Townsend reverts to tried and trusted for rearranged French liaison

The final match of this year’s Guinness Six Nations takes place a week later than the rest, with both teams knowing exactly what they have to do in order to climb the rankings, and in France’s case, potentially win the championship.

To “The Magnificent Seven” and “Geography Six”, we can now add the “Premiership 5”, of which Sean Maitland is arguably the biggest name casualty.

Following another very good performance against Italy at full-back there’s no room for the veteran winger due to the restrictions placed on selection, so Stuart Hogg’s dalliance at fly-half over, he reverts to full-back with Finn Russell fit to return in the 10 jersey after missing the romp against Italy.

“It’s much more satisfactory than I thought it was going to be on Saturday, when none of our players were going to be available and we were putting together a team of home-based players plus Finn Russell.

 “So, yeah, it’s a much better situation than then. And I’m glad that we did get a resolution that players would be available. Not all of them, as you can probably tell, but most of them.” said Townsend of the thrifty, last-minute arrangement thrashed out which has limited his selection options.

“He (Maitland) was really disappointed, as was Jamie Bhatti, who has been on the bench for us the last two weeks.

 “There are other players who may have come into consideration like James Lang, Duncan Taylor, Cornell du Preez, other guys who been in our squad. Cornell was actually supposed to be on the bench when we were due to play France the last time.”

As well as Maitland dropping out, three starting try-scorers from last week can maybe feel themselves a tad unlucky to have been rotated onto the bench.

Double try-scorer and accurate dart-chucker Dave Cherry loses out to George Turner, Scott Steele swaps with Ali Price – probably the most expected of the swaps – and SRB’s POTM from last week, Huw Jones fills the number 23 jersey with Chris Harris restored at outside centre.

“The last time” Townsend spoke of was of course February 28th, which was round 3 of the championship when both sides were still in contention for the title, but now Scotland know the best they can finish is in second place, while a 21-point margin of victory for France with a try-scoring bonus point would see them pinch the title from Wales at the last.

Second place would be Scotland’s best ever finish in the Six Nations after famously being the last ever Five Nations champions in 1999 courtesy of a surprise Wales win over England. The voices from the valleys are shouting in unison it’s time we repay that debt.

“No, but we’ve got a couple of Welsh members of staff and they’ve had a few messages.” Townsend said when asked if any of his old Welsh Lions’ teammates had been in touch to suggest so.

“We maybe owe Wales a favour from ’99. I remember watching that game with Stuart Grimes in France, thinking we’d had a good win the day before – but did we really want to watch England win the Five Nations?

 “Wales turned them over that day, of course. So I’m sure they’ll be cheering us on as we were cheering them on 22 years ago.”

That famous 36-22 win in the Stade de France was the last time Scotland have beaten Les Bleus at home, but records are there to be broken.

“We hadn’t won in London for 38 years, hadn’t won in Wales for 18 years, so this is another number, another record that we’d like to take away.”

And should it happen, it won’t only be we Scots that would be happy to see it fall.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ali Price;
Rory Sutherland, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson
Replacements: David Cherry, Oli Kebble, Simon Berghan, Alex Craig, Nick Haining, Scott Steele, Adam Hastings, Huw Jones

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Warriors season ticket holder and widely renowned ne'er-do-well, Iain has been watching rugby from a young age, but developed a true passion for the game whilst in the rugby hotbed that is New Zealand. Like Tommy Seymour, his hair-style icon, Iain does not like chickens.
Follow Iain on twitter @iainhay82

69 comments on “Townsend reverts to tried and trusted for rearranged French liaison

  1. WeeAl on

    Really think Harris / Jones is the wrong way round. Much easier to start fast and defend at the end. Not sure what Jones needs to do to get Toony’s confidence… everything else is as expected, shame for Maitland he’s been really great.
    Just hope the lineout has been drilled, and drilled again. Turner is a good ball carrier which I guess is why he’s been picked. But lineout is really the best attacking platform and if we can’t nail it, we’re in for a miserable evening.
    Would also have been nice to see Rufus Maclean on the bench – just watched his last try – brilliant.

    • Hoggs syrup on

      “Much easier to start fast and defend at the end”. Not really. It makes more sense to bring on Jones to exploit a tired defence.

      • Munro on

        Nonsense. You start your best players and go from there as the game dictates. You want your best players on the paddock for as long as possible . Nothing against Harris as a bloke – sure he is a decent human being but let’s get real.
        Jones’s tackling is fine – don’t remember the last time he missed a tackle. Not even convinced Harris’s defence is better.
        Jones breaks the line and keeps the opposition guessing while bringing wider players into context. Harris does none of these as well as being stripped in contact and spilling ball in attack. No pace and no step. He likely would have dropped the pass from Maitland that Jones took over his head to put Graham in last week.
        Jones omission smacks of Townsend having to be right for previous omissions and failures. A good, confident leader can admit to mistakes.

      • Angerine on

        Defence isn’t just tackling. Harris is one of our principal organisers in defence – he’s the one who ensures everyone is in position, which has been a weak point for Duhan and Darcy previously. Harris is absolutely the right choice. Just wish Redpath was alongside him, that seemed like a beautifully weighted partenership.

    • Stripe on

      Toony has got this one badly wrong. No Maitland (we’re going to rue his absence, mark my words), Harris starting instead of Jones, Turner instead of Cherry and Price instead of Steele.

  2. PabloEscobar on

    I am disappointed to some extent in Harris starting however Toonie has adopted the pragmatic approach as France have to go for it to win the competition. Harris is there to weather the storm and Jones will come on later to exploit the gaps. Maitland should also be there to defend the high balls – he should have been released by his club given the special circumstances.

    • Freccosais on

      We’ll miss Maitland, but I don’t think there’ll be many high balls to the wing, as France tend to kick long rather than for a contest. In fact, I’d say that their weakest area is probably their own defence of contested kicks. Hoping Finn exploits any positional errors from their wings, both of whom are more comfortable at centre.
      I prefer Jones, but understand that France will be really testing our defensive structure. If Harris holds it together, it’ll force France to take bigger risks, and open up the game for Jones in 2nd half.
      Here’s hoping we can frustrate them, gain control of the game and then kick on for the win!

      • Tam tm on

        Some very good points. It will be interesting to see even if France choose to kick much in the first half. I can imagine they will hit the 10 -12 channel similar to how England had tried but the French will execute it properly and hit us hard down that channel. They will try to bully us at the break down suck in players and hit wide for space. The first 30 minutes are key. Get that secure and we hold territory as we did in Twickenham we potentially could control the game. Turner and Price need big games and be full of confidence. Sutherland and Zander will love Friday you watch!! Our backs if the game opens up which potentially it will are going to soak up the space. I can imagine the last 20 we’ll kick for the corners and put them under more pressure. COME ON SCOTLAND!

  3. Merlot on

    Bit of a pig’s ear of selection for me.
    As Tryhard mentioned in a previous post, if Townsend was going for “tried and trusted” he would have picked Sean Maitland and Richie Gray instead of Darcy Graham and Alex Craig. That experience could count for a lot against a French team that can lose control in the latter stages.
    Johnson and Harris is a solid but uninspiring centre partnership. If Huw Jones’ defence is in question, at least let him answer that question from the start.
    Although the rest of the starting pack picks itself, you’ve got to feel for Dave Cherry who performed pretty well against Italy. I hope against hope that Turner has been doing extra work on the lineouts. I don’t blame him for ALL the lost lineouts against Ireland but he has to take the blame for at least 2 of them.
    Still, pig’s ear or no, let’s hope Hamish, Finn, Hoggy and DVDM turn it into a silk purse (with Lions selections in the bag).

    • Ian on

      Good post. We are going to struggle to beat France at the best of times with our playing resources. I really hope this comes right, but my overall impression of Toonie and his tombola is that he is a poor selector. Sure he might be seeing stuff that we are not seeing, but it so frustrating when it looks like time and again – he is not getting the best 15/23 on the park. I also want to see better timing in regard to using our subs. It was “criminal” of the coaching team against Ireland to wait until 63 min to replace Turner with Cherry.

      Still – time to let hope and expectation overcome my grumpiness over this latest slightly curious selection.

      • fromafar on

        Richie Grays experience doesn’t even count for much against the Dragons these days, it’s not 2017 anymore.

  4. Johnny b on

    Harris v Jones somewhat reminiscent of Maitland v Graham.

    He may lack Graham’s flair but nobody would deny Maitland is a very fine player and a realistic lions contender.

    Jones is on the bench. He’s there. He can come on, but Harris’s workrate and defensive skills will be useful against Vakatawa at the start.

    • Feepole on

      With Graham on the wing I don’t think there was any doubt that Harris would get the nod.

      If Maitland had been an option I’d like to have seen him start, but reckon if Darcy can get some ball he could cause some real problems for France. Big players seriously struggle to deal with him, particularly with such emphasis on cutting out high tackles (telegraphed passes being a different kettle o fish altogether, mind!)

  5. john on

    Munro, succinctly put, 100% concur.

    GT always manages to exasperate me…. Cherry was excellent last week, Jones is on fire. Playing 2 solid but slow (in the grand scheme of things) centres only allows France to double/treble up on Hogg and VDM…..will we beat France by playing conservatively/defensively?????
    Back row incumbents too similar needs beef, no-one to make the hard physical yards

    • Cooney on

      We beat them last year with a center pairing of Johnson and Harris, and they were both excellent so, sure, seems possible we might do it again.

  6. jimmythefish on

    Lots of gloomy comments. We beat France last year with 9 of the same players as are starting on Friday. Of course they only had 14 men for part of the game however we were ahead even before the card. I think the starting team is better this year than last. We’ve gained a returning Finn (superior to Hastings), Duhan (better than Kinghorn), and fit again Darcy. I believe Magerson is an improvement on Haining, Brown is not a loss at hooker given his penalty count, Skinner is a good replacement for Cummings. The loss of Maitland may test us as he has been excellent this 6N. I agree that Huw Jones not being picked to start is a crime, however he will come on in the second half, hopefully earlier than the 70th minute. On the French front, I’m wary of Ntamack as he’s a step up on Jalibert. It should be a great game and I hope we can pull it off.

  7. Saint4805 on

    Let’s be thankful that the game is on BBC1 which means we won’t need to listen to Clive Woodward referring to Zander and Matt Ferguson.

  8. Grant on

    Hopefully we will get Andrew Cotter , and not have to listen to the welsh mafia(taffia?) of Eddie B and jiffy , that pair will have more welshmen mentioned than Scots even when we are playing.
    Oh and feel free to not use mr Guscott either , let him stew on England’s fantastic performance.

  9. GT - not that one on

    Should be noted that with defence organiser supreme Harris starting Scotland had conceded as many tries after 3 games as they did in the entirety of last year’s tournament. Add in a fly half who should know exactly how to target any weakness Vakatawa has defensively and it’s a big call. Stinks of perception over analysis for me but I can just about see the logic, hopefully Huw isn’t just coming on to score a consolation again. Winnable game if we are at our best, and Townsend needs to start getting our best more than once a tournament.

    • fromafar on

      Can you explain which of those tries have been the fault of Harris and what it is defensively he has done wrong?

      • GT - not that one on

        Not the point, if people try and bat away criticism of his tackling it is because he is “crucial to organising the Scottish defence”. I’m making the point that our defence has been more porous of late, so surely as such a lynchpin of the system he should be scrutinised no?

      • fromafar on

        It very much is the point, you are attempting to be critical of one player for the tries against record, what has his blame been in those tries, what did he do wrong in those tries?

      • GT - not that one on

        I dunno what to tell you man, when Harris’ unremarkable defensive stats are brought up we are then told that he is key to the defensive system. When we criticise the performance of that system to which he is so crucial we are then asked to return to specifics of his performance.

        I don’t even dislike the guy, and if we didn’t know exactly what we need to achieve to maximise our position in the final table or Redpath was available I wouldn’t have a problem with him being in the team at all – I don’t even really hate the idea now I’m just questioning it.

        In international rugby it’s extremely reductive in most cases to assign one person as being at fault at a try, it is usually a number of different positive and negative actions by offensive and defensive players.

      • fromafar on

        So you are just throwing shade at a player based on things said by people on the internet rather than things that happen on a Rugby park, you can’t actually articulate where he has been at fault for a blame you are trying to put on him, OK, fair enough, slightly odd, but at it explains a bit.

      • GT - not that one on

        So no reasoned argument or defence, just reducing an argument about a player’s relative performance down to “how many tries is he personally responsible for?” And basing an argument around statistics and what people can see with their own eyes on a rugby pitch is “throwing shade at a player based on things said by people on the internet”. Fun and cool!

        This is what I mean about perception. Harris is “seen” as being an excellent defensive centre, and any attempt to statistically question that using his own or the teams’ defensive performance (before we get into the cost benefit analysis of his inclusion when considering attack and defence) is just responded to with shifting the goalposts and failing to actually make a point in response.

      • fromafar on

        You have made the statement “Should be noted that with defence organiser supreme Harris starting Scotland had conceded as many tries after 3 games as they did in the entirety of last year’s tournament” I asked you to explain which of those tries were the fault of Harris, you aren’t able to. I just thought if it was so obviously his fault and noticeable to you that you would make that point that you would have something to lay at the players door. You don’t :)

      • GT - not that one on

        “I just thought if it was so obviously his fault and noticeable to you that you would make that point that you would have something to lay at the players door.”

        No one said it was “obviously his fault” at all, though, did they? One last time because I don’t think you’ve any real interest in a conversation, if someone is meant to be the lynchpin of a defensive system, then they are tied to the effectiveness of that defensive system. Defending Chris Harris from mild criticism is such a weird hill to die on, but hope you enjoy the game tomorrow :)

      • fromafar on

        I can only have a conversation if you actually make a point to debate with :)

        You made mention of the tries against, and a direct correlation to the appearance of Harris, yet can’t actually validate what you have said and how it links back to Harris though to then dispel any apparent perception.

        While the apparent “perception” Harris has created can be met with pretty wide praise from Finn Russel who spoke about Harris as one of Scotlands best players and in particular singled out his defense in his recent excellent interview on Rugby Pass Official. It also seems to have fooled the wonderfully articulate pundit and defensive beast Johnnie Beattie who waxed lyrical about Harris rush defense on this weeks BBC podcast, but they were just tricked by perception as well I assume. Beattie also went into detail to explain how Harris nullified Vakatawa last year v France at the 6N (he is right by the way, Harris was fantastic in that game)

        I just thought you might have had something to actually add to the conversation with a bit of substance, I was fascinated and curios to hear your point. The irony in all of this though is you have gotten very “defensive” of your point without ever expanding on it

        :) :) :)

      • GT - not that one on

        Sounds a lot like just basing your arguments around what people are saying on the Internet there fella.

        Have a good one and I’m sure you’ll join me in hoping Chris has a great game tomorrow.

      • fromafar on

        When the people are Finn Russell and Johnie Beattie talking about Rugby, sure I might give them a second or two of my time to listen to what they have to say

        :)

      • GT - not that one on

        Can tell how mad lockdown’s got me when I’m watching back highlights of defeats for an argument on the internet but here’s a list of Harris involvements in conceded tries where he is at least partly at fault:
        For the first Wales try he’s in an unenviable position with Lang and Cummings coming across to fill a big gap (both of them end up in a position to take Biggar if we goes himself btw) but he has to either try to cut off Biggar’s passing lines or line up Tompkins. He does neither, gets caught flat footed and gets an ineffectual tackle in on Tompkins who gets it outside him.
        The second Welsh try he’s far too hesitant and again doesn’t trust his inside enough and it’s far too easy for Sheedy to feed it past him
        He’s absolutely gassed by Halaholo for the 4th try. He initially does pretty well but his body position is poor by the time Beard (I think) has it and he goes from a strong to weak position as a result. Thought Faletau maybe got a cheeky block in but nothing there, Harris is just rocking back on his heels.
        Out of position for the first Ireland try and (along with Hogg tbf) gets done in the air. Should arguably leave it to Hogg and react to any knock down as Earls is unlikely to take it cleanly

        There we go. Happy to get behind him but not convinced he’s this defensive titan in spite of what Townsend, his players and proxies say on the press.

      • fromafar on

        Your analysis of the Ireland try is miles out, it’s VDM who’s shunted too far in which caused the issue with numbers and space wide, that was only spotted by member of the Scotland coaching team Chris Patterson during the game though,would have a rough idea he knows the defensive sets of the teams

        So that’s Scotland 10, head coach, kicking coach and multi capped back row you seemingly know more than 🙂

        LOL – I’m out

      • GT - not that one on

        Nothing on the other tries no? And even if we accept your point surely the great organiser should have some influence of the positioning of his outside men when the balls on the other side of the pitch and everyone with a brain knew what sexton was doing with it. That’s before we discuss the decision to go for the ball and leave a big ol’ clear space where only Irish players can find a knock down.
        I’m not saying I know more than these people, of course I’m not. But you should have a degree of scepticism about what players and coaches say publicly, as they’re obviously media trained and have talking points to hit. And of course, pundits are infallible in their knowledge of the game. Especially BBC pundits. That’s why I get all my opinions from Jiffy. Lol indeed

      • fromafar on

        Your analysis of the LRZ try is again wrong, Harris is correct to rush up and push Wales to the edge, it meant a decision that leads to a fullback v the touch line, a winger and a full back – given its 14 v 15 at the time that’s decent odds. It’s brilliance from the player LRZ to outdo VDM and Hogg for gas, you’d back those players in that situation more often than not. If he pushes on it’s likely and offload and a 3 v 2 overload in Wales favour.

        That you think either Russell (who’s view you clearly believe given your earlier post) or Beattie are media trained to go with the Scotland narrative is comical, your off the pace here mate :)

      • GT - not that one on

        When did I say that Beattie is media trained to go with the Scotland narrative? Unless I’ve missed something he’s neither a current player or coach. Russell clearly is though because that is what professional sports people are.
        And nope sorry you’re wrong. :) Shouldn’t have given you the benefit of the doubt stick to passively watching and nodding along to what the just terrific pundits tell you

    • FF on

      I mean GT and the coaching team spend dozens of hours pouring over video footage and you’ve just compared tries conceded across two seasons…and you think his choice stinks of perception over analysis???

      Sometimes the criticism of Toonie takes on weird proportions. Whatever his faults may be, I’ve never heard anyone claim Townshend doesn’t give enough weight to analysis.

      I’d rather see Jones start but Harris’ selection really isn’t that controversial.

      • GT - not that one on

        You can trace our defeat against Ireland to a lineout where Townsend and his coaching team were comprehensively out thought by O’Connell. It’s pretty universally accepted that he was responsible from the Ireland side, but I suppose we just do the classic Scottish thing of saying “our players arnae good enough” rather than the logical conclusion that GT and Dalziel had their pants pulled down.

        Our defeat against Wales was as much to do with completely failing to adapt to a different kicking game when the half backs changed as it was anything else. But I suppose instead we have to go to the other default Scottish response of “the ref did us over!”

        Our failure to (thusfar) make a dent in the most eminently winnable 6 nations of recent years is down to a lot of factors. Poor preparation and analysis has absolutely been one of them imo.

        Fair enough if you don’t agree

  10. Warks Scot on

    Whatever happened to the French government’s/ministry of sport’s inquiry into the French team’s bubble breach? That seems to have gone remarkably quiet now that France are in with a shout of winning the championship. I said at the time that they should forfeit broadcasting revenue and compensate the SRU for any costs and the rest to the health system. Still can’t believe there appear to be no consequences for blatant breaches of 6N guidelines on Covid.
    Maitland was an outside shout for the Lions but I worry what impact this might have on a class player – arguably playing some of his best international rugby recently- but who is reaching the twilight of his career and will be playing in England’s second tier this year.
    The best response would be to dish out a comprehensive win & knock them down a place or two in the table.

    • Saint4805 on

      The logical and fairest solution would have been for the FFR to foot the bill to release ALL of our selected players who are based in England and France. I am stunned that 6N organisers did not insist on this. It’s remarkable how France have gotten away with this. For me there will always be an asterisk next to this year’s final table if France end up winning the title.

      • WestCountryTartanArmy on

        And compensate Glasgow and Edinburgh (via SRU). Completely under the radar – the potential impact this weekend as they play full strength Welsh and Italians yet missing most of their best players. Just because they don’t need a third party to release them, doesnt mean they haven’t been impacted.

    • Hungryhorse on

      Be better to bring R Gray, drop Craig and free up spot for Maitland. Richie and Sean class acts and just what we need in Paris

  11. Neil on

    Sean Maitland – Blair Kinghorn – Cameron Redpath – Matt Scott – Rufus McClean – Jaco Van Der Valt – Sam Hidalgo Clyne – Cornell Du Preez – Gary Graham – Blade Thomson – Jonny Gray – Scott Cummings – Willem Nel – Fraser Brown – Jamie Bhatti

    Byron Mcguigan – Rory Hutchison – George Horne – Ryan Wilson – Richie Gray – Murray McCallum – Stuart Mcinally – Allan Dell

    Not a bad second string 23

    • FF on

      I don’t think Rufus Maclean will be in the second string for many more seasons, he looks electric and has taken the step up to pro rugby in his stride.

      Ross Thompson probably needs a season or two more under his belt but will ease ahead of VDW shortly.

      Interestingly, I heard Fin Smith (18), recently name checked by Eddie Jones is SQ and has a very publicly Scotland-supporting mum. He has Marcus Smith and Joe Simmonds ahead of him, let alone Farrell, Ford, Umunga. He could be a target for the pro teams in short order and I hope the SRU are in it already.

  12. WilkyBoiYaBass on

    I love Huw Jones but I think some people on this blog are a bit hyperbolic about his abilities. He is a world class strike runner. He’s elusive, he runs great lines and he breaks tackles. At international level he is, at best, satisfactory at pretty much every other aspect of the game. Most notably his passing under pressure isn’t precise enough often enough. When he makes a break, his instinct is to run it the whole way and score a try (which he often does and it’s great!) However this means when he’s made a break and forced to pass at full speed, it’s an afterthought for him and they’re often 50/50 passes. The most memorable being that one against Ireland in 2018 but even against Italy in the last game, there was one that went to ground and another that went above the receiving players head killing momentum enough for the defence to cover.
    Please note: None of this means I think Huw Jones should never start. Just that he’ll work best with a certain game plan that involves him getting on the end of a lot of the moves and often that game plan isn’t what’s always best for the team in that game. Super sub might just be the most effective role he can play for Scotland right now. People saying that Huw Jones is the best 13 in the world and calling for Toony’s head for not always picking him need a reality check.

    • FF on

      Agree about his passing in the Italy game.

      Jonathan Davies used to be renowned as a terrible passer but he worked on it and eventually became one of the best centres in the world. I hope Jones does the same – his defence has improved (and was never as bad as made out by some) but he still has areas to work on. FWIW I think Harris’ passing can also be a little bit suspect. If only Hutchison wasn’t seen as also being defensively weak, he’s a fabulous runner and his distribution is top class.

      • WilkyBoiYaBass on

        You know now that you mention it I can’t recall a single Chris Harris pass haha He doesn’t make breaks like Jones so is never in these pressure pass positions. At his attacking best he just runs hard over the gain line and recycles…
        If Jones could distribute, we could possibly have it at 12

    • john on

      Instinct is to run, 50/50 passes – doesn’t this ,pretty much, suit Scotland’s attacking preferred style of play. It’s a peculiar thing (not really aimed at WilkyBoiYaBass as his blog fairly balanced) that people concentrate on the negatives rather than the positives.
      Finally its an utterly preposterous situation that Galthie was wandering about willy nilly & the French broke numerous Covid rules but its us that suffer.

    • Campbell B on

      I think you have a point but I would add why has Huw Jones not flourished in Scotland? He is by far our most naturally talented back.

      He is losing his place to a guy who has been coached to what he is today. IMO it is not that Harris does all the right things, he just doesn’t do the wrong things. I believe the game is played on the pitch and Jones is by far the man for that kind of game, he can adapt and play with flair and heart.

      Harris is not , he will just execute the plan rigidly. So why is that bad you ask?

      To quote that mighty philosopher Mike Tyson ‘Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.’ So we will be fine , unless the French have a better one.

      I think Toony wants to be the 16th man, but we have 15 and they need to be able to take a belt in the face and get back up again. He needs to pick a side and empower them to play their rugby on the pitch, not in the classroom.

  13. FF on

    Matt Fagerson out of tomorrow’s game with injury. Haining into starting lineup and Wilson called up to bench.

    Not a great development.

    • Nomad86 on

      Shows one again that we are disadvantaged by this b.s “prem5” decision….. throughout the tournament we have had multiple back rows from English teams in the squad. I’m not saying he should/would get in ahead of haining but take CDP for example, denied the chance to be on bench again as he was for the original date. (And arguably, less likely to give away pens in last 20, than Wilson!)

      • WestCountryTartanArmy on

        CDP, Thomson, Graham, Bayliss all ahead of Wilson, rightly or wrongly. Think both Thomson and Graham injured but I suspect that either of CDP or Bayliss would have got the nod were it not for the 5 man rule.

    • JohnMc on

      The loss of Matt Fagerson is a real shame, not least for the player himself.

      He made a real statement at Twickenham that he can perform as a very good number 8 at Test level. And his receiving of restarts this 6N has reduced Scotland supporters’ anxiety levels by huge amounts of whatever metric gauges anxiety levels.

      I’ve always liked Ryan Wilson’s commitment to the cause and hope that if he does get game time he refrains from showing a rashness that gives penalties away. My only real concern is whether, a bit like all could see of John Barclay at RWC 2019, he’s past his peak at Test level. I hope not as I’m expecting to see a huge contest between the back rows tomorrow night.

    • john on

      Haining adds physicality & given the 5 english rule we were hamstrung. Wilson has done ok for a struggling Glasgow

  14. Saint4805 on

    Does Ritchie or Skinner have any experience at 8? Maybe Craig could come on as a second row replacement with Skinner moving to the back row. I’d rather take a chance on Bradbury than Wilson the wind up merchant. Let’s hope Haining plays well and can last at least 70 mins.

    • GT - not that one on

      Tbf Haining and Ritchie got a lot of joy against France from being wind up merchants last year (insert picture of Ritchie’s squashed nose here) so I’m all for it. More nonsense the better!

  15. Tam tm on

    Could be chance of rain this evening in Paris. Could slow things down a little and put more pressure on France!

  16. Mac2 on

    Might also have been an opportunity to bring in Ally Miller who has trained with the squad, is Scottish based & very much one for the future, (unlike Sgt Wilson)

  17. Sam Laycock on

    Finn Russell, 3 match ban for fending off an attempted High tackle.
    Paul Willemse 2 match ban for a clear out with the eye socket.
    Zander Fagerson 4 match ban for a marginal miss timed clear out.
    Mohamed Houas 2 match ban for a punch direct to the face.

    And on and on it goes.

  18. Sam Laycock on

    There is something rotten at the heart of Rugby Union. Certainly in the governance, and in the disciplinary side. Possibly even in the officiating in some cases. Rugby is heading for a FIFA style meltdown.

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