Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Georgia 10 – 44 Scotland

Let me say this at the start and then I won’t mention it again. No one likes a misery guts. Georgia aren’t very good.

Five minutes in and Scotland got their first ever points in  Tbilisi through the boot of Greig Laidlaw after Georgia were adjudged by referee Pascal Gauzere to be offside in front of their posts. Penalties 3 and 4 followed quickly as Scotland attacked at pace and Laidlaw doubled Scotlands early lead with another kick from an almost identical position.

Scotland’s first try of the night was only a couple of minutes later. A fine run in the midfield from Darcy Graham and the ball was recycled to Russell. He dummied and made a break taking out the Georgian defence. He passed to Fagerson who shipped it quickly to Laidlaw who gave it to Ben Toolis who scored under the posts. Laidlaw converted and Scotland were in the unfamiliar position of being 13-0 up after only 15 minutes.

Around 16 minutes a wonderful chip from the impressive Finn Russell found Hutchinson, who was making his starting debut and he took it forward before passing to Graham. The ball was recycled on the Georgian 5 metre line by Russell acting as scrum half. A couple of phases later the ball was back with Hutchinson who danced his way between 3 Georgian defenders to score a cracking team try. Once again Laidlaw knocked over the extras to make it Georgia 0 Scotland 20.

Georgia’s first attacking scrum followed shortly after the restart and they showed where their strengths by winning a penalty as Scotland collapsed it under pressure. They kicked to the corner from that penalt but Scotland’s defence repelled the almost inevitable maul that followed the line out and were eventually able to clear the ball downfield.

Scotland continued to dominate possession over the next 10 minutes without troubling the Georgian defence. Eventually Scotland gave up another scrum penalty under pressure from the hosts, who seemed content to win the scrum contest at the very least. This led to a bit of possession for them in Scotland’s half and a fairly long range penalty which full back Matiashvilli slotted to put them on the scoreboard. Georgia 3 Scotland 20.

A hugely satisfactory half of rugby that was dominated by Scotland in terms of territory, possession and points was rounded off by Greig Laidlaw kicking another easy penalty as the Lelos transgressed in front of their posts again. At half time the score was:

Georgia 3 Scotland 23

Georgia kicked off to start the second half but quickly found themselves back in their own half. Scotland secured the restart and when the ball was recycled Finn Russell, deep in his own 22 cheekily dribbled the ball through the onrushing Georgians, regathered the ball himself and then kicked long into Georgian territory.

Scotland came close again on the 45 minute mark following an intricate move off the back off an attacking lineout which eventually ended up with Darcy Graham being forced into touch only cm from the Georgian try line. They were playing with a penalty advantage though and with growing confidence opted to scrum.

Quick ball from the scrum found Rory Hutchinson via Russell and Kinghorn and the Northampton Saints man handed off one defender to score his second of the night which Laidlaw converted. Georgia 3 Scotland 30.

Sam Johnson then made way for Huw Jones and the Georgians made 6 substitutions. This reaped some benefit for the home side as eventually one of those subs, prop Karlen Ashieshvili forced his way over from short range. Abzhandadze kicked the conversion. Georgia 10 Scotland 30.

In the following minutes Scotland introduced Bhatti, Strauss, Price and Fagerson Snr and it only took a few seconds before the Zandbags were out.

On 62 minutes Finn Russell unleashed yet another sublimely weighted grubber kick that Darcy Graham chased through to score in the corner with only centimetres to spare. Russell followed that up with an equally impressive touch line conversion to extend Scotland’s lead. Georgia 10 Scotland 37.

The substitutions continued as Russell, McInally and Barclay were all replaced by Hastings, Stewart and Cummings respectively. The latter slotting in at Number 8.

Cummings opened his Scotland account a few minutes later as Scotland opted to take a quick tap from a penalty in front of the Georgians posts and the big second row forced his way over with a powerful short range run. Adam Hastings converted to make the score Georgia 10 Scotland 44.

And that’s it how it finished.

 Job done then. Morale boosting win. No Injuries and perhaps the last of the questions answered ahead of squad announcement on Tuesday.

I said I wouldn’t mention it again but sorry, it is worth repeating, Georgia aren’t a great side. They’ll probably be happy today to have scored a try and won a few scrum penalties but they’ve still a way to go to be serious opposition at this level.

It was a physical test however and Scotland fronted up to deal with that. They were also pretty clinical and everyone played a full part.

SRBlog man of The Match; Rory Hutchinson did everything he could to get a Japanese stamp on his passport but Finn Russell was outstanding and is the Scottish Rugby Blog man of the match. I heard George Chuter say on Brian Moore’s podcast this week that you can’t win the world cup with a maverick at stand-off but Scotland without Russell are like Thin Lizzy without Phil Lynott. They carried on but it just wasn’t the same.

136 Responses

  1. It will be really disappointing if Jones doesn’t go. We all know he can be world class on his day and in a quarter final having him on the field will cause the opposition a whole lot more stress than Harris. That being said based on these 3 games, he doesn’t make the cut along with Horne.

    Laidlaw is now first choice but George Horne needs to start next week. Got a lot of time for Price but not cutting it atm.

    1. Agree with all this. Shame that Jones’s form has dropped off so much. I really hope he gets it back.

      On another note, why are ESPN being so… substandard with our coverage? No stats last week and only match stats this week.

      1. Thanks Kevin, much appreciated! I was trying to do it via the ‘Scoreboard’, as I usually do, but ESPN weren’t having any of it!

    2. The last thing I’d want in a quarter final is Jones out of form. His defence isn’t great in good form. He’s got plenty of seasons left and we have real depth who are in form. Johnson’s great, Hutchinson looks made for it, I’ve never been as anti Harris as some but he’s the defensive centre we need at times and if fit, Taylor is better than all of them when on form. The only questions left in the selection for me is Bradbury and no one other than the team knows if he is close enough and training well enough to merit it.

      1. If we need a defensive centre then that implies we will need one against the better attacking sides. So that means Harris is out starting 13 – no thanks.

        Word of warning – Hutchison’s defence is poor too – in the English league he falls off tackles against better sides. Fantastic attacking centre though.

      2. I’ve seen plenty of Hutchison at club level. His defensive stats are deceptive, like Farrells where the defensive strategy is focussed on disrupting the oppositions play rather than flattering them. Having the option of a centre who brings so,etching different is no bad thing, everyone’s crying for a plan B. I’d start Harries over Jones if we played Ireland tomorow

    3. “Got a lot of time for Price but not cutting it atm.”

      Price was Glasgow’s best player last season. This season he has played 60 minutes behind a pack that was smashed badly in France and 25 minutes today at least half of which must have been scrum resets.

      1. Will he be behind a similar pack in the Tournament? I bet he will. I think Ally Price is still well below the standards we expected some years ago. I just skip over him when I see the team sheet these days. Not the best, not the worst, he is in danger of just making up the numbers .

  2. Loved seeing that midfield. Hutchinson looks a very good all round player and Finn now has maturity to go with all his talent. Kinghorn and Darcy Graham looked good. Choices look to be down to back row and the last centre Harris v Jones (assuming Taylor goes and Horne doesn’t).

    1. Hutchinson has the dual run/pass threat which should make space for Graham,Maitland and especially Hogg.

      1. Jones showed nothing today and nothing in previous games. Hutchinson has taken every chance he has had. He goes.

      2. A win was needed and achieved but we need to level our joy with perspective.Tonights game was another day at the office. Georgia are a side that narrowly beat the Southern Kings and it was, a truely, dull match in places.

        The game was a test for our forwards. Our backs out gunned Georgia well before the kick off. Huw Jones didnt get a lot of time on the pitch. If I am being objective , other than Russell , our regulars were all a bit average and it was the less experienced players that shone against, just adequate, opponents.

        The match was already won when Jones came on and he was as bland as his peers. He seems to thrive under pressure. I have no doubt that Townsend’s 31 will have the odd wild card.

    1. Happy to hear that. Hopefully he can find some form and be in the conversation for Scotland again come 6N.

      Bennett and Hoyland are also back starting and fit with an uninterrupted pre-season. Hoyland picked up MOTM too. Could be a real comeback season for some.

  3. Think its safe to say Strauss has played himself into the squad after his performance when he came on

    1. It can’t be that easy to play yourself into the RWC team!!
      After so many international career mis-starts and failures.

  4. Much as I like M-fag, on today’s game i have to agree with mister c Strauss made more of an impact and will pip him for a place on the plane. Strauss made yards and got over the gain line every time he was handed the ball. Infuriatingly he doesn’t do this if often enough.
    What has happened to Z-Fag though. Our best breakthrough prop only 2 years ago, aggressive in the loose we were told he was lifting ‘scary ‘ weights in the gym at 21 and would peak at this w.c. He now looks a bit of a liability in the scrum and a possible penalty machine in the loose.

    1. Strauss was good when he came on but 20 decent minutes against an exhausted and beaten Georgia does not get him on the plane. I thought M. Fag was very good combining footwork and dynamism to steal yards and tire the fresh defence a lot of Strauss’ effectivness was due to the hard yards M Fag put in.
      Agree with you on Z. Fag though he’s capable of so much more than he’s shown so far, scrummaging has been awful. Hope he gets the start on Friday and can play himself into a bit of form.

  5. Good solid performance tonight and defended well against a beefy Georgian pack -you wouldn’t want to spill any of these boys beer!!
    Thought Laidlaw and Russell played well and glad to see them withdrawn and don’t think we will see them again before Ireland game. Didn’t appear to be any on field injuries thankfully.
    Hutchison impressed and surely is on the plane and may have jumped ahead of Jones who was a bit meh but didn’t get much ball tbh.
    WP looks back to his best and Kinghorn, Graham and Matt Fagerson played well as did Watson.
    Am I the only person who gets a bit frustrated with big Zander who did his usual of starting the obligatory hand bags and getting pinged in a couple of scrums and not a whole lot else
    . Just wish he would save all his shoving and pushing for the scrums!

  6. Based Purely on the warm-up games this is the squad i think should go (this will be slightly different once you take reputation/injury into acc etc)

    Looseheads – Dell Reid
    Hooker – McInally Brown Stewart
    Tighthead – Nel Berghan Fagerson
    Locks – Gray Gilchrist Toolis Cummings
    Backrow – Watson Fagerson Wilson Ritchie Strauss + Thomson (lock C)

    Scrumhalf – Laidlaw Price Horne
    Stand Off – Russell Hastings
    Centres – Johnson Taylor Hutchison Harris
    Back 3 – Maitland Hogg Graham Seymour Kinghorn

    Team 1 – Dell, McInally(C), Nel, Gray, Gilchrist, Wilson, Watson, Thomson, Laidlaw, Russell, Maitland, Johnson, Hutchison, Graham, Hogg

    Team 2 – Reid, Brown, Berghan, Toolis, Cummings, Strauss, Ritchie, Fagerson, Price, Hastings, Seymour, Taylor, Harris, + 1st choice wing, Kinghorn

    I hope Bradbury makes the cut somehow.

    1. It is unbelievable you have omitted Huw Jones.You have selected Stewart but he is not in either team.

      1. This must be close but one more back row needs to be dropped out. And will Barclay miss the cut? Strauss looked good for 10 minutes yesterday but I can’t see that getting him on the plane. I wish Jones merited a place but his form has been poor for a year.

      1. Would you be saying the same thing about Jonny Gray? He hasn’t started yet either but both Gray and Brown will be in the squad. Both will be fit come Ireland (probably included in the match day 22) and both merit inclusion on previous form.

    2. Strange responses to this post. Of course Brown and Stewart will go.

      The interesting point, and I agree, is that Bhatti / extra LH doesn’t travel. Berghan is big enough and ugly enough to take care of both sides of the scrum, and both Graham and Kinghorn deserve to go (especially if one eye on the future).

      As will be clear from my other posts, I think Jones has to be there – regardless of form. It takes two minutes to refresh on the kind of the play he is capable of (like Johnson on speed) and he has show it consistently enough at international level and Stormers (MOM currie cup – yes I get it is development tournament – but was glorious if you haven’t watched it) etc. Anyone, genuinely without trying to be a d*ck or blaming that knee injury for not making it, who has played the game, can see that the way he runs is special. If we’re down 5 against SA or NZ in the quarters, bringing on a player like Jones could make the difference – whether he does it himself or frees up Russell or Hogg. Bringing on Harris just won’t. That kind of wildcard is priceless and entertaining. Comparing to other sports you never know what a tournament might bring out a talented player. Toonie was, in his own words, a flair player, so fully expect him to see it the same way. In conclusion, if Taylor and Johnson fit Harris does not travel.

    1. Jones was getting left out for Grigg for most of last season by Rennie. He generally looks a very average player, poor hands and can’t tackle. All he does is score tries. I would leave him out for that quarter too. I think GT will pick 5 centers including Horne and ask 2 of them to help cover the back 3.

      Strauss? Surely not. A good 20 minutes against a tired Georgia pack isn’t enough. Russia will beat us if our reserve side has guys like Turner, Thomson, Hastings, Strauss and Jones.

      1. Hate rugby then? No worries we’ve all been there :)

        Strauss interesting – I think he’s a supremely under appreciated player considering the domestic success he’s had in SA and Glasgow. Of course, everyone hates his upright running stance, and he’s definitely in the ‘well old’ category now. But frankly, and I’m parroting another poster here (apologies don’t remember who) if you need someone to break the gain line in the last 20 mins he’s still the best we have, including Bradbury. Thomson’s showings certainly did not change that. Plus he’ll always have Paris (kidney game). Ps note to self, stop posting when p*ssed – though at least it’s keeping me off What’s App.

      2. We have put up with a player that cannot tackle for years. If fact he is first pick every time. But we only have room for one of them in the side.

    2. This kind of comment about Harris/Jones is soooo… out of place. Open your eyes and see each game and how each player contributes.
      There was a time I though Huw Jones was world class, but alas not leading up to this RWC. Harris has finally proved himself in these last games.
      Strauss had a good 20 minutes near the end of his Scottish career, but has not performed at the necessary level on many occasions ( like against France recently).

      1. Ok two or three (five) points: (1) Jones has had a bad run with injuries / fitness post a v v long SA/international/pro14 season and then diff not to pick players doing well – club morale and all that, (2) Glasgow and Rennie still saw fit to make him their marquee signing with commensurate contract during this period, say what you like about Grigg but yeah; (3) Jones definitely has better hair than Harris (if comparing floppiness alone), I just can’t get on board with the blonde undercut, far too N Sync for a pro sportsman; (4) if you don’t pick Strauss who will bring the beard? Not Bradbury / Fagerson for sure, as noted previously Saracens were teasing the Fagerson brothers last season; and (5) England – including at Twickenham

    3. I love Huw Jones but Harris has played well as had Hutchinson, and played their way into the squad I think.

      Sadly I think Jones has not found the form he previously had and think a run of games for Glasgow might be the best thing if there is an injury and we need another centre.

      1. Harris has been in this squad since he first arrived. He is Toonies project and whether we like it or not , he will be there. Gregor’s way or no way.

        For what it is worth, he has stepped up and appears to be finding his feet. No more than that ,he is still making up the numbers. Horne brings more versatility, Hutchinson is raw potential, is Taylor fit enough to be relied upon ? It would not trouble me if Huw Jones makes it, I think he combines well with Hastings at Glasgow.

      2. I think you need at least one centre who has adequate experienced of test rugby in all our games. Jones and Horne stand out for me in that regard. Taylor has big game experience at Sarries. Harris is bottom quarter in the Premiership and Hutchinson finished the Premiership as the name everyone is talking about. Not easy but if he is objective , Harris or Taylor wont make it.

  7. not Rocket Science – I prefer Bradbury to Strauss, a big beefy boy at 116kg, he’s quite fast too. Strauss is limited, doesn’t contribute much other than a few scyscraper charges. Not keen on Thomson as a ball carrier either, he’s spindly, has a ballerina’s waistline. Magnus has much bigger biceps. Always suspicious of players with big beards too as Thomson and Strauss have. I actually think Barclay and Watson are the more effective ball carriers after Magnus.

    Anyway it’s a game on opinions. Have a good day pal.

    1. Aye fair, I’ll give you Bradbury. Thought was nailed on the wall after Twickenham. But disagree on the beard (see Castrogiovanni, Marcus Decimus Meridius Commander of the Armies of the North General of the Felix Legions and Loyal Servant of the True Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and Hemingway); also skyscrapers are imposing. Just don’t know if Bradbury has had a chance – interesting to see how much of this selection comes down to games versus training…

      Please don’t say ‘day’ yet :)

  8. Couldn’t watch this one due to blackout, but I think these 4 games are turning into poor preparation…

    A gubbing v France away- all we learnt was to bother to show up. Last week’s game was OK but against a “French team away from home” mentality. This week seems to have been fairly routine, and don’t expect a big challenge next week either.

    In contrast, the SH teams are coming off the Championship, while Eng, Ire, Wales, even Italy have been doing a mini 6N.

    We’re way off the pace…look out tier 2, here we come!

    1. These Internationals do not have a gritty edge to them.The fringe players have emerged while the nailed on players (with the exception of Russell ) have been average. Why ? This is my opinion. I think the more experienced are just saving themselves for the tournament, nothing to be concerned about. They are there to stabalise the team and allow the less expereinced to come through, while avoiding injury themselves.

      The only game that I feel we learned anything from was France in Nice in the intense heat and humidity. Very few looked fit enough.

      We have faced heavy forward packs in all three games and come through adequately. I think they built good relationships with the refs particularly Wayne Barnes. On reflection , I do not see GT picking too many surprises though I do believe he will be inclined towards those he can work with, over those we really want to be there.

      Just a thought, I think he likes Horne and Harris. I suspect Hutchinson is complicit and hangs on to his every word. So for me , its the three H’s that will make it, much as I believe Jones on form is the man for the big games and will be a target for any opposition. I think you need experience for Ireland .

  9. Totally agree, the Georgia bandwagon has a long way to go to get into Tier 1, losing to Italy away last year and now this shows there is a gulf. Although saying this I realise I’m tempting huge fate with the return leg next week!

  10. Well, comfortable win, I actually expected more from Georgia, yes they are physically strong, showed a good scrum and were passionate but didn’t show much otherwise. Finn was excellent & showed his whole repertoire. Hutchinson took his tries well & Strauss carried powerfully when he came on, otherwise GT has a conundrum with regard back row & center.

    1. I also expected much more from Georgia and I wonder how this Friday will be if we do not runaway with it immediately. 20 points in 20 minutes , is a killer blow for even the most confident side. I have not doubt we will win regardless of what side we field, but if we let them in , we will need to raise our game, it will be a better test. We need to set off with confidence.

  11. A few observations:
    i) As a regular Laidlaw critic, I thought he was very good yesterday. It was behind a dominant pack however and scrum half performances are heavily affected by that. It was good to see him link for first try but this, and his short, slow pass, remain limitations normally. Why has George Horne been given no game time? Is he on plane for sure and will play next week?
    ii) Russell is superb
    iii) As keyboard warriors we are all going to get a bit frothing over the final selection, especially in the back row, centres and maybe back three. The fact is these are tricky choices. Back row: Possibly fading Barclay vs rapidly rising M Fagerson, potentially great but game time limited by injury Bradbury and completely game time limited by injury Thompson.
    Centres: Jones vs Hutchison is very difficult as the latter has had so little game time and really is doing exactly what Jones did when he first appeared. He has not yet had to defend against J Davies at Millenium Stadium when Wales are smothering Scotland or against a rampant England at Twickenham. Also is Duncan Taylor genuinely, reliably fit?
    iv) How fit are J Gray, F Brown, G Turner and previously mentioned B Thompson and D Taylor. Do we take a couple of question marks from this list knowing that if any injury does not come right they can be replaced in the squad. It is probably likely that about 35 players will end up having been at world cup imo.
    v) the key remains beating Ireland which, if Sexton, Kearney, O’Mahoney and Earls play, will be very, very enjoyable.

    1. Horne came on in both French games, FYI. And I hope that dirty, no good bas… person Beirne is playing when we defeat Ireland, too.

    2. I agree with all your talking points:
      i) I think the France game (at Murrayfield) showed how much we still need Laidlaw, and he and Russell have better chemistry than Russell and Price, I would argue. He showed he is capable of playing quickly and rarely makes mistakes, he just offers nothing going forward.
      George Horne must have scorned Toonie somehow, he’s doing everything he can to stop him getting in the squad. The last time I can remember him starting for Scotland was the Argentina game in Argentina, where he and Hastings ran rampant. How many tries does he have to score off the bench to merit a start?
      ii) Russell is crucial to the campaign and cannot play next week, wrap him in cotton wool with plenty of haribo and ship him ahead to Yokohama.
      iii) For me, Jones has had 18 months to replicate his form against England, and aside from a flash of brilliance against South Africa in November and one or two good tries for Glasgow, he’s done nothing. Hutchinson and Harris look hungry, they want to be there. Easy enough.
      iv) Considering how well-drilled England look after their WC prep, we look like we’ve been on the piss for a few weeks before we rocked up in Nice.
      v) Ireland could put Furlong at stand-off and they could probably score. Our issue, as ever, is our scramble defence. I’m not sure who in the backline is currently banging the drum – Russell? Laidlaw? Horne?!

      1. I’m fairly confident about Ireland but disagree that is key. Fact is we will be overwhelming underdogs against either potential QF opponents it really doesn’t matter if we come first or second especially when it’s the toss of a coin as to who will come first or second in Pool A. Whichever way we will be playing one of the two favourites in the QF.

  12. I really hope we do beat a full strength Ireland fair and square and with some scintillating play from our backs which undoes Andy Farrell’s defence. I can’t help but think however that Ireland will grind out a win on the back some kind of controversy i.e. cheating, simulation or foul play that goes unpunished. Wouldn’t be surprised to see another POM invisible bastardry hit on Hogg or Russell or some Beirne type simulation. Really hope Wayne Barnes officiates effectively and fairly and the end result is fair.

    1. My personal favourite is the backs getting “cramp” every set piece because Furlong is out of puff. Seen it start 20 mins in.

      Irish physios must get in 20 km a game.

    2. That is exactly what’s going to happen in the Ireland game. The way they play makes both Ireland and Wales tough to like, especially combined with some of their dirtbag players, e.g. Moriarty, Earls. And obviously Gatland. Just as a concept.

      1. I am convinced that Ireland and Wales are coached in great detail to cheat subtly and win dirty. The POM hit on Hogg is classic as almost impossible to prove intent. When we call out the cheating or foul play after the event they just play the same old ‘sore loser moaning Scots’ card. The only dirtbag we have is Ryan Wilson and he’s as subtle as a brick and is a penalty or yellow card waiting to happen.

  13. I suspect that our real banana skin will be Japan. They are capable of a major upset, and are hell-bent on reaching the QFs

    1. The good thing IMO is that we are playing them last after Ireland and Samoa will have roughed them up a bit. They are unlikely to be full strength when they play us and may not be used to such a playing so many games in such a short space of time. We will invariably lose 2 or 3 players too but hopefully our squad depth will see us through.
      We are also lucky to be playing Russia before Japan which means most of our first 15 can be fully rested ahead of Japan.

  14. Japan hold no fear for me. They are exactly the kind of team we can dispatch easily. Man for man we are superior and have a similar style of play just not as good as us, plus their depth will be challenged more than ours by that point barring a major catastrophe for us on the injury front.Samoa are garbage at the moment but I have a bad feeling about that game, big players, powerful backs exactly what we don’t like.

    1. I think any of these sides are dangerous if they get their necks in front early on. That was what was good yesterday , passionate home crowd never got going. We never got on top of Japan until into the second half in Gloucester in 2015. They had good support then, better this time however the climatic conditions are familiar to them.

      I have no doubt we will win if we play our rugby as a team and play it miunte by minute. Just build on the basics.It will not be a game for flash moves or anyone trying to do it all themselves, they will need to play as a team to beat Japan in Japan.

  15. I have to admit that before the warm up games I had a pretty good idea who would be in the final squad but now I am much less certain. I had all but dismissed Kinghorn, P. Horne and Harris but I’ve been impressed with all of them and I now think Kinghorn and Harris will go. I think Harris will go along with Taylor, Johnson and Hutchinson in the centres instead of Huw Jones.

    I think Kinghorn will go (as a winger) specifically for his kick chase. There was a lot of chat after the Georgia game about how pleased the team were with their kick chase. I don’t think Kinghorn is all that good in the air but it appears to me that he has particularly developed using his speed and height to get one handed tap backs and this fits into the GT game plan of contestable kicks. The question is where do you fit him in. It could be;
    A. Instead of Seymour as part of 4 back three players ?
    B. Instead of G. Horne and only take 2 nines? (could this explain Horne’s lack of game time)?
    C. Instead of Bhatti and only take 5 props.

    The back row I think will be
    Thomson, Barclay, Ritchie, Watson, M Fagerson.

    1. I think the prop scenario is most likely and something other sides are doing. Gatland made a point about taking 5 props meaning they need to be durable and used this as justification for leaving Evans and Lee out. This is particularly important when you consider any injury call ups will need to get to Japan.

      1. That would be my guess too. But several teams are only taking 2 recognised 9’s including England, Ireland, New Zealand and maybe Wales. I could be wrong with that list but I’m sure a few of them are.

      2. In fact from that list only England have named 2 SHs. Ireland haven’t named their 31 RWC squad but have Marshall, Murray and Marmion in their wider squad.

        There is a wiki page that collates all the announced squads.

  16. That’s madness for me. Both 9s need to play every game and you get an injury you need to potentially bed someone in with a day or two acclimation after a long haul and jet lag. Playing a Berghan out of position against someone like Russia is no issue or even Japan. I think Hornes not played much because he is nailed on. The squad selection feels way too straightforward and can’t help but wonder what madness Toony has up bus sleeve in the selections.

    1. Darcy played Scrum-Half at under 18s so mabey he drops Horne & just lets Graham cover 20 mins against Russia & Samoa if the result goes as predicted.

      1. I’d say Graham is probably in our starting line-up so couldn’t play Russia and Japan.

        Regardless, playing a position at u-18 level is inadequate preparation to play test rugby out of position even if it is against Russia.

  17. I’ve just watched the game and Georgia were all over the place so I’m not sure what we can take from Scotland’s win.

    I feel it would have been better to play a team with a tighter defence to practice how we breakdown the type of defence we’ll come up against playing Ireland and the other top teams. This is where our weakness is and what we need fixed if we consistently want to win against top teams.

    One thing i will say is that the crowd sounded lively. Be good to get an atmosphere like that at Murrayfield!

  18. SimJim – if G.Horne was nailed on why is he going with so little game time? Not that many minutes for Glasgow either. Not logical to me, seems more likely they have been set on 2 9s all along. Turner has soft, delicate hands and can emergency cover plus it was perhaps foreshadowing that Blade Thomson passed the ball well from the base of the ruck a couple of times against France, think they have him in mind to cover scrum half too.

    Think Bhatti will miss out and there’ll be just 5 props, he’ll pick P.Horne and 4 other centers 2 of whom (Harris, Taylor) can comfortably cover the back 3 with Kinghorn very unfortunate to miss out. I’d leave Hastings out personally and play Hutch at 10 against Russia.

    1. Hold on, so despite his narrow waist you are advocating Blade Thompson as scrum half cover? Or have I misread?

    2. If P Horne and Hutchinson are both in and it ultimately comes to a choice of Kinghorn or Hastings I’d pick Kinghorn and leave Hastings out. Then you have P Horne and Hutch who cover 10 and plenty cover for 15 with Maitland, Taylor, Graham etc. I just can’t see Toonie leaving out Hastings and is probably more likely to leave out Blair.

  19. Can’t resist the temptation so here’s my twopence worth on squad selection.
    Props – judging from experimenting with Berghan at loose head, I think Toonie is planning on 5, Bhatti being the casualty;
    Hooker – assuming Brown is fit, taking 3 with Stewart left out
    Lock – easy, assuming JG is OK to go, takes 4 (Swinson left with tackle bags
    Back row – if only 5 props, can take 6 loose forwards. For me, based on form, leadership & team effectiveness, Barclay, Watson, Ritchie, Wilson, Bradbury & Fagerson. Thomson is short of game time & while ok in his limited time, didn’t set the heather alight;
    Scrummies – all 3
    Half back – both
    Centres – Taylor has been class but I can’t see how you could justify his inclusion based on an ok 60 minutes when he’s been out for so long, just no guarantee on form returning in time. Jones’ form has deserted him recently & hasn’t shown much this summer. That leaves Horne, Johnson (bit worried he came off so soon this weekend), Hutchinson & Harris (he’s good in defence & has shown up in attack too – has offered more than Jones recently)
    Back 3 – Hogg, Maitland, Seymour & Graham. Seymour is good in the air & in defence, Kinghorn a bit frail in that department whereas Graham does flinch & looks pretty tough.
    But we’ll see on Tuesday what the big boss says!

    1. Im curious to know what Harris’s defence stats actually are considering everyone harps on about them. Perhaps people just praise his defence because he cant offer threat in attack.

    2. I think to judge based on these games is fairly misleading…form against weaker teams in low-pressure situations does not translate to RWC glory.

      If over-emphasised (vs say 6N form and overall experience) the risk is taking the ideal team to beat the weaker nations in the pool, but not having a team able to compete in a QF.

    3. Warks Scot – here’s my response from Surrey!
      Props – the “experiment” didn’t work. As an ex international prop said last week, it’s like asking a right-handed bowler to bowl left handed in international cricket. With a 20 stone weight on his back. There will be all 6 props.
      Hookers – if Brown is fit, Stewart misses out.
      Locks – all 4 (ex Swinson).
      Back row – Watson, Ritchie, Barclay, Wilson & Fagerson/ Bradbury. Neither Strauss nor Thomson has shown enough in my opinion and we need as many leaders in the side as possible.
      Scrum-half – yep all 3.
      Fly-half – yep both.
      Centres – I think Toonie may take 5, as Taylor, Harris and Hastings can all cover back-3. So Taylor, Johnson, Harris, Horne and Jones.
      Back-3 – Hogg, Maitland and Graham.
      Harsh on Hutchinson, Seymour and Kinghorn

  20. Townsend has said yesterday that he will name some players not in the RWC 31 against Georgia on Friday.

    1. That’s interesting, I thought that might be the case. My guess for Friday would be.


      1. If the coaches are happy with progress it makes sense given we will likely have 3 or so call ups due to injury. Bradbury whether in or not needs game time. I’d say the same for Jones. Maybe have Taylor on the wing.

  21. I’m glad I’m not Toonie – some very tough choices to make for the squad, particularly in the centre and back row positions. Whoever he takes to Japan has worked their backside off in camp and I hope they express themselves fully at the World Cup.

    Thought Georgia were limited but useful opposition. The forwards got a tough battle at scrum time and some good maul defensive work, while the backs got to run a gamut of moves. Key outcome – no injuries. I wouldn’t be surprised to see non-RWC squad members playing the return.

    Lastly, I’d ask if it is necessary for blog contributors to be trashing the likes of Ireland and Wales? What purpose does it serve, other than to stoke the flames of online idiocy via a bunker mentality?

    These blogs are read by others, who will then comment elsewhere about whingeing, loser Scots, and so on in ever decreasing circles. Would you say those things to the Irish guy sitting next to you at Murrayfield during the 6N, or the Ospreys fan up at Scotstoun for a Pro14 game? Or would you have a bit of a blether with them about the rugby and enjoy their company?

    While it’s easy to rail against specific incidents from the anonymity of the internet, I don’t think it’s healthy to be tarring everyone with the same brush.

    1. I don’t hold anything against Ireland and Wales and their dirty (or percieved to be ) play. It more annoys me that we seem to be quite naive when it comes to the dark arts. Can argue all day about the spirit of the game etc but there’s no prizes for fair play, winning is winning ugly or not. It’s up to the man in the middle to police it, if teams are getting away with things then we need to take that on board and adapt, and come up with some devious tricks ourselves.

      1. 1.8T it is that sort of mindset that allowed scummy footballers to dive and feign injuries all the time.

      2. I’m half with you, 1.8T: yeah, I’m annoyed that we’re so naive, but I’m also annoyed that four officials are conned by stuff that we can all clearly see from the same TV angles they have available. I appreciate that everyone makes mistakes, being an official is a tough job etc., but I can still disapprove of, and be angered by, dirty play being rewarded.

        And, to Ade’s point: that kind of play is a significant part of how those two teams play. It’s as valid a discussion point as any other and serves the same purpose. And the discussion with the Irish/Ospreys fan isn’t a binary opposition. There is a pattern of behaviour and I don’t see any virtue in ignoring it.

      3. Agreed Neil but it’s something the sport needs to sort out. Individual teams don’t gain anything by taking a stance of “we don’t play the game that way”. An honorable stance but not a winning one. I’m not suggesting it is a conscious decision by the way but I don’t doubt that every team and their coaches will have discussions on what is legal and what isn’t and I don’t think we sail as close to the wind as others.

    2. Completely agree Ade. I’m surprised admin have not got involved.
      Ireland and Wales are above us in the rankings through better defence and taking their chances. A few individuals may have “got away” with a few things in the past (or not gotten away with but it it still rankles, such as in the case of Earls). That is no excuse to tar every Irish/Welsh player. I had to skip through a number of posts as it left a bad taste in my mouth. Friendly rivalry is fine but if we are to hold the high ground it has to be both off the pitch as well as on it.

  22. Just finished watching the game there. Not a high gloss performance but a good score and we went and did what we needed to do in winning on the road.

    Against lesser opposition it’s easy for the backs to look good with free rein to run their set plays, maximum time and minimum pressure. It was a good test for the forwards though and they generally faired well. The scrums descended into a bit of chaos towards the end but on the whole we held up well against Georgia’s strength. Thought Matt Fagerson had a decent run, not a MOTM performance by any means but quietly got on with doing some good work. Better day at the lineout and overall the guys looked far more comfortable and up for it than in Lyon, I don’t know how hot it was in Tiblisi? Kinghorn had a decent game as did Hutchinson but as above how will they fair when the pressure comes on? I wouldn’t want to be Toonie making the decision with the centres, he can’t win whatever he does people will be up in arms. Personally I don’t think Huw Jones has done enough recently to merit going but like others here I know who I would want on the park a try down to SA in a QF with 5 mins to go! Is Taylor getting another run out or is he in cotton wool? One of the few to come away from Leon with any credit he’s still short on game time.

    Not long to wait now!

  23. The team i would like to see against Georgia is the following, with a look at combinations for Ireland & some gametime to returning players

    1. Reid
    2. Brown
    3. Nel
    4. Gray
    5. Gilchrist
    6. Thomson
    7. Ritchie
    8. Bradbury
    9. Laidlaw
    10. Russell
    11. Maitland
    12. Johnson
    13. Taylor
    14. Graham
    15. Hogg

    16. McInally
    17. Dell
    18. Berghan
    19. Cummings
    20. Fagerson
    21. Horne
    22. Hastings
    23. Hutchison

    That 10-12-13 combo is the one i see for Ireland so i think the risk of Injury is acceptable in return for gametime.

    1. I would really want to see a Johnson / Taylor center combo. I don’t think Russell will play on Saturday, he had a bit of ring rust for the first half against France but has looked assured since then. Hastings will feature at the WC so he needs the game time. I could see Laidlaw on the bench with Horne starting.

      For the forwards I would give big Zander a start, he hasn’t looked amazing so far but we don’t want to overwork WP. Surely Gray and Bradbury will get a game, Gray will definitely be going so he needs a game, is he nursing an injury or somthing? I think Bradbury will get a game regardless of whether he gets selected or not. Pinball needs wrapped in cotton wool and placed in a padded shipping container alongside Russell, I think he’s instrumental to us getting quick ball, that split second he refuses to go down for each time makes all the difference compared to the ones (no names) that just catch the ball and flop on the ground.

      1. I just hope Taylor can sustain fitness, we are placing a lot of faith on the shoulders of a man who has had limited game time in the last few years.

    2. I would like to see Horne start a game at SH for a change. Not a bench warmer coming on with 10min to go

  24. On the topic of Ireland I just read unconfirmed reports that Devon Toner has been omitted from their squad, however the bizarre way that Ireland are doing their squad announcements where they are submitting their squad today but officially releasing it to the public next week so these are leaked reports. What are the chances that these are false reports designed to affect GT’s squad selection and to unveil his hand early? A nice anti-Irish conspiracy theory anyone?

    1. Also just read on RugbyPass that…

      “According to a source close to the Scottish camp, Magnus Bradbury, Matt Fagerson, Josh Strauss and Rory Hutchinson are all also set to be excluded from Gregor Townsend’s 31-man squad, which will be submitted to World Rugby today.”

      Huw Jones was also on the list meaning both Harris and Horne would be going. Let’s hope that not all of these rumours are true!!

      1. That means backrow will be Barclay, Watson, Wilson, Thomson and Ritchie.

        Very harsh one fagerson but Bradbury perhaps unlucky to not have had a chance to press his case. Advantage Thomson has is maybe to cover locks, particularly in Russia game so starting locks don’t need to prepare for that game at all.

        Centres Johnson, Horne, Taylor Harris. I accept Horne is a Townsend mainstay, best third option at 10 and we play well with him at 12, brain farts notwithstanding. But I cannot fathom how Harris is selected ahead of Hutchison and would have taken Jones ahead of him too. Looks very much like Toonie has chosen centres with defensive considerations at front of mind. Risk is if Taylor’s fitness doesn’t hold we will have a toothless attack as 13 is such an important role and Harris is neither a distributor nor strike runner.

        Jones needs to leave Glasgow pronto and get to a more positive environment for him. I’m worried we’ve lost another centre with that touch of stardust, like Bennet and to some extent Dunbar.

      2. So we are giving up any ball carrying potential if that is the case… we wont have a chance of breaking down the best defences

        I hope this is not true, it would show Townsend has not learned that for the backs to thrive that they need go forward up front.

        Perhaps he is feeling pressured from the experienced players to keep them in the squad.

        When is the squad meant to be released ?

      3. I think they submit it to World Rugby today and then to the public tomorrow.

        I hope it is not true either as without Skinner, M Fagerson or Bradbury, as you say Neil we are lacking big carriers. To give up Hutchinson’s creativity and defensive abilities would be a real negative step too. Unfortunately, I doubt rugby pass would report it if it wasn’t almost certainly true

      4. Glasgow has always been the wrong environment for Huw Jones, and I have posted this many times. I had never anticipated it would be quite as toxic.

        I would have liked to see how he developed without Hogg who has been a dominant factor in the Glasgow back line. However I feel his time at Glasgow has come and gone. He adopted us , it is a shame we could not look after him. I agree , he should move on as fast as he can. Good player, decent man, no way should he stay. The premiership or France , I do not see him flourishing in the PRO 14.

        Harris ? He was on this plane since his arrival from obscurity . He is now peaking and is average which is just about where Huw Jones is even today.. I can never see me labeling Harris ‘sublime’. But , for whatever reason, he will be in a jersey till he finally plays a game that allows his place to be justified.

    2. I don’t think so. Our squad will be the 31 best players avaliable to us (or Toonies opinion of the 31 best players). Whom other teams select shouldn’t come into it.

      1. Frankly we’re p*ssing away talent in the midfield – Scott, Bennett, Dunbar. Let’s hope we don’t add Jones to that list and he makes the cut.

    3. Oh well, the IRFU confirmed their squad, I was going to enjoy a week of conspiracy theories. No Toner but some of their initial reports were wrong so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rugby Pass reports on the Scotland squad aren’t all correct. If they are correct I’m disappointed for Hutchinson and Fagerson but I’m a big fan of P. Horne and Wilson. The quality of player that will be on the other end of that first phone call home is so much better than ever before.

  25. I suppose the good news is that we have reached the deadline for naming the squad and the only player missing through injury is Skinner (who would have traveled and probably been part of our best 23). Looking at the other calls we will have really good players who don’t make the cut – I cant remember a time where we had a strength in depth that would have resulted in players like Jones, Horne, Toolis, Cummings, Thomson, Bradbury, Fagerson, Harris and Kinghorn potentially not travelling. When I looked at it earlier I think the 8 in the front row are nailed on with Toolis, cummings and Thomson potentially fighting it out for the other 2 spots. In the backrow I could only say that Watson and Barclay are there with any certainty – Again Ritchie, Bradbury, Strauss, Wilson, Fagerson (and Thomson if Cummings and Toolis both get the nod) are fighting it out for 4 spots.

    I suspect a 18/13 (had Skinner been fit I think it could have been 17/14) split meaning we have 8 covering centre and back 3 (Laidlaw, Price, Horne, Russell and Hastings I think are nailed on) – Hogg, Seymour, Johnson, Maitland and Graham are nailed on meaning you have to pick 3 from Taylor, Harris, Kinghorn, Jones, Hutchison, Horne.

    I can make a case for everyone of them but can also see a situation where they could all be left out depending on combinations and coverage.

    1. Agree with your thoughts. I think Ritchie, Wilson, Fagerson and Thomson will get the nod for the forwards. Don’t think Toonie likes Bradbury that much and we would have seen him by now if he was going to get picked.

      From the backs Taylor, Horne and Harris will get the nod, possibly Jones in place of Harris.

  26. On the basis that you will only ever have 2 scrum halfs and 2 hookers in any match day squad, why is it assumed that’s we’ll select 3 of each? Surely you can rotate their bench/match time and if one gets injured, then you can call up a reserve anyway can’t you? Or is there some sort of rule about specialist positions and the number that have to be in a squad?

    Just seems to me it would be better to take 2 of each, but have replacements travelling with the squad. Accept these would have to be SRU contracted payers otherwise clubs would likely demand that they’re returned.

    1. You need three hookers because you have to have a full replacement front row in the bench. If you only have two hookers and one gets injured in warm up you might be forced to forfeit the game.

      SH is just choice as it is such a specialist position. If you get a late injury you don’t want someone in the bench who can’t fill the role properly. Also SHs run further than almost any other player in the pitch and need to get to breakdowns quickly so are often replaced in the last quarter to pick up a teams speed of play. That doesn’t work if your substitute can’t pass well from the floor.

      1. Surely the starting hooker plays 80 in that scenario? Would be bizarre to forfeit a game just for that..

      2. You have to have a full front row in the replacements bench as far as I understand. Otherwise there is a high risk of uncontested scrums and/or a team feigning injury to revert to uncontested scrums.

    2. Also, once you replace a squad member, the man replaced is out for the tournament…so with just 2 hookers a failed HIA or a turned ankle would become tournament ending. 3 hookers and 6 props needed unless you’re a complete chancer

    3. Never mind the clubs Andy, you can’t have replacements travelling with or near the squad, otherwise the squads would just be infinite in size and every country would have backups dotted around SE Asia on holiday. It’s limited to 31 for a reason and I believe is enforced by World Rugby.

      1. Replacements can only be called in at least 48 hours before a match kicks off.

        If you’ve only 1 suitably trained and experienced hooker you’d have to start the game with only 7 subs. If your hooker then went off injured and caused uncontested scrums he could not be replaced so down to 14 for the remainder of the match. If the hooker was sin binned or sent off and there was a scrum during the time he was off the pitch your team would be reduced by a further player (ie down to 13) for causing uncontested scrums.

        I don’t think it’s worth the risk, especially with the Russia and Japan games only being 4 days apart.

  27. Looks like it’s been leaked but I hope not. Reports are saying that Fagerson, Bradbury, Strauss, Hutchinson and Jones all miss out. Centres to be Horne, SJ, Harries and super Dunc. If true only Toony could leave out the superstar and the young upstart hyped as taking his place!

    1. Read that too… if true….selecting both Horne and Harris ahead of Hutchinson and Jones??? Jones I reluctantly get…because of his sustained complete loss of form…but Hutchinson???…who has looked absolute class at each opportunity?
      Bradbury??…the only guy who has given a glimpse of being a proper 8. Another torturous watching of bench warmer Ryan Wilson being played at 8…or even just playing at all on the biggest stage in rugby. Sigh!!!
      Honestly..IF leak is true….Im ready for a new head coach…before RWC has even started.

      1. We have been ready for a new head coach since the 9th Feb 2018 when we had the arrogance to take the captains run in Edinburgh and rock up in Cardiff at the last minute to play the Scarletts and lose 34 – 7. . He picked Harris in the centre , Du Preez at No 8 and McGuigan on the wing. It has taken a year and a half to see a decent game from Harris and by that we mean barely acceptable.We go into the RWC 7th in the world rankings , however are fortunate that France have slumped and Italy have fallen.

      2. Yep…here we go again…..Lose to a slumping Ireland….only to beat Japan by 1 point last minute pen kick from Laidlaw…qualify from group by virtue of raffle ticket…..ultimately out of RWC at 1st meeting of a good side at QF….but Hey Ho embrace the repeating cycle…we were ‘Brave’ …’Unfortunate to meet such a good team in QF’…’Gave it everything’..’lots of potential for the future’…If only you had picked the actual best players GT!!…instead of your favs!..The best group of talent we have ever had in the pro era…and he’ll balls it up….over to you GT!!…will be ever so happy to be proven wrong.

    2. When’s the last time Huw Jones had a good game for Scotland? In fact make that when did Huw Jones last have a good game? The guys out of form, it happens, the coaches see them training every day, we just see a game every now and again. I would still back Jones to conjure up some game winning bit of magic but that’s not how you build a squad, you need players who can play together and work a game plan.

      Hutchinson would have been a gamble, he’s played what 2 games? Everyone looks good against poor opposition, he does look promising but his time will come, we don’t know how he will fair in a full on test match, you can say what you like about these games and I’m sure every players trying their hardest but they are friendlies at the end of the day and somewhere at the back of your mind there is no pressure. Some people you can throw in and they do just fine (Darcy Graham) some burst onto the scene get us all screaming for them then go very quiet (Huw Jones), some are a disaster (Italian sounding chap from a few years ago…) and others grow into it (Super Dunc).

      I’m by no means a huge fan of Harris but his recent games for Scotland have been pretty solid after a wobbly start to his international career. Toonie obviously likes him, what coaches anywhere ever don’t have their favourites? Let’s get behind the guy.

      1. I think you are right we should back our guy but which one ?

        I respect your opinion and frustration however here is my counter . I would prefer to see us getting behind Huw Jones , the guy who has scored 10 tries in 23 matches, dragged englishmen over the line to score. Scored against mainly sides above us in the world rankings , All blacks, Australia at least twice, England at least three times.

        Maybe you mean get behind Gregor Townsend ,17 tries in 82 matches. Coach over 23 matches won 12, drew 1, lost 10, including a first ever loss to USA.(Yes it did really happen)

        Or Peter Horne 42 matches 5 tries, or Chris Harris 9 matches 2 tries.

        Huw Jones is the goose who has laid us golden eggs , we should back him, not turn our back while he is being choked to death. He has played Harris and Horne everywhere in the backline to get them experience . If we must be patient with anyone it should be Jones not Harris or Horne who are yet to find their feet.

        I would prefer to be patient with someone , whom I know,someone who has proven he is capable of dispatching tier 1 sides in meaningful matches. I would prefer to back Huw Jones.

  28. Personally think Ireland are crazy for dropping Toner.

    Also hoping the leaked rugbypass squad turns out not to be 100% correct.

    1. The leaked Ireland squad included Addison who was in fact not selected. Farrell was chosen as fourth centre.

    2. You think so? I’ve always thought Toner was overrated. Ryan and Henderson offer a lot more, in my opinion.

      1. Oof. That’s gotta hurt. He’s pretty good for Munster, but I’ve not seen him perform internationally. I will concede that Schmidt is probably a better coach than me, though!

  29. We have to sometimes admit, as fans, that we are amateurs and don’t know anything. We also have to admit that we don’t watch the training sessions. In this regard we have to trust in Toonie. :)
    We have to build a squad around our 1st XV. Everyone else is on the plane because of their versatility – whether this is positional or ability to play against different types of opponents.
    So starting XV (against Ireland – THE game to decide progress)
    Dell – McInally – Nel
    Gray – Gilchrist
    Barclay – Watson – Wilson
    Laidlaw – Russell
    Maitland – Johnson – Taylor – Graham
    Subs: Brown, Reid, Fagerson, Toolis, Ritchie, Price, Horne, Seymour
    Alt Subs: Turner, Berghan, Cummings, Thomson, Fagerson, Horne, Harris, Jones

    1. It doesn’t matter whether come first or second in the group! If we were on the other side of the draw maybe but either way we will be in a QF against one of the best 2 sides in the world, by some margin. Right now I’d rather have the kiwis than the boks

      1. Sorry Crazy P – you are assuming we come 1st or 2nd. You are also assuming that South Africa, after a draw against the all-blacks are 1st or 2nd in the world, despite the official ranking of 5th.
        My point is that if we win against Ireland we are in pole position to progress. If we lose we could well be knocked out by Japan (or even Samoa). No offence to Russia but they just lost to Jersey Reds.

      2. Ofcourse im assuming, it’s the comments section of an online blog. That’s what ppl do! Apology accepted however. Rankings mean nothing other than RWC seeding. They don’t measure recent form they measure historic consitency hence the kiwis holding on for so long despite losses and draws and Wales taking too spot without beating Kiwis. The boks had 2 years rebuilding this cycle when they were guff, hence their poor ranking. This South Africa side is well ahead of everyone outside of NZ. And my assumption is based upon following the springboks almost as closely as I do Scotland. They are the real deal. As for coming first or second, I think that’s a fairly safe bet considering Samoa are the worst they probably have been in the pro era, Russia are complete nobodies getting hammered by Italy and Jersey and Japan are basically a less good Scotland. But as I said very good of you to apologise in advance for your post.

  30. I think we need to recognise the difficulty in trimming the squad to 31 and how the selection is maybe not the best 31 players per se, but the best 31 players too:

    – Cover positions
    – Be part of a touring squad (Dynamics are vital !)
    – Play 7 matches in a 6 week period
    – Execute the game plan that the head coach and his staff want to play.
    – Balance Experience vs. Freshness (can he afford to have too many newbies?)
    – Rise to the uniqueness of playing in a World Cup

    As much as some here think Toonie can be a basket case or that we are to loose and inconsistent, the truth is he has been entrusted with the position and he must 100% absolutely go with what he believes is right – Also his goal should be to win the tournament – ergo, do Scotland have a better chance of winning the tournament with Pragmatic play or Cavalier play?? Its certainly not binary, but I suspect for Scotland to win this competition we need elements of both – but I would think we need ambitious, inventive attacking play to come to the fore. With all being said in Toonie we trust !!!

  31. I still think it’s funny how some players get continual hatred for things that happened ages ago despite many subsequent redeeming performances. Conversely the favourites get away with several mediocre / poor performances on the back of a couple of glorious ones.

    Just remember the commandment “back our man”.

    1. Well said. And I don’t think that any of our boys are anything less than supremely proud and honoured to represent Scotland, regardless of how we may perceive it.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion