Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


South Africa v British and Irish Lions, Third Test 2021: Match Preview

Finn Russell training with the Lions
2021 British & Irish Lions Tour To South Africa British & Irish Lions Squad Training, Jersey, United Kingdom 22/6/2021 Finn Russell Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

KO 5.00pm at Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Saturday 7th August 2021

Live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Action

It all comes down to this. After the phony war in the press; the pseudo Test match against South Africa ‘A’; isolation; injuries; selection battles; social media witch hunts – here we are with 80 minutes to decide the series between the Springboks and the Lions. Ultimately, it’s all on the 46 players selected for Saturday’s match. Who can get the job done?

Tale of the tape

58   Tries   65
   Average weight   95kg
228   Total caps   342
29.6   Average age   28.9

933kg   Pack weight   917kg
   Tries   36
362   Total caps  535
29.5   Average age   30.0

204   Total caps   397
   Tries   52
28.8   Average age   28.7

Changes to the starting XVs from the Second Test

South Africa:

  • 9. Reinach for de Klerk
  • 5/7. de Jager for du Toit (with Mostert moving from 5 to 7)


  • 15. Williams for Hogg
  • 14. Adams for Watson
  • 12/13. Aki for Harris (with Henshaw moving from 12 to 13)
  • 9. Price for Murray
  • 1. Jones for Vunipola
  • 2. Owens for Cowan-Dickie

15 Willie le Roux
14 Cheslin Kolbe
13 Lukhanyo Am
12 Damian de Allende
11 Makazole Mapimpi
10 Handre Pollard
Cobus Reinach

ADV Lions
ADV Springboks
ADV Springboks
ADV Springboks
ADV Springboks
ADV Lions

15 Liam Williams
14 Josh Adams
13 Robbie Henshaw
12 Bundee Aki
11 Duhan van der Merwe
10 Dan Biggar
Ali Price

Steven Kitshoff
Bongi Mbonambi
Frans Malherbe
Eben Etzebeth
Lood de Jager
Siya Kolisi (c)
Franco Mostert
Jasper Wiese

ADV Springboks
ADV Lions
ADV Springboks
ADV Lions
ADV Springboks
ADV Lions

Wyn Jones
Ken Owens
Tadhg Furlong
Alun Wyn Jones (c)
Maro Itoje
Tom Curry
Courtney Lawes
Jack Conan

16 Malcolm Marx
17 Trevor Nyakane
18 Vincent Koch
19 Marco van Staden
20 Kwagga Smith
21 Herschel Jantjies
22 Morne Steyn
23 Damian Willemse

ADV Springboks
ADV Springboks
ADV Lions
ADV Lions
ADV Lions
ADV Lions
ADV Springboks

16 Luke Cowan-Dickie
17 Mako Vunipola
18 Kyle Sinckler
19 Adam Beard
20 Sam Simmonds
21 Conor Murray
22 Finn Russell
23 Elliot Daly

Numbers from the Second Test

– The Lions only missed 5 tackles in the Test match. That didn’t help them stop South Africa progressing up the pitch though with the Springboks getting into position via penalties, contestable kicks and mauling dominance that only increased as the game went on.

– The Lions made 85 passes last Saturday. Scotland average 163 passes per game under Gregor Townsend. The only time the dark blues have made fewer than 85 passes in a match was 81 into the teeth of a gale and torrential rain against England at Murrayfield in 2020.

– The Springboks’ scrum halves have been responsible for 47% of their sides’ kicks in the first two Tests. There are big boots to fill for Cobus Reinach who is more renowned for his try-scoring exploits and work with ball in hand.

– Reducing their turnover count from 14 in the First Test to just 6 in the Second Test helped South Africa take control of the game. In particular, the Lions got very little change at the breakdown where the home side’s recycling efficiency meant short gains (their tight 5 made just 9 metres from 25 carries) but a regular supply of quick ball with very little chance of possession being conceded.

Scot Watch

– Duhan van der Merwe’s 7 starts are the equal most by a Scot on a Lions’ tour during the professional era alongside Tom Smith and Rob Wainwright (both South Africa, 1997 – a 13-game tour).

– Duhan and Ali Price will join Tom Smith (1997 and 2001) as the only Scots to play in all 3 matches of a Lions’ Test series in the pro era.

–  If Finn Russell makes it onto the pitch then he will be the 7th Scot to play in this summer’s three Tests against the Springboks. That will be the most Scottish players to feature in a Lions’ series since 1924 when 9 Scots played against South Africa (a group who formed the core of the team that did the Grand Slam in 1925).

– Finn is in line to become the first Scot to feature in a Lions’ Test series at stand off since Gregor Townsend against South Africa, 28 June 1997 – a gap of 24 years.


– Between the end of the Six Nations and kick-off in the Third Test (4½ months), Liam Williams has played 248 minutes of rugby.

– Five of the South African pack and six members of their backline started the RWC final against England.

– Assuming he makes it off the bench (and the Lions have used every one of their replacements so far on tour) then Elliot Daly will be the only man to have played in all 8 of the Lions’ games in South Africa.

– Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw have started together in the centres on 27 previous occasions – 14 for Connacht, 12 for Ireland and 1 for the Lions (against Japan).

– There is a 14-year age gap between the two outside backs on the South African bench. Damian Willemse was just 6 years old when Morne Steyn made his Super Rugby debut for the Bulls.


Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)
Assistant Referee 1: Ben O’Keeffe (NZR)
Assistant Referee 2: Nic Berry (RA)
TMO: Marius Jonker (SARU)

The officials in this series have made mistakes and missed things. The same is true of any rugby match. I would be willing to bet that their error rate has been no worse than the players – possibly even lower. Contrary to social media crusades by some deluded individuals, the players do not have to deal with officials who are trying to cheat them. On the other hand, the referee and his team are coping with 46 players, the vast majority of whom will, at best, push the boundaries of the laws to their absolute limits but often just downright cheat on the off chance they get away with it.

There have been some mediocre and even downright bad performances on the pitch in the first two games. The refs’ have not been among them.

138 Responses

  1. Great piece again and thank you. Not certain i agree adv. lions with Mostert and Lawes though.

    I know we may wish a slight tweak to Biggar. But honestly SA will not be wanting anything happening to Pollard!

    Hoping for solid performances from Ali and DVM, Also a worldie from Finn

  2. Kevin, your last couple of paragraphs brought a tear to my eye. Rugby values at the heart of what is the pinnacle of rugby matches.
    In any game – from the minis through junior rugby and professional games to test matches – the referee will make mistakes, but always less than either team makes. Obviously it is heartbreaking for fans when a key decision goes against their team, but 99% of the time it is doesn’t affect the result and in the 1% it does, there were probably a dozen decisions/errors by players which would also affect the result.
    The players give respect to the man in the middle (or should do) so we should too.
    Thank you for pointing this out.

    1. If there was a gig on at the colosseum and citizens stayed home and chilled, the emporer would be bit lost.Right…? Well maybe.
      A crowd would have saved that game and the officials.

    1. Is that good ? He has been around in the dreary and exciting days, is it time for a whole new management team ! No idea I am a Warriors Fan, I do not know the inside track.

  3. A hell of a lot of faces in the media setting the tone of winning isn’t going to be enough already from the podcasts I am listening to,

    For a lot of the media in Ireland this coaching team failing is a dream as they have a clear historic dislike of Gatland, and for reasons that are clear don’t like Townsend.

    BBC Rugby Union weekly in Care and Ashton sounded like a pair of petulant children talking about this tour,

    The irony in this wish for free flowing Rugby is it is faces like Ashton, Quinlan (Munster) and Off The Ball *boak* who are constant cheerleaders or played for sides like…. Saracens, Munster, Leinster and the Irish national team…..

    1. I do not entirely understand this comment. Well I think, I understand the paragraphs one to three, I might be wrong, but get the gist, however I have not got a clue regarding the last paragraph ! Help ? Not sure what is meant.

      1. Broono, the irony being that those teams play boring, defence driven, stifling, opposition mistake based rugby to win( or pick and go), rather than free flowing running rugby. If you grind out a win it’s great, not so if you grind out a loss.

    2. Probably some jostling for next tour In Ireland they will look at o gara would be the dream ticket. Possibly with Farrell?

      1. I would say so Andyc, the push between now and the next Lions tour for the coaching team is going to be equally as toxic as a lot of the media/fan behaviour during this tour

        BBC Pod with ROG this week was like a job interview

        And @cannebebothered got where I was coming from re people in glass houses asking for Rugby with style etc and so so on

      2. For me the jury is still out on Andy Farrell who is largely unproven as a HC. He benefits greatly from the conveyor belt at Leinster and still has a lot to prove as HC in my view.

      3. Having lived in Ireland I fully agree with this. They can’t take critism of Ireland and if Irish are not chosen …. very immature attitude. In rugby parlence, they dislike Scotland and O’Gara especially hates us

      4. ROG is about the only one on that panel I can listen to , irritating as he is. Sir Ian must be there for the cash, he is a bit timid about stamping his foot on the others, though he did prefer Liam Williams to Hogg from the beginning . He has actually been the most right of them all , but is not the most forceful.

        God forbid Maggie Alphonsi on the coaching team. The tour party would be England and England reserves. It could be worse, it could be much worse is my point.

  4. The blame for this dire bore fest lies squarely at the door of the committee who selected Gatland in the first place. And I quote…..Lions managing director Ben Calveley says they have the “best coach in the world” signed up, and an early appointment allows time for Gatland to be closely involved in planning for the series against the Springboks. You would have to piss yourself laughing at the irony of that statement if what we have had to endure from a rugby spectacle perspective wasn’t so depressing.

    1. Townsend is in this debacle as well you know. If he makes it to head coach they will be playing superfast rugby , which we know, is a fantasy.

  5. Not excited about the match, has been such a shit tour. Terribly one-sided midweek matches and the tests have been dull as old boots. It’s comforting seeing L.Williams in for Hogg though, such an accomplished all round player and his hands are oh-so-big.

  6. Now, next debate coming up after today …. Who is player of the tour? Can’t wait to read all the ‘friendly’chat on this 🤣🤣🤣

    1. No doubts it will be a welshman. Any welshman, anything to keep the troglodytes happy.

  7. I think that as far as the ex-players are concerned they see Scotland as a team that constantly hovers around 4th in 6 nations

    People like o gara, warburton , Dawson have won slams, a World Cup etc. A lot is made of relationships and respect during tours. These guys have not been exposed to scots in the last few years and see us come up short a lot after being built up. Top level sportsmen are like that you have to convince them

    As far as posters and wales online etc are concerned they are not worth the effort

    Actually that thinking can be limiting. Gatland is fair to his word and saw enough in the scots this year

    I think the interesting thing will be how the non-Scottish lions players from this tour talk about the scots going forward. I believe with a new respect. On to 6n 2022. As Scotland players such as Richie Rambo etc along with these players should hopefully go well

    1. I can summarise, too many “Jocks” Liam Williams is a god, Finn Russell is a liability, The lack of attacking is Townsends fault. Hogg is a liability and Hamish Watson is a 5 foot 8 stone girl.

  8. We moan about welsh trols , they are dreadfull winners and even worse loosers. It is their national game, they are all exposed to it from childhood, unlike the average scot.

    For me the positive energy needs to go into working out how we can expose average scots to this game. It is a game seen to be for the middle classes in Scotland. If we really want to change that , we need to get away from the keyboard and decide how we influence a change in the exposure to the game and how we include the untapped potential.

    I suspect we probably want it to remain middle class ? I can understand that, much of the funding to support comes from the middle classes. It is a genuine conundrum.

    One other horrible thought, Wales commence play today with new rules, frankly , this is fast becoming rugby league. So if you don’t want that, you have another fight on your hands.

  9. Well I am ready for this, I do not understand the negativity. This is a hard team to beat. With Faf injured we have an opportunity. If smug faced Liam Williams holds the early barrage of high balls , the Sringbok will get frustrated and implode. He will be mouthy and drive them into retaliation as well. If the forwards retain in the ruck, we could be in for a different game. Avoid set piece , obviously. I can see it being tight, but very possible.

    Mind you , if we win it will be all about the changes and the Welsh influence, if we lose , it will be nothing to do with them , but who cares. But who cares.

  10. Here’s a narrative for the match:

    Gatland leaves Ali on for the 80, having replaced Adams with Murray because Adams has had an absolute shocker. The Boks are up by 6 and the Lions are all set to lose, so he throws Finn on at 70 mins.

    With 5 mins to play, the Boks are in possession and put up their 94th bomb of the game onto the Lions right just outside the 22. Liam Williams once again spills in the face of the onrushing Mapimpi. The ball goes backwards though, and Murray is able to get over it. Maro Itoje secures the ball as the Bok back row arrives.

    Itoje pops it to Ali who fizzes a pass to Finn in midfield.
    Finn steps Am with a cheeky wink and sprints to half way where he puts in a pinpoint kick pass to land in the breadbasket of Duhan, who’s screaming down the left wing at full tilt.
    Duhan runs over the top of Kolbe, cutting inside as he knows the conversion is vital.
    Kolisi, Willemse and Le Roux have all tracked back though and it takes all three of them to bring him down, agonisingly 2 metres short.
    But Duhan manages to stay upright long enough to pop it to Williams, who falls over to score under the posts.
    Finn converts and the Lions hold out for a famous win by a single point.

    Irish Twitter & media hail Gatlands use of Murray on the wing as a stroke of genius.
    The BBC confirm Itojes “miracle steel” as the match winning moment.
    Liam Williams is hailed everywhere as having saved the match, the tour, the Lions and rugby as a sport.

    Remember. You heard it here first

  11. Lions Test appearances this tour by Nation.

    Scotland = 13/69 = 18.8%
    Ireland = 15/69 = 21.7%
    Wales = 16/69 = 23.2%
    England = 25/69 = 36.2%

    1. What’s the % in terms of available players from each nation? As in, if all your players played in each game that would be 100%.

    2. Could somebody please rework the numbers to reflect minutes played , rather than a per capita in / out basis , I think the difference will be England up , not sure about the others other than we will be down

  12. First 5 minutes with Russell on already more entertaining than the last 2 matches combined.

    1. Getting over the gain line consistently. Played more rugby than in the previous 2 games already.
      Good forwards try, but never looked like getting in that position before Russell came on.

  13. Williams Blew a clear try for Adams after Russell identified the space.

    Curry stupidly messed up the driving maul with poor discipline (Again!) when on the Boks line after Russell put a perfect kick to touch.

    Can’t Help but feel if world class players such as Hamish Watson and Stuart Hogg were playing that the lions would be up another 10-14 points right now.

    1. Absolutely. And Adams dropped a catch under a high ball. I wonder if Williams and Adams will get the pelters that Hogg and VDM received. And Curry’s mistake just makes you question again how he’s been selected to start every test.

    2. Did you see Liam Williams face after the game ? Well bloodied, I have never seen Hogg put himself in harms way like Williams, so stop deluding yourself. What is more we are used to Hogg butchering it when he tries to do it all himself as well. Williams got up to deal with the high ball. Let’s be fair !

    1. He’s really not done much again – distinct lack of competing at the breakdown from the lions, can’t help but feel Mish would be doing better.

    1. Knock on by green for me, but 50/50 call so fair enough.
      Kolbe is a great finisher and Williams was coming across so a difficult tackle. LCD should have got him though.

    2. Rob : At least LW was in position to botch a tackle. You cannot be held accountable for missing , if you are hiding out of harm’s way.

      1. Don’t know if you are defending LW or attacking Hogg, either way getting your face in the way of a boot or knee doesn’t make you a good rugby player.
        Maybe you try to be sensible and don’t put your face in “harms way”

      1. Rob,

        I was being sarcastic. Williams was as poor under the high ball as he was in every other department today.

  14. key moment was probably not setting up Adams for the walk-in try, but nevertheless should have been taking the 3 points on offer when on top. So we can blame the welsh!

    1. Agreed, should have taken the kick at goal when penalty was near posts towards end of the game

  15. Well, that’s a bit gutting. Not sure about some of those scrum penalties but we obviously got on the wrong side of the ref in the second half.

    Price was very good again. Not sure what Murray added, his box-kicking speciality was way too long and his distribution is poor.

    Russell was outstanding. Really didn’t put a foot wrong and might even shake off the maverick tag now. Even Greenwood had to admit it!

    VDM was the best of the back 3. Made some decent breaks, defended well and took a couple of high balls. Adams was anonymous and Williams was fairly poor.

    Curry was poor, can’t justify not dropping him after last week.

    Henshaw needs to learn to pass sometimes.

    Scotland coming out of this tour with a lot of positives. Have shown all but the most rabid Wales Online rabble that we were not just token players. Hopefully have learned a few things to bring to the whole squad.

    1. I’m not sure any Lions player managed not to put a foot wrong. Both Finn and Price knocked on under high balls with not too much pressure. Definitely weren’t the worst Lions on the pitch but we need to accept they made mistakes as well.

      1. Finn was disrupted by his own blocker. And more than made up for it. Unless you’re a blind Welshman.

  16. Rugby in South Africa is about as much of a sport as those numpties chasing a big cheese down a hill in Gloucester.Put it this way if everyone aspired to play like that rugby union would be doomed.
    Booooring yawn

  17. Russell played well. I think all players made errors at times whatever the nationality. At least tomorrow the focus won’t be on the scots. All three played well. On talk sport both Haskell and Kay, I think the best commentator in the game personally, gave Russell MOM. Gotta be fair Greenwood also a fan

  18. I’m sure BOD will need to watch the game again to see if Russell made any impact.
    But when even player ratings from RugbyPass 8.5 and Wales online 8 admit that he was head and shoulders above every other Lion the debate is already over.

    Well Played Finn

    I wonder if even that tool Matt Williams will be able to be a little magnanimous on Russell. The man who said “Russell will get selected because it’s political but he won’t get anywhere near the test side.” gonna remind him of that next time he’s on OTB.

  19. Gatland is such a bitter ungrateful git highlighting Russell’s errors in the post match presser with no mention of Curry and Williams’ butchered tries or Russell’s perfect record from the tee. Russell saved Gatland’s arse and made a game of it and almost masterminded a series win if his team mates didn’t let the side down with brain farts.

  20. Absolute masterclass from Finn.Basically Liam Williams has prevented him from being elevated to the Pantheon of great fly halves alongside Barry John,Johnny Wilkinson,Phil Bennett and Dan Carter.

  21. Wales on line player ratings award Finn an 8 which is the highest points offered and he alone gets it. A few 7’s and mainly 5 and 6. Not particularly welsh biased IMO.

  22. Thought the test series was ruined by the Bok negativity.
    I hope the Lions continues.

    Considering the disparate playing styles of the countries and off field rivalries it’s very difficult to forge a team in a month from the players of the British Isles.

    Bar 1 butchered 2 on 1 and brainfart at a maul they would have won it.

  23. Thoughts on this lions tour.

    Lets postpone next time fans can not attend.
    Lets get rid of the phrase ‘Credit in the bank’
    No more Greenwood in commentary from now on.
    No Nigel Owens if all it’s going to be is a focus on the refereeing, the referee is not meant to be seen.

    The lions should be forced to play an attacking brand of rugby from now on, how many young kids are going to watch that series and be inspired?

    Negative tactics, boring games, the lions to me should be about entertainment not just winning.

    The warm-up games should be full strength from the pro sides all the way up to the test matches, there was no challenge at all.

    Positives where that the group seemed to get along well, the British and Irish lions media itself was decent (not the sky stuff).

    A good bit of progress from the Scottish contingent but if we are being honest this still not enough representation for the test series.

    Scotland = 13/69 = 18.8%
    Ireland = 15/69 = 21.7%
    Wales = 16/69 = 23.2%
    England = 25/69 = 36.2% *Daly did not make the field in last test.

    We are still bottom on the pecking order unfortunately although i think Watson, Hogg and Russell if fit should have been involved in all games

    1. The one good thing to (hopefully) come out of this series loss is the non continuation of Gatland as HC.
      I was in disbelief watching his post match interview where he claimed ‘we tried to play rugby’ and yet gave Finn little credit and chose to highlight his (very few) errors. How can Gatland take credit for trying to play rugby when his preferred half backs were Murray and Biggar (which pretty much blunted the Lions attack). He just couldn’t wait to bring Murray back for the second test even though Price did well in the first test.
      He also chose to praise Marcus Smith calling him an absolute superstar. Looked to me like me was auditioning to replace Eddie Jones or was trying to take credit for being the one who put Smith on the big stage. Good riddance to yesterday’s man – a bitter old school coach who is living off past glories and now has a 33% series win rate as Lions HC. Time for fresh blood Lions board.

    2. I’ve often thought about so called Lions ethos. There is an incredible amount of pressure put on winning a Lions tour at all costs, why? Obviously everyone wants to win and should make every effort to do so but they are effectively friendlies, nothing is at stake. My impression of the Lions way back in the day was it was essentially a jolly, a lads holiday with some rugby tacked on. Maybe it still is like that behind closed doors? I’ve thought about the Lions being more like the Babas where they go out and throw caution to the wind, try crazy stuff and if you win superb, if you don’t oh well we had a good laugh. Maybe that’s just longing for a simpler time where the game was amateur but the whole lions thing is essentially a hangover from that time.

      1. They are not friendlies and never have been. They are test series and even in amateur era they were highly competitive.

        Barbarians is totally different in professional era, essentially exhibition rugby.

      2. 1.8T : No one of any age will agree with you, perhaps you need to look at some of those old videos and decide how friendly the amateur games were . 1971 Scottish Prop Carmichael breaks his cheek bones etc. I was disappointed to read this comment TBH. Scotland has a long history of Lions representation and even captains of the lions. I cannot believe some of the comments I read in here about the great players we have today. We have some very talented players in this current crop, nothing in the last 20 years. You may have a point about the sustainability. where the loyalty should lie in the professional era.

  24. There are times when a coach has his hand forced by an injury. It happened to Telfer in ‘99 when Hodge got injured against Wales – Toonie was brought in and the rest was history.

    This was one of those time, and Finn was majestic – hopefully closing the maverick chapter in pundits eyes.

    The game was lost when the Lions were in their most dominant period, with Sanjay butchering a two on one and Curry having one of his many brain farts.

    The series was lost when Gatland didn’t realise that his own gameplan wasn’t working in game one, and that key players (Curry and Farrell) were seriously off form and others (Biggar) were carrying injuries.

    Game one was won through luck and the Boks being off form. That’s not hindsight, it was obvious to most that we rode our luck.

    The fact that the only bench option left unused yesterday was Daly says it all – Watson would’ve been a better choice if not Hoggy.

    Faith in Lions have been restored, but it’s shown how one-eyed and ignorant the mainstream rugby are.

    My only hope now is that the Scots contingent (and Toonie) have learnt enough to kick on next 6N.

  25. Gatland should not have been allowed to have a third tour, the lions should not be a personal property of one person, his record is now a 33% success rate, hardly a good return. The fact that he’s refused to rule out a fourth tour is simply astounding. This awful tour begins and ends with Gatland, this dross had his stamp all over it.

  26. A game that the Lions could have one if they were more clinical, and with hindsight the refusal to take the points, particularly with Russell in fine kicking form was a mistake.

    Rugby finally broke out when Finn came on – what a transformation! Biggar looked like he was going to serve up the same rubbish as the previous test and within a couple of minutes Finn made more passes than Biggar did in the whole of the second test. There’s universal praise for Russell from the pundits and all of the player ratings have him with the top or equal top rating, even if you can sense gritted teeth in some of them – “one of his good days” says the Guardian. Funny how many pundits didn’t have Finn in their 15 or even 23 for the test teams.

    I thought Price had a good game, shame about the knock on, but there were plenty of Lions players making mistakes. DVDM was solid too, and it’s just a pity that he didn’t get more ball to work with.

    The much vaunted Williams was no great shakes after all, and what was he thinking of when he didn’t pass to Adams?

    It was great to get 5 Scots starting the tests, and 7 capped altogether. Let’s hope they can carry something forward from the experience.

    1. And the bit going between the teeth of young Zander , to drive him on and give some maturity to what is just a laddie in propping terms – a learning opportunity that hopefully he will make the most of. Lions coming home with tales of how the itoje’s of the world are normal blokes and how we can beat them.
      Starting to look forward to November !

    2. It’s amazing after Hogg’s poor showing in the second test that many were hailing Liam Williams as the high ball messiah. Yesterday shows the grass isn’t always greener.

  27. observations :The lions leaked the lead and lost in the second half. We should have been the fitter side. Poor leadership/captaincy , they should have taken points, this is test match rugby, a ‘cup final’.

    Scrum collapses and feeding the ball to the second row, why did Price not do the same, when the Bok were not penalised ! You can not drive and hook at the same time. We went down trying to get the ball back from the channel.

    First half : why did they take a scrum in place of the free kick, that led to another scrum collapse , 4 minutes lost at a time we had momentum and they were stunned. (bad captaincy)

    Must mentions: Finn brought the match alive and raised his profile globally by that performance.

  28. Gatland and Curry are muppets.

    Russell was masterful again. He’s John Rutherford, Craig Chalmers and Dan Carter rolled in to one. And yesterday he had his Dan Parks goal kicking boots on, quality.

    1. Shame he hasn’t got the trophies his talent deserves. I truly hope he can win a 6N before he retires, and a HC/Top 14 trophy wouldn’t go amiss either.

      1. Time to demand kicking duties back at club level, tricky but surely has the influence. Next four years will shape his legacy.

  29. My real feeling after this lions tour is one of satisfaction. I really don’t care that the lions lost. All I care is that the Scottish lads have totally vindicated their selection. Maybe that’s not very “lionsy” but I really don’t care the media reaction from others countries of the Scottish lads has been disgraceful in my opinion.

    Ali Price is best 9 in B&I
    Finn Russell is best 10

    Hogg and Duhan are at least as good if not better than Watson, Williams or Adams. LRZ was not ready for this tour.

    H. Watson should’ve had more test exposure. Lions paid the price with Curry’s penalties.

    Harris showed he’s as good as any.

    Suz will be a better player for the experience and I think Z fag will be a bit disappointed, he’s better than he’s shown. Got harshly penalised early and it seemed to knock his confidence.

    But overall Scotland will be much better for this tour and that’s all I care about.

    1. Second all that. I think Zander was a bit unlucky being paired with Mako in the warm up games, he was mince, upped his game a bit for the tests so fair play to him for that but Zander never really got a fair crack IMO. Sutherland was the big disappointment for me, was he still carrying a wee injury perhaps, recall him being touch and go for going for a while? The experience will have done him good.

      All the others gave good accounts of themselves. Hogg is struggling a bit for form, as shown by his dropping by Exeter too but even so an off form Hoggy has now been proven to be better than Liam Williams, I tried to put my hatred for that man aside for the last few weeks and wasn’t against him getting a game but the proofs in the pudding, he was crap.

      It’s a case of what might have been for Russell, shame he didn’t get more test time.

      The whole tactics vs selection has been baffling. It’s never been entirely clear what the lions were trying to do, match the boks or run rings round them. The selections were always a half baked compromise. Why pick Ali Price, famed for his speed and then put donkeys like Biggar and Farrell outside him who can’t/won’t pass. Why pick wrecking ball wingers who are dubious under high ball but then never pass to them, all that does is give a weakness under high ball but you are never taking advantage of the strength they do have.

    2. Agree this tour should give the national side a real boost for the AIs, next 6N and beyond.
      Eight tourists and seven of them capped at least once.
      Finn was hugely impressive yesterday and could have had an even greater impact if the Lions pack hadn’t hit a flat spot in the last ten of the first half and first twenty of the second half.
      I do wonder how this series might have ended up if Russell hadn’t picked up that pesky injury early in the tour and had featured in all three Tests. We’ll never know, but his 65 minutes yesterday seems to have quietened the anti-Scots, anti-Russell troll army (which includes a few journalists in the ranks).
      Very proud of our eight participants in this tour, and feeling really sorry for them that they played in a lost series.

      1. Understand what you are saying but my concern for Scotland is the prop situation. Both ZF and RS were poor and ZF needs to concentrate on learning his trade and not get involved in handbag stuff all the time. He needs to smarten up

      2. Good point, Rob.
        Sutherland hasn’t had a great tour which is a shame as he had a very good 6N. Hopefully he’ll bounce back.
        Zander had little chance to shine as second string to one of the world best THs in Furlong. Is he really ‘Zandbags’ any more? I thought he’d calmed it down a bit in recent seasons.

      3. He may not have shone enough to get a test spot and been overtaken by a late call up, but he’s still incredibly young for an international prop. He will have learned a huge amount and I’d still back him to tour again in four years.

  30. I thought Russell had a good game, not his best in open play but kicked superbly. That he shone so brightly says a lot about the game. If they bother to take part, SA are gonna be third in the rugby championship, so long as Aussies and Kiwis aren’t stupid like the lions were.

    1. Boks will make absolute mincemeat of Australia. Wouldn’t bet on ABs beating them twice either.

      Would be a good year for Argentina to take a step forward as we know they can stand up to the rough stuff and play great attacking rugby, but tend to blow very hot and cold. I think it will be a closer RC than usual.

  31. Scotland welcome the Boks in the Autumn internationals so it’ll be interesting to see how a Gatland-less set up takes them on. If our pack can compete then I’d like to think a backline of Price – Russell – Redpath – Harris – VDM – Hogg – Graham (our Kolbe) can do some damage.

    1. Fairly sure Redpath will be out for rest of year with his injury and rehab and it’ll be a race against time for him to be fit for 6N.

      1. Also, if Stafford McDowell has got over his injury issues it could be an opportunity for him to push himself to the front of the queue.

        With four AI games I hope we see more of Jones.

      2. I would like to know the inside story on Jones at Glasgow, strange such a talent was overlooked or whatever. It has been great to see our players on tour, they all did well, a great learning experience and just what we need as a step to excellence. It is all good, I just want to move on now. Price and VDM have managed to get three test caps, we have players in all the leagues in the Hemisphere, it is all good.

  32. I almost feel sorry for Liam Williams. Almost. The trolls who were lauding his selection as the second coming of the messiah a few days ago on WOL are now ripping the poor boy apart.

    1. But Gatland didn’t criticise LW’s errors but still picked on Finn’s errors. Essentially, I would say probably didn’t want to select as many Scots as he did but …..

  33. Gatland is an awful coach imo. As one dimensional as a coach could be. His selections were poor and nowhere near represented the best players in UK and Ire. Even some of the most talented players in the squad he did select were not given enough game time or time at all.
    Had it not been for Biggar getting injured we would have to have endured another 2nd test demolition…Russell basically changed the whole nature of the lions play from the moment he stepped on the field…by far and away the best 10 in the NH. If Williams and Curry had not completely butchered their chances we could have won handily. Even SA players saying they are glad Russell wasn’t selected….and that Gatland under utilized what players he had at his disposal. Gatland?..I wouldn’t want him anywhere near the Scottish game…not even super 6 level.

    Williams : much hype…poor
    Adams : much hype….poor
    Curry : much hype ….poor x 3matches..better than H Watson? lol
    AWJ: a great leader but now a carthorse
    Lawes: good 1st game.. much hype …meh 2nd & 3rd. Not even close to being a Ritchie or O’Mahoney
    Conan: what is he?…Irelands 3rd or 4th choice 8?…played all 3 matches.
    Biggar/Farrell : Very ordinary players…wouldnt get anywhere near a SH side.
    Sinkler: Is he better than Fagerson?…I dont think so.
    Aki: Harris is same or better.
    A Watson: played 2 …was dire.
    Daly: ..its just a joke he even made the squad…I wouldn’t select him for Scotland training camp. How he featured 3 times is beyond me.

    1. I find a lot of this very disingenuous

      The comments leveled at Daly and Connan are just a bit silly,

      Daly is an excellent player to be honest, he would quite easily start and be one of the first names for Scotland.

      The critique of Gatland goes hand in hand with why the likes of Daly, Watson and Hogg were poor, they were poor because they were so rarely involved.

      Conan is an outstanding player as well, an absolute lynchpin in a fantastic Leinster team,

      Don’t lower yourself to the levels of others just because they give Scotland players pelters, it’s not on the players.

      1. Eh dude….its just a rugby blog/ forum…its just an opinion and is as worthy or worthless as yours is.

      2. Dude, if you are going to post things like Farrell and Biggar are “ordinary players” on a Rugby Forum people are going to point out what you are saying is a bit daft.

        Cheers @Dug5ter, appreciated mate.

  34. Wales online forumistas and Owen slot. Spot the difference. Well apart from the startling fact that slot gets paid for the inane drivel and complete dross that he thinks passes for insight and journalism

    1. The test matches on this tour were not a spectacle to watch. The players and coaches have been paid! Would anyone actually spend money and follow the tour as a supporter? I am sure it would be a wonderful experience, but that would be about who you were with, the rugby was not attractive. I would have reservations about following the lions now !

  35. Team to Play the Boks in Autumn.

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

    Kyle Steyn – Adam Hastings – George Horne – Nick Haining – Sam Skinner – Oli Kebble – Fraser Brown – Pierre Schoeman

  36. Reading that Gatland is favourite to lead 2025 Lions tour and has been told it is his job to accept or not. FFS

    1. Come now FF i know deep down somewhere you know ‘Gats’ is good for the lions with his exciting brand or rugby

    2. If this is true then the likes of Ben Calveley and Jason Leonard need to be replaced or at least given an HIA. Gatland now has a 33% series win rate, serves up dire rugby and by the time 2025 comes around won’t have won a series in 12 years.

  37. My hands in the ruck: Hearing from all these non-Scottish pundits and fans that somehow what Finn Russell did in the game was a surprise or unexpected. Finn has been playing this way for about 3 years now (not counting the WC where it was all a bit of a disaster). It’s as if they think the Finn they say at Twickers in 2015 is still how he plays! I know I only ever take an interest in Racing 92 perhaps because Finn plays there, but he is the best 10 in the NH and has been so for a while now.

    Perhaps a broader hands in the ruck is the way in which the Scottish players have been derided; that 20 years in the wilderness has contributed massively to that.

    I do think it will benefit our players when they realize that they are better than many players from other countries. John Barclay has made that point too and I completely agree.

    1. Agreed Keith think it will help them massively. Some things could be a double-edged sword – for instance the props will now have more familiarity over each other’s tricks and there will be more awareness of Tandy’s defensive systems. But the confidence of 8 guys going back and saying “they’re no better than you are lads” can be spread and doesn’t have to be limited to those who went on tour.

      1. I am sure it was Roy Laidlaw who I read in an interview saying this was exactly what happened in the 1983 tour and was a major contributor to the 1984 slam.

        1983 we beat England at twickenham
        1983 8 Scots tour with lions and gain huge confidence and belief
        1984 Scotland win slam

        2021 we beat England at twickenham
        2021 8 Scots tour with lions and gain huge confidence and belief
        2022 grand slam?

      2. although like you say Rory, a double edged sword, how much will Marcus Smith have learned from Finn???

      3. Yes…I think in some ways our lads could benefit more. Its almost scottish psych to self doubt…these players should be coming back and thinking we are equal or better…
        Tandy probably now has a better understanding of the other systems too…although would be interesting to be a fly on the wall… just how much accurate info is shared.

  38. Absolutely Keith. What amazes me is the pundits who say these things about Russell don t seem to appreciate he is the linchpin for probably Europe’s pre-eminent, and almost certainly, richest club. It s not to far of a stretch to think they have the choice of global 10s, they chose Finn end of.

    As far as Scotland is concerned, forget the media spin, this tour will be nothing but a positive going forward

    1. I think they signed him as backup to Pat Lambie post Dan Carter, but Lambie got injured off the bat and Finn hasn’t looked back… He’s been there since 2017 so that’s at least one contract renewal where as you say they’ve their pick of the bunch and they kept him around as No1 choice…

      1. I don’t think this narrative is quite right is it? He played Carter off the park for Glasgow and they thought we’ll have that instead then – think they announced he was replacing Carter and gave him a 700k contract, with Lambie already suffering injuries. Don’t think ever any question it was his spot to lose from Day 1. Then he had that dream debut. Never looked back

  39. The problem was the coach. Gatland plays the brute Warrenball style. His focus on mistakes reinforces his desire for playing within yourself, safely. That can’t beat the boks. He pummelled an average Wallabies side. Laboured to beat a 14 man NZ team and scraped a draw due to an erroneous refereeing decision at the death of test 3 which should have been an easy 3 pts and a NZ test win. This will come out. Russell argued with him about the way he wanted him to play. Russell then went on and played his game. The joy of seeing his confidence flow through the team and especially the ball starved backs is unique in my experience. He energized the game. Williams gives the pass we score. Curry loses his bind and tackles where a try was certain. Penalty to the boks. Add in 2 penalties which should have been kicks and we would have had a huge first half lead. Forcing SA to play. Not to be. Lastly as many have commented, there is nothing Maveric in the pejorative sense about Russell. His coach notes that he is a very serious student of the game. He is revered in France. No French team plays a ten who is hit and miss. No player who would be so inconsistent would make the leet twice for European player of the year. Both in the last 3 years. An extraordinary player. Easily the best 10 in the NH. 7 Scots now Lions. Looking forward so much to the Autumn tests.

    1. Fully concur with your post. My concern is with your last statement. I am concerned about Scottish props and feel, rightly or wrongly, that Zander is not International class. I don’t see him improving and feel he was shown up on the Lions tour.

      1. He has done really well with Scotland. Matured as he has gone along. Done well enough to be picked for the lions but unlucky to be paired with Mako while mako was trying to get fit. We have a different view. I’m really positive about what the nectar five years and beyond will bring for Z – so much experience already. And also he’s had a taste of what it takes. The guy I’ve seen play is going to get so much better and he’s good already.

      2. I am not sure why you single out Zander, he was not quite ready on time, that is all. I feel Sutherland was off the boil. Reading these comments I expected him to be a true colossus. Clearly a popular guy representing a proud rugby community. Take nothing away from him, to get from a wheel chair to a lions starter was an amazing achievement, no argument, well done , but , something is not quite right with him either, once again, maybe just not quite ready. I hope he looks after himself first and foremost and hopefully this is just a temporary loss of form, which is inevitable from time to time.

        For me rugby is now about a squad not individual players. When we consider the age of Nel and Dell, just exiting the role, Zander could be around for many years yet, but we will need another who can slot in seamlessly.

      3. Id disagree… I think Z Fag improved alot this last year or so. To me.. he is progressing. Has some great attributes but has been let down in the past by immaturity.
        He could be the best Tight prop we have had for a long time…if he can reduce the penalty count and keep his cool …

        Sutherland… I reckon just wasn’t quite healthy enough for this tour.. seemed to be rushed back.

      4. Interestingly, in the Telegraph today, Will Greenwood has Zander in his Lions team for 2025. Redpath and Richie also starting, Hastings and Ashman on bench. Toonie as head coach!

    2. Same old problem will be number 8.

      And depth behind Zander. Can Nel be persuaded back?

      LH, Sutherland is maybe third choice!

      But, if the Lions showed anything it’s that the home nations aren’t overflowing with 8s.

  40. My ramblings, players
    Hogg, not a series/tactics for Hoggy – Biggar 3 passes in 1st 60mins in 2nd test shows why, 3rd test where even rugby high ball God (L Williams) struggled showed it was the superb kicking rather than bad catching.
    VDM – did as he says on the tin, big strong powerful, not a lot of opportunity to run but again tactics rather than anything else.
    Harris – Solid citizen, won’t let anyone down, needs flair around him.
    Price – did well, this should be a platform for him to kick on & dominate games, again tactics limited attacking potential
    Watson – head scratcher Curry preferred the whole series, would’ve thought in a must win game Watson could’ve been a real thorn in South African defensive tactics
    Sutherland – looked like he struggled (I’ll let more learned boys say more)
    Russell – Finn is Finn, likely to have ignored GTs kicking tactics & may well have not had any more game time if he was fit, a magician – 1st name on my team list

    1. I noticed when Mostart went to 6 , he was pushing really square Malherbe. That must have been a lot of weight going onto Sutherland’s left shoulder./ any loose head. I suspect that is why we saw Curry rather than Watson. Watson’s key strength is jackelling, you can’t do that if the ball is 30ft in the air. The game plan should have running Mostart around, exploiting his lack of mobility and fatiguing him for scrum time. Zander I think is fantastic, but inexperienced and will learn the most from the trip

      1. I’ve read this justification for the Lions strategy and it has to be said that we weren’t far from winning the series. I think the flaw is that kicking away the vast majority of our ball within 2/3 phases meant that we never really stressed or even tried to stress the Bok defence, we didn’t create many try-scoring chances, and we couldn’t force the Boks to chase the game. So whilst it’s a logical strategy I’m not sure it really worked well.

        I think the third test showed we had the tools to break down the Bok defence and should have tried to do so. It is a crying shame that our lack of execution meant we passed up multiple chances that should have led to tries and probably could have clinched the game in the first half. The question is whether that approach was dependent on Finn? If so it is a crushing condemnation of Biggar and Farrell, and really shows the need for another FH who could pass the ball. Personally I though Smith was too inexperienced to chuck into a Lions test but Ford should have been there instead of Farrell maybe.

      2. The other thing not really mentioned is that even trying a different strategy might have helped to tire the Boks. The ball in play time for this series was something ridiculous like under half an hour across 80mins so lack of tempo really played into their hands as they were well rested between defensive sets. As soon as Finn applied relentless attack which required constant defence, suddenly they’re finding or even punching holes. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Scotland try something similar in the autumn where they aim to “manage” the first half then really increase tempo in the second. Or just go 100% Finnsanity…

  41. My ramblings, series
    Wrong squad selected, not enough rugby playing options in backs, Slade, Ringrose, Huw Jones & Adam Hastings would’ve enhanced the squad, Farrell poor for about 18months now shouldn’t have travelled.
    Tactics – no plan B (until Finn appeared) difficult to beat a defensive, well coached, passionate SA by kicking all day, disappointed with the coaching over all, Caelan Doris a big miss (got to fear about his career).
    “The series” was perhaps the Williams no pass to Adams 3rd test, Hogg would’ve made the pass (no more whatabootery).
    Whets the appetite nicely for the Autumn series.

    If anyone has any spare tickets for Japan game I’m yir man

    1. As well as Gatland’s conservative game plan, squad selection was definitely one of his other failings. I can’t think of one out of form ‘test match animal’ with ‘credit in the bank’ who they managed to get motoring as Gatland suggested he could.
      The disappointing thing is that Finn laid the foundations for a series win and the conversation would be entirely different if not for the Williams and Curry brain farts. All about taking the big opportunities when they come up.

      1. I think Mako Vunipola did well. We know he’s not the best scrummager but he just about coped and put himself about well. Lawes gamble paid off, even if I think Beirne should have had much more involvement.

        George didn’t make any appearance in tests but I didn’t really think he was underperforming – maybe the coaches saw otherwise in training.

        Farrell was the biggest disappointment by a stretch, followed by Murray who was meh but had to be involved due to the left field pick of Davies, who isn’t anywhere near Wales’ best SH. Faletau did nothing, we’d have been better off with Keenan instead of Williams.

      2. Remember that’s why Scots were not being picked last 2 tours , no performances away from home , not able to make this right choices in the “big” games. Shame really. Now I have a bottle of 1990 Glenmorangie grand slam dram – been saving for the “next” one come on 2022 !,

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