England v Scotland, Six Nations 2019: Match Preview pt I

KO 5.00 at Twickenham Stadium
Saturday 16th March 2019

Live on ITV1

Starting with something positive; some encouraging stats around Scotland’s chances in this game should really be the aim here.

This is Twickenham though.

The graveyard of so many Scottish ambitions. Shatterer of tartan dreams even when the Auld Enemy aren’t the opposition. A place where the last win is so far in the dim and distant past it predates Adam Hastings’ dad, Gavin’s Scotland debut by 3 years!

This will be the dark blues’ 49th trip to the cabbage patch to take on England. The overall record reads W4; D5; L39, with the shortest gap between victories being 12 years:

Scotland’s wins against England at Twickenham:

20th March 1926
19th March 1938
20th March 1971
5th March 1983

Since 1983:

  • there have been 16 defeats and 1 draw;
  • Scotland have averaged just 1 try per game;
  • the average score has been 31-14 in the home side’s favour;
  • the Scots have only finished within a converted try of England in 3 of those defeats.

Add in a plague of injuries and lack of momentum and it’s beginning to look like a Scotland win is a million-to-one chance – but it might just work. Because of course a million-to-one chance succeeds nine times out of ten

England Scouting Report

Rucking efficiency

England have been incredibly effective at securing their own ball at the breakdown. Across 334 rucks so far in the tournament, they have lost just 3. That’s comfortably the best in this season’s Six Nations.

Add in their slightly more average performance on the other side of the ball – turning over their opponents’ rucks 11 times – and they are +8 on possession at the breakdown. Again, this is the best in the tournament.

The English pack is certainly sizeable but it also takes speed to the point of contact plus excellent technique to continually win the ball so efficiently. Scotland were able to make a mess of England’s rucks last season but they will find it much more difficult to slow or steal possession this time round.

Possession is not a prerequisite

Eddie Jones’ side have, by some distance, the lowest percentage possession among the six competing countries. England have averaged just 40% of the game with the ball. Yet they’ve parlayed that into 19 tries and 144 points – far more than any of the other sides.

Key to that has been making the most of what little possession they have had. England’s kick and contest or contain game has often seen them working off turnover ball in good positions where it only takes one break and relatively little time to score.

That’s shown in the clean break stats where the English have made a CB for every 10 carries. (Compare and contrast with the very different possession-based style of Ireland who only make a line break for every 20 carries.) Scotland’s defence will need to be extremely wary of giving any space to English backs or forwards.

Danger Man

There are danger men throughout the English line-up but even among such company Billy Vunipola’s numbers stand out. The giant number 8 is hugely influential on England’s ability to get on the front foot and play the efficient, controlled game they desire.

While undoubtedly the focus is on his carrying one of the reasons the Saracens’ man has been able to push himself ahead of other big bashers is his broad skillset. Glossing over his kick from hand against Italy(!) it’s his passing and decision-making that are real points of difference.

Across this season’s Six Nations he has been the dominant figure in England’s pack. From just 12% of the minutes played by English forwards Vunipola junior has made 26% of the carries and 31% of the passes. It’s that distribution Scotland will need to be wary of. Focus too many resources on bringing Billy down and he’ll take the opportunity to move the point of contact so his teammates can find the spaces that have been left.

Miscellaneous

  • After four rounds England have conceded the fewest penalties in the tournament (24). Scotland have conceded the most (39).
  • They have kicked more than any other team in the championship, averaging 34 per game.
  • All that kicking and lack of possession have left the English needing to make 892 tackles – 118 more than anyone else in the Six Nations.

Previous results

This will be the 10th time the two sides have met in London for a Six Nations’ match. The head to head looks like this from Scotland’s perspective:

L L L L L L L L L

The most recent meeting at Twickenham (honestly – don’t press play on the ‘highlights’ below. It’s just not worth putting yourself through it):

England 61 – 21 Scotland

Significant stat
I had a look. There are no positives in the numbers. Let’s move on.

Cammy’s infamous 0 player ratings from that game are here.

Officials

Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant Referee 1: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant Referee 2: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

With only two previous Scotland games behind him it’s hard to infer too much from Mr. Williams’ refereeing tendencies. A typical Kiwi official would be good from a Scottish persepective. The dark blues have won the penalty count in 5 of their last 7 matches with NZ refs (and probably more importantly they’ve earned 6 victories out of 7 from those fixtures!)

As has been common in this season’s Six Nations one of the new generation of officials (Mr. Williams) is being assisted by one of the veterans (M. Garces). With one eye on the post-RWC period Scotland need to be getting used to seeing a lot more of the likes of Mr. Williams and fellow Six Nations’ debutants Luke Pearce and Nic Berry. The era of Nigel Owens, Wayne Barnes and their ilk looks like it is drawing to a close.

Scotland’s previous games with Mr. Williams in charge:

  • 2017 – beat Italy (N)
    Penalties: 26 (For 17 – 9 Against)
    Cards: 2 YCs for Italy
  • 2018 – beat Argentina (H)
    Penalties: 17 (For 7 – 10 Against)
    Cards: none

Part II of the preview, including the head to heads, will follow on Friday after the team announcement on Thursday.

Tags:

When he's not watching Glasgow, Scotland (and even Edinburgh) Kevin can usually be found with his head in a spreadsheet working out the most obscure Scottish rugby related stat he can put out on Twitter.
Follow Kevin on twitter @topofthemoonGW

57 comments on “England v Scotland, Six Nations 2019: Match Preview pt I

  1. Not rocket science on

    Worryingly the team from two years ago looks much stronger than the team from last week.

    • Johnny b on

      The team from 2 years ago went down there with expectation ringing in their ears.
      Expectation is to Scottish sport teams what a raft of injuries and a dose of norovirus is to others!!!

      • Big Al on

        Shows how much of our problems are mental rather than physical or technical. Although we obviously do have a raft of injuries for mitigation this time.

  2. Scotty on

    It will be interesting to see if the go Tuilagi/Slade or Teo/Tuiliagi in the centre. Personally I would prefer the latter as I think it is slightly easier to defend against structure wise. Looking at the highlights last year, they had a lot of creativity with Ford and Farrell and really exploited our defensive systems. Hopefully they go for more of a crash bang technique and that we can bring some serious physicality to match that.

    I know that this crash bang team just beat Italy by a similar margin, but a good 4 of their tries came from atrociously weak first up tackles from Italy.

    If we are physical in D, make our hits and Watson/Ritchie manage to slow their ball down we have a (very small) chance. If we let them walk over us we are snookered and it could be a cricket score.

  3. Big Al on

    I think one of the key things for this weekend is our discipline. If everyone keeps their head and we avoid cards we have a much better chance of staying in the game. Key to that is listening to the referee. I do think a NZ ref is an advantage for us and how we like to play.

    I fear England have sorted out their rucking from last year and what was our strength then might be a relative weakness now.

  4. Alanyst on

    England write up sounds just like Warrenball…possession is a pretty misleading stat at times.

    Hopefully we are able to avoid the trap of running it from bad positions, but also needing to avoid kick tennis, a game we will likely lose with a patched up backline.

    I think if we can more or less hold our own on the “systematic” parts of the game, we still have enough talent there to maybe snatch it with a moment or two of brilliance.

    If their systems beat ours comprehensively, no brilliance is bringing that back.

    • Big Al on

      I fully expect England to adopt their tactics from 2 years ago and attack our midfield at pace off first phase ball. I actually think that game was the beginning of the end for Dunbar when Joseph found a big open gate between him and Jones. If our centres get the defense wrong again we’re doomed!

      • pragmatic optomist on

        Agree with you Al. The centre pairing of Dunbar/Jones was one of the primary reasons for our collapse last time. They were like rabbits stuck in the headlights when England threw in some dummy runners. They’ll try and do exactly the same this time round.

  5. Referendum on

    Not much positive in that article to hang onto Kevin. I was enticed in by the tag line. But I suppose writers don’t right their own headlines so I’ll blame someone else 😉.

    We’re bound to win as we have a 100% with this ref and we have no expectation so there’s almost no point turning up really.

    Anyway why oh why is home advantage so important in sport? Or why is it emphasised so much. Is it psychological or familiarity with surroundings or even pitch dimensions?

    It is not used as an excuse for sport teams these days but media and pundits certainly big it up. I think it has to be put out of mind or overcome if it’s an issue. Anyone with superstition and the like are all on to a loser when it doesn’t work out same with belief in home advantage or away being a disadvantage more importantly. Anything that makes it harder to win is pointless.

    Scotland are already behind the eight ball with form, results and we’ve not won there since just before I was born. This has to be forgotten and have a full 65 minute performance and we’ll be home and hosed and I can dance round the line out statue outside the marriot with the joy unbound of a child running into the summer holidays.

    I’m not very hopeful but a fool’s hope. I’ll take a crushing blow in the last ten to lose by a few points. I won’t enjoy it but I’ll take it.

    • Not rocket science on

      It’s an undeniable factor rewarded across sport in major leagues and tournaments nd priced in by bookmakers. Whatever it is it’s undeniably real.

      • Alanyst on

        3 factors I think:

        Fatigue from travel etc- not a very big factor in 6N

        Cognitive load of unfamiliar surroundings – i.e. at home you just “know” where things are and how things work. Away you need to think a few % more, meaning an error is more likely.

        This I think is a substantial factor, especially for our less experienced backs who will need to defend in space and kick.

        Finally, the psychology and emotion of the fixture is in this case huge. We can hopefully just slot into game-day mode and play.

  6. DC on

    Doom mongering aside it will be really interesting to see what sort of performance GT can conjure from whomever comes out the injury tilted tombola. Can he come up with something smart to frustrate the English and somehow keep us in the game long enough to make them doubt themselves. Great coaches should be able to level the playing field in a team sport (although rugby seems harder than some). Interesting to hear JBarclay on the SRU podcast bemoaning the intangible gap that exists between the welsh players(that he rates and has played a lot with) and the scots that he knows just as well. He said there is no difference other than they know a way to win. Maybe WG isn’t just a wind up merchant but a brilliant coach that is a level above ours? England by 20 if we play well.

    • Rj on

      We had a great coach who instilled that mindset in our players and was progressing the side nicely….then we decided to terminate his contract!!

      • Stu2 on

        And 24 months ago that great coach was in charge of a Scotland side that shipped 61pts at Twickenham.

      • Campbell B on

        Stu 2 : Unfair , Cotter took Scotland to a QF in the RWC. In May 2017, Cotter left his position at Scotland with a 53% win rate (19 wins from 36 games) the most successful coach of the professional era and the most successful since Ian McGeechan between 1988 and 1993. Townsend could better Cotter if he were to leave now, not by much and Saturday awaits.

      • FF on

        To be fair Campbell, Cotter got to a RWC QF without beating anyone ranked above us.

        We had a fine tournament but scraped last Samoa before our glorious defeat to Australia. It was a success because our expectations were rock bottom. Objectively, it was about par.

      • Neil on

        And extremely unlucky to miss out on a semi-final, took over alot of baggage from the previous coach also & had to instill an identity/culture into the team.

        I do fear we are slowly losing something that Cotter had instilled into the team although i cant quite put my finger on it, the performances are far more varied from outstanding performances against the All blacks & England … to a first ever loss to the USA which was shocking. I think he has inherited a team which was far more settled and developed but is turning that upsidedown.

      • Campbell B on

        I do not thnk rgat is ;fair’ FF, you may be fogging some key points.

        Cotter took the side to the RWC on the back of a wooden spoon 6N in 2015. Cotter got 2 wins in the 2016 6N and three in 2017. Townsend got three in 2018 and is likely to get no more than 2 in 2019. (being optomistic)

        Neil is correct , Cotter inherited problems , built up to 3 , 6N wins on 2017. which Toonie matched in 2018 . We showed progression with Cotter. At best Toonie can match Cotters 2016, 6N by beating England this weekend.

        Cotter was ill equiped for the role , his roots are in New Zealand , he had a few coaching roles in France but lets not hold that against him, he took us right uphill without ever having pulled on a pair of boots in the scottish borders.

        Under Toonie we have won and lost to a few sides below us in the world ranking including Fiji and the USA ( for the first time ever)

      • FF on

        Regardless of whether we were wooden spoon holders at the time, we beat Japan, USA and Samoa. We did what was expected of us and no more.

        Cotter was also responsible for that grin loss to Italy in 2015, and the utter pumping in Twickenham. His record isn’t unblemished.

        We are suffering a blip at the moment abetted by a horrific injury crisis. But it is too soon to write off Toonie. When Japan knock us out of the World Cup is the time to do that!

      • Campbell B on

        FF: I never said we should get rid of Townsend. Even if we wanted to that is no option, we terminated Cotters contract for Townsend , so he must be a better man!!

        However in his three years Cotter built us UP to three wins in 2017 and Townsend matched that in the 2018 6N. Tick in box Townsend, he inherited Cotters side in the same manner Cotter inherited the 2015 wooden spooners.

        We were not in an Injury crisis when we lost to USA and Fiji. The blemishes in Cotter’s record can not be rubbed out.

        The key point is this , Townsend has only had 20 games in charge , Cotter had 36 to spread his blemishes.

      • FF on

        Cotter was the coach in 2015 6N. They weren’t wooden spoon holders when he took over.

        And whilst Scotland were still struggling to be competitive, Cotter inherited a squad chock full of players from the pro12 winning Glasgow squad, coaches by Townsend.

        I rate Cotter and wasn’t convinced it was right to replace him. But I’m not convinced he is a Gatland/Schmidt style super coach who transformed Scotland himself. He certainly was the best coach we’d had in about 25 years though!

      • Campbell B on

        FF: Agree the 2015 spoon was Cotter’s to shoulder and that was on the squad he inheritted which as you point out was mainly Glasgow pro12 winners, Toonies team. Cotter moved them on and up taking them from spoon to 3 wins in 2017.

        I have always had reservations on the replacement of Cotter, when you finally land a coach of Cotter’s pedigree, you have kudos . We should have replaced with a similar or better reputation to embed and build the squad and get some positive results on which to train minds and re-enforce the SRU are to be taken seriously.

        Right now , all England are doing in among tactical chalk talk, is playing tapes of all their fantastic wins over sides but mainly over Scotland to get the hearts and minds in shape.

        That makes the wound all the deeper when the scots turn them over as we know from interviews with former players. However small consolation for a proud nation that so want to excell in Rugby Union.

        Lets see what this weekend brings.

    • Johnny b on

      Warren Gatland is a brilliant coach. Think of pre-Gatland 2007 era Wales, they won a slam in 05 had players like Henson and Hook but were whitewashed in 07 and knocked out of RWC by Fiji in the 1st round. They were not unlike us now, ie bit of talent but heads would go down fast in adversity, underpowered and flaky.
      I think Townsend will be a great coach. I think ideally he’d have someone like Gatland to consult in a kind of Geech-Telfer double act, but I think he’ll get there even without that, it’ll just happen slower.
      All that’s happened is that last year the tombola and fast game was so novel that it caught others by surprise but this season, aided by our horrific injury list, they’ve worked out simple expedients such as slowing our ball.
      Townsend just needs to think how to make it all more sustainable, probably with a bit more forward grunt. That can be coached to some extent and we’ve got a couple injured who’ll help.
      We’ll get there.

  7. RuggersB on

    Good thing about sport is …you just never know 100% what the exact outcome will be(unless you are an australian cricketer with a fondness for messing with pre match balls)
    Despite even ridiculous stats in favor of England….and the fact we are without a large chunk of what we all consider our best players…and the fact we are away from home….im pretty sure we all have this glimmer of hope combined with a wee bit of brain food that knows that England are not perfect…they have their flaws…a good and not brilliant Wales team ..beat them well..fair and square.
    We have a glimmer of a chance….its just so small, that glimmer, that my diminishing eyesight is struggling to see it…
    It would be soo Scottish…and soo very sweet….to actually take it to them and win…after one of the most disappointing 6N Ive watched from us.

      • Frozen North on

        I don’t know… look at the signs; heavy defeat forecast, Scotland written off with a poor under achieving side, England with a chance of championship victory… Are the conditions not just ripe for an unbelievable upset? Im thinking the signs are there.

      • Referendum on

        At least we know we can beat this side now. Before last year however good they actually were they felt invincible and results were proving that to be true. Arguably they are more impressive now even though results aren’t always showing that. England deserve to win this championship based on play. I really hope they don’t. Injuries on the day and yellows are the currency we need to avoid.

  8. Tam on

    Be surprised my friends we’ll see a totally different team performance where the game plan finally clicks this Saturday # in Townsend we trust!!

    • RuggersB on

      …Ill trust GT when he and his team start selecting a team comprising of natural ability and current form…….and not selecting his ‘favorites’ based on errr…being his favorites.
      …has his team adapting their tactics as the match requires. Rather than ‘…well this chaos rugby isn working ..what do we do now?’
      …when we have proper defensive structure that actually prevents the opposition from scoring tries.
      …and finally when we start winning games that are clearly winnable regardless of the oppositions world ranking.

      • Alanyst on

        Seriously should consider getting in Schmidt, Gatland, Hansen post RWC as a short term consultant and advisor. Doesn’t mean we go ‘their way’, but current coaching team seems lost when it comes to building a reliable structure.

        And if a professional can’t work within a given structure? Hsppy travels! Not international standard, however talented, unless you can do the job the team needs.

        If possible, a similar MO should be instituted at Edinburgh & Glasgow too.

      • Rory Baldwin on

        I’d argue Edinburgh already have it. Cockerill is one of the most experienced club coaches out there. He’s not been shy to ditch the names that don’t fit his structure/ethos either.

  9. Johnny b on

    For Townsend’s gameplan to click we just need forwards we’re confident can retain the ball for 30 phases.
    So we don’t have to go too early when it’s not on.
    It’s a small ask.

      • Johnny b on

        Think we’re at crossed purposes.
        We might get fast ball from the off but if not then game break up becomes more likely if opponents tired out over multiple phases.
        Scotland have been forcing the game against reset defences with slow ball.

  10. Busy Little Bee on

    Too many flappers on here. Apart from France away (injuries at their worst) – and I predicted a decisive loss there – all the performances have been fine, even with all the injuries. The team isn’t going backwards, that’s nonsense. The rub of the green and yes a bit of accuracy in the red zone have seen us lose a couple that could just have easily been wins just like 2 years ago. If the rumours is Gray/Strauss/Horne out and SamJohnson/Skinner/Toolis in are true then that’s all good. I think we will do much better than most on here think even though actually winning is a huge ask.

    We’re in about the same shape as we were 2 years ago (apart from no Hogg) going to Twickers, but you wouldn’t know it on here with many posters swinging from wild optimism to doom and gloom based on the results of a handful of close matches. Silly.

    • Bpm on

      I would have to say that we are going backwards, our form has been poor . Including the autumn tests we’ve played 8 and won only 3, that will be played nine won 3 on Saturday. We had appeared to start to know how to win tight games but that’s now a thing of the past. It’s also inexcusable that we have not had an 80 minute performance, this is there day job so no excuses.

      • Busy Little Bee on

        Exactly the kind of comment I was referring to, flapping. You are making the mistake of looking at a handful of bare results and nothing else, passing it off as ‘form’.

        We actually had just as much of the game against Wales and Ireland as we did 2 years ago when we beat both, and that’s with all the injuries. Look at the key metrics in those matches. we overachieved in converting our good positions to points 2 years ago and are underachieving on that recently, it’s a natural evening out. We were clear underdogs in the betting in all of these home matches v Wales and Ireland plus away in France. So the real issue with the flappers on here is that they have unrealistic expectations.
        Our players our good, our team is good and they care. Fact is we’re still clearly inferior to the other home nations despite the improvements.

      • Merlot on

        Thanks Busy Little Bee. Wish I’d read that before I wrote almost exactly the same thing (below).
        Some fans think we should be beating everyone, and it’s the coaches’ fault (or one or two senior players).
        I’m not saying we couldn’t, or shouldn’t, if we have our first choice squad available and for a run of 10 games so everyone knows each other and builds that squad mentality. Bit like Ireland and Wales, or even England.

  11. ClanFan on

    Have said it before but the issue is arms, hair and beards.

    Get Gilchrist and Gray pumping iron until their biceps are bulging like Etzebeth or Kruis, shave the sides of their heads and ditch the red scrum cap. And grown some beards.

    And hey presto a pair of second row enforcers. No reason others in the pack can’t do the same and take it to the next level. McInally for one, Dell already has the arms as does Bradbury.

  12. Neil on

    I reckon we will have a pack that can go toe to toe with England if what im hearing turns out to be true.

    Dell, Mcinally & any of the 3 tightheads offer more than Sinkler, rest of there front row.
    Gilchrist has been quietly excellent this six nations & could be packing down with Toolis which will do wonders for lineout/setting up driving maul attacks.
    Apparently Skinner is at 8, not sure what to make of that.
    Watson is ranked 6th for most defenders beaten this Six Nations with 10… & only played 20 odd minutes, has to start.
    Ritchie/Bradbury at 6 take your pick both are fantastic.

    sets up a fascinating battle up front.

    Lets hope that backs can click… in Price, Russell, Graham, Johnson we have some fantastic in form players.

  13. Merlot on

    There’s a bit too much emphasis on the losses here.
    Against Ireland we should have won. POM’s tackle on Hogg was a game changer. We should have had a kickable penalty and a yellow card. Instead we let in a soft try, partially because our full-back wasn’t there. That’s a 10 point swing, even if you ignore the fact we would have been a man up for 10 minutes of the first half.
    The French were always going to turn up for one match. It just happens it was against us when we were at our worst. Too many errors but France played sooo much better than then first two games.
    Against Wales we were a pass away from winning the game. Unfortunately our WHOLE back 3 had been replaced and we couldn’t find the cutting edge that that would have brought.
    In each of those games we were the underdogs, according to World Rankings. That is, it would have been an upset if we’d won (even France, as they were at home).
    That’s ignoring the injury crisis, with at least 10 first choice (squad) players and another 10 possibles out at any one time.
    So blame Townsend if you like, but that is harsh and (mostly) unfair. He’s generally selected the best he has available. Too many people here think lighting up the Pro14 for 2 or 3 games in a row means they should be playing international rugby. OK if you’ve got a settled side and can blood a couple of youngsters at a time, but playing a raft of single-figured caps in the six nations is bonkers.
    Unfortunately, against England, at Twickenham, Toonie doesn’t have much choice.

      • Bazz on

        Actually think this is a fair comment. Kearney’s blatant shoulder charge on Seymour (who was in a try scoring position) and POM cheap shot on Hogg both went unpunished and were both game changing results in a massive way. Wales was very tight despite our injuries before and during the game and Wales were very fortunate not to get a yellow as our tactic was to build the pressure in their 22. 5 Penalties in their 22 and not one yellow? A joke really.

        Regardless its been a pretty disappointing 6N. But no results were shocking bar the game vs France.

        Townsend may become a disappointment but it’ll take further assessment to reach that conclusion.

      • Alanyst on

        Sooo I guess the lesson is that if cheap game-winning cheating is permitted then why aren’t we doing it more?

        One thing other teams seem to do is they use the “man and ball” tackle (which we don’t use as much), and this permits the tackler to spin and fall on the ground on the wrong side as part of the “natural motion” of the tackle…Then there are several seconds of “I’m trying to get out sir” wriggling, before they roll “out of the way” just as the 9 arrives, making sure to trip him up too. Hence the ball is slowed, no penalty is given and you’re back in the line after a rest.

        In a conventional waist/leg tackle, this is barely possible, as by default you end up either on your own side (e.g. front-on tackle), or at the side of the ruck (side-on tackle), and any attempt to interfere with the ball involves moving INTO the ruck, an obvious call…

        I hate “choke” tackles, dull, negative and more dangerous to boot, but with current laws and officiating of those laws, why would you not?

    • Referendum on

      Merlot/BLB make excellent points. We are in general losing games we should be winning where two years ago and even France last year winning games we should have lost. We gave away two silly soft tries against France last year before we got started and even Wales in 2017. We did deserve the Wales win in 2017 but Ireland was very fortunate. Wales and Ireland this year were both dominated by Scotland for long periods. Even the France game when we weren’t flapping around against turnover ball or badly chased but in and of themselves very good kicks we were dominant and made good ground. In those areas it was the final pass which was a huge issue years ago. Even south Africa was a match we could have won. It was an even contest for long periods.

      I’m not one for looking to future too much and there was the look at the depth we’ll have in 2019 after 2015 world cup. It hasn’t turned out that way due to long term injuries and form for some and some having to retire due to injury.

      But we do clearly now have much more depth. Even two years ago we’d have caved in completely with over 20 injuries. Now yes we have quite a few in and around squad with under 10 caps some are projects so actually much more long in the tooth that caps show. However a fully fit form squad we have a few with 50 or more:

      Hogg – 68
      Laidlaw -70
      Barclay – 71
      Gray -62
      Gray – 50
      Seymour – 50

    • Referendum on

      Then we have a good number between 30 and 40

      Finn Russell -43
      Ryan Wilson – 41
      Fraser Brown -41
      Peter Horne – 41
      Sean Maitland -39
      Grant Gilchrist – 32
      Gordon Reid – 33

      Then we have many in the 20s who are now established and some in the teen’s who aren’t green anymore

      WP Nel – 28
      Alan Dell – 20
      Stuart McNally -28
      Hamish Watson – 24
      Josh Strauss – 21
      Ali Price – 23
      Zander Fagerson – 19
      Ben Toolis -17

      Even Jamie’s Ritchie and Bhatti now have 10 and 13. This is not to mention long term outs in Bennet, Dunbar, Scott, Taylor, etc who all boast 30 plus caps if think if they can recover form.

      we have countless very promising under 10 caps so we are in a decent place for this world cup and will be in amazing place due to somewhat this huge injury list now by 2023. Great exposure for the future

      • Referendum on

        Stu 2. I got these from Wikipedia some from squad some from individual pages. Some aren’t complete. If they are slightly out then I apologise took ages tooing and frowing on my phone to get this complied. It was meant to show overall picture rather exact accuracy. At least someone read it though…😉

  14. Neil on

    England team announced.

    Very strong 2nd row/backrow and backline.

    Weaknesses look to be a relatively inexperienced front row & a bang average bench.

    • Scotty on

      Disappointed they went for Slade, would have preferred Teo as I think we could have nullified that threat and potentially done some damage against them but Slade is a smart player who can create holes.

      I’d argue against the bench being bang average; solid and powerful forwards to come on and some backs that can change a game.

      Still, I think (hope) this is the game that Scotland get up for and find their mojo. A bit of parity in the forwards and around the breakdown and we have half a chance.

      • Neil on

        Think Eddie has spotted something in behind & the spacing between out midfield/wings since he has went for Slade, i agree teo would have been far more preferable, Johnson/Grigg/Mcguigan will have to be on there game if its those 3 selected.

      • Scotty on

        Yeah I would agree with you there Neil, I hope that they have watched the England France game closely and seen how England pulled the Frenchies pants down with their tactical kicking. Our back three of Graham, Maitland and McGuigan should be savvy enough to be in the right places, especially with the experienced Maitland calling the shots from the back

      • Referendum on

        I worry about Mcguigan. He took a long time and some terrible errors before coming decent by the end on Saturday. He’s still to convince me I’m afraid. Other two are fine.

        Eddie has missed a trick with Joe. Other players are classy and may break us up over time and even embarrass us but Joe I felt is exactly the player you play against Scotland. We with these injuries wouldn’t have coped and had we not game was over within 20 mins. We’ve got to keep in this early. Get a pen on the board lose max one try in first quarter and defend L ineouts solidly from midfield and no yellows at all but especially for over enthusiastic tackles.

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