Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


England 38-38 Scotland

England vs Scotland
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

Scotland travelled south to Twickenham – so often the graveyard of their dreams – with little in the way of expectation surrounding them for the final round of the Six Nations. Wales had already sewn up the Grand Slam in Cardiff with a dismantling of Ireland so England, in theory, had nothing to play for save the Calcutta Cup trophy itself.

As for Scotland, could they find a reason to be optimistic at the end of a poor Six Nations?

Not judging by the start, as Scotland were cut open by England’s first possession: Sam Johnson rushed out of the line and left a hole which sucked in Grigg and McGuigan and ended with Jack Nowell scoring a simple try after just 66 seconds.

As starts go, it was about the worst possible, but then this was to be the worst half of rugby by Scotland since the last trip to Twickenham at least, so the tailspin continued with a simple England penalty to the corner and a lineout drive at some pace notching up a second (converted) try inside 10 minutes.

All Ali Price could do was box-kick it back to them, as England ran through their training routines. Joe Launchbury scored a third after 14 minutes.

Despite their failure to actually start playing the game, you had to feel for the players – the game looked done as a contest by then. It would be hard not to want the Twickenham turf to swallow them up.

We know how Scotland usually fare when they’re chasing a game and England were not in charitable mood, not even with first choice loosehead Ben Moon going off early. Scotland’s inability to stop making blunders had only previously meant that they hadn’t sneaked undeserved wins from other teams not playing that well, but having finally found a backline blend that suits them, ruthless England were hungry to counter-attack and well able to do so.

There was a worry that in soaking up English pressure Scotland would be, as they were against Ireland, too tired to capitalise should they finally find some momentum later on. It didn’t help when, given a decent attacking platform inside the English 22 – their only one of the half – Scotland chose a cute lineout move that they failed to execute correctly. A few quick passes later and Jonny May was diving over the line at the other end.

England looked like the Harlem Globetrotters, and Scotland were three drunk guys shooting hoops in the local park at 4am.

There was a glimmer of something just before half time as Stuart McInally charged down Owen Farrell, then ran it in from half way. It was nice to see, but felt like the sort of comedy try by an overweight prop you cheer ironically, not a sea change in momentum.

How wrong can you be?

Half-time: England 31-7 Scotland

To say it was a different story in the second half would be a severe understatement. It was like fifteen completely different players came out of the tunnel.

Strong carries in the 22 from Grant Gilchrist, and Sam Johnson ghosting through a half-gap found the sharp-footed Darcy Graham just enough space to dart over in the corner.

Scotland managed somehow to regain possession from the restart, a resurgent Magnus Bradbury powered forward before Ali Price chipped over the English defensive line, asking questions where previously there were just question marks. He regathered with men on his shoulder then Bradbury cut a perfect line on to his pass and ran in for a third Scotland try. This looked more like the Scotland we had wanted to see.

Townsend rung the changes after 55 minutes, with Gilchrist and Price taken off and the cavalry on in the shape of Greig Laidlaw, Jonny Gray and Fraser Brown on.

Fresh legs only seemed to help Scotland, as England looked a little shaken. Their gameplan to kick the ball to Scotland was now playing into Finn Russell’s hands, who got “luckier” with the things he tried as England got more tired.

When Darcy Graham secured a try bonus on 57 minutes, then Finn Russell juggled a wayward pass from Ben Youngs, intercepted, and ran in the fifth try three minutes later, it was scarcely believable.

Gloriously, improbably, the scoreboard read 31-31.

There was a little breathing space as Owen Farrell and Darcy Graham collided off the ball which ultimately gave Scotland a penalty in a kickable position. Laidlaw put it wide of the posts and missed the chance to take the lead, but it continued the positive momentum for Scotland. Ultimately, it would have made the difference.

There was a lot of kicking, as neither side wanted to make that error that gave the game away but at least it no longer looked like men against boys. Whisper it, Scotland almost looked confident.

Eddie Jones dumped his finishers on with 7 minutes to go and the game was precariously poised. Who would blink first?

In the end, Simon Berghan stepped up. The big prop ripped the ball in the tackle. Sam Johnson ran another lovely line off a well disguised pass from Russell and managed to power through two defenders to dot down between the posts.

Scotland were in the lead with 3 minutes left.

All they needed to do was keep the ball from an England side who hadn’t scored since the 30th minute. Unfortunately a penalty awarded after 80 minutes meant a draw would be the minimum result. Kicking to the corner, England battered through repeated phases of penalty advantage until George Ford found a hole in front of the posts. After the helter-skelter of what had come before, that seemed almost inevitable.

From 31-0 down away from home it was, so nearly, the greatest comeback to win in the history of international rugby.

It finished 38-38; you won’t see a more contrasting two halves of rugby in your lifetime.

Referee: Paul Williams (NZ)

SRBlog Man of the Match: Scotland would have been nowhere without Finn Russell pulling the strings in the second half. His “looking one way passing the other” ball to Johnson for what was so nearly the match-winning try was one of a number of superb moments. Magnus Bradbury, Sam Johnson and Darcy Graham were all excellent in the second half too. Can we just forget the first?

278 Responses

  1. A draw ….

    I was so looking forward to Wilson on that english podcast.

    pretty disappointing tbh we could of just let them score out wide.

    Mcinally/Gilchrist/Bradbury/Watson/ Russell/Johnson/Graham/Maitland Outstanding 2nd half

    Interesting to see Russell saying he had an argument with Toony in the dressing room…

      1. Yeah thought was interesting too…..basically Russell told GT the tactics in the 1st half were garbage and what needed to happen.

        Says it all really… need some new coaching in there.

        Even a draw tho…. the look on Eddie ‘the mouth’ Jones’s face…….priceless…..stick that right up ya.

      2. Ruggers B, I thought it sounded a bit different. Finn was annoyed as the kicks he was putting in were easily counter attacked and his runners were getting caught behind the gain line. In the 2nd half Toony said himself… they sorted out the kick chase and there runners were a bit more aggressive and finding holes. It was more down to execution rather than tactics.

      3. Neil. James, RuggersB : That was my interpretation, they did it their way in the second half. Finn said he argued with him , he said something like ‘why are you tellling us to kick when they are coming back every time.’

        I noticed we were dangerous ball in hand but kicked it away resulting n a try or penalty.

        Scott : I do not agree with you. The second half was all heart and no head and we have some very naturally talented players , that is what I see and feel.

        Now : lets give credit where due. 55 mins Toonie brought on 4 replacements at one time. Powerfull statement. He backed them , robustly backed them and immediately took control of the crowd. Well done Toonie.

        But the players after doing it for 360 minutes Toonies way, said the last 40 minutes are oiurs. I have no doubt whatsoever about that.

    1. Well, I would love to say that I fully believed that I saw this coming but no…honestly, at half time, I was thinking what folks were posting.

      What an astounding come back, at 31-31, I was happy to lose noting that we had played unbelievable rugby and by a 2nd string team.

      But to almost win?!

      Really, what will this team take from the six nations experience? This last game will psych the entire Scotland team for the RWC…remember this took place in Fortress Twickenham; the audacity of it was so uplifting to see.

  2. Not to be a party pooper but I hope the result and second half doesn’t gloss over what really was a woeful first half. The second half was us playing like we can and have been in the last few years, fast and furious, quick ball and incisive lines, all backed up with tenacious defence. Even laidlaw was flinging the ball about with reckless abandon!

    The first half was literally the opposite, passive in attack, passive in defence, every time they came near us they scored with ease. What happened at half time and why wasn’t that the plan to begin with?

      1. Be interesting to find out if something similar happened for the second half v Wales last week as again, it was night and day between the two halves.

  3. We need a new defensive coach, it was nice to see once we had quick ball from Price (once the team decided to play there way & not the coaches) that we could tear teams apart, we need a Shaun Edwards/Cockerill character.

    I kinda felt we lost momentum once we brought on Gray/Laidlaw/Strauss/Harris all at once.

    Johnson is nailed on 1st choice 12 now, even a fit Duncan Taylor wont Automatically get his spot back.

    Lineout looked good with Gilchrist/Toolis & a strong driving maul.

    Bradbury was outstanding & has shown to be that physicall ball carrying monster we have been waiting for, nice when he dumps Vunipola on his ass.

    Graham now has to be 1st choice wing, he is on the same level as Hogg in terms of ability.

    Maitland looked very good in that 2nd half, dynamic & a good boot, he seems to do well at 15.

      1. Agreed on everything but lock is looking like a really tight battle.

        J.Gray, R.Gray, Gilchrist, Toolis, Skinner.

        They won’t all go on the plane to Japan. I imagine the warm up matches will determine who goes or not (if they are all fit that is). While Toolis played pretty well I believe he has the lowest ceiling of all 5 options.

  4. Amazing second half. However, doesn’t paper over the cracks of France, Ireland second half and first halves against Wales and today.

    I don’t think the second half is an advert for our tactics. Think Russell and Price chucked the structure out of the window and it worked, nearly.

    At least some physically and heart. Still finished 5th though and not the progress we were hoping for.

      1. Ok, it shouldn’t though. A draw at Twickenham shouldn’t been seen as meaning, as some are saying, that we are RWC contenders.

        We finished 5th. Behind France.

      2. This is the best result is Scottish rugby history. I think.

        More moved than 1990 and I was a kid. Honestly couldn’t speak properly for about 30 mins. Insane. Wonderful

    1. Yeah, but we were absolutely decimated by injuries this campaign. I think we would have beaten France if Toony had stuck to his guns and played Hastings at 10 instead of chucking Pete Horne in out of position. Our kicking strategy has been all over the place. We kicked so loosely to the French back 3 and did exactly the same yesterday in the first half. So we finished 5th, but we used to finish 6th with all our best players. Now we can finish 5th with our 3rd string in some cases. Would Frank Hadden’s team have been able to score 6 tries at Twickenham? They could barely score a single try at Murrayfield. Think we have to see this as progress. Makes you wonder what could be done with a fully fit squad. Maybe come the WC we’ll find out?
      P.S. Wish I could upvote ‘Not Rocket Science’ for your comments. I’m 37 and this is the first time in my memory that we’ve left Twickenham with the Calcutta cup. I’ll take that.

      1. Thanks. Be interesting to see how – Price, Hastings, Seymour, Johnson, Jones get on at Saracens… takes on a different complexion now! Shame Maitland’s on the wrong side.

      2. Edinburgh have Leinster at home this Friday, will be interesting to see if both teams field full strength sides, Edinburgh dont have much option i think, good to hear Scott should be back for it.

  5. Johnson’s not nailed on 12. If Taylor’s fit he starts. He is certainly nailed on for RWC squad. As is Graham. Bradbury looked a good fit at 8. I thought Price was playing well in spite of everyone around him. Finns fluffed kicks though, in hindsight. Jonny Gray actually looked abrasive when he came on but agree if we played a test tomorrow I wouldn’t start him. Our hooker situation is wonderful. Skinner injured again is a shame. I want him to have a run at lock. I’ll be rewatching that in the morning but for now I need to lie down,

    1. IF Taylor is fit ever again and IF he’s the same player after a huge lay off. Two massive question marks before we consider him first choice.

  6. So you land in Gran Canaria with time you think to find a bar showing the game. But have to walk past umpteen bars filled with elderly gents wearing German club football shirts until you find a bar 20 minutes after kick-off, and see you’re 21-0 down.
    What do you do? Stick it out to see a brilliant comeback that just failed to be one of the best Test comebacks in history.
    No idea what happened in that first 20, but by Chr*st we were magnificent in that second half, and England were sh*t and in the end lucky to salvage a draw.
    This is emotional not analytical of course. But after dinner tonight I’m going to remind a few England trolls on BBC HYS that we still hold the Calcutta Cup, so GIRUY!

  7. Disagree… You have to take it from the perspective of the whole 6 Nations once we have our injured players back available, not just the last half we played. Toolis would be my 4th or 5th pick at 2nd Row… The others have staked a claim from how they’ve performed though. Should definitely be in the World Cup squad. They might make the 15, but they’ll have plenty of competition in their positions.

  8. I’d like to see someone put together a highlight reel of incidents where Owen Farrell commits clear yellow card offences and for some reason gets to stay on the pitch. I’d expect this video would be in the 5-10 minute range easily.

    Why on earth does he continually get away with it? I heard the ref refer to it as a “collision”. How can it be a mutual collision when one guy has the ball, is preparing a kick and gets a shoulder at full force in the face?

    1. It’s totally ridiculous. He’s created some kind of weird new gravitational field where the application of the normal rules of rugby is temporarily suspended. Farrell’s Law.

      1. I have to agree – he was always hitting Graham with his shoulder and he was looking at the man not the ball. Yet again a ref bottles carding him. Sooner or later he is really going to hurt someone with one of his cheap shots.

    2. He got away with it because his shoulder didn’t connect with Darcy’s head. It was clear that there was no attempt to wrap his arms so it wasn’t just a collision. If it’s a penalty, it’s a yellow.

      1. What I want to as is , if he was so close that it was an inevitable collision , then.
        1 his hands were not out in a kick blocking / charging down position
        2 his hands / arms were not spread to tackle ,
        And 1&2 were the case for the whole incident

        Ergo his only intention was a shoulder charge

        Until some ref grows a pair and send him off he will continue to do this till he badly hurts somebody

        But you know what , at the moment I don’t care the atmosphere was electric , even the English sitting next to us had to admit they had got away with one

        And tell Johnny May he looks a right Richard with his swallow dive so unprofessional

    3. The replays show clearly that Farrell wasn’t attempting to charge down the kick. That approach requires you to keep your eyes on the ball and to jump with both arms outstretched upwards. His eyes were on our player; it was a shoulder charge – again! – not a tackle; the man should have been sent off the field.

      1. According to ITV commentators it was absolutely fine. Dallaglio said it should have been ‘play on’. Powerful insight from one of the great minds of the game (to have lied to a journalist about taking cocaine #rugby-values #red-rose).

    4. To be fair, and let’s get this clear, I hate Owen Farrel on a molecular level, I didn’t think as an isolated incident it was that bad. He was too late to pull out and made a hash of it. However he does this quite regularly which makes me think something more sinister is at play. He is a horribly, niggly, cheap shot merchant and an all round dirty player, he certainly has it in him to turn a clumsy but honest mistake into an assault. However should referees take this into account? Your not allowed to take past offences or reputation into account in a court of law when deciding guilt or innocence…

      I think a penalty was the correct decision, a yellow would have been harsh IMO.

      1. The thing is, there are no extenuating circumstances under the new tackle laws. The onus is on the tackling player not to endanger. Remember Cipriani getting sent off early in the season for a high tackle he was clearly not keen to make? It’s implausible that Farrell is getting away with no yellow card for this kind of wreckless behaviour. He’s an accident waiting to happen. Hopefully the referees will have the balls to send him off in the RWC. We can then all enjoy his outraged, glaikit face then.

    5. Watch Farrell try to trip McInally after the charge down he ran back for a try. That was another yellow right there.

      1. I know now what folks are saying but in the stadium we thought he couldn’t pull out but there was no attempt to charge down and he didn’t use arms. He does need to start being pinged for this clear lack of technique at best.

        The other aspect of this is that I’m not so sure it would have helped yesterday him going off. I think we’d have struggled a we often do with a man advantage. For our game and way we are penalty was best. We drew rather than won due to three separate crucial game management issues and we must leearn from them. Wales held ball for over 4 mins against if I remember correctly and let us infringe. We have believe we can do that.

      2. Interesting to think how the game might have ended differently if Darcy Graham’s kick had landed 5-10 yards further forward. Straightforward 3 points for Greeg.

  9. Must look at positives must look at positives must look at positives. Not sure how I feel after that, I had Australia 2015 coursing through my veins in the last 4 mins. We have been more stretched than any other team depth wise. What better way going into a WC blooding all our replacements and our replacements replacements in that way. You don’t discover and blood your Graham’s, Bradbury’s, Richie’s, Johnson’s and other more mediocre performers (Kinghorn, Hastings) when you can field your “first choices”. We will be better for this. Worried about the coaching situation though. What happened to the ex Wigan Rugby League coach?

    1. Mediocre! How has Hastings been anything other than brilliant when called upon???

    1. I thought Harris looked good when he came on. Almost made me wonder why he didn’t get a chance ahead of Grigg when Jones got injured. Did he get injured part way through the tournament? Or was this a one off and we shouldn’t get too excited by his performance?

    2. Thought the defense changed when Grigg went off and Harris came on. Grigg was like a rabbit caught in headlights

      1. This is crazy talk. I don’t think you put the first thirty mins all on Grigg yet. Yet there was another 25 mins after that with him on the park that we looked much more solid and scored three or was it four unanswered tries. Again he can’t take all the credit but not all blame. Will watch again but glad folks saw quality in Harris. I didn’t notice but a bit worried about him coming on. But yes he didn’t cost us that’s for sure.

        To say subs stopped our momentum as someone as said is nonsense too. We got another two tries at least when they came on we were just as dangerous.Game management was different individuals for the three crucial areas.

      2. Rob vs O’Driscoll
        “Nick Grigg must be one of the best defensive centres around at the minute. He might have the look of guy playing J3’s but his tackle technique is top class!”

  10. When we play like we did in the 2nd half we can beat any-one. Literally cut off and ate all of the England players p.enises in the 2nd half. Yummy yummy in our tummies. Very promising.

  11. Apparently thats the first time anyone has scored 6 tries against England at twickenham ever.

    Also … we conceded 38 points… what is going on with the defense ?

      1. It wasn’t a capped test, but that wasn’t one of the criteria, so I was technically correct (the best kind of correct…). Incidentally, the fact that it wasn’t capped has resulted in English fans and media types not counting it in the string of losses last season’s magnificent CC match initiated.

        I do think it’s interesting that FRussell was at 10 for both matches, too. All we hear is that he’s too inconsistent to be world-class, as if Farrell and Sexton haven’t been this 6Ns (and in many, many other matches), and as if Beauden Barrett hasn’t been. The difference is that Barrett and Russell are more obvious when they’re perceived to be off because they play in a more visible manner. I still wouldn’t swap Russell for any other NH 10, and I’d be torn if we were offered Barrett in exchange. Some chumps elsewhere are suggesting that Ford was and is better than Russell – I’m presuming that’s ‘bantz’…

  12. Both Jones and Farrel’s post match interviews show why they have no class or respect. Farrel should have been explaining why he received a red card for his shoulder tackle on Darcy! How many times will he get away with this before he is sanctioned. We have been on the receiving end of dubious refereeing decisions. O’Mahoney on Hogg for one. The six nations might have been a bit different.

    1. As one of Scotland’s greatest football coaches once said – if you’re good enough, the referee doesn’t matter.

      1. Yeah, but if it’s almost even (as it often is in the 6Ns) then the ref has a big impact, especially when they favour the bigger teams – e.g. it took 70+ minutes for France to get the YC they deserved after 30.

  13. Given that I was expecting a 25-point defeat, I am beyond thrilled with that 2nd half performance. If only we can play like that for 60mins rather than 20 or 40, we would win more big games and would be contenders for the RWC. Given we could play like that with the injury list we have, I am delighted.

    But there now some big RWC squad quandaries if, and it’s a bigger IF, everyone is fit. Who do we leave out from Ritchie, Watson, Bradbury, Wilson, Strauss, and Barclay. I don’t think we can take them all, and that’s even assuming Skinner goes as a lock and one of the Grays, Gilcho and BBT misses out. In the backs, Graham and Johnson are now just about on the plane. But if Taylor is fit, does Horne miss our (as Hastings now has some versatility)?

    1. Surely Graham is on the plane. When given the opportunity he has done very little wrong and many things right. Great to have another sprinkle of stardust introduced to the backs to keep the magic side of things growing. Based on form he has to be in the 15 as things stand. Graham, Maitland, Hogg for me. Seymour and Blairhorn in reserve. Hope Huw Jones finds his form, in which case he would be my 13 (although credit to Grigg for tackling his heart out this tournament). Happy with Taylor, Horne or Johnson (his try was Jones 2018 revisited!) at 12. Am leaning towards Price at 9. Put that all together with Russell and it’s a snappy set of backs.

      Bradbury is starting to look a convincing addition to forward power. I would be happy with Hamish, Ritchie and Bradbury. Wilson and Barclay to prove themselves to force their way back in. Strauss in reserve (along with Denton if he reappears on the scene). Your number 8 has to be a try scoring threat though and Magnus offers that more than any of the competition.

      1. Good question – Johnnie Beattie?Can’t remember Dents, Strauss or Wilson crosding for Scotland. Bradbury has 2 or 3 now i think and he’s only really breaking through.

      2. Correct its been a long long time. Wilson, Strauss and Denton have never scored for Scotland yet.

    2. Not only was I transported back to Twickenham against Australia – very similar in terms of intercept try then complete ecstasy to heartbreak – but Johnson’s try had a Huw Jones Murrayfield against England 2018 about it.

  14. I won a lot of money on that. To anyone that was paying attention, I did tell you. We have a very good side, the betting line was based on bare results which was a mistake. We were very unlucky to lose home to Wales and Ireland.

    1. Yeah but after that first half you must have been expecting a loss! No one saw that second half turn around coming. In less you backed them at 31-0 down in which case I salute you!

  15. Clear problem with defensive tactics. Sacking defensive coach NOW is the only hope for the World Cup. If you are going to take the inside man and leave space out wide, there must be a drift defense. On the whole, it’s not the players. Let’s get this sorted NOW.

    1. Yeah at times it was terrible but don’t forget England went 60min without scoring a try and we shipped 61 points last game at Twickenham.

  16. What a game! What was a difference was the eagerness, the need and the pure right work rate that the players had to REALLY WANT that ball in the second half. The confidence and belief was what we hadn’t seen throughout the championship. Something we hadn’t seen since the Australian and all blacks games I would say. I would like some honest responses from Taylor and Townsend. It is concerning without a doubt. Toonie is starting to look to like a mediatised actor in interviews. I don’t see enough spark or passion from him. That’s what we need that’s what the boys gave in the second half – that’s who we are as a nation its in our makeup. Toonie man give us some grit would you!

    1. I suspect the Toonie that we see in interviews is a whole different beast to the one on the training park and in the dressing room.

      1. But according to FR they argued against Toonie at half time and the players changed the tactics. What does this say about the future and players thoughts on tactics/plans?

      2. I agree it would be interesting and maybe revealing to know more about GT’s interactions with FR at half-time, Rob, but be careful not to exaggerate to fit your perspective. You’ve made it into ‘they’ (as if it was a collective decision) when Finn said ‘I’.

      3. Quoting offsideline…
        “He (GT) was telling us to kick and I said every time we kick they run it back at us and cut it open,” said the playmaker.

        It appears that, in the end, Townsend was able to convince Russell that the kicking option was not intrinsically wrong but needed to be better executed – and with everyone on the same wavelength, Scotland were able to dictate the game for most of the second half “

  17. First choice XV is taking shape:


    R.Gray, Barclay and Taylor the others to potentially come in if fit and in form following injuries.

    1. Id agree with alot of that team Scrummo although i predict a few players to upsurp some inform players atm

      Strong competition for that 2nd spot in the locks, i think Richie Gray will edge it & Skinners Versatility will work against him so he will be on bench, Toolis would be there after Jonny though.

      Backrow is a wonderful problem to have, i would probaly have Bradbury starting at either 6/8
      After that its a toss up between Ritchie/Barclay/Wilson & Denton, Would probaly go Barclay ‘just’ about if he come backs fresh. Strauss unlucky with competition & Thomson has not had the chance unfortunately so will have to wait now, same with Hardie.

      I think Taylor might get that 13 spot… just a hunch as he brings a good balance, Harder for Jones with Grigg outplaying him atm.

      2nd wing spot a toss up between Kinghorn/Seymour/Maitland, Probaly one of Kinghorn/Maitland on bench for versatility over Seymour.

      1. Dell
      2. Mcinally
      3. Nel
      4. Gilchrist
      5. R.Gray
      6. Barclay
      7. Watson
      8. Bradbury
      9. Price
      10. Russell
      11. Graham
      12. Johnson
      13. Taylor
      14. Kinghorn (This is hardest call between Maitland)
      15. Hogg
      16. Brown
      17. Reid
      18. Fagerson
      19. Skinner
      20. Ritchie* (real toss up)
      21. Horne* (Play our Style…)
      22. Hastings
      23. Maitland

  18. It’s difficult to put this tournament into perspective. I felt we needed to win our home games to consolidate our form So points off for disappointing defeats to Ireland and Wales, neither of whom needed to set the World alight to beat us. France was rubbish, but we’ve not won there for 20 years, so that is still par. A six try draw at Twickenham is a relatively major result though.
    A few points though – the first 30 we were completely blown away and looked completely outclassed in every aspect of the game. I think England did have a period of complacency. I also wonder whether those big lumps tire a while earlier than our more athletic squad. As the momentum turned in our favour England were also tired and got stuck in a rut, whereby they were completely unable to reverse the momentum in their favour. The great thing is that we were then playing with the intensity, aggression and accuracy that is this group of players at their best (which we’ve not seen so much of this 6N). It deepened the rut and we seized the game by the throat. The tournament had been feeling a bit pre-Vern Scotland, but today was a big shot of hope. There is no way a pre-2015 Scotland team would have reversed a 31-0 deficit. Or scored 6 tries. Or have a centre who could break the and drag defenders across the try line. Or even scored a solitary try at Twickenham.
    So in the end the players have reminded us of their potential. New players have stepped up and if we can get our best fit and on form for the RWC we could put together a good run.
    I don’t think we should overplay the Russell-Toony chat. The good thing is that Russell is developing to a point where he can be frank with the coach and contribute to the gameplan. The bad is that he probably shouldn’t say that on the telly. All good leaders should be able to bring what they are seeing on the pitch to the discussion.

  19. That was the most exciting match I have ever seen. As an American with limited knowledge of the sport I have embraced Scotland (my mothers heritage) and have watched every 6-nations match for 3 years surrounded by Irish and Welsh fans (congrats to Wales). Those other fans have all supported Scotland (I think they don’t like England) and when down 31-0 and after our (Scotlands) first try was scored I screamed in the pub that the comeback has started. It brought about chuckles. After that I have never had more pints given to me with the comeback being sustained. My personal strategy at the end would have been to allow an English Try at the corner and force England to make the kick at a difficult angle (with Englands best kicker out).
    In the end, I believe that Scotland has a good mix of veterans and youth and I have a lot of hope for the World Cup. What say you Scotland fans?

    1. Maybe Gary.
      We need to improve our defence and get over the Scottish mentality where you only play well in reaction to a slap in the face.
      Learn from Wales. They have decent individuals but not that many real world beaters but they always play 100%.
      If we can emulate then we might do ok.

      1. Johnny b-How does Scotland harvest the passion of the 2nd half to play that way for 80 minutes? It appears to me that they have a mental block keeping them from escalating to the level of world beaters. I know nothing about the coaching staff but in America we would look at the talent that fought back and question the leadership that allowed them to get into such a hole. I loved the heart of those young men out there today!

      2. Gary, whoever discovers the answer to that question will probably be appointed God of Scotland. It does appear to be almost entirely psychological, combined with a little bit of luck…

      3. It’s a good question and a tough job.
        I think self doubt is ingrained in the Scottish psyche.
        You saw it with Andy Murray.
        The big 3 should have been a big 4 and for a while he threatened to do that, but I think he lacked the deeply ingrained belief to really make it happen, so we ended up with a ‘big 3.5’!. His best coach was Ivan Lendl and he coached him in being stony faced so opponents couldn’t read the creeping doubts and feed off it.
        It comes from a culture which is quite harsh (read some of the criticism on these forums for example) and which doesn’t like people getting above themselves. Everybody has to be taken down a peg.
        The American culture is very, very different in that regard.
        When outsiders tell us we’re rubbish by contrast we get in a rage and you’d better be ready for a no holds barred brawl.
        It’s difficult for coaches to counter this because it’s a heritage that goes beyond sport. It might even be part of our DNA, although I’ve noticed it affects players from the diaspora too.
        We’re also quite a factional people. The Welsh by contrast have a singular identity – Celtic, Industrial, rugby is the sport of all classes and they draw on it to play above themselves. We don’t have that.
        Overcome it we must if we are to progress.
        That’s my twopence worth, anyway.

      4. By the way Gary, most Scotland sides would have given up and shipped 60 points after that 1st half.
        Something the coaches did at half time flicked a switch.
        So in the US you’d question the coaches for the side’s inconsistency, whereas here we take the view that they pressed some buttons at half time which sent the team into a rage and prevented the shellacking which would normally ensue.

      5. Gary Johnny B. Good stuff here. I think this rugby team is getting there now. This was a huge step in this yesterday but we do have the doubt and lack of belief ingrained but even in the defeats this six nations the team never stopped believing. Only thing I disagree with is Andy Murray. Ivan never managed to stop him berating himself on court but he did get a little extra that got him over the line. Andy Murray broke through when very few have in Scotland. But we have many more coming after him that are proving they can break past our culture. Chris Hoy and Liz McColgan) before Andy, calum Skinner, Duncan Scott, Stephen Hendry, Laura Muir, to name a few but underlying our culture has to change to make it easier to get there. We are so keen to slam folks for not quite being the best rather than push them over the line.

      6. TeamCam-the injury bug may have been a factor as well…Hoog and Barclay are 2 names that come to mind. I think the speed combination of Hoog and Graham would make for (or will be) a formidable foe for any team.

        Johnny b-I cannot claim to know of the culture in Scotland but what ever happened at the half seemed to work (an inspirational speech, an argument Finn v coach, or whatever). Winning and/or heroic effort seem to solve a lot of things (at least in the culture of American sports). And that effort should not go without a great deal of recognition. Hell, England was LUCKY to gain a tie! We would say here that Scotland have to “ride that wave”. I sure hope that the 2nd half revealed the character of that team. Now combine it with their talent and put together 80 minutes and you have a really good one.
        Slainte Scotland! I believe in you.

  20. Wow.
    I thought we’d fight back after half time but still lose by 15.
    That was simply incredible.
    Such a shame we couldn’t hold out for the win, but what a beautiful game of rugby.

    1. Aye , taking a step back we witnessed one of the games that will go down in rugby folklore , it was one for the ages , and stand up ANY of you who would not have taken a draw if offered it at 31 points to nil , be honest

      Let’s relax a wee bit and bask in the glory of keeping the Calcutta Cup , we haven’t done that since the 1980’s either

      So let’s all just calm down a wee bit , eh.

  21. I’ve never been so angry watching that first half. Timid, slow, disorganised etc etc. The second half was like an out of body experience!! I think some brutal home truths from all concerned in the changing rooms at half time finally woke them up but this slow start passiveness nonsense needs to be sorted out. When it all clicks we are unplayable in attack. Defensively tho we are POOPETYPOOP and need to aspire to be as good as the welsh for those days when it doesn’t. If we could defend as well as them we’d be in with a chance of winning grand slams as we are better ball in hand.

    We really do need a third team to get more players playing pro level regularly. The U20 lads got a serious cuffing last night and our academies need to have a pathway that involves more than two options. If this requires cash via a world league and the risk of relegation from 6 nations then so be it.

    1. Dearie me!

      I have never nor ever will use the word “poopetypoop” and FTR g,a,s,h is not a swear word in the context I used it. It’s a good Scots word for rubbish!!

      1. It’s not a swear word at all. And given that the meaning and the intent is what’s insulting, why allow censored swear words and euphemisms? Just ban that stuff altogether.

      2. It’s not a swear really but it is in most common usage a horrible expression hence why it is banned here. Yes there are older Scots versions ( which relate to poor appearance, awful patter or being dismal which does fit I suppose, but that would be quibbling and it is easier for us all just not to use it. Comments get through at admin discretion as per the rules. Comments that are otherwise sensible will be edited as yours was, so that you see it for next time, or binned altogether. Can I suggest “guff” in future? R

      3. I’ve recently been moderated for using ‘the g word’ too. I was using it intending the Scots meaning ‘dismal’, rather than the Londonville derogatory term for females. It only really makes sense in the former case for something being rubbish to be honest. It’s the Scottish Rugby Blog – let’s not have Scots words moderated, otherwise we’re going to end up in a right fankle!

      4. I’ll probably regret this, but my mum uses the word. e.g. after dismantalling her shed – “can we get rid of this g… wood?”
        However, I see the point that the other usage is a nasty way of identifying women just as vaginas, and probably the way a lot of the young uns use it has got the two meanings mixed up. So the Scots use: that was g… (meaning rubbish – actual rubbish), becomes in the modern usage that was g… (meaning rubbish – vaginas). Still doesn’t actually make sense, but I get why you don’t want any confusion on the blog.

      5. Thanks for understanding. I get that you, Allan and others may be intending it in the older Scots sense but words twist over time and we’re erring on the side of caution. Everyone will just need to be more inventive to avoid the POOPETYPOOP hammer…

  22. An amazing result, you can argue about coaches, injuries, Scotland today did us proud.

    1. Having come back from 31-0 down I think it’s safe to say we pulled them down and gave him a cheeky wee slap on the @rse for good measure!

      1. EJ was exposed , he could not say they were outplayed and fogged by saying England had a long standing problem prior to his tenure, yet , only a few of the side that predated him were playing (Farrell , Cole and Youngs ) .

        Or did he mean , Farrell !!!

        I suspect anyone that cares about English rugby will pop by and skelp his bahookie for us.

  23. Positives this championship
    1) players now know if the go circa 15+ plus behind not to panic.
    2) Ritchie
    3) Bradbury
    4) Graham
    5) Price is 9.
    6) Johnson
    7) lots more depth than at start

    1) points difference, our defence is not good enough to win a championship.
    2) so many injuries might hurt glasgow and Edinburgh’s run ins.
    3) under 20’s didn’t do well I believe. That’s two years running…has the talent slowed up?

    One point to add, whilst they didn’t win, this result should make them believe they can compete in France, wales and Ireland next year….hopefully.

  24. Well, had to leave for work at half time, and just watched the highlights of the second half.

    I agree it doesn’t change how woeful we have been for most of the tournament, but it does give hope that the talent is there and if we can work out how to play like that consistently we would be a force to be reckoned with.

    I thought a few of our leaders/top players really stepped up to turn things around, and several youngsters have proved their class.

    Main messages – our defensive structure needs a complete overhaul and rethink, and our players need to be allowed to play their natural game in attack, let the players with the X factor show what they can do.

    6N summary

    – decent win against Italy
    – narrow loss to Ireland at home
    – poor game in France
    – narrow loss to Wales at home
    – draw with England at Twickenham

    Doesn’t sound so bad when you look at it like that.

    Of course there is a huge amount of work to do, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel

    1. Spot on with the last paragraph. It was very close to being a very good tournament and if we can more consistently put in a greater than the sum of the parts performance then I think we can really kick on as we have more than held our own for large parts of the matches against higher ranked teams.

  25. Where to start? Absolutely gutted that we didn’t manage to hold on for the win which no one could have denied we deserved in a completely bonkers game! How on earth did Scotland transform themselves from a scratch primary 4 team giving a fair impression of the keystone cops in the first half to turn in an outrageously good performance in second? At the end it felt like the RWC QF against Australia all over again -the heart break of knowing we had let slip a historic victory and you can only feel for the players who gave there all.
    Ultimately it’s been a very disappointing campaign and we failed to put together an 80 min performance in any game and failed turn up in Paris altogether. Where does that leave us heading into the world cup? I’m not sure tbh – when we click we look like we can play with the big boys when we don’t it can get ugly. I’ve said before we won’t win big games unless we can stop giving away so many points – we just leak too many tries. It’s clearly time for a new defence coach as either the system doesn’t work or the players aren’t listening.
    I didn’t give up watching this afternoon but at 31-0 down I genuinely feared a monumental defeat that would have set us back a couple of years but I was really proud of the guys for not giving up and there was some really heartening performances Finn Russell was in another galaxy in the second half and an utter joy to watch, Mr Darcy – heart of a lion and those dancing feet, Bradbury came onto a stormer and Sam Johnson was great as well.
    Don’t think we should read too much into Russell’s remarks about the half time chat but thought Owen Farrell showed in his total lack of class in his interview!

  26. What a match. So glad I got last minutes tickets in with my buddy to endure and enjoy that. At 31-0 down and they refused the easy three and hit the corner I said they might regret that move and mentality. Win the game first. I hadn’t given up but had no idea how it was going to turn around.

    I think Russell was dreadful in the first half. By a mile the w.orst player out there. Two misplaced pen kicks missed touch. A kick that cost us a try. Mcguigan and Russell cost us three tries together.

    Do we just have to just take that or is it possible to have amazing Finn without crazy Finn? I don’t know but they fair made up for it.
    I was dancing and jigging in disbelief.

    We made three crucial errors that cost us the match in the last three mins.

    1. We didn’t just truck up. We can do that for three mins and part of the issue we don’t believe we can.

    2. Even then with Finns kick I thought we had it. Then the pen on the halfway line. What were doing? If there is a chance of a pen just leave it. We were still in control.

    3. With a pen advantage and a possible maul coming and stretched and tired I think you’ve got to take ur chances with the kick out wide with a wet ball, pressure and the crowd and having just come on Ford could have missed. Farrell had a good kicking day it was in our favour to give the try in the corner.

    I’m devastated and elated at the same time.

  27. However we proved so much today

    1. We can score tries and finish off moves

    2. We believe and fight back and can win from Impossible places.

    3. We can adapt and fight in defence after shocking play which is a huge credit

    4.Two try finishes were top drawer today. Darcy and Johnston beat three defenders to score over 5 metres out. Amazing finishes.

    5. We drew level and then went for the win we didn’t drop off.

    6. We do have depth in the squad

    7. Has any Tier one side had 38 unanswered points with such a deficit against another Teir one side in history. They’ll be so many records broken today.

    This has brought more belief to this team than any other time in its history. This is a mark in the sand and I’m excited for the future.

    Thank you Scotland!

  28. Still can’t believe that game – taking a draw at kick off would have been a great result never mind when 31-0 down but we so nearly & probably should have won, arghh!!
    Just watching it again & some observations on 1st half:
    Scrum was solid against a pack nearly 40kg heavier, line out still not as reliable as it should be;
    Individually, some great defensive work from Johnson, Grigg, Russell & others but it’s the defensive system/collective that looks shaky, lots of players drawn in early leaving big holes. As others have said, that’s a coaching issue, getting players to use their individual defensive commitment to the best effect for the team as a whole;
    Referee blew early I thought for the penalty on 7 minutes when Curry admittedly touched the ball but was off his feet within a second, very marginal but the resultant line out led to a try. Admittedly, Graham also got the benefit of the doubt near half time so maybe rough justice & the referees interpretation;
    Farrell’s shoulder charge later on – just don’t get it. It’s either legitimate, which I can’t believe based on the lack of an attempt to tackle as other have said or if it’s a penalty, then surely also a yellow card, can’t be any middle ground.
    Looking forward to the second half rerun….

  29. Useful things we have learnt from this Six nations for the WC.

    1) Defense needs improvement (bring in help!)

    2) Mentality of players, perhaps the more experienced ones oddly enough needs fixing, the younger players/new caps should not be the ones leading the charge game on game.

    3) we have identified some real young talent that is ready now & will be stars for years, Ritchie/Bradbury/Johnson/Graham & Kinghorn have all been very good (for the most part & just need polished) All of them should be in the WC squad & In strong contention to start.

    4) Play our Style – Laidlaw is a great leader & decent player, but we need to play our way and we have 2 scrumhalfs with the Confidence & Skill to provide us with possibly the best attacking backline in the planet when firing.

    In Russell/Hogg & Graham in the making we have 3 potential world class players that would be arguable 1st choice in any Squad.

    Im exited to see G.Horne get his shot eventually as i believe he will be world class also, he is essentially another Aaron Smith (with better support lines)

  30. This is how I think the RWC squad is shaping up after the 6N. Only weak position imo is loosehead, although Dell has improved a lot.

    If we have most of the squad fit, this looks easily the best squad we’ve put out in the pro era and has genuine promise.

    Loose head: Dell, Reid, Bhatti
    Hooker: McInally, Brown, Turner
    Tight head: Nel, Fagerson, Berghan
    Lock: J Gray, Skinner, Gilchrist, Toolis
    Backrow: Barclay, Watson, Bradbury, Ritchie, Wilson
    Scrum half: Price, Laidlaw, G Horne
    Fly half: Russell, Hastings
    Centres: Johnson, P Horne, Jones, Taylor
    Back three: Hogg, Maitland, Graham, Kinghorn
    Wildcards: Bennett, Scott, Seymour, R Gray, Blade Thompson, M Fagerson, Strauss, G Graham

    1. I agree with that FF, Actually drafted one up a few hrs ago but not posted, the only difference was Matt Scott for Pete Horne & Richie Gray for J. Gray, apart from that identical although i can see the arguments for both.

      Cant see Richie Gray missing out though if fit.

      Would add Denton to your wildcards.

  31. The 2 greatest halves of unscripted, free-flowing Scottish rugby I have ever witnessed are :

    the first half 10th April 1999 in Paris and
    the second half at Twickenham today.

    We retain the Calcutta Cup , the first time it has come from London to Edinburgh since 1983.

    We should just be proud, not single anyone for priase or cirticism.

    The table makes interesting reading in terms of Tries For :

    England 24
    Ireland 14
    Scotland 14
    France 12
    Italy 10
    Wales 10

    The first and last in the table , scored the fewest tries.

    Now that is food for thought , we need a defence coach is what it is telling me.

      1. Tries Against 2019 6 N:

        Wales :7
        Ireland :10
        England :13 (Almost 50% conceded to Scotland)
        France : 15
        Scotland :17
        Italy: 22

        Almost a mirror of the Championship table with the exception of Ireland and England which were reversed.

        Position in Table 6 nations 2019

        1 Wales
        2 England
        3 Ireland
        4 France
        5 Scotland
        6 Italy

  32. Bloody hard drive full of Place in the Sun so last 20 minutes cut off!!
    Would love to know exactly what was said in the changing room at half time but incredible come back, just wish we’d played like that in all the other halves this 6N. Even more than ever, believe it’s down to systems, particularly defence rather than individuals. Largely agree with what others have said around our shining stars – Dell, Rambo, Gilchrist, Ritchie, Watson, Bradbury, Price, Russell, Johnson, Graham, Maitland & Hogg have performed well, even if some too briefly. That’s a good foundation for RWC & beyond, with some other players doing well in patches too. Think we need to move on from Laidlaw & see Price/Horne & hopefully A N other 9 as the future & get the midfield fixed/settled with sufficient back-up which would then put us in a good place going forward. Frustrating not to win today & a disappointing 6N in many respects but if can be converted into a launch pad for the next few years, I’ll take that.

  33. We actually scored more tries than England – 6 to 5. That’s also the most any country has ever scored against England at Twickenham.


  34. Incredible game! I was fearing to watch the second half as I presumed another 60+ defeat was coming. England were brilliant in the first 20 minutes. Scotland’s defence was a joke …. Scotland were brilliant 2nd half………I don’t understand how there could be such a turn around..what was said….or dis England think the work was done.

    I still don’t know if the second half was a case of England playing really bad or Scotland playing great.

    That is how we expect Scotland to play though, this 6N has been very poor.

    I don’t understand why with the same players being involved in Europe with Glas/Edin doing so well.

    Brilliant result, pity we couldn’t have beaten wales & Ire who didn’t have to play that well to win against us at home.

    Today’s 2nd half performance is what I would like to go and see Scotland produce consistently.

    1. I kind of thought England stayed at a consistent level…we were dreadful (20 mins), then OK (20 mins), then awesome (30 mins), then OK again (12 mins)…

      1. I would disagree. I think England did take their foot of the gas. The great thing was that Scotland had the killer instinct to grab the game by the throat, so England were not able to get their foot back on the gas.

  35. Well, the boys certainly like to instill a sense of ambivalence in their supporters, don’t they?!

    The first half seemed to be a systemic and tactical shambles, and it almost seemed like we couldn’t be bothered. Weird and disappointing and awful. I was afraid it was going to be an 80-pointer. I was thinking: typical Scotland to upstage Ireland in the awful game stakes. I was wrong, and the second-half was immense. As others have asked: how do we make that our standard?

    This has been a disappointing campaign, but, looking at it as a whole, we were beset by an unprecedented number of injuries throughout the campaign. That’s not an excuse for anything, but anyone thinking it’s not a significant contributory factor is mad. Despite this, we beat ourselves in the three matches we lost. The differences between the Eng game and the other three were:

    1) Our composure – against Ire et al. we panicked when we created a try-scoring opportunity and left several tries out there as a result in each game
    2) Our luck with the officials – yes, Farrell should have received a YC or a RC, but generally there weren’t many decisions going against us unjustly, in stark contrast to the Ireland game, for example.

    So, with an epic injury list, disrupted systems and partnerships, low confidence and bad luck we still scored the joint-second highest number of tries and the third highest points. With a better defence (we need to give Shaun Edwards all of the money to join us), we’ll be in the mix, especially if we can get some luck with injuries. We’ve also blooded young ‘uns and discovered some gems and, crucially, discovered that we can come back from what looks like a certain thrashing in our most cursed venue. We won’t win the 2019 WC, but we should do ourselves justice. 2023, however, looks very tasty indeed.

    Of course, there are still question marks over Toonie, especially in light of FR’s comments, but if we already have ambivalence, so a bit of ambiguity won’t hurt…

    1. Oh, also, talking of the RWC, how are the other 6N nations looking?

      Ireland look off and were well beaten at home by England and away by Wales, and we really should have beaten them, too. I think our next match with them will be a cracker.

      England looked like the best team in the tournament until that last 45 minutes. Farrell looks very flaky under pressure, Jones doesn’t trust his finishers and they lack rugby smarts, but if their plan is working it’s very tough to resist.

      Wales look defensively solid (certainly as long as refs are instructed to ‘let games flow’) but utterly bereft of any flair or guile in attack. Horrible to watch, but effective. They must be very grateful to Huget and Vahaamahina, but their victory over Ireland was comprehensive; I’ve never seen anyone as forlorn having scored a try than Jordan Larmour.

      France are France, and with a couple of players back (why aren’t you using Sarto?!) and a bit more luck from the officials, Italy are looking stronger.

      In that context, things aren’t looking too awful for us, but we all know NZ are going to win the thing anyway… The question is who’ll be runner up?

  36. 1. Most of this championship we’ve played well below the standards we should be reaching. We’ve lost some momentum in the evolution of this side and Toonie needs to work out how to fix it before next years 6N.

    2. But we weren’t far off Ireland (best team in the world apparently coming into the championship) or Wales (grand slam winners leaving it). We are not that far off in terms of personnal, skill levels etc. I think it is the more intangible mental side of things we are currently lacking more than systems tbh

    3. Yesterday’s draw should hopefully be a springboard for our squad to know we can go anywhere and win if we play to the best of our ability. Whatever the fighting talk, we still travel and expect to lose

    4. Russell is a special player, maybe even more so than Hogg. Whilst we have these two young men in the side, we must win a championship. That gives us 4-5 more chances with them at their peak. With the changing of the guard among our rivals coaches, maybe next year and the year following will be our best shot.

    5. Darcy Graham, Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, George Horne too – we have some rich talent coming though into a team growing in confidence. This is our chance to become properly competitive again. We desperately need a title.

    6. Final aside – is Connor O’Shea a bit of a bulls***er? Italy have some good players and played some good stuff but I don’t really see any improvement and their record is getting unjustifiable.

    1. Very much agree FF. Despite pre- tournament rankings I felt that we needed to win our home games to show consistency, let alone improvement. Yesterday was not the answer to that, but did show the magic that exists in the squad, if it can be harnessed.
      I think part of the issue is that the high tempo athletic game is susceptible to a dynamic power game, and the latter wins in a game of paper, rock, scissors from a cold start.
      What we’ve not really seen to this extent was the fortitude of the players to dig in at 31-0 down and then turn the screw when they had momentum.

      The adversity of injuries has forced through some up and coming players and helped develop new combinations. Our depth was exposed, but also enhanced. I’m not sure how the balance may be struck between managing player health and maximising success for the rest of the club season, with important games to play for nearly all of the first choice players. Perhaps battle hardening is more important than protecting and we’ll just have to hope for some luck.

      I don’t know how Italy contrived not to beat France yesterday. Absolutely no cutting edge.

    2. I think a special mention for Bradbury is in order: ran more metres than Vunipola, averaged more metres/run, beat more defenders, scored more tries, made more tackles and conceded fewer turnovers. And Billy Vunipola is a very good player – there are very few (if any) sides who would turn him down – but for three rounds in a row Magnus Bradbury has been quietly getting on with the business of beating defenders, making metres and making tackles, and has started to show signs of the promise made in his highlights video at international level.

      Crucially, it seems like we actually have a fair number of very good options in the back row so that we can (if we so wish and the players are fit) tailor it to our game plan: your boshers (Dents, Strauss, Bradbury), your jackals (Barclay, Ritchie, Watson) and your jack of alls (Wilson, Fagerson).

      1. Yeah delighted to see Magnus stepping up. He showed that he can be that full-package power forward that we have been missing.

      2. Absolutely, I was unimpressed by him up to yesterday, not really anything bad but just failing to impress. He was mighty yesterday and absolutely the kind of powerful forward we have been missing.

      3. Love Edinburgh’s backrow at the moment. Watson, Mata and Bradbury…or Ritchie…or Barclay. Can’t see Luke Hamilton getting much game time when he comes back from injury!

      4. Aye it’s a formidable pack, particularly the back row. Real blow that Blairhorn is out for the rest of the season though. Should be back in time for the warm up tests I would suppose. I guess it’s going to be Fife for the remainder. I wonder if we’ll draft someone in since the back three cover is a bit thin.

  37. Quite breathtaking 2nd half, here are some ramblings

    That’s Scotland for you, looking like getting thrashed, playing some beautiful & effective rugby, last second try snatches the win from our grasp.

    McInally outpacing May & Farrell!!!!

    Darcy Graham!!!!!

    The Russell pass prior to Graham’s 2nd.

    England are excellent if you let them do what they want to do, however get in amongst them (that’s successive games we’ve done it), they really struggle & again yesterday they crumbled. Their talisman Farrell especially crumbled, he looked lost…….

    Why was Sam Johnson out of the squad V Wales, he is John Leslie esque. His break & his handoff on Daly for the 6th try would’ve brought tears to a glass eye. He IS our 12 going forward

    Fraser Brown, Hamish Watson crashing through Englishmen reaffirmed our dominance in the 2nd half.

    Where was the level of performance in the rest of the 6N?

    Townsend (IMO) has coached Glasgow & Scotland to some exhilarating highs but still shows little signs of consistency

    With Hogg, Jones to return we can beat anyone. A fit Dunbar would be brilliant as he adds a physicality we lack.

    Barclay is a great captain & a very intelligent rugby player , R.Gray, Denton, Z.Fagerson to return and maybe Blade Thomson to return adds to the intrigue.

    Ireland really struggling too, interesting RWC awaits…

    1. Regarding Sam Johnson, he came to life in attack in the second half and his try was a ridiculous effort for a relatively small guy. His defence was shocking in the first half though, flying out of the line leaving huge holes and missing tackles. He still flew up in the second half but by that point our luck had turned and everything was going our way. Unfortunately it was his slip at the end that let Ford in, I think they would have scored regardless but if they had to spin it wide there would be more chance of a missed conversion.

      All in all a tale of two half’s, like Russell nothing went right for him in the first half but in the second everything he did turned to gold.

      1. Are you serious 1.8? Some of Johnsons tackles on Tuilagi were brilliant if almost suicidal. The only thing shocking her is your comment. Suggest you watch the first half again if you dare. 1.8 out of 10 for that comment.

      2. Have to agree with pragmatic. Johnson flew out for the first try but he was exceptional in his tackling after that. A couple of big ones on Tuilagi even in the first half

  38. 5 out of 6 trys scorerd were by scotsmen born and bred. One for Jo(k)e Marler to choke on.

    1. He, like a disappointing number of England’s players (Genge, Sinckler, Itoje, Brown, Care, Farrell…), is simply a portmanteau of “twit” and “cat”. Really looking forward to Wilson returning to the BBC rugby podcast this week!

      1. Ellis Genge is actually a decent lad. Common as muck but not an arrogant plank like Itoje or Care or Sinkler. And not a boring middle class fart with zero personality like May or Ford

      2. To each their own, but to me he comes across as a wannabe hard man with anger management issues and a weird pretensions.

      3. He’s always trying to start fights on the pitch. Like Zander, but without the lovableness. I dislike him.

  39. Not sure all those English comments that no Scottish players would make it into England’s match day squad look so smart now.

    Really easy to be cocky and smug when you’re expecting to smash the little guy at HQ, much harder this morning 😂

  40. It will be interesting to see how far joe Marler can shove is copy of the daily mail up his a”se. If you’ve not had the pleasure look online.

  41. fantastic spectacle.
    I had a wager with my brother for Scotland to win by 3. After seeing the teamsheet i had hopes for our pack, just not sure where our tries were gonna come from without Hogg, Jones and Seymour. Imagine my disappointment at half time.
    Don’t believe any individual was to blame for England’s scores just defensively as a unit the line speed/ kick chase was slow. Matt Taylor time to move on. What has happened to the rugby league guy who was supposed to be joining us for defence?
    Griggs showed up well in defence, if only others could match him for line speed we’d be as sound as Wales in defence.
    Laidlaw offered nothing when he came on, just box kicking our possession away unneccesarily. Horne and Price the way forward. Price had a fine game yesterday and offered a real sniping threat.
    How solid were the pack. didn’t seem troubled at all holding back the much vaunted English, Bradbury was under no pressure at any time when picking the ball up from the back of the scrum. Just need to get the maul back to where we were in the Autumn.

    1. I thought Sam Johnson’s tackling throughout was superb, absolutely clattered Tuilagi in number occasions. First half line speed and kick chase was very passive and not executed as a team. Powerful English runs sucked in defenders but we failed to plug holes and they went right through us. But if we shuffled in we would have jut left acres space out wide. Not sure if it is a system problem so much as intent and execution.

      1. Interesting thoughts and not really what I saw, admittedly although I hadn’t turned off I had stopped really paying attention until Mcinally scored. I will watch again. While I’m on that, possibly my favourite bit of the match was him out sprinting Farrell to the line!

        Absolutely the system was to blame but I thought both Johnson and Grigg were flying up and missing tackles, or making them but no support so England got the offload away, we were narrow and huge space was appearing out wide, it was all too easy for England.

        Second half was a return to the organised chaos back up by people who suddenly looked like they gave a damn in defence. I just can’t comprehend how different a team can be. Just puts more proof that ours is a mental problem which at the end of the day is a coaching problem.

      2. I agree with you FF and have replied to 1.8’s disingenuous post further back in this blog. Some of his tackling on Tuilagi were the best ‘dominant’ tackles in this years 6N. Johnson appears to have consolidated his place in the squad for the WC. Would hope that the 12 & 13 combo’s could prove fruitful for us. McDowell, Johnson, Dunbar, Horne at 12, with Taylor, Bennett, Jones at 13. Not sure who would be 1st choice come Japan in temperatures of 80 plus degrees, but I wouldn’t swap any of our centres for another countries. (Ringrose might be an exception)

      3. Think disingenuous is a bit harsh I’m just giving my opinion like everyone else based on what I saw. Yes he hit Tuilagi hard a few times but the flying out of the line didn’t do us any favours on a number of occasions. It’s hero or zero stuff, him and Russell were doing it in the second half too but it worked, mainly because our support was up with them much quicker.

        As I said it was a systematic problem, it was clearly something they had been told to do and it didn’t work until we adjusted the tactics a bit later on.

        Does anyone have an actual stat for how many tackles he missed? I can’t find anything.

    2. Gaffer, Laidlaw offered nothing are you sure? He came on at 55mins with the score. 31-24hours down still. Yes we had momentum yes every thing went our way but if Laidlaw was the poor lacky knockers yard pony you big him up to be then we’d never have scored two more tries and kept the pressure on. He was fast off the ruck, got the ball quick for Finn to put Sam in and was first over the line in support has Johnston now made it in. He didn’t do the box kick with two and a half to go which was the right thing to do. He should have allowed it to truck it up until the end rather than allow Russell to kick but it wasn’t the colossal error. His box kicking wasn’t great but we didn’t drop in pace when he came on. Your being unfair and ill informed in that point. Townsend also name checked his leadership at half-time to the general turnaround what he said in there. Laidlaw is the ultimate team player for all his limitations. He deserves better.

    3. Sean Wane, the rugby league guy, is in as high performance director across all of Scottish rugby but I think it’s clear we need him in as the national team defence coach if he wants it.
      Our defence as been poor all tournament and a rugby league approach on structure and discipline could well be what we need.
      I haven’t heard any reports of what Sean Wane is actually doing with Scotland but it would be criminal to waste his talents as he is brilliant coach and proven winner

  42. Would have loved for the team to have held out for the win. It’s an odd feeling to have watched that comeback and be delighted yet at the same time disappointed.

    The key now is to not get carried away. This has been Scotland’s undoing over too many seasons. Enjoy the moment but keep reality in check: we were woeful in that first half and if we play like that against Japan we won’t get out of our group. Yes, if we play like we did in the second half we’ve a good chance of turning over an Ireland team that look to have peaked but we’ll need to be consistently excellent to do that and progress beyond the quarterfinals. We can do it but we need to keep focused.

    Owen Farrell should have been off the pitch and I think Jones knew that which is why he was subbed straight after that obviously illegal hit. Poor from a ref who mostly had a good game.

    Some wonderful tries scored: where were they when we were dominating possession against France, Wales, Ireland? I think that performance had offered us hope but shouldn’t cover up the poor performances leading up to it. Some tough conversations to be had amongst the coaching staff in the next days and weeks.

    Well done boys, I enjoyed that second half but please don’t make me watch another performance like the first half again!

    1. The best game of rugby I have ever seen Scotland didn’t play well first 30 min but England were magnificent power pace lovely angles of running they made it look easy. Rambo scores a fortunate try but shows pace and determination to me total momentum change in game gave rest of team believe they could compete. Russell was outstanding but to me Bradbury was the man when have you seen I Scot power through English players continually. Proud and Disappointed in equal measure we have got a team in there though.

  43. Going to be a bit controversial, but I think Ritchie is not a starter (yet) his work rate is immense, but his turnover to penalty ratio isn’t where it needs to be yet and he doesn’t carry like Watson. Barclay or Skinner at blind side for me to give better balance with Watson. In terms of the locks I still think we have issues with the lineout calls, but If we are thinking World Cup and fitness is proved I go Gray, Gray, Toolis and Skinner for the 31. Graham is now ahead of Seymour (and Kinghorn who I felt Misfired at times with tackling and his decision making (not passing). Centres as a pairing is a worry a big worry. I think Sam Johnson has played his way in, but we need to find out if he can play with Jones (ideally for Glasgow) – them getting their defensive shape is critical because with ball I think they could be a killer pair. Hastings covers Russell, but you could as was mentioned above end up pushing Horne out and having Russell as the back up 12 and picking from Bennett, Taylor, Grigg or Harris as the back up 13 ( Harris and Taylor can also slot in at wing).

    Still a loose head away from being great – but I thought our scrum was wonderful so credit must go to all in the front row – though it contradicts a point above about locks – our scrum looks solid when GG and Toolis are pushing – so maybe GG ahead of big Richie or young Johnny????

    First half was awful. We never gained territory and as a result tried to force the game. In that respect we missed Hogg’s huge boot but in difficult situations we still look like we lack leadership and clear direction. Hopefully a performance like this shows that we need to be aggressive, but more than anything we need to slow the breakdown and trust the defensive structures. When we slowed England’s ball the pressure we put on them resulted in turnovers and penalties. The you have the platform to play – when we do we are among the best in the world!!!

    1. That is indeed controversial Martin. His turnover/penalty rate may not be on par with Barclay (what are the actual numbers?) but his contribution in most aspects was impressive. Arguably our player of the tournament before he got crocked. Barclay and Wilson offer different things (leadership/madness) aswell, but Ritchie fronts up and is probably a better carrier than either. It’s an open contest between the three of them, Skinner and Thomson to show why it should be them in the next few months – they are all good players. Until proven otherwise Bradbury and Watson are starters for me.

    2. Controversial but not ridiculous IMO. I think Watson is our nailed on 7 so that’s that sorted. Looking at the 6N as a whole Ritchie played very well but was outshone by Bradburys performance yesterday whichwas immense.

      Barclay is a great player and I think should be the captain but he is getting on a bit now and has yet to come back from a long injury lay off, his form and position is by no means guaranteed. I am not a fan of a captain starting purely because they are the captain (laidlaw) they need to earn their place like everyone else first.

      I’m also still unconvinced by Skinner at 6 but need to see more. For me Ritchie, Watson, and Bradbury would be my pick for a game tomorrow, going forward for a squad I would be including Wilson and Barclay (if fit), I would probably also take skinner as lock / back row cover. That’s not even considering Strauss who hasn’t exactly been bad, Hardie who never got a look in or the injured? Denton.

      Second row is a bit of a conundrum too. I thought Toolis was good yesterday, actually made ground with ball in hand, Gilchrist was good too. Where does that leave the Grays? Ritchie like Barclay is a class player but needs to prove his form and fitness so shouldn’t by any means be a shoe in. Johnny is under delivering. So if you take skinner as lock/back row you probably only want to take another 3 locks so that leaves one of the mentioned out. None of the 3 we have had this 6N have been setting the heather alight but all have had good spells and have things to offer. Hard decision, I don’t envy the person making it.

  44. Watching the second half again. No expert but my thoughts are:

    1. The first three minutes were completely different kicking wise to the first half. Russell kicked to touch or to grass. I assume this is what he was referring to after the game re the tactics in the first half.
    2. England’s pack was busted after 55 minutes. Look at the Bradbury try, Vunipola was totally done. Credit to our fitness.
    3. We managed to slow down the ball better in the second half. Whilst I know it isn’t popular at the moment- Jonny Gray was a great introduction making 13 tackles in 30odd minutes. Brown is also better at slowing ball that McInally. Perhaps this is the way forward having the two of them coming on with 30 mins to go. It’s not always about Hollywood moments off the bench.
    4. We talk about personnel a lot on the blog and not about tactics. Whilst important, on some marginal calls is it perhaps more about playing the correct way and having the correct systems in defence and attack?
    5.Defending as a unit rather than shooting out of the line as individuals is what we need to work on. We seemed to be able to do it in the second half.
    6. When Russell gets it right he is unplayable! On his day best fly half in Europe.

    1. 2. Thought the same. For all the globo gym media hype over the power packed England team…they looked absolutely spent mid way in that second half. I think they have put too much emphasis on building body mass to out power opponents…alot of their players didn’t seem to have the stamina to carry that for 80 mins. Bizarre considering where we came from in this match…but really its almost a crime we didn’t win this one.

      3. I thought differently. I thought those subs recked our momentum..even if their ‘stats’ showed up well. Thought it was a poor GT decision…and not in hindsight either…thought it at the time…and still think that.

      5. Agree. Our defense systems and structure are almost non existent. No idea what our defense coach is or has been doing. We need a change long before WRC.

      6. Imo…Russell is ‘The best’ 10 in the world…on his day….and by a country mile too. Unfortunately, he also has has days where he wouldn’t get selected by a Romanian rugby pup team. He is maturing though…and I think the France move…although getting overplayed is an issue….has been very good for him. His peak years are still ahead of him.

      1. RuggersB, when was the last day that he wouldn’t be selected by a Romanian team, though? It’s not been this season.

    2. Soton. Check back for the first five mins after half-time again. I thought England were doing exactly the same as they did in the first half mostly and were dominating just as much and punching holes. The biggest thing that changed the whole momentum and therefore match was Elliot Daly’s kick going over the dead ball line…and it just made it. We got an attacking scrum, we executed perfectly but that try rattled England. Changed the game.

  45. The second half of that match needs to be the standard going forward. Scotland just don’t seem to be able to put an 80 minute performance together which is slightly concerning, maybe we need some psychology lessons in before the world cup.

    Overall I think that this campaign has been beneficial to Scotland. The team and coaching staff will have learned a tremendous amount from the narrow losses and what happens when you let the shackles off the team and let them play their natural way. We have also learned a lot about the periphery players who were asked to step up to this level. By in large I don’t think there were too many who burned their bridges, but I do think the pecking order in a lot of positions has changed somewhat and players returning from injury will have a lot to do to get back in the team.

    It is vitally important for the boys to take that second half level and go put in some strong performances for Glasgow and Edinburgh in the Heineken Cup and keep the momentum up for the remainder of the season. If our teams can finish strongly and some injured players get back to form, we will be going into the World Cup in a better position than you would think of a team who only managed to beat Italy in the 6 nations.

    1. Agree. To an extent, it’s almost been worth the frustration and disappointment of some of the results in this 6N to see how some of these players have stepped up at Test level. Only to an extent, mind, as we have made some big mistakes in play this year, have conceded more points than is decent and failed to convert pressure into points at key game stages.
      So I’m about as sanguine about the RWC as any Scot could be – which is semi-sanguine of course.
      The whole rugby world will have sat up and noticed that 38 unanswered points battering of England yesterday evening. That’s good for camp self-esteem too.

    2. I don’t think its possible for Scotland to sustain the levels they reached during the 2nd half…not for 80 mins. I think that is unrealistic.
      At the elite end of rugby its about putting all, or at least as much, of the points on the board as you can…..whilst you have the momentum. Not even the ABs have 80 mins of momentum against the top teams. We absolutely need a better defense coach, systems and structure to be more resolute when the opposition have their share of the momentum.

      Im concerned about GTs decision making too tho. It often shows through how inexperienced he is at the top level of test level rugby.
      Just as an example, and aside from getting the 1st half tactics all wrong, he took a huge chunk of the momentum away from us yesterday at a critical moment when we were completely dominating England by making a string of substitions all at once. They didn’t even seem necessary. Like he just looked at the clock and thought ill stick the fresh legs on now to take advantage…instead it did the opposite….the time the ‘fresh legs’ took to adjust England managed to get some momentum back. We should have won that game…not surprised to see Russell so gutted at the end….he knew that. I think he and others would be pretty frustrated at the coaches yesterday and today.

      1. I think you’re right about GT’s decision making. You would have thought he’d have drop fed the subs as to not change the momentum too much but instead he chucked on 4 at once. Not sure if it was an act of confidence and going for the jugular or more of a roll of the dice which I don’t think was the right call at the time.

        It’s also concerning to hear the half time argument between him and Finn. The last thing we need is a split between players and coaches as that never ends well for anyone, eg the mourinho/pogba saga at Man U.

      2. Yeah… and I dont know what exactly went on at half time…none of us will if there is any professionalism….but that kind of frustration aired by Russell isn’t a good reflection on the coaching setup imo. To say there is nothing in that is like saying there is fire without smoke. GT looked to be almost apologizing to Russell at the end of match.
        We have the players…we have depth…we have just proven that.
        Whats missing?….something in the coaching setup needs changed for us to progress from this.

        On the side….Rennie getting tipped for Australia …as well as Taylor. Taylor…yay!!! se ya!
        Rennie? dunno ..hes doing some good things it seems.

      3. I dunno about the argument. It says to me that the player(s) have the right attitude, and confidence in themselves to change the situation. Better than just moping about moaning.

        If I were boss, I’d have no issue at all with robust discussions being had about the way the game is being played..esp at 31-7 down. Its a very healthy thing.

        I guess if this strays into abuse and insults, its a bit different. Only the people in the room really know.

      4. I am no fan of Townsend but think the subs on all at once was inspired. He backed his men, he showed which side were running the show and that they were just about to ratchet up the pressure.

        It must have felt like the heavy artillery had just joined the battle.

        Finn Russell moving to France has developed his intuative style hence the argument at off site orders. That felt wrong and he finaly spoke up as his gut was telling him what he needed to do.

        I hope he continues to stand up and run the game when other senior figures return.

  46. Jo Marler is commenting in the Mail Online as below:

    “Scotland game was chaos but England are still much better than in 2015… and Owen Farrell is our Cristiano Ronaldo”

    I thought Farrell and his limitations were completely and utterly exposed yesterday especially in comparison to Finn. Marler is an experienced international
    and knows a lot more than me but REALLY?

  47. Positives from this 6N?
    Mine would be..

    We know what our starting back 3 should be ..
    Hogg, Graham, Maitland

    Our back row…
    6 Ritchie, 7 Watson , 8 Bradbury
    Just dont see what Barclay or Wilson provide that is better other than experience.than those guys. At last we have an 8..Bradbury. Power, pace, guts, rugby awareness and try scoring ability. (Please dont let him get injured!!!) England can have Mercer…Bradbury is better anyway.

    Starting SH should be either Price or Horne. We make some mistakes with them…but are far more of a threat to the top teams as we can play to our strengths.

    Learnt that…
    Horne is not a 10…and that Johnson is a better 12 than Horne.
    We can live without Laidlaw and need to move on.
    Kinghorn is a great prospect…but at test level…its as a winger . At least until Hogg retires.
    Hastings, despite the negatives that have been said about him, is a great prospect in his own right… and a big game player.
    Our coaching needs changes in defense and GT needs to learn from this 6N too.
    We have potential to tear top teams apart….even with injuries.

    1. Agree with most of that. It’s odd to be optimistic after a 6N where we won 1 and drew 1 but there we are, that was the best 40 minutes of rugby I’ve seen from Scotland and we just need to focus on hitting those heights more consistently and we will go far with this group of players.

  48. I think people saying not to get carried away are slightly missing the point. There’s just no price on yesterday’s victory. There are some moments in sport – coming back from two sets down in a slam, a stoppage time goal against the run of play, taking the best shot the other man can muster – and belief switches forever. There is no way England or any other team dismiss Scotland lightly now. No matter the team, no matter the venue, no matter how far behind, these players will always know they CAN do it. That they ALWAYS score. It’s not wide eyed optimism, or a flash of brilliance, but something hard earned and substantial. This is the game it happened.

    1. Agreed. Gives Scotland confidence knowing they can do it but also you’re right it’s a double edged sword – people will take notice of not just coming back but the manner of it. We were accurate (despite v wet conditions) we were disciplined – that last penalty was our only one conceded- we exited brilliantly and backed ourselves to give possession in trade for territory and we forced mistakes and were so clinical when we did it. It’s a blueprint for how we should play and will make everyone sit up and notice.

      1. Possibly, but we didn’t win yesterday, we let a famous victory slip from our fingers. And we also had possession and territory against Wales in the second half and didn’t get the points to win that one either. So yes, it’s a step in the right direction but we need to back it up with consistency. And we need to be harder to score against as a starting point for that.

      2. It’s a really tough one to work out. It’s a line in the sand and will give this generation the belief that Wales now have that they can hold out defensively until opposition crack we can now come back and can be deadly with our chances.

        However we didn’t lose one penalty in the last three mins we lost two and we compounded error upon error which ultimately cost us. Teams will fear our attack but they’ll know at present they have a chance of taking the glory and shine back off us again.

        It’s a big step up but we need to be smarter in defence and be as good as we were in defence (at times) when we couldn’t score a try.

        The squidge rugby piece on Wales victory against was interesting, worth a watch. The fly half is the eyes in the 22 working out the weak points in real time and just doesn’t get involved in the attack until the space opens and he is the extra man and hard to track as he comes from way back.

        Can’t wait for what he sees in this match next week

  49. Was pretty gutted at the end but happier than after the first 30 minutes. So close to an unbelievable win. I think we can build on this. Half time speeches will be easier in the future because the never say die spirit of Twickenham ’19 can be brought up.

    Would love to know what was said between Russell and Townsend at half time but Russell was unplayable in the second half and whatever they changed worked and needs bottled for the future. My biggest concern for this team going forward is Russell avoiding injury. Really need to keep working on improving the apprentice Hastings as a plan B but the 2nd half performance is the new standard.

  50. A quick thought. Russell has won man of the match in the last two games between Scotland and England. However, you could argue, as a number of the papers have, that Johnson should have been MOTM.

    Also worth noting that Townsend has coached 2 times against England and come away with a win and a draw. He’s definitely not on Jones xmas card list.

  51. I know it is off thread but I just viewed the you tube video “owen Farrell thug”
    I don’t know how rugby officials can see this and not ban him from ever playing.Are they waiting on him to seriously injure or kill someone.

    1. Tbf the guy that edits those videos is a moron & does the same thing about other players and picks clips from years & years ago with tackles that were legal at the time, i make a effort to avoid his cancer videos which devalue rugby for me.

      There are very few real ‘thugs’ in rugby & that dude picks anyone who has made even 1 bad or 50/50 tackle in there career.

      1. Didn’t realize that Neil but to be fair I don’t think diving head first into someone’s face was ever legal

      2. The guy who makes them might be sketchy, but it’s hard to argue with the evidence.

  52. RWC squad
    Hogg, Graham, Maitland
    Johnson, Jones
    Price, Russell
    Dell, McInally, Nel
    Gilchrist, Toolis
    Barclay, Bradbury, Watson

    Fagerson, Brown, Berghan
    Skinner, Hastings, Laidlaw, Taylor

    Ritchie, Seymour, Bennett, Kinghorn, Wilson, J. Gray, R. Gray, G. Horne

  53. Much has been said about GT trying to develop a fast paced game, but some of the forwards need to do more in that respect or stand aside. Only one or two quick thinking players in a team will not be enough to make progress in RWC2019.

  54. The problem with yesterday’s performance is the hope it gives, gets me every time. That’s it, corner turned; this time it really is different…

  55. Interesting article in the Sunday Times about Matt Scott, certainly offers a different option to any other centre we have.
    After watching the 2nd half about 6 times my favourite moments are 2 from Finn – 1.The pass to Maitland prior to Darcy Grahams 2nd try & 2. The audacious look one way pass the other pass for our 6th try. Magic

  56. Well that game just summed up Scottish sport perfectly. From defeat, rallying to victory only to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory. First half a disaster but second they came out fighting. Of course they took on New Zealand Australia and South Africa much the same way and were unlucky in 2 and battered Australia in the other. Thought the young lads were terrific. Bradbury, Graham, Johnson all great stuff. Pity Price came off he had England all over the place. As I say it’s not where you are after 5 mins it’s where you are after 80. If Townsend changed tactics because Russell said it’s not working then good on him. Farrell is a thug and Ford showed a bit of class to save England. Hopefully Scotland remember that they are a good team and when they play the way they can they can take on anyone. They’ve shown that in several games over the last 2 years. It’s all confidence and belief.

  57. Watson is a beast – he beat 0.14 defenders/minute (the next highest in my sample were Vunipola, Bradbury, Strauss and Picamoles, each with 0.02!). He made 4.7m per carry, compared to 3.5 for Picamoles, 3.25 for Vunipola, 2.8 for Bradbury. He beat 1.1 defenders per carry, and his closest competition is Mark Wilson, with a mighty 0.24! His gainline success per carry was 0.54; everyone else was 0.41 or below. Also, for a young guy who’s not played much this season and making his debut in arguably the most gruelling annual rugby competition, Bradbury did pretty well.

    The much hyped PoM did very little: barely carried (0.04/min), beat no-one, made 0.61m/carry, barely broke the gainline (0.25/carry), only made a tackle every 10 minutes, and only managed an 84% completion rate!

    Similarly, Wales’ back rowers weren’t as impressive as they’re being made out: they barely beat any defenders, didn’t make many metres/carry (Moriarty – 1.6; Navidi – 1.5; Tipuric – 0.9), made a reasonable one tackle every five minutes and had mixed success tackling – Tipuric made an impressive 97%, Navidi 95%, but Moriarty only made 83%. Given how often they’re talked up, their stats are a bit disappointing…

    1. Yeh Cam he is a freak of nature, i was shocked when he was not picked for the lions in 2017 where he had similar stats, Hope he is well managed throughout his career, arguably the best 7 in the world, think only a fully firing Hooper offers something similar in style for a 7

      1. He really is! No-one else got close so far, and the only people averaging more metres a carry are backs.

        Also, we give Gray a lot of gyp for his pretty shonky carrying, but it seems like the density of his defensive work is significantly higher than other locks (a tackle every 3 mins compared to every 4 mins for Launchbury, every 5 mins for AWJ, every 7 minutes for Ryan) and his completion rate is higher than all those guys. Carrying-wise, he carries every 9 minutes, compared to every 5 for Ryan, every 11 for AWJ, every 20 for Launchbury. And he breaks the gainline every 3 carries, same as Launchbury, compared to once every 2 for Ryan and once every 6 carries for AWJ. And this is him below par…

      2. Yeah well Gatland was always going to pick tipuric and Warburton and SOB had won six nations :-(

  58. Actually not only should Owen Farrell probably have received a yellow for the dunt on Darcy Graham, Tuilagi should have got a red for a clothesline to Sam Johnson’s head at 27:51.I didn’t see it during the match but it looks an atrocious tackle. Go to Mark Palmer’s Twitter feed if you’re interested.

    1. Yes, that was an absolute stinker of a tackle. Should be up in front of the citing commissioner for that one. Johnson clearly had rattled Tuilagi earlier in the game with a monster hit.

  59. A final thought, we are progressing , against the Aussies in 15 , we didn’t even secure the line out ball, at least this time we did.

    Now to remember how to keep it stuffed up a big lads jumper for 2 minutes , and boot it into touch , and we will be good !

    1. That’s my thoughts too, we aren’t used to defending a lead and we paid for it last night 😤

      1. Just watched the last 5 mins after the try, we were in such a hurry rather than eating the clock up. I hope we learn from it…

  60. Go to the responses to the Guardians report on Scot vs Eng. Many of the English fans seem to think EJ and OF post match attitudes are churlish and a real embarrassment for English rugby.

    1. Joe Marler reckons Farrell is their key man. It’s hilarious. He also says:

      “There is some real depth. It’s not ideal to lose a Billy, Maro, Manu or Mako, but there are guys who can fill in. The victory over Ireland in Dublin revolved around those guys carrying the ball. You can probably afford to lose one of those guys, but not two.”

      He’s complaining about losing two guys while also saying they’ve amazing strength in depth and when they’ve just lost to a team with many, many times that many players out injured… What an idiot.

      1. The man is obviously a complete tit. Especially seeing as his key group are quite plainly predominated by a collation of international heritages.

        How much more “home grown” talent would there be in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and elsewhere if England (SE England anyway) did not suck the world in and claim it for itself?

        Same goes for the regional dominance of NZ and Aus over the Pacific Islands…

    1. I think there might have been but probably not enough to have stopped Ford. I’m pretty sure Finn would have been in the ref’s ear to review the try if he thought there was a hope of it being disallowed. I don’t think the England players changed their line.

    1. Nope. For all WR’s public proclamations about player safety, they’re not keen to actually punish dangerous foul play. Especially when it’s carried out by the bigger teams.

      1. Thought the ref was very good on Saturday. But demeanour and care taken over Farrell decision was of a man looking for a way out. His decision was nonsense – either it was a late, no-arms tackle which is a YC or red if you think there was contact with the head (there was, it doesn’t have to be initial contact) or it was accidental and farrel was committed to the tackle, in which case it was no penalty. He clearly bottled it but neither had the guts to make the right call nor to just ignore the obvious offence and say it was no penalty.

      2. In real time when I saw the collision it looked a definite yellow as it was a blatant no arms shoulder charge. On the replays it looked like he connected with Graham’s head so you then are into the possibility of a red. For the ref to then say “no contact with head and he was just protecting himself” is bizarre as I thought WR was all about the duty of care owed to the other player in all situations and that accidental isn’t a get out for dangerous play. As others have said, there was no way Farrell was shaping up to try the charge down or make the tackle and he should have been properly dealt with by the ref.

  61. I really enjoyed the match and am enjoying the comments here. One topic I haven’t seen mentioned is kicking. FR failed to convert either of DG’s tries (47′ and 56′) and GL missed the kick resulting from OF’s penalty on DG (67′). None of the kicks were easy, but success with any of the three would have averted a draw. Anxious for RWC.

    1. Yes very good point that I did briefly think about. I think the wind was dreadfully deceptive on the day although Farrell worked with it well. Laidlaw first conversion to go from 24 to 26 was the one I think. However being ahead after Russell’s try may have changed game plan. Would we have gone for it as much? Would we have had time to get back had they scored maybe. All ifs and buts but to score one more try and tie is a big enough issue to think we made significant errors

  62. What a game. Weirdly disappointed but I would have bitten your hand off if you’d offered me a draw before the game. I would have taken a 15 point loss at half time!
    I was in tears of joy when Sam Johnstone scored – incredible try. But it was inevitable they were going to come back and salvage a draw – especially once we’d given them possession and then gave a penalty away.

    England were real class in the first half. Our defence wasn’t great but their offloading was sublime. And then some of the best tries ever from our boys to bring us to the brink of history. Still a historic match and real positives to take to Japan:
    1. Never say die – we can come back from any score.
    2. We can rip apart any defence with front-foot ball.
    3. We have real strength in depth now. Admittedly forced on us by injuries but nonetheless with quality cover in almost every position.

    One last thing – No wonder it was such a fantastic scoreline. Scotland missed 45 tackles and England missed 35 (out of 199 and 115 respectively). To win the big games we cannot afford a tackle completion rate less than 90%, never mind below 80%!!!

    1. Merlot good post. At one point England had made 85 tackles and missed 25. A quarter were missed yet I think it was still 31-12th at the time. Incredible.

      Strength in depth has been a real bonus. I think Garland is one of the few out there (after being caught up previously with issue) to risk results to get depth. So important and we now enough depth and geniuses sprinkled in to do us next ten years now. Must get defensive structure sorted though.

    2. Depth is usually attained via injuries for the majority of teams…there are increasingly less games where teams can afford to play a string of development players for fits’n’giggles…when at least rankings points matter.

      Tackle completion rates are just another stat that isn’t always apples to apples. Tackle completion can depend on a variety of factors…quality of opposition being one biggy. Honestly… stats just make me yawn… look at the prior stats to the England v Scotland @ twit ‘n’ ham. Who would have seen the match role out like it did based on historical stats? Thats why they are statistically

  63. Just rewatching England’s second try from the lineout and the ball looks to me to be transferred back before any Scot engages at the front. It’s all relative though as plenty other stuff gets missed and probs did on sat night (our way too) but it suggests to me that refs don’t really get the support of their Touchies in picking up on stuff like this. A ref only has two eyes and can’t see everything. We know Skeen is a blind buffoon having missed umpteen offences in games he’s TMOd against us but the touchies are supposed to be picking up on stuff other than simply offsides….aren’t they?

  64. In the cold light of the day after the day after, my abiding thought is that this was a game that we will talk about for years. To come back from 31-0 down after 31 minutes to winning 38-31 in the red zone is a remarkable sporting feat. That we couldn’t hang on is disappointing, but we shouldn’t let that cast a shadow over what happened.

    This squad and team is one that can compete with the very best, when everyone is fit and firing on all cylinders. I don’t buy the line that England completely switched off after the break. We stepped up and took our chances with the possession and territory they denied us in the first half. If we can play like we did in the 2nd half in more games, then we are a threat to anyone and a potential SF in Japan awaits.

    1. On reflection having watched that first half back, I think it was a very good illustration of the fine margins in high tempo, high difficulty test rugby as played by both sides. England’s execution rate in the first half was very high while Scotland’s wasn’t, with the situations reversed in the second. Minor things like a poor kick here or a dropped ball there don’t matter as much when the opposition isn’t at their peak, but can be catastrophic when they are. Post the glorious comeback – the main glaring problem for Scotland was the inability to close it out with 3 minutes to go and make it a glorious win, which should still be a concern. Of course, if they kicked the goals earlier in the game then the pressure would have been off.

      1. I agree that the first half wasn’t as bad as I remembered when I watched it back.

        The missed 7 points are moot TBH, as we may not have had the other scores afterwards. The real killer was the speed that we took the conversion and the lineout, which made no sense at all.

    2. Yeah …reading Englands post match comments…you would think they just threw the game to us. Its interesting tho… it seems they have some major disharmony raising its head in their group. Jones telling them ‘they need a check up from the neck up’ …which kinda pot kettle and black..players saying that’s not the problem.
      Anyway… they are kinda displaying denial and arrogance about how the match unfolded.
      They looked great in the opening period partly because Scotland were making soo many unforced errors..poor defensive structure…they were the home team and were always going to come out the traps on a mission. They played well …but were allowed to.
      Scotland, after getting some confidence back from McInally, started to show some belief and appetite again….try after try it snowballed…and within a short period were playing the rugby they were always capable of. England then saw Scotland were far better than they thought…that they weren’t as good as they thought they were themselves….and panic streamed throughout their team.
      Scotland looked far fitter than england …the Sam Johnson try …made england look like they were blowing out their lower exterior.
      A bit of naivety at the end …cost Scotland the win…not Englands ‘superior’ quality or fitness. It felt like the finale to Aus. RWC…groundhog day. We should have won…with both teams at their best we looked slightly better. We should take a lot from that match….that will have damaged Englands confidence hugely.

      Had to laugh at Jeremy Guscotts ‘team of the 6N’ …half the england team…lol …what a tool

  65. I think we as Scots do have a propensity to be a bit chippy. So bearing that in mind and trying to be as grown up as I can be on the subject….
    Media coverage since the game at Twickenham has been dreadful in recognising that Scotland were active agents in what happened.
    Please mainstream media (BBC, The Times etc.) accept that the second half was a combination of England playing poorly and Scotland attacking with as much flair as we’ve seen in the entire Six Nations – not solely English self destruction.
    All I want to see and hear is a little recognition.

    1. Agree the dismissive
      response to our sublime 2nd half was no more evident than on yesterday’s BBC highlights.
      Disappointed would be putting it mildly,but not really surprised when p.i t.a Inverdale and co dwelt on ‘what England should have done to put Scotland away’ with excerpts included. Greater evidence that ‘it’s hurt in the morning’ what we unleashed. I will relive that Johnson try forever as Jones one last year. Need to back performance up in WC.

      1. Or indeed that Scotland played very poorly in the first half.. It was both by both teams.

  66. So is this Shaun Wayne thing happening or not? If not / any event, any chance of Shaun (I’m open to offers) Edwards???

    1. Edwards for me. Could we afford him? Would he want to join one of Wales rivals?

  67. How has the Six Nations clarified our World Cup options?

    Firstly, here are the players who were certainties from the squad (discounting injury) before the Championship:

    HK: McInally, Brown
    PR: Dell, Nel
    LK: Gilchrist, J Gray
    FL: Barclay, Watson
    SH: Laidlaw
    CE: P Horne, H Jones
    WG: Maitland, Seymour
    FB: Hogg, Kinghorn

    Now, I’d add Berghan, Price and Johnson to that list.

    LIKELY to go, though not certain:

    HK: Turner
    PR: Z Fagerson
    LK: Skinner
    FL: Ritchie
    N°8: Wilson
    SH: G Horne
    WG: D Graham

    For me, Darcy Graham absolutely goes to Japan – but Toonie might only choose four back three players. Even then, for me, he gets in over Seymour, but Toonie likes Seymour. He’s started every game this 6N that he’s been fit for. Similarly, Turner and Z Fagerson ought to be in the squad, but it depends on how many front-rowers Toonie takes to Japan, and George Horne at scrum-half is in a similar position.

    This leaves a few spots up for grabs:

    1) backup LH prop. Toonie might take 3 LHs and 2 THs, or the other way round. If it is the other way, then Gordie Reid currently has the edge over Jamie Bhatti with Alex Allan now unlikely to make the cut.
    2) at lock. Here, Ben Toolis probably has the edge over Richie Gray. Tim Swinson is the next cab off the rank.
    3) at N°8. Magnus Bradbury’s in pole position, but then there’s Denton, Matt Fagerson, Strauss and Thomson to factor in. It’s even possible (though unlikely) that Ryan Wilson won’t make the squad.
    4) at centre. Pete Horne will go – he covers fly-half – and Johnson and H Jones would be my starting pair, leaving one spot between Mark Bennett, Duncan Taylor, Chris Harris (all three also cover the wing), Alex Dunbar and Nick Grigg.

      1. dun-dun-dun!

        My squad would be this:

        F Brown, McInally, Turner
        Berghan, Dell, Z Fagerson, Nel, Reid
        Gilchrist, J Gray, R Gray, Skinner, Toolis
        Barclay, Bradbury, Ritchie, Watson, Wilson
        G Horne, Laidlaw, Price
        Hastings, Russell
        Bennett, Johnson, H Jones, Taylor
        D Graham, Kinghorn, Maitland

      2. Rory, please bring in a new rule that people get one shot at giving their squad for the RWC.

      3. As I was lying in bed this morning, I thought about banning posting team lists altogether, but a limit is not a bad idea… or indeed only posting RWC squads on posts about the RWC…

      4. Open a permenant side thread for the people who do enjoy squad discussions then… (and there is alot of the community for do) i have tried to limit my team posting out of respect to those who dont want to see it but there should be a place for us…

        People should not be getting harassed everytime they suggest a squad posting.

        Also… its the end of the Six Nations before a world cup… its one of the best times to talk about it, no one was bringing it up during the six nations.

    1. I really hope G-Horne makes it. Real shame that he was injured for this tournament. On form backline of Hogg, Maitland, Jones, Johnson, Graham, Russell, G-Horne would be electric. I realise George is relatively inexperienced, but I do hope he gets the opportunity again soon.

      1. Selecting Seymour ahead of Graham…Wilson ahead of either Bradbury or Ritchie would show everyone just how set in his ways GT actually is….and a far cry from being the dynamic or progressive coach that is portrayed.

        Based on talent and test level game time…..absolutely insane not to include Graham, Ritchie and Bradbury. They are the now and the future. It would be irritatingly predictable for GT to go for ‘experienced fav’ versus pure talent. GT..imo…would look a thoroughly soft head coach if unable to make these type of calls.

      2. Ruggersb – you are now getting the boot into Toonie based on teams he hasn’t picked yet.

  68. So a collective breath taken and a look at the tournament as a whole. Disappointing. Partly due to bad injuries but also a bad drop off in form of some previously key players.
    My thoughts:

    Did what they were expected to(which may only be OK):
    Russell, brilliant then frustrating then brilliant again.
    Maitland. Was all for sending him back to New Zealand at 30 mins on Friday but he was very good later on.
    Watson. Bouncing rubber ball of awesome.
    Laidlaw. Slow but steady.
    Gilchrist. Honest as the day is long but not quite as good as other teams locks.

    Boy done good:
    Richie. Like a young John Barclay in that he is 1 penalty a game too many but if he sorts that he is a great find.
    Bradbury. OMG an actual number 8 who can keep up with play, break tackles and make them.
    Radge Wee Darcy. Wow! Give him the ball.
    Johnson. Played very well overall and then carried 28 English players over the line for his try.
    Price. Pace and invention. Thanks for all the service Greig.

    What the ….. happened to?
    Seymour. Doubt we will see him in blue for a bit.
    Nel. Doesn’t get around the park, and is not the scrummager he was. Don’t think he ever recovered after the neck injury.
    Grey. He looks knackered at the warmups I swear. Needs to go away and add something to his game beyond a perfect tackle stat. Like perhaps a turnover attempt or lineout steals.
    Strauss. This was his chance to play his way back in but its gone as younger hungrier and dare I say harder working young men have overtaken him.
    Jones. What its it with us and centres? They have two good years and then fall off a cliff.

    Just no good enough…
    Grigg. Terrier like tackles on the ankles OK. But nothing else and sometimes he just looks like the wee kid from mini’s tackling the fat lads.
    Toolis. Gutted as I have a wee bit of a man crush on him for Edinburgh but he’s not mean enough.
    Horne (P) Not a standoff. Not an Outhalf or 5/8ths or Fly Half. Listening Toonie?

    1. Sorry but alot of that is just bollocks.

      Gilchrist has been outstanding & has offered alot more in his carrying this season, certainly the in-form lock out of all the picks.

      Im not a fan of Seymour but he was better than last year where he should not of been near a test squad, he was solid defensively & competed well for high balls.

      I dont think we have taken a backwards steps in the scrum this six nations ? Nel has been the cornerstone for that.

      Strauss showed up well or else he would not been selected 5 in a row, has certainly put himself into the mix considering where he came from.

      Dont understand the just no good enough comments on Grigg & Toolis.

      Toolis starts against Italy – we get big win.
      Starts against England & top the tackle stats + reasonably solid lineout & a draw.
      Every game without him- we lost.

      Grigg was POOPY to begin with against France but has gotten better against Wales & pretty good against England after a shaky start, Ofc he wont ever be first choice but he is a solid option & shows alot more effort than other options (that cover tackle) O’Driscoll was praising his tackle technique.

      1. Nel has been pinged several times and I cannot recall him dominating like he d

        Seymour has been overtaken by RWD, Mcguigan, Maitland and Kinghorn (who is a fullback playing out of position)

        Griggs tackling is good. But I fault his positioning for a couple of England tries.

      2. Agree with most of that.
        Gilchrist is playing a better than any of our other locks. Do we have world class locks?…No.. we dont..but..Gilchrist and Toolis have been performing well enough at test level.
        Toolis …I originally thought was too soft for a test lock….but Cockerill has toughened him up a bit I think and he is improving.

        Strauss was just OK for me. Adequate in the absence of a natural talented 8. Bradbury is the 8 now. Looks natural and talented at it…and will improve match by match I think.
        Grigg is OK…tho not a player you would choose for a big test match….its not like he is a 1st ..2nd ..or even 3rd choice 13…he filled a gap…and improved on a pretty awful France match.

        I do feel that Harris could become at least a good backup….he is improving as he gains confidence at test level. I think he needs to bulk up a bit…and if he did that would provide a pretty solid presence in midfield…looks like he has pace to burn at times.

    2. Some of these players are in there as 4th reserve.
      There’s no point slagging them.
      Grigg showed enormous heart and never gave up. He was as much part of the 2nd half revival as any other player, and when the much maligned Harris came on he didn’t let the side down either.
      These players are down the pecking order behind Jones, Taylor and Bennett. They deserve a bit of respect for the way they played.

      1. I’m not slagging but offering an appraisal of them. I’ve no issues with a 4th choice player not being as good as a first choice. And I agree Harris is still an interesting choice. But I’m sorry but I don’t think Grigg is international standard and when others come back he will fade out of the picture is what I mean.

        That not every guy that comes in takes his chance is to be expected surely?

        More of a worry is the drop off of some former first choice players in positions where we dont have depth.

  69. Clive Woodward generously said he was happy that we saw “the real Scotland”.

    My question is, why do we need a slap in the face to see the real Scotland?
    I always felt that 2nd half performance was in there somewhere, but why did we have to endure the 1st half?
    Sure, England played well, but we let them. We stood off them, flew out of the line, showed a lack of composure and didn’t work hard. We didn’t have to be 31-0 down after 30 minutes.
    The Wales team is very good, but on an individual basis it’s not drenched in stardust.
    One thing they have always done under Gatland, and it doesn’t matter how many injuries they have had or what crisis they have had to deal with, is play with composure and belief and determination.
    Players we beat in the pro-14 grow into the red jersey and play above themselves.
    Why can’t we be like that?
    Nobody cares about losses. They’re frustrating but someone has to win, and it won’t always be us. People care about players they know are good not fulfilling their potential.

    1. Maybe its just our Scottish mindset that we need to face the utmost adversity to show our real selves…
      Its like watching an Andy Murray tennis match…..played his best stuff after he had put himself into an unneccesary hole.
      We portray ourselves as brash and cocky…when really we are a shy lot frightened of success and the limelight.

  70. Have to say i would be dissapointed if Russell is not considered for player of the tournament, not saying he should definitely get it but has outplayed every 10 he has come up against in a struggling team, a good start for world player of the year also if i do say.

    My completely unbiased Six Nations XV (4 or more games)

    1. Dell
    2. Owens
    3. Bamba
    4. Jones (C)
    5. Gilchrist
    6. Ritchie
    7. Curry
    8. Picamoles
    9. Dupont
    10. Russell
    11. May
    12. Johnson
    13. Penaud
    14. Adams
    15. Daly

    1. Considered certainly for player of the Tournament. But if a team wins a Grand Slam its always going to be hard to argue against a player from that team ultimately. Interesting who you’d pick though. Defence won the Grand Slam and defence is a team thing and harder to really shine in.

      I thought Nividi was really good at 6 for example in a very unglamorous way.

    2. we talk about Watson as being one of the top 7s …and he is…but Tom Curry looks like he isn’t far away from being the top 7 …and he is only what 20yrs? Englands best player imo.

      1. Curry does look good – as does Wilson at 6 – but I wouldn’t trade pinball for him. And Ritchie looked damn good, too.

      2. Curry looks great when England are on top – Wales and Scotland first halves for example.

        Utterly anonymous in the second half.

        Great 7s shine regardless of how badly their side are doing.

    3. Russell hasn’t been nominated. It’s a boring list:

      Liam Williams
      Tom Curry
      Jonny May
      Hadleigh Parkes
      Josh Adams

      Disappointing. Russell didn’t seem to make many ‘best of’ lists either, because people struggle to separate the performances of individuals and the performances of teams, and also struggle to look past stereotypes.

      1. Nominations for anti-player of the tournament:

        Peter O’Mahony
        Owen Farrell
        Morgan Parra

      2. Russell is in Guscotts team of the tournament, and it takes a lot for him to pick a Scottish player.

        Out of that list, I would give it to Parkes (with an e……..)

      3. To be fair I think Finn had a solid tournament but only hit full House party mode for a prolonged period in that second half of the England game. Player of the tournament should be a result influencer and we only won one game.

    1. Wasn’t so humble when he got to the team of the tournament, though, “you can’t have Finn Russell, they finished 5th! By the way, Tebaldi is our choice at scrum-half. Also, as many English as we can fit in.” Apparently Russell only played 40 minutes… good games against other teams don’t count if you’re Scottish…

    2. I did enjoy how the absolute no holds barred bonkersathon of that match dissolved the animosity between Care and Wilson thoughts. Because sport should be about that and not the silly nonsense that preceded the game.

      1. Agreed. It was textbook conflict resolution where a shared experience + actually getting two parties to talk with one another instead of simmering with bitterness (in Care’s case) from a distance melted the ice. My estimation of both of them has gone up.

  71. I was in the West Stand with my son & daughter. We could not believe what we were witnessing, neither could the English crowd. They were reduced to a respectful silence, were in shock, it was surreal.
    No brick bats from me, I was a proud Scotsman in Twickenham at the final whistle. A comeback such as that should not be underestimated.
    We went to our pre-booked restauarant after the match near Twickers, and were proud of the many English supporters who came to our table to congratulate us and the Scottish team.
    A great day, but please give those boys credit, the collisions were huge, they showed huge heart to comeback from such a massive deficit.
    You are unlikely to ever see such a revival again in tier 1 international rugby.
    Scotland the Brave👍🏉

    1. My expereinces of Twickenham have all been positive. We are treated with respect. Yes you get the occasional pompous git but most are generous and welcoming.

      1. Halfway through the second half and on the TV you can hear “Swing Low sweet Chariot” being sung. First time I’ve heard it being song nervously and in desperation. You could hear the anxiety in the song. Quote surreal.

    2. Maybe these questions have already been asked and answered in this thread. Anyway, here goes.
      Has any Tier One side ever recovered from 31 points down and go on not to lose?
      Has any side ever scored more than 38 points against England in a full cap Test at Twickenham?
      Answers might be good to know if only for the sake of some decent banter.

      1. I had a quick look on ESPN yesterday and I believe both New Zealand (2006) and South Africa (2008) have once each put 38+ points on England at home. But no team has scored more tries to rack up that many points.

  72. Watch it 3 or 4 times now…..still can’t fathom what happened!

    Price’s chip ahead was a sublime bit of scanning and decision making – I doubt Greig would have even been looking in that direction. Too busy tapping the ball with his foot and pointing at his forwards where to stand.

    Did Price knock that on when he picked up for the chip ahead? I can’t tell if he lost contact with the ball or merely stood it up on it’s point. Looked forward/not in control either way I have to be honest. The sort of thing the TMO would come back 2 phases for given our luck with Skeen this championship.

    1. I noticed that wee fumble too. I’m surprised more hasn’t been made of it, especially the way people went on about Laidlaw’s non-knock-on at the base of the scrum against Samoa in the last World Cup.

  73. Give Cockerill a ring. Defensively there is much work to be done. When we get that right, and Toony is not too proud to drop some of his favs, and we are a bit lucky with returns from injuries… we are able to cause some damage. To anyone. Although it is a very thin layer of ice.

    It could’ve been better with a couple of big guns back in the starting 15, but with the currently available ones it could have been a lot worse. I see this 6N-campaign as a very important learning course (the last 40 minutes of the campaign very important for Toon as well). We had to put some youngsters to the test, and we now know they do (some exceptionally) well. Some already carved their names in stone already when it comes to the starting XV in Japan I think. Johnson, McInally, Watson… No doubt at all. It is ver useful information. Probably it turns out that this 6N was more important then the pre-RWC-matches.

    There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. All we need is a bit of luck (and proper decision-making).

    1. Cockerill has his own problems to deal with – he needs to focus on getting a play off spot this season.

      Embra have blown hot and cold all season and it’s not just due to international call ups.

  74. That is the first time we have got anything other than a loss away from home in the 6N, except in Rome, since 2010. I really hope it’ll be a watershed where the squad understands better how to impose themself on a game without a home crowd behind them. If so, it’ll be the most important match yet in Scotland’s revival.

    Interesting what had been coming out about the changing room at half-time, Russell arguing to change up tactics, Toonie insisting they stay the same and Laidlaw remaining calm and talking privately to Price and Russell. I don’t think the tactics actually changed, but whatever happened the alchemy in the squad is good if they can come off angry and humiliated and come back focused and ready to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Laidlaw shouldn’t be the first pick 9 anymore but he’s the father of the squad and has a great influence.

    1. I am not a massive fan of Greeg, but I thought he was excellent when came on. His service was fast and we didn’t really lose any momentum from the equally good Price.

      Its worth bearing in mind his service is as much about the quality and speed of the ball being served up to him than it is him dawdling.

      Interesting he missed a couple of kicks on Sat – we need to get Fin up to 90% success rate so we can keep our options open.

      I do think he will retire from test rugby after the RWC – I know for example he’s bought a house in Gattonside – he’ll be back home in 15 months.

    2. No I don’t think they changed that much either having watched the game again. The thing that changed was our execution drastically improved and we started getting a rub of the green. By that I mean, ambitious kicks landed the right side of the line and got favorable bounces whereas before they went against us, fumbled balls somehow stuck etc. England made some silly errors and dropped balls instead of us. The flying up tackles stuck, mainly because our support play got far quicker and prevented the offload or instantly made a tackle that had just been missed. The kicking game improved, we were kicking to sensible places rather than just booting it straight down their throats, as said above a few of the highly risky kicks got good bounces and turned into great kicks. England were a lot less aggressive in defense too. The last 20mins or so of the second half were actually pretty evenly matched and it was a good contest, as were the last 10mins of the first half. The Start of the first and second halves were polar opposites, we were sloppy and passive in the first and England were in the second.

      If that’s true about Laidlaw then he continues to prove his worth as a leader in the squad, I also didn’t think he was bad when he came on, no drop in pace. He can play quickly if the rest of the team is playing quickly, what he can’t / doesn’t do is inject pace into the team like Price can.

  75. From the Indy:

    England vs Scotland: Manu Tuilagi escapes action over tackle on Sam Johnson as Six Nations confirm no citings

    Tuilagi has not been cited for a controversial tackle on Johnson during the first half of Saturday’s 38-38 draw while Owen Farrell will not face any further action for his late tackle on Darcy Graham

    No surprise there

    1. Unbelievable – that Tuilagi “tackle” was as bad as anything I have seen in the last few years. Just because Johnson ducked doesn’t mean it wasn’t dangerous.

    2. Pretty disgusted with that. If Johnson hadn’t ducked that could have been a career ending foul play.

      World Rugby is supposed to be sorting this kind of farce out. The TMO and citing officials are supposed to be professionals. Instead they are bringing the game in to disrepute.

      1. The ref’ing in this 6N has been pretty debatable at the very least…alot of very poor decisions.
        The worst one for me is to not even use the TMO technology fairly and across the board. What is the point of it….if it selectively, inconsistently utilized and in a biased manner?

  76. That second half has to be the best half of rugby any team has ever played. It even out shone the Welsh grand slam. The confidence that will bring will have the boy’s heads in the right place come the RWC . All the boys have to do now is to combine the first half against Italy and that truly biblical second half performance against England. If Hollywood make a movie based on rugby , then that will be the match , even Rocky’s fights aren’t as far fetched as that rugby match. It fills me with pride and joy .

    1. There is a movie being made about a rugby match, unfortunately it is when Japan beat South Africa and Eddie Jones being played by temuera Morrison!

      I think if we had kept out the last try it would have been the best half of all time, certainly shocked a few in twikkers!

      1. The second half performance was something the players needed to experience after what had been 6N that was rapidly removing confidence.
        They can see what they can achieve if they focus and apply …and if they don’t see that…and if they do not work to achieve that levels on a more consistent basis to take the team forward to new levels. Then it has been almost worthless…and merely served as an entertaining moment in the sport…superseeded by actual quantifiable successes of others.
        Based on that second half …anything other than a RWC semifinal…is a failure or rather an underachievement.

    2. Fed up reading everywhere how England lost the game and not how Scotland turned it around

      1. Its easier for them to , rather than look impartially and recognize that other teams have potential and quality also, just float into a state of denial and pretend they are in control of all outcomes. Do they really think all the top tier sides are just gonna hand control of a match over to them for 80 mins? It is arrogant and laughable. If they want to improve themselves …they won’t do it with that outlook…they’ll just keep repeating the cycle of ‘We are soo great….hang on …no we are not’. Not that we dont have to fix our psych…which we do. All top tier teams are working towards finding their respective teams ‘missing links’. The fact E Jones has said its been happening over a 4 yr period says it all. Not that I give a monkeys about their outcomes…

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