Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


It was the best of times…

Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend Scotland - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

With the teams already out and momentum rushing towards the return fixture, we thought we’d slam on the brakes and reflect on last weeks game. Will it ultimately be good or bad? A few opposing views.

Why that was the worst possible start

By Rory Baldwin

It was embarrassing: Defence was poor, the execution was poor, the attitude was poor, the intensity was poor. Yes, it was the first game of the season and the conditions were hot but Scotland looked knackered after about fifteen minutes, a good hour before France tired. Even when they did we couldn’t nick a consolation try.

They didn’t look fit: It put paid to any talk of fitness, being ready or itching to play. Even Frank Hadden put out a healthier looking squad.

Conditions were perfect: It was played in hot and humid conditions much closer to Japan than those you find in Roseburn. It doesn’t matter that there’s a return fixture this week. Given their rank away form, Scotland should actually not play any of their summer games at BTM in a bid to try and hurdle the mental block that stops them from being any sort of good away from home. Winning this weekend is almost pointless, given the swings in form we regularly see from Scotland. Tblisi will be a much more useful test.

No redemption. You can’t give that group of players the chance to redeem themselves, which means you can’t learn all that much about individuals other than in (yet more) training. These games are about selections and combinations for Japan, end of. Yes those players will want to make amends for a dire performance and in the 6N would perhaps be given a chance, but it may be up to others to recover the brand while some may have played their way out of the squad entirely. You can’t pick the same team, because you need to be ready to pick the best team on the 22nd September and time is short.

Forcing the selector’s hand: It means Toony might pick more front liners than he wants to in order to be sure of victory at home this time round and save some face. If one of them gets injured we’re in deeper…

Why it’s not all doom and gloom

By Alan Greenwood

Early Days: This was the first hit-out of the season. A one-night-stand which isn’t comparable to the intensity of, for example, a France-Scotland Six Nations match. A disappointing performance at this stage in the season isn’t to be welcomed but it’s far from a disaster. Things can, hopefully, only go uphill from here.

Set Piece: The chief cause for concern on Saturday was Scotland’s scrum and lineout. The silver lining is that these are areas where time on the training ground can yield tangible results. And there is time to play with before the real business begins in Japan.

Paul Gabrillagues got cited: After a nasty clearout on John Barclay he’s been banned for 6 weeks and will miss the World Cup. So we may or may not have done England and Argentina a favour. Nice to be nice (in Nice).

Anthem: The squad’s pre-match chorus of ‘Flower of Scotland’, picked up beautifully by the television microphones, was nothing short of rousing.

Powder Blue: The new powder blue away strip used for the match appeared to be a decent fit for all 23 squad members. Anyone who has purchased an item of Macron kit will readily acknowledge what an absolute chuffing miracle that is.

Feral Dogs: Packs of stray canines causing havoc for residents and tourists alike has been a well-documented problem in the south of France for many years. The fact there were no recorded attacks on any Scotland player is a blessed relief.

Electrocution: None of the Scotland players was electrocuted, Duncan Taylor’s appearance notwithstanding.

And finally – see my first point again.

The Scotland team will be announced later today.

2 Responses

  1. Hopefully all the officials in charge of the game will be going on a training course after missing the French foul play in the head butt by Paul Gabrillagues on big John , and the deliberate French knock on which i had news of from the Lloyds in West Wales, but no yellow , the IRU need to pull their fingers out. I’m hopeful that George Foreman will turn up to see the boys to a victory on Saturday.

  2. That’s a manful effort to look on the bright side. The only positives I could see were that Duncan Taylor survived unscathed. Remarkably, I thought he looked less rusty than many of his teammates. Hutchinson is now tied to Scotland – yay. But I don’t think he’ll make the final squad. The only other upside I could think of is that it might have cleared up a few 50/50 calls.

    Whilst one man can’t make all the difference, I still find myself in the position of hoping that one of the second rows pulls up lame, giving GT an excuse to send an SOS to Ritchie Gray – who has become an absolute colossus by virtue of missing this match.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion