Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


World Cup Warm Ups 2019: France v Scotland – the teams

Duncan Taylor - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Duncan Taylor - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Gregor Townsend has named his team to face France in Nice at the weekend for Scotland’s first of four warm-up games before the World Cup kicks off in Japan.

Toony is back at the tombola stand, he’s handed over his money and plunged his hand into the bucket to see which tickets come out. But, at the risk of labouring the metaphor, has he pulled out a ticket for a decent bottle of supermarket wine or an unwanted set of bath salts someone got for Christmas?

Surprisingly – but perhaps sensibly given they are certainties for Japan – there’s no Finn Russell, Jonny Gray or Greig Laidlaw in a matchday squad that blends youth and experience. Northampton’s much-fancied centre Rory Hutchinson is given a chance to repeat his Premiership form from the bench and Duncan Taylor starts in the number 12 jersey after a torrid time with injuries.

“These four Tests are a vital part of that process in terms of testing our systems and combinations but also in seeing which players put their best foot forward when it comes to selection for the final 31-man group going to Japan next month.”

Gregor Townsend

Hooker Stuart McInally returns as captain having led the side during the Calcutta Cup earlier in the year. His Edinburgh clubmates make up a large proportion of the forward pack with Simon Berghan and (technically now an Edinburgh player) Jamie Bhatti his front row partners.

With Barclay, Ritchie, Gilchrist and Toolis also featuring, Josh Strauss (Blue Bulls) is the odd man out.

Hastings and Price is a familiar half-back combination for Glasgow while the midfield gives us a first look at the Taylor/Jones pair often imagined over the last few years. Stuart Hogg (the King) forms a royal back three with Prince of Hawick Darcy Graham and, er, Byron McGuigan.

Scotland team to play France at the Allianz Riviera, Nice
Saturday 17 August
Kick-off 8pm BST, 9pm local time
Live on Premier Sports

France: Maxime Médard, Damien Penaud, Welsey Fofana, Gael Fickou, Alivereti Raka, Camille Lopez, Antoine Dupont; Jefferson Poirot (capt) , Camille Chat, Rabah Slimani, Paul Gabrillagues, Sébastien Vahaamahina, Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon, Greg Alldritt.
Replacements: Mauvaka, Priso, Steniao, Lambey, Louis Picamoles, Serin, Romain Ntamack, Ramos.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, Huw Jones, Duncan Taylor, Byron McGuigan, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Jamie Bhatti, Stuart McInally (capt), Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist, John Barclay, Jamie Ritchie, Josh Strauss.
Replacements: George Turner, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Blair Kinghorn.

Unavailable for selection: Sam Johnson (ankle), Magnus Bradbury (rib), Fraser Brown (toe).

In this week’s podcast we spoke to Illtud Dafyyd, a sports journalist based in France, about what Scotland can expect and how France’s World Cup preparations have been going.

106 Responses

  1. Squad is looking extremely cheeky, and surprisingly restrained (for Toonie). Just goes to show the strength in depth that we’ve been un/fortunate enough to have to develop.

    There was a Squidge Rugby video about our chances at the RWC in which he concluded that after this WC Toonie will realise that he needs to think and select with the long-term view in mind and subsequently target 2023. I think this selection is indicative the Toonie is already doing that. Of course his next selection will be 23 Finn Russells just to show me up, now…

  2. Interesting squad. Less experimental than I expected, looking forward to seeing Taylor come back into the shirt and Hutchinson get capped. Also, Magic Darcy!

  3. Quite like this team. I am going on the assumption that Strauss, McGuigan and possibly Ben Toolis are playing for their place on the plane along with the guys on the bench? All the others are likely to go anyway IMO. Chance for superdunc to show if he has any form / can make it through a game, and I don’t think (correct me if I’m wrong) he has played with Huw Jones before?

    Like the idea of starting Hastings with Price, they’ve played together all season and we have nothing new to learn by starting Greeg and Finn. That’s also a pretty powerful back row and interesting that Mcinally is captain with Barclay starting.

    On paper that’s a very strong back division (only adding Finn would be a definite improvement) but not one we’re used to, will be interesting to see how / if they gel.

    1. Think Ritchie, Taylor and Jones are all playing for their places too, for different reasons (competition, recovery from long-term injury, competition/loss form).

    2. “On paper that’s a very strong back division (only adding Finn would be a definite improvement)…”

      I think Seymour or Maitland over McGuigan would be a definite improvement.

      1. What a backline. What a chance for Taylor and Jones to boss the game. Would have been / could be exciting to see a Graham, Hogg, Kinghorn back 3…

  4. I would hope that everyone thinks they are playing for a spot and no-one is nailed on.. That said I agree with some of the points above about McGuigan, Strauss, Jones, the locks and Taylor possibly only having one shot to make their case as we will likely see an almost completely different team next week with the likes of Seymour, Thomson, Harris, Skinner et al given a run – any indication when the final 31 will be named?

    Also I can safely say I am a well rested fan who can’t wait for Saturday – might be meaningless in terms of result, but seeing the Rugby championship and last weeks warm up games has really whetted the appetite!

    1. Most of the side no they are safely on the plane. Don’t be naive. Strauss, Ritchie and Mcguigan are the only starters not on the plane. England beat Wales because they selected a team who had to prove themselves when Wales selected a side who knew they were on the plane. The result was they played at 70% avoided 50/50s etc. It’s the nature of warm ups. To quote blood and mud the players make business decisions in that situation about what to contest.

      1. I could perhaps be accused of being glib by using the management speech, but not naive. Dont think you can say for certain that Taylor is on the plane, and to that end I also think there is a chance Toolis or Gilchrist miss out for Cummings with Skinner and potentially Thomson covering the 4th lock position as well as backrow – point being some boys can play themselves in, but the strength in depth means some boys an play themselves out.

  5. Strong looking team and especially exciting when you consider the names left out! I thought that Blade would have been thrown into the mix straight away but I guess we will see him next week. Slightly curious that most of our front liners have been left out but Hogg is starting, here is hoping for no Anscombesque injuries.

    Hoping the Fagerson brothers continue their end of season Glasgow form off the bench though I feel the younger will need to do something very special to make the final 6 backrows.

    1. If you read the press earlier in the week Hogg was definitely itching to get playing after pre-season. Think we’ll see him in this game but if his form looks good from the off they may wrap him up! It’s a tough balance to find between keeping him sharp and exposing him to risk – but the whole game is a risk…

      1. Yeah I read that article…let’s just hope he doesn’t get too excited and run into one of his players ala 2017!

  6. Interesting team.

    Really interested to see where Rory Hutchinson plays when he comes on as he’s obviously covering both stand off and centre. If he has a stormer then Horne senior’s position in the squad is very much at risk.

    I fancy seeing Horne junior having a go at tired French defense. Also interested in how Cummings brings his Pro14 from against some big French units.

    Finally I would say that McInally has first shot at captaincy over Barclay and that might be the shape of things to come unless Barclay has a stormer or Laidlaw has an outstanding game in the next round.

    1. I do wish they would give G Horne some starts and not just use him as a super sub.

      He is much more than that and a better 9 than Price in my books.

    2. Hope Hutchison lives up to expectations. I think we should have space to take some selection risks – in 2011 Priestland was great in warm up games, promptly became Wales first choice FH and was amazing at the World Cup. Career hasn’t lived up to early promise but you don’t have to have 30 caps to play well if you are confident and working in a well-functioning system.

  7. Looks like a solid pack with some experimentation in the backs between the starting lineup and the bench. Looking forward to seeing how Taylor and Jones get on as a partnership and how Hutchinson does when he comes on. A really nice place to be in and shows the depth we have in the squad at the moment.

  8. Interesting there’s no fly-half cover. I guess Hoggy can play there with Kinghorn coming on at full-back, but I’m guessing Hastings will play the full 80 barring injury.

  9. Let’s hope Hastings doesn’t get injured – with no Russell, Laidlaw or P Horne, is Kinghorn backup 10?

    Or I suppose Hogg (as long as he hasn’t been subbed) or even Taylor?

    Just read a post above saying Hutchinson, has he played much 10?

    1. He’s mostly played outside centre and wing for his club. Same for Scotland under 20 where he’s played stand-off, centre and wing. He’s the kind of utility player that could well travel.

      1. Its the kind of experiment you would expect Toony to spring. If he can come on for the last 20 at stand-off and go well in France then he has one foot on the plane.

        Would not be surprised to see him start at outside centre next week either.

  10. Interesting that McInally is selected capt with Barclay VC. Maybe Barclay not seen as certain starter in back row. Which would seem likely considering level of competition for places.
    I guess Taylor selected to see where he truly is at with test level fitness. Thought he may have been better introduced from the bench but hey ho…hope he can recapture the pre-injuries form.. he was our best centre.
    Just like any side at the top level… we are an injured ‘best player’ away from struggling to replace and remain the same threat. Never quite sure what strength in depth means…consistant 1st choice player is 1st choice for a good reason. When replaced by 2nd choice , generally, standards drop. If we drop off our best…we will be struggling to make it out of our group.

    1. Not entirely sure I agree with you on your point in strength in depth: just look at England hosing the (at the time) world number 1 team on Sunday with their B team. And lets not forget the All Blacks winning the World Cup with their 4th choice 10 who was on a fishing trip a few days before the final!

      To have a succesful world cup campaign you need to have 31 players (at least) who can come in and do a job, stick to the systems and not notice a change when a player is taken off for another. Obviously styles of play can change when personel do but overall standards shouldn’t when you have had this long to prepare for a tournament.

    2. Yeah I thought it was interesting to see McInally given the captaincy over Barclay especially as Barclay and Ritchie selected together. I thought Barclay and Ritchie were competing directly for the back up 7 to Watson. Could be a motivational tactic to put them in a direct head to head winner takes all. Force Barclay to produce his very best form.

  11. Only five or six players in that starting XV that quite a few of us would consider right now as our first picks for the starting XV against Ireland next month. And yet, that’s a pretty good 15/23, so it does say something positive about strength in depth.
    Among other things, very much hoping to see signs that Huw Jones is back to the form he showed in his first couple of years as an international.
    I wonder what kind of 23 France will bring to this party on what is likely to be a very warm evening in the south of France?

    1. Clear first choice in that squad
      for me are McInally, Price, Jones, & Hogg

      Arguable first choice – Toolis, Gilchrist, Barclay, Graham, Z Fagerson, Kinghorn

      Could be first choice by WC – Bhatti, Strauss, Taylor, Hutchison

      1. Toolis is obviously not first choice, neither is Kinghorn.

        No way Strauss is going to be first choice bun RWC – most likely of our 8s to be cut IMO

  12. The strength in depth debate is an interesting one. For me we have more talent than I can remember us having in the professional era and right now all our talent is fit. We currently have very few players (if any) in the squad that I would class as journeymen doing a job at international level. However, if you were picking a world 15 (or 23) tomorrow how many would make the team. Maybe Hogg, maybe Russell depending on who was doing the picking. We could do with a couple more being spoken about consistently in those terms.

    I think, Gatland aside, we could get a few more players in to the Lions if you were picking tomorrow. Some of the youngsters for example Graham and G. Horne could make it if they get the chance and keep improving. Our hookers are good. We have some back row talent and we have options in the centres.

    The challenge for the current crop of players needs to be that kind of aspiration, not just playing for Scotland, but pushing for more and consistently delivering. Maybe through competition for places and a bit more self belief we will get there but this squad needs to kick on to the next level and deliver on the promise before we can get excited about depth.

    1. I agree that we have the largest talent pool available to us since turning professional.
      However, our back up FB Kinghorn…who is a very promising player in his own in no way the same standard as Hogg. If we lose Hogg to injury our back row standards drop to such an extent that when playing the top tier for the competitions that matter, and where matches are decided by fine margins.. the difference is ending on the losing side. The all blacks seem to me about the only side that can replace quality with same quality… and even they are occasionally unable to do that. It also matters which position the ‘depth’ is. Which brings another debate …which positions can a team afford to lose their best players and still retain level of team performance? Definitely some more than others Id say.

      1. “However, our back up FB Kinghorn”

        If Hogg is injured Maitland will play FB. Kinghorn had a very poor 6 Nations at FB while Maitland showed he can do a very solid job against England.

      2. Yeah…however the point i was getting at is that the back up playing ‘very solid’ or ‘pretty well’…is a drop in standard from a player arguably the worlds best full back.. if on form.

    2. Largely agree about depth. We can swap out some players without a drop in performance but not make wholesale changes. Six nations was a case in point.

      Not sure kinghorn is our back up fullback. When it matters, it will be Maitland. I think Kinghorn will be one of the unlucky ones to miss out.

      1. Maitland defo next option at FB, I actually think Scotland sometimes have better balance with him FB than Hogg. more pragmatic and plays as a link man, solid defence, good positioning. Sometimes Hogg is guilty of always having to beat a man before passing. There are lots of other options at FB, Kinghorn not needed and has the worst tackle technique of anyone in the squad.

  13. Wooo, far more excited that a grown man should be for a simple World Cup warm up but it’s been a long time since the end of last season!

    Altogether now: “Oh you cannae shift a Mish off the ball…”

  14. I don’t like the implication in the article that this is a random Townsend selection. I think its pretty clear whats going on here no real surprises. Pretty well thought out and consistent with everything he said over the summer. Some guys who haven’t played much last season due to injury need game time, others given a chance to force their way in. For Strauss, Ritchie, McGuigan, Kinghorn, Cummings this could be their only shot. I’m glad he’s broken up the club units in the front row, it looks freshers.

    1. I think it is well-thought out too and it is highly likely that the majority of players in the training squad will get a start in the first 3 warm-up games.

      Expect to see a very different looking XV next week. Off the top of my head, we could easily line-up:

      1. Dell
      2. Turner
      3. Nel
      4. Gray
      5. Skinner
      6. Bradbury
      7. Watson
      8. Thomson
      9. Laidlaw
      10. Russell
      11. Maitland
      12. Horne
      13. Hutchinson
      14. Seymour
      15. Kinghorn

      That’s only picking three players even in the 23 this week. It would leave the following virtually certainties to start away in Georgia: Reid, Brown, Fagerson (Z), Cummings, Fagerson (M), Thomson, Horne (G), Johnson, and Harris. Odd man out would be Stewart, who is really only injury cover if Brown doesn’t get fit.

      1. I wouldnt be surprised to see Stewart sneak the last Hooker spot of Turner by end of warmups, he performed has preformed very well in Glasgows last few games.

        I think he is a bit better all rounder with better running lines and ball skills, better discipline for sure & less of an injury concern.

        The major differences are experience and Physicality.

      2. I see the WC squad as so

        Props: Bhatti Dell Berghan Fagerson Nel
        Hooker: McInally* Brown Stewart
        Locks: Gray Gilchrist Skinner Cummings
        Flankers: Watson Barclay Wilson
        8: Bradbury Fagerson
        Scrum-half: Price Laidlaw Horne
        Stand-off: Russell Hastings
        Centre: Taylor Johnson Jones Hutchison
        Wings: Maitland Graham Seymour
        Full Back: Hogg Kinghorn

        Out: Reid Turner Toolis Ritchie Thomson Strauss Horne Harris Mcguigan

      3. When does the final cull take place? If it’s before the 1st Georgia game id expect all the marginal calls to be heavilly involved in these 2 games. My view is it would be good to name the squad as soon as possible so everyone whose in knows there in and the combinations (including travel arrangmenets) in the last 2 games are prep for the tournament not for squad selection.

      4. Pretty sure I read somewhere the squad deadline for submission to WR is early Sept, maybe around the 3/5th or so? On the BBC it’s by the 8th Sept. I think I read somewhere Toony is planning his for 3 days after the Georgia game on 31st which would be around the 3rd…

  15. We’ve got three games before the final squad is named so every fringe player is liable to be given two starts (or, at very least, a game and a half). Plenty of time to let everyone compete for those final places, so there’s very little to read into any of these selections.

    That said, the two most interesting players in the enlarged squad have to be Taylor (covering 11 – 15) and Hutchinson (10, 12 & 13). If they play well and stay injury free, their versatility could be a major problem for players like Horne and Kinghorn and maybe Hastings). Lots of attacking talent to shoe into what should probably be a 13 man backs grouping.

    Here’s hoping everyone gets through unscathed…at present, this has to be the most injury free squad in the professional era.

    1. Can’t see Hastings being under threat – have to have 2 recognised fly halves and those are Finn & Hastings. We need another out and out international quality 10 – you might argue if Dunc Weir is international standard but he’s the next best & I was surprised he wasn’t in the training squad at least. Horne Snr is a 12 who can fill in at 10, as can others, so we are still vulnerable if Finn or Hastings get injured.

      1. Duncan Weir isn’t an international stand off. Successive coaches have realised that. I do think both Russell and Hastings will go, but there remains a small chance that Hutchinson goes as a versatile back up.

  16. I reckon Maitland is better back up 15 than Kinghorn. Interesting that 2 off our best attacking games in last wee while (Australia & England) have been with Maitland @ 15 (Hogg injured).
    As jontymo says plenty of time.
    Don’t agree with Warks Scot – Weir too slow for Scotland

    1. I would tend to agree with you. Those games were certainly our best attacking performances in recent times but I think that’s in spite of Maitland rather than because of. That sounds a bit harsh and I don’t intend it that way but he isn’t as potent an attacking threat as Hogg (who is?). What he does do though is the basics very well, flies under the radar a bit and positions himself very cleverly to the overall benefit of the team. He’s the proverbial “safe pair of hands” at the back. Hoggs more an in your face attack attack attack kind of guy and he’s a known threat to every team he plays against. Not having a dig at either of them, both great players just highlighting the differences.

      1. Hogg is a marked man these days and his offloading to supporting runners has been an increasing part of our attacking shape. Seymour would admit he’s made a career out of running support lines to Hogg. Our shape is a bit different when he’s not there and the opposition is less sure where the threat lies.

      2. I agree with Big Al on the relationshup between Hogg and Seymour. So ofthen Hogg is getting lined up and he can play a soft 10/15 yrd grubber thru for Seymour (whilst running at 70%). It is such a potent weapon when space is tight and one that I dont see replicated by any other back three combination

  17. This looks like a really decent team for Saturday. Can see that GT is trying to give some time to players like Barclay, Taylor, Jones to check on fitness/form. Then more potentially peripheral players an opportunity to stake a claim (Hutchinson) whilst still keeping a strong team overall.

    plenty players there that are (injury permitting) are nailed on the plane. but so much to decide when they have to narrow down on 31. if you take 6 props, you then have to drop maybe a back 3 player to accommodate.

    Definite picks
    Props – Nell, Dell, Fagerson
    Hooker – McInally, Brown.
    2nd – J Gray
    BR – Barclay/Watson
    HB – Laidlaw, Price, Horne Jr
    FH – Russell, Hastings,
    Centres – Johnson, Taylor, Jones
    Back 3 – Maitland, Hogg, Graham.

    That is 19 players that will go as long as fit. lots more are probables, but first world cup we will see some genuine talent being left behind, which is a good thing for Scotland as shows depth.

  18. Welsey Fofana and Gael Fickou facing up against Huw Jones and Duncan Taylor. Looks a tasty midfield battle. This will test if we’ve got our defensive patterns sorted!

  19. You have to think if an injury befalls either Russell or Hastings, Weir would be closely considered as a late call up. It’s fine going into a tournament with a Horne or Hutchinson as 3rd choice, but 2nd choice feels far too risky for a key position.

    Edit: That was supposed to be a reply to Warks Scot

      1. Neither was Steven Donald before he ended up being called in and kicking the winner for NZ in 2011

    1. Agree with the points above. Weir would be a shoe in if either Hastings or Russell picked up a knock. Fitness wouldn’t be an issue as he’s deep into pre-season at Worcester, but I guess anyone getting a late call up after the tournament has kicked off would take a while to acclimatise – which got me wondering – we’re restricted to a squad of 31, but is there anything to stop us (other than cost) of taking the entire extended squad (or maybe more realistically a subset of specialists – Prop, hooker, standoff, scrum half perhaps) over to Japan so that if they’re required as injury replacements, they’re at least in the same time zone?

      1. If that thought process was in Townsend’s mind then he would have had Weir in the extended squad so he knew the calls and (if FR or AH got injured) it would take him less time to acclimatise to the group.

        Townsend also said that in World Cups in the past, there would be fringe players “holidaying” near the location of the world cup but he said that the leagues were getting stricter in that if you are not in the WC squad you had to be with your club team to prevent people doing exactly that.

        What I didn’t realise was, if you pick up a niggle in a game and someone gets called in for you, you cannot then come back into the squad. So if someone gets injured in the Russia game, we call a replacement fot the Japan game, the original person cannot come back in for the quarter final.

        With all this in mind, I can’t help thinking that Townsend has “in squad” back ups for 10, in either Hutchinson or Peter Horne

      2. Correct, it’s a max 31 at any point, otherwise you could fake a couple of injuries and call up some cover whenever you like. If you drop a player out with injury who is replaced with a call up, they’re done. Hence looking for versatile guys like Skinner or Hutchinson who may be able to step in during a 4-day turnaround in the hope someone recovers from an injury for the game after.

  20. Well Rory……..I sat for years / 10s of performances waiting for Weir to “do what we wanted him to do” – it never happened………. so if Russell/Hastings out, its Hogg for me

    1. 10 is not a strike runners position. This is a daft idea and puts our most dangerous runner in the most congested part of the field.

      I think you could very reasonably put Weir ahead of Hutchinson and Horne as a 10. If Hastings or Finn were out of the wc I wouldn’t be surprised at a call up.

    2. Townsend made nothing of Duncan Weir , sold him on and now Edinburgh’s failed coach Alan Solomens is bringing out the best in Weir at the Warriors.

      That is the kind of history that Townsend will leave in the shadows. Just my opinion, others will differ.

      Besides Duncan Weir is a safe reliable pair of hands. That is not really the toonie way.

      But as we saw in the calcutta cup dressing room, when you have loose canons , they sometimes fire in the wrong direction. God bless Finn Russel for his honesty. and courage.

      I think Duncan Weir is better out of it and sense there will be a better option emerge to fill the 3rd number 10 slot in the future.

      Toonie is probably making the right call , whether it is for the right reasons or not.

      If cwe get injury’s , Weir will not let anyone down if drafted in late, he just wont be Russell or Hastings

  21. I think the heat in Japan is not being considered when selecting teams. It must be a factor in selecting those who fly. We are not going to win, are we ?

    Select the youngest and fittest only IMO. I would back Toonie if he made that call and left Wilson, Gilco, Taylor, Laidlaw, Harries , etc even Nel at home. They will fill gaps in the 6N and be hungry for it . I could live without my favourites being there . We have strength in depth almost in all positions. See this RWC as one to be got through , back agile youth, see what they can do.

    1. Toonie and the S&C guys will have the players fit enough to play our game.

      Think the heat and humidity may be being exaggerated a bit. Our games all kick off around 8pm local time I think. We play Japan on 13 October in Yokohama. Average highs at that time of year are more like 22 degrees (down from 27 in September). It is more likely to be pouring with rain than incredibly hot and humid. Not saying the weather will suit us but it isn’t going to be like the lasts time we toured japan in June when we played in truly oppressive heat. We’ll probably never play in conditions hotter than low 20s and a bit sticky.

      1. FF: Yes , you are so correct , silly old me. How senile !

        It had escaped my memory that we are just going to play one game, in the October rain. The perfect place to show off out superior running game in the hot sticky rain.

        The rainmasters from Scotstoun, ‘the mighty ducks’ will extend their wings in the rising sun.

        I think you are putting a lot of faith in the ‘fine margins’ that we cannot control. Overlooking the ones we can control. But that is just my opinion in a lucid moment.

      2. Sorry, I said it as politely as I could but your suggestion to leave players at home who should be pushing for starting berths is utterly daft and won’t be followed by any coach at the World Cup. And some fans really are over-egging how challenging the conditions will be. They’re professional players who have plenty of time to condition themselves and acclimatise before the opening game.

        No need to be snarky about it really.

      3. FF: Sorry you only mentioned the weather conditions were an ‘overexageration’. However are you sticking with that after tonight’s charade. I think the 24 degree heat of Nice was enough for Gilco, Barclay , Berghan and Toolis. Point made.

    2. I’m not sure what you mean by “See this RWC as one to be got through”. Especially as you have said we have strength in depth in most positions. Are you suggesting we use the RWC as a training/development opportunity? No coach is going to leave experienced players at home and use a World Cup for development. Also, Toonie and co aren’t going to be giving the message, “we aren’t going to win this”. They’ll be looking at beating Ireland and japan and getting out of the group (not a given imo) and will think about NZ/SA and the knock out stages once we get there. Get to the knockout stages and who knows what will happen…

      1. No I am not saying that . I am saying we should consider that we may have more of a chance with younger players who can last longer in the heat. That may give us an edge over more experienced sides who cannot cope with the heat.

        Regardless of what others say or believe , the heat will be a leveller,particularly in the 2nd half. they are not robots, they are men. We are not goIng deep into this tournament anyway. This is one for very fit men and a few years will be vital to sustaining the entire match. Experience is fine if it does not drop off.

        This is not daft idea at all, Townsend comes up with dafter. If my name was Tom English , certain folks in here would be promoting it.

    3. Gregor: ‘Sorry Grant, at 29yrs of age we just don’t have the faith you will be able to perform at the world cup. As you know our crunch match against japan is on the 13th of October in Tokyo where the average top temperature is a sweltering 21.5c’.

      Grant: ‘But kickoff is at 7:45pm so the temperature will likely be sub 20c.’

      Gregor: ‘Sorry Grant that’s simply too hot and at 29 you are too big a risk. I know you are a professional athlete who has undergone months of elite S&C training which involved acclimatising to warmer climates but I’ve decided to heed the opinions of ‘Ben F’ who thinks the youngest should go on the plane. So I’ve gone for one of the U20 boys instead. I hope you understand.’

      1. Lol, yes lets go with the U20’s who just got relegated from the tier 1 competition but don’t worry we’ll sure them up by playing Weir at 10 to add some steel. It’s the last thing anyone will ever expect.

      2. Bazz: I think Grant does understand . In the heat of Nice tonight, he was a bit over-heated. He will face both heat and humidity in Japan. So the convesation might be something like this :’Grant, the average temperatures are just that, averages, subject to fluctuation. We need you in September as well. Thank for your comments, you have been reading that blog again, havent you ! I recognise the tone . Humidity and temperature are different Grant, and each has different effects on your body. You know how it is , the fans are ruthless if you let them down. Names will never hurt you. No Grant , we are a big nation these days, we need to select horses for courses and all that’

      3. Ben F.

        For your theory to make sense you should be looking for strong positive correlation between age and poor performance which was not evident.

        You are praising Reid who is 6 years older than Bhatti @32 years old. Taylor was our best back and will be 30 at the WC. Hastings, Toolis, Bhatti, Price, Jones all had poor games and all are 27 or younger.

        You put too much stock in age and seem obsessed with younger players to the point that you have lost touch with reality. Wake up.

      4. Bazz: I disagree with you and I am wholly consistent.

        I only said Reid came out with credit and that he could last 30 minutes, it was a credit where it is due comment.Very few came out with credit last night.

        If we compare and contrast there was a chasm of a difference between Reid’s scrum and ruck work compared to Bhatti who was in disgracfull shape, he was a liability on the pitch . Bhatti and Berghan dropped the scrum so dramatically in the first half I was concerend for McInally’s neck.

        Would I advocate taking a 32 yr old to play in the boiler house, in this tournament and the conditions we expect! No.

        Would I prefer a younger prop who is capable! Yes.

        Did Reid expose Bhatti’s capability !Yes.

        Do we have other options ! Yes , but right now Reid is a safe pair of hands , Bhatti is a liability.

        You decide: Who would McInally want beside him if the tournament started tomorrow !

      5. Yeah I would rather Reid over Bhatti and McInally would too ( i think). My point was that we shouldn’t dismiss players for being ‘too old’ – its all about performance. If Toonie didn’t take McInally, Taylor and Maitland to Japan and when pressed, insisted they were just ‘too old’ to cope he’d be laughed at.

      6. To be fair Bazz, what we saw yesterday was very few were fit and I am not dismissing experience, I get your point and thanks for sticking to it. I am trying to think out of the box because those conditions could be a 16th man if you can master them.

        This is the first RWC where the top nations will be subjected to conditions beyond their norms.The Conventional and sane thinking is play experienced players. But if they do not adapt as well to the conditions they will be muted. When the juniors see the seniors all out of passion, they will be demotivated while the other side of ‘wee daft boys’ are full of beans.We need something becuause last night we were humiliated.

  22. Watched England vs Wales this afternoon. What turgid rugby – both teams are capable of better than this. Hopefully the RWC games will be more creative and entertaining.

    1. Always delighted to see you show your face during game time grumpy.

      Backs (except Mcguigan) have looked decent, Taylor has looked good.

      Pack looks lightweight yet fatigued, need more niggle at the breakdown to slow the french behemoths.

      Lets hope fitness & the bench shows during 2nd half to our advantage.

      Defence as usual has looked weak under the Townsend era, i will give a pass for this game but must show big improvements throughout the WC

  23. Oh Boy!….1st half a mess…we look like we haven’t played rugby for a year…and are not fit. Fastest rugby in world?? …just playing decent rugby would be an improvement.
    Only plus for me has been Taylor. The rest?…crikey we are in trouble if this is all we got.

    1. Hogg looks good, too, but the rest look awful. What’s Wilson doing with the forwards? What’s Taylor doing with the defence?

      1. Ball retention in attack has been poor also, we have not strung a long set of phases.

        Hastings was looking very good, bar one kick and YC

      2. Sorry,pardon,Hogg coukd have halted Meddard IMO.He has made a few good runs but as the man who is quoted as saying we must win the battle in defence , he was not leading by example.Emporers new clothes.

    2. To be fair we have our 2nd choice LH, 3rd choice TH, 2nd and 3rd choice locks and about the weakest back row he could have picked from the current squad. Backs look ok if they can just get some ball.

      1. Sorry Sam.Jamie Ritchie is outstanding from the moment he made the first tackle of the night.

  24. Meddard try.Hogg arrived on time.Sh*t it ,went high had no chance.If he went low and moved his centre of gravity a few inches he was on the flag and in touch.So over rated.

    1. I though Hogg stopped the try actually despite bad technique, wish it was looked at by TMO

      1. I didnt see him stop the try , or protest. He was travelling at speed and needed to put his body on the line and go low. An HIA likely situation , so maybe he was right to let it go.

        He does tend to get it right when it counts , the big question is this. If Stuart Hogg gets injured in the RWC , where does that leave him with Exeter having never played a game !!!!

    2. Im beginning to think Dracy Graham could evolve into a better FB than Hogg. Hogg’s tackling is atrocious for a FB. DG barely misses a tackle despite his size challenges.

  25. Listening on BBC Scotland. Sounds like the wrong end of a beasting up front first half. Time perhaps for two Fagersons and a Cummings to come on and beef things up?

  26. You’re dead right JohnMc, Pack way under powered need Reid, 2 x Fagerson and possibly cummings on asap.

    1. Reid ,has many critics, well look again , he did have his man in the scrum. Reid came out of tonights game with credit. No frills, not young , but effective for half a match , which might be enough.

  27. They look over-trained. Big winners here are those not playing. Dell, Nel/Fagerson, Brown, JG, any back rower, Russell, Johnson, Maitland and Seymour.

    Think a few will be leaving the group this week I think.

    Our defensive systems look all over the shop. Players or coaching?

  28. I could pick 9 players from that 1st half who shouldn’t be going to RWC never mind out the 40 remaining.

    Strauss is not a test 8. Barclay looks completely unfit. Ritchie poor game. Toolis far too soft.
    Front row poor in the scrum. Price taking far too long to deliver the ball from set piece.

    Pitch is truly awful and not suitable for a test rugby match.

    1. Fraser Brown understandably more diplomatic about Strauss on co-commentary, but big Al K is blunter.

  29. I just don’t understand what we are trying to do in either defence or attack. It’s a bit like watching Glasgow during the Townsend/Rennie transition. Headless chickens and no structure.


  30. I’m just hoping that Townsend had given them a beasting of a training session in the afternoon and that’s why they all looked dead on their feet after 20 minutes.

  31. GT strategy of convincing all the top tier nations we are utterly useless and provide no threat whatsoever to them at the RWC.
    Very effective…a masterclass GT…well done!

  32. What a pathetic result and performance.

    Utterly powderpuff pack that set the tone from the very first unforced line out cockup in the first minute.

    1. That first line out was an exact carbon copy of the one that knocked us out of the last world cup, clearly haven’t learned a thing in the last 4 years.

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