Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland v Wales: Player Ratings

Scotland vs Wales
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

That was quite a hard result to take.

Another bounce of the ball and the result could have been very different, so how then do we rate the players in a game where Scotland dominated in almost every way according to every measurable statistic – other than the scoreboard?

The final score is always going to affect how we reflect on a match but in doing the player ratings we’ve based it on measurable performance. When Scotland win we start by giving everyone 6/10 and work from there. When Scotland lose we start at a baseline of 5/10.


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Set Piece

1. Rory Sutherland: Another strong showing in the scrum and was clearly given the task of securing ball at ruck time and causing Wales problems on their own ruck. Was largely successful and carried well with ball in hand. - (A7/D7/B7/S7) Overall: 7/10

2. George Turner: Made third most tackles of any Scotland player and broke the gain line on 71% of his carries. The lineout didn't function at 100% as with last week but scrum looked solid. Continues to chip away at the Brown/McInally axis. - (A7/D7/B7/S6) Overall: 7/10

3. Zander Fagerson: On another day the clearout goes unnoticed, and there are probably a dozen every match that don't get picked up. We're dealing with fine margins and replays showed contact with the head. Any contact with the head is a card territory and with Zander arriving from a distance and at speed that was always going to be a risk. Did he need to compete? Hogg was the only Scotland player competing at the ruck and Fagerson was the closest forward so yes but perhaps he, or someone else from the pack should have been closer in the first place. Aside from the card it was another solid performance in the loose and at the scrum, but needs to tighten up on discipline overall after shipping three previous penalties. - (A7/D4/B5/S6) Overall: 5.5/10

4. Scott Cummings: Second highest number of tackles of any Scotland player and offered himself as ball carrier more. Hit a massive 32 attacking rucks which is highest number of any player on the park. Unbelievable work rate. Part of a line out put under pressure by Wales. Was tackled into the front of Gary Graham to deny a vital try but perhaps was intended to catch the pass in the first place? - (A7/D7/B7/S6) Overall: 7/10

5. Jonny Gray: Unusual not to see him top the tackle charts but he has clearly been asked to play a different role and leave the tackling and rucks to his junior partner. Reborn as a ball carrying lock since his move to Exeter, and broke the gain line on 70% of his carries. Lineout was well-read by Wales which needs to be addressed before France. - (A7/D7/B7/S6) Overall: 7/10

6. Blade Thomson: Bright start cut short as a result of a head injury. Reappeared on the sidelines so hopefully will play some part in the tournament. Touted as a line out option to cause Wales problems which may explain why Scotland struggled to adapt when he went off. - (A6/D6/B6/S6) Overall: 6/10

7. Hamish Watson: A constant menace at the breakdown, picking his moments like a snake watching it's prey from the long grass. Seemed to be at the forefront of the charge to keep Scotland in the fight until the last minute and won a key last minute turnover to keep momentum going. - (A7/D7/B7/S7) Overall: 7/10

8. Matt Fagerson: It's hard to know what he has to do to convince his doubters that he is the real deal at Number 8. Carries exceptionally well and tackles hard. He's not Bill Mata - but then Bill Mata isn't Scottish. - (A7/D7/B7/S7) Overall: 7/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Influence

9. Ali Price: Another strong performance by Price who made several incisive attacking kicks from hand, proving that Hogg and Russell are not the only threats with the boot. May need to take some blame for not giving the backs a crack when repeatedly battering the opposition line: are you telling us anyone is stopping Duhan at that range? - (A7/D7/B7/I7) Overall: 7/10

10. Finn Russell: Once again managed to rein in the "maverick" moments except on advantage, at least until chasing the game in the dying moments - and even that almost came off. Was also 100% from the tee. Should he have had more chances to grow a lead? - (A8/D7/B5/I6) Overall: 6.5/10

11. Duhan van der Merwe: Again missed out on a Finn Russell cross-kick by his fingertips and would have probably have won the game with a try were it not for Owen Watkins fingertips! Should be used more closer to the line where his power makes him hard to stop out wide. - (A8/D6/B6/I7) Overall: 7/10

12. James Lang: Less noticeable than Redpath was last week. Put in some good, visible defence early on but little to do with ball in hand and faded into obscurity after that even if he did make more tackles than Harris. Hard to argue with sticking either of Sam Johnson or Duncan Taylor in for a shot if Redpath isn't fit in two weeks time. - (A5/D7/B7/I5) Overall: 6/10

13. Chris Harris: One of his best games in a Scotland shirt in terms of attacking play and held the defensive line together in the middle of the park. Made good breaks, tackled hard and ran good supporting lines. Was visibly knackered by the end. - (A8/D8/B7/I7) Overall: 7.5/10

14. Darcy Graham: A crying shame that the diminutive winger being talked about after this game was Louis Rees-Zammit and not our own Darcy who was having a flyer before the need to provision the scrum saw him replaced by WP Nel with 25mins to go. For a wee guy he's hard as nails and throws himself into the thick of things; huge workrate. Like LRZ, defensive positioning needs work. - (A8/D6/B8/I8) Overall: 7.5/10

15. Stuart Hogg: Another good captain's performance in most areas - questions may be asked about the choices not to kick points but in most of them, Scotland came away with points. He won't have liked being skinned by Rees-Zammit for the match-winning try though. Ultimately the inability to close out a 17-3 lead does need to lie with the captain. - (A8/D7/B6/I7) Overall: 7/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Impact

16. Dave Cherry: Came on with 12 minutes to go and played his part in keeping Scotland in the game until the dying minutes. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

17. Oli Kebble: Perhaps with Scotland a man down he could have come on sooner to compensate with some fresh legs. Did well at the scrum and made some decent carries to keep Scotland in the game. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

18. Willem Nel: Dominant in the scrum but he's not a 60 or 80 minute player. Likely to keep his spot on the bench but unlikely to start against France. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

19. Richie Gray: Contributed in defence and attack to keep Scotland in the fight. Great option from the bench especially in the lineout. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

20. Gary Graham: An opportunity to reproduce his form with Newcastle Falcons after a solid performance from the bench last week. However a lack of discipline ultimately contributed to Scotland finding themselves on the back foot without necessarily being under pressure from Wales. Still has more to offer but needs to tighten up on the infringements. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

21. Scott Steele: Not used - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

22. Jaco van der Walt: Not used - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

23. Huw Jones: Once again restricted to a sub ten-minute cameo, but got the ball this time at least. Would perhaps have been used more in a 15 v 15 game. - (A7/D5/B5/I6) Overall: 6/10

Ratings by Cammy Black and Rory Baldwin. Stats used via ESPN.

70 Responses

  1. It’s an easy get out to mark Zander down for the red card, but only if you agree with the card. If as many pundits are saying it should never have been a card then otherwise he had a solid game. I think the ref had it in for him from the first scrum shouting ‘taking it straight down’. Funny how he had the upper hand every other scrum. G.Graham quite rightly the lowest mark, despite many contributors on here desperate to have him in the team he doesn’t look international class, lots of aggression mind.
    Hard to think who our top player was on Saturday. D.Graham was a constant attacking threat but out of position in defence. Turner was my M.o.m last week but anonymous this week I’m surprised at those tackle statistics but didn’t stand out going forward for me. You have given Harris the highest score here and I have to agree he was prominent and combined with last weeks performance probably his best 2 games in the shirt. High and DVDM probably deserve another 1/2 point as they were equally our best players. Perhaps didn’t see any of those booming kicks from Hogg that we saw against England, but I can only assume the kicking plan was different. Hamish Watson I think wasn’t quite so noticeable as he was up against Tipuric who is still a world class operator in the back row

    1. I’d agree that player ratings should be influenced as little as possible by what the officials chose to referee in this game. With that in mind Russell and Harris should be rated higher for potentially winning us the game at the death with a stunning pass followed by a crucial turnover. If Russell had made the kick in this alternative reality he would have been rated higher still and LRZ would need to donate him a bottle of champagne.

    2. I thought Zander was playing well and that our scrum looked the better scrum.
      ..but for him to fulfill his potential he has to master how and when to use his aggression.
      People wanted G Graham to be an 8…largely because nobody was stepping up for that spot. He was getting the plaudits for his club performances. He just isnt good enough though…unfortunately. If Fagerson can bulk a bit more he is showing he has the other attributes to be a very good test 8. I wish we would just stick Bradbury and/or Crosbie into the squad and give them a consistent runout. Its about all we have really.
      D Graham always has issues with defense positioning….but then so did Zammitt for Wales. Its what you lose playing a player so intent on attack.
      Despite having an array of good hookers…we dont seem to have a great consistent one.
      Tipuric is overall slightly better than Watson…I know many will disagree..but imo he is. I think our collective 1st choice back row is slightly better than Wales though.

  2. Team for France

    Stuart Hogg – Sean Maitland – Chris Harris – Cameron Redpath – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Matt Fagerson – Hamish Watson – Jamie Ritchie – Jonny Gray – Richie Gray – Zander Fagerson – George Turner – Rory Sutherland

    Darcy Graham – Huw Jones – Scott Steele – Blade Thomson – Scott Cummings – Willem Nel – David Cherry – Oli Kebble

    I think we should have players on the bench Townsend has the confidence to play, no point having Jaco or Steele unless unlikely injuries.

    If Redpath not fit i would have Duncan Taylor in.
    Despite my initial anger at Grahams discipline i think he should be given a second chance… a start against Italy, i don’t think he is ready to jump straight in against the best teams.

    I would call up Skinner and SHC.

    1. For me, it wasn’t so much Graham’s indiscipline more how ineffective and cumbersome he looked. M Fagerson looked a far better player.
      I dont know where to play Skinner…he looks to slow to be a 6..and again nowhere near Ritchie….and we have better 2nd rows.
      SHC probably deserves a shot at SH…but then Steele looked pretty good in the minutes he has played and hardly deserves to be dropped.
      I feel like we are waiting for Dobie to get more experience…ultimately he could be a cracking 9.

      1. George Horne is still our best reserve scrum half. I wish he wasn’t at the same club side as Price and Dobie. When he returns from injury he ought to start more Scotland games outside of the Six Nations.

      2. SW90: Is Horne the reserve? I though Steele showed a lot of confidence closing out against England. he kicked well, it could not have been more tense when he stepped onto the grass and I will be watching him.

        Ok I am exagerating this a bit, but I would hate to be called the reserve scrum half to Ali Price.

        I think we are in a place where Laidlaw used to get the shirt , yet we moaned. He got it, because Price was undercooked and now we have Horne and Steele who are undercooked and SHC who is a bit of a maverick. If we lose to France and Ireland, I know what I would do against Italy. I would Start with Steele and play Price or SHC off the bench.

    2. I think if Redpath cant make it…we should play Hugh Jones at 12…
      Taylor doesn’t sound as though he is able to play a full match at this level anymore.
      I really cant see what Lang offers at 12…I doubt Russell does either.
      Thats another thing about the premiership …it seems to breed and develop mainly defensive players…Redpath should move before they remove any creativity from his game. They’ll probably convert DVDM to a 6…or make him bulk so much he runs like he’s in treacle.
      Cant say I would play any English backs in my top 6N team..

      1. Redpath has only just moved this season, he won’t be moving again for a few years at least
        And this is his job, his full time employment, not some work experience shift

      2. Actually, many people who want to progress their careers see places where they are employed as ‘work experience’ ..another step on the ladder..its often why they took the job in the first place.
        So improving his defensive positioning and tackling skills will help his career for the next couple of years …but ultimately moving to a league with more adventurous style would suit him ..imo.

      3. Why play Huw Jones at 12 ? He is an outside centre ! If his position is taken, he should not be simply ‘Fitted in’. We actually need him at 13 , but just do not know it.

      4. and that why he has just moved. To a big club on a big salary and a rep for playing good rugby. On a 3 years contract. Lets be sensible eh?

        Your characterisation of the Eng Prem is pretty poor anyway. Should try watching some with the blinkers off

  3. Based on todays report in the Guardian we’re back to being irrelevant underdogs. This gives us a chance to surprise France in Paris. Hopefully Redpath, Richie and Maitland are back. One concern is without Zander our scrum could struggle against the French front row. Berghan is not of the same level.

    1. Unfortunately we are underdogs…you have to win your home games to have a real chance at the 6N. We are, at best, an outside bet for the 6N now…1 loss can change everything in the 6N, especially a home loss, its so tight.
      It highlights how, if we really want success, we have to find consistency instead of wrapping ourselves in glory at a single win.

    2. …and now we are going in against a tough French front row…with an aging TH and virtually no natural backup….hopefully we play Kebble there as back up…still miles better than anything else.

      1. ‘The 124kg (19st 7lb) prop is chiefly a loose-head, but can play on either side of the scrum.’

        Article quote from when Glasgow signed him.

  4. Bit harsh on Price and Russell. Thought they had pretty good games bar the odd bad option taken. It’s easier to see the space from the living room.
    Think the ill-discipline, which arguably cost us the game, should mean an extra half-point each off Fagerson and Graham. Over half the offences 3 penalties each and neither was on the pitch for more than 55 minutes!!

  5. Reduced to 14 players, thoughts about whether it was the right call to take off a back (the on-form DG in this instance) and keep the full complement of forwards?

    Wales were dangerous and finding gaps out wide, not up the middle.

    Apparently, statistically, more 14-man teams surivive to win with the full complement of backs rather than forwards.

    1. I think one of the considerations people are forgetting with taking Graham off was that it was his first match in months.

      He was excellent while he was on… but so was Ritchie and Maitland on their returns and look what happened.

    2. At the time I thought taking Darcy off was correct call partly based on his lack of game time. However, with hindsight you can argue it differently. I think the more significant factor was not tightening up the game when we went 4 pts ahead. It continued to be a very open and too loose which suited 15. We should have closed down like playing out the YC v Eng and look for pens which would require a full compliment of forwards.

    3. wasn’t a consideration for me. If we was knackered or not performing, then he gets subbed with a like for like. Actually, he looked fine so it was a decision to sacrifice a back. Given how our defensive maul was performing I can see the rationale, but we do not defend out wide well, and a player short there is asking for trouble. And we found it

  6. So for me, a couple of things we need to work on are use of a back-line strike move when in the 22 and taking points when on offer to build a lead.
    Either a barrelling Duhan or a Darcy decoy but this pick and goes works for Exeter and not many other teams.
    Hoggy and Finn will always play the game but sometimes it needs a sensible head (probably from an exhausted forward) to see sense and take the 3 on offer.

    The balance of the midfield needs addressed. Lang and Harris are both defensive organisers and very good at it but we need a 2nd play-maker. Pete Horne made Finn a better player, as did Alex Dunbar with Huw Jones at 13 as the attacking threat.

    Options at 12 – Redpath, Hutchinson or Lang. Johnson & Taylor in the mix too
    Options at 13 – Harris, Jones, Bennett

    Lets not forget Matt Scott, Nick Grigg (no for me), Stafford MacDowell and Chris Dean

    I would, like many others, prefer a Redpath/Harris axis but otherwise it needs to be a balance of;

    Lang/Jones or Bennett

    Against Italy – Redpath & Hutchinson would be fun to watch

  7. Would like to see a set playbook from 5 yards out. Take decision making pressure off players and if you’ve got Duhan use him either as decoy or strike runner!!
    As Historic Banffshire pointed out both wingers stepped into midfield for Wales tries.
    Ill discipline?
    Lack of confidence?
    It’s annoying to lose in this way to Wales. They’ve got a bit of a mental edge over us, thought we’d burst it by beating them away in October but seems it’s still fragile.

  8. French players isolating so we have yet another way of getting our hopes up that possible stars may miss out…they may have caught it early enough but who knows!!!

  9. 28-0 then. Wonderful, championship back on.

    Seriously, let’s hope not so we can go to Paris and do it fair n square

    1. Absolutely. This is rugby, not football.

      And on that note, I wish Fabien Galthie all the best for a swift and complete recovery.

  10. So if the French players provide negative results they will be able to train next week but Galthie will work with the team remotely. It will be interesting to see if at all having the head coach work ‘separately’ will make any impact. It will of course be a disruption if not a distraction.

  11. We will likely be playing a completely different squad of players and management as akin to when The Football National Team played Czech Republic last year in 2020.

  12. Just read that Zander gets FOUR week ban – WTF???? Given it was a borderline red and personally I think it’s harsh but a correct interpretation of the rules, why does this merit 4 weeks against POM’s 3 week ban? I think everyone agrees POM offence was more reckless and a clearer red card so why does Zander get a longer ban?? I could understand an equal punishment but this is just crazy. Almost beginning to believe the anti-Scottish conspiracy theories.
    Simon Berghan, please prove us all wrong…..

  13. He didn’t accept it was a red card offense so they didn’t reduce down. it sucks he’s got a 4 game ban but i’m glad he didn’t just roll over and give them what they wanted. I think it’s worth it to make the point.

    A. that it was not a red card offense and
    B that this whole disciplinary process it a complete joke.

    Good on ya Zander.

  14. Yep…in this system you’re guilty the moment you are accused. One man (Carley no less!) has the effective power to ban you for weeks.

    No one in my memory has ever successfully argued their innocence…

    The only smart option for players is to pay homage to the infinite wisdom of World Rugby in the hope of a reduced ban.

  15. Offside line reports : ‘Zander Fagerson will play no further part in this season’s Six Nations after being handed a four match ban’

    I think it is in Zander’s interests to appeal,It looks like Zander has been hung for a lamb. The TMO was of the opinion there was mitigation at the time.

    It feels harsh.

  16. This is the type of thing that makes some people turn away from rugby. We all understand we need to protect players from head injuries but I don’t think this is the way to go about it. For me it was borderline, when you watch the SLO mo he barely grazes the guys face, as qualified when he doesn’t go for an HIA. But the panel always have to be seen to back the ref. What is the point in calling it an independent disciplinary panel when the refs decision is never downgraded, all they do is reinforce, It’s like saying a referee is incapable of making a mistake -tosh!

  17. Well that is just a travesty of injustice. Maybe the red card was fair and maybe he deserves a ban but how on earth, how the actual **** does it warrant less of a ban than POM? There is never any consistency applied to ban lengths, they seem to be set at exactly the right length to totally shaft the player or let them off scot free. So POM got a 3 week ban so he only misses one game and Zander gets a 4 week so he misses them all. Not just this incident and sour grapes (although my grapes are sour) this happens all the time across the sport.

  18. It really beggars belief, if the ref had ignored the Fagerson incident nothing would’ve been said.

    Now we have the preposterous situation of POM assaulting someone flush in the face & being banned for 1 game whilst Fagerson banned for the rest of the tournament.

    Likelihood is that Fagerson’s Lions chances gone too.

    A farce

  19. My thoughts may not be popular but I believe this is yet another example of Scottish Rugby naivety. The sending off was harsh and I don’t think all refs would have made that decision but there is no argument that it was a red card to the letter of law 9. Therefore, why argue against it at the significant risk of an extended ban. This just plays into our small minded, ‘everyone’s against us psyche,’ and there will be much gnashing of teeth and wailing against the moon but the fact remains he has a 4-week ban and probably missing out on Lions chance. I really do feel for Zander but IMO he has been badly advised to challenge the sanction.

    1. I think it should be a red card, but the fact is that contact with the head is selectively penalised. If Carley believes so strongly in his duty of care to the players, why ignore other instances of contact to the head?

    2. Nessie – there is an argument that the red card was wrong because the red card is the starting point fit direct contact to the head, then the ref moves through the mitigation framework which can result in a YC or just penalty. As has been repeated many times, the TMO was actually encouraging the red to apply mitigation but Carly dismissed this advice. So it isn’t true that the red card was not arguable.

      O’Mahoney got the maximum reduction applicable which reduced his penalty to 3 weeks/meaningful matches. If Fagerson has got this he’d still have missed the remaining three matches so he didn’t really have much to lose by appealing, but everything to gain if the panel agreed the on-field decision was not correct. I’d also expect the SRU to appeal for the same reason.

      1. FF- I don’t disagree with the points you make it is just that in the current ‘concussion’ climate IMO it was never likely to succeed. I get that it was effectively a shot-to-nothing and 3 or 4 week ban makes negligible difference. Will be interesting to see if SRU appeal. I am not that familiar with Rugby disciplinary process but in football an appeal may be judged as ‘frivolous’ and risks an increased sanction which is a rather effective method to discourage appeals. Again, i would see little hope of an appeal being successful as this would require the Ruling body to admit to a mistake and effectively throw the original panel under the bus. The only likely outcome would be a further erosion of Scotland’s reputation in world rugby.

  20. But if a player feels that they aren’t guilty or they did not intend in any way to cause an offence of course they will defend themselves and dismiss the decision. Otherwise why on earth would you carry out a hearing if a player cannot be heard. So what’s likely the front row- will Kebble swap from his usual side?

    1. You would never play a loose head at tight head. Kebble has only played like three games there for Glasgow and whilst he did ok (mainly because he’s a man mountain) he did get stood up a couple of times. He could, after a season there with Glasgow, play TH but never internationally, it’s a completely different skill and set of muscles required. Nel will start with Berghan on the bench.

      I’m surprised that everyone is so surprised that Zander has a larger punishment than POM. You need to go and watch a few episodes of Suits to understand if you put your hands up and plead guilty you’ll get a lighter punishment! For what it’s worth I think it was worth the gamble from Zander to go for broke and try get off with it due to the TMO seeing mitigating circumstances but obviously the panel are trying to make an example of him to protect players noggins as much as possible.

      1. Absolutely no way Kebble should play TH. As Scotty said, totally different technique and international rugby is never a place to experiment with that kind of positional change, from a player welfare perspective if nothing else. We will have to hope WP can last 50+ minutes and we have an unassailable lead by then – simple!!!!

  21. This ban really has got me wound up.
    Regardless of process, whether you admit guilt etc. the end result is that a more reckless lead with an elbow gets a lesser sanction than a more debatable clear out at the ruck. What kind of message does that send out? The sanction should fit the severity of the offence, end of. Zander had a right to argue his case and shouldn’t be penalized for exercising that right when there was clearly some debate about the on-field decision.
    Secondly, why have bans based on weeks rather than actual matches? POM’s ban is bordering on meaningless in terms of the repercussions but Zander’s is massive. This is way beyond any sour grapes, the disciplinary process is majorly flawed and doesn’t dispense appropriate justice or improve player welfare.

    1. The message is quite clear: if you show remorse and say you know you were wrong you get a lesser ban than if you say “I wasn’t in the wrong and I’ll do it again”.

      The system are trying to stop head collisions. Zander hit someone in the head then when asked about it in front of a panel he essentially said what I did was fine. If they deem it not fine then of course he’ll get a bigger ban than someone who holds their hand up and apologises.

      The ban is not solely based on the incidents but the level of remorse and intent to repeat.

      1. That’s incorrect. Fagerson admitted guilt (‘remorse’) but argued it did not meet the threshold for red, which the TMO agreed with. This is appropriate given there is a mitigation framework in place and a player should be able to argue the red did not apply it correctly without penalty.

        It has nothing to do with intent because the infringement has nothing to do with intent, the red card was not given because it was an intentional act, simply because he made contact with the head.

        The rugby law Twitter account has explained it is common law process and it is intended to avoid trials and speed up the court process. I think this is misguided given that (1) the disciplinary process doesn’t take place before a jury (2) there is therefore no need to incentivise guilty pleas (in jury trials there is always a risk the prosecution will lose) (3) therefore the process is simply in place for bureaucratic efficiency and disincentives players from challenging poor decisions. This is not a good process

        Houras was banned for 3 weeks for a punch, an intentional violent act. Fagerson got a longer penalty for an accidental rugby collision that was so minor Wynn Jones was not even required to go for an HIA. The notion of deterring accidental acts is highly dubious – clearing out a jackel at the ruck on the other hand is what he is supposed to do.

        The process may have been followed correctly, but sometimes you just have to recognise that the law is an ass.

      2. So then it’s like robbing a bank and saying “yeah I did it but I don’t think I should go to jail for it.”

        You’re always going to get a heavier punishment if you try to get off Scot free. I’m not saying the practice is perfect, but it’s commonplace and certainly not anti-Scottish/pro-Irish!

        With the recent stories of players in their 40s being diagnosed with dementia etc of course they need to crackdown on this.

        There is a much wider issue though…if a head is all you can see, how are you supposed to clear the player out safely? As seen with Willis, even the safer “hug and roll” option is not that safe. I fear this could be the beginning of the end for the jackal which would be a great shame.

      3. Scotty – no it’s nothing like that at all, unless someone can rob a bank by accident and cause no harm. That analogy is totally daft.

        The opportunity to defend oneself in a process like this is essential for the right outcomes to be reached. The only purpose for this incentive is to avoid the panel actually having to hear any counter arguments. It is a sham.

        Plea bargains in criminal courts essentially exist because the prosecutor knows there is a risk a jury won’t convict so it is to secure an outcome in the public interest according to the CPS. How is the public interest served by punishing players who seek to defend themselves from poor decisions?

        I never said the process was anti-Scottish. I said it is held in low regard, which it is because of decisions like this. It is a pseudo-judicial kangaroo court.

        Oh and if World Rugby wanted to protect players heads maybe they should get rid of the jackal, rather than make every ruck a lottery where a player can get red carded by doing what he is supposed to do to remove someone jackling and slightly mistiming it.

        Wyn Jones was not even sent for an HIA, so according to the ref there was no risk of brain injury.

      4. Scotty…hard to rob a bank by accident. A better comparison would be crashing a car into someone on the footpath vs deliberately ramming someone on the footpath.

        I’d expect you could happily make the argument that the former should not involve prison.

        Finally, whose brain would be protected by ZF grovelling at the tribunal? It’s illogical to suggest that strategic submissiveness to get a shorter ban is linked to better on field actions.

      5. The fact he hit the ruck at pace with no attempt to wrap his arm turns the analogy of driving into the footpath into closing your eyes and hitting the accelerator. He may not have meant to hit him in the head but he put himself in a stupid position where hitting someone in the head (and thus getting a red card) was the likely outcome.

        The facts are his shoulder hit his head at pace. Red card and subsequent punishment just. End of. It’s a typical Scottish mentality to think we’re getting hard done by. We need to take off the thistle tainted specs sometimes and admit this happens across the board.

        Zander’s punishment is rightfully longer than POMs because the latter played the game and showed remorse not to repeat the action. By saying he didn’t think it was a red card, Zander has as good as said I’ll do it the next game I play in.

      6. Scotty – your argument has descended into farce. Fagerson is ‘rightfully’ punished more severely than POM because he ‘played the game’.

        POMs clear out was extremely dangerous and there couldn’t have been mitigation as the victim did not even need to be cleared out as he wasn’t over the ball. Fagerson was borderline given the TMO suggested mitigation which the ref rejected. But you think Fagerson should be punished for having the refs decision tested at the hearing???

        Again Houras got a lesser punishment for a deliberate, violent act. Can you seriously argue that is correct??? Or in fact is the disciplinary process a total mess?

      7. I am not arguing about Houras, I agree that that should have been taken more seriously.

        My argument is that it is in fact right that Fagerson has a lengthier ban than POM as the latter accepted his mistake whereas the former refused to acknowledge what he did was against the rules. To me this is essentially saying “I will do this again”. That is why he has not had his punishment reduced as much as POM.

        I genuinely don’t understand how POM’s action is deemed “extremely dangerous” whereas Fagerson’s was just a wee woopsy. They both shouldered someone in the head in remarkably similar fashion. Yes, Jones’s head was going up, but that should have helped Fagerson hit him lower, not higher unless Fagerson was targeting going over the top of him! You are forgetting that the ref is not the only one who agrees it was a red, the panel could have rescinded it.

      8. You keep misrepresenting what Fagerson’s position was. He did not say he did nothing wrong. In fact he admitted culpability and part of the two week reduction to his penalty was for doing so.

        He did not get the full reduction because he argued the offence didn’t warrant a red card. So he was penalised in relation to POM for arguing a position that is eminently reasonable.

      9. It is time to simplify the rules. To go back to a time where we cleared out with the shoe. No HIA, no TMO imitation, no referee overruling the TMO based on the position of a players wrist.

        No one will be languishing over the ball on the wrong side, just fast rugby and very well behaved players.

        In all seriousness, this should not be decided in a hearing with unknowns.

        It is one ban for all ,or change the laws. Anything in between is subjective IMO and not good for this game.

    2. An issue, I believe, is that on the field they do not consider “intent” only actions and consequences…so a genuine mistake has the same consequences as a deliberate act.

      I guess this takes out some of the guesswork but it is totally non-intuitive and goes against most legal definitions of culpability.

      1. But in the context of the disciplinary process this can still be accommodated. I mean how on earth is fagersons penalty considered mid-range, in the same category of seriousness as a punch to the face.

        Fagerson’s was clearly unintentional, marginal and so incidental it did not even require the player to have an HIA. How can you have a less serious incident that still meets the threshold for a red.

        Meanwhile an intentional violent act, whose motive can only be to harm, is considered equally serious???

        It is no wonder rugby’s disciplinary system is held in such low regard, it’s application defies all common sense and notions of natural justice.

      2. The elephant in the room is the distinction between yellow and red in the on field decision…which now is often very small.

        The difference in ramifications off it…which is nothing for most yellows, but an ‘entry’ of 6 weeks for pretty much any red…is huge

        Actions and consequences need to line up and the off field and on field processes need to evolve together.

  22. Absolute disgrace. How can the disciplinary committee deem it a worse offence than POM’s? Or that Zander has a worse record than O’Mahony, given POM had already been sent off in a match for a similar offence (against Scarlets, I think). All my friends (from all 4 home nations) agree that it is inconsistent, to say the least.

    On another point, a 4 week ban from the date of the offence would be to 13th March, allowing Zander to play against Ireland on 14th, never mind Italy on the 20th!! Alternatively, if it is a 4 MATCH ban, then surely POM’s 3 match ban would mean he cannot play against Scotland?

    1. Just read the following ;”committee deemed the foul play warranted a six-week suspension but reduced that by two weeks to account for mitigating factors, including the player’s admission of foul play and a good disciplinary record. ” If true something very inconsistent / not right here. Hope Zander appeals.

  23. Doesn’t really matter does it. As someone else said, worth the gamble on getting away completely by trying it was not a red. If committee agree no ban. If they don’t agree it is only the difference between a 3 and 4 week ban – both of which are tournament ending. Right?

  24. And here is my hands in the ruck : Farrell abusing the referee , far too much unintelligible, bullying, chatter. Get a grip refs, card him for dissent and lets really set the standards.

    You Refs have the power in your hands, use it, that aggressive behaviour, verbal or physical has no place. If players see a captain verbally berating a ref, they know the borders are there to be pushed. I belive Nigel Owens has made a statement about Farrell’s behaviou in Wales on Line , though that may be gamesmanship and influencing for their Welsh encounter.

    Use your power , use it properly, use it fairly , use it with pride.

    The Fagerson sending off has been condemned by pundits and ex player of all home all unions. It was Scotland today, it is them tomorrow, Rant over.

  25. Is it a four week ban or a four match ban? If it is a four week ban is he not back for the final game?

    If it is a four match ban then should POMs three match ban not rule him out for another two games?

    Or do players claim they would be playing in the off weeks for their provincial side which then counts as a missed match? In which case do Glasgow have games in the off weeks which brings it back to four weeks.

    But how any system can be set up to punish those who try to defend themselves against perceived errors or injustices is beyond comprehension. Hopefully we’ll here more and wide ranging criticism of this from the world or rugby and not just Scotland supporters who can be dismissed as bitter that it’s one of theirs!

  26. This actually sets a dangerous precedent whereby future incorrect or harsh red cards could see players feeling they have no option but to plead guilty in all cases knowing full well what happened to Fagerson. Why take the risk in trying to argue your case when there is no opportunity to get a fair hearing.

  27. The main difference in Fagersons and POM’s offences in my opinion is Fagerson was trying to clear out someone who was competing for the ball and mistimed his entry into the ruck. POM on the other hand took a cheap shot at a player trapped on the fringes. Quite why Fagerson should self flagellate in front of a committee when he feels that yes he agrees it was foul play but not deliberate targeting of an opponent as was the case for POM.
    If the committee feel that a player should prostrate themselves in front of them and beg forgiveness for something they don’t think that they have done then they picked the wrong man. Fagerson stood up for his principles and if that means an extra game ban then so be it. No one should ever admit to something that they don’t think that they did.

    1. spot on TEE CHEE

      lots of stuff is taken into account before deciding on sanction. Many players, especially Irish and certain English have their QC read out all sorts of character references and charity work. Farrell for one, and this is referred to in the full findings and given credit. Of course it should be totally irrelevant. This is actually not a court of law.
      And then consider the not challenging the decision and “playing the game”.
      Anyone remember Earl’s dumping Brown head first on to the ground. At his hearing QC said he showed remorse and that was accepted. A week later his is in the press saying he wasn’t sorry and Brown deliberately twisted to get his head hit the ground first. He was asked to explain but there was no further sanction nor his discount taken away. Now had it been a court of law………….

      This is the result of playing the game. Lie with your ginger crossed behind your back and be as sleekit a cheat as you were previously

  28. Rapava Ruskin red carded in Gloucester game for the same offence that Liam Williams got away with.

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