Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Podcast: Episode 83 – Prop Ballet

This week Cammy, Rory and Sandy look back at Scotland’s win against Samoa and rate each players performance live!

We hear from the Offside Line’s David Barnes in Japan about the mood in the Scotland camp and conditions in Kobe. We also take a deep dive into one of our best ever “Crap Call Offs”, get our Hands In The Ruck over Japan’s underdog status and Jim Hamilton’s phallic obsessions.

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About The Podcast

The Scottish Rugby Podcast brings you the best in informal chat and discussion about Scottish Rugby. Each week during the season we put out a 40 minute podcast suitable for all listeners, covering all the latest news and key analysis of the big matches. 

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100 Responses

  1. I’m guessing the player ratings aren’t meant to be on the blog post?

    Also +52 places in the fantasy rugby after an awful first round! Picking within the transfer limits and when not all teams are announced is a nightmare.

    1. Yes they’re meant to be there. Rory had mostly done so we did them live on the podcast. Thought people might be interested in how we go about it.

      1. Ok – I haven’t managed to listen yet, thought something had gone horribly wrong!

        Ratings seem about right to me, give or take 0.5-1 point here and there.

  2. Ratings are a little on the low side in my view bearing in mind the conditions and pressure of the match. Ritchie’s performance looked more than 7.5.

  3. Regarding the Grant Gilchrist & Jonny Gray levels of performance … has Jonny Gray ever really put in a high international class performance ? i would say he is just consistently average to an international standard. I cant think of more than mabey 2-3 games where he would be higher than a 7/10

    Gilchrist i agree is up and down a lot, but this year at least seems to have developed substantially on his consistency.

    The future of second row appears to be Skinner & Cummings.. consistently high standard at international level… albeit from a small sample size. With the Grays & Gilchrist also going to be on the up until the next WC the future is bright at second row.

    Lets just hope the SRU manages them correctly…

    1. JG played AWJ off the park in 2017 and has fronted up against Australia and NZ. Skinner or Cummings haven’t yet reached that height.

  4. Cummings was far better than Gilchrist – the difference when he came on was noticeable. He’s also got a much better engine, hits the line at pace and has a bit more devil about him.

    1. Agree…to me Cummings stock is exponentially rising as a test level lock.
      The worry with Skinner is he is already spending too much time on the injured list.
      Gray and Gilchrist should be backing those guys up in the next 6N tho Carmichael might sneak into their spots too.

      1. It isnt just about the energy levels though…its about technique, pace, all round skills.
        Cummings has shown that he can be a far more dynamic lock than either Gray or Gilchrist ..imo…and on what Ive seen. Look at the amount of games Gray and Gilchrist have had to improve v Cummings. He is just starting out and gaining experience…and thats tho only reason Id play Gray and Gilchrist before him right now…even then Im not sure their experience is the best option for this RWC…the next 6N …different story. Im counting the clock until Gray & Gilchrist return to their natural mediocrity. They did play well in that opening period…albeit against the mighty tier 2 side Samoa…thats their ceiling of play tho…and to achieve something in the game we need to be better than that.

    2. It never ceases to amaze me how you can compare a replacement’s 20 minutes with a starter’s full 80. OF COURSE Cummings upped the pace when he came on – he hadn’t been playing in 30 degree heat and 95% humidity for an hour already!
      A better comparison would be Gray & Gilchrists first 20 minutes (which was exceptional), and even then it’s not comparable as Cummings was playing against guys who had already been running around for an hour.
      The whole idea of the modern bench is they make an impact when they come on.
      I’m not saying Cummings doesn’t deserve a chance to start but G&G are my first choice starters atm.

  5. Sound from the two guys down the line was really bad. At times barely audible, especially whoever is the heavy breather!

    1. Also that stream of fact about Japan’s rugby resource versus ours is going to be very useful when I get into arguments over the great underdog of Japan

  6. A point on this round in the fantasy rugby – since Scotland aren’t playing in round 3, I’m assuming the requirement to have Scotland players in the team is lifted for 1 round? (Would be pretty hardcore to still pick someone when we don’t have a game!).

    Also, glad you like my team name.

  7. Just a thought for later, Cummings and Skinner to start 6 nations, Bradbury, Ritchie, Thomson in the back row. The Gray brothers and Hamish to come off the bench ( everyone in their prime, of course ). Nurse, the screens …

    1. Watson should always start. Well, unless we use him as a super sub, a la Wales 2019… Hmm…

      1. Agreed. And three of them cover multiple positions. I mean, I’m sure Watson could play 6, but why would you bother putting him there.

        Also, I’d love to see Hardie get back to form and in contention. It’s mental how many class players we’re not even considering at the moment.

  8. Great podcast as usual guys. Slight issue with the sound volume. Usually Ians audio is very low but this pod it was everyone but Cam. Actually couldnt hear it sometimes without firing the volume up. Still excellent !

    Ireland just nilled Russia with a good points swing. Feel like we can beat that though as Russia are going to be knackered now.

    1. Ireland getting slated on BBC – can’t believe how badly we fared against them given their issues since.

      Matt DAwson also breezily assuming Ireland will be facing NZ in the QFs. We’re not out yet!

  9. Good point about the playing base of Japan. It makes me think we must be the minnows of the Tier 1 nations in terms of registered players.

    Cammy: Dead right about Gordon Reid. He is giving his all, the wrong side of 30, played championship rugby last season and was in the side that got the draw at Twickenham and now playing semi pro yet still prominent in the Test 23. He joins a long line of legendary Ayrshire front rows, McLaughlan 1971 Lions fame , Dunlop (played England twice in one week and won) and now Reid who just keeps stepping up and being counted.

    1. Also, everyone seems to be forgetting the we’re pretty adept at the fast game Japan play. As we’ve shown many times in the last few years. In a fast, open tryfest, I’d back us to win. I can’t think of any two-sided tryfests that we’ve lost in recent years. England, Fiji, Australia, Samoa…

      1. I’d back us to win in normal conditions. I’m not so sure on these tropical conditions with a raging crowd against us

    2. I think entering a try fest slug out with Japan will be a mistake. 99.9% of the crowd will be baying for Japan to win. Japan will win that imo.
      We need to play an intelligent variation of rugby defense and attack. Its what we are best at anyway. The period where we did that v Samoa…we looked excellent. We need to make their momentum shifts as short as possible.If they dont have the crowd to feed from they’ll get frustrated. We need to take that away from them.So the coaches finding what aspect of the game makes Japan ‘quiet’ will be critical I think. Im sure thats what Japan will be doing vice versa.

  10. Pro 14. Seems that Glasgow are not interested in playing rugby tonight. Cannot play five minutes without making a series of stupid errors.

  11. Off-topic, but: how awful is Clancy?! Three offsides leading to three tries for Scarlets. Granted we’re terrible, but Scarlets are flattered by Clancy’s indulgence.

  12. Clancy didn’t think they were off side and that is the only opinion that counts. Ok?

  13. It was the dreadful errors that lost Glasgow the game, the woeful Jackson kick, the sloppy knock on.
    Kyle Steyn is a centre who gets you over the gain line, he’s wasted on the wing.
    Lovely turn of pace & tremendous offload by Huw Jones for McDowalls try, Jones comes alive on go forward ball.
    Again Glasgow looked better when Dobbie was at 9

  14. On the Fantasy League and the “must have Scottish players in your team rule”, presumably this is suspended for round 3? Our game vs Russia is in round 4, which is confusing, but I assume that we will have two games in that round. Which makes picking our guys difficult, given that it is likely we will have two almost entirely different teams in those games.

    Of course, this comment is not at all based on the fact that I sacked all the Scotland players for this round and stacked my team with Kiwis and Saffers…and have risen 59 places on the leaderboard, at the time of writing.

  15. In Horne, Shiel and Dobbie at least the SH position looks decent for the foreseeable.

    I’d be worried if I was a Glasgow supporter, they look incredibly poor. Where has the Hogg money been reinvested?? After Seeing the capacity increased for the games at the back end of last season and a home final, this year should have been the year to really kick on, win the league and increase the numbers going along. Be lucky to make the playoffs this season.

    1. I mean.. here are the players missing from that squad that would make the 23, before people start freaking out about Glasgows season.

      The highlander prop
      George Turner
      Fraser Brown
      Zander Fagerson
      Siaua Halanukonuka
      Jonny Gray
      Scott Cummings
      Ryan Wilson
      Ali Price
      George Horne
      Niko Matawalu
      Adam Hastings
      Pete Horne
      Sam Johnson
      DTH VDM
      Tommy Seymour

      Some people take it for granted due to our squad depth that we should win against almost full strength sides with our second team.

    2. Ulster’s result against Cheetahs suggests Warriors may not be that bad. We could have won last night. Next 4 games are Blues and Kings at home and Zebre and Dragons away. If we do not have 19pts by end of round 6 then I agree we are in trouble.

  16. Japan = first 15 mins give away penalty’s and very beatable. Keep it away from the winger.

  17. Right – Samoa could prevent the bonus , could win if they can turn the crowd. If you are out shopping with the wife, get the internet on the phone and watch this now. Next 10 mins could be helpful for us . Just play our rugby in their half and they flake.

  18. A non BP win for Japan would set the scene for the last game. Japan leading Scotland by two points with 79 minutes on the clock. Russell feeds it to Hogg who nails a 45 meter drop goal. The crowd are stunned. Time to wake up.

    1. Wrong man to have on the pitch in that situation. Sorry , we need cool headed team players, you need a better dream.

      1. I’d be pretty livid if he tried it from 45m out rather than going through a few more phases to get closer to the sticks.
        Japan just bagged their third try. Squeaky bum time.

  19. Lam and Peyper conspire to gift Japan a point. An absolute joke. Stewards enquiry surely.

    Squint feed. You have to be bleeping kidding me. Every scrum in the tournament has been squint.

    1. He has been feeding it squint the whole game. Peyper should have pulled them back to straighten the scrum IMO. Anyway, we have known for some time it was going to come to this and if we pull it off, we will be strong for the future. If we don’t, well, lets talk about that, if we have to.

      1. Japan got away with high tackles and contact to the head, too. Samoa can feel hard done by, but they didn’t offer much in attack.

    1. We don’t need a bonus point against Japan. We just need a fiver pointer against Russia and then to beat Japan by more than 7 points ( and denying them 4 tries). Simple…….

  20. There’s squint and squint. The scum-half launched it right. More blatant than normal. Ahhhhh

  21. If Japan don’t get a BP against us and we’re level on points after a win how’s it decided? Assuming we achieve a BP vs Russia.

      1. Fascinating last match. Either team could go out loosing one match. Japan favourites being at home, climate, Japan’s passion, but maybe just maybe we can do it.

  22. So Scotland have to win, get at least the same number of BPs as Japan and overcome bent officiating. Easy.

    That scrum feed call is an embarrassment. Japan have had plumb fixture scheduling and turnarounds on top of home advantage and support. This is meant to be professional sport.

    1. Not bent officials, no not accepting that.We can still do this , it is in our hands. Sorry lads, should have left you shopping with the wife.

    2. Now , good point , they have the opening game and the closing pool game. Is that the privilege of the home side ? That stadium in Kobe needs questions to be asked of World Rugby. Sadly I think we need other unions to be asking similar questions.

      1. They have had favourable turnarounds against Ireland, Samoa and us. We needed a BP against Samoa in Kobe. They couldn’t have scheduled it better. It looks like the powers that be want Japan in the QF.
        I’m fully expecting a controversial call or two (not in our favour) in the second half of the last game. I hope Laidlaw is already practising his scrum feeds.

    3. It’s pretty clear that there is a huge will both within world rugby and also the world in general to see Japan in that quarter final. When you combine that scrum decision with the dodgy offside decisions against Ireland it’s like they don’t even have the decency to be subtle about fixing it. Well as it is a fix then we just have to force them to be as blatant as possible about it and the fact is our performance against Ireland made it easy.

  23. What a joke of a finish.

    Still in our hands though. Our best performance beats Japan’s best performance so that’s what we must focus on.

      1. If Scotland play like they did vs Ire we will be beaten convincingly. It’s all hypothetical. Scotland have no consistency and once on the back foot crumble especially against competent teams.

        Will Toonie have the bottle to play a full 2nd XV vs Russia? I doubt it. If he falls into the trap of playing too many top players vs Russia Japan will beat us in the last quarter.
        Take the risk vs Russia and put trust in 2nd XV or shoot ourselves in the foot. Japan are accustom to the climate and will charge to the end.

      2. If Scotland played like they did against Ireland against Namibia they would be beaten convincingly. Easily the worst performance I have watched in over 40 years of watching Scotland Rugby. I have no idea what we were trying to do in that match….or even if we were trying.

  24. Disappointed that your World Cup merchandise did include a t-shirt with a picture of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe as a surreptitious reference to Anyone But England.

  25. Despite world rugby’s best efforts to get japan into the quarters it will all end in tears. I honestly think we will be really up for it and scud then by 20 plus.

  26. The whole thing stinks. Their favorable scheduling you expect, it’s ok. Ireland lie down against them. That farce at the end of the game there, very dodgy indeed. Those boys with the tattoos and Rob Howley have been at it again, I did tell you so a couple of weeks ago what was afoot. Typical that we are the victims of this, but I think we can and will smash them next weekend. Who is the ref by the way? Look out for a dodgy early red card for us.

    1. I suppose rugby is a business. According to Wikipedia, Japan have 1.2 million registered players around 25% of the total world wide. ,Not sure I believe it entirely , however that is a big market. I wonder how this game will look in 50 years from now !

    2. Does your conspiracy theory extend to the Scotland performance against Ireland? A LBP in that game and denying Ireland a winning BP would have put quite a different complexion on the last game.

    3. Im pretty skeptical too after watching the Samoa v Japan match.
      The teams were very even up until Samoa got a guy carded, I mean it was a pen, but a yellow?
      Then Nanai-Williams … Samoas easily Samoas best player told by ref to get off pitch for an HIA despite he told everyone he was absolutely fine and looked absolutely fine. Quite of few other dubious calls pro Japan.
      I wouldn’t be at all surprised at several yellows or even a straight red for us for absolutely nothing…
      If it turns out like that .. we’ll be out …and RWC and rest of world, it seems, will be chuffed. The ‘Brave’ Blossoms will get to play the All Blacks…and ‘bravely’ get torn a new one.
      They just look ordinary to me. Ive no idea how we managed to make such a hash of playing Ireland considering they lost to them.

  27. BBC live. And there I was open-mouthed at taking the scrum, when it’s really this simple:

    ‘They’ll look for really quick ball’
    Japan 31-19 Samoa

    Philippa Tuttiett
    Former Wales international on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra

    I know it seems like you want to tap and go, but they’re going for the scrum because you can suck in eight players. They’ll look for a really quick ball out of the back and then it’s a case of backs versus backs.

  28. Missed the game, but did Samoa really go for a LB when it was 31-19 on 84mins?

    Gold watches all round.

    1. I guess you wont be chipping in for them the next time their union run out of cash and need charity from others to pay overdue players wages. Me neither.

      1. Let them rot and have there best players raped from them by the best countries for all i care.

        That way we can continue to stick it to Augustine Pichot.

      2. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves. If Scotland have to rely on the on field decisions of other teams to qualify then they’re not good enough. And I’m a lifelong Scotland supporter.

  29. Despite the much hyped strict application of the tackle laws, there has still been too much inconsistency and TMOs seemingly slow to react. Did I actually hear N. Owen’s say, “… his feet were nearly on the ground”. ???

  30. I think Scotland can qualify if we play properly & exploit the Japanese weaknesses in the rolling maul & being turned over (I’d be seriously considering Fraser Brown as an extra flanker in the 23)…………however I’m less confident in the coaches ability to come up with plays/strategies to make this happen. In the Ireland game I knew/everyone knew what they would do & even me from the comfort of my armchair was concocting strategies – Garry Owens, cross kicks, grubbers, play phase after phase after phase, battering the Irish line with big laddies, Hogg coming in on the 13 channel…….. from seeing the game I’m not sure GT had anything in mind apart from hoping that Hogg & Russell could conjure up some magic. This hoping, the team selection & the preposterous “fastest game in the world comments have made me wonder……………………………

    1. Lots of media Hoo Ha about the darling blossoms.
      They look very similar to the side we played in 2015.
      They’ll be prepared, organized and full of energy.
      Good at copying moves of other teams ..not so good at creating their own.
      They look suspect at a high ball..especially in the wide areas.
      (Id have Kinghorn in the squad)
      It’ll take sustained focus and our creative players need to be on their game…but from what Ive seen we have more individual talent…they on the our hand, have shown to be effective as a unit. I don’t think they are that great in the final 1/3.
      I dont think we will get any of the 50/50s and the ref will penalize us at the slightest excuse.
      We need to play a squeaky clean game.

    2. Scotland are a one man team and everyone knows Scotland will feed Hogg. Scotland need to develop a game away from Hogg and that means trusting Harris & Johnston against Japan. Toonie is depending (left himself with no choice) on the former Glasgow partnership of Russell , Hogg and Seymour who are unpredictable in broken field . Seymour is good in the air. Do I agree with that , no, but it is all he has. I think the side picks itself. I do get the Kinghorn on the wing tactic but that is yet another change.

      1. Playing Kinghorn on the wing isn’t much of a change…he’s got most of his caps from there. Id have him on the bench at least v Japan…he covers wings & 15..and had he not been injured may have played there already. He was looking sharp pre season.
        I wouldn’t say Scotland are a one man team…they dont really use their FB anymore than the other sides do…its a pivotal attack position ..any team starts attacks from there. Of course you get your best players on the ball. The All Blacks…arguably the most multi talented team in the world…look to get Barrett on the ball at every opportunity. Some of Scotland best performances were achieved without Hogg in the side.

      2. Against Japan I think we’ll need quick of mind and quick of foot players in both attack and defense. That isn’t Seymour in his current form unfortunately and even with Tommy’s prowess in the air, I would have Graham on one wing who is just as good and offers so much more else besides. Kinghorn can cover the back 3 from the bench and put to bed GT’s ridiculous Taylor/Harris “can do a job” on the wing nonsense. This quest for versatility has strayed too far from specialists in certain positions for me. Brown covering 7, yes he can but is it worth exhausting McInally. Jones, Hutchison, Fagerson left at home for Jack of all Trades centres, Bradbury eventually (fortunately/unfortunately) included when he should have been the ball carrier from the outset…….don’t get me started!

        I don’t think we should be flinging it about like we (allegedly) tried against Ireland, nor should a slow pedestrian game be the default as an end in itself – Laidlaw looking (pointing) at you!
        The performance I would envisage is “relentless”. Give Japan nowhere to go and no way of getting the crowd and momentum back on their side. They will be under enormous pressure, let’s add to that and see how they react.

  31. I would say that ZF should not be considered for the Japan game. They will get under him all the time and it would be penalty after penalty and then a yellow.

  32. I think we are going to have to come out of the blocks fast against Japan with a view to trying to shellshock them. I don’t see us getting much rub of the green on the officiating front (especially in the last ten minutes if the game is tight) and so we are going to have to blitz them and play them off the park and then see the game out with controlled game management.

  33. Tactical approach – constant pressure on Japan, play the faster game. First beat Russian with BP, and that will mean some A team players on during the first half.

  34. Nice but I’d start Dell, Berghan and probably Brown though all Edinburgh front row is tempting with game time for McInally for form. Rest Reid and WP. Half each for Thomson and Bradbury at 8. In the back line, I don’t think any need to play Laidlaw or Hogg. P Horne can steady things at 12 with Hornito Hastings raving it up. Kinghorn at 15, DG and Seymour. Huw Jones at 13… Oh wait, Taylor then.

  35. I’d be surprised if Laidlaw starts this. I think George Horne deserves a start not least as Hasting will need the quick ball and alternative breakdown threat to give him more time.
    Also think Hogg will be on the bench with Graham starting at wing and Kinghorn at full back. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Russell on the bench either although I don’t think he will come on unless we are in trouble.

    1. Will be an interesting selection. I think we simply need to trust the 2nd string. They are good enough to get the result needed.
      We should stay well away from doubling up…especially since Japan are so well rested.
      I really hope that none of the starting back row in particular are used v Russia. We’ll need a huge shift from them 4 days later. Whats the point of having a 31 man squad otherwise?
      If we can’t get the result needed with our 2nd string against Russia???…who only scraped into the RWC on a technicality…..SIGH!!
      Folks saying they are a threat…’ve got to be kidding. Their matches have barely been a contest against decent sides.
      What worries me far more than our ability is our bizarre lack of confidence.

    2. Absolutely – we’re better in every position, better conditioned and will be fresher.

      I’m confident Horne, Hastings and Hastings will relate enough chances to get the BP without risking our frontline starters.

      Russia can cope ok with trench warfare but not with a fast wide game we’ll employ.

    3. I agree re Horne. While I can see something in the argument that Hornito would be most effective against a tiring defense I think it would be a real shame if he sticks pyrgos in from the start and George on the bench. He’s earned is shot and the one thing that everyone says is that his fitness is scary and he can play that super high tempo for 80 minutes so what better way to exhaust the Russians.

    4. Considering Townsend pretty much played every player under the sun that was eligible, putting out a second string side should be a walk in the park against russia. We have depth if nothing else.

    5. Playing Pyrgos ahead of Horne would be ridiculous. I cant even see GT doing that. He has barely been with the squad…and just plain and simple …isnt very good.
      G Horne 100% deserves a chance to show himself as a starter.
      I think Russia are physically decent but pretty cumbersome and just enjoy an arm wrestle. Horne’s speed of play would cause them a lot of problems.

  36. Martin….You’d play Hogg?.one of our best players…and then play him again 4 days later?? His leg is heavily strapped in training!…that would be insanity if a fit Kinghorn is available..Id even rather Seymour played FB in that match.
    A 33yr old Laidlaw…when we absolutely need to start with him v Japan and get 60 mins , if not the whole match????
    Thompson?…who complimented the last back row perfectly and who just played his 1st 80mins in about 4 yrs?
    We will definitely be in trouble if we play those guys.
    Reid? Why not play Berghan at loose to give 32yr old Reid a break.
    Nooo…not Ritchie on the bench.
    The lad just recovered from a facial fracture..and just proved how essential he has become to our back row. We absolutely need the back row v Samoa against Japan!
    We might as well pack our bags if we play any of our 1st choice XV…imo
    We should only be using guys that are set for the bench.

    1. Leg strapped ! not good, new club will be concerned, we do not need that distraction. I would prepare Kinghorn for fullback against Japan , just in case.

    2. Yeah…JB…saw the training vids on Scottish rugby site. Hogg’s got some even heavier strapping on the same leg that was partially strapped during Samoa match. I think he got injured v Ireland (yet again!)… and they also said he missed training after that match.
      So he is carrying something for sure.

  37. If we win with bonus in first half which like others have said we are set up best to beat Russia with fast paced rugby especially with Horne starting. Then we need to make a good go at getting a shed load of points. We need to get to around the same as Japan’s point difference in case Ireland slip up. 40 points should do. Given our performance against Samoa I think we should manage that.

    1. I would play Pyrgos , he is wooden , but he is disposable. George Horne is needed against Japan.

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