Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Things Could Be Worse

Gregor Townsend
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend - - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

With the news that Finn isn’t coming back just yet, nor did he take part in a planned conference call with coaches on Monday, certain circles of Scottish rugby society are certain to spiral ever further into the pit of despair that seems to have swallowed this Six Nations.

But I think there are reasons to be cheerful about the tournament so far, if you look for them – and that doesn’t mean Coronavirus putting us out of our misery and cancelling the remaining games.

Adam Hastings is getting valuable experience at the top level

Johnny Sexton didn’t make his test debut for Ireland until the age of 24. Adam Hastings has 19 caps aged 23. By the end of the tournament that should be 21 caps, more than half of them starting at 10. Another couple with famous family names: Owen Farrell had around 25 caps by the time of his 23rd birthday; Beaden Barrett had around 16.

So Hastings sits somewhere in between that group in terms of relative amount of test experience at that age. Clearly the issue going forward, if he is going to get to the level those guys are at (by age 28 or thereabouts), is getting regular game time in a Scotland shirt with Finn Russell still the leading candidate. In any case you want two high-quality standoffs in your squad minimum – so this forced transition has been very helpful in that regard to accelerate Adam’s development.

Hastings hasn’t displayed flashes of Russell-like genius in attack, but he’s been capable, and defensively he’s been sound (tackle stats Att/Missed so far: Ire 13/1, Eng 6/2, Ita 12/2). Being allowed to stand closer to the line might help his attacking instincts, but defensive linespeed is that much quicker at international level which is probably why he’s been kept quite deep. One area of concern – no matter who plays ten – remains accuracy from the tee in Greig Laidlaw’s absence.

Whatever Steve Tandy is doing seems to be working so far

The defence looks a lot less porous: Scotland conceded 11 tries against Ireland, England and Italy last year, compared to just 2 so far this year. The whole team seems at least to be buying into that system.

We seem to be viewing and judging Townsend on a single trajectory since the Cotter era. Yes, the team has had some great results under Cotter but there were some shockers – and since Townsend took control there have continued to be in the years since. Scotland are a wildly schizophrenic rugby nation under any coach and the World Cup was probably the final proof of that equation.

After the World Cup he has clearly re-calibrated his aims to address that as the number one priority. The talk coming out of the camp is a focus on mental preparation and a consistent attitude for 80 minutes of every game.

He’s aiming to make the team harder to beat easily, and that is a new baseline set at the start of this World Cup cycle. On the evidence of the Six Nations so far he has succeeded, so shouldn’t we give him a while to see if this latest reset works? Or does he only get one, or two do-overs, and must be judged over the entirety of his tenure?

Of course, it comes with a caveat: Italy were so bad and the conditions in the Calcutta Cup so awful that you can almost discount them as meaningful in terms of judging whether there has truly been a reset. Which leaves a solid performance in Dublin (away from home, if you’re paying attention) that we could definitely have won.

The scrum is now a weapon

An honourary mention also to the other new coach, Peter de Villiers who seems to have resurrected Scotland and in particular Rory Sutherland as a scrummaging force. If you want some more info on that, check out this video from EK Rugby Analysis which we found via Reddit.

We’re actually where we should be

Pleasingly, we can no longer lose all our test matches this year, which was a distinct possibility, looking at the tough summer and autumn ahead.

So far Scotland have played two teams ranked inside the top five in the World Rankings – one a World Cup finalist two games on from that game.

Regardless of what you make of Eddie Jones cryptic selection policies, or the fact that Irish players are reasonably familiar to us from the PRO14, we have no god-given expectation of beating either of those teams based on recent, or indeed distant, history. One thing I’ve learned over the years of running this site is to stop being so keen to judge based on player potential in our minds-eye rather than the evidence we see in front of us. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have hope, but we need to be realistic – just not fatalistic.

If you go back and look at the tournament through the eyes of you before Finn Russell walked out of camp and you decided Townsend was no longer your favourite, did you really think we’d be anywhere other than where we are after three games?

Why are we still so dissatisfied?

Probably because those games turned out to be close enough to win, and that the mistakes that undid us were of a kind that makes it seems like just when we are turning a corner we find new ways to beat ourselves – like usually excellent finisher Stuart Hogg dropping a ball on the line. It’s very typically Scottish.

The biggest disappointment should be that we didn’t pick up a 4-try bonus point vs Italy to add to our two losing bonuses, lending our league table a more pleasant aspect than it might despite the two losses on there.

Of course there is an elephant in the room – several, really. The off-field issues that have dogged the SRU for the last year or more since Keith Russell’s tribunal (Distribution of Super6 franchises, Typhoon Hagibis, Mark Dodson’s wage packet, the Gammell Report executive power grab, and of course Finn Russell’s continued spat with Toony) – are acting as a goodwill handicap on the management and leadership of the team. The players are having to overcome that before they even get to the starting gate in terms of leaving a positive impression on the fans.

Really what we seem to be most disappointed about is the lack of attack on the pitch. There is still too much kicking, and while that might be the modern way to win test matches (once you sort the defence) it’s not great to watch.

Observe Wales, who have gone from a defensive focus (but winning occasional Grand Slams) to try and evolve to a more attacking game under Wayne Pivac, and it’s not going brilliantly. Too much attack is maybe a bad thing, but certainly we know that attack should suit our backline, and want to see more of it than we do currently.

The thought that most Scotland fans want our team to play fast, entertaining rugby means they are in fact positive souls. Isn’t that another reason to be cheerful?

54 Responses

    1. So everyone has improved around Townsend…..apart from him and his sponsor “the Dod”….all good then…

  1. Deary me an outbreak of positivity and pragmatism!

    All joking aside a very good article especially regarding the development of Adam Hasting and the influence of the new scrum and defence coaches.

  2. very good article.

    Life is full of shades of grey, rarely black and white as too many seem to think.

  3. There are undoubted improvements in defence and scrummaging, which seem to be directly related to the new coaches. If we believe we are actually where we should be, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ireland were poor in Dublin and there was a real chance to beat them. Similarly, England did plenty to contrive to lose the game at Murrayfield. If we don’t take these chances, we will never be better than 5th. My biggest concerns are the about turn on playing strategy and muddled selection. I don’t want to see continued defeats and boring rugby, while some of our most exciting talent is rarely on the pitch. Let’s have ambition!

    1. Can I agree with the article and yourself Stuart? I get where both are coming from.

      I really don’t get the we’ll park the England game due to conditions. England won it and did enough we didn’t and lost. We had that game in our grasp and let it slip just like Ireland game.. …

  4. Yep, great new defence coach, scrum coach and a good opportunity to properly blood another fly half. Good article, agree with everything except the part about comparing to the Cotter era and how that’s a fallacy.

    We had a lot more control and patience, and the defence only really became a bigger issue under Toonie. Yes Scotland have always flip flopped somewhat but Cotter had us winning the matches we should have been winning, with a simple but effective gameplan. We could have won both of the first matches, especially the Ireland game. We didn’t. I think it would have been different under Cotter at the WC and we would have got through with reasonable comfort by either beating Japan or Ireland.

    I still don’t get why nothing sticks to Toonie. Our attack is the same as it was under him when he last coached Scotland’s attack and people still aren’t making this link. Two years under him and we’ve gone backwards and people still aren’t making the link!!

    Mr Teflon strikes again!

    1. Cotter was just as infuriating inconsistant – who could forget Twickenham or let me see, the last team to lose to Italy in the 6Ns.

      The longer away from the Cotter era the better he seems to get.

      The idea Toonie is teflon is hilarious – he’s taking more flack than a English football manager.

      1. Cotter has gone, folk need to move on as well.
        He has gone not just from Scotland, backed sacked as Montpellier coach and moved upstairs to DoR, now sacked from that as well and has a gig as Fiji head coach. I wish him all the best there

    2. We conceded 12 tries a tournament under Cotter, and under Toonie we’ve scored an average of 12.5 tries a tournament, compared to 10.3 under Cotter. We’ve scored more tries under Townsend than we did under Cotter. And Toonie has been taking pelters above and below the line, and all over social media, since before he took over. By all means attack Townsend’s performance, but at least do so with things that aren’t easily refuted.

      1. We conceded an extra try a tournament under Toonie, and I’m pretty sure the average scored will be dragged down if you go with this Tournament too although the defence will have improved (with thanks to Tandy). Whilst Cotter’s side went on an upward trajectory, Toonie’s have conceded more tries than they score every tournament.

        He’s teflon because no matter what happens there’s fans who seem to think it was justified replacing a much better coach. That and I very much doubt he’ll be sacked, he’d have to jump first – guess it pays to have the right mates in the SRU.

        Also if we’re going down the stats route Vern’s winning percentage was higher – albeit by a percentage point at 53%, but he inherited a Scotland side who came off the back of a 31% winning rate. If you want to play statistics you have to look at the whole picture. It’s 6 of one, half dozen of the other. I will respectfully say I think I’d take the coach who upped our performances, rather than the one who has failed to pass a group stage of, arguably, the most forgiving group we could have had at a world cup.

      2. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone say that they thought replacing Cotter was the right thing to do, at the time or subsequently. I didn’t include this tournament in either TF or TA because it’s incomplete, and we’ve currently scored more than we’ve conceded in any case. Under Townsend we’ve scored significantly more tries than we did under Cotter. And Toonie’s win %age is higher, 52.9% compared to Cotter’s 52.8%. His points difference is also much higher than Cotter’s, 197 vs 81. So you can’t really support your claims that our attack and defence have regressed under Townsend. Speculating as to whether we’d have won the Ire and Eng games had Cotter been in charge may be fun, but what’s more relevant to me is what would have happened if the rucks had been refereed in a reasonable manner, or if Hoggy hadn’t uncharacteristically dropped the ball.

      3. Cotter isn’t a better coach – all his years in France with more money than Croesus his sides were famous for one thing – choking.

        You seem to be defining teflon by meaning not sacked – this is ludicrious.

      4. Townsend the coach who lost to the USA, to Fiji, has never beaten an Ireland side, took us out of the world cup at group stage , this 6 nations we score three tries in 3 games. How can anyone consider that is acceptable.

      5. Sorry, how many times did Cotter beat England or Australia? What are the aggregate scores there?

        My hands in the ruck is absolutely people being so blindly negative and biased that they make me – someone who was concerned about Toonie replacing Cotter too early – look like an apologist because I look at what’s actually happened. If you’re going to slag Townsend or Cotter or whomever off, at least make a compelling argument based on reality. Worth noting that we absolutely smashed Fiji at Murrayfield, by the way. A Fiji team who subsequently beat France in France. And we’ve conceded two tries in three games against tier one opposition. Remind me when that last happened, please.

      6. Just for the record I never mentioned Cotter, I only mentioned Townsend, I was not comparing them. I think you just got pinged for a side entry in this ruck.

        I expected more of him,I actually think he expected more of himself, it is just my opinion, other opinions are available. I do not think he compare’s himself to anyone, why would I ?

        Two things 1) Make sure you bark up the right tree. 2) Some people will have alternative opinions to yours,some will disagree with you , you wont change their opinion by getting heavy handed.

      7. “I think you just got pinged for a side entry in this ruck.”

        Haha, busted! Reffed what I thought not what I saw! Although you did highlight two results that are common amongst the Cotter fanboys, so I think it’s unintentional rather than foul play. And you commented on a discussion revolving around Cotter vs Townsend. I reckon it’s a 50:50 that you win on a technicality. Also, in the same spirit, I haven’t stated my opinion of Townsend’s tenure yet, so I think we can call this a draw.

      8. Last point ‘reality’ is he did lose to the sides I mentioned, he really did , that is reality, he has also won against the ones you mentioned !

  5. Good article. I’d add that the forwards in general have been much improved, both in attack and defence, so we should probably give Wilson and the S&C boys some credit, too. The frustrating thing is that we still panic near the try line, even though our defence should mean that there’s less pressure. Hopefully it’s just part of the transition between systems and fly halves. Hastings and Horne are an adept attacking duo, hopefully we’ll see more of what they can bring in the next two matches.

    1. There was an interesting point in the Squidge review of the Scotland Italy game that we get more conservative in our approach as we get closer to/inside the 22. Ie if we played in the 22 like we play in the middle of the field it would be far harder for the opposition to defend.

      1. It’s a good point, and it’s actually quite Exeter esq., now that I think about it. But they’ve been drilled in that style daily for years, and we haven’t. I remember last 6Ns we scored most of our tries from outside the 22, or something like that, and even when the scoring pass was in the 22 or in the 5, it was fast ball to a back. It must be a strategic decision, but to me a better defence means that those risks in attack are now less of a risk. Totally changing what was a successful attack seems questionable, unless he thinks we can’t transition from attack to defence quickly enough.

      2. its a fair criticism as far as it goes. When in the 22 there are fewer option if the defence is set – chip overs or grubbers through can work but usually easily defended if the opposition employ a sweeper. So only usually employed on a pen free play.
        If we are camped on or close the the line, the defence isn’t 5 m back or even behind the rear feet of the ruck, so easier to close attack down.
        Now these are rue for all teams, where the likes of Exeter excel is n being patient and latching on the ball carrier to drive that extra bit, and the latcher either ending in front of the carrier ot protect the ball, or takinga man on the side out to create a half gap for the next carry. Our pack have been amateurs in comparison in these areas. Get better at that and the defence brings on more players around the tackle and the space is then wider.
        Pack not good enough in these respects

      3. Totally agree, septic, but Ireland et al. are trained in this approach at club level and at national level, and have been for ages. I think it’ll take us a while to adapt. Learning a new approach at international level must be difficult.

    2. Scotland under Townshend really started to struggle when Dan McFarland left, he brought so much to the squad and is working wonders at ulster.

      The product on the field owes so much more to the whole coaching set up rather than just one man. Eddie Jones genius has usually been in surrounding himself with a group of coaches who can get the most out of his squad. Garland and Edwards, Schmidt and Farrell etc.

      Perhaps the wheels really came off when we reluctantly lost an exceptional coach from the support team?

  6. The curse of mediocrity (as in being near the middle) hangs over Murrayfield.

    In a 6 nations context we are not good enough just to play a solid defensive game and win reliably (and yet that is how championships are won….)

    Similarly we are not so poor that adventurous play is enough to satisfy without also winning.

    It’s a fair dilemma and a narrow path to tread. Wales and France to a lesser degree are on similar tightropes.

    BVC had the advantage that we were rubbish, so had freedom to be as adventurous. GT maintained that for a while but then the way was lost…a more defensive style has emerged…but will this ever lead to victory?

    My vote is no…but maybe we can find a good attack/defence balance that suits us.

  7. Things could be worse?
    They have been.

    Things could also be better, and have been – in recent memory.

    So what’s happened?

    Seems to me that we may be harder to beat….but we are still being beaten. Couldn’t understand the celebrations either of labouring to a third try on 77 minutes against an incompetent (on the day) Italian side when there was the theoretical chance of a 4 try bonus. Gave a insight into the mindset I thought – we saved ourselves for another game/season, pressure off.

    What worries me is we used to score tries (2016-18) but have sacrificed that elan as well as some of the players that delivered it for marginal gains in defence…..but still losing overall.

    So losing by less (yay!) and the tools to win deemed surplus to requirement?

    That’s what’s depressing a lot of folk I think – we have the ability but refuse to deploy it fully. Why did have to be one thing or the other? – all out attack, or no attack but stodgy defence. Hadden went through the same cringe in 2007.

    Murrayfield was sold out for what, 17 games in a row over the last couple of years on the back of a entertaining product. Doubt a series of uninspiring close losses will keep that going.

    I noticed the comment about learning how to score from close range and the Irish tactic (cheating) of latchers and sealing off. We probably will learn that…just in time for the laws to be changed!

  8. Cotter almost took us to a RWC semi….and bar a poor ref decision would have.
    GTs performance in the RWC …with what looked a better available group of players….was absolutely honking.
    Cotter took over a mediocre group of players with little to no confidence and a severe bout of white line fever….yet was slowly getting them playing to a style that came natural and scoring tries again…GT took over with a squad with greater depth and confidence and has dismantled that style preferring to impose his own personal rugby style ideals.

  9. And the debate goes on……although this never ending obsession with Cotter is obfuscating the real issues for me.
    Is anybody satisfied with :
    1/ The fact we have not beaten a Tier 1 team outwith Italy in our last 10 competitive matches in the 6N and RWC.
    2/ The style of rugby we are currently playing.
    3/ The selections made or not made by Townsend, specifically in the more creative areas of the pitch.
    4/ The embarassment that is the Finn Russell affair.
    Townsend has had more than enough time to build a credible amount of forward momentum from what was a reasonably solid and improving side when he took over.He has patently failed to do that and we are heading in a downward spiral.
    He has 2 games to turn this around or he should be gone. We need to win both these games.

    1. I don’t think anyone is satisfied with the current slump since a very good first year in the job.

      The questions for me are –

      1) can Townshend recover from this slump? I don’t know, he’s certainly running out of time quickly but new coaches are rarely immediate panaceas for struggling teams.

      2) is there a realistic chance we can recruit a coach of the right calibre who can improve our performance – I don’t know, I’d hope the SRU have been putting out feelers. The Toonie out brigade usually assume we can pick whatever world class coach isn’t currently in a test seat, but that’s not how it works. We are not going to recruit Wayne Smith or Graham Henry or Jamie Joseph or Pat Lam. There’s no point in forcing out Townshend and replacing him with someone less capable.

    2. Well I think TT is right and no one can argue with his logic.

      I also think you are being a bit condescending towards the Toonie out Brigade. I would have accepted your arguments, reluctantly, pre the RWC but it no longer has strength as a blocker. This 6N is not over, but this far, a damp squib.

      I dont speak for them but suspect the Toonie Out brigade are aware of five things :
      1) If this goes on the SRU and fans are saying ‘this is all right’. Wrong message.
      2)The current players are unlikely to think this is all right and there is likely to be some who are as frustrated as Finn. Don’t break them.
      3) The SRU are shelling out a load of cash for their CEO giving the appearance they will pay for performance. That puts this job in an attractive place.
      4) It is my opinion, Toonie has run this side down, and a some coaches will see that as a challenge/ springboard and there is low hanging fruit in this lot (Watson, Hogg, Jones , Richie, Rambo) men you could build a side round.
      5) Why do we think we deserve a coach less effective than Tonnie , look at the results, look at the facts , not the emotions.

      If there is any last good reason, I saw a clip on Scottish TV (Those not resident will not have witnessed it) of the squad training indoors and Toonie was walking up and down,the lines, face of disapproval, arms crossed. If that is what is going on outside, what is going on inside.

      You cannot scowl them into performance, men need motivated.

  10. The stats appear to be about the same re GT & BVC, however (& I know stats can be skewed to suit whichever agenda you are promoting) “it” felt better under BVC. Furthermore I reckon GT benefited from the continuing positive influence of BVC at the start of his tenure. The last 6 Nations (40mins apart) the RWC 2019 were dreadful, Finn & the fastest rugby in the world to a instant seminal change to safety 1st forwards orientated game sits rather uneasily on me. We have a chance of beating France on Sunday (well they are still French) but…………….

    1. It felt better because results and performance were improving under BVC whereas they are deteriorating under Townends tenure. Our peak was in in the last year of BVC and the first year of GT. This asks the question have we reverted to our unsatisfactory low of 8/9 in the world or can GT learn from his mistakes and take us upwards again? I don’t have a crystal ball but there are two matches to go we need a win not a just a performance.

  11. I for one think we will do it this weekend. for all of the praise for the messiah Shaun Edwards France are still shipping tries, the uniform praise for the French team comes in some small part from everyone wanting France to return to the France of old I think we are all getting carried away. Scotland I believe have a habit of shipping tries early at murrayfield then coming back to win, if we keep them quiet then it’s ours to win.

  12. There are a lot of positives, and watching the Squidge review of the Italy match made me realise that Italy are getting a lot of things right and with better execution we’d have had a closer game.

    The issue for me is that when we get into the 22 we don’t appear to play what’s in front of us, it’s happened in the past three games and the only time we appeared to get out of that blinkered approach we scored. My concern is that Toonie is setting a structure that’s far too rigid for the players we have.

    Personally, Haining and Scott should be playing with Huw Jones starting outside Scott. There’s plenty that will point to Johnson being in people’s teams of the week but this isn’t fantasy rugby. Scott is doing a lot of what Johnson does but is slightly above him IMHO. It’s Toonie’s failure to adapt that is the main issue here, not the players.

    1. It is very much the coach AND the players. Townshend didn’t drop the ball in Dublin with t he try-line begging. He didn’t squander a good three or four gilt-edged chances with basic skill failures against Italy.

      We had more than enough opportunities to win against Ireland and England but fundamentally players have to execute on the park.

  13. “the conditions in the Calcutta Cup so awful that you can almost discount them as meaningful…..”

    I don’t think we can write off the CC like this. My frustration is that I think Townsend was outcoached by EJ. Our lineout looked and played like we’d hadn’t considered the weather. Our subs came on far, far too late with guys left being left on the field who were clearly out on their feet. Jones had a weather related plan with his 6/2 bench selection. I don’t think England played the conditions well but we looked and played like a team who hadn’t checked the forecast. To compete, Scotland has always had to be clever. That day we were dumb.

    1. its not writing off the CC, but a fair appraisal of the impact of the conditions.
      I’ve never been at a test match in similar conditions, but a different bounce or call here and there and we win – but england won for one reason – they kicked better even though they made almost double figures of appalling kicks. Ford adapted, kicking the ball low into spaces, playing territory and pressurising defence. He was the difference.
      We have no-one who can play that game from midfield with the consistency and accuracy needed

      1. Interestingly this is exactly the sort of thing that BT’s new VR training environment tools should be used for, in the same way as the NFL use it for quarterbacks – repeating game situations without needing a whole team, identifying space, and practising tactical kicking etc in order to improve these skills.

      2. The bounce of a ball or the ref’s decision are things we have no control over. The examples I gave were about things we did have control over. There is stuff to learn here and if we use weather as a catch-all cover then we are less likely to learn these lessons.

    2. Fair point Ian, I think my intent was more that the conditions didn’t give us an accurate reflection of where the players are as a team in terms of how they intend to play under Toony 2.0. Of course your point that it did reflect poorly on the preparation and tactical setup that the approach seemed wrong is also totally valid.

      1. I like the expression Toony 2.0. It sums it up the situation nicely. I can certainly see signs of hope. Basically the argument is that the painful investment and learning in Toonie 1.0 will be paid back to Scotland in Toony 2.0. But against this, I saw stuff in the England game that made me worry we still aren’t being smart enough at a coaching level. Meaning that the coaching mistakes of Toonie 1.0 are simply emerging in a new form (e.g. very late substitutions). I think it is impossible to call it right now but after the next two games it should hopefully become clearer.

  14. Toony 2.0 had identified some core problems.
    The bottom line is that for all the end to end scores under Cotter and Toonie 1.0 there were many games when the intensity was not there and where our defence leaked.

    If we can get the consistent intensity and defence then we can bolt the attacking play on.

    I think fans should be realistic also.
    We have – by some distance – the lowest player resource of any 6N side including Italy.

    Having only 2 pro teams also means injury or, er, player coach spats often sees an undercooked youngster come into the team after only a season or 2 of regular pro rugby. These players are learning on the job. Of course it sometimes shows.

    The quality of player we have is actually quite remarkable all things considered, and the signs from the age group and academies are that it is sustainable.

    For my money we could really do with an Alun Wyn Jones type (and I know Teamcam will agree!).
    Just a niggly, glowering competitor who makes big demands of those around him.
    Maybe one will develop. We forget how young our forwards are. Johnny Gray has been around forever but he’s 25 going on 26…..
    Exeter will expose him to a league where tight 5 forward play really counts.

    I was a bit down like many fans but whatever happens in the remaining fixtures we are a competitive side with plenty of scope to improve.

    1. good post.

      For some reality isn’t a consideration – there is a mystifying entitlement that we should be better, sweeping all before us.
      After every game I feel like that, I know we should have been better (win or lose) and I’m not satisfied. That’s the fan in me.
      Sitting back in the cold light of day putting on an analytical common sense hat, the world looks very different for Scottish Rugby

      1. My expectations are that the team plays with intensity, so we don’t see anymore performances like the one in Nice during the warm ups, Ireland in the first RWC game etc.

        If we do that we will win some games.

        For us to win a championship right now would be a tall order. It’s not impossible but it would be like Leicester City winning the premier league back in 2016. We’d have to get on a run, get confidence and things would have to bounce for us.
        Man for man we are some way above Italy, maybe edging close to Wales and possibly Ireland but a little bit below England or France due to our lack of ball carrying physicality.

        Toonie’s selections have been experimental, and I was starting to get fed up of that. Constantly changing the balance of the team, constantly changing the way it’s going to play.

        I think that has calmed down now.

        I still think in the longer term Chris Harris is an option off the bench rather than a starter.

        I think Mark Bennett is the man who has the all round game and I hope we see him on the Summer tour, but Huw Jones is a proven class act. One of those 2 should be the starter in the longer term.

        Finngate needs resolution and the period between end of 6N and tour will provide time for the dust to settle.

        All in all we’re a competitive side, but people who think we must win championships need to calm down.

    2. At least I know what AWJ does now… The only other writing I’ve seen on the matter was about him winding Sinckler up, which doesn’t seem to be a task that requires much effort or skill.

  15. Excellent points here . But sick of being nearly men,also still believe that Russell situation could have been handled better. This is not to give Finn a free pass. But management is about the carrot, not just the stick.

  16. Rumours abound this evening that the legendary Duncan Weir is in the squad for Sunday….

    1. Quite a fan of The Pud being back in the fray…

      At least gives another option if whatever Hastings is doing isn’t working. Could easily be seen as a backwards step but Weir showed in his last season at Edinburgh that he’s great at closing out a game.

  17. Great and timeous post Rory. Post world cup I was gutted at Russell’s omission. That said we were so porous. That was the fundamental issue. That has changed, big time. Then again there has been little to judge our backs form but there are positives. You don’t play against Ireland. They suffocate you. We should have won that if Hogg had grounded it. They scored one try. The England game was a lottery and neither team should be judged. Again we leaked only one try against a team who hammered the ABs. Lastly, Italy. They never got a sniff of scoring and we left easily 3 tries out there. Good luck the boys on Sun.

  18. Other reasons to be cheerful:
    1. Nilling Italy in Rome
    2. A settled squad, where Toonie has refrained (mostly) from his Tombola. The caveat is that he hasn’t settled on his centres, but then again neither have most fans.
    3. We seem to have found not one, but two ball-carrying number 8s, which complement our first choice flankers.
    4. Lack of injuries (Jonny Gray and Darcy Graham aside)

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World Rugby has taken steps to ban Dupont's Law amongst three new law changes to be brought in in July.
Scotland came up frustratingly short in their final Six Nations match against Ireland, losing out on a place in WXV1 in the dying minutes. It was a disappointing end to what has been a very good, if not spectacular, tournament from Scotland. Eleanor has the talking points.
Scotland's Womens Six Nations came to a frustrating end with an eminently achievable third place slipping out of their fingers in the final minutes. Skye rates the players.

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion