Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


6 Nations 2021: England vs Scotland Player Ratings

England vs Scotland
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

Nation uplifted? That was unexpected but very, very welcome after years of hurt at the home of English rugby. It was, on reflection a near complete performance and when your chief gripe is that they didn’t score enough points to make it comfortable on us fans?

When even the fairytale games (see 2019) don’t have a happy ending, we’ll take the biggest 11-6 thrashing ever, put it in the bank and move on to next week. What Scotland need to prove now is that these performances are possible against opponents other than England.


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Set Piece

1. Rory Sutherland: Very solid in the scrum and just about got the upperhand on his opposite number but gave away a penalty for standing up. Overall can be very happy with his contribution and carried well with ball in hand. Deserves to spoken of as a possible Test Lion. - (A8/D8/B8/S8) Overall: 8/10

2. George Turner: Despite concerns over his throwing it's hard to remember a time when Scotland retained 100% of their own line out ball. Threw a worldie to Cam Redpath near England's try line that almost caught the English defence napping. Scrum looked strong and as usual carried well into heavy traffic. McInally and Brown might find it hard to unseat him if he can consistently reproduce this sort of form. - (A8/D8/B9/S8) Overall: 8.5/10

3. Zander Fagerson: Recovered well from an early set back at the scrum and had the better of Ellis Genge. Put in a great shift at breakdown as well as one of top contributors to securing ball at attacking rucks and competing at defensive ones. Another possible Test Lion and with Simon Berghan arriving at Glasgow will not be sort of suitors should he have eyes on a move outside Scotland. - (A9/D9/B9/S8) Overall: 9/10

4. Scott Cummings: Hit a massive 45 attacking rucks to secure clean ball and keep the Scottish attack moving. Must have covered a hell of a lot of ground. Has consistently been Scotland's best performer over the past 12 months. Packed down at 6 when Ritchie went off. Would be great to see him get his hands on the ball more in the loose. - (A9/D8/B9/S8) Overall: 8.5/10

5. Jonny Gray: What a difference his move to Exeter has made for his game. Topped the tackle chart for Scotland (naturally) but has refound his ability to carry hard and make metres with ball in hand that he showed in his early Scotland appearances. Caused Maro Itoje all sorts of problems in the line out. Ever Lions fan should be salivating at the prospect of them combining if the South Africa tour goes ahead. - (A9/D9/B9/S9) Overall: 9/10

6. Jamie Ritchie: A quiet but effective performance against a monster English backrow. A timely demonstration to the watching Warren Gatland that you don't have to match the Springboks pound for pound. Didn't look short of match sharpness but understandably replaced when he started to blow late in the game. Very much needed this sort of performance to reset himself after losing his way a little in the Autumn. - (A8/D8/B8/S8) Overall: 8/10

7. Hamish Watson: Wonderful to see him add a kicking game to his box of tricks. Caused England no end of problems at the breakdown and his tackle rate every game is almost at Jonny Gray levels. Won a key turnover and constantly slowed English ball down. Has to be a shoe in for a Lions Test spot if he and Scotland can consistently reproduce this form over the tournament. - (A9/D9/B9/S9) Overall: 9/10

8. Matt Fagerson: Looks like Scotland have finally solved the problem at 8. Has really found his feet at Test level despite his detractors. Carried hard and was second only to Stuart Hogg in metres made with ball in hand. Looked assured under the high ball which hasn't always been the case with Scottish 8's. Wholly outclassed Billy Vunipola. - (A9/D8/B9/S8) Overall: 8.5/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Influence

9. Ali Price: Two early box kicks were charged down by Maro Itoje, and thereafter Price was twitchy every time the big man was in his field of view. Did manage to work a penalty out of Itoje later on. Otherwise super game management, especially when Russell was off. - (A7/D10/B8/I8) Overall: 8.5/10

10. Finn Russell: Endless penalty advantages gave him plenty of chances to try things without pressure which led to a much lower "crazy" level in the rest of the game. The yellow card for a trip on Youngs was wholly unnecessary on his part. More needs to be made of how willing he is to sacrifice his body to put his teammates into space. - (A8/D8/B7/I8) Overall: 8/10

11. Duhan Van Der Merwe: If he'd been Richie Gray's height, would have scored from Russell's first cross-field kick but made sure on his second attempt, battering through three English defenders. Part of a strong chasing effort and threw himself around during the final defensive sets. - (A9/D8/B9/I8) Overall: 8.5/10

12. Cameron Redpath: First touch at international level was pouncing on a loose ball and calmly hoofing Scotland out of trouble; his second was a breakout from the 22. He looks a slight figure but finds gaps quick feet and looked assured throughout, often stepping in as the rusher at the end of the dogleg defence, not a place you can hide. And he's only 21. Having Redpath and Russell attacking off set plays will be a nightmare for other teams to defend. - (A9/D9/B9/I8) Overall: 9/10

13. Chris Harris: Ying to Redpath's yang. Had one break of note but the defence was rock solid all afternoon, marshalled by Harris and Ritchie. If the ball's going wide he is rarely involved, but he is unspectacular in the best possible way and always appears in the background doing something useful. - (A7/D9/B8/I9) Overall: 8.5/10

14. Sean Maitland: One languid scamper through the English midfield was the pick of his carries but his kick chase off the ball was about as good as he's ever been in a Scotland shirt and England's back three found no peace. Invaluable. - (A8/D9/B8/I9) Overall: 8.5/10

15. Stuart Hogg: Set out to inspire the nation: succeeded. With his standoff back in harness, was trying far less Parisse stuff (ie bits he didn't need to take on) than in the Autumn and this allowed him to relax into his game as he can at Exeter. One darting sprint through the heart of England and a couple of monster clearances were the highlights. There's no one close to him for the Lions 15 shirt at the moment. - (A9/D9/B8/I10) Overall: 9/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Impact

16. Dave Cherry: Very assured performance on what must have been a daunting debut. Looked at home at Test level. - (A8/D8/B8/I8) Overall: 8/10

17. Oli Kebble: Kept the scrum going forward when he came on and got around the park well. Scotland's depth at front row is now a problem in that we have too many that need consistent game time. - (A8/D8/B8/I8) Overall: 8/10

18. Willem Nel: Aging like a fine South African red. Might not be able to offer himself around the park much any more but more than makes up for this in his contribution at the scrum to help see games out. - (A8/D8/B8/I8) Overall: 8/10

19. Richie Gray: Wonderful to see the big man back in a Scotland shirt. Helped to keep pressure on England at the line out and scrum and got through some heavy lifting in defence to help keep England pinned back in their own half as the game wore on. The move to Glasgow could prove a shrewd one in keeping him lean and fighting fit. - (A8/D8/B8/I8) Overall: 8/10

20. Gary Graham: A very assured and mature performance. Equally confident under the high ball as Fagerson, carried hard and tackled well to see the game out. His aggression seems much more controlled than his early caps. No drop in quality when he came on. - (A8/D8/B8/I8) Overall: 8/10

21. Scott Steele: Did a job for twelve minutes but slowed service down noticeably. He did a better job protecting his box kicks in what were, by then, miserable conditions,, but it was a nervy watch at times with England assaulting every breakdown desperate for the ball. Probably needs to take some responsibility for a drop goal that was never on with a minute to play - it would have been fine 60 seconds later - but seeing him and Jonny Gray holding up Johnny May to win a turnover a few minutes earlier was a joy. - (A7/D8/B8/I6) Overall: 7.5/10

22. Jaco Van Der Walt: Not used - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

23. Huw Jones: Didn't get much to do out on the wing covering for Maitland for the last ten minutes (stats show one completed tackle to be the sum of it) so he helped the pack reinforcing the odd pick and go and acting as a pillar by the rucks. Will have been happy to continue a pretty decent record at Twickenham with a win to add to his hatful of tries. - (A6/D7/B8/I7) Overall: 7/10

Ratings  by Cammy Balck and Rory Baldwin, stats from ESPN.

62 Responses

  1. A great overall team performance..that it was….however some exaggerated ratings there. Giving Finn an 8 is a stretch…not his best game and some mistakes that were almost catastrophic to the result. 7 from me ..mainly for distracting England with his presence and a couple of great kicks.

    M Fagerson had a very good match….saying he has solved the 8 spot after one match is a overly stretched stretch. Much more required to prove that claim.

    Ritchie had a solid game…but still hasn’t found the form he displayed a year ago. 7

    Z Fagerson more of an 8 than a 9.

    VDW a 6 for sitting on his mid pads??

    Anyhoo… a few more over rated performances …but I get it..great win!

    1. Agree about Russell, wonder what his rating would have been if Hogg hadn’t pulled him out of a hole and England had strolled under the post for a seven pointer. Fine margins I bet Ireland’s replacement stand off isn’t being told,”well at least you tried”

      1. Yep, brain fart, I suspect Hogg knew he was lining it up. The benefit of a drop kick (had it got airborne) and missed , was the time taken to restart with a drop out was no risk time . I can see what he was trying to do but his execution was farcical. As it turned out , his no risk mitigation, became a game winning opportunity for England,

    2. Z Fagerson deserves an extra point for the ‘Genge is struggling, ref’ comment after a scrum collapse!

    3. I agree with most points.What was lost in a rather negative spin on what was the best Scottish performance away from home in decades.


      Russell’s last 220 minutes against England have brought 77 points for Scotland vs 68 from England. That is also counting 31-0 in unanswered points at Twickenham.

      He may have been a 7, 8 or 9, that does not matter. Its what he makes everyone else perform like. England cannot play him, they were bamboozled again, the only plan was to smash him to remove him from the field. That didn’t work!

      He is the difference

    4. This was Richies first game back following injury and M Fagerson had a very good Autumn series.

  2. I’m sure the euphoria over the win has caused a few ratings to go up by half a point here or there but can forgive that. Great team performance.

    I wonder if we will start to see the necks wound in from those who routinely bash Harris. Superb shift and Townsend made sure to cite his role as defensive leader too.

    On that note I assume the “Townsend Out” clowns will be very quiet as well now. Any unable to hold their hands up and admit they’re wrong at this point are utter, utter clowns.

    1. You’re an angry man considering the victory. Personally I’m delighted that GT has had a signature win, and that a balance has been found that works with Harris. He was cracking in defence and with Redpath inside it worked. No arguments, save that prior criticism was when it was not working.

    2. I thought we might have been ‘as-one’ in celebrating a great win. If you really want to get wound up, ponder why we lost last year at Murrayfield ! Even without Finn, it was close, we could have been unbeaten in 4 years. Why not just enjoy the moment with everyone else. It has been a while, just enjoy it.

    3. I’m more than happy to wind my neck in on that, I said before the game that it would likely hinge on how Gregor used the bench as it had real impact and he used it to great effect.

      The only concern is whether we will continue to be hard to beat with Harris at 13 but score less. I do think that Harris is a useful strike runner though so the creativity around him could result in more tries.

  3. Someone said on another post that Finn played his best rugby with Pete Horne outside him and I laughed because I’ve never rated Pete as an international player, much less think he could improve someone of Finn’s calibre but I do think the second play maker really suits us and has taken the pressure off Hogg and allowed him to do his thing, consequently he had his best match in years. Hopefully we will now see a settled Scotland side, barring injuries, for the remainder of the World Cup cycle.

  4. Positives all round. However, I think Ali Price will need a team hug before before facing his bogey team Wales.

    Looking forward to bringing the intensity and skill again this weekend.

    1. He was superb in closing out that match last year…he’ll be fine!!! Just adjust a bit of protection for him at ruck time

  5. Probably being generous by at least half a point for almost everyone. But what the heck – we won didn’t we?

  6. Looked forward to this one. Hard to massively disagree with any of the scores, but probably agree with the general theme of the other comments that a few of the quieter performers may be half a mark too high. Finn is an interesting one and as usual will polarise opinions, but would say 7.5 – 8 is about right. The trouble with Finn is that people rightly focus on his highlight reel plays and occasional wild errors but actually most of his game is in between. Against England his distribution, tactical kicking and territory management were generally very good. But I confess I walked off and hid on 77 minutes so I missed the attempted drop goal…

  7. Personally I think you should have given them all 10/10 as pay back for the 0/10s from the 2017 game. Apart from Ross Ford, even though he wasn’t playing he still only gets 6/10.

  8. Think the scores are reasonable, and quite telling that they are all so close to each other – a sign that this was a team effort.

    Russell may not have been throwing the huge misses passes in this match, but his game management was a level above his opponent, which is all you can ask – even when he was off Farrell was still the second best 10 in the stadium.

    Also, as well as Duhan took his try, I think we have to keep a little perspective on that – I’m sure we all agree that Darcy would have reached the cross field kick from a few moments earlier….. ;)

    1. We were lucky Duhan can finish like that as we’d messed up an overlap – Hogg fails to fix his man by passing a fraction early, who drifts across to Turner so instead of have an unopposed walk in DVDM needs to beat three players to dot down.

      Our performance was magnificent but I do think criticism is valid that we failed to put England away early by getting points on the board our domination deserved. England’s defence mostly held firm. We won’t get away with that against every team – I hope we see a more confident clinical Scotland who put Wales away with minimum of drama.

      1. A lot of the failure to score was due to intense and often illegal English play in the red zone.

        Penalised, yes, but repeated and never properly dealt with by Brace (‘have a word’ he says…and Farrell just smirks).

        The speculative moves out wide should have not been required.

      2. Analyst – I agree. There should have been another yellow for either high penalty count or cynical play. Itoje 3 minutes into match and 2 yards from his own line did a very good imitation of a draft excluder along the back of the Scottish ruck – great result for England that scotland only went away with 3. These penalties stopped scotland scoring tries which is exactly what they were intended to do.

      3. I would need to find it again, but at one point I was screaming at Hogg who carved up the centre , and tried to take on the next wave of tacklers, but held the ball. Had he passed left we had a six on three overlap.

        This performance was not by any means perfect, however what was perfect was the belief and fortitude. I forcast Toony would need to empty the bench at 60 minutes and he did not exactly do that , however he did it well enough and that must have been a tough call when the on field harmony was so clearly right.

      4. There is a screen shot on Twitter that clearly shows Farrell trying to stop Duhan with his ‘trademark’ illegal shoulder charge but he just bounced off the big man.

  9. Another pleasing thing from the game is that all the boys seemed to make it through without any obvious injuries despite the hard as nails performance. That must be the first time in a while that Toony isnt forced in to making any changes for the next game. Really looking forward to see how some of the combinations develop over the next few games.

  10. Had a keek at the rankings…no change for now but daylight on Wales. A win on Saturday could have us back in 5th if Ireland lose or 6th if they win.

    1. By my reckoning, IF we win the Grand Slam and IF we beat France by 15 points and IF England lose to both Wales and France, then we could finish the tourney in 3rd :-)

    1. From years of experience, take it from us , it could get worse. See you next year , love and kisses .

    2. That’s right …’onwards & upwards’ indeed..all the way to ‘NOT being the best team in world rugby’… just like every other time you lot harp on about that.
      Rather be ‘the sweats’ than ‘the softies’!Cheers lovey!

  11. Aye onwards and upwards tae nae where. All that pre we’re going smash teams talk was embarrassing. Arrogance won’t get you no where. Defiance, and common bond is what makes a team. Something which lacks in those who are left embarrassed.

  12. Just rewatched the game and at 0.5 speed on youtube on the last play you see Watson quite easily jackal over courtney lawes (the carrier) shrug off Harry Williams attempted clear-out and outwork Curry who was trying to battle him away, but failed.

    Watson for me is clearly a class above Curry, at least as an Openside Flanker. His discipline being one of the main differences.

    If Watson outplays Tipuric on the weekend then surely he must be considered the favourite for that starting lions jersey.

  13. Some very generous ratings there…

    Finn missed a conversion and a penalty that he probably should have got. He kicked a ball out on the full without pressure, got charged down, did 2 bad kicks in play that went straight to Daly/May (1 of which stifled an overlap). Stuffed 2 drop goal attempts and got sin binned for illegally tripping.

    While he did have a couple of nice touches that is a 5/10 performance, 6/10 at a stretch.

    Also very generous on Sutherland, Zander, Ritchie and Price.

    On a positive note I thought Turner, Gray, Watson, M. Fagerson, Redpath, Maitland, Duhan and Hogg were all excellent.

    1. Agree it wasn’t his best game by a long stretch. I said in another comment and lots of others have alluded to it too, that the fact he is playing at all makes a difference, opposition fear him and that creates space for others. With a second ball player at 12 it seems to work best so when the opposition are fixed on Russell the 12 can quickly take the ball and get it moving.

  14. It was a win, and we marshalled the game well. Scores are maybe 1-2 points higher for some, but hey we can take that.

    Great use of the bench for impact as there was always a temptation to keep the 15 doing well on the park, but Finn really needs to work on his drop goal technique (yes the drop goals weren’t on, but we should have this in the locker especially when we are ahead by only a try).

    Redpath was immense, and looking at Dunham’s try again showed how much work he still had to do when he got the ball.

  15. The most pleasing thing for me, when thinking about the individual player ratings, was that we don’t need every man to have a great game. Price, Sutherland, Russell, Richie all had games that were suboptimal.
    But nobody had a shocker, and the likes of Hogg, Gray, Watson, Maitland put in performances we know they can. Never mind the excellent performances of those we suspected could rise to the occasion, but were worried they wouldn’t (Turner, Redpath, Harris, MFagerson).
    If we can get that consistency, where nobody has a shocker and 2/3 of the team play to their potential, we should finally be in contention for the championship and beyond.

    1. Totally agree. One man outstanding performances are great, but it is team performance that wins games. No one needs to do anything outstanding if they play as a team. A one man army rarely succeeds, just ask Sergio Parisse.

  16. Wales are not going to be a pushover. During the early part of their game against Ireland, they were very fast, slick and accurate. That will need to be matched, and more by Scotland in order to dominate the game. Also they will not kick as badly as England.

    1. I think they will be a pushover, they have been declining for the last 2 years. Scotland are on the up.

      My prediction: Scotland 36 – Wales 6

      1. I’d like to think we can put them away with the minimum of fuss but expect that is wishful thinking. They have too much experience in all the key positions to be that bad – they aren’t the grand slam side they were but they are still a strong team. They’ve strengthened in a number of areas since the autumn and look to have gone back to a more pragmatic style.

        Any side with a spine of Ken Owens, Alun Wynn Jones, Faletau/ tipuric/ Navidi in the back row, Davies and Biggar at half backs and Williams and Halfpenny in the back three is not going to be a pushover.

        It looks like their line out is wobbling a bit and they’ll have a makeshift midfield, so plenty of opportunity for us there. But Scotland will need to produce another fine performance to have any chance of winning.

      2. Is Davies looking likely to play? As long as George North is at 13 that is an issue for them at both centre and wing.

    2. Its saying we could win 36-6 thats makes us just as arrogant as the team we just beat and slated for being arrogant.
      Wales have some very good players and will be very hard to beat.
      The way we are playing unlikely we will pile points on anyone…but we will also be extremely hard to beat compared to previous years.
      It will also be a tougher match for Wales because we are much tougher to break down defensively.
      When we retain a sense of balance whether we win or lose matches will be the making of us. Getting too high on a win or too low on a loss has set us back alot in the past.
      We have a long way to go to be worthy of greatness. No proven consistency yet.

  17. Now we’ve all sobered up, it’s time to get serious about Wales, and how serious they will be. Without taking anything away from our performance (which was great across the board) we should perhaps have put more more points on England. I think I heard we had 27 line breaks which is great, but they didn’t add up to points, and somehow that pressure needs to be turned to points. I think our shots at goal for example were a missed opportunity. Kicking to the corner is a better bet if your line out is working, because even if it doesn’t mean a try it often leads to a penalty closer to the posts. Rolling mauls are so hard to stop and most teams pull them down and get penalised. I would have the boys drill this all week. Ireland have always been great at it, and Wales’ line out looked quite dodgy, so we should aim to dominate this area. Also be good to get inventive with Duhan and bring him into play as strike or dummy, he’s got people scared now.

  18. I’m surprised at the narrative around Finn having a sub-par game. That first spell, before his yellow, was a demonstration of how to pull your opponents around on strings by constantly mixing up the distribution from hand and foot. His tactical kicking and applying pressure just where needed was outrageously good. His yellow was a bit silly granted. After he came back on he was straight back into it. The momentum had shifted to the forwards in the second half and he had less wide options but he still used his kicking to great effect applying pressure and allowing the forwards to charge up into the breakdown. All this at Twickenham remember, against the number 2 team in the world.

  19. I don’t understand it either. He appears to be judged by a different standard than his peers. He did exactly what people continually claim he can’t do: managed the game in a pragmatic manner and guided his team to victory against the reigning 6N champions. He kicked half his possession away rather than throwing insane passes. Yet instead of acknowledging his restraint and the impact it had, people complain that he didn’t bring the magic, missed a couple of kicks and got a yellow card.

    Farrell was dreadful. Sexton, Biggar, Burns and Ford not much better. I think the only B&IL eligible FH who didn’t miss a kick for touch was Ford. And they’re not exactly strangers to yellow card.

    1. Most of the knowledgable pundits are rating him pretty highly for the game.
      Some people don’t seem to see how much he pulls the strings, brings the rest of the players onto the ball, makes clever tactical decisions and so on.

      Suspect it’s the flakey tag that seems to have stuck despite little sign of it in the last couple of years – people look at the 2 or 3 things he does in 80 minutes that don’t come off and ignore the great stuff.

      1. It’s classic groupthink combined on an individual level with self-reinforcement of a firmly held belief using selected evidence of that belief.

        I’ve not long ago rewatched the whole game. Not especially focusing on Russell, but noticing that while obviously not an error-free performance, he put in a lot of skilful, intelligent and brave effort in contributing to a magnificent team display.

        You only need a quick scan of some of the posts on the Planet Rugby live match thread to see numerous ‘That Russell is s***e’ references from the herd.

        I’m just glad he plays for us.

      2. Firstly let me say I’m English but try to watch without Red Rose tinted specs. Finn played really well BUT the yellow card was stupid – in another game it could cost the team !! Watson was the stand out Scottish player for me. Hogg was excellent but nearly messed up the try – Duhan’s smart work & Elliot Daly’s poor tackle height saved it.
        My worry, you have to turn the dominance in to points – we should have been dead & buried.

      3. On replay noticed how Finn was often there at resets/pauses having a quiet word or gesture . One reassuring pat on Price’s shoulder during Itoje’s attentions spoke volumes about team spirit.

      4. I think there are two “schools” in rugby punditry.

        There is one group who pride themselves in championing a “no mistakes” approach. They dislike Russell and his ilk succeeding because their risk aversion is exposed as a risk in itself which makes them feel stupid. They may be English or be called Warren.

        The other group seek a more open and exciting game. They see risk as a game to be played for gain and don’t mind the odd error. They appreciate Russell and his ilk for making them seem clever. They may be Scottish or be called Vern

  20. Always frustrating to hear some (albeit not many) English pundits talk about missing key players, they have a whole league of players to chose from. Scots have two pro teams and traditionally do not need to look far for their injury problems. Great to see the team pull through and we will have some continuity and form for wales.

    1. They always revert to defense mode and dismiss the opposition as reasons for a loss. That level of arrogance is what sets them back every time… when they achieve humility is when they might actually get some of the success they harp on about.
      They are far too disrespectful of opposition. Quantity does not equal quality. They have no devine right to anything.
      English sports teams and individuals always remind of their culture …defensively focused with a fear of freedom of expression.

  21. It’s not so much that Hogg passes early – he is quite close to Watson when he passes. It’s more that he has drifted toward the touchline as he has received the ball.

    Credit to Watson defensively because he doesn’t overcommit, and this allows him to use his speed to get across to Turner when Hogg passes.

    Duhan finishes superbly from there, showing remarkable strength and control.

    Was only kidding about Darcy catching the other one

    1. I’d give some credit to Hogg for sticking with it. If you watch the replays he’s the one tracking Duhan eventually helping roll him over the line.

      Hes done quite a bit of that recently and isnt shy of sticking his head in a ruck. A good example of that was on the Price charge down at the start of the game where he was about to snaffle the ball on our line before Hill dived in to seal off giving away the penalty.

    2. One of the earliest lessons and usually most forgotten is the art of straightening the line, drawing and passing.
      French backs seem to do it instinctively where most others in the modern game do it mostly as a precursor to seeking contact and setting up another ruck.
      I thought Redpath’s long pass in the lead up was excellent. The move could have died there with a high loopy pass causing Hogg to check and the defence to get across.
      Instead it was placed exactly into Hoggs path at the right height and speed.
      Good to see more “basics” getting the job done.

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