Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Italy 0-17 Scotland

Italy v Scotland
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

This game took place in full Roman sunshine at the Stadio Olimpico, in stark contrast to horror show that was Scotland’s previous game for the Calcutta Cup. A testing high kick by Adam Hastings into the line between light and shadow suggested conditions could still play a part, but nothing like as dramatic.

Oddly though, the opening exchanges of this game were dominated by scrums. The net result was one penalty each way and one with honours even, but a mammoth touch finder by captain Stuart Hogg saw Scotland come out of that ahead.

A long lineout throw – the sort of wacky attacking play that they carelessly also tried in the hurricane two weekends ago – was gathered by a flying Sam Johnson who burst the Scots inside 5 metres of the Italian line. Hogg came close with another jinking run, but then Scotland battered away in the forwards with haphazard pick and go play, before Magnus Bradbury knocked on having left his eyes off the ball. Sean Maitland was in acres of space out wide. Familiar?

At the ensuing scrum Scotland at least won a penalty with Rory Sutherland toasting Zilocchi again, which was a theme of the half – Zilocchi only lasted half an hour before he was hooked. Hastings missing the penalty was a poor return, and he followed that up with a kick out on the full which served as an example of how loose play killed any momentum the set-piece was gaining.

The first bit of real excitement came from Italian winger Mattia Bellini, who cut the Scotland defence open from inside his own half after a chip kick wasn’t re-gathered, and only frantic scrambling defence from Hogg and Hamish Watson saved Scottish blushes.

Hogg has had a few moments he’ll want to forget in this tournament, but his next intervention was pure class of the sort we are more used to. Following the ball changing hands, Hastings picked him out on a counter attack and Hogg beat Sebastian Negri then went round Luca Morisi to dive in at the corner, ball clutched tightly to his chest.

Confidence in some measure restored, it was still a scrappy half from Scotland, with too many good things undone by errors or penalties going the other way. Watson and Jamie Ritchie were making real nuisances of themselves and carrying often.

Ali Price was lively and had a try chalked off following an offload from Watson that went forward, and could perhaps have had another just on the stroke of half-time, but for a knock on after Stuart Hogg broke through the Italian defence. Blair Kinghorn was also very involved, showing some nice touches in attack and defence.

Scotland were looking more dangerous in broken play than going through the phases, where they were easily read by the Italian back row who also picked their moments well to compete at the breakdown, getting on the right side of referee Ben O’Keeffe.

A couple of penalties – included one kicked off the uprights by Tommy Allan – gave Italy some territory late in the half but they couldn’t get the points on the board. They were still very much in touch with Scotland though.

Half-time: Italy 0-5 Scotland

Scotland started the half strongly, with Watson, Bradbuy and Ritchie so nearly combining for a try with only the excellent Jake Polledri stopping Ritchie from gathering the offload cleanly just metres from the line.

The oft-maligned Chris Harris used his power to get over the line following another of those endless, nervy forward pick-and-go parties, with what seemed like his first touch of the ball on 47 minutes. Hastings conversion off the uprights; Scotland just couldn’t pull away.

Hastings had a superb break carving Italy wide open but he held the ball too long and the offload fell loose. Italy counter-attacked, finally showing the offloading game they developed against France with Jayden Hayward and Morisi causing mass panic.

Superb work in the tackle by Ritchie and Bradbury earned the 15th turnover Italy had conceded. Ritchie might have been lucky not to get a card, but was rewarded instead with a penalty. The back row were keeping Scotland ahead, Ritchie even throwing in a nice touch finding kick.

An Italian scrum penalty might have been a sign of things changing but Zilocchi, having been hooked, was then forced to return when Riccioni was stretchered off. O’Keeffe was also allowing the scrum to go down in order to get the ball in play rather than whistle yet another penalty.

Harris made a decent break but when it came over to Hogg on the other wing, he almost got free but was pinged for holding on.

After 54 mins George Horne, Matt Fagerson and the props swapped and Rory Hutchinson was on by hour mark (for a Harris HIA). It was finally a chance to see them in a tight test match.

Still only 10 points behind, Italy upped the pressure on Horne at the base of the ruck, stifling his and Hastings time on the ball. As Italy’s urgency grew and time ticked down, Scotland grew nervy. There were yet more turnovers: after a nice break from Horne, Hogg put a touch finder straight out.

The TMO intervened when Grant Gilchrist was spotted for a high tackle but then subsequently dumped on his shoulder – some feat of lifting – by sub hooker Zani. The Italian went to the bin for the final ten minutes. Again though, Scotland couldn’t capitalise on the pressure and fluffed the lineout, giving Italy scope to run it back at them again.

Even the new lads weren’t immune, Hutchinson grubber kicking once or twice when holding on to it might have been more prudent.

However, Hastings conjured a last bit of magic as Horne was snaffled into a ruck by eager Italian forwards. Hastings, playing scrum half, looked up and saw an acre of space on the blind side and he jogged across the 22 and in for a converted try. 45 seconds left for the bonus point?

That, of course, was highly implausible, given the number of turnovers. Italy launched one last attempt to break their doughnut as the clock ticked over. With a tough final couple of rounds still to come, holding out the hosts to keep them off the board with a strong defensive set will have been a welcome sight for the coaches.

An impressive breakdown effort, continued improvement in defence, one piece of class from Hogg in his first win as captain and proof Scotland can score inside the red zone. It sounds good on paper.

But is it enough to trouble France and Wales?

SRBlog Man of the Match: an industrious performance across the squad, but the back row made the difference in this game. Probably a 50/50 split between Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie.

252 Responses

  1. The positives….we won…Italy 0 ..get Steve Tandy signed up long term….hes made huge improvements to our defense in a short timeframe.
    The negatives ….all the rest.
    GT isnt the answer for us…Im afraid.

    1. For goodness sake! Lay off Gregor. We are adding defence which we desperately needed and we are resetting our attack without Finn. That was a good win and we can look forward to the next game.

      1. Hastings did struggle a bit today…he is a step down from Russell obviously but let’s give him a chance.
        We left 3 or 4 tries out there, mostly due to understandable anxiety. I think we could produce a complete performance very soon.

      2. ‘ could produce a complete performance very soon.’
        Lol… how many times have we heard that line spun out?

        We butchered alot of opportunities out there…again…and im sure we’ll hear that it is fixable.. post match. Why does just feel like groundhog day in attack then…why hasn’t it been fixed?..How long has GT had to address the problem? We have added defense only because Taylor left of his own accord…attack has been heading back to the level before Vern took over…instead of fast we look labored and increasingly predictable. Confidence is a big thing ….but you only really acquire that beating the top tier teams.

    2. The good:

      The defence – Tandy’s doing a fine job.

      Watson and Ritchie showed up well in both defence and attack.

      Sutherland did well again.

      Hogg’s try.

      We won.

      The negatives:

      Brown still couldn’t hit a cow on the arse with a shovel.

      Hastings missed three out four pots at goal and generally looked out of sorts.

      We’re still lacking in cohesion and making too many unforced errors.

  2. Thoroughly uninspiring turgid stuff. Missed kicks happen but even that aside Hastings was poor. Defence very good, Watson and Ritchie awesome as usual.

    As I said in my previous comment, we seem to try and over complicate everything, attacking rugby is easy, support the ball carrier, don’t drop the ball and run hard at spaces. I’m not going to join in with the bring back Vern guys (not yet anyway) but he had us playing simple heads up rugby. Ally that with our new found defence and me might get somewhere.

    Well, that and get our best player back in the squad…..

    1. Dont think there are any ‘bring back Vern’ folks left …since he became Fiji coach for next 3 years.
      Patience is surely running thin with GT…..if he doesnt get things clicking soon.
      All this fastest rugby nonsense…we barely hold onto the ball in contact…we offload like we’re wearing baseball gloves…we attack far too narrow…we throw a lineout ball like we have never practiced it for more than 5 mins in training.

      1. To be fair, when was the last time you heard GT say “we’re going to play the fastest rugby in the world”?

  3. Not very good but got the win.

    For the amount of ball we turned over / Italy coughed up, we really should have been further ahead. Our attack still looked blunt and something needs to be done asap to freshen it up. Feel like this is fixable though and is just a selection issue.

    Price was busy but inaccurate and his kicking wasn’t good enough to justify selection next week. It’s time to give Horne a run.
    Johnson and Harris were both good in defence but one needs to give way next game for soemone who can get the ball out wide. I would probably jettison Johnson as Harris was marginally more impressive.
    Maitland looks done sadly. Just lost a step of pace and Darcy will likely come in next game.

    Otherwise, forgettable game but some good stuff and enough potential to kick on.

      1. I thought if anyone was going to make way for Darcy it’s be Kinghorn. He’s been anonymous this campaign.

      2. Yeah that’s what I was thinking. Same with Johnson, rock solid player all-round who deserves his spot.

        I thought Italy would win so was wrong. Match was boring. We’re dull as old boots. Hogg should’ve spun the ball wide before he made the line break for his try..greedy. Butchered another chance in the 2nd half by holding the ball..greedy.

      3. “Ridiculous comment”

        Bit extreme but whatever you say, chief. Maitland took a couple of high balls nicely and made his tackles but didn’t offer enough going forward for me. To be competitive at international level you need threats on the wing.

        BLB – like I said I don’t think the combination worked. Nothing against Johnson who was solid.

      4. Kinghorn looked decent I thought. Don’t know if that comment is extreme enough to get me labelled an alcoholic, but I’ll take my chances.

      5. Maitland made sone critical tackles tried hard to get us moving forward and was good under the high ball.
        Kinghorn looked exactly like a FB playing as a winger and has done for a year and half.

      6. Indeed – I presume he got a knock as there was now other reason to sub him. McGuigan’s sole contributing was dying with the ball and conceding two pens.

      7. Just a few thoughts from a retired coach
        My Problem is GTs expertise is supposed to be as an attacking coach
        Seems he is incapable of communicating the basic principles – Positional awareness
        far to narrow at times
        Forcing the pass
        Lacking in depth in attack
        Not attacking the space
        Etc etc.
        Oh and The situation now which keeps arguably one of our best players at home because of an alpha male situation
        Bury the hatchet FFS Russell virtually single handedly turned the tide and almost won us the Calcutta cup last year by defying Toonies instructions ……
        I really wanted to believe Toonie would be our great saviour
        Sadly he isn’t ready to coach at international level – step to far
        I was watching the team body language and overall the psyche looked good aside from Maitland it looked as he was disinterested throwing his hands in the air and moaning at Horne !
        The team are desperate to win which leads to a lack of composure and basic errors.
        Better to simplify the plan and earn the right to go wide this will build the confidence with ball retention …. SRU can give me a call anytime 😝

    1. Thought Maitland was good. It is Kinghorn who needs to go … he is not a winger. Keeps cutting in all the time

      1. If he can’t beat the man for pace surely cutting in keeps the ball alive and not an opposition lineout? Rare you see guys take on their opposite number in a foot race although guys like Hogg or Graham would give it a bash…

  4. When Scotland were in possession they was just anxiety and doubt. GT has failed to adapt his coaching style to international Rugby and simplify his message. Man for man we were so much better but there was just no understanding of the attacking structure and systems. it’s hardly surprising we tighten up in the opposition 22. GT has to go.

  5. Pretty uninspiring back play, Hogg aside. Hastings had a bad day but I remember Russell having a fair few in the early days too. Hastings just has to work on his consistency.

    G.Horne and Hutch had plenty of time this game to show Gregor what they can do, they didn’t take it.

  6. For me, success was bonus point win.

    That performance was dire, Hoggy is back to trying too hard again (although a very good try) and I feel the captaincy is affecting him.

    The box kicks from Horne were very good but despite great defence our attack was dire and lacking any composure, especially in the red zone.

    1. Disagree about Hogg – he made some excellent breaks and sensible decisions.
      Do you expect him to never back himself and have a go?

      Trying too hard was when he took everyone on himself and never passed even when players were available in good positions around him. That just isn’t the case now at all.

      1. If you ignore an overlap then you’d better score. Pretty simple Fraser. It’s nothing to do with ‘backing yourself’. Glory hunter was what he was being called in the stand by the Scots.

    2. I think we are all too critical. To win away in Rome is no small feat over the last 20 years. To stop them scoring at all is major.
      Obviously lots to work on, but it is difficult to blame Townsend for the errors.

      1. Shame no BP for a shut out. Defence (nearly) immaculate. Attack 50/50…so 75%. B

        Happy but not satisfied…

  7. Good win, mixed game. Great defence is heartening, as was our unrewarded set piece dominance. Attack is still a concern. We’re playing a lot off 9 and kicking too much. Hastings is playing a lot deeper than he does at Warriors and looking poor as a result. Not sure what happened to his kicking game… weird! Disappointing that we left four or so tries out there. Watching the first quarter of Wales vs. France doesn’t fill me with fear. Neither is offering much and they’re making a fair number of errors.

  8. Not the kind of rugby to make people want to watch.
    Our backline attack is absolutely turgid, no excitement and no penetration going through the phases.
    You never get the buzz of thinking something is going to happen.
    Needs a massive injection of something.

    Forwards did fairly well, but need to work more on rucks and getting quick ball.
    Price is looking more and more like Laidlaw with every game, no effort to speed things up and too much pointing things out to the ref instead of getting on with it.
    Hastings a bit rattled and bereft of ideas.
    Centres never looked dangerous, but may have been down to attacking structure as much as players.
    Kinghorn solid but no spark.
    Maitland I thought had a decent game.
    Hogg with a great try and the only real threat to the defence.
    Bit disappointed with the subs, expected them to open things up more.

    Defence is definitely massively improved, but that’s the only real positive, in attack we have gone backwards hugely and this was against Italy….

    Say what you like about aspects of Russell’s game, but his absence was very obvious today.

    Hopefully Graham will be back next game and get a couple more attacking players in the backline.

  9. Pretty much as expected, i think Tandy has done an excellent job in defence.

    I’ll concede Mcinally has now taken back starting hooker jersey

    I was disappointed with our attack just in general, poor structure and when they had been opened up on accuracy was awful, who is the attack/skills coach ?

    One positive with attack is that Hogg backed his running game, i was delighted to see flashes of old Hoggy.

    Harris done as expected, good work and nothing wrong, we just cant unleash our backs with such a stale 10-12-13 combo is the issue.

    We need better carriers in the pack, Horne and Hutchison were solid and no downgrade from Price & Harris, they had significantly less go forward in the pack at that point though.

      1. He made 7 tackles, no misses and was one of the top carriers. That is in 20 minutes. I felt he probably tried too hard but who can blame him with the treatment he has had.

      2. It’s pretty obvious that most posters on here after an international don’t get rugby beyond the superficial. If it isn’t a big smash or line break it goes unnoticed.

      3. Stu – He at least tried to get the ball out wide and bring our wingers into the game. Admittedly McGuigan did absolutely nothing with it but given how narrow our attack was all game, surely you can appreciate why its something we should consider?

  10. Biggest positive has to be the improvement in defence since Tandy signed up.

    Good result, if a dreary game.

    Other plus points:

    Sutherland continues to be destructive.

    Toolis and McInally had a marked improvement on the lineout.

    Sheer graft from the flankers.

    Hogg on the scoresheet.

    Harris effective. We’ve been camped in the oppositions 22 many times in this tournament and this is the first time we’ve scored a try from that situation, good power and a good finish. In the build up Fagerson carried on his own and was momentarily isolated, Harris steamed in from nowhere taking the first Italian away from the ruck and allowing our forwards to get there, if we’d have been turned over then we’d have had no try there. Good strip in our half as well. I get that he isn’t as exciting as other options but you can’t just stack the backline with flair you need some glue and graft in there and he offers that, whether him and Johnson is the right combo is a bigger question, I’d like to see Scott and Harris personally.

    The negatives would be the individual error count and I don’t think Hastings had his best game, he wasn’t bad but he didn’t look he was going to ignite the backline at any point and his boot misfired badly with 7 points left out there.

    1. Hutchinson and Harris is the way to go.

      Distribution married to cutting edge. Easiest way to get the ball out to Darcy as well as to smash through those lines and slice between defenders.

      That’s only if you have to have Harris, though. Johnson with Hutchinson outside him would still be my preference, because I like Johnson’s overall skillset and Hutch’s dynamism.

      1. Harris only performs well against Tier 2 opposition.

        Jones could have cut open that italian backline.

      2. Ok Neil. Jones who has been utterly, utterly anonymous for Scotland over his last ten caps and struggled to get into Glasgow’s first XV over the last two years?

      3. Jones is back in fantastic form now though, i agree he was awful last year, got no opportunity against Ireland & England, far superior opposition to Italy.

  11. Scotland will be heavily defeated by France and Wales , Hastings will struggle . No risk no reward , Scottish pack not able to bully opposition.
    Scottish rugby poorly run .

    1. Disagree, Wales will be beaten by England and will be deflated.

      The whole better than the sum of their parts will soon be over – did you see their bench for goodness sakes.

  12. Italy made things difficult for Scotland, and Scotland’s lackadaisical attitude contributed to a mediocre performance.

  13. This blog is full of glass half empty so called fans. We just nilled a 6 nations team away from home. Ffs.

      1. Couple of shut outs at World Cup wasn’t there. Didn’t mean a thing for the Ireland or Japan game, unfortunately. Supporters want improvement, not regression, against top sides; and the best players playing. Boxing was good though.

  14. Good points:

    Ritchie and Watson are an incredible partnership
    Hoggy scored a sublime try
    Sutherland and McInally did well today
    Harris had a decent game

    Bad points:
    Price is yet to show why he should start over Horne
    9/10 axis was oddly scattershot; team suffered from lack of cohesion
    Harris HIA (did he fail it?)
    Lineout still needs improving, even if it was more solid

    We are still wasting an incredible set of backs with dire, directionless attacking play, devoid of confidence.

    Why wasn’t Weir on the bench? By Hasting’s high standards, today he had a poor game. Why didn’t we have that second option? Isn’t it common logic to *have a fly-half on the bench?*

    I know that Hutchinson was the cover, but Rory Hutchinson is a centre. A bloody good one at that. He is NOT a replacement ten. If there’s an injury in the backline, it’s better to put a centre on the wing than it is to put a centre with *limited experience* at 10 on for a fly-half.

    1. Agree with much of what you say Sam. Think Ritchie and Watson played well, but not convinced by Bradbury at 8 yet. Prefer to see Haining or Fagerson there for France game.Sutherland is pulling up trees at the moment with Fagerson not far behind. The line-out throws have been poor, so McInally in for Brown. Toolis had his best game for Scotland and also like Cummins as a runner. He’s one of the few locks who carries with pace. The backs are not yet flowing. I think Johnson is a bloody good 12, so don’t see Hutchinson replacing him yet. Hoggy needs to be ‘beasted’ when he ignores overlaps like he did on Saturday. Coming into form though. Not sure what the back line should be against France. Whatever it is, I won’t agree I’m sure.

    1. Agreed, Bigger did not ground the ball. But, then again the ‘not’ a penalty try was marginal. As an aside …… when are the refs going to call a halt to Bigger’s football antics of waving his arms and questioning the ref all the time?

      1. Following his captains example these days – but I agree. The referees should restart marching characters like hime back 10 yards at penalties.

  15. To win against France things have to change. Tandy as interim head coach. I would like to see
    1. Sutherland (having a great tournament)
    2. McInally (v good today)
    3 Zander
    4. Skinner
    5 Cummings
    6. Ritchie (immense)
    7 Watson (back to his best)
    8. Haining
    9. Horne
    10. Russell (time to sort things out)
    11. Graham
    12. Hutchinson (want to see him start)
    13. Jones (see what he can do with Finn)
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg
    16 Brown
    17 Dell
    18. Nel
    19. Gilco
    20. Bradbury (but not convinced by his work rate)
    21. Price
    22. Hastings
    23. Kinghorn

    1. I agree completely on that forward pack.

      Hutchison -Jones is an interesting shout but potentially lightweight, I would wait until we have Duhan in the side before testing that.

      1. Agree that is a risk. Lots of combinations you could argue a case for. Solid as Harris is, I don’t see him unlocking top class defences. Matt Scott is looking good at 12. Really keen to see what Hutchinson can do starting at 12 or 13

    2. I agree with the team. Apart from maybe Bradbury as I thought he had a good game yesterday and he improves with more game time.
      Not sure Finn will be back buddy!

  16. Hastings is an attacking 10 whose natural game is on the gainline similar to Russell, not 5 miles back kicking.
    That’s Duncan Weir.
    Maybe it’s an away tactic and with some pressure off they can loosen up.

    Harris to start was a selection I wasn’t sure about in common with just about everyone else, but he’s obviously athletic and he’s in your face aggressive. Credit to him, I thought he played well and his try was well taken.

    Other than that it was solid. All the tries were well taken and a fairly marginal forward pass denied us the BP (at least it looked marginal on the TV angle).
    France only beat Italy by what? 13 points, and that was in Paris.

    If we show good spirit and keep building then we have a decent chance of getting something out of the remaining fixtures.

    1. Based on what I just watched we’ve a good chance. We can take them in the set piece, our defence is miles better than theirs and if we can get a bit of composure in attack, we’ve got a good chance.

    2. I think if we turn up and play with the kind of intensity we have shown so far then we will be very competitive with both those sides.

  17. Is it enough to trouble France and Wales? No, Wales aren’t the same team they were under Gatland but they have enough to beat Scotland. France look great and we’ll do well to contain them. Hastings was poor. For Glasgow Hastings plays pretty well but in this Scotland team it’s not happening for him. Harris was pretty good, good defensively and took his try well. Horne came on didn’t do much, which is disappointing given he is electric for Glasgow. A bonus point was left out there today.

    Side note, did I hear welsh fans booing the french kicker? Thought it was only Scotland that booed the kicker?

  18. I see the usual whingers are out in force, including the tedious David Sole – whose teams were well known for the elan (sarcasm)

    This was never going to be a free flowing game, both teams had to much to lose.

    An away win – admitidly Italy are keek but they are improving.
    We nilled a side.
    Sutherland is turning into a test LH.
    Out defence was excellent.
    Breakdown ball competition was excellent.
    Lineout was better
    Hogg having the confidence to back himself

    Hastings is nowhere near as good as he thinks he is and whilst a confident 10 is incredibly important, his performance today was very poor.
    We will get blown away by France’s physicality.
    Matt Fagerson needs to either turn himself into a hooker or hit the weights – seriously underpowered.
    We make so many unforced errors you eventually give up counting.
    If that is Toonie’s idea of a midfield then he should be run out of town.

    I hope R Gray is fit for the summer as we are massively underpowered up front at times. Italy are poor – they’ve got a decent aggresive mobile pack, but they are pretty brainless as a unit – even more than us.

    We make so many mistakes it’s bewildering at times – things like Hogg ignoring a 3 on 2.

    If the Welsh get beat by England I could see us in with a chance in Cardiff, but not sure we will be able to live with the French rush defence – Hastings will be so far back he’ll be in the front row of the stands. We need Toonie and Russell to sort things out.

    1. In what way are we underpowered up front? We’ve been the more physical team in each game so far.

      1. We haven’t been the more physical side – we rarely make dominant tackles – other than Cummings we have nobody that breaks the line with power.

        M Fagerson got melted every time he tried to take the ball into contact.

        Bradbury tried, but he’s came off much the same.

        Our rucking is terrible – how many times did we leave a player unsupported – we game away at least 7 pens today because of our rucking.

        Ball contesting it world class but some of the players could barely knock a tackle bag back with their rucking technique – get the other Richie Gray in to sort it.

      2. Nope, you’re demonstrably wrong. Today there was a clear tactic not to make dominant tackles so that we could attack the ruck, though we still made 9, but against Ireland we dominated physically. We made 22 dominant tackles to Ireland’s 16. Against England it was closer, but we were still on top in the pack. We made more metres, more dominant tackles, 15 to 11, broke more tackles, won the set piece. It’s no longer the case that we’re second best up front. And Fagerson made the joint top number of dominant tackles.

      3. I think Stu makes some fair points. Matt Fagerson indeed looked well shirt if the necessary size and physicality and Crosbie would be a much better bet.

        Our locks do indeed look underpowered, Frances starting pair looked monstrous against Wales. Unfortunately I don’t think either Gray is the answer.

      4. Syu2: Ignore it ‘demonstrably wrong’ and ‘clear tactic’, no substance or proof. You make good points and in context. Italy made a lot of unforced errors today, take the win, move on.

      5. Well I’ve shown that we’ve been the more physical side. I think you’ll find that Cummings hasn’t been breaking the line, and that Watson, Sutherland, Ritchie, McInally, Bradbury and Haining have. Today our back row made far more metres than theirs. Fagerson may not have made metres, but he made dominant tackles. Bradbury made the most metres of any back row today. The rucking thing, by your own admission, is because we left players unsupported, not a lack of physicality. And we won the rucking battle today 93% to 92%. So, you’re demonstrably wrong. And it’s not just me who thinks the tackling approach today was a tactic, it was commented upon by the pundits.

      6. Scrummo: The French locks are massively physical, but Le Roux is not a big lock, looks more like a 6/4 hybrid – he’s a fantastic player. We dont necessarily need giants, we just need to be more physical.

        One was of doing that is in our rucking, I think it’s poor, we concede too many pens as the carrier is left on his own.

      7. You are right Stu, Le Roux is in fact exactly the same size as Cummings.

        His brutality on the ball and the way Willemse or Porter went through defenders to get over the try line this weekend are what that pack is missing. Like you say it’s aggression and the ruck is the place to set the tone.

  19. I think, at last, we’re beginning to get a pack together, we were much better in the scrums, where we’ve often been second best to Italy, Sutherland is a quality loose head. We were far superior in the line outs, apart from Brown’s throw ins, I thought Toolis was very good today and should retain his place. The back row clearly won the turnover battle, we need to stick with these three. The backs were no real threat apart from the Hogg try but that won’t happen every week. I like Hastings he plays with confidence, makes mistakes yes and didn’t kick well today, but, like Russell, he will play what’s in front of him and can be a threat. We definitely need more pace on the wings and need Graham back. I’m not sure we can do any better in the centre, Johnson is a clever player and runs some great lines and Harris is solid and gives us a bit of steel in the backs. For France, I would play Horne at scrum half and Graham, if fit, on the wing.
    I know we have plenty false dawns but I can see a glimmer of hope with this bunch of players, we just need to get some experience under their belts. I would like to see a new head coach though, should have happened after the World Cup.

  20. Hastings had s shocking first half but was still good. Think Gilshrist/Toolis V France as experience may count. Harris superb today as defence wins games.

      1. It is what hastings didn’t do that impressed me. 4 or 5 times he could have thrown a 50-50 pass but didn’t. Took the hit and recycled. He is growing.

  21. I expect to get pellers for this but given we nilled Italy but I didn’t think our defence was that convincing. To me it was more a case of how bad Italy were. They looked like they were dominating the collisions in most areas. Compare our defence to the Irish and it almost seems a bit passive. And definitely less organised. Don’t get me wrong, a massive improvement on where it was but still with work to do.

    To me, we’re still a beast or two short in the forwards. I’m not sure about Bradbury as 8, is he not better as a 6?

    Midfield isn’t working in attack. I’m not sure where Toonie goes from here. Scott and Harris perhaps (I’m assuming he’s not getting rid of Harris). Hutchison looked like what he was, someone with obvious talent who’s new to international rugby. It was a shame for both him and Horne that the subs coming on in the pack definitely went better for Italy so they, Horne and Hutchison, didn’t get much to play with.

    For all the comments about “Horne can’t kick” his first was a thing of beauty. Unfortunately he had a number of poor kicks following that.

    Good to get the win. Harder opposition coming for the rest of the year and a lot of improvement still required.

  22. How can so many of you be down after winning 17-0?
    As Tom English said on the BBC, who really expected to beat Ireland away or even England at home? Ok we left a BP out there today but as long as Toonie keeps faith we should, too.
    Get Russell back, on the bench V France. Darcy too. We could turn over a resurgent France and then what?

      1. Do you honestly believe Townsend is the way forward Team Cam. Not a criticism nor attack just genuinely interested.

      2. Fair point TeamCam. Apart from Harris v Huw decision I’ve agreed with what GT has done. And Chris has done well today. No tombola for France and I’ll be happy.

      3. I have my doubts. I don’t think Hastings is suited to playing deep, and I wonder whether stuff like our idiotic kicking in the dying minutes of the last round were tactics or panic. We’ve left many tries out there in rounds 1 and 3. But our attack isn’t as bad as a lot of people seem to think. There was some great play against Ireland that would have yielded tries had we adapted to Raynal’s interpretations. Today we should have scored six tries. Is that lack of composure Townsend’s fault? I don’t know. Had Hogg not dropped the ball then I think we would have squeezed out a win in Dublin, and the Toonie-oot brigade would be far less vociferous. Had Gauzere not let England illegally rip the ball then there’s a reasonable chance that we’d have won that match, too.

        But our defence, set piece and physicality are miles ahead of where they were. We conceded more tries in our opening game last year than we have in three rounds this year. If you look at the nuance, rather than fixating on the win/loss, I don’t think we’re doing as badly this 6N as people seem to think. If we don’t win any more games in this comp, I think letting him go would be a reasonable course of action.

      4. I don’t think you necessarily need to hate Toonie and want him out at all costs to be disappointed with the results. Yes we were competitive against Ireland and England, but we lost. And anyone would struggle to say that the win against Italy was a perfect performance.

        Yes, some people on here want Toonie gone no matter what and have since he started. But there are a lot of people who just want to see the team playing in a way that gives us confidence we can beat the top teams. I don’t think we’ve had that yet.

      5. Ah yes Toonie can do no wrong? Seems we can have attack and no defence or defence and no attack? Yet the best teams have both? Apparently we have a decent defence now although Tandy has only been in the job for a couple of months. Yet two plus years on, the great Maestro of scintillating rugby has managed to turn us from a team that could bang in tries from anywhere and a team that really has promise into an attack that is crash, bang, turnover. Im surprised New Zealand weren’t kicking in his front door to be their next coach.

    1. Merlot: I don’t think people are down,but I don’t think they are up either. We must not disrespect Italy, however this was a game we were expected to win and did the job un-spectacularly. I would disagree with Tom English , who I am sure will, when it suits , trot out the usual pundit wisdom, which is that you need to win your home games in the 6 nations. I would also remind others that post the RWC there were numerous posts which summarised the strong feeling that if Townsend was to show progress , he needed to win at home. England was the best option as we have recent history of doing just that, of beating them at home.

      People aren’t really down, they are just flat, it was always a car crash appointing Townsend , but inside you hoped you were wrong. There is no celebration in being right, when you would rather be wrong.

  23. The new % based game plan that we seem to be adopting does not fit the personal we select. It’s like we are selecting for Glasgow 2015 game plan but then playing the %. That isn’t Hastings game. Hastings is a less talented Finn. He wants to play flat and creative. Weir is the 10 for today’s game plan. For all the talk of trust in Hastings pre match interview (some pretty lazy journalism on show there) Hastings wasn’t allowed to play his game.

  24. Team for France

    1. Sutherland
    2. Mcinally
    3. Fagerson
    4. Skinner
    5. Cummings
    6. Bradbury
    7. Watson
    8. Haining
    9. Price
    10. Hastings (Russell with Hastings at 22 if he gets back)
    11. Kinghorn
    12. Scott
    13. Harris (Lets see him shut down Vakatawa and i’ll be impressed, not a poor Italy side on the backfoot)
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg

    16. Brown ( needs to fix the darts or Turner get a chance)
    17. Dell
    18. Nel
    19. Toolis
    20. Ritchie
    21. Horne
    22. Hutchison
    23. Graham (Ease him in)

    I think Ritchie is a better 6 than Bradbury but we need ball carriers against France who will have a iron defense.

    I am resigned to the fact Harris will start so creativity is needed at 12 in Scott who still offers the power game.

    1. Good selection. I particularly agree that Haining is clearly ahead of Bradbury, and Scott is in great form. Not fully convinced about Harris tho’.

      1. Would still like to see a backrow of Bradbury ( greyhounds used to get mustard on their balls to gee them up at Thornton by the way, just saying, he doesn’t seem riled enough, no disservice intended, just an observation – square-go Ellis Genge attitude for example ), Ritchie and Haining start, to be replaced by Crosbie, Watson and a potent
        Du Preez but would give way to consider M Fagerson or AN Other.

        Any one know the rules if games are cancelled or rescheduled re Coronavirus scare? Are there time limits to replay or is there a forfeit draw etc?

  25. Save for one flash of genius from Hogg that was an awful game against a pretty one dimensional Italian side. At least a handful of scoring chances left out there again today and our attack was woeful.
    Watson was a worthy MOM with Ritchie not far behind him and Bradbury did ok but thought Haining was better against Ireland. M Fagerson just not big enough for this level and get rattled back a few times.
    Personally I thought Hastings had an absolute shocker and had we had a recognised 10 on the bench he probably would have been hooked. Compare and contrast with Ntamack’s performance against Wales – consistently in the right place and made the right decisions throughout.
    Our defence is so much better and at least we won but our attack is toothless at present but how much of that was down to the fact that we put out a team whose ambitions didn’t get much past avoiding defeat.

  26. Need to rewatch but overall, can’t be too disappointed by winning by 17 points in Rome – most games vs Italy in relatively recent history have been far closer – and nilling in the process.
    As already said, pack & defence look to be getting stronger, just don’t think the balance is right in midfield. Ok with Harris’s inclusion, it’s Scott’s exclusion that bothers me. The form 12 in Scotland, who has consistently causing his opposition lots of problems. Johnson not a bad player but IMO Scot offers more speed & strength. For me, Scott & Harris – which in Harris covers 11/14 – & Jones on the bench. Would then also include Weir as a genuine 10 replacement, unless Russell makes a miraculous return to the fold & then bench Hastings. Other than bringing back Haining & benching Bradbury, pack probably about our best at the moment (too soon to bring Skinner in just yet).
    I’d be reasonably ok with 2 wins from the tournament given the improvements made in defence and general attitude up front; any kind of surrender-monkey performance vs France or Wales will really give fuel to the GT critics.

    1. Italy have slipped in world rankings since those days , I think it is no longer a good benchmark, we are comparing 2 different sides. To be accurate , they have slipped further than we have. Today the 9th in the table beat the 13th. It is a win, what you take from it needs to be in perspective. However, it is a win , we have now scored as many tries as Italy and one place behind Wales who are on the same points as us.

  27. Hastings looks undercooked at this level probably not helped by the fact that standing 5 miles back kicking is not his natural game.

    I assume he was told to play that way.

    Russell is just a more mature player and would make a difference. There’s now another fortnight to sort the Finnsulk.

    Chris Harris – ok, I get it, he’s big, aggressive, competitive and athletic, but flair should trump everything.

    Put Harris on the bench so you can bring him on if the game turns into a slugfest then start with Jones or Bennett (who isn’t even in the squad!).

    17-0 v Italy in Rome is probably one of our best results against them. Most of us would have taken it before the game, but improvement is needed to beat France.

    I think there is a good chance of getting something out of the remaining fixtures.

  28. I feel like we need to reel in on the volume of negative posts over the past week or two.
    If you look rationally at the circumstances, performances and results of this 6N, at this stage, relatve to any over tournament over the past 10-20 years, then I think there is still a lot to be optimistic about.
    After three games with Tandy in charge of the defence I no longer brick it and automatically expect the opposition to score when they get the ball in our 22.
    The pack is playing with real cohesion and we have reasonable strength in depth across most positions (save LHP and FH).
    The Russell debate needs to be put to bed. This is supposed to be a professional sport, so he needs to behave like a professional and not a spoilt brat. We will move on with or without him, it’s his choice.
    Yes, France at home and Wales away will likely end in two losses, but I don’t see us getting dumped by 20+ points as in times not so very distant.
    We support Scotland, so let’s get real about our expectations and get behind the team.
    Welcome your thoughts….

    1. I think there’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism and discussion.
      The posts we need to get rid of are the ones that just say the same thing regardless of the circumstances and are not actually relevant and probably copy-pasted!

      1. The circumstances are we lost a game we could have won in Ireland , despite making numerous errors, we lost the the Calcutta cup , but that really was no day to play rugby, we beat an Italian side in Rome albeit they are in a slump.

        We will not know where we are till we play France at Murrayfield. We beat them in the warm up’s , I feel sure you would agree we should beat them again ?

        That should put the argument on current form beyond all doubt. Or will the circumstances be we cannot compare as we had Russell at the helm ! I cannot work it out , help me please.

    2. I think that Wilson must deserve some credit (in addition to Tandy and PdV) for the improved performance of the forwards. I presume that the change in strategy and not needing to coach the scrum has helped.

    3. “let’s get real about our expectations” lacks ambition. It suggests that losing games narrowly is our natural ceiling. I think others want a lot more and think this group of players is capable of much more. Also you say the Russell debate needs to be put to bed (fine!) but then you say he needs to stop behaving like a spoilt brat – how is that putting it to bed?

  29. I think we should be discussing the second row more. Our physicality has been much improved up front, but our line out nothing short of shocking. I have to give Toolis a lot of credit here, he was all round good today and added some energy coming off the bench in earlier games. But I have a memory of him last year adding so little up front, perhaps it was France away in WC warm up. Glad he has proved me wrong, but I have big questions about him in next two matches – France and wales will be a challenge. Let’s hope we can get the balance of physical controlled aggression and functioning line out. Scrums OK lots of credit to Sutherland and Fagerson. I’m afraid brown can clear off until he can hit the target consistently.

    Didn’t mind the overall selection today – we were always going to win today so trying something different in centres was as good a time as any. Our whole backline is still disjointed but there’s so much talent there I believe it will click at some point (hopefully soon!!).

    Back row immense – credit to GT for starting both Watson and Ritchie, I much prefer them for 80 rather than impact sub.

    As for GT in general I have very weird mix feelings. He has taken all that cotter momentum and trashed it. But I’m also weirdly glass half full. He fixed the defence and that has kept us in three matches out of three which beats being all over at half time. He’s picking on form and most of us can’t argue with selection. If he can have us scoring again we will be close.

  30. Hoggs try was brilliant and that is what we were used to seeing from him in most games 3-4 years ago.

    The defence is much better which is what was required, but the attack just doesn’t exist now as a result, how can this change so quickly? This takes me back to the white line fever days when Andy Robinson was in charge….Gregor was the assistant back then.

    Previously in the last 2 years it was the opposite …all attack and the concede.

    On this blog people are moaning about both. If we can find a way to find a balance between the two this will be a good team but this will take time. It is therefore priority that we get the defence coach signed up on a longer term contract and possibly look at adding to /freshening up the attacking coaching set up. Putting a coaching system in place that will be there for 3-4 years.

    The missed kicks today were concerning and in other games will be costly, the first one looked completely rushed by Hastings. Hastings jogging for the 3rd try is not something I like to see.

    M.Fagerson is not an international 8 and the this was obvious. Too much kicking the ball away at the moment as well in my opinion.

    At centre this is an issue, as there is no creativity. Harris strong in defence, Johnston good at running good lines but not very quick. In my opinion this pairing should be built around Jones regardless of who else plays.

    1. Before we go declaring that Fagerson is not an international 8, worth remembering he’s 21 and I think he’s been capped x3 now.
      That’s a baby.
      He is an incredible talent who has torn the pro 14 apart and even champions cup games, which is the closest to test rugby the players get to outside of it.

      He will develop.

      1. Woah, easy there, people are far more inclined to make crude, glib declarations than provide considered opinions! You cut that out, please. The crowd has spoken and, despite being heavier than Watson and Ritchie, Fagerson is too small to play internationally and that’s all there is to it…

      2. Yeah, at 21 it’s plain stupid to write him off as not being international standard. Personally I don’t think he’ll ever be big enough to be an 8 at the highest level, especially if he insists on trying to run through people instead of using footwork, and I don’t really understand why he hasn’t been kept at his U20 position of 7 and conditioned accordingly.

      3. Currently he’s too small Johnny – he got monstered every time he took it into contact yesterday. Yes the Italians are a big physical pack, but I worry Fagerson is never going to fulfil his true potential because of his size.

        He isn’t going to get any taller, so all he can do is add bulk – his future is on the flank IMO.

      4. He could be like Navidi don’t you think Stu2?
        He did his cameo at 8 and wasn’t bad at all.
        I suppose the problem is that you don’t want to waste him but barring drastic loss of form or long term injury how does he usurp Ritchie/ Watson?
        Crosbie put in another performance for Embra the other night…

      5. Johnny: I think he suffers because of the lack of bulk at 6/7 – we have to have a bulkier 8 if we are going to play Richie and Watson.

      6. While Faletau was injured Wales consistently didn’t play any big back rowers. Tipuric, Moriarty and another medium size flanker was what they went with.

      7. Ritchie is usually listed at anywhere between 105kg and 110kg and he is 6 foot 4. He’s not a small flanker at international level. Watson is smaller but you can get away with a small openside and he clearly punches well above his weight.

        Fagerson is listed most places as 99-102kg with only wikipedia having him heavier and hes only an inch and a bit over 6 foot.

        He seems a capable carrier for Glasgow but so far for Scotland he has always seemed to be very lacking in ‘presence’.

        If anything Ritchie has the frame to carry and Fagerson looks the fetcher but Ritchie seems able to step his all round game up to international level far more efficiently.

        I think Fagerson will never be an international class 8, he could be a very good blindside with his workrate though. But frankly I’d rather have Crosbie on the bench who is bigger than both Ritchie and Fagerson and carries and grafts with relentless abrasion.

      8. Wales get a lot of physicality from their 2nd row, especially AWJ but also Ball, who is underrated.
        Our 2nd rows have looked more physical this season. They’re young, Toolis is the oldest and he’s only the same age as Ball!
        We forget this when we knock them.
        If they continue on this trajectory it might give us more scope to pick an 8 who isn’t a conventional bruiser.

  31. Good to watch a Scottish match where I didn’t feel we were going to lose. Plenty of positives for me around the pack, set pieces and defence albeit tempered by thinking about the poor opposition today. Still, reasons to be a little cheerier.

    Felt a little sorry Hastings today, clearly under orders not to play his normal game, sit in pocket and kick. Not many teams play that way now. Maybe Finn doesn’t fancy it, and I wouldn’t blame him to be honest.

    Back to reality in a couple of weeks. Yikes.

    1. Good to watch. Here are a few words I’ve picked from various headlines for this game: dire, turgid, dull, Tier 2! There was no good in the experience of watching that. If what you want is the feeling that we won’t lose then stick us in the ECN now and we can play Georgia, Spain et. Al. The apologists are out in force on here today. Any Scotland of the last 5 years would have done to that Italy side what Wales did to them. All the parts of the machine with new coaches are improved. Attack has regressed. Who coaches our attack? Guess who. If we are going to accept that as a performance to be happy with then it is back to the dark days of 00-2013

    2. Need to watch the recording having just got back from Rome. Watching it live, our group felt we we were never in any danger of losing the match and could have won with a bigger margin.
      Coughed up the ball too often and Hastings’s poor tee kicking cost us too.
      Defence continues to improve and barring one mishap, the line out was functioning properly again.
      Italy were chasing that game from their own half from 0-5 down onwards, that much was clear.
      Nilling any side away from home – even Italy – is an achievement.

  32. As I suspected this game gave us no answers to the future. We did what we had to do against pretty poor opposition. The general negativity on these threads is borne out of frustration that we have the makings of a very good side and you can see momentary glimpses during a game but we are not making the most of the personnel available and our gameplan if even fathomable appears at odds with the conditions, the opposition and the players we have on the pitch. Combinations set up success and we simply don’t have the right balance especially in midfield. On another note the Haining situation is an absolutely perfect example of how Townsend gets his selections and man management so badly wrong. The guy comes in for his first cap , is amongst the best forwards in the team , is then dropped for Bradbury who has not done anything particularly outstanding to merit selection, is then dropped out of the 23 altogether for Fagerson who was clearly completely out of his depth. How the f..k does that build continuity and team spirit.

    1. TT I agree Haining merited more than his cameo in the Calcutta Cup, would like to see him restored for the France game – but it probably won’t happen.

  33. The names I’m familiar with but the performances from many in blue bore no resemblance to their counterparts for Glasgow or Edinburgh.

    Folk will say that international rugby is a step up from Pro14….the Italian side today stretches the credibility of that point.

    Troubling also that after a decent, but still losing, performance against Ireland the cohesion and dynamism seems to regressing the longer they are “in camp”? The opposite should be the case.

    From where we were in 2016-18 the risk aversion in the pursuit (scramble) for any sort of win is disappointing. I don’t want to see an Ireland/Wales lite brave in defeat and stumbling in Rome when we have the tactics and players (missing for whatever reason) that would have put 50 on the board today.

  34. Positives
    Hogg – played really well, and is almost forgiven
    Toolis – played his best rugby in a long time, excellent in lineout
    Sutherland – epic
    Richie/Watson – were everywhere and are becoming world class
    Maitland – solid
    Tandy – has done wonders
    Defence is looking significantly better.

    Mcguigan – hopeless
    Harris – too slow. Strong yes, but both Harris and Johnson are a pair of diesels half the pack can sprint quicker than those two.
    Hastings – should have dominated but showed his lack of experience.

    Attack is largely uninspired, hampered by slow ball. Huw Jones should start with Johnson, Harris on bench. Darcy needed back asap for pace.
    Finn MUST be brought back into the fold. No way do we beat France on that performance.

    1. I think your letting your baseline for a performance be skewed by Scottish performances. Sutherland was good but epic!? We beat statistically the worst italy side in pro history but did our best not to. Ritchie and Watson are excellent player s but neither are world class. Finn and Hogg are the only players we have in that category. Neither will be close to Lions selection when up against the other home nations flankers. I’m all for supporting your team but the on eyedness of it all is hilarious.

    2. Careful WeeAl, the negativity police (JohnnyB) will come and tell you that you cant be negative about scottish players, your going to have to take back what you said about Hastings, Johnstone and Harris.

      Here is a stat for yous thinking everything is on track now ..

      We beat Italy by 17 points..

      Wales beat Italy by 42 points (42-0)

      It’s not difficult to beat Italy if you have high standards, whats disappointing is we did not have the ambition to get the BP.

      1. Do one Neil.
        France beat them by 13.
        How about that for a stat?
        Both Wales and France played them at home.
        Some fans go from 1 pole to another here and it’s stupid.

        We all want Scotland to win but a country like France has hundreds, maybe thousands of professional players and rugby is the main sporting interest in huge parts of the country which has 65m people.

        Wales is a small country like Scotland, but in S Wales especially (the most populous part) rugby is religion. The only part of Scotland which compares is the Borders, and only 150,000 people live there.
        They have double the registered players we have and 2x the professional teams. They’ve also had a semi pro equivalent to our super 6, academies and cross border competition for the best part of 2 decades while we’ve been arguing among ourselves.

        We’re starting to get our professional structures right and the Union has doubled its turnover, which is great.

        There are signs of real and consistent talent coming through the age groups.

        All of this will make us more competitive and consistent but the fact is that other countries have more resource so you’ve got to temper your expectations a bit.

        There is no excuse for supporting Italy like you purported to.

      2. You are ridiculously over optimistic Johnny B, This is an Italian side that has lost how many 6 nations matches in a row ?

        France may has only won by 13 but they also got the bonus point, results are what matters

        At the end of the day it’s 23 vs 23 not all the numbers behind that, we have a golden generation that should be winning against tier one nations more than they are, i don’t expect them to win every game but really we should be beating these nations 50 % of the time, our players (the right ones selected) can do this.

        You can’t keep looking to the future and saying potential.. recognise the talent we should be utilising now and look to get results from it, we have had between the 2015-2019 WC to see that potential be wasted.

        Time to stop.

      3. Results like getting a bonus point win against a terrible side.

        I would rather we conceded 1-2 more tries and scored one more ourselfs – it’s going to make a difference in the final table.

        I guarantee you every other side is going to get the bonus point win against Italy.

        If we got that bonus point then we go ahead of Wales in the Six nations table.

      4. Teamcam:If it is results that matter why do you keep telling us how we played well against Ireland . Make your mind up.You need to have a good memory of you are just here for the argument.

      5. When have was the last time we beat Italy by 17 points in Rome?
        That’s right!
        Vern Cotter was in charge.
        Did he get brickbats?
        Doubt it.

      6. I could not tell you the answer to that Jonny , I actually doubt we have ever done that to Italy and probably not when they were in the top 10 in WR ratings. But I can say with confidence that Italy are now below Georgia in world rankings (13th) and we put 36 points on Georgia in the warmups. The point differential was 27 that day.

    1. He got 1 try and it was pretty much the only thing he did all night. Not the best of evenings (conditions-wise) for an outside centre to get involved.

      1. Haha yeah Jones’ try was also a walkover that two players could of scored before he got it.

        I love Huw but that match was not a stunning audition for a Scotland shirt.

  35. Really encouraging from Scotland. Defence looks really strong now and I think the pack is becoming a much better unit with strength in all positions. Our bench is good.
    I am personally not concerned by the attack as the boys are playing in teams in the Pro14 and Aviva who are the leading try scoring sides and it was obvious that the tactics in Rome required Hastings to sit in the pocket.
    Looking forward to the French and Wales games.

    1. Yes defence is improving but attack against better teams is really not good enough.This is 3rd game in a row I felt bench weakened the team no impact.Think though better showing by forwards we are still not really winning the collisions but a win and nilling a team no easy task these days so let’s cheer up.What a cracking game Wales v France was I thought France defence was offside a lot Edwards mark all over it.

  36. O’Keefe was embarrassingly poor yesterday. Inconsistent at set piece and clearly just gave up in the second 40 resulting in Italy collapsing the scrum on every occasion and going unpunished.

    1. I thought his ‘you guys sort it out’ approach was generally poor. Especially the lineout…For the first 20 Italy had seemed to have the approach of not actually lining up, but standing randomly around.

  37. Hasn’t been mentioned but we also beat Italy in the U20 fixture.
    They’re rated at that level and had already beaten Wales and had a close game v France so to beat them in Italy is a great result.

  38. Like most I feel a little bit deflated this championship. GT did well managing on his first 6 nations and I guess we all hoped the only way was up and that we would soon win the tournament. Every other team has upped there game and it hasn’t happened.
    Despite much negative press and posts I honestly think we’re not a million miles away. Despite whether we are pro GT or against not many are arguing about his selections. Sure Russell would offer more threat than Hastings but he’s not available and has rarely put in a controlled 80 minute performance. Perhaps Scott or Bennett would offer more flair than Harris and Haining may offer more variety than Bradbury/Fagerson but would any/ all of those changes turn us into world beaters?
    We should have won in Ireland. We could have taken England if the weather gods had been kinder, scoring against the auld enemy is easier than the Irish.
    Right now we could be scrapping it out for the tourney. 3 wins would have given us the momentum and belief to win the remaining matches.
    Beating a resurgent Italy to nil is an achievement. At no time did we allow them to create anything from their training ground. They were feeding off scraps and occasionally looked good when we got turned over or kicked aimlessly to them. (Hastings, Horne and Hutchinson all guilty here). We went from the first 2 games under French referees where the set piece was under the microscope but breakdown was a lottery to the opposite yesterday under O Keene.

    1. Delusional, this Italian side has lost so many consecutive games in the 6N that i cant actually remember the last time they won a game.

      Russell is available, Townsend just needs to sort himself out.

      Would any of those changes have turned us into world beaters ? unlikely.
      Would they have gotten us the result in Dublin/Murrayfield ? Strong indicators that probably yes they would have.

      We need to stop making petty excuses for losing or acting like it’s ok we lost, at the end of they day its 23 against 23, and we have a team that should be winning more games than they currently are against the tier 1 nations,

      I don’t expect us to win every game, but we should be getting results more often, not just performances which are close but miss out, that was the stage we should have gotten over in 2017/18/19.

    2. I agree somewhat……however I feel
      we are ‘not far away’ by virtue of having the best group of players we have had in the pro era.
      The gripe alot of folks have, I think, is that we dont look like we are going to take the next step. These cycles of player talent have limited windows.
      To me its looks like we have sorted the defense in that we have got a coach in that is simply far better than Taylor ever was. SRU really should be getting Tandy signed up long term as a priority.
      We really now need an equivalent level of attack coach now. The attack looks increasingly like pre Vern days , the return of whitewash fever, and has done for a long time now. We look slow and predictable when we get into the 22.
      Italy are not really resurgent …to me they look more fluid in attack but then looked weaker in defense than Ive seen them in the past. They truly have an awful 6N record….so I dont know what we take from beating them.

      Why Fagerson was selected ahead of Haining (who played really well for a debut at test level)…I just dont see it. Ive never watched M Fagerson offer anything of note at test level. Mind you Bradbury still looks like a 6 playing 8.
      The centre pairing GT seems to still be constantly trialing combinations.
      Cummings looks to be getting his form back again after a few quiet games. Toolis catches a lineout ball but not much else.

    3. If we can get back to winning at Murrayfield I would sort of agree Gaffer.That said that only takes us back to the Scotland that “cannot win on the road” which is one ahead of the “white line fever” Scotland, though putting three tries on a side 4 places below you in the world rankings and missing the bonus point is not the strongest place to a sure me we are going to get access the line in the remaining games. Traditionally Wales are very defensive and this french team will score 2 tries for ever 1 we notch up.

      If I think of it like that,Townsend has taken us back again despite having sheep dipped everyone who has eaten a scottish pie.What happened to Turncoat Gary Graham for example!

  39. Our scrum would have given us a sack load of penalties if anyone else was officiating. At one point he even declared Scotland were responsible for collapsing there own maul which at the time was rapidly advancing toward the try line. The boys were clearly bemused at any Italian Lineout as the rules governing numbers was tippexed over.
    In truth I don’t think we can be too disappointed yesterday as Italy targeted this match (as they always do) and had momentum/hope after scoring 3 tries in Paris. They will be devastated.
    We can beat France in a fortnight if we shut Ntamack and DuPont down at source. Wales away is more difficult but if England soften them up maybe it’s their turn to prop up the table.

  40. I know its easy from the stands/sofa but where is the awareness from the players of the space when we are pounding away at the line. We play our best attacking from 35m+ out and go into our shells in the red zone. That being said there are shoots of improvement showing especially with the defence.
    Sutherland was good early doors but seemed to tire after the break and should have been subbed earlier for me; Rambo was back to his effective best in the loose, Zander had a fairly quiet game by his standards.cummings had a couple of good breaks/carries.
    Back row looked well balanced, best I’ve seen Ritchie although Bradbury needs to improve his fitness to go up against Aldritt in 2 weeks
    Price and Hastings a mixed bag – see comment on recognising space in opposition 22
    Not a game for the centres although Harris marshalled defence well
    Back 3 looked good especially Hoggy and his wonder score.
    2nd row were good – Toolis impressive on Italian throw and

  41. Hello, forgive me if I’m echoing others thoughts but it strikes me that going into round 4 we may be presented with a forth place with England below us should they lose to Ireland and Wales above is on points difference. As unattractive and frustrating as the performances may have been we could still finish the tournament in 3rd place if we continue to build, believe in ourselves and focus, then just maybe, just maybe this team can grow together in the right direction.

  42. Glad I make you laugh.
    Wait and see, Watson and Richie will both be on Lions. Richie will also captain Scotland at some point. He may not do showy dazzling things for the tourists, but he’s in the middle of everything, has a great rugby head.
    The team just needs an injection of pace in the centres. Most other things are starting to work. BUT, Finn must be recalled asap, he can offer so many more possibilities than Hastings can at this stage.

  43. I think its worth saying how much of an improvement in defence we have had under Steve Tandy over Matt Taylor. I thought Taylor was ok at Glasgow but Tandy’s defensive coaching is on another level. Hopefully the SRU can sign him up to a longer deal.

    One of the main changes seems to be that the wingers are playing in the main line of defense leaving fewer in the backfield. It means we are more likely kick return than run and that impacts on the attack. The midfield also seem to have a better understanding of when to rush and when to drift. Also saw them back-off collectively a couple of times to get into better shape.

    We’re not making as many dominant tackles now though. We weren’t making many before but perhaps we are trying to turn them in the tackle to enable the challenge in the ruck and that seems to be working.

    The other thing I spotted is that the backs seems to be hitting rucks more effectively. The best example of that was just the last score in Italy. Horne got caught and was just about to be stripped of the ball when Hogg came off the wing and hit the ruck perfectly. That released the ball that Hastings scored off.

    Overall thought it was Hogg’s best game for a long time. He’s still got genuine pace which is great to see.

    1. We’re second in the standings for dominant tackles, at least for now. Think England will overtake us.

    1. England won by outmuscling Ireland. Dominant tackles, good ball retention and effective carrying gave George Ford an armchair ride and May and co. harried and chased effectively.
      2 of the tries came from chip through. There was nothing especially creative about it.

      1. Give England credit where it’s due, they were fast and aggressive, powerful yet creative in attack.

        Dont bash them merely because they are English.

      2. They weren’t that creative. A real creative team would have been out of sight by half time with the platform they got in the forwards.
        Think of what the ABs did to Ireland last October.
        Their kicking game was good where Ireland’s was ropey but did you see any flowing back moves there?
        If you can deal with England’s forwards and force Farrell out of his armchair and into traffic they really don’t like it.
        Flat track bullies who got found out 2x in a row by teams who could do exactly that and had more creativity. We’ve done it to them too recently.

  44. Russell isn’t available by his choice so let’s get over it. I am sure we have all worked for employers we disagree with and we have a choice in life, compromise or vote with your feet, regrettably Russell chose the latter. I am fed up to the back teeth of the nonsense on this blog over Russell’s dissent. So get behind what we have and move on.

    1. The brat should retire. Never thought I’d be praising Joe Marler but when he stopped enjoying England camp, didn’t want to be there. He retired, no trying to play games, no trying to get someone fired. He retired and then changed his mind. No underhand primadona nonsense

      1. It’s not though is it? Townshend has said Finn is welcome to return if he apologises. Russell has said he’ll only return if Townshend makes sweeping unspecified changes to the strategy and culture. Not really something a coach can do and retain any credibility. Russell knows he was basically saying it’s me or him.

      2. FF: Do you actually think the door is open! Well is it ? yes it is , if Finn accepts nothing has changed . Therefore it is on Gregor’s terms, which is not right as the relationship has broken down, probably irretrievably.

        Under those circumstances Finn Russell would have his confidence crushed and he would not be the man want him to be. So I doubt we will ever see Finn Russell in a Scotland Jersey again, even if GT goes.

        It is my opinion that this goes back a lot longer than a drink too many. You are correct the head coach needs respect, whether gained or enforced.

        I am not bothered about Finn coming back , I do not actually think it is in our best interests for either of them to remain , so I will just content myself and watch how it plays out.

        I am pleased Finn is out of the public eye at this stage, I do not want him to be involved in the next stages.

      3. If I could scroll previous threads on Scotland games I’d find many posts from yourself making sweeping statements on how poor Russell is.

  45. An away win is always welcome, defensively we look better, however what has happened to out attack? The Finn story is becoming tedious & Dodson should be fixing. It looks as though the team was picked yesterday to win without much risk, where is the excitement, the flair (Hogg provided a rose amongst thorns for his try) that we were getting used to seeing. The back-row did play well but still lacks a consistent hard edge. Scott, Jones, Graham, Haining, Crosbie & hopefully Russell could return to the 23 in 2 weeks time. We need to find some form soon or we are in foe a torrid 2020

    1. I think it was a recent interview with Johnny Beatie, where he sadi that Finn is widely considered the best player in France. To not have the best player in France playing for us against France, due to an internal dispute seems ludicrously, well, French!
      I’d imagine the French are having a good haw hee haw about it.

  46. Strange pessimism here. I’m no Townsend fan. It was a schoolboy error letting Cotter go. That said, Townsend is a decent coach. His international naivety has let us down on occasion, the ignorance of current form over past form sealing our fate v the Irish at the RWC. Remember, Russell played all through that and his overplaying contributed to the early Irish tries. The bottom line is that we shipped too many easy tries. The difference in our defensive structures is quite unreal. Even leaving 3 or 4 tries yesterday, we were in control against Italy totally and never looked close to losing. We have great backs but nothing can happen without that improvement, particularly our line speed. I’m happy at present. Involve Skinner and take a punt on Matt Scott who is in superb form. Get Darcy G a game on Friday and we look in good shape for the French.

    1. I wonder if Skinner might even make an appearance at 8. I like Bradbury but I’m not sure he’s done enough to own the 8 shirt. Skinner is less athletic but fairly abrasive. Crosbie too deserves more involvement.

      1. I’d like to see much the same pack but I think I’d like to see Haining get another go at 8 with Skinner and Bradbury on the bench. I think Crosbie might have to wait until there’s an injury to either Watson or Ritchie. I thought Toolis and Cummings worked out very nicely. perhaps a good kick up the backside for Gray and Gilchrist they’ll only get in if they bring angry Gilco or angry johnny.

      2. Bradbury played well.
        Skinner is a 2nd row really.
        That’s where Exeter usually pick him and they have one of the most physical packs in a league that churns out orc like forwards.
        It’s going to be very interesting to see how Johnny Gray develops in that environment.
        Perfect timing at 26 he’s just entering a 2nd row’s prime. I think it could be the making of him.

      3. Bradbury played well…..have you posted against the wrong game. Is that the Bradbury who couldn’t hold onto the ball a metre from the line, who barely if ever broke the gain line…..that Bradbury…. in the game against Italy. Are you sure.

      4. Skinner isn’t an 8.

        He’s a Lock/6 – contrary to popular belief just because you’re over 6ft 2 doesn’t make you a suitable candidate for 8.

  47. I think Townsend is clearly a brilliant rugby analyst but it seems like he’s just can’t simplify his ideas enough to for the short time spans in International rugby. If he is to survive I think he needs to get a dedicated attack coach in and step back a bit and become more like Leo Cullen is at Leinster. It will be interesting to see who Danny Wilson’s replacement is and what reshuffling will take place after the 6N. Perhaps Finn could be tempted back if Townsend was less involved and both could save face. Maybe this could be the path to a resolution.

  48. Watching the various 6N rounds on TV, I note that the same favoured ex-players are invited as match commentators and analysts. IMO few of them should be allowed anywhere near a microphone due to the banality of their contribution. This is especially galling as there is at least one recently retired English player who is an excellent writer, communicator and analyst, but as he is not in the boys club will not get screen time. Football has this problem too, and some of their former players can hardly utter a coherent sentence.

    1. Agreed, the Beeb definitely need a clear out or some of the commentators and pundits on their books. Almost have to mute the Wales games as Butler and Davis are horrible to listen too.

      1. Not just the Beeb but ITV well. For Italy v Scotland we have 1 Scot, 1 English woman and a Welsh man on the panel. For today’s game we have 2 English and 1 Irish ! Can they not find any more Scots or an Italian for the panel yesterday? As for the woman commentator on the BBC for yesterday’s game ….

      2. Pointing out it’s a woman isn’t sexism…
        The female commentators – Maggie Alfonso and a couple of others – are not great.
        They seem to get them in as technical advisors and they do know what they are talking about, but my personal impression is they are trying too hard and it doesn’t come across very viewer friendly or flowing.
        Still, it is a step in the right direction and they should improve with time.
        The male commentators have had a lot more media training and practice over the years.

    2. CSC, who’s the retired player you’re talking about ? I remember Eddie Butler spent the first half of the Wales game at Murrayfield talking Tommy Boyd (as opposed to Seymour). Lazy, lack of research, complacent. An utter fud. Still in a job.

      1. I didn’t use names in my earlier comment as that would shift the focus onto personal preferences rather that the issue of favouritism. However, I would suggest that TV coverage of current sporting events has abandoned the standards set by the late Bill MacLaren and Hugh McLlvanney.

  49. Six nations coverage is for the casual fans who outnumber the hardcore. That’s why these ppl are on. If you want actual punditry watch BT Sport.

  50. Somewhat off topic – but I have to say I really enjoyed watching Dan Biggar throw a hissy fit and Sexton failing to ground the ball this weekend.
    2 players I find extremely irritating.

    On a serious note – I think we need to see a return of reversing penalties and marching teams back 10 metres – hardly ever happens these days and the amount of backchat to the ref is getting atrocious. Some of the captains are overstepping the mark and other players are constantly shouting at them.

    Shouldn’t be tolerated and if it’s not addressed it will become the norm.

    Ps this is my hands in the ruck for this week.

    1. Good Comment Fraser , they are and Wayne P was overly critical of the officials, that needs stamped out as well. Excellent hands in the ruck.

    2. Completely agree. Apparently both sets of players in the Scots vs Italy game were guilty (I couldn’t hear due to the noise in the pub).

  51. Most posters are getting weary of the polarised opinions on Scotland form. Some think we are not in a bad place, showing improvement and some believe we have gone as far back as ‘white line fever’.

    How about this for a proposal : The ‘woulda shoulda coulda’ brigade need to tell the ‘Toonie out’ Brigade what the rules are for opinion based analysis.

    The supposed negative Toonie out boys will just trot the final scores all day long, and history will not show opinion it will just show win or loss , position in a table.

    1. History will show we lost by a single score away to an Ireland team that demolished us less than 6 months’ before.
      History will also show we lost to an England team who were runners-up in the RWC, again by only a single score.
      Lastly, history will show that we won an away fixture by the biggest margin for 36 years, and stopped the Azurri scoring at all (after they had scored three tries against France).
      Of course, there are too many errors, the selections seem like going back to tombola, the Russell situation is frustrating. But (so far) the results are nowhere near those that should precipitate Townsend being sacked.
      It is the nature of blogs and social media that people feel the need to be extreme in their views, and thus the polarisation of opinion. I have found that taking certain posts with a pinch of salt helps – they are just trying to get attention like a screaming toddler.

      1. You describe yourself perfectly in your last sentence. People are not basing their estimation of townsends capability on results this 6N but across his whole tenure and more specifically on the basis that we have not won in our last 8 competitive matches against Tier 1 opposition in the 6N and WC. You think that’s acceptable do you.

  52. Some real turgid rugby on display in the Italy Scotland game and you could be forgiven to thinking you were watching a different tournament when the Wales France game came on.
    I was really pleased to see the kick very early from Hastings (from the shade and into the sun making it tricky for their winger) that Maitland really attacked. It suggested we had a game plan. However, every kick after that (which seems to come routinely when we have run the ball for 5 phases, nothing has happened so we get bored and hoof it) had absolutely no direction or purpose. Our kick chase has been at an amatuer level for so long now, I don’t understand why this isn’t drilled into our kickers/wingers every day at training.
    A pleasing aspect was attacking their rucks and it had a good conversion rate into penalties, the unfortunate thing was this didn’t have a good conversion rate into points. Hogg has some good aspects of a good captain but his decision making is poor. Our (driving) lineout has been terrible yet we kick to the corners all the time with little to no return.
    Our ability to secure our own ball is god awful. Far too many of our players just watch as someone runs into contact alone and then saunter to the ruck and try to pull the jackal off their feet. It is absolutely not good enough at this level and seriously costing us. We need to look across the Irish Sea to learn how to secure our ball.
    We are not far off a good team but it is concerning that our weaknesses are not addressed

    1. Bizarrely, Zilocchi was in the ‘team of round 3’ on the rugby pass website despite being hooked after 30 mins…

  53. Disappointing that both our pro sides are playing at the same this weekend

    Fri 28th
    Edinburgh vs Cardiff 19:35 ko
    Leinster vs Glasgow 19:35 ko

    Hopefully we see Darcy back and haining/crosbie put in another big shift

    Stewart looked good for Glasgow last time

  54. In the last 3 games our defence has been incredible in comparison to what Matt Taylor was peddling, and as Sir Ian McGeechan broke down after the game, we used to defend with wingers back ready for the inevitable kick to counterattack, but now we have the wingers up in the line so have 14 and on the evidence of Ireland, England and Italy we have conceded 2 tries. Tom English pointed out that last year we conceded 11 tries against the same opposition last year. 3 tries against Ireland, 3 against Italy, and 5 against England.

    International rugby is built on defence, look at Wales with Sean Edwards and now France, Ireland, even South Africa in the World Cup Final, defence is the foundations and you add the attack play as you build. In tight games, in dire situations you fall back on the fundamental which is getting into and holding the line.

    For me that is what Toonie is doing, and I think he has modulated from attack as the foundation to defence as the foundation and build attack later. Looking at Wales and Ireland, even Leinster and Edinburgh to an extent, they are defence-orientated and take opportunities when they get them. In the case of Wales, that took a lot of time to get attacking play firing. I think given we were doing it a few months ago everyone knows we can do it, the confidence that it will click should be there and the tries will come.

    1. I’ve just watched the recording and agree that defence was very good again. Pity that some of our best defending was necessary to recover from lost or given away possession when we were actually trying to attack or kicking for field position. Bit more savvy or luckier bounce of the ball and we could have knocked up five tries instead of three.

      Watching Italy in that second half was like watching us from years 2000 to 2014 or thereabouts. Decent amount of possession, but no way through.

      Also, the third 6N match on the bounce that we’ve shown in the tight and breakdown that we’ve improved to the point of no longer being bullied. That’s another good sign, even though the stiffest test imo up front so far will be France in a couple of weeks.

      If it is Townsend’s plan to focus on forward ascendancy as a foundation for improved results, then I’m not complaining about that at all.

  55. No bad point TeamCam, I’ll try again will defence be enough to win games from now on in 2020?

    1. Ah. I think our games against Arg and Japan are winnable… I actually think we’ve got a good chance against France and Wales, too. France have been opportunistic and Wales have looked flaky and, like us, have made poor penalty decisions. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that we and France are the only teams who have been competitive in all three games.

    2. No, defence and only defence won’t of itself win us more games against top sides. But it does make us harder to beat and it does create frustration in opponents and that can lead to mistakes on which we can capitalise.

      Combining growing strength up front with better defence surely forms a stable platform for offence.

      I’m not arguing for a style that exactly replicates Gatland’s Wales or Schmidt’s Ireland. Just saying they tended to be strong up front and defended stoutly. Two elements of play that are looking encouraging for us so far in this 6N. Ugly, but successful.

      So it’s not defence alone but an alliance of forward power and strong defence that underpin the capability to attack. If you have that capability of course.

      I’ll take being ‘hard to beat’ over ‘exciting but flaky and easy to run over, through and around’ for a wee while as the price to pay for development and improvement in our results and performances.

  56. I liked Vern Cotter. I thought he was a good coach and did many things well. I wasn’t convinced about changing him out when it happened.

    However, if we are judging a coach purely on results, with no mitigation accepted, then Cotter’s track record is interesting

    1) Last coach of any country to lose to Italy in the 6Nations
    2) Only Scottish coach to lose to Italy at Murrayfield since 2007
    3) Record points loss by margin against Ireland (-30)
    4) Record points loss by margin against England (-40)
    5) Record points conceded vs England (the 61 points humiliation)
    6) Three wins out of 19 against teams currently in the World’s top 8 nations.
    (All achieved at Murrayfield)

    The “Vern Cotter was doing so much better than Townsend is now” argument doesn’t really much hold water. We have problems, sure, but there are signs of progress, specifically related to coaches that have been brought in (Tandy, De Villiers).

    The Townsend thing is (mostly) just a sign of the times. If your team doesn’t win, demand the coach be sacked.

    I tweeted before the France game that if Wales lost to both them and England then people would call for Pivac’s head. The first “Pivac out” tweets duly arrived on Saturday night. If Ireland had lost to Scotland then calls for Farrell’s head would have started. Similarly the calls for Jones’ departure if England had lost at Murrayfield.

    Sad to say, but this great sport is becoming more like football every day.

    1. (By the way, GT’s record against teams currently in the World’s top 8 nations?

      5 wins and a draw in 18 games….)

  57. What have you lot been drinking? There’s a hell of a lot of negativity floating round here.

    Have a look at the 2018 results and ask yourselves if we’re really going backwards with the “golden generation” a lot of you are banging on about.
    2018 in Dublin, absolutely pumped. Never in the game. This year we were in it right to the end. But of course Hogg dropping one ball is much worse than being scudded off the park.
    Rome 2018, took a last minute penalty to steal the game. Maybe you lot thrive on the excitement of 80mins on the edge of defeat, but this year’s performance was far more professional.

    Think you’d struggle to say this wasn’t Hastings’ worst performance for Scotland, and we never looked like losing.
    Finn’s worst performances were probably where he got yellowed for tipping Biggar in 2015 or the horror Calcutta in 2017. Folk forget sometimes how young Hastings is. Given time he’s as good as Russell.
    Lay off the lad a bit and let him get the experience, he’s a great talent.

    Brilliant to see Sutherland going so well, he had the Italian starting tighthead folded up like a deckchair.
    Probably Toolis’ best performance in a Scotland jersey, hopefully more of the same against France.
    Haining has looked our best 8 of the tournament so far, but given his Friday night performance for Edinburgh he needs to cut out the daft stuff.
    Nice to see Rambo back to his usual self, his World Cup blip was sad to see.

    1. To be fair, the scoreline against Ireland in 2018 flattered them in the extreme: we butchered at least three certain tries.

    2. For what it’s worth, I don’t think that was Hastings’ worst performance in a Scotland shirt. vs USA away, Wales away in the autumn, and Argentina home (all in 2018) probably edge it. You’re right though: still young, and already looking assured.

  58. Cotter 19 wins from 36 Games. Toonie 17 wins from 33 Games.

    I personally do not believe Toonie can better 19 in 36 matches. If he can win the remaining 2 matches he will have equalled (with a game in hand). We have been as high as 5th in RW rankings but presently in 9th.

    But why are we comparing them ! Perhaps it depends on your perspective. Did we expect more of Townsend ? or do we expect him to just maintain? I think Townsend himself believed he could better Cotter.

    We need to decide if Toonie is taking the side forward, and to where. What is the plan and are we meeting it ?In summary , Townsend can equal Cotters performance , much as it doesn’t feel like it. Why ?

    It is unlikely he will better it. So why the negative feelings towards Townsend ? He is about to equal Cotter, is that not good enough for you ? Or is it that we expected more ?

    1. Is what we think the important issue? Sponsors usually like to put their name on a successful side. We went public on wages recently and are presently in the press for a squabble.

    2. I think there is some strong delusion amongst fans that we have some sort of ‘golden generation’.

      The truth is we have an improving player base but we still only have a small clutch of players who would be in contention for the other 6N sides outside of Italy.

      England, Italy, France or Wales look at our side and don’t see more than a couple of players who would be first choice for them. There are certainly more who would be in the conversation which shows our players are better and we are becoming more competitive but we aren’t there yet.

      1. Golden generations are within the context of players within the country. Take Ireland in the noughties for example, only BOD and POC were truly world class – but plenty of other players were included in their golden generation.

        Rory is right that we view the current crop of players through the horror of much of the last 20yrs – our centres are a perfect example of this – we were so barren at centre as recently as 2015 we had Sean Lamont turning out there – a man who couldn’t execute a 2 on 1.

        People are right to expect more from this crop of players – but we need to equally realise that all the other 6Ns with the exception of Italy have equally got better.

        The same reasons we are now churning out good youngs players is the same as the other countries.

      2. How much of the ‘our players wouldn’t even make their training squads’ narrative is a result of simple name recognition, though? In the battle of the column inches, the other Home Nations players win hands-down, which then creates a psychological effect in that we assume that they’re better. You can’t criticise AWJ despite the fact he doesn’t really do a great deal and no-one can articulate why he’s so highly thought of. Genge and Sinckler get loads of attention, but are they better than Sutherland and Fagerson? They’ve never gotten the better of them domestically or internationally. We’ve got a great back row, but we get shot down if we observe this because the other HN have better reputations. If you look at domestic form, there’s nothing to suggest that our players are any worse than the other players, bar Leinster and Saracens.

        Looking at Wales, for example, they’ve got a good back row (excluding Moriarty) and hooker, but weak props and locks. Good at SH and FH, but Parkes is a journeyman bosher and Tompkins is unproven and overhyped. Halfpenny is past it, too. The big difference, especially for Wales under Gatland has been the coaching and psychology. Parkes may be a journeyman, but he’s been part of a GS-winning squad. Under Pivac, Wales look vulnerable while they’re transitioning between styles. Doesn’t mean we’ll beat them, but Faletau is the only player who I think is miles ahead of his equivalents.

      3. TeamCam, you’ve hit exactly my viewpoint.

        Given a couple of seasons with Gatland or a similar elite level coach I’d be fairly confident that this group of players would be regularly better than the Welsh currently are, possibly ahead of Ireland who are in transition and nobody knows where they will end up, and up there competing at the business end of the 6N/making last 8 or with a favourable draw last 4 in a World Cup.

        I don’t think Toonie is a bad coach per se, but that at the moment in this 6N we’re performing about the level of the sum of our parts; comfortably better than Italy but not quite good enough to challenge Ireland away and England at home (ignoring the weather).

        Gatland took a team with a few stars, a lot of good players and one-or-two fill ins and turned them into grand slam winners. Twice.

        If everyone was fit and available for selection (Finn, looking at you here…), you’d probably argue the case for about 10 of our current team to be in a team-of-the-last-20-years. I’d say that’s getting on for ‘golden generation’ territory and it will be a shame if the best collective team we’ve seen for 20 years or more isn’t pushed to achieve all it can.

      4. Teamcam – AWJ is a very physical ball carrier and breakdown player.
        He also has the intangible which stats don’t measure – presence.

        He’s a scary, demanding dude that other players don’t want to let down.

        Jake Ball is just as good at carrying the ball or breakdown play but he lacks that presence.

        Wales would be significantly diminished without AWJ and I think our 2nd rows could do worse than try to emulate him.

    3. Grumpy – I think we did expected more, certainly the SRU must have to change the coach. Cotter’s 19/36 from was a significant improvement on what came before. It is for this significant improvement that gets Cotter praise. Townsend has a slightly worse record and the results have been on a downward trajectory year on year. So yes, I think we all (SRU included) expected more from Townsend and for some very good reasons.

      But there are two games left in the 6N so the best thing we can do is get behind the team and the coach as they are. And who knows we may yet be able to learn from the past mistakes (e.g. Tombola, fastest brand, use of bench etc) and improve on the recent past. And if this were to actually happen, building toward 2023, then Townsend will rightly be remembered as a great coach. Right now the jury’s out.

      1. When you look at the results alone, this hasn’t been a bad 6 nations. Losing by a single score to Ireland away and England at home is not awful and nilling Italy away is an achievement. However, when you look at the performances of those matches it is very easy (and right) to be pessimistic about where Scotland are at the moment. Far too many unforced errors and stupid decisions from players who we see perform to a very high and professional standard week in week out for their clubs.

        I hate to see rugby go the way of football and as soon as a team hits some poor form everyone calls for the managers head but from evidence not solely based on the pitch (ie the Russell saga), I think it is clear there is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

      2. It’s a bit early to weigh up Scotland’s 6N. Win both remaining games and it’ll be a success, lose both and it’s been a failure.

        If we win one I think Toonie will hang on as either would be a major victory (we haven’t beaten Wales in Cardiff for donkeys years and France are grand slam chasers). But he’ll still be in crisis mode and I expect the SRU are putting feelers out. I think 3 championships and a World Cup is long enough to establish your credentials. Scotland need to start delivering more wins when it matters otherwise it’s right to change things up.

      3. Thanks for the responses a lot of balance in those answers. I do not think the SRU expected a flat line, but wonder what other pressures were around at the time of the Cotter decision. I think we do have a golden generation , a good mix of ex academy players , men from very mixed backgrounds (premiership, top 14) and Huw Jones coming in from the other side of the world , so if this is not the golden generation , what would ‘golden’ look like ? I think I am in the camp of those who think we just need a few stars and a coach that gets the best from them.(TC, Rob, Stu2 ). Perhaps Toonie starting with the vision of Utopia and then wondering why they don’t get it,was the wrong way round. Perhaps he needed to pick them and then get them in that elite pack as people, players before he moved them to utopia. I also back the comment about getting behind them for these last 2 games. It feels like they need to feel passion from the fans once again , IMO. As for Toonie , he started well, but the RWC and this 6N to date , are a bit flat, lets hope he gets at least one result from the next 2 and see how we feel then.

  59. Following our improvements to 2017 and 18, the expectation is 3 wins per 6N. This roughly equates to winning all the home games and always beating Italy, home and away. Also, preferably avoiding the standard total humping by one team. RWC expectation is quarter finals.

    2019 was a failure and we have a lot of work to do to make a success of this one.
    The players available (with one key recent exception) are not worse, so questions will have to be asked about the trajectory of results if things don’t improve very quickly.

    1. The difficult question is do we have the right coach to fix our problems? Jones, Gatland, Schmidt all had terrible seasons but ultimately enjoyed success over long periods. Successful teams get the right coach and stick with them through thick and thin.

      Toonie had a successful first 18months or so then the wheels fell off. It’s impossible to know really whether we can get a coach who will significantly improve our results. It’s impossible to know whether Toonie is a good enough coach to progress from here or whether our situation under him is terminal.

      Stick or twist, a new coach will not be a panacea in my view. It won’t even necessarily solve the Russell situation as reportedly there is growing ill-feeling in the dressing room at his actions.

      1. The only coaching position which is missing is the attack coach. How ironic that it is the role he won’t relinquish which could lead to his downfall. Defence, pack, scrum all much improved with new coaches. Attack is awful.

  60. So far this 6N there has been a major uplift in terms of performance of of the defence and the scrum. Significantly these are areas were new coaches have been brought in and, in a short time have overseen significant improvement. With the drop off in the Scotland lineout a case can be made for bringing in a specialist coach to upskill in this area.

    Where there has regression, is in the Scotland attack so questions need to be asked of the individual(s) responsible for this element of the team’s performance. Among the questions as to Townsend’s suitability, this is the one area where there has been little scrutiny.

    1. The simple change of playing a specialist lineout caller/jumper (Toolis) took our lineout to 93% against Italy.

      Compare this to 57% in the storm against England (who managed 83% themselves, so down on normal but comfortably ahead of us), and 77% against Ireland.

      Johnny and Cummings are both very good at other parts of the game but neither stand out in the lineout.

      Ritchie and Bradbury can both give options in the lineout, but it’s not like having Lawes at 6 to give you three regular options. If we wanted Skinner at 6 and Johnny/Cummings in the row that might be enough, otherwise our lineout will only function properly with Toolis there or waiting for Richie Grey to get a recall.

      A specialist coach might help. Brown and McInally could improve, but the biggest change is having someone who can firstly make the right call and then actually get up there and catch the thing!

      1. I dont think the lineout is as simple as % win rate

        Have to take into account the opposition, it will be interesting to see if we produce a similar result against France

      2. Neil, I agree, but in this instance I think it’s a pretty fair reflection.

        Toolis also stole two (from memory) and has consistently shown himself to be far better in the lineout than any of our other locks over the last 2-3 years or so.

      1. Perhaps there should be a page for XVs and debates around them? Whether it is Lions/Scotland or commical? eg The Simpsons XV:
        1. Chief Wiggum
        2. Homer
        3. Comic Book Guy
        4. Duff Man
        5. Drederick Tatum
        6. Nelson
        7. Grounds Keeper Willy
        8. rainier wolfcastle
        9. Smithers
        10. Skinner
        11. Lenny
        12. Flanders
        13. Apu
        14. Carl
        15. Moe

      2. I’d have Bart at 9 and Smithers on the bench. I know people say he can’t box kick, but he’s a running threat and really speeds up game with speed of pass. Deserves a proper chance. If Gatland managing no way Groundskeeper Willy makes the starting XV.

  61. Speaking of Scottish roots…Will Jordan seems to have dropped down the pecking order somewhat (especially with the rise of David Havili). What are the odds on him giving up his All Black dream and coming to Glasgow/Edinburgh? In saying that I am not even 100% sure he is SQ!

  62. Have just heard that Josh Adams is out of remaining 6N games due to injury. He is to have an op I believe

  63. Positives, we won, though any analysis should be based against the fact that this is the worse Italy team that I’ve seen for a long time and a truly inept ref who just let everyone get on with it.

  64. hands in the ruck, anyone that trots out #asone as a reasoned answer to any evaluation of a Scottish player or performance.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion