Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Weekend Roundup

Richie Gray on the charge for Scotland - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Richie Gray on the charge for Scotland - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

We’re a bit light on the news front this weekend with the pro-teams out of European action, although there is plenty going on around the country in the club game.

Ruaridh Jackson has signed a contract extension at Glasgow, while Edinburgh have snapped up FOSROC Academy lock Jamie Hodgson for his first pro contract.

Scotland Women announced they will play two Autumn tests away from home for the first time with a mini-tour to South Africa – ranked one place above them globally. It should be a great development experience for them and one which will hopefully pay dividends come next year’s Six Nations.

Good luck to the Scots left in Euro action: Sean Maitland (Saracens) and Richie Gray (Toulouse) are the two to keep an eye on in the top competition. Greig Laidlaw (Clermont bench) and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (starts for Quins) will go head to head in the Challenge Cup again – arguably Sam hasn’t been the same since the last time they met…

If you’re interested, reader and commenter Sam has sent us over his Depth Chart for the whole of Scottish Rugby (PDF) including the pro teams. Feel free to debate, correct etc. Thanks Sam!

Enjoy the Easter break, if you’re getting one…

49 Responses

  1. No worries! :)

    One error there: Ruaridh McConnochie isn’t Scotland eligible (England Sevens); best to imagine the rest of the row on the other side of his name shunted along one, with Sam Yawayawa on the end in light pink.

  2. A bit off piste here, but a rummage around on the Stade Tolousian web site revealed this interview with Richie Gray being interviewed in French.

    Well he’s been there a few years now so he should speak a bit now, but quite impressive nevertheless. Not fluent, but much better than schoolboy French.
    Stay well big man we need you for the world cup and cannot wait to see Finn Russell in “Parliamo Ecossais” on the Racing website:)

  3. Depth chart looks superb! A few small changes I’d make are:

    Owlett at Wasps is a tighthead, perhaps he’d drop in where Stanley is with Grahamslaw who is a real prospect along moving into the loosehead ranks.

    I’d also move Gloucester’s Alex Craig who was flirting with the first team before injury into the second row which would allow Erskine to knock McPherson out of the blindside options.

    Cammy Hutchison has been with Nice and would get in at outside centre.

  4. Thought Hildago Clyne looked decent for Quins. If he’s out of contract maybe Edinburgh could look at taking him back on the cheap – better than another SH journeyman. On that subject how about Edinburgh picking up Dunbar; if he’s healthy he’s probably better than what they have.

  5. I see the Daily Heil has announced that Gatland will return as Lions coach… there’s some ‘good’ news to finish off the weekend…

      1. Ireland, England and Wales have all won recent grand slams so unless we get a RWC SF or win the 2020 or 2021 6N we won’t expect more than 3 or 4 guys on the plane at most. Hogg, maybe Russell, McInally, Watson. Price could sneak in a weak SH field.

        At this stage I can’t see anyone else being seriously considered.

      2. Gatland should know more than anyone else that coaching is the most important aspect of a GS. Just look at how those GS-winning players perform at club level.

        If Gatland’s Lions coach again then I suspect the Lions will become irrelevant in the eyes of Scottish rugby fans: he makes it an exercise in cronyism. What kind of idiot would leave the likes of Hamish Watson out? He’s been consistently the best 7 in the NH – and probably the world – for the last three years or so. I strongly hope it’s just rumours.

      3. Until we start winning meaningful games against big teams no one will consider our players for the Lions other than us! Wales this year, should have won, didn’t. France this year, should have won, didn’t. Ireland this year, could have won, didn’t. England this year shouldn’t have gone 31-0 down, did, had no right to come back to take the lead, did, should have then won, didn’t. And yes we can moan about player selections (v France) or tactics (v Wales) but we had enough good players on the pitch for both those games to win them and the players didn’t do it which is why they won’t be considered for the Lions.

      4. This would be my Lions 23 for the Tests.

        Hogg; L Williams, Jo. Davies, Farrell, May; Russell, Murray; M Vunipola, George, Furlong; Itoje, Ryan; O’Mahony, Watson; B Vunipola

        (McInally, Healy, Sinckler, Lawes, Faletau, G Davies, Parkes, Daly)

        I’m assuming Sexton and AWJ will retire before the next Lions tour.

        My squad in full, in order of choice:

        George, McInally, Owens, N Scannell
        M Vunipola, Healy, R Evans
        Furlong, Sinckler, H Williams
        Itoje, Lawes,
        Ryan, J Gray, Kruis
        O’Mahony, Jenkins
        Watson, Tipuric, Underhill
        Faletau, B Vunipola
        Murray, G Davies, Price
        Russell, Carbery
        May, Stockdale
        Farrell, Parkes, Aki
        Jo. Davies, Slade
        L Williams, North
        Hogg, Daly,

      5. Vunipola, Mcinally, Furlong
        Ryan, Itoje
        Bradbury, Watson, Vunipola
        Horne, Russell
        Henshaw, Davies
        Graham, Stockdale, Hogg

        Evans, George, Fagerson
        Beard, Underhill, Youngs, Farrell, Williams

      6. James, I think you’re right, but it’s a dumb thing to do. And it’s worth bearing in mind that in the last two Lions years we’ve finished above Ireland and Wales respectively yet had sod all representation. Gatland picks players from failing club sides for Wales, so clearly he can see beyond team performances… he just rates journeymen like Payne and Moriarty and Haskell more than good players.

        It’s a bit sad that according to the teams posted we don’t rate our players, either… Sinckler and Williams over Fagerson, Berghan or Nel? Lawes over Richie Gray or Gilcho? Jenkins over Barclay or Bradbury? Davies over wee Horne? Parkes and Aki over Johnson? Slade over Jones? North over Graham? We’ve got some great players, they just need better coaching.

      7. Cam, I’d agree that I’d put Hornito over Davies, Johnson over Aki (without a doubt), Richie over Lawes, Berghan over H Williams, and Barclay over Jenkins – but Gatland won’t. He’s an idiot because of it.

      8. Gatland’s position is clear on Scottish players – win more games and away games in particular and you will have a better chance of being on the plane. At least he seems to have some rationale. It isn’t one I agree with but it is his stated position.

        By 2021 I would hope that guys like McInally, Russell and Hogg would be nailed on lions starters. Let’s also hope that J Gray, Zander, Bradbury, Sam J, D Graham are also in the picture. Watson I fear is not a Gatland 7. Carrying is fine but does he slow ball down like a Warburton? I don’t think so.

        I would swap a big lions contingent for a World Cup to cherish and a huge 6N. Oh wait, if that happens then lions selection follows.

        World Cup is no excuses territory for Townsend and the players: most are fit and will have had game time. Beat Ireland and who knows. First World Cup where I think the top 8-10 sides in the world could all beat each other on their day. Makes us a dangerous outsider.

      9. FF whats his record against Aus/SA/NZ for wales ? i reckon its not very good.

        He is a great six nations coach so credit there but i dont think he is a good as can be claimed.

        And the reason the lions got the results against the odds was because they got very lucky with lack of injuries on there side + a host of injuries for the ABs + a red card 10-20 minutes into 2nd test.

    1. If anyone thinks Gatland will take Russell over Anscombe and Bigger / Farrell they are naive (sadly). He will always go for player he is familiar with.

    2. Honestly I dont think Gatlands lions record is very impressive when you look past the cover.

      He secured a 2-1 victory over Australia but it was a poor Aussie side. Gatland had 3 countries capable of beating them comfortably + his welsh side & it still went down to the wire bar the 3rd test.

      And a draw against a ridiculously injured All Blacks side in transition & lets be honest if it was not for SBW’s moment of madness the ABS would of won that 2nd test.

      So that.. + losses to a number of club sides, was excusable in previous tours but should it really be happening in the professional era ?

      On top of that i think alot of people (mainly scottish) fell out of love with the lions, i remember the SA tour & enjoyed the brand played despite the loss it was far more memorable.

      I dont want to see 4 of the best countries in the world combine together to just play Gatlandball for 10 weeks… its boring Af.

      So all that above + his Bias selections means he should not be allowed near the coaching role again.

      1. Neil – no one gave the Lions any chance against NZ and a draw was a phenomenal result. The Lions win in Eden park was NZs first loss there since Frances in the 90s. I dislike Gatland and no longer follow the Lions since the last tour, but there is no getting round the fact that his record with Wales and Lions stands up to any coach in the world.

        Hopefully he’ll invite Gregor again and we can send some players off the back of good World Cup and 6N showings. If not I think we can feel aggrieved as we do have a clutch of very good players. But arguing white is black and Gatland isn’t one if the most successful coaches in the pro era is pointless.

      2. I just looked up some stats for Gatlands record against the big 3:

        While coaching Ireland
        Aus – 0 – 3 = 0%
        SA – 0 – 4 = 0%
        Nz – 0 – 1 = 0 %
        With wales
        Aus – 2 – 9 = 18.2 %
        SA – 4 – 10 = 28.6 %
        Nz – 0 – 11 = 0 %

        I think that says it all.

      3. You think that says it all? Rather than he has won 4 6N championships, 3 grand slams, led Wales to a RWC semi-final, Wasps to 3 Premiership titles and a Heineken Cup and Waikato to an Air New Zealand Cup. As well as winning a Likns tour to Australia and drawing in NZ.

        If you look at that record and doubt his coaching pedigree you can’t really be taken seriously.

      4. It says a hell of alot towards his tactics against SH opposition which is the essence of the lions, he does not learn from his mistakes.

        I give him full credit as probaly the best coach in the world if your playing a dull NH team style of play, but lets be honest even if you add the lions wins he has to that record its pretty damning.

      5. So you think Gatland’s Wales record against the SH should count against him coaching the Lions, even though he has actually coached the Lions very successfully twice before? That is tortured logic.

        Gatland is a safe pair of hands for the Lions committee and is standout first choice. Woodward coached the Lions as a World Cup winning coach and made a total pigs ear out of it. Gatland served an apprenticeship under Mr Lions McGeechan in SA, has delivered two successful tours, knows the Lions DNA and commands respect from players. There is simply no other coach in world rugby who will more reliably turn out a competitive Lions team.

        Shame he’s a d*** and doesn’t rate our players, but there you go. We either become better or we sit another tour out. That’s professional rugby.

      6. We beat Ireland & Wales convincingly the year of 2017 & still he overlooked us, does not matter how good we get.

        & ofc his record against SH opposition should be a big factor why on earth would it not be ?

        & the fact he scraped past a weak Aussie side & could not get a tour victory over NZ says alot when you consider he has 4 countries that were all playing very well at the time.

  6. Love the depth (or lack of depth) chart …missing but still I hope will make it big are Harvey Skinner (Sam’s little bro) who seams to be making good progress as Exeter’s 3rd choice fly half and with Steenson now 35 and playing less games – Harvey will hopefully get a lot more game time next year. Exeter now becoming a Scotland fans favourite with Sam & Harvey Skinner, Hogg, Atkins, Young and Low. Also Conor Eastgate now signed an extension at Plymouth is still young and might bounce back to a premiership club after leaving Wasps for game time and of course young Redpath who I am sure will end up turning to Scotland.

    1. I thought it had been confirmed Harvey Skinner was no relation?

      Pleased if I’m wrong mind.

    2. Think it is the most depth we have ever had (and good work Sam for putting together!)

  7. Watched R.Gray playing for Toulouse this afternoon. I must say he didn’t strike me as any better than, or even as good as, Gilco or Toolis. Spends most of his time just standing around. Definitely not as good as Jonny.

    1. The Gray questioning on this blog is very irritating. Richie Gray plays for Toulouse who are top of the French league and were in the European cup semi final. When fit he is first choice lock.
      Ben Toolis is a decent pro. He doesn’t have the skills or ability of Richie Gray and therefore if both fit there is only one choice.

      Gilchrist doesn’t have the work rate of junior Gray.

      So, Gray/Gray versus Ireland and I think Toolis misses out on World Cup completely.

      The Edinburgh pack have proved themselves ‘flat track bullies’. The Scotland pack needs non Edinburgh forwards in their to compete. Personally I would start Fraser Brown as well as ZFag and both the Grays against Ireland.

      An all Edinburgh 8 for Scotland is folly and another grinding win over Glasgow next week is not a rubber stamp that they are the best collective 8 available. On this point I think Glasgow will demolish Edinburgh next week. The men from the East still go missing when the heat is on.

      1. It really doesn’t matter what team you play for, it matters how you play (think of Sergio Parisse). R. Gray will need to make a case during the WC warm-ups if he’s to get on the plane.

        In the forwards, we pick the best 8. If the best 8 happens to be Edinburgh than so be it.. their shortcomings are their backs and game-plan, not their forwards.

      2. If the Embra pack are flat track bullies then what does that say about the Weegie forwards you want to replace them with that have been schooled twice by them this season?

  8. Seriously, what is the point in speculating about the 2021 Lions touring party, including how many Scots will or won’t get in – this side of a World Cup and with two more Six Nations before the tour?

    My two interests for now are how things go for us in the warm up internationals and how much I want us to beat Ireland in our first RWC Test. That’ll do for the shorter term.

    1. Completely agree JohnMc. The disappointment of the last Lions selection is still fresh for me, and the fact we have a RWC just around the corner means we shouldn’t be speculating at this stage. Half the players mentioned will be injured, retired or out of contention by 2021.
      Beating Ireland in the first RWC test is not even short term. Short term is
      1. A great game on Saturday with Edinburgh squeaking it 5 tries to 4.
      2. Glasgow’s bonus points leaves them top of ConfA, and Edinburgh manage to squeeze into 3rd in ConfB.
      3. No more injuries.
      4. Duncan Taylor makes his come-back during the Summer warm-up tests. Although it doesn’t matter cos Bennett, Scott, Dunbar, Johnson, Horne etc are ON FIRE.
      5. Four out of four against Georgia and France.

  9. Was looking at the Pro14 stats for turnovers won and lost so far this season and was surprised given the options Edinburgh has in its back row plus hooker that it is so low down the stats. Maybe they are more focused on carrying and tackling than jackling. Leinster are pretty low too although I think that is more about them not giving you much ball to play with.

    Glasgow’s achilles this year seems to be that they are giving away too many turnovers, only Cheetas and Zebre are worse. Key to them finishing the season well will be minimizing turnovers and upping their tackle completion percentage.

    Club / Turnovers Won / Turnovers Lost:
    Zebre 91 301
    Leinster 92 231
    Edinburgh 99 243
    Dragons 102 254
    Scarlets 111 278
    S. Kings 112 280
    Munster 113 227
    Glasgow 117 282
    Cheetahs 118 320
    Benetton 119 239
    Connacht 135 253
    Ospreys 136 257
    Ulster 143 259
    Cardiff 169 221

    1. Sorry , something seems squirreley there , or am I missing somthing ? A turnover lost – is possession conceded = turnover won possession gained by the opposition , or is that wrong ? , surely then the totals of the turnovers won and lost should be equal ( if distributed differently ?)

      If not what in the definitions am I missing , willing to be educated

      # 13%priceriseinEnglandtictetscomeonsrugiveusabreak

      1. I think turnovers conceded includes
        – a successful jackal by the oppo
        – a successful rip by the oppo
        – Tackler held up
        – penalty for foul play in possession
        – knocking the ball on
        – forward pass
        – oppo secures a loose ball (that hasn’t gone forward)

        So that’s 7 ways to concede

        Turnovers won i think would include only
        – jackals
        – rips
        – holding up tackler
        – securing loose ball

  10. If you drop the ball and the opposition pick it up it’s a turnover lost! Whereas for a turnover won it’s either ripped, held up in a maul or jackled in a ruck!

  11. Thanks , would That however , not normally be a knock on ? Or surely by That definition , if losing it is a turnover lost , then picking it up is a turnover won

    The joys of effing statistics , I guess that’s why I’ m not a complete moneyball fan , sometimes there are things to be done that don’t get counted

  12. Another key reason why few Scots were selected for the last Lions tour was because there was nobody at the selection meeting table to push their case, especially for those tight marginal calls. Who from Gatland, Howler, Andy Farrell, Rowntree was ever going to stick up for the Scots. Yes offering Toonie the chance to assist Howler and be midweek attack coach was an insult but from what I gather Dodson was difficult to deal with in terms of releasing other coaches such as Jason O’Halloran.

    IMHO, it’s imperative that Scotland have representation amongst the coaches in 2021 and Toonie as head attack coach for the test 23 makes perfect sense to me both for the tour itself and potentially succession planning for life after Gatland. Rob Howler should be nowhere near a Lions tour after the likes of Sexton and Farrell ignored his tactics and instructions in the 3rd test against the AB’s in 2017 and decided to play to their strengths.

  13. Haven’t heard a squeak about which Scots are gonna get picked for this Lions tour…ominous. It’s gonna happen again isn’t it, Gatland will pick 1-2 only, to play in the dirt tracker team.

  14. What is the point of the Lions? It is an obsolete colonial relic perpetuated by the nostalgia of rugby’s “elders”. It is exclusive, unnecessary and belongs to a bygone age. Modern international rugby urgently needs reform.
    Scotland should have nothing to do with it.

    1. This reeks of someone who didn’t get an invite to a party and then retorts ‘I didn’t wanna go anyway. Parties are stupid’.

      The Lions can be great and it sucks we haven’t got enough representation in the last few tours. However I can see that changing if we play well in the next couple of years. It’s up to us.

      1. I agree with Bazz, we shouldn’t just chuck our toys out of the pram just because we haven’t been represented in the last few tours. I love the lions, watch every match of the tour and want it to continue long into the future. Any changes to the current set up which threatens the Lions (or the Barbarians!) is a no go in my view.

        I’m disappointed with the appointment of Gatland (which seems to be all but confirmed) but that might be from a selfish perspective, I’m sure he can do enough to win the tour but it’ll probably exclude some excellent Scottish players as he just doesn’t rate us. Hopefully our boys do enough in between now and then to prove themselves in his eyes and force their way onto the plane.

      2. Its impossible to do enough to be selected by Gatland, we have been under represented on both tours with some excellent players missing out for bang average welshmen & Englishmen.

        Gatland ruined the lions for me in all honesty, i dont see how any young Scottish fans will love the lions if the last 2 tours are there first experience.

        Imo no home nations coach should be selected to lead as it puts them in a situation to select there own players, it has to be someone neutral.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion