Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 6 – 13 England

Scotland v England
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

If this was war, then it was the long-range artillery that won out, as in ever worsening conditions, a kicking frenzy broke out.

With the crowd at BT Murrayfield in fine vocal form, captain Stuart Hogg got us under way with a deep hanging kick-off which was well chased, with Sam Johnson putting in a thumping hit just 5m from the England try-line.

England were forced to clear, Kinghorn carried into the 22, but as was the case last week, failed to turn possession in to points when Maro Itoje interrupted Ali Price’s pass, and England forced a penalty.

Gauzerre then awarded a free-kick when Rory Sutherland closed the gap at the line-out, and although Farrell’s kick gained more height than distance, an excellent follow-up kick to the corner from the England captain pinned Scotland into a tight spot, which they did well to escape.

Although the conditions didn’t initially seem hideous (it was windy, but not blowing a gale) at the start, England were putting a lot of air on the ball, and when Stuart Hogg failed to gather one of them England attacked and were awarded the first kickable penalty of the afternoon when Scott Cumming failed to roll away after making a tackle.

Farrell’s kick, to a chorus of boos, dropped short and Blair Kinghorn cleared to touch around 30m from the Scotland line.

From England’s next series of phases, an offside penalty against Cummings gave Farrell another chance, this time much easier, and Farrell obliged to put England 3-0 up after 11mins.

Maro Itoje, known to give away a penalty or two in his time, was pinged for a high tackle on half-way, which was thumped into the corner, but Scotland’s line-out, in a promising position, was overthrown.

Farrell, however, skewed his clearing kick, so Scotland had another line-out just outside the 22. Ludlam entered the maul at the side, so Hogg went again to the corner.

Cummings claimed and passed down to Watson as the maul formed, but the ball was made unplayable by the English pack, so they were awarded the put-in at the scrum, and Scotland saw another chance go begging when in their opponents’ 22.

England seemed happy to soak up Scottish pressure, scrum-half Willi Heinz in particularly keen to play the territory game, and they nearly got a scrum near the 22 when Hogg’s booming kick looked like it would go dead, but it stopped right in the corner of the in-goal area.

However, from the free-kick clearance, England wrestled possession back, allowing Elliot Daly to stretch his legs. Although Scotland won possession back, Stuart Hogg was contentiously penalised by Monsieur Gauzerre for not releasing after the tackle, only for Farrell to make a dog’s dinner of his penalty attempt.

A fine mist of rain had begun to fall, and it was getting notably windier. And colder.

Kicking from hand was the order of the day, as both teams looked for the other to make an error from which they could counter-punch.

England had seemed to blink first when Kruis was penalised for not releasing, only for Hogg to miss touch with a low drilled kick to the corner as he attempted to counteract the wind. Rory Sutherland then got penalised for side entry to a ruck, so England had a chance at an attaking line-out at the 22. Thankfully for Scotland, their throw went squint.

With a dour first-half drawing to a close, an Adam Hastings clearance went out on the full, so England could have a second go at the line-out they had fluffed just moments earlier. Scotland, whose maul defence had seemed much improved last week, again stopped it in its tracks, so George Ford had a go at the drop-goal. It missed handsomely.

Scotland had one last foray into England territory when awarded another free-kick for an early engagement at the scrum, and although Hastings’ chip over the top was gathered in, there was a knock-on in contact, so both sides went to the nice, warm dressing rooms with only Farrell’s penalty separating them.

Half-time: Scotland 0 – 3 England

George Ford kicked us off in the second half, and you knew there would be plenty more where that came from.

When Ford himself made a hash of a Hogg skyscraper, Jonny Gray’s lovely offload saw Sutherland dummied and burst through a hole in the English defence.

Huw jones, with a remarkable record of four tries in two games against England, took it to within 5m, and England were forced to infringe.

Scotland ambitiously went for the line, but this time they retained possession. Drive after drive went closer, until Sam Underhill was penalised for not releasing after the tackle.

Right in front of the sticks, Adam Hastings banged over the equalising 3-pointer, to a light smattering of boos.

Scotland had a lucky escape when they turned possession over in their own 22, but a spill from Underhill once advantage was over handed possession back, and Hastings cleared with the outside of his boot to halfway.

Going for the lines in this kind of weather is risky business, and once Heinz kicked out on the full, Scotland were given their own line-out on halfway.

The line-out was a mess, but Hastings got a boot to it, which caused mayhem in the England defence. They were forced to clear to touch just 15m from their own line.

Murrayfield roared in approval, then groaned in despair, as Sinckler ripped the ball from Gray’s grasp after multiple phases of pick-and-go-not-very-far. Another pointless visit to the opposition 22.

McInally replaced Brown on 52mins, and the first thing he did was overthrow a line-out. England kicked (surprised?) deep to Hogg, and Captain Marvel did his thing.

He sold Farrell a dummy, raced outside Joseph towards England’s half, then kicked a grubber into the England 22.  

When Heinz made another mess of a box-kick, Scotland got the line-out from practically the same spot Hogg’s kick had gone out at. Another good attacking position, but with great inevitability, Watson this time knocked on in the tackle, despite his protestations that England were offside.

England’s insistence on kicking kept on coming back to bite them, George Ford the guilty party this time, as he cleared directly to touch from just outside his 22.

For what seemed like the 800th time already in this Six Nations, Scotland’s line-out was not clean, so England could knock Scotland back 50 or so metres.

Until they kicked out on the full again. This time it was Elliot Daly with the shanked clearance, but again, the line-out was poor, and this time, stolen.

England, despite having almost no territory in the second half, were awarded the chance to take the lead, when replacement Ellis Genge won a scrum penalty.

The scrum had been conceded when the usually reliable Sean Maitland had spilled in the tackle after claiming another up n under, but England’s usual Mr Reliable, Owen Farrell, again skewed his kick wide, so we stayed at 3-3 with quarter of an hour remaining.

If you thought Stuart Hogg had made a howler last week, he nearly added to that collection as he tried to watch a George Ford kick over the line.

Hogg’s grounding was not clear, but after a TMO review, was given a slight reprieve, when it was decreed he’d done just enough to ground, but had taken it back over the line.

The reprieve was brief. Although the scrum didn’t make any ground, England’s pack did what Scotland’s always fail to do. Work together, to force themselves over the try-line, Ellis Genge being the man in possession as they bundled over.

With under 5mins remaining. Simon Berghan was penalised for side entry at a ruck, and Owen Farrell, after 90secs of faffing about, dissected the swaying sticks.

Straight from the restart, Joe Launchbury gave away a penalty which Hastings converted to give Scotland a last ditch lifeline, and a losing bonus-point.

A lifeline which Scotland then kicked away. What the hell was Ali Price thinking about, box-kicking possession away with 20secs left?

A wretched spectacle, which must have Toony pulling hairs out of anywhere he can find them. Individual errors, the inability to turn pressure, of which they had plenty, into points, is on the players.

Referee: Pascal Gauzerre

SRBlog MOTM: In horrible conditions, Adam Hastings kicked very well from hand, and is so far the only man to score points for Scotland in this Six Nations. Not flawless, but did well in testing conditions.

Attendance: 67,000

301 Responses

  1. Excellent defence over two games
    absolute garbage attack over two games
    Hastings did well but…
    Townsend’s stubbornness has cost us two games
    No Finn Russell
    No Trusting Hutchison, the most in-form centre
    Why on earth is George Horne not getting on at all.

    1. Russell excluded himself.
      I watched Hutchinson for a whole game a couple of weeks back and have seen highlights.

      He doesn’t look like a player who’s going to make a big difference in a pishing gale. You’re thinking of Sam Underhill or Maro Itoje and they play for England.

      1. Reading the ST interview with a Russell it’s clear he didn’t exclude himself. He was dropped for one game and then rather than bring him back GT doubled down and left him out of the England match squad. With no laidlaw Or Barclay (Who was also treated shabbily by the SRU) to look out for him Finn has clearly lost faith that he will be treated like an adult. GT looks like a man who knows he’s just keeping the seat warm till summertime. A win v Wales or France plus what should be a certain win against a poor Italy side may save him but long term, having a coach who rules by fear and stifles free thought isn’t going to win us many matches. Personally, I’d like to see the SRU appoint Dan McFarland and hoof GT. Tandy and de villiers look like good appointments who could bring Scotland on but with GT at the top, we are likely to see little change in how players are managed.

      1. Well, we shouldn’t have BEEN kicking it at the end. Once we secured the LBP, Horne should’ve been straight on the field.

      2. Agreed Sam I think you are right… When you need two scores with time running out it is always the right decision to take the three points to get within a score. Going to the corner is such low odds and you are going to run out of time more than likely even if you get a try. So you do not have the same time pressure to get the try after getting the three, obviously you have to go the length of the field. Not easy but you are still in the ball game after time up.

        Once making that right decision why does Hastings kick it away? You’re unlikely to get it back.. then with 30 secs left Price kicks too…why oh why do rugby players not think? Scotland haven’t won a contestable ball all match so why is it such better odds for the last play of the game??

        It’s madness utter madness!!!!

  2. Townsend lives in a parallel universe watching a different game from the rest of us. His team was totally clueless in attack. The usual pattern. Heroic defeat! Pathetic

  3. The game was played in a 50mph gale with pishing rain.
    What do you expect to see, flowing back moves?
    England just have forwards who can stick it up the jumper better and that’s how they managed to edge it by a single score.

    I thought the defence was great. Can we ally it to attack?

    Will Russell come back?

    I don’t know if he could have made a difference today but I assume those conditions were freakish.

    The team is young and it’s time to get behind them. Italy we should beat, Wales looked like they could be taken and France? Who knows.

    1. It is not just that. The point is they just kept doing the same thing over and over and it was getting no where. Example being on English line and trying to barge over and over until they lost the ball. No thought of a quick ball and a backs move. Same with the kicking. There is not a rugby brain out there!

      1. No thought either of podding up, it was always one-pass for a 1 on 1 or 1 on 2. J Gra0y should have focused on the ball/getting under Genge, rather than trying to stop Gengtoji.

        Top notch players get these things right. Our players are not top notch it seems.

      2. It’s rare I comment on here and haven’t since the days of Haddock and FB Parkes….
        The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
        Townsend is lacking in ideas insight and man management
        Was a decent player in his day but is not international coaching quality
        We are the laughing stock of world rugby

      1. Johnny has started watching rugby, test rugby only mind, since the last World Cup and thinks he’s doing a fantastic job. Self lol.

  4. England had an extra forward on the bench.
    Jones obviously looked at the weather forecast and decided they’d grind this one out.
    Should Townsend have done the same?

    Who knows, but fans lamenting the lack of flowing attack are wide of the mark.

    Get behind the team now. They’ll be feeling down after this one but the remaining 3 fixtures all look winnable to me.

    1. The problem is that we get behind the team and then they serve up the same old same old riddled with basic errors. It’s time for a decent coach

      1. Basic skills are not taught by coaches – its rightly assumed you have them before you reach a test side.

  5. My two penn’orth:

    Our line-out was a shambles. Again.

    Kinghorn was poor under the high ball, as was Hogg.

    Our kick-chase was posted missing. Again.

    We couldn’t convert possession in the opponent’s 22 into points. Again. We had neither the muscle nor the invention to get over the line against a fairly stodgy England side.

    We need a captain who’s closer to the heart of the action.

    What does Hutch have to do to get some game time? Ditto Horne.

    Haining should have been brought on sooner.

    Skinner should be added to the squad. And Finn.

    Eddie Jones: ungraciousness personified.

  6. I think that can be summed up by saying, “gah!”

    The 20 minutes after half time showed we could play a bit but we wasted the 1st half with some poor kicks and poor game management. But even in that 20 minutes we kept fluffing it when we got anywhere near the line.

    If we could convert even half the chances we create we’d be a great team! More composure needed.

    1. He never was up to it , he has many faults, I have to say though, today was a dreadful day for playing rugby.But today was deliver time, you need to win at home in the 6N.

  7. We have to admit, we didn’t adapt our game to the conditions and that’s why we lost, we have to be honest with our performance. A big factor was the failure to lead against a very average England side. It’s time to dig deep when it’s against you, dig in and dish it out. Still too many errors and failure to get the basics right. We are so much better than this, cmon lads.

  8. Sutherland: Solid
    Brown: Lineout disaster
    Fagerson: Hard day at the coalface
    Gray: Ineffective
    Cummings: Huffed and puffed
    Backrow: Grafted
    Price: Bombscare
    Hasting: Alright
    Kinghorn: Mixed bag
    Centres: N/A
    Maitland: Errors
    Hogg: Oh dear

    Dell: Stuck in reverse
    Berghan: Lump
    McInally: Carried on where Brown left off
    Toolis: Similar to starting locks
    Haining: On too late
    Back subs: Can only remember Harris coming on and not a day to be a centre.

    For me we lost this game because our lineout was pathetic as were our front row replacements at scrum time. This coupled with our back 3 (less so Kinghorn) serving up errors nigh on everytime they touched the ball.

    As if Russell or Hutchinson would have made a difference, not a day for free running rugby. Have a feeling Russell would have been right there with Price and Hogg trying to force it and ballsing it up.

  9. One dimensional without Russel.
    A little grubber kick in behind ! Something to make it happen . Scottish forward just can’t keep crashing into the English back row .
    The man at the top that’s his job to find a way isn’t .

  10. Another dissappointment, first 6 Nations in 50 years where I just don’t care. Too many tears of trying to take something positive from defeat after defeat. Only positive to take from this game is Engaland is not looking like WRWC finalists.

    1. “tears of trying”. How appropriate. It could be the Scottish Rugby official song, or perhaps the new hashtag.

  11. Get Finn Russel back on the team, I don’t care if he is difficult to manage, I want to see my team win matches

  12. Will Townsend drop Hogg now?

    If he doesn’t it looks like not being a good boy in the hotel is a bigger issue than throwing away Test matches.

    If I was Russell i’d sit the rest of the tournament out and wait and see who is coaching in the Summer.

  13. Well… England far superior in the loose the tight and the defence. Huffing and puffing is simply not good enough at this level. When they wanted to exert control from the scrum they were able to force penalties that we were simply unable to stop. Quite frankly these conditions should have favoured us but, the reality is, we were battered at home.

  14. When you’re behind with two minutes to go, how do you score points by kicking the ball to the opposition, I’m sure there is a cunning plan that fans aren’t aware of

    1. Its only a viable play if they knock it on and we win the subsequent scrum. Turns out they are better catchers in the rain than we are. Im surprised at that as there have been plenty of wild & wet games at Scotstoun for half the players on the field.

    2. Yup 100% agree yet by some madness they kicked it back to us then with 30 secs to we kicked it again??? It’s utter madness…somebody help me understand this?

  15. A dreadful match in atrocious conditions and surely this must be taken into account when judging GT. Not many dissenters about team selection before the match. What can GT do when players continually cough up possession in contact. He cant create physical specimens like Underhill and it was English physicality that one this match. GT should rightly be judged at end of tournament but not after this freak game.

    1. Our tight 5 were heavier, our back row was heavier, our backs are heavier. Its not about physical specimens its about the top 2 inches and technical skills and that’s why the coaches are getting it in the neck.

  16. Agree with all the above, pathetic as usual, we should be able to buy jerseys and supporter gear at discount prices as worthless. No game plan, no clue, no execution. Best player not playing surely 1 game suspension should have been enough. Too much ego in management and as usual we the fans pay. A school boy performance would have been better to watch, not one of the players today deserve to wear the jersey.

  17. Have to say I was really disappointed with the forwards as a unit today. I don’t know what the coaches are doing but its not working. Really worried about Danny Wilson at Glasgow next season. The charge sheet against the forwards:

    Lineout was a disaster. You cant lose 7 lineouts at this level despite the weather.
    Cant remember a contact that they won. We were getting dominated in the tackle.
    Losing the breakdown again. Mostly because we are getting there slower.
    Scrum started to disintegrate.
    Maul defense worse than last week. It was good in Ireland.
    Not defending as a unit.
    When we get near the try we are driving in ones and two whereas England for their try had five in there against 2 defenders.

    Not sure how we turn this around for the rest of the 6 nations.

  18. In the post match interview I thought Toony looked like a man who new his future depended on retaining the Calcutta Cup.

    1. Getting rid of Toonie right now would be effing stupid. I think he’s starting to get it right.

      Defence has clearly gone up a notch since the RWC and there’s been far greater continuity in selection.

      The attacking play needs to be bolted on but a force 10 gale on a February night in auld reekie is never going to be the place where sparks start to fly.

      Just ridiculous to talk about getting rid of Townsend.

      1. I wasn’t suggesting getting rid of him, just thought he looked like a condemned man. A few things need to be shaken up before Italy and then everyone can take stock at the end of the six nations.

    2. He looked relieved and the mask was off. Some will say he has been unlucky with injury’s , today was the weather, anytime soon we will get a post about the referees. I think he has finally got an idea about what he needs to do , but another hurdle just keeps appearing.

      He must have cycled more players in his 3 year tenure than any other Scottish coach in the last 20 years. I would like to see the statistics on this. It just feels like that. I think that has been a mistake. Today we needed 23 men that knew each other well and played for their friends.

  19. Before the game few people had issues with selection or performance v Ireland and now the same fans are turning on the team.

    The game was played in a force 10 gale so no chance of seeing flowing rugby rugby.

    Finn Russell wouldn’t have made any difference today nor would Rory Hutchinson.
    England have white orc on steroids forwards who can stick the ball up their jumper and that’s what they did. They did it to Ireland last season, they did it to the all blacks in the rwc.
    We’re not the only ones!

    I think the team could easily bag a couple of ‘Ws’ out of the next 3 fixtures but they’ll need confidence to do it.
    You heard what Peter O’Mahony said about us last week? Nobody thinks we’re a joke and remind me how well Wales did v Ireland today?

    Fans should get off the team’s back. They’re quite a young team, there have been 10 changes since the rwc, and a new defence coach, as well as a new fulcrum at 10.

    Perhaps consider building players up instead of knocking them down and maybe you will get a reward.

    1. Yawn. Well done the corinthians.

      Professional sport and we are rank amateurs.

      Toonie has clearly lost dressing room and needs to go. Check out twitter for your evidence for those who think a blazer and tie on game day is enough.

      Scotland were mince yesterday. One defeat away from a laughing stock

  20. What a shambles. Why do we never seem to learn..

    We knew the weather forecast, line out practice wasn’t practiced, based on what I’ve just witnessed.

    Second row back to being passive again, dropping the shoulder and going to ground. Needs to be freshened up with stand up running and determination to smash what’s in front.

    Sutherland proving a class act as we know but the rest of front row taken to the cleaners today. Why?

    Still think our best starting backrow is Bradbury, Ritchie and Haining. Hamish has been getting smothered for a while now. Crosbie deserves a chance from the bench too.

    No idea what Price was thinking at the end by kicking away. His kicking wasn’t great anyway, so where was wee George to carry instead?

    Hastings was isolated, not his fault.

    Centres missing in action, again. Both need to be changed, both out of the 23 for Italy: needs a bold approach based on actual form.

    Back 3. Oh dear. Personally, not been flattered by Hogg for some time now. Sure, the odd run or kick, but usually offset by horrific handling or decision making.

    As a team 23, we can’t keep picking on reputation. Most earned a long time ago and superceded by ineffective games. Nothing to lose by bringing in the likes of Crosbie, Craig plus Skinner and M Fagerson returning from injury.

    The hope! Guaranteed to shaft you, every single time!

    Always the next time..

  21. Truly terrible conditions. Not so long ago we would have been licking our lips to get in there, but when I saw the conditions I felt it wouldn’t be our day. I hope our management don’t hide behind the conditions because it was the same for both sides.

    I think our line out is almost in crisis and that being the case, why pass up the chance of 3 points in the first half to kick into the corner and lose the lineout? I felt and surely our captain should know that points were likely to be like gold dust today (for both sides).

    Lastly because I’m fed up after watching today especially because England were a bit of shambles themselves, we are a much poorer team without Finn (as solidly as Adam has played), we have no xfactor without Finn and haven’t looked like scoring a try in both games this season.

  22. Anyone blaming GT and calling for his sacking after today needs to get a grip. He wasn’t the one who messed up seven lineouts or coughed up numerous knock ons or dropped high balls. It wasn’t his decision to kick away possession in that last two minutes nor was it GT who ignored Kyle sinkler ripping the ball away whilst off his feet near the England line. This team was the best that could be selected but some of them just don’t seem able to perform when under pressure. Defensively again Scotland showed up much better than they have for a while. Tandy is clearly having an effect. Russell would not have won today’s game on his own without the ball and it was down to poor retention that Scotland were unable to grind out a win today. Hogg did not play particularly well but dropping the Captain is only going to put a sense of panic thru the squad. I suspect there will be changes for Italy at perhaps 9 and Kinghorn may also be ousted by Graham. Berghan was minced in the scrum when he came on so Nel may be selected to the bench again. Considering how awful the set piece was today, losing by a single score is not the unmitigated disaster people are making it out to be. A good win v Italy will breed some confidence and with that confidence I genuinely feel Scotland can beat wales and France (who we still don’t if they are the real deal or not)

    1. I do not think he should go , I think we need to give him this 6 Nations and then decide, fairly and rationally.

      His first priority , is actually the priority he neglected when he took over, namely finding 23 players that are the core of his squad. He is doing that now and it will have setbacks.

      Toony wasn’t the man who threw 7 dreadful line outs, but he was the man who selected a guy who regularly fails in the basic skill of the number 2 jersey, the lineout throw. Fraser Brown has always been poor in the lineout. If I can see it , then the question of Toony must be what is so great about Fraser Brown that can sustain this level of poor performance. I am happy to be corrected !

    2. I suggest you get a grip his tatics don’t work he was an average player and an even more average manager.

      1. Average player?
        A British Lion in a winning series.
        Fulcrum of the team last time we won a championship (didn’t he score a try in every game too?)

      2. I’m no GT fan but it was poor play and poor decisions, not poor tactics that lost Scotland the game. I agree he is a poor “coach” (he’s not a manager, this is rugby not Wendyball) but he was a fine player.

    3. I would start game with Nel good scrummager get 40 mins out of him then get big impact of bench from Fagerson maybe tempted to start Rambo also not that line line outs improved that much when he came on.

  23. Team for Italy

    1. Sutherland
    2. Brown
    3. Fagerson
    4. Gray
    5. Cummings
    6. Skinner
    7. Ritchie
    8. Bradbury
    9. Price
    10. Russell
    11. Graham
    12. Scott
    13. Hutchison
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg

    16. Mcinally
    17. Bhatti
    18. Berghan
    19. R.Gray
    20. Watson
    21. Horne
    22. Hastings
    23. Kinghorn

    We need a better lineout so Skinner and Gray into 23
    The attack has been weak and poor last two games, Get out world class 10 back in and put our two most in form centres on the pitch !
    Graham comes in as he would be a first choice anyway.

    1. Not a bad team Neil – I would also start McInally as Brown needs a kick up the arse and for gods sack give Horne some game time, he should excel against Italy!

      1. Don’t think Mcinally has been great recently in that area either is the issue and we seemed to have issues in the scrum also once Brown came off, he is very strong in defence at least.

        I would not be against starting Horne, i just did not want to make 5 changes to a backline (although admittedly it’s been pretty useless to date except in defence)

      2. The scrum creaked due to Dell and Berghan not the hooker. World Cup 2015, Brown, remember? When has he ever done what McInally did last Calcutta Cup?

      3. I am with NRS , Brown is too costly , McInally is an decent leader who was caught in the World Cup headlights having to explain the unexplainable, namely the consequences of the selection of a World Cup team that was made up of dolly mixtures rather than a mature team that gel as such.That was a failure of the one and only Toony , a man who till this 6 nations was consistent for only one thing, his inconsistent team selections. McInally is our starting hooker and unless Brown can get his darts correct , he needs to go. There can be no justification for a skelly hooker. Toony must be largely consistent , but for the next game , Brown needs to step back.

  24. I did say on these pages before the tournament that we’re a good bet to finish bottom of the table at 13/1, under Townsned and Hogg’s captaincy. All the censorship in the world can’t delete that. Next up a loss in Rome and then it’s a near certainty.

    1. Yes you did, yes it is obvious, but it is compelling viewing. Just keep cool , keep watching , do not hurry the moment, there is nothing we can do anyway , cool it, be less busy , enjoy the ride.

      1. Easy to say it’s obvious now.

        It’s not compelling viewing seeing a talented group of players performing below the sum of their parts.

        This is the reality under Dumb and Dumber, Walter Mitty and Hogg.

      2. Haven’t read the full Russell article is the times but the timing of it couldn’t be more inopportune. The only thing it does is to try and deflect blame on to GT for the rift.How is any of that going to help the team? Clearly he won’t be appearing in dark blue any time soon.

      3. Actually, he said he waited until after the England game so that it didn’t interfere with the first 2 games but rather was on a fallow week.
        Seems pretty considerate to me given he didn’t have to do that.

      4. Sorry Gaffer , I do not agree and take Fraser’s point about waiting till now.

        I was disgusted by the way the SRU and the press were saying ‘the door was open for Finn Russell’, it came accross they had moral high ground and the victims.

        A one week ban and expecting him to hang around the camp was humiliating treatment in my opinion. He had to walk, no choice.

        I am not saying he was correct to put himself in such a compromised position, that is another matter entirely and only Finn and a mirror can answer.

        My point is this , the press made it appear Finn had abandoned them and the Scotland players and fans, in my opinion.However the press usually need to take interviews and report based on what was stated.

        The door to an untenable situation was open is the impression , I get , rightly or wrongly.

  25. What really bothers me is that while today’s conditions were awful, our % error rate was so much higher than England’s. Catching high balls & kicking to touch was always going to be a bit of a lottery but why was our line out so much more of a mess than the opposition? Why does the pack cough up possession so more readily than the opposition. Why did we concede so many more penalties (granted I think the ref missed a number of times the English player was off their feet at the ruck but probably missed a few of our offsides etc.). Apart from the first 2 minutes, the intensity & desire just didn’t seem to be there up front, a backward step from last week and not really weather related. Our props went off too early (we used to have 80 minute props not that long ago), Haining came on too late. Not sure we could pick a better team, just need silly errors coached out as they are killing us. Break down and line out specialist coaches urgently needed. Just hope the 2 week break is used to really concentrate on the basics; a defeat to Italy would be a disaster.

  26. Eddie Jones got one over on GT today he selected on the weather forecast and was rewarded. I also felt GT should have used full bench and got Haining on earlier.

    For a long time we have been collectively the worst team under a high ball.

    We continue to perform poorly in Danny Wilson’s areas of responsibility. Line out and breakdown. He can’t leave the Scotland role soon enough.

    Our attack is not functioning, GT should consider a dedicated attack coach this could help mediate the Finn Russel situation to.

    We were at least difficult to beat.

    Hogg will see out the 6N as captain but I’d like to see a number of candidates get a go over the next two years.

    1. I am intrigued Sam , why do you not see Hogg as a Captain of tomorrow? Do you not feel it will be awkward to strip him of the role and have him cooperate with a new captain ? I can see him being our captain for a very long time.

      1. Well I don’t think we want to go into the next world cup without an experienced captain. If Hogg were to captain whenever he plays for the next four years and then miss the world cup for whatever reason it would be damaging. I would allow a number of people to have a go over the next two years and have a short list and then commit to a captain and VC’s two years out. As Hogg has most experience now it makes sense to start with him but I’d also like to see Brown, Gray, Ritchie and possibly Bradbury get chances over the next couple of years. I think Hogg has done OK with media and getting everyone pulling together but I think in the two games so far there have been times when we should have been challenging the ref more on foul play and there have been a few bad mistakes in his personal performance. We’ll see how he goes the rest of the 6N.

      2. I think he is finding it hard but admire him trying so very much. He does not have presence in front of referees. I am not a fan by a long way, but have to say he will learn how hard it is to be captain and will respect authority in the future.

      3. Ritchie for me. Neither Brown nor Gray are nailed on to start. Gray in particular, strikes me as a player who needs to focus entirely on his own game.

      4. The next world cup is 4 years away, I think we need to sort out the 6 Nations first and based on that confidence build a squad.

  27. Bugger me but there’s a lot of rubbish on this blog atm. We were up against the RWC finalists and pushed them all the way. Made them look stupid sometimes. Ok not enough but some of the spite on here is obviously not from Scotland fans.
    1. We were 13-1 to win this game.
    2. Townsend picked tha same side that ALMOST beat ireland in Dublin
    3. Please have faith in the boys as I have. This side will learn from the last two weeks, smash Italy, run rings round France and grab an exhilarating win away in Cardiff.

    1. Some people clearly have already copied “get GT and Hogg out” and are just waiting to paste it in the comments – no attempt to make sensible analysis.

      It is only posts like yours and Johnny b further up that are stopping me staying away from the blog at the moment!

      1. Fraser, I am with you, this is not the time to be calling for either of their heads, allow them the dignity of this 6 nations and see how it goes, I think there is improvement generally.

        But , I am keen to know what the opposite view is ? It is quite easy to just lay into the boo boys who have not explaining themselves, I suspect they are fed up explaining it hence the apparent unsubstantiated claim. We have had three years of GT, they have been at it for at least 2 years now.

        Some bloggers feel it is time, why do you think the SRU should not over react , what has changed ? Why keep Gregor Townsend in post ?

        Hogg has only been appointed and that alone suggests to me it is crazy to change that situation.

    2. Quite the opposite for me. I’m reassured that most seem to have similar views to me. I disagree on the odd specific player but the salient point is that some of us expect more and others are happy to make up the numbers.

      1. This is a really interesting comment WCTA. What do you actually mean by “expect more”? Just, you’re personally going to be unhappy until Scotland start winning? Seems a depressing way to live.

        They’re trying to win. They’re getting closer. They’re young, we’re a small rugby nation with a smaller player pool than all the other 6 nations teams including Italy, and Scotland took about 15 years to adjust to the professional game, so this generation is the first to have the same professional pathway as the others.

        If I felt anyone wasn’t trying, I’d be right alongside you. But it feels like people are trying too hard if anything. Problems of execution feel like they stem from a lack of confidence, and you can’t berate people into feeling more confidence.

        Look, it’s your call, you pay your money and you’re entitled to feel however you want about where we are. But this is a young team who are really, properly mixing it with the big boys, and right now, they need our support. It’s why we’re called “supporters”.

      2. Angerine, I think you’ve taken my points to heart on behalf of the players, but probably worth clarifying that I think the issue is more coaching/SRU upper echelons. I absolutely do not doubt the desire and integrity of the players. I actually feel that they are also being let down. However, to clarify the earlier point, there are many within our ‘support’ who do not necessarily do that, but instead make excuses. We are a small rugby nation but a proud one nonetheless and I must stand by my assertion that some supporters and pundits are content to plod along. Salient question to all Scottish rugby supporters… What upset you more yesterday, the defeat to an average English side or the booing of Farrell’s kicks? I believe an alarming number of our supporters would go for the latter.
        And yes, when it comes to rugby I will be relatively unhappy unless we win and yes it is depressing, how is this considered an outrider view?

    3. 2 disappointing tryless losses but at least we got bonus points. Win the next three, and we are looking at third (probably)or fourth which is no disaster.

      Win v Italy and Wales and its likely 4th, which as 5th ranked team coming in, can’t be considered a failure.

      Still opportunity to salvage a respectable tournament result, but the attack needs to start functioning.

  28. That was horrible. I’m not blaming GT for putting out that team; I think it was close to the strongest team on form and I like his efforts to do so consistently.

    It was a honking day to be a hooker, but for me we lost this game in the line out. England were no where nearly as bad here, so the weather can only blamed so much. England kicked 4 straight kicks straight into touch gifting us magic field position, only for us to fail to gain possession. Kicking our penalties deep into their 22 – same problem. Someone needs to step up and take responsibility here – we know it’s our weakness and we knew the forecast, but seemed clueless.

    Actually don’t think our forwards were dominated at all – thought they were close to parity in defence. The one pass hit up in attack was always going to struggle against the English pack – think we needed to mix it up a little more despite the conditions.

    We were only ever going to see errors from backs today so no point in heaping criticism on them. I still have a question mark over the mid field but hope the cohesion will count for something soon.

  29. Bottom line. The coach didn’t have two of our best players on the pitch (Russell and Gray) due to his ego. That is unacceptable. It is impossible to say it would not have made a difference. He’s already had a disaster of a World Cup, squandered or misused some of the best midfielders we’ve ever had (Dunbar, Jones, Taylor, Bennett), while utterly neglecting the basics, and shows no sign of improvement. This generation of unusual talent is being p***ed away and if you’ve watched rugby long enough you’ll know it not likely to come round again soon. Now is not the time to be oh so Scottish and Andy Nicol about it, to make excuses and wait for commiserations from the English, Irish and Welsh. This is not firing someone after a few matches. He’s had his chance, a long one, and it’s well and truly blown. The team is shattered mentally and clueless on the pitch. Frankly he should fall on his own sword. Let’s get preparing for the future, and bring in Cockerill now.

  30. The irony in all of this being – the only way he turns this around is by welcoming Russell back into camp with open arms inspiring 3 wonderful victories to wipe the slate clean. Won’t happen, we’ve seen enough of his man management to know he’ll die by his own decisions. But jeez, do him a favour, let’s make this slow suicide quick.

  31. I think our defense structure has improved a fair bit under Tandy…despite only in his post a wee while.
    Our attack however has regressed.
    Our scrum and prop loose play is much better with Sutherland and Fagerson….and then goes back to last years default mess when Dell and Berghan play.
    Hogg is one more bad mistake away from being considered a liability ..never mind a captain.
    Ritchie is the only player who looks like a captain to me.
    I doubt GT will make it past the 6N…We have alot of good players …who play for top teams around UK & Europe …and he just isnt getting them to gel consistently within a match never mind over a series of games. He never seems to know what his best team is. He doesn’t even switch out the right players at the right times during a match…even today… Watson was innefective and putting Haining on when he could do nothing to change the game.
    Centre was anonymous …we weren’t penetrating the English defense where it mattered…and yet he never chose to give Hutchinson a shot at half time…a player who is currently one of the premierships best players and continually does well against the likes of players he would have played today.
    He’s done imo…. change needed inline with the summer tour.
    I can see us losing against a tough France and Wales in Wales….but a loss against such a poor Italy team..would be truly awful.

    1. Just read the interview with Finn Russell in The Sunday Times.
      Well thats that then….Unlikely he’ll play under GT ever again.

  32. May I just suggest that box kicks – in particular Ali Price’s at 79.04 today – are the stupidest tactic in the game. They give possession back to the opposition 91% of the time. Do scrum halves actually have the brains to compute this?

  33. I thought there were lots of good stuff today. We have paid the price ultimately for not taking at least three points in the first half. I thought we were done after losing the wind for the second half but credit to the team they came out and played some great stuff without a finish ….again.

    Hogg was unlucky today but he now has a 3-0 losing record as a Captain which doesn’t look good and especially when he is involved in major moments against Scotland in the last two matches.

    Our line-out was poorer than England’s poor line-out we had 8 handling errors to 0 in the first half which was the only Stat that was not roughly the same in the first half…was the clear difference.

    1. Couple of really poor ref calls against us. Sinckler’s rip was just after going 3-3 so we had a very similar kick to take the lead which is crucial in this type of game more than most.

      Was it just me that saw our scrum lose all it’s dominance and control as soon as Sutherland went off? No idea if he was knackered but that was where we lost it in the end was England knowing they can get at us in that area.

      In these conditions when dropping the ball is more than even chances of dropping in the air why not face backwards to avoid the knock on? Can’t do that in every scenario but more than we have.

      I thought until the last ten we had the better of it and it is just another What if and not enough from Scotland, what could have been …we’ll learn from this and be better next week …we can win next week nonsense as ever.

  34. 2 games in and 2 losing bonus points. Not good…but not a disaster either.

    I am however, getting more and more frustrated by us not being able to execute basics…Things that our rivals always perform better at.

    I made a point to compare them over last 2 rounds.

    Scotland, England, Ireland:

    Lineouts Lost: 10, 3, 1
    Ruck success: 93%, 95%, 98%
    Penalties conceded: 22, 11, 19

    We have lost the most lineouts, the lowest ruck success, highest penalties conceded….and it’s not even close.

    No single individual needs to harbour the blame but something needs to be done.

    1. Great analysis Bazz!!! Poor execution costs us more than most!!!

      We can’t manage to be both good defensively and good in attack it seems…

  35. I am tired of reading emotional arguments for and against Townsend. Professional sport is all about winning. Scotland have not won one of their last 8 significant competitive matches (6N and WC) against serious opposition. For all Townsend apologists everything else is irrelevant. He is responsible for and is presiding over a losing culture. This cannot be allowed to continue.Change needs to happen both from a sporting and commercial perspective. I suspect he will be given the remaining 6N however We are only delaying the inevitable.

  36. For those without a times subscription, the Finn Russell article is published on the offside line.

    Pretty strong stuff – although always 2 sides to a story and the truth is somewhere in between. Reads quite honest though so I suspect it’s fairly accurate.

    Not going to see him back this year now and probably not until Townsend is gone.

    Making a prediction now that he will start at 10 for the Lions despite this and absolutely blow them away. Also may see him in a few Barbarians games.

    1. If it becomes Russell vs Toony for Scotland, who has the better win %age in the absence of the other?

      That should decide the argument.

    2. Really? Think this is much more likely to kill off any vague chances he had to tour with the lions. Racing are most likely going out at QF away to Clermont in Europe and Toonie could well still be in post next year. In which case there is zero chance Gatland will choose him – he doesn’t suffer fools gladly and lions tours are places that need everyone to pull in the same direction from the off.

      Russell might think he is being very smart but the reality is he is damaging his reputation and international career.

      1. I think Russell knew the risks of his interview being published…and was willing to take it.
        Seems to me the Russell may well have argued with GT about tactics at half time v England last year…and either its been on a slippery slope ever since or their relationship has just never got going or worked out since GT took over.
        As others have said…..GTs man management is looking poor out of all this…because its happened before with him. Its not like his results outweigh his deficiencies. Waiting until his contract runs out is just like saying we’ll just suck up a year of stagnation or regression.
        If something smells wrong….and it does….change it and move on. Why procrastinate? We have good players and are just wasting the opportunity evolve, build some success and much needed confidence.
        Id change things up for the summer tour.

  37. I totally understand what nasty conditions the guys were playing in – was so glad to be sat on my sofa at home!! Both teams were playing in those same conditions, yet we conceded so many more penalties and had so many more handling errors than England. Why? Again, the basics aren’t being done well enough, which has been the case game after game for a long time despite Tony’s insistence in every single post-match press conference that “lessons have been learned”. Hoggy is at an immediate disadvantage as Captain because he’s often so far away from the action that he’s not getting in the Ref’s ear when it matters (personal opinions on Hoggy’s form aside!) I thought Hastings did his best today and was one of the only players who showed up to play but whether you like it or not we need Finn Russell. When the conditions are so bad that no team’s tactics are working and the playbook has been ripped up, he’s in his element.
    Let’s get real – we’re playing the All-Blacks at the end of the year. If we keep going at this level without our best players (get well soon Darcy!! Get some game time soon Hornito!!) then we’ll be laughed off the pitch!! When you squander 4 try-scoring opportunities, what the hell else can be done for you? Surely you don’t need a coach to tell you to grab those chances before they disappear?
    We’ve still not learned how to grind out a win at the end of a tough game and that’s what costs us.
    It’s definitely the hope that kills you as a Scotland fan!!

  38. I’m not sure there is much to positive about from today. Yes, the conditions really dictated this game and it cannot be considered in normal context, but in the end Scotland were clearly second best. England played the conditions better, just looked more and more dominant as the game went on. Realistically, if it weren’t for that bizarre series of repeated kicks out on the full, England would probably have been home and dry much earlier on.

    too many error from Scotland. of course the rain made it much harder on both side but the number of knock-ons and fumbles, botched line-outs was killing Scotland.

    Still think we’ll beat Italy with some to spare, but don’t rate our chances against France this year and against Wales at home in Cardiff.

  39. Main thoughts while slightly inebriated watching the game, I may force myself to watch it again tomorrow…

    Line out was horrendous, like properly shambolic horrendous. I don’t know what the stats were and I don’t want to but we must have lost at least half the line outs we had?

    Comprehensively lost the kicking game despite England kicking out on the full about 50 times, see above.

    Lost the game despite playing all the rugby. England were rubbish, they created absolutely nothing but they didn’t need to, we just kept gifting them ball gift wrapped with a bow round it.

    Never looked like scoring, ok I get the conditions were awful but at no point did we look like scoring, even when camped on their line. Although neither did they until we let them score.

    God I hate being a Scotland fan

  40. Russell won’t be back under Townsend. Townsend sound be up in front of a tribunal for the psychological abuse that he’s been dictating. Townsend has much deeper issues than not being able to manage people.

  41. It is unbelievable to see some fans getting the knives out for a player like Fraser Brown who was in most pundits team of the weekend last week.

    Wtf is wrong with you?
    The players tried. They were narrowly beaten by a more powerful team in conditions which made power count.

    I don’t think it’s any wonder our players lack confidence or get nervous when I read this bullsh**

      1. Not at all.
        I don’t think the way to get the success you crave is to constantly launch into the players.
        There are posts on here demanding Hogg is dropped! The same people would demand he be reinstated next game when whoever replaced him turned out not to be as good, and they’d blame the management for dropping him and insist that they should be sacked!

        It is INSANE and all it does is erode confidence and perpetuate the pessimism that is at the heart of a losing mentality.

        We do not have a right to beat teams like England or Ireland. They have been ranked above us for years… forever in the case of England.

        The team have to perform well to have a chance against these sides.

        They’ve actually done that.. for the most.
        Players do feed off fans and that 1% confidence and composure which would get them over the line in single score games is missing.
        They’re not going to get it from fans who think they’re entitled to victory and tell the players they’re crap when we lose.

      2. Well said Johnny. Someone near me was continually shouting things like “Sort the f***ing lineout” and “Hoggy – you’re s***e”, I assume under the impression he was helping. If you want to use rugby games to vent your general anger and unhappiness with life, that’s fine, you paid your money same as me. But if you do want Scotland to start winning games, start supporting them.

    1. It was pretty obvious after 10 minutes of Scotland huffing and puffing that our attack wasn’t going to beat Englands defence, like it didn’t beat Irelands the week before. England knew exactly what to expect and we delivered it. It might look like a narrow win going by the points, but Scotland were comprehensively beaten by a team that played a smarter game and played what was in front of them.
      England got an opportunity at the try line and took it. Scotland had all the possession and frankly could still be out on the pitch this morning and not have crossed the line. Scotland came on in the same old way and they were beaten in the same old way.
      You should read some of the reports on Englands loss to France or South Africa or anytime they lose, they get hauled over the coals far more than Scotland do. Seems to make them determined to come out and fix what went wrong though.

    2. Anyone trying tho throw in in those conditions deserves some sympathy personally the ref should have had a bit more sympathy for the game in the conditions but laws are laws

  42. Looks like England figured out a way to win faster than we did. Scotlands attack never really looked like penetrating a wet paper bag never mind the England line. All of the lineouts from kicks from England were squandered or just plain lost. Anyone could see that when Hogg took the ball over the line that it was only delaying the inevitable. Townsend is living now on results from a couple of years back when he just took over the team rather than now when he has had 2 years plus to put his stamp on the team. Yes it was terrible conditions for BOTH teams. Everyone likes to criticise England for playing one dimensional rugby and not knowing how to adapt. Well they adapted a lot better and a lot quicker than Scotland. It wouldn’t have taken much for Brown to have thrown a few line outs to the front rather than firing a wet bar of soap into a gale. At least we’d secure the ball and could then do something even if it was only put England 40 metres back down the pitch.

    Russell isn’t going to save Scotland anytime soon, in the last 2 years we’ve looked just as bad with him in the team as without. Something needs to change because we seem to have gone all the way back to the Andy Robinson era, oh and guess who was attack coach in a period where Scotland couldn’t score a try for love nor money.

  43. How many times was possession gifted back to the opposition through box kicks? I just don’t see the logic of going through phases only to kick possession away for such limited gain. If the kick is regathered (and that’s a big if) you probably make 15m at the most – more often than not though it isn’t and you end up with an opposition ruck back near where you kicked from – that’s the same as a turnover in my eyes.

    Don’t know what Price thought today in the last minute – box kick and possession back in England’s hands. If I recall correctly, he did the same at Twickenham last year with a couple of mins to go which ultimately led to the try to draw level. Some teams seem to know how to close a game out with a few minutes to go – not us.

    I dunno, maybe it’s because I’m a forward but I just don’t get it. If the opposing team haven’t got the ball they can’t score so don’t gift it to them!

    1. Neil : I have resisted saying things for years , I believe the interpersonal skills gap existed at Glasgow. I was disappointed the SRU appointed GT, given the circumstances maybe they had no choice, but they could and should have given Cotter a decent contract in the first place, who knows maybe they tried ! I would really like to know what happened back then ?

      There was an interesting blog in here at the time about the Montpellier approach, though as always , it may have had no substance.

      As for yesterday, the post match interviews in both camps suggested it was a day to give the opposition the ball and hope they made an error upon which you could capitalise. Maybe yesterday was the day to kick it away, but the result shows , we came second on the hoof it away game.

      Can I really blame Townsend for that ! I would like to, but then I would criticise him for changing the team yet again , sadly yesterday he had no choice but to ride it out in hope. He has played himself into that corner through 3 years of experimental combinations., he needs a stable 23 now, back to the basics , The guy is in a no win situation , 3 years into his role , he is starting again . He will not be the first and not the last, often happens in work.

  44. The truth is coming out… Townsend has no personal skills, compare that to the simple minded Gatland who has basics tactics but really gets the best out of his teams and genuinely cares for them.

    Townsend was not ready for the national job, why did we get rid of Cotter..

  45. Nobody comes out of that article looking good. Finn sounds like he wants to be seen as a free spirit but in reality comes across as a bit petulant and entitled. Townsend comes across as a poor man manager and un-open to other personalities and inputs.

    Bottom line is though that Finn’s relationship (or lack of) with Townsend is the problem and hasn’t been a problem under other coaches. If the choice is between a happy Russell in the team or Townsend as head coach then it’s pretty obvious which one is more important.

    Really wish they could just make nice but doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

    1. Is it obvious? I think it’s very unclear.

      Russell is needed and very hard to replace – Toony is very replaceable.

      On the other side Toony is the hierarchical leader and has the official call on tactics etc…

      So I guess for the SRU they need to decide whether they put their hierarchy ahead of potential performance.

      1. “Russell is needed and very hard to replace – Toony is very replaceable”

        I think this is what makes it obvious, although admittedly from a fans point of view.

        It’s Townsend’s job to get the best results and if his relationship with our best player has alienated him to the point of not playing then he has failed at his job.

        I’ve been very much not in the camp of Toonie-out and if he can fix this then great but we definitely need Russell more than we need Townsend,

      2. Tryhard I 90% agree. It’s not the Army, but we do also need discipline and a degree of control. This is exactly what Cockerill brought to Edinburgh.

        Players, in general, do need to follow the game plan they are given, and to turn up to training (I couldn’t care less about one extra pint).

    2. Russell also had a very poor relationship with Rennie who frequently criticised him in the press without explicitly naming him.

      Bottom line though is your ‘star’ player can’t demand the culture, tactics and protocols be fit to suit him. And whilst Russell has said it is just an issue between him and GT that is demonstrably false – he walked out after an argument with senior players because he didn’t want to follow the rules they’d laid down.

      We do need Russell – but we also need Russell to be a team player and it is pretty clear he thinks he’s the most important person in the national set up.

      What do we do if he doesn’t like the next coach, fire them too? Or maybe Russell should be in the interview panel? He needs to wind his neck in.

      1. Maintaining unity in the locker room in any sport is as critical as the results.
        Ive read about this scenario soo many times now across the sports I have interest in…and it never ends well. The squad already sound divided.
        A Gatland type would have nipped this in the bud a long time ago. GT has let it fester and will pay the price for it. Vern got players playing for him….GT has diminished that locker room bond. He has an aura of ‘know it all’ arrogance and vanilla PC that seems to distance himself from team unity. 3 years and he still doesnt know what his best team is. His tactics seem like they often confuse the players…are largely ineffective..and results aren’t particularly impressive over the piece either. More suited to a performance director role than an ‘in the trenches’ head coach role.

  46. Of COURSE the best Scottish player of his generation and the best Scottish coach of his generation hate each other. Of COURSE they do. That’s the most Scottish thing I could possibly imagine.

    I guess you could argue we have to pick Scottish players, you don’t have to pick Scottish coaches….

    1. Agreed. Toony MIGHT be one of the top 20 coaches in rugby, but we can in principle have any of the other 19. Also the coach tends not to get injured…

      If Russell and Hastings are in the top 20 fly halves in the world, then we have 1 other that we can pick….so I’ll call it, Russell is at least 19 times more important than Toony in the long run.

      1. Toonie’s contract is until summer 2021. He’ll probably get until then to improve results whilst the SRU feel out alternatives, unless we end up with a wooden spoon which might provoke more of a crisis.

        I don’t think Vern should have been edged out and despite the current problems I’m not sure we will obviously be in a better position if we get rid of Toonie. Can we actually land a world class coach who is better than the incumbent? Have we identified talent who we think is interested or would it be a punt?

        Scotland has a miserable playing base, a poor record and a split national camp. It is not a plumb job for a proven international coach so we would be taking a gamble we could trade up.

      2. FF: I have to disagree on some of your post. We do not have a miserable playing base ! Scotland have an academy system that is producing talent and it is not so long ago you were talking that up, no disrespect intended. In addition we have enough players who are in demand in the UK and abroad, I wont list them but Exeter have claimed at least 3 plus Murray Low in the past is an obvious starter, we have scottish qualified players in all of the top 5 sides in the Premiership Table plus Sarries, Worcester and London Irish.

        The great god Cotter took the side to a world cup quarter final and we all know how it ended, he got 3 wins in his last 6 Nations and turned the side over to Townsend who matched that. But our results have been inconsistent since and we have developed a whole new repertoire of excuses.

        I accept your reasoning, however it is not substantial enough to cave in to more of the same from Townsend in my opinion. Furthermore, I suspect the SRU pay well therefore there will always be someone.

        I have no comment on the Finn Russell argument. I can not work out who threw the first stone ,however he is not the first and he will not be the last to clash with a head coach.

    2. Why is that ‘a scottish thing’ ? This situation occurs across many sports all over the world.
      Its annoying when people berate Scottish culture. It has its flaws but then so do all….if there is a perfect culture …I’ve yet to see it.

  47. Also, are we agreed we boo the kicker at Murrayfield if they’re taking too long? I’m happy with that. Booing an anthem is disrespectful I would say (and I thought GSTQ was pretty well observed), but I don’t understand why we would pretend we don’t want the kicker to miss, especially when they’re time-wasting as Farrell was yesterday and Sexton was the week before.

    Interested to know if there are rugby-values folk out there who feel embarrassed by it. Personally, if we as the crowd can give Scotland any kind of edge I’m up for it.

    1. Personally I think it’s despicable booing the kicker. We’re not football fans and I’m getting a bit sick and tired of it now. Players kicking a penalty have 60 seconds to take it and we have to let the referee make a decision and not boo everyone.

      1. Before we go knocking football fans, worth remembering football is the biggest game in the world. By far. Literally 10x the size of rugby and maybe more.
        From what I’ve seen the Barbour jacketed lot who go to Twickenham spout off about not behaving like Football fans and ‘rugby’s values’ one minute then the next are running up the street with their (red corduroy) trousers round their ankles singing a casually xenophobic song about French women being hairy or the Welsh being inbred.

        This fanbase, in my view, goes a long way to explaining the ceiling on rugby’s popular appeal.

        Rugby in Scotland is by no means an everyman sport but at least the fans are earthy.
        Same is true of the Millennium.

      2. 60 seconds is more than enough time for a kick to the posts (are the laws clear as to when the clock starts, or is it at the refs discretion?). Perhaps 30 seconds?

      3. Going to say that the issue was farrell taking an age to kick. His first penalty he wasn’t booed until he had been eyeing it up for about 45 seconds. Farrell is also very disliked in general which adds to it. Doubt Ford would have been booed as much.

        Also don’t think booing the opposition is really something to be that upset about. I am not really bothered if it is “cricket” or not. Its professional sport, a game of entertainment. Its pantomime and a bit of fun.

        Throwing bottles obviously bang out of order but truth of this seems to be disputed. Among fans before during and after game I thought everything very amicable.

    2. I believe the press have a story about an English official being hit by a plastic beer bottle before the game.

      Personally I would prefer respect at all times and that referees tighten up on time at penalty’s and resetting scrums. I have strong feelings on the latter, this game has become too politically correct, the front rows can work out when to engage without an intermediary.

    3. What do folks think if rugby introduced a ‘shot clock’ as per basket ball to time out a kicker. Everyone can then see the exact time a kicker is taking and the kicker is penalised if they go over the time

      1. Then we can all count down from 10. Much more fun than booing…

        Racing already have this at la defense.

      2. Yes but the time should be 45 secs and no more. 90 secs is ridiculous. Clearly within the laws Farrell is just wasting time to his teams advantage and like scrums it is wasting time that could be used to play the game. It’s pointless.

  48. I just don’t have faith in GT in winning any 50/50 games. Club coaching or a performance director role is his level. International HC requires something extra, exceptional man management and motivation skills like Gatland has. GT is too calm and passive. I would have more faith in Cockers winning 50/50 games but would not make any hasty decisions until after the 6N has finished when a full and rational review can take place.

    If we end up with one win v Italy (which is likely) and the SRU are hell bent on keeping GT then I would give him Mallinder’s job (i.e. keep away from working with players), move Mallinder to Edinburgh and let Cockers manage the national team. Wilson moves to Glasgow, keep Tandy and De Villiers and find a new forwards and attack coach (maybe bring O’Hallaran back?).

    1. ‘but would not make any hasty decisions until after the 6N has finished when a full and rational review can take place’ Would that be the same review that was held after the WC which was published for all to see …. lol

  49. With the refs mic on it was interesting to hear constant communication from the English pack and absolutely nothing from Scotland. Could a lack of leaders in the pack be an issue. That said two games we could of won….blah…..blah….blah, same old rubbish

  50. OK, so the weather yesterday was shocking. In a swirling basin of piercing wind and thick rain, we mustered a losing bonus-point against the World Cup finalists. We weren’t destroyed.

    But that was the worst home performance from Scotland for several years.

    In terms of the Scotland job, Townsend is a dead man walking, obviously.
    But we need to get rid. I can see Dodson giving him extensions and second chances so long as it suits him to do so. Realistically, I still expect Townsend to be in charge during the summer. And autumn. And next year’s Six Nations, during which we’ll probably lose every other game but beat Italy at home – which would then be enough to secure Townsend’s position going forward. (Let’s not forget that we’re playing New Zealand and South Africa this year. If we lose to them, it doesn’t matter! we were going to lose anyway, so Townsend stays.)

    He’s a Scottish coach, valued by the execs (enough so that they’d chuck our best coach in a decade for f**k’s sakes), and we played well with him a few times in key games, when we had a particularly good run at BTM.

    If he doesn’t get a result in Cardiff, he absolutely does not deserve the job anymore. And a losing bonus point will NEVER be a result. Time to see evidence of all this chatter. For the past three years, it’s been the same again and again and again.

    Townsend has been a fantastic servant to Scottish rugby.

    Time to go now.

    1. Let’s just revisit how poor yesterday was:

      8 lineouts lost. All you have to do in a lineout is throw the ball to the right player.

      21 turnovers conceded. Turnovers used to be our biggest strength, alongside our maul. Our ball retention has absolutely gone out of the window.

      That was a performance straight out of 2004. That’s where we are now. In 2020, with our best crop of players since 1999, we are entering a second dark age, except we are wasting massive amounts of talent at our disposal.

      McInally looks broken. He was fantastic last 6N – one of our best players who looked so much like a starting Lion at times. Now, he looks like playing rugby is painful for him.

      Jonny Gray, a player of such power and energy, so often utterly imperious for Glasgow, seems like he’s running on fumes when he’s on the pitch.

      Every single thing Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson do is in vain. It’s a miracle they remain so irrepressible. Without them we’d be sunk, but they so often drag us back into games on their own.

      Ali Price looks jaded. Considering his Twitter activity, I can’t help wondering if he’s also not quite getting on with Townsend. It’s speculative, but I don’t know who’s responsible for all the box-kicking.

      Giving the captaincy to Hogg was a last throw of the dice, of course. Hogg looks broken the most of all. He knows the result will always be the same, but rages against it, with all of his force and spirit. And it’s never quite enough to win.

      It’s just so…sad.

  51. Just read the Times article re. Finn’s interview. Very interesting reading and at least he got a few things off his chest. Clearly fault on both sides as things have turned out.

    Those of us who remember Gregor as a great player, cannot mistake the similarities between the two of them. There’s a good read in a Guardian article just after the Finn story broke about Gregor being dropped due to a disagreement about tactics! I think the drinking incident is relatively minor compared to an apparent lack of working and personal relationship between the two of them. I think Gregor needs to be more of the adult here and find a work around to at least get Finn back in the camp. I think the shoddy treatment of Finn’s father is another underlying issue that has influenced Finn’s poorish judgement. The sooner mega bucks Dodson is shown the door the better.

    Reading the Finn interview does illuminate things more for me, and it’s down to Gregor to get him back. And if he can’t manage that, then I’ll be joining the Gregor out brigade.

    1. Also excellent article on The Offside Line by David Barnes suggesting that the failure of the SRU to get their house in order is symptomatic of their inability to resolve the GT/Finn issue, as it has been rumbling on for over a year. Need a change at the top but how do you oust them from their ludicrously lucrative contracts. If this affair ultimately leads to change then WELL DONE FINN.

    2. For me, the thing that seemed dodgiest was:

      “Russel visited a psychologist at Townsend’s behest the following day…”

      At Townsend’s BEHEST?

      When Russell was dissatisfied, Townsend just packed him off to see someone?

    3. Two games we should have won, games we wouldn’t have had a sniff years ago. I’ve been critical of Townsend but at the moment he needs to stay. Hogg’s mistake facilitated the Ireland loss and the poor guy found himself in all sorts of trouble prior to the English try. Kinghorn was in an easier position but Hogg would have called it. Yesterday was horrendous for both teams. What worried me was our game plan. we were on top for a large proportion of the second half. Why then emulate England and time after time put it through the hands of the forwards inside their 22. Getting turned over or knocking on again and again. If we value our backs, use them. We were undone by one kick through due to the slippery ball. Get it out to the backs, when its not on they do a grubber kick. That of course relies on communication and Hogg has that responsibility. Insofar as Russell is concerned, the 6N looks over. I’m not sure that pleading your case in the press does anyone any good. As I understand it, he was one of the senior player group who decided upon these rules, then he breaks it. And he can sort it. Nobody wins out of this scenario, player, coach or fan. Townsend and Finn need to speak not have press statements. Bottom line is that as a player you execute the team plan, no one is beyond that. Going back to Japan,new started out with a poor team selection. That was compounded by our two best players, Russell and Hogg overplaying and going off script.

      1. He specifically says in the article that the decision to limit to 2 beers was made by the leadership group in his absence and he was unaware of the rule when he ordered a third beer and all hell broke loose.

  52. In Townsends Glasgow days I read so much praise for the effort he made going out and learning from other coaches. Seems firstly that has stopped and secondly all that focus was on rugby when he should haven paying as much attention to man management. This is the beginning of the end for Townsend. All positivity from his reign stems from the period he had Verns side. Now we are back to the bad old days but with good players.

  53. A wide ranging view of opinions and certain amount of disgruntlement. Anyone who’s led people and man managed at an executive level knows that knee jerk reactions are never a good route and they don’t act in the best interests of all involved. We need to play this out to it’s full entirety then reflect. What matters is the well being of the staff and players who have enough to do without the antagonisms of the Press and supporters.

  54. Lochinverboy, the FR interview states that he was not part of the leadership group that decided on the 2 drinks limit as he was playing at sarries on Sunday and didn’t arrive in camp until around 9pm to join the evening dinner. He was challenged when he asked for 3rd drink not knowing about the limit. His fault is that he continued nonetheless feeling left out of the decision. I would say a minor incident that was mismanaged by all concerned. As for speaking out in public (after the first 2 games, not during or before), is natural to me if you have been listening to clearly planted false whispers about what happened. Good on him, I say. This reeks of bad or no man management.

  55. Far too much negativity on here, imo. The Ireland game was more worthy of analysis.
    A couple of things did irk me yesterday, however. Clearly the ball was a bar of soap yesterday and was hightly likely to be dislodged in tackles and the English tackling was that little bit more impactful, hence our higher handling errors. Given that why did we not kick more often in the first half – it was completely obvious that it was the right tactic. Similarly Ford’s kick was the absolute right tactic. Once in or near the 22 grubbers in or around the try line, given the big in goal areas.
    The second thing that got me shouting was when, in the good period immediately after half time, that ended with the quite obvious Sinckler rip on the ground, we had a penalty advantage 5m out and we still went through the forwards. Would George Horne have tried one of his trade mark side of the boot lobs? Why carry on with 1 man bosh which was never going to work EVEN WITH ADVANTAGE. Is that the coaches fault, Ali Price’s fault, Hastings fault or senior players’ faults?
    I still think, weirdly, there is scenario in which Scotland go into the last weekend playing Wales knowing a win gets second. I think the other 4 contenders are all going to beat each other and if we can beat Italy then France, who knows.

  56. I’d like to see Weir have a run out against Italy, that by no means a criticism to Hastings, at the same time I’d like to see Hastings have a run at fullback again , no criticism to Hogg . I’d like to see Hogg on the wing . No matter who the coach is I think it may turn a light on to rotate by adding versatility with position.

    1. So you’d move our captain and best player to a position he never plays to field an inexperienced player in a position he never plays whose normal position you’d fill with another player whose game is 5 miles behind the gainline kicking for field position when the team has played a running game for the last 6 seasons.
      And you’d sack Townsend.

      And you think this would affect a turnaround?

      1. John Hardie our best player?

        So this russian troll farm job – does it pay well?
        Do you only troll the Scottish Rugby blog, or do you also do crank posts on twitter and facebook? What about the comment section on Mailonline? They look pretty easy to wind up.
        I’m intrigued.

      1. Hogg on the wing…..Hastings @ FB….and Weir at 10????
        Lol…that’s about all I can say about that!

  57. Have we come to throwing bottles and booing kickers REALLY. I was ashamed of our fans. The team were poor too.

    Form is temporary class is permanent.

    1. All this booing kickers nonsense is a sign of the smug virtue signalling that has crept into rugby under the guise of humbleness and rugby values. Go back and watch games from the 80s &90s kickers have always been booed. I think it was this very podcast that mentioned this on their rewatch of the 91 semi final. As for the bottle, videos have shown that it was blown and not thrown. Not sure if you noticed but it was a bit breezy, what with rubbish blowing across the pitch despite 100ft walls surrounding it. Get of your high horse.

    2. There was no bottle thrown – it blew off the walkway – it was a tad windy yesterday, which you’d know if you were there.

  58. Thoughts about Stuart Lancaster as coach with Tandy, De Villiers and a line out expert? Lancaster has created a great environment at Leinster but would like to be closer to home. He might need a team manager to do some of the work Leo Cullen does at Leinster

    1. I’d love to have Lancaster in a role but he isn’t a head guy and after his experience with England not sure he is stupid enough to take a head role in what from the outside must look like a car crash of an organisation.

    2. No.
      Patchy England record. No 6N and failed to get them out of the group in RWC 15.

      Cant tell difference between blindside and openside flankers.

      Our game is based on speed.

      You’re getting desperate.

      1. Have a look at Leinster, where he’s now part of the coaching setup. By all accounts he’s doing a good job.

      2. That’s fine but is he doing a better job than Toonie did at Glasgow?
        The only reason people mention Lancaster is because he’s kind of Scottish-ish and they assume he’d want back into the international game.
        Notwithstanding his own shortcomings as a coach, he’s got a plum job managing one of Europe’s wealthiest and most powerful clubs and the circumstances in which Toonie would leave the Scotland post mean he’d be swapping that for a Scotland side in disarray.

        It’s fantasy.

        If Toonie loses the Scotland job (and we’re some way off that still IMO) then the ideal candidate would probably be a Kiwi, perhaps who’d been recognised coaching a 2nd tier country or successful S15 franchise or who’d been out of the game for a bit and wanted back in. Think Jamie Joseph as the template of what they’d be looking for.

        That’s who they’d want.
        Whether they’d get it is another question. I think there’s quite a high chance they’d end up with someone like Michael Cheika as someone posted further up the thread.
        Or maybe Richard Cockerill on an interim contract.

        Unproven or with baggage, there is no panacea.

    1. Not a slam dunk in Rome for Scotland as some seem to think. I would make Italy favourites at the moment.

  59. Watching the France v Italy game, a win in Rome is no way a given.

    That said, I personally feel that the team are building to an 80 minute performance and it’s coming soon. Wales in Cardiff would be a good time for it all to click!

  60. A lot of nonsense being written here. I think people should have to read the match stats before posting… Jonny Gray was cack, was he? He made sixty metres! Our pack matched theirs for all but one tackle, so we were hardly dominated. The English were booing, too. Our defence is much improved. By this point in 19 we’d conceded 6 tries. Same in 18. 4 in 17. 5 in 16. We’ve conceded two tries against big, physical packs. Our defence is solid. That alone is a huge improvement. Yes, we need to fix our lineout and attack, but that’s eminently achievable.

    It’s worth remembering that England were cack, too. No team plays well in those conditions.

    My concern is less about our attack and more about Finngate and what feels like a slow implosion just when we should be building on a solid platform. The interview in The Times is grim reading. We need stability, not turmoil. It sounds toxic in camp. It’s a struggle not to just give up on rugby when we have nights like last night, situations like FRexile and so much drivel being written by ‘fans’.

      1. agreed
        14 carries 12 metres for Gray

        espn website

        it depends on which site you wish to believe as there are several discepancies between the 2 sources of data

      2. Hmm I found the ones I quoted on ESPN. To be honest having watched the game I’m more inclined to go with those, he definitely didn’t make those sort of gains.

    1. There is so much nonsense written that I sometimes wonder if another union has a Russian troll farm.

      2 single score losses to teams ranked well above us, one away from home and the place goes into meltdown.
      Sack Townsend, sack the team and we’ll lose to Italy is the theme.

      It’s pathetic, flaky bedwetting of the highest order. I sincerely hope the team doesn’t read this crap. Sadly I expect that at least some of them do.

      If I was a player I wouldn’t want to get my face kicked in every week in return for a welter of abuse from the armchair.

      The least we can do is support the young guys who put their bodies on the line for our entertainment every other Saturday ffs.

    2. Even if you use the more probable sounding espn stats, he did more than his opposite man, who’s not exactly a bad player. I don’t understand why fans seem to hate our best players…

  61. Despite the score Italy played well today. I can see Scotland getting whitewashed this 6 nations. I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis but Scottish rugby is at a bit of a low point at the moment.

  62. We have had 2 games against 2 of the best teams and we have the lowest trys at least our defence is good

  63. Psychologists probably have a term for it, but there seems to be a particular supporter mindset that manifests itself when your team starts to become genuinely competitive again and yet still can’t find a win. Maybe it’s more than one mindset, as per the article the other week, ‘What kind of Scotland supporter are you?’

    Two Test matches in a week, both of which with some luck and better game management we could have won. Both of them against top sides that have pretty much ruled the roost over us for the last ten years or so, probably more. Despite the frustration and disappointment over the losses, it’s clear we have been genuinely competitive in both Tests. Players, management teams and supporters of Ireland and England have all gone on record to express some relief at battling to wins against a team that could have beaten them. That’s definitely being competitive again – though not an excuse for the many errors we made in both Tests.
    So, on balance, I’m happy for us not to tinker too much with our starting 15/23 for the rest of this 6N as we do need a high degree of continuity of selection of a squad that our opponents are clearly taking seriously when they play us.
    I’m hoping for a strong comeback in Rome, another strong showing against France, and another competitive performance in Cardiff against a Wales side that didn’t look particularly impressive in Dublin yesterday.
    I’m keeping the faith for now.

    1. As a former player and a long standing fan (I was there in 1990 and in the rain in 2000) I can say that there are a lot of very loyal fans who have watched the SRU take a very long time to get used to the professional era other than putting the prices up for fans and paying themselves more. We’ve watched some drivel along the way and still keep coming back for more. We can see that we have some of the best talent for a generation and yet for some reason the team has failed repeatedly to deliver more than the sum of its parts. The problem is its close, we are not far off a good team, and its a game of fine margins at the top level but we are not making that breakthrough and that’s why so many fans are so frustrated.

      1. Your last sentence nails it better than I could in several paragraphs, Al.
        Hugely dispiriting, sometimes humiliating, for long periods in the pro era, as a Scotland fan. But I do believe we’ve crossed a line into serious competitiveness at Test level. Anyway, next three 6N results and performances will show whether we are or aren’t back at the top table, in Europe anyway.

  64. Someone said it above, my issues are far more focussed on the Finn issue than the performances so far which have been impressive in the areas where we have been poor in recent years but conversely relatively poor in the areas we have been good at in recent years. As a fan it is the organisation and head coach which leaves me very concerned and much of the feedback I have read blends the two issues, perhaps understandably so.

  65. In the next 2 weeks Scottish Rugby needs to do whatever it takes to sort Finngate.

    I was worried Finngate would become the story and that kind of stuff is tremendously corrosive and distracting.

    Scottish football has been all but ruined by player manager spats. Rugby can’t afford the same.

  66. Italy looked decent. Lose in Rome as I expect and I can start counting my dough. Benetton always give our 2 teams a tough time there and don’t see this being any easier. That’s Finn and I both hoping and praying we finish bottom of the table. Then we get in proper coaches including finally Cronin in as specialist line out coach and Dan Parks in to get the backs firing bullets again.

    1. Is Dan Parks still involved with rugby out of curiosity, we could do worse for backs coaches to be fair.

      I think we should bring in Nathan Hines to help with the lineout (as a player/coach)

      In busy little 🐝 we trust however, out with Townsend !

    2. Yes, I think if we turn up with the wrong attitude and are slightly off colour in Rome we are perfectly capable of losing that game. Will be interesting to see if Parisee makes a cameo to fire them up too. Also interested to see if France can bring their form on the road.

  67. If we were to try and recruit a new head coach i think Scott Robertson could be a good fit for us, a young talented kiwi who plays an excellent brand of rugby and seems to have a lot of enjoyment with his team, thoughts ?

    1. No no no. He is exactly the sort of coach we should avoid. He has consistently won super rugby (increasingly super rugby coaches struggle up north, initially at least) with best part of a dozen all blacks in his side. I’d have a decent chance of wining super rugby with those players. If looking south, it should be to someone with at least experience of multiple sides, a la Chris Boyd. I’d bet my mortgage if Toony does go that the SRU will go Mallinder or Cheika. Neither of which will be a good thing.

  68. I wanted to say something earlier but it was moderated for being too long (despite being under the limit?)

    Long and short of it: Townsend should go, but he’ll stay.

    Does anybody here really think that Dodson will want to see the back of Townsend? Considering they worked together at Warriors, considering that Dodson gave our best coach in over a decade the boot just to get Townsend into the top job, considering that Townsend is Scottish and considering that Townsend coached a side that nearly beat the All Blacks once in Edinburgh, three years ago?

    It’s too convenient to keep Townsend in charge. We’ll trundle along ending up 5th in the 6N, only winning one game – and all the valiant losses will be OK, and fine, and will keep the golden boy in the job, because maybe we’ll turn them into wins next time?

    If we finish 6th again – it’s just a blip! Finish 5th the next year? There we go, we’ve improved under Townsend!

    It doesn’t matter if we lose all our games this summer and autumn, because we weren’t realistically going to beat the All Blacks or the Springboks anyway, and Japan are on the rise, and Argentina…

    Remember back when Scotland had physical but uncoordinated forwards, and backs with occasional flashes who couldn’t play without unforced error? Like in, say, 2009?

    We’re back there now. The difference is THIS team are genuinely, inarguably talented as well as committed. It’s just…sad.

    1. Sam,

      We are just about there , Cotter built this side and the results show Townsend is dismantling it. Basically going downhill in his three years in charge. At best GT can equal Cotters last 6 nations. with 3 wins It does not come as a surprise to me that we are hearing of very poor interpersonal skills. Yesterday was a dreadful day to play any rugby , but the scorebaord never lies and the table is evidence enough.

      1. Stu2 : Yes he did, Cotter built up to 3 six nations wins. We are now reversing that climax, as you well know.

    2. I think they will move on from Townsend if we lose to Wales and France. There’s only a certain amount of pressure that anyone can withstand and at a point it just becomes easier for him to go. He was under pressure after the World Cup, we’ve lost the first two games now, and even worse he’s fallen out with one of the team’s best players (so any coaching change now looks better by default because it’s a new coach + Russell). I just can’t see him surviving unless there’s a radical shift in the narrative at this point and it’s hard to see where that’s going to come from.

      1. Stu2 ,Cotter did build the best Scotland team of the pro era , Bass Rock is right Townsend did dismantle it mentally and experience wise.

      2. Stu 2 .implication of your statement being the Glasgow resurgence was the only reason for Cotters relative success. Would it interest you to know that as an example in the RWC quarter final v Oz there were only 5 Glasgow players in the team. Definitely backs up your view.

      3. I didn’t say it was the only reason – but it was an enormous one. Cotter did well to build confidence and some forward solidity – but the attacking gameplan was all Glasgow.

      4. Stu2 : That is correct , so what ? Is that the best you can do ! Once again, avoiding the fact that he steadily improved his results in charge while it is obvious. and I am not going to list it , thousands of posts have already said it , Townsend is taking us back to dark days and well you know it ! Time to move on .

    3. Sam I cannot remember a Scotland side which had physical but uncoordinated forwards, Jim Hamilton excepted.

      The classic Scottish pack is like the one we have now. high work rate, dynamic flankers, maybe a bit undersized, maybe lacking confidence.

      The best coaches we’ve had have managed to address the confidence issue and devise a gameplan built around movement, workrate and speed.

      IMO we lost our identity a bit when proper rucking was banned but the fast game devised by Toony at Glasgow then taken on by Cotter is probably our best path considering the physical attributes of the players we produce.

      1. Not sure the Dickinson/Grant, Ford, Murray, Hamilton, Hines, Brown, Barclay, Beattie pack was undersized but take your point. I’d quite like to see us put out:


        I think then the athleticism, mobility and power in that pack gives us more than just the ‘grunt’ we seem to manage at best at the moment.

      2. To clarify I’m not saying I’d pick that pack against Italy but I’d just like to see it and think we could develop that fast, powerful rucking game with players like those named. The likes of Brown and Cummings have plenty to offer as well.

        I’m dubious about Gray though, I think he’s world class at ‘grunt’ and maybe the best tackle machine in the world but I’m unsure that he isnt just perfect for those classic Scottish performances where we try but normally fail to snatch a victory from games where we make two hundred tackles and everyone says how brave the pack was. I think we need to move on from that and the likes of Skinner are so much more dynamic.

      3. Skinner has played 2 club B matches since his return and Craig is in his first season at Glaws.

        What exactly has Cummings done to get dropped (apart from 2 daft pens)

        This place never fails to amuse.

      4. For me, we rotate for the Italy game.
        Brown, Ritchie, Price, Jones and Maitland all get a rest.
        Crosbie, Craig and possibly Tagive all get caps. Haining, Hutchinson and Weir get more gametime.

        Graham/Tagive if injured


        Have faith in the lads to play well enough to win in Rome. These players are good enough for us to not have to field a full-strength side.

      5. Sam Benedict – Italy is an absolute must win game, it is two weeks after England and two weeks before France. ‘Rotation’ would be totally mad. Every game in the 6N we put out our strongest side available, no exceptions.

        Frankly, Italy haven’t won a 6N game in over 4 years and they will be targeting this game and it would be a total disaster to lose. But we have a 50% win record in Rome in the 6N and only a handful of games have been anything other than tight matches.

  69. Tee Cee
    Don’t understand a lot of the comments on here re Russell and Townsend. I see similarities between Roy Keane and Jack Charleton.Keane walks out on his country during a word cup and is feted by his countrymen and Charlton who stays on and does his best is vilified.
    FFS Russell has turned his back on Scotland and Townsend is trying his best.
    As far as I am concerned you never walk out on your country no matter what,petty arguments should be put to one side . Still at least mummy and daddy were there to put his petted lip back in place

    1. I dont think the last line does you justice Tee Cee. If it is a petted lip you are looking for , you are looking the wrong way IMO.

  70. Results under Townsend

    2017: Yearly Win Percentage: 66 %
    Italy – Neutral, Win
    Australia – Away, Win
    Fiji – Away, Loss
    Samoa – Home, Win
    New Zealand, Home, Loss
    Australia , Home, Win

    2018: Yearly win percentage: 58 %
    Wales, Away, Loss
    France, Home, Win
    England, Home, Win
    Ireland, Away, Loss
    Italy, Away, Win
    Canada, Away, Win
    USA , Away, Loss
    Argentina, Away, Win
    Wales, Away, Loss
    Fiji, Home, Win
    South Africa, Home, Loss
    Argentina, Home, Win

    2019: Yearly win percentage: 46 %
    Italy, Home, Win
    Ireland, Home, Loss
    France, Away, Loss
    Wales, Home, Loss
    England, Away, Draw
    France, Away, Loss
    France, Home, Win
    Georgia, Away, Win
    Georgia, Home, Win
    Ireland, Neutral, Loss
    Samoa, Neutral, Win
    Russia, Neutral, Win
    Japan, Away, Loss

    2020: Yearly win percentage: 0%
    Ireland, Away, Loss
    England, Home, Loss

    Winning % against Tier 1 oppo (excluding Argentina, Italy) 5/18 = 27%

    Home record 9/14 = 64%
    Away record 5/15 = 33%
    Neutral ground 3/4 = 75 %
    Six nations record 4/12 = 33%
    Six nations record excluding Italy 2/12 = 16%

    1. Neil – thanks for posting that. It highlights my biggest problem with the Townsend era. I can forget and forgive falling out with players, tactics that i can’t understand (they could be good for all I know, I just can’t see it) and some of his very questionable teams (selecting on reputation over form).

      What I can’t get away from is the steady decline in results since Townsend took over. I was in at the match against Australia in Sydney and felt that we had arrived as a Rugby team, and was really looking forward to how that would end up. Now I am just left disappointed and angry.

      It’s hard to see past the claim that Cotter took us from laughing stock to a genuine competitive tier 1 country, only for Townsend to enjoy the fruits of that labor for his first year, and then lead us to a regressed state of under achieving.

      And for the Townsend apologists – I am very aware that there was players injured and out of form in 2018/2019 that have contributed to the decline so evident in Neil’s post. I actually believe we have turned a corner to some extent – we are now competing in games against quality opposition and look the real deal, just have to work on the fine details that turn plucky losers in to marginal winners. That may well come, but it could equally take some time. As things stand, Townsend is odds on to show 4 straight years of declining win/loss ration. When do you draw the line on that and when do you decide that Townsend has to be accountable?

  71. Neil thanks for that. Depressing reading. As I said in a previous post we have not won in the last 8 competitive games against tier 1 opposition. How far do we need to decline before change is deemed necessary. I suspect even Dodson is getting twitchy now as the continuing trend of poor results will inevitably impact the commercial position of the SRU. Sadly it seems to me performance of the national team in isolation is an irrelevance to the current hierarchy and it will only be once numbers start declining and revenue suffers that the SRU will act.

    1. Realistically, I think we’ve already reached the tipping point where Townsend will leave unless something major happens to shift the narrative (e.g. win the next three games). Beating Italy and losing the other two games isn’t going to get it done. Whether he should go or not is a different question, but this is simply the reality of where he is right now.

      He came into this Six Nations under pressure and the whole “coach under pressure has fallen out with one of the team’s best players” thing never usually ends well for the coach regardless of whose fault it is. Beating England was probably his best chance to radically shift the narrative in his favour, but that’s gone now.

      1. You’re probably right,
        It’ll be very hard to turn things around from here. Let’s hope the SRU are looking at options, although I think it is more likely Toonie will be given until the end of his contract in summer 2021. It’s be a hellish time for a new coach to take over with a disunited camp about to embark on a tour to SA and NZ then play crucial AI games that’ll go a long way to determining our RWC seeding.

        And the SRU need to be careful of the optics – Russell has effectively made his move to pile on pressure to remove the coach. If the SRU is seen to have buckled no top level coach would want to work with those employers that allow a played to undermine them.

      2. Well there might be a little leeway, given the post RWC review and settling the “new” defensive structure and scrum within the overall game plan.

        2020 defense is much better but at the expense of attack (or so it seems).

        Is the transition phase(s) the problem – i.e. are we so busy defending that we miss turnover opportunities and get caught defending forever?

        I haven’t seen as much breakdown work as previous years – the back row has been second on that front in both games so far, with Stander and Underhill each MotM. Similarly our backs haven’t gone for very many intercepts.

        Might be that a few quick fixes around the breakdown and counterattacking can sort it out.

        That and the lineout really needs work.

        All these cogs will need to align pretty soon though…

      3. FF: None of that is a good reason to hold on to a coach that is underperforming, it will do more damage in the longrun. Every year sides move on and we regress. The Finn Russell incident will not be seen as the SRU capitulating to it’s players. It is time for a new coach , new policies and player ethics and frankly new players. We should be prepared to say farewell to a few of our favourites in order to start afresh. I am prepared to go a few years with poor results , but only if I feel confident we are building to something and I have never felt that since Vern left.

  72. You have to realise when was the last time scotland won an u20 six nations? never!! Teams like Ireland last year(grand slam) Wales England and France winning underage between them and Scotland getting hammerings majority of the time, even Italy must be doing something right now at underage. It has to start at youth. You cant expect to win six nations when youth haven’t experienced that winning cups feeling.Same applies to Club level teams like Saracens Leinster, Munster & French clubs winning Heineken Cups between them

    1. Scotland haven’t been getting hammering at u20 for years. They’ve been very competitive for the last decade.

      1. Bottom last 2 years? and heading that way again this year? Dont be fooling yourself check out roll of honour

      2. Stu2…Dont mean to be rude but you really are kidding yourself

        We have been getting hammered @ u20’s regularly.

        in 2019 we lost to:
        England by 38
        Ireland by 19
        Italy by 10

        in 2018 we lost to
        France by 50
        Wales by 33
        Italy by 14

        in 2017 we lost to
        France by 28
        Wales by 31
        England by 28

      3. Bazz typical negative mindset.
        2018 we beat England by 18
        2019 we were 20 points ahead against Wales then let then score a couple in the final minute to flatter the beating they took.
        We’ve beaten France, we’ve beaten Ireland, we’ve come 5th in the world champs and our U18s have won the 6N.
        All in the last 5 seasons.

        Yes it’s up and down. Last year the team was young and drew a lot from amateur premiership sides, this year they have returned and most are playing S6 + training at FOSROC.

        The extra year physical dev and being a pro makes a difference.

        Performance has been good this year and both games so far close.

      4. have not finished in the top 3 in the last 13 years..
        they havent won 2 games in the 6 nations for 5 years.

    2. Other teams can put out a range of full and semi pros at U20 level whereas we’ve generally had amateurs supplemented with the odd pro.
      Even Italy have had a network of academies and a semi pro super league for 5 seasons.

      We’ve only just caught up with the FOSROC academies and S6.

      it makes a big difference,

      I’ve followed the U20s nearly as closely as the senior team recently and in most of the last 5 seasons they’ve managed to claim at least 1 big scalp (England a couple of times, Wales last season, Ireland we’ve beaten in the 6N and world Champ, France we have also beaten).

      They’ve also generally done well at the world championships (last season excepted but i think we’ll be promoted)

      They’re not bad and some good talent is starting to emerge from that level. The U-18s won the 6N festival also last seasons or maybe the season before.

      It’s not the doom n gloom you paint.

  73. position in u20 six nations 2017-2019…in that order


    that’s 4 x4th
    5 x 6th

    I bet someone will now post the u-20 does not matter!!

    1. They aren’t as important as some make them out to be. They are age grade and while it would be great to have a dozen senior international quality players each season the reality is you only need a couple per season to supplement the senior side. You don’t need a winning team just the cream of that crop to be of a high enough standard to progress. The bigger issue for me is the lack in certain positions. Although with the 5 year residency they are more important than they were under the two year rule.

    2. U20s have always targeted the World Champ and used the 6N as development until this season. our best finish was 5th, although we were relegated lat season.
      We’ve generally been competitive, we’ve rarely been tanked and we’ve beaten every other side in it which is punching above our weight considering the player resource.

      The answer to havin better U20s is increasing the player pool and developing them early. S6 and academies should help.

      I would say that more players than ever are coming up through age grade, so there are green shoots.

  74. If they are not important then why have scotland won no six nations since or Heineken Cups etc since u2o was introduced.

    1. Probably because Scotland have never won a six nations or european cup, youre confusing correlation with causation.

  75. Leaving aside Finngate for a moment – Is it not obvious to everyone what the real problem is with the current Scotland team on the pitch? Plenty of effort, better gainline aggression, better defence, and we have plenty of talent in the backs. But what’s lacking? On-field leadership and decision making. With the retirements of Greig and JBarclay, we have no-one with the clear-headed canniness that the other teams have. Hogg is either not near the action or not making the right calls. Our Fly Half is raw and inexperienced, and our talented scrum half seems prone to making bizarre kick-away-possession decisions at the wrong time. There is no captain in the forwards. So who is making the decisions at the moment, during open play, as to when and how we bring our backs into play? Both games against Ireland and England involved plenty of forward play, getting close to the line – but at almost no time did we attempt a strike move – or even to vary the forward play – it’s like a bunch of talented individuals coming up against cohesive teams who play as a unit- we are not being smart, and no-one seems to be taking the lead on the field. That is a failing of management and leadership development. Thoughts on who is currently making those plays and/or who should be?

    1. I saw Brown speaking to the ref a few times so I’d imagine he’s taking the forwards? It does seem to be a lack of flexibility on the pitch – for example vs England: if we’re losing most/all our lineouts due to the weather, why not kick for the posts? Hastings had 2/2 by the end so may have been a better play. Also, Price constantly tried to do a quick tap and went no where. Why? And also, why not vary the play by lining up for a box kick and then passing instead? Scotland are telegraphing their moves all the time now. Also frustrating that we’ve lost x-factor. Its why I want to see Matt Scott play – without Russell, he’s one of the few x-factor players making things happen for his club team…he’d definitely be calling for backs moves. Johnson and Jones don’t seem to have the confidence to call at the moment…

      1. I think Townsend is too stubborn to admit he got things wrong and change the players that you suggest.

  76. No doubt we are going through a very tough patch, but there are genuine signs of improvement and, despite all the criticism in this blog, we still have a pretty decent set of players. Let’s stop moaning and really get behind the squad for the rest of the 6N. Come on Scotland!

  77. That’s Jonny Gray out the whole tournament. And the women got beat 53-0. Dodson is overseeing some serious performance here. Why is an Englishman with his snout in the trough CEO anyway, he is English right? Sounds it.

    There are green shoots of recovery though. The SRU via Glasgow have secured the signature of Rob Harley for another 2 years and he can replace Gray in the Scotland team.

    1. Doesn’t matter where his from , snout is in the trough and we are being fed the swill ,

      Win your set piece , scrums and line outs , the other stuff gets easier

    2. Jeezuz.
      So we’ve moved on from dropping Hogg and sacking Townsend to jingoism and xenophobia.

    3. I’m no fan of Dobson but your comment is moronic, our team is littered with players who aren’t actually Scottish unless you are aware some (whisper it) may actually be English

  78. Now that Johnny Gray is out of the tournament. What are the suggestions for his replacement. I presume Toolis will take his spot to try and improve the line out. Who deserves his bench spot. We need more grunt and I don’t think Gilchrist is the answer. I’ve heard Craig mentioned. Is he up to it ? And what other options are out there?

    1. Skinner.

      Craig worth capping off the bench too. I think Skinner and Craig would be a great boiler house for the long term.

      1. Cummings is very good and will be in contention long into the future for sure and is certainly a better shout than Craig at the moment. I do think Craig is a hell of a prospect though.

  79. Unless we win the next three games the coach has to change. The World Cup was a failure and in this Six Nations we continue to be gallant losers. Saturday proved that our substitute props are not good enough and Toolis, although good around the park, weakens the power of the scrum. I also thought the front row substitutions were far too early and why did Horne not get on earlier? These are the coaches errors. Why are we getting turned over so easily and why, weather apart, are our line outs so poor and we should not miss touch from penalties. Another mistake is the appointment of Hogg as captain, I doubt his temperament for the job and the captain definitely needs to be closer to the play. The performances of our back row and first choice props are encouraging for the future as are Hastings and Johnson. I sincerely hope we win the next three games but doubt it.

    1. Toolis is not good around the park. He can catch a ball in the lineout apparently, but he doesn’t offer much else. Both he and Berghan weaken the team when they come on as replacements.

      1. I’m a little bit unsure as to why Berghan is getting the nod ahead of Nel. Granted, Nel may not be the force he was a few years ago but I always feel confident that we can rely on him particularly for his scrummaging. Berghan on the other hand….

  80. We need guys to knock our opponents on their ar$e or at least take 2 or 3 opponents to stop them, in the forwards – Skinner & Crosbie need to be added to the 23. (certainly after the J.Gray news. I’m not sure what the situation is with R.Gray, playing wise/selection wise. (SRU must rate him by signing him for Glasgow). In the backs Matt Scott should start, he can add physicality & another muscular option. If D.Graham is fit he likely replaces Kinghorn. We lost by a converted try to 2 better rated teams & the Edinburgh weather negated our running game – so everything not as black as 1st thoughts.

  81. Bad news for Johnny Gray and I feel sorry for him. He’s been a stalwart for quite a few seasons now. Yet it does offer a chance to someone else. Cummings hasn’t done much wrong so far so should stay in the side. Toolis and Gilchrist both ok but have featured too often in under-performances in the recent past. So maybe Skinner, if judged Test match fit?
    Oh, and Graham for Kinghorn if Darcy’s fit to play. I like Blair and he still has a real future at wing or full-back for Scotland, but he was mince under high balls on Saturday and still seems to lack the sense of the right time to pass or not in attack.

  82. Interesting proposed solution to the Toony – Russell impasse suggested on Brian Moore’s podcast, make Russell captain. So, Hogg steps down for good of team, Russell has to accept far more responsibility, Toony is seen as broad minded, empathetic people manager, Toony & Russell have to establish a close working relationship for the greater good. It won’t happen of course, but is an interesting, left field approach – any thoughts?

    1. I did wonder if part of the whole thing was a bit of dummy spitting from Finn over not getting the captaincy.

      I can’t see a good resolution to the whole thing. FR has basically said he won’t play under the current circumstances. Toonie won’t back down because he’s A too stubborn and B even if he wanted to, doing so now would make his position as manager untenable. If you assume they are all telling the truth it doesn’t really look like Toonie has done anything wrong, FR has just had enough of the way he does things. I suppose it maybe took a move to another club for him to realise, as Toonie has been his coach through most of his professional career I guess (other than that oh too brief spell with Vern). I have no evidence for this but I can imagine Toonie being very regimented and prescriptive with how he wants things done, not really the FR way and that rubs Toonie up the wrong way, ironic given their similarities as players.

      A shame really, I hope for Finns sake and ours that he hasn’t done himself out of caps at the peak of his career.

      1. Two guys narcissistically slugging it out for who has to back down. What is at the bottom of this, I think, are feelings of frustration and inadequacy, even shame, after a string of losses.

        What this needs is a sensible face-to-face chat, get everyone’s feelings out, validate each party’s thoughts and concerns, remove the shame of “losing” the argument, and then put the personal issues and egos away. Dare I say a beer or two might help…not three though :-)

        Then plan the new approach with the coaches and senior players in the room.

        GT (and Scotland) need to find a way to use FRs talents better – FR (and other senior players) need to feel heard, should be listened to, and brought into the decision making. This is the essence of being a coach surely?

        In the end everyone has to commit to a shared plan, or find their opportunities elsewhere.

      2. Yeah but GT’s position gets weaker and weaker over time, whereas Russell’s is strengthened. On that basis for GT to survive has to bury the hatchet. Difficult to see on evidence so far.

      3. I disagree, I suspect that Russell has weakened his position internally. He has blown up the camp, he can say all he likes about it not being about the boys but he has said there are others who feel the same as him. Whether true or not he has partially deflected this onto his team mates (who incidentally instilled the 2 drink rule). I suspect the camp is either quite divided (on the park they seem united) or Finn is in the corner on his own with Price & Dunbar there in spirit

      4. Yes. I dont really think the discipline FR received is the issue for him. Its just the straw that broke the camels back.
        Its really overriding frustration from Finn. He doesnt agree with GTs methods, demeanor or tactics …they basically clash.
        Its a bit self righteous for folks to say he should just suck it up for Scotland.
        In general life if a person has a poor or non existent relationship with a boss…then its just a matter of time before they move on.
        Russell won’t play for GT until GT leaves the coaching setup…it is what it is.
        GT’s long winded, ultra defensive, written response on the SRU website…basically backs up how alot of people see GT from the armchair position.
        He just continually spouts an array of contemporary sporting management cliches with no real connection to anything with an obstinate outlook. He won’t be coach for much longer…terrible man manager. He has let this situation become a childish tit for tat .

      5. RuggersB: How is it self-righteous to say he has to suck it up for Scotland.

        Representing your country isn’t a 9-5 office job, you only get so many years at it – if you dont get on with your boss you cant leave and play for another country – you have to suck it up or retire from international rugby.

        I would recommend he grows up and stops letting his teammates down.

      6. The more that has come out and the longer this has gone on I think Finn comes out of it looking worse and worse. I dont think Townsend is the right coach but he is the coach. Ultimately if you have an international player who refuses to play for the international coach when everyone else is getting on with it (i.e. not a France/Leivremont type scenario where it was a mass revolt) then you retire. You dont pick and choose. Im not saying that flippantly either, if Finn is that unhappy then perhaps he is doing the best thing for himself but there shouldnt be a half way house. Scotland, Lions these are big things to potentially give up but he is trying to have his cake and eat it by creating a scenario which could contribute to forcing Townsend out, then he can waltz back in.

      7. Alternatively RuggersB, Finns media piece was highly disruptive and unprofessional and Townshends was diplomatic.

        Tom English was clear in and earlier piece that Finns behaviour has not gone down particularly well with squad members either, even those who share some issues with Townshend’s management styles. If Russell’s issue was just with Townshend at the beginning, it is unlikely to be just with Townshend any longer.

      8. Ultimately for all the debate about who is right and who is wrong, Townsend realistically has to win 2 maybe even 3 of the next 3 tests to keep his job. Results on top of Finn must make his position untenable if they are all losses. What a toxic proposition the SRU must be as an employer for a prospective coach. If he loses all3, surely he falls on his sword? Although I probably wouldnt, I’d take the sacking and the pay off!

      9. Before the championship I thought 3 wins necessary to restore confidence and 2 wins will probably see a stay of execution. But if anything I think Russell’s public ultimatum has made it harder to sack Townshend – the SRU won’t want to be seen to buckle to player power and if they do it will make it harder to find a credible replacement. Any coach will expect to have authority over the squad environment.

        I think only a wooden spoon will see GT go at the end of the 6N and even then Dodson is so tied to his coaching choice he might give him until the end of his contract. I just don’t see there being a quick fix.

        Let’s just hope the SRU are scoping out replacements – another interim coach like SJ would be depressing. Mallinder anyone? Groan

  83. See that JG is out for the remaining matches. While a good player & hate to see any player injured, it’s not a disaster as we have other options; Cummings, Toolis, Gilchrist, Craig, Richie G and even Swindon & Harley if really pressed. However, if Hastings so much as breaks a nail, we’re right royally screwed. Is GT’s plan to play him the full 80 minutes each match & keep fingers crossed he makes it with emergency cover somewhere on the bench? Can’t imagine that Warriors will be too pleased about that & will leave Hastings spent. The only other regularly playing 10 we have is Wee Dunc so just hope he’s practicing every day & getting reaclimatised to international rugby. He isn’t everyone’s choice but he’s all we have left in the drawer. 10 has been really thin for a number of years so surprised that more effort hasn’t gone Into nurturing prospects; Redpath, Lang at one point. Until JVdW is eligible & actually chooses to wear the thistle, we’re even more vulnerable now. Other than current project players, I hope someone is thinking of where to find the next front row(S) & wingers.
    Apologies if straying a little off topic there …

    1. Not that Hastings was poor, but I reckon Weir would have done a great job last weekend.

      Redpath is not ours to nurture.

    2. Not sure what all the anti Weir sentiment is all about. He’s doing well at Worcester and is kicking very well also.
      Even if we’d had a young Dan Carter playing 10 on Saturday we’d still have lost.

      1. I’m not a critic of Weir, in fact thought he looked quite useful when at Embra, but he’s been out of international squad for some time & GT seems really reluctant to even give him a bench spot – but now we really need him to be at his best. I think he could do a job but conscious that others may not think he’s international standard. With better planning, I’m sure SRU could have done a lot more to encourage Redpath & Lang into the fold & develop their skills as potential 10s but the opportunity has very likely gone.

      2. Weir plays the wrong game.
        Scotland have played on the gainline for 6 seasons, that’s our identity, Weir plays miles behind it kicking for position.
        Conceivable he could be on the bench but if he came on early he’d completely change the shape of the team.
        I think Toonie would rather take a chance on Hutchinson.

  84. A few years ago I had the privilege of spending several hours in the company of Sir Alex Ferguson. I am interested in the leadership and psychology of elite sports and SAF is compelling listening. His approach was to first determine what is best for ManU then take it from there but to act decisively to avoid issues festering. There were ‘Team Rules’ eg no drinking/out on town within 48 hours of match, not late for training/team mtgs, dress code when representing club etc. However, he would treat every breach on the individual circumstances. Another mantra was ‘nobody bigger than the club’ eg Beckham. However, he did indulge players such as Cantona as he considered his importance to the club (super professional trainer and great influence on the younger players). Interestingly he went to France many times to support Cantona!
    Another striking thing with SAF is that he is almost unique in football in that he regularly changes his No.2. Most footie mgrs keep the same coaches taking them from club to club. SAF welcomes change and stressed it is important not to be surrounded by ‘yes’ men and to embrace fresh ideas otherwise players get ‘stale and bored.’
    I cant help thinking Fergie and other more experienced coaches would have handled the Finn thing differently.
    GT could do a lot worse than seek the counsel of a Fergie type. I have always been slightly concerned with his association with Pep and his obsessive methods (innovative coach but micro detail obsessive).

  85. Gutting for JG. Hopefully GT uses this to bring on some of the young players, although that would leave us with not much experience in the 2nd and back rows. Italy were tenacious against France and played well at times. Hopefully having let in only a try apiece to Ireland and England we don’t let in more to Italy and manage to break our duck.

    For the team, I think GT’s in a tight spot: he needs to keep the consistency of selection going having tinkered too much in the past, but needs a few tweaks to get the team firing in attack again. Along with the FR issue a tough test of his management skills.

    On FRexit, Finn needs to pick his toys up, put them back in his pram and put country ahead of ego. Unfortunately, if he’s fallen out with the senior players as well as GT then he’ll struggle to reintegrate into the team.

  86. Surely Weir has to be in the 23 going forward? If Finn is not back (and it doesnt look likely he will be) then Weir will be starting if Hastings picks up an injury, he needs some game time.

  87. Having read GT’s interview with Tom English on the BBC it seems that some sort of mediation is required with Finn. At the very beginning of this saga Greg Laidlaw was a suggestion. So time for Mark Dodson to earn his money and see to it that this is resolved and sharpish!

    1. Starting to get bored of it to be honest. Russell this, Townsend that, it’s all a big mess and a bit grim for Scottish rugby. I’d rather it was said that Russell wont be part of the 6 nations plans, he can go back to Racing enjoy his rugby and think about what he wants to do in the future and Townsend get back to solely planning for the rest of the games, get behind and support Hastings. Once 6 nations is done they can get back to mediation/thrashing out the issues outside of the 6 Nations media spotlight. In the mean time the most important thing is getting minimum 2 wins, 3 would be a dream.

      1. MK, I agree the sensible option is to say. No Finn until after the 6 Nations. Only gets harder with more losses though.

        I honestly don’t think we are that far away from a victory.

      2. Yeah, boring now. Logged on to find two more articles on the Beeb about this, not even touching them. It all feels very self indulgent on all parts now. No need for Townsend to be giving his story like some sort of tabloid scandal. Everyone grow up and get on with it. Finn – see ya, Townsend – ‘no further comment’ and get back to the job in hand. The whole thing stinks of rank amateurism.

      3. WestCountryTartanArmy

        To be fair to the SRU I think they are responding to media hysteria – within 30mins of the Russell announcement they were in a frenzy – demanding more and more info. The dry SRU announcement wasn’t enough for them.

        If they hadn’t responded to Russell’s ludicrous whine in the Times then that void would simply have been filled by ToonieOut/SRUAreHopless brigade.

    2. What , Mark Dodson , that lost his unfair dismissal case , when he sacked Finn’s old man .

      His snout is in the trough and he is happy to see the Russell family squirming , what makes you think he cares about anything other than himself , set easy targets , make fat bonuses –
      Difficult stuff , no thanks

  88. I wonder how much pressure Racing 92 has to do with this. They were not to pleased that Nakakawra was late back from Fiji and I wonder if there was any incentive/pressure applied to Finn to give up his international career. He clearly dislikes the way Townsend is handling things do this maybe an easy out for him and Racing.

  89. I’ve never enjoyed watching a Scottish rugby player more than I do Finn, but I feel the only option is to be 100% behind Townsend on this. If in the next few weeks Scotland don’t get their three victories or two and a more than dignified loss, Townsend will be finished and the slate will be clean to start again. In any case, whether it be now or later, I totally agree that Laidlaw’s intervention could be key.

    1. Disappointed that GT felt the need do that additional interview with Tom English. I think we’re all fed up with this saga now. I don’t see any chance that Finn will be back this 6N now which is our loss. Neither party comes out of this looking good and although the team has looked together, I fear a loss to Italy will start to really unravel things. All a bit too depressing for me.

  90. Two victories would be going some. this French team looks seriously good, and when do we ever win in Cardiff?

    1. It’s a better France team than they’ve fielded for a few 6Ns but ‘seriously good’ is an over-estimation of what they’ve achieved so far.
      In this post-RWC 6N I don’t think any side has stood out yet.
      We’re well capable of beating France at. Murrayfield.

      1. Can the mods give these guys a warning thanks, we don’t need people like sas, stu2 and johnny b ruining the blog 👍🏿

      2. What have I done to be warned or banned?
        I try to be polite.
        I disagree with the doom n gloom sack Townsend mob and have a real issue with fans who tear into players and seem to revel in underperformance.

  91. Shame about JG but would be good to get Richie and Skinner back in. Both better ball carriers and the line out has not been great.

  92. I hope Townsend sorts it out with Russell and allows the team to play whats in front of them if it’s on, dream team for Italy.

    Power Pack, better carrying/lineout, slight loss in defence.

    1. Rory Sutherland
    2. Stuart Mcinally (Rotation)
    3. Zander Fagerson
    4. Richie Gray (Lineout)
    5. Scott Cummings
    6. Magnus Bradbury
    7. Hamish Watson
    8. Nick Haining (earned another shot)

    Refreshed backline with a new style

    9. George Horne
    10. Finn Russell
    11. Sean Maitland
    12. Matt Scott
    13. Rory Hutchison
    14. Darcy Graham
    15. Stuart Hogg

    Bench: Stability
    16. Fraser Brown
    17. Jamie Bhatti
    18. WP Nel
    19. Sam Skinner
    20. Jamie Ritchie
    21. Ali Price
    22. Adam Hastings
    23. Blair Kinghorn

    We have the potential to have the most creative back line in scottish rugby history, lets not waste on kicking percentages ffs.

    I want to see players like Hogg back themselfs as opposed to kicking it away everytime.

  93. Please post a new article! How about RFU funding cuts and the implications for London Scottish? Lets change subject.

    1. That to unlike them Slimjim, i will be either a podcast article or a Scotland vs Ireland Part 1. Consistency is key.
      In saying that i would be quite interested the hear peoples thought on Saracens fine only for fielding ineligible player in CC, Dave Rennie & Racing certainly are not pleased.

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