Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland coaching setup shuffled ahead of Six Nations

Former Scotland Coaches Matt Taylor and Vern Cotter - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

In the latest of a series of coaching moves made in recent weeks, the national coaching setup has received a shot in the arm ahead of the upcoming Guinness 6 Nations.

Long standing Glasgow/Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor will, as recently rumoured, join Dave Rennie’s new Wallabies management team.

We already know Danny Wilson will exit his role as national forwards coach next summer to take over at Glasgow. His replacement forwards coach is not yet known, but with Taylor leaving “with immediate effect” (ie Toony’s found a replacement so they can finally announce it) there is now a role to be filled before February.

That role will be filled by former Ospreys head honcho Steve Tandy.

Before you leaf too closely through the Ospreys recent form and worry that Scotland seems to be constantly scouring castoffs from the Welsh regions for coaches, it’s worth taking into account the improvements last year in the NSW Waratahs defence under Tandy, as well as an impressive record as a coach (before the malaise really set in).

He took on his role at Ospreys after Scott Johnson departed their organisation, (so plus ca change) then led them to a PRO12 win in 2012 as well as regular playoff spots in the years that changed and was recently described as “one of British rugby’s coaching pioneers” by Gavin Mairs of The Telegraph following his decison to make an educational move down under.

In short, despite lacking international experience he’s no castoff and the Ospreys themselves would probably love him back given the horrific mess they find themselves in currently.

With Scotland’s defence all too porous in recent seasons, the Welshman will be aiming to make his Waratahs “blue wall” defence a couple of shades darker when he swaps Sydney for up at BT Murrayfield.

A Scotland side that doesn’t leak tries would suffer far fewer emotional/psychological setbacks, which would probably make them that bit more patient in attack. It’s very welcome news, but the only hope is that he has enough time to plug the leaks given the tournament begins very soon.

Another thing Scotland have lacked since Massimo Cuttita left in 2015 is a dedicated scrum coach, and they will also have one of those available on a short term “consultancy” basis in the form of former France prop Pieter de Villiers. South African born de Villiers earned 69 caps for France including four Six Nations titles and appearances at two World Cups.

He was a specialist coaching consultant with South Africa between 2012 and 2015 and was set to work under eventual World Cup winner Rassie Erasmus in 2018 before requesting a release from those duties on family grounds and has also worked as a coach with Stade Francais.

It’s another excellent appointment and could make the propping talent available to Townsend really shine come scrum time. If it helps bring on some of the looseheads too that would be nice. The only question is: why hasn’t there been a specialist in the role before now?

In other coaching news, it was also announced this week that rated former Ulster and current Gloucester attack coach Jonny Bell will join Danny Wilson’s Glasgow set up next season. Jason O’Halloran will move on to parts unknown. That completes the Glasgow setup with Kenny Murray, John Dalziel and Petrus du Plessis remaining in place.

79 Responses

  1. Its a positive change. We needed fresh ideas…it wasn’t working as it was. Defense has been powderpuff under Taylor.

    Tandy brings good experience with him for a relatively young coach. ..and an excellent quality scrumming coach is a no brainer.
    Wonder if a fresh attack coach will be brought in also?

    1. I welcome it as a step in the right direction, but I doubt we’ll see too much in the way of real progress while Toonie remains Head Coach.

  2. Thanks for pointing out the merit of Tandy and de Villiers. A well written article and positive. On paper these seem excellent pedigrees, brilliant the SRU are backing their man. At first I thought, cannot wait , this has got to be good, these chaps clearly know a thing or two, then I was less positive when I considered how they will interface with Toony, is that a good mix, guys who know what they are talking about and will speak up! Mmmph!

    But on balance , this is hope and once again , we raise our spirits and consider the possibility that this might bring a happy ending.

  3. Agree with Rory that a more aggressive and solid defense gives more options in attack, and also will force the opposition to try harder moves in attack, with a higher likelihood of errors. This and cutting down handling errors should be the focus of 2019 as everything else is there or thereabouts in my opinion.

    Tandy and Blair need to stand up and be accountable on these issues.

    Question is, can it be done within the overall game plan and selection?

    For example, we need some dominant tacklers… but we don’t have many to choose from…can we get the likes of Wilson, J. Gray and Gilchrist to fulfil that role, or is it time for new faces at lock and 6/8 (Skinner/Cummings/Bradbury/Thomson)?

    Defensively Maitland has probably been best at FB…but Hogg and Kinghorn are 1 and 2 there. Ditto Dunbar at 12, but he’s now pretty much off the radar.

  4. Taking the same route as the Aussies did with Cheika last year and getting rid of the supporting cast. How did that end for them. Just putting off the evil day. Maybe the SRU have a plan and are waiting for Townsend ‘s replacement to see out his contract elsewhere. In any event Taylor will be no great loss. His record as defence coach is woeful. Interesting that he is sought after despite his unimpressive record with Scotland.Maybe he wasn’t the problem. In any event hopefully the new incumbents will bring some much needed improvements. Time will tell.

    1. The SRU are just behaving like any other corporate organisation and it rarely results in anything other than finally changing out the real problem. Townsend is changing his support staff however eventually the day comes when there is only one man left to change.

    1. That to me is a no brainer as all of the best individuals and teams have good coaches to help in this area. Looking from outside it just seems a great way of making the next step count consistently.

  5. The new team have some major selection headaches with the return to form of Jones, Bennett and Scott as well as Hutchison, harries and Johnson all having credit in the bank. The back row is another minefield I really do think Watson and Ritchie together will be too lightweight and I would go with Bradbury. Fagerson over nel now as well?? Has Alex Craig done enough in the premiership to earn a look at?

    1. Jamie Ritchie is 109kg, not lightweight. I would happily see Ritchie and Watson in the same back row.

      1. Ritchie, Watson and Bradbury is a very good back row. Add Fagerson on the bench and you have versatile and talented cover across all three positions, too.

  6. Yeah Ritchie carries his weight well, he’s a proper athlete as opposed to a big bloke who plays
    Sport. For example Denton or Bradshaw.
    He’s not undersized playing on either flank.

  7. As has been said above centre, back row & IMO front row most “interesting” selection wise for Scotland. My 23 V Ireland – Reid, Brown, Nel, J.Gray, Toolis, Crosbie, Ritchie, Bradbury, Price, Russell, Graham, Johnson, Jones, Maitland, Hogg
    REPS – Dell, McInally, Fagerson, Cummings, Watson, Horne, Hastings, Scott

    1. I would change a fair bit from that for Ireland.

      1. Allan Dell
      2. Fraser Brown (C)
      3. Zander Fagerson
      4. Sam Skinner
      5. Jonny Gray
      6. Blade Thomson
      7. Jamie Ritchie
      8. Magnus Bradbury
      9. George Horne
      10. Finn Russell
      11. Blair Kinghorn
      12. Matt Scott
      13. Huw Jones
      14. Sean Maitland
      15. Stuart Hogg

      16. Stuart Mcinally
      17. Gordon Reid
      18. WP Nel
      19. Scott Cummings
      20. Hamish Watson
      21. Ali Price
      22. Rory Hutchison
      23. Darcy Graham

      For me there is definitely some slightly better individuals on the bench but i think this is necessary is terms of the starting 15 balance as well as looking at what offers the best impact versatility off the bench.

      1. Interesting Neil, only wee issue is Sam Skinner not started/played since being injured in the RWC. (Harvey Skinner started for Exeter 2nds yesterday)

      2. You don’t have FH cover. Someone who has played age grade FH doesn’t cut it – Hastings needs to be on the bench really.

      3. FF – I would be keeping Russell on the full 80 so i see having proper fly-half cover as abit redundant,(as good as Hastings is) worst case scenario is we sacrifice a game and likely loose with Hutchison or Hogg covering 10 if Russell gets injured.

  8. Loose head is such a problem for Scotland this 6N.

    Dell – Not sure the move to Irish has worked out as he would have liked. Seems to have been on the bench again and has picked up a few yellow cards.

    Reid – No idea where his level is since the world cup, pray he’s managed to maintain his form.

    Sutherland – finally seems to be getting his level towards pro 14 but not ready for international.

    Bhatti – has shown he has the ability but his form seems to drop off sharply when he doesn’t get agood run of games, which is pretty much where he finds himself now.

    Alex Allen – a nearly man, barely cuts it in the Pro 14 and I don’t believe he will ever be an international prop.

    Simon Bergan – good in the loose and his form is OK but even as a tighthead his scrummaging is questionable at international level. Should only be an emergency option for Scotland at loose head.

    Murray McCallum – as for Bergan.

    Is there anyone else?

    1. Seems about right. Would guess Bhatti or Dell will be competing for the shirt with both at least getting off the bench occasionally. Reid might be an option but I don’t know what sort of speed he’s at.

      Schoeman and Kebble will ultimately be the answer when qualified but it’s a crying shame for me that props eith the potential of Sutherland and Bhatti have been stuck on the bench seeing their development stunted, both could and should have been first choice starters for Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively by now competing for the Scotland shirt. Admittedly injury played a part for Sutherland also.

      Hopefully both can still develop and Grahamslaw and Thornton who are also great prospects don’t go the same way.

      Murray McCallum dropping off the face of the planet is a concern as well, I genuinely thought he’d have surpassed Nel and Berghan by now to compete with Zander for the Scotland shirt but he’s dropped to fourth choice TH. Nicol seems to be coming through well though.

      1. Sutherlands injury was horrific and he is doing well to be playing again at all, he could well have not walked again

    2. I think we’re in for another 6N of Dell/Reid/Bhatti. Just no one else available atm.

      Kebble and Schoeman have been massive for Glasgow and Edinburgh and so obviously top-end that no one else has even got a look in.

      Sutherland is probably the biggest shame. Looked like the complete package when he broke through, right after we lost Dickinson. He’s still only 27 so would love to see him kick on and make the next RWC.

      1. To be fair to Dell & Reid they never let us down in a Scotland Jersey from recent memory, i cant recall the last time we were dominated at scrum time, we should be happy we have a B&I lion at LH

      2. None of them are bad players but neither Dell nor Bhatti are starting a lot for their respective clubs so may struggle to keep up with their opponents in the 6N and Reid is difficult to gauge at super 6 level.

        Tighthead is interesting as well. Do we go with the old steady rock of Nel or the potentially world-class / potential liability of Zander? Reckon Nel has another good season at international level left in him so stick Fagerson on the bench in the meant time.

  9. Sad when you think we are waiting on players to become SQ to fill positions. Is this a failure of the SRU/Townsend to fill these gaps. In respect to the back row the 2 best players we have are Ritchie and Watson but I still think if we get strangled by Ireland in our first match we will be having the same discussion about being too lightweight. I would start with Bradbury, Ritchie and fagerson with Watson coming on to wreck tired bodies

    1. Don’t get Fagerson jr. Apart from u20 I’ve not rated him everytime I’ve seen him. Far too light to be an effective 8 at Pro14 level nevermind international, maybe a 7. Would love to be proved wrong. Wales apparently have a 125kg tongan no 8 coming through there age groups!!

      1. You are referring to Carwyn Tuipulotu.

        There are quite a few young welsh players causing a stir at the moment. Do we have any prospects in the pipeline?

      2. Someone called Rudi Brown according to the Glasgow forum? Don’t know much about him though. In the under 18s squad. Alex Samuel as well, 17 years old and 6’9!

      3. Can’t disagree more with your comments about Fagerson. He’s gone up against massive units like Vunipola and Coetzee and held his own and in some cases been better. He might not carry like Bradbury, but he’s not dominated and brings other things to the table, including making a whopping 33 tackles against Leinster last season.

    2. I’d start with Ritchie, Watson and Bradbury. Think there is a good blend there. Crosbie on the bench as he’s ideal to mix it in the last 20 and is one of the hardest bastards in the Scottish game.

      I’d be looking at Cummings and Skinner (if fully fit) in the second row as well unless the elder Gray is available. I’d like to see Craig in the larger squad too to have a look at for the future and maybe Owlett as well.

    3. Ireland’s starting back row in their last match ranged from 107 – 114kg. No beasts in there. Only Hamish is really a wee bit below the usual range, but he’s made from nitro-driven nuggets and girders and brings much more trouble than substantially heavier men. Over recent tests (particularly vs Ireland) I feel that it is our tight five, rather than back row, that have failed to impose themselves. In the loose, our tight five were battered y Ireland, who were battered by NZ, who were blitzed by England… The real trouble with that is that the cupboard is fairly bare.
      On a realted note – does anyone know what is going on with Glasgow’s lineout? Brown, JGray and Cummings are all potential Scotland starters, but play them together and we’ll be struggling.

    4. Held his own v Vunipola is nothing, offensively he flatters to deceive in my opinion. 33 tackles is a great stat, but how many were dominant and did he knock back? We need a player that can get us on the front foot and make carries in heavy traffic, or we don’t get the front football for our backs to shine. Fagerson doesnt do that for me. Theres a place for him, I’m not saying he isn’t talented, but I see him more of a 7/6 though. A Fagerson, Ritchie, Watson for example is too samey. Having said that Blade Thomson is tall but not particularly heavy either. Dont know what the answer is tbf.

  10. Sort of agree MK…….. Bradbury, Watson, Ritchie & Blade Thomson are good options but I like Crosbie & his style.

    1. Nathan Macbeth has broken through at the golden lions this year. I believe that Aidan Ross at the Highlanders is SQ. Our loose heads stocks are so low, that either maybe worth a look?

    2. How is Dunbar doing at Brive? Inside centre most competitive position. Darcy v Kinghorn on wing. Bradbury, Ritchie, Thomson is the one positive from World Cup and potentially allows an extra back. Hogg consistently class at Exeter including today, so:

      Reid, McInally (unless injured), Nel, Gray, R Gray (unless retired) or Skinner (unless injured), Bradbury, Ritchie, Thomson, Horne, Russell, Maitland, Taylor or Johnson (depending on form and how club combo develops), Jones, Graham, Hogg.
      Bhatti, Brown, Fagerson, Watson, Price, Hastings, Hutchinson, Kinghorn.

      1. Inside centre is competitive but without an outstanding candidate in my view. Horne seems to bring out the best in runners around him and Russell plays well with the secondary playmaker at 12, but he consistently makes important mistakes and doesn’t quite have the quality to excel at the top level. The World Cup backline with Johnson at 12 looked toothless and I think the suspicion is he too isn’t quite good enough to nail down the shirt. Taylor didn’t have the form to go to the World Cup and shouldn’t be near the squad unless he demands inclusion. Dunbar’s form has plummeted and he too needs to earn his way back in.

        I’d like to see Hutchison at 12 as I understand he plays there sometimes for Saints and his passing and kicking game are strong. Matt Scott is the outstanding candidate based on form but he’s never been consistent for Scotland.

        Our centres need a total revamp from the World Cup and is take Scott, Hutchison, Jones and Bennett/Horne/Harris as squad back ups but probably not in 23.

      2. Agree Hutchinson earns a shot, and Scott has deserved another for some time. BUT Johnson is the form centre for last year and can’t be blamed for turgid World Cup, as they had two defensive 12s outside him at all times. I’ve not forgotten Twickenham :) and if his partnership with Jones finally gets going then so be it. Meanwhile Taylor is no longer injured and solid for Saracens (even with Nic White on top of him). Not a 13 for Scotland, he feels right to post inside Jones – combo balanced and high class. Hutchinson is what only 23 and fights onto this bench (as 12 and 13 cover)- at least until he gets and takes a chance. Scott, I like, but as another 29/30 something needs to pull up trees… Injuries no doubt have their say.

      3. Yes our centres are in scintillating form but we are forgetting one factor, the mighty Toony picks the team, not you lot and Toony has set Chris Harris aside for greatness , he is absolute class , no one like Harris, he could run a master class for Jones, Dunbar, Scott, Johnson, and even Taylor . Hutchinson can come back when he has played a few games in the border league. First name on this 6N team sheet is Chris Harris , the rest are just numbers . Toony knows best, he is paid to know best, no one else can see what he can see. In Toony we trust.

      4. Couldn’t see the game but watched the extended highlights of Gloucester v Northampton and Harris actually looked pretty good. Nice try and a couple of killer lines. Still wouldn’t pick him given the other options we have but *maybe* you could give it a rest, @The Emperors New Clothes…

        I agree with FF, Russell needs a 12 who can distribute and take the pressure off him. Hutchinson is the form candidate who fits the description. Then pair him with a 13 who can hit the gaps created by the other two so Jones or Bennett for me. Scott on the bench as he can cover both positions and will provide the most impact (see the weekend).

        Surely a 9/10/12/13 combination of Horne, Russell, Hutchinson, Jones will unlock defences and finally open up a bit more space for Graham and Hogg at the back, in particular the latter who has been locked down lately.

        I like Johnson and love Taylor but neither really fit the system at the moment as all-rounders and would have both in the squad as back-ups instead. Either way some nice options to have at the moment.

      5. Bennett, Hutchinson and Scott regularly score tries, provide assists, or start moves with line breaks.

        Johnson, Harris and Taylor do not, at present. They have been solid – and have not played badly – but there is a clear gulf in form between them and the aforementioned.

        Huw Jones is between the two. He’s set up/scored a couple of important tries with limited gametime, but we haven’t seen enough of him quite yet.

        For my money it’s Hutchinson, Scott, Bennett, Johnson, and either Harris or Jones for the 6N.
        (Also Kyle Steyn, but as a wing who can cover #13.)

  11. I agree with Ritchie starting and Watson coming off the bench for impact against tired bodies. Ritchie was our MOTM against Japan and put in a hell of shift from the first minute. Watson’s impact off the bench against Wales in the 6N was so effective and should have won us the game had the referee given Wales the yellow cards they deserved (Even Gatland commented on how lucky they were and how impressive our bench was i.e. Watson).

  12. My team vs Ireland would be
    3Z. Fag
    5 J. Gray
    11 Graham
    12 Hutchinson
    13D. Taylor
    14 Kinghorn
    15 Maitland

    16 Mcinally
    17 Reid
    18 Nel
    19 Skinner (if fit) Gilchrist if not
    20 Watson
    21 G. Horne
    22 Hastings

    Yes dispite the number of good centres I’m using Hogg to cover centre. Stacking the bench for maximum impact.

    1. I do not agree with this selection. Dell ? Are you sure !He will be delighted to get a start as he has only had 1 start in 5 games at LI? Harris covers Centre , so you can drop Hogg, then he will have all the time in the world to read the Exeter play book. That was his sole contribution in Japan and it looks like he is reading the Scotland play book while at Exeter. Skinner , straight out of a hospital bed and into the match day 23. Yes , that is so Toony, no harm in letting the others know how much he values them. Apart from that , spot on.Not bobbins at all.

      1. Dell started at the weekend for London Irish and still has time to rack up some more gametime. Unfortunately 1 start in 5 is probably the same or more than Reid, Bhatti, Sutherland and Allan have cumulatively managed at pro level anyway so interested who you would go with?

        I think that teams alright though I’d start Scott and Bennett in the centres as I think they’ve been great and there is a lot to be said for a settled combination. Mind you a big part of me would love to see Jones outside Hutchinson and a fully fit and in form Taylor is hard to ignore…

      2. Lol, Dell is about the least controversial part of my selection.
        The plan would be to tell Bradbury, Ritchie, Taylor, Price and the front row to smash every ruck, counter ruck, tackle their hearts out and empty the tank to stay within a score until 60 minutes then bring Skinner on at 6, Watson at 7, Hornito 9 and Hogg at 13. Hogg is just a massive decoy, a big beacon for the defence and you play first smash it up round the fringes with fresh ball carriers to narrow the defence then swing it out the back using Hogg running decoy lines.
        We’ve seen what happens when we go toe to toe with Ireland, we have to show something new and different. At the world cup they (along with the rest of the world) read our hand and we got smashed. The value of using Hogg as a decoy in one game will still be felt in subsequent games as it will at least keep our opponents honest. Anyway that’s the method behind my madness.

      3. Scrummo for me it is obvious. I would have no hesitation in starting Gordon Reid because he seems to me to be the most consistent and :

        He was one of the very few players who came out of the RWC with any credit.

        Reid is undoubtedly solid and experienced in a position that demands, just that.

        Since the RWC , Reid has played semi pro , in every match, with the Bulls.

        Dell has had one start in the Premiership, whereas most returning players of any nation , even those who went on to the play offs , have been starting. Not a great sign for a former Lion.

        Now let me deal with them that consider Reid is off radar in the second tier of Scottish Rugby. Firstly he has just had a cover contract from the Warriors , secondly he was not off radar only three months ago when we needed experience and commitment.

        What is more we have played him last 6N , when he was in the English Championship, not Premiership , definitely off radar to Scottish eyes.

        Now for the best bit, Wayne Barnes likes him, thanked him for his efforts when he was replaced.

        Why would you ,start Dell ?

      4. I would say that there are two things to consider with Reid.

        1. How much has he been training. The Super Six is semi-pro so if it’s been a couple times a week then he won’t be fit enough. If he’s been training the rest of the week with the Warriors and can train at full intensity until the 6N this point may be negated.

        2. Super 6 to 6 Nations is a hell of a gap. Shawn Muir has been tearing it up for years in the Premiership perhaps he’s worth a go? Scrummaging against Nathan Borel (no slight on him) is a bit different to Tadh Furlong.

        I’d call up Dell, Bhatti and Sutherland and start whoever trains the best. If Reid gets gametime for the Warriors then get him in too, but if not the gap is too big.

      5. Scrummo : Thanks for quick response , but that does not stack for me.

        Point 1) Gordon Reid is training with the Warriors, see BBC Sport on 29th November to quote ‘ The loose-head will remain a Bulls player but train with Glasgow for the rest of the season.’

        Point 2 : Reid is just back from the RWC , knows the team , knows the routines. We are talking about bringing guys back from serious injury (Sutherland) to play intense 6N When we have a guy who gained everone’s respect 3 months ago , fit and getting game time. Feels like same old same , any choice but the obvious choice. Lets remember our Pro Sides send excess players to play in the Super 6.

        No idea about Muir but you are speaking to the wrong man, See Toony .

        Whatever we do is going to to a compromise, but I would chose Gordon Reid until we have an obvious winner.

      6. Logic says, on the basis of “not being first pick at pro club level this season so far” the following players should not be considered alongside Dell:

        George Horne
        Huw Jones
        Duncan Taylor
        Richie Gray
        George Turner
        Pete Horne
        Simon Berghan
        Jamie Bhatti
        Alex Allan
        Gordy Reid

        So I don’t think this is a very good criterion, especially at prop.

        Of the available LH players, Dell and Reid have in the past year or so offered “something” in the loose and scrum respectively that justifies selection while the others have been pretty anonymous. Nobody is a complete package.

    2. Watson starts over Thomson with Ritchie at 6. A more balanced back row with Thomson as a supersub. We need as much as turnover ball as we can get our hands on. Nel is still crucial and must start. Either Scott (with Hutchinson at #13) or Bennett at centre over Taylor.

  13. Blade Thomson based on what performance(s)?

    Not enough.

    Very few 2019 representatives can feel deserving after a poor 6 nations and anonymous World Cup. Or is it just me?

    1. Squad , playing and coaching methods need to be reset.
      There shouldn’t be anyone guaranteed a spot…6N and RWC was a failure. Its a time to decide what the core of the team is and rebuild significantly around that.

  14. Agree Scottie, he’s safe under the restart but proven nothing to suggest he is “the answer” @ 8. For the Edinburgh fans – would a (back to his best Edinburgh form) Cornell Du Preez jump to starting Scotland 8?

  15. John, after the totally anonymous showing by Cornwell Du Preez in Cardiff 2 years ago he would have to do something pretty special to deserve a Scot recall, Bradbury & Thompson better choices in my book

    1. I have only ever witnessed a worse debut and that was Geoff Cross, that has to be the comedy debut of all time, all nations , that was absolute buffoonery. Du Preez is playing decent , brave rugby at Worcester , but nowhere near good enough to justify recall. I am no fan of Thomson but would say stick with him for a bit longer. Bradbury seems to be on the periphery of something and I think his lurch like qualities will be good for Scotland.

      1. Talking of debuts….the one that sticks in my mind is James Craig. I used to go & watch Glasgow & he was quite sensational. Nov 1997 v Australia he looked like a wee boy lost…..don’t think he ever recovered. (interestingly as I wiki’d this -to make sure my memory is still functioning- Craig puts his cognitive issues down to rugby)

  16. Aye…………….. I still don’t think that anyone has reached the level that CdP was at in his best Edinburgh days.

    1. The question of captain is interesting as your captain has to be a stick on of a pick. Who are the players that are critical to our team and then I think you pick from there?

      1. I think Ritchie is the outstanding candidate he is young but so was Sam Warburton when Gatland first made him Wales Captain. I see a lot of similarity between Ritchie and Warburton.

        If he’s not quite experienced enough yet then what about Fraser Brown or Hamish Watson for the 6N?

      2. Chris Harris as Captain, he is in the right position and is a Toony pick all day long. Might be the making of him.

  17. Change of captain too is required. Rambo has shown the captaincy takes the edge off his game and he isn’t the best at talking the right way to the ref. Scotland could do a lot worse than make Hogg the captain with Gordy reid as vice captain

    1. I cant see Hogg ever being a captain…
      he shows little maturity….and gets far too excited when calm is needed…and makes reckless decisions.
      Jamie Ritchie would make a great captain in the future…imo.

      1. Jamie Ritchie is the shout. Mentally tough, in fact, totally mental. Knows what’s going on, great skills, and hard as nuggets.

      2. Teamcam: You are correct and what a match that was. He is not a team player, not a captain. It will be a very bad day if that ever materialises.

      3. It did materialise. In the match we’re discussing. I don’t think he did a bad job, but at fullback you’re miles away from the action and not as frequently involved. I think captains from the back three are less effective.

      4. I do mean if we repeat that as I am sure you know. I dont agree, he led us to a loss as I recall, so it depends on how you define ‘a bad job’. Scotland have had some of their finest and most effective Captain’s in the 15 jersey (Irvine and Hastings) , the latter led the lions, so I disagree on the back three theory. No, lets be clear , he is lacking in the qualities of leadership.

  18. Completely off topic but can anybody recommend a good, central hotel in Rome to stay at when we play Italy in late February? Also, any ideas which one the Scotland team stays at?

    1. Would also recommend the Traiano and the Pace Helvezia. Both on Via 4 Novembre. Well placed for sightseeing, but a taxi ride or good 50 minute walk to Stadio Olimpico

  19. Rugby pass reporting Nick Grigg now also looking to move on.

    Most likely agent-spin given his contract is up for renegotiation and curious timing, having been dropped for both the ’72 games and not exactly missed…

  20. Anything anyone can do to help us improve our defence will be most welcome. It’s been our Achilles’ Heel in Tests in recent years, and it’s lost us matches we could or should have won. Not pretty to watch, all in a line across the field Rugby League style, but Wales, Ireland and South Africa to name only three do it effectively and we have to replicate that approach when we haven’t got possession and want it back.

  21. I think this is obvious but I am old school and have the benefit and disadvantage of watching the game evolve. Scotland need a full back that is the last line in defense, not the first line in attack. This is Union , not League and that is the primary role of a full back in Union. We have compromised for good reason, an exceptional and entertaining individual showed up to brighten the darkest days in Scottish rugby. Not an easy one to fix. I am sure you have your own opinions but that is mine and I am unlikely to change it.

    1. I doubt we could have exceeded England’s offer. Presumably the same is true for Shaun Edwards (expect it would’ve been France’s offer we failed to exceed).

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