Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Podcast: 1997 Lions Tour – Everest Belongs To Telfer


On this week’s podcast Cammy and John are joined by Bruce Aitchison from Happiness Is Eggshaped to take a look at the 1997 Living With Lions documentary. We take a look at a fascinating time for rugby with the amateur game giving way to professionalism which produced a unique tour the likes of which we will never see again.

We discuss what lessons future Lions teams can learn from the tour, why McGeechan and Telfer are coaching GOATs as well as THAT speech.

We broadcast the podcast live and you can watch and join in on the night. You can also choose to watch or listen back afterwards by one of our video or podcast channels:

YouTube –

Apple Podcasts:


Alternatively search for Scottish Rugby Podcast on your favourite podcast app or smart devices such as Amazon Alexa.

Each week we will put out a 40 minute podcast for all listeners covering all the latest news and key analysis of the big matches. If you want an ad free version of the podcast as well as a weekly bonus episode taking a deeper dive into the main talking points you can sign up to our Patreon from £3 per month. This also gets you access to our super secret social media group where you can chat to other fans of the podcast.

The documentary is available to purchase and download on Amazon

About The Podcast

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

We broadcast the podcast live so you can watch and join in on the night. Get involved and submit a comment via YouTube, Facebook or Twitch. You can also choose to watch or listen back afterwards using one of our video or podcast channels:


Alternatively search for “Scottish Rugby Podcast” on your favourite podcast app or smart speaker (eg Amazon Alexa). The podcast is part of the the Sport Social Network. You can find more about other rugby podcasts available on the Sport Social Network on their website.

If you would prefer an ad free version of the podcast as well as a weekly bonus episode taking a deeper – and some times swearier – dive into the main talking points you can sign up to our Patreon from just £3 a month. This also gets you access to our super secret social media group where you can chat to other fans of the podcast and rugby in Scotland.

Scottish Rugby Podcast

86 Responses

  1. Re the latest SRB tweet re The Lions @ Murrayfield.
    I do think Scottish hearts have been broken by Warren Gatland & his continued intransigence about not selecting Scottish players.
    Now you cant question his record but all of the 50/50 decisions were not in Scotland’s favour.
    To further add insult to injury he almost completely ruined Scotland’s SH tour (during the last Lions series) by selecting Scottish guys because it was geographically convenient.
    I (& a few mates) have been making a weekend of it for the last 8 series & the last 3 have been different.
    The proposed Lions game in Edinburgh is being seen by us as 2 “foreign” teams plays.
    However if Hogg, Johnson, Russell, Watson, Fagarson, Sutherland are involved……………

    1. I think you can question his record. He won in Aus because Beale slipped, he lost to provincial NZ teams and he drew the series thanks to a red card and a smooth-talking Sam Warburton.

      And it’s not just intransigent, it’s unprofessional. He takes a year to prepare yet is ignorant of a whole union’s players (bar 1)?

      1. Gatland’s record as Lions coach is excellent – if you doubt that you’re really letting your bias get in the way of your judgement.

        He won in Australia and drew a series everyone thought NZ would win at a canter. That’s the bottom line really.

      2. Also, I dislike Gatland and don’t like seeing him succeed but he is without doubt one of the best coaches in the world. He’s a winner.

      3. Very few Lions coaches win a test series at all.

        ‘Dominant’ performances is just a subjective meaningless metric you made up because you don’t want to acknowledge the obvious fact that Gatland’s Lions record is very good. In ‘97 were the Lions victories ‘dominant’? No. Did it matter? Hell no.

      4. If we could go back time and appoint Gatland instead of any of our recent coaches then I’m sure we’d do it. Serial winner whether you like him or not.

      5. What’s his record against Aus, SA, NZ for Wales ? He is not all that.

        Scraped past a poor Aussie side and could not win the other series against what i think is fair to say a poor All blacks side at the time.

        How on earth is he going to beat a South african side starting to hit their prime and who recently won the WC, Gatlandball wont work against them.

      6. With Wales, he beat Australia 3 times and South Africa 4 times and never beat NZ.

        But let’s be clear, he is a great coach. In 12 years with Wales he won 3 grand slams, 1 6N championship, reached 2 world cup semi-finals.

        Under him, Wales won a third of the 6N they entered. That is a fabulous record.

        Before Lions went to NZ, no one was saying it was a poor NZ team. They hadn’t lost any game in NZ for 8 years and hadn’t lost a home test to a Lions country in 14 years.

      7. Convincing, dominant, i.e. victory that wasn’t scraped. Australia were a shambles in 2013, and he needed Beale to slip in order to win. If you want to just look at test wins, fine, but I think a coach’s record is more nuanced than that. I think Gatland is a good coach, I’ve said as much on here many times. I just think he’s an overrated Lions coach. If you’ve got a team of internationals and a year to plan, you shouldn’t be losing to club teams. I guess you could say that generally Lions coaches are poor, or at least their performances are given how rarely they win, so in comparison maybe his record is excellent.

        Worth noting how many games his sides lost against those SH teams, too, rather than simply focusing on the wins. And after the 2017 tour, they had a very mixed year, losing to Aus twice.

  2. I really hate what Gatland has done to me & my feelings towards the Lions but TeamCam I reckon you’re being a wee bit harsh, in NZ SBW 100% deserved the red card & Warburton was just doing what a good captain does.
    Beale did slip but that’s whatabootery…….
    Gatland doesn’t seem to like/rate Scottish players (his face in 2017 when we beat Rob Howleys Wales was a picture) & the last 2 Lions tests have been just another game of rugby (admittedly a big game) to me, which is a shame

    1. I totally agree that SBW deserved a red and Warbs was being a master, but it’s hardly a Gatland masterminded win. And Beale slipping was a freak accident, and the difference between a winning and losing tour. Not whataboutery, just fact.

      Not to mention that the Lions have been dull under Gatland. I’d much rather have seen them under O’Shea, Jones, Toonie, Rennie, Lam, Joseph, Hansen…

      1. Well, probably opinion, actually, I can’t remember if the kick was the last act of the game or not!

      2. The red may have been merited but was there not a similar incident in one of the other games where a Lions player didn’t see red?

      3. Two off the top of my head: Mako V forearm smashing Barrett, and SoB knocking out Naholo (I think) with a forearm smash.

  3. I don’t want Gatland in Scotland again.

    Biased coach who picked from familiarity and denied better players an opportunity numerous times from Scotland.

    He has a poor record against the Southern Hemisphere as a coach for Wales.

    He scraped past a poor 2013 Aussie side with the ‘best of 4 nations’

    He Scraped to a draw against a poor All blacks side destroyed with injuries and recent retirments, And if not for a merited red card, would very likely have lost the series.

    On top of that his style is incredibly dull and one dimensional as he does not have the ability to bring the best out of a side in a more expansive entertaining way.

    For me i would rather the lions lost but played a great blend of attacking and defensive rugby, than win with a boring style.

    Perhaps that is just me ? i can’t recall one piece of brilliant attacking rugby from the 2017 lions tour test matches, can anyone else ?

    I remember alot more from the 2009 lions.

    1. They did score a sweeping try in one of the tests, I think Liam Williams and SoB were both involved.

      1. Cool 1 try, i do recall that one now.. and it came off a bit of individual brilliance as supposed to tactics i think ? is there another that springs to mind, or just the one try ?

    2. Tommy seymour’s try in a provincial match against the Hurricanes , pass from wee Greeg After an intercept .
      Top try scorer on the tour not even on the bench for the tests

      Sorry Warren , you have a lot to do to get back to the starting line , let alone win us over

  4. I don’t care as long as the SRU get a decent payday out of the lions game.

  5. If it’s held at Murrayfield should put some commercial pressure on there being more than one token Scottish player in the squad. Noticed GT was speaking out about a role too.

  6. It was probably between Murrayfield and the Aviva. Twickenham is out because of the English Premiership final and the last ‘home’ Lions game was in Cardiff and so they probably decided it was time to move it to one of the other home nations in order to avoid any more Welsh bias claims. This game will easily sell out with many people coming up from England and Wales and making a weekend of it in Edinburgh.

    If Rob Howley is out of contention due to his betting scandal then I’d like to see what Toonie could do as head attack coach for the Lions with someone like Cockers (or maybe even Tandy) brought in as caretaker for Scotland. Scottish players lost all the marginal calls because there was nobody to push their case at the squad selection meetings.

  7. It is amazing how some posters argue that (1) Wales and their players are over rated (2) Warren Gatland is not an excellent coach, despite his team reaching 2 RWC semi-finals under him and winning a third of the 6N he entered (in fact slightly more as Howley coached one that Wales failed to win).

    One of these positions can be correct, both can’t be. If you think Wales and their players are over rated, Gatland is truly a global super-coach.

    1. His teams play a fairly ugly brand of rugby (Warrenball) which makes them, and him, dificult to like as a result.

      You’re right though, those saying he’s a not a good coach just wish he wasn’t. He’s taken an uninspiring and underperforming at club-level group of Welshmen and made them grand slam winners and semi-finalists.

    2. I think a lot of folk have thistle tinted glasses; is Gatland a likeable guy from a Scottish perspective, probably not; is he an effective coach, undoubtedly. A lot is made of his “50/50” calls – if that’s what they truly are, you can’t really complain whoever is picked! And if you you were in his shoes, selecting for a Lions tour, would you go with a player you know & who understands your game plan or go with someone who you will have to hope gets on the same wavelength in a limited period of training. If both players are equally skilled, you’d go with the one you knew. And while I think we should have a higher number of squad members, I’m still not convinced we have any nailed on Lions test starters other than Hoggy. Sutherland possibly in the test 23 if he continues his form and Watson an outside chance of starting at 7 but struggling to think of others who really demand to be picked. McInally, Zander, Gray, Russell (and I hope Graham too) are likely squad members but would be pleasantly surprised if they are in the test squads. I promised myself I wouldn’t go down the “pick a Lions squad” route & comment purely on Gatland; failed dismally.

      1. Warks the reality is that the players you mentioned below McInally,Zander,Gray, Russell & Graham will not even make the touring squad nevermind the test team, the same thing will happen as last tour.

        I would not be surprised if Ritchie, Watson & Hogg dont make a test team, and in Ritchie And Watsons case im sure Gatland will find a way not to include them at all.

        Remember last time when Gray, Watson (who tour apart wales that six nations on amazing form) Laidlaw (Called as a replacement) Russell, Dunbar (peak) and Maitland were all not selected. These were all players who were in with a shout of making the original lions squad in our eyes, they were in form, playing well when there teammates were not. For none of them to make it ? i mean cmon everyone was rightly in uproar at the time, we merited more than 2 scots on the orginal touring team.

        2 for christ sake. Gatland has not gotten this reputation because all of us have thistle tinted glasses on, his selected were genuinely biased towards his Welsh players.

        Ross Moriarty of Hamish Watson, Dan Biggar over Russell ? give me a break.

  8. With Gatland due to return to his role as Wales HC after the last Lions tour he had a vested interest in maintaining the Wales dressing room. What better way to do this than by giving the nod to those players he knows and trusts. I also feel he would have been leant on by the WRU to select as many Wales players as possible. I think 16 Welsh players were selected for the last tour despite Wales finishing 5th in that year’s 6N. This should (in theory) be less of an issue for next year’s tour.

    I just don’t see Gatland selecting Watson or Ritchie over the likes of Tipuric, Navidi, Wainwright and Faletau. Curry and Underwood will most certainly tour and then you have the likes of Stander, van de Flier, Peter O’Mahony (if he returns to form). I can see Watson and Ritchie being on the standby list at best.

    1. Based purely on this/last season’s form, I would be surprised if Ritchie wasn’t selected to tour at the very least. Plenty of journos / ex-players etc are selecting him to start. His competition is essentially just Navidi and Wainwright since England have been picking two 7s and O’Mahony has been out of form since the NZ game in 2018.

      Watson *should* definitely go but it’s hard to argue that Tipuric, Curry and Underhill don’t deserve it as well. I think Gatland will back the other 3 over the Mish.

      We do have to accept the fact as well that since the last lions tour England have reached a WC final and Wales and Ireland have both won grand slams. Scotland on the other hand have 1.5 impressive performances vs England and, um, not much else.

      Realistically, if the squad was picked tomorrow, I would expect Hogg, Ritchie, Mcinally and Sutherland to be definites. Russell, Fagerson, Gray, Watson and Price as maybes but unlikely. The other nations do just have a lot of good players atm.

      Obviously this all changes when we win the grand slam next year…….

      1. I hate this nonsense logic that because Scotland haven’t succeeded, our players aren’t good enough. As I’ve said before: look at the form of the Welsh clubs. If Gatland had only picked players in winning teams the Wales squad would have been Liam Williams. Gatland selected the likes of Moriarty and Haskell over Watson (who, incidentally, can do everything Tipuric, Curry et al. can and more. He’s a point of difference). Gatland doesn’t pick based on the success of teams, he simply uses it as a convenient excuse. His criteria went from “even the 5th placed team should expect 5-6 players” to “Scotland lost at Twickenham, have two players and shut up”. He’s a liar. And, by your own analysis, he’s corrupt.

        Also, both Lions years he was in charge we finished 3rd in the 6N and yet got a fraction of the representation of the teams who finished below us. The success of a team is about far more than the quality of their players.

      2. Agreed Teamcam, if anything players that are performing well in a bad team shows more to me, than players playing well in a good team.

        Are people seriously suggesting the likes of Sergio parrise would not have been picked for the lions in 2013 (assuming Italy could qualify) just because the team around him is bad ?

        And we have had more players than just Hogg who were good enough for the lions over the past 2 tours.

  9. I don’t see much changing this time around. If we only got two selected last time I don’t see what has happened to change Gatlands mind since then. The 2017 six nations is still the high water mark in terms of our recent form and Gatland has always said he looks at away form in big games. I think Russel, Hogg and Watson will tour but I don’t think they will play in any tests.

    1. Well, Wales has a stunning 2017 Six Nations. No wonder they were so well represented. Why are we trying to make excuses for him? The only consistent aspect of his selection policy is a disinclination towards Scottish players. The reasons he’s given have been nonsense.

  10. There are all sorts of reasons why Gatland hasn’t picked Scots:-
    1. The underperformance of the national team
    2. The lack of representation at selection
    3. The bias towards players he knows and knows well
    4. The inability to perform away from home
    The latter is still a problem apart from in Italy. The Edinburgh boys have started putting in some performances away, but Glasgow have only won once on the road – again in Italy.
    However, Scotland are beginning to perform better – certainly defensively.
    I would suggest that Gregor will accept any offer made this time, or maybe even Cockers will get an invitation.
    Hopefully Gatland will make more of an effort to watch some of the Scottish boys playing, so he can at least make an informed decision rather than “well I KNOW how this welsh boy plays”.

    We still need to get a couple of away wins, whether in the postponed game against Wales or in the next 6N (France or England). If we don’t then it’ll be the usual two or three.

    1. Glasgow have beaten almost every team in the Pro14, including Leinster, away from home in the last few years. As have Edinburgh. They’ve both also beaten teams away from home in the ERCC. And won against Aus in Aus.

      1. And lost to the USA in the USA and Japan in Japan and Fiji in Fiji.

        While Ireland beat the All blacks and get to RWC Quarters, Wales get to the Semi’s and England get to the final.

        I dont agree with you Teamcam. It is a brilliant startegy , our guys are the fittest and best because we were rested at home on the couch while these other nations wore themselves out achieving. Heard it all now.

      2. It was pretty clear that I was responding to this and not talking generally:

        “The latter is still a problem apart from in Italy. The Edinburgh boys have started putting in some performances away, but Glasgow have only won once on the road – again in Italy.’

        Ireland also lost to Japan in Japan, by the way. The game against USA was a development game, and they deserved the win. The Fiji game was a travesty, though.

        Do you honestly not see the inconsistencies in people’s arguments about Gatland’s selections? As Andy F says, he holds our players to a higher standard. He also twists his criteria and often just doesn’t even bother do his research.

        No idea what your last paragraph is about, but you not only heard it, you wrote it. Don’t try and put such stupid sentiments into my mouth.

  11. This year’s final game against Wales will soon become obsolete. It’s next year’s 6N that will be the final audition. I personally think Wales have and will continue to regress under Pivac and am quietly confident that we will beat them and Ireland at Murrayfield (assuming the stadium is full) next year. If we can nick a win in Paris and Tandy can set us up to avoid a pumping a Twickenham then Gatland will be hard pushed to wheel out the same excuses. Wishful thinking I know.

    1. I mean if we win our home games against Wales and Ireland.. surely that shows that the welsh and irish players cant play well away from home, hang on .. is that not what happened in 2017 ?

      1. The only 6N win Wales had away from home in 2017 was in Italy and I recall it being a late score to scrape home. They lost every other away game and yet ended up with 16 players (plus the Geography 6) touring in NZ.

        I still think there is some behind the scenes beef between Gatland the SRU/Dodson. Or maybe Gatland still holds a grudge for when Scotland denied his Ireland side a GS. I’m sure I saw an interview where Gatland all but confirmed that the SRU were a nightmare to deal with in terms of releasing a Scottish coach for the last Lions tour. I can understand Toonie not wanting to be Rob Howler’s assistant (which was an insult) but the SRU even blocked O’Halloran from touring which has Dodson written all over it.

  12. Gatland has already said he wants players from winning teams, citing Itoje as captain. No team in Scotland is a winning team – never won 6N nor Heineken Cup.

    The neoliberal logic is that “winners” won’t put up with a losing team…they’ll get themselves into a winning one.

    This also makes his coaching job easier…you can just say “we won’t tolerate losing” to your group of “winners”. No talk of good performances, or styles of play, just results. He can’t trust us Scots (lifelong losers) to be fully behind this message…

    On that basis we might see Russell and Hogg on the plane in amongst the Leinstaracens, and some Welsh favourites he trusts.

    Nobody from Glasgow or Edinburgh will go – If they were any good they wouldn’t be there.

    1. It is hard to argue with that Alan. Some will , but this will always rise to the top. Simply because it is true. Though we are not ‘lifelong losers’, Scots were stars of lions tours past , Hastings, McGeechan, Gordon Brown for example. Not sure how we got out of the rut.

    2. “Gatland has already said he wants players from winning teams…”

      And he’s been true to that. Jones and Tipuric have won so many titles in the last few years with Ospreys I can barely keep up. And Ross Moriarty’s Dragons are perennial winners. It’s not like Warriors have smashed the Welsh sides and beaten the likes of La Rochelle, Racing 92, Tigers etc. away from home or reached finals or anything, is it. And Wales’ away record against the likes of Aus is unimpeachable. If only we’d beaten Aus away…

      The majority of the Welsh squad has literally only experienced success under Gatland. He’s lying. Sean Maitland has won multiple titles with Sarries. He’s consistently been selected by them on the wing in big matches and has consistently excelled for Scotland. Where was he in 2017? Not in NZ, that’s for sure.

      1. Teamcam – the majority of the Welsh squad have enjoyed quite a lot of success with Wales at test level – the highest level of the game.

        Since Glasgow won the only Scottish silverware of the professional era, Scarlets have also won the league and followed it up with a SF in Europe.

        Despite the travails of Wales regions, Wales got to the SF in the last world cup that we crashed out of in the group stages and only lost by 3pts to the eventual winners. I don’t think beating France at home redeems that performance tbh.

        There is no way round the basic facts, Wales are more successful than us. Some might say ‘better’!

        Bizarrely you think this is despite having worse players and a coach that is no better than good.

        I do think Scotland is hard done by in some case by Lions selections, but frankly, unless you are living in bizarro world, the best we could have hoped for on the NZ tour was no more than an extra handful of guys playing in the midweek team. No Scottish player who wasn’t selected would have made a decisive difference to the outcome of the tour IMO – including Russell.

      2. I don’t think you understand my point. It is: the idea that Gatland only selects players from successful teams is undermined when you look at his time with Wales. Yes, Scarlets won silverware (and were good for a couple of years), but they weren’t great before and have regressed. The other regions are pants, too. Despite this, Gatland selected these players in his Wales team. If he’d done what people claim he does – pick players from winning teams – he’d only have a handful of players in his Wales teams. In short, he doesn’t select players from winning teams. That’s just an excuse. Look at how well Ireland and Wales did in 2013 and 2017 respectively, then compare that to their representation on the tour.

        I haven’t said he’s good at best. I have stated many times that he’s a very accomplished coach and even (grudgingly) said that I’d be happy with him being Scotland coach. So maybe you should respond to what I’ve actually said rather than what suits your argument.

        So despite his players not coming from winning teams, Wales have outperformed us internationally. The reason? Gatland and his coaching staff. They transform those players from mediocre performers to good-to-excellent players.

        He is a very good coach. But he’s a biased and lazy Lions selector. And his Wales and Lions teams are rubbish to watch. Which is probably why other selections may not have made any difference to the outcome: his gameplan is limited.

      3. Oh, and the only player whose omission would have affected the outcome of the series is Sam Warburton. Literally any other player’s omission wouldn’t have made a difference.

      4. Teamcam: Scotland have only beaten Wales once in the last 12 Years. He might be picking his players from winning or losing club teams but on the only day that counts, when he puts his dolly mixtures out against our licorice all-stars they hump us . He picks them for the lions based on that performance, which is the only performances that count. It is not a hard concept to grasp !!

      5. I dont understand why only Warburton’s omission would have made a difference ?

      6. He’s not basing it on the performances; he’s basing it on the results. If he was basing it on performances, we’d have far more representation. And every performance counts. And that point was clearly about his Wales selections, not his Lions selections, and when he selected for Wales he selected players who were perennial losers. He selected and started Sinckler for the Lions because Rowntree loves him. Sinckler had, like, an hour of international experience and was playing for an awful Quins team. The standard applied to Scotland players is different to that which applied to other players. And they’ve been very, very lucky to win several times. I can only think of two humpings. Which is two too many, to be fair. And one was under Scott Johnson.

        Because I can’t see any other Lions captain (or maybe even any other captain) talking the ref into making that decision. He was a great player, but I think that was probably his most influential intervention on the pitch. Vindicated Gatland’s faith in him completely.

    3. For the record, the above is not my belief, only my impression
      of Gatland’s thinking: he picks players he trusts to deliver under pressure, either due to their records or a personal thing.

      1. Alan , it is not a flawed impression. Back yourself, 99% of us agree with you.

  13. Alanyst,

    Interesting thoughts, however from Scottish teams I’d reckon Sutherland, Z.Fagerson, Watson, Ritchie & as a dark horse Johnson may all be under serious consideration. Whether they go or not may come down to how they/Scotland fare until March next year.

  14. As much as I dislike Gatland he does have a difficult job. Put yourself in his shoes, do you pick good players you know, trust and know how to deliver what you want, or do you pick good players.

    Club level is a different story but at international level our teams simply haven’t had parity. That is a coaching issue not a player issue so I think it’s harsh that Scotland players are overlooked for the lions. You can argue a player looking good in an average team is better an average player being flattered by a good team.
    The job of the lions coach is to win the test series and they will do whatever they need to achieve that and rightly so. I think fundamentally it is the ethos of the lions to pick the best player in each position rather than nationality, who works with who, works in the coaches way, units etc but that’s a romantic notion these days. We see it more and more nowadays, this concept of “units” we even do it ourselves quite often going with an “Edinburgh front row” or a “Glasgow backline” even though you can argue one or more of the players has a better alternative from elsewhere.

    Hogg and McInally should be certain and arguably in the test squad. Maitland and Mish should probably travel. Sutherland and Skinner should be in the reckoning form dependant but aren’t certs. Russell should go but I don’t know how his self inflicted international absence will go down.

    1. Russell is an interesting one, it’s maybe my thistle tinted specs but I don’t think you can argue Biggar or Ford are better fly halves thus Russell and Sexton should be travelling, but I just can’t see it. Ritchie would be my only other real consideration but him and mish would never both go and for me mish pips it. The 2017/18 version of Huw Jones would have been a cert. Johnson maybe looked at but I think there are plenty of arguably better centres from other nations, depends what Garland wants Farrell to do.

      1. On the fly-halves, as much as I despise him, I can see the argument for Biggar. He’s the kind of player that can come off the bench and grab the game by the scruff of the neck to win it.

        Finn is more talented and far more creative than any of the other 10s in the home nations atm but it depends what gameplan you’re going for. Personally, I think they’d be mad not to take him. Springboks have the best power and kicking game in the world so the lions aren’t going to beat them that way. They’ve got to try something different and Finn, for all his faults, is a point of difference.

        I wouldn’t be too upset about our centres not going. Even on here, nobody can agree who our best ones are lol. Thinking of how good Huw Jones was a couple of years ago so frustrating now.

      2. I agree on Sexton, his form declined alarmingly last season so has a lot to prove he can still do the business.

        Biggar is an excellent FH, ultra-competitive, a leader with a strong all round game. He isn’t a creative player and his conduct on the field leaves a lot to be desired but we shouldn’t doubt his class.

        If you accept Farrell is nailed on and Biggar is a very likely tourist, then you see Russell actually has a tough job to tour. Ford plays for a far more successful team and is crucial to England’s success in reaching the RWC final; Anscombe is a Gatland player and is widely seen to finally be thriving at test level, he’s also creative, rapid and with a huge boot; even Carberry if he can ever get fit is a possible wildcard.

        I’d pick Russell ahead of them all but you don’t have to be biased against Scotland’s players to expect him to be battling for the last FH spot on the plane. He needs to play test rugby and he needs to show his best form. Otherwise he won’t travel.

  15. Good arguments but you know it says it all above. While the other nations progressed in the RWC , gaining valuable experience, we came home to watch it on the telly. You can blame who you like for that! Please do ?

    Our guys are good, the best we have , we appreciate them , we support them, but , if I were Gatland , would I take experience over potential and so would you !

    1. For me the Scottish players who are in Lions contention are:


      Possibly Johnny Gray, Sam Johnson, Scott Cummings or Darcy Graham but way more depth of high quality options for gatland in the respective positions.

  16. Russell needs to outshine his opposite number in next year’s 6N, especially the home games against Ireland, Wales & ideally one of France or England away. If he does that then he’ll be hard for Gatland to ignore.

    Will be interesting to see if Gatland picks both Biggar and Anscombe even though only one will have the jersey for Wales. I can see him picking Farrell as a 10/12 in order to shoehorn the other Welsh FH in.

    Farrell as the starting 10 does not inspire me with confidence. I don’t think he has the game to unlock the Boks.

  17. I think the source of much of the frustration, conscious bias toward our own accepted, is the apparent lack of fair treatment.

    It seems to me that Scottish players are held to a much higher standard. By that I mean the playing field is not level and before a ball is kicked, the options are English, Welsh or Irish only.

    A Scottish player has to significantly outperform his counterparts not for selection but to merely get into the conversation abound selection. Even having done so they are usuallly overlooked.

    This was evident in 2017 where having outplayed their direct opponents (which had been Gatlands stated criteria) it was suddenly all about away form.
    The Twickenham game was a disaster but the mitigation of the injuries that day was dismissed. Also, conveniently, was the fact that Rome aside, neither Ireland or Wales won away that year either!
    Hogg missed most of the game injured and made the tour. Wonder who else was in but excluded (with relief?) after the game.

  18. If we look at the so called marginal calls in 2017, I had no issue with J Gray not touring as there was a wealth of talent at lock at the time and Joe Launchbury was equally unfortunate not to be picked. Hamish Watson on the other hand was a travesty. Absolutely dominated his opposite numbers in the 6N and was easily the best 7 of the tournament and yet didn’t get a sniff.

    I can completely understand Gatland going with players he knows and trusts to a large extent but also feel that he is a man who is partial to holding a grudge. His nose was most likely out of joint because Townsend wouldn’t/couldn’t assist Howler and the SRU (Dodson) wouldn’t release other coaches such as O’Halloran.

    1. Toonie needed to stay with Scotland in the summer of 2017. That was the right decision.

      With a team of familiar players , he lead us to win in Aus and a loss in Fiji that very summer. I doubt Gatland’s nose was out of joint, no I definitely do not think Gatland missed that inconsistency in his coaching staff.

      Scotland and Australia now have one thing in common, they have a habit of losing to lesser ranked opposition. That is my opinion. FWIW we need to stop thinking things get done to us , and as the bard himself says ‘see oorsels as others see us’.

      1. TC : 1 game in 12 , home and away, those are the only games that count. We scour the globe to find star players and he plays ‘losers’ from his club sides, and they win, 11 out of 12. You see you cannot get away from facts. That is why the Lions are full of Welshmen.

      2. No, it’s not. The Welsh players have succeeded – in the 6Ns at least – because of Gatland’s coaching team. He picked them because he knows them and because the WRU got £75K per player picked. Same as he picked Sinckler because Rowntree knew him and vouched for him.

        Which Welsh players would you take over ours? Faletau, JD2, Liam Williams, sure. But our tight five are better. Our back rows are about equal, though they have more depth. Same with half-backs. They might edge it in midfield, and our back three are equal, too.

        Turning it the other way around, I suspect they’d be interested in our props, Gray and/or Cummings, and Hoggy.

        The differences are that Gatland is a very good, and very experienced, coach who had a long time to build his team, and Wales has a far bigger player pool. We’ve not had that. But our players are not worse than theirs. If you think the winning team is simply the team with the best players…

        Another interesting stat that should count: Wales’ win ratio against Aus under Gatland was 20%. None of those in Aus.

      3. Why exactly is wales’ bigger playing pool an advantage if you don’t think wales have better players?

      4. Exactly what Scottish tight five are better? If Townsend cannot decide which 5 he wants why would Gatland ! We have only beaten Wales , once in 12 games , Cotter in charge , none under Townsend , that is 0%. Oh and wins in Wales under anyone 0% in 18 years. Yes I do think results matter, I think individuals who can play in teams, win matches, I dont think opinions win matches.

      5. FF: more depth.

        BassRock: more spurious waffle. How about the tight five who devastated Ireland in Feb? Will that do?

        If you guys want want to swallow guff, go ahead. I like to think for myself. I have yet to see anyone present any compelling evidence that our top players are worse individually.

        Please, explain to me in what way Wyn Jones, Cian Healy or Joe ‘Sex Offender’ Marler are better than Sutherland. Or how Owens or Herring or George are better than Brown or McInally. Or how Sinckler, Furlong and Lewis are better than Fagerson. Or… you get the point. Take the better press coverage away, and there’s not much difference between the Home Nations’ favoured 23s. The differences are in strategy, training and psychology. Which is pure coaching staff.

      6. Spurious Waffle, I think you will find those were facts, you wont change them. I think you need to learn the first rule of holes, when you are in one , stop digging.

      7. So, in short, you can’t justify your comments, and think cherry picking facts counts as substantive discourse. Fair enough.

  19. I see Gatland is saying he wants there to a better balance to the lions squad for next year, assuming it goes ahead. Its down to the Scotland players to keep the 6N momentum going and make a case for selection. I can think of 10 Scottish players who could make the squad, but we cant go getting absolutely pumped in games regularly. A good upcoming season of internationals and signs of progress away from home and there is every chance of getting a good contingent in the Lions squad.

    1. I’ve had my fill of my own fretting and cursing about Gatland’s Lions’ selections for the past two tours. It’s a cliche, but life is indeed too short for all that.
      Despite a number of setbacks and, frankly, embarrassing results in recent years, our Test side has re-established itself as a credible and dangerous opponent for anyone.
      I just want to see us keeping that going into the next international season, and I’ll leave fretting about the Lions again until the Spring of 2021.

  20. So far ahead of ourselves. Reality check:
    – Scotland have just crashed out the World Cup.
    – Scotland have lost opening two games of this years 6 nations and were losing to France until they went a man down. So sick of hearing how this man beasted this guy or tight 5 beasted Ireland. It was a LOSS.
    – The set up is so bad that the best player and 10, to date, is sitting out games.
    – At the moment the only potential Lions players in the mix are those excelling at the highest club level, ie Hogg, Russell.
    – Maybe things change, eg JG tears up trees at Exeter or Edinburgh/Scotland get close to winning something and Gatland glances at Watson (dont dare mention Glasgow players at this point). Until then it’s just absurd optimism. Gatland has shown time again he wants winners and won’t pick players just to have a smattering from each nation.

    1. -As had England in 2015. What happened in 2016?
      -Wales were pummelled by Ireland in Dublin and beaten by France in Cardiff
      -Do results when a team is a man down not count? You know who’s won with a man down? Ireland vs. SA, Scarlets vs. Leinster, Glasgow vs. Scarlets… do those wins count? And France were hardly in control, and were losing for a fair portion, too
      -By his own choice
      -Rubbish: in what way were Payne, Moriarty, Haskell, Sinckler et al. excelling when Gatland selected them last time?
      -Gatland has shown time and again he wants who he wants. If he wanted winners, the Wales squad would’ve been sparse af for several years.

      Your reality check needed a reality check. I can understand arguments for taking Curry over Ritchie or Adams over Graham or Vunipola over Sutherland. It’s part of a larger plan and highly subjective. But just because Gatland chooses player A over player B doesn’t mean that our players are pants. EJ and Gatland, for example, have picked plenty of players from losing teams and crafted them into winners. What have Joseph or Moriarty or Marler won with their clubs?

      If you guys can’t differentiate between individuals and teams and the effects of coaching quality vs. the effects of player quality… And why are you so perpetually negative about players who are demonstrably excellent?

      Put another way: pick another home nation. Who from their team would you pick to replace our players and why?

      1. When did he take Vunipola over Sutherland ? You have got me there ! Sutherland was injured in 2017 !

  21. when did Scotland last win a grand slam..Ireland have won 2 grand slams since then. As for Irelands away it to Scotland’s. Lets go down the club route Glasgow and Edinburgh v leinster and munster..6 heineken cups between them

You might also like these:

Craig is joined by Jonny and Iain to look forward to Glasgow's huge URC final in Pretoria, after the win against Munster and skirt around the latest news of the week.
Craig is joined by Jonny and Rory to look back at the disappointing end to Edinburgh's season and Glasgow's march towards the semi finals.
Gregor Townsend has named a largely experimental squad for the summer tour of the Americas. It's not a question of who misses out, but rather who is actually going, writes Rory.
Iain is joined by Jonny and John to discuss the penultimate round of URC fixtures as well as the recent Scottish Rugby Writers' Awards

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion