Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Ireland v Scotland: Player Ratings

We rate the Scotland players performance in their 27-3 defeat to Ireland.


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Set Piece

1. Allan Dell: Did well enough in the scrum but did little of note elsewhere. Largely anonymous much like the rest of the pack. - (A4/D6/B4/S4) Overall: 4.5/10

2. Stuart McInally: Some questionable decision making from Scotland's captain. Tried to take the ball up the blindside from a maul with the try line begging but the move was easily read by Ireland. Guilty of switching off in defence allowing Ireland to pour through an unguarded ruck. - (A4/D3/B4/S3) Overall: 3.5/10

3. Willem Nel: Scotland's top tackler but little else to commend his performance. Achieved some parity in the scrum but not a lot. - (A4/D6/B4/S4) Overall: 4.5/10

4. Grant Gilchrist: At fault in the build up to two or Ireland's tries. Seems to switch off at key moments defensively which is a worry. Carried well enough in attack. - (A6/D3/B3/S3) Overall: 4/10

5. Jonny Gray: Carried well and made his tackles but nowhere near as many as we've come to expect. Perhaps this game came a little early for him fitness and conditioning wise. - (A5/D5/B5/S5) Overall: 5/10

6. John Barclay: Players throwing up on the pitch is more common than you might think. Barclay was just unlucky enough to be caught heaving on camera. Not as anonymous as some have claimed. Carried well but spilt the ball with the try line begging, although an offside Stander may have contributed. - (A6/D5/B7/S5) Overall: 6/10

7. Hamish Watson: By far and away Scotland's best player before leaving the pitch during the first half with a worrying looking knee injury. Scotland's second top tackler. Worrying given the time he was on the pitch. - (A6/D7/B7/S7) Overall: 7/10

8. Ryan Wilson: Unlucky to see Rory Best's try given. Seemed to do enough in the maul to disrupt play and get a hand to the ball before the Irish captain. Not his best game for Scotland but not his worst. - (A4/D6/B6/S5) Overall: 5.5/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Influence

9. Greig Laidlaw: To a certain extent he can only play with what he's given and the ball he was given by forwards was often slow and under a pile of bodies. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

10. Finn Russell: Early lose kicking set the tone for the rest of the game. The plan was to get behind the Irish defence but by the time he'd hit his stride the rain was coming down and there was no plan B. Guilty of some hospital passes but also caught by excellent Irish defence. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

11. Sean Maitland: Took the ball to the line and caused Ireland some problems, but he often found himself isolated more as a result of his own poor decisions and the Irish defence rather than a lack of support. - (A6/D4/B4/I5) Overall: 5/10

12. Sam Johnson: Carried well and defended well. Like Laidlaw he can only play with what he's given. With Russell contained by a strong Irish defence he did what he could with what he was given. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

13. Duncan Taylor: Some good covering tackles and broke through the Irish defence on a couple of occasions. Was turned over more than he should have been but rash calls for Huw Jones are unwarranted. - (A5/D5/B3/I4) Overall: 4.5/10

14. Tommy Seymour: Struggled with the highball and made little impact in attack. Again he can only play with what he's given but panic seemed to set in whenever he did get near the ball. - (A4/D4/B4/I4) Overall: 4/10

15. Stuart Hogg: Pumped at the anthems but lacked a cool head. Kicking was loose and he often passed up an opportunity to use his team mates opting instead to take it on himself. A little shaky with his covering tackles and has Taylor and Johnson to thank for getting him out of trouble. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Impact

16. Fraser Brown: First game back since the Pro 14 final and thrust on to the field to replace Hamish Watson. Won't thank Townsend for it and perhaps Thomson would have been the better option. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

17. Gordon Reid: Came on with fire in his belly and made some good runs and tackled well. The scrum was in all sorts of trouble but not on his side. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

18. Simon Berghan: Same old story. Brought some go forward in the loose but struggled in the scrum. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

19. Scott Cummings: Should start next game ahead of Gilchrist. Put in some big hits and did well to disrupt the Irish maul dragging Irish bodies into the melee - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

20. Blade Thomson: Another good showing from Thomson. Starting to show some of the offloading that excited in his Super Rugby highlight reels. Should start against Samoa. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

21. Ali Price: Sped things up and asked more questions of the Irish defence than Laidlaw. Is that tactic or execution though? - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

22. Chris Harris: Another solid performance. Tackled well and added a little bit of impetus to the Scottish attack but the game was lost by the time he came on. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

23. Darcy Graham: Has no business trying to counter ruck let along almost pulling it off. Once again punching well about his weight in defence and brought some much needed spark to Scotland's backs. Should start against Samoa - (A6/D6/B7/I7) Overall: 6.5/10

Squad Update: Magnus Bradbury will replace Hamish Watson in the squad following a scan on Watson’s knee. That injury has now ruled him out of the rest of the World Cup and he will return home. Bradbury is already in Japan and can now rejoin the player group.

Squad Update (24/9): Ali Price is also set to return home after failing to recover from a foot injury that proved more serious than was originally thought. Henry Pyrgos is flying out to take his place in the squad.

197 Responses

  1. Good points made regarding Hogg. He really didn’t keep his cool and killed off so many attacks which he himself created by putting blinkers on. Also his defence isn’t world class. This is worth the risk for his attacking prowess but needs to be mitigated by other players. Maitland does this well and is an excellent defender as was Dunbar on his day. Perhaps Harris is the glue this side needs. He’s direct, defends well isn’t a slouch going forward when Taylor doesn’t look close to his best, not terrible but not game breaking nor quick.

  2. Gutted for The Mish. He’s an awesome player and deserved better than to be taken out of the world cup by illegal Irish play.

    Berghan was a disaster when came on, both in the tight and the loose. He really doesn’t deserve such a high rating. He gave away penalties, couldn’t catch, his scrumming was poor, he barely tackled and made 0 metres from 3 carries. How can you rate him higher than Nel?

    The calls for Jones predated Taylor’s poor performance, and aren’t unwarranted – at least Jones is fit. Toonie is to blame, though: if Taylor’s our first-choice 13 why did he play so little in the warm-up games?

    1. Also, how awesome is Darcy Graham? I think he and George Horne are my favourite players at the moment. Both full of commitment, power, speed, skill and bravery. Others in the team should follow suit.

    2. A natural justice rule: injure someone in an illegal act, and you don’t play again till they do.

      Would cut out 99% of the crap straightaway.

      1. Why is it …it seems every time we play Oirlund they injure one of our best players fairly early in a match ..enough to get a distinct advantage from it…and nothing from the ref.
        Can’t wait till the Oi’rish have to watch the Boks hit Sexton & Murray 6ft into the air. Go Boks!!

  3. Does anyone know why Brown was sent on in the Back Row? Aprreciate he played there is his youth, but lack of regular and recent practice and with strength and conditioning to play front row, this seemed a bizarre option (not that he did awful).

      1. I was only aware of him covering back row during injury or sinbin enforcements. If he has been a first choice pick, I stand corrected?

      2. He was first-choice in the 2018 summer tour. I think his Warriors appearances were during injury crises, though I’m sure there were other options.

  4. Does anyone know why Brown was sent on in the Back Row? Aprreciate he played there in is his youth, but lack of regular and recent practice and with strength and conditioning to play front row, this seemed a bizarre option (not that he did awful).

    1. He did play there (only v Argentina) but this had a strong “odds and sods” feel to the squad, with SHC, Grigg, Fife, Swinson, Hamilton, Lee Jones, Jackson, Carmichael all involved. Would not have played if Barclay, Watson, (Hardie) had been fit?

      1. My guess is Brown was the designated replacement if Watson went down early, with Blade covering for Barclay and Wilson – Barclay was already visibly tired and they maybe figured on replacing him soon after. In which case they would have needed further back row cover which would mean… Fraser Brown.

      2. Point noted – not sure if Scotland in relative luxury positon of a reserve hooker who can hold their own on the flank, or it is indictment of poor selection (unfit players and lack of bench options) that forced to make this choice.

  5. Some fair ratings though I think you are missing one…a 2 for Toony.

    Every single one of Ireland’s kicks were highly contestable, every one of ours were too far and the Ireland players were able to take their time and land it in the bread basket. Could Toony not have told a water boy to say to Greig “take 5m off your kicks and we might have a chance in this game?”

    As Stewart says, why did Brown go on for Watson? I am sure I saw Blade warming up?!

    In those types of games you want someone on the bench who can come into the backline and mix things up. Hutchinson replacing an understandably tired Taylor would have added spark but I guess we have spoken enough about that!

    One positive is I think a lot of what went wrong can be ironed out in training. But on the flip side, how can you prep 4 years for a World Cup, be playing one of the biggest matches of your career and just not be up for it? Darcey Graham ran harder than all our forwards combined, they should be ashamed of themselves. Time to give the young guns of the squad a proper run against Samoa and tell the older boys unless they buck up their ideas they will be watching from the stands.

    1. ‘One positive is I think a lot of what went wrong can be ironed out in training.’

      Maybe….but how many times has that been said? Same old stuff post match… trouble is… they are never ‘ironed out’.

      ‘Darcy Graham ran harder than all our forwards combined, they should be ashamed of themselves.’
      They never seem to be…coz GT keeps picking ’em… our locks are useless and meek ….with the exception of Cummings.

  6. Looks like the SRU may have “organised” with another mess to put the cherry(blossom ?) on the WRC farce. Repatriation of Thomas Cook customers has started, are the government going to fly the RWC 31, the blazers and fans home as according to the SRU website the SRU seems to have “Thomas Cooked” the WRC? Will an evacuation be needed, be immediate or is it going to be like the Zimbabwe 7s team last year when the Zimbabwe team ended up sleeping on the street, Japan does not like people sleeping on the street.

    From the SRU :

    “Thomas Cook Sport’s new fan experience options will run alongside its current role as Scottish Rugby’s team travel provider. Over the last two seasons, the Scotland men’s team has travelled more than twice the circumference of the Earth as preparations continue for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan”

    The 7s farce from 2018:

    1. How are the SRU supposed to know Thomas Cook was about to go bust?
      Analysts in the city didn’t know about it.

      1. “Know” is a word for politicians and priests.
        There have been repeated clear and serious warnings about Cook for a long time. Just one caution of many, in Dec 2018 the Credit Protection Association published a warning about the serious risk of collapse:

        In May 2019, a month after the SRU published their Cook deal:

        Businesses as stressed as Cook often pursue business at any price, for the customer the offer can look almost too good, sadly sometimes the offer is just too good.
        But no one will “know” until it happens, credit warnings are simply an indicator of risk and Cook has been bleeding money substantially for a decade or so, the risk was real and clear. Hence the published warnings.

      2. Not so sure about that, don’t think any “City Analyst” has had any “buy” recommendation on TC shares for a long time. AIUI, TC has been insolvent since May, the only reason they could keep trading is because they said they had a scheme to get further funding from debtors and shareholders (ie. asking them to throw good money after bad).

  7. Very disappointing day. I am surprised to see any of the starters above 5. I think Jonny’s passive tackling style was partially responsible for tries 1 and 3, and I thought the whole back row went missing.

    I was a true believer until recently. But after the France warm up and now this – two games where Scotland didn’t show up at all – I think some serious changes are needed.

    In hindsight I also think there were some risks taken in selection. Gray, Barclay, Brown, Johnson, Taylor, Thomson all recently returning from injury and finding form. Add to that Seymour and Gilchrist with questionable form (in comparison to their competitors Darcy and Cummings). I think that is a very large chunk of the team that we were banking on playing well with little recent evidence. Of course some of these players had to play but I think all of them together was a risk. The “fittest team at the world cup” really wasn’t visible .

  8. Tonga lost to England but they did not disgrace themselves with the kind of insipid performance we got from Scotland. It should be a concern for GT, his coaching team, and the SRU, that such performances are recurring. In order to stop the rot, something needs to change: selection – there are players who cannot cope at this level, get rid of them: coaching – the tactical approach is limited, a wider range of plays required: strategy – like a good General, the SRU needs to removed subordinates who are not successful. Scottish rugby has to perform at a higher level. If not the supporters will walk away.

  9. Scotland beat themselves yesterday, although the selections didn’t help. If you play Graham from the off then you change the bench options (Kinghorn would’ve been in certainly). Cummings should’ve started as well.

    I don’t mind losing, but the team didn’t turn up and i agree wholeheartedly with the ratings given.

    That was an Irish team on the wane, yet their aggression in defence was the real difference as it forced our players into main errors – the good thing is that it might just be the kick up the backside that we need for the rest of the tournament (but I guess we all though that after Nice).

    1. I’m not sure you can say Ireland (ranked #1) are on the wane. Sexton is on the wane, but the likes of Murray and Best were among the best players on the park yesterday.

      1. Fair enough, there are key players that are on the wane – Sexton and Best specifically.

        That said, they are in transition, yet both of the recent holders of the #1 spot (i.e. Wales and Ireland) are beatable but more streetwise than us.

        Ireland would’ve been easily beaten by Wales, England, Australia or NZ if they played like that against them.

      2. Ireland played Wales x2 in the warm ups and racked up big early leads in both games.
        Wales then staged fight backs.

        Their 2bd victory in Dublin was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

  10. This seems a fair enough assessment. The team collectively were miles off the pace. Massively disappointing given the significance of the occasion. There’s a scathing article by Tom English over on the Beeb and it’s very hard to argue with any of it. One of the most galling things is the bluster that gets spouted. It’s a kind of celebrating before the act mentality, which is really just setting things up for a fall and embarrassment. It’s the same every game/tournament – this is the one, we’ve turned the corner, we just need to do this to beat Ireland/Wales etc (despite the massive disparity in the track record). The corner hasn’t been turned until you have a couple of solid tournaments under your belt, you’ve beaten the team and backed it up the next time, you’ve won a few games away from home… I get the need for a positive mindset, but I would prefer if it was a bit more on the seige mentality side of things. We’re going to grit our teeth, get stuck in, do our best and we’ll see what happens. Less of the – we’re training amazingly, there’s no better time to play them, we’ve shown this or that, we can beat anyone in the World, fastest brand of rugby etc etc. Less talking, let the performance tell the story – after the fact.
    David Sole highlighting that this was our most experienced players. It should have been a peak performance. Time for a rethink….

    1. Tom English loves writing a scathing article. He’s just a paid troll with an occasionally reasonable turn of phrase. He’s a tabloid writer, not an analyst.

      1. Not sure if you’re right or not as don’t read him much – but reading the article he is right on every point. The idea that the team could be so passive and seemingly unprepared for the biggest game of their careers is unfathomable. It has to be the coaching. I believe that the players are not bought into Toonys methods and there is a huge dressing room disconnect as a result. It’s the most obvious explanation given the evidence available (and the absence of any other explanation that I can think of). Every other team in the tournament, including the whipping boys, have out in a more convincing and committed performance than Scotland, taking talent into account. Disgraceful.

      2. This is a very good point. The majority of teams that I’ve watched so far, aside from us, have seemed to have stepped up when needed.

        Even Georgia today managed to get a couple of tries against a very impressive looking Wales side.

      3. Disagree TeamCam. Tom English is only saying the things a lot of us have thought, only with a better “turn of phrase”.
        Only a sociopath would have said the boys weren’t “up for it” after watching the anthems (tears in the eyes, belting out the chorus etc), but the facts speak for themselves: “In their past 11 competitive games, Scotland have conceded 12 tries in the opening 14 minutes.”
        Too many errors, too many missed tackles and a lack of intensity meant we were playing catch-up after half an hour. Gilchrist, McInally, Barclay and Russell all missed makeable tackles in that first period. Not great in the last 20 minutes but unforgivable in the first 30.

      4. Full disclosure: I no longer read his work as I find it vapid and hysterical. He may well make some valid points – even a broken clock is right twice a day – but in my opinion he writes puff pieces or takedown pieces; nothing worthy of consideration. To each their own, though.

      5. He’s one of the best rugby writers around. Not sure which rugby writers you think excell?

    2. Agree Matto

      Actual positive thinking:
      If I keep doing my best to improve I will be rewarded eventually.

      False positive thinking:
      I am awesome and don’t need to improve.

      One leads to long-term success, if not for you then for some of those you train or train with.

      The other leads to disappointment, disillusionment and decline, which is roughly where we are now.

    3. Its true…all that blabbing in
      the media before a match needs to stop. It just seems really needy and lacks confidence or self esteem. That kind of stuff can really come back to bite ya……and it did.

      ‘We are the fittest team at the world cup.
      We are the most prepared we have ever been.
      We are confident.
      We prepared for all conditions.
      We know how Ireland will play.
      Defense will win the RWC we have worked soo hard on it’

      We did not look fit.
      We did not look prepared and ready.
      We did not look confident.
      We handled the ball like it still had shampoo on it.
      We defended like a bunch of fairies.
      We looked clueless.
      And because of all the hype from us in the media….we look stupid also.

  11. Edinburgh back-row Magnus Bradbury will replace teammate Hamish Watson in the Scotland squad for Rugby World Cup 2019.
    Watson – the 28 times capped openside flanker – sustained a knee injury in the national team’s opening Pool A defeat to Ireland at the International Stadium Yokohama yesterday, with a post-match scan confirming he’ll play no further part in the tournament.

  12. Anyone else think that Cian Healy was a bit out of order with his clear out that let to Watson’s injury? He was way beyond the ruck and came round the side to clear Watson away.

      1. Don’t blame the Irish, blame Mr. Barnes… Made a couple of serious mistakes. Not that we’d won anyway

      1. Yep. And they’ve a strong recent history of ‘accidentally’ taking out key players with foul play. And not being punished for it.

    1. Are we able to cite him for the challenge ? Just not up on the rules, but what do we have to lose..anyone know !

  13. A real issue of leadership.
    McInally – great player not a vocal leader
    Barclay – did not have enough breath in his lungs to speak even of he wanted to
    Wilson – saw a little bit of him trying to influence others but is he good enough at this level?
    What about Greg and his much vaunted game management? The ball was patently slow and we had often been stopped behind the gainline. So why was Laidlaw dollying his short slow passes out to Russell when we had failed to get the gain line. We hardly ever tried pick and go and the one out passes were usually taken standing still so inevitably taken behind the gainline. Want to see Price and Horne told they are playing in tandem the rest of the World Cup. Back row Bradbury, Thompson and Richie – much better balance. Cummings has to play – he runs hard at gaps like Henderson today. Johnson or Taylor at 12 but not both. Harris best 13 out there (sadly).
    So let’s pick the most energetic, gruntiest, gnarliest team available.
    Samoa and Japan:

    If John Barclay knows he can’t recover form then he should declare hinself injured and we get M Fagerson out there.

    1. You spoiled it by saying that Dell is one of the ‘gruntiest’ players. Gordon Reid every day of the week.

  14. Brutal assessment by English but on the nail. Too many prima donnas in the squad who like to talk the talk but are empty vessels when its time to front up. GT and coaches need to implement a social media ban and beat the whole squad over next 3 days to show them the disgust of supporters. Jim Telfer would not have stood for such a display from amateurs. These are so called professionals. In other walks of live similar apathy would result in disciplinary action. GT will be on his way out at the end of the tournament. How many of the players will follow?

    1. Only those of a certain age. Greig, Tommy, Barclay, Nel?, Reid, Wilson (not age). We have to have the players to bring in to sack others off. I still think Seymour has value. He isn’t first choice and isn’t a leader from what I can see, seems to be a natural introvert. Our areas of issue don’t have any promise coming through. The tight 5 aren’t going to change much over the next couple of years.

      1. Perhaps too many consider themselves undroppable. Will be an interesting tombola for Samoa match. Any less than 6 changes will be a selectorial indictment

    2. Just watching Wales v Georgia. Pre match talk about Gatland from Gareth Thomas saying when Gatland came in after the WC debacle and defeat by Fiji there were too many ‘senior’ players with too much to say/power. The first thing he did was to stop it and clear out those not meeting the new regimes requirements. BTW, Wales tearing Georgia apart … what does that say about Scotland v Georgia pre WC!

      1. Not much. Wales beat Georgia by 29 points with a first-choice team. We beat Georgia by 27 and 34 points with Toonie teams. We also conceded half as many tries as Wales did over twice as many games. Plus, did any Wales players score whilst doing a roly poly? Exactly.

  15. A couple of technical points that I think contributed.

    Laidlaw never snipes – EVER which means Irelands well drilled defence could fly up every time with confidence. We seemed to always pass out the back on 1st or 2nd phase again meaning we never narrowed the defence – in addition to the above that means we were under loads of pressure behind the gain line to shift the ball through the hands. We need opposition defenders being caught between 2 minds when rushing – that first half especially they just flew up and always snagged the man.

    We give away silly penalties at mauls or try to go for a huge drive to push into touch – we would be much better off ensuring a well set-up maul that is stable and try and get a lock through the middle to disrupt – Against good mauling teams we shipping penalties or allowing set splinters to get through.

    In addition to the above we had disappointing performances but I genuinely think a big part of that was the plans which did the players no favours

  16. Is it time to talk about Jonny? It seems to be heresy to criticise him but does he ever physically dominate a game? 8 carries for 2 metres is a poor return in a game where we had to front up physically.

    Using the Jim Telfer benchmark where he talked about players who when they had the ball he didn’t worry, I always worry when Jonny gets the ball. I never have confidence that he’ll get across the gain line. When he tackles, it’s never a bone shuddering hit that stops the opponent in their tracks. We marvel at his tackle stats but if you search on youtube for the famous Jonny Gray 43 tackles match, being honest, how many of these tackles was he second and sometimes 3rd person in?

    He’s massively industrious but it’s one-paced. He’s 25 and got 50+ caps and should be imposing himself on games. I don’t ever feel that when he’s not there, we really miss his presence. I couldn’t see him getting into any of the other home nations XVs, and in England’s case he probably wouldn’t make the squad.

    1. If you list the 2nd rows from other 6N countries they can all make big big runs … Gray is a no way! He is a take and flop down when someone tackles him. Not International class player

    2. Jonny will still be there in 5 years time with a record number of caps, 5 out of 10 performances, and undroppable.

  17. Our captain not being at the press conference is really strange. Not one for conspiracy theories but I do feel there is something going on in camp.
    Any thoughts?

    1. Its a strange one but by Gregor’s tone I think he was being careful. I suspect SM was utterly buckled after 80mins of effort and may have been in a bit of a state medically after the post match adrenaline drop off. Nothing sinister.

      1. Tone of Townsend’s press conference was illuminating: a complete lack of energy, a bucketful of complacency. Asked “What’s your dominant emotion following that defeat – anger?” His rely was “Disappointment.” He is the living embodiment of the Peter Principle – someone elevated one rung above his competence level.

  18. First point. JB is a legend, great guy by all accounts and has a lot of credit in the bank. However, for him to be selected for the first game of the world cup and to be “fully fit” and struggling after 30 mins then something is hugely wrong. Its not his fault but why are Scotland not selecting the fittest strongest possible team available. Its a shambles. His state basically meant we had to bring a hooker on out of position and McInally had to do 80 mins. Its madness and as others have pointed out no cover on bench for Russell then Laidlaw has to stay on longer because he is covering 10. We may have the best coaches available but their team selections are governed by favourites (RW, TS) and conservatism(GL,TS) and guesswork in the centres. You need settled units.

    1. Most of this is hindsight I’m afraid. Especially the centre’s as I didn’t hear anyone say that the starting two were not our best combo. But yes they have hardly played together and not tested at this level for a while. I think generally fitness questions have to be asked. I know that it’s very possible to be in peak physical condition for a certain climate and then u raise humidity and heat and the body can react to that as it’s not been exposed to that environment. You can look terribly underprepared just due to this. It was found out in France in the heat and again yesterday.

      Some of what Wales have is crucial going forward. Gym with ability to tailor environment conditions and cryogenic recovery stuff is really important. I don’t imagine Scotland have that stuff. It’s crucial to get body ready for different conditions.

  19. We’ll after hearing that Townsend laid into the players after the game maybe Townsend was doing the right thing by not putting his captain in to the firing line at a press conference. Though with Tom English’s straight forward questions it may have been good for Stuart to have been there. The S.R.U press officer certainly has done their job by training both coach and captain to respond like politicians!

  20. Rarely comment however its clear now that there has been a failure on selection/ tactics and especially psychology with this Scotland squad for a while and it can’t just be put down to lack of playing ability when you consider the Pro 14 and European results over last 2 seasons . Having worked in a different sport at elite professional level with regard to sports injury rehab I’m loathe to comment adversely ,especially when I am not personally involved and are well aware that a lot of issues are kept contained strictly within the whole squad bubble , however I have to admit I was a bit concerned by what appeared to be a significant reduction in CV fitness by some of the recent returners from injury.

  21. Time to lose the dead wood of Seymour – soapy hands, no fire. Darcy Graham first choice. Likewise Chris Harris for strength. Sad to say the great servant Laidlaw’s time is done – painfully slow and no attack.

    As to Townsend, you can’t play the flair game without error-free basics. The result is pointless narcissism.

    But above all, the malaise is the mindset. Sound and fury signify pride and passion – which is completely lacking in this miserable a Scotland side. They should be publicly furious with themselves after all the repeated humiliations of this year.

  22. Fair assessment. Pleased that Fraser Brown had a decent game despite having had no game time. Not convinced by Rambo as Captain yet. Cracking player but feel Barclay or Greeg would maybe be a better pick.

    If we want to play fast offloading rugby like the Pacific Islanders it shouldn’t surprise us when we end up with a scoreline more akin to a Tonga than a Fiji.
    We really struggle against teams like Ireland and Wales who know how to nullify our attack with a rush defence.

    1. The issue is (especially after their respective performances) Barcalay and Greeg are not (or at least should not be) nailed on starters. We are in dire need of a AWJ/Rory Best/(dare I say it) Owen Farrell esque captain but it is something we haven’t produced in years. If you think about the nailed on starters – Hogg/Russell/Johnson/McInally/Nel/Dell – McInally is the only one you would be willing to pick as captain.

      1. Another example of when it suits… Best was past it and useless before this match and not only were folks questioning him being Captain but questioning whether he should be in the squad. Now he can do nothing wrong and is back to the best Hooker in the world and the only Captain Ireland would want.

        I know we’re emotional and angered by the performance but we need a little less of going to extremes all the time.

    2. Rush defence -I thought it is was offside the whole match. No wonder it is ‘rush’ when you are allowed a head start. The fact that you do it every breakdown means you get away with it – playing offside is now as accepted as squint put in to the scrum.

    3. Laidlaw and Barclay are done as Scotland players. I like Barclay he’s been a good player for Scotland ..always gave everything.
      His body language , even from early in the Scotland camp all the way through to the Ireland match ..just doesn’t look right…. I think he knows he’s done but doesn’t want to turn his back on Scotland and his teammates.

      The likes of Gray and Wilson…I can honestly say I ve never watched a match where I think ‘Yeah..thats why they are 1st choice players’
      Plenty of chances ….never good enough. I think Wilsons selection annoys me much more than the opposition. Average rugby player. Not a test level player any time I’ve watched him.

      Imo…we dont have a captain…we have a bunch cooks who dont make a very good broth.

      I often think during a match the players look at each other as if to say ..’Who is captain today anyway?’

  23. Good article from Tom English on the BBC. I think he is right and we are miles off where we claim to be. Do the likes or Ireland and Wales even see us as a challenge anymore? There is talent in the squad but there is also mediocrity and a bottling, weak mindset.

    Our tight five was dross yesterday and our backrow chronically undersized. Our scrum half slow and everyone behind them suffers because of that. Some of it can be fixed, Bradbury, Ritchie and Thomson is a promising backrow and Cummings might have potential but the rest of the locks are mere grafters when we need titans who can dominate games. Fagerson has stalled at TH and not developed into the rampaging cornerstone we hoped for.

    1. The balance between destroyers and grafters is definitely not there in the pack. McInally and Hamish are arguably our only real troublesome carriers from the established players, and even then in a fairly non-typical way, and also non-consistently in Rambo’s case.

      Cummings is looking dynamic and carrying well. We know Ritchie Gray offers the same. Bradbury is a bit fierce and a brute. We need to get these guys involved.
      I can’t see where we can go with out props to get guys that are more imposing. Zandfags needs to step it up.

      1. “We know Richie Gray offers the same.” Do we? I’m not convinced he’s consistently been a big ball carrier. In most of his games for Scotland he’s been as quick to go to ground as the rest of our second rows. Are we not in danger of Richie being another player whose stock rises purely by not being involved in the calamitous performances of Scotland v other tier 1 teams.

      2. Although I accept that in games when the Gray’s played together they seemed to motivate each other to play at a higher level.

  24. For me the saddest thing is that we’ve almost completely lost the (generally) forward momentum that we were building under Vern Cotter. It was by no means perfect, but we at least seemed to be developing an understanding and a way of playing which suited the respective skillsets of our best players.

    We’re now in a position where we’ve jettisoned the patient, disciplined approach that Cotter was building in favour of relying on our ‘Vegas’ players to conjure up moments of brilliance every time they get the ball – this has its own issue when you end up with guys like Hogg single handedly trying to beat the opposing team. It can’t work when we don’t have the nous or solidity to create a proper platform for what is, on paper, a very strong backline.

    It’s pretty clear now that we lack anything approaching a Plan B, and are too quick to throw the gameplan out the window in the face of any strong resistance. For some reason we lack the vision required to think on the hoof and adapt to suit game conditions – is this simply down to Townsend’s arrogance and a complete inability to admit that he’s wrong?

    The focus for Samoa shouldn’t be on trying to put 50 points on them (nice as that would be), I’d settle for a bit of discipline and professionalism in executing a clear game plan.

    Player wise:

    – Darcy in for Seymour
    – Thomson and Bradbury in for Barclay and Watson
    – Cummings in for Gilchrist
    – Harris in for Taylor
    – Price in for Laidlaw

    1. I feel he will not drop Laidlaw. At most, he will be a sub. It comes back to senior players ruling the roost

  25. I think the worst thing for me was the sheer level of “throw kitchensinkery” that was going on in the last 20mins. Shows to me that the players (or at least some of them) have no faith that the systems they are playing will result in points, or that there is no plan B for the inevitable times that plan A doesn’t work. The first rule (I think this was stated on the podcast) of planning in the military is “no plan survives contact with the enemy” and it’s true but it is something that the Scotland team have struggled to realise for quite some time.

  26. Ali Price on crutches at the train station in a pic on the SRU twitter account. Not sure if he was holding a spare pair for Watson who was next to him, unlikely.

    I agree with Martin above, the fact Laidlaw does not EVER snipe or break makes it easy for the opposition to blitz our midfield…it’s a big issue. Play G.Horne and teams have something to think about as he’s electric around the fringes, how the hell is he not playing anyway…what am I missing?

    Berghan’s score is way too high, I like him and think he’s solid but he had a nightmare yesterday.

    Like most I’m demanding Graham, Cummings, Bradbury, Ritchie, Thomson, Harris, G.Horne come in. Taylor looked like he was running in quick sand with iron boots on yesterday. The coaches didn’t spot this in the 3 month camp?

    Georgia has a go at Wales today. 16 teams seen and the only one that hasn’t fired a shot is us, let that sink in.

    1. I don’t und stand the George Horne thing either. I think Greig was the right selection but not Price. I have never seen price look convincing at the international level. Horne May yet price himself to be the same but he needs the chance.

      1. Laidlaw has stacks of experience and is there as Price is not good enough and he never will be. I do not see George Horne as long term either, not sure how he is on tactics such as coping behind a retreating pack.

  27. Without going over what everybody else has said, Yes we were very poor particularly in the early stages. Attitude, skills, ability to deal with high ball were all less than we should have expected from professional players who have trained together over the last few months with this 1 game as its focus.

    I agree on the numerous comments made on team selection & reliance on the ‘old guard’ & our ‘Vegas’ players. Let’s also not forget that we didnae exactly get the bounce of the ball both in terms of our general luck/fortune through the game & Ireland players getting away with quite a bit (they’re masters at this).

    We have 3 games now to bounce back & at least get out of this pool. This is do-able, no doubt. Let’s learn the lessons, pick the right team, fix our ‘work-ons’ & show the fighting spirit we expect from a Scottish team.

  28. I’d rate Fraser Brown sonewhat higher. For the rest… It was a very average performance. Up to the next one!

  29. As usual Scotland had no luck – not that they deserved it. Best was nowhere near grounding the ball and the ref had a clear view of it, and Hogg was undone by the ball hitting the post instead of going dead – but it should never have been there in the first place. None of the Irish players, ditto the Welsh look that good in the Pro-14 but they collectively raise their game and look world beaters with the national shirt on their backs – Scotland the opposite. Can anyone honestly name a single Scottish player who should make the next Lions squad on recent form. None of them are better than third or fourth pick at the moment – even Hogg and Russell who had a truly abysmal game – every kick was tantamount to a straight pass to the Irish. As for Laidlaw, he is busy waving his arms while the ball is out and being picked up by the opposition. Really must go once and for all. Wales and Ireland play simple unpretentious rugby – none of this rubbish about being the fittest fastest team in the world – how embarrassing is that claim? Sad thing is they do not even believe it themselves. No belief, no skill, I won’t say no heart as that would be unfair. But the effort is totally misdirected. Every team in the world now regards Scotland as patsies – just play it straight and wait for the mistakes and gifts to flow. A good coach plays to the strengths and limitations of his players – not the pie in the sky stuff that Townsend enforces. Also time for our “defence” coach to keep quiet.

    1. Your pro 14 point is spot on and a damning indictment of the Scottish coaching set up. The other countries coaches are clearly able to get more out of their guys.

      Even in our dark days of Frank Hadden or Andy Robinson where we couldn’t score a try for love nor money, you could take solace in the fact that we would make it bloody difficult for other teams to score, what’s happened to that bloody mindedness? Any time a team gets anywhere near our 22 now you just know they are coming away with points.

      I love the hard and fast “we’ll just score more than you” philosophy but the problem with our game is it’s not very hard and we patently don’t have the skills or fitness for the fast. If that’s the strategy then why do we continually select guys who either can’t don’t or won’t do fast when we have guys who can do and will in the squad? I know how energy sapping the climate can be in that part of the world, it’s horrible, but these guys are professional athletes who are supposed to have undergone months of training and conditioning specifically for this, some of the guys look like they’re running in treacle.

      Our recent try scoring record is poor (it’s absolute mince if you factor out things like the freak England half and “rubbish” teams) and we get rattled if we don’t score tries. Teams sussed us out a while ago and it any success we do have us our playmakers pulling off masterstrokes rather than general good play.

      The more I think about it the more disheartened I get.

      1. Yer joking, right?
        In the dark days of Frank Hadden and Andy Robinson the team had access to players like Simon Taylor, Strokosch, Jason White, Nines, the Lamonts, Paterson, Ross Rennie, Mike Blair and even latterly a young Stuart Hogg and we still couldn’t select a consistent team, regularly finished bottom of the 6N, scraped through to the QFs in 2007 against Italy who’d run in about 7 tries against us in the preceding 6N AT MURRAYFIELD, went out in the pool stage in 2011 and couldn’t beg a victory against a stolid side like Argentina for an entire decade.

        And we did get our backsides handed to us by SH teams. Regularly. And by England. And by Wales – watch a replay of our games against them in 2005 or 2009 which were at home! And by Ireland.

        We’ve got talented players but for whatever reason – injury/ Toonie Tombola/ Both the team looks unsettled and shorn of confidence.

        Challenge for Toonie now is to settle the team, make just enough changes to breath some life into them without destroying patterns and consistency and see if he can get them on good form.

        They can do it!

    2. Totally agree about the Pro 14 vs. International comment, but if you think there are three home nations fly halves better than Russell or three home nations fullbacks better than Hogg, you’re not dreaming, you’re just wrong. And there are loads of subjective and form choices regarding a load of other positions (Watson, Graham, Jones, Johnson et al.), so it’s not really possible to say where we are in the pecking order.

      Oh, wait, it is: Gatland is coach so we’re dead last. And your point about Pro14 performance vs. international performance highlights the importance of coaching. Under a better coaching setup…

      1. I am interested, what makes you think Hogg is better than Williams of Kearney ? Russell with the right players around him is mesmeric. He is a gutsy tackler as well.

      2. Kearney is solid under the high ball, but that’s pretty much it. He doesn’t score tries – until the Glasgow match at the end of last season, he hadn’t scored one for Leinster for years.

        Williams is nearly as good as Hogg – he’s about as good defensively, also solid under the high ball, great runner – but he’s not a playmaker and isn’t quite as good an attacker as Hogg. He doesn’t conjure up the same moments of magic, nor does he have the same titanic boot. IMO. That said, he’s massively improved at Sarries and I wouldn’t blame Gatland for starting Williams over Hogg.

      1. He had an abysmal game..he tried to force the game
        every time he got the ball..Sexton was much calmer and assured every time he got the ball. There was far too much talk before the game..going to take out Sexton,we have plans to target Larmour and Conway etc etc..nonsense.

      2. Sexton had the luxury of a dominant pack. When that’s not the case he’s a waste of a shirt. Sometimes that’s the case even with a dominant pack. There’s a lot of overreaction here. Yeah, they didn’t ‘turn up’, but they’re not bad players or a bad team. It’s ludicrous to suggest that a FH who orchestrated so many amazing tries (and counter rucks) is less capable than a FH whose arsenal is limited to a wrap around, sulky face and kicking.

        If I had the choice of Sexton or a well-drilled pack, the Oscar-winner is staying at home every time.

  30. Some call Toonie a genius as a coach and player – I think they genius and Loose Cannon are not the same thing.

    Toonie says he has the fittest team in the competition , I think he believes men are machines and he has burned his toys out.

    Toonie thinks he is flexible and plays a team for the occasion , I think he is a picks a team and a bench that can react to the opposition, we are followers not leaders.

    Toonie demand they stick to his game plan even when it is failing, I think the players need to be coaching in a place where they have the confidence to adjust the plan as conditions dictate , just like they did in Twickenham.

  31. I’m not convinced the Toonie gameplan is wrong. Cotter played a fast game built on Toonie’s Warriors side – lest we forget.
    It’s the natural game of the players we have. They’re not big but they can run about and more than a few of them are skillful.

    The team just looks a bit unsettled and that probably affects confidence.
    Standing off, not getting stuck in and trying back moves invariably going to Hogg off phase 1 ball all reek of nerves and lack of confidence, as does shooting your mouth before the game.
    These are all things players who don’t really believe in themselves do to try to instil some confidence and it’s meat and drink to a settled, winning side like Ireland.

    Toonie has had to deal with a lot of injuries this season. He’s also tombolad up the selection at times.
    I have my doubts that any of this has helped, but move on.

    His job now is to make just enough changes to the starting XV to breath life into it without making so many that it’s yet another personnel and pattern change.

    1. Somewhat agree that all the chopping and changing gives the players little confidence…however despite having 2 years and inheriting a , not brilliant but progressing squad of players..GT hasn’t found a winning base to work from in many key areas of the team…we went into the world cup unsettled and it showed.
      There are several players he keeps selecting that either are at the end of their careers or aren’t 1st choice test quality anyway or just back from serious injury. It was a poor base to come into a game of that magnitude with. We paid for it. No real confidence. No cohesion. Underdone back row and front pack in general.
      Even beating the next 3 teams won’t tell us much as they are all average to poor sides. Then we are chucked right in it with a game against arguably (tho there isn’t much to argue about) the best team in world rugby. In some ways its a relief because the players I’m sure are really short confidence after that. Normally i would say small incremental changes are wiser…but that was soo bad v Ireland that we have to find a winning base not just for respectability of this RWC but moving forward. there are a handful of players who really should be done at this level…with any of the top sides they would be.

      1. Agreed, at least three of the forwards should be redeployed as water carriers for the rest of the tournament.

      2. A couple of things would make a big difference imo.

        1) Go through the phases in the forwards and only go wide off fast ball.

        2) vary the back play. Almost everything went deep to Hogg. If you’ve decided to take Taylor and Harris instead of Jones or Hutch then give them the ball flat to carry up into the defence and give the forwards a target.

        That’s what they’re built for. If you pick Blade Thomson then get him in the outfield doing it too.

        3) better work rate and decision making at the break down – can be coached.

      3. 2) IMO that only happened because the Irish rush defence was shutting down any and all options so quickly that Hogg, miles behind the line, was the only safe passing option?

      4. Rory I think one of the reasons they were even able to rush up so fast was that they knew what we were going to do…. because we do it every time.

        More threat at the base of the scrum might have helped but Harris is known for being good at choosing angles off 1st phase ball and Taylor or even Maitland have similar physical attributes to him.

  32. Maybe it’s just time to accept that the best we will get with this group of players (particularly forwards) is some good home wins. It’s still a big step up from most of the last 20 years. We are p*sh and almost always have been, certainly in the pro era and comparing to the amateur is like comparing to a different sport. 99 was a wonderful blip (which we bottled come RWC time against the springboks who were coming off of losing to a rubbish wales side pre tournament). There are no solutions in the player pipeline I’m aware of to fix our pack issues. We do not have any truly international class tight 5 forwards. And back row we have Watson. Unless there is a dozen Scots qualified Saffers and Kiwis hiding out waiting for the call there aren’t any stepping up in the player pathway system. In the modern game your props need to be considerably better than we have. Our hookers are good players and cope with international rugby without excelling (like George, Owens, Coles, Marx etc.). Lock is easily our weakest position. I don’t think any of our locks would start for most English premiership sides let alone T1 nations. None of that however addresses our biggest issue, we are losers, we have a soft losers mentality. We have far more in common with the likes of Italy than we do Ireland or wales.

    1. I should add I do think there is promise in the back row with the players currently on the fringes but they are not world class at the moment.

    2. As has been said many times, the players aren’t the issue: it’s the coaching. Neither Warriors nor Edinburgh were outmuscled last season, and they played against big walkin’ around teams.

    3. Well… I agree we dont have a great history in the pro era… however we were starting to improve with better quality players and more of them. It seemed to be a much much longer period to acclimatize for everyone in Scottish rugby from the top down compared to the other home nations.
      From VCs tenure and moving forward we seemed to be finally understanding what it takes to be a professional rugby player and what it takes to compete.
      We do have a much smaller playing pool and so selecting project players, players with scottish parental links…..just players with a genuine desire to commit and do their best for Scotland is fine by me. To keep us improving rugby nation we need all the help we can get. The ultimate aim would be of course to have a large bank of scottish born talented players…but we aren’t there yet. We really aren’t producing much as far as the front pack goes …which is a worry.
      As far as ‘the here and now’ goes we should be selecting Ritchie Bradbury and Thompson for the back row….Ill truly believe that GT has lost his marbles if he doesn’t start with them moving forward.
      Cummings , Graham surely have to start..Kinghorn too if fit.
      Fagerson….can someone please just sort his head out!!!! he clearly could be a great prop.

      Please no Wilson at 8 ever again!!! …its ridiculous… he is nowhere near international class.
      On the bench at best…because we have no one else. Barclay 3 yrs ago way ahead of Wilson but he’s soo done now.

    4. Wider sqaud options


      Only exceptions may be Brown or Nel who are simply that much better than those after them in the pecking order

  33. My Squad for Samoa

    1. Reid
    2. Brown (Captain)
    3. Nel – VC
    4. Cummings
    5. Toolis
    6. Wilson
    7. Ritchie
    8. Bradbury

    9. Horne (assuming Price injured)
    10. Russell – VC
    11. Graham
    12. Johnson
    13. Harris
    14. Kinghorn
    15. Hogg

    16. McInally
    17. Dell
    18. Fagerson
    19. Gray
    20. Barclay
    21. Laidlaw
    22. Horne
    23. Maitland

    rested – Turner/Berghan/Gilchrist/Thomson: /Price/Hastings/Taylor/Seymour

    1. I never thought I’d say it. But I do like this team Neil. Agree with Rosco though about Thompson

  34. Price on his way home. Pyrgos against Russia at maximum, surely. At least it moves us closer to seeing some of G.Horne who can get this team firing and keep the opposition second guessing how we’re gonna attack. Graham, Harris and G.Horne are not as big as the alternatives in their positions but they get stuck in way more. Time to get the basics right and a bit of fire in the team.

    1. Mmm – another blow. I used to really rate Pyrgos but I think that he’s now a spent force and sometimes even struggles for club form. But I guess that he’ll be third choice behind Grieg and Horne. I agree that he will play against Russia (maybe from bench).

    2. No Prygos is our third option. Horne will be given a chance now. Prygos will get a run out against Russia but that’ll be it.

  35. We played so poorly that their is a real chance we could be beaten by Samoa. One game at a time and hopefully we can find some success before our tournament is over. Time to let the old guard step aside. Ritchie, Cummings, G Price, Bradbury, Graham, Kinghorn for Samoa.

  36. I’d like to see this team against Samoa:



    I think that’s the biggest, most athletic, most aggressive and youngest pack we can put out. Laidlaw stays to Marshall them with Price injured.

    Behind Laidlaw you’ve three solid players who are leaders in defence in Horne, Harris and Maitland and three more exciting ones in Graham, Hogg and Russell. I think we need Horne on the pitch as his rugby intelligence is streets ahead of anyone else. I’d have Taylor on the bench to see if dripfeeding him game time sees him come on to his best game in time for the QF as he’s not there at the moment but he’s still our best centre if he can get there.

    1. Why would you exclude Nel? 16 tackles made, none missed at Ireland game. Scrum was ok until he went off.

      1. He put in a big shift so I’d rest him as he’s too important to risk against sides who wont really test our scrum.

    2. Is that you Gregor…..Horne and Harris…..FFS….when you think 10 years ago we couldnt buy a centre and in the last 4 years we have had Dunbar, Scott, Jones , Hutchinson, Bennett, Johnson, Taylor….and in what has now become a pivotal game you want to play Horne and Harris….god help us. Laidlaw too!!!!!Only surprise is Wilson is not in your side.

      1. why should I wind my neck in after that pile of crap that was served up on sunday… the saying goes …opinions are like ar……s everybodys got one….you are entitled to yours….I just happen to vehemently disagree

      2. I’ve justified why I’d select that centre partnership and as much as I’d love to see Horne start I think it’s unlikely, were Price fit then I’d pick him.

        Your posts come across poorly, bordering on hysterical so like I said wind it in before you make yourself look even more pathetic.

      3. Ok chaps, I’m part of this forum cos it’s a small community that doesn’t just shout at each other so lets try keep it that way.

        Horne is one of those that has come through at the same time as those you’ve listed and he has the most caps of anybody in the centre position still playing. He is one of those underrated players that deserves more respect I feel. Harris has now become solid if unspectacular at times but he is way better than he was when he first started out in Scotland.

        Looking at these teams Russia and Samoa and therefore Japan who have played Russia don’t look to dangerous on this showing but hopefully they’ll not bring their A game against us.

    3. Scrummo, why do you consistently pick Dell ahead of Reid. In previous discussions you said he was better arounf the park. Really? If he can’t hold up his side of the scrum he shouldn’t be there. End of.

      1. Your talking bilge as is standard when it comes to Dell and something that’s become a bit of a narrative. Dell held his own in the scrum against Ireland with all 3 penalties conceded on the tighthead side. Dell has been solid at scrum time for some time now and his work rate in the loose far outstrips Reid where he is consistently one of our top tacklers as well as hitting many rucks. End of.

      2. I must have blinked when Dell was roaming around being destructive in the loose. You were wrong then and you still are.

  37. Scotland scrum-half Ali Price is out of the World Cup because of a foot injury suffered in Sunday’s defeat by Ireland. The Glasgow Warriors player, 26, came on as a second-half substitute in place of Greig Laidlaw in the 27-3 loss in Yokohama.
    Edinburgh’s Henry Pyrgos will fly out as Price’s replacement. So, our two SHs for remaining games are Laidlaw and Pyrgos with Horne watching from the Stands

    1. As long as we don’t lose any of the two there already I can’t see this as a big issue. People say Price and Laidlaw are different. I don’t see it. I think they are more similar than folks think. Little changes other than the sub is fresher when the one comes on for the other these days.

      Horne is different and is deserving of being seen as the real change in style. Looking forward to seeing him make a difference.

      1. Do you actually watch games?

        When has Laidlaw done anything like Price’s break versus Leinster for Johnson’s try or his chip and chase versus England leading to Bradbury’s try?

        They aren’t similar at all.

      2. Yes in that respect you are right. Price snipes and chips and so has these as point of differences.

        I meant in respect to his speed of delivery from the ruck and and just being generally slowing down the pace of the team going forward. These are things that recently have been used against both of them in recent times and the one that has come off the bench has speeded it up just cause they are fresh and teams are tired.

        It is very possible that this is not their fault at all as it’s the forwards that need to provide quick ball.

  38. Interesting comments and discussions. IMHO I believe the problem is management. My reasons
    1. GT has had two years to develop this team. I could tell you just about all the other home nations starting 15 before this tournament except Scotland. Instead of sticking with a team and working at the weakness and tweaking he has no idea what team he wants.
    2. For a game that was the biggest of the last 4 years he selected 3 players in barc, Taylor, gray who were not match fit, a winger who hasn’t played well in 2 years and an number 8 who everyone knows is not good enough. This suggests to me that either he is delusional or gullible.
    3. I don’t believe he has the respect or command of the players. He seems like a passive character and the players don’t fear him. I think they feed him what he wants to hear.
    4. He is to loyal to certain players dispite their obvious failings.

    I like the man and I think he will one day be an excellent coach but I think he was promoted fair to early in his career and really could have done with being an assistant at international level because I think his management skills are very underdeveloped

    1. Some of what u say has merit. However. He has already been assistant coach at national level. He was never going to be so again.

      Townsend does change things up a lot. In the run up to this world cup teams changed their line up a lot every match. We had the biggest injury crisis we’ve ever had in the last 18 months so picking a consistent side was impossible.

      Wilson is underrated and does a lot of the unseen work. It was McInally and Gilchrist that led to 1st try. Wilson can take his part of the blame for 2nd try for not stopping maul. He did manage to help Best spill the ball which prevented the try being scored. TMO wasn’t watching is not his fault.

      Seymour I disagreed with but understood. It back fired as his fumble led to the third try and general play not good enough. Did Wilson spill the ball for 4th try? If so he was responsible for that.

      Do we hear the camp is in turmoil? Usually that comes out if the case I haven’t heard it.

      We do have issues and mainly mental I’d suggest. Townsend has given us highs we’ve not had for a very long time. Even Vern didn’t give us stuff that Townsend has.

      I am worried by the defence and lack of ability to score tries against Tier 1 teams. This year hasn’t been great. But there is still time. Samao is huge.

      1. I never understand what people mean when they say ‘Wilson is underrated and does a lot of the ‘unseen work’.
        In the context of international fully televised rugby… what is this amazing ‘unseen work’ that Wilson does??…well it is ,conveniently, unseen.. coz Ive never seen it in all my years of watching Scotland. He certainly does an amazing job of hiding his attributes!
        Average player…and not at test level…and in all times Ive watch him Ive still no idea why he is a consistent 1st choice. No other tier 1 side would have him in their wider squad let alone their 15.

    2. Townsend was an assistant under Andy Robinson. Attack coach, I believe. I’m not sure that we scored all that many tries during that period…

  39. Slightly off topic but what exactly is Irelands beef with us over their failed world cup bid? Apparently we voted against them in favour of france. What were the reasons? It really has annoyed a lot of their supporters.

    1. They’re P’d at the Welsh who voted for South Africa too.
      I think there’s a bit of emotion in it and a feeling that smaller Celtic unions should stick together, in which case, mount a joint bid.

      Lovely country and people though Ireland and the Irish are they do not have the infrastucture for the world’s reputed 3rd biggest sporting tournament unless they work in consortium with other similar countries.

      Would they get a football european championship on their own?

      Not a chance, and that’s the kind of benchmark!

      1. Back them??…no chance!!
        Dirty team. Go out to injure our best players pushing the legal limits of the game.Sexton and Murray spend most of the game telling the ref to penalize the opposition. Their fans have become egotistical and arrogant…with the bit of success that have achieved.
        Dull rugby team of organized thugs and grunters.

      2. Why are they lovely virtue of being Irish? People are people the world over…. good and bad in every country.
        Country has its positives and negatives like anywhere else.
        ….And yes ive been there before.

    2. Ireland don’t have the grounds, hotels or travel infrastructure in place to host the tournament but believed they should have got it on the basis of “craic” and being “great lads”. They wanted to host games in one horse towns with rickety, roofless GAA grounds.

      The SRU said they would vote for the country which would generate most revenue. And then they did.

    3. We voted with France because it meant more income for us. Im inclined to agree with the sentiment of Irish fans but money talks

    4. Their reaction is pathetic. Our position was that we’d vote for the bid likely to give us the most money, and they assumed that we’d be ‘loyal’ to them, then cried like spoilt children when we did exactly what we said we’d do. It’s embarrassing to read comments from their fans on the matter.

      1. Their reaction is a bit pathetic.
        New Zealand can host a world cup despite being small because rugby is all they do and they have specialised infrastructure.

        Ireland do not. Games would presumably be staged in GAA stadiums which make Easter Road look like Tottenham Hotspur.

        Best chance would be for Celtic countries to mount a consortium bid.

  40. Apologies if already posted, but only just picked up Matt Taylor’s comments after the Nice debacle myself:
    ” We just left it to the players to get themselves in the right frame of mind,” he added. “With it being a warm-up game in a nice place like Nice, we just assumed that level of intensity was going to be there and it wasn’t.”
    Shocked by that quote and wonder if it explains some of the lack of current intensity. While the players should have it already, this is hardly putting fire and brimstone into their bellies.

    1. I’m not sure if the opposite was true for the game on Sunday. The team looked very emotional during the anthems – it was almost as if they’d been gee’d up too much and were emotionally spent by the time the game came round.

      We have a good core of players at our disposal. We don’t have the depth of say Ireland or Wales, but man for man we are comparable. We are unfortunately not coached as well as the other home nations. If we had e.g. Gatland or Jones in charge and Edwards as defence coach, I have no doubt that we would be a much better side.

      We have a muddled game plan that is supposed to be the ‘fastest rugby in the world’ ™ and yet insist on selecting players like Laidlaw that are not aligned to that way of playing. If we are intent on playing this way, we should be aiming to up the ball in play time, but keep ball in hand more and play a little more conservatively until the game opens up slightly. It would certainly help in this facet if were actually the ‘fittest team in the world’ ™ (or at least one of them!).

      There were clearly a few players not looking fit. Taylor didn’t look at the races which was hardly a surprise when you consider he has hardly played. If Taylor was in the first choice midfield for the world cup, it beggars belief that he (and Taylor/Johnson) didn’t play more during the warm-ups. Better to run the risk of injury and take a fit (match fit) Taylor than have him healthy but not 100%, especially given his grand total of circa 2 games in 2 years. Barclay didn’t look fit, just like a few others, again no surprise when you take his Achilles injury into account. It’s embarrassing when Townsend comes out with the spiel that we’re the fittest team at the tournament and then half the team look like they are swimming in treacle.

      Unfortunately, when we give teams like Ireland and Wales a head start, they can easily strangle the life out of the game when they play us. We are so loose that they just wait and sit for us to shoot ourselves in the foot as we have no patience. On Sunday we insisted on flinging extremely slow ball around willy-nilly (after a couple of phases) as if we were not allowed to deviate from the game plan. It does make you wonder about Laidlaw’s so-called rugby intelligence when he continued to put Finn and the midfield under enormous pressure – everyone knows Laidlaw cannot snipe around the fringes – you could leave a gap the size of Murrayfield and he still wouldn’t run through it, and as a result we were just being lined up and picked off. He should be insisting the forwards do far more of what they are supposed to. Throw one out balls to forwards to truck it up, take it through the phases first, narrow the defence and earn some time before we start elaborate strike moves.

      When we were in the doldrums of the last 20 years, you could generally rely on our ability to truck it up, take it through 9,000 phases before white line fever struck and the ball was spilled. We were no behemoths back then but we could protect the ball and the breakdown work was solid.

    2. Matt Taylors post match response not much of an improvement from the France bust.
      MT “We were pretty brutally honest with the review. We said ‘that part’s gone, we can’t get it back’.

      Pretty brutally honest?..kinda sorta evaluated our performance and decided we weren’t totally happy with it!

      MT ‘Maybe the occasion got to us, I’m not sure. It’s difficult for me to say.’

      I dunno …you’re the coach you should!

      MT ‘If we dwell on that, it seeps into Samoa. We’re going to do a good job on Samoa. I’m sitting here saying that we will – I’ll be disappointed if I’m sitting here in a week’s time and we don’t.’

      I’ll be disappointed if you are sitting there in a weeks time if we dont!

      MT “But I’m sure the boys are pretty focused on doing just that.”

      Pretty Focused??? …well isnt that reassuring?

      ….crikey! yep it aint the coaches!?

  41. After watching Tonga play at the weekend and Russia playing just now it makes the game at the weekend even more disheartening. These guys are putting 120% in to these games and are making a great account of themselves. We looked like we didn’t want to be there. Trying to come up with justifiable reasons and answers. Are they over coached? Is Townsend trying to be to clever? Rugby is a simple and brutal game. The team need to be fired up and aggressive. The pattern of poor 20s is a huge concern.

    1. The game was of a piss poor standard though. Most Champions Cup level teams would beat those two teams just by having decent structure.

      Scotland’s performance against Ireland was very similar to Ireland’s performance versus England earlier in the year in that we go completely stuffed on the gainline then rushed. Ireland look to be back to the physical peak of their Grand Slam period after a year in which the national team and the provinces dropped a few notches. Even Rory Best who is 37 seems to be defying physiological laws by performing so strongly after their training camp.

  42. Samoa looked more dangerous than Japan. Literally: they should have received two red cards, but Poite bottled it like the rubbish ref he is and went with yellows. I can see them beating us if our attitude is anything like it was on Sunday.

    1. Samoa number 8 injured and two players possibly cited.

      We need to bounce back and Samoa have always been challenging for us because of their physicality but we should get more change from their defence than Ireland’s.

      1. Its now a bad joke….
        we’ve gone from believing we could challenge for the RWC to a team that is relieved the ‘mighty’ Samoa have some key injuries before we play them.
        I really hope GT realizes the enormity of such a pathetic performance and how it reflects on him as a coach. A few more losses and we’ll officially be a Tier 2 side.
        VC got us to 5th ranked for goodness sake. GT is on the point of dragging us into tier 2 in a 2 year span with the largest pool of talent we have had to select from in the pro era.

    2. Poite is an excellent ref but I have no idea what he was doing today. i think there has been a directive. We saw it last year in the Autumns. Domestically red going out left, right and centre then in the internationals nothing. World Rugby dont want reds to be the headlines.

    3. He bottled it after being heavily pointed that way by TMO who should have known better. He was going Red all day before TMO said look how much he has fallen into the tackle. A precise amount of zero. The second was worse and had even less of zero of mitigating circumstance.
      I doubt Barnes or Owens would have been so quick to change their mind. It was awful. They haven’t had a red card yet, yet there have been over 10 red card tackles. Terrible so far doesn’t do it justice.

  43. Awesome!
    That’s Price out now. 1 game in. H Pyrgos in…..omg….this is just going from awful to Argentina ’78 ..Scottish rugby style.
    This RWC could very quickly become a fail of epic proportions.

  44. Samoa are a rabble these days and looked it today too. Lose to them and it’s surely game up for GT. The Aussie experts on their channel were tipping Samoa to beat us, that’s how much they think of this Scotland side at this point.

    Pyrgos better not yet anywhere near the pitch apart from Russia, but you never know with Walter Mitty in charge.

  45. Now we’ve got D Taylor in the Media spouting…
    “It was a funny old first 20 minutes,” said Taylor. “We seemed to get ourselves in decent enough field positions but a few errors, myself included, and we end up putting ourselves on the back foot.”

    Hilarious! ….Can Scotland players NOT talk to media at all now please!!!! We are becoming a laughing stock.

    If we lose any of the next 3 games I want the SRU to publicly sack GT immediately after that game. I don’t care if its mid comp.

  46. The amount of knicker wetting on here is incredible. You would not want to go into the trenches with the online Scottish rugby community!

  47. Knicker wetting?
    The only ‘knicker wetting’ Ive seen was the Scotland team V Ireland. There aren’t even any trenches… just cannon fodder.

  48. Having had a chance to digest this I think we had two main issues. We clearly lack confidence which I’m not sure I understand why, but clearly we are very fragile. All of the talk before wasn’t for the benefit of the supporters or anybody; it was to gee up the team, give them some belief. But perhaps now that their backs are against the wall it might make it easier. The second problem is selection and specifically the back row and 9. GT gambled that experience would count. But sadly JB is not fit or hasn’t truly recovered from his injury; but this was a gamble worth taking. Wilson, again, ultimately is just not quite good enough even if he’s abrasive. When we can’t compete at the breakdown (the key to playing 2 sevens) or have go forward ball we have a real issue. Then Laidlaw gets exposed. The rush defense doesn’t need to worry about sniping runs. So the blitz then shuts us down completely. That is the way to shut us down in a nutshell. So we MUST sort out the forwards and the breakdown or this tactic is the way to beat Scotland. For Samoa, I really would start Hornito; it’s worth the risk. We have way more tactical flexibility in that setup. I really like Laidlaw and behind a stable pack he’s very good, but if we are going backwards we’re stuffed. Based on this I’d want Thomson, Bradbury and Richie as our back row. We’re in knockout rugby so we’ve now got to play our best side (except against Russia). I still think we can do it! Come on the boys! #AsOne

    1. Samoa looked rubbish and it won’t be hard at all for any street smart side to goad them into getting cards (assuming the ref brings them). As much as I want to see Horne, Greigs kicking of on form could frustrate them. This is exactly the kind of game a Duncan Weir would be good. Just pin them back, knock over the inevitable penalties and not get drawn into loose rugby. If we go wide they’ll smash us and injury players. We will still win but I’d rather not have to watch duncan Taylor get picked up in 5 pieces.

  49. Unfortunately injuries and hesitancy in selections in the last two years have led us to this point.
    As soon as George Horne emerged in xv’s he should have been given game time with Scotland. I have been so angry when he gets a token 11 minutes at the end of a game and almost never with Russell.
    Similarly, Matt Fagerson could be our Ardie Savea and Bradbury has also been overlooked asa genuine 6 (as well as unlucky with injuries).
    The management of H Jones has been odd (by Rennie and Townsend).
    Cummings flicked a switch towards the end of the season and offered a point of difference.
    I am a fan of Tommy Seymour but Graham was in such good form.
    Imagine this team having had settled game time in the last year going into the Ireland Game:
    Nel McInally Dell
    Cummings Gray
    Bradbury Fagerson Watson
    subs: Turner Fagerson Reid(?) Gilchrist Thompson Price Hastings Kinghorn

    I certainly hope this will be the basis of the six nations along with Hutchinson, Rae, Richie, McDowell, Crosbie, Carmichael, Hunter-Hill (if he develops). I think there are player sin the pipeline – I just hope they don’t get parked behind sub standard imports in Pro 14.

    1. Spot on. Exactly my point above. 2 years on the job and he’s trying out combos on a World Cup warm up, he’s picking guys who haven’t performed for years (Wilson, Tommy S) , guys who have been out for months and years (barc,gray,Taylor), not addresses issues with kick offs, defence, ball carriers. All he does is spout mince about being so fit and so fast. No Gregor we need forwards who pump legs in contact, we need aggression, we need dominant tackles, we need a captain who knows how to motivate his troops and take the weight of the occasion off their shoulders, we need players inform and we need a scrum half who keeps the opposition guessing. And most of all we need to stop mouthing off to the public about how we are going to win the WC

  50. Couldn’t trust myself to post anything before now after the disappointment of Sunday’s performance but now the dust has settled a bit I’ll chuck in my tuppence worth.
    The reality is we lost to the team ranked 1 in the world ( although not the best team in the competition imo) and it’s not a huge surprise that we are sitting on played 1 lost 1. Rather it was the manner of the defeat that has annoyed and frustrated everyone that follows Scotland.
    On Sunday morning I felt like our world cup was over before it had even started so dire was our performance; another game where the opposition did nothing meaningful in an attacking sense but just played the percentages and waited for us to hit the implode button. We duly obliged and ended up chasing a game in conditions that suited Ireland’s game but even with a man advantage we couldn’t manage a consolation score.
    I’m sure it’s been a grim couple of days in the Scotland camp particularly with the loss of Watson and Price coming hard on the heels of a spanking but the reality is nothing has changed in terms of our tournament progression. We still have to win our next 3 games to progress which we are more than capable of doing, unfortunately the reward for that will be QF against the AB’s which was always on the cards.
    I don’t think we will see too many changes for Samoa game but Graham has to start and it would be good to see a back row of Ritchie, Bradbury and Thomson and hopefully G Horne will get some game time.

    1. Thank you Saltire 62 for a balanced, yet heartfelt post.
      Agree with all of it.
      We were not going to beat Ireland unless they imploded rather than us. They got a couple of early tries based on our mistakes and never looked back.
      Obviously the manner of the loss was disappointing but more damage was the loss of Watson and Price. I still cannot see us losing to Samoa, Russia or Japan, as long as we up our game to even slightly better than average. But the loss of these players means we will struggle to go further.

  51. Here’s one for the conspiracy theorists. Howley is sent back home for alleged illicit gambling & soon afterwards, Scotland produce a total non-performance that no-one thought could be so bad. Probably just a coincidence…

    1. I said on the previous article before the Ireland match that the result doesn’t matter as the results of our other 4 matches are set-in-stone. Beat the 3 weak sides (I don’t mean that disrespectfully, the captain of the Russian side with an Irish accent seems a great guy and many are now tipping Japan/Samoa to beat us) and lose to NZ in the q-finals. I heard from a man on the ground in Kawasaki that some funny stuff was going on. The boys with the tattoos involved. Seemed to know we lose to Ireland and NZ and beat the other 3.

      I also said the main thing in the upcoming Ireland loss was not losing Russell or Watson to injury……

      A sad reflection that many now fancy Samoa never mind Japan to beat us. One Aussie analyst picked us to beat Ireland and is now picking Samoa to turn us over!

      1. lol that guy must be soo clued in….loose to an ireland we have rarely beat in the last 10 years….beat 3 lower ranked teams…then wow… lose to a team we have never beaten.
        Amazing!…that guy is totally in the know…what a conspiracy!

    2. Oh come on!
      Players and coaches of major sport are generally subject to blanket betting bans relating to their sport because they have inside information and you can get odds on anything – squad selection, who the captain will be etc.
      Doesn’t have to be throwing games.
      I don’t know what Howley is accused of but it won’t be bribing the scotland forwards not to turn up in a game Ireland were favourites to win!!!

      1. it would explain a lot, like the performance the other day. I’d like to think a wire tap has been set up between Howley and anyone with tattoos in Japan.

        Having a hard time understanding all the comments, including some of the Scotland camp, saying nothing has changed and we always needed to win the next 3 games anyway. That patently wasn’t true until we got gubbed by Ireland.

    3. BTW, not intended as a serious suggestion, just meant to lighten the mood for a moment in what have been a very bleak few days for the national team. Maybe I should use one of those emoji thingys to make it more obvious 😉. They had better pull their collective fingers out as I’m using up precious leave to watch on Monday, don’t want to call in sick afterwards too. Anyway, off to place my fiver; wonder if I might meet Mr Howley in the bookies 😜😧😊😄

  52. I do not think our world cup plan was to lose the first game, qualifying in the group is par for the course for our standing in WR. To get no where near the whitewash is regression for Scotland .

    Something needs to change and he has changed everything , but himself.

  53. Am I getting the feeling most here are happy that as long as we qualify that is a success in the RWC? Or are we there to see how we have compare to other sides ?

    If they are entertainers, that was a very bad show. If they want to see how they compare to other sides, I would say the gap between us an Ireland is widening .As I write just watching Fiji who beat Scotland and they are losing to Uraguay 24-12.

    1. Fiji beat us away from home on the comedown from an incredible victory against the wallabies at the end of a long season after Toony had cranked the tombola.

      Not an excuse but there probably couldn’t have been a better time to get us.

      At Murrayfield last season we gave them a battering.

    2. How did Fiji miss so many kicks?! Mental. Looking at the scoreline it reminds me of The Quarter Final (except this times the plucky underdogs won).

  54. Can the SRU now go out and sign up the Uruguayan coaching team and sack our dross.
    If Anyone wants to See a team step up to the plate and play never say die rugby against bigger better opposition that was it.

    1. Yes, it’s easier for them, they play with no expectations or pressure.
      Fiji play with pressure and it got to them.
      Because most people think the Scotland team has at least some talent we play with pressure and we haven’t learned how to embrace it, that’s all.

  55. Real nervous about the next 3 games, not so much Russia but it will be a weakened team from us in prep for Japan and I still remember the USA debacle, although USA are a better team than Russia. There just seems to be an air of negativity/problems surrounding the Scotland team at the moment. Stemming from the player revolt at Twickenham all the way through to some odd squad selections (Toonie picking off form/players just back from layoffs), the attitude during the France defeat, our seeming poor S & C etc, now the two injuries to important players. I can’t put my finger on it but I think there is another poor defeat on the cards during the pool stages unfortunately. Hope I’m wrong!!

    1. Of course it could happen but we are a better team – a significantly better team with better players – than any of the teams we have to beat to get through.
      If we go in greetin’ and licking our wounds then we could be turned over, but that would apply to any team, even the All Blacks.

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