Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Podcast: Episode 150 – Kettle Burgers

For our 150th episode we review Scotland Women’s loss to England, haul Scotland Men’s Six Nations campaign over the hot coals of analysis and pick our Lions XVs.

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

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46 Responses

  1. My Lions XV for the first test:
    Wyn Jones
    Ken Owens
    Tadhg Furlong
    Alun Wyn Jones
    Maro Itoje
    Tadhg Beirne
    Hamish Watson
    Taulupe Faletau
    Ben Youngs
    Finn Russell
    Antony Watson
    Robbie Henshaw
    Garry Ringrose
    Liam Williams
    Stuart Hogg
    So 5 Welsh, 4 Irish, 3 English and 3 Scots. A fair representation given how close the 6N was.
    On the bench I’d have the all English front row of Sinckler, LCD and Vunipola. Henderson and Curry covering lock and backrow. Davies, Sexton and North covering the backs replacements.
    Funnily enough I don’t think many other scots will make the squad. Maybe Jonny Gray and DVDM, but the rest would be a surprise. Zander F, Jamie Ritchie, Ali Price, Sam Johnson, Chris Harris and Huw Jones are all in the mix but unlikely. Maitland and Sutherland would have been there but for the Premiership 5 and injury respectively.

    1. On the bench an all-England front row bested by every team in this year’s 6N bar Italy? Mako’s done at Test level.
      Any room for any of the front three Scots whose only problem on occasions was against Ireland, who themselves monstered England in Dublin?
      Both Ireland centres, neither of whom has been more than basically ok this 6N?
      Watson, Faletau, Ken Owens good calls. Faletau has had a fantastic 6N.
      Ritchie has been easily the best 6 across the whole 6N imo and will be picked because he’s a bruiser at 7 too who will get right up the noses of the Saffers.
      Some big calls to be made by Gatland and his co-selectors.
      Perhaps I’ve become jaundiced by reading English editions of national newspapers that can’t accept England’s pack was mince this year and deserve no more than three, perhaps four, in the touring squad.

      1. I agree that Mako is past his best and shouldn’t tour. We saw how much he cost England in the RWC final and Gatland won’t want a repeat of that. Also he offers very little in the loose. I’d actually have both Sutherland (if fit) and Kebble ahead of him in the pecking order.

    2. Seems like a fair selection. I anticipate Sexton would start and Russell finish (if he’s even on the plane)…Youngs at scrum half though?

      1. Russell has a fight to get on the plane I think. Ford has probably played his way out of contention, Farrell will tour regardless of form, Biggar and Sexton are both judged to have had good tournaments, although both were pretty patchy for me.

        Good chance Gatland will take Farrell (as FH/IC) + 2, we know he’s going to take Biggar, so question is whether he’s convinced by Sexton’s form and durability. Finn had a quiet 6N but with lots of dimensions of game management he’s been criticised for lacking in the past. I’d have him in a heartbeat but it doesn’t look good for him IMO. Townshend needs to be in the selection room and Sexton needs to have a quiet end to the season in Europe…

  2. It’s not about the selection of Sexton , it’s about him not being concussed between now and then , the level of concussions he is involved with speaks to somthing, is it an overzealous commitment , less than perfect tackle technique or whatever. Regardless I’d have a wager on him being out by the tests , sad but true .

  3. 38 player squad

    8 Scots
    8 English
    11 Irish
    11 Welsh

    LH: Joe Marler, Cian Healy, Wyn Jones
    Hooker: Ken Owens, Luke-Cowan Dickie, Ronan Kelleher
    TH: Tadhg Furlong, Zander Fagerson, Kyle Sinkler
    Lock: Alun Wyn Jones (Tour Captain), James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Maro Itoje, Jonny Gray
    BR: Justin Tipuric, Hamish Watson, Tom Curry, Talupe Faletau, Cj Stander, Peter O’Mahony, Sam Simmonds
    SH: Connor Murray, Gareth Davies, Ali Price
    FH: Dan Biggar, Jonny Sexton, Finn Russell
    Centre: Robbie Henshaw, Jonathan Davies, Henry Slade, Sam Johnson, George North
    Back-Three: Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Duhan Van Der Merwe, Keith Earls, Josh Adams, Liam Williams

    1. Think you’re being optimistic, Neil. Do you really think Gatland is going to leave behind the likes of Ben Youngs, Jamie George or the England Captain, Owen Farrell?
      That being said, I hope he does and you are right. I like the look of the squad.

  4. I think taking both an out of form Farrell and an injury prone Sexton would be a big mistake. I would say one of these should be left at home and I’d probably be more inclined to omit Sexton in the hope that Farrell’s form picks up. Having said that, Farrell would be extremely fortunate if he is given the nod. Unfortunately Russell is going to have to do more than the others to prove he is worthy of a place. Biggar just needed one good game v France in the 6N to likely cement his place.

    Personally I’d love to see the Lions play a bit like Racing 92 with Finn pulling the strings but I doubt that fits with Gatland’s gameplan.

  5. Bin the “use it”law,at least in the 22.It favour’s the defending team.
    Whether it’s the effect of that.When we attack
    It’s hurried,rushed,and we never seem to have the time to pull a stunt.A Laidlaw trait would be handy.WAIT…until the defenders are stood still and onside.let them set.Take away their momentum.Then go.
    22 phases at the end of the French game.A lesson in ball retention maybe.But c’mon 22?22 phases (of white line fever?)before we(earned the right to go wide?used plan B?)tried something else.let the defence set if there’s nothing on.Give ourselves a moment to think ffs and it’ll come… quicker.
    “Use it”?..lose it..pronto.

    1. 22 phases , AFTER we had already spilled the ball once in the red an were handed the equivalent of a get out of jail free card. Imagine Bruce McDulin had kicked it out , we finish a distant 4th and on a 2/3 win loss ratio , less good year .

      1. Ifs, buts and maybes.
        Imagine if Watkins hadn’t managed to tap tackle DVDM in the closing seconds. Imagine if Sexton had missed that last kick.
        We finish top and, though not a GS, win our first 6N ever. A brilliant year.

  6. Sexton?Gatland’s the chief mump and he doesn’t like competition so ‘sauce bottle shooder’s’stays.

  7. Reportedly confirmed as Townsend (attack), Farrell (defence), Jenkins (kicking), Borthwick (forwards) and Rowntree (scrum), alongside Gatland.

    1. Really dislike row tree.

      Most of our hopefuls are forwards I reckon, hope that Borthwick and Rowntree have done their homework on the Scottish boys.

      With toonie in selection meeting so think we should come out with 5/6 tourists.

      1. Apparently Times article today says Farrell, Rowntree and Borthwick are set to turn down Gatland. Toonie will be attack coach.

        Coaching team supposed to be announced mid-next week. Presumably they’d sounded these candidates out before and have lined up alternatives.

        Probably good for us Borthwick and Rowntree aren’t there as they’d be bound to favour premiership form and reputation over limited knowledge of our boys. Could be significant too that Irish head coach won’t be in selection meetings. But it’s a bit of a head scratcher who’ll be invited instead.

      2. Isn’t that Ironic. Townsend is attack coach and we have criticised him all season for playing a defensive 13. I am not surprised no-one wants to take this tour to SA.

  8. Lot of chat on Twitter of Eddie Jones trying to poach Ewan Ashman from Scotland. He’s obviously been in our age grade and senior squads but yet to be capped. He’s very highly rated and recently has got game time with Sale.

    It would be a bit of a disaster if we lost him. I looked for a bit of background online and found an article from Aidrie Today in feb 2021 about rugby canada watching his progress with interest.

    In the article he says he’s a proud Scot and Canadian (where he was born) and he prefers not to talk about his English heritage! He has supported Scotland since a young boy. I hope this means Eddie’s efforts are not well received by Ashman. We’ll find out soon I guess.

  9. 4 years ago when Scotland pumped Ireland and wales in the 6N and ended up at their highest position of 5th in the world rankings Scotland still were only represented with 2 players on the lions tour – Tommy Seymour and Hogg.
    Gatland and the other coaches at the time explained that this was because although Scotland proved they could perform at home they had failed to show that they could travel.
    Well this year we have proved , in beating England and France on the road that we have players that can travel.
    I’m betting that we will still be under represented and the coaches will churn out a whole new raft of excuses.
    And again I’m saying boycott the lions. The SRU should organise a tour to NZ , exposing our entire squad to high pressure rugby end of.

    1. To be fair, we got absolutely crushed by england that year, in a way that nobody has been able to beat us for a couple of years now. We haven’t lost by more than a score in the past two six nations, which isn’t true of anybody else.

  10. Don’t you need to wait to see what happens before we accuse Gatland of favoritism. Neil’s selection is optimistic IMO.

    I do not see Johnson or Ali Price as Lions, Gatland will take Ben Youngs. That needs no further explanation.

    Zander and Johnny Gray were not available for the latter tests. We have been banging on in here about picking on form players. That might be shooting ourselves on the foot, this pair were unfortunate. I can see Zander is on fire and a Lions tour would be the making of Gray but they were absent from some big games.

    But lets get really honest here , even we disagree on Toonies selection most weeks and now ,we expect Gatland to take them . Why would he compromise Toonie.

    We have the likes of Huw Jones and Sam Skinner on the bench, drop him from the bench , bring in Alex Craig , omit Richie Gray and play Gilchrist. Ollie Kebble has been our best Loose Head this season but we have been loyal to Sutherland who looks to me like he has had an injury all season.

    If I were Gatland , I would be confused . Can anyone tell me the names of our players who have started every game this season ? About 4 at the most I think.

    It is not over yet, but if it is , we should be honest.

  11. Don’t know how many people saw Sale (with a team full of 2nd and 3rd string Boks except for the Brilliant Faf. DK.) absolutely take Scarlets to the cleaners last week in the EC. All their Welsh internationals were poor partic KO. Packing a team full of Welsh players would absolutely gold plate a 3-0 drubbing to SA.
    I really hope Gatland considers the unique requirements of this tour partic the fact 2 of the tests are on the high V with its unique stresses on fitness and fast rock hard pitches.
    For that reason alone Sexton would be a terrible choice

  12. Scots who’ll go:-
    Think Hogg, Harris (yes, Harris), Watson nailed on.
    Think Russell is a likely as is VdM.
    I think it’s possible Ali Price will go. Who’s been better at scrum half from the home nations, I can’t think?
    I think Zander Fagerson might go. Tagdh Furlong will be 1st choice but I think Gatland might stock the larder with front rowers for a tour to SA and Fagerson can’t be far down the pecking order. He’s better than the Welsh tight head and I think he might take 3 so Fagerson and Sinckler.

    It’s also possible Sutherland and one of our hookers will get a look in. Ken Owens and one of Kilcoyne or Healey are nailed on but other than that 1 & 2 don’t look overly strong.

    Maitland is always in with a chance. He or Keith Earls are the kind of senior ‘Mr Competents’ Gatland might want with an eye on the midweek team.

    I personally think Cam Redpath has a chance of being the tour bolter although there’s a lot of talk about Simmonds.

    Think we’ll get between 5-7 in the initial selection and maybe a few more as injury replacements.

  13. I see that Sexton failed head assessment AGAIN and was sub’d today. This guy is going to have serious issues later on in life and will not survive a SA tour

    1. Simmonds wont make it on today’s performance for Exeter..also Hogg failed to impress allowing Larmour score two tries.

      1. Agreed Hogg was anonymous in attack today and all at sea as last line defending. Dunno what’s happened as he was phenomenal all 6 nations.

      2. I did laugh at Rob Baxter claiming “Its not ideal that the Scotland lads are heading up north to play every other weekend”. So sorry for disturbing Exeter’s league push with some trivial Six nations games Rob.

  14. Hogg was terrible, can’t tackle a fish supper. Liam Williamson and Keegan are obviously better all-round players but does Hogg’s line breaks and kicking for touch make him a Lions test team contender?

    1. Don’t know why Scottish fans so quick to bag Hogg. He was awesome all championship and has nothing else to prove. He’s a world class player even if he had an off day yesterday. Williams was ok in the 6N and Keenan looks good but is nowhere near the player Hogg is yet. Not only is Hogg one of the best counter attacking fullbacks in the world, his tactical kicking is a huge weapon and he is an auxiliary play maker. Hogg is nailed on to tour and is probably going to start unless Murray injures him out of the tour again. He’ll be deadly on hard grounds and his kicking game even better at altitude.

      1. He always keeps out of the way of traffic at a time like this. Last thing he needs is an injury. I think some scottish fans are just more naïve than others though I will say he has had a better 6N . His tacking is poor in fact he is brilliant at being in the wrong place at the right time. There is nothing wrong with you having a different opinion to me, takes all sorts .

  15. All of the guy’s playing these days won’t know what it’s like to play in baggy jerseys.I would bet that concussion’s would be reduced if they did…Need I explain?

    1. Yes please! I’m too young to know how baggy shirts affects playing style although I assume it makes players easier to drag down so less head collisions?

  16. It strikes me as being very odd if as reported, Farrell snr, Borthwick and Rowntree have all made themselves unavailable to Gatland. I’d be curious to know the reason behind it if this is true. Some papers are reporting that Toonie as attack coach is a done deal. You’d like to think he’ll be pushing for Finn’s inclusion which might mean that HIA specialist Sexton misses out as I can’t see Farrell Jnr and Biggar being omitted.

  17. Latest is that Gatland will be joined by Townshend and Tandy, alongside Robin McBryde and Neil Jenkins. So coaching ticket is 3 Welsh and 2 Scottish.

    Presumably that’ll be good for Scottish players in marginal calls, should get Russell on the plane. The Harris for Lions joke might actually come true, after Paris he certainly deserves the recognition from Scottish fans.

    1. Is the Russell call presumption or assumption? Are your sure Townsend’s appointment is an endorsement for Russell ? (As I recall they do not always see eye to eye).

      1. GT might recall is own Lions time as a player.
        Not in favour as Scotland 10 at the time but trusted with steering the Lions to a series win in ’97.
        Coach was also his club coach at the time so that helped.
        The ability to identify players who would thrive in rarified company, and equally those labouring in a underperforming side has been a blind spot for Gatland in disqualifying many of our candidates (same goes for the likes of Paterson and Redpath in the past)
        The opposite is true for some distinctly average Lions who benefited from being part successful Eng/Ire/Wal teams

      2. Townshend gave an interview to rugby Union weekly podcast on BBC a few weeks ago where he basically put forward a case for Russell’s inclusion and said he’s thrive on a Lions tour. He’s been very outspoken about Scottish players deserving to be selected. So yeah, good for Russell good for Scottish players.

        Ultimately gatland picks the squad but no doubt Townshend will be a big plus for us.

  18. We’ve seen on previous Lions tours that Gatland has given the nod to plenty of Welsh players in the marginal calls because he trusts them but it also allowed him to return to a harmonious Welsh dressing room after the Lions tour. I would think the same would apply to Townsend as attack coach and Finn. The repaired relationship might be under strain again if Finn didn’t make the cut. Surely Toonie would have a big say in how he wants to attack and which backs are best equipped to deliver. I can Toonie wanting a Finn / Farrell axis at 10/12 with North or Henshaw at 13 and Biggar off the bench.

    Tandy’s rumoured appointment is brilliant news for our players. I can see Harris and some of our forwards winning more marginal calls given he has already worked with them and will only have limited time to work on defence in SA.

    1. Given the coaching replacements are from the Welsh and Scottish set ups it might also be significant who’s missing as much as who’s included – no Irish voice in selection process and no English voice in selection process (both Borthwick and Rowntree are currently or previously heavily involved in English or premiership set ups and it was already trailed how Gatland had snubbed offer of Mitchell and Proudfoot).

      If that plays out in selections it could mean very big Welsh contingent and Scotland pick up some selections at expense of English and Irish players. If Scotland get 5/6 tourists I think we’ll have done well.

      Hogg, Russell, Watson, Fagerson, Sutherland (injury permitting), DVDM are strongest candidates for me.

      Ritchie, Gray, Turner, Price, Harris are possible but not likely.

      Big question will be how much Gatland leans on reputation and prior relationships, particularly of English Saracens. He’s known to be ruthless but there isn’t much scope for selection risks as it is a short tour and a small party.

      1. Didn’t realise McBryde is forwards coach at Leinster.

        So no Englishmen in coaching panel at all. 5th places finish and Sarries in the championship…the gnashing of teeth will be absolutely hilarious if England ends up with fewer tourists than us despite being RWC finalists 18 months ago.

        On the one hand Gatland will trust lots of English players from previous tours and many do have pedigree – on the other, it’s hard to name a long list of players who are nailed on tourists.

        LCD, Sinkler, Itoje, Farrel, Curry, Watson are probably assured their places. Everyone else has a fight on their hands to get on the plane IMO.

  19. I do hope if Townsend and Tandy are involved that they dont give away all our secrets. Last thing we need for the national team is the other 6 nations being educated on the detail behind our attack and defensive patterns. However, I think it will be good for our coaches and players to go and learn all they can.

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