Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


European Rugby Champions Cup: Round 1 Teams

European Rugby Champions Cup
European Rugby Champions Cup - pic © EPCR/Inpho used with permission

With things not going so well on the domestic(ish) front, both Richard Cockerill and Danny Wilson have called upon a cruise ship’s worth of returning internationalists.

Ahead of hosting La Rochelle on Saturday night, Edinburgh give starting berths to nine players who were away in the Toony Bubble, with props Rory Sutherland and Simon Berghan among the replacements.

Blair Kinghorn has recovered from the broken finger he suffered against France to start at full-back, alongside Darcy Graham and Player of the Tournament nominee Duhan van der Merwe on the wings to form a potent looking back three.

Jaco van der Walt starts at fly-half, and five players return to the pack; Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Ben Toolis, Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson.

Mark Bennett and “Big Bill” Viliame Mata make their first starts in what feels like an age, whilst only four players are retained from the starting XV which were mauled to pieces by Ulster in Pierre Schoeman at loose-head, lock Andrew Davidson, scrum-half and co-captain, Henry Pyrgos, and Chris Dean at inside centre.

For Glasgow, eight Scottish caps return to Danny Wilson’s side as they face a daunting visit to Sandy Park to take on reigning champions Exeter.

Oli Kebble, George Turner and Zander Fagerson make up the front-row, with Scotland mainstay Scott Cummings, and Rob Harley directly behind to give them a shove.

Ryan Wilson captains the side at 6, Tom Gordon plays openside and Matt Fagerson completes the pack.

Ali Price returns at scrum-half alongside Peter Horne at 10, and Sam Johnson and Nick Grigg form a midfield duo which will provide plenty of go forward bustle.

Lee Jones starts on the left-wing, and Tommy Seymour – who loves a wonder-try v Exeter – returns from a concussion knock to start on the right. Glenn Bryce, November’s Warrior of the Month maintains his spot at full-back, meaning Huw Jones will wear the number 23 shirt.

Among the replacements, Sean Kennedy is picked ahead of Jamie Dobbie, with George Horne still not recovered from the foot injury which was expected to only keep him out of the Italy match a month ago.

Exeter will also have plenty of Scottish interest in their side, with Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner partnering each other in the engine room, national team captain Stuart Hogg starts at full-back, and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne expected to come off the bench at some stage.

Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, Chris Dean,Duhan van der Merwe, Jaco van der Walt, Henry Pyrgos; Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally, WP Nel, Ben Toolis,
Andrew Davidson, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Viliame Mata
Replacements: Mike Willemse, Rory Sutherland, Simon Berghan,
Andries Ferreira, Magnus Bradbury, Nic Groom,
Nathan Chamberlain, James Johnstone

Glasgow Warriors: Glenn Bryce, Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg,
Sam Johnson, Lee Jones, Peter Horne, Ali Price; Oli Kebble,
George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Rob Harley, Scott Cummings,
Ryan Wilson, Tom Gordon, Matt Fagerson
Replacements: Grant Stewart, Aki Seiuli, Enrique Pieretto,
Kiran McDonald, TJ Ioane, Sean Kennedy, Brandon Thomson,
Huw Jones

49 Responses

  1. With the exception of the injured Hastings and the ever missing Nakarawa, it’s as strong a lineup as Glasgow can field, but I fear this could be a cricket score. Hoping we can put up a fight but their pack has proved so strong.

    Elsewhere, great to see Finn back though I hoped he’s not been rushed back as the French clubs have been known to do. Will be some difference to the Scotland side if he can get a run of games before the 6 nations.

  2. I would say Glasgow would have looked to involve a few more than just Hastings and Naka – Brown, Gray, Horne, McDowall and Steyn would have been involved with at least 2 of them starting.

    I fear for Glasgow this weekend, they are going to get a hell of a pushing around.

    1. I don’t know if you heard but his contract has just been extended to 2023 so I’d hazard a guess at 3 years. A long time to gripe, moan and post comments unrelated to the article.

  3. Glasgow look vastly inferior …on that selection.
    Hugh Jones cant buy a game at the moment….has gone from consistently scoring tries against some of the best teams in world rugby to losing his club place to an average club player in Bryce…and a pint sized centre. WTF?
    Glasgow look a weak club side this season.
    Edinburgh not much better. At least Edinburgh look like they could be a good side on paper…Glasgow just all around look poor.

    1. I think it’s worth bearing in mind Edinburgh were really just missing Gilchrist from their first XV.

      If you add Brown, R.Gray, Nakarawa and Hastings to the Glasgow side it looks stronger. I wonder if Jones has fallen foul of his versatility as he now seemingly covers centre and fullback so fits on the bench wel with Grigg and Bryce both very good players if lacking Jones’ ceiling. Wilson also spoke about the importance of a strong bench at the fans meeting so again this decision fits.

      1. I think Huw has suffered from being in Scotland camp and not getting any game time. Glen Bryce has come in and done very well. Personally I would still like to see him at 13

      2. Huw Jones was warrior of the month in Nov no?

        The worst thing that happened to Jones’ Scotland career was moving to Glasgow. Rennie and now Wilson appear to have dropped him just for being selected by Scotland. At least he’ll soon have the chance to escape.

      3. I also agree that Huw probably needs to move on and find a club where his talent will be embraced and probably Glasgow can offload his wages as they’re not getting value from him at the moment.

        I’m surprised he’s not been played on the wing yet, I know it’s shunting him to another position but he has all the attributes and Both France with Gael Fikou and England with Jonathan Joseph often play natural 13’s in the wing position in an almost free role.

  4. Glasgow – Bryce has been excellent & playing the best rugby of his career, still I’m not sure how Grigg (for all his whole hearted effort) gets in in font of Jones. Glasgow have crucial backs out – Steyn & McDowell add much needed physicality. Really miss Hastings
    Edinburgh – get little from the centres – Dean is a good club player and injury has robbed Bennett of a glittering future / Lions caps. As I’ve said before letting Matt Scott go was a mistake.
    Blain should’ve retained his place in the 15, its fine signing forwards, what some backs??

    1. SRU should step in. Send Huw Jones to Edinburgh. Send Crosbie, Haining or Bradbury to Glasgow, seems a fair switch no?

      Utilise our assets to their best potential.

      1. Jones has been incredibly badly coached….clearly was an exciting talent that scottish rugby has ruined.
        He looked a terrific talent at centre whilst playing in SA for stormers…and scottish rugby coaches have reversed everything he was excelling at.

      2. All those players need to progress….not go down a level. They would all improve going to England or France Id bet. Sending them to the current Glasgow setup would be the end of them.

  5. Watching Exeter Glasgow today it’s going to be a long day at the office for us.
    I can’t see where any Glasgow tries are going to come from. Pete Horne has never impressed me when playing at the higher level. Price is doing his usual slow service from the base. Sam Johnstone is definitely unrecognisable from the player he was 2 seasons ago, Grigg invisible. Bryce playing well at fullback. Can’t believe there is nowhere for Jones in the backs. Glasgow front row is international class but being shoved around by the Exeter power game for fun. If Exeter don’t get the 50 points I’ll be surprised.

    1. Glasgow are a shadow of the side of 3 to 5 years ago. Exeter’s fourth try was amateur hour stuff.

      The SRU have a lot to answer for. No new players coming through and the cupboard is bare in terms of resources.

      We are heading back to the dark ages I fear.

    2. Sam Johnson looks like he lifts balloons attached to a rod at the gym.
      Almost every Exeter player looked like they were in a completely different physical class.

  6. And if I thought Horne was poor, I had forgotten about Brandon Thomson.
    4 try bonus in the bag by 55 mins without a sausage for the away team. Oh how we all like to take pelters at Townsend over the handling of the national team team but this Glasgow team has been on a downward trajectory since he moved on. Just dont know how far they can tumble.

    1. They have to kicked it away as they are at risk of getting turned over at every ruck as they make no metres with ball in hand.

  7. Awesome for scottish rugby….sigh!!
    Glasgow looked lucky to score 0.
    Professional outfit vs amateur outfit.
    Crikey!… folks trying to tell me that likes of Bryce and Grigg are actually very good players… come back to planet earth when you are ready!
    D Wilson proving to be terrible appointment…was just as bad for Scotland.

    1. Rennie has left Wilson with nothing to work with. But agree, Wilson hasn’t done too well since coming to Scotland.

      The slide is alarming. I know we were outplayed and outmuscled by a better side but the fitness levels look poor. All of the backs looked slow. Grigg, Thomson, Brice, Johnson looked off the pace today.

      We haven’t replaced the big guys that have left. Soul destroying on a Sunday afternoon.

      1. Yep…the slide started with Rennie…but Wilson has exponentially increased the slide.

        Glasgow looked like they were in the wrong competition. Somewhere between a sunday pub team and an assembly of slightly fitter lowest reaches of pro rugby.

      2. Possibly the (unintended?) consequence of the new pragmatic/defensive approach at national level flowing down – edict style – to the Pro teams.

        Athletic, nimble attackers like Jones are dispensed with in favour of slow plodders who can (theoretically) tackle and keep a defensive line.

        Harris et al would get a nose bleed if presented with open prairie and look for the nearest contact…or get caught by a covering forward.

  8. Both Glasgow and Edinburgh have suffered from chronic under investment and having all their best players, nearly a team from each camp, being hoovered up for Scotland duty even if they didn’t come close to making the match day squads. It’s a double whammy but never mind, that nice Mr Dobson has doubled his salary and that nice Mr Townsend has a new contract, all’s well that ends well.

  9. Was I really sat at Park Head 18 months ago with 40 000 fans cheering Glasgow in a final going toe to toe with Leinster. What horrible mismanagement of an organisation. Help I need a glimmer of hope.

    1. Braveheart – surely it can’t get any worse???

      Time for a massive overhaul of Glasgow’s squad to make tight budget work harder.

      Nakarawa, Gray, H Jones, Seymour and others all likely to be on various shades of decent salaries and Glasgow not getting any value from them for various reasons.

      Need to make sure Glasgow can afford to keep clutch of best performers (Cummings, Fagersons etc.) but perhaps allow some expensive players and some underperforming players to leave. Invest in key positions unlike recent seasons.

      Big question is Danny Wilson? Has he just been hobbled by circumstances or is he not up to the job? I wouldn’t sweat it if he was allowed to go but the SRU really need to get a strong coaching team behind the squad again. Probably better to have a fresh start. Hopefully Mallinder has good contacts to draw on.

      At least slow decline is no longer an option now that Glasgow has collapses. Glasgow can’t recruit top rank pros but maybe given budget restrictions more of the mid-rank pros will be available who would be suitable for strengthening certain positions?

      1. The fact is we just don’t know about D. Wilson yet. He had a nightmare with Scotland but you never know the details of who was making decisions there. He had a good record before Scotland. He has inherited the broken down remains of Rennie’s squad and been unable to do any kind of rebuilding. Gray and Nakawarra are not the answer they were stop gaps which now looks like they will both be injured for the entire duration of the gaps they were suppose to stop. This season is a write off, Glasgow need to give game time to the likes of Tagive, Nairn, A. Allan, Gordon, MacDonald and Thomson. These guys who have been flirting with positions in the first team but failed to really develop. Glasgow need to make a decision as the whether they can step up or not, they’ve had plenty of time to prove themselves. If they’re not good enough then they need to move on.
        What does Seymour offer anymore?
        I think Hastings, Johnson, Price, Steyn and M. Fagerson will probably stay for one more contract beyond their current one but Z. Fag, Cummings, Hornito and off course Jones might well see their future elsewhere depending on what’s available.

        I would think that they can keep, Harley, Wilson, Horne, Price, Johnson, M. Fag, Steyn, Brown, Turner, Stewart, Dobie, Keeble, Siuli, McDowall, Grigg, Matawalu, Hastings.

        They need 2 good tightheads, 2 good locks, 2 good Back rowers, 1 decent 10, 1 good full back and 2 good wingers. the rest can be filled in with what remains.

  10. Glasgow didn’t get the result they wanted but there were positives to take from that. They hung on well while down to 10 men in the first half, forced the Exeter full back in to a couple of bad fumbles And turnovers, and Harley was his typically abrasive self, thundering around the park…the Irish and English teams really hate playing against him.

    1. lol…probably the only thing Irish and English teams hate is having to play against teams that are vastly inferior and risk injury. Id doubt they even know who Rob Harley is…

      Could just imagine the Exeter coach, when communicating tactics for the match…’ right lads we better double up on that lad Rob Harley’ …’we are in with a chance if we can do that!’…you know he was once an average player in a crap Scotland team! be extra cautious lads.

    2. Yeh that Exeter fullback wouldn’t get a sniff of a game if he was in the Glasgow squad. He must be really bad if he can’t do much against 10 men.

  11. Cummings still looked classy and hungry all game but apart from him who are the young crop of players coming through? The super 6 has not really got off the ground so hardly the conveyor belt of up and coming talent that was promised. It seems a lifetime since we had a group of exciting youngsters arriving, We had Hogg, Finn, Jonny and Fags all reaching a peak at Glasgow 5 years ago , then nothing (Cummings apart).

    1. To be fair S6 has had what one season? One of the few things I’d commend the SRU for. An actual attempt to develop a stronger pathway.
      Unfortunately due to a global pandemic, those players are coming up to a year without having played and any development we might have seen has been set back considerably…

  12. Ok .We are in difficult Financial Times because of Covid , and, as a consequence , are at risk of Glasgow and Edinburgh losing their best players to England and France. How is it then that Irish and Welsh clubs are able to keep all their best players, and even in the case of the Irish are able to add a Springbok or 2, but we can’t keep ours ?

    1. That’s the rub for me – current situation is a result of COVID on top of hopelessly bad planning and under investment.

      Any decent players that Glasgow and Edinburgh have left will vote with their feet. The culture at Glasgow in particular seems toxic. Why the hell SRU are investing money in teams in France and US when our own development pathways are crying out for more investment just boggles the mind. I’m absolutely scunnered with the whole thing.

    2. Going on 2018/9 figures the IRU ran 4 pro teams and the national team on a turnover of £78m (87.5m euros – their highest figure ever) the SRU running 2 teams plus the national team on a turnover of £61m.
      I don’t know how much from each budget it costs to run the national team but assume it is similar. How therefore can the Irish run twice as many pro teams as us, with twice the players wages and twice the stadium and travel costs with only 20% more turnover? Here’s the rub, they do and their teams are successful in Europe year after year, win the Pro14 or at least are always in the final and regularly hump us all ways up.
      Something is not right at the heart of Scottish rugby.

      1. Isn’t that because Irish provinces are not wholly owned by IRFU. So IRFU accounts only include contracts for players on centrally contracts, which is only about a 15-20 or so players now. All other players have provincial contracts which aren’t included here. Provincial costs here only include IRFU grant, not full running costs. I think?

      2. Those figures are extraordinary. Could the Irish teams maybe have additional income sources that are not under the IRFU umbrella? When you think about some of the talent they’ve attracted from overseas in recent years – we are nowhere near competing. Closest we probably came at Glasgow was signing Big T – but we got our fingers burnt badly on that one.

      3. FF. You may well be correct, Pete Mark’s comments made me curious so I thought I would look at the headline figures. Whatever the Irish are doing however may not be a bad example to follow.

  13. RWC draw in a couple of hours. Getting France and any top seed other than Wales would be the draw from hell. Praying for Wales and Japan. Australia wouldn’t be horrendous. World Rugby are worse than FIFA. Making the draw three years before the tournament is a joke.

    1. Apparently they’ve recommended at following RWC draw is no more than one year in advance, which begs the question …

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion