Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 13 – 22 Ireland

England had made them angry. We wouldn’t like them when they’re angry, we were told. The Green Machine rolled into town, vowing they were not to be bullied, and they would avenge last week’s defeat, which they did do, but with a Hellboy-sized helping-hand from Scotland on a blustery day at BT Murrayfield.

Scotland started brightly, Strauss made yards through contact, and Huw Jones chipped ahead with Maitland giving chase. Out for an Ireland line-out just 10m from their line. This was all part of the plan we expected, and what they had practised against Italy. Territory would be key.

A high-tackle on Wilson gave Scotland a penalty inside the 22 at a tough angle, and given the blustery conditions, Scotland went for the corner. They retained possession, and Aki was penalised in front of the sticks for trying to play the ball when a ruck had been formed. Laidlaw put Scotland 3-0 up.

From the restart, that old problem arrived. Huw Jones took his eye off it, spilled it forward, and Ireland took the scrum on the 22. We’d been concerned about that area of the game, but Scotland held firm, forcing Ireland to go through the phases. They’re pretty good at that too, but after driving Ireland back, Scotland forced Sexton to knock on.

Scotland played on and Hogg went. He saw a gap and tried to chip it into space to regather. BT Murrayfield screamed for an infringement, but Poite saw nothing in it. Ireland regained possession. The ball was spun wide to Stockdale, he too chipped and chased. Seymour beat him to the ball, but in a calamitous moment, his pop pass to the unmarked Maitland went too high. Conor Murray had the simple task of gathering the spilled ball and running it home from only 10m or so. Sexton, with a smattering of boos echoing around, struck the ball terribly and missed the conversion, but you can’t go offering free points to Ireland of any description.

Scotland got themselves into a threatening position when a Murray box-kick went out on the full, but Stockdale picked off Laidlaw’s telegraphed pass to Jones and Ireland were off again. Seymour snuffed out the danger this time, but disaster seemed certain to strike.

A wounded Hogg seemed to have injured his arm during that earlier kick and chase, so last week’s hat-trick hero Kinghorn came on to replace him. Seconds later, Stockdale took Sexton’s inside pass and raced through a huge whole in the Scotland midfield to score under the sticks.

It was Ireland’s time to botch Russell’s high-hangin restart and Kinghorn went close with a powerful run, forcing O’Mahony to concede a penalty. Scotland motioned as for the kick to touch, but Finn tapped and went, Strauss bullocked towards the line, but Ireland held firm and forced a knock-on. A chance gone begging, when we knew chances would be few and far between for the men in blue.

Ireland forced the penalty at the resultant scrum, but Sexton’s kick to touch did not go far, and he hobbled back into position. Murray had taken the conversion for Stockdale’s try, so something was clearly wrong with the reigning World Player of the Year, and while a possible – if unlikely- Sam Johnson try was being reviewed in the 24th minute, Ireland lost one of their talismen. A real shame for the match with both Hogg and Sexton going off, but there was still nearly three quarters of a game to be played here.

For all of Russell’s intricate probing, Ireland were finding massive gaps down Scotland’s right-hand side and making big gains, but from out of nowhere the maestro number 10 intercepted a simple pass to Rory Best inside his own half and hared towards the line with Keith Earls in hot pursuit. The angry-faced Munsterman snaffled Finn just short of the line, but Russell had the presence of mind to look up and off-load from the deck for Sam Johnson to score his first try for his new adopted homeland. Laidlaw judged the wind nicely to squeeze the conversion over.

Game on.

Puppet-master Russell was pulling all the strings now, another foray into Ireland’s territory forced a 5 metre line-out, which Ireland stole, but had to touch down in goal for a scrum.

Scotland drove and drove again with just a couple of minutes remaining of the first half, but the green wall refused to crumble. Eventually the backs got involved, and Seymour was so close to going over in the right-hand corner, taking Jones’ pass from behind him brilliantly and edging ever so close to the line. The ball was recycled, but at the next phase Scotland knocked on in contact.

It was to become a recurring theme in the second-half.

Half-time: Scotland 10 – 12 Ireland

The second-half started without the injured Ryan Wilson, replaced by Rob Harley who had been warmed to the speed of the game with a run out just before the end of the first as a blood replacement for the excellent Jamie Ritchie.

An early error in midfield nearly gifted an opportunity to Huw Jones, but he couldn’t get enough purchase on the kick ahead with nobody home at the back.

Scotland’s discipline in the first half had been very good, but a penalty conceded by Jonny Gray allowed Sexton’s replacement Joey Carbery to kick to touch. With another penalty advantage for a high tackle by Harley, Rob Kearney had a 2 on 1 overlap with Kinghorn in front of him, but he made the wrong decision and went at the Edinburgh man, who forced the error in the tackle.

Ireland again went to the corner and like Scotland had done in the first half, battered at Scotland’s line. The men in blue did not yield, and after Murray, having a poor game by his high standards despite his try, passed poorly to Earls, Ritchie forced a turnover penalty: a rarity.

This Irish team is relentless, and if you give them the ball back, eventually they make it count.  Carbery made the most of another loose-pass, driving between Dell and Harley, who impeded each other in trying to make the tackle, and after charging 50m down the middle of the pitch he spread the ball out wide with a nice pass to the unmarked Earls.  

Scotland were getting themselves into decent positions, but couldn’t keep hold of the ball with frequent knock-ons. Although the scrum wasn’t the penalty factory that we feared it would be, it allowed Ireland an easy exit, even if Poite’s arm wasn’t raised in the direction of the green jerseys.

The Scottish line-speed was impressive though, and when Johnson raced out to tackle the slightly isolated Farrell, Ritchie was onto the ball like a hawk who’d spotted a rabbit. Ireland didn’t compete fairly at the breakdown, and Laidlaw took the 3-points to make it a one-score game at 13-19.

Alas, more Scottish incompetence gifted Ireland the ball back, and in dangerous territory too. Kinghorn, under absolutely no pressure, knocked on an easy-looking high ball inside Scotland’s 22. Eventually Strauss was penalised for not rolling away, and Carbery opened the lead back up to 9 points.

Both sides emptied their benches with the game winding down, such as Price on to try and speed things up for Scotland, and Larmour replacing Stockdale to take advantage of tiring Scottish legs. But by now, this furiously paced match had taken it’s toll physically as well as mentally. Silly penalties and errors crept in on both sides and the final act of the match was more of the same: Ali Price knocking on at the base with Scotland in possession and hoping for a chance to claim at least a losing bonus point.

This was a “Groundhog Day” game for Scotland with moments of excitement, some great skill, and even some ferocious defending, but it’s the glaring mistakes, like the Seymour and Maitland debacle that ultimately cost us. Three missed line-outs, compared to Ireland’s 100% ratio, also don’t help matters.

Attendance: 67, 140 (sell-out)

Romain Poite (FFR)

SRBlog Man of the Match:
he may still be regarded as the enfant terrible by certain sections of the Scottish support, but when he plays as well as this, there is no doubt that Finn Russell is the most important player in this Scottish side. As with last week, another very composed and basically error free performance, but still with the flair and unpredictability that keeps the opponents on their toes.

224 Responses

  1. Let’s get this out of the way: Poite was pants. Capricious, inconsistent, misused the TMO… missing hits on Seymour and Hogg, penalising Gray for tackling beyond the ruck but not the many Irish players doing so, awarding a knock on when we’re stripped but not when Ireland were… he was POOPY (and where was Laidlaw) and awed by the Irish players – if you’ve got to tell the captain half-a-dozen times to leave you alone in 15 seconds, penalise him! But he isn’t why we lost.

    We lost because, like last year (and countless other matches), we did all the hard work then messed up the money shot. Classic Scotland.

    Maitland and Harley did not justify their selection, Jones was anonymous again, Seymour had a mixed bag.

    PoM getting man of the match was a joke a pure nepotism – he was largely anonymous. Russell and Ritchie were clearly the best players on the pitch. Strauss, Wilson, McInally, Johnson and Kinghorn all had good games, too. Just a shame that collectively we couldn’t get it right when it counted. Ah well, at least we’re unlikely to get the wooden spoon! I hate it when our boys prove all the trolls in the comments sections right, though.

    Also, Ireland are still looking shaky and vulnerable. No way they’ll beat Wales in Cardiff.

    1. It’s a sore one to lose that, especially as Ireland were there for the taking. I suppose the good news is that the silly mistakes, the high tackles, the knock-ons, the forward passes etc etc are easy fixes.

      1. I would agree but this is NOT the 1st time so don’t think players are capable of learning or the ‘teachers’ are not good enough!

    2. Agree with your singled out players other than I thought Harley was ok, Kinghorn was good in the first half when he came on but rubbish in the 2nd half.

      1. Harley was dire. Missed tackles, and conceded a silly, silly penalty that led to an Irish try.

  2. Today – forget about the referee you don’t make a dozen or more handling errors against the #2 team in the world and expect to win. POM blindsided Hogg, I’m not sure how the referee missed it. Without Hogg we struggle. Nothing wrong with our hearts, but errors killed us.

    2 weeks time – I’d look at our best players & try & get them on the pitch at the start, the French are going to be big & physical, so (as long as Dunbar is in some sort of form).
    15.Hogg, 14.Maitland, 13.Dunbar, 12Johnson, 11.Kinghorn, 10.Russell, 9.Laidlaw, 8.Strauss, 7.Brown, 6.Ritchie, 5.Skinner, 4Gilchrist, 3Nel, Mcinally, 1.Dell

  3. The positives, for me, have been the emergence of Sam Johnson, Jamie Ritchie and Blair Kinghorn. They look the part at this level and are rapidly becoming better than the 1st choices (Kinghorn at wing)
    Ritchie , although a couple of mistakes, surely has to be our 6 and back up 7 going forward. Wilson is good at 6…be not as good as Ritchie imo.
    Seymour does not look 1st choice anymore….he should be benched or out the 23. Both Kinghorn and Graham look better.
    Jonny Gray… benched or out. Was poor today imo…again!.
    Hugh Jones is soo out of form. Should also be benched or out the 23.
    Strauss was ok today….not a long term solution at 8…we need a better 8 than that to go up a level.
    Laidlaw looked back to his default slow self.
    Harley was awful… expected.

  4. To lose a game in that manner is a knee to the nuts. But let’s lay off the ref bashing – he isn’t why we lost today. it was the silly mistakes that cost us, but thankfully, these are easy fixes. Going forward to France and beyond, we’ll have players back. We badly missed Barclay and Watson, and we need Mark Bennet back in the centre.

    We need England to do us a favour and demolish France, because a demoralised France team will be a lot easier for us to face, whilst accepting it’ll still be a tough game.

    3 wins is still a realistic target for us, and we’ve got big players coming back, so come World Cup, we’ll be a lot better. All to play for…

  5. Hard to disagree with anything said so far, certainly a real opportunity missed. Surely our generally upward performance trajectory and injury returnees must hold us in better stead for the WC. Anyway, lots of positives in Jamie Ritchie and Blair Kinghorn, Finn and the forwards. Basic errors extremely frustrating though.

    My major disappointment though is our crowd booing the kicker. Not acceptable,ever. Needs to be stamped out.

    On reflection, we’ve come away despondent about not beating a team deemed a tier above. We had the chances. It will click soon, as long as we keep practicing better. Frustrating but we are improving. So many players missing, so many combinations untried, so can only be good?

    1. Fair comment – losing a generally very close game to the 2nd ranked team in the world is still not bad.

      I think the frustration is we are making the same errors in the same parts of the game as we have for years, with no real sign things are changing.

      We are in good shape going forward, we have half a dozen very good young players just starting to come into their own and have a lot more depth than ever.

      This years six nations is very tight so far (with the possible exception of England). Wales – admittedly a weakened team but arguably not much more weakened than Scotland is at the moment – made our win against Italy look a bit more respectable.

      Still plenty to play for – concentrate on France and Wales now and we can still do ok.

      1. Ireland might be technically 2nd ranked , currently, but on the evidence of their last 2 matches they are far from that. Id be far more concerned playing NZ, England and SA.

        They wave peaked beating a tour knackered NZ team at home. Their best core players are aging out imo

        I reckon they won’t be anywhere near getting their dirty hands on the RWC.

    2. Booing of the kick – especially after a try awarded for crass decisions – is nota big deal. It makes b****r all difference to the world class kickers that every team has these days. Good to see the crowd actually involved. Who would not boo after the first Irish try? They have paid their money – let them have their say. Virtually every team cheats better than Scotland, so do not get precious about a few boos!

  6. Sorry folks but I just think Ireland know how to tough games like that out.
    They’ve done it loads. That’s why they’re no.2.
    Thanks to injuries we are, unfortunately, a little callow.
    There’s arguably an entire 1st choice back row on the physio bench, a really good back up scrum half, several inside centres, several outside centres, Richie Gray and 2 experienced tight heads.
    That’s a lot.
    Sam Johnson is a great prospect but he’s on his 2nd cap.
    Blair Kinghorn is on cap number 5.
    Darcy Graham – has he been capped yet?
    Ireland can call on a shed load more experience than us and they’ve won championships and champions cups. It does make a difference in games like that. It just gives you that inner confidence that you can hang in and see it out, where inexperienced players might get anxious and try to force the game, which is what we ended up doing.
    Townsend shouldn’t change the team too much for the next game IMO.
    The players will learn from this.

    1. Not criticising your posts specifically but this is what we always say. Ireland are a team whose spine are all over the age of 32. They are missing key players too in Stander, Henderson, Toner, Ringrose, Henshaw, Byrne, McGrath. Sexton then goes off.

      We didn’t take advantage. Again. I have no idea why but we can’t win the big games.

      I know it isn’t popular but Ryan Wilson going off was massive. Second week in a row that we lose direction when he does.

      On all the Jonny Gray bashers- he’s the best second row we have. Ben Toolis does a great job for Edinburgh but he is not international class, at least not yet. Irish Indepenent newspaper describing as lamentable says it all….

      Second half was simply odd. No-one was particularly bad individually it just didn’t work. Coaches’ fault?

      On a positive note: Wilson,Ritchie,Strauss is probably our best fit back row. Each week Fagerson (Z) is closer to fitness. Hopefully Ritchie Gray is too.

      I would said forget 6N and focus on getting the following team on the pitch for Yokohama:

      Loosehead prop
      Wilson or Skinner
      Strauss or Wilson or Thomson (if he is any good)
      Jones (send him back to South Africa if that is what he likes- Glasgow isn’t working) otherwise McDowall (? See below)

      Another loosehead
      Skinner or Gilchrist
      Barclay (if fit)
      G Horne
      P Horne
      Seymour/Graham (or Bennett or Scott if fit)

      Other than the above the only potential bolster I see is McDowall. Could he play 13? I don’t know. Hopefully

      A successful 2019 is now looking like: away win in Paris, home win against Wales, QF of World Cup.

      1. Dell stronger in the scrum than Nel last week and solid against the oft proclaimed best tighthead in the world today (Not to mention tackling like a machine) and we still need a loosehead…

      2. Everyone keeps touting for Barclay. Remember, he has been out for quite a while, is getting older, so recovery will take longer and he may not come back to the same std as before. So don’t hang everything on that clothes peg

      3. Rob, that’s why I have Barclay on the bench at best. Think we have to assume he won’t be the player he was. Agreed.

      4. McDowell is an out and out 12.
        Got to hope Bennett and Taylor return to form. They’re the 13 back ups.
        Jones will come back. He’s off form.
        Ireland despite injuries still have forwards who can dominate collisions. They lose Stander but bring in O’Brien.
        That’s why they win.
        We really only have Strauss. Graham supposedly can do it. Doing it for Newcastle different than test level though.

      5. Re ‘lamentable’ Toolis, please never use Neil Francis’s opinions (in the Irish Independent) to support your points. It only weakens them.

  7. Frustrating. A few small errors away from a top performance and a good win. Seems all the fine margin stuff went against us.

    Some of the Glasgow players are going backwards, Rennie is a afraid. Jonny Gray should be 5th choice lock. Huw Jones has always looked iffy apart from his ball-in-hand running. Harley must be the worst player I’ve even seen in a Scotland shirt. The idea that the Irish were gutted about seeing his name on the team sheet because he is mildly annoying at the breakdown is laughable ‘oh damn the Scots are playing that guy that can’t tackle, pass or run and constantly gives penalties away’.

    1. Jonny Gray has become the new Greig Laidlaw/Ryan Wilson/Pete Horne on this blog. To say he is the 5th best Scottish lock is absolutely laughable.

      1. As far as form is concerned he’s behind Gilchrist, Toolis and Skinner and Big Richie has always been the better brother. So yeah 4th or 5th choice.

      2. I’ve never knocked any of those other players you named there. Gray is decent but I’d put Gilco, Toolis, Skinner and his brother ahead of him. That’s a totally valid view whether you like it or not.

        Harley can’t be 12th choice back row, there must be better options than that. Gary Graham must be raging right now.

      3. Happy to have healthy debate and I am no lock forward. However, if Ritchie Gray can get back to 2017 level and JG is fit I see no possibility that Gilchrist or Toolis will be in the 15 against Ireland in yokahama. Glichrist might make the bench. Just. Skinner is the latest in the great white hope camp. Good player, personally I think too slow for an international 6. Might cover 4/6 in World Cup.

        Club to international step up is massive. Look at Thomas Young. Not trusted by Wales but stand out for Wasps for years.

      4. Sotonsaltire, your locks usually do different jobs. I don’t think Toolis gets enough credit for his job. Too many think he’s the lineout operator (because he’s our best lineout forward) whilst Gilchrist provides the grunt however Toolis has been scrummaging behind the tighthead for both Edinburgh and Scotland and due to the increased force/pressure the tighthead prop is under you put your best scrummaging lock behind him. Gilchrist was noted for his tackle count against Italy but its the graft and grunt of Toolis that freed him up to get around the pitch more. Not many locks contribute the graft and to all aspects of the set piece as well as Toolis and its an underrated contribution. He can run the lineout, lock out the scrum, heave in the mauls and still gets about a fair amount.

      5. Scrummo. Interesting point. I am aware that locks can do different things. As I have said I am no expert. My point is Jonny Gray has not been dropped by club or country for years. Presumably he is pretty decent at what he does.

      6. I think at the moment he was decent at it not is. He’s someway short of his best and we need to find out how to get back there for the world cup.

      7. R Gray for years was pilloried in this forum for being a “powderpuff” (I’m pretty sure that’s the term that was used) and going to ground too easily for a big man. Yes he was excellent in 2017 but will he get back to that level?

  8. We finished today with 5 Warriors forwards on the field, most of whom aren’t even first choice at Glasgow in a pack that gets bested every time it plays decent opponents. We’ll never beat good teams constantly if that is the case. No point with interminable comments on individual players, as we had the best available out there.

    We don’t have a single loose-head who is 1st choice at a top club, we ended up with our 4th choice tight head on the pitch, none of our locks are currently Lions standard, we don’t have a dominant No.8 and we are missing our two best back rows in Watson and Barclay.

    People can write any amount of tripe complaining about referees (are Scotland paragons of perfect virtue?) but take Nel, Fagerson, (R) Gray, Skinner, Barclay, Watson, Thomson et al out of the equation (and Kebble and Schoeman qualify) we won’t beat consistently good teams, who’ll always feel they can batter our pack in the last twenty, no matter what individual heroics some players perform.

    Frustrating, but that’s where we are.

    1. The pack did fine you mook, we actually had parity up front. It was a lack of clinical finishing and the error count that let us down.

      1. “You mook” ?

        We lost three lineouts, Ireland lost none.

        We were penalised at multiple scrums, and could and should have been penalised at one or two more. We were under constant pressure and didn’t budge the Irish scrum one inch all game.

        We had 2 or 3 five metre lineouts. We tried multiple forward drives and failed to get over the line. We even chose to run a trick quick penalty because we knew we couldn’t maul them over their line.

        Our forwards made multiple mistakes late on because they were knackered. We also conceded some penalties because we had journeymen forwards on the field who aren’t good enough to be first choice at Glasgow.

        As we tired we lost the territory and possession battle.

        “You mook”.

    2. But. If it hadn’t been for the raft of basic errors, we could (and should) have won that game. It is totally unacceptable that so called professional players are so inept at the basics. I can’t see how we have progressed any under Townsend. Some hard graft in training is required. There’s no point in heaping on the fancy stuff when it all ends in a basic error.

      1. In all of this finger pointing etc. I have one series of questions …… Is Townsend really the coach we need? Was the work carried out by Vern that gave Townsend the start he had? Is he overated? Do we need someone like Cockerill in there working with Townsend to bring in hardness?

      2. Rob: Townsend is inexperienced compared to Jones, Gatland, Schmidt, Cotter and even France’s Brunel. Today the errors were on the pitch. I think we will need to wait till after the RWC to chrystalise a judgement. Regardless of how beneficial it would be , I cannot see Townsend accepting help from Cockerell.

    3. Is it tripe? On fine margins games turn and this is indeed the 2nd time we’ve been left feeling cheated and badly let down by a French ref.

      If you were playing, how angry and flabbergasted would you be by the refs blindness to pivotal game changing areas of foul play.

      So on fine margins a player’s focus can be disturbed by that which should blatantly not be tolerated but somehow is…it is little surprise that basic errors came back.

      1. Every single game, people whine about the referee these days.

        You think we don’t cheat? All teams do.

      2. Bore off jontymo. Who did we take out off the ball as the player in control. At which point when Ireland were on front door attacking for parity did the ref penalise randomly? Bet you’re an Andy Nicol fan.

      3. I apologise, clearly it was a conspiracy and the referee was against us from the first minute to last. Just like every defeat we ever suffer, eh?

        Where do you think the modern trend of abusing referees will take us? Do you want our game to become like football? Players crowding the ref and swearing at him over every decision?

        If that’s the game you want, you’re welcome to it. I prefer rugby.

  9. frustrating game – no right to a win but we have a right to expect the side to be competitive. A 3:1 try count is disappointing, more so when the first is a gift and the other two came from bad drop-offs . . . all gifts really. The critical period was the spell just before the break, 20+ phases – not sure we looked like threatening the line and then ran out of steam. First score in the second half was important and unfortunately that’s when Dell and Harley combined so charitably. Think Hogg must have established a rep with referees – cynical from POH (who otherwise is a rock) but Poite wasn’t why we lost. Scrum was alright despite Irish props boring – apparently you never see an overhead shot at the Aviva. The lineout is an ongoing worry bordering on dreadful. No point in kicking to the corner if you have <50% chance of winning your throw – Finn seemed to realise that. Kinghorn is a talent but why did he ignore his outside support so often particularly in second half in favour cutting in and taking contact – does he only want selected on the wing? Not feeling too many positives at the moment although we did see another mature performance from Finn. Apologies for feeling deflated but I'm very disappointed at the performance. Also. Can somebody cheer me uo at the booing at placekicks – this seems to be a Murrayfield thing . . it doesn't happen at Scotstoun (maybe at Farrell for time wasting). Apparently Laidlaw moaned about the ref in his post-match i/v – for gods sake, we can do without that

  10. Hated the forward pass for their 3rd try. Penalised for all sorts of nonsense. Inconsistent refereeing. Drunk now so all good.
    Decent blog yet again Iain

  11. This thread is full of the usual stuff after a loss..blame the referee,blame the opposition..point at their late tackles overlooking our consistent late tackles on certain players and stamping incidents.This is just showing us up as sore losers.

      1. Scrummo. Just keep a check on the way you’re engaging with people on here please. You’ve told two people to “bore off” and called one “a mook”. I’m prepared to overlook the odd isolated bit of good natured niggle but we’re trying to encourage civil chat so don’t let it get too frequent. I also understand your points about Toolis and the scrum and that you have specialist knowledge of some kind but please understand not everyone understands what happens in a scrum and be more patient with the tone of your replies

    1. Could you point out the late tackles and stamping ? I dont recall any that were penalised or shown on TV . The TV panel agreed the hits on Sexton were not late.

  12. This Irish team were there for the taking so a missed opportunity. Russell was at times superb but a number of stalwarts from previous years have regressed, are not fully fit or are badly off form – Seymour, Jones, Gray.
    Ireland having been challenged in the first half, saw out the second in relative comfort as the Scottish error-count boomed. Again the bench, even a supposedly strengthened one, saw major drop off in quality. Interesting to see who is selected in 2 weeks time, but I not sure bringing back some of the names mentioned who have been on the injured list is the answer, as they aren’t match fit.

    Less than impressed with some of the wendy-ball fans on the blog who are blaming the ref, the Irish, in fact everyone but the team and the coaching staff. Perhaps they are not as good as they have been built up in the imaginations of some.

    Two weeks time in Paris will tell us if this squad of players peaked last year.

  13. not referring to stamp on Sexton..try Laidlaw on O’Brien…
    another thing which sounds bad is the booing by Scottish supporters on Irish kickers..
    no respect for the kickers

    1. SOB shouldn’t have had his hand on the ball and as the ref wasn’t going to do anything about it Laidlaw did.

      1. It was POM that Laidlaw stamped on his hands should not be there anyway.Scotland did ok today silly mistakes at critical times thought ref was shocking but not main reason we lost.Ritchie Johnson Kinghorn all look great only going to get better.Ireland had us in the scrum and we’re putting more pressure on our line out than we did theres.

    2. Pytelium – clue is in the name of the blog. We tend to look at things from a Scottish perspective… someone raised issue of booing with me on Twitter. The RDS was hardly silent for Farrell last week. Your stadium is literally a glasshouse. Don’t throw stones or be a bad winner

    3. The only kick with real noise was for the final conversion , you know the one with the American football style pass ,

      Despite that we beat ourselves , need to take a try from the pre half time pressure , didn’t and paid the price

      1. Now I’M home and watching the replay in peace , I am astounded at how far forward that pass is , it’s released just behind one of the cuts on the pitch and recieved half way to the next one , looking those cuts are about 8 m deep so 4 m forward.

        I have said in the past the refs don’t believe we are tier 1 , so we don’t get an even break , as Jim Watt once said of fighting in Vegas , he felt he had to knock the other fellow out to get a draw from the ringside judges.

        We blew too many chances to deliver the knock out , gave away soft points and got no breaks , so back to the drawing board for Paris

  14. Dunno what Rennie is doing at Glasgow….but most of the Glasgow players look way off form…except perhaps Hogg and Wilson.

    I think Cockerill’s style of play translates better to international level than Rennies’s does.

    1. Maybe you should visit Scotstoun & see what Rennie is doing then, as it appears to be working just fine. Townsend seems happy enough with it, but hey, what does he know about anything?!

  15. Pretty disappointed with the way things went today – when Hogg got injured and we gifted them the first try didn’t think it was going to be our day. Despite that we recovered our composure and should have been ahead a half time. Second half was a litany of errors; some forced most not sadly. Every time we got decent field position we coughed up possession.
    Russell had another good game as did Ritchie and Mcinally but Wilson was again a big miss when he went off. There is a reason Harley hasn’t played for Scotland for a few years and today we were reminded why! Unfortunately the back row cupboard is pretty bare and our replacements had zero impact today.
    I think one of our biggest problems is that we give away far too many tries to win close games against the top teams and surely we have to make ourselves harder to beat. Maybe we need a new defence coach? However you can’t legislate for players not doing the basic things right. The frustrating thing was Ireland weren’t that good today they just did the basics better than we did and sadly didn’t have to work very hard for their scores.
    Finally anyone who thinks the ref was the reason we lost today is deluded – he may not have done us any favours but you can’t blame him when we made so many basic mistakes.

    1. Rumors Matt Taylor may be heading off as a coach for Australia after the 6N. Wont be sad personally. We need to be better than what we are.

  16. We lost because Poite had a mare and his poor decisions materially changed the game.

    That is all.

    1. They changed the game yes and was a major factor but we also contributed significantly to our own downfall.

      Will watch the game again tomo and analyse a bit more then.

  17. The team caused many issues for itself in dropped balls, forward passes, and one instance of tired in at the side by Ritchie near the end. There was lots of good stuff today as well. It was one that got away for sure and a great chance we could and should have taken.

    I think the team and the referee take equal blame on this one. Both contributed significantly to the loss. Three terrible tries to lose. And yet they did so well as did Ireland in defending the line solidly to give these gifts are disappointing. None of the consistent mess at restart. Good box kicks that we competed for. We dealt with their maul drive in the danger zones very well. You can’t say everything was rubbish because we lost.

    However Poite helped Ireland in his interpretation and lack of use of TMO. 5 points lost when the TMO should have been used. We lost a star player due to a cynical block. That would have been a decent attacking platform.

    In the 2nd half there were 3or 4 calls at the start of the half that caused us twice to have to defend our try line from inside Irish territory. Really poor decisions in the knock on, the gray tackle on a man who was competing for ball.

    We lost huge momentum twice from questionable decisions and we failed to make a decent effort at the try line after that.

    Disappointing. The refereeing is important and to dismiss it not as a factor is naive.

    1. Don’t forget the first scrum penalty where the Irish prop went down but we got penalised or later in the game a maul that they pulled down (think it was their sub 2nd row trying to pull one of our players out our side of a the maul) and we get penalised. Infuriating.

      1. Yes I didn’t see the scrum it was on other side but heard it was clear. Think that was given by touch judge which makes it worse. Only thing he’s looking for at that point. If maul goes forward drop it and as attacker you’ll get penalty. But we sacked many of them well today to sucker one of Ireland’s major weapons. Ryan Wilson took the first four Lineouts today i think as well. Should have continued with that.each time they’d have said they’ll never do it again after 3in a row.

  18. Extremely frustrating and reminiscent of old Scotland teams that were competitive in most areas but, once the defensive line is breached, give up soft tries. This is a very good Irish side but not one brimming with confidence and Scotland, if continuous improvement is the goal, must win this type of home game.
    Outstanding individual performances from Ritchie, McInally and Russell with great first half efforts from Strauss and Kinghorn give hope for Paris, but we were far from a complete team performance.
    It still feels like we have a way to go to break into the top 4 in the world and lack of consistency is the main barrier. Players making poor decisions, passes or tackles against the best teams mean we will concede points and lose those matches. Today, unfortunately, may mark the end or suspension of one or two international careers.
    However, we were in the match for a long time despite the errors and falling off in the second half and I’d love to see us put in a more consistent performance in Paris to win for the first time since 1999.
    Still hopelessly optimistic, I’m afraid.

  19. For me what summed up the game was (I think) Harley and Dell colliding with each other as they went to tackle Carbery and taking each other out letting him scamper off to set up a try.

    1. Yes that was game over. However apparently his pass was forward yet they never showed the angle on the screen that it could be ruled upon fairly. Again TMO mess up again.

      1. I was watching with my dad who said he thought it was forward but I never saw the angle on tv for that.

        What I don’t get is that if that had been at Cardiff odublin the tv crew would have been repeatedly showing every away infringement on the big screen till the ref or tmo took notice. Yet we only seemed to highlight Scotland’s misdemeanours. I know there was a complaint about this at Cardiff a few years ago but we’ve gone too far the other way!

  20. Some people … move on… but not us.

    Time to stop losing at home to good sides and start beating some decent teams away starting with France.

    Townsend and the team ultimately have to take responsibility for this loss and not look into small other things which factored into it.

    I would drop Laidlaw for the France game for the post-match comments on ref, its not what rugby is about and he had a poor game imo, still a vital part of team so can shore things up if needed from bench.

    Townsend says he wants to play the fastest brand of rugby… So give the fastest scrum half a go.

    No better tier 1 team to test George Horne than France.

    Players who are safe for france game if fit.

    Dell, Mcinally, Berghan, Gilchrist, Wilson, Ritchie, Strauss , Russell, Johnson, Kinghorn, Hogg

    4 Spots up for grabs that are competitive.

    1. I think you’re right Neil. I’d go:

      Dell, McInally, Berghan, Toolis, Gilchrist, Wilson, Ritchie, Strauss, Horne, Russell, Graham, Johnson, Jones, Maitland, Kinghorn.

      If Horne injured then reunite the house party at 9 and 10 and I’m assuming Hoggy will still be out. Turncoat onto the bench instead of Harley.

  21. Every time Scotland lose a game we blame the referee..go back to the last times we lost games and check the many of us are cant be the ref is biased against us in all these matches and makes errors only against us.

    Better off spending the time learning positively from our mistakes than harping on about the ref.

    1. In other instances id agree with you but poite’s refereeing was a joke and it hurt us as much as our poor handling did.

      1. And in South African match. We had a dodgey yellow given for us and another too late in the day really. However we made the error by not using the ball in the final maul set piece.

        The TMO didn’t spot the headbutt in that match. but these aren’t the consistently momentum changing decisions we saw today. Refs make mistakes but Ireland played Poite today. They called it he gave it right away. It was a poor second half that contributed some what to the defeat by the officials. One major howler by the TMO first half. Hogg should have been getting up to Poite politely asking him to check foul play. Refs never want to miss that. Thats what ireland would have done.

        Was it Poite who gave a knock on years ago when Hogg picked a ball cleanly off the floor to score and He blew rather than wait two secs then blow after Hogg grounded it? Not sure why refs at this level with TMO are so eager to blow up. Let it play. Letting the Hogg go if ur not sure is fine. Let it play but get it checked before the conversion.

  22. If u check back in 2017 you’ll see I thought we got the rub of the green that day. We should have had yellow cards throughout and got away with it. I felt Ireland would score every time they attacked then. Never felt we’d concede today. Never seen such bizarre errors than today. We did so much good scrambling today and in many areas if you look at both matches we were much better in many areas today than in 2017.

    Scrums, defending mauls, re starts, scramble defence, we had Ireland under control for the most part today. They were all over us in 2017. We took our chances that day and the handling errors were much more. That was the difference. However I’m far happier for the future today than I was in 2017 and last week after Italy. We were far more solid in every area you can expect. Not as it was today in the areas you don’t expect.

    We’ll beat France next up. They’ll fall off the cliff at 50 mins and we’ll get a bonus point by 15.

  23. The WR ranked 2nd team (89 points) beats the 7th best (81 points).Did they really look that far apart ? Ireland were not emphatic victors. It was basis that let us down however we seem to have fixed a few old enemies

    Ireland never dominated lineout mauls, never won the battle in the air, the scrum was not overwhelmed, restarts were acceptable.

    Let’s hope there are a few more surprises to come in this 6N .

  24. I have scanned these posts and no one has said we lost today because Hogg went off injured. That is a massive step forward.

    Only a few years ago fans believed Scotland was all about Hogg and Russell. While Hogg’s departure was a blow we could have done without, we are a much more resiliant, holistic team today.

    Incidently, I think the injury was worth a TMO review , he was taken late. Ireland kick stramash leads to a try. Advantage Ireland.The Kearney no hands tackle should have been reviewed as well.

    1. We very briefly got to see the PoM collision with Hogg from its best angle after the match. PoM intentionally leaned into Hogg with his shoulder. It should have been looked at – not for the try that it led to – but for player welfare. Officials should be trying much harder to discourage stuff like this, rather than reward it on the field by signalling they don’t want to know. And what was the TMO doing here? Surely the TMO should be examining an incident like this? Ireland make a big thing about targetting Sexton. Scotland should make a similar fuss about Ireland taking Hogg out of the game.

  25. so much for title contenders…… Ireland looked far from great, but stronger than Scotland.

    We never beat France in Paris….. Wales not hit their best yet, but pulled off a win in Paris and can send a “b” team to Rome and get bonus point win. Scotland will get the usual bi-annual humbling in Twickenham I fear… .back to the usual 4th or 5th place I reckon ?

    1. Except it wasn’t a bonus point win and that overconfidence and disrespect show to Italy will hopefully cost them in the final league standings.

      1. France were dangerous last week, I think they are being underestimated . If they had landed their kicks they were out of sight for the 2nd half. We might find it tough in Paris , but so will everyone including Wales. Like James , I find the disrespect Wales showed Italy disapointing, let them keep honouring themselves. There is still surprises in this 6N – Keep watching.

    2. I have been thinking about this. Wales played their B team in Rome and they didnt do as well as Scotland’s B team last week ! Kevin M’s article sets out exactly how depleted we are. No one has told them they are not first pick, we just keep coming back with a new find , Richie being case in point.

      1. Good points Ben. They kind of were out of sight 16-0 up has never been turned over before. Not sure Scotland could even do that. They are dangerous but they lack conditioning. That will cost them the most against a fast Scotland. Wales seem to be unconvincing and two wins. Wish we had that trick. I think Wales beat England, but lose to us and Ireland. Twickenham will have so much riding on it. Not confident for it but hopeful.

  26. Upon refection, Ireland simply have more good players, both teams had injuries but their replacements are top performing regular Pro14 performers/British Lions, ours are 2nd/3rd choices for their clubs. Whilst Hogg’s injury wasn’t 100% fundamental to the loss & BK played fine, Hogg is the heartbeat of this team, his threat, skill sets the tone for the whole stadium. Its very unfair criticising Rob Harley, he was up against legends.

      1. Aye Linlithgow’s answer to Tommy Cooper……… (didn’t see the Hogg comment)alas when Hoggy goes off “everyone” knows we will finding the gaps more difficult, all the backs on the pitch on the pitch are good players but Hogg is magnificent. We have got possible solutions to some of our “issues” however they are not SQ yet.

      2. Incidently just in case there is any doubt , I never said he wasnt fundamental, he is our most feared player by a country mile and while we practice for all eventualities, all the chat this far is about the opportunities we left out there. We are not bemoaning the loss of the ringmaster. That is a big shift for scottish rugby fans and in the right direction.

  27. Ireland have a better pack and better replacements than us.
    They play win at all costs percentage rugby while we do things like run kickable penalties.
    That’s why they beat us and why they beat the All Blacks.
    A few players should return to our pack which will make us more competitive.

  28. The French pack is utterly monstrous, though I’m not convinced that Atonio is anything other than a lump but he is liferally half again the weight of Dell so Bhatti could be worth a shot with his extra two and a half stone (still about 7 stone off Atonio).

  29. Anyone got information on all the injured players and when we can expect them to return ? specifically in time for france game in 2 weeks would be a bonus.

  30. I think there are bigger things here at work. Toony has a game plan and it didn’t work yesterday. Not at all really. However we can’t forsake the improvements thus far.

    That said, the team selection was wrong. Jones, great in attack, sometimes the best. But awful in defence. For the top level he needs to switch on defensively.

    Seymour undeniably, is usually reliable. But our game plan is fast expansive rugby, staying away from working the phases. Lets get the young team in. Darcy Graham et all. His particular form has been excellent.

    I saw a team selection with brown at 7… that’s where he started! He’s no stranger to the break down. It’s a shame that the injury list probably precludes that. And his injuries are not entirely out the rear view mirror either.

    For me any suggestion that Adam Hastings should play ahead of Finn Russell is absurd. Hastings is years behind him. He is excellent, but Finn, is outstanding. His composure has improved 10 fold since the last 6N.

    There is an argument there for shipping players off to experience other leagues. Be interested to see what impact it has on Hogg… I digress.

    Things as ever consistently inconsistent. I personally think the team selection is half at fault and the rest down to lack of composure. Without the basics being done outstandingly everytime, there is no victory against the big names.

    All in all another disappointing performance. We have Ireland in the RWC so we need to tighten things up well before then. But as for the rest of the tournament, I would say we look good for 3rd. But more likely 4th.

    1. ARR :I think your comment on shipping players off to other leagues is worth extrapolation, not to be binned but perhaps not for this thread.

      The premiership has brought Maitland on, Russell is key to Racing , Barclay was respected at Scarletts, Richie Gray , in the glimpses we have seen is a much stronger player though it could be argued all have just matured into position.

      Hogg and Exeter ! Not happened yet. By and large they will love him but wait and see. They will not lightly give the respect he receives here. Damaging the advertising hoarding in rage being one very petty but not irrelevant example. It will be good for him, but not in the way, I think you hope/ mean.

  31. Definitely a poor performance from us in that, regarding things that were in our control, we were sub optimal – especially at the end of the first half and second half.
    There are a couple of posts further up re Laidlaw. Of course he is a good player but I do think the game management/ leadership thing is overstated – this game would be exhibit 1 in my argument.
    Russell plays with Iribaren or Machenaud in Paris and both our way ahead of Laidlaw technically.
    Laidlaw does on occasion slow down ball when it is necessary but: is often slow to get to ruck, dig ball out, pass is short, pass is slow, teams do not have to mark him around the ruck and he offers nothing in open field (eg chipping ahead v Italy at start or almost not catching up with play for try v England).
    Let Horne (my choice over Price) start and keep Laidlaw on bench. If Horne occasionally shows he is raw so be it he will learn. I think we will gain so much mor in attack ( and cover defence). Apart from Russell receiving the ball earlier v a less set defence, there will be gaps as someone keeps an Eye on Horne.
    The 5 minutes before half time could have been a clip from any time in the last 10 years…in most cases featuring laidlaw.
    I don’t for a minute think this will happen for Paris, unless the embarrassing comments Laidlaw made re Poite are used as an excuse to demote him for one game.
    Also note that I don’t think Greig was the sole reason we lost- pleanty of others had basic skill failures too.

    1. I think Horne is better suited for the france game with experience coming in laidlaw of the bench, just depends the opposition though, if it was wales next up i would have Laidlaw over Horne.

      1. I think Horne is simply better suited to the SH role for the style of play GT is shooting for.

        I think changing your SH depending on the team you play disruptes any momentum you have. Russell needs to work hard on his kicking and we need to move on from Laidlaw starting at SH…imo…we are holding G Horne back at test level …waiting for magical maturity to appear.

    2. Yes…. rather than thinking Irish defense was soo great especially at the critical multiphase drive near halftime….really a real chance for a major momentum swing was lost in large part due to Laidlaw taking an eternity to get the ball out and away. Its a major difference between G Horne vs Laidlaw in situations like that. G Horne always looking to get the ball out with urgency to retain momentum or find a gap. Laidlaw gave the Irish defense far too long to reset and prepare for the next phase. It was inevitable the attack would break down.
      We didn’t lose because of the ref…. we were very good 1st half overall…but an utter shambles 2nd half.

  32. Now I have calmed down I can maybe comment reasonably. We lost because of our stupid mistakes. Ireland did the simple things well and their defence was awesome during the few times we were battering away at their line. Like the Italy game we gave away two very very soft tries, had we not done that the scoreline would have been very different. Poite didn’t help but he let us away with a few things too, he was terrible at picking up forward passes from both teams.

    We didn’t keep up the intensity in the second half. I actually thought we played very well in the first half, their first try was ridiculous but Hogg was injured and out of position, had he been there I think it would have been different, howler by Seymour and Maitland who otherwise did well. We had parity in the scrum and the forwards were making decent ground. The second half was completely different. We were getting battered back, errors crept in and we started chasing the game and made poor decisions, far too many kick throughs that were poorly executed and just gave Ireland the ball back. The chances we did get we blew by getting impatient, full credit to Ireland there, their defence was resolute which created he impatience. Regarding all the allegations of foul play, I don’t think there was much in it. The hit on Hogg wasn’t great but it wasn’t that bad, a definite penalty, but a yellow would have been harsh, just unfortunate he got injured, any word on him? I see we went back to “leg-gate” tactics on Murray towards the end, again nothing outrageous and anything to wind up Murray and Sexton is fair game IMO .

    It must be frustrating for Toonie, individual errors cost us, we could have easily won that game, we made ground with some good plays until someone messed up.

    1. Toonie has to take a large share of the blame, not frustrating! As to the hit on Hogg, it was more a trip type illegal take out which is a yellow card

    2. I agree with your comment about the Hogg incident. My biggest complaint about it, is that the TMO went awol – what are they for if not stuff like this. You say yellow would be harsh – naw – yellow is needed to stop cynical, intentional and dirty challenges that stop the great entertainers entertaining us.

  33. My impression was that we matched Ireland pretty well physically. Our problems are much more on the mental side. Not sure whether we have any high level sports psychologists working with the team. So many things to address. How to keep a cool head, how not to let the red mist descend, how to react to setbacks. How to avoid impatience, how to keep up intensity, How to keep concentration when ahead, how to recover when behind, how to grind out a win, how to build self-belief, etc. etc. And, of course, how to win away games.

    1. I think one thing…of many.. that hurts us is our dependence on Laidlaw for leadership. His general play really does not suit the style of play we strive for …but he is included for his excellent kicking and ability to communicate directions.

      We fall apart when he isn’t there.

      We really lack one true leader. We don’t have a Wynn Jones type leader. Who opposition love to hate ..but who truly holds a team together.

      This whole ‘leadership team’ nonsense… is just that. Just 1 true leader who actually plays to our game style would be nice.

    2. Excellent post Gavin this had been our problem for years. Experience normally helps improve mentality but it doesn’t seem to work for us. Solve this and we can take the next step up

  34. This is my favourite comment section of any rugby forum. Always lots of balanced and informed opinions. The BBC comments section looks like the product of some distopian society in comparison with some genuinely vile posts. Keep up the good work guys and girls.

  35. We do get a rougher deal from refs than other tier 1 nations and it’s a disgrace and it needs to be addressed by the Scottish system. Joubert, yesterday, Lacey and multiple Pro 14 instances spring to mind. It’s a function of:

    1. We’ve been s*ite for decades. Takes a while for refs to update their prejudices.

    2. We need a captain on field with saavy and authority who can talk to the ref effectively. Whether he is your 9 or not Laidlaw does not cut it. I’d make McInally captain now and bring in someone to teach him. In turn the bench needs to be effectively communicating with him.

    3. Off field the whole Scottish set up has to stop taking it it up the proverbial. We may not have the resources of other nations, but if England, Ireland or Wales had been on the receiving end of that utter Poite the whole nation would be crying foul. Every column, every pundit would be leading with it and tou can be da*n sure the unions would be back channelling like crazy so it never happens again. Ch*st last year we beat England fair and square and still had to put up with it. Pre Aviva this year Jones was already softening up the ref.

    We need to be so much more saavy on field and off otherwise it’s always going to be plucky chippy losers. And that includes all the fans nd Andy Nicol esque apologists who want to ignore it as a factor. Cockerill this year Pro 14 is the only one I can see making any attempt to remedy it and you can see how from his English perspective he finds the whole thing bizarre and unacceptable.

    1. As I said above , agree with the supporting points

      And agree , GT needs to be making formal enquiries of the reffing panel

      What is the role of the Tmo why was Hogg fouled and no action taken

      Why does the TMO go back extra phases to a forward pass of inches ?

      Why does nobody look at the final Irish try , it’s like American football

      Finally , fine pick on Johnny going beyond the ruck , but it was going on all day and we do it once and get pinged
      So much for “ playing the ref”. We do what they do and get punished

  36. Laidlaw is finished IMO. Our forwards did OK but tired at the end due to tackling physically stronger guys for most of the game. Disappointing day.

      1. He is too slow and offers NOTHING around rucks and scrums as well as open play. Toonie needs the guts to drop him.

    1. I need to re-watch the game on TV but from the ground Laidlaw looked to have a good game in many respects. I was impressed by how much he put himself about, made 10 tackles, more than any other back. Kicked goals flawlessly as always on a windy day. He even sniped once!

      1. I think there’s too much Laidlaw bashing, he’s playing as good as he’s been for Clermont this season. I’ve often criticised him for slow service but he’s played so much better at the moment.

        The fact is that Price hasn’t changed the tempo like Horne would and that’s a shame.

      2. I thought Laidlaw played well.

        We lost the game because we continually made unforced errors in the second half.

        I wasn’t aware of Laidlaw making any of them.

  37. We can beat anyone. At the moment, we prefer to beat ourselves sometimes…and we are getting good at it.

  38. As for Rob Harley. A guy reverred in Scottish Rugby for being a pest at the breakdown. When was the last time he made a dominant hit or a big clear out or big carry? Offers nothing at international level except a decent lineout option.

    Looks like England could put 70 points on France here. French are an absolute disgrace

    1. It’s not just the kilos, it’s the composition of those kilos. The Ireland, Wales and England forwards seem harder and denser in frame. The likes of Jonny Gray have effectively dead weight with no oomph behind it. The only real exceptions are Strauss, McInally and to a lesser extent Ritchie and Del although they both have small frames for their positions

  39. Disturbing comment from one of the TV commentators after yesterday’s rugby matches. “There are no rules in rugby until the referee says so”: or words to that effect. If that attitude has become accepted rugby culture then it will diminish and eventually kill off the game.

  40. I think that our options at prop, hooker and throughout the backs have come on leaps and bounds over the last few years. However in the back 5 of the scrum we don’t have anyone (certainly anyone fit) of the calibre of Nathan Hines, Scott Murray, Simon Taylor, Jason White, Ross Rennie or even Kelly Brown. Not even a bastard of Jim Hamilton stature.

  41. France are awful. Once again England only team to convince once again this week. Puts into perspective how awful Wales were last week too. Wales need a huge turn around to be competitive against England. We now have to beat France next week. Italy will be much more competitive against england when they play than this French side. It’ll be Italy v France for the wooden spoon and France are favourites for it.

    1. Its a very insightful article. The backs should be playing more for each other than they are and you would expect that as most of them are current or ex Glasgow players that they are on the same page / play book. Hogg is much better at drawing players than a few years ago and therefore has a very high number of try assists. Kinghorn needs to learn more about bringing players in rather than trying to go it alone. Russell needs to be screaming at Laidlaw for the ball more and he needs faster service. Laidlaw needs to be more aware of when to go the backs rather than forwards continuously coming around the corner and never getting there.

      Unless the outside backs are up against forwards, and then only to cut out interceptions, Johnson needs to take another 3 or 4 steps closer to contact before passing so the midfield is fixed. We are missing Dunbar running straight lines to hold the midfield.

      I also think that teams have worked out Jones now and are better countering his threat so he needs to learn a few more skills or make better friends in those around him.

  42. Just been sitting in a pub in London watching England tear France apart. England showing again they have recaptured some of their mojo, but France were a shambles.
    We really have our best chance since 99 of turning France over at SdF, and if we don’t do that then it means quite simply we’re standing still compared with other leading Tier 1 sides.
    Losing to the world 2nd ranked team, when we actually could have won, was disappointing. Losing to a thoroughly disorganised and frankly mince French team would be a major setback.
    So let’s regroup, Toonie and co, and go and get a much needed away win. And then let’s hump Wales, who’re not looking too clever themselves at the moment.

    1. England have just decided to go Globogym-Max. No pretence of rugby. Just bash it up till the opposition run out of numbers. They have 4 incredible ball carriers in the Vunipolas, Tuillagi and Sinkler.

  43. Laidlaw is such a steady secure short to medium range kicker. However, making him captain means he wastes too much time at the breakdown shouting out instructions and marshalling the half backs. Consequently his delivery is way way too slow. Today I watched the replacement French scrum half(21).: very quick around the breakdown and reminded me of Armstrong of old with darting runs around the breakdown. Time for change.

    1. They just got horses today. Did the quick scrum half help them today? Didn’t seem to but maybe things changed wheb he came on on the scoreboard but not i the play france were awful throughout. Everytime we bash Laidlaw whether he is dropped rotated or whatever u see the difference as soon as he’s back in. George Horne may be different but I doubt it. Laidlaw is worth his weight in gold.

      1. Isn’t the point that Horne could learn game management if, given a chance, he shows it is required, whereas Laidlaw is not going to change. As you said ‘George Horne may be different…’ – there is only one way to find out. As for ‘ you see the difference as soon as he’s back’ is self fulfilling in that Laidlaw backers do not lay the blame for defeats or moments like the failure to score before half time with him but if or when things have gone wrong the new scrum half takes the hit. Overall my point is not that changing the scrum half will end all of Scotland’s problems – clearly not! it is just an incremental improvement that is tangible but of course things will go wrong in some ways but in different ways to Laidlaw playing. Laidlaw limits us in attack but is steady and a new scrum half such as Horne will undoubtedly add to attack and defence but will make different mistakes to Laidlaw. He needs the chance to learn from them.

      2. It is quite a stretch to ‘lay the blame’ for not scoring at Laidlaws feet. Maybe another scrum half would hAve moved the ball faster, but then maybe our receivers and pods wouldn’t have been set and we’d have guddled it. The fact is we did manufacture a gilt-edged
        chance and Jones and Seymour contrived to waste it. Playing against the best aides in the world, you might only get 3/4 good try scoring opportunities and if you aren’t clinical enough to take them you won’t win. Ireland beat us and they really didn’t create anything much beyond what they scored. That is the difference.

        I’m not one to slam the players involved to be honest. We are knocking on the door but are maybe struggling to cope with the expectation that we’re about to make a major breakthrough. It’s a long climb to the summit and we’re really still at the foothills.

      3. It is quite a stretch to ‘lay the blame’ for not scoring at Laidlaws feet…. Not doing that. All we are saying is that Laidlaw is too slow and doesn’t threaten around rucks so draws no defenders. The way Scotland want to play needs a quick service to Finn.

  44. Probaly my last squad pick until after france, gone for speed to tire that big pack out first half, alot of experience on the bench to close out the game which is vital for our away form, tired of townsend not being able to trust the players coming on late in pressure situations.

    1. Allen Dell
    2. Stuart Mcinally (C)
    3. Simon Berghan
    4. Grant Gilchrist
    5. Ben Toolis
    6. Ryan Wilson
    7. Jamie Ritchie
    8. Josh Strauss
    9. George Horne
    10. Finn Russell
    11. Darcy Graham
    12. Sam Johnson
    13. Huw Jones
    14. Blair Kinghorn
    15. Stuart Hogg

    16. Fraser Brown
    17. Rory Sutherland
    18. Zander Fagerson
    19. Richie Gray
    20. Sam Skinner
    21. Greig Laidlaw 9/10 cover
    22. Alex Dunbar
    23. Sean Maitland

    Hopefully Townsend can accept that this is the right squad to take on france (providing all fit)

    Unfortunately he will probaly end up having Harris on the bench or something else ridiculous.

    I would mabey consider having Nick Grigg start as at least he has been in excellent form for club but think Huw should get 1 more chance to keep improving.

  45. For the ref’ing fraternity on here can you explain please:
    1) How is Ireland’s 3rd try not a forward pass … just look at the cut grass lines across the pitch re pass and catch

    2) Why is it not a knock on when SHs pick a ball up out of a ruck and then place it in front of them and let go of the ball.

  46. Wilson out of six nations with knee injury. I just hope he’s not one of those that we miss when he’s gone but I fear so.

    1. He’s been good in the last two games – tough for me to say, but he has.

      We really aren’t having much luck with injuries are we.

      How long are our other BR injuries confirmed out for – Watson, Fagerson etc?

      1. Wilson has done fine these two tests but its hard for me to differentiate between losing him and gaining Harley on Saturday. We might as well have had 14 men.

  47. In the cold light of the day after the day after, I still think Poite cost us the match.

    Yes, we didn’t take our chances at the end of the 1st half and handling errors in the 2nd half were pretty bad, but he materially changed the game with his mistakes. Rugby is a physical sport and errors happen, particularly in handling the ball while 20st of Wexford farmhand is bearing down on you. But errors of that scale should not happen through the only person on the field who doesn’t have that physical fear factor.

    Get the early decisions right and it is a completely different game. It literally cost us points: at least a 12 point swing before half-time (their first shouldn’t have stood, we should have have had a penalty try for Kearney’s no arms “tackle”). And that’s without racking up the opportunities we could have had while they had 2 or 3 men in the bin, as should’ve been the case in the first quarter.

    And while I’m here…the overhead shots on TV are very useful…EVERY SINGLE SCRUM, the Irish loosehead was boring in. But he consistently stood on the other side. By comparison it was clear that Dell was driving straight and true at every scrum.

    1. In commenting post-match I said among other things that we should be attributing a good deal of that defeat to our own mistakes. That notwithstanding any ref or TMO errors, we were our own worst enemies.
      However I’ve just seen the POM/Hogg incident again on the BBC website. It’s a total shocker and I cannot believe how POM got away with that. It’s as clear as day that within a split second POM converted what looked like the beginning of a hopeful attempt at a charge-down into a deliberate, no-arms charge straight at Hogg. Brutal, cynical and should have been a penalty and a yellow.
      Not necessarily a game-changing moment, but surely a momentum-changing moment, exacerbated a few seconds later by our gifting Ireland a try in circumstances when play should have stopped for the penalty.

      1. Almost wholly agree, as I think it was a game-changer. Try chalked off and POM in the bin is a material change to the game at the time. Combined with Kearney in the bin and we have the Big Mo to get a decent sized lead early on.

  48. On reflection we are not in a bad position. We have a core of key players and a lot of talent and skill through the aquad. Our strength in depth has improved greatly, and will continue to do so.. Hopefully we will get back some key injured players soon. With a first choice squad and when we are playing well I feel we can beat anyone. If we can gain consistency and overcome the remaining mental barriers, we are almost there. I suspect 2020 may be “our year” but meanwhile big test in Paris.

    1. What we need is players who can do the basics under pressure and aren’t always trying the miracle offload.

      1. The miracle offload is our strength, what we need is a strong and dominant platform to give the backs that extra second.

      2. I’m not sure we can claim the miracle offload as a strength when we’ve had so many handling errors and unforced mistakes in a game. Ireland didn’t win that, we lost it and mostly because we were trying to force the game when we should have been keeping the ball. When we kept the ball at the end of the first half we created a try scoring opportunity which we failed to take. When we were playing for the miracle offload we created nothing and either lost momentum or heaped pressure on ourselves.

  49. Providing the injuries clear up for RWC this period of recovery mid season might be a blessing in disguise for the RWC. Not that it matters as it is going to be so predictable. QF loss to NZ but going into next years 6 nations, Ireland new coach, Wales new coach, England possibly/probably new coach, France a train wreck and Italy Parrise-less. The rest of the teams will be in serious transition. We will lose Laidlaw, maybe Maitland and Barclay to retirement? We could be in a nice steady position to rev up the hype train before losing all of our away matches.

      1. I was being flippant. I do fully expect RWC to go according to the predictable form but next seasons 6 nations should see us in a very strong position other than the 3 away fixtures. the disruption of new coaches without any tests to cut their teeth could be a real opportunity for us to exploit.

      2. No, you’re probably spot on: glorious defeat to exit the RWC followed by heightened expectations leading to a complete mental collapse and a woeful 6N 2020. It’s the Scottish way.

      3. That or possibly ignominious defeat to japan and Russia meaning a failure to get out the group despite beating Ireland in the first game!

      4. I can’t shake the feeling that we are going to beat Ireland and boks beat NZ so we still end up with Kiwis in QF

  50. Poite had a pretty poor game, that much we know, the main gripes being losing Hogg (& 7 points) to cyncial play that went unpunished, the Kearney’s no arm tackle, dubious use (or lack thereof) of the TMO & boring in at the scrum.
    However, we had enough opportunities to make this a side topic and for that we can only blame ourselves.
    Unfortunately we have now lost Wilson for the rest of the tournament. Whilst many on here do not appreciate what he does, he is a large part of the leadership group (as is Hogg) and we looked slightly rudderless after he went off. Harley is a good player and has been a great servant for Glasgow but he is not international class.
    With doubts on Hogg and Jones also, lets hope Russell manages to come through this weekend unscathed at Racing, otherwise we will be down to the barest of bare bones.

  51. Sorry, but we didn’t play that badly.
    A team full of callow players who might not be picked except for injury were edged by the no.2 team in the world.
    Ireland are better than us.
    They’re not much better than us, but there is a gap, mostly stemming from the pack where they have a couple of breakdown and collision winners (Sean O’Brien especially).
    That gives them the platform to play their structured percentage game which just strangles opposing sides, and that’s what they did in the 2nd half.
    Ireland are also a championship winning side and that gives them a tremendous depth of belief that they can see tight games through. They’ve been there and done it, while we haven’t.
    The return of some old hands – Richie Gray perhaps, Sam Skinner and before RWC Hamish Watson, Barclay and may Blade Thomson- will close that gap further.
    We’re not far off and we just need to calm down, pick some settled combinations and get some confidence.
    It’s always blind optimism followed by the depths of despair with Scotland fans, but neither are realistic outlooks.
    We’re a competitive team who can run close and upset the favourites on our day.
    Contending the championship this year was always unlikely, and frankly I don’t think anyone will touch England.
    We’ll be ok and I think there is a decent chance we’ll get something out of our next 2 fixtures.
    So calm down!

  52. We are going to get absolutely decimated in Twickenham. Even if we win the rest and are in with a shout we will be destroyed. FYI Blade Thompson is uncapped, hardly an old hand. It could be 2017 all over again, but with them lifting the trophy afterwards.

    1. such hysteria isn’t helpful, especially as it’s 3 matches away. All focus is on Paris now which is pivotal. We didn’t play badly at all on Saturday and have got Rob Harley to come in for Wilson, we’re in good shape.

  53. Rob Harley is rubbish at international level. We have other capable back rows but Harley is useless. Such “hysteria” is neither helpful nor unhelpful as I highly doubt the boys will be trawling this comments section for their 1:1 feedback. If they are; Harley you are not up to it. We could feasibly go into the Calcutta Cup match having won 3 from 4 and in with a shout if we win but that England team in the two tests so far are 35 points better than Scotland especially at Twickenham, particularly given the focus of their game is physicality and dominant hits. Our primary area of weakness. Now excuse me while I run screaming like Macauley Culkin with his dads aftershave on about how we are going to get pumped in London.

    1. I hope Turncoat comes in for Wilson, I think he provides similar levels of abrasion and is a bigger unit who can carry and jackal, played well against French teams this season for Newcastle as well. Graham, Ritchie, Strauss has a bit of everything and would be heavier than our front row to boot without being slow or ponderous.

      1. Where would you rank Hardie in our back row players? I thought the Falcons fans rated him higher than Graham.

  54. Agree with Not rocket science and Neil that Macinally should be captain ( with cockerill calling on Martin Johnson to show him how to pester the referee as captain). Laidlaw has much to be thanked for but does not really do full justice to our attacking back line. Horne or Price would be an investment with Laidlaw a great man for the bench. We will always suffer from lack of depth and in the circumstances what we are achieving is very good. Let’s develop the experience and keep realistic and positive whilst we await the return of a number of key players as team and squad members. Things can change quickly in the right circumstances – just look at England last year and now.

    1. If Skinner is fit i would have Skinner, Ritchie, Strauss

      Amount of backrow injuries is ridiculous at this point… has there been a national side with this many injuries in the backrow since the game went professional ?

      1. Matt Fagerson
      2. Ryan Wilson
      3. Luke Hamilton
      4. John Barclay
      5. Sam Skinner
      6. Magnus Bradbury
      7. David Denton
      8. Cornel Du Preez
      9. Hamish Watson
      10. Blade Thomson
      11. Lewis Carmichael (kinda a backrow)
      12. John Hardie

  55. Back row situation is absolutely crazy. Given the injuries, I reckon GT might go with Graham, Strauss & Ritchie, perhaps Ashe on the bench. Certainly some big opportunities available for up and coming academy back rowers in the 2 pro teams!

  56. I expect we will win in Paris. They are such a bizarre team given the talents available but they have been worse than us for pressing the self destruct button.
    There was an article on rugby pass, might have been linked on here, which identified little tweaks to our game which would help us open up teams more. Great insight.

    1. I think it was linked above. Did make me wonder if we had a fast, running scrum half if that might straighten things up too.

  57. I don’t think there is anything to be gained in looking any further forward than Paris at the moment. We will never have a better chance of winning over there although the back row cupboard is pretty bare now. They were a shambles against England – no structure no game plan and they don’t look fit.
    I don’t think anyone will be betting their house on a Scotland win at Twickenham against a massive England pack but stranger things have happened. In 1990 England humped everyone out of site without Guscott getting his shorts dirty before they played us and look what happened then. Ok it’s at Twickers but we just have to front up and do our best – freeze and they will put 50 points on us.

    1. I’m not confident about a Paris win. Firstly, we still haven’t shown we can consistently fire away from home, even with our best players available, which isn’t currently the case. Secondly, France were very good indeed in the first half against Wales and much better in the last 20 against England, which leads to my third point: Antoine Dupont looked superb at scrum half for those 20 and will surely start against us. He really gave France spark and momentum.

      Not saying we can’t, shouldn’t or won’t win. I think we can and should and…may…

  58. Having read quite a lot I thought I’d address a couple of points (indulge me pls !) – Hogg take out was presumably looked at by TMO during play and he didn’t see enough. Disappointing but it was subtle and cynical so you can’t really blame Poite for that – it’s should be TMO. Shoulder on Strauss was blatant but we miss Barclays mild mannered discussion with the ref pointing it out.
    Laildaw has a bit of small man syndrome and I fell it is not doing us any favours.

    Was pointed out that a maul was sacked by dillane, yet Gray got pinged for it – was blatant. The final try may have seen the ball travel forward but the hands moved in a backward motion so I think the momentum call is fair enough.

    Despite us being the creators of our own downfall you can’t deny that Hogg Being out of position contributes to the poor comms between Maitland and Seymour. Also I think Farrell was offside from the Stockdale kick – marginal but it’s a binary decision so if it is then it’s a penalty to us..

    In terms of where we are going into France, our issue is clearly in the backrow. My worry is without balance and ballast we might not take advantage of the French disarray. I really hope we can get Watson back in and hope Hoggy is fit enough for fullback.

      1. And? He is still fit, in the Edinburgh squad. Not saying he should be selected just that he is back when our back row is thread bare.

      2. He’s not remotely match fit – should be nowhere near a Scotland squad until he has a couple of games under his belt.

  59. France game looks like make or break for our 6N. If we lose to a team struggling so badly – even away from home – it will really undermine our credibility. Lose and we have two very challenging games coming up, twickenham really about damage control. Win and we have a little confidence and decent shot at the Welsh and making par for the championship.

    The team is under a lot of pressure given manner of last week’s loss and ridiculous injury list. This will be a real test of our resilience.

  60. Can someone please explain to me why when the SH picks a ball up from a ruck, places it down again in front of him at the back of the ruck and takes his hands off it that it isn’t a knock on.

    1. Because placing the ball in front of you isn’t the same as dropping the ball. If you put it on the ground under control, it isn’t a knock on – otherwise most tries would also be disallowed…..

    2. Drives me up the ball, once you have two hands on the ball regardless of whether you have lifted it off the ground you should be fair play.

      Scrum halves are afforded far too much protection and leeway at the base of rucks.

  61. Well, we lost, simple as that. Second half intensity was non existent and the handling errors racked up at an alarming rate. Yes, Poite made a couple of howlers but is that really why we lost? No, we lost because we didn’t turn pressure into points in the first half, and we didn’t turn up in the second. Our back play was amateurish. Drifting sideways and passing across the backs long before committing the defence simply allows it to drift across too and close off space. We need to run much straighter lines and make the pass at the last second, which we didn’t do. Hogg is as culpable for this as any of them so no free pass for him on this. Finn seemed to be the only one who was trying to commit the defence, the rest were collectively drifting or passing early. GT is the attack coach, he must take responsibility for this. As for the huge drop off in intensity after half time, I am at a loss. It happens every game it seems. When was the last time Scotland played better in the second half than the first? Edinburgh on the other hand seem to ramp it up in the second half. Cockers has clearly got the measure of how to squeeze his squad to perform even better after the break whereas GT seems to deflate them. I am beginning to wonder how much of Glasgow’s success was down to Nakarawas genius, Al Kellocks on pitch leadership and Russell’s brilliance than anything GT brought to the table

  62. Maybe a discussion for another post but, on the evidence from the game, would it be beneficial to have a captain/coach’s challenge like the tennis system? Could be limited to two per game for example. Would then have allowed Toony/Greig to flag with the referee at an appropriate stoppage to check for the Hogg incident, thus avoiding the controversy that ensued.

    1. Refereeing anomalies are a real drag on attracting non-rugby sports fans to take the game seriously. I have watched games on TV in the company of such people who could easily identify inconsistent refereeing decisions and the ignoring of infringements. Many will acknowledge that the game can be exciting but would never pay ticket money to watch a game which is controlled in such a capricious manner.

  63. I personally think this is a must now we have TMO. No reason you couldn’t have flags like in American Football. You have challenges in tennis, Cricket and rugby should be next. Would give away teams and tier 2 nations at least a chance to level the playing field.

    1. You want rugby to go the way of American Football??? 5 hours to play an 80 minute game?!
      Or tennis – 4 hours for 40 minutes of action?
      Or cricket FFS? 5 days – DAYS – to play a game which can still end up as a draw?!
      The captain already has the ability to ask the referee to have a look at something, but politely and without histrionics and under no illusions the ref has to accede to the request.
      However, that being said, in this case SURELY the TMO should have seen it and said something?

      1. I personally thought the TMO and sideline assistants had awful game for both teams, been over the example with TMO and O’Mahony/Kearney already but twice i think Maitlands took a high ball with his foot clearly in touch and no one picked up on it and it was allowed to play on, incompetence which should not be happening in a very high level international game.

      2. Where was the flag last weekend, or in the WC QF? At the moment Johnny Sexton / Rory Best, Owen Farrell and AWJ have flags, but seems they forgot to give one to wee Greig or Fiji. Also, it’s not the challenges that make American Football, tennis or cricket that long!

      3. One thing that would be a quick win would be the TMO monitoring scrums from above were the spidercam is present. Could quite quickly cut out some shenanigans as long as they’re aware of what to look for.

      4. The amount of blockers Ireland run in front of the ball it is like watching American Football. And actually where is the citing officer in all this. Both the No shoulders tackle by Kearney and the No shoulders or trip on Hogg were presumably missed by the ref and TMO. If they were not there is no harm in us being told surely that is the case and they decided NFA on the field. If not both incidents have been publicised and would both have warranted potential yellow cards so surely should be reviewed. Again if that has been done we have the right to know not surmise that there is some closet conspiracy going on at Ref HQ. Look we didn’t lose the game through those 2 incidents. We lost because we were not good enough. Pro referees are paid a lot of money these days and while I would never question their integrity they do get some things wrong and there is nothing wrong with them admitting it or fighting their corner after the game. (See Luke Pierce re Hogg try against Italy.) If world rugby are honest about tackling foul play then they need to really look at these types of incident.

    2. I think a system like that used in hockey where each team has one video referral which can only be used for a foul which would give a penalty (in an offensive capacity) or to dispute a penalty (in a defensive capacity) and if they don’t get the desired outcome from the referral they lose the right to any further referrals. if they get their outcome they retain the right. There is also a time limit between the foul and calling for the referral.
      Obviously this would need to be adapted for rugby as the rules are somewhat more complex and considerably more open to interpretation but it would go some way to mitigating the situation where one captain is getting everything from the ref while the other basically seems to get nothing. Just a thought.

      On a side note was listening to the BBC podcast and all three of danny care, ugo monye and chris jones reckon o’mahoney should have been yellowed for the hit on hogg and kearney yellowed for the shoulder charge 5 mins in

      1. Hate the idea of video reviews, imagine the state of the scrums which are shambolic enough as it is. The refs should be calibrated regularly to try and improve consistency and held to account (as should the TMO) when the tools they have to help aren’t used correctly or at all when they should be. Rules should be for refs to enforce not interprete, it’s farcical and ruins games.

        Make them watch a million clips of rucks until they all agree on what’s a foul and what isn’t. Make the refs and TMOs attend training from former front row players on how scrums work a d how they can combine to police them. Etc etc etc

        I don’t mind when officials make mistakes because that’s natural but I hate refs choosing what sort of game they want to officiate and forcing us to watch and the inconsistency is terrible. How can refs ping players at rucks sometimes for something only they see and yet then let outrageously squint lineout throws go all game or like one occasion last weekend let a scrum half feed the ball into the scrum via the loosehead and pick it up from under the openside flanker. Just apply the rules for starters. Barnes ridiculously slow calling of the scrum is unbearable as well, nobody enjoys watching them crouch for 5 seconds so that he can feel like a bigman in charge, just get on with it.

      2. Scrummo. I agree. It’s infuriating. I can’t speak for rugby but in football there are set things that are not enforced or ignored or said and done to make it easier for the game to flow. Whether we agree or not individually you go nowhere if u don’t go with the majority until you get to the top then you have a chance to use ur influence to make changes. I assume it’s the same in rugby.

        Squint scrum feeds will be dealt with when a directive comes in then it’ll go back to the way it is soon after. High tackling is the big thing right now but once it’s normalised it’ll be less of an issue and so less cards for similar penaltys. It’s probably already happening. I could go on but refs have limited power as they step into line or they don’t get the big games unless ur Nigel Owens or Wayne barnes. They have got such a rep that they have power and influence. What happens in football is a law is imaginatively applied by an experienced official and it’s said he used his experienced and the game benefited well done. The new fresh faced ref does the same. He hasn’t a clue he’s lost the game and cost this team the match.

        Poite, Tmo, ARs, and Scotland’s errors all cost Scotland big on Sat.
        had one of them been the cause then yes it wouldn’t have resulted in a loss but all combined it most definitely did. The decisions collectively cost us a win I’m afraid.

        Poite has this really poor habit of thinking his first instinct is right far too often. When players come to u in a certain manner you know if it’s worth a look. If the facility of TMO isn’t there then ok but such a terrible attitude when it’s there to be used. Use it and get the right decision and stop messing around with regrets about yourself and of course as often is the case in his case…. Scotland.

  64. Never had any time for Poite since Warburton persuaded him to totally bottle the big offside call at the end of the third Lions test. Political ( and completely wrong ) decision.

  65. Must be Dunbar @ 13 for the French game, we really miss his beef & his ability to run a straight line (as was mentioned above somewhere).

    Hoggy is irreplaceable, but I do wonder if D’arcy Graham should be given a start, he is a genuine threat ball in hand & may be a surprise to the French.

    Interesting to see Crosbie @ 7 tomorrow night.

  66. If it goes a bit quiet on this blog in the next few days it’s because we’ve all been called up for the national squad!! I suppose it’s a good time to be in private practice as a Physio in Scotland right now..
    So Toonie has the choice of recalling an out of favour/form Dunbar for Paris or relying on Harris or Grigg. Place your bets now.

    1. I think he’ll go with Grigg outside Johnson to keep a Glasgow centre combo, with Harris on the bench as centre/wing cover and Pete Horne as centre/stand off cover.

  67. From what I’m hearing Stafford McDowall has been impressing in training and could be in the running for Paris.

    1. Because you need your bench to cover more positions than your starting players and Harris has more versatility than Grigg or Dunbar, I think.

  68. So does this weekend become a shootout for the vacant back row and centre places in the team v France, or does ‘next cab off the rank’ apply with ? In which case is it Pete Horne or Harris? The latter is a bona fide outside centre which would avoid breaking up the Russell/Johnson axis.
    Can imagine the seethe of some who contribute when debating G Graham v Harley selection – selecting Bradbury who is not match fit to start is high risk.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion