Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland v France, Summer Tests 2019: Match Preview

Action from Samoa vs Scotland in the Rugby World Cup at St James' Park, Newcastle, on 10th October 2015.

KO 1.10pm
Saturday 24th August 2019

BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh

TV coverage – Premier Sports 2
(re-runs on FreeSports, Sunday 25th August at 10.00am and 10.00pm)

Scotland will be hoping that home comforts play their part in reinvigorating the side after a tough trip to France last week. Murrayfield has certainly been a fairly happy hunting ground for the dark blues in RWC warm-up matches this century:

  • 2015 v Italy: won 48-7
  • 2011 v Italy: won 23-12
  • 2011 v Ireland: won 10-6
  • 2007 v Ireland: won 31-21
  • 2003 v Ireland: lost 10-29
  • 2003 v Italy: won 47-15

France will provide some welcome variety from the Ireland / Italy duopoly that has emerged in these games. Les bleus will be making their first ever trip to play Scotland outwith the Five / Six Nations.

Key stats from France v Scotland

Double-headers like this have been a relative rarity for Scotland in recent years. Across the last decade, they have faced Japan (2016), Italy (2015) and Argentina (2010) in matches on consecutive weekends. In each of those previous cases, the Scots won their opening games. This will be a test for the management and leadership group, in particular, to step things up and show some significant improvement in key areas from last Saturday’s defeat.

Pack power up

Scotland’s forwards comprehensively lost the gain line battle to their French opponents in Nice. While their hosts were making 80 carries for 175 metres, the visitors returned 72 runs for just 99m.

Reinforcements should be coming for Saturday’s game but there’s no quick fix to size up the pack. In fact, the 8 that start the match at Murrayfield will probably be lighter than the one that kicked off the game in Nice. If this is the game where Gregor Townsend unleashes more of his first choice side though that gulf in size to the French pack should be diminished. After all players like Hamish Watson have long shown that attitude and aggression can be far more influential than a few extra kilos.

Scotland cannot rely on sheer bulk to bail them out so the forwards will need to be canny and 100% committed if they want to match up to the visitors’ pack.

Tackle tactics

During the Toony Test era, Scotland’s tackle completion percentage has slipped below 85% in 7 matches:

  • France (3 times)
  • Fiji (2 times)
  • New Zealand
  • England

Setting aside the madness that took place at Twickenham (when the two teams combined for 80 misses) Scotland’s two weakest performances in terms of missed tackles have come away to France (35 during the Six Nations and 33 last weekend). There’s an element of the French strength showing through but it also seems Scotland’s systems struggle to contain sides who keep the ball alive with high numbers of offloads out of contact.

Cutting down on France’s opportunities to shift the ball will help to neuter their attack somewhat. It’s going to require a lot more intensity in defence though, with extra bodies in on the tackle to wrap up the ball carrier and shutting down passing lanes.

Kicking clarity

Finn Russell famously disagreed with Gregor Townsend over Scotland’s tactics at Twickenham. The maverick number 10 felt Scotland were simply kicking the ball away to their hosts and allowing them to keep continually attacking. What followed in the second half of the Calcutta Cup was not a change in approach though. After the break Scotland actually kicked the ball more. They just did it effectively.

Against France in the opening RWC warm-up match there was plenty of kicking from both teams – 26 for each side. The principal problem again for Scotland was the execution. At Murrayfield if what is (arguably) Scotland’s first choice half-back pairing of Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell gets a run out expect to see no reduction in the quantity of kicking but an increase in the quality. They will try to win the territorial battle and control the space available to France’s dangerous backfield runners.


Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant 1: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant 2: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

These games are also acting as the World Cup warm-up for the officials. Scotland are in the fortunate position of having the referee who will take charge of their first pool match against Ireland in 4 weeks (Barnes) as well as the ARs and TMO for the second pool match versus Samoa (Owens, Anselmi and Hughes). That’s not a luxury that’s been extended to either of the dark blues’ RWC opponents.

Hopefully, with this game fresh in his mind, in a few weeks’ time Mr Barnes will be able to call some of the Scottish players by their first names the way he does with the Irish lads…

Scotland have had issues with the being on the wrong side of the penalty count when Mr Barnes has been the man in the middle. Unfortunately, in the one game where the opposition were on his bad side last summer, it didn’t help Scotland out too much!

Scotland’s last 5 games with Mr Barnes in charge:

  • 2014 – beat Argentina (H)
    Penalties: 28 (For 13 – 15 Against)
    Cards: Scotland 2 YCs (Rob Harley, Jim Hamilton); Argentina 1 YC
  • 2015 – lost to France (A)
    Pens: 26 (For 10 – 16 Against)
    Cards: Scotland 1 YC (David Denton)
  • 2017 – beat Australia (A)
    Pens: 23 (For 8 – 15 Against)
    Cards: Scotland 1 YC (Ryan Wilson); Australia 1 YC
  • 2018 – lost to Ireland (A)
    Pens: 19 (For 9 – 10 Against)
    Cards: none
  • 2018 – lost to USA (A)
    Pens: 19 (For 11 – 8 Against)
    Cards: USA 1 YC

The Teams

(UPDATE: 21/8): The teams are out. Stuart Hogg is the only starter retained in what looks a lot closer (but isn’t’ quite) to a full-strength XV. Blade Thomson will make his debut at Number 8 and the bench looks strong too. All change!

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Chris Harris, Pete Horne, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Gordon Reid, George Turner, WP Nel, Scott Cummings, Sam Skinner, Ryan Wilson, Hamish Watson, Blade Thomson.
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, John Barclay, George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Blair Kinghorn

France: Thomas Ramos, Damien Penaud, Gael Fickou, Welsey Fofana, Alivereti Raka, Camille Lopez, Antoine Dupont; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado (capt), Rabah Slimani, Félix Lambey, Sébastien Vahaamahina, Charles Ollivon, Greg Alldritt, Arthur Itturia.
Replacements: Camille Chat, Baille, Setiano, Taofifenua, Camara, Baptiste Serin, Romain Ntamack, Maxime Medard.

106 Responses

    1. I have read in a few places he is.

      Hopefully he will be back in the next couple of games as he has to be first choice at the moment and needs some game time.

  1. After a miserable performance from the second rows last week this is a huge opportunity for Cummings to usurp one/both of them. A decent looking backrow there too, will be very interesting to see how it goes.

    A bit of a shame for the lads who put a shift in last week as I am sure by the nature of our better half backs/pack/back three and the fact we are playing at home, I am sure everyone will be made to look better than the person wearing the shirt the week before.

    As mentioned in the article, a win does not really put our World Cup hopes back on track (unless we can move Murrayfield to Tokyo) but I am sure it will do a hell of a lot for the confidence of the camp.

    1. The thing is, we’ve got a new front row combination, a new and inexperienced second row combo, a new back row combo and an untried, much-maligned centre combo. That’s as Toonie a selection as you can get, and it does not inspire confidence in the least!

      1. I would agree with you but out props are probably the best scrummagers we have at our disposal and Watson and Wilson (and maybe Thomson?) will slow their ball down defensively and give us quick ball on our attack. It will be amazing the difference to the whole match with these things amended. Not to mention a 9 who can box kick and two very talented high ballers.

        It is still a very green team but it is a significant improvement from last week and the kind of team you would expect to see in a world cup warm up. The more you look at last week the more you think it was lambs to the slaughter.

    2. What about Skinner? Think Townsend might see him as a lock, which is where he usually plays for Exeter.

  2. Scotland team announced – obviously pre-planned to pick half the squad in the first game and the other half in the second (injured players etc. allowing).

    Unfortunately, I am not wowed by this team – not really near our first choice – and another long afternoon may be on the cards.

    Skinner at 5 – no sign of Gray (is he injured?)
    Wilson at 6 – would much rather have pretty much any of the other options….
    Will be good to see what Blade can do at 8.

    Backline has experience, but I can’t see Horne and Harris at 12 and 13 providing any magic.

    Hopefully the Russell/Seymour/Hogg axis can do something special.

    Laidlaw at 9 is probably sensible, but I am getting more and more frustrated that G.Horne never seems to get a start – he is much more than just a “finisher” and IMO potentially the best 9 we have.

    Home advantage will help, but I really would have liked to see a first choice 15 for this one.

    Presume Hogg will be rested for the 2 Georgia games now.

    1. It doesn’t look to me like a winning team. Would have been happy to see them rock up against Georgia, but against a good French team? Terrifying. At least I don’t have any hope that we’ll win, so surely I can’t be disappointed…

  3. Turner, ok, there is no choice. Harris and Horne, are not an international standard paring; they must be playing for their places, and when inevitably the team plays better this week, and they they flatter to deceive, I hope GT knows Taylor AND Jones have done enough, and Johnson has nothing to prove. Excited to see this backrow combination – could be our best if hype around Thomson to be believed.

  4. If he’s fully fit, Ryan Wilson deserves a start. He’s taken a lot of flak from fans in the past, yet he’s done a lot of really good, hard work and has featured in some of our better performances this last couple of years. One of those players whose value to the side perhaps isn’t appreciated until he’s missing from the side, and iirc we lost him early in this year’s 6N.

    1. Agree – Ryan Wilson gets too much unwarranted bad press. Like many of the most passionate forwards, he can be a penalty collector but you can’t deny his work rate. Scotland play better when he’s on the pitch, for what ever reason.

      1. He’s worth a seat on the plane just for his ability to wind up opposition stand-offs and put them off their game before its even started.

      2. Thing is he’s a 6 being forced to play 8. Now Barclay is shot may well be the best option there.

    2. Ryan Wilson like Peter Horne are missed when they aren’t there. They do a lot of unseen stuff and to think that there’s talk of Horne not going I hope is greatly exaggerated.

      I don’t think centre is looking anything like as strong a position as it has been. We’re bringing in lack of experience for one and even if they could get to a place where they are our best players they need to get to that point very quickly.

      4 years ago we were looking at 4 centres all with pushing onto 50 caps by now we now have a lot less average caps across the board there now and only two of Taylor and Horne that were around back then. Taylor with only a handful of caps since.

      1. Centres 2015- Bennett, Horne, Scott, Bennett
        Centres 2019 – Johnson, Taylor,
        2 from – Horne/Harris/ Jones/Hutchinson.

        Quality wise pretty similar IMO, (if Huw J finds his mojo again 2019 – better) I rate Johnson very highly indeed I do think he is a dark horse for the Lions tour

  5. Backrow looks like it could be potent. Lock pairing and hooker I dont think will help the scrum as ballast has been lost.

    Horne always plays well at 12 and generally our better results come when he plays there but he will be pelted either way. Harris is our best defensive 13 by far and will knock players back so hoping he can go well.

      1. As another commenter said not the size of the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog…
        Front row is quite physical so should be possibly to hold scrums.

  6. Looks like the side GT had already decided to use in this match…Id imagine.
    I think however there are a couple of spots that he reconsidered.
    The front pack failed to deliver in the last match…I think Cummings is seriously being considered for one of Gilchrist /Toolis…probably Toolis…who may have played himself out. Will be good to see Skinner in 2nd row, that’s his best spot I think…not 6…we have too many 6s as it is.
    Thompson always needed to be tried at 8….we have no other natural test quality 8. We have an array of 6s and hybrid 8s but no obvious natural 8. Bradbury is closest type we have to a test 8 and he is injured anyway. Thompson has proven himself to be an excellent player at all levels other than the international stage….will be good to see if he can do it.
    If Horne/Harris is our centre partnership in the RWC we are in trouble. Average test players at best.
    Its another of sign of risk from GT….we still dont know our best side ….or maybe he does and doesn’t want to show his hand. If he does, how much momentum and confidence will be accumulated playing Georgia?? If he doesnt…we have 3 matches to find it. I feel like I could name the starting team for Ireland at the RWC ….there are parts of our team I have no clue who will be selected.

    1. I believe the 31 man squad is named in between Georgia matches so I think we will see the starting team for the last game. It is a shame that we didn’t play Georgia first to try out new combos and then put our first choice team against France to really test them but I guess whoever’s decision it was knows more than me!

      I agree with your backrow points and that Skinner is more of a second row, which he has stated himself. Would like to see a loose 5 of him, gray, watson, bradbury and wilson/thomson…good blend of grunt and moblity but possibly giving up a bit of height in the lineouts. Didn’t realise that Blade was 6ft6 though so he will be a good option!

      As for the centres, Johnson and Taylor are surely nailed on (barring injury) so if the other two are Harris and Horne and not Hutchison and Jones, there will be a lot of bemused fans!

    2. Yeah, not sure there is much future in a Horne/Harris centre pairing. Will be interesting again to see where Hutchinson plays when he comes on. I’d rather give him a run at 10 than Horne for the last 15 minutes. Hopefully Johnson gets fit soon as he could do with some game time with some of his potential partners. No idea who Toony thinks his starting 12/13 will be for Ireland.

    1. 2nd rows are more aggressive than last week imo.
      Alun Wyn Jones is not a giant. He’s kind of lumpy I suppose, but it’s his competitiveness that makes him such a standout.

      1. Really!? Why in the media do they always harp on about Frances “monsters in the pack” and “gargantuan forwards” if ours are actually bigger…

      2. Combination of stereotype and our beta dog performance, I guess. From the collisions you’d assume the French were bigger. They also seemed to take the ball on the run rather than from a standing start.

    2. There are different types of size and weight doesn’t tell the full story.

      Grant Gilchrist is the same height as LeBron James and roughly the same weight but one of them is an explosive athlete and the other one moves like a tractor.

  7. Not sure why the author thinks this is a lot closer to our strongest XV than last weekend. Care to elaborate Kevin?
    Hogg vs Hogg – same
    Seymour vs Graham – on form, I would pick Darcy
    Harris vs Jones – the last couple of outings for Huw haven’t inspired but I’d still pick him over Harris
    Horne vs Taylor – I like Pete Horne at 12 as a second playmaker but Taylor is class and has his place on the plane already after only 50 minutes
    Maitland vs McGuigan – OK, Maitland is 1st choice
    Russell vs Hastings – OK
    Laidlaw vs Price – before last week most people would have thought Price was #1
    Reid vs Bhatti – again, before last week I’d have Bhatti ahead, though only just as Gordy seems to be having a late-career flourish
    Turner vs MciInally – McInally every time
    Nel vs Berghan – before last week Berghan was beginning to show more consistency than WP
    Cummings vs Toolis – nobody would have said Cummings deserved his place more than Toolis before last week. Now maybe. But neither are 1st choice locks.
    Skinner vs Gilchrist – I think both will go to Japan but my bet would be on Gilchrist partnering Gray as first choice
    Wilson vs Barclay – both possible starters, but I’d still pick Barclay
    Watson vs Ritchie – OK, but Jamie was the outstanding player last week
    Thomson vs Strauss – possibly but neither would be in my 1st XV atm.
    So I think there are 5 or 6 “first XV” in the starting line-up this week, as opposed to 5 or 6 last week. And 1 or 2 from last week were there before that debacle!

    1. That inference was mine as I added the team update, Kevin is blameless. Stronger, more experienced overall was the sense I got. Certainly with the inclusion of what is still the first choice back three, regularly first-choice halfbacks, most experienced option at skipper and restoration of regular starters Wilson and Watson to the back row. Plus WP and Reid should make it a stronger scrummaging unit, and the presence of Gilchrist and Barclay on the bench makes it overall a stronger 23 IMO. In terms of this season with everyone coming to it level we only have last week’s form as any reliable guide…

  8. Toonies sticking to his original plan. In hindsight he may have preferred to have these matches the opposite way round Georgia first then France but perhaps he assumed France would also be experimenting with squad options rather than going straight in with their first choice team. I always assume the coaches have a kind of gentleman’s agreement about this kind of thing. I’m surprised Taylor’s not on the bench to get more game time in him. Given the nature of the team if we get close to France I think it will be a big step forward. A win with this team would put us right back on track.

    1. I think Taylor showed that he is, even at 70% match fit, by far and away our best centre…. he is being wrapped in cotton wool now. A cert for not only the 31…but to start v Ireland …id say. I hope the other spot is contested by Jones, Johnson and Hutchinson.

  9. Quite a dynamic 2nd row and more aggressive than last week’s.
    Back row looks potentially good.
    I might be a minority of 1 but I watch Harris in the premiership and I think he’s a lot better than given credit for on these forums.
    He rarely gets a chance to start for Scotland so this is his chance to put himself up the pecking order.
    A few of our more reliable players return but they will have to shake off rustiness and get up to speed quickly.
    I hope there is a big step up from last weekend.?

    1. I really hope Harris has a blinder and demonstrates for us all what Toonie sees in him. He’s got a bad rep – probably unfairly as he’s played on wing a fair bit – but when I’ve seen him play in the Prem and ERCC he’s looked really good.

      1. I went to watch a game between Northampton and Newcastle in the 17/18 season and he was the classiest player on the pitch by far. Hasn’t shown it yet for Scotland but his chances have been a bit limited. Really harsh debut when the whole team was awful. Really hope it’s time he showed his best for Scotland.

      2. I hope you are right , I am at the stage where I want Harris to win us over. He will be shoulder to shoulder with Cipriani down at Kingsholm , he will need to be as fast as a camera flash. He must have something if Ackers took him. If you think we batter him with insults ,well earned I would add , just take a trip to the Sheds at Kingsholm, they drink beer in 2 pint jugs and bawl from the warm up to final whistle.

      3. Problem is there have been a lot of players that do well at club/cup level that never make the step up to international.

        I hope to be proven wrong, but Harris has had more chances than most and hasn’t performed so far (even allowing for the disastrous games he has been in).

      4. Fraser,

        One of the issues I think with both players and coaches is that relative strengths at club level often become “average” while average things become relative “weaknesses”.

        I think Gatland, Schmidt for example get this 100% — its the lack of weaknesses that wins games, not the presence of strengths. Boring stuff but it works.

        Toonie seems obsessed with playing a “winning” style…I think he forgets about the “not losing” part of the game…

        Not wanting a return to the “chewing yesterdays porridge” style of the noughties, but Townsend I think has swung a bit too far the other way.

  10. Interesting selection. My take is that game time is being given to every fit squad player. This selection would, I hazard, be more experienced in terms of caps than last week but perhaps someone has already done the maths?
    Interesting to see whether a change in personnel results in an improved performance, or whether the same systems failures will be evident, which would point to issues with the coaching rather than personnel.
    Any win would have to count as a success.

  11. I’d be wary of picking Thomson, irrespective of how he plays tomorrow. We have had TOOOO many instances of guys who (we think) are the next big thing, only to be disappointed after one or two tests.
    All our number 8’s of recent times have blown hot and cold. Denton, DuPreez, Strauss, Johnnie Beattie (remember him?). None have really cemented their place but all have made glorious starts to their international career only to follow it up with damp squibs of performances. Ryan Wilson is the only man to be consistent – not a typical modern 8 (like Faletau, Vunipola, Reid, Parisse, Picamoles) who will make charging runs and break tackles. But at least we know what we’re going to get – tackling, jackling and generally being a player the opposition hates playing against.
    Thomson may well be the answer we are looking for, but I would still have Strauss as backup to Wilson despite his showing last week , until Thomson has proven himself (more than once or twice).
    In the same vein, I really hope Cummings and Skinner step up this weekend. Their form suggests they will but as I keep harping on about, coming on in the last 20 it is much easier to look better than the guy that has been playing for the previous 60.

    1. I think Bradbury and Fagerson have been consistently good in their rare appearances. It’s a shame Denton’s been so unlucky with injuries – at his best he’s a monster.

      1. I dont think we ever saw the best of David Denton in a navy jersey. Shame really, decent lad, just very unfortunate. He filled a gap post the killer B’s and much as we have villified John Beattie in these pages he scored three tries in 38 caps. In 42 caps (that is 10% more than Beattie) Denton never scored one. His yards were, IMO, often sideways avoiding the other big boys and looking for a half back. Beattie was direct and from what I have seen of Thompson , same direct style.

        Was it bad timing or was he just a ‘honey’ monster. I am not sure the records show the monster we may wish he was/is/could be. Sadly I think the last time we had a credible 8, was John Beattie and no question , he was Glasgow born, Glasgow bred.

      2. Denton is superb athlete doing his best to play rugby. He isnt a particularly gifted rugby player.

    2. Thomson has been a standout performer over several seasons for the Hurricanes and Maori All Blacks and was on the fringes of the all blacks so he has pedigree.

      Like so many of our players he hasn’t had much rugby this season so question is how quick he shakes rust off.

    3. Wishing Thomson well for this one. I don’t think he’s the messiah but he might do a good shift for us at 8.

      1. He’s not the messiah – he’s a very naughty boy! Oh hang on, no – that’s Wilson. There are many legends of the Three Sons, so let’s see if this backrow combination can etch a chapter in the lore of Scottish rugby to match that of the Killer B’s. Hopefuly we will see a lot more speed, urgency and intensity than last week’s effort.

  12. Bring back Dunbar, Hardie & Gray surely better than some of the current options.

    1. Sutherland
    2. Cherry
    3. Rae
    4. Gray
    5. Carmichael
    6. Hardie
    7. Gordon
    8. Denton
    9. SHC
    10. Jackson
    11. Nairn
    12. Mcdowall
    13. Dunbar
    14. Jones
    15. Jordan

    16. Kerr
    17. Mcallum
    18. Welsh
    19. Hunter-Hill
    20. Harley
    21. Shiel
    22. Weir
    23. Scott

  13. After the performance last week I’d be happy for the players to perform like they actually want to be on the plane to Japan!

    I’d also like to see Matt Fagerson get a start over the next few games.

    1. A centre pairing of Horne and Harris, must have been selected purely to start this forums two most hated players together!

      I’m a full member of the Pete Horne fan club so fine with me and it’ll be a chance for Harris to show what he can do from the start, how many games has he actually started before? I don’t watch the premiership but plenty of people say he’s good so come on Chris let’s see it.

      On the Alex Dunbar front, did anyone ever get to the bottom of what happened with him? He went from starting 12, having a pretty poor game to being dropped by club and country and never heard of again.

      For what it’s worth I think this should be a stronger team than last week. We really need a strong performance to bounce back from that, a hammering again would be devastating for morale in the camp. Yes we are crap away from home, whatever the reason for that is I do not know, but at the World Cup everyone is away from home (except Japan of course).

      Hopefully France don’t like the cold…..?

      1. 1.8T, I’m glad you pointed out that everyone except Japan is playing away from home or, more accurately, at a neutral venue.
        So apart from the Japan Test, we need to disregard all this ‘we can’t play away games’ sh*te and just get on with it, like every other team has to do apart from Japan.
        It looks like a pretty decent 23 for Murrayfield on Saturday so I’m hoping for a better showing than the surrender in Nice.

  14. Kevin’s point reference Wayne Barnes is worth noting. Scotland really need to get to understand the referees and win their confidence. Laidlaw and Barnes is the combination that most intrigues me. Let’s hope someone at the SRU is looking after Mr Barnes this weekend. It strikes me, that he may have his eye on one of the finals, so if anyone knows what WR want to see, it will be Wayne Barnes. Good luck Greig.

  15. GT is obviously giving every member of the squad a “go” – which makes sense & is only fair. Johnny b is 100% right re Blade Thomson & i’m hopeful he adds something to this team. Big games for both centers – they know a good performance maybe secures them a place in the final squad. (maybe @ Huw Jones’s expense)

  16. Re Denton, there was 1 season he looked liked he had the lot, size, physicality, speed, mindset. Maybe he bulked up to much, injuries took their toll, don’t know……. he played very well in the last RWC

    1. He was very popular at Worcester , one of the main factors that kept them in the premiership 2017/18 according to their fans.

      1. Not sure we can dismiss him as figure of the past just yet. He’s 29 so still has few years left. Thought the same thing about Du-Preez too tbh. If they regains from/fitness they’ll be part of the conversation again.

      2. As a long suffering Worcester season ticket holder I saw plenty of Denton. Overall he was good and on his day, very good with us. Always the suspicion that he would fall over too easily in the tackle and very injury prone.
        Cornell has been impressive during his few outings. Surprisingly so perhaps as he often seemed anonymous in a Scotland jersey. His horrific injury seems well and truly behind him.
        Duncan Weir has been simply brilliant.Great game management, fierce in the tackle, deadly off the tee. Consistent with all the aforementioned. Decent bloke too.

      3. Stick with it Munro, I was at the sixways game against Gloucester this season, the game that took them clear. Got friends with season tickets, a special breed. Look out for me at Kingsholm on the 20th December.Dont suppose you are at the T20 next week ?

  17. GT said he wanted to give all of the squad a game in the first couple of games. Based on game one very few players got pass marks. Home advantage might help us this week ? GL is a leader who can implement a game plan and has FR on his shoulder who can take a game plan and kick it into the stand and create a plan b in a side step. If we lose then the mental strength conditioning of players will a tough job.
    I think we will win and in typical Scottish “that was close” style.
    Go well boys the bar has not been set high

    1. Yeah…thats what frustrates me about Laidlaw.
      He is the best captain we have…and best game manager….but that slow ball?!….drives me insane!
      Price flatters to deceive….his ball out the ruck is getting slower and slower…and his game management is non existent.
      G Horne has a lot of potential but still a bit raw.

    1. Has suffered a few head injuries…the last one bad enough that he wrote off the season.
      Denton’s club side basically only expect hime to play a handful of games over the next couple of years.
      It sounds like he is preparing to move on from rugby.
      Never quite the player we all wanted him to be …… as someone said….superb athlete…and I’m sure an intelligent person…but he just wasn’t an intelligent rugby player. Never reached his potential for a long enough period….mainly due to injuries.

  18. Denton was immense in the 1/4 final versus Australia. After that he never really got going again for Scotland.

    1. I recall he came on as a sub against France at Murrayfield in the 2018 6N Test and helped us dominate their pack in the last 20 minutes and get a very decent 32-26 win.
      So his going days were more recent than 2015. I really feel for the guy. He’s had some terrible luck with injuries.

      1. Just looking at the second and back row, very mobile , down a few Ibs in the front row, feels like townsend wants to run them around
        Laidlaw box kicking from a retreating scrum.

  19. I predict WC ending injuries tomorrow.

    Turner (concussion)
    Laidlaw – Ankle
    Thomson – Arm or knee

    1. Thanks Neil don’t be too positive now best not to get to excited in case you fall over.

      Can probably cope with two of the three but wouldn’t like not having Laidlaw available.

      Hopefully we get out again without too much concern. Unlikely we’ll get through all the matches without anything but who knows.

      1. I don’t want it to happen referendum, i just have a bad feeling both sides are going to turn up tomorrow for a very physical game.

  20. Anyone catch the Times article today on Horne and how being versatile is both a curse and a blessing. He has started just under the same he has had off the bench. 20/21

    Amazingly he has only started at centre wit Dunbar once in his Scotland career. I’ve have thought they’ve have played almost double figures together but I guess injury, form and being on the bench in case has put paid to that. Harris is his 9th different centre partner I think it said.

    Huw Jones is his partner way more than anyone else in 5 and the next is 3.

    He’s never had a consistent partner in crime to work with and of all his being maligned he is really the only centre to have survived this World Cup cycle and had a decent long run picking up caps throughout that whole time. Hoping for a solid performance tomorrow and a place on the plane.

    We do need tries to reverse this poor trend of try scoring recently. And of course solid defence wouldn’t go a miss either. Lets hope tomorrow turns us a bit more positive again.

    1. Ref: Just wondering about what that tells me about the consistency of Huw Jones partners ! Jones was class till he joined Glasgow , he has had sublime games and dreadful games for Scotland.

      Peter Horne will be in Japan but he will be there for his versatility and that is his strength. True, he is master of none , but the press have missed the point, that versatility is a strength which is nothing to do with curses or blessings. Where do we get these ‘Times’ writers , was it Clair Rayner , luvvie.

    2. It really is ridiculous how many centre pairings we’ve had in the last 4-5yrs.

      Not one of our centre’s played from 2014 onwards have actually retired and all are still under 30 (with the exception of a solitary cap for Richie Vernon in RWC 2015).

      Your comment piqued my interest so I checked it out…Our starting centre pairs since 2014 6N (not including june test series).

      Dunbar – Jones (9)
      Horne – Jones (5)
      Scott – Bennett (5)
      Dunbar – Bennett (4)
      Scott – Dunbar (4)
      Dunbar – Taylor (2)
      Johnson – Grigg (2)
      Johnson – Jones (2)
      Taylor – Bennett (2)

      and 9 other starting centre pairings who have started just 1 game together.

      1. Goes to show how valuable Dunbar was to the team, he seemed to add a real bit of grit in defence & power in attack.

        He should not of been chucked out in the cold the way it happened, sru could of invested some time into him to get him back on track.

      2. I think Horne is underrated at 12.

        He is deceptively strong and in defence he’s solid. He’s a leader who makes others around him play better. He can truck it up, he knows when to go wide. He can hit a gap or create one with his creativity. He also has a dash of flair which he moderates well.

        He’s had the odd brain fart but generally from trying something. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the line up if you were picking out our best games over the last few years.

      3. I agree Scrummo. Horne generally has a positive influence at 12, brings balance to the backline (well mainly Russell) and has contributed to a number of our best performances. He is smart, brave and skillful. Totally outshone Farrell at 12 in the CC 2017. Something about some players just get stuck in the collective consciousness and is thereafter hard/impossible to shake. We have a number of players who do not fit the ‘ideal’ image for a particular position who will be forever maligned, despite their contributions and the team being more effective when they’re included. Attitude and smarts are important and both were lacking in Nice.

  21. Our centres need to tackle hard as our full back can or will not.We just don’t get it.

    Last line of defence not first line of attack.

    1. Stop trotting out the same old nonsense. Hoggs defence is as good as anybody’s over the last few years (before that it was a bit more questionable).

      The only reason he sometimes looks bad is that he is put in impossible situations by the rest of the team.

  22. I like Pete Horne as well, but with Johnson & Taylor nailed on, 2 out of Hutchinson, Harris, Horne & Jones will be very disappointed.

  23. Maybe I’m getting old and conservative, but there is much to be said for RWCs being the time to field the experienced and proven players that have developed together over the last decade or so.
    Hogg, Seymour, Jones, Horne, Maitland, Russell, Laidlaw, Reid, McInally, Nel, Gilchrist, Gray, Barclay, Watson, Wilson, as a mature and battle hardened core RWC-ready starting 15.

    Z-Fag, Berghan, Bhatti, Brown, Taylor (still coming back from injury), Johnson (ditto), Price, as established supporting cast.

    Young usurpurs – Kinghorn, Graham, Hutchinson, Hastings, GHorne, Ritchie, Bradbury, M-Fag, Cummings, Skinner in the wings waiting to seize an opportunity (which there will undoubtedly be), have a breakthrough tournament, and establish themselves as the main contenders for the next two RWCs. Three of these not to travel, but likely to be called up.

    And Blade – let’s see how he goes today.

    1. At least 4 or 5 of those usurpers are better already than the players listed above them.

      Picking purely on experience is as bad as purely on potential – we need the right blend to be successful.

  24. At half-time it seems like we’re still off the pace, but our set piece is miles better, both than last week and than the French’s. However, we’re still too ‘clean’ in defence, and we give up on the chase too easily. Both French tries so far should have had harder conversions. If you look at the French defence for Maitland’s try, they force him to dot it down near the corner rather than under the posts. I feel bad for Horne, as I suspect people will focus on that intercept rather than all the great work he’s done since. And Russell is pretty hit and miss – hopefully this is just a lack of match fitness.

    Still, it’s a better performance, though.

    Also, did Harris lose consciousness in the build up to the try? Looked like it and Greig was struggling to get the ball free.

    1. Looks like a team that have never played together before – absolutely zero understanding along the backline.

      Harris is lucky we scored there – he should have passed outside to Hogg on the break. Still not impressed.

      Thompson looking decent, as is Skinner. Watson is world class. Scrum is on top.

      Wilson is terrible.

      At least this time we are working to sort things out when we make mistakes (which are still far too frequent).

      We really need to work out how to stay on the right side of refs – it’s killing us.

      Better, but still not up to standard.

      Also, totally agree about the French tries, should have been in the corner but the chasers just stopped.

  25. Are Maitland and Seymour the only players who can catch a high ball…..crikey we are poor at that. Lots of sloppy passes.
    France look much slicker in attack.
    Horne should not be in the 31…despite all the ..’he’s not a liability’….eh..yes he is!. His usual brain fart pass gifting opposition a try just when we are trying to settle. Turner and Reid…meh.
    Hogg is great when he actually has the ball firmly in his hands…but sometimes he has has hands likecoos udders when receiving the ball…and I wince every time he jumps for a high ball.
    Id take Cummings ahead of Toolis.
    Thompson hasn’t had much good ball given to him….but Id still take him….signs of great hands with a couple of collects and passes….and we are a joke at 8 otherwise.
    The only players who look indispensable to me…from 1st half are Watson and Maitland.

  26. teamcam
    you are right to feel bad about Horne.
    he should not be on the plane!
    at fault at the intercept but also no pace in defence at Frances second try where he was closest man to Frances winger and failed to give chase.

  27. Skinner injured – knee or ankle I think. Disaster – he’s been one of the best players today

  28. A win…but didn’t induce much confidence. Scrappy…poor handling…incohesive.
    I really don’t have high expectations in RWC…we’ll be lucky to get out our group..unless were using a large dosage of tom foolery in our pre-games.
    I thought despite their loss France looked a better side.

      1. I don’t think France even looked better in the first half. They were nowhere near as good as last week, and we were turning them over with ease and matching their physicality. I’ve not seen the stats yet, but I’d be surprised if they were even. Over both games, however, France were comfortably the better team.

  29. That’s a better side than last week. Toolis gone for me unless Skinner injured.

    Jones also, I think is going to miss out. Harris was better today than Jones has been for months. Harris also looks like he wants it. Johnson, Taylor, Harris and ….. Horne maybe.

    Think Barclay is probably, sadly, going to be the man to miss out. Wilson makes a massive difference in defence and has to go. After two games, subject to injuries I would go with:

    Gordy Reid (!)
    McInally (although I question this)
    Laidlaw (c)

    Brown (although Turner and Stewart both did well)
    Zander Fagerson
    Ritchie (but maybe one of Bradbury or Fagerson for impact)
    Hastings probably, but could be Hutchinson- I don’t know enough about him

  30. Relief is the overwhelming feeling, first half looked like going the way of last week for a while but they steadied the ship and ended stronger.

    Still seem to be incapable of playing more than 2 phases without kicking the ball away.

    Defence shaky in the first half but seemed better in the second.

    Several players made the difference today – Laidlaw, Russell, Watson.

    Young guys – Kinghorn had a great game, Thompson looked like what we are missing at 8, Both 2nd rows good.

    Some not so good – Pete Horne made a big mistake and not a lot good, Ryan Wilson is a liability, too slow and lucky not to be penalised more.

    Mixed – Harris, really good line for his try and a couple of nice breaks but should have passed before the first try and some bad errors as well (overall has done enough I think but I’m not 100% convinced). Turner – lineouts need fixed badly (not always the hookers fault, but he made at least 3 poor throws himself).

    1. For me…
      Horne out…consistently brain farts…not good enough at the top level. Harris was decent. Taylor, Johnson, Jones..and 1 of Hutchinson/Harris.
      Barclay looks past it.
      Wilson ok…but is ‘ok’ really good enough for 1st choice in a test back row? If it is… sigh! I prefer Ritchie & Bradbury for 6….and Thompson looks like a few more games and he’ll be our best 8…best hands in our back row.
      Hogg was crap…and goes from one of the worlds best FB to an average one far too often for my liking. He can’t defend or catch a high ball.
      Wrap Maitland and Watson in cotton wool!
      Cummings is better than Toolis. We actually missed J Gray
      Skinner looks out of RWC. If so will R Gray be called up for Georgia matches?
      Stewart looks better than Turner to me.
      Reid …I like his attitude…he really gives his all…but isn’t athletic enough or good enough outside the scrum.
      Laidlaw is better option than Price.
      He makes mistakes…but we are much better side with Russell. Kinghorn or Graham…flip a coin…both can be brilliant or make mistakes.
      GT facial expression at end looked more concerned than happy to win. Which pretty much sums it up.

      1. Agree with most of that –

        I think give Jones the next game but if he doesn’t perform against Georgia, I would take Harris and Hutchinson.

        Not sure what Hogg did so badly that game so completely disagree on that.

        Price is back down to number 3 for me.

        Ritchie and Bradbury are much better than Wilson IMO.

        Suspect Gray won’t get called up at this stage if Skinner is out, they will likely just take the rest. If Townsend preferred them to Gray to start with, that won’t have changed – hope to be wrong though.

  31. Have to say France look to being back to a force despite us giving them up the ball too easily.
    For me Russell and Watson our only world class players, the rest are purely workmanlike.
    Not a fan of Harris previously but did well in defence today and took his try well. He will be on the plane. Hopefully with Johnson. Not a fan of Laidlaws but he played a captain’s role today and he must go. Young Horne is electric and more of a threat around the base but only has one thought in his mind -attack!
    I thought Wilson played well. No he can’t do barnstorming but he is an all round player with good hands and good engine.
    Thomson was impressive but if that’s another concussion he won’t make the plane.
    Send all 3 hookers back to throwing classes their fouled throw ins have cost us tens of metres. Kinghorn dangerous but has to be able to pads inside better than that.
    Agree with the high ball. Either we are incapable of performing the basics under international match pressure or we aren’t practising the skills enough in training. Last year these passes and balls stuck which made us a dangerous unpredictable side to play against. We have went backwards in spite of increased exposure/caps gained.

  32. Wow, and I thought I was being negative!

    Intercept aside (and we’re lucky there weren’t more), I thought Horne was good in attack and defence. That said, Hutchinson looked really good, too.

    Wilson was good, penalty aside. A penalty which was pretty harsh, and for which Barnes didn’t punish anyone else in the game.

    Set piece fell apart a bit as the game went on, but the starting front row were absolutely monstering the French and were unlucky to not get more from Barnes out of it.

    We did lack composure, though, and there was still a fair bit of rust evident. Russell got better as the game went on, but he still gave away possession with some dumb kicks. Hogg was excellent throughout – my MotM – and I was gutted for him when Berghan undermined his great work with a brainless pass. Kinghorn was good and grew more confident but could’ve scored or setup a try if he’d backed himself.

    All in all, there was more good than bad, but I can’t see Ireland or Japan quaking in there boots just yet. Three concerning injuries, too, especially for Skinner.

    1. Wilson got done several times when he was in the line – one of which led to a French try I think. Far too easy for them to get round him and a mismatch isn’t an excuse for a back row.
      The tackling the man beyond the ruck I agree was harsh, but he got pinged for a high tackle and could have got done for a couple more, as well as straying offside several times (which I suspect was due to his lack of pace).

      Having said that, the french backline was offside all the time again and only got penalised once or twice!

      1. I think Kinghorn was pinged for the high tackle, and offside is just a joke nowadays, isn’t it?

        We slowed their ball down a lot and Wilson was leading the charge when we counter-rucked them to oblivion.

  33. player ratings

    1. Reid – 6
    2. Turner – 5 (discipline & lineout)
    3. Nel – 7
    4. Cummings – 6
    5. Skinner – 7
    6.Wilson – 7
    7. Watson – 8.5
    8. Thomson – 7
    9. Laidlaw – 8 (decent pace)
    10. Russell – 8.5
    11. Maitland – 7
    12. Horne – 6
    13. Harris – 6
    14. Seymour – 7.5
    15. Hogg – 5

    16. Stewart – 5
    17. Dell – 6
    18. Berghan – 6
    19. Gilchrist – 6
    20. Barclay – 5
    21. Horne – 5
    22. Hutchison – 5
    23. Kinghorn – 8

    1. Front 5 deserve an extra point for their scrum performance.
      Wilson gets a 5 from me.

      Harris deserves a 7 (and I’m not a fan), Seymour didn’t do that much before he went off so gets a 6 from me.

      Not sure what you think Hogg did wrong to deserve a 5…..

      Rest I more or less agree – Kinghorn May have had a breakthrough game.

  34. I’d assume if Blade Thomson had an HIA he’ll be struggling to make the squad? (although he looked happy enough in the stand)

    Scrappy old game, Scotland made so many mistakes, Watson, Russell, Laidlaw, Maitland, Hogg played well.

    GT has a quandary at center & in the back row.

    No idea why Richie Gray is not in the squad

    1. I think Thomson (and Seymour) will be fine for Japan. Looked like minor head knocks only. Skinner on the other hand looked more serious.

  35. I have always liked Pete Horne but I’d leave him out the 31. From having 4 born and bred Scots as the centres 4 years ago (plus the injured Dunbar) i’d now take 4 to this WC none of whom sound remotely Scottish. Johnson, Taylor, Harris, Hutchinson. Jones isn’t good enough, can’t defend or pass – all he does is score tries. I liked the look of Harris at Newcastle, he is a very good athlete and is direct and aggressive. Was a matter if time before he started showing his quality for Scotland. He hits very hard, looks deceive.

    Thought Grigg had a decent game at 15 today. Kinghorn good but he can’t tackle a fish supper. I’d take Wilson but not ahead of Ritchie. Thomson OK but I’m not convinced….he looks lightweight, very thin waist. Stewart ahead of Turner – the latter doesn’t have it in the head. Silly penalties and what on earth was that short throw-in, it was the squintest dart i’ve even seen. Bizarre.

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