Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Japan 28-21 Scotland

pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

In this game of huge importance both to Scotland and to Japan, after a week in which it looked like it might not even happen at all, when it did finally kick off: Scotland fluffed the kickoff.

Not a great omen.

Despite that, Scotland played very well in a frenetic opening five minutes, defending some rapid Japanese play before Allan Dell snaffled a turnover. Finn Russell misjudged a grubber kick that bounced off a Japanese hip and sent the hosts scampering up the other end with the ball. Tommy Seymour had to make a very early try-saving tackle.

Finn made up for it minutes later when from a series of rucks close to the Japanese line he darted through the defence to make it look easy and open the scoring.

Things were never as easy again.

Japan were moving the ball very quickly with superb accuracy, side to side, line-busting carries before hitting Darcy Graham’s channel. Over and over they did it, and it worked almost every time, though Graham was making the tackles every time.

Matsushima got Japan’s first points that way, although the second try was much more of a team affair, Scotland’s scramble defence unable to stop the Brave Blossoms from offloading in the tackle in their trademark style.

Japan were operating on 78% possession for the half and Scotland had made 100+ tackles before half time with Japan less than a third of that. It was superb accuracy from the host nation and Scotland hadn’t been in Japan’s 22 since that opening ten minutes.

With Scotland requiring to limit Japanese bonus points and thus scoring in order to progress to the quarter-finals, by the time Kenki Fukuoka beat Stuart Hogg to score their third try, that was looking very unlikely indeed.

Half-time: Japan 21-7 Scotland

Any hopes of a Twickenham style recovery were probably closed down when early Japanese defence smothered Chris Harris and the ball bounced loose and Fukuoka sprinted in under the posts for his second to secure the bonus point.

Credit to Scotland they were not visibly deterred by the effective end of their tournament at that point and bringing Hogg – who we didn’t see the best of in Japan really – Sam Johnson and Graham into the game more – plus a superb break from Jamie Ritchie – gave them a rare excursion into the 22 before WP Nel dove over from short range for a lifeline of a try.

With half an hour to go, Townsend emptied the bench.

Scotland were upping the tempo and playing a fast offloading game like, well, Japan. Zander Fagerson did his bit for the front row union with a try following soft hands from Cummings and Gray. It was a long road back, but Scotland were on the road and within 7 points. Memories of Twickenham were stirring.

Japan weren’t going to take that lying down, of course, and put Scotland into a series of punishing, energy-sapping defensive sets. Jamie Ritchie snaffled a brilliant tunover but at what cost to their newfound momentum?

At their next attack Russell was looking like he had a little more time on the ball but a sure-fire try was chalked off for a forward pass from Pete Horne. That just meant Japan set themselves in for another long spell of nerveless possession. Their error count had increased enough to give Scotland a sniff, but it was a faint one.

Even with 20 to play Scotland’s task was huge. But at least finally it felt like a game of rugby. There were even some Zandbags as the otherwise outstanding Jamie Ritchie came off the wrong end of a breakdown penalty and got into a scuffle.

Scotland kept the pace up even though you could see they were knackered, and George Horne made a great difference at scrum-half. But passes were still going astray; too far in front, too far behind.

Of all things, Scotland through their replacement front row of Reid, McInally and Fagerson, earned a scrum penalty to keep the final moments played in the Japanese 22 but the hosts were probably content with the clock now well on their side. Visibly tired, the men in navy blue couldn’t quite conjure the magic needed which would, ironically, have earned them the draw we spent the week arguing about.

Japan, brilliantly coached, and competitive all night at the breakdown, didn’t fancy that ending; they pinched a turnover and ran the clock down.

Good luck to the hosts in the next round – you wonder how many perfect games they can have – but they’re certainly the most fun to watch of the sides now in the quarter finals and top the group.

It was a disappointing end to Scotland’s Rugby World Cup given the promise a lot of these players hold, but at least we won’t die wondering.

They played the fixture, and they lost. But it was, in the end, just a game of rugby.

383 Responses

  1. Well done Japan. Gutted to be out but beaten by a team playing with great skill and execution. Plus great hosts. Japan vs NZ or England final possible.

    Too much kicking away possession in first half. Tactics rather than Russell me thinks. What a difference in second half with G Horne and front foot play.

    All the best Japan and unlucky Ireland.

    1. I won’t be spending my hard earned cash to see Scotland play rugby again until Townsend is out. I suggest that all Scottish supporters do the same. A pig would be better.

    2. The ironic thing about Horne making a difference is Laidlaw was the scrum half that yielded 2 tries and Horne 1. We didn’t take the chances on offer.

  2. An amazing second half. Looked like we might just get back into it at one point, but we needed deadly accuracy and couldn’t quite manage it. Great effort from our boys to show that fight in the second half but the two tries either side of half time were killers.

    Well done to Japan. Thoroughly deserved and would be great for the tournament if they go further.

  3. What a performance from Japan. Scotland blown away in the first half but showed character to get back into the game and for a time looked as if they were favourites for the win. Intensity in the last 15 minutes was awe inspiring.
    Hope that some of the blog contributors who showed disrespect to the opposition pre match have the grace to admit Scotland were beaten fair and square.

  4. Not good enough tactics (looked clueless at times), execution and mental resilience. Talent squandered. GTs position should be seriously considered. P. Horne brain farted two absolutely essential attacks with two awful passes at match turning moments- I thought that was why Huw Jones wasn’t picked. Could have done with him there, midfield did nothing.

  5. Really disappointing & some really suspect tactics & mental approach. Personally feel that calling for GTs
    head isn’t the right way forward just now. Get a settled midfield & there are enough players who will still be around next RWC to form a solid foundation. GT must surely learn from this for next 6N, that to me will be his last chance.
    Well done Japan & hope that the whole nation gets inspiration from their success to get over what has been an horrendous natural disaster.

    1. I hear what you are saying but I honestly think that GT can’t/willing to learn. I think he is too dogmatic

      1. GT has never learned. Every game against Tier 1 and 2 has had the wrong tactics and or team. He must go. He’s developed absolutely nothing. If anything we’ve gone backwards

  6. I hope there is now a clear out of all the failures at The SRU.
    U20 relegated Senior team dumped out at pool stages. There are more administrators than rugby people now employed at HQ.
    We can all rant on but this really has been coming for a while.

  7. Completely agree. Whoever’s at first receiver, be it Finn, Adam, or even Pete Horne always look a bit frantic and trying to play heads-up rugby. The rest of team doesn’t seem to know what’s coming off second phase.
    No other tier 1 nation has this problem, Japan just showed us how to play fast-paced rugby with team unity, and not making silly mistakes like running up blind alleys.
    Referee ignored some serious foul play around the breakdown by Japan but this was always going to be their day, just too good.

    1. The suplex midway thru the second half was a disgrace and was a definite yellow wilfully ignored by yet another ref ignoring foul play at the almighty altar of “continuity”

    2. Maybe this is why FR is not selected for the Lions by Gatland. He may have flashes of brilliance but cannot manage a game as per Bigger (hate to say it), Sexton or Farrell

  8. Well done Japan, absolutely superb rugby. Brilliantly coached, loads of skill and relentless perfect tackling. Joseph carrying on and improving the what Jones started. Would love them to win the thing. Where to go for Scotland now? Won the second half. Laidlaw will call it a day now I think, Barclay also, relatively young team there, Russell and Hogg are reaching their prime before they dreaded big 30. But consistency is failing us. I think Towsend will be given the Six Nations but if there is no improvement in tactics and man management and we have another poor 6 nations then I dont think he’ll stay. I think international coaching came to early for him.

    1. GT also came in mid RWC-cycle…just enough time to dismantle the Lego Millennium Falcon…not enough time to make something new from the bits. The timing was the main mistake, not necessarily VC vs GT.

      New coach this season or not at all I think….

      I still think GT has the perfect game plan to beat error-prone tier 2 nations, but we are poor vs tier 1 teams.

      Anyway, for me, this pool was lost with the pointless (lack of) performance against Ireland, left us climbing a mountain in the last game, and Japan with a simple goal.

  9. Well done Japan, highly deserved quarter finalists. Although we certainly could have been better, it was a brilliant match and, unlike against Ireland, we turned up, we just weren’t good enough. Notwithstanding, some of our players put in excellent performances. Ritchie is immense and Gray put in a huge shift. Cummings looking good again. Our backs haven’t really fired in the big games of this tournament. I don’t recall Hoggy finding space at all, and when he’s well marshalled we look a bit short on magic. I prefer the lighter model, when he bulks up he seems to lose a bit of twinkle from the toes. The midfield has been consistently a bit meh.
    Lots to ponder. Certainly we’ll see a changing of the guard in some quarters. Firmly established as number five as we head for the 6N.

    1. I disagree with Cummings tbh. Although he was lively on a couple of carries he was found wanting and in poor position defensively on a number of occasions. 2 bad missed tackles and held on for dear life twice more.

      1. Cummings has been outstanding since the summer. Whinging about 2 missed tackles when Gilchrist has been waving them through to score this season is churlish.

        He has a big future ahead – one of the few Scots forwards who takes the ball at pace.

      2. Stu2 : I recall you describing Gilco as a ‘Ruck Inspector’.Cummings is the future, time to move on.

      3. Lads i think you’ll find I was directly responding to Mattos comment saying Cummings looked good again(wasn’t ripping him completely). Last night I thought he was found wanting in defence a number of times(which can cost you games). He has a lot of potential but you can’t overhype a player whenever he does something good and turn a blind eye to bad defence. I thought Gilchrist was poor again and he missed a couple of tackles, one of which lead directly to a try. There was a lot of poor play last night and Cummings and Gilchrist both were part of it defensively.

  10. Well played Japan. Need to look to the future now so think Laidlaw, Wilson and Barclay have played there last games. Just waiting for someone to stick up their team for the 6 nations now! Would like to see Hutchison, g Horne get starts. Still looking for the elusive number 8 could Bradbury fit the bill?

    1. Whether at 6 or 8, Bradbury does provide that beast physicality that can be a weapon/necessity against some teams. He gave us some go forward today. Ritchie is nailed on for me now, and so would Hamish be if fit, so it’s Ritchie, Bradbury/Blade/Fagerson, Watson for me, with one of whoever doesn’t start at 8 on the bench. Horses for courses.

      1. I agree and I think Luke Crosbie will be in contention by the time we get to the 6N he is a big abrasive unit and he is rock hard to boot.

  11. I thought we played well.

    Japan were absolutely superb and put us under enormous pressure in defence and at the breakdown and I think we actually done well to keep it together as well as we did. Previous Scotland sides would have cracked under that intensity. It was notable for me that our players were playing on the absolute edge of their ability and considering that we made many less errors than a normal Scottish side.

    Some thoughts on two players that stood out for me:

    Johnny Gray – Played with some real oomph with some big tackles, aggressive carrying and nice offloading. Would love this to be his baseline standard.

    Jamie Ritchie – Outstanding in every facet of the game whether defence, attack or on the deck. Also seemed to take on the role of enforcer following the Japanese suplex at the ruck that I thought warranted a second look. His aggression galvanised the whole team though and was great to see. It was notable how this little moment lifted our intensity and aggression over the next phase of the game and I think proves we play better and certainly more physically when fired up.

    1. That’s an interesting (and generous) assessment.

      I don’t entirely disagree.

      The team is unsettled. It’s how you might expect a team to look mid RWC cycle rather than going into it.

      That’s partly because of injury and also because some players like Darcy Graham and Scott Cumming just forced themselves into the reckoning late in the day.

      Maybe Townsend has experimented too much with selection.

      We seem to have a real problem starting with intensity. We have played with intensity but it always seems to be in response to shipping soft tries or taking a battering.

      Can this be addressed by coaching?

      1. Townsend made mistakes. Starting with Wilson and Barclay as two of his first choice backrow was an error for example.

        Some things he got right like the eventual backrow selection and dropping McInally for Brown.

        Some things are somewhat out of his hands, Gray doesn’t usually play for Scotland like he did today but he should be getting nearer that consistently.

        I’d give him more time unless Jamie Joseph fancies the job. BUT if we do want to change then now is the time whoever is coach in 2023 needs a four year cycle.

    2. Good points. Japan were very good and could get to the final. This has proved a tough group. Scotland gave 100% but Japan have taken handling skills to a new level. They transfer the ball so fast and so reliably, they are very difficult to defend against. We need to off load more and to trust young players with flair like George Horne and Rory Hutchinson. We also need to spend many more hours with young players working on catch and pass under pressure.

      1. What Japan do is retain the ball through multiple phases and go round the corner.
        This is what Cotter had started to get us doing.

        They play ‘chaos rugby’ as it should be played!

  12. Beat fair and square. We could really do with a pragmatic coach, Walter Mitty is a fantasist. Fastest and fittest team in the world he claims, sure didn’t look it the last 3 weeks. We’re wasting a good group of players here. Less that the sum of our parts and that points to the coaching. Horne must be first choice 9…why the hell hasn’t be been? and it’ll be good to have Bennett back involved in the 6N. Did Hogg beat a single player all tournament?

    I’m afraid any positivity in our performance will be put in context when SA hammer Japan next weekend. remember we hammered this Japan side 4 years ago and beat them in Japan a couple of times 2 years ago. This has been a failure and no mistake.

      1. That is the question. He needs to be able to demonstrate it to his superiors and not just with player selection but his philosophy and back room selections. If he is to go he needs to go now not part way through a 4 year cycle. For me he stays.

      2. We need someone who knows now , life’s too short to train coach’s. Losers train coach’s !

      3. No I don’t think he deserves another chance he has continued to pick ‘his favourites’ regardless of form. The world cup exit is 100% Gregors Fault the team selected for Ireland was not the best 23 on form by far. Even after getting embarrased he didn’t make 1 change to the tight 5 when not one of them played an above par game… Gilchrist at minimum should have been dropped but wasn’t and played poorly again last night. Magnus wasn’t even in the squad for god’s sake, not to mention Hutchinson, Fagerson etc. The most obvious incorrect selection is Sticking with Laidlaw it’s light and day between himself and George Horne. I also think the lineout functions the best when Toolis is in charge hard to believe Gregor gave him only one game especially when both locks played poorly in opening game. Can guarantee he would have come away with a few steals last night against a shaky Japanese lineout as well plus his ruck work and high workrate would have suited the Japanese style.

      4. Stupid obstinacy in sticking with the world’s slowest scrum half. trying to play a fast game with players who can’t pass – poor Peter Horne did not get a single pass right. Kick but no chase for several seasons now – when did a Scottish player win a high ball – or a loose ball on the ground for that matter. Bad enough being bullied by big teams but to be thrown of the park by smaller ones? Pointless going on – every game same mistakes and nothing done to rectify them.

      5. He is clearly loyal while not a bad quality he has stood by players who were out of form for too long.

        What need to be addressed is how come we seem to get caught cold all the time, Ireland @ rwc, France in warm up games, first match of the 6 nations. there is a pattern that needs to be addressed and that is down to the coaching team.

    1. BLB…I don’t think a saffer hammering would necessarily prove anything, except that the South Africans are bigger than the Japanese…totally different approach to the game.

    2. Euan, the speed of Scotland’s ball has far more to do with the forwards than Laidlaw. Laidlaw rarely hung about at this RWC.

      1. I massively disagree, if you can’t see a massive difference between the speed of the Game when Horne is on than I can’t help you. If Laidlaw started that russia game scotland would have been lucky to score 40 let alone 60.

  13. Thought Japan were excellent and if I’m honest showed us the way to play the brand of rugby that we say we want to play. I’m sure that’ll have given SA a bit to think about.
    For Scotland, I’m not wanting to jump on the: “Toony out” band wagon but I think we need to look at this campaign with cool heads when time gives us some space for reflection. From there, make a decision about where we see the team going in the next 4 years and whether or not he is the right man to do so.
    This campaign will be spun in a number of different ways in the coming days but, fundamentally, we are a tier 1 rugby nation and we haven’t made it out of the group stage.

    1. Neither did Argentina or Italy. There are 10 T1 nations and 8 spots. At least two teams will be disappointed; this year it’s three.

    2. Our tries came from forwards. Ireland were tired in the heat of the stadium but a side that take Japan on up front will come out winners. Japan’s game works against sides that want to run at them. Wales for example will suffocate them, if they get that far, and I hope they do, very watchable .

  14. Well done Japan. I suppose it’s a great result for rugby but it’s still a gut punch.
    Ireland was where the rot set in. We seem to have a problem starting slowly. That applies both to tournaments and games.
    Not sure the saffas will hammer Japan next week. I guess they play a game which exposes Japan’s supposed weaknesses so they might.
    Don’t know what else we can do. Haven’t read too many calls for Townsend to go which surprises me. I’ve advocated him getting 2020 to settle the team and unless there’s a big hitting coach that we’ll give the whole of the next rwc cycle to then that’s what i think we should probably do.

  15. It’s a time for reflection and not knee jerk reactions. One critical action the coaches must make though is identify those players who do not retire but who are also not in the plans for 2023 and cut them out and leave them out. We can not revert back to the Barclays and Greigs just because they are available.

    1. That sounds fairly knee-jerk JP. Some players I’m sure will now retire, but we don’t have the depth to cut out everyone older than 31. Certain players, e.g. Maitland, are getting on a bit, but still of huge value. You can phase the team to an extent between now and the next tournament. Even if it’s just keeping the more experienced players on the bench. The reversal of how we started this competition in effect. Bringing through the next generation by getting pumped in the 6N with an inexperienced starting 15 and a bunch of first-caps on the bench is probably not going to help build confidence.

      1. What’s knee jerk about it? It’s a standard aspect of coaching and he will know who those players are already. There’s 3 months to reflect on it that’s not knee jerk. I didn’t say anything about casting specific players adrift I just used two fairly obvious examples given their age and likelihood of self imposed retirement. If a Maitland has value over the next 4 years then keep him. There are a core of us under performers who we need to step away from and give their understudies the chance to shine Barclay post injury, Wilson, arguably Seymour are examples. It’s not age based it’s performance based. Those are all players on the wane or have never been up to it in Wilson’s case. He was brutal in seeming Jones not up to it he needs to do the same with the veterans and his favourites. What do you suggest keep doing the same thing with the same personnel and expect a different result?

      2. To be fair, it’s a standard thing you often see after a disappointing result (not just in rugby) to decide we have to rid ourselves of players (especially old players) as a way forward. It often just makes things worse by arbitrarily reducing the quality of the player pool. I would actually go as far as saying we should never write players off as retired, even the likes of Laidlaw who seems a pretty obvious retirement candidate, just pick the best players available for a given game and go with that. We don’t have the luxury of doing anything else, we desperately need to build toward a good Six Nations campaign.

      3. Not at all. I think there are a few players who may not be in the team in 2023 that will still be of value in the next year or two as we change phases. We simply don’t have the depth. I think we probably roughly agree to be honest.

  16. Japan deserved the win. I liked the way they stuck to their game plan after spending the first dozen or so minutes on the back foot. The early second half fourth try just about killed off any hope of doing a ‘Twickenham’, but it was still heartening to see our lads battling back into the match and not disintegrating.
    Unless completely overwhelmed up front by the Saffers, I can see Japan winning their QF too if they keep up that pace and accuracy.
    Looking to the future, it’s been encouraging to see a younger, and potentially stronger, group of players emerge. And in Ritchie, Thompson, Bradbury and Watson there’s the basis for some highly effective back row combinations.
    Still gutted we lost, but well done Japan.

  17. Japan just too good today. Simple as that. Scotland not. Stagnation is the word to describe the past 4 years in the build up to this. Depth wise we improved perhaps. Our basics (fast, solid hands/passing) are not good enough atm to build any decent kind of pressure.

    G Horne taking over Laidlaw’s place from now on it seems. Not to worried about that.

    His brother today however was not in sync with the rest of the team. Looked clumsy from time to time. If only an in form H Jones.

    Jamie Ritchie was immense and my Scottish MOM. He and the Mish in the back row is a problem for each team that plays Scotland.

    Back to the drawing board. Up next, Six Nations.

  18. We did turn up and I was confident the the turnovers and good work holding up the players in the tackle would see us get superiority in the game and pull away. Some iffy decisions from the ref. But to me a big point was not kicking the 3 points at 7-7. Scrum penalty against us and a Japanese try followed. Should have been 7-10 and instead 14-7.

    1. I thought we didn’t turn up…and that kicking a penalty at that moment would have made no difference whatsoever to the result…we weren’t at the races in that 1st half and paid for it always having to catch up.
      We had opportunities in the second half to put Japan under severe pressure and butchered them all.

      1. Would a penalty then have changed the result….I don’t think so but there was a 10 point swing from there. We are not alone in turning down the 3 points but after 10 minutes in defence it would have been smart rugby to nudge ahead. We needed the mindset to win the game then go for the bonus point.

    2. I think rugby teams devalue the 3 points these days. And forget how it can eat into leads. Things change due to different things happening so I’d say nudging ahead would have been crucial. We gifted them the third try perhaps due to chasing it a bit when getting in at 7-14 wouldn’t have been too bad given the onslaught we had to deal with 35mins of the half. But 10-14 would have been very gettable.

      We had several chances at 21-28. 24-28 would have meant two scores not three needed. This is all hypothetical of course but Japan showed how to take 3 points and get back into game against Ireland.

      In saying all that we had enough chances to get into lead at 21-28 down. Partly fortune and execution cost us.

  19. Japan just retained the ball and went round the corner before flinging it wide.

    Basic stuff if you’ve got a high work rate pack, although we don’t seem to do it.

    1. They worked their basic stuff out extremely well then. It was rock solid. SA will be sweating.

  20. The first Japanese try came from one of many line outs where their hooker was at least a foot over the touch line. He was nowhere near being in a legal position

    1. He also kept moving away from the throwing mark just before the throw….nothing from the ref at all.

  21. Well…not really that surprising a result to be honest.
    Japan played well enough to win on the day. Deservedly topped the pool section. They are a solid side…tho I can’t see them going any further. SA are a different beast from the last RWC.
    Scotland….not sure where to start with them!..
    Tactics were abysmal…and after such preparation time …and it wasn’t just 3 was 3 years…unacceptable.
    Execution of said tactics weren’t any better.
    At the very least …SRU needs to take serious look at whether GT can improve as a coach. IMO…he is 10 yrs away from being ready to have another shot at test level rugby. He needs to go away and learn. He is far too naive at this level at the moment. I also dont think his man management is good enough….his leadership style just doesn’t motivate players enough…he does not seem a natural leader.. and looks uncomfortable doing it. VC had some bad results too…but for me …I had much more faith in his plan and I think he was starting to put a team together that was over the piece adventurous and tough to beat. I dont have that faith in GT and I’m not convinced the players do either. Matt Taylor has done his dash too. Im not sure about Wilson it could be that his defense work is being hampered by Taylor and Townsend.
    Too many times now we go missing in the matches that truly matter. Its one thing to lose a match….its another to be posted missing consistently and when it matters.

    1. The players…..
      Dell isnt a test level LH. An average but full of heart Reid looks 10 times Dell on the field. We are poor at LH and this was Reids last parade!!
      Brown was average. McInally was better.
      Fagerson and Nel did fine without doing anything great
      Gilchrist just not good enough. Cummings is better. Gray was ok nothing more or less.
      Backrow did pretty well really Ricthie was , by a country mile, our best player and stood up to be counted. Thomson did what he could .and is a skillful player..Bradbury was ok but a bit disappointing.
      Laidlaw ..he has given everything to Scotland. He deserves alot of respect….BUT…G Horne is our future SH.. hands down…always makes a big impact.
      Russell….the quicker we accept his flaws..AND concede that he isnt quit good enough the better. I agree with Rennie…Hastings is overall a far better balanced 10 in the making. Its easy to play Russell now….teams just rush him..take his time away..and he falls to pieces.
      Graham is a very talented player…BUT he got schooled. He is a small player with a big rugby brain. He needs to work out what is going to make him compensate and improve.
      Our midfield was a gaping hole especially in 1st half. Johnson ok…Harris poor. Graham got exposed by them.
      Hogg….ok…but hasn’t been ‘world class’ for what seems an eternity and im starting to think he just isnt.
      P Horne..can people finally adm1it he’s not a test level centre!.Poor! and butchered great positions yet again

      1. Thought that Harris was the best of the outside backs, if the not the best Scottish back on show. A bit unfair to say he was poor. Tackled everything in front of him and made yards with the ball. Unfairly called for a knock on too.

    1. Has this comment got anything to do with the article above ? This is a rugby blog, not a political blog.

      1. Who would have bet Tommy Syemour being the best of our back 3?
        Japan were well worth their place in the next round.
        Think Tonsend and especially Matt Taylor are gone.

    2. Poor Jockey!…
      No mates and spends time on an opposition rugby blog to get some conversation.

  22. By any of the stats we care to look at, Japan deserved to win. The fact is that we’ve been narrowly defeated by a team ranked above us and playing at home; hardly a national disaster!
    In different vein – and I’m trying hard not to sound mean – spirited – the Japan side regularly ‘got away with it’ in some areas. The Springboks will have noticed. I’ll bet it doesn’t happen to them.

    1. Did they? We beat 50% more defenders per run, had more clean breaks per run, offloaded about as much, won more rucks and mauls, conceded fewer turnovers, made more tackles, had a higher tackle completion, conceded fewer penalties, won a higher percentage of our lineouts… The only clear stats in Japan’s favour were the total metres run and, unfortunately, the only one that counts: the score. Other than that, it was fairly even. Certainly commensurate with the scoreboard.
      for me the most telling stat was kicks from hand – we kicked it twice as much as Japan, which probably seemed like a good tactic based on their other pool games but didn’t really work out for us.

  23. First thing to say is well played Japan – they played with pace, fierceness and stuck to their game plan with very few errors in the first half.
    Second thing to note is how often they created numbers like 5 v 3 in multiphase play, especially in the first half, by going left then right in an unpredictable way. A wing and the full back went behind the ruck and then at the last minute picked a side to overload. Very hard to read. I think it might be less potent versus the blitz defence (which we never do) and v a team that can slow the ball down (eg Wales).
    We started winning the gainline in the second half and looked better. There were chances to turn the game with enough time left: Horne’s forward pass (poss due to Harris over running) and when we ran out of 22 and Harris chipped forward when he had support.
    However, in attack we didn’t have the same systematic approach as Japan and were relying on more individual efforts. We need to link the efforts of forwards and backs more and find a settled midfield. I think the players are there but we need better coaching in both defence and attack.
    G Horne, J Gray, whole of back row, F Brown and the props did well.
    One silver lining might be that Glasgow and Edinburgh will do better in league and early rounds of Europe than they might have otherwise.

    1. They did the classic going around the corner quite a bit.

      If you think you’ve got a fit pack then it’s a good weapon.

      Maybe we should do it more.

      1. They did it with a quick, nimble scrum half and with a mixture of ball carriers and also outside backs looking to get 1 on 1 v a slow forward. Their superior coaching seemed to help them make the decision when to take a contact, when to offload and when to spread it wider. They almost always had the 2 clear out men ready for the contact too. On a number of occasions we suffered isolated runners or gave hospital passes when holding on and going into contact was needed. They did it at a fast rhythm based on it being drilled into them whereas at times the Scottish players had to decide for themselves. That seems to be what is lacking in our coaching – a basic style or identity as someone else said off which players like G Horne and Russell can riff.
        Another thing I didn’t get was the cross field up and under…if we do need to kick why not Hogg down into their 22?
        We need some basic patterns that work at this level. Wales second xv today failed to do this and looked a bit like Scotland.

  24. Irish fan. Have 3 Cat B tickets for JPN v RSA. Seeking a swap for NZL v IRL. If anyone is interested or knows someone who might be, happy to chat. #notasexpected 😅

  25. Who would have bet Tommy Syemour being the best of our back 3?
    Japan were well worth their place in the next round.
    Think Tonsend and especially Matt Taylor are gone.

    1. Which said alot about our back 3. Seymour looks finished.
      Hogg….I dunno… Im getting weary of calling him ‘world class’ …there is little evidence of that for a looooooong time. Lions??…you’ve got to be kidding

      1. That was Hogg’s worst performance that I’ve seen. Whether that’s down to him or a bigger systemic issue remains to be seen.

        Firing Townsend would be an unwise overreaction, in my opinion. There have been many people saying that Cotter deserved a full WC cycle. Surely the same is true of Toonie.

      2. Rugby is a game for 15 men, not 14 plus 1.

        We have depended on Hogg for much too long. I agree with Rory’s report Hogg has not been at his best, but I understand that, I don’t blame him.

        If I were in his shoes , I would consider this world cup could not have come at a worse time.

        He is between clubs, relocating, If I were him I would be keep out of trouble, get home injury free and settle my family.

        Contrast Gordon Reid , in a similar position, played like every game was his last,I so hope not. Completely selfless , proud to represent his country with no thought for self. That is how it should be, that is how it must be.

      3. Teamcam: You need better spectacles, rather you just need to drop the rose tinted ones. So glad you have finally crossed over from the dark side :)

  26. Japan were definitely the better team and deserved to win. Truth is we are going backwards under Townsend. We are now behind Japan on merit! I’ve got no idea what this team’s identity is or what game plan they’re trying to play to. I really do think it’s time for some significant changes.

  27. The winner of the breakdown generally decides who comes away with the spoils.
    Today we won the breakdown with a fantastic shift by the entire back row aided by Brown and Dell.
    Unfortunately our ‘world class’ fly half decided to gift that hard won possession away through aimless kicks and passes that weren’t on. If you were part of that back row you would crucify him!
    Worse still for the 2nd big match our coach has decided to have a proper back up 10 on the bench. Hastings wasn’t man of the match earlier in the week for nothing and should have been there and brought on when it became obvious Russel came without the Midas touch. To be honest he hasn’t shown anything since the England game.
    Furthermore for how much do we have to play catch up rugby after our defence has let in easy scores. Matt Taylor has to be replaced. What happened to the defence coach who was coming in from league?

  28. Japan were very good today, probably better than they were against Ireland – lots of bite and workmate, and quick and accurate in all the right places.

    Seems like a pattern this year of terrible first halves, where Scotland are unable to get the ball or assert themselves for long periods, and leave themselves with mountains to climb in the second half. Japan, England, Wales?, Ireland twice. Until Scotland figure out how to assert themselves on the play, it’s going to always be like this.

    Good – Ritchie, Thomson, Gray, Nel, Fagerson, Russell
    Bad – Hogg, Dell, Johnson, P. Horne, Russell

    1. Agreed on the good and bad….
      Hogg and Russell need to be at least benched…and the rest of the bad ..I hope never play for Scotland again.

      1. You don’t want Dell, Johnson or Horne to play for Scotland again? Dell did well except for the Japanese front row conning the ref. Johnson for me is our best 12. Horne has done far more good than he’s ever given credit for.

      2. Why does that always seem to happen to Dell though?….he is always getting bossed. He bulked up and still gets bossed…he is a mental fairy.
        Not an international level front row player..imo
        Johnson has gone from playing great to playing average..and needs to go lift some weights.
        P Horne… and ive read all the lovers of his….I just don’t rate him at test level at all. Every important game he manages to butcher a critical phase of play. He is a consistant 6/10 player.

      1. Had Cotter had his chance? Toonie has been in post for less time than Cotter, coached nearly as many matches and has a higher win ratio. Honestly, some of you people are hysterical.

    2. I would add Gilchrist to the bad list tbh. Missed 2 straight forward tackles which ended up leading to tries and looked gassed early. From what I’ve seen Toolis is consistently better than Gilchrist as well as being our best line-out operator and steal threat defensively which would have been put to use last night against a shaky Japan lineout yet only played 1 game… Another coaching cock up in my opinion Toolis should have been put in after the Ireland Game with Cummings on the bench as impact.

      1. I raised the subject of just taking younger players, even if they were less experienced. I even gave reasons. I said they would last in the heat of Japan better and in the closing stages of games that will be an advantage. It was scoffed at, weather reports were pulled , anything but accept the obvious. Well you are not scoffing now, are you. The players who stood up , other than Gordon Reid, were the younger players. Not Seymour , Gilco, Barclay . Ali Price being injured brought Horne to the fore.

  29. Can we finally admit Russell is not good enough at this level. It is soo easy for opposition…just rush up on him…close his space ….and he’ll fall to pieces. They’re all doing it now!
    I agree with D Rennie…..Hastings offers far more balance and poise whilst being just as effective in attack..actually if not more..

    1. I think Russell’s probably still first choice into the 6N – the Russia game is really the first time I’ve been impressed with Hastings for Scotland, he now needs to show it against better sides.

      1. I think a new coach may see that otherwise.
        Maybe start with Russell…..but by then end of it I expect Hastings to have ousted him.

        And…please please NO more P Horne….total liability…the only consistency from him is that he butchers major opportunities in every big match.

      2. Think the criticism of Russell is unfair, he’s not been as bad as a lot of people have made out. He’s largely worked on slow ball and working to negative tactics. You can’t think it was his idea to constantly kick all day today, it was the order he was given. He let the cat out the bag at Twickenham already in his post match interview. To suggest Hastings is the answer after running the show against a woeful Russian side is fanciful to say the least.

      3. I disagree that Russell is unfairly criticized . He is somewhat one dimensional. If you rush up on his time and space…he makes poor decisions….every time. Tier1 sides know exactly how to play against him.

      4. Yeah, I noticed his poor decision-making when Hughes rushed up on him a split-second before he gave Johnson that sneaky pass leading to our final try against England. It’s not as simple as he can’t cope with a rush defence. A loss is rarely down to one player, and I’ve never seen us lose a game because Russell’s had a bad game, but I’ve seen Russell have a bad game because the rest of the team or the tactics aren’t working.

      5. So the odd occasion where he pulls it off by the seat of his pants (per your example at Twiks a match we drew)…makes up for his majority bombscares that cost us valuable points, possession and positioning?
        No thanks!….either he exponentially improves, cleans up that aspect of the game and shows some maturity for a 27yr old player …otherwise Im all for benching him for Hastings…and Id like to see R Hutchinson get his chance too…
        You’re right its a team game and so there isnt one player who is solely responsible for a bad performance. That said , we all know how pivotal the 10 is to the team…so helter skelter play from the playmaker is..more often than not… going to end badly against tier 1 defensively structured and savvy sides…which it
        all too often does.
        I think Russell does alot of good things in the game not dismissing him…but to move forward …I think we really need to start viewing Russell and Hogg in a less adoring way…and they start earning their place in the side…I think they have been far too molly coddled in the team…with not a whole lot to justify an automatic spot on the team.

    2. The only times Hastings looks up to it is when he is paired with Horne and playing a T2 pack.

      1. The times ive seen Hastings play he shows far more game awareness and is improving at a rate that Russell isnt despite being younger….is excellent ball in hand… doesn’t always just kick the ball away back to the opponent when there is a hint of little on….excellent kicker…far less likely to throw a bomb scare pass for no reason. Simply a more composed, rapidly improving 10.

    3. I think Russell is getting worse for Scotland. All those stupid grubbers and short kicks (you to Mr Hogg) just give possession away, or worse in some cases. Is that their decision or a tactic? I think the latter.

      I think we need to enter into a more pragmatic era and try to keep the ball and stop teams scoring. I don’t care if it isn’t as attractive as allegedly our game plan is now but it might make us more competitive.

      I am no expert but a couple of decent young amateur players I know think our game plan is out of date and not the way rugby is played. Interesting and I think it shows with Glasgow too- teams know how to slow them down now and that is why Rennie has to had a bit more grunt last season. Which worked, to an extent.

      So, in that respect, if Russell can’t control a game then he may have to be cut loose. Happened to Preistland after being star of the show at 2011 World Cup. We are so short of options he will of course still be in the squad and play games but perhaps it is time to try Hastings (gulp)….

    4. Unbelievable – the burning torches out for Russell too.

      Has it ever dawned on you that a 10 is at the mercy of the ball being received? Slow rubbish ball will always be an issue – even for Dan Carter.

      1. Think you misunderstood my post. I am not suggesting it’s all Russell’s but he has been poor and he has to realise his way isn’t working. Now that could be Townsend’s way so is not necessarily his fault.

        We can’t keep playing the same way as we have been found out. That’s my point. I am perfectly happy for Russell to keep going if he can change it up and as I posted yesterday we have a major problem at rucks which needs sorted re the ball he gets. Our style needs to change and if he can’t then he might have the best highlights reel on YouTube but that doesn’t matter.

        Also is it not better that we have more than one option at 10?

  30. Few thoughts.

    I’m not convinced Thomson is the answer at no 8, surprised some thought he had a good game today. I thought he was largely anonymous and isn’t a big ball carrier, maybe more suited as a second rower. a back row of Ritchie, Bradbury and Watson would be better for me but it’s going to be hard for Bradbury to get much game time at 8 unless mata gets injured.

    Never been massively convinced by Gray but though he was excellent today, Cummings is a must starter from now on, infinitely better than Gilchrist. Jamie Ritchie Scottish MoM by a country mile, he has been outstanding all tournament. With hopefully Luke Crosbie and Matt Fagerson to come into contention at back row. Horne needs to start at 9. We desperately need Kebble qualified as loosehead looks weak if Gordy retires.

    If Townsend keeps his position it needs to be after a thorough review of the past few years by the SRU and some very good ideas about how we can stop making the same mistakes time and time again.

    1. What is it with us and number 8s??….It like we couldn’t buy one if we were 1st in line at the #8 sales!

      We have been bizarrely grooming M Fagerson …who is undersized for the modern 8…and clearly plays like a 6 or 7…and we have other better options in those positions anyway.

      Thompson is the best 8 we have for the foreseeable…and even he isnt an out and out 8. I would rather Edinburgh dunted B Mata to groom Bradbury as an 8.

      1. I don’t understand Fagerson at 8 either. Was good at under 20 level but he hasn’t got the raw physicality or size to be an 8 at Pro 14 level nevermind international

      2. Really? Fagerson is clearly not your cup of tea but to say he doesn’t have the physicality is very harsh. He’s ferocious on a rugby pitch and as for size. Number 8s the size of vunipola, picamoles or vermuelen are a rarity, not the norm. he’s not that much different in size to faletau, moriarty or navidi and wales seem to manage ok. Ritchie, Bradbury and Fagerson is the back row unit we should be building for the next WC.

      3. I don’t think Moriarty , Navidi make very good 8s either …maybe Falatau …but he spends more time injured and almost cant remember how good he is.
        I do like Fagerson…but I dont think he is an 8….and he is not a better player than Ritchie or Watson who plays 6 and 7. Bradbury is a far better prospect at 8 than Fagerson.
        Crosbie another great prospect…and is essentially a 6 too.
        Glasgow would be better grooming Bruce Flockhart ….6′ 5″ 238Lbs @ 22yrs old…plays like a proper 8.

    2. I’d say Moriarty and Navidi are not the norm, Falatau is a big unit. I hear alot about his “Dynamism” but most games I’ve seen him in he’s been physically dominated. Not to say there isn’t a place for him, as has been said he’d be a good 7 but can’t truck up the hard hard at International level.

    3. Thomson is a “loosie”. great when the game breaks up.

      I’d have him on the bench and Bradbury starting.

      Thing is, Skinner is also a utility back row/ lock and he’ll definitely come back int the equation.

      Unbalances to have them both?

  31. It’s quite a strange one. Recently I have been very angry at our defeats against France, Ireland and some of the 6N ones because we didn’t turn up for the games and showed a complete lack of drive or desire. That was absolutely not the case today but the tactics didn’t work. Japan schooled us on how to play a fast loose game.

    The constantly kicking away possession is clearly a tactic as we do it all the time. Why can we not see that putting phases together and smashing it up is required before going for the “fancy stuff” especially if our back row has so much fire as today.

    I’m not going to jump on the sack Toonie bandwagon because I can’t think of any better options to replace him. Unless there is a superstar ready and willing to take over (which I don’t think there is) we should stick with him.

    Time will tell if Japan can turn over SA. Call me mad but I would actually prefer their chances over NZ than SA. Bit like us, Japan and NZ play a similar style of game and you can combat it by just playing better (a big ask against NZ obviously). SA like the rest of the NH teams can batten down the hatches and grind teams into submission, something I don’t know if Japan can live with. I’ll be cheering them on for the rest of the tournament anyway!

    1. I think SA will beat Japan by a similar scoreline to their pre RWC win… far too powerful and clinical for Japans game.

    2. Agree with what you say, disappointed that we haven’t made the QF’s though we were just beaten by the better team on the day.

      I don’t think any of the players deserve to be criticised today, we just didn’t do enough quickly enough. Japan deserved to win.

      The centre pairing needs looked at going forward as there is just no spark. Huw Jones when in form can provide that.

      Calls for Townsend to go are wrong, I would rather see somebody brought in to help rather than replace

      1. If by ‘help’ you mean demote GT to being a backs coach with someone else as head coach…yeah maybe!

      2. Andy : GT is not the sort to ask for help. I hope he does. Who knows what is on his mind right now. He looked humble but relieved , I think.

      3. Tommy’s issue is the way he got the job. He sold himself as ready now and it was now or never hence, cheerio Vern. Going back and saying “hey, turns out I wasn’t ready and some learning to do” might not got down too well.

      4. Vern would have stayed, he never went for money, his work was not done, he was proud to be Scotland’s coach, he just made them better , one step at a time. However that is history, it is time to do nothing and reflect.

  32. Agree with many re Townsend’s naivety and tunnel vision. But the real problem is having players who can’t use their brains and adapt to what they see on the field, instead of waiting for a dressing-room skelp and a tactical reversal at half-time to get going.

    Russell is more often the cause of defeat than victory. His decisions to kick and his lack of skill in doing so cost us the first half. Way too much reliance on his too often absent “mercurial magic”. Why wasn’t Hastings even on the bench after his magnificent MOM display against Russia?

    If our other “star” Stuart Hogg was playing today, perhaps he could write a summary of his contribution to this whole RWC on the back of a stamp.

    Thank you Gregg Laidlaw for many years and safe points. Step up George Horne as first choice. But his brother can catch the same bus into history as Tommy Seymour after yet another Bambi show.

    For the future, Chris Harris is a gutsy keeper. Let Darcy grow and learn. The heartland is Ritchie (future cptn), Bradbury, Thomson and Watson.

    1. ‘If our other “star” Stuart Hogg was playing today, perhaps he could write a summary of his contribution to this whole RWC on the back of a stamp.’

      He would have the freedom to space his letters out…thats for sure!

      1. All about me, that lad. Needs home , no Paul O’Connell style injury to prevent him collecting his new contract . No I in Team.

      1. Well yeah… instead we had the butchering awesomeness that is P Horne…and leave man of the match Hastings totally out the 23. Clever stuff!

  33. Congrats to Japan. Really impressed with their handling, accuracy, organisation and endeavour. They are a Tier one side in all but name.

    Would keep GT for the 6N to see how he does against Wales and Ireland without Gatland and Schmidt respectively. Three wins minimum otherwise time for a change at the top.

    1. Yeah I get the patience thing….BUT…I just dont know if I could watch anymore of this stuff under GT…another dose 6N humiliation??…No thanks!

      1. This is absolutely the wrong approach. If the conversation is about one last chance then he has had it. We can’t hamstring another coach with 3/4 of a World Cup cycle. He goes now or he is the man for 2023. Realistically who would we get whose an upgrade? Mallinders in the setup so would assume he’s a shout in (hardly inspiring) otherwise someone like Kris Boyd? (would be a punt as a new international coach), Rennie or Cockerill (no thanks). Then again Rob Howley available………. let’s not forget our shameful handling of Cotter and 3 years later sacking off Toony is hardly going to improve what is already a tough sell of a job for anyone established who wants to win trophies.

      2. I dont think its such a hard sell. Our players are playing at as high a level at club level as any other home nation.
        They have the players to do something special… with arguably a better wave of player coming through.
        Yes ..though..we need to do this all quickly as possible and replace ditto. Plenty of coaches in the pipeline after this RWC.

    2. We have Wales and Ireland away. England and France at home. I think three wins is optimistic. We are just wasting another year.

      Cotter delivered 0 , 2 and 3 wins handing his side to Toonie who got 3 and 1. We expect three wins with France and England at home. Toonie might get 2 which is one less than he started with. If we stick with Toonie , we have better be clear what we expect. two of our three tries today came from Props, hardly the FAST game.

      1. After this…. I have zero expectations of winning any matches in the 6N….maybe we’ll scrape a win v Italy.
        It’ll take a major turnaround to do any better than that.

      2. They have just beat France at home. Italy away on their current form I agree. 2 must be status quo, is that good or bad ! Campbell is saying he opened with 3 wins on arguable a less mature side, but a much more settled side. A long way back especially next season with only 2 home games. I think it is now or 2 years from now.

  34. When Townsend was a player he had the occasional great game, usually with Alan Tait inside him, and a load of shockers. He seems to have brought the same pattern to his coaching. The only tactic seems to be: if you haven’t dropped it after 5/6 phases, hoof it aimlessly up the park to give the other team a go.
    Please can he fall on his sword (there should be some really sharp ones in Japan).

    1. To be fair it was more like 50% boom or bust and he did develop to the point he was a mainstay of the 97 lions.
      I get what you mean though.
      Toonie has made a few risky selections and left field tinkering that would have suited Toonie the Player.

  35. Wonder if Japan dealt with the off field ‘will Scotland be going home without firing a shot and suing world rugby’ shenanigans better than we did?

    Must have been one helluva of a distraction. I suppose Japan had pressures of their own.

      1. Yep, smart move in twisting it round to suggest we were saying we’d walk over Japan.

        Also think events of last few days are bound to have galvinised Japan, while unsettling our players.

    1. Why I thought we should have kept the suing them stuff shtum unless it actually happened tbh.

      We just walked right into it.

      1. Agreed. I don’t know why the SRU keep making the same PR gaffs time after time. What possible benefit was there from Dodson shooting his mouth off (other than to get his picture in the press)?

        Please, SRU, learn to keep quiet and do the talking on the pitch.

  36. Any ideas on expected retirees? Barclay, Greig? I mean genuine retirements not just players we think are rubbish!

    1. Gordy Reid probably and maybe Nel

      Looking ahead to 2023, Horne, Taylor, Brown, Wilson, Maitland, Pyrgos and Seymour are all 30 or 31 now. I wonder how many will still be available for then.

      1. I wonder if any of them will make the 6N never mind 2023. I can see a new coach starting fresh. Now is the time to do that…not mid way through a RWC cycle …learn from this one!!!!!

      2. Brown and Maitland are worth retaining. Let’s hope Gordie Reid – who’s performed excellently – doesn’t retire just yet.

      3. I often wish we had 14 more Gordy Reids….the only player who seems to have the heart and honesty to play to his potential for himself, his teammates and his country.
        …and now he is about to go essentially semi pro.
        Crikey… LH is a crap shoot with him gone.

      4. Any chance Glasgow or Edinburgh can have another look at signing Gordy?.. He’s shown he’s too good to be only at super six level.

    2. Some will retire from international rugby but continue to give good value to their clubs for a while yet because they’re still very good players and can continue to earn a living.
      Some of those plus some others with a Test future need to get back to Edinburgh and Glasgow as soon as possible after their post-RWC breaks because both clubs need them back.
      A poster a few days ago rightly paid eloquent tribute to Gordon Reid’s commitment to playing for his country. I must confess I was very moved today watching Gordon’s obvious show of emotion during the anthems. What a stalwart he’s been for Scottish rugby.

  37. Pre-tournament outside commentators named Hogg, Russell and Watson as our players to watch. None of them supplied world class performances in this WC. Against Ireland and Japan we looked less than the sum of our parts and our defence is a colander! We are simply not that good (it is the hope that kills).
    Ritchie has been immense, Gray is delivering strong performances more consistently and Cummings is beginning to reach his potential but a number of our forwards are past their best (Nel, Barclay) or are just not international class (Dell, Gilchrist, Wilson).
    By the next WC I reckon Dobie might have ousted Hornito but Wee George will hopefully replace the (presumably) retired Mr Greig now.
    We need a centre pairing that works- we did not look like a team whose supporters thought they had an embarrassment of riches at centre.

  38. A couple of points,
    Firstly congrats to Japan who played very well, are clearly very well prepared, highly motivated, coped with the pressures of the game off – you’re through to game – on you might get knocked out, superbly and looked to benefit from some generous refereeing in all of their games thus far
    Secondly the personal nature of criticisms of players on this site reflects poorly on the authors, players don’t choose to make mistakes or play badly, they will be hurting far more than supporters
    The kicking tactics today were in order to negate Japan’s blitz defence, get the ball wide and in space – if Russell hadn’t been, wrongly, whistled for a knock on his hack through would have seen D’Arcy under the sticks for 14-0
    Lastly re coaching, Townsend is still inexperienced at this level and, could, develop, remember Ireland let go of Gatland and he seems to have done OK. I do think losing McFarlane to Ulster was a blow from which we haven’t as yet fully recovered
    In summary I think we need to stick with Toony and despite our disappointment try to keep some perspective and optimism

    1. The thing is… many times now have we blown up like this under GT…and been left with an array of ‘What Ifs’ . We can’t keep being in this position or we’ll be demoted like the U20s have just been …and its a hard slog to get out of that. Once the rot sets in …its incredibly tough to reverse.
      If we dont find a way to inject a different vibe into the squad after this ..its going to be a horrible 6N.
      The one positive was booked our spot in the next RWC….although at this rate we’ll be dropping down the seedings.

      You’re right in that players don’t choose to play badly….I dont either…I am just not a very good rugby player.Im not selected to play for my country though am I …and nor should I be.
      If they can’t take criticism and deal with it when in the public eye then test rugby isnt for them anyway.

      1. I do agree with you RuggersB that the Vibe of Townsend is a bit off, maybe it’s just the way he talks to the press but it’s all like Rugby’s equivalent of corporate Jargon, if I hear him bang on one more time about greater accuracy or stressing the defense I’ll scream. There just doesn’t seem to be much insight there, no specific real world solutions. Sometimes he doesn’t even bother with the Jargon he just says we need to be better… His system right now are not stressing the defense, they are stressing the attack leading to poor decisions, poor passes, knock-ons, people taking the ball at a stand still and people getting isolated.

    2. Great post Mac2. Agree. I wasn’t that frustrated when the knock on wrongly was called as we were on top. But turned very quickly after that.

      What was going on with Dell and early hits. He was furious in that he knew ref was wrong rather than I got caught trying to cheat. Thoughts?

  39. 74 -26. That’s the first half possession stats according to ESPN. (I think the TV had it at 79 – 21). It’s an old adage but a good one that a team can’t play without the ball.

    Yes, Japan played well and I don’t mean to take anything from their achievement but we served them the ball on a silver platter again and again with kicks from hand, in field and right down the throat of their attack minded backs.

    To me that’s bad tactics, the coaches job. When it was changed after the half and we kept the ball in hand things got better but it was too little too late.

    So questions for me: Who thought that a good tactic was to keep returning the ball to possibly the most attack minded team in the competition? (Who also boast great ball retention stats)
    Why on earth did it take a full 40 minutes for us understand it wasn’t working? I get I’m only an armchair supporter but I could see our tactics were wrong after about 25 minutes – You’d hope our coaches would realise that sooner!
    Are our players told not to change the game plan on field – irrespective of what’s happening? Or are they actually not capable of making the change for themselves?

    The coach only has 2 jobs really. Tactics and Team selection. Both of these were wrong today and there is nothing that a few talented individuals like Finn, Hogg, etc will ever be able to do to rescue a game where we get those things so badly wrong.

    This has happened too often to us now.

    1. I agree although other teams will kick more successfully to Japan. I think we just did too many kicks and the wrong kind of the kicks.
      Some of the box kicks worked and we regained possession towards half way. The kicks I don’t get are the cross field garryowens when we are around half way or even in the opposition half. Would have liked to see kicks deep into the 22, preferably close to touch and then a good line in the kick chase.
      Felt we kick too early, after 5 or 6 phases; we should play a mix of pick and go, round the corner and back moves into double figures and then if stuck try a kick.
      And like Japan for their 3rd try a grubber only when full back is out of position (Hogg was not tracking the ball across the pitch) and you can see a clear space for a likely retrieval.
      Very frustrating.

      1. Our kicks are not really kicks though ….they usually look like directionless hopeful punts that just turn over easy possession. Our kick chase is ridiculously bad considering how often we leather it in the air. We often look like we couldn’t catch a cold in Siberia.
        I wince every time we kick it!
        Ireland for eg ..kick with purpose and intent and excellent support.
        I cant decide whether they are never coached the correct technique or whether they are but are just crap at it.

    2. Agree with you. Sometimes hoofing the leather off the ball all the time works, it worked very well for us against poorer opposition where you can pin them back, pile on the pressure and force errors.

      Against other (better) teams though that doesn’t always work, they don’t make the errors and have the skills to punish us for bad or inaccurate kicks. Good teams see this and adapt accordingly. We seem to just blindly keep doing the same thing and expect different results, that’s the definition of madness is it not?

  40. “Are our players told not to change the game plan on field – irrespective of what’s happening? Or are they actually not capable of making the change for themselves?”

    Nail on head. As per my earlier post, the fault is lack of on-field brain and leadership. Russell cannot think straight never mind find touch half the time. He is poor compared to the commanding figures of Sexton, Biggar and (pains me to say it) Farrell. Tamura showed intelligence all day today. You cannot win without the intelligence at fly-half to read a game and manage it on the grass.

  41. Well done Japan. Fast attack, fast defence. Tactically much better than Scotland. End of the road for some Scottish players, but looks like some good replacements available. Tactics must change – STOP KICKING AWAY POSSESSION and ball delivery must be fast, slick and accurate.

    1. Exactly CSC. The first try came off the back of retained possession and phase play. Then it was a case of kicking away to their dangerous back 3 after 2 or 3 phases. Not sure why.

  42. The 1st 20 mins today should’ve been spent battering them with phase after phase after phase of big laddies crashing against their defensive line, this would have hopefully drawn some of the sting out of them & more importantly NOT let them do what they did to us (score tries) they love running the ball & BoderBadger has eloquently outlined above where we went wrong. Our midfield didn’t work, I am not sure why the flair of Hutchison/Jones or the physicality of Steyn was overlooked.
    The least said about the team selection/tactics v Ireland the better.
    I think Russell is over-coached, he’s much better left alone to play his off the cuff game.
    Scotland attacked better when G.Horne and his quick delivery came on.
    Hogg rarely gets any decent ball/space these days

    1. I think our best back ever was in the stand dying his hair John. He didn’t want the ball this tournament.

  43. My personal feeling it that the coaching team have made a lot of mistakes this world cup. tactically, selection, motivation> I’m not convinced that a change is needed although I wouldn’t complain if there was a change of head coach. But Townsend needs to be humble enough to admit that he has got a lot wrong and needs to change some things. I think they made errors with their Fitness and conditioning, I think that they got the initial squad selection wrong particularly Matt Fagerson, Bradbury and Hutchinson not selected. The gamble on Taylor didn’t pay off. I think their defense has been suspect against any Tier 1 team.

    But more fundamentally I think there is a major flaw in the overall game plan that means they simply cannot build enough phases they move the ball away from the support and get isolated too often. Japan do play the fastest rugby in the world but in a way that enables them to keep possession and build phases.

    It will be nice to see Ritchie and Watson play together at some point.

    1. Exactly. The hallmark of 2017-18 era Scottish rugby is that we used to go through phase after phase after phase. Now we just kick it away all the time. Well said Sam.

      What’s interesting is that Bradbury was omitted for Wilson, Hutchinson was omitted for Horne, and Seymour was disastrously started over Graham against Ireland. Toonie’s propensity for selection of old favourites maybe does have basis in fact.

  44. A few years ago when S Hogg and D Weir first appeared for Scotland, dancing around opposition players, a cynical friend said, “Give it two years and their natural ability will be coached out of them”. was he right?

    1. Not really. Hogg’s maybe lost a yard of pace from injuries, but you don’t see the sweeping counters any more because teams know better than to kick the ball straight to him.

      1. I think it’s less about what he learns (other than he’s no longer a big fish in a little pond) and more about what he can do in a side with a hugely dominant pack and also how he reacts to genuine competition for his place. Presumably he’s a marquee signing so seen as a starter but with their depth it’s no certainty.

  45. Japan were the better side all day long. I like them, no cynical rugby. I actually think they were better than just 7 points over us. Is that a positive !

    3 day turnaround, no scope to prepare,we lost by 7 points in a highly charged stadium. Home advantage has to be worth at least 7 points ! Is that a positive!

    There were moments of hope, the start, two props scoring (heartwarming to see the square boys leading the way) , the line out, the forwards did their job.Is that a positive !

    Gregor Townsend’s ‘fast game’ appears to be kick possession away as ‘fast’as possible and tackle them to submission. Strange !

    I played in the days when we believed you cannot win without the ball. Is rugby really so different !

  46. What happened just before the ten minute mark? We seemed to have our foot on their throats, stripping them at will in the breakdown, then we just completely lost that ability.

    Did they change their tactics to address this, or was it Ritchie finding himself on wrong side of ref that forced a more cautious approach from the back row?

    Gutted that we’re out, but Japan were superb. Hope they go the whole way.

    Feel that if we could only just learn to go through the phases then this Scotland team has a lot to offer (though slightly concerned about future props)

  47. We will get to discussing the future, now is not the time. Get home boys , get to your families and club sides.

    Thanks for all your efforts, I look forward to hearing all about it.

    1. Well said.

      There needs to be an honest communication before the 6 Nations. I believe the team is over-coached and not playing what’s in front of them. Natural ability is worth so much more but needs the platform for free expression and allowed to fail. We have some superb players and a decent spine but I’m concerned with our centres and back 3. What are we doing with them? All have disappointed to some extent. Also need to be developing our future props.

  48. You’ve got three tightheads in your squad and no back up 10. Kinghorn cannot play 10 at international level. You’ve also got no inside centre cover as you only have one ten and Hastings is not an international 12.

    Nicol is very green at tighthead and Fagerson is always picked when fit ahead of Rae for Glasgow. Can’t see him being jettisoned.

    Nor Russell, although I understand that sentiment.

    No Fraser Brown? On basis he is too old? He is head and shoulders above Turner I think.

    I am not sure about Ritchie/Watson combo. I think there is enough depth to pick best 6/7/8 combo rather than needing to shoehorn two 7s in (think Ritchie has showed this is his best position).

    I’d expect a back three of Graham & Kinghorn on the wings and Hogg at fullback. Assuming Maitland retires as otherwise he is a shoe-in.

    McDowell is nowhere near ready for Scotland. And Jones desperately needs form. Of course these things could both change in 4 months!

    Lewis Carmichael is also a long way off playing for Scotland unless at least three locks retire….

    I suppose it will be retirements/identifying who won’t make it to the World Cup and injuries that will dictate the squad but I don’t think yours is that close to what it will be.

  49. I think the biggest takeaway from the World cup was that selection & coaching was wrong.

    I would give Townsend the 6 nations to prove us wrong with a hard target of 3rd place minimum, if he fails for whatever reason then it will be time to look elsewhere and get a coach for the next 3 & half years.

    1. Yeah ..on reflection I agree…but mainly because Im not sure less than 3 months is enough time to evaluate and source the right coach to move us forward.
      Ive got nothing against GT…Im sure no one on here has..he is a upcoming Scottish coach…I want him to be an excellent coach….HOWEVER….. the consistency of poor performances is alarming …the amount of ‘no shows’ … hugely detrimental to any progress being made. The repetitive post match comments of ..needing to learn from mistakes …and then reproducing the same or a new mistake in the following match is getting extremely weary…to the point of no line of sight of when its going to stop.
      Something has to give!
      Either GT stays and clears the squad out …and starts a fresh rebuild..or we get someone else in who will do that!!
      I’ll take a poor 6N ..providing we are created something special that is feasible, relevant and suited to our natural abilities. If there are any prima donnas in the team..I d like to see them removed and replaced with a player who gives his all. If any player relies on reputation for his spot…and doesn’t produce in a single game he gets benched.
      We have been FAR too soft with the likes of Hogg, Russell, Seymour, Gray to name a few.
      IF GT wants this job…he needs to be a leader! ..he hasn’t shown enough in that regard..and that transmits to the team. NZ would never tolerate some of the poor performances that our established players have turned in. If we truly want be at that level…

  50. Player ratings: Japan

    Dell – 6.5
    Brown – 7
    Nel – 6
    Gray – 6.5
    Gilchrist – 6
    Bradbury – 7
    Ritchie – 9
    Thomson – 5
    Laidlaw – 5
    Russell – 6
    Graham – 5
    Johnson – 5.5
    Harris – 6.5
    Seymour – 5.5
    Hogg – 5

    1. Harris 6.5 ?
      Hogg 5?
      Dell 6.5 ?
      Russell 6 ?
      Gilcharist 6 ?

      Much too generous Neil and wait for the player ratings post , you naughty boy.

      I thought Thomson was fine in Lineout and his role in the try? Too stingy on that one.

      1. I think he missed at least 3 tackles which Japan got line breaks from Grumpy.

        trust me i will be the first one to destroy Harris if i think he has a bad game, but he carried hard & got stuck in.

        Russell made a lot of stuff happen against a strong Jap side, a bit unlucky that his kicks are only as good as the chaser or else a few would have paid off.

        Gilchrist looked good when he was on ?

        Dell, ok i could give a lower score

        Hogg – You are right i am probably being generous a 4 ?

    2. How does Harris get a 6.5? He lost us a crucial try by giving away possession in the danger area when he had a pass on outside that would have alleviated the danger.

      Just as crucially, on 64 minutes he butchered the 4 on 3 (assuming their full back got over to cover) breakaway by mindlessly kicking it when he had multiple support runners on his shoulder. If we’d scored there we had every chance of winning, but the game was running away from us as soon as he put boot to ball.

      On 67 minutes he gave away the penalty that led to Jamie Ritchie flipping out. The loss of momentum here was palpable, and probably the moment when the game was lost.

      He then overran and dropped Horne’s pass on the right hand side with six minutes to go (Horne may have been more to blame) to put the final nail in the coffin.

      He may have got stuck in, but let’s just say this was not his best of games. I think because Harris was so criticised for his first few appearances, people are surprised when he does anything good now and actually give him too much credit.

      I think the opposite it probably true for Gray. How can he get the same score? Faultless in the line out, carried hard and aggressively all night. He even had two round the back offloads that even Chris Harris would have been proud of.

  51. We need to rebuild… with the ultimate focus being the next RWC.
    I’d be tempted to build a team around Ritchie…He or Bradbury would make good captains imo

    No more pic’n’ mix captains…Just pic 1 great one please!! It matters!
    Ritchie is very talented, consistent, vocal, physical and abrasive…excatly what a rugby national test captain should be.

    1. Not a bad squad but I do worry about our prop options going forward – even if we’re assuming Reid and Nel continue for another year, we are thin in terms of back-up – and also as you mention, need to develop another 10; can Mr Redpath work on his son’s nationality options?! Think that Toolis might also have a contribution to make, his line out work is good and not convinced by Gilchrist. Matt Scott could hopefully be making a return to some form and is a genuine 12 and 13 option, though might be getting on a bit to consider in terms of building for next RWC. Some other young talent is brewing in the forwards – Hunter-Hill, Carmichael and Crosbie who could break through in the next season or so – though our fabled back 3 force might not be so great going forward. Will be interesting to see if we can actually build on a core of young but potentially talented players or if we fold when a considerable amount of experience disappears as it surely will. Obviously hope it’s the former!

    2. I like the idea of giving Hogg a sabbatical. Players like him need to be managed, especially given his transfer to Exeter.

  52. Re. Chris Harris and your match report
    “Japanese defence smothered Chris Harris and the ball bounced loose”
    Harris was stripped by a winger , the ball did not bounce loose .
    Not sure why you feel the need to make things up when what happened was clear for all to see.

  53. Japan have been the best tier 2 side for a few seasons now and that includes Fiji who most consider a tier 1 level side.
    They backed up their win v ire with victory over us and it will be interesting to see what else they do.

    Regards us I’d like to see a more settled look to the team even if that means a few hard results.

    Cummings, Gray and Skinner are the locks, the back row is the one we have now + Watson with one on the bench.

    I’d like to see one of the attacking centres come into the squad to take pressure off Hogg and Russell – probably Bennett on form right now. Harris is a keeper in balance with one of them.

    Stick with Darcy Graham – he will learn.
    Perhaps it’s time now to give Kinghorn a run on the other flank.

    Things aren’t that bad. The real stinker was Ireland. Somehow the coach has to get our vulnerability to these poor starts ironed out.

  54. There wasn’t a point scored after the 55th minute.

    When Harris broke on the 64th minute from 5 metres and the bounce of a rugby ball bounced to the only Japan player there the game was lost. Had that been collected we’d have scored. That left 15 mins 8 points. I reckon we’d have got to having one more chance to win it and it would have been 50/50 to get there.

    It was a lot closer that it felt throughout the game I think. The defence on three of the four tries was poor and we needed to be keeping at least one of those out. The one just before half-time was criminal. You get a break with a missed pen and the team weren’t set-up to receive that kick. You go short or long Hogg went middle of the road and couldn’t get into position after the kick.

    1. Think Mr Hogg needs to work on his defensive play and positioning; he hasn’t looked a great last line all tournament. Will be interesting to see if he learns down in Exeter or if his English expedition ends in obscurity.

      1. Interesting , not quite the right word , but I know what you mean, Will his ego cope with the bench ! There are no sacred cows in the premiership, no alliances, Jones has the right attitude to make it on and off the pitch in the premiership. I do believe this RWC will result in a new dawn for Scottish Rugby.It is time for a clear out. I would have no problem if this 6N we played the team that faced Russia,

  55. Hey – I notice ITV hub not having the Scotland game up yet although today’s other games are up long since. is this some sort of conspiracy to save the blushes of Townsend and crew if none of us can watch it?

  56. I have to agree with others on Hogg……no doubting his natural talent but he tries too hard to impress, too selfish, does not have the rugby brain of the very top players…overall, not a huge benefit to Scotland these days… maybe he will mature and come good.

    1. Welcome, your transition from the dark side is almost complete. We needed a hero and an attacking full back stepped up. We knew he would be costly, but it was worth it. We shaped our game around it, we put up and shut up. Not now, we need to build a team around all 15 men. Scottish rugby needs a fresh faced, clean shaven, icon , that wears the jersey for the nation, not for himself.I dont think it is a long way back, there is decent backup in all positions, we just need to align our resources properly.

  57. Whatever anyone may say, confidence in GT has taken a big big dent. He seems viewed by others, as having lots of potential but lacking in “real world” (AKA RWC / BL – GBNI) experience. He needs to this asap.

    Japan focussed for 4 years on what was need in the RWC. Maybe we, tottering on demotion from the top ranks, need to have the same focus for the next 4 years and choose who (GT or other) will get us there.

    We have young players of considerable talent, but they need and deserve a leader who can get them there. Last saloon for GT with 6-nations.

    1. The difference between us and Japan is that this home world cup was the only tournament that’s mattered for 4 years, so everything they’ve done has been geared only towards that.

      There’s no way I would forego the next 4 six Nations for a crack at the semis in 2024. We need to focus on building a winning mentality between now and then. Only focus on the world cup should be on getting back into the top 8 in the rankings before the draw is made.

  58. Whatever else Ritchie and Watson must be starting flankers, Ritchie is nobodies reserve by now and I’d make him captain – I believe he captained age grade sides and is getting a lot of stick on social media for roughing up Japanese players sometimes off the ball – good. It’s about time we had someone doing that as well as playing out of his skin. I like McInally but I look at him and see a nice guy, intelligent, mild-mannered. But we want a captain with a bit of bastard in him. Let Rambo do the press conferences.

    The story that Toony met Guardiola and has copied his thing of traveling only on match day sums him up – he’s a day dreamer. Guardiola’s teams have been good probably in spite of that – it’s the little matter of unlimited funds that have boosted Pep’s coaching career.

    I feel for the players as the blokes running the show are clowns, from that Dodson boy down to Townsend and his staff. Our team is less that the sum of its parts.

    1. I was completely underwhelmed by Thomson – clearly a skillfull player but adds little physicality. Bradbury must get game time at Embra, Cockerill needs reminded who pays the bills.

    2. This. Absolutely this.

      Jamie Ritchie should be our captain. And Rambo should do the press conferences.

    3. It’s all gone Downhill since Scott Johnson left.

      Dodsons only real mistake was not sticking with Cotter as HC.

  59. Yes Sam! I like the look of this team. Though form has got to be taken into account. There has be too many players picked out of form by Townsend.

  60. My thoughts on the game itself are much the same as most. We were beaten by a superior team on the day, who have played unbelievably in their big games. After they played Russia, I was scathing about Japan’s chances but fair play to them, they’ve pulled it out.

    My greater concern is that we look like a team that is LESS than the sum of its parts. We are consistently underperforming as a unit, particularly in being unable to sustain a performance for more than 20-30 mins at a time. Whether that is down to coaching so an overestimation or how good our players are, I’m not sure.

    Some thoughts:

    1. I’m genuinely undecided whether we should dump Toony or recognise that he is still learning at this level and will come good. He does need supplemented by a hard nose forwards coach and Cockerill is the obvious candidate. Not sure he would accept being an assistant though.

    2. We should start to plan for 2023 now. This has a couple of implications: (1) the old guard goes – Barclay, Greeg etc (2) write off the next couple of 6Ns and forget about trying to make the Lions tour.

    3. Build that 2023 team around the two players who’ve consistently put their hands up in the last two months: Ritchie and Cummings. Former will be captain by 2023 so give him it now and let him have time to learn the role.

    4. The Russell/Hogg generation may never succeed where we thought they would. Perhaps the Horne/Hastings/Hutchinson/Graham/Kinghorn generation will.

    1. We cant keep making the RWC the whole focus of our development cycles and then doing bugger all in the tournament.

      It would be much better for Scotland to win a GS or 6Ns than make a RWC semi.

      There is absolutely no reason why we cant bring in a new crop of players without too much disruption. In fact we already have.

      And some of the others waiting to coming in were stars a few years ago, eg Bennett.

      Hastings is the one we need to develop the most – we need an alternative to Russell.

      1. If we do consider the RWC is the pinnacle , it is not good. Cotter, quarter but we know the refereeing blunder killed the game. Should have been semis’s. Couldn’t get out a tight pool, but I argue same in last RWC under Vern. Could be much too late for this 6N.

    2. Point 1 : Learning is not the problem. Attitude is. Kicking the ball away are Townsends tactics and no matter what anyone says, when we played England second half , it was not Toonie’s startegy. If like me, you think he was always the wrong guy, what has changed! If it is attitude, we are just re-enforcing poor behaviours by acceptance.
      Point 2: We should concentrate on the 6N , that is where we can benchmark improvement.
      Point 3 : We already tried building our team around 2 players. The two players who came through on Sunday were Nel and Fagerson, both are forwards, the forgotten and abandoned men of Scottish Rugby. The fast game was so slow, so ineffective, so completely and utterly exposed for the sham that it is, resulted in the props , the snails of rugby, saving total embarrassment.
      Point 4 :We now have other options , use them.

      1. 1. I’m genuinely unsure whether Toony is the right man or not at this time. It’s not wholly down to either attitude or learning, nothing in sport (or life) is as simple as that. I’m probably veering to giving him another 12 months on the proviso he is reinforced in the areas he is weakest: forwards and defence. Cockerill is the obvious man to fit into that but I don’t see how it works on an organisational basis.

        2. Disagree. If we focus on short term goals, we’ll never make a sustained impact. Setting RWC cycles up developmentally allows is to think incrementally. If we have a poor 6N again then without that mindset we will continue having the same crisis year after year.

        3. Cumming and Ritchie (and Hutchinson for that matter) have been the standout players over the warm-up and tournament cycle. Give them their chance to show they can lead the team. Supplement with the odd experienced head (Gray, Rambo, Watson) and others in the up and coming group (e.g. Bradbury, Fagersons, Hunter-Hull, Crosbie). My main concern is actually the lack of a loosehead coming through. No genuine signs that we are producing one, but I have faint hopes that Sutherland may get back to where he was.

        4. I agree. I would add McDowall to that group, and bring back Bennett. Picking two centres from a group including those two, Hutchinson, Johnson and Jones is exciting but the right blend must be found. Our hope for Johnson and Taylor was smashed to pieces against Ireland.

    3. 1. Toony has to go. With him at the helm, every day is a Groundhog Day that begins with daft soundbites about how fast we play, continues with bizarre selection decisions, ill-considered tactics, sub-par performances and concludes with hackneyed excuses. [This is subject to the obvious caveat that we need to replace him with someone who WILL take us forward.]

      2. The old guard needs to go, with thanks for services rendered. However, we should not be writing off any 6N campaigns – it’s not as if a revamped team has that much to live up to.

      3. We’ve tried building a team around a couple of individuals, and it didn’t work. Let’s go for a broad front approach from now on.

      4. Hogg is a shadow of his former self. Hopefully, moving to Exeter will revitalise him. However, barring an early upsurge in his form at Exeter, I’d omit him from the 6N squad.

      I’d keep Russell in the squad but would be watching Duncan Weir very closely. He ought to have made the squad for Japan, and if he continues to do well for Worcester then he should be brought back into the fold.

      As for Adam Hastings, I think he has greater potential at 15 than 10.

      1. Hogg and Russell stay for the moment in my view, but in four years time they might not be automatic names on the team sheet for big games.

        Strongly disagree on Weir, his time has passed and I don’t think he was ever genuinely international quality. I think he has found a team and a level where he is effective, which is great to see after his Edinburgh sojourn simply didn’t work.

        Agree that Hastings could be tried more at 15, but that’s not going to happen at Glasgow given he is clearly the best option at 10 right now. However, I don’t think that’s a long-term solution, more a good stand-in if necessary. With some adjustments to his defence, Kinghorn has all the potential to be an outstanding 15 at test level.

        The one to watch at 10 is Van Der Walt, who should qualify next year. That is early enough in an RWC cycle to allow him to bed-in. He has improved significantly quickly and his kicking % is very good indeed. Holding off a former Kiwi U20 stand-off for the position at Edinburgh is no small feat (disappointment in Hickey notwithstanding).

      2. The fly half to watch is Adam Hastings.
        He is where Russell was at the same age (which was the last rwc) and could be just as good.
        Problem is that his development blocked by Russell.
        Should be an automatic bench pick imo although this time round injury to Taylor meant Horne got the call.

    4. Agree with point 1 as we haven’t moved forward since VC left and the attacking handling mistakes and poor defence is really frustrating, add to that we seem allergic to building phases.
      Is it all Toonie and/or the other coaches to blame? Really don’t know but the current plan(s) haven’t worked. I’d like to see help from Shaun Wane or maybe Shaun Edwards, definitely someone with a league background who can specialise in defence and basic handling skills.
      Japan completely schooled us on the ‘fastest brand of rugby’, maybe we should copy the game plan they had if we can be more accurate!

      1. Shaun Edwards is taking a job in the French set-up, but he would have been ideal. I just don’t see what impact Danny Wilson has had.

      2. To a certain extent, you are comparing apples with oranges though. Edwards is Wales’ defence coach, Matt Taylor is Scotland’s defence coach. Danny Wilson is our forwards coach and Robin McBryde is Wales forwards coach.

      3. Point taken Rory but I would hazard a guess that bringing Wilson in had a certain degree of hope that he would have a similar impact to the Welsh assistant coaches (both of whom have excellent reputations).

      4. Yes, true, but McFarland’s pack were pretty poor in their first year before things started to take shape, IMO. So I think Wilson still has time to prove himself. Take your point though they’d be hoping for a bit more of an improvement given the longer time together to prepare for the RWC.

    1. Yes i read it, it’s a big bellyache.

      I think Scotland played reasonably well yesterday and lots of teams would have struggled to contain Japan, do you honestly think France or even Wales would have done much better?

      Ireland didn’t do any better than us after all.

      Maybe a team with outsized forwards like England or SA would have found a way to dog it out and wear them down but only a couple of sides have that and we’re not one of them.

      Realistically only the All Blacks would outskill them based on some of what they showed yesterday.

      We will see next weekend……

  61. Cheers Rosco! I don’t know if Bennett can come straight back in – maybe best to give Harris or Hutchinson a couple of games first – but I think it’d be great to bring him back into the starting XV. For me, Berghan starts over Fagerson at the moment because Zander still needs to be managed I think – after all, the Japanese scrum isn’t necessarily the best in rugby, and I think Zander’s scrummaging isn’t quite at the top level yet. Brown, Kebble, Gray and Thomson form a strong bench, although it’s possible that Thomson could start some games, allowing us a bit of variation; we could tailor our back row to our opponents slightly.

    As much as I like Hastings, I don’t think he’s the done deal right now (and he’s still young and needs time to develop). I haven’t named fly-half cover because ideally Finn would play 80 minutes; admittedly that’s a gamble if he goes down with an injury, but Hutchinson can still play there if needed, and we need a little bit of depth at 10 so standing in would be a good skill for him to cultivate.

    Here, Hutchinson also provides cover for both centre positions, with Steyn covering the wings (if Hogg gets injured, Steyn replaces him and plays on the wing with Kinghorn at full-back). However, I like the idea of bringing on Steyn at 13 if the conditions suited; he’s a potential wrecking ball of a player and his direct running could be fruitful for us in the latter stages against a tiring defence.

    Form is massive, as you say.

  62. So much talk of clearing out and dismissing older players here…I personally don’t want anyone to retire just yet…we can’t afford it.

    To emphasize this point have a look at the players we may have to field in our 23 in the event we have 2 injuries in the 1 position.

    Dell, Bhatti, Sutherland, McCallum

    McInally, Turner, Stewart, Kerr

    Fagerson, Berghan, Rae, Nicol

    Skinner, Cummings, Gray, Toolis, Gilchrist

    Ritchie, Bradbury, Watson, Thomson, Fagerson, Crosbie

    Horne, Price, SHC, Shiel

    Russell, Hastings, Weir, Lang

    Johnson, Scott, McDowell, Dunbar

    Hutchinson, Bennett, Harris, Jones

    Graham, Kinghorn, Hogg, Steyn, Hoyland, Hughes

    currently I’d say half the players I’ve listed are nothing more than average or below average pro14 players.

    1. Yes bit of a reality check!
      Our 1st 23 is ok, in some positions we have depth 2 or 3 deep in others there’s a big drop off.

    2. Yeah we can’t afford to get rid of some just of the older guys just yet.

      Another one from the 2nd row to keep an eye on is Carmichael. Didn’t play this season but has all the potential to be a massively dynamic addition to the pack.

      Kebble qualifying through residency (I think it will be next 6 nation) is a massive boost to our options at 1 as he’s better than any available atm.

      Van Der Walt and Van Der Werwe may be useful too as back up but neither are really international class.

      1. Ok, so next six nations then.

        Does he walk into the team at 1 though? I think he does. Massive upgrade on Dell/Bhatti.

      2. Correct me if I am wrong, but Kebble signed before the residency change so is available next year. However, I dont think he can be involved in the Scottish squad until that time. Surely a bit of a risk.

        We are touring NZ in the summer of 2020 – what better place to give him his debut.

      3. I may be wrong but Keble can’t qualify on residency until next autumn as the 3 years would run from when he actually arrived in the country, rather than from when he signed.

      4. Sorry yeah I meant 6 nations 2020.

        I think he can be picked in the squad even though he’s not yet qualified. Hadleigh Parkes played for Wales on the day he qualified iirc and Strauss for us was pretty similar 4 years ago.

      5. That’s my understanding Stu. Could also see Edinburgh’s VDW and VDM, plus perhaps Gibbins capped to capture them before the deadline. Latter currently had the weakest case on form and depth in position.

    3. Strong squad! Some positions need work. Shift McCallum in at tighthead, if we’re four deep then Thornton or Marfo would be chosen instead at loosy.

      But yeah, it’s bad but not terrible…you haven’t had to mention names like Cherry, Carmichael, Richie Gray (who could still possibly make the next RWC), Blain and Dean who could play a part. Our depth isn’t amazing, but the new players coming through give us some strength.

  63. I am still having nightmares about what Japan did down the short side first half. Darcy Graham must be sleepless. If we could see Japan were targeting this after 10 mins, why wait until half time and three tries later to sort it out?

    Agree earlier comments about Finn being over coached. Just let him play what he sees. He looked knackered in the last 15, really needed fresh hands there.

    I like both Hornes and hope they both keep getting picked, but understand the frustration around P Horne handling at key times. Not just him though, Japan’s handling is the benchmark for whole team.

    Our back row looked much better post Ireland. Something to work with. Ritchie definitely my choice of captain- I want to see him kick off a blue in both Wales and Ireland if and when we are 2 tries down.

    I’m excited with what happens next regardless if GT stays or goes. I agree with comments that we shouldn’t get hung up on WC cycles. We need a good 6N like Aus need a Bledisloe cup. Waiting 4 years to measure success is too long.

    Finally, on reflection on the game. Scotland turned up ( at least for H2), gave it their all, and where beaten by the better team. While the end result did not meet expectations, last night was a massively memorable game and Scotland were a part of that way more for the right reasons than the wrong reasons. I can deal with that, enjoy the rest of the comp (cmon Aussies) and look forward to 6N.

    1. Easy to forget that Graham has what? 6 caps? 7?
      And he’s how old?
      In his 2nd season as a starter for Embra.

      Yes he was exposed but he will improve.

      Needs exposure to pro-14/ challenge cup as well as international. It will come.

      Most here were clamouring for his inclusion after Ireland. He has a big future.

      1. Johnny B – I was one of those clamouring for his inclusion! His pace is a joy and I really do hope he has a big future. Can’t help think he was exposed last night by the way we set up rather than his physicality or ability to put in tackles. We found the way to shut the door on that side in second half so that just proves it was easy fixed. That it happened in the first place and then couldn’t be sorted until half time team talk is the bigger issue – look to the coaches, captains and leaders for that answer.

    2. Also not sure Finn is overcoached.

      Toonie has tried to add defensive solidity to the backline maybe at the expense of attacking flair, this puts a lot of pressure on Finn and Hoggy. Other teams know our attack revolves around them and target them.

      In hindsight Taylor looked past his prime/ undercooked.

      Harris looked decent but I think Bennett/ Jones/ Hutch will be included form dependent.

      1. You make good points that the players around them will impact the Finn and hoggy performances, but does that not speak to the over coaching? It’s hard to see how picking the best players on form and letting them work out how to gel would be any worse than the contrived nothingness that got dished up.

    3. I too noticed too that Japan had identified a glaring weakness on the Darcy Graham wing and exploited it ruthlessly. Some analysis by those with a better understanding of defence systems would be appreciated.

  64. Group A was the group of death. Scotland were never likely to beat Ireland, and had to face the inspired, passionate, and it turns out highly-skilled home nation. Japan are a real handful for anyone at the moment. I suggest Scotland would have progressed if they had been in one of the other groups, even if they did not hit top form.

    A number of things didn’t help the Scottish cause.

    Poor squad selection: Some old names selected on reputation (Barclay) or who hadn’t played in ages (Taylor) and some who have never done much for Scotland anyway (fill in the blanks). Off form players (Johnson) selected ahead of on-fire players (Hutchison). McInally turned out to be a bad choice as captain.

    Stupid tactical play: Why oh why just kick possession away, especially to teams who are great at maintaining possession? Admittedly if some of the kicking had been better if would have improved matters.

    The climate. The same for everyone, but Scotland didn’t seem well prepared for the hot, humid conditions.

    Have Scotland regressed? I don’t think so. There are still more or less where they have been for a while – a bottom of Tier 1 side, who rarely beat the top sides. There probably is better strength in depth in the squad than there used to be, but playing well as a team with passion, particularly for the full 80 minutes, is a problem. There are some very promising players coming along nicely (Horne, Ritchie, Cummings, for example), so there is hope for the future.

    1. Good post and agree with most of your points, but which group where we going to qualify from? In place of France? maybe but unlikely. Instead of Australia? is getting far fetched. Instead of South Africa? just fantasy.

      1. Swap Scotland for S Africa in Group B, and I think Scotland would have come second. Likewise swap Scotland for Australia in Group D and we’re in. Group C would be a tough one admittedly, even without France, as Argentina were still there.

  65. Does anyone have tickets to Saturdays quarter final between Ireland and New Zealand?
    Have two tickets to Sundays game between Japan and South Africa I’d be happy to swap. Please reach out if anyone can help! Thanks!

  66. Positives…A day later… After the dust settles…

    We really went for it in the second, although a bit clumsy from time to time.

    Japan didn’t score any point in the second half.

    Japan is something to worry about for every country sill in the WC, even NZ!

  67. I have to say I love little G.Horne but P.Horne has been up there with my most hated players for Scotland. He always fails in the crucial moments and has led to butchering so many opportunities I have lost count (and given away a fair few tries as well). I think he could have been the main failing against Jap and he was only on for 30mins.

    He managed to butcher two absolute walk ins with his terrible long passing (one in front and one behind). He has so little to do but did it so badly he managed to have a massive detrimental impact. I groaned when I saw he had somehow managed to get into the squad (how!!!!), but didn’t think he would get a look in for a game that important.

    What does he have to do to get dropped? I thought we had a wealth of talent in the midfield. It is so baffling to me it is beyond belief what GT is doing.

    And dont get me started on our defense coach (it has all clicked just in time for the WC my arse), and I am surprised Danny Wilson hasn’t taught the forwards to just lie down (so much for him being any good). I think all coaches need replacing (maybe leave GT but really unsure).

    They make all these mistakes and then are shocked when they lose?!?!?

    1. Callum you should be ashamed of yourself using the words ‘up there with my most hated players for Scotland’ grow up or bugger off and watch football

    2. Are you serious?! He ‘could have been the main failing’ even though we were down 28 points by then?… Get a grip. He threw a pass which drifted forward. How many forward passes have we seen in this RWC? A lot. Not many of them have inspired hatred… A wee bit of perspective required.

    3. I’m not usually P Hornes biggest fan (for Scotland) but I’ve been really impressed with him at the RWC and can see the reason in having a second playmaker at 12. Brilliant vs Russia and for his 30 mins vs Japan he was excellent and diluted the Russell brain farts a bit. His forward pass was unfortunate but plenty have done similar. Can’t believe its him some are having a go at !

  68. Positives – Samoa and Russia, some of the 2nd half v Japan.
    Negatives – Ireland. Ireland. Ireland x 1000. 1st half v Japan.

    Wonder if in hindsight Toonie regrets his late decision to focus on midfield defence?
    Did it upset the team identity which had been all about attack for several seasons?
    Taylor looked past it, Harris played well but we had no midfield ability to create hence easier to target Russell/ Hogg and play them out of the game.

    Will Bennett/ Jones/ hutch come back into the equation?

    I think so, and this will be another change in direction.
    Toonie needs to settle this and stop changing direction if the team is going to improve.

    lock has been a problem so pleased with the emergence of Cummings – maybe he could be our Alun-Wyn. Jonny Gray rose to it in the final game too, and Skinner returning will be great news.

    In the back row once Watson returns I think Bradbury might be the starting 8 with Thomson on the bench for when the game loosens up.

    Graham we should stick with and considering age of Seymour/ Maitland we might see Kinghorn get a prolonged run on the other flank.

    Core of a good team is there but Toonie needs to settle it, decide how they play + what options and balance we have off the bench, pick the players to do it consistently. No more experiments or “tactical” selections pls.

    1. To me Cummings is a better version of R Gray….safe hands athletic and dynamic.
      Skinner is more like a Wyn Jones ..but not quite as dominant yet more dynamic version.
      Hunter-Hill could easily be the best most effective test level lock we have produced.. IF he gets his act together…which is why he’s been sent to Saracens im sure.

      Graham is a very good talent….he got exposed badly by tactics and lack of support…combined with being targeted. He is small …and it matters…the team in general need to compensate for that …just like SA do with their wee winger…however they have the natural physicality throughout their team that we dont. If we toughen up as team and put the big boy pants on we can play with Graham otherwise we’ll get targeted every time.

      One of the big flaws of our game …that opposition clearly target is our continual isolation of players. Our support play and reading of play just isnt good enough..its a slow reaction. Against Ireland for eg …and especially in the 1st half v Japan…you could see them reading our play before we played it. We are not unpredictable. We have become the opposite…tier1 sides see it coz they are well prepared for it.

      GT got the selections wrong…most people saw this before the RWC…it doesn’t need hindsight.

      Coaching needs to change… I dont care whether that is with GT or not…but the current set up doesn’t work.

      1. Hahahaha Cummings a better version of Richie Gray. Good joke I’m actually a bit concerned how much people are overating Cummings. He does none of the hard graft that a test lock needs to do but makes some decent carries and everyone loses their mind… He was found wanting defensively against Japan a number of times 2 badly missed tackles and barely held on to another 2 with carriers getting well over the gain line. I also think they should put a 13 on his back as he spends most of the time in the backline but hey people only choose to see a few decent carries not all the other stuff.

      2. Ahhhh, Richie G , he probably has another WC cycle in him , get mentoring the younger lads – also have big Jim back coaching the locks to give a belligerent edge , the “dog” of peter Wright’s piece

  69. Scratching my head a little at the ‘Drop Finn Russell’ comments. While I don’t think he’s played brilliantly, I think we play significantly poorer without him. Since Townsend took over, Russell’s not played in 4 games against tier one nations and we got gubbed in 3 of them. In the 18 games he did play, we were soundly beaten in 3 and won half of them. I’m also pretty sure he didn’t play in the games we lost against Fiji and USA. There are obviously areas he can improve on but dropping him will not help.

  70. On the day, over the 80 minutes Japan played better than Scotland. In parts of that game we looked excellent, but not good enough!

    For me a few things need to happen:

    1. Develop a style of rugby that builds on our fast paced style but keeps possession. Too often we rely on kick it downfield and win it back, but the win it back has been poor recently and teams know its coming and defend accordingly.
    2. Don’t just kick it for the sake of it: Russell, Hogg, Horne, Taylor, Johnson and even Hastings at times aimlessly kick the ball up-field with no real reason or vision as to what they will gain from it. Hastings is probably the best kicker we have from hand.
    3. Defend better, we were so passive in defence, with the exception of Ritchie and Brown. Gray is a good defender but waits on players getting a head of steam before hitting them, hence why he never seems to dominate a tackle. Ok, the tackle on the hooker was dominant (and high) but we don’t see it enough from our big men.
    4. Pick a team now for 4 years time. What I mean is we have 4 years to get this group in with a chance of competing at the highest level and we need to do it with them playing as much rugby together as possible. Make sure we play enough quality sides in the summer and autumn to tune them properly.
    5. Get the A team to play, Ireland and England still do it and it works for them, hell even the Maori’s are a 2nd string AB’s in some sense.
    6. How much would Shaun Edwards cost?

  71. Like that team a lot Sam!

    I don’t think Nel will retire after the World Cup straight away though. Assuming he keeps fitness I think he’s got a couple of years left.

    Cummings/Skinner should be first choice through to 2023. Exactly what you want from a modern 2nd row pair.

    Centres are probably going to be the most problematic area going on though. Personally I would like to see Hutchinson at 12 and Jones at 13 tried. I know Hutch plays 13 for Saints but he plays a 2nd playmaker role there that would suit Russell and Scotland massively. His running threat may just open up enough space for Jones as well.

  72. Agree re Zander. Although it was good to see him play great on Sunday.
    Hopefully Edinburgh and Glasgow have good seasons and that our players get good game time as well as those elsewhere. Injuries will as always mean the pool of players is vital and our A Team will unlikely ever been 100% fit together.

    I’d like to see our team learn to play smart rugby. We’re way to haphazard which works vs Tier 2 teams but not against Tier 1.

  73. There’s trouble at Mill. That much has been evident for some time. Players look joyless – almost haunted…and that was before the World Cup kicked off. Remember how much fun it was of watching Scotland play 2 or 3 years ago, we were getting better, some of the rugby we played was astonishing and meant the bad stuff didn’t seem to matter so much. I miss listening to the players whooping and hollering when we scored a try or when we held out against a barrage of pressure on our own line. Winning together and losing together, no regrets, just hard rugby with a licence to cut loose if they thought the opportunity was there without fear of public flagellation or retribution – a band of brothers. There was no moaning at each other on the pitch, no pointing fingers or griping about lack of accuracy, no reaching for some effervescent elusive secret to ‘getting up’ for a game. We may not always have walked the walk and had plenty of dark moments, but we were more measured in our talk – accepting that we were a team on the up, but who were still prone to mistakes but going about it with dignity and quiet efficiency……so how did we get here? How did we become the laughing stock of World Rugby – the team that everyone loves to hate? Who are Scotland now? It’s all a bit sad really

    1. Sorry but this is getting ridiculous.

      Scotland aren’t the laughing stock of world rugby.

      The players aren’t pointing fingers at each other and moaning when things arent going well.

      And the players still whoop and holler when scoring.

      But apart from that your post is spot on.

      1. Unfortunately Scotland are most definitely the laughing stock of world rugby.

        The way Dodson represented the SRU claiming he would sue World Rugby was an absolute shambles. Our players/coaches constantly run their mouths in the media about how great and well prepared we are and we just seem incapable of turning up to big matches. Yes, we played well in the second half, but why do we consistently put ourselves in positions where we are chasing matches? Our tactics stink and our defence is very below the standard required to do anything of note. Taking the very occasional scalp in the Autumn Internationals is no longer good enough and I hope the SRU conduct a thorough post tournament review and leave no stone unturned. Every tier 1 and most tier 2 nations are leaving this World Cup with more credibility than us. Now that the SRU are in the black (as they so proudly tell us) they should be throwing money to get a decent assistant coach in. Someone like a Lancaster who has been around the block and help Toony become the coach we all know he can be.

      2. Erm…yes we are, yes they are….jury out on third point. Other than that you’re spot on.

        Anyone even remotely close to Scottish Rugby will have heard rumours and rumblings of discontent….in my opinion, and I stress that point, I find it less enjoyable watching us now than a couple of years ago. Results broadly similar, so trying to define what the difference is…and I think it’s as simple as they seemed to be having fun before, now they look absolutely miserable. But as I said, just my opinion, time will tell I suppose.

      3. Very good. The old fella spoke a lot of sense….why does it all feel so personal though? I don’t mean you specifically, more the general attitude of media, social media, rugby journo’s etc towards Scotland and supporters. I get that Townsend is a hard man to like, but not sure that justifies the nonsense we’ve seen recently. Perhaps it is this notion of big on sound bites, small on results…..maybe we all just need to hug it out.

    2. This RWC….Scotland coaching staff simply failed…they got their squad selection wrong, their preparations wrong, Their media statements, along with some of the players, were naive and poorly thought out to say the least.
      What the Japan match highlighted was that GT and his staff are NOT Tier 1 level coaches at this time…never mind the players. Japan looked extremely well coached with a group of players that I doubt are any better than ours but who are organized, know what their style of rugby is, and play for each other with no ‘Hogg’ attitudes ….we looked a shambles…and we were scrambling for a semblance of that personification.
      We could and should have had a group of players selected performing at a much higher level than we did. The coaches made a pigs ear of it…
      We aren’t a laughing stock… we’ve just been a non threat entering this RWC and that’s what we lived upto.
      Something has to give to dramatically recover the confidence entering into a 6N…

      The only real laughing stock was WR org….who couldn’t organize a P’up in a brewery…and whose ridiculousness got bailed out by weather improvements and Japanese peoples response to their severe weather situation.

      1. What the hell is a “Hogg” attitude?

        Also, interesting that Japan’s attack is coached by Highlanders man Tony Brown who is also tipped to be running the AB’s attack under Ian Foster, should he succeed Steve Hansen. In short, Japan are not being coached by cast-offs!

      2. Really?… Stuart Hogg continual pre and post match comments, along with our coaches and some players, are detrimental to team efforts.
        His performances and the teams in general have not even come close to backing his words up.

        Yes. Japan are extremely well coached…and were smart enough to go to the worlds best coaching environment for a national coach and support team. We got ours based on the back of a solitary pro12 success.

      3. Solitary Pro 12 Success is by miles the best achievement in Scottish Rugby in the last 20 years. It was a huge hurdle that was achieved by that win. It shouldn’t be belittled.

  74. Someone not mentioned but who I think could be the sort of enforcer type that we need in the pack is Calum Hunter-Hill. I have watched him play for Saracens in the Premiership Cup and I think in the Saracens environment he will learn from B&IL in his position. He played well last week and was close to MoTM from the BT team. Young but in a great place to develop into the sort of leader that Peter Wright and others have been talking about.

    1. Yeah I almost mentioned that the other day…but got derailed in the gloom.ha.
      Very good move for him and Scotland!
      Saracens are an excellent outfit…they have really brought along some superb locks..and he should learn alot from that…and I noted he is playing too…not just bench warming.
      Hunter-Hill is an excellent prospect. The type of nononsense lock we struggle to find.
      Hopefully Andrew Davidson gets himself together and improves also. Along with Cummings they are the next wave coming through.

  75. No doubt something drastic has to be done about the coaching. The main problem does seem to be defence. Ok we can “nil”minor teams, but put us up against a decent tier one team and we leak tries like a rusty colander. England, France, Ireland, Japan. Going forward we do usually seem to score tries, but despite regular praise from Gregor, the defence coach has to go. And SRU must admit that the Toony gamble just has not worked. Otherwise we would still be in the WRC. So a change at head coach seems unavoidable. And it all has to happen soon, if we want to remain a tier one nation. And we need someone who can build toughness and aggression, which kicks in from kick-off and lasts to final whistle. Not just when our backs are to the wall.

    1. Not easy to nil Samoa especially under the kind of pressure we were under and them with tails up “nothing to lose” attitude.

      We’ve never done it before.
      Ireland didn’t do it.
      Japan definitely didn’t!

      Think sometimes the players don’t trust themselves and lose structure a bit too easily under pressure.. maybe?

      But then from memory 2 of the Japanese tries came from the kind of off the cuff finger tip passing/ decision making that 90% of other teams would have knocked on!

      Not easy to defend/

      1. Maybe that just says our second choice team is at about the level as our 1st choice team. Whereas Ireland and Japan 1st choice sides are significantly better than there backup sides.

      2. Defence is a problem but everythign comes from the pack, if you slow opposition ball it’s much easier to reset and the pack has been, eh, iffy.

  76. A sobering thread. Stephen Jones, the Times rugby columnist stated today that the 30 mins the Japan team were on fire, was as high quality as any rugby he has ever seen. The bounce of the ball when Harris had a run in was scooped up by the Japanese player and game over. The lack of creativity from Hogg and particularly Russell, sealed our fate. But it was an awesome Japan performance. Having the players for 200 days with high level AB coaches, working in the hot, humid environment, facilitated a high level, error free fast game. Quite astonishing coaching. I’ve recovered from my doom and gloom Townsend comments. I thought at the time, dumping Cotter was daft. His real strength is to build with clarity of vision. That takes time, eg Clermont. However, in regard to Townsend. Firstly, in the last 2 6N championships, we had quality fron rowers out, then a host of back rowers. That gave little time for the A team to gell, indeed it was our warm up games. Lastly, he had to give game time to the new boys, Hutchinson, Thomson etc and that affects continuity. Surely injuries cannot be so bad going into the next 6N. After that, progress should be judged.

    1. Fair comments I think.
      There are though, signs of mistakes by GT , that he just is not ready for test level rugby and managing a group of players where injuries occur often…
      I think at the very least… we should look at what Japan did…they went and got respected and talented coaches from essentially the best coaching farm in the world of rugby. For Scotland to progress from this, I believe GT needs to show some humility…and admit he isnt quite ready to be a head coach at this level…and bring in someone who can teach him and take the responsibility whilst he learns.
      We will never achieve the consistency needed to breed a solid core of confidence amongst the players and public in the current set up. As things stand ,I just see more of the same ….up and down performances…lack of confidence in top tier matches….never really getting out the bit…and failing to take advantage of a very promising upcoming wave of talented rugby players.
      GT wants an exciting brand of rugby…we all do… BUT GT looks to me like he doesn’t know how to get there….he needs an experienced and talented head coach to show hime the ropes of success. He often looks as isolated as his players do on the pitch.

      Fans pre selecting the 6N …and ive been guilty of that too…its pointless. We need solid coaching infrastructure in place and they need the resources and time to build something special. AKA Japan.

    2. We wont get stability , he will drop men just to show who is the boss. Dumping Cotter was a mistake, equally keeping Townsend is a mistake. He had Russell kicking the ball away again on Sunday, as he did against England.

      Do people never learn , this is a stubborn man who keeps doing the same things time and time again and hopes for a different result. Russell was not on top form , but the puppet master tying his hands is the problem.

  77. Why the clamour to drop Hogg and Russell?

    You’re expecting miracles out of them when teams have worked out our attack and they get the ball + 3 players?

    Answer is
    1) To give them better ball with more time and space
    2) To have other attacking threats so opposition can’t concentrate on them.

    Not to drop them.

    The Pack has to turn up.
    Taylor didn’t provide the all round answer in the centre and Harris played well but is a defender and finisher rather than creator, so one of the others – Bennett, Hutchinson, Jones – should be back in the mix.

    Also a threat from the base would help. Laidlaw is a great player but he’s not that, cue Horneito.

  78. I think we need a sense of proportion on some of this. The rugby world already has it out for us and is forever reveling in how we might fall further behind to tier one teams we don’t need to add to the doomsayers.

    In the last 4 years we have beaten Argentina several times australia twice England Wales Ireland – France several times. We are solidly tier one even if not of the top drawer. Ten years ago we were at risk, but now.

    We will see how Japan do in the next four years I hope they go from strength to strength but equally outside of this world cup with benevolent referees and a home crowd and pumped squad in conditions they are used to, they managed a solitary tier one scalp since 2015 and that was Italy. I am not quaking in my boots yet.

    However our record under townsend these last 18 months has been shocking and any team with aspirations of greatness, certainly any other home nation would send his p45.

    We are at risk of wasting a great generation. Top sides with the players we have should not regularly ship four or five unanswered tries against anyone.

    Wales 2018
    France 2019
    England 2019
    France 2019
    Ireland 2019
    Japan 2019

    Not good enough, and frustrating how predictable it is.

    1. I think Japan’s level is definitely inflated a little bit by the circumstances, but they’ve beaten us and Ireland here and at a minimum they’re competitive. I really think they have to be integrated into high level competition immediately. A lot of people are giving it the “leave them for another four years and see how good they are then” thing, but this is a one time opportunity to grow the game in Japan.

      There’s excitement in Japan about rugby at the moment, but a month or two ago the vast majority of people had never watched a game. Saying to all these people now “yes, rugby is great, but please go away for four years and then get interested again because we have nothing to offer you until then” isn’t going to wash. They’ll go back to baseball and football and never give rugby another thought.

      Having a competitive tier 1 team in Asia is something that rugby could have only dreamed about at one time. There’s an opportunity to get that now and it has to be given every opportunity to succeed. People will moan about the travel, but that isn’t a reason to avoid doing it, it’s a logistical issue that you find a solution for.

      1. I agree that this is hugely positive for rugby in Japan and the game more widely. Although the sycophants annoy me and its unfortunately been at our expense.

        Japan should be given the chance to join a major competition, probably the Rugby Championship. We have carried Italy long enough.

  79. A question for well informed bloggers re qualifying dates for “our” South Africans??
    Oli Keeble
    Duhan VDM
    Jaco VDW
    Pierre Schoeman
    All 4 would improve the squad.

    1. Kebble looks like taly in six nations

      VdM and VdW will both be Nov tests

      Schoeman misses three year cut off, autumn internationals in 2023, maybe 2023WC bolter?

      Tbh reckon schoeman will be a springbok.

    2. Great!!….more non Scots. More patchwork.
      I’d like us to get away from that….players waiting for a Scotland spot just because their own country rejected them…then ‘Oh yeah ….I ve always wanted to play for Scotland…ever since I lived next door to a guy whose grandma was from those parts.
      I think long term its more harmful than helpful. It hardly breeds confidence playing top countries when your teammates weren’t good enough to play for the opposition and then walked into your squad.

      1. Can you name any better Scottish alternatives though? I definitely don’t think any Scottish-bred looseheads are better then Kebble or Schoeman, hence the two off them being first choice at Edinburgh and Glasgow.

        Perhaps another way of looking at it is that this is the standard set by overseas players. A message to the young Scots players to get better.

        Personally I don’t think Van Der Walt or Van Der Merwe are better than Scottish alternatives though. Like both of them for Edinburgh but don’t look international class to me.

      2. Schoeman and Kebble are great but I’d love too see Bhatti and Sutherland fulfill their potential. Both are still young for props and have all the ingredients to be international class. Be tough for both to excel at Edinburgh though especially with Sutherland still on the come back from a pretty horrendous groin injury.

        Thornton and Grahamslaw are really good prospects further down the line too.

      3. If Schoeman has done the time for edinburgh and wants to play for Scotland why would you have that attitude?
        Just cos they’re not 1st choice in their home country doesn’t make them bad.
        Maybe the 4th choice with a scottish dad for the all blacks is better than the 1st choice for everyone else?
        Maybe they don’t fit in with their home country’s playing style but have a skill we need but don’t have?
        Maybe they developed late and were just off their home country’s radar as a result?
        Maybe their home country has a home player rule and they want to explore the world?

        CJ Stander has been excellent for Ireland and the Lions but claimed the Springboks have minimum size and weight parameters he failed to meet (for example).

        Players like Maitland, Nel, Strauss, Taylor, Jones, Harris all qualify for other countries, all played some/ all of their rugby in other countries and have put their bodies on the line for our country.

        I don’t understand why you would have that attitude!

      4. @Scrummo

        I would also love to see Bhatti and Sutherlad fulfill their potential. Sutherland in particular is one from a young age I really thought would be our answer at loosehead – seemed to have both set-piece ability and genuine mobility.

        I don’t think it hurts to have Schoeman at Edinburgh ahead of them at the moment, so long as they get opportunities to prove themselves (likely given our injuries at prop in recent years). I highly rate him and it shows them the standard they have to get to.

        Remember seeing Thornton a couple of years ago at u20 level and being impressed. Don’t know anything about Grahamslaw. Where are they now?

  80. I’d like nothing more than 23 Scottish boys in the squad……………but everybody else has “at it” for years (now that does not make it right……..). However With 2 teams, a small rugby playing population & genetics……….. Furthermore I reckon if VdM was playing yesterday we’d be playing NZ at the weekend

    1. Yep… Scotland’ish might have scored another try.

      Schoeman i don’t want a anywhere near the Scotland team. I read direct quoted article no so long ago … babbling on about how his dream was to play for the boks… how ..if they called him up ..he’d be offski … before you could say… Saffas yes please.
      making fun of Scotland heritage and countryside… honestly … he can just go do one! Maybe he should remember the inheritantly racist and violent country that is SA.

      1. It seems most of the ‘foreign residents’ saying they want to play for Scotland because they didn’t get their chances for their birth countries is ok… well they should know they wouldn’t be my 1st selection to play for Scotland either.. they are gap fillers. This stupid residency ruling should be changed. I accept players playing for Scotland who are born in Scotland, are of direct decent just like the immigration policy in most countries, and players who reside in Scotland and have created a life and/ or family in Scotland.
        Not this Project player garbage… ‘here’s an airline ticket , a pro rugby team… and if your country still hasn’t picked ya … you’ll get a game for us’…or my grandma still likes the occasional haggis.. so I’d love to play for Scotland.

        Utter garbage and sad.

      2. Feel free to join him. Our schizophrenic national side predictably lost a couple of games and you use it as a means to attack players who have nothing to do with it? One on hand your slating players who play for sides other than their nation of birth and then slag off Schoeman for supposedly saying he’d like to play for his country of birth. Do you just wake up in the morning looking for something to hate?

      3. Nope … if you read…not once did I say I hated!
        Nor do I.
        I don’t agree with the ruling! I commented on it.. it’s a blog about Scottish rugby… put yer big boy pants on and settle pettle.

        …and someone else brought the conversation of project player up and the player ..not me….

      4. It’s pragmatism ultimately. The pool of rugby players globally isn’t large enough and is too geographically restricted for the sport to be a truly global game. That means there’s a benefit to having more flexible rules on nationality (otherwise a large chunk of the best players in the world never play in the international game). Even if you don’t like that, that’s why the rules are the way they are and I don’t think those in charge are willing to damage the sport’s overall health for the sake of upholding some ideal of national identity.

    2. I constantly see this ‘ genetics ‘ point. What has happened to Buchan fermers/ Highland Games hurlers?

      1. Yep … let’s just now change every countries rugby name to add ‘ish at the end.

      2. Think this ‘genetics’ thing is by turns a weight dragging us down mentally and a bit sinister!
        And it’s not true!
        Even Gordon Strachan cited it for the football team until it was pointed out that teams like Spain and Portugal were even more lightweight but seemed capable enough….
        In rugby Japan are not heavyweights. Wales have lately produced some big backs but their forwards are not block busting carriers.

        We produce decent athletes in this country. Outside of rugby think of Andy Murray, Chris Hoy or footballers like Andy Robertson.
        The rugby team has its share of athletes too. Darcy Graham, Stuart Hogg and a few others are all true elite athletes.
        I perceive a mental issue. We can be beaten before we take the pitch and too often we reserve performances for when we are written off.
        To be honest even Andy Murray had it. He was best when he was coached by Ivan Lendl – a player who made up for lack of flair with unrelenting competitive spirit and toughness and he instilled just enough of that in Muzza for him to beat the big 3.

        We’ve got to find that for the rugby team. It’s ok to lose to Ireland, for example, but it’s not ok to look beaten before kick off (which we did and do too often).

      3. Athletes dont drink Guiness or get blootered and reported all over the press.

        Our true athlete is Mark Bennett , Olympic medalist , or Fagerson, mountain bike champ.

  81. Just watched the game and thought Japan fully deserved their win although we had our chances. We were exposed badly on the left wing several times in the first half from where they got two tries, Darcy Graham was left marking two players, where was Hogg? It kept happening we should be aware of weaknesses like that and get ready for them. That said, Japan played with real pace on the ball and their line speed was terrific but, like everyone else, were bordering on offside or were offside, which, it seems, is rarely picked up. We definitely need a new defence coach, our line speed has never been up to the others and again here we gave Japan’s runners too much room, personally I would change all the coaches including Townsend. We need to start right now to build for the next world cup and should start replacing the players that definitely won’t be available in four years. There are some good signs but we can always find a few of those! G Horne, Price, Hastings, Hutchison, Kinghorn, Graham, both Fagersons, Turner, Stewart, Cummings, Skinner, Bradbury and Ritchie should be getting regular international rugby from the next six nations. Let’s play the fast game when it’s on and learn to control games better.

    1. ‘Where was Hogg?’ staying away from trouble. The last thing he needed was a confrontation with the All Blacks . Hogg has let you down, let the fans down , let the borders down , let his coach down, let his teammates down. He never let himself down, an nice contract awaits him.

      1. I’ll be less, erm, ‘robust’ than Stu, but let’s not go crazy. Hoggy hasn’t let the Borders down – that kind of regionalist, quasi-tribalistic view that Scottish rugby is split up via the old allegiances as opposed to the nation as a whole isn’t the best attitude for our national team. Being a Borderer is a rugby term of kinship – nothing more. But of course Hoggy hasn’t let down his native region or nation. He may not have performed to our expectations, but he’ll be low at the moment and needs to pick himself up. This hysteria is completely unproductive and just worsens matters.

      2. Stu2: This place is utopia compared to the bedlam that is the BBC, the unmitigated xenophobia that is the Telegraph comments section or the fair-weather storm that is The Guardian!

      3. Oh god, the Graun’s an absolute rugby cesspool. Their Kitson and Rees-led coverage is totally biased against Scotland, and the comments are full of smug, sour, red rose-toting “HQ” nutters who decry our reception of the scant crumbs of glib, repetitive, patronising soundbites about Scotland that we (rarely) receive. (And I say this as a Scotland fan who’s actually biologically English FFS.) Props for you for persevering with the comment section, Cam. I’m done with it.

      4. I dont read South African newspapers for news on Scotland, why would I read English ones?

        I remember the Scotchman website comments pages being appalling – the trolls on here seem similar.

      5. Because The Guardian calls itself a “national” paper. If it’s pro-union (and it’s the one that published that letter from those “celebrities” during the IndyRef) then according to its views it should give Scotland proper representation. Wales get it from the Graun, the Scotsman has paywalls, The Herald doesn’t have enough rugby, and I just want to find as much to read about the team as I can. It’s not insanity

  82. I see Tom English has written his article again, only the BBC would employ someone as bitter about Scotland as him

  83. I do not think our squad have ever looked comfortable through the warm ups and in Japan. They spent extended and quality time with the Coaches, yet looked thoroughly miserable. That sort of says it all for me!!

  84. As Ali price has said today players under Townsend are given freedom to express. it does come off we have seen that and you sit there thinking yes this is working. But then there’s moments where players are struggling and it hurts to see. I would love to see Townsend find a new philosophy rip up his current rule book and prove everyone wrong BUT does he have the coaching staff to do it?

  85. From a neutral perspective, it was a great game. We are still seen as exciting to watch, unpredictable with an edge of danger. Toonie made a brave call emptying the bench , turned out to be a good one. We just could not play in the red zone.

    We need to give credit where it is due, two tries for the props, the sloths of rugby bale out Gregor Townsend’s fast game. A huge well done to them all , we take them for granted , but when the going got tough , the brave and dependable stepped up. We discovered something this world cup, humility and perspective.

  86. Well, it’s been a while since posting on this excellent blog, though I have been a regular reader in that time.
    What is the definition of insanity? Exactly. Townsend has to go.
    Positives for me… I actually felt (at times at least) the genuine passion from this set of players. Furthermore, there are some breakout players that remind me that we do have the quality at the highest level. In my humble opinion, we are lacking a coach.
    I honestly feel that if we binned GT this week and replaced with an uncompromising task master of a coach we could cause an upset in the 6N (by that I mean retain the CC or win in Cardiff or Dublin) and build going forward. However, I also wholeheartedly believe that if we stick with GT we will more than likely be having the same conversations next Spring.
    We are prone to go too negative in the immediate aftermath of a poor result, but by the same token (and I see it in the comments above), we are also prone to then recanting a day or two later and thinking that with a tweak here or there we are back in the mix. For me, this is foolish and only exacerbates the losing mentality.
    Serious overhaul is needed at a coaching level. No, we don’t have the pool of talent of other so-called tier 1 nations but we absolutely have more talent than we are seeing from current results and performances. Some players may be off the pace but I am reluctant to chuck too many under the bus as I would love to see what a competent world class coach could get out of them

  87. BBC ‘Ali Price says there is no need for Scotland to change coaches or develop a new style, despite an early exit from the World Cup.’

    Ali – Do you talking on the pitch.

    1. So in interviews he should sit there silent like a Buddhist monk? I doubt that would go down well with the PR department or with the media.

      1. Ali Price is a man who is under performing , he has been for several years, talking up his coach and selector. I wont waste my time reading it. What is wrong with being a Buddhist monk?

  88. Can’t we get a good defence coach in a la Wales. We have and have had for at least the last 4 years. We have great playerd and youngsters coming thru. Theres not a lot wrong with our team. Bit more tactical awareness and defend better. All easy fixed . We have a great attack if we get fast ball. Japan were outstanding with ball in hand.
    It wasnt yesterday. It was the Ireland surrender. Sort it Gregor plse

  89. After reflection … I think we need to give GT the next 6N.
    On the condition he revamps the coaching support.
    It hasn’t worked. Defense is poor. You can’t play fast attack rugby without excellent defense.
    time for M Taylor to go.
    If Gt doesn’t reset everything ..clear out the players who came up short . and change things up with a view to rebuilding for the next RWC. .. it’s a no from me.
    We can’t muck about… we should be learning from what Japan have done.
    We have had poor 6N so often does it matter if we give the young lads the exposure and we lose?
    Failing that get Cotter back in .. he’ll be free after the next season. He was a good fit for us…. or a top prospect from the all blacks talent farm.

  90. Sounds like GT is pretty pissed with John Barclay for letting the cat out the bag with the ‘fastest rugby in the world’ from JBs BBC column.
    That one got hung around both GT and Scotlands neck like a noose.
    GT said it was supposed to be kept internal.
    I see J Barclay in a different light now.
    I used to think he was hard done by being ostracized by Scotland….but then when he was interviewed after being dropped post Ireland… he came across as kind of a bit bitter and undermining when asked how good he thought Bradbury, Ritchie & Thomson were..hiding behind a veil of sarcasm. Anyway, now i’m not so sure there wasn’t good reason for him being ignored by Scotland for years.
    I think whether he retires or not ..he has played his last game for Scotland.

  91. Where are you getting that Townsend is pissed off with Barclay? Townsend himself has been trumpeting the ‘fittest and fastest team’ schtick for ages. He actually said just before the tournament that he knows we’re the fittest team as he had data from all the other teams….really embarrassing stuff to be coming out with. He made Barclay captain as recently as Russia.

    Tom English isn’t worth listening to. He’s a sensationalist mug. Hypes up the team then when they fail he’s all over them saying ‘there’s too much talk’. When he’s one of them doing that. He has a weird fixation with the Japanese anthem being ‘haunting’….and makes out he’s the first tourist to set foot in Japan.

    1. You obviously read his column to know enough about him to get the boot in. I dont read it anymore and I dont like people who quote press hacks to back up their points either.

      1. GT was the one who brought it up directly in an interview when asked about his ‘fastest rugby in the world’ philosophy…he referred directly to that being released by a player in his media column…and stated it was something that was meant to be kept internal. When professional players take on these columns that are for public viewing they are held responsible need to be extremely careful with words and context.
        Ditto…I don’t care for people who judge people based on their views and interpretation of events on what is a public opinion rugby blog.

  92. I think this game was a peefect example of why the current system does not work. I love the attacking brand of rugby, but we need a solid defensive base to deploy from. SH, SJ, DG whilst have all had their moments in attack and in defence were poor in defence. I think attack has overshadowed defence.

    Other than his height gilchrist is possibly one of the worst offenders in defence. He seems lost, slow and has zero power.

    For me this last few years has highlighted the need to improve the grassroots, not just rebranding what we are doing, but do more, better.

    Anyone who has worked alongside/with/for the SRU know the problem probably rests with the boards ‘old boys club’attitude.

    GT can only p**s with the d**k he’s got.

    Unfortunately I don’t think this is just rugby specific, it’s Scottish sport in general.

    1. I suspect one of those ‘old boys club attitude’ appointed him over Cotter. The days of the Scottish borders representing Scotland are over , but they are not out of the SRU are they.

      1. Don’t think it was “old boy” attitude that won Townsend the gig, he was a great coach for Glasgow! For several seasons!

        Cotter’s contract was up, so the choice was either to renew it or get someone else.

        Toonie was always going to coach Scotland at some stage.

        So the SRU decided to take him in the knowledge he would need time and would be a long term appointment.

        NB – Cotter will be out of contract at the end of this season and he’s been pushed sideways at Montpellier anyway.

        You never know – we might see him back in Scottish rugby. It won’t be as the head coach but if Rennie makes his much speculated move there might be an opening at Glasgow (for example)

  93. What GT did poorly:

    1) Continuity: Yes, we’ve been ravaged by injury during Toonie’s tenure, but not during the warm-ups and the RWC itself. Testing new centre combinations in the pool stages is absolutely crazy.
    2) Preparation: Whatever happened pre-Nice and pre-Ireland must never be repeated. We were meant to be fit, but we certainly didn’t look it during those games, and our heads were inexplicably elsewhere.
    3) Selection: I’m a massive fan of Barclay and Taylor, but they’d not played for an insane amount of time and never looked close to match fit. This ol’ romantic wanted them to get to the WC, but when the selection was made there were very few who didn’t voice reservations about their fitness. Wilson is fine off the bench but isn’t a starter. Whilst Greig can play the quick game, it’s not his default. Picking defensive centres is a great idea, but not finding space for another flair player like Hutchinson or Jones is wacky. I understand picking players who have served you well in the past, but, for example, GT himself said that Ritchie’s been his most consistent performer, so why did Barclay and Wilson start ahead of him?
    4) Defence: I know Taylor is in charge of this, but we’re still leaky in defence and have been for ages. Yes, we nilled two lower-tier teams, but in the big games we conceded try bonus points.
    5) Tactics: Kicking for territory is fine, but Japan were prepared for that and we had far more success ball-in-hand. Persevering with this tactic was unwise.

    1. What GT did well:

      1) Adaptation: To his credit, GT recognised what went wrong against Ireland and adjusted accordingly. The Bradbury/Ritchie/Thomson back row was deployed and was a vast improvement. Imagine what a Ritchie/Watson/Bradbury back row might have achieved against Ireland, with Thomson coming off the bench.
      2) Attitude: After Ireland, there was a massive shift in attitude. Two nillings is impressive. Against Japan we kept fighting to the end.
      3) Continuity: Much better after Ireland.
      4) Attack: When we clicked, we were irresistible. We scored more tries and more points than ‘wonderful attackers’ Japan, and many other teams.

      It was a disappointing year, but there’s hope. There’s a new generation of players coming through who look excellent.

      A back row built from Watson, Bradbury, Ritchie, Thomson and Fagerson is very tasty looking.

      Our centres still have time to get their form back and, if so, Jones, Johnson, Bennett, Taylor and Hutchinson can combine to excel.

      Yes, Seymour’s time has probably passed, and I’m very sad about that, but between Hogg, Maitland, Graham and Kinghorn we’ve a versatile and electric back three.

      Our locks are looking promising. Angry Gray is epic. Skinner and Cummings are athletic and aggressive. Toolis and Gilchrist can be very good on form.

      Even our front row looks positive: Nel’s still got a few years left, Fagerson has upped his game, Bhatti and Sutherland should develop under Cockers and Kebble and Schoeman are coming.

      1. The game:

        1) Japan were ace. Superbly coached, superbly fit, adapted as required, immaculate handling… very impressive
        2) We persevered with poor tactics for too long, but when we got our heads right we were at least as good as Japan. If the tactics had been right from the start – or adjusted earlier – I think we’d have won that by the required points. Our physicality at the breakdown exceeded there’s, our big men did more damage and we can match them in flair and fitness.
        3) Japan maximised home advantage: when have you ever seen a suplex not penalised? That ‘tackle’ on Seymour was a straight red: he landed on his head. They were illegal at every breakdown, offside perpetually and got the benefit of the doubt. Well played to them. We definitely benefitted from decisions, too, especially Gray’s tackle, which probably should have been a YC.
        4) Once we got going we played really well, especially our forwards. Gray, Bradbury, Ritchie, Brown, Reid, Fagerson and Nel were excellent. George Horne was transformational.
        5) We left 2 or 3 tries out there – Finn’s ‘knock on’ before his cross-field kick to Graham, Horne’s forward pass and Harris’s chip of madness. Japan left 0 tries out there.
        6) We failed. All the self-comforting talk of nobody being able to live with that performance is fantasy. NZ would have. I think Wales, SA and last year’s Ireland would have. And we could have if we’d had a little more composure or if we’d changed our tactics and brought G Horne on earlier.

      2. Hogg ? He can be brilliant but did not turn up , especially in defence. Good drop kick but he was just keeping out the way most of the time. Maybe it is time to try Scotland with a more rounded full back. He is just too costly. But if the Premiership works out for him, He keeps his eyes and ears open and closes his mouth , he is back in business.

        Seymour does not deserve harsh criticism from our fans , he has a great strike record, however I agree , he is just not doing what he used to do with the same edge. Maybe he will call it.

      3. I felt that whilst Japan deservedly won the match and deservedly won the pool…there wasn’t as much between the teams that is being made out…not in terms of ability anyway.
        Our defense consistently looks disorganized at times and teams in the top tier have the players and coaching house to take full advantage of that.
        We continuously kick hopeful punts turning over possession when should have been used to construct a positive phase.
        Our system(s) doesn’t look conducive to playing as a unit….players continually make a play only to be isolated…Japan essentially played same way as us but did so as a unit…always players available to back up the lead player. Occasionally we do it…but often we dont and top teams are trained to be on the lookout for that.
        Ali Price, I feel, kinda hit the nail on the head…in saying that GT gives his players freedom to make all the decisions…problem is …there is a time, a place and a field position to do that in rugby..not when you are pinned on your own 22.
        That maverick style play works fine against majority of tier 2 but barely works at all against tier 1 sides.

        We dont make the right decisions of when to hold the ball v release it. We release far too often in high risk situations. NZ are a very good example of when to hold and when to release I think.You can see the AB in Joseph and how he has instilled that into Japan.
        Like I said …I think keep GT if he revamps the coaching and specifically defense. Otherwise we need someone who will do that. it lt’ll just be more of the same otherwise.

  94. 2) we were just trying to execute the game plan properly, like they did against England.

    Do you still believe that old Townsend smoke screen and that Russel’s account of half time was erroneous?

    We kicked the ball away , tried to win a game of rugby , without the ball. Does he get his ideas watching Gala Fairydean Rovers. Was he rejected as a kid from football !

    This coach is Walter Mitty , he thinks he can reinvent rugby union by kicking when the game has , since he quit playing, moved closer and closer to rugby league .

  95. I’ve finally managed to watch the game. Having read some of the comments on here before I did I was expecting a terrible performance. Turns out it was actually quite good but japan were better. My thoughts, which mostly echo a lot of what has been said are:
    1) our defensive systems are woeful and we need to replace whoever came up with them. We seemed to spend the first half defending bu retreating and hoping we could usher japan into touch. I can’t think of any other team that defends like that.

    2) our tackling was weak compared to japan. When the Japanese players tackled we knew we’d been tackled. Our tackles seemed a lot less aggressive in comparison. Possibly this is a result of point one in that we were retreating before the tackle making it harder to be physical.

    3) Our kicking was poor and it was the wrong tactic. I agree with everything that’s been said on this already.

    4) some of our attacking set plays seemed confused. The attack on 61 mins where P Horne threw the forward pass we seems to end up with 3 of our players lost in no mans land as a result of the setup and passes. I’m not sure if they were meant to be fixing the defence to allow the wide miss pass but the setup seemed odd.

    5) too many of our passes were poor. Too slow, too high, too far in front of the player, behind the player. Basics done badly.

    6) we still make too many mistakes.

  96. The poorest part of the team in the world cup was our centres, they offered nothing, possibly explaining why the men further out wide had little to work with.

    Jones and Dunbar played most together on the lead up to this tournament and then it was quickly changed. What has happened to these two, I thought it was the coaches job to get what they want out of these players, not just draft someone else in because these players had a bad game. Honestly, some comments on here are suggesting if Hutchinson had been involved our outcome would have been different. How many games has he played. How may centres are we going to try.

    I honestly think that if Jones had been involved the outcome could have been different. Look at his scoring record.

    What has happened to these players….I get a sense there is a rift in the camp. Who is Dunbar actually playing for just now. Cant go from hero to zero just like that.

    1. It is the Townsend way, his way or no way. He brought in Harris , played him everywhere and finally got a few average games at Centre. The worst part of it is some have started to applaud Harris. If we can see it, what is it doing in camp.

      Of course there is a rift , he creates fear not confidence.

  97. I simply cannot understand the clamour to give Townsend the 6N to prove his worth. Rather than troll over all the issues that have been beaten to death on here I would draw a simple analogy with Japan. Over the last 5 years they have had journeymen players with a sprinkling of good players who have been turned into an above average team by two top international coaching teams.. In effect the team is much better than the individual parts. Scotland have good and some very good players but the team has been deconstructed by a poor coaching team . In effect the whole is less than the individual parts. We need a new international standard coaching team to give this group of talented individuals the platform they need to perform to the levels they should be capable of on a consistent basis

    1. Name some international coaches twiddling their thumbs who could come in before the 6Ns.

      Go on.

      1. Why do they have to be twiddling their thumbs? SRU boasting of record profits, let’s blow someone out of the water. Change is needed now. Can’t understand the argument for giving Townsend another 6N.

      2. November 2015 Eddie Jones poached by England after disastrous World Cup (comparisons to be made between Townsend and Lancaster). They went on to GrandSlam that 6N. The RFU were bold and splashed the cash because more failure was not an option for them. Why is it for us?

    2. I wouldn’t describe things as a ‘clamour’ to retain GT for the 6N.

      I think most are unsure whether he is the right fit for Scotland going forward into another cycle. There has to be realism to to this too. 3 Months before a 6N..we need to get the right coaching team in ..should we decide to change it all up. There isnt just a lineup of coaches at the dole office that you just walk by and offer a coaching position to with a fat check.
      Im 50/50 on GT continuing….on the one hand he has only had 2 years to implement his ideas…on the other hand he has had 2 yrs to take an improving squad to a higher level and hasn’t done that..and arguably its regressed.

  98. People on here are calling for Townsend to go. I wonder if there is any parallel with Michael Cheika? He was getting pilloried by press and fans during part way through this RWC cycle for poor results but he now has Australia playing well to the point where I fancy them to beat England and get to the semifinals. Does this suggest we should consider patience with Toonie or is it a different situation and can’t be compared?

    1. Imo it’s exactly the same.
      Cotter built his team on Toonie’s Glasgow template and I wonder if having got the job in controversial circumstances Toonie felt he had to take the team on a great leap rather than just continue incrementally?

      We saw a lot of experimenting when he took over… some great results too though..

      Toonie had to deal with an injury ravaged 2019 6N too.

      So Toonie has been learning how to be an international coach rather than a club coach and selection has been unsettled by injury. He basically changed the guard before/ during the tournament!

      So Toonie needs time in my view to settle this down.

      I think he’ll be a great head coach – the question is how long it will take and whether we’re prepared to give it to him.

      1. Firstly I’d love to hear what evidence you have to support your contention that Townsend will make a great head coach. Moving back to the previous comment re Cheika. Its actually a very good analogy. Australia are very similar to us they have some good players but are badly coached. One minute they beat the All Blacks the next game they get thrashed. They are all over the place and have not really performed in the WC to date. England will destroy them. I live in Sydney and the Aussies don’t expect much from this game. For what its worth I think the SRU will do what the ARU did last year and replace all the assistant coaches but keep the head coach in place. Its a flawed strategy as Aussie will find out this weekend. Basically rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

    2. Has Townsend given you reason to suggest he can turn it around? Is he helping to develop our top players? Are there signs that he is personally developing and becoming a better coach? Or bluntly, do you believe that with Townsend in charge next Spring we will do any better than (at best) win in Rome and maybe do France at home? Personally, I don’t. Change is needed.

      1. Yes Toonie has given me reason to think he can turn it around.

        1) he’s the only Scottish coach to win a major championship this century. Glasgow under him were formidable. It didn’t happen overnight though, he started as Scotland’s modestly successful attack coach. The evidence is there that he can develop.

        2) in the Samoa and Russia games he got selection and tactics spot on. V Japan I think he was very close but some tiredness from the 4 day turnaround and the sheer brilliance and determination of Japan made a difference.

        3) he changed the guard at an inopportune moment from an RWC perspective. This wasn’t entirely his choosing – form and injury forced his hand and in other circumstances players like Ritchie, Graham, Bradbury, Harris might have been eased incrementally into the team or established themselves as bench picks rather than dropped in as they were.

        Now he has made the changes he deserves a chance to see if he can develop what he started.

        4) I think he is a very determined coach with a huge commitment to his country who is capable of thinking flexibly and reflecting on where he might have made mistakes. I think between now and the 6N he will work night and day on how to improve the team, and this alone will inspire his players.

      2. Jb, I think you are overlooking the obvious and you can not get away from facts:

        He has lead us to defeats against lesser ranked sides .

        We will come away form the world cup with a lesser ranking than we entered it.

        He can not win , consistently on the road .(which is an issue he inherited but has not remedied)

        All of the above are facts not opinion.

        He keeps changing his sides , showing favoritism IMO .

        As a consequence he has a very unhappy squad IMO .

        Scotland should have beaten Russia and Samoa , why is that an achievement for a world class coach ?

        He is unlikely to equal his 2018 high of 3 , 6N wins in 2020, IMO .

        We have seen enough to say he is unlikely to better Vern Cotters 3 ,6N wins ,IMO.

        So what has he delivered that we had not achieved 3 years ago.

        Ta Ta Toonie (TTT)I would sooner live with the pain of same terrible results with a new coach , some new hope, than same old coach with no hope.

      3. J-B Lake

        “Ta Ta Toonie (TTT)I would sooner live with the pain of same terrible results with a new coach , some new hope, than same old coach with no hope.”

        No you wouldn’t you’d be bitching and moaning and calling for their head.

  99. Also, WRorg taking the SRU to a disciplinary panel seems an overreaction to what Dodson says and smacks of them being a bit childish and vindictive. I don’t think Dodson should have said what he did and he needs to make an apology to Scottish fans for dragging the SRU into this mess but WRorg now just look petty. Perhaps they should be looking at themselves and where they went wrong rather than looking to punish anyone who dares to criticise them.

    1. Dodson had to do something and the rules/ contingency were inflexible/ inadequate.

      Question is whether and how he could have avoided the current perception we were kicking the hosts during a natural disaster.

    2. Dodson kicked World Rugby (not the hosts) . In my Opinion he kicked World Rugby for sanctioning a rugby tournament in a country prone to natural disasters ( The Tsunami in March 2011 caused about 22k deaths according to Wikipedia ) and Dodson, expected there would be better contingency planning given this known risk. I suspect World Rugby will say the Tornado could have changed it’s course had they moved the matches to another stadium.

      I suspect World Rugby considered the long term rewards of awarding Japan a RWC were higher than the risk of a natural disaster compromising the tournament but that is just my opinion . Arguable given the death toll.

      I think the RWC has opened my eyes to the country of Japan in a positive way.

  100. I agree that Cotter benefited enormously from what was going on at Glasgow – the massive confidence change a winning Glasgow team gave all Scottish players was huge. He also benefited from young players finally coming through who were a match for their 6N peers – that groundwork was put in place a way back in the Noughties.

    Cotter is no tactical genius, not a particularly innovative coach and if his club career was anything to go by he could take a team to the brink – a team he had practically unlimited funds to create – but then always fall short. His current tenure at Montpelier has been poor.

    Did he help bring Scotland on – absolutely, but there was an enormous amount of groundwork down by others too.

    Probably one of the biggest things he brought to the players was having a SH coach actually telling them they were good – Scottish players from the very beginning of their representative careers always feel inferior to bigger countries – sometimes you need an outsider coming in and telling them they are every bit as good as others.

    I have said before Toonie is too confident in his own abilities, whilst this is essential for all successful people I think it goes too far with Toonie – in tactics and selections. But he’s a bright, articulate and thoughtful coach – better specialist coaches are what he needs to focus on, especially defence – fans calling for his removal remind me of unthinking wendyball fans.

    1. ‘he’s a bright, articulate and thoughtful coach’. So am I but I doubt I could grow bananas in the arctic. It is the wrong environment. If he wants to play fast rugby, find a 7’s team.

      Since when is kicking the ball to the opposition ‘thoughtful’.

      Articulate – sends Danny Wilson out to explain how Richie Gray said ‘thanks but no thanks, you are not for me. ‘

      Bright – He has a few great ideas , like having the captains run at Murrayfield for away games.

      Aye right.

    2. wendyball? Shown yourself up there. What ‘wendyball’ fans have is passion and a sense of getting what is deserved. Unfortunately too many rugby types are ‘hey ho Ewan, We should just be grateful to be here’. See, pathetic childish stereotypes work both ways. I sometimes wish the average Scottish rugby fan had more attitude, perhaps then we wouldn’t put up with this rubbish. Bye bye Townsend. We demand better.

      1. WestCountry Back in 2015 the contingent of Tartan Army who took advantage of cheap QF tickets and the football team being knocked out by Poland the prev week to travel to Twickers made my day.

        I never thought i would see a stereotypical barbour jacket clad twickenham man sing Loch Lomond, but i did that day, and it lifted the team!

        but the way some of them clamour for Steve Clarke’s head 4 games into his tenure when he inherited a sh** show and we’ve got a play-off place anyway is really, really flaky, probably has the opposite effect on the team from the one they would like it to and similar attitudes definitely would not help the rugby team!.

  101. Stu2: Well you wont that is for sure. Finally, you are now standing up for Gregor Townsend, since when ? Noted. What is that about , kinship ! Come to think of it , you never liked Cotter either ? No consistency.

    I noted you remained silent on the other observations. So you don’t disagree.

  102. So pleased that everyone is able to discuss the merits or otherwise of this game, instead of discussing its cancellation! The atmosphere in the stadium was amazing! The Japanese team was outstanding and their fans rightly revelled in the occasion. Throughout our month in Japan we were so impressed with the huge numbers of volunteers, young and old, who turned out to welcome and help supporters, not just on match day, but also in the days leading up to matches, often standing for hours in hot and humid conditions, or manning information desks at railway stations. Many thanks to them and to all the friendly, enthusiastic fans for making our stay so memorable.

    1. Well said sir – credit where it is due. We would do well to model ourselves on Japan in terms of sporting endeavour and on courtesy.

  103. Agree with this Stu2 and agree especially with the bit about having a Kiwi who’s been up close to world class players reinforcing the players’ confidence.

    The cynic in me thinks one reason Gatland took no Scots on the Lions was because he saw a potential rival developing and didn’t want our players to get the confidence from training alongside and realising they were as good as his Welsh players!

    Totally agree also about Toonie’s assistants. People down here in England think Danny Wilson is gold and was wanted by premier clubs (wasps obviously bidded for him) but he too is inexperienced at that level so will need time.

  104. Tremendous debate(s) on this site……..

    RWC is 2nd tournament (2019 6N) where a positive last 1/2 has taken some of the overall negativity away.

    Dreadful V Ireland (no idea what the coaches had planned but whatever it was it spectacularly failed), good against Samoa & Russia (good -tempered by the level of these 2 nations), then Japan, 1st half started very well but complete lack of game management (maybe any team would’ve struggled) and mistakes – out of position, tackle not dominant, ball ripped by smallest winger in 2nd 1/4 ish “done for us” – chances in 2nd 1/2 but simply had too many wholehearted but average players on the pitch.
    Alas overall Taylor & Barclay were shadows of their former selves, and a couple of other boys are journeymen.
    The Huw Jones situation has been mismanaged – whatever the reason for his downturn in form SHOULD’VE been rectified in the 3 month training period, Jones can be magic in attack (we can’t afford to leave magic out), and especially as we got nothing from our centres. Furthermore Hutchison was/is a young man on tremendous form, interesting decision to take Harris (who is a good club player but………). in preference, never replaced Dunbar IMO

    Going forward – the likes of Cummings, Hunter-Hill, Crosbie, Hutchison, Z&M Fagarson, Skinner, Keeble seem to have the physicality/attitude/talent to make a real difference so not all bad…
    Nice challenge in Dublin next time out

    1. Good post John. I agree, Japan last quarter, like Twikers second half should not mask how bad we have been this year.

      The game has moved on and we haven’t moved with it, again. The team balance looks off and we are no longer able to play fast and loose but have no other way of playing.

      I don’t want to sound like a broken record but there is something wrong with our coaching, particularly in defence and rucks that needs to be addressed.

      I agree that it is time to move on and try to get some new guys experience. We ended up with a horribly unbalanced squad for this World Cup with players over the top and those with very little experience. Teams that do well in world cups are settled and have 10 plus players starting who have 40-50+ caps. We don’t have that.

      The ‘strangers in midfield’ was perhaps the most stark example. I feel for Johnson (4 caps before warm ups), Taylor (injured for 2 years), Harris (less than 10 caps and some confidence shredding horrors in there). No wonder they couldn’t perform to the level expected in the two big games….

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