Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Podcast: Episode 98 – Gregborg


This week Cammy, John and Al look back at the Calcutta Cup as well as the continuing fall out from Finn Russell’s exclusion from the Scotland squad. We take a look at the squad set up and wonder whether all is as it seems as well as how close to midnight the Toonsday Clock is after the weekend.

Elsewhere we get our hands in the ruck about booing and Al takes a trip down memory lane and recounts a wonderful encounter with a supporter whilst playing on the wing.

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

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124 Responses

  1. IMO The reason Russell did the interview is because the event precipitating his departure from the squad and the official reason given by the SRU for it involved alcohol and the implication would be that he might have a drink problem.
    It also came out in the immediate aftermath that he’d been offered access to a psychologist which poured more oil on the flames.
    So Finn raised a load of grievances about a control culture both on and off the pitch going back for the whole of Toonie’s tenure.

    I find the whole episode depressing. I can well imagine that Toonie is a micromanager and as a former fly half himself I’m sure he finds it difficult to leave Russell alone but then you’ve also got to have standards.

    The disappointment is that we have flair players and they can be stifled by too much structure, and performance suggests that might be happening.

    It does seem to me that Cotter took the approach of looking at the players we had, looking at the traditional scottish game and devising a plan around that rather than looking at what works for Wales or even Manchester City.

    I hope Townsend turns it around. He’s smart enough to. We shall see.

    1. If Russell didn’t like the suggestion he was bevvying maybe he shouldn’t have been bevvying. The idea this all happened because he wanted a 3rd drink is a nonsense.

      A player who was looking to kick back after a long series of matches does not wait to get to the team hotel before he has a pint.

      Russell has walked out of his teammates and is now hiding behind excuses to justify his childish behaviour.

      This whole Toonsday Clock cack is becoming distasteful too – try and retain some impartiality and leave that sort of stuff to your comments sections.

      1. It’s pretty obvious that Russell gave his interview to deny that he has an alcohol problem.

        ‘It’s not the booze ban, it’s the control culture’ is what he was saying.

        If Scotland can ally the attacking flair they’d become known for to their new harder defence then Townsend will be in the job for seasons to come.

        And Russell will only come back in on Townsend’s terms.

        We’ll see. I hope to see it happen and I also hope to see Russell back in the squad.

      2. I’m not sure Johnny, the story that originally came out suggested it was about a third drink – nobody would think you had a drink problem if you wanted 3 pints.

        IMO Russell knows he’s messed up and is using the tried and tested method of the media to try and justify it.

      3. Interestingly its mainly been overlooked that the decision to limit to two drinks was made by the other senior players in Finns absence, in a group he is meant to be part of. Hints towards what he says about control issues, and as it seems he was not made aware of it at the start of the meal, perhaps he rightly feels undermined by his fellow leaders.

      4. I agree with Stu. The longer this goes on the worse Finn looks. Egotistical toys out the pram stuff and his social media ‘shenenigans’ make him look an utter dick firmly in the Zebo mould.

      5. Stu2:Behave, you have never liked Townsend, always quoted he thinks he is the ‘smartest man in the room’. You rightly observed that that this team ‘are poorly coached’. You were right back then and nothing has changed.

    2. Our standards were fine in 2017 when Townsend wasn’t the coach and we played a lot better. Cotter built a team and TRUSTED the players he put on the pitch to make the right decisions at the right times. Townsend should go south or to France and get out the sru bubble and learn how to catch properly and build success. While he’s at it he can take million pound man Dodson with him and do us all a favour.

  2. Very good podcast. I hope that Gregor can turn it around too. If the issue is as simple as the SRU suggest, then his man-management skills will be sufficient to bring about resolution. If the issue is as complex as suggested by Finn (and as per the podcast is a systemic problem of control and culture) then sadly for Scottish fans, Gregor will likely have to fail before any change occurs. The wooden spoon awaits. This won’t be the end of his career and he will be a better coach down the line.

    1. Maybe tongue in cheek but it is worth acknowledging that world class 10s understand the game better than many coaches. Witness Farrell and Sexton on the Lions Tour with Howley. Finn is world class and won an argument last year at Twickenham.

      1. No he didn’t. It’s been proved before that Scotland kicked more in the second half of that game than the first. Finn argued against kicking.

      2. He didnt argue against kicking, he argued against rigidly kicking according to the gameplan, rather than kicking based on what was happening in front of them. Hence why yes they kicked more, but they kicked smarter.

  3. Finn argued against kicking to England and having them run back at us. No problem with touch finders or kicks in behind the first line of defence

  4. Great podcast. Really enjoyed it. I think we have all had enough of the Finn debate but I lean towards the camp that he was hung out to dry by Townsend and the SRU.
    I have heard that he was told on the Sunday night that he was to see the psychologist at 9am Monday (about his ‘drink problem’). If true, that’s crass management and hardly surprising he wasn’t racing back from Bridge of Allan on Monday.
    It also seems Toonie has switched his focus from fastest rugby in the world, based on stats that show teams which kick to the corner win more. That’s all very well but it doesn’t mean that Scotland will be successful doing this as we don’t have a monster pack. You need to be careful how stats are interpreted.
    Fast rugby was a good plan, if it was tempered with common sense. You can’t play 100 mph all the time and need to adapt to conditions, opponents etc.
    I worry about the playing strategy under Toonie, the conservative selection (especially lack of faith in Rory Hutchinson) and the handling of squad captaincy. I don’t subscribe to the view that Hogg was right to go public on his request to be captain, when McInally had not relinquished the role. I suspect we will only make the most of this generation with a new coach, Finn back, Rory H playing and Jamie Ritchie as captain

    1. On the tactics point, the article shared in the SRB twitter feed shows that for the Ireland game Price/Hastings had a bit of a mental block in the 22 — choosing the apparent “lower risk” option of another short pass (but in fact the higher risk option – no chance of scoring and high chance of getting turned over).

      They took risks on halfway (admittedly defense was less intense, by which I mean onside), that they didn’t take in the red zone.

      Russell would have taken a few of those I think…

      It’s just a small thing but if you don’t take risks in the red zone, you won’t score tries against a team like Ireland.

      Similarly I think we just need to switch on in the transition from defense to attack, easy yards.

  5. I dont think Russell left his friends, I think his friends left him.

    Am I the only one who thinks that a bunch of cronies calling themselves the ‘Senior Players’, making and enforcing the rules is devisive and doomed to cause divison and poor morale in a team! Just like the Owsla in Watership down, taking names and reporting them to Bigwig. Does that not feel all wrong !

      1. Finn shares some blame but surely the larger part lies in the inability to manage our only world class player. Hoggy and R Gray used to be world class but no more. We simply can’t afford this.

    1. Totally agree, I would far rather have a dictator of a manager and a sense of “we’re all in this together” with colleagues, I think it breeds a far better team spirit. Not saying it’s the best method but I think it creates a better team environment than having a load of effectively middle management who are supposedly more important than everyone else just because of a title.

  6. Really enjoyed this episode, lads.
    Finn aside, and Al touched on it in the pod, I think it’s clear that Scotland are worse than the sum of their parts. Wales are the total opposite and that has to come down to coaching. We are wasting our golden generation, individually and with their clubs they can all play well but in the thistle they fail or make errors.
    The psychologist currently working with the squad has to be changed, surely.
    It was a grand idea but forget the ‘fastest brand of rugby’ for now, I’d settle for ‘fewer mistakes than our opponents’.
    Mistake, opposition try, repeat. It’s so demoralising to watch and the players must feel that too.
    I’ll still be cheering us on and expecting a good victory against Italy!

    1. I don’t think Townshend is getting the best out of the current squad but there is a tendency for us to massively over rate our players and then feel disillusioned.

      England, France, Ireland, Wales – if were honest these teams have stronger squads than us. Our golden generation is miles ahead of the utter rubbish that preceded them but not better than our actual opponents. Even under St Vern England put 61pts on us at Twickenham.

      I don’t think we’re necessarily a million miles off but our key weakness has been and still is the comparative strength of our pack.

      And Toonie has already ditched the fastest rugby in the world and is trying to adopt a style where we take fewer risks and play in the right parts of the field. The subtext of the Russell affair is it is this change that has led to Russell’s alienation. Finn wants to play what he wants, which is high risk high reward generally. Both Rennie and Toonie have obviously struggled to get him to play more pragmatically/conservatively. It’s not really working for Scotland at the moment but it is what it is. Finn will never play behind a Scot to us pack that gives him the luxury ride he often gets at racing.

      1. It’s also easy to make excuses. Possibly over course of tournament. But to be constantly trounced when quality of starting players that ARE available now, should not be happening:
        Sutherland, McInally, Fagerson/Nel
        2 from GrayGraySkinner
        3 from Ritchie, Watson, Bradbury, Haining
        Price/Horne, Russell
        Taylor/Johnson, Jones
        Maitland, Hogg, Kinghorn
        Bring Darcy, Kebble, Duhan, Blade, into mix this summer too.

        You can only put 15 on pitch. People need to put stats out their mind – everyone could see things were improving under Cotter. Everyone can see things are getting worse under GT and the absences are massive – clear Russell in end zone would have helped last two weeks.

        Every player above has shown brilliance in more than one game for club and/or country (bar possibly Haining), there are no passengers. Every one would be a top player at a club side whether France, England or 14. It matches up against any other side in the world let alone 6 nations. The fact that some of those players are mentally shot, or the team is not pulling together and lacks onfield leadership, and always always finds a way to lose – speaks to the coach.

        Now not next season is start of WC cycle – didn’t we learn anything from last one about changing coaches later than everyone else…

      2. The fact is this Scotland side should be beating Wales/Ireland/England/France a lot more than they have been during the Townsend era based on player quality.
        Not saying we should win every game but in 2017 we beat Wales & Ireland at home because we were good enough to, not through luck, our players were better than theres.

        Since then we have definitely went backwards despite the quality of players being available to us improving. It’s completely unacceptable to keep making excuses, that is a losing culture mindset.

        Bring back our best players into the fold, avoid such a rigid gameplan and trust our devastating backline to come with stuff on there own, don’t force them to play in a way with does not take advantage of our obvious strengths.

        I have never cared less about watching scottish rugby than i have been the past year, a golden generation that is good enough with proper coaching to consistently be top 5 in the world is being wasted away.

        Lets not waste the chance of going far in 2023 wc like we did 2019..

      3. Wales away (it now seems was the start of the end), England Twickenham shame, England Twickenham first half, Ireland World Cup, and England at home last game. These were all unacceptable performances where game plan seemed clueless and we got trounced (bar last week which was just a sad game through and through). Think of all the blunders off the pitch too – fastest game in the world, fittest team in the world, forgetting to pick a midfield for World Cup, Gray, Russell, Jones. I’m sick of this era, it really isn’t good enough. As GT stated is top level sport. Well Erasmus would have quit if he’d lost three games on the bounce with SA and that was inheriting a team then in decline.

        What GT and most totally fail to understand is it really doesn’t matter how we got to where we are now and who’s fault it is. There needs to be a purge of the regime to turn things around and, after all of that, we only have one Finn Russell.

      4. Neil – under Townshend we have a 50% record against England and France. What do you think our record against a them ‘should’ be?

        I think under Townshend we continued our improvement and then have regressed for the last 18 months or so as we’ve tried to evolve our style. We need to start winning or Toonie’s era will rightfully be brought to an inglorious end.

        But the black and white Toonie out brigade just perpetuate so much rubbish, that we’re a world-beating team that just need to lose a useless coach. It’s nonsense. In RWC2015 we didn’t beat a single team ranked above us, under cotter we won our last wooden spoon after losing AT HOME to Italy, we didn’t win a single notable victory away from home in his era, and we were humiliated at Twickenham.

        The point is we weren’t that good then and we haven’t got much worse now. We are still struggling in an intensively competitive test arena against teams with better players and resources. Coaching Scotland is a f-ing hard and unforgiving job. It isn’t as simple as pick Finn and let him do what he wants.

      5. FF: I don’t think Ireland or Wales have better players than we do. Maybe more, but not better. I think their coaches are consistently able to get the teams to play better than the sum of their parts. Look at how those players play for their clubs.

  7. Cracking pod lads.

    Townsend’s tenure is done. Our showing at the RWC and this six nations is abysmal, again.

    The SRU have bigger issues going on with the Gammell report, the opinions of the clubs, Super 6 and overall governance of the union and the sport in Scotland.

    I think the SRU are using the Russell issue to deflect from the real issues at the heart of the Scottish game.

    People are starting to walk away, and the only reason we are not hearing from other players is because their contracts still rest with the SRU.

    Fed up of the same public school boy types governing our game. Rugby is meant to be inclusive, about the grass roots, and the fans. Its not. Its about commercial contracts, big ego’s and over-inflated media departments that spout the same old platitudes.

    The team/squad have to take control of the on-field strategy, the coach has to be someone who allows that to happen, whilst supporting them at every turn, and providing direction. Dictatorships don’t work. You can’t manage a team unless you have the ear and confidence of all 30-odd individuals. We have to build in flexibility to our strategy that copes with other teams, before, and during a match.

    That clearly is not the case right now. We are in a spiral of zero confidence, unforced errors, and bad game management with a coach who cannot or will not adjust his approach mid-game without a major protest from players. I’m a club-level coach for minis, and even I could make a better fist of the strategy

  8. Loved the podcast this week, please get Al on more often, he was really good. Although get him a better internet connection…

    PS. I sent a wheres dougie donnelly into the podcast email, but it never got acknowledged, or subsequently read out. You havent changed it or anything have you?

    1. Chloe it’s possible that they check it every two months due to the lack of traffic. Find Cammy on Twitter and send him a DM. He’ll get that.

    2. Thanks Chloe – in fairness to my internet provider I can’t blame them on this occasion, rather have to point fingers at a dodgy laptop!

  9. The whole issue is about Power. When Gregor says he wants all players to adhere to team values it is not about having an extra beer it is about the players following his instructions on the pitch without question. Finn wants the freedom to play it how he sees it without being hauled over the coals for deviating from the plan. You can tell from the interview that Gregor gave Tom English that he is a control freak. The environment is not good for the players. McInally the last captain came back from the World Cup ready to give up rugby and look at what is happening to Hogg. He is being transformed from a match winner to a matchj loser!

  10. Good show, more Al please made some great observations.
    Watching the Ireland game and being at the England game I got the feeling the closer Scotland got to the try line the less likely to score. Didn’t seem to be any plan apart from throw it to a forward on his own standing still and hope. Not going to work.
    I dont know anyone in any walk of life who feels that having a boss who micro manages you and tells you want to do 24 hours a day is a good thing.

    I feel quite sorry for Hastings, Horne, Russell, Hogg, Ritchie and Watson and others. Good creative rugby players, who should be in the team because they have flair, creativity and are determined to win. Meanwhile they are being given biblical proportion playbooks, that they have to play from.

    If you are good enough to be on the pitch then you are good enough to look at what’s happening in front of you and make the right decisions. Townsend might be a good technical coach but he’s not a leader. Anyway, liked the show and if you want to boo the kicker, go ahead, just boo both kickers.

  11. Apart from your outstanding Scooby Doo mask idea, I found this podcast disappointing.

    You could be right that time is running out for Townsend and I’m genuinely not sure what the best way forward for the team is but almost everything you said on how the Finn issue has been handled was pure conjecture or emotion. You all seemed to feed off each other’s frustration. As always you’re entitled to your opinion in a bar discussion kind of way but I didn’t hear any direct evidence to back up your view that Finn’s in the right on this. I’m not saying he’s totally in the wrong but where’s your solid evidence that he’s the wronged party here? IMO, it was always likely to go south after his Dad’s experience.

    On the team’s performances yes we’re all frustrated but FF is right that other teams just have better depth and squad quality than we do especially up front. That is just indisputable in my opinion. Not that we can’t beat these teams sometimes. We do. Yes some of our away performances in the last couple of years have been shocking including under Vern, and that needs to be addressed by Townsend or whoever. I also agree an extra attack coach would make a big difference (we really miss O’Halloran). But we just aren’t that phenomenal that we can expect to turn up and win every week.

    1. Andrew we are usually on the same page I feel on most stuff but not sure I align with you here.

      There have been too many either good performances and not got over the line or dreadful performances that have resulted in embarrassing times and I’m beginning to lose faith in Toonie. The Russell thing as the podcast said has fault on both sides but the coach must be seen to and be able to manage the situation and not let it get to this. Russell has spoken his mind but he hasn’t flown off the handle, lost it completely. He was measured and considered in his response whether you agree or not. So I feel he would have been open and probably tried to open dialogue many times before now.

    2. I’ve found the last two podcasts refreshing as I never hear media go for things that are only rumour but may have truth in them for fear of being sued, Most listening will know how to take it and to be careful of what is rumour and what is fact but it paints a picture that may not be 100% accurate but gives you a feel for the issues and how people have stepped out and made the whole thing worse than it needed to be.

      This last year we’ve beaten Italy, France, Samoa and Russia. Georgia twice. 6 wins from 15 tests without a win against a side higher in ranking than us. ( I think I’m right in this.)

      That is not a good return and shouldn’t be acceptable now. for the players we have we should be winning more and put up better fights and learning to play better than the parts individually.

      1. I share a lot of your concerns, to be honest. But I still don’t think the rationale given in the podcast was fair or reasonable. I’m a history teacher, so a total nerd about supporting our arguments with specific, accurate evidence :)

        The only evidence I saw was that the lads on the podcast are just fed up with Toonie and have decided he needs to go so everything is being painted excessively negatively and every blame laid at his door.

        For example, they were saying that we played poorly against Samoa in the WC when we actually played very well/professionally (we were, of course, unacceptably poor against Ireland) and that the performance against Japan was one of the worst they’ve ever seen from Scotland, which is just demonstrably false. They said we could lose every game this year as evidence of Toonie’s poor management – something which is possible but hasn’t even happened yet. They just sounded fed up and then applied that perspective uncritically to the Finn situation, giving him the benefit of the doubt at every point.

        Again, I’m not disagreeing that Toonie’s time may be up soon especially if results don’t improve. As you say, they haven’t been good enough.

        I’ve been out of the loop a bit since the World Cup so perhaps the tone of the podcast was more jarring for me than for others who have been tracking more closely.

        As I said above, I feel we really miss O’Halloran and a fresh attack coach would be a huge asset for us.

    3. I don’t think enough weight has been given to the situation with Finn’s father and it’s impact on Fin’s state of mind, in all of this.
      Putting myself in Finn’s shoes; it must be fairly galling to see your dad sacked illegally, win his case, and for there to be no significant repercussions for those who tried to force him out.
      You are not going to see yourself on the side of those individuals, and if Finn views Toony as being on the side of that establishment (even subconsciously) it’s a bad base for coach-player relations.
      Add to that the jadedness that come with being managed by a single individual for too long, where what you perceive as the minor foibles of the senior partner, can over time become irreconcilable irritations.
      With the news of the fatcats’ remuneration breaking, I can imagine the SRU were discussed primarily in expletives in the build up to this 6N in the Russell household. I can imagine Finn just thinking #### those ####### and though dearly wanting to play for Scotland, dreading the weeks of being around Murrayfield, and of the establishment, and a coach that he views disdainfully through over-familiarity and seeing as being on the wrong side of things.

      1. Agreed, Matto. I was actually surprised that there wasn’t some kind of crisis for Finn with Scotland earlier than this.

        It’s one reason I have a fair bit of sympathy for him but I think it’s also a good reason not to judge Townsend too harshly in all of this. He may have his shortcomings but I think events have conspired against him a lot with this particular issue. He’s dealt with it on principle and most experienced international rugby people have said he basically had no choice but to assert his authority in this situation. I’m not presuming he’s done everything perfectly in his relationship with Finn, but overall he’s been put in a really difficult position.

      2. Yes, it’s a very unfortunate set of circumstances. Normally you would not expect the head coach to comment on staff issues in the wider administration of the game. It’s just particularly unfortunate that the staff issues involve the father of one of the 1st squad players, and that player is our only widely acknowledged world-class player! And if Toony seems chummy with Dodson et al, that is not going to rub well with Finn.
        I don’t blame Finn or Toony. I do feel sorry for Finn, as the whole situation must have been a nightmare. I’m not sure there are many among us that wouldn’t have developed a fairly hard to deal with level of resentment. I imagine he may have come into camp one step away from finding the whole thing untenable and it only took one small incident to push him over.

  12. Thanks for the Podcast. Gave me food for thought and while I don’t agree with all of it, I respect your comments.

    Purely on the basis of performance over the last 18 months, I think Toonie is fighting for his job. I can give him a pass for the 2019 6N as we had a number of injuries, but not the WC and in general I’m not sure what we’re trying to do as a team. It seems a bit rudderless. And while the defense has improved massively, if we can’t score then how does that help other than us not being embarrassed.

    I view the Finn situation as being separate from our performance as Finn was there when we sucked last year. Ultimately, while nobody looks good here I think Finn has to carry the can for a breach of discipline (even if he doesn’t like it or wasn’t consulted). If Toonie had lost the dressing room there’d have been leaks by now. I actually have a strong suspicion that given the wed tit for tat that the story is still not in the public domain. Hogg made some v interesting comments about his own career and growing up the day after the incident but before it all came public. It’s tone was unexpected but in hindsight illuminating. I think this is as much about Finn v Hogg as anything else. I’d wager that (remember Toonie was in bed) there was a significant stooshie between Hogg and Finn and Toonie’s actual choice here is to protect Hogg and take the flak. He’s got to support his captain.

    Keep up the good work gentlemen. Always a good listen even if our views diverge.

  13. Hogg said after the match tonight ‘look forward to a few beers tonight after that one’. We’re a week away from Italy. Russell wanted a third pint 10 days in advance of Ireland. Last time I checked ‘a few’ cannot mean 2 or fewer. Hypocrites. Or does GT have Hogg booked in with the psychologist Monday morning.

    1. A very good point BLB…. if true that is an ill advised statement or slip of the tongue at best or just hypocritical and clear sideswipe at Russell….It’s getting worse and worse and from Fagerson today and Price throughout with likes on twitter etc it is clear that the camp is getting behind it’s picket on either side ready to fight to the death….Italy will be rubbing their hands mainly Parisse though.

      It’s difficult to know from first two matches on performance how good/bad it actually is. In reality attack has regressed big time and lack Russell to open the lock yet the defence is better than it has been in a decade or more. Effectively we have been beaten 1-0 home and away by two sides in the top 5 of the world. In footballing terms and essentially rugby too we are Quarter-finalists of The World Cup from these isolated results.

      Or you could say we should have won both matches and had we kicked points at right times, had a few ref decisions our way or taken one or two of our many chances in each game we’d have been home and hosed and two from two looking to be in the tournament until the last weekend at least with a win in Rome.

    2. But this is all speculation, isn’t it, BLB? Do we actually know what happened with the 2 or 3 beers situation? I mean know for sure? And now we’re putting throwaway comments under the microscope and using them to call our captain and coach and his team hypocrites.

      If we don’t actually know exactly what happened, I think we need to go easy on the name-calling and judgements. If we do know for certain what happened (on the record from people who were there) then we can start to make our judgements.

      1. Andrew,

        I agree in a perfect world that would be great but we don’t get that and often have to make our mind up by judging what is likely or not. Not ideal at all but it what we have most of the time.

        In the world of fake news we do have to be careful but in the world of social media it’s impossible to get full facts in everything so guesswork essentially has to be done or we will be waiting a long time to make comment on anything. Surely the comment above will be easy enough to find on Exeter social media etc. If this is just completely made up then BLB should be held to account.

      2. Hi Referendum, I’ve always appreciated and respected your take on things so it’s certainly made me look again at what we’ve both said about this.

        I take your point about needing to be free to comment even without full information. I actually have no problem with people commenting on it or offering opinions about possible scenarios. My problem is when those opinions lead to incredibly harsh judgements (like “hypocrites”) without firm evidence.

        I’m not doubting that Hogg said that about ‘a few beers’ and I agree it’s a pretty mindless thing to say by the Scotland captain given the context of the Finn situation. But I’ve observed that Hoggy just has a few phrases that he resorts to when he’s happy (e.g. “a few beers”) and a few when he’s lost (e.g. “gutted” and “bitterly disappointed”). They’re just throwaway lines that aren’t intended for intense scrutiny and shouldn’t be enough to lead to a charge of hypocrisy for Townsend or anyone else. (Also, Exeter presumably don’t have exactly the same rules/culture as the Scotland set-up).

        It’s the events surrounding Finn’s drinking that aren’t clear. Hopefully, somehow everyone involved can find a way to realise they all want the same thing – to see Scotland be as successful as possible. The whole thing’s just so disappointing…

        Anyway, thanks again for the back and forth. Always interesting!

      3. Andrew – you were happy to ‘agree’ to Matto’s speculation above about what might have been said on the Russell household. Personally, I’m fine with speculation….we are only commentating on a blog after all…..but if you are going to call folk out for ‘speculation’ be consistent.

      4. Hi Ian,

        I can see your point. Matto’s whole comment definitely got really speculative about conversations in the Russell household. To clarify what I meant to say when I said ‘Agreed’ to that comment:

        1) I was agreeing with the general point that it must surely have been really difficult for the Russell family and that that must have affected Finn in some way. If you see my previous comments I’ve been consistent about that being a factor. I didn’t mean to say that I agreed those specific conversations must definitely have happened. But you’re right that I didn’t make that clear in my reply to Matto.

        2) I was trying to understand the Russells’ situation for the purpose of empathising with Finn, not to judge him, even though I (rightly or wrongly) lean towards thinking Finn’s generally in the wrong here. That’s different from BLB making a really harsh judgement (“hypocrites”) on Hogg and our coaches by making a real stretch of a link beteween the 2 or more pints scenario (where he doesn’t know what actually happened) and a throwaway (if unwise) comment made after a match away from the Scotland set up. Feels like a false equivalence to me.

        I agree with you that some general speculation is totally fine on a blog – but don’t agree that it’s fine if it’s being used to slander our players and coaches.

        Thanks for responding – I’m always happy to be challenged if I’m being inconsistent.

  14. “We never looked like scoring a try.”

    Neither did England, except for the one opportunity they had. And we actually looked ok except for some problematic interpretations of Gauzere’s.

    [Townsend makes literally one change to his team]

    Al: The Toonie tombola is in full effect!

    Under Eddie Jones England have been inconsistent and lacked fortitude. Their own fans are complaining about this. EJ won the battle of the tactics for his selection?! He didn’t use his whole bench, either! And EJ has been as guilty of sticking with failing players (Ben Youngs, anyone?) as Toonie. At least Toonie has changed tack on that regard.

    I thought Toonie was pretty fair in his BBC interview. This sounds like a character assassination rather than a reasonable look at what’s happened… where is the lashing out? Where is the flaying?

    Your Toonsday clock descriptions are wrong, too. The SRU determine the reality.

    That said, he’s struggling. And Farrell did go over the allotted time.

    1. I agree, I was surprised by the general tone of this weeks podcast I felt it was unfair to GT. I don’t see what else he could have done. How many beers is irrelevant the team set a rule and Finn was informed of it and then disregarded it. He may not have liked it, he could have raised his objection in an appropriate forum and got other to agree to change but he just ignored it and carried on which is completely disrespectful to his teammates. GT, in concert with the senior players took the minimum appropriate action and has been at pains to leave the door open for Finn. Unfortunately this behavior is the manifestation of much deeper anger and frustration from Finn. An amalgamation of factors, his father, Mark Dodson, GT tactics, pressure, new experiences, more authority. The drinking is just the flash point for this domestic. but a lot of it is not GT’s fault either and he should be able to expect all his players to give their best to enact his gameplan on the pitch and he should be judged by his employers on his results. It is not Finn’s place to push GT out. I don’t think GT is going anywhere soon and I think it will be a long time until we see Finn back in a Scotland jersey. Sadly I think that’s the right call.

  15. Why is Jamie Dobie not playing for the U20s? Must be a reason, no chance he isn’t considered good enough.

  16. After watching the Glasgow game, surely George Horne has to be given a chance to start for Scotland?
    There is so much nonsense about the things he apparently isn’t good at, but he gives extremely quick service and for me is the spark we are missing at the moment.
    Put him and Darcy Graham in the team and watch the fireworks!
    Matt Fagerson and George Turner also showed up very well.

    1. Thing is Horne doesn’t do much apart from give quick service and score tries.

      I’d add Harley to your list, played really well and is a real nuisance. Just 12 months since he came off the bench against Ireland and with shiny new contract in hand, he’s my pick to replace J.Gray against Italy.

      1. “Thing is Horne doesn’t do much apart from give quick service and score tries.”

        Oh no. That’s a shame. He doesn’t do anything except for *the two things we desperately need*.

        Roll the dice! Give him some games.

  17. I listen to all the varied rugger podcasts and find this one good fun and entertaining. I’m old school an ex. Scrum-half who played at a decent level, my son was brought up through the mini’s and adhered to a code of conduct as did the parents, these values are still valid today and not for you guys to rubbish them and chuck them overboard. Are you going to bring up your children with this outdated and moronic attitude?
    Your jingoistic hate pedalled against anything Eddie Jones, England or there supporters is frankly boring. I wonder if your children will look back on these podcasts and cringe, I know I do.
    C’mon guys grow up and stop spoiling a excellent pod cast with this vitriol, there are some who like to be polite and not continually antagonise our English visitors or hosts.

    1. Well said. I just need to go to the BBC site for this type of diatribe. Let’s not go down that road on here

      1. Indeed Rob lets keep the vile football fans to the bbc forums and proper rugby fans to respectable sites like this one.

    2. Hi George, thanks for listening and for the comments. The argument being made was that for 80mins some ‘close to the bone’ antagonising the opposition fans is hardly the end of the world as long as it doesn’t spill over, which it very rarely does (beyond the usual few idiots which I would suggest would look for trouble regardless). Go into the centre of Edinburgh post Calcutta Cup and there will be fans of all nations mixing, taking the mick and having fun. Nobody is condoning racist or xenophobic comments.
      Like your good self I’ve played the game for umpteen years and every single club I’ve had the honour to turn out for has had a pretty ‘rough and tumble’ attitude to taking the Micky out of each other – I don’t think I’ve ever been at a club where taking the piss has not been a central component of what has made the team bond. I think considering some of the stuff which is said in and around the rugby park that some booing of the kicker should not lead to the level of hand-wringing that it has. If folk contend that harsh language and pointed remarks are a new phenomenon then I’m afraid their looking to the past with rose tinted spectacles.
      To end, you referenced how my kids would look back on such comments. I’d hope they’d grow up (a) to love the game, (b) know how to give and take some friendly (and pointed!) abuse and still happily go for a pint with the person next to them, and (c) relax a little, it’s a game!
      Keep listening – all about opinions!!

  18. FF: You are entitled to an opinion , that is all. ‘The Toony out brigade’ are entitled to theirs without being accused of ‘perpetuating so much rubbish’. There are arguments both ways.

    Scotland have enough depth to their squads in my opinion. They are selected from the Premiership contenders, the Top and Pro 14. The difference between other squads is consistency.

    When you compare Scotland the one thing I see , is inconsistency, not only in performance but in selection. These other sides are relatively stable , they will make incremental changes, they may try new combinations against Italy, unlike Scotland who will need to play it’s strongest 15 men, to avoid the wooden spoon.

    Scotland have played so many combinations under Gregor Townsend, the benefit of a team performance (the combination of the parts argument)is lost.

    I find ‘St Vern’ disrespectful. Cotter, like Townsend did have inconsistent days, but you need to balance the argument.Vern did not lose to the USA or exit the RWC at the hands of sides lesser than Scotland in world rankings. That is as much fact, as the 61 pt loss at Twickenham, let’s have a balanced argument.

    In terms of chronology , the 6N table showed Scotland improving year on year under Cotter. The table is evidencing regression under Townsend.

    Time is running out for him, and your opening comment is accurate, he is not getting the best from his team, but that is the key skill required in his job, hence the frustration.

    1. Cotter did not improve Scotland’s standing year on year. Under Scott Johnson, Scotland finished 3rd with 2 wins in 2013 and 5th with 1 win in 2014. In 2015, under Cotter Scotland finished 6th with the wooden spoon. To make it more humiliating Scotland lost to Italy at Murrayfield. By anyone’s perception of the facts that is a decline in results.

      I’m not arguing against Cotter, who I wouldn’t have replaced, I’m arguing against the Toonie-out witch-hunt which grows more hysterical by the week. The flip-side of turning Toonie into some cartoon villain is turning Cotter into a flawless saint, under whom we’d now be 6N champions because apparently we have as good a group of players as any of our rivals and he was one of the best coaches in the world. Neither of those things are true. The time to consider Toonie’s future is at the end of the championship when we know how the squad has performed across the tournament. Not daily sh**-throwing across social media.

      1. Cotter did improve Scotlands standing year on year. His first 6N (2015) we were last, in 2016 he got 2 wins and in 2017 he got 3 home wins. I would say that is progression ? Why do you not accept that , it is a fact based opinion? Cotter also beat the USA , that is fact, Townsend did not, that is a fact. He took his side to a quarter final , that is a fact, Townsend did not and what is more he lost to Fiji ( fact).

        We may have regressed or may have progressed under Cotter , but what is the point in arguing that. I live in the real world , we have no Cotter, we do have a Townsend who can stand and fall on his own merits.

        Reality time, Townsend , in his first 6 nations bettered Cotter and took us to third in the table, last year to 5th and this season we are winless to date and 5th. That is not progression , it is at best, inconsistent. Like you , I think he should have stayed , however I am not stuck in the past, I am interested in the present.

        You cannot rewrite history. Toony has had some howlers. I would agree that we will have him till the end of the season and there is still a lot of rugby left. But I would be surprised if the ‘Townsend out brigade’ are wrong.

        Just for the record, I am not bothered about Finn in or out, or who threw the first brick. No one is irreplaceable , not Finn, not Cotter and not Gregor Townsend.

      2. Captain Chaos thank god somebody has a rational perspective on these blogs. Blowing away all the noise the simple facts are that we have not won in our last 8
        competitive outings against Tier 1 opposition in the 6N and World Cup. 8 games. I’m simply amazed that anybody can argue for this current setup based on those stats.

  19. Sam Skinner looked good when he came on for Exeter yesterday. Was barking out orders and calling the lineouts. His ability to play in the back row is also a plus in terms of his rugby brain. Could be a good captain option in the future if it doesn’t work out with Hogg or if they want to go down the co captaincy route between a forward and a back.

    1. Skinner is a very good player. Will be close between him and Richie.
      Maybe one will start with the other benched.

    1. Looked them up on the back of this and no, they weren’t. They were exactly what you would expect.

      1. Agree consistent, as throughout his career those working with Finn say good things. Interesting because he didn’t need to say anything and chose to underline three points – 1. Finn is highly professional, 2. in a team that has standards (alluding to Nakarawa) and 3. specifically says there are other things going on in this situation. Suggest a translation if don’t speak French.

  20. Hunter-Hill has been going well for Saracens recently. I suspect Skinner is due a call up to cover Gray’s injury but it’s good to see a young Scottish player doing well at such a big (if troubled) English club. Where he is next season will be interesting. Thought his leadership was noticable for Sarries against Sale and a vocal leader in the second row is always good.

    Will be some good competition at lock going forwards.

  21. Why does Toonie p some fans off so much?
    There’s a perception he undeservingly usurped successful coaches for both the Glasgow and Scotland jobs. Although both Lineen and Cotter were doing good jobs I don’t think this perception is totally fair. Townsend clearly took Glasgow on from Lineen and Cotter was originally only meant to be a short term fix for the RWC.
    I think the impulsive selection policy hasn’t helped. The ‘Tombola’ has often preceded a bad performance.

    The sad thing is we haven’t seen the tombola this 6N.
    Selection has been consistent and performance has also been good in many regards.
    We have lost 2 games by a c. try. Regards scoring we were denied a try in Ireland by a freak once in his entire career error from Hogg and then v England we didn’t score in a pishing force 10 gale.
    Circumstance means we have a promising but inexperienced fulcrum at 10.

    Can Toonie turn this around?
    Toonie the player would typically have a bad game and get written off then almost single handedly win the next game.
    The team Toonie coaches has been similar. Smashed by France one week, beating them the next, smashed by Wales one week, beating France the next then England. Smashed by England one half, smashing them the next.

    I think he might turn this around. Do not be surprised and do not write him off.

    We’ll see!

    1. Because:
      1/. For whatever reason some of our best players don’t play. R Gray / Russell / (Jones World cup.). Gray particularly galling when our 2nd row is so undersized.
      2/. He seems – rightly or wrongly – aloof, egotistical, convinced he is always right
      3/. His world cup was piss poor
      4/. His current 6 nations isn’t great . We lost 2 contested games. We still lost.
      5/. Cotter was a far superior coach. Even with some lows overall we had an upward trajectory. Reverse with GT.
      6/. Nonsense with fastest rugby in the world. 100% meaningless when you haven’t won the right to go wide.
      7/. Decent player. Blew hot and cold. By his own admission hated / wouldn’t tackle. Not great for a national side.
      8/. Best players in a generation wasted.
      9/. Dobson’s love child.
      10/. Couldn’t wait for ammunition to nail Fin to the mast after his Twickenham half time revelation.
      11/. Cannot decide on a settled side.
      12/. Fallen down the world rankings during his tenure.

      Enough for you?

      1. If Townsend wanted to drop Russell he’d drop him. He’s the head coach, he can do that. He doesn’t need to wait for ammunition.
        Russell left the camp.
        He could have stayed, taken his dropping v Ire then been back in the team.
        He decided to leave then published an interview claiming Townsend is a control freak.
        I bet he is. Just like I bet Andy Farrell or Eddie Jones or Shaun Edwards are control freaks.

        I think Townsend has done some things wrong – mostly the tombola – but the way he’s being given 100% of the blame for the Russell issue is just unrealistic. Never that binary.

      2. Gray can barely get a game for Toulouse and hasn’t been a regular starter in their big games, yet you still see him as the player he was 4 or 5 years ago…

      3. Gray is well established member of team and cannot say was not first XV in regularly rotating team, albeit of late has had more injuries and has chosen to move back to Glasgow. He was on injury comeback trail last season, but still played the full second half of the Top 14 final, ie the competitive half. Half our forwards aren’t first choice at Edinburgh and Toulouse one of best sides in Europe.

      4. How is our second row undersized?! Cummings is 116Kgs, Gray 121. That’s a reasonably sized second row. Bigger than both Ireland’s and England’s.

      5. They are undersized Teamcam because they are short for locks international or otherwise in terms of height. Their “official ” heights are 6 foot 6 inches. These are the heights they have volunteered so you can take these measurements with a pinch of salt. They will be smaller.
        Even allowing for a crap throw in have you ever wondered why we lose so many lineouts and cannot compete off opposition thrown in?
        Richie Gray is 6 foot 10 inches and all but guarantees line out possession. We can also afford to throw elsewhere with him playing as the opposition will be guarding him. It ain’t rocket science. In terms of undersize think height not weight.

      6. Itoje and Kruis are 6’5” and 6’6”. Henderson is 6’6”. Jones is 6’6”. Nakarawa is 6’6”. Launchbury is 6’6”. Mostert is 6’6”. Seems to me that 6’6” is a pretty reasonable height for an international lock.

      7. Also, O’Mahoney was stealing our lineout ball in week one and he’s 6’3”. There’s more to winning a lineout than simply being tall.

  22. Because:
    1/. For whatever reason some of our best players don’t play. R Gray / Russell / (Jones World cup.). Gray particularly galling when our 2nd row is so undersized.
    2/. He seems – rightly or wrongly – aloof, egotistical, convinced he is always right
    3/. His world cup was v. poor
    4/. His current 6 nations isn’t great . We lost 2 contested games. We still lost.
    5/. Cotter was a far superior coach. Even with some lows overall we had an upward trajectory. Reverse with GT.
    6/. Nonsense with fastest rugby in the world. 100% meaningless when you haven’t won the right to go wide.
    7/. Decent player. Blew hot and cold. By his own admission hated / wouldn’t tackle. Not great for a national side.
    8/. Best players in a generation wasted.
    9/. Dobson’s love child.
    10/. Couldn’t wait for ammunition to nail Fin to the mast after his Twickenham half time revelation.
    11/. Cannot decide on a settled side.
    12/. Fallen down the world rankings during his tenure.

    Enough for you?

  23. Walter Mitty needs to start picking our best 23 not club familars.

    1. Rory Sutherland
    2. George Turner
    3. Zander Fagerson
    4. Richie Gray
    5. Scott Cummings
    6. Sam Skinner
    7. Hamish Watson
    8. Nick Haining
    9. George Horne
    10. Finn Russell
    11. Darcy Graham
    12. Matt Scott
    13. Rory Hutchison
    14. Sean Maitland
    15. Stuart Hogg
    16. Fraser Brown
    17. Gordy Reid
    18. WP Nel
    19. Jamie Ritchie
    20. Matt Fagerson
    21. Ali Price
    22. Adam Hastings
    23. Blair Kinghorn

    1. Oh dear.

      Turner – Second choice at Glasgow.
      Gray – Barely played this season and not since December.
      Skinner – Has been injured up until very recently.
      Russell – Self imposed exile.
      Graham – Injured.
      Reid – Barely still in pro rugby, nowhere near Glasgow’s first XV.

      Posing most of the above as any sort of selection issue is absurd, Brown and McInally haven’t shone but nobody was calling for Turner before either of the two games so far. Get your head screwed on properly Link, a lazy and poor effort.

      The centres are one area where there could be question marks but there are plenty of justifications for picking the two incumbents.

    2. Ffs mostly the players Townsend picks anyway.

      How should he pick Finn Russell if Finn Russell doesn’t want to play?

      1. Lines are drawn. Unless he backs down, GT, and his tombola, will be gone at the end of this miserable season, which can’t come soon enough. We dont need him fully back in his box or becoming a football manager, just far enough away from the national set up. Maybe he could be relegated to Edinburgh with Cockerill pushed up to the national team. Gather all those supporting on here would be fine with that outcome and saves face all ways round. Lol

      2. Think Cockerill is a good club coach and could maybe be the forwards coach (if he avoided ego clashes) but head coach of the national team is a different bag.
        Most of his teams including Edinburgh until last season have played conservative rugby.
        He is good at building up players and ours lack confidence so need it. That’s a plus.
        I still don’t think he’s a national head coach tho.
        He comes from a rugby hotbed where it’s the everyman sport and a lot of what he does is building a parochial us v. The next town attitude.
        The people who really understand our rugby identity besides Scots are kiwis.

        If Townsend went they’d look for a Kiwi imo.

      3. I would not want Townsend ruining what Edinburgh are building towards tbh.

        I would put Townsend in charge of the U18s

      4. Of course, Townshend what a mug! The only coach to have won a league title with either Scottish club is obviously only fit to coach youth rugby. FFS

  24. Sam Skinner and Matt Fagerson added to the 6N squad for Italy. Alex Craig released back to Gloucester. Looks like Fagerson got the nod over Crosbie and the lack of Finn surely means he won’t feature at all in this 6N.

  25. On an entirely different subject – Exeter have just signed SHC on a two year deal. Given the quality of coaching and the environment Rob Baxter has created, let’s hope this revives SHC’s international aspirations. He’s fallen a long way behind but has always had plenty of talent and potential, sadly mostly wasted.

    [Edited – 2 year not 3 – R]

    1. That’s great news, hope works out. Can’t imagine it won’t at Exeter. Baxter seems to have twigged there value in Scottish players who outgrow the two pro clubs (fantastic considering his track record). Parallels to football in by-gone era. Now a key exiles outpost, and has distanced himself from England job this cycle too. Could be talking about English and European Champions by time Gray and SHC join Hogg and Skinner.

  26. On same old topic, say whatever you want, Russell showed exactly what Scotland have missed in the end zone. Google ‘Finn Russell’s touch of class as Racing edge Toulouse’. That plus R Gray at lineout time, please Gregor.

    1. Russell also threw interception which cost his team a try plus got kick blocked which luckily didn’t end as try – so hot and cold I’d say

  27. Some perspective please.
    If anyone expected (not hoped) to win away in Ireland, please put your hand up. No, didn’t think so. Admittedly disappointment afterwards – “one that got away”, but we were serious underdogs going into the game.
    If anyone expected (not hoped) to beat England, the RWC finalists, then yet again you were being overly optimistic. Especially when the weather meant our creative backs were nullified and the Olde England power made the difference. Boring but effective.
    I said before the 6N started that I’d be happy if
    1. Townsend keeps faith with the starting 23, barring injury or returns from injury.
    2. We don’t get trounced (ie a loss of 15 points or more).
    3. We win at least 2 games.
    On the basis we are missing two of our “penned in” starting XV (Russell and Graham), for one reason or another, I am now hopeful we can re-start the campaign. If Toonie keeps with the starting squad (I don’t think anyone has been bad enough to be dropped) then a win away in Italy puts us back on track.
    France don’t travel well, and we will have confidence, and with a stable team who are all playing for each other for once.
    If we win that one as well then who knows? It is possible we win in Wales for the first time since 2002.
    Of course, lose to Italy then all bets are off, and I would agree that Townsend should go. But until then I still have faith.

    1. Whatever the expectations were before the games – and I agree, few would “expect” us to win – the disappointment comes from the fact that once we were in the game with a chance to win, we blew it……in successive weeks.
      Moreover, the expectation, I’d wager, from most is that we all knew we would blow it and could probably predict how.

      That’s the shift that is needed. More of the same will mean, guess what, more of the same.
      Game plans, systems and belief are fine but when repeated examples of them failing to deliver results abound then reality must, sooner or later, be confronted.

  28. Delighted to hear that SHC has secured a proper contract at a club, a real player of quality and has gotten some good experiences on part time contracts since leaving Edinburgh.

    Scarlets, Harlequins, Racing, Lyon and now Exeter.

    From the sounds of it Rob Baxter is going to see him as his first choice no.9 and he is a replacement for Nick White.

    If he stays at top form no reason he cant be challenging for the 9 jersey for Scotland (excepts for Toony Tantrums)
    In my opinion he offers a better all-round game to Horne & Price.

    1. Encouraging news , thanks for that update, Neil. We need it ,this week of all weeks. SHC seems to have landed that ‘journeyman’ tag but this move will shake that off ,if he is in the regular 23. I am not sure on the history at Edinburgh ? Does anyone know what was behind his falling away ? He was on the up, had injury’s and then went off to seek something ? Well he now has a good CV , by accident or design is my question.

      I know we have the feeling of limited depth in Scottish rugby but when we see another Scottish International and a forgotten one at that ,joining the Premiership leaders, we have to be asking ourselves, what is stopping us ? We have individual players who are respected but we are about to enter the wooden spoon playoff .

      This is not yet another bash at the Head Coach, but what is going on, a lot of talent , a dearth of International presence !

      1. Campbell, SHC overvaulued himself when it came round to contract negotiating time. After a great first season his subsequent ones did not match the value he placed on himself and he moved on.

        Looks like he might have finally found the balance in his head on the talent he possesses.

      2. I remember reading that being away in Scotland camp and not getting game time meant that when he returned to Edinburgh he wasn’t match fit and he lost his mojo.

    1. Should be entitled “Who does Clive Woodward think he is?”
      Particularly painful that he thinks Dodson should step in and kick Finn out for good! Then he just needs to stick the boot into Archie and he’ll have the family three of a kind…
      Interesting that Barclay has come out in Finn’s defence (not from an anti-GT perspective it’s important to adf), as a player who has had his own irreconcilable differences with the international setup in the past.

      1. What a dribble of anti-scots pish. My favourite part (to paraphrase):

        “He said I was a bully, so I used my position as head coach to banish him from the team forever”

        So a bully then…

        What a C.W…or total masturbator, to translate.

      2. Barclay didn’t come to Finn’s defence – he gave both sides of the story – Barclay is far too smart to get caught up in all of this.

      3. Also interesting looking back that Finn came to RG’s defence when he didn’t accept invitation to hold tackle bags at World Cup. Yeah CW, pillock – Daily Mail too right.

  29. Im prepared for the wooden spoon at this point. Give some new people a shot against Italy, and bring back the team from Ireland/England back for the france game along with anyone who really sticks there hands up from Italy, not going to get a lot of ideal matches to blood people this year.

    1. Rory Sutherland
    2. Stuart Mcinally
    3. Zander Fagerson
    4. Sam Skinner
    5. Scott Cummings
    6. Nick Haining
    7. Jamie Ritchie
    8. Matt Fagerson
    9. George Horne
    10. Adam Hastings
    11. Darcy Graham
    12. Matt Scott
    13. Rory Hutchison
    14. Sean Maitland
    15. Blair Kinghorn

    16. George Turner
    17. Allan Dell
    18. WP Nel
    19. Ben Toolis
    20. Hamish Watson
    21. Ali Price
    22. Sam Johnson
    23. Stuart Hogg

    15 of the starting 23 for Ireland, the 8 others are in good form and deserve an opportunity.

    1. Summer tour non-Test matches ideally (if there are any) and AIs probably a better time to slot new or newish faces in.

      Look at the current 6N table, Neil, and ask yourself why we wouldn’t want to put our strongest possible 15/23 out for Rome. Everyone’s capable of beating everyone else this year and the Italy side led by Parisse in his final season as an international will be completely up for this.

      Actually you’ve not picked a bad 23 but no Brown or Jones even on the bench is strange. Stranger still is Kinghorn for Hogg at FB.
      See where you’re coming from but this Saturday isn’t the day for experimentation on this scale.

  30. Being a control freak is probably a prerequisite for being an international head coach.
    Do you think Warren Gatland hands his fly half a 1 page plan then says “here are a few structures, but if you disagree you just do what you feel is right at the time”?
    Doubt it.
    Question is whether Townsend is too prescriptive, but we don’t know, only players do. So far they look motivated in contrast to players who don’t believe in their coach who generally don’t.
    Of course Clive Woodward doesn’t want to see Finn Russell play for Scotland! He’s a big part of the reason we held the Calcutta cup for 2 seasons! Let’s see whether he thinks Russell should go on next year’s Lions tour!
    I’d like GT and FR to sort it out. Assuming there isn’t some kind of psychological problem at play then the idea of giving Russell more responsibility is an interesting one.

    Fingers crossed. Doesn’t look like it’s happening for the next game tho.

    Hastings is good. Just less developed.

      1. I think Hastings is good. He’s also an attacking fly half.

        Finn not playing at the top level is a travesty, but it’s at least partly of his own making.

  31. Thistle podcast reporting Harris might be starting in Rome with Hutchison on bench. If so, a very poor decision – just start Hutchison FFS.

    Or give Jones a chance in a game he might actual get passed the ball.

    1. If true that’s really disappointing. Who could look at our last two games, where we have been solid in defence but haven’t scored a try, and think that Chris Harris would fix the problems.

      I like Harris but he’s not exactly a creative, free flowing try scorer.

      Haven’t listened to this episode but their ‘source’ was absolutely correct for the last two games which doesn’t bode well.

      1. Couldn’t agree more. Particularly as you are signalling an off the cuff high tempo game with Horne at 9.

        Harris solidity and defence wasn’t much in evidence when getting stripped of the ball and run away from for one of the Japanese tries…

        The muddled approach to marrying tactics with selection that torpedoed our World Cup continues.

      2. If he does pick Harris, without Jones being injured then it suggests he’s never learned any lessons from the RWC.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion