Our Predictions for 2020: Head, Heart and Arse

With 2020 now in full steam, hangovers are fading slowly and the Six Nations is rushing towards us more quickly than Mark Dodson towards the wrong side of an argument. We sat down to have a think about what lies in store for Scotland’s pro teams and the national side itself, using our patented Head/Heart/Arse system to allow never having to truly stick to our guns on anything.

Glasgow Warriors

Head

The most likely outcome

Iain: despite securing maximum points in their recent outing against Treviso, Glasgow will struggle to make the play-offs, with their early season form having left them well off the pace. Leinster will walk the conference, Ulster are looking good, and closest rivals Cheetahs have two games in hand against the leaky Southern Kings.

The likely lack of European action will help focus performance on the league, but Glasgow will be lucky to make the play-offs, never mind make another final appearance.

Sandy: the head says they may miss out and fail to make it out of Champions Cup pool although at the moment that’s not really stretching the imagination.

John: I think we’ll come third in the conference, losing in the quarters.

Rory: I think European knockouts are definitely out of reach now, and although I think they have enough class in the squad to get them into the PRO14 playoffs, I think the depth will be tested too hard to get much past a semi.

Alan K: with Europe already gone Rennie focusses his troops on a strong finish to the league season, securing a Champions Cup qualification for 20/21 but a rather timid exit in the play-offs. Summer sees key departures but with a new coach Glasgow secure Nakarawa on a longer-term contract and a decent ‘name’ Scottish qualified player (possibly Skinner) to replace Jonny Gray.

Cammy: Glasgow’s season is already a dead duck. All the focus needs to be on getting into the play-offs and guaranteeing top-flight European rugby next year, and a fresh start under a new coach.

Heart

The hopes and dreams, the possibilities

John: Glasgow finish second in the conference, win their semi, qualify for European knockout stages but lose the quarter there (again). We lose the PRO14 final to Leinster by 50…

Iain: having failed to qualify from their Champions Cup group, the troops rally behind departing coach Dave Rennie, and go on a barn-storming run in the PRO14, winning 11 of their remaining 12 matches to qualify in second place. They reclaim the 1872 Cup back from Edinburgh following a Nakarawa masterclass in the final fixture.

They still lose controversially in the semi-final, but Rennie and Jonny Gray can depart the club with their heads held high.

Alan: Glasgow fight their way to the PRO14 final but fall short to Leinster. However, in the process they rediscover their joy for the game, becoming offload central. Wilson secures a number of signings to strengthen the first XV. Glasgow fly out of the blocks in the new season going undefeated up to the, now standard, pre-Xmas capitulation to Edinburgh and also do well in the early rounds of Europe.

Cammy: my heart says Glasgow can still make a European quarter-final but I think that would prove a distraction. In terms of the PRO14 my heart still believes Glasgow can make the final with a good wind behind them, a full-strength squad and Uncle Big Naks throwing some Hollywood offloads.

Sandy: even in my most generous mood the best I can offer from my cold eastern heart is Glasgow reaching the quarter-finals of the PRO14.

Rory: in their current state a PRO14 semi would be an excellent return but my romantic soul would like to see Rennie’s men get to a final and be the only team to beat Leinster this season. Could be talking out my…

Arse

The worst case scenario, classic Scottish sporting misery

Iain: the season carries on as it has done so far. Every time you think a corner has been turned, they put in a stinker in the next match. Knowing that Rennie’s on his way out anyway, the players allow standards to drop, biding their time for the new management to come in.

Nakarawa’s return is an unmitigated disaster, leading to further complaints about player recruitment.

John: we finish 5th. Huw Jones leaves, Hastings decides he wants to play for Edinburgh for an unspecified length of time, Zander retires to take up the Tuba (getting lessons from Cammy) and Nakarawa turns out to be rubbish this time round and is rewarded with a 3 year deal…

Rory: or he leaves straight away back to France. Glasgow’s season so far has been pretty much the gold standard for “arse” so I think if they don’t turn it around then that trend will continue until Wilson takes over. Further arse would be no decent signings for next season. Again.

Sandy: I’ll go for not even winning the Champions Cup playoff at the end of the season, and getting beaten in the third leg of the 1872 Cup.

Alan: the decline continues. Nakarawa spends more time in Burger King than on the training field and the season fizzles out, culminating in a dispiriting loss to Ospreys. Wilson comes in and is unable to motivate the squad who are already suspicious after his role in Scotland’s World Cup failure. The Horne brothers fall out at a summer family BBQ resulting in George Horne being released and signing for Exeter. With no top-class European action crowds dramatically drop and the SRU declare that Edinburgh are now the primary focus of all central funding.

Cammy: the year is 2030, Ruaridh Jackson is still first choice full-back and Glasgow Head coach Pete Horne promises top drawer replacements for Jonny Gray and Stuart Hogg in the 33/34 season.

Edinburgh Rugby

Head

Sandy: my head says Edinburgh will make the quarter-finals of the PRO14 and the semis of the European Challenge Cup.

Iain: putting the Challenge Cup on the backburner, my pre-season prediction that Edinburgh make the play-offs comes true. They top their conference by a point from Munster, but are a little rusty following the week off, and lose out in the semi-final to one of the Irish sides (pick one).

A Top 14 side comes calling for Bill Mata, Edinburgh reluctantly sell, but get a fair whack of compensation for their troubles. It is not reinvested in the playing side.

Rory: they’ll use it for revamping hospitality suites in the new stadium. Head says this Edinburgh side are capable of at least the quarter-finals in both competitions and maybe the semi-final of one.

Alan: Edinburgh continue their strong 19/20 form, finishing a close runner up to Munster in the conference and ultimately lose out to Leinster in semi-final.

John: aye – second place in the conference, lose the semi-final.

Alan: 2020/21 to see Edinburgh continue development, augmented by a couple of key off-season signings (any Scottish qualified Kiwi’s or Saffers that the Exiles Program uncovers) and spurred on by the move to BT Minnifield. The Champions Cup proves to be a struggle and by the end of the year they are out of contention for the knock-out stages.

Cammy: Edinburgh have to come away with something this season. Anything less than a Challenge Cup or Pro 14 semi would be extremely disappointing no matter how much Richard Cockerill pretends that everyone has written them off.

Heart

Sandy: winning the Challenge Cup and making the final of the PRO14 would be an excellent season.

John: yup – reach the final, win Challenge Cup.

Alan: reach PRO14 final, and kick on in Europe and get the silverware in the Challenge Cup tier competition.

Rory: our hearts are all in agreement.

Alan: carry that form into 20/21 season and have a Glasgow-esque unbeaten start to the season and a kind European draw. Cockerill to sign a new long term deal, written using Eddie Jones’s blood after they meet up in the bowels of Murrafield during Six Nations. The new stadium results in sell-out crowds as Edinburgh continue their transformation into the Northern Hemisphere’s entertainers.

Cammy: Four words: Greig Laidlaw, Assistant Coach.

Iain: Edinburgh play superbly for the rest of the season and are cruising at the top of the conference going into the last week of the regular campaign, so they put out a second XV for the 1872 Cup decider in search of greater glory, essentially forfeiting the fixture to the mighty Warriors.

Edinburgh do go all the way to the big show in Cardiff, but a dodgy TMO call from the recently returned Ben Skeen screws them out of victory.

The rest of the rugby world looks on in horror as Leinster are handed their third successive PRO14 title.

Rory: how can that last bit be in your heart?!

Iain: because at least it stops Edinburgh winning the PRO14.

Arse

Sandy: arse for Edinburgh would be falling away towards the end of the regular PRO14 season and missing out on both the knockout stages this year, and Champions Cup rugby next year.

John: they bottle it, lose the group in Europe, fail to make the league play-offs, Cockerill gets the England job, Bennett comes back to Glasgow on loan and scores the winner in last 1872…

Alan: a squad ravaged by injuries in the Six Nations limps out of Europe and the PRO14 play-offs. Summer sees Mata move to France, Van Der Merwe gains Scottish qualification and moves to England. Cockerill falls out with SRU and moves on, replaced by Alan Solomons. Edinburgh revert to ‘up the jumper’ rugby. An Indian burial ground is discovered during the building works for mini-Murrayfield and Jamie Ritchie is sucked into a TV never to be seen again.

Iain: a spate of injuries to the likes of Mata and Schoeman during the Six Nations window sees Edinburgh struggle to maintain momentum, and they are soon toppled from the summit of Conference B.

Richard Cockerill becomes so incensed at the standard of refereeing in the Pro14 that he vows to never speak to the press again, and changes his name to a symbol of a shark on a motorbike. It cannot be pronounced in English, so you have to wave to get his attention.

Rory: arse would be all of the above – maybe not the shark thing – losing Bill Mata to France, South Africa capping Schoeby-doo before we do and the new “stadium” still not being ready for next season.

Cammy: The Duhan and Schoeby-doo are at risk of a South African raid. They were both marching around Murrayfield with a South African flag with Jaco Van Der Walt during the 2018 Autumn Test.

Losing Cockerill to a Premiership or International side remains a risk. He’s settled in Edinburgh but can’t help think he’d jump at the opportunity to go somewhere with regular top-flight European rugby. That wouldn’t just be a disaster for Edinburgh but potentially Scotland as well…

Scotland

Head

Iain: after all the recent coaching upheaval, disjointed performances see Scotland win only one from five of their Six Nations fixtures, including one extreme doing, just when it looks like the players have adapted to Steve Tandy’s defence structure.

The summer tour also sees one good performance, but two pretty severe beatings at the hands of South Africa and New Zealand.

Toony steps down at end of summer, and an underwhelming interim coach is placed in charge for the autumn tests.

John: head says 5th in Six Nations, Toonie sacked at the end of it.

Alan: with Watson and Skinner back Scotland have a solid, but unspectacular, Six Nations and finish 4th. However, they retain the Calcutta Cup and, as a consequence, get to keep Owen Farrell on the mantelpiece.

The summer tour sees Scotland run Sout Africa close in the first test but struggle in the subsequent games against the Springboks and New Zealand. Following an Autumn test series where Scotland struggle to wins against Japan and Argentina and heavy loss to a fired-up New Zealand side sees Scotland and Townsend part ways. As ever, hopes for 2021 will be built up and then dashed on the cold harsh rocks of rugby reality.

Cammy: My head and my arse aren’t far apart when it comes to Scotland. Townsend seemed downbeat when speaking to the “official” podcast and at a loss to explain what had gone wrong in Japan, which is a worry. Matt Taylor’s “exit interview” with RugbyPass didn’t make encouraging reading either.

There’s continuity in the England setup, a certain amount in Ireland and Wales’s new set up have already had a chance to get their hands dirty against the Barbarians. Scotland have two new coaches, another on his way out and a raft of senior players retiring.

We’re not in a good place; I think Richard Cockerill takes over in time for the summer tour.

Sandy: we may avoid the wooden spoon by beating Italy, and then in the Autumn beating Japan at Murrayfield.

Rory: I think we can win in Rome, and beat Argentina and Japan at home. If the Six Nations goes well then who knows but knocking off any one of the World Champs or New Zealand home or away would be a monumental task based on what we saw from Scotland in 2019.

Heart

Sandy: we win the Six Nations. Always worth dreaming.

Rory: heart is a Grand Slam, every year. I’ve had my heart broken a few times though. A first win over New Zealand would be nice too, especially with Hogg playing. He almost got there last time. Some sign that the coaches are having a positive effect would be good. With the in tactic now kick passes, Finn Russell has a blinding year nutmegging and grubber kicking fools all over the place and becomes top choice for the Lions starting 10.

Alan: with a full-strength squad to pick from, and a refresh of the coaching team, Scotland revert to the free-flowing, confident rugby of late 2017. A 2nd place finish in the Six Nations is followed up with a test victory in South Africa and a surprise draw in Dunedin. George Horne comes of age on the international stage and with Van Der Merwe now Scottish qualified the tries flow. Hogg is back to his best and with Skinner and Gray now team-mates at Exeter the pack is solidified and functioning. Someone works out a defensive shape (dear Lord, please let this happen!).

The year ends with thumping victories over Japan and Argentina and an epic first victory over the All Blacks. Townsend sees in the year as the toast of Scottish Rugby and a host of Scotland players are baked into the 2021 Lions squad.

Iain: a smash and grab job in Dublin lifts confidence and sets Scotland on their way to a crack at the Six Nations title, but they fall short with an agonising defeat to Wales in Cardiff, courtesy of a Dan Biggar penalty which hits off an upright and the crossbar before trickling over.

During the summer tour, Scotland bounce back from a first match humbling by South Africa to inexplicably triumph in the second match playing full-tilt, Finnsanity rugby.

New Zealand win the summer test thanks to some Grade-A, breakdown outhousery, but revenge is sweetly served at Murrayfield in the autumn, a 40m drop-goal by Stuart Hogg with 3 minutes remaining proving decisive.

John: third in the Six Nations and Toonie stays.

Cammy: heart says third in Six Nations, we keep to within 10 to 15 points of South Africa and New Zealand in the summer, win two of our Autumn Tests and get within 7 points of New Zealand.

Off the pitch, the coaching team click, Townsend brings in Ben Ryan or Stuart Lancaster as attack coach and Matt Proudfoot as the new forwards coach. The SRU also stump up the cash for a full time sports psychologist/mental skills coach to work with players full time, with two more appointed to look after the academies.

Rory: you’ve all illustrated how jaded our Scottish rugby hearts have become.

Arse

Sandy: sadly, arse rules here and I’m worried that this could be a whitewash year for Scotland.

Rory: there is a chance we could lose every game this year. The only one we should have any form or expectation to win is maybe Argentina in the autumn. Italy in Rome for possibly Parisse’s final match and even Japan at home after their showing in the World Cup are potential banana skins too now. The rest? Ouch.

Imagine World Cup level South Africa, Japan and England show up, the World Cup opener version of Ireland and Grand Slam Wales, plus we play NZ twice. We’d be banking on Argentina and France as the only teams that couldn’t put 40+ points on us with ease. And you never know with France either. Given a lot of them are in transition and Scotland have a new defence coach, hopefully that nightmare scenario doesn’t unfold.

Alan: disorganisation reigns, both on and off the pitch. Scotland collapse to a humiliating wooden spoon, encapsulated by a comic performance in Rome including 2 intercepts and a charge down in the first 10 minutes. History will call this the “Revenge of Godman” game. Hogg is subject to a no arms Farrell tackle and is out injured until 2021. The summer will see dispiriting but predictable losses and Townsend returns home from NZ in shame after a record hammering in Dunedin.

At the post-game meal in November Dodson spits in the ramen and accuses his Japanese guests of skulduggery resulting in a full-blown diplomatic incident. As punishment, World Rugby demand Dodson sees in the new year outside the Japanese embassy with his trousers round his ankles and a thistle sticking out of somewhere uncomfortable.

Iain: same as head – but remove any last morsel of positivity. We get horsed in the Six Nations, Toony steps down, Big Vern is brought back, it goes disastrously, and before you know it, we’re third seeds for the next World Cup.

Jamie Ritchie spontaneously combusts on the pitch v New Zealand, a stray piece of bandage from The Mish catches aflame, and the “Pinball Wizard” burns his hand so severely he can never fend again…

Cammy: I’d take Big Vern back in a heartbeat. Like I said my head and arse are close together when it comes to Scotland’s 2020. The only way things would get worse is if Cockerill turns down the Scotland job. At that point Mark Dodson should be stood outside GGL Stadium in Montpellier holding a boombox above his head blaring out 500 miles like John Cusack in Say Anything. As it is I think it’s more likely that the SRU’s “worldwide” search for a replacement for Townsend will end up with Steve Tandy or Jim Mallinder as head coach.

John: sixth of the Six Nations, Toonie sacked, Scott Johnson misses Irn Bru so badly he takes the head coach role, brings Matt Taylor back and hires Stuart Lancaster as a consultant, only for him to renege on the contract and take over at the Ospreys, now seen as a better option…

What are your predictions for 2020?

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Warriors season ticket holder and widely renowned ne'er-do-well, Iain has been watching rugby from a young age, but developed a true passion for the game whilst in the rugby hotbed that is New Zealand. Like Tommy Seymour, his hair-style icon, Iain does not like chickens.
Follow Iain on twitter @iainhay82

48 comments on “Our Predictions for 2020: Head, Heart and Arse

  1. Scottie on

    This should be a good discussion to pre-empt 6 Nations selection and season finale but infantile club parochialism has no place here, surely?

    “Iain: because at least it stops Edinburgh winning the PRO14.”

    This should be about the greater good of Scottish rugby FFS.

  2. James on

    Worrying lack of much positive feeling in the ‘head’ section for Scotland. I don’t think I can take another season of the English, Welsh and Irish fans patronising us or questioning why we are in the 6N.

    • JohnMc on

      That kind of patronising/ trolling from some Eng, Ire and Wal people stopped dead during RWC 15 and hasn’t often reappeared since. Mainly because, despite our up and down results after RWC 15, this side is nothing like the bottom end of the 6N outfit we were for about 15 years.
      Let’s just see what happens this coming 6N. Ireland first up and away is really tough, but many predicted Ireland would spank England in Dublin last year and look what happened.
      We’re due an away 6N win outside Rome, and it might be 1 February. It might not, but other sides no longer see us as the mugs we were for a long time.

      • FF on

        Parisse has clearly decide he wants to end his career with a win and has targeted Scotland in Rome for that honour. It would really be helpful to take the pressure off ourselves by winning a game before that. We had a terrible World Cup and a couple of iffy performances could see us with a wooden spoon and a coaching vacancy.

  3. TeamCam on

    I’ve got a weird ‘heart’: I’d like to see Toonie pick a rugby philosophy and strategy, build a team around it and allow the combinations to gel. If you look at the top 6 teams, they each have a clear style and first-choice 23. Yes, they’ll cover for injuries and occasionally expose new players to test rugby, but they establish and build familiarity at international level.

    So, I’d like him to stick to his ‘fastest rugby’ ideology and build a 23 around dynamism and flexibility (with pragmatic selections in positions in which we have few choices), and select a bench to add impact, speed and fury in the last 20-30 mins. He should stick with it regardless of the oppo, only changing to accommodate injury and to integrate new/backup players as necessary, or to adjust for form (while still having faith in his players). For example:

    Reid | McInally | Nel
    Cummings | Gray
    Ritchie | Bradbury | Watson
    Price | Russell
    Scott | Jones
    Mainland | Hogg | Kinghorn

    Brown | Dell | Fagerson | Skinner | Fagerson | Horne | Hastings | Graham/Hutchinson

    (Ideally Reid will be superseded by JB or RS, or I guess by one of OK or PS.)

    To me, that looks like a dynamic, creative, hard-running squad with flexibility to cover most eventualities. Yes, I’d love to see Johnson, Bennett et al. get loads more caps, but Lancaster, Jones and now Toonie have (hopefully) learned the folly of not having a 1st/choice centre partnership.

    Also, get a freakin’ full-time psychologist in! Listen to JoH and MT!

    • BorderBadger on

      Couldn’t agree more! The Toonie tombola is all a bit of a laugh at club level but we need a settled international team that are well drilled, used to playing together and indoctrinated in our ‘style’.

      I read an article a few years ago (think it was Massie?) where the premise was that depth is good but the great teams have half of their players nailed on. Think of our teams in ‘84, ‘90 and even ‘99. I knew the majority of these teams before they were even selected. With the exception of Grieg, Hogg and Finn I honestly couldn’t have told you during the wold cup who Toonie was going to pick for the key matches.

      • Big Al on

        I think 1990 was the last time we started the same 15 across the whole five/six nations. Really difficult to do that now with a more compressed schedule and associated injury rates. I also think for a long time we’ve struggled to know who our best 15/23 and to commit to that for a season.

  4. Fraser on

    Mostly agree with Glasgow and Edinburgh – Glasgow to get nowhere (but still qualify for the Champions Cup next year since the Cheetahs don’t count), Edinburgh to get to the quarters or semi’s in both.

    Scotland, I think maybe a bit pessimistic in the article – would I be surprised if we won 1 (or even 0) game? No. But equally I think we could win 3+. I want to see consistency, improvement in defence and no game where we completely fall apart.

    It’s very much going to be a transition couple of years, but there’s quite a lot of potential coming through.

    Unlike most, I want to see Townsend stay on and get a stable team in place – I think a couple of new coaches – particularly defence – might steady things up, and if Townsend delegates responsibility and concentrates on what he is good at, we could see a strong result. Obviously a complete disaster of a year would mean he has to go, but I would like to see a bit of support for him and less of the abuse.

    • Rory Baldwin on

      We could definitely win more than 3 games this year, but we’re tempering the usual optimisim that bubbles up this time of year with the evidence of last year. I think everyone’s predictions would have been a lot more positive if the World Cup had been anything other than a shambles. But aside from bits in the Calcutta Cup in 2019, we saw very little cohesive or consistent play across the year. In short, aside from good form from players who weren’t that involved last year (especially in the centres), there’s not a massive amount to be cheerful about…

  5. Alanyst on

    New Year’s Rugby Resolutions (Not broken yet, despite temptation )

    1 – I will not complain about refereeing. Exception granted for linguistic exuberance in the heat of the moment.

    2 – I will trust Toonie (and Rennie) to pick the best teams available, at least for whatever game plan they may have, which may not be obvious to me.

    3 – I will forgive entitled English/Irish/Welsh commentators for their biases; they know not what they say. All except Guscott anyway.

    4 – I will not make comments about J. Sexton’s manliness while he is “injured” for 5 minutes prior to a goal kick or set piece.

    5 – I will maintain my decorum at that unique moment on the 1st February when all of the above are under threat simultaneously…

  6. Hoggs Syrup on

    It will be a bleak year for Scotland I fear. I think we’ll get the spoon, Toony will rightly get the sack and we’ll head in to the summer with an acting head coach. We may have a new man in place for the autumn but he’ll get off to a bad start having had no time to work with the squad. The shambles at the WC really did kill any optimism I might have had.

      • FF on

        I agree with that, teamcam. Failed to recognise many of his trusted senior players were past it, lost his nerve with style he’d been developing and enters selectorial madness and failed to prepare for tournament conditions (we actually looked very poorly conditioned).

        But even Vern took time to hit his stride and ditching Toonie now means we don’t benefit from learning from our mistakes. We need big improvement this 6N to keep him in the hot seat. 3 wins again would do it.

      • TeamCam on

        I think we should give him to the end of the year. It feels like a more appropriate timescale to see how he, and his team, react and develop.

    • Jonny Blake on

      I hope you lads are right. I know I am much to hard on Toony. The 6N is his however I actually feel for him, it will be really sore.It is just slipping away. I have loads of life experience and these situations rarely turn around. I could handle , being wrong.

      Toony can not be compared to Vern who inherited a poor crop of players and granted Townsend’s Glasgow helped him out. But Toony inherited a side that were performing and wanted to put his stamp on it. That lacked maturity and an understanding of people. It has not worked, where does he go now.

      Contrast Vern who worked with what he had, built on strengths, incremental changes, motivated a side, did not compromise the club styles, just built on it.He didn’t need to talk big , he came in big , rode the storm and left bigger.

      So on balance , you will not see Toony’s brand emerge. Pundits want Scotland to do well, they can see it.

      It is my opinion,the SRU are going through the motions, clear out his management team, give him what he wants, let him fail , his way.

      We are losing another year and sides around us are on the turn ( France) and improving (Japan).

      Gregor, you did your best , but missed the obvious, you should have built on what you had, not snubbed them and scoured the world for a fantasy team.

      • FF on

        Baffled by suggestions France are improving. They’ve not really done anything since the 2011 RWC, easily Frances worst ever period in my lifetime, and have just wiped the slate clean with 19 debutants and a new coach added to an already young squad. This might be the start of something but there’s been no improvement in results yet. It’s wait and see territory.

        Vern was never as good as his supporters claim. Toonie had two good seasons that consolidated our improvement. The last 18 months have seen a big decline which he needs to arrest. It happens – we’ll see if he has the nous to turn things around.

      • Jonny Blake on

        I don’t know why you are baffled ? France got to the Quarter finals, we did not. France were behind us in world rankings, now 2 ahead. What is to be baffled about ?

        I clearly do not agree with you with respect to Vern . He progressed our 6N position year on year finishing 3rd. Townsend inherited the side and matched it and since then has run it down. I will remind you of this post when we are in tatters yet again post the 6 nations. If Townsend is as good as you claim, he can pull off three wins this year.

      • FF on

        France beat Argentina, a side we have beaten routinely. Big deal. They have moved ahead of us because ranking points at world cups are doubled and we lost to the hosts. France edging ahead of us is just totally unremarkable and certainly doesn’t herald them taking any big strides forward. I expect we’ll beat them at home again this year tbh.

        The World Cup was desperately disappointing and Toonie totally failed to cope with the specific demands of it and I think buckled under the pressure in reverting to a defensive selection and sticking with some old-timers. I just don’t see the point in running him out of town – he’s still a good coach so unless there is a world-class experienced coach with World Cup finals to their name waiting to take the reins at the 9th best team in the world, we should give him a chance to turn our performances around.

        Vern was a good coach and did well. I certainly wouldn’t have changed him but we did. It still doesn’t make Vern the messiah – he got a wooden spoon, his best finish was 4th in 6N, he led us to that humiliation at twickenham and our World Cup was a glorious failure where we did not beat a single team ranked ahead of us. He was a total flop at money-bags Montpellier. Frankly I think their records are much of a muchness.

        All the team-Vern team-Toonie nonsense is childish. I’d trade either of them for an actual world class coach like Gatland, Jones or Schmidt.

      • TeamCam on

        Is Schmidt world-class? The IRFU’s report on the WC sounds pretty damning, and he had Ireland playing a bland, one-dimensional game. They didn’t exactly excel in 2015 either. Of course they beat NZ and won grand slams, so…

      • FF on

        Under Schmidt Ireland won 3 6N titles in six years, beat NZ twice and briefly reached number 1 ranking in the world. With Leinster he won the Heineken Cup twice in three year. I’d say he is a world class coach.

        The fact that Ireland had two disappointing world cups under him just goes to show that even great coaches don’t always over achieve.

      • Jonny Blake on

        FF: Well done , you admit France have moved up in World rankings , I was correct , they have improved , no need to retract your criticism, I get it. WR rankings is the only tangible barometer of performance , all those excuses will not rewrite history.

        Well you certainly know Vern’s shortfalls , no balance with his good points , he did beat Ireland and as yet ,Toony has not and we never lost to Japan or the USA under Vern. Like you I saw no reason to change him , however I expected the SRU to replace him with someone who could improve our reputation, not take us back. Did you ?

        As for learning from our mistakes, the SRU are just playing this out now IMO. This leopard cannot change his spots, out of his depth and chasing a fantasy.

        I will still remind you on this post when it unravels yet again in the 6N.

      • Jonny Blake on

        FF: No I am not , there is no need for that , I have an opinion , I have substantiated that opinion and pointed to credible independent verification to support my point.

        Challenges are acceptable , unfounded accusations are not.I will take it there is no argument on the WR being fact !

      • TeamCam on

        Have France improved? Looking at whom they’ve beaten and their rankings, they still look to be treading water. They beat no-one of note in the RWC 2019 – we were the best team they beat in 2019, and we beat them, too. They were hosed by England in the 6N. You can’t meaningfully say that they’ve improved until after this year’s 6N at least, I’d say. The world rankings are the best we’ve got, but all they really show is how you’re performed according to the criteria for the world rankings. It is fact that their ranking has increased, but that does not mean it is fact that France have improved, if you catch my drift.

        Toonie isn’t yet, but was Joe Schmidt at this point in his career? And just because Toonie isn’t world-class yet doesn’t mean he won’t be.

        Vern may have beaten Ireland, but he never beat Australia or England, and in fact got hosed by England. He also didn’t play development teams against the likes of the USA, and Japan were a lot better this year than they were at any point we played them under Vern.

      • Jonny Blake on

        Fair enough France moving up the WR is not an improvement ? first I have ever heard that theory, the one that says climbing the rankings is not an improvement, should I need a defence lawyer, I will not be employing you based on that theory.

        This 6N we have France at home, so we should HUMP them rotten. Let’s see how that goes, in the interim , readers can decide.

        Personaly , I am not over concerned with opinion, Scotland failed to exit their group, have dropped in WR and that is fact. The reasons don’t really change fact.

        Trying to justify the WR are based on factors that do not work in our favour are not points worth debating IMO.

        When Toonie goes , he will have failed to exit the group stages and vern did. Toony allowed minor nations to claim the proud Scottish scalp. That is unforgivable.

      • TeamCam on

        An improvement from when? They’ve been hovering between 6th and 10th since 2014, and they’re currently 7th. That’s fact. Also fact: Wales were number 1 in the world just before the RWC, yet they didn’t win it. The same is true of Ireland. Hmm. It’s almost like the world rankings aren’t perfect. Not to mention the fact that teams can change positions without even having played, as happens every Six Nations and Rugby Championship! Are you saying those teams have improved just because they’ve gone from 7th to 5th due to other results?

      • Jonny Blake on

        Teamcam : pardon ? I think you answered your own question, an improvement from when they were 10th is good enough . It just goes to show , you do know all the answers, even the ones you dont like, I dont need to prove my point when you can do it for me. I definitely will not employ you as my defence lawyer.

      • TeamCam on

        I never said they went from 10th to 7th. I said that they’ve fluttered between 6th and 10th for six years. They’re currently 7th and have barely put in a good performance in years. Your myopic focus on a change in rankings over an unspecified period is not convincing. I notice you conveniently ignored the other gaping flaw I pointed out. Were I a barrister, I would decline to represent a client such as yourself.

        If they have a good 6N – say they win 3 games – then I think we can reasonably say they’ve started to improve. Until then, all they’ve done is beat Argentina thanks some shocking officiating and lose to Wales (also thanks to shocking officiating).

      • Jonny Blake on

        I never said they went from 10th to 7th either ? You are now confused between fact and fiction. I take it back , you are a perfect defence lawyer.

    • Jonny Blake on

      No , not at all what FF and you are accusing me of. I just hold my point. It is easy when you have facts to back up your opinion. Give it a go sometime.

      • TeamCam on

        I think you mean, “it’s easy when you deliberately misunderstand the posts of others and ignore points that undermine your position”. And I think you’ll find my posts riddled with accurate, meaningful facts, sport. Anyway, enjoy myopia.

  7. john martin on

    Townsend should have been sacked after the Japan game, the Ireland & Japan performances were tactically inept, it appeared little thought was expended during the squad selection & the tactics in the 2 aforementioned games. However…… a new challenge the 2020 6N – positive thoughts positive thoughts……we need to physically challenge more & be far more tactically pragmatic in terms of the way we approach games. We have wonderful attacking talent available, we need to concentrate on securing the field position to allow these boys to “be magnificent” – Hogg, Maitland, Bennett, Johnston, Graham, Russell, Horne, Bradbury, Ritchie, Crosbie, Skinner, Toolis, Fagerson, Brown, Reid -REPS- Hastings, Hutchinson, Price, Watson, Gray, Nel, Mcinally, Dell

  8. Not rocket science on

    Has anyone read the Huw Jones interview in yesterday’s Scottish Sunday Times? Annoyingly behind paywall.

    • Not rocket science on

      Just read – says it like it is. Wasn’t given a chance. Defensive weakness was overplayed. Now is the first time he’s had three consecutive starts for Glasgow and showing what he can do. Can’t argue with any of it.

      • TeamCam on

        Yep. I’ve no idea what he and Dunbar did to invoke Rennie’s ire, but I’m glad Rennie’s seeing the light and we’re seeing the real Jones. Of course there will still be those desperate to tear him down here and elsewhere, but it’ll be great seeing him tear it up for Glasgow and Scotland this year. Worth bearing in mind that one can read two stories a week for free if they register with The Times.

  9. Merlot on

    Head says 3 wins in 2020. One in 6N (to keep us believing), one on tour (to give us false hope) and one in the Autumn (to allow us some dignity).
    Heart says 4 wins in 6N, two on tour and two in the AIs (with a draw against the ABs). Arse says a run of 11 losses, with Toonie leaving before the AIs.
    Glasgow nearly make it to the knockouts of the champions cup, but lose out on points difference. But they do make it into next years comp via the play-off.
    Edinburgh make it to the semis of the Challenge Cup and Pro14 but get beaten by Toulon and Leinster respectively.

  10. Mungo on

    Frankly I think we should forget all about winning any silverware, hasn’t done us any good in the past 2 decades.

    Instead, take Toonie’s fastest team in the world idea and run with it. Stick with a back line of Horne, Hastings, Graham, Russell, Jones, The Greatest Snowman, Hogg and say, right, we’ll definitely ship at least 30 but we might score 35 and it’ll fun to watch Farrell try and shoulder charge Finn’s knees

  11. Frazer with a Z on

    Every year I am (misguidedly) convinced we will push for winning the 6N, this year I have little to no expectation.

    That said, i think we’ll win at home to France and in Italy. Dublin and Cardiff will continue to be beyond us this year. As for the summer, I think the best we can expect is 3 close defeats, but in the Autumn I fully expect us to win 2 out of the 3.

    A lot depends on that first team against Ireland. Will Toony have learned his lessons from the World Cup? Will he pick form players in their best positions? Early signs are promising with a lack of Pete Horne and Ryan Wilson in the squad.

    Based on the squad, i would like to see a team like this for Dublin:

    Dell, Brown, Nel, Gray, Cummings, Ritchie, Watson, Bradbury, Price, Russell, Maitland, Hutchinson, Jones, Graham, Hogg

    Sutherland, McInally, Fagerson, Gilchrist, du Preez, Horne, Scott, Kinghorn

  12. RuggersB on

    Who knows how it will pan out…most teams prefer the underdog tag….its not just a Scottish thing…it helps remove outside pressures.

    Our chances of success depend significantly on who is fit /injured and how many…more so than either Eng,Wal, Ire and Fra. I feel we have just as much raw talent for a 1st 23 but there after not in the quantity that we need to reach consistent levels against the top sides. It would take alot of good fortune for us mixed with tactics and focus to win a 6N.

    Confidence is very difficult and unlikely to just pull out the hat….it got drained last year. Confidence comes from consistent good performances and results. If we dont at least run Ireland very close it’ll just snow ball again…
    I hope it all clicks for us……but…I certainly dont expect it.
    I think we need 2 glasses one half empty and one half full …. chuck em together and we might just do something.

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