Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland v Ireland: RWC 2019, Match Preview pt I

Scotland vs Ireland
Graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog

KO 8.45am (4.45pm local time)
Sunday 22nd September 2019

International Stadium, Yokohama City

Live on ITV1

1,435 days since Scotland last played a World Cup match. 1,435 days since bewildered Scotland fans ran the gamut of emotions in a cruel loss to Australia. Now it’s time to do it all again…

This game will have massive implications for Scotland. Victory means a shot at topping an RWC pool for the first time since 1991. Lose and there is absolutely no margin for error in the remaining three matches if a quarter-final place is to be achieved.

History is not in Scotland’s favour when it comes to this type of fixture. Across 18 games against other Tier 1 teams in World Cups the dark blues have managed just two previous wins.

Scotland’s record against Tier 1 nations in RWC matches:

  • New Zealand – P5 L5
  • France – P3 D1 L2
  • Argentina – P2 L2
  • Australia – P2 L2
  • England – P2 L2
  • South Africa – P2 L2
  • Ireland – P1 W1
  • Italy – P1 W1

The victory against Ireland came 28 years ago in the 1991 tournament when Gary Armstrong and Graham Shiel were the try scorers. Italy were only just vanquished in 2007 by way of Chris Paterson’s boot.

A win in Sunday’s Tier 1 matchup would set a really significant marker as to how far Scotland have progressed over the past four or five years.

Ireland Scouting Report

Do points really mean prizes?

It’s been over 18 months since Ireland scored 30 or more points against a top 10 side. To which the counter is quite simply – they don’t need to. A couple of outliers against England aside (more on them later…) the Irish have conceded an average of just 14 points per game. They have the ability to stifle sides into submission. Even teams with huge attacking prowess have foundered on the rocks of Ireland’s game plan (including being the first country for 4 years to hold New Zealand tryless).

It’s not simply about defence – although it almost goes without saying that the linespeed is high and the tackling is intense and accurate – it’s about control of possession and territory. It’s about dictating where and how the game is played. When Ireland are in charge of these areas then anything over 20 points will be enough to win most games.

Control the pressure

Any match against Ireland has a different style to it for an opposing team. It’s one which they need to either adapt to – or better yet find a way to disrupt and impose their own tactics. That’s very much easier said than done though! Some key points from the most recent Six Nations were:

  • Ireland set up considerably more rucks than any other team in the tournament. They averaged 125 per game compared to 97 per game for the other sides. They will happily make short, or even no-yardage carries as long as they can retain possession and grind away at a defence. Then it’s all about waiting to find a gap or just simply breaking through by sheer attritional force.
  • Ireland had 20 more lineouts than anyone else. The pressure they put teams under in their own half and 22 forces them to try and find the safest outlet they can. The relief is short-lived though as all it does is hand possession back to the Irish for another extended series of phases.
  • Ireland games featured the fewest kicks on average – 44 compared to 56 for the other matches. Again this comes back to Joe Schmidt wanting his side to have as much controlled possession as possible. Even when they do kick it will be to contest in order to try and win the ball back directly.

England’s triumphs

As mentioned earlier England have been the side that has given Ireland most difficulties on their run-in to this RWC. Are they kryptonite for the Joe Schmidt gameplan? Are there any lessons there for Scotland? Well, there’s not going to be a Vunipola at 8 or a Tuilagi at 13…and unfortunately, Ireland won’t be as rusty as they were in August when they conceded over 50 points!

In that most recent match at Twickenham two playmakers opened up the field for Eddie Jones’ side – as did just under 30 kicks. Nearly 50% of them came from England’s scrum halves, which may be of interest to Greig Laidlaw.

Ireland dominated possession and territory in all of their Six Nations matches. Against England they were the ones having to give second best, playing the majority of the game in their own half and without the ball.

Scotland need to find their own way to do something similar to the English, using the kicking game that they have increasingly been looking to exploit in their last half dozen matches. Containing Ireland at halfway isn’t enough though. Scotland need to force them to start possessions from in and around their own 22. That should then lead to the sort of field position the dark blues need to create their own scores from.


  • Connor Murray was the only player to make more than 400 passes during the Six Nations. Ireland’s scrum halves averaged 108 passes per 80 minutes (in comparison Scotland’s 9s averaged 95).
  • Jacob Stockdale had more handling errors (10) than any other player in the Championship. It would be a high-risk strategy to try and expose this though as his scoring record remains extraordinary – including tries in both his previous outings against Scotland.
  • No-one in the Six Nations got over the gainline more often than James Ryan (32 times). That was on more than 50% of his carries. Stopping him is crucial to preventing Ireland getting front foot ball.

Previous results

Scotland have only defeated Ireland once since Joe Schmidt took over as their head coach in 2013 (7 matches). The head to head from the countries’ last 10 meetings looks like this from Scotland’s perspective:


Most recent meeting:

Scotland 13 – 22 Ireland

Significant stat
67% possession in the second half for Ireland (combined with 72% territory). Scotland were frequently their own worst enemies after half-time with turnovers and penalties conceded on early phases when they had the ball. This lead to the double whammy of killing Scottish attacking momentum stone dead while allowing Ireland to dictate for long, long passages of play.

The Scottish Rugby Blog match report from that game is here.


Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referee 1: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant Referee 2: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

Since 2011 Scotland have ‘lost’ the penalty count in 9 out of 11 games where Mr Barnes has been the referee. The average number of penalties conceded is 12 – although that’s dropped to 9 in the three most recent matches.

Ireland usually excel in keeping their crime count down. That means it’s likely the dark blues will need their best ever showing with Mr Barnes in charge in order to keep pace with the number 1 side in the world.

Scotland’s last 5 games with Mr Barnes as referee:

  • 2015 – lost to France (A)
    Pens: 26 (For 10 – 16 Against)
    Cards: Scotland 1 YC (David Denton)
  • 2017 – beat Australia (A)
    Pens: 23 (For 8 – 15 Against)
    Cards: Scotland 1 YC (Ryan Wilson); Australia 1 YC
  • 2018 – lost to Ireland (A)
    Pens: 19 (For 9 – 10 Against)
    Cards: none
  • 2018 – lost to USA (A)
    Pens: 19 (For 11 – 8 Against)
    Cards: USA 1 YC
  • 2019 – beat France (H)
    Pens: 16 (For 7 – 9 Against)
    Cards: none

Part II of the preview, including the head to heads, will follow on Saturday after the team announcement (expected Friday).

91 Responses

  1. That RWC record is truly miserable and shows us a good measure of where we stand. Even the legendary teams of the late-80s and early 90s could just muster a draw with France and a victory over Ireland (then utter rubbish) when it counted. The pain of the SF loss to England will never quite go away.

    Not massively optimistic despite the quality of our squad. Was hoping for a first game ambush of the number one side in the word but conditions look tailor made for Ireland to grind out a joyless victory.

      1. I stand by it. In 1991, Ireland had wins against Zimbabwe and Japan in the world cup to their name and a 5N draw with Wales.

        They lost 7 other games including twice to Namibia.

        In that period they were in a regular struggle with wales to avoid the foot of the 5N table.

    1. I actually can see us beating Ireland and then backing that up with a loss against Samoa. Tis the Scottish way….

  2. Great Article and the significant stat on our penalties/turnovers is,well, very significant!!
    I genuinely think if we can keep our mistake count low then we have a real chance. Cannae wait for the match!

  3. “it is hope that kills you”!! Rational arguments are leaving my thoughts taken over by endless hope that we are about to perform miracles over the next couple of months – 2nd half at Twickenham etc. Just heard Rob Kearney is a doubt.

  4. Should be a cracking game. I hope Townsend has been keeping something up his sleeve for the world cup and that the players know how to implement it.

    Alas, looking at our away form against Tier 1, and the fact that they are ranked number one for their performances over the last couple of years, then we are going to need a lot going our way and everyone turning up with something to prove.

  5. Can I just wish David Denton well in retirement. He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and if he could offload like Nakarawa then he would have had a lot more caps but he gave his best for Scotland.

    1. May I echo those best wishes to David Denton for his sadly forced and premature retirement? Did his level best in the navy blue and was part of the team cruelly denied a 2015 RWC semi-final place.
      Good luck to him in the future.

  6. Ireland seem like an ageing side to me and perhaps the hot/humid conditions could play into our hands. I think everyone would have to play a blinder though. Sometimes Ireland just bore teams to death – dreadful to watch but annoyingly effective.

    1. With a different referee I might agree, but it seems to me that Barnes likes a slow game. Certainly he is not a “fast game” ref, and will be quite happy for 2 or 3 minutes to be chewed up by a scrum or lineout.

      1. Barnes was the ref when Toulouse beat Leinster using a fast game. I think he is the best we could hope for here.

      2. I thought Wayne Barnes had a good game at Murrayfield and I am hoping for more of the same on Sunday.

    2. Its called experience. Only 2 players who won’t make 2023. Don’t let facts get in the way of a good story.

  7. “the linespeed is high and the tackling is intense”

    For a moment I read that as the linespeed being intense and the tackling high.

    It is Ireland after all.

  8. As we look forward to the start of this WC campaign, how reassuring it is to know that we’ve finally tested and bedded in, at club and country, two of the most talented centres Scotland have seen emerge, over this past cycle – Dunbar and Jones following in the footsteps of Scott and Bennett – we’ve ensured the mind of our world class 10 is in the best possible place when it comes to playing for the national team, with no parent sacked nor any public disagreement with the head coach in any recent matches, wrapped in cotton wool all season long and ready for peak performance. Meanwhile, in the engine room, it’s also a family affair as the Gray brothers prepare to stand together one last time, past and future Lions… Wait a minute.

  9. The sensible play would be for Scotland to start Ryan Wilson at full back – then when Kearney or O’Mahony try and take his head off, we can bring Hogg off the bench to play 14 men !

  10. I’m excited about the world cup but here is a nagging reality that we play either New Zealand or South Africa in the quarter final, however well the group games go. Maybe worry about that in a few weeks….

    1. Am I the only one that, given a choice, would choose NZ?

      Some reality-rejecting part of me thinks that they are more likely to share with us the kind of game we can win, IF we execute well and get some luck.

      1. Assuming we do get out of the group, a QF against either is going to be a huge challenge for us. Though both Tests were at Murrayfield, we weren’t far off NZ in 17 and SA in 18. ABs seemed finally to get their act together for the season in their second Test against the Wallabies, and the Saffers are imho stronger than they were last Autumn. We’d be right up against it, for sure. But on neutral ground and if we can match either side up front, then who knows, we could have a good day?
        Let’s see Ireland off first on Sunday though!

      2. Initially thought NZ would be a better to option for us to face in QF…but after watching their last pre world cup match..they look really slick…Id say we would stand more chance of beating SA..though I think that would be unlikely too.
        Its a bad QF draw for anyone in our group with any hopes of going further.
        IMO…NZ and SA the best 2 teams in the comp going into it.

    2. Unless whoever loses in the NZ v SA game gets a game called off by a typhoon and ends up with a draw against one of the small teams and they get knocked out by Italy losing one and winning the rest…

      1. Would need to be loser drawing against Italy by Typhoon and then worse points right. Unless we reckon Italy might beat SA or NZ, so only to get one loss.

  11. My team for the Ireland game:
    Hogg; Graham, Taylor, Johnson, Maitland; Russell, Laidlaw (VC); Reid, McInally (C), Nel; Gilchrist, Gray; Barclay (VC), Watson; Thomson
    (Brown, Dell, Berghan, Toolis, Wilson, Price, Hastings, Harris)

    That would also be my team for Samoa and Japan with a couple of alterations (Ritchie in for Wilson, G Horne in for Price, and Dell starting with Reid on the bench).

    Then this would be my team for Russia:
    Kinghorn; Graham, Harris, P Horne (VC), Seymour; Hastings, Price; Reid, Turner, Fagerson; Cummings, Toolis; Ritchie, Brown (VC); Wilson (C)
    (Thomson, Dell, Berghan, Gilchrist, Barclay, G Horne, Johnson, Maitland)

    1. Hi Sam, I have much the same. It will be interesting to see if Bergan and Toolis or Fagerson and Cummings make the bench. I also have a sneaking suspicion he might go for Kinghorn on the wing instead of Graham but I hope not.

      1. Hi Sam, yeah I actually have a suspicion he’ll go for Seymour over Graham. It will be interesting to see which players are benched. It’s certainly possible Toolis will appear.

  12. Breaking News …. Rob Howley: Wales backs coach sent home from World Cup over alleged betting breach. Stephen Jones is on his way to Japan to replace Howley

    1. Yes but how is the respected pundit going to write his impartial columns in the Times and coach attacking rugby at the same time ; )

    2. I wonder what he was betting on. Maybe a certainty like Townsend is going to start Harris on Sunday.

      1. I can see Harris and P Horne both getting selected and Kinghorn and Graham not even making the bench. Harris covers 11,13&14…Horne covers 10, 12&13.
        Not what Id pick…but GT likes em.

      2. As I recall Harris on the wing was even more dire than Harris in the centre.

        Ruggers :I would back your point , it just shows you how Toonie plans, wants to keep his options open, change his mind , even after the game has kicked off.

        That is why it is so unbelievable the second half against England was nothing to do with executing the game plan right, he hasn’t got the tenacity to stick to a game plan. He just prefers to have so many options he can respond to the opposition game plan.

  13. Anyone else starting to get nervous already? I’m hoping for a 8 point win for us. We can run the legs of Ireland just don’t want to get sucked in to the arm wrestle they rely on.

    1. The anticipation is certainly building. I don’t share your optimism. From a purely realist perspective, Ireland have just throttled Wales home and away. That’s exactly the type of game we don’t cope well with. England perhaps have the remedy in some incredibly powerful players that Ireland struggle to impose the throttle-hold on.

      To win, we will need to give them something they’ve never seen before. Then we will win the crowd; we shall have our vengeance. At Greig’s signal, we’ll unleash hell, and FInn will have them chasing shadows and dust. What they do in the RWC, will echo in eternity!

      1. lol….’To win, we will need to give them something they’ve never seen before. Then we will win the crowd; we shall have our vengeance. At Greig’s signal, we’ll unleash hell, and FInn will have them chasing shadows and dust. What they do in the RWC, will echo in eternity!’

        Think you’ve watched too many feel good war movies!

        Ireland beat wales twice…yup. Did Wales put the same effort in that they will in the 6N or RWC….I don’t think they played anywhere near what they can. I think Wales gladly let them have that No1 tag and all that goes with it.
        All those pre WRC ‘training’ matches will mean absolutely nothing starting in a few days.
        We can beat Ireland ….but we have to be far more consistent and focused than we have..both within a match and a competition scenario. I think the result is up to us.. to be honest. Im just not sure we have the mentality to deal with being favorites for anything. Luckily no team or fan eally rates our chances of achieving much other than the obvious qualification and thumped against NZ or SA in the QF.

      2. Looks like Schmidt is following the blog. From the Offside Line today: “I have no doubt we’ll see something from Scotland we haven’t seen before”. He doesn’t go on to specificaly mention vengeance, hell, shadows, dust, or things echoing in eternity, but it’s there if you read between the lines.

  14. I hope that Scott Cummings get into the squad for Sunday. I don’t feel that Jonny Gray is Scotland’s best choice at lock. For all his tackles, not many rock his opponent and he seems to dive for the deck as soon as he gets the ball. Seen him play a few times. Very slow…..

  15. Looks like Kearney and Earls both for and raring to go. Goody good good.

    Earls record against Scotland is excellent. Kearney is crucial too.

  16. Bring them on. We are all talking like Scotland is a Tier 2 nation taking on the world number one. We are playing a well organised, direct ageing side who have been on a decline over the past 12 months. We may. It be favourites but we are not playing a Marvel Superheroes 15, it’s Ireland.

    1. Brilliant , World Rugby ranks them number 1, it is the best chance we have ever had against the top of the ladder. Bring em on Crazy , bring them on .

    2. Well said. The IRB need to have a look again at their ranking calculations. Ireland and Wales at the top is a joke, when in many fans’ opinions based on 6N, Rugby Championship and RWC warm-up form it should be NZ, SA and England in the top three.
      Ireland are indeed an over the hill side. Still very good, but not as good as a year or so ago. We have no reason to be overawed by their IRB ranking on 22 September, which will be the last thing on our players’ minds.
      Not predicting a win, but expecting a furious contest that could go either way, with a small points margin for the winning team.

      1. The only issue with ranking is including the warm ups in rankings or including them at the same weighting as other tests at least. They only matter when pools are being drawn.

      2. Entland have always struck me as a pretty wooden team. And it’s not about showing your hand; as many players have said about Hoggy, “it’s not about knowing what he’s about to do, it’s about whether or not you can stop him”.

      3. I don’t know Teamcam, some of the elders are not bad, though I’d agree the rest are just sons of birches.

    3. yeh all the way but we’ll have to be highly aggressive. Its all about control and making sure the defensive line has aggressive speed with no holes and putting the man backwords preferably in two’s get a drive on where there’s likely chance of winning turnover ball. We need to take the sting out of them as well as their confidence. Its days like this that you need a Calder and Jeffery. But with Hamish and Barclay there’s a good chance we can get this! COME ON SCOTLAND!

      1. Is Barclay a stick on? I’m not sure he’s back to his best form and I think Wilson is made for these kind of games.

      2. FF: Agree on Wilson, he has to be there. On a bad day, Barclay is a penalty machine, but Wilson niggles all match long. I think a hot sweaty night, Wilson’s waging tongue and tactical jousting is the perfect recipe to promote Irish ill-discipline. I know it is sad, but Ireland always push the boundaries and get away with it, we need all the help we can get, to make them, CROSS the boundaries.

  17. Apparently Howley bet on Blade Thomson making the most yards in ball carrying in the tournament.

  18. Folks, no contraventions of rule 6 please no matter how well intentioned the self-censoring. This post is for discussion of Scotland v Ireland or Scotland at the world cup. Discussion of matters relating to gambling or rugby integrity: I’m sure there’s a post on Reddit about it.

  19. Reid


    1. Given the pretty horrendous looking conditions, I’d probably start Kinghorn or Seymour over Graham. The ball is probably not going to be getting to the wings that much and they’re superior height will probably be more suitable for the inevitable Irish aerial bombardment.

      Also I just don’t trust Fagerson after the Georgia game. He cannot stand the pressure and I would pick Berghan over him atm.

      1. Graham v Seymour is the biggest call and there is a good argument for both, picking graham says to Ireland we are coming for you picking Seymour I believe says we are trying to nullify your game. The conditions may be poor but we can’t fall into the trap of basing a game on stopping ireland we need to outscore them and that says graham hands down.

      2. According to the BBC, the weather’s not looking too bad – hot with light drizzle and a gentle breeze. Yeah, it’s not ideal, but it’s not like it’ll be torrential.

        Also, Ireland tend to kick the ball less than people assume – their gameplan is all about possession and territory. We’ll probably kick more than they will. Either way, I agree with Bpm: Graham is the in form player and he’s stepped up to every challenge with which he’s been presented. I’d be delighted if he were selected for Sunday’s match.

        I agree about Fagerson, but he was part of a Glasgow front row that smashed Leinster’s last season, so it’s odd that he’s gone so poorly of late.

      3. I’m generally in favour of going with experience for the tournament, but the exceptions would be Graham, who has been magnificent at test level, and Cummings, who is absolutely going for it. Both have the potential to be game changers and whilst relatively new to test rugby are making relatively few mistakes, which is essential. Graham has the potential to be a legend (‘on his throne of orcs’ is already etched into Scottish Rugby lore). Reminds me of Shane Williams.

      4. I agree ….Id be disappointed if Graham doesn’t start. He looks an absolute star. Id say a better player than Hogg ..never mind Seymour.
        Seymour looks past his peak to me. A good experienced player to bring off the bench… but surely Graham …and Cummings too.. have shown enough. They are simply better players.
        We need to select players who are better than Irelands.. not just ‘experienced’.
        We really need to get away from kicking the ball in the air ..hoping one of our team catches it (which we often dont)..we usually just turn over possession. Thats one of the key differences between Ireland and Scotland in recent past. When they kick…they kick with purpose and intent or retaining possession..we just hopefully punt it.
        You can’t win a top level test match by giving the opposition extra ball. Thats why Ireland play a possession game.

      5. Cam – Ah, I was hearing reports that there was going to be a thunderstorm. Great if that’s not the case.

        You’re right, Ireland love to hold on to the ball Leinster-style but the first part of the their process is generally exiting using Conor Murray box kicks and trying to regather. They also often use Sexton’s attacking cross kicks a lot and their whole back 3 are very good in the air.

        I think Graham is brilliant but for the first time in a long time (ever?) we have enough talent in the back 3, who all offer different options, to pick according to the game plan and conditions and Graham might be more suited to the more likely high tempo fixtures against Japan and Samoa. It all depends on the type of game the coaches are planning though.

        Fagerson is a real odd situation. Dominant on some occasions but seems that when his heads down or he’s not getting his way with the ref he can implode a bit and is unable of adapting. He’ll get there but probably more suited to the lower-pressure fixtures this time.

      6. We all seem to compare Graham to Hogg, there is no need. Graham is a courageous tackler , a mesmeric runner, has a passable boot and it often takes more than one to take him out. Let’s balance this one up and start comparing Hogg to Graham.

        The post on the message we send Ireland if we pick Seymour is an insightful one. Good point, however I think Hogg and Seymour do look out for each other in both attack and defense . I wonder what part the humidity will play , this game is early evening. Graham or Seymour ! Good point, you have got me thinking ! Graham is light, fit and fleeting. Glad it is not me picking this side.

  20. When you look at the line up from the Scotland v Ireland game that we really should have won in this year’s 6 nations, it makes for interesting reading. Looks like the changes will be Taylor for Huw Jones (positive in defence) Nel for Berghan (positive for set piece) and the whole back row of Wilson, Ritchie and Strauss for a likely Barclay, Watson and Thomson which should make us more competitive at the breakdown and arguably stronger in attack. I think all in all these are positive changes, and although we will miss the advantage of Murrayfield, Ireland’s only team changes look to come in the form of Quinn Roux for Henderson (positive) and Sean O’Brien for Van Der Flier (negative).

    Another positive is that the forecast is getting a little better as we near in on game day. Hoping Toony has a bag of tricks for this one, would love to see another line out trick like Dunbar’s try against them a few years ago. A win on Sunday takes pressure off the rest of the group games and will allow Toony to really rest/manage the key players a lot better. If we lose then the likes of Finn will need to start every game bar Russia.

    1. I think Horne/Hastings would be great against Samoa. As far as I’m aware, they’re not as defensively aggressive (i.e. offside) as NH sides against whom Hastings has struggled. The game against Argentina last summer was an excellent case in point.

      1. I don’t think we should take any chances vs Samoa tbh. The fact that most are ruling them out against us worries me.

        We beat them by less than a converted try last time they came to Murrayfield and they always seem to be better at WC as they have their full squad + more time together.

      2. I’m absolutely not ruling them out. I’m saying that the nature of their defence would suit Hastings’ game, and he’s shown himself to be an excellent player. I’d still have Russell and Laidlaw on the bench in case, but a pair of half-backs who engineered a 40-point victory against Argentina in Argentina are obviously competent.

      3. Hastings and Horne have to get quality experience …they need to progress for us to achieve the depth level needed to truly challenge for a 6N and World cups. Samoa would present a good challenge for them. If anyone is being honest ..we are a bit short of the squad level for this world cup… but the next one…we have a real chance if we build the squad the right way. I dont get the Hastings knockers ….they have short memories of where Russell was at when he first came onto the international scene. He has matured and improved his game considerably. Hastings needs that chance too. He clearly has some raw talent and potential imo….he could even turn out too be a more rounded version of Russell.

    2. That last match…we lost.. at home.
      ‘We should have won’…that is just subjective opinion.. we need to get away from that…and do what is needed to win. That is all that people outside of our blinkers take note of…and it is all that matters to progress in major competition.
      We need to correct the majority of issues that were highlighted in that match. Teams targeting your most talented threatening player is a regular tactic in team sport… we need to be prepared for that…otherwise it’ll be like groundhog day.
      Sloppy passes and cheap tries aren’t going to cut it now…this is the biggest stage in rugby.
      Ive read various blogs from NZ and SA fans and all they think is that we have an underdone pack… and that they are competing to avoid Ireland and get an ‘easy’ QF. Nobody outside of the Scotland fan rates our chances of doing anything at all. Perfect scenario for our mindset really….

      1. I would love to see Ireland silly’ed again with a Dunbar Line out trick. But that was Cotter’s trick. I would hate to see us fooled like that.

      2. We have ? When ? exactly ! Did it work ! It was Cotter, Vern Cotter , 2017 6N , Feb 2017 .McFarland never joined Scotland till May 2017 . Even Toonie cannot rewrite history you know .

        It was Ford, Ross Ford (Edinburgh) threw in to Dunbar, Alex Dunbar, while Toonie (my way) and McFarland (Now Ulster) were preening each others feathers at Glasgow. Unless you know better ?

  21. I see Scotland have been using shampoo and conditioner in their skills training. I just hope it proves effective and that they are head and shoulders above Ireland on Sunday

  22. Ireland team out. Obviously the printer stopped working (no toner if too subtle) no Kearney, no Earls, no Henshaw, Carbery not on the bench and no Conan – no means a stick on but these are all things that level this up a bit for me. We must stop the Irish first phase inside ball, win our line outs hold up the scrum and win the Ariel battle.

  23. Scottish team much as expected – generally good, but disappointed Seymour is starting over Graham as he’s really not earned it on recent form and also personally wouldn’t have picked Wilson, but a strong team if a bit on the conservative side.

    Price, Harris and Graham on the bench so Laidlaw covering 10.

    1. Seymour has been quoted as saying that he has been happy with what he has given to the team recently even though he hasn’t scored tries in the matches. This is very possible and of course we always see wingers as successful if they score tries and failures if they don’t. Seymour is on a 4 match try scoring run in World Cup matches. If he scores against Ireland in first 20 mins of the match we’ll be halfway there. It is the least Toonie selection for a long time. Glad to see Wilson there and surprised not to have Horne senior on the bench. Hoping that Russell really arrives this World Cup and leads us to a win and help our feeble World Cup record against Tier 1 teams.

  24. Townsend gone for experience over form in choosing Seymour and Wilson especially. Feel sorry for Graham who’s been our standout player recently. Hopefully it’s just a conservative approach for first game and the likes of Graham, G Horne, Cummings, Thomson and Ritchie can prove themselves to be starters for upcoming key matches.

  25. I think the team looks a bit conservative with some impact off the bench. That might be the right answer though for Ireland in changeable conditions. I think for any other game Graham would start ahead of Seymour on form but Seymour is in for his experience and high ball defense against the Irish. Looking forward to Brown, Graham, Thomson and Cummings rampaging around later in the game. I don’t think the Irish will be looking forward to Graham coming on.

    My slight concern though is what happens if Russell gets injured. Presumably Laidlaw is covering 10. Fully expect the Irish to target Russell with some early hits to test him out.

  26. I know we feel Ireland get the rub of the green on foul play decisions , like POM on Hogg , but we have the ability to put some big hits in ourselves, why not ? what is keeping us.

    Now here is one for the statisticians. How often do Scotland fail to add to their score when the opposition go down to 14 men? Do we lag behind other Tier 1’s in this aspect ! If we do not punish the opposition on a yellow , they will continue taking the risk of a yellow (which often never materializes anyway) for foul play.

    1. POM hit on Hogg was more frustrating because there was no card, no penalty and it injured our best player and Ireland scored directly as a consequence of that. Completely changed the game.

      When we have been fortunate enough to have the opposition down to 14 it seems to be mixed. The only time I can remember this was vs Australia and we came out 51-24 winners.

      1. I think he means yellow’s. Like when we lost 20-26 against SA 2018 , 10 mins in the bin not a score.

  27. Ireland “cheat” very well, the POM “assault” on Hogg in the 6N & the Kearney “challenge on Hogg in the Pro14. Both times Hogg injured/off, the crowd & the players deflated……. = Irish victory.

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