Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland announce official squad for RWC 19

The rumours were true. If you’re connected to any of the rugby sites on social media, you’d probably read rumours of five of the bigger names which were not going to be appearing in the official squad announcement at Linlithgow Palace, on what was a typically dreich, end-of-the-summer afternoon.

Huw Jones, the Hammer of the English – gone after a drastic drop-off in form.

Rory Hutchinson, the buck from Northampton Saints, a Gallagher Premiership young player of the season nominee (player of the month in February), and double try scorer against Georgia on his first international start– not this time son.

The highly lauded young duo of Magnus Bradbury and Matt Fagerson, who we felt would add some back-row dynamism in the Number 8 jersey – neither of them made the cut.

Josh Strauss – well, that one wasn’t really a shock, was it?

Now that’s dealt with all the sensationalist stuff (which ended up being right, so next question is; who’s the mole?) let’s confirm the 31 men who will be saying “Sayonara” to their loved ones in the not so distant future.

Forwards: Simon Berghan, Allan Dell, Zander Fagerson, WP Nel, Gordon Reid; Fraser Brown, Stuart McInally (c), George Turner; Scott Cummings, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Ben Toolis; John Barclay, Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thomson, Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson

Backs: George Horne (aka ‘Horneito’), Greig Laidlaw, Ali Price; Adam Hastings, Finn Russell; Chris Harris, Peter Horne, Sam Johnson, Duncan Taylor; Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, Sean Maitland, Tommy Seymour; Stuart Hogg

It’s not the squad that we here at SRB Towers would have necessarily liked, but it is the one we predicted.

Stuart McInally’s insertion as captain may raise a few eyebrows, but with Barclay struggling a little for fitness, if his performance against France is anything to go by, and Laidlaw locked in battle with Ali Price for the 9 jersey, McInally is the obvious starter of the trio.

I’m sure all of you are complete in agreement with Toonie, so we may as well not bother with a comments section. Myself, Rory and Cammy will be mulling over the announcement on the podcast tonight, which should be ready for your aural cavities by tomorrow.

149 Responses

  1. It’s a fantastic squad. Still gutted Harris is in ahead of Jones or Hutchison. Can’t get my head round Taylor playing one game at 12 then being selected at 13.

    Bradbury was unlucky with injury. Fagerson just unlucky, I’d have him in ahead of Wilson but then Wilson brings experience and we have quite a green team.

  2. Sound squad. Disappointed for Jones and Hutchinson. However, Bradbury and Strauss dropping out worries me. With Thomson and belatedly Skinner in the team, we have grunt and go forward. We are left with Thomson, highly talented but woefully short of game time and looking to avoid another head knock. Take both out and it will be the old Scotland. Great when they have front foot ball, poor when teams like Ireland, SA keep it tight. The opening 15 is highly capable and in terms of depth it is unrecognizable to previous squads, our finest for many years. Can’t wait. I’m in Yokahama with an old English mate in a fortnight!!

  3. Who is gonna break the gain line at close quarters? Check out the picture, Thomson is shorter than Kinghorn and Ritchie. And he’s skinny. Don’t tell me he’s our big ball carrier. Think this is a squad picked to beat the fast/small Japan side and accept getting chinned by Ireland and NZ/SA.

      1. Agree, Hamish is an extremely effective ball carrier & would be in any team. The biggest lumps aren’t necessarily the most effective.

    1. Not sure where the fascination with Thomson’s waistline has come from. For the record he is 6’6″as opposed to Ritchie (6’4″), Strauss (6’4″) and Kinghorn (6’3″).

      I don’t rely too heavily on the weigh in stats from teams (pun intended), as players tend to fluctuate. SRU have Blade listed as 106kg which is slightly light in comparison to 117kg Strauss.

      He is known as a ball playing 8 who likes a carry in the open areas and has a good set of hands. He’s not a Bosh forward like Strauss but will hopefully suit Toony’s plans.

      1. I thought Kinghorn was 6’5″, but he’s been demoted to 6’4″ on the SRU site and 6’3″ on the mighty Wikipedia.

      2. If Kinghorn is 6’3 then Thomson is 6’1 tops. Look at the picture above. Was he wearing boots with massive heels to make himself look bigger in the France match (his only match in about a year and even then he lasted about 30 minutes), às guys like Stallone and Keanu Reeves do in the movies? Sorry to say but he’s hoodwinked Toonie and his coaching staff here.

        Blair is taller than 6’3 though, have bumped in to him a couple of times, very pleasant lad.

      3. Deceptive. Blade is standing with his legs apart to accommodate his enormous balls.
        Rugby balls obviously.
        Makes him look shorter than he is. Weigh him down too.

      4. Agreed on Kinghorn, SRU have him listed as 193cm so 6’4″, I always assumed the height stats would be fairly accurate. He’s a young guy maybe the Wikipedia page was written when he first broke through at 18 and he’s gained an inch.

        Anyway I don’t think Townsends been hoodwinked… can you imagine the selection meeting?
        Toony “What about this Blade lad? good handling skills and a strong runner? is he a bit on the short side though?”
        Taylor “Nah he said he’s 6’6″, look his mum got a note from his doctor!”

      5. This talk, and the waist/wrists talk, reminds me of Moneyball…

        Grady Fuson: Artie, who do you like?

        Scout Artie: I like Perez. He’s got a classy swing, its a real clean stroke.

        Scout Barry: He can’t hit a curve ball.

        Scout Artie: Yea, there’s some work to be done, I’ll admit that.

        Scout Barry: Yea there is.

        Scout Artie: But he is noticeable.

        Matt Keough: And an ugly girlfriend.

        Scout Barry: What does that mean?

        Matt Keough: Ugly girlfriend means no confidence.

        Scout Barry: OK.

        Billy Beane: [Puts head into hands out of frustration with the conversation]

        John Poloni: Now you guys are full of it. Artie’s right. This guy’s got an attitude and an attitude is good. I mean it’s the kind of guy who walks into a room and his dick has already been there for two minutes.

        Phil Pote: He passes the eye candy test. He’s got the looks. He’s great at playing the part. He just needs to get some playing time.

        Matt Keough: I’m just saying his girlfriend is a 6 at best.

    2. Keiran Read for NZ is a similar build to Thomson. Aye …terrible No8!??….Best overall 8 in the world IMO

      1. I think Faletau is the best overall 8 in the world, but only when he’s not injured. So, hypothetically, I guess.

      2. Faletau is only 6’2″ according to Wikipedia…. can somebody phone up his tailor and find out his waist measurement?

      3. There’s nobody in their right minds can tell me Billy V has a small waist…. but at 6’2″ he could be a member of the lollypop guild. Quick nobody tell Eddie lest he realise his mistake.

    3. BLB
      Your obsessed on size. It’s what you do that matters.
      Perhaps we should measure the waist line/wrist size of each team, compare it to final positions and see if your theory of size is accurate. You might be onto something.

    4. I find this vastly outdated idea of size being important in Test rugby really stupid, given it nonapplicable even in amatuer rugby. As a player at a decent level, playing outside centre, it’s more often or not about the timing of your run than the need to go through someone (although at 5″10 I can still do that).

      In this era of athleticism and physically dynamic players, you can be the size of a Pete Horne or Hamish Watson and punch through holes. One example is Darcy against England (who had larger, bigger wingers) wriggled and fought his way over the line to score. Similiarly O’Driscoll, who was minute and damaged so many teams.

  4. OK, not happy with the selection but all the reasons I am not have been well commented on. Positives. Our home jersey when free’d from the BT logo with the Macron arrow centre below the collar looks damn good.

  5. The controversy will surround Jones and Hutchinson ommissions.
    So I’m gonna add my tuppence worth.

    Jones has defensive frailties which were offset by his incredible flair in attack. For whatever reason he hasn’t shown that either in his short 6N cameo or the warm ups.
    Hutchinson would have been a bolter. He too has defensive frailties, albeit he has improved since his loan spell to Bedford. He is a bit like Jones in that he’s an incredible attacker, but he still sometimes falls off tackles.

    You have to be able to defend. Scotland fall off tackles too easily. It’s their weakness. All the centres going can tackle.

    Harris is a better attacking force than he’s given credit for.

    Jones and Hutchinson will be back and if there are injuries will come back in.

  6. I know he’s struggled for form but I still think there is a big occasion player in Huw Jones. Think it’s a mistake leaving him out.

    1. Huge mistake. Should have been third on the team sheet after Russell and Hogg. Should get himself away from Rennie ASAP.

  7. I expect we will go with the work rate backrow of Barclay, Watson and Wilson for Ireland with Harris at 13. If Townsend’s thinking is that Finn and Hogg will take care of our scoring and we need more defence I can’t disagree.

    Townsend fell for Cornell Du Preez’s charms and was badly stung which I thought might put him off Thompson. Apparently not. I haven’t seen much of Thompson but his lack of top level rugby worries me. Less than 50 top level games at 28.

    Townsend loves Peter Horne. It doesn’t matter how many tries he sells with terrible passes. We can do nothing other than pray for the good health of Sam Johnson.

    1. Playing Barclay, Watson and Wilson gives Ireland nothing new to think about. That would be a mistake IMO.
      Give them Thompson to think about…with either Barclay, Wilson or Ritchie on the bench to cover 6,7,8

      1. Aye, Ritchie at 6, Watson at 7, Thomson at 8 with Wilson/Barclay on the bench seems pretty tasty. Wilson is usually better when he comes on as a sub than when he starts, IMO.

  8. I would have selected Bradbury…we have no real 8 in there..and Bradbury is only one to show a glimpse of being a proper 8. GT clearly doesn’t like him.
    I would have selected Hutchinson..regardless of the opposition he played against he looked class. He was assured and made all the right decisions. I would not have selected P Horne he is a hard working yet liablility of a test player..and he is a poor test 10 imo…Jones out?..fair enough..hasnt played well enough for over a year.

    What was the point of all the ‘ opportunity for players to put their hands up’ nonsense prior to warm up matches.
    Yeah Pete Horne really put his hands up along with the ball …with yet another, now trade mark, atrocious give away try. What exactly did Ryan Wilson do?
    GT had already picked his squad… Thompson would have played in Autumn… a very good pedigree and showed glimpses of skills …BUT…has he really earned that spot ahead of a promising scottish born player?
    Only derailment was injury to Skinner.

    Hey ho…thats what we got tho…anything less than a QF spot is a fail. SF spot or higher is a success. A ‘Brave’ QF loss …predictable.

    1. ” What exactly did Ryan Wilson do?”

      Ryan Wilson led the improved defensive effort against France and did it for 80 minutes. He was massively involved in that game in terms of line out, rucks and tackles.

      He’s a certain starter versus Ireland.

      1. Unfortunately, you are right its likely Wilson will start against Ireland. If he does …Id hope Thompson is at 8. Wilson, if he has to play, is a 6.

    2. Wilson – gives away amateurish hot headed penalties.

      On the plus side, is competitive, aggressive, a pain at the breakdown and well suited to Townsend’s fast game.

      Let’s face it, if he hadn’t gone eyebrows would have been raised.


    – [Laidlaw, Russell; Maitland, Johnson, Taylor, Graham; Hogg] is the best backline we’ve had in two decades, simple as. I do also think that one of the benefits of Harris’s selection is his distribution – he is one of the Premiership’s most frequent offloaders even if he’s not Hutchinson – so we should see the ball going out to our wings more with any hope. He can also provide a crash ball option for us, so it’s not all bad.
    – Cummings, Graham, George Horne, Kinghorn and Ritchie have all earned their places in this squad. They are the Scotland team of the future and it is great to see them picked on merit.
    – Bradbury and Fagerson were both very unlucky to miss out, but they’re very young and they came very close this time. We’ll be seeing much more of them in years to come.
    – Laidlaw is looking to be in absolutely ferocious form. Reminds me of 2014 against Argentina. His service is quicker and he’s running support lines. I think he’ll be a massive asset.
    – We will almost certainly have to call up players in case of injuries. However, we have genuine depth in certain areas. In midfield and the back row, we have strength. If we get far enough into the competition, Sam Skinner could play a part too.
    – This squad will be absolutely champing at the bit to get stuck in. Players like Barclay (I seriously hope for his sake that he survives BTM unscathed), Watson, Brown, Thomson, Graham and Harris will be desperate to make an impact. In fact, they all will be.

    1. Remember seeing Zander, Cummings, Ritchie, Hastings, Kinghorn and Graham all playing together Vs Australia U20s in 2016….

      Hell of a progression for all of them

  10. So pretty much as expected then. Agree with Johnny B on Jones, his penchant for scoring tries offset any niggles about frailties in his game, but he stopped scoring tries for fun. As I said previously if we were 5 points down with 5mins to play against the ABs in a QF then I would desperately want him on the pitch but his recent from just doesn’t warrant selection.

    Harris over Hutchinson is more interesting. It has always been very clear that Toonie likes Harris and has opted for him (a relatively known quantity) over a young guy who has admittedly made a decent first impression on the scene. I can see Johnson and Taylor (a combo that still needs to be tried) as the first choice with Horne or Harris on the bench where either can cover more than one position.

    Time will tell if he is right but it’s certainly not a typical Tombola selection. He appears to have gone for a slightly more defensive minded line up in the centers and back row which is no bad thing. I like the “I don’t care how many tries you score, we’ll score more” mentality but you have to be able to defend to a certain extent, our defence has been woefully porous at times recently, are we seeing some steps to address this?

    1. Huw Jones doesn’t have form. Due to unfortunate injuries he hasn’t put two starts together since the last AIs.

      That didn’t seem to count against Thompson or Taylor for some reason.

      1. “That didn’t seem to count against Thompson or Taylor for some reason.”

        Spot on. It’s a bit hard to work out the logic behind the selection, but I guess we don’t need to.

  11. Here is a team not selected for various reasons..

    1. Jamie Bhatti
    2. Ross Ford (recently retired)
    3. Murray Mcallum
    4. Sam Skinner (Injured)
    5. Richie Gray (Unwanted by Townsend)
    6. Magnus Bradbury
    7. John Hardie
    8. Matt Fagerson
    9. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
    10. Rory Hutchison
    11. Tim Visser (Recently Retired)
    12. Alex Dunbar
    13. Huw Jones
    14. Byron Mcguigan
    15. Will Jordan

    16. Grant Stewart
    17. Alex Allan
    18. Darcy Rae
    19. Tim Swinson
    20. Josh Strauss
    21. Henry Pyrgos
    22. Duncan Weir
    23. Kyle Steyn

    Pretty competitive 23 with players like Bennett & Scott still not involved, lets hope Townsends selections are correct.

  12. Just listened to Toonie on the official Scotland Rugby podcast. His point of asking those who haven’t been selected to keep their suitcases ready is valid based on the high likelihood of injury. As per previous posts, will be very surprised if the Hutchisons etc don’t get a Japan sticker on their passports!

  13. Simon Berghan – Kiwi
    Allan Dell – South African
    Zander Fagerson
    WP Nel – South African
    Gordon Reid
    Fraser Brown
    Stuart McInally (c)
    George Turner
    Scott Cummings
    Grant Gilchrist
    Jonny Gray
    Ben Toolis – Aussie
    John Barclay
    Jamie Ritchie
    Blade Thomson – Kiwi
    Hamish Watson – English
    Ryan Wilson – English

    George Horne
    Greig Laidlaw
    Ali Price – English
    Adam Hastings
    Finn Russell
    Chris Harris – English
    Peter Horne
    Sam Johnson – Aussie
    Duncan Taylor – English
    Darcy Graham
    Blair Kinghorn
    Sean Maitland – Kiwi
    Tommy Seymour – Irish American
    Stuart Hogg

    13 of the 31 are nae Scots which could be worse. Would have preferred M.Fagerson and Bradbury to Thomson and Wilson and Ritchie Gray for Toolis. Rae for Berghan and Bhatti for Dell. 3 from Scott, Bennett, McDowell and Dunbar for the 3 centres. Nairn for Seymour. Keep Maitland and Watson as they’re the only two clearly better than the Scots alternatives.

      1. It’s nae trolling ta suggest that it’s nae great to see the academies finally bringing through cracking prospects like McDowell, Bradbury and the younger Fagerson and yet to see Englishmen like Wilson and Harris selected ahead of them.

        I dont have an issue with foreign recruits generally and individually no issues they’re all committed but it’s a shame as well in a way to see players who would have grown up dreaming to play for Australia or South Africa picked ahead of Scots lads.

    1. On that basis … we would have to dismantle virtually all world rugby nations squads…as almost every team has players born outside of countries they represent. Antiquated view imo.

    2. All these players have strong connections to Scotland either through family or residency.

      They’ll put their bodies on the line for our entertainment. Time to get behind them.

    3. Your argument is awful anyway, but even with that ‘logic’ several of the players you’ve named – Nel, Berghan, Dell, Seymour, Johnson and Taylor – are clearly better than the alternatives you’ve proposed. But also, they’re Scottish rugby players with Scottish blood, and they’ll put their bodies on the line for us – for our entertainment. Xenophobia isn’t a good look, chief.

  14. It’s just quite conservative in the end. Every time he had to choose between youthful dynamism or experience he has gone for experience. It’s too safe. Two years ago Jones was the guy with all the confidence now its Hutchinson who has that belief that everything he’s going to try will work but both have been omitted. A solid squad but essentially just the same group that has failed to make any significant impact in 6 nations. Given that Price, Harris and Taylor can all play wing did he really need 5 back 3 players? Surely and extra back row where its so attritional would have been better spent. Hay ho it is what it is. Roll on the World Cup.

    1. I think your comment it being the same group who have done nothing in the 6N is a good one. We’ve all built these players up (well, mostly but there’s a few exceptions who just get pelters) at the start of each 6N only to be disappointed. The talent seems to be there but the attitude and execution seems to be lacking. Why should we think that this time it’ll be any different?

    2. Think you’re right about using the “6th” prop berth for a back row rather than back 3. Would allow another big 8 to go & would probably forego on Kinghorn given Harris & Taylor covering wing if need be & Maitland & others covering FB (that’s Full Back, not a reference to anyone’s size & parentage!). Think Cummings did some time at 6 this last weekend? Maybe GT thinks he has a Skinner-like lock after all.
      Does look a defence minded selection which I get after some disasters in that area recently. Just hope it works as a tactic on the pitch. Now to book awkward days of leave to cover midweek pool matches.

  15. Had to laugh at the ‘live stream squad announcement’ we are not the All Blacks. We are the world ranked no7 ..or 8 when France decide to play.
    Pretentious!…the world was hardly on the edge of their seats.

    1. I think it was more for a Scottish audience to try and gain some support. I’d applaud anything the SRU try to raise the game in this country. Although it was a bit of a shambles in the rain…

      1. This is why we need a new independence referendum.

        No longer should we tolerate Westminister controlling the media, taking our cash and raping our natural resources!

  16. If Im being philosophical I would say Toony has gone for experience and experienced teams tend to do well at World cups. Most of those players we could all argue with being in are young, young enough to make a couple of future world cups. Im confident for the future if these guys continue to improve.

    1. Ordinarily I would agree with you that experience counts. However I cannot name our test side and when they last had the experience of playing together as a team.

      I think the great teams have experience of playing together.

      Am I being unrealistic to think that after 23 internationals in charge he would have a settled side for the greatest show on earth !

  17. So, we have one 13 in the squad and not an especially good one.

    A front-line centre pairing who have never played together – ever.

    And a parachuted in backrower who has managed 40mins of rugby in 10 months.

    I am getting an insight as to why Richie Gray told Toonie to bugger off.

    1. He’s made a decision!
      We’ll see if it works out.

      Think the frontline centre combo will be Johnson and Taylor.

      Taylor was Cotter’s favoured 13.

      1. I meant it’s a decisive move.

        I can see the attraction of making that kind of call here and getting all the gripes and raised eyebrows out the way rather than doing it in Japan.

        Jones hasn’t been in good form. I’d probably still have taken him but easy to say from the armchair.

        As for Harris, I think he’s good. Better than he gets credit for here. Don’t think he’ll start. Think it will be Johnson and Taylor.

      2. Which was my bloody point.

        Townsend is blooding a completely new centre partnership at the RWC – its utter madness.

      3. Sometimes Townsend’s selections have had predictable consequences, like when he moved Jones inside Harris and gave him a debut at the millennium (ffs).

        Then again I never would have expected the team Townsend picked on summer tour in 2017 to beat Australia.

        And Richie Gray has just had his 1st child. It’s conceivable there are reasons other than sticking it to Townsend that he doesn’t want to be in training camps then Japan for 3 months, although it obviously raises the question.

        I don’t know what to make of it. It’s either genius or these guys are going to trip over each other.

        I hope it’s the former.

      4. Bennett was Cotter’s favoured 13 – I don’t think he was ever not picked when fit after he had made his debut. Taylor was a bit of a utility back under Cotter and was just breaking through.

        Taylor has an unremarkable record at test level. Injured for the last word cup he has played in two notable victories against Australia and France where he had a leading role but that is about it.

      5. FF Cotter dropped Bennett for Taylor before the game v Wales in 2016 at the millennium in which, by the way, Taylor was outstanding. He scored a great try and caught the Welsh winger from a great angle from behind as he ran into open space for a score which looked a gimme.

        Taylor’s a go to man for Saracens when he’s fit and they’re European champs and a test quality outfit across the board.

        Bennett is (or was before he got injured) similar to a lot of centres we have. Tremendous attacking flair, plenty of pace but prone to defensive lapses.

        It’s tough to know what to make of it.

        What I do know is that we are just off being a top side and the gap seems to be in defense.

        I think an underpowered front 5 has a lot to do with that but we don’t have an AWJ or Itoje waiting to come in and shore that up especially with R Gray unavailable and Skinner out.

      6. Speaking of Bennett, I think he was defensively pretty decent.

        What a player in general. Remember that turnover and try against Italy? Class. He ought to be here, it’s such a shame injuries have ruined things for him.

      7. Sorry Jonny B you are wrong, Taylor played 12 that day inside Bennett at 13. Check the BBC match reports if you don’t believe me.

        I rate Taylor btw but he is a Toonie favourite and hasn’t made nearly the impact Huw Jones has at test level it Bennett before him.

      8. FF you are correct, although I’m pretty sure this was down to injury to Dunbar and later in the campaign Cotter dropped Bennett to pick Dunbar at 12 and Taylor at 13.

      9. Sorry, still not right. Bennett played every game except against france where Taylor played alongside Dunbar. Bennett played alongside Taylor against Wales and Italy and alongside Scott against England and Ireland.

        Bennett started at 13 every time he was fit in the 2016 campaign. Taylor simply wasn’t first choice under Cotter.

        I rate him highly but this is the first time really he’s been clearly first choice at 13 (assuming he starts alongside Johnson and Harris doesn’t start) – god knows how he got there without playing any recent meaningful rugby.

    2. I would not be surprised that Gray was asked to fill in the numbers aka Swinson and not “Would you like to go to Japan”. His ‘No’ was a great way to say …. “Look, he didn’t want to play for Scotland”

      1. C’mon, Gray is out of contract in November his decision is about eeking out another season or two on the gravy train. GT has done far more for Scottish Rugby than Ritchie ever will.

      2. Ritchie was asked to join the initial squad, where everyone was conceivably up for selection. By being invited into the squad you are being asked if you want to go to Japan more than the next guy.

        Ritchie turned down the first offer for reasons we can only speculate. I think the most obvious answer would be he was expecting the birth of his first born and being in the squad would likely mean missing the birth and possibly the first few months of the child’ life if selected for the WC squad. At the time of being asked he also had a heavily pregnant wife living in a foreign country.

  18. Has there ever been a better looking forward than Ben Toolis? Absolutely gorgeous.

    Probably the 1st time in rugby history the sexiest rugby player in the world is a forward. Could be a model. I think even a few straight guys could fall for his beautiful eyes. hair and beard.

  19. Very confused why Jones and Bradbury are not in the squad.

    If the reason for Jones omission was loss of form why was Seymour picked for so long when he lost form. Also, what has Taylor done since returning from injury to merit inclusion over Jones. Pete Horne and Chris Harris have done nothing in a Scotland game to merit inclusion over Jones.

    The Inclusion of 1 Cap Thompson over Bradbury is based on what?

  20. Townsend will get what he deserves at the end of the World Cup- criticism and bugger all else. Vanity before country. We will come up short in key areas.
    Harris before Jones – really???. The former could change a game for the positive – doubt it. Never seen it. Not even sure Harris should have been first choice centre at Newcastle in a piss poor team. Still GT can never be wrong. Arrogantly obstinate.
    All the locks better than Richie Gray – good luck with that Gregor. We have midgets at lock by international standard.
    Our best generation for decades diminished by someone who will only assume his opinions are always best .

    1. Townsend has only led us to 12 wins and he has Huw Jones to thanks for his finest wins against England (once) and Australia (twice).

      1. Thanks Kevin , doesn’t take that much from the point and I take it we are counting 2 toothless warm up games against a beleaguered Georgia and a French side going through the motions. It was hardly test rugby though the away game against Australia was.

        I wont say too much about his losses which will be 11 now including a hammering in Nice . No mention of losses can go without reminding us about USA and Fiji where he underestimated the strength of the opposition. 5 of those losses were to Wales and Ireland and if if Wikipedia is correct to a nil return, not one victory or draw against our PRO 14 cousins.

  21. Townsend said Hutchinson was excluded because he lacks international experience. How much international experience has Thompson got?

    1. … in comparison with the other contenders for the centre position. Blade had Josh Strauss to fight over the no 8 position. Easy battle.

  22. Sort of understand the purported new emphasis on defence, but that does not square with the Pete Horne inclusion. As to this: “Huw hasn’t had enough games playing well, or playing at all, over the last few months. He’s looked in unbelievable shape in training but we haven’t seen enough in the game and a half he’s had with us to get himself into that final squad. We know he’s on his way back to his best form, but it just wasn’t enough.” Madness, if he’s on his way back to his best form and in unbelievable shape in training, then he should be there, because we all know what his best form is. Why can’t we pick our best players??? It’s not complicated.

    1. If he was going to give Huw Jones a chance he would have played him with Russell during one of the warm ups.

      Instead he started Hutchinson on Saturday despite obviously knowing he wouldn’t pick him. The selections seemed to be planned around achieving justification for picking Taylor and Horne.

      1. Jones’ biggest problem has been injuries and lack of game time at Glasgow. If, as it seems, Rennie does not rate him how is he to get enough game time to justify an international return – from the outside it looks like he would have been better going to Leicester, which would have saved us the ludicrous situation of one of Scottish rugby’s highest paid players warming the bench! Having watched Newcastle a lot I think Harris is a very good player but I also think we have missed a trick in not having either Jones or Hutchinson in the squad – whilst understanding the desire for defensive solidity we still need to score tries and now seem to expect more scoring to come from the back 3, which I am sure opponents will have picked up.

      2. AndyP : The alternatuve opinions arguments are strong. Having watched Glasgow, Ryan Wilson and Peter Horne are good club players who can,granted, on occasion , step up a level, to fill a few gaps. I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw Duncan Taylor play for his club.

        This is not a relegation decider between Newcastle with Worcester , this is international rugby, this is the World Cup.

        Chris Harris has been involved in some of the most embarrassing debacles in his hand full of caps. He has scored, finally, twice, in meaningless games where the best of the best were avoiding injury and half committed.These world cup warm ups are toothless.

        Compare to the unjustified (IMO)omission of a Currie Cup winner, 23 times capped 10 times over the white wash, dragging anyone in his way with him.

        Given this debacle, it would not surprise me if he decided he was no longer committed to Scotland , just my opinion. He can join Richie Gray and Tim Visser in the club of men who had enough maturity,dignity and balls to set themselves apart from the nonsense. His biggest mistake was not accepting a premiership club and getting back to playing with a side that is peppered with guys in the same class as himself.

        Off course he is not at his best, his club and international coach have been lining up inferior replacements for two years now and finally we are all deluded into thinking they are adequate.Shame on us.

      1. I’d suggest the emperor should set himself aside of this nonsense and leave us all in peace.

        Seriously, create your own reality all you want but I wouldn’t want anyone with that kind of maturity,dignity and balls playing for Scotland.

  23. I can’t believe how negative so many are being. Seriously, it’s a very strong squad. Stronger than last time, in which we were denied a place in the semi-/final by a refereeing error. We’ve all complained about our defence, and Toonie’s picked defensively strong centres. There’s been loads of hype and excitement about Thomson, and now that he’s picked we’re furious?


    I can’t wait to see what we’ll do, and it’s a testament to how far we’ve come that so many quality players have missed out.

      1. I do not agree with you either Scrummo . What does ‘well’ mean ? Get out the group ? or be plucky looser’s ? We should have got out the group last time but for Joubert’s howler , so doing well is ? If this is a better squad what are our expectations !

        What if he does not ,do well , whatever well is, who will be eating what then.

        I think we need to get the point of balance. Ying and yang . What do we want from the RWC, what do we want from Townsend , what is his remit ? Is it improving world rankings ? I wonder what success looks like for the SRU ?

      2. For me well would be exceeding our usual QF exit. I dont care about performance. I’d rather win a QF 3-0 than lose 45-44. Anything less than a semi spot should be considered a failure and I expect us to fail. Not saying that should cost Toony his job but it should put pressure on him. We cannot be happy with a QF exit with a team like this.

        On another not, I presume Firdays team will be named today?

      3. JP07 that is a pretty high bar! I think making the QF is par not failure.

        SF would be an amazing success given the potential QF opponents

    1. Negative is a strong yet unspecific word.

      I think some have lost confidence and the minute he opens his mouth or Danny Wilson’s mouth , it is getting worse. He is now compromising himself with every word. The justifications are unstructured and cluttered.

      He should have picked his side by now and used these games to play them as a unit to develop harmony.

      When people lose confidence , it is a hard thing to recover.

      1. Yes I do and I dont expect us to be favourites but how long can we continue to consider a QF a success? Lets not forget up until this year Dodson was preaching that this was the world cup we would win. That target has been quietly changed in the strategic reports. We have the most talented pool ever and if we are going into this RWC thinking a QF is OK because there’s a hard team to play then we dont deserve to be there as a Tier 1 and they dont deserve the support they will get. That is a Tier 2 mentality and a typical Scottish loser mentality which I am sick of and sick of hearing other nations refer to. Plucky one off wins are not enough anymore.

      2. JP07, QF is the minimum, but I am not sure how you can say the RWC is a failure if we don’t make SF.

  24. Dont see what Chris Harris has done in a Scotland shirt to be picked ahead of Huw Jones, who is a proven match winner.

  25. Well the announcement at Linlithgow was a damp squib in more ways than one! Mossy and big Al havering on filling in time in the pishing rain waiting for the widely leaked squad to roll off the bus.
    Not really surprised at the winners and losers in the selection process and had Hutchison or Jones been picked instead of Horne or Harris I think most folk would have been happy. Personally I have been impressed by Hutchison and thought he should have been in.
    Suspect Strauss will have played his last game for Scotland but all the others who have been left out are young enough and good enough to feature again and may well fly out as injury call ups during the RWC. It is however a pretty conservative midfield selection but will hopefully address our defensive frailties as we are never going to beat higher ranked teams when we are regularly shipping 3-4 tries a game.
    Selection for Friday should be interesting and would like to see the following start to get game time/ match fitness:
    1. Reid
    2. Brown
    3. Fagerson
    4. Gray
    5. Cummings
    6. Wilson
    7. Ritchie
    11. McGuigan
    13. Taylor
    14. Seymour
    15. Kinghorn
    16. Turner
    17. Bhatti
    18. Berghan
    19. Swinson
    20. Fagerson
    21. Price
    22. Hutchison
    23. Jones

    1. Why would anyone who is not in the 31 play on Friday ? Consolation prize ?

      What benefit is there in not fielding our best 15. They need game time. Toonies time at the Tuck shop pic and mix is over. Now pick your best team and start playing rugby like you have never before. It is time to man up !

      1. Don’t think I did too badly! Just saying.
        The benefit in not fielding our best 15 is avoiding the risk of injury to key players in a meaningless game!

  26. I have to wonder what else is being leaked so easily considering the WC squad was announced early…

    Who knows what information is being given to other teams we are up against ?

    It’s a god damn joke.

  27. When Duncan Taylor was last playing regularly we figured we had our best choice of centers ever through SuperDunc, Bennett, Dunbar, Jones, Scott and Horne.

    All of these players are young enough to have expected to be named in this world cup squad at that point. Only one of the others have made it due to a drop in form amongst this group. I really hope Taylor goes well and I’m glad he’s made the squad. However, it does seem like he may be benefitting from not having any kind of form at all.

  28. Remember last wc squad announcement when Hugh Blake was chosen and most people didn’t even know who he was? We’re in a better spot these days.

  29. Neil – did you notice Townsend in his interview today said Scotland ARE the fittest team going in to this World Cup, and that he knows this as they have data from all the other teams. Bizarre claim, how the hell would he know that, have that info. Like all the other teams would give up their data.
    Do think he lives in a bit of a fantasy land. Talk of being the fittest, fastest team in the world. Ability to block out bad stuff that happens like intercept passes. Blind sport for players with big beards and a shaven pate, and floppy blonde undercuts.

    1. Thought that too…. total bollocks…no way does he have all the inside info on the top teams physical stats.
      It sounded a bit defensive really…
      I just think he is melting a bit under pressure …he’s had plenty of time to put together a winning team…

      1. His chat stinks of losing faith. Um well aye we tried being the fastest team in the world, picking our best players like that Welsh lad, but that didn’t work, so yeah defence – Pete Horne and Chris Harris are definitely the best defensive centres in the world… no?… their countries… no?… their clubs?… no. Ah well.

  30. Hutchinson doesn’t have enough recent experience at this level. Leaving aside he has not looked out of place when asked to, how does that explain Taylor’s inclusion?

    A: Taylor has demonstrated abilities in the past that make lack of demonstrable form a non-issue.
    Ok, that explains Huw Jones omission how exactly?

    We want tried and tested combinations – 1st and 2nd choice partnerships have had one game together each.

    We want defensive solidity – perhaps start by not throwing passes to the opposition maybe?

    Sorry Gregor, can’t square this at all I’m afraid. Much better if you didn’t try and reason your way around it and just said “these are my picks, they are the players I want”.
    No room for blaming systems, how well it was all going in training or other intangibles.
    If the try scoring dries up, there is no defence for the non-selection of the two most potent attacking 13’s we currently have. Or the lack of go forward due to under powered carrying with Fagerson, Strauss and Bradbury left at home.
    If defence continues to be an issue, no plausible deniability when you specifically select players to shore it up.

    Will desperately want them to do well come kick off but will always have a nagging “could have been better” feeling… and plenty of evidence to back it up.

  31. Above all gutted for Hutchison as I was championing him BTL when everyone else on here was in nappies.

    That said the bottom line is Scotland will succeed at the RWC if the pack can generate front foot ball for Finn.

    If they can do that with the weapons he has outside (assuming they stay fit) we will do ok. Defence must also improve from every other game this year because we don’t want to have to score 25 points.

    Lets sneak the big group games and hope they the team can play the game of their lives in the quarters.

  32. Is there any evidence the appalling defence from Scotland over the last 2yrs is all the fault of the centres?

    Personally I’d have been looking to replace our awful defence coach – but heh, that’s just me.

  33. On reflection of the squad my biggest worry is not the Horne/Harris debacle as I think that Harris is beginning to show his quality and we know he is solid in defence and, although Horne will guarantee the other team 7 points a game, we do seem to play well with him on the pitch.

    My worry is that all our loose forwards are the same bloody player. When you summise the best qualities in Barclay, Wilson, Thomson, Gray, Gilchrist, Toolis, Ritchie, Cummings it is: great engines, will run and tackle all day long, some of them will make a mess of the other team’s breakdown. But that’s it. With the exception of Watson, who is the smallest one, none of these players break the gainline which is a major issue when your 10 is arguably the greatest frontfoot 10 on the planet but also drops to being bang average when on the backfoot. There is a poor balance to our pack and I think that is going to hurt is a lot more than the Hs in midfield.

    On a side note, slightly worrying that our two first choice centres are two of the most injury prone players in the squad, I suppose that means there is a strong chance Jones/Hutch will be going at some stage afterall.

    1. I appreciate that this sounds very whiny so would like to add a caviate that you can judge the strength of a squad by those left behind and it is a very nice luxury that we are leaving such quality behind, Scotland squads in the past have caused no debate as people could only name 31 Scottish players!

  34. Once again I don’t understand the manager. He pulls Hutchison into the squad, the lad does great, probably more than hoped for even, yet is excluded because, according to GT, ” he doesn’t have enough international experience “!!!! So why introduce him in the first place? GT has played someone who never was going to go, at expense of giving those who are going extra game time. Logic and GT just don’t go together.

    1. That one is easy. He is now tied to Scotland. Looks more like a cynical ploy. Im not sure he would ever get near England but he is still young and in their league so possibly. Choosing Scotland makes him a less valuable player in the premiership so it is a big call on his part.

      1. I think cynical is a bit strong. Hutchison played for Scotland age-grade and has been open about his commitment to Scotland. Presumably he needs some experience in case he is called up due to injury or if competitors like Harris had been rubbish and not demanded selection.

        Hutchison is going to win many caps for Scotland. Particularly given the rate we burn through potential ‘world-class’ centres like Bennett, Dunbar and Jones.

      2. If Hutchinson was not going whatever, you start Jones. It was a shut out for the benefit of Harris and Horne that backfired.

      3. Or Toonie knew Hutchinson would be required in the event of injury and wanted to ensure he had some international experience. Seems reasonable to me. I’d be stunned if he didn’t make an appearance in the 2020 6Ns.

        You’re making a load of assumptions to support a very cynical narrative.

      4. Scotland does seem to be a bit of a graveyard for the next big thing in the centre.
        Before Bennett and Jones (who are young enough to come back) does anyone remember Tom Philip and Rob Dewey?
        Blokes who had everything but were either unlucky or drastically lost form.

      5. Maybe. But you’re assuming Hutchinson goes over Jones in event of injury. Some might say he doesn’t have enough experience.

      6. It simply depends who’s injured. If Russell, Johnson, Hastings or Pete Horne go down, we will call up Hutchinson. If Harris or Taylor goes down, we might call up Jones.

  35. Thistle are reporting that Toonie will ask some of the unselected to turn out against Georgia in order to keep them fresh in case of an injury. Bradbury and Stewart have been hinted at starting on Friday.

    There are, on average, six injury-enforced call-ups per World Cup campaign. Our hookers are fairly injury-prone, as are our back rows and centres. For this reason, I don’t think we’ll be seeing the new Johnson/Taylor centre pairing on Friday unless it’s off the bench with Taylor covering the back three. We also have certain players who need gametime.

    With that taken into account, this might be quite a good side to play:

    Taylor; Seymour, Jones, Hutchinson, Kinghorn; Hastings, Horne; Bhatti, Stewart, Berghan; Swinson, Gray; Thomson, Ritchie; Bradbury
    (Brown, Reid, Fagerson, Gilchrist, Fagerson, Laidlaw, Johnson, McGuigan)

    We can test a few players out in different positions, give gametime to most of the ones who need it, and keep the unselected on their toes. Johnson and McGuigan can come on if we want to try out our new centre combo after a bit. Berghan can also swap sides again. No full-time fly-half on the bench is the only issue; we’re fairly unprotected if Hastings has a bad day at the office. Because of that, Laidlaw sneaks onto the bench even if Price needs gametime. Greig is basically our Plan B now, and if Hastings fares badly we can either shift Hornito/Hutchinson/Kinghorn to 10, or bring on Laidlaw in front of Hastings and try to close out the game.

  36. A few people are quoting Gregor’s comments to interviewers as to the reasons he’s made the certain selections.

    Let’s get real here – do you actually expect him (or any other coach in the world) to tell the truth in public? Just imagine if they did….

    Reporter: “You’ve not picked Josh Strauss”
    Gregor: “Naw, he’s a showboater who’s a lazy b***tard in defence that doesn’t work hard enough”
    Rep.: “You’ve picked Thomson, despite him having been concussed recently and him having very little international experience”
    Gregor:” Aye. New Zealanders actually understand the game of rugby. Some of our boys haven’t a clue what they’re doing sometimes”
    Rep.: “And no Huw Jones?”
    Gregor:”Great goal line poacher but he cannae pass off his left hand”
    Rep.: “And you’ve picked Pete Horne?”
    Gregor:”Aye. Insurance policy. Imagine if Finn gets injured and Adam Hastings doesn’t fancy it because he’s lost the Soul Glow for his hair”.

    Massive negativity on this thread (and elsewhere) when, in fact, Townsend has picked 27/28 of the same players that everyone else would have done. Yet people criticise bitterly because 1/2/3 players they would have picked haven’t been selected?

    The way of the modern world, sadly.

  37. More qualified than any poster here to pick a squad, develop a game plan and have the players implement it.
    Intimate knowledge of each and every player in terms of their skill set, personality, ability to work in combinations, ability to understand and implement the game plan.
    Has a team of people around him who will offer advice, play devils advocate, challenge his thoughts and decisions – but ultimately must do what he believes is right – and has selected the squad he believes is best to achieve, what must be the goal of winning the tournament – He 100% must not (and clearly hasnt) picked a squad to appease baying fans

    I would like to think the above is irrefutable

    Naturally (why else would we be here) we all have opinions that we want to share and are interested in seeing how they stack up against fellow supporters and friends, so I think its quite right that if people are angry or disappointed in the selection they should share that – however, I think all opinions need to be framed within the above context.

    I think i’ll finish by saying that each and every member of that squad has earned their position and I want to congratulate them on that first of hopefully many personal and collective milestones to come over the next 2 months and I for one will get right behind the boys in Yokohama in 2 and a half weeks !

    1. Great post. Should be the basis of a second tick box whenever we post about squad selections.

  38. Knowing that this is the squad, and barring injuries, it looks like the two Pro14 teams might be turning out like this this autumn:

    Hoyland; Sau, Bennett, Dean, van der Merwe; van der Walt, Groom; Schoeman, Cherry, Ceccarelli; Carmichael, McKenzie (C); Bradbury, Crosbie; Haining
    (Willemse, Bhatti, McCallum, Hunter-Hill, Kunavula, Pyrgos, Hickey, Johnstone)

    Glasgow Warriors:
    Jackson; Steyn, Grigg, McDowall, L Jones; Thomson, Frisby; Kebble, Stewart, Rae; Harley, Swinson; Vakaloloma, Gibbins (C); Fagerson
    (Iscaro, Allan, Nicol, Davidson, Ashe, Kennedy, H Jones, Hughes)

    Some of the players above are injured, while there’s a possibility that Dolokoto or Matawalu could feature for Glasgow, as Fiji still need to drop one more player. It’s going to be interesting, though. Bradbury, H Jones, Bhatti, Swinson and Stewart are in some ways the next cabs off the rank if there’s an injury. Pyrgos and Fagerson too.

  39. OK maybe, but on another topic it’s interesting to consider how much times have changed since the last WC.

    Look at this team:

    Tonks; Bennett, Jones, Dunbar, Visser; Weir, Hidalgo-Clyne; Marfo, Ford, McCallum; R Gray, Swinson; Denton, Hardie; du Preez

    Many of those players have looked like absolutely nailed-on selections at some point during this World Cup cycle. Who, in 2015, would have thought that Bennett would be missing this World Cup, for example? What about Jones in 2018 or Dunbar and Visser in 2016? We’d all thought that John Hardie would be our future first-choice openside; along came Hamish Watson. We didn’t see McInally supplanting Ford or becoming captain – and Duncan Weir would have been an obvious choice at stand-off.

    Things change. A lot. It’s funny to look back on those changes.

    1. Expanding on that point I think the policy of picking players outside the SRU control is generally working. In time maybe we are able to support a 3rd pro team, but recently there has been (intended or not) a 1/3 split between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Exiles/Ayr in recent squads – Now maybe this is a bit of reverse engineering / confirmation bias, but by allowing players to move abroad has allowed both Pr0 14 clubs to operate with bigger squads supplemented by Academy players – allowing us to have far more ‘ready’ depth across most positions and a core of players under the age of 26 who have overtaken many of the names above as a result of getting game time and will probably be at their peak in 2023.

      Digressing further I still believe we could have an incredible world cup this time around, but imagine 4 years from now having the likes of Gray, Russell, Kinghorn, Hastings, Hornito, Graham, Johnson, Jones, Hutchinson, Stewart, Z Fagerson, McCallum, Hogg, Bradbury, M Fagerson, Ritchie, Steyn, Bhatti, Kebble hopefully reaching their professional peak with the next crop underneath pushing hard. I think in many ways our prospects currently look brighter than Ireland, Wales, Australia and Argentina who currently rely on a core of players for which this will be their last world cup.

      1. Too early to predict, but it could look like this:

        Ashman, Stewart, McInally (c)
        Berghan, Fagerson, Kebble, McCallum, Schoeman
        Carmichael, Cummings, Gray, Skinner
        Bradbury, Crosbie, Fagerson, Ritchie, Watson
        Horne, Price, Shiel
        Hastings, Russell
        Dean, Hutchinson, Johnson, McDowall
        van der Merwe, Graham, Kinghorn, Steyn

      2. Respect for making a post highlighting that it’s impossible to predict a team four years out then trying to do it anyway!

    2. We had a decent squad last time and with lots of comings and goings over this last cycle we have ended up with a very different squad to what you would have thought would have been then.

      I was gutted for Laidlaw last time as I thought he would never make another cycle and he had missed out on a world cup final forever.

      Barclay wasn’t even there was he, his Scotland career was over effectively.

      Hardie was breaking through, who’d have thought he’d be nowhere to be seen? Dickinson was still going strong, we didn’t have anyone else to match him and we’d all hoped somehow he could keep going. Then you’ve got Dunbar, Bennet, Horne and Scott. They were all going to Japan 2019 and no one would touch them.

      Last time out the draw opened up and our path to the final was blocked by Australia who were favourites by miles. We were so close to getting there. This time is different. The Number One slot is changing every week due to 4-5 teams being so equally matched in points. There are 6 teams who can win this world Cup at least. You’ve got a couple of outside bets too. Scotland are one of them. So in our being put in with Ireland it leaves us with the chance to have a terrible draw for the quarter-final. Even if we get through that we’ll have a tough semi and then just as tough final as whoever we get in the quarters. This is all ifs and buts. We have a very tough competition ahead. 1/4 is par and success. Anything above that we go into territory we’ve never been I’d suggest.

  40. Toonie had one job and that was to pick from a supposed position of strength in the centres, remarkably he messed it up. Peter Horne has never been nor should he be an international rugby player, a good club man yes but an international no. 5 tries in 41 matches does not win you games and if we loose our no1 pairing it’s difficult to see how Horne and Harris will add any go forward. There are a number of close calls across the team which I’m sure he’s called correctly this however is not one off them

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