline cocky, let him wink etc, it helped bring a confidence to the backline and we saw some good shape, his main strength is identifying gaps and breaking through them so he is a different type of centre in that regard, needs more gametime at the highest level to continue to work on his skill-set/desicion making against the toughest defenses.

    4. Any match before the 1872. And Hastings beat more defenders in his cameo yesterday than Parks did in his entire career. If your takeaway from that match was that Hastings is rubbish, then you don’t know much about rugby…

    5. That may well be the first time Dan Parks and world class have featured in the same sentence. I don’t think even his mother would claim that!!

  40. That was a sore one.

    No doubt about it.

    We were awful and I’m not sure I want to examine the reasons in detail (that’s the job of the coaching team).

    BUT…this is the worst injury crisis we have had in the professional era, as far as I can remember. It is not surprising that our performance was disjointed and lacking in aggression and go-forward. The French half-backs might have been young and inexperienced, but they have also played together plenty of times, albeit Ntamack mainly at 12 this season.

    I will give them this one and move on.

  41. One thing that struck me watching rugby forum was that Warburton, who is normally really fair to Scotland, basically said if England won the slam was in the bag. This is a real problem for Scotland and embarrassing away form

  42. Ffrainc is full of talent, you underestimated them as did Cymru , they hit you hard, early and you never got back. Cymru composed themselves and managed to win second half. Yr Alaban collapsed in the second half as the have in every game this championship..That is how Cymru are thinking right now.

    What is happening in the changing room is the question you need to ask ? Gats turned Cymru round at half time and we beat Ffrainc, that is not happening for you.You gifted every side tries in the last 20 minutes.We went through coaches till we got Gats. You have your Gats , the one and only , he just is not Gats, yet. Long way to go I would say.

    I love Yr Alaban, you have a great country, proud people you deserve more for your loyalty. I wish it was not you who stand in the way of a slam. Cymru am Byth.

    1. Fair comment, my only slight disagreement would be that in the first half we had possession but our attack was pathetic and that’s the fault of the players not the coach. But you are right, every second half this championship we’ve been poor.

      Not looking forward to two weeks time.

    2. Daihard, thanks for your thoughts and the generous spirit in which they’re written. You make valid points.

      Am I reading you correctly that you think GT is the right long-term coach for Scotland, but he’s got a lot of developing to do (perhaps like Scottish rugby overall?) so we stick with him and it will come good as it has for Wales?

      I think our performance in the RWC and next year’s 6 Nations will be a fairer benchmark of Scotland and GT’s development, if we have relatively close to our first 23 available for those competitions. At some point, we also need to win more than the isolated game away from home against the big teams.

      Also, genuine question if you’ll forgive a hypothetical, do you think Gats/Wales would have turned around their Paris deficit if they had been missing: Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Parkes, Biggar, Faletau/Navidi/Lydiate/Tipuric/Shingler/Moriarty, C Hill, R Evans, T Francis. Several of these positions (especially centre and back row) we were down to 5th or 6th choice at least. I realise some of these (TF/AS etc.) were already out but trying to get a sense of what would be comparable to Scotland’s injury woes. The key here is knowing the difference between defending the indefensible and recognising valid mitigation of blame.

      1. Andrew: I think the head coach role came a bit early for GT and he would have gone elsewhere. Which might have been better or worse. Yesterday Gats was criticised for playing Anscombe in front of Biggar. like you they are our 2nd and 3rd choice outside halves, but it worked for Cymru. I like Sam Davies but Gats is playing the best team for today, not years away. Did you make the right choices at 10 ? On that hypothetical question , we had strength to rely on however so do Yr Alban, but I have no idea what GT’s best side is , he makes many changes , some forced others tactical. On the eve of the RWC you need to be questioning that judgement. You could almost pick our side man for man. We are all brothers , give him a chance , he needs time but if what I hear is right, he needs to change as well.

        Ye Alban make too many errors, they do not handle pressure , Cymru play Rygbi from an early age and know it is an 80 minute game. GT needs to instil confidence as that instinct is missing, That is why the southern hemisphere imports come through so well. Oh and before you say it, yes we do play them as well, but they fit in better because of cultural compatibility. Cymru am byth.

    3. Congrats to Cymru for an entertaining and well deserved 6N win against a stuffy England size. I have in the past been critical of some turgid performances by the boys in red, but their never has been any doubting their positive attitude and solid determination.

  43. Even with the better players available Scotland has lacked composure when up against hard and fast rugby. Basic skills dissolve into panicky fumbling and decision making becomes a matter of wild hope. Wither the coach is working with first or fourth choice players, his priority must be to instill attitude and determination – build that first, the rest will soon follow.

  44. Well that was horrible. You can’t miss 22% of your tackles and turn over possession that 19 times and expect to win.

    So, the negative:

    -DEFENCE. Wow… it was awful. I don’t doubt anyone’s commitment, and the French did play some good stuff, and and some our defence was pretty heroic, but most of the time we just looked baffled. So often our defenders just seemed to be admiring the French attack.
    -Attack: 60 minutes of attack was pretty bad generally, although it improved when Hastings and Price came on. We were slow and befuddled and lacking direction or incision. Laidlaw was ponderous and Horne didn’t even look ordinary at 10. The thing is, as Rory notes, we still managed to create chances and should have scored 2 or 3 more tries if we’d just backed ourselves or made the last pass, so we even when we did something good we almost immediately undermined it.
    -The set piece: what a freaking mess.
    -Handling: how can we be so bad at catching a rugby ball?!
    -Intensity: Where was it?!
    -Dumb penalties: [eye roll emoji]
    -Under-performance: Maitland was particularly (and atypically) bad, Seymour was poor, Grigg was poor, most of our starting forwards didn’t really show up, our half-backs were poo…
    -The same old rubbish: Ropey defence, lack of composure, idiotic penalties, beaten in the set piece… how many times have these things cost us games? France might have played better this round than in the previous two (and actually fielded a good team), but they were still there for the taking.

    The positives:

    -We could’ve scored another 2 or 3 tries with just a smidge of composure
    -The young ‘uns looked good – our best players were Ritchie, Hastings, Graham, Graham, Kinghorn and Price
    -To be fair, we’re devastated with injuries – how many teams can cope with losing more than have of their starters and most of their backups? Wales were two players short of a full-strength team and played horrible, ugly anti-rugby rather than actually playing to win
    -Not much else… :(

  45. I am frastrated as we all are. An opportunity to register an away win against a top team gone for another year. Should we even bother turning up for away games anymore, is that what we’re saying?

    Mitigating circumstances certainly. Russell would have made a difference because Horne didn’t play like a fly half. His first instinct is to make a break rather than pass, and in reality, his passing is technically not that great. Hastings looked more the part when he came on.
    I thought Kinghorn looked nervous and naive defensively. He didn’t look like someone who plays 15 week in/week out.

    For once we weren’t bullied off the park, I felt it was a lack of cohesion in our backs which let us down.

    So where to now? Russell ought to be back for Wales, hopefully. Do we introduce someone like Johnstone at 13 (thought Grigg was solid in defence but twice ripped in attack)? Both Grahams looked lively, so worth another look against Wales.
    We’ve been here before…..we were worse against Wales in Feb 2018 with a stronger team. Get up, dust yourselves off, go again.

    1. Johnstone is a possibility. He has the pace and the footwork.
      My instinct would be to stick with Grigg though, or at a push Harris.
      These guys have been groomed for the support role. It makes a mockery of our continuity plans if they’re ditched for someone who’s been a centrally contracted player for the best part of a decade but for whatever reason hasn’t been deemed good enough to feature for Edinburgh, let alone the national team.
      In fact, the one thing the story of James Johnstone highlights to me is that it’s taken him until the age of 28 and an injury to Mark Bennett to appear on the radar. Demonstrates that with only 2 teams players will develop slower and some of them will be missed completely.
      Maybe Johnstone could go on the bench.
      It’s probably too late for Mark Bennett unless he plays the full 80 next week and singlehandedly wins the game! Otherwise I’d have said he could be an option.

  46. Gutted after that performance. Not sure citing individual players is that productive – it was the flattest performance I’ve seen under Townshend and we never looked up for it (not that I saw our loss away to Fiji…), no idea why and he is right to criticise players for not living up to the jersey.

    Again, our ability to turn chances into points abandoned us, again we squandered attacking positions through errors, and again we struggled at the line out and indeed scrum.

    I thought we were actually getting pretty quick ruck ball in attack quite often, but failed to capitalise. Hastings made a few errors but our attack looked much sharper with him at 10.

    Biggest disappointment was we got outmuscled by their ‘mobile’ pack and gave their novice half backs a total cakewalk. Out kick chase was appalling all afternoon.

    Wales and England are going to suffocate us with pressure but there is no use dying wondering what if – might as well give Hastings the reins. Darcy deserves to start too.

    1. I agree we had plenty of possession, and it seemed good quality possession, in that game but failed to do anything with it. I think that first half was more frustrating than the second half v Ireland as we just looked devoid of ideas or spark.

      1. We did – clearly losing so many of our starting backs had an impact but we should have done better regardless.

        When we isolated and ran at their midfield we made lots of linebreaks. But we rarely had good ball to do so off set piece or from good terrirotial positions.

        Our wingers virtually never got the ball in space which tells its own story really.

      2. I rewatched the second half. I missed some of it in pub with terrible view in packed place. I could be wrong but was it as bad as the first on the whole? I think I looked at it through the prism of chasing game and needing to get something quick and the first half . There were two absolute butchered tries that had we scored one we would be 5 points down with twenty to go. Completely undeserved but we’d have been 50-50 to win.

        On second viewing I didn’t think it was the absolute shambles the first was. Might be wrong. I’m so glad for the bigger picture we got the try as we’d have started to have issues with scoring nothing in second half of matches again. We do not need anymore negative things to distract us.

        Any news on any injuries returning?

  47. Team I would pick for Wales:


    Bhatti/Allan/Sutherland (much of a muchness), Brown, Fagerson, Gray, Strauss, Laidlaw, Grigg, Maitland/Seymour.

    I don’t really buy into the knocking of Laidlaw but Horne and Hastings could be really exciting and with the Championship all but over I’d like to see them cut loose, similar for Darcy Graham. Bit of rotation in the forwards mainly as I see Graham as a belligerent carrier with a bit of niggle in him and we need that with Wilson out, Strauss can have a rest and start on the bench given the number of collisions he’s been involved in over the last few weeks. Horne is still our best 12 and can cover 10 from there.

    1. Johnson at outside centre?
      I don’t think he has the raw pace. He’s a footballer and an inside back.
      Grigg gets another go.
      Bennett is the only other option on the basis of his experience and he would have to start for Edinburgh next week and singlehandedly win the match to come into the mix.

      1. I think he’s got enough pace, no slower than Dunbar who did a job there outside Horne on occasion. I think a playmaking partnership to get the ball into Kinghorn and Grahams hands as much as possible would go well. Hastings and Horne can both run hard and direct when needed to balance it out.

  48. Townsend’s record as Scotland coach has been pretty good.
    We’ve been smashed by injuries to key players and the people calling for his head are doubtless the same people who used to call Vern Cotter ‘Ferne Cotton’ on this very forum after we were whitewashed in 2015.
    Grow up and get behind the team.
    There is no magic bullet.
    There is no compelling reason to throw Johnstone in at Stade de France for cap no.1 over Grigg in a side which injury has already reduced to an ‘A’ team. If Townsend had done it and Johnstone had been targeted and shown up you’d all be on here demanding he never be capped again, just as you were with Chris Harris.
    Horne at 10 instead of Hastings must have been a toss of the coin selection but there is a rationale to choosing a player with 40 caps who’s won a pro 12 final and been in a world cup QF over a player with 4 in a side so badly denuded of key players against a wounded France away in the sun and warmth of Paris.
    These are not calls Townsend or any coach would like to make. They’ve been forced on him by circumstances. The game we play requires us to have the bulk of our key players available and fit. We have a few positions where the replacements are good enough, but in many positions the natural replacements are injured too.
    For the world cup I expect a good few players to come back in the mix and they will make a big difference, while having to blood the likes of Graham (both of them) or Bradbury will benefit us in the long run even if we don’t get results.
    So get behind the team and let’s will them to give the Welsh a good run for their money, and you never know.

  49. So many things to be annoyed about. Most of all is the self-delusion among this set-up – our coaches and pundits all tournament have been boasting of “superior fitness” – which is good for upping your try count against tier 2 sides, but is being shown to be irrelevant if you need to make up 3 scores in the last 10 against anyone decent, and our supposed “strength in depth” is shown to be a vague hope, with little evidence to back it up. We’ve proven Kinghorn is no Hogg, that Horne/Hastings is no Russell, that Strauss/Ritchie/AN Other are no Barclay/Wilson/Watson, that Grigg/Harris are no Jones 2018.

    The injuries have deprived Scotland of our on-pitch leaders and our stars. Laidlaw’s leadership is one reason to keep him around, but he needs more from guys like McInally and the remaining seniors in the squad to back him up. And without guys like Hogg and Russell adding their magic, our attacks bog down on the 5-metre line.

    As for the gameplan – it looked like Townsend’s same old. Every team with any nous sees it coming, and knows all they have to do is line up their tackles right, and wait for the errors to come. Yes, there were line-breaks, but France were mostly able to cover – it’s like they also know Bastereaud’s inside shoulder is a weak spot.

    The team might be making progress, but it’s not all that much – this World Cup looks like the best we can hope for is going out in the second round to the Southern Hemisphere team. Again.

    1. The thing is Barclay, Watson, Wilson (309kg) did well in some key games but still fell short in others and took flack for being lightweight. Yesterday’s backrow weighed in much heavier at 337kg and had Laidlaw who can supposedly play the petit general role behind them. Yet we had more success with the mobile, lightweight three and the house party of Price and Russell behind. There’s no consistency in game plan or our style of play.

    2. I’m not sure I saw much leadership coming from Laidlaw yesterday. I don’t think he’s a bad player but he had a bad game yesterday and I don’t think he’s the right person to captain the team.

  50. Need more from the locks. I’d be tempted to call up Murray Douglas and Alex Dunbar from Super rugby and Japan respectively. Big, hard hitting and athletic locks.

  51. I hear that Townsend is blaming the players for not playing for the jersey, hypothetical I thought when he can’t step up to the level either. Or maybe the bitterness that he has with certain players, (some of whom he has sent into international retirement), is why the team don’t want to play for him. Just look how differently Manchester United are now playing with a different man in charge. I’ve nothing personal against Townsend, but the situation it is what it is and like many of the very talented players, he also is a talented coach, but their to early for the here and now. If Townsend was for the real cause of Scottish rugby then he would have refused to take the very well paid position that he’s in. He needs to take a wee holiday, just a night away to reflect from the outside in. He picked the losing team for Saturday’s white wash, a team so inexperienced I felt like crying. I don’t mean to insult Mr Townsend personally, but it is tough and lonely at the top, and Frank Spencer couldn’t do much worse.
    For any body who needs to reference who Spencer is , then your probably in the camp that Townsend was a rugby GREAT that had an awful team around him, as someone one here said. The truth is it was the other way around. I don’t want to spend any more years of my life waiting.
    Time for Townsend to take some better advice from a world class assistance coach or sstep down!

    1. What more experienced players were available that weren’t injured? He went with Horne at 10 for experience but Hastings would have been the better call so I’m not sure you can say he went with a lack of experience in the team. The issue I think was he was too slow to make changes when it wasn’t working.

    2. Absolute negative Rubbish.
      Townsend has been in charge for 2 seasons now and during that time Scotland have produced some incredible performances.
      Australia home and away in 2017.
      The ABs in 2017.
      England last year.
      There have been some bad performances too.
      Iron them out. The team can do it.

  52. Team for Wales

    1. Dell (who else)
    2. Turner*
    3. Fagerson*
    4. R. Gray*
    5. Gilchrist
    6. Graham*
    7. Ritchie
    8. Strauss/Bradbury
    9. Horne/Price*
    10. Hastings* (Russell if fit)
    11. Maitland
    12. Johnson
    13. Grigg*
    14. Graham*
    15. Kinghorn (Hogg if fit)

    2 – I’m leaning towards Turner as he had a great game for Glasgow last week. McInally i think needs a rest and Brown on the bench.
    3 – Berghan has looked average for Scotland this season and think Fagerson deserves a shot.
    4 – R.Gray…Its been a while but 2017 6N showed his worth and we have missed him since. Named in the team of the week in top14 tells me he is ready.
    6 – Graham performed better than Bradbury off the bench. deserves a shot.
    9 – 2 ‘meh’ games from Laidlaw with Price and Horne both looking in good nick.
    13 – Poor showing from Grigg but not a fan of Harris and Johnstone creates another centre pairing to adjust too. Last chance for Grigg.
    14 – Graham, would start him ahead of Maitland and Seymour who have both been ordinary.

    1. Team for Wales 1Dell. 2Brown. 3Berghan. 4R Gray. 5Toolis. 6Graham. 7. Ritchie. 8Bradbury 9 Price. 10 Russell. 11 Kinghorn. 12 Johnson. 13 Johnstone. 14 Graham. 15 Maitland. 16 Bhatti. 17 McInally. 18 Fagerson 19 Gilchrist. 20 Strauss. 21 Laidlaw. 22 P Horne. 23 Seymour

  53. I think the basic problem is that we will never win a tight game until we develop a much more hard-nosed and aggressive attitude. This is a bit more than “everyone played their heart out”. I doubt whether the current coaching team are the ones to do this.

  54. Anyone watching Italy’s first half performance vs Ireland will see what I mean by attitude and determination.

  55. Read Tom English synopsis of the Match. It is a true and accurate report of where Scotland are, and not for the faint hearted.
    Mentally, there are only one or two of our players who are at the international rugby races, and they are injured.
    The rest are at best journeyman players at this level. They may read the good reviews at Glasgow & Edinburgh, but the reality is, both regions have won nothing?
    We flatter to decieve I’m afraid, but that does not account for the lack of urgency yesterday, the slow start, and the pathetic attempts at getting up for Kinghorn’s excellent re-starts?
    I’m now watching the first half of Italy v Ireland.
    Italy are winning at half time. In this form they would also have hammered Scotland yesterday?
    Scary or what??

    1. George, I agree that Tom English’s report is a fair reflection of the game and Scotland’s issues. What he doesn’t do, as you do, is write off 23 very good (some outstanding) professionals on the basis of a bad performance. I agree we were poor and the lack of energy/urgency was just perplexing and frustrating.

      It’s my ‘Hands in the Ruck’ contribution – players being dismissed as ‘not international class’ or ‘at best journeymen’. Sure, a lot of them played like journeymen yesterday but teams and individuals have off days, especially when injuries deprive a team of talismanic players physically and psychologically, and throw untried partnerships together. Even club combinations like Johnson and Grigg would never have experienced a context like that match.

      Let’s have a developmental view of our players and teams and hopefully our inexperienced players will become established and effective international players as we’re waiting for our ‘stars’ to return.

      1. Andrew
        Yes, I was pretty brutal, but they are well paid professionals, doing what they love.
        I’m a ex. Player, and have a wee bit of a understanding of the mental approach, but what I cannot countenance, is lack of effort, no matter your skill level.
        I come back again, to the space and time the opposition had to field Kinghorns high, hanging & excellent re-starts? The lack of effort & urgency to get under the ball and contest the re-start was more than poor? That was a snap shot, of how the team performed.
        If they had put in the effort showed by Italy this afternoon, they would have beaten an average French team.
        ‘Hands in the Ruck’ accepted.
        I have tickets for Twickenham, but fear it’ll be men against boys 😞

      2. Yeah, the restarts and the kick-chase were inexplicably poor. Slow and dog-legged allowing Ramos to gain multiple metres and confidence.

        In your experience, is lack of effort the only reason for that or could there be other factors?

        You’re not Gary Graham’s dad, are you?? If you are, your boy made a good impression at the end… :)

      3. We the long suffering Scotland supporters have been told to take a developmental view for the last 19 Six Nations. At some point we’ve got to stop developing and start winning winnable games.

      4. We have though, James. 10 out of the last 12 games at Murrayfield. The Ireland loss was the first home defeat in the 6 Nations since 2016. We’ve broken all sorts of long-standing hoodoos in the last 2-3 years.

        Admittedly, winning away in the 6 Nations is a big challenge we haven’t yet overcome (apart from Italy) and it’s really disappointing that we didn’t come anywhere close to that yesterday.

        Several of our players only had a handful of caps yesterday. What other approach is there than developmental? It doesn’t mean some of them shouldn’t get dropped or get a rollicking if that’s what they need for their development, but it does mean you don’t write them off.

      5. And this ‘long-suffering supporter’ has had more joy from the current crop than in almost two decades before that. There were also many agonies even amongst the incredible highlights of the 80s and 90s (my first live match v France, 1980, definitely the highlight that got me hooked, aged 5). Others will have ‘suffered’ for many years before that.

  56. Almost every post catalogues the injuries which undeniably are a big part of where we are. What I don’t see are explanations or solutions to prevent this recurring.
    So here goes!
    Has the concentration on bulking upper body/ weight neglected the added torque on knees and ankles?
    Do modern ‘shoes ‘ provide the ankle support of the old,high, boots?
    I fear the head and shoulder injuries are in part technique, part very brave lightweights repeatedly taking on heavyweights. Solutions please!?

  57. Townsend’s post-match comments could be an indication that the Toonie tombola will be back in action for the next match. He could do worse than release the entire squad back to their clubs to let them know yesterday’s performance was unacceptable. Someone will end up copping it and my suggestion would be Laidlaw who had a stinker as well as providing no leadership. Time for a new captain.
    Hopefully some of the contributors on this blog will have time to calm down. The outrageous predictions of a Scotland win by many were downright embarrassing given Scotland’s pathetic away record in the 6 Nations and the loss of the world-class core of the back division to injury.
    With the benefit of hindsight the selection of an occasional Pro-14 fly half was a mistake as Pete Horne was unable to control the game and the 9-10-12-13 axis was a disjointed mess. The ‘team’ was a collection of individuals with little sign of a structured game plan until Hastings and Price came on.
    Townsend isn’t going anywhere until after the World Cup which will provide a truer test of the team when key players are fit.

  58. The most depressing aspect of yesterday was how badly we managed the first 15mins – any coach worth their salt would have drilled into them the importance of the start of the game. Resist them and score some points and the French would have folded with the crowd baying for their blood.

    We just rolled over – there are serious concerns about the mental fortitude of this side – they also appear to take the wrong option time and again.

    1. Amazing how any wrong options were taken by the ball carrier when we broke their defensive line yesterday. However, the standout wrong option yesterday came at full time when we had the ball at the breakdown directly underneath the posts. We needed 3 point to get a bonus point, 7 points wouldn’t make much more difference. However, we continue through our trademark tepid phase play until we inevitably cough it up within the next minute.. Why didn’t someone have the sense to take the drop goal? It was a clear chance to do just that. Of course, in the end we give France a bonus point from this decision instead.

  59. Ladies/Gents
    I post Conor O’Shea’s post match comments this afternoon, see below.

    Quote: “There might be a disparity in money and investment but you cannot buy heart. We showed heart and desire but it’s another result and we have to dust ourselves down. It’s a nice easy one away at Twickenham next and I want to see them play without fear.

    Unquote: May I suggest, there was a lack of heart & desire from quite a few players against France?
    If the Scotland of yesterday had played the Italy of today, I’m afraid there would have been a similar outcome i.e. Defeat.
    Yes, lots of injuries, but heart & desire within a team, can overcome adversity in many cases?
    We don’t mind, if a side goes down fighting, and gives 100%, but I did not see that yesterday.
    Agree with other bloggers, there is a distinct lack of leadership within this team. We need a hard nosed Alun Wyn Jones type, who is respected, and not afraid to lead from the front?
    Just saying.

    1. A few years ago there was. Fag paper between Italy and Scotland. Now they are in course to complete their fourth 6N without a win and are what 13th in the IRb rankings? Scotland had a tough day at the office yesterday but I know which side is rather be supporting.

      1. I do not agree with you, but do correct me and forgive me if I am wrong. I think you are saying we should be content as we are one ahead of the worst side in the championship. We had a bad day and were beaten by a team only three places behind us in the IRB ratings. Surely not !

        I would love to be supporting a side that can learn from their mistakes, not one that perfects them over and over and over and over again. At least we are consistent .

      2. Not saying that at all. All I’m saying is that we have had two bad losses and suddenly Scottish fans think we’re the worst team in the world and we’d be better off supporting Italy.

        No team progresses through constant improvement, it is always a bumpy ride, that is how you learn. See England under Jones, who had his nightmare season last year but will undoubtedly take his side to the RWC as serious contenders after they bailed out early under Lancaster in 2015.

        Toonie has had some incredible highs, but this is undoubtedly the most testing time in his almost two years at the top. He’ll have earned his bread if he pulls the team through and we enjoy a successful RWC and then become serious contenders in the next couple of 6N.

        It might even help in 6N 2020 if Gatland, Schmidt and Jones have moved on and he’s got a few hard-won scars to learn from. The 6N is a brutal tournament and Toonie is facing the best coaches in the world in it.

      3. I disagree on several points. you are consistent when you say it takes time to improve. No doubt and there has been incremental improvements , I agree with you .

        But we are no longer seeing improvement, quite the reverse . It is arguable but this is not the lowest point in Townsend’s leadership. The loss to Wales in last years 6N , when he had all his players was the lowest. The win over England was a peak but the overall trend on the graph since is downwards.

        The poster (George) was just saying O’Shea was proud his men played for the jersey , they are also short of players due to injury.Townsend is openly stating ‘the navy shirt deserved better’. I hope he was looking in the mirror at the time.

        Fans should be seeking to be one behind the best side , not one in front of the worst and there is more than a fag paper between us and Ireland, England and Wales. Italy have gone backwards, but so are we. That is fan mentality , it is also the vision of ruthless leadership.

        Scotland have come out for a second half and imploded in all three matches. Something is wrong in the dressing room and that is Townsend;s responsbility. He should shoulder. They come out demotivated, the evidence is clear , three games on the trot, diffeent players same coach.

        Finally, I doubt he will learn from his counterparts moving on . He replaced a bigger man than any of them, so what does Gregor need to learn.

  60. Just back home from Paris and will have to watch a recording to see what I remembered or missed from yesterday.
    Agree that our first 15 mins or so seemed lacklustre, giving this previously in disarray France team some confidence. Quite a few unforced handling errors too that hardly helped.
    A lot of what I recall has been mentioned above, and for now the only thing I can add is : how the hell did we manage to get stuffed in the last two scrums only minutes after splintering their scrum in midfield?
    Oh, and once again, at least two utterly mucked up line-outs from promising positions on our own throw. What’s going on there?

  61. Is anyone in this blog, able to offer any update on Mr.Barclay?
    Have I missed something here, although not difficult as I’ve been overseas. Is his injury super long term, seems to have been out for so long??

    1. If we are depending on a 32yr old player (33 around RWC time) coming back from a serious injury who couldn’t even make the squad for a large chunk of his career to improve us that much …I am more concerned that I was watching our feeble effort against a French team who had no confidence or consistency.

      1. What we see on the pitch is a reflection of what is going on off the pitch. Chaos !! Its a game of two halves bad and worse. I dont know why we cannot see it.

        The one thing that is constant in the turmoll is the coach and his staff.

  62. Seems to me there are too many saving themselves for the world cup. Yesterday was a bitter disappointment but when the play is so lethargic you get what you deserve. Still got faith in Townsend and once we get the leading players we are missing I’m sure we could cause a surprise or 2 at the world cup.

    However in the here and now, the players picked against Wales need to show a lot more heart and desire than we’ve seen the padt few games. It’s also high time we put in a good second half performance in the 6 nations, we always fall away in last quarter and that has to change. You need to put the game to bed and not just try to shut up shop

  63. Unfortunately games like yesterday demonstrated once again why no Scottish forward would get anywhere near a Lions squad let alone a test team. I think it was Paul O’Connell who said that when things aren’t going your way you focus on what you can control such as chasing kicks, picking yourself up after a tackle and getting back in position, running to line outs and so on. I think the point he was making was that these things don’t require a particular skill set they just need heart and determination.
    Worryingly for large parts of the game we were bested in all these areas – our kick chase was non existent as was competition at restarts and opposition throw ins. I have been critical of Grigg but in the run up to the first French try he chased back and put in a great cover tackle but his team mates were just jogging back and anyone of four Frenchmen could have scored. As others have said we badly need a A W-J or O’Mahoney type to lead the team from the front.

    1. I agree with this wholeheartedly. If only Sean Lamont was 10 years younger and a blindside flanker. THAT’S the sort of attitude, passion and aggression that this side is missing.

      A Lamont or a Jason White character who will give everything and can halt another team’s momentum with a bit hit or a surging carry.

      1. Stu you may need to visit a Dr I’m a bit worried you’ll have damaged your neck trying to see the point of my post going over your head.

        Just think about things more before you post, I referenced Lamont’s attitude and passion not his ability. I even alluded to the fact his size and aggression would be useful at blindside given the very thing you mentioned yourself.

      2. All you are doing is perpetuating the pointless justification for years of failure – oh he tried really hard.

        So what – I’d rather have highly skilled players than ones that didn’t have the most basic of rugby skills but tried like bears.

      3. You’re still missing the point Stu. We do have much more skilled players now but we are lacking some of that aggressive attitude that Lamont had.

        And unfortunately the other home nations have plenty of players with both the skills and the aggression.

      4. No Scrummo, I see your point – we all want aggressive highly skilled never say die players – but sometimes you cant have everything and if I were to make a choice between a Seymour or Maitland and Lamont it would be Seymour or Maitland.

      5. I agree with that and I apologise if some of my posts are poor, I wouldn’t swap any of our first choice backline for anyone.

        I do think the forwards lack a bit of bastard though. The demeaning platitudes of ‘they’re brave and try hard’ from pundits have changed to ‘they’re too nice’ when concerning our pack. Where you find a POM or an AWJ I’m not sure and I think it’s why Wilson is such an instrumental part of our pack but I wonder whether Gary Graham at 6 is a starting point whilst Wilson’s injured. I like Fagerson for this as well as he’ll steam in on occasion and get in player’s faces, the scrum was a worry at the end of the France game though.

      6. I’ll pitch in here with an agreement. Trying really hard does work sometimes in the place of skill. You need both, there’s no point in being skilful if you roll over and give up when things don’t go your way. I referenced AWJ as a type of player we lack, not the most skilful lock in the world by a long shot but you want him in your team, he’ll run through brick walls for you and he’ll make the people around him do the same. I liked the Sean Lamont comparison, same story, his best maybe wasn’t that great but you would get his best every single time.

        Scotland didn’t take that game by the scruff of the neck, we let France play however they wanted, they dictated everything that happened. Wales and England didn’t, they dictated the game and France imploded, much like we did. No one in the team is capable of driving forward and inspiring a performance. Soft, schoolboy stuff. When was the last time a Scotland forward make a powerful break or smashed someone back, a crucial steal? All things that would probably have only a small technical gain in the game but in terms of mindset has untold benefits, it gets people’s tails up, inspires players, inspires crowds, demoralises the opposition.

        It was clear to me how to beat France, apply pressure, pin them back and watch the mistakes. They crumbled that way the last two games. Now of course it was a huge blow to us that we lost our two best tactical kickers but that shouldn’t mean you don’t even try to. Most of the backs that played are quite capable of kicking a rugby ball, but we didn’t do it, we tried to run, got nowhere, panicked and screwed up. Running only works if your passing is accurate and fast and your support play is faster, I thought that’s what “fastest rugby in the west” was about, well there was none of that. Pedestrian passes, isolated players, predictable lines, it was like Scotland of 2012. Sorry I’m off on one again….

      7. “When was the last time a Scotland forward make a powerful break or smashed someone back, a crucial steal?”

        Against Italy and Ireland both these things happened.

  64. Well that was total POOPSTER. The most frustrating thing was that despite that we should have been miles behind for a loooong stretch it remainef 15 – 3, during which we had some great territory and did heehaw with it. A try at that point could have really turned the tide and tested the French confidence. Instead we were blunt, profligate and completely devoid of inspiration. Typically, we scored the try just a few minutes too late for there to be any hope. We were lucky to avoid a total humping.
    I try to keep my expectations in check with reality. As such, i didn’t expect us to achieve something we’ve not done in 20 years without our most dangerous players. In that sense the loss to Ireland was more of a backward step. Similarly, if we are not able to beat Wales next. Progress is incremental, and confidence and respect are built on consolidation. Home wins are our current benchmark of expectation, which also represents substantial progress relative to our 6n history. Until we actually start to do it, away wins remain the stuff of dreams and a large step beyond where we are at. I expect us to beat Wales (even if i am bereft of confidence) but i anticipate a Twickenham thrashing.


    1. You expect us to beat a side going for the grand slam?.. and who are managed by a coach who knows exactly how to beat Scotland.
      I think we’ll lose both remaining matches heavily….we have a terrible record against England in England and their coach most definitely will have a grudge after last years match and the post match stuff that went on.
      Our confidence looks drained. Id even say GT has to think about rebuilding in a few key positions to have any chance in the RWC of having some success…of course now he has left himself little time to do it.
      Laidlaw ,whilst not the only the player on a shoogly peg ….has to go. His leadership just isn’t that good…and his play compromises the style of play GT is striving for. However, if Russell is injured …who kicks the penalties?..its like we are ‘stuck’ with Laidlaw. No real leaders …and nobody who kicks penalties consistently. Frustrating.

      1. It’s an expectation based on where we’re at- not a prediction. If we don’t do it then we are going backwards. I hope we will and I will be disappointed if we don’t, because we need to maintain the benchmark, but I don’t think we will. Sorry for any confusion.

  65. @Matto. Unfortunately, I struggle to agree with your prediction for the Wales game. The performances against France and Ireland showed up the lack of depth. no cohesion, poor skills and a lack of leadership. I know it’s one of those clichés to say it, but Wales are slow starters and a “confidence” team. They’ve got a settled side and will be bursting with confidence after that outsmarting of England. I can see them just being too streetwise, tactically astute enough to recognize and exploit the areas of weakness in this Scotland team. Gatland may not be a popular man in Scotland, but like him or not, he is a wily coach.

    …don’t want to come over all Private Frazer ….but I think we’re going to be up against it. If we had all our first choice players available and were coming into the game on the back of a good run of wins, it would be different.

  66. Its about cohesion from here. I’m sure Gregor has had a bloody good word with the players. For example if you haven’t seen the post game media interview in Paris its worth a look. I’m sure its not just me but if you look at Greig he looks like he’s been given a proper telling off, he knows there’s no where to hide and is fully aware that after the change of personal the team improved. I very much doubt he will be starting against Wales. McInally will be captain. Yes the tombola will be rolled. It will be interesting. Remember though if the team hadn’t had made so many mistakes we wouldn’t all be ranting but looking at things much more positively. OK there’s injuries. OK we don’t perform well away. I believe as it has been at various points over the last 15 years that is psychological. Its a confidence thing. Look at how Gatland plays it. He doesn’t just talk it up but theirs a belief. Something that so sadly Scotland have lacked for some years. The good old days hay. But lets not forget we can perform it is small margins. Time to get a grip, strengthen the mindset and get stuck in boys. Keep the faith!!

  67. Changes have to be made. But not kneejerk.
    I cannot understand how some posters here can blame Townsend. It’s not his fault the players dropped balls and missed tackles. That’s neither faults in the systems nor in the selections.
    However, I feel it is time to at least try to speed up the game with either Price or Horne starting. I have defended the selection of Laidlaw for a while, but a “roll of the dice” is now warranted. I think having him coming off the bench if things are going awry, or to close out the game, is no bad thing.
    Unfortunately Nick Grigg had a torrid time. 4 turnovers conceded?! However he was one of the few with a bit of fire in his belly and his club form merits another chance.
    Peter Horne is an excellent playmaker 12. Let’s keep him for that. It’s a shame for Johnson but I believe we need that extra playmaker to get the best of our outside backs.
    Talking of outside backs, Tommy Seymour has yet to play to his potential this 6N. Give young Darcy Graham another chance. Not sure the other Graham has done enough and I’d like to see if Hardie can perform against Tipuric.
    In the forwards, I would keep it much the same, barring injuries or return from injury. The only change might be to start Toolis over Jonny Gray. Jonny, like Seymour, may need the rest/kick up the arse/opportunity from the bench.
    So my team for Wales
    McInally (c)

    1. Seymour may not have hit his form, but he’s at least tried, unlike Maitland. If someone’s gotta go, surely it’ll be him.

    2. Could it be that some of the players who were anonymous on Saturday are just returning from injury and finding full fitness/dynamism/form? J Gray, Maitland and Bradbury could be in that category (also Z Fagerson/Brown on the bench). Is this an argument for giving them more international game time rather than less to find form or should they find form with their clubs? FWIW, I would start D Graham but stick with J Gray and Bradbury. Bradbury especially needs time in the Scotland shirt as he could be a big asset at the WC.

    3. Based on performances so far, I wouldn’t have Toolis or Grigg anywhere near the 23, far less the 15.

      1. Id bring R Gray back. He played a full 80mins played pretty well in a resurgent Toulouse side.
        Our Lineouts have been ranging from average to awful in his absence.
        J Gray either lost all confidence or simply isn’t actually very good.
        Toolis is athletic but not much else.
        Gilchrist in 6N terms an average lock.

        In the front row…..does GT really have to insist on an all same club row? Dell, McInally, Fagerson should be starters…..and Dell only because we dont have any depth of note there.

  68. I decided to watch the game again to see if the lack of several pints of lager makes the game better. It doesn’t. Few points I noticed other than the general lack of bite and impetus that’s been aluded to plenty of times.

    Hastings played well when he came on, I’m a big fan of Pete Horne but have to admit he’s not an international standard 10 based on Saturday, he is an international standard 12 who can cover 10, he was far better at 12 where I maintain he should be our no1 choice. GT should have had the confidence in Hastings to play him from the start if he is seen as the deputy for Russell. The rollicking given out by Laidlaw I thought looked directed at Johnson not Hastings.

    Maitland is lauded for being a clever player and sound defensively, he was caught a bit out of position a few times. So was Kinghorn, bit of a mixed bag from him, he’s no Hogg but did some good things too. Was Seymour even playing?

    Grigg was found out big time. His tackling was excellent as usual but other than that a complete horror show.

    Ritchie and Mcinally have been two of our outstanding players recently but were both quiet. Bradbury failed to take his chance, also quiet. Strauss plugged away, Gary Graham looked decent, he at least looked up for a scrap unlike most of the team. I’m not saying anything more about stat boy, Toolis was the same, Gilchrist was passable.

    I didn’t actually think Laidlaw was that bad, no slower than usual, he’s on a hiding to nothing as captain with no one else on the park looking like they want to seize control. As usual we sped up when he went off but we all know that happens. GT needs to decide what he wants, speed or Laidlaw, you can’t have both.

    Aside from the conceded tries at the end we actually played reasonably well for the last 15-20mins. We were right to keep playing for the losing bonus point but when France got the penalty and missed touch we should have had the nous to just call it a day, reminded me of that day in Cardiff…

    1. Looking back 1.8T I agree that basically turnovers and unstructured play and therefore offloads was basically what killed us. What Mike Blair calls the championships minutes was the main issue too. We failed to capitalise on the yellow card and lost a very soft try after half-time.

      I think Johnny gets a hard time but I do agree he is one of the worst for just failing to the ground rather than finding a few yards. Maybe that is why he never gets turned over though.

      I agree Laidlaw was annoyed at Johnston’s forward pass We’ve had far too many of them this championship at times when it wasn’t really needed. We had other options and it wasn’t like we needed it for huge creative work.

      One who has been let off the hook by all so far is Gilchrist. I assume he was at fault in some way for some of the failed lineouts but more so he had penalties that were inexcusable. Coming in at the side just after half-time after the try was ridiculous and just played into the French hands. I think he’s got away with this by folks comments and he has this tendency at times.

      You’re right that after the lapse in the first five mins in second half and the first 10 minutes of match weren’t too bad. We had short periods of the match that were terrible and cost us big time.

      And Horne wasn’t spectacular but I don’t think he did anything really bad either other than that pass to Kinghorn but it was punished severely. He made a couple of breaks that weren’t supported and he’s no Russell but I don’t think he was a huge issue to why we lost. Yes Hastings was lively when he came on which is good and gives us confidence for the future that maybe he has recovered his form. But very few argued with the decision before the match and I feel it was hindsight rather than foresight people are going for here.

  69. I haven’t managed to read all the comments on here so forgive me if repeating. One thing I feel like is the passion has been trained out of us. Laidlaw mentioned it a few years back that we used to get too worked up about a game and cool heads are more important. Agree to some extent but watching the Welsh players sing the anthem there was a difference there you could almost feel it, AWJ was so pumped. They did their jersey justice.

    1. I agree somewhat.
      Its like anything, I think …its balance.
      People make their best decisions in a calm state….but then they also show more purpose and intent when motivated.

  70. To have any chance V Wales we need quick ball, Russell back & Lady Luck to smile on us. The back-line on Saturday was too light & the forwards too passive, we need guys who are adept at the breakdown & guys who have a bit of muscle & “dog” in/about them.

    Kinghorn, Maitland, Dunbar, Johnson, Graham, Russell, Price
    Ashe, Brown, G.Graham, Gilchrist, Swinson, Fagerson, McInally, Dell

    Hastings, Seymour, Laidlaw, Ritchie, R.Gray, Berghan, Turner, Reid

  71. I watched the whole game again trying to tease out, what exactly went wrong. Here are my observations (some mentioned already but bear with me):
    1. Too many basic mistakes – most players guilty but Horne and surprisingly Johnson (and I’m a big fan) error prone. Grigg made some important and heroic tackles but coughed up the ball several times in attack mode.
    2. Slow ball at ruck. I think the French forwards stretched legality a number of times which contributed but yes, Laidlaw also culpable. G Horne or Price better options.
    3. Predictable attacking moves easily snuffed out. Russell at 10 would have made a big difference here.
    4. Awful under the high ball. Kick/chase was pathetic; we didn’t even try half the time. And some clangers when in receipt of French high kicks.
    5. Failed set-piece. Missed line outs and malfunctioning rolling maul to name but two.

    Despite all that, I do think that we can beat Wales (especially with Russell back at 10).

    1. Good summing up and agree. Doesn’t leave much hope if we’re this bad though does it? Did u think second half was as shambolic as first???

  72. Dell/Mcinally/Fagerson
    Richie Gray/Gilchrist

    Jonny Gray/Bradbury

    1. Dell, McInally(C), Fagerson
      R Gray, Gilchrist
      Ritchie, Graham, Bradbury
      G Horne, Russell
      P Horne, Johnson
      Graham, Kinghorn, Maitland

      Brown, Allan, Berghan
      J Gray or Swinson

  73. Not a bad selection but I don’t think Hogg will be fit and there’s no way Dunbar will be selected given recent changes at club level. I would really like to see Darcy Graham given a start but I sadly don’t see it happening against Wales.

  74. D Graham to start. Twickers probably not ideal for him to make full debut.
    Outside centre, anyone but S Johnson who was one of few positives from first two games and must play at 12.
    Gary Graham to start. Richie Gray back in if he comes through his next Toulouse game.
    Rest for McInally maybe?
    Fagerson start?
    How is Hamish Watson?
    Consider giving Price a start and see if tempo can come from the base?
    Lots to ponder. With all the injuries the team is a shambles with no section of the team untouched. Back three, Centres, Half Backs, Back Row, Front Row are all a mess and with only Sam Skinner missing from the second row nobody seems to be cementing their place for Japan. Good luck Toony.

  75. Having a look at the stats (and I know they don’t tell the whole story) it seems that missed tackles and turnovers were where the game was lost. There were 35 missed tackles and we turned the ball over 16 times!!
    The only man to have a clean record here was Jonny Gray (13 tackles, none missed, no turnovers). I know he’s statboy but we should be wary about dropping the best lock we have (statistically).
    Nick Grigg didn’t miss a tackle (9/9) but turned the ball over 4 times. Everyone spotted that and although it’s uncharacteristic of him, his place must surely be in doubt.
    What we might not have noticed is our back row missed a combined 10 tackles. That is more than poor, that is atrocious. The back row are supposed to be tackle monsters FFS!! Cry all you like about the lack of big-carrying back-rows, but if they can’t tackle they shouldn’t be in the team.
    One last thing, and it is only slightly worrying, although the pace seemed to lift with Hastings, and his attacking was great, we should note that out of 4 attempted tackles, he missed all 4.

    1. The issue I have with Gray he’s not really getting dominant tackles in from what I can see (happy to be corrected).

      Is still feel that Toolis and Gilchrist is our form pairing, maybe bringing Richie on from the bench. I’m wondering how much of the line out issues were due to Rambo and how much to the locks?

      I’d drop Horne in to start with Laidlaw on the bench as well (he’s not playing that badly but we need to find out if Horne is the real deal).

      My 23 would be:

      McInally (c)
      G. Graham
      D. Graham


      R. Gray
      P. Horne

      1. There isn’t anything dominant about J Gray. He isn’t a leader. He isn’t in the mold of AWJ or Itoje etc. He tackles a lot…and he is a decent lock when he is confident and on form (he is neither at the moment) …. but I don’t think Ive ever seen him dominate. Like a square peg in a round hole….he won’t ever be dominant.

      2. Was he? I thought it was fairly even between them… and that was one of his best games and at home…. demolished away from home.

    2. He doesn’t miss tackles or get turned over because he plays so conservatively. Every time he gets the ball it’s make half a meter then flop on the ground. There’s no desire to break the line, no aggressive fends or barges it’s just safe. Fair enough the man makes his tackles which is more than can be said for some but how many of them won us turnovers or disrupted their play / slowed their ball down?

      1. Pretty sure dominated – increased calls for Lions inclusion and everyone oustide of Wales said AWJ was past it…

  76. It is funny how in just a few weeks we can go from real optimism back to the dark ages of Scottish rugby and people now calling for Townsend’s head!

    I think we can forget about the France game, so many injuries to front line players and players coming back from long lay offs without proper game time under their belts that we couldn’t implement our game plan of run them ragid and then win in the second half.

    As other commenters have stated however, I am slightly concerned with certain areas even once we have the injured cavalry back. In the past few years, our areas of real depth have been second row and centre but now it feels that our second rows are either one trick ponies (ie Gilchrist and Gray being tackling machines but not much else and Toolis being able to call a line out but not much else) and I don’t think we really know what our starting centre partnership should be? Johnstone and Horne have been going well at 12 but we are really lacking a form 13. As for the back row, I think Bradbury will come good but was off the pace on Saturday which is not really surprising given he had been out for so long and only played 1 club game. Strauss on the other hand only seems able to play for about 55 minutes and then disappears which is not ideal if one of the others gets injured!

    This 6 nations was supposed to allow us to lock down our starting xv for the world cup but, where other nations seem to have managed that, I feel we are more clueless than when we started the tournament. I think for the Wales game I think we need to go for broke and see if we have the players who can manage a game without Laidlaw, also giving Grahams x 2 starts and launching big Richie back into the fray, after all he has had more club time than the likes of Fagerson and Bradbury to get himself up to speed.

  77. Does anyone else think that Gilchrist and Gray would look more intimidating if they ditched the scrumcap (Gilchrist) and got more intimidating haircuts with shaved sides? More arm training so that they look stronger could help to like Etzebeth.

    1. I made the suggestion we could do with an etzebeth in our side in a thread ( after wales in November possibly) but was told by the stat lovers that we wouldn’t trade Johnny for him

      We don’t need Eben , but we do need a bit of oomph , instead we have 0 mph ,
      the differene without Ryan Wilson is palpable – bring back big Jim Hamilton , always sure to punch a Frenchman !

  78. This is all too much like Culloden rather than Bannockburn. What we need is Robert the Bruce, but I fear we have Bonny Prince Charlie.

  79. I remember Tim Visser v George North, North didn’t get a look in. Do you think Kinghorn can handle him probably our best chance, Maitland shifting to fullback, but can he handle the aggression of Liam Williams? Josh Adams i think I’d stick with Seymour.

  80. Bhatti , Brown and Fagerson have the go forward momentum to give a workhouse Welsh front something to think about. Hardie and Harley will be hitting them hopefully while they are thinking, while As he runs his bulk about. Who plays against AWJ , Swinson?

    1. Ah Rory, I was hoping that you’d ask, watching Hastings in the centre was pure magic, I was lucky enough to be sat in with Townsend and the lads , I’d been selected by GT, as his chief adviser . I couldn’t believe the privileged position that had been trusted to me. It was the world cup final 2019, Scotland v the All Backs. I remember that with 20 minutes left and the score 19- 23 to the All Blacks , when suddenly out of nowhere a flying saucer appeared in the sky above Tokyo, in one flash of light Huw Jones was beamed up and the saucer disappeared. The whole stadium and the world watching were in shock , Townsend said to me that we’ll need to get the air force involved now , while my whiskey almost went down the wrong way and half of my haggis hit the deck, I still managed to compose myself, telling Townsend and the world that the only person who can save us now is Adam Hastings. Sure enough Hastings went on a run , the likes of never seen before or likely to be seen again. He did he won the world cup for Scotland and went on to save Huw Jones and the world, then when I woke up and told my wife she said it was all just a dream. I think it was a premonition. All the same I’d still have him in there rather than Grigg or Harris. Just in case I’m right and my wife is wrong.

  81. That’ll be Ashe’s bulk , Matt Scott and Bennet would be useful , Price and Weir 9 and 10. I think Laidlaw is intimidated by the Welsh, Weir is currently far cooler under pressure than Hastings currently, though Hastings is impressive as a centre ( probably because he has more thinking time) he did look like a dynamic runner , as though he could run like old man Hastings, Price and Weir will cope with the pressure that they will need to play under. Horne and Johnson will need to play at their best, though Horne does have a bag of tricks like a fox on the run.

      1. Ah Rory, I was hoping that you’d ask, watching Hastings in the centre was pure magic, I was lucky enough to be sat in with Townsend and the lads , I’d been selected by GT, as his chief adviser . I couldn’t believe the privileged position that had been trusted to me. It was the world cup final 2019, Scotland v the All Backs. I remember that with 20 minutes left and the score 19- 23 to the All Blacks , when suddenly out of nowhere a flying saucer appeared in the sky above Tokyo, in one flash of light Huw Jones was beamed up and the saucer disappeared. The whole stadium and the world watching were in shock , Townsend said to me that we’ll need to get the air force involved now , while my whiskey almost went down the wrong way and half of my haggis hit the deck, I still managed to compose myself, telling Townsend and the world that the only person who can save us now is Adam Hastings. Sure enough Hastings went on a run , the likes of never seen before or likely to be seen again. He did he won the world cup for Scotland and went on to save Huw Jones and the world, then when I woke up and told my wife she said it was all just a dream. I think it was a premonition. All the same I’d still have him in there rather than Grigg or Harris. Just in case I’m right and my wife is wrong.

  82. If Skinner has recovered from his ankle sprain then he comes back, maybe at lock.
    R Gray worth a shout.
    Give Gary Graham a start with Bradbury or Strauss at 8?
    Don’t know what Hardie offers over Ritchie and it looks like he’s injured anyway. I suppose he’s a candidate for the bench.
    The backs will stay more or less the same personnel wise, although assuming Russell doesn’t make it Hastings should start, leaving Horne and Johnson to fight for the IC berth.
    Say what you like about Horne and his error count, but we usually look threatening when he plays at 12.
    Grigg gets another run out at 13. It’s too soon for Bennett and Grigg’s defence was off the Richter. We know he has a step and acceleration in attack, he just needs some chances to show it at this level. I suppose the curve ball is Harris, who I think is a very underrated player, but I don’t know if this is a situation you’d want to throw him into.
    It’s possible Darcy Graham might replace an out of sorts Seymour, but I think it’s more likely he’ll bench, and it would not surprise me if there’s a positional switch between Maitland and Kinghorn.
    There aren’t a lot of magic bullets out there. Whatever team we put out will still be callow and denuded.
    What we need is for the players we have to play at their potential.
    France played somewhere closer to theirs in Saturday than at any time in their last 10 fixtures, but we made it easy for them.
    We need to do the same and up the game.

    1. I think if Russell is playing he can utilise Griggs unique powerball way of attacking to good affect, playing outside centre away from home with a disfunctional backline is not ideal to be fair, at least he was very strong in defense which is the basic and showed alot of passion.

  83. Kinghorn needs to be covering North as he’ll out play North in the air, other wise Wales be able to pull players in to leave North isolated so Bigger can slot the ball in behind us, I’m sure Kinghorn would thrive more than anyone else in that situation. Hardie is a man who is our best 7 no argument, plus he’ll keep his head when more inexperienced boy’s won’t, so would Harley and Weir. Hastings is years off playing this Welsh side at centre, there won’t be time for thinking , this Welsh side are as hard as nails and if given the chance they beat and intimidated us before the anthems start. Grigg is pretty much useless at this level, and I wouldn’t keep giving Harris the benefit of the doubt. We need to put out our hardest men.

    1. I agree packwise I’d go:


      With Hardie on the bench. Our hardest pack in my opinion, I’d be looking for handbags within first 5 minutes to set our stall out.

    2. Harley????? crikey
      Hope I never see him selected in a 23 for Scotland ever again.
      Absolute mince at test level. An average club pro/borderline pub team.

  84. Sorry , Hastings is years off at fly half, but I’d put him in centre over Grigg or Harris. Seymour will get up for this one. Not saying Graham can’t, but I’d stick with the experienced man.

  85. Obviously, Wales are red-hot favourites for round 4. BUT, interestingly of Wales record 12-game winning run the only victories achieved away from home were against Argentina, Italy, and France (also SA in USA).

    So perhaps Wales will be a bit more vulnerable to an upset than many imagine. We’ll need to play a hell of a lot better than the last two rounds!

    1. That 3 very good teams and one of which beat us last week, and on recent form and teams picked the other two would beat us too.

  86. Sorry, late I know…. All eyes forwards to next week (as a Scot in Wales this game means more than anything!) and all that….. All the points I had wanted to make have been made in more succinct ways…. One major one for me though is the fact that our forwards (especially second row) seem to fall in to contact! No intent to drive through the tackle area as they are already falling in anticipation of the tackle. From what I have seen, this is definitely a Scottish thing! Any thoughts?

    1. Yes, I find the “run into contact and fall down tactic” extremely tedious. It is even worse when there is no urgency to get the ball away quickly.

      1. This is the kind of stuff i have been preaching for months… finally the peoples eyes are opened.

  87. Some thoughts on the backs for Wales.

    I would start George Horne at scrum half. Laidlaw needs a timeout and Price generally has a mare against Wales. Other than Horne’s general zippiness I really like the way he supports everything. I also think he will keep the rush defence honest as he can break fast from the base. Something that I havent seen Laidlaw do for a couple of years.

    Lets hope Russell is back and fighting fit.

    I would give Peter Horne the inside centre against Wales. Tough on Johnson but he is used to rotation at Glasgow. I just get the feeling Peter Horne is a little more experienced.

    I would give Grigg another go at 13. He usually has good hands and has played against all the Welsh backs before. He’s as tough as anyone but I think at times he tried to rush things before he got smashed by Basteraud. I would back his defence against Davies though.

    Back 3 I would go with the same as last time. My main thinking is that the Welsh are really good in the air and will fancy their chances with lots more of that stuff. I’m not that convinced by Graham in the air at this level and if he gets found out we’ll get hammered. I’m also thinking that they cant be as bad again. Toony needs to take them aside and give them a bollocking for playing for themselves and not the team. They need to defend as a unit, kick chase as a unit and support each other.

  88. Would like to see us try Price or Horne at scrum half.
    If not Russell, Hastings at 10.
    Graham on the wing.
    That’s all.

    1. To DC…..Rory Hutchison? Seen him play at Bedford and defence is not his forte….runs out of the line like a loon, forgets the tackling part and flaps about like a wet hen. No way is he international class, sorry. He barely looks comfortable in the English Championship.

      1. No issue with trying Horne at 9 and Laidlaw on bench as cover and if it’s getting tight or need to close game out. Gatland can cope with stuff he has had time to plan for. Not sure he’ll have seen enough of George to work him out yet. Last chance for Scotland to get one over Gatland would love to see it.

  89. Hole at outside centre? Rory Hutchinson has looked very good with a run of games for Northampton. Can’t speak for his D.

    1. We already have the best players available to Scotland.
      Nothing gained by parachuting fringe premiership and s-15 players in (someone else mentioned Murray Douglas).
      Now if they’re regulars who’ve been in contention for the ABs as John Hardie and Blade Thomson were that’s different, but I don’t know of any of those.

  90. Wanted to highlight both matches Scotland V Ireland and Italy V Ireland. There were major and numerous moments there that cost the home team in my opinion the win and it was the referee mainly that was culpable. Just to say that Nick Berry and his TMO was excellent in the match against France. He made the correct call mostly and went to his pocket after the correct warnings for blatant cynical penalties and allowed things to play out then get it checked which didn’t happen enough in the other matches. Only thing I could fault was after France’s second disallowed try when they said there was a knock on against France. Scotland knocked on first but it mattered not as France then got pen at the scrum.

    However I think everyone is agreed now that Hogg was illegally hit and so we lost the attacking platform and five points early in the game. TMO should have been used there.

    The knockon when O’Brien interfered on the floor. Not only illegal but perhaps a yellow for blatant killing the momentum.

    The Kearney no arms tackle which cost us a try was missed by TMO and ref and not checked despite being shown on the screen.

    These were at key times and certain the two Kearney and POM incidents were so early to change the course of the match majorly.

    I’m sure there were more but need to check back. Somebody could perhaps help me.

    Italy match was highlighted throughout the highlights programme which I wish they had used sometime to do that the previous week when they completely ignored any poor decisions.

    1. Yeah. The trick is not to be in a position where refereeing errors cost you the game.
      The referee, his decisions including his contentious ones are part of the field of play and good teams deal with it.

      Refs are also human and Rugby is a game where there’s so much scope for a bit of cheating that referees are naturally going to assume the weaker team resorts to it more than the stronger one.
      The trick is not to be the weaker team……

      1. Agreed Johnny b, still annoying though. Not all good teams can be far enough ahead all the time to avoid these clangers but it is better to not allow these to be a factor in the game. I think everybody has there moments against the correct decisions. Scotland have had a few in the last year or so but nothing the ref did on Saturday at all. He did very well.

        It’s the ones that TMO can get involved and doesn’t and are blantant that are the worst.

        Had a second part of this awaiting moderation no idea why.

  91. Glen Jackson hasn’t rated for me in the middle since his first outing against Wales in Scotland when he failed to go to TMO for a great Scotland try that was legal as he had blown up for a high tackle and forgot to allow it to play on as he suspected wrongly of a forward pass then he decided that it wasn’t a yellow card when it stopped a clear try and we only got over the line with 3 mins left instead of 10 with wales down to 14 men with a kick to the corner to come from 5 out.

    The incidents in the Ireland match:

    1. The kick chase and Kearney came up and took the player out as he was charging through. Yellow card nothing done not even looked at.

    2. The pass back that looked to the ref as a knock on in the tackle. Big swing there from chasing a ball down field to Ireland line out close from the try line. I think they scored a try from that, crucial crucial change in score and momentum.

    3. 5 yards out knocking on the door and a bad pass hit off the attackers knee not a knock on again.

    4. Having been up against it all match and hanging on in there they have a real chance with time left to get within score. They are heading forward at pace phase after phase and 5 yards out the scrum half has ball and is about to pick it up and Irish player comes through, ref shouts “No don’t touch him!” The player not only touches him but knocks him to the ground. Italian guy gets back up and they knock on a couple of phases later. No penalty, a certain yellow card that stopped all momentum and Italy may have scored that and who knows against 14 men with ten to play.

    That last one is as bad as the Scotland one if not worse.

    As they had said on the highlights I wonder had it been England, New Zealand or indeed Ireland would it have been the same outcome?

    Who is reffing Scotland V Wales? I hope he doesn’t cost a team the game and certainly not Scotland again.

    Oh and we have won a watch having already played Italy as we would have had a tough match now against them.

    1. Absolute bobbins. Just start your own Forum Pytelium where you make comment on folks commenting on the referee and nothing else. Pretty poor in my opinion. Did I blame the ref for the French defeat???

  92. I used the conjunction OR twice in my last post.clearly you blamed the result on the
    first option..the referee at least

  93. A suggestion for the next time players scores are given, Why don’t we give the coaching team scores as well:

    Gregor Townsend – Head Coach and Attack Coach
    Danny Wilson – Forwards Coach
    Mike Blair – Skills Coach
    Matt Taylor – Defense Coach

    Maybe Toony should get 3 scores for attack, game plan and overall team performance? Any thoughts

  94. Bite late here now. On Laidlaw – happened randomly to be watching the Scotland v Samoa game from RWC15. Laidlaw was a class act. Sniped like a maniac ferret. Made breaks. Scored a true scrum half try. Kicked everything. Was a saucy devil. What happened to that guy?

    Also Ritchie Gray is massive, fast, and aggressive. And has great hands. Let’s get him back asap.

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