Scotland v Japan, Autumn Nations Series 2021: Match Preview

KO 1.00pm
Saturday 20th November 2021
BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh

TV coverage – Amazon Prime

While these sides may have met four times in the intervening period (three times in Japan and once in Gloucester) it has been eight years since the Brave Blossoms last played Scotland at Murrayfield. Of the 46 players named for Saturday’s encounter the only survivor from that previous fixture is Japan’s replacement stand off Yu Tamura, who filled the same number 22 shirt in 2013.

Teams

Scotland
Backs: Stuart Hogg (c), Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ali Price
Forwards: Jamie Bhatti, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Josh Bayliss
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Pierre Schoeman, Javan Sebastian, Sam Skinner, Dylan Richardson, Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Blair Kinghorn

Tonga
Backs: Ryohei Yamanaka, Kotaro Matsushima, Shogo Nakano, Ryoto Nakamura, Siosaia Fifita, Rikiya Matsuda, Yutaka Nagare
Forwards: Craig Millar, Atsushi Sakate, Asaeli Ai Valu, Jack Cornelsen, James Moore, Michael Leitch, Pieter Labuschagne (c), Kazuki Himeno
Replacements: Kosuke Horikoshi, Keita Inagaki, Shinnosuke Kakinaga, Ben Gunter, Tevita Tatafu, Naoto Saito, Yu Tamura, Dylan Riley

For more on the Scotland team selection click here.

Japan Scouting Report

Wide, wide, wide

During these nations’ last encounter at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the Japanese outside backs ripped Scotland’s defence apart. They combined for 361 running metres (just 14 metres less than the entire Scottish team); 11 clean breaks; and 17 defenders beaten.

Not only did Japan have a smart game plan that made the best use of their players but they executed it almost perfectly. Gregor Townsend’s side were swept away in Yokohama but they have changed their approach to defending since then. This will be an interesting test of how much defence coach Steve Tandy’s systems have really bedded in since that fateful day two years ago. Scotland’s backs will certainly be in for a very different kind of test than they faced last week against the Springboks.

Back row bomb squad

Scotland will be facing the same back row that functioned so well for Japan at the RWC. The starting trio are all players who get through an absolute power of work – on both sides of the ball. There is no question that Kazuki Himeno is the star man though. Just a few months ago he was hugely impressive when the Brave Blossoms tackled the Lions at Murrayfield. On that occasion the number 8 was sprung from the bench but he banged out 9 carries for 45 metres, picking up a try in his half an hour on the pitch.

Possibly even more imposing in that same match was Tevita Tatafu. The 120kg back row smashed his way through the defence of the best that British and Irish rugby had to offer, breaking 6 tackles and chalking up 67 metres with ball in hand. With another heavyweight replacement, Ben Gunter, also primarily a flanker, there will be no let up in intensity in the back row battle even if Japan do need to go to their bench.

Miscellany

  • If someone hasn’t taken Japan’s starting prop Craig Millar the short 5-mile trip from Murrayfield to have his picture taken in Craigmillar in Edinburgh then there really is no point to the Brave Blossoms tour of Europe!
  • In their three games this Autumn (v Australia, Ireland and Portugal) Japan have conceded 40 penalties and 4 yellow cards.
  • In their matches against Australia and Ireland, Japan only managed 5 clean breaks and 16 defenders beaten across 160 minutes of game time. Compare and contrast to the 13 clean breaks and 33 defenders beaten they managed in just 80 minutes versus Scotland at the RWC.

Previous results

These teams have met on three previous occasions in Scotland with the home side winning all three matches:

Scotland 42 – 17 Japan

Murrayfield, 9 November 2013
Scotland: Tommy Seymour (2T); Alasdair Dickinson (1T); Sean Lamont (1T); Greig Laidlaw (1T, 2C & 2P); Duncan Weir (1T & 1C)
Japan: Kenki Fukuoka (2T); Ayumu Goromaru (2C & 1P)

Scotland 100 – 8 Japan

McDiarmid Park, 13 November 2004
Scotland: Mike Blair (1T); Andy Henderson (1T); Ally Hogg (1T); Sean Lamont (1T); Donnie MacFadyen (1T); Graeme Morrison (1T); Dan Parks (1T); Jon Petrie (1T); Robbie Russell (2T); Hugo Southwell (2T); Chris Paterson (3T, 11C & 1P)
Japan: Hayato Daimon (1T); Wataru Ikeda (1P)

Scotland 47 – 9 Japan

Murrayfield, 5 October 1991
Scotland: Scott Hastings (1T); Tony Stanger (1T); Iwan Tukalo (1T); Derek White (1T); Penalty Try (1T); Craig Chalmers (1T & 1P); Gavin Hastings (1T, 5C & 2P)
Japan: Takahiro Hosokawa (1T, 1C & 1P)

Officials

Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant 1: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant 2: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Stuart Berry (South Africa)

The rest of the officiating team may be very familiar to most of the home side’s players (Mr Williams from multiple Tests, Messrs. Piardi and Berry from the URC/PRO14) but Mr Pickerill will be refereeing Scotland for the first time. While he may be younger than Japan’s captain Pieter Labuschagne, the Kiwi whistler is one of the up and coming officials on the world circuit and is likely to become a reasonably familiar face for Scottish fans in the coming seasons.

With the World Cup less than two years away, three southern hemisphere refs having taken charge of matches at Murrayfield this November will have been a useful exercise for Gregor Townsend and his staff. The differences in interpretation from their northern counterparts may be small but they are there and Scotland need to be prepared if they draw a SANZAAR ref for one of their big games at France 2023.

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When he's not watching Glasgow, Scotland (and even Edinburgh) Kevin can usually be found with his head in a spreadsheet working out the most obscure Scottish rugby related stat he can put out on Twitter.
Follow Kevin on twitter @topofthemoonGW

158 comments on “Scotland v Japan, Autumn Nations Series 2021: Match Preview

  1. Big Al on

    This could turn in to the cats at the rave versus the Harlem globetrotters. Not saying which team is which but we should see the ball getting some air time. Should be entertaining to watch!

    Reply
  2. Fraser on

    Terrible game and Scotland poor but my god that ref sucked any potential out of it.
    I’m not usually one to criticise ref’s, and teams need to adapt to their interpretation, but it was just dire.

    You can’t have rugby where the defending team has no ability to compete for the ball and make turnovers.

    Lots of other issues with him (refusing to reward a dominant scrum, no warning/YC to Japan for infringing as much as we had), but that’s the key one.

    Shame Scotland didn’t build on the first couple of games, seem to have got a bit carried away with throwing the ball around and not doing the basics well to earn it.

    As I said before the game, I don’t think Kinghorn should be anywhere near the 23 – not in the top 3 (being generous) in any of the positions he can cover and very poor in defence in the time he was on.

    Reply
  3. RuggersB on

    Well…. a somewhat dispiriting win.
    We have won 3/4 matches ..but really haven’t looked great. We still look well short of the likes of Ire and SA.

    A good example at the end of why Russell aint a captain….could have lost the match. Kinghorn is a liability..6′ 5″ and looks like he couldn’t tackle a traffic cone…and I’ve no idea why he is ahead of Steyn and McLean..who to me look far better players.

    Positive was we won…and perhaps Bayliss ..who actually looks like an 8 at test level…which is a first for us for a long while. Harris also highlighted why he is the stick on 13….very consistent.
    Worrying that Watson has looked half the player during this series…not good going into the 6N.. which now I can only see us as mid table again.

    Also its like competing at the breakdown is being removed from rugby considering the refereeing during this series.

    Reply
    • A on

      Couldn’t agree more. The team in possession at the tackle seem to be allowed to go off feet and lie all over the ball at will whilst god forbid any defenders put a hand on the floor or don’t move away within a second of hitting the deck. The number of times Japan sealed off or took out a player beyond the ruck with no sanction was a farce. Ireland get away with this too to an even greater extent. Tackled players not releasing instantly is also ignored. Until the ruck is made a proper contest again, drawing in players, midfields will be overcrowded making running rugby very difficult. Also, even with refs favouring the team in possession, For some inexplicable reason Scots players seem incapable of taking a tackle and presenting the ball as per other teams. We must be one of the most turned over teams in World Rugby.

      Reply
      • Rob on

        There is one picture that comes to mind on this from yesterday. Cummings takes ball and puts ball under right arm and runs at Japanese player (not space) leading with right shoulder. Thus ball is automatically on opposite side from Scottish players. Why not run at space leading with non ball carrying shoulder?

  4. Big Al on

    A bit of a flat win and series. I think we would have taken 3/4 wins at the start of the autumn but I dont think we are quite reaching our full potential. No doubt our defense is good as well as our attack off first phase and maul. Everything else needs work over the winter.

    I fear we could go to Ireland and get a hiding in the spring if we dont start playing more directly, working on ball retention and going longer through the phases. Its like we’ve lost confidence in our rucking ability or at least we’re struggling with the referees interpretation.

    Congratulations to Hogg on the all time try scoring record. Should raise the bar by a few more before the end of his career.

    Reply
  5. James on

    How much possession did Japan have? Seemed like our game plan was defend and when we eventually got the ball go straight for the miracle ball or we kicked it back to Japan. Credit to Japan, they weren’t scared to take it to us and looked good attacking at speed. They also put a lot of pressure on us in defence.

    We need to sort out our discipline and stop compounding mistakes with further mistakes and penalties.

    Reply
    • Big Al on

      Match stats are up on Rugby Pass. Possession was 45/55%.

      Some of the stats are interesting for example missed 10 tackles in total in the game but 5 were from just Graham. He might have sore one in post match analysis.

      The other stat that stood out from me was in the forwards the only player to make more than 10 metres in carries was Bayliss and that was 13m from 7 carries. Maybe they were all knackered from all the tackling they were having to do. I thought Bayliss played well, like a young J. Beattie Jnr, but thats a poor return from the forwards and you have to give credit to the Japanese from stopping us getting go forward ball.

      Reply
  6. Johnny b on

    Kind of nervy minimalist performance just doing what they had to to win against a side that has troubled higher ranked sides and beaten us and Ireland in the last 2 seasons.
    People were expecting abig win but I didn’t. Look at Wales v Fiji last week. These upper tier 2 teams have the talent to cause upsets and nothing to lose while for Scotland just getting over the line is the priority.

    We’d have settled for 3/4 before the Autumn.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      Upper tier 2 sides could cause an upset against lower tier1 sides like ourselves and Wales…but Ireland, SA, England and NZ would have destroyed Japan today…we just aren’t at the level to do that yet.

      Reply
      • Johnny b on

        Wales are 6N champs!

        In the last 6 years Japan have given a ton of top tier sides a torrid time and beaten SA, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

        They’re not mugs.

        4 tries to 1 and a few demons exorcised. It’s not the end of the world.

      • RuggersB on

        Oh yeah…thats right Wales won the
        6N Covid cup..forgot about that…like most people. Playing quite possibly the worst rugby Ive ever seen from a 6N winner. If they win the next one I’ll eat my entire collection of hats.

        Japan caught a couple of teams napping….thats about it.

  7. alythman on

    yes was there today and at no stage did we dominate the game – no sustained pressure and it was a bit scrappy. The defence held well and we got some success from the line-outs. Penalty count was high

    Reply
  8. Johnny b on

    Feel we tried to go too early. Didn’t go through phases.

    Nerves maybe? Desperation to get daylight v team who’ve upset us before?

    Still won by 4 tries to 1. Negative comments excessive.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      Yep…down when playing 15….up when playing 13…
      Im sure they’ll be billed as world beaters…

      Absolutely torn a few new ones by NZ though…thats really where they are at.

      Reply
  9. CSC on

    In Wales last 12 games there have been 6 red cards against their opponents. Teams are now over 10 times more likely to have someone carded against Wales than any other opponent. A statistical anomaly?

    Reply
  10. Gaffer on

    There is nowhere to hide as a ref at the millennium stadium, decisions go with the home team. It is such a tight cauldron of a stadium together with AWJ as captain(shown more respect than almost every other player) and Biggar flapping his arms like sammy the seagull and any slightly dubious actions being replayed on the big screens it is little wonder.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      France look a great team.
      France, Ireland & England all look far, far stronger than last 6N.
      Scotland will be lucky to finish mid table in the 6N… unless they find Hogg’s elusive ‘perfect performance thats in us’ that comes up every pre & post match…you know ..thats good we have got that in us cause we’ll be needing that at least 3 times..aye ..we can but dream..

      Reply
  11. Alanyst on

    Where does this series leave us for the 6N? A decent series on paper but as Hogg himself said some good things always followed by some bad things.

    Physicality is lacking, precision is lacking, discipline is lacking, ref-smart play is lacking.

    I think we’ll come 5th…again. Wales are playing poorly too but as always getting the rub of it in Cardiff.

    Reply
    • FF on

      I think the best we can say is the 6N rarely follows autumn form. But yes, France, Ireland and England all look formidable, we looked unconvincing.

      Reply
    • Neil on

      I fear Scotland have peaked. We have not progressed perhaps for a number of reasons.

      The backline lacks attack in the midfield, yet Johnson and Harris are both crucial to defense, so were do we go? A backline with Price/Russell/Hogg/Van Der Merwe should be far more potent as a team.

      Forward pack is a hard one to figure out at the moment, lots of front-five injuries, and testing new combinations has not helped but may pay-off in the long run. South Africa have 6 world class front-rowers so you just have to accept that is there point of difference against any team.

      People say we are missing a destructive ball-carrying 8… however i would say Fagerson is excellent for the role he is being used as,

      What we are really missing is a high class powerful lock imo, it’s the one position which other countries have better first choices than us by a clear amount.

      Retallick, Whitelock, Etzebeth, De Jager, Mostert, Snyman, Skelton, Itoje, Lawes, Ryan, Beirne, Henderson, AWJ all above our best.

      Scotland for me are 1 or 2 ‘Lions Level’ forwards and an improvement in backline play from winning a six nations still.

      Reply
      • FF on

        I think out backline mostly struggles because we can’t consistently get front foot ball, so they end up living off scraps. They actually manage to create pieces of magic fairly often, but if they had good quality ball and a back-pedalling defence there wouldn’t be the same questions.

        IMO our competitiveness at test level is largely down to our pack. When we’ve taken scalps like England and France it’s because we’ve matched them at set piece and breakdown.

      • RuggersB on

        For me …I dont feel like we need specifically a destructive #8 …more that we need a player there who offers a point of difference …I just dont see what M Fagerson’s point of difference is. To me Bayliss looked promising for that spot…he has a level of pace that is unusual for an 8. He also works hard, puts the tackles in, can carry. and is a good lineout option. I tend to think Fagerson would have been better groomed as a 7.

        I addition I think…Graham..just isnt cut for top level test rugby. His lack of size and strength.. really becomes a liability.
        Every match I watch him these days he ends up crumpled on the deck. It seems we need an extra man to cover him full time against top sides. If you could put his talent into DVDMs body he would be a hell of a player. Its a shame ..but its how it is. Ive got no idea why Steyn got snubbed after his performance v Tonga.

    • RuggersB on

      I’d agree …We are kinda at the same level as Wales but we are 2 different sides. We seem to range from some sublime rugby to playing like a bunch of fairies all in the same match and repeat for almost every match….Wales churn out the same level of ‘meh’ rugby ..with very little fluctuation..either scraping wins or getting flogged.

      Our forwards are perplexing. We have the weight and size..its a myth that we dont…but not the mentality to consistently scratch and claw..our forwards just dont have a consistent winning mentality. The top sides forwards do anything they need to do to be able to dominate the opposition and win the match. To me , our forwards rarely look like they want to do that.

      Reply
    • greengumbo on

      We’ve been 5th once in the last 6 series. The rest have been 4th or 3rd.

      I think we will end up 4th again but Autumn series don’t always translate into 6 nations form.

      I hope that Toony has been using this series as a way to look at some new caps rathe than anything more serious at the end of a tough 2 years with the pandemic and bubbles etc.

      Thought Kinghorn looked a bit sub-par.

      Is it me or did he clearly not understand the 50/22 rule at once point ? Hoggy and him were bolting back after a monster Japan kick. Kinghorn could have beaten Hoggy to the ball and prevented it going out for a Japan throw but instead moved inside Hogg as if to receive the ball like it was going to be a quick Scottish line out ?

      Reply
  12. Tasmanian tiger on

    So the question is are we performing poorly because the players both individually and collectively as a team are just not as good as they aspire to be, or is it down to coaching, tactics and selection.

    Reply
    • Alanyst on

      I think we are a bit stuck between high-risk rugby (NZ,Fra), which we don’t have the skills to implement at a truly high level, and low-risk rugby (Ire, Eng, SA) which we don’t have the bodies and boots to implement at a truly high level.

      Reply
  13. Ardent on

    After watching the (absolutely magnificent) France/NZ match I’m just amazed how on earth we managed to beat France back in March! Lack of crowds probably helped us more than we realised (works both ways of course as we lost at home to Wales and Ire). I wonder if in the next 100 years we’ll ever have again beaten both England and France away in the same 6N?
    It worries me that may have been a high point (last 6N) as already France and Ireland look stronger and England will be more dangerous once they fully develop their new found attacking strengths.We are treading water at best. Maybe going into the next 6N as dark horses will,of course,suit us much better.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      France v NZ was a great ad for rugby…. high level attacking play that was allowed to flow.

      Not this scrum penalty, knocking a player off his feet ‘hey we’re so Alpha!’ garbage that SA get all excited about. Soo over that style of play…

      Reply
  14. Saint4805 on

    3/4 wins flatters to deceive. It does look like we are battling with Wales for 4th place. We really need J Gray and Cummings firing on all cylinders come February. Hopefully Mish will be match fit and back to his best. Tighthead still worries me too. Zander will be targeted in Cardiff as Wales look to reduce us to 14. Bayliss did ok yesterday but it’s not ideal that he goes into the 6N with only one game at 8 under his belt. It’s a shame about Redpath’s injury as I think he would bring a much needed attacking dimension to the midfield. Johnson is a fine player but more of a steady Eddie.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      If we stop shipping avoidable penalties like it was a liquidation sale…we can at least compete.
      If we continue to repeat this like we have during the Autumn series..we’d be better not turning up.
      The 3 wins are largely subdued by overriding feeling that we are well short of the level to seriously challenge for anything.
      This should have been a platform to propel us into the 6N… instead we look like we still dont know what our best side is…and we still have issues that we haven’t corrected. France, Ireland & England all look like they have that all sorted.

      Reply
  15. FF on

    We’ve benefited from some rare talent in this generation of players, and we still can’t quite mix it at the top. Looking at the abundance of talent coming through the ranks in Ireland, France and England I fear a bit for our future. Even Italy have surpassed us at age-grade.

    We need to be making huge investments into rugby in Scotland at the bottom of the pyramid, hold on tight for ten years and hopefully see the results. It would be a catastrophe if we slide backwards when Hogg, Russell etc. retire. We have some good players coming through but I’m not yet sure we have anyone who’ll match these iconic players for us.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      Yeah …we tend to think of good prospects coming through .. and that someday we’ll catchup and be this great side. All the other teams are developing players…they dont sit on their hands. Crikey..even Italy have a better youth team than us.
      I think we just have to establish our identity and be consistent with it through our coaching systems…its what SA and NZ do and they prove it works by their success and performance levels throughout all age grades. I dont think investing money is surefire..it helps if used sensibly..but if you look around at sport in general …money is no guarantee for success…and success is always relative. Success for one isnt success for another…We keep having highs and lows because we dont know what success is to us…once we find that balance we’ll be in a good space.

      Reply
  16. Big Al on

    Just thinking back on the autumn results I dont think we are progressing at the same rate as some others. England did to South Africa what we couldn’t. England playing to their potential with younger more dynamic backs is a scary prospect for our next game. I know we’ve had England’s number for the last couple of years but it looks like they’ve stumbled in to the light.

    France and Ireland ripping apart New Zealand is something we’ve never done. Beating both France and England away and coming close against Ireland this year look like great results now.

    Its good that we’ve capped a few new players but nobody that has come into camp looks a major upgrade over who was already in the team. Maybe they will be come the World Cup but I fear this upcoming six nations will be a challenge.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      Beating France and England were very good results for us…but really France should have won that match..just stupidly didn’t kick the ball out at full time. England were in a transitional stage. In addition it wasn’t like any other match away to them..because there were no fans..and it was just a weird time in general for everyone.
      ‘Coming close’ to Ireland seems like a really sad claim for us to make. The only thing anyone on the outside would see looking in ..was that we lost. I doubt the Ireland players post match cared …they won..so …’whose next?’
      I agree… we dont even know what our best back row is…let alone whether it is dynamic or not.

      Reply
      • SlowWalk90 on

        Yeah, but on the other side of it there’s no way in the world we should have lost that game to Wales, and with a different ref we probably wouldn’t have. So with that we missed out on the Grand Slam due to Johnny Sexton having a good day at goal kicking. Our 6 Nation standing this year was a fair reflection of how we played, with a number of tight games that could have gone either way.

      • RuggersB on

        I get that…and overall we played as a unit better than we have for a long time…however against Wales I dont think there is a ref out there that would not have sent Z Fag off…it was stupid what he did.
        Against Ireland it wasn’t so much Sextons boot…it was because our lineout was awful..and we lost the ball far too often. Issues we still have not fixed… we’ll get hung out to dry this 6N if haven’t sorted that out. We give away far too many penalties in bad areas of the pitch…and give the ball up too easily..basic things really but we infuriatingly have not addressed them.

      • SlowWalk90 on

        I agree with you to an extent. It was those things that defeated us against Ireland. However, the point still remains that if Sexton had missed a couple of difficult kicks in the corner we’d have won even despite it (they also had a dodgy try allowed that didn’t look like it was grounded).

        I also agree with you that we haven’t sorted the issues that have dogged us (especially not being able to secure our own lineout). All the same, I’m choosing to see it differently from you. Rather than flogging ourselves and predicting that we’re going to get gubbed, I’d point out that we’ve had loads of tight games while all these issues were apparent. Not only have we shown that we’re capable now of winning tight games, but all our issues are fixable. If we do that, this team is already performing at a level that is competitive with anyone. I think Hogg is right to think that we might be on the cusp of something special if we’re able to improve on our weaknesses.

      • RuggersB on

        I agree that there are fine lines…and that at least we are at the point where its is down to fine lines.
        However, the issues that persist for us may well be fixable…and if they are why aren’t they?? Its not a recent issue…it goes years back.
        Either the coaches cant figure it out…or they have figured it out and have made coaching adjustments but the players aren’t taking things on board or they are playing to the max of their abilities and the mistakes are just the result of where they are at.
        I guess I just dont yet understand where the break is…it seems basic from the outside looking in..which makes it so frustrating as a fan. You know , is it because our squad doesn’t know the rules of test rugby well enough? We spew penalties. Are coaches and players not discussing how different refs have different outlooks and specifically what to do and not do? Why are Lineouts soo bad? Throwing a ball straight consistently is incredibly basic for a player selected to play for their country…as is understanding where the ball is going.

  17. RuggersB on

    Hogg consistently saying to the media that we are ‘on the verge of something special’ does not help. Saying less is often more. We dont do enough to back that up…and its been said all the way back to Cotter years. It feels like the largest ‘verge’ in history. We should not be saying stuff like that….let others decide how ‘special’ we are…and just focus on being better.

    I feel like our whole squad needs to work with a sports psych …if they are already..they need a better one asap.

    Reply
    • Alanyst on

      “only once you have climbed the mountain, can you see the size of the mountains to come”

      We’ve made it back into the pack, toothless no more, but consistent achievement is a different scale of challenge.

      Reply
      • Alanyst on

        We had a very slow development since professionalism, meaning we were way behind, and are learning lessons now about winning that the other nations learnt years ago while we were getting gubbed.

        We’ve almost caught up with the other home nations, but still the question is will we ever truly gain parity?

        Who knows, but I’d say that Wales pretty much maxed out their potential in the Gatland/AWJ era, and now are looking to hang on; Ireland must be close to max now – their team are ageing a bit; France and England could both go way further if they could organise better, but still it comes down to xv on xv.

        We at least know that over the next decade we still have room to improve our lot, if only we can get it right.

  18. Harryd on

    Our players who are supposedly called world class should turn up and show it every time they wear the jersey. I look at the recent performances and struggle to identify these so called stars in amongst a lot of mediocrity ,unforced errors and suspect decision making. I can’t help feeling that this crop of players that we got excited about when we had a real coach in Vern Cotter have plateaued under GT ‘s leadership. Our defence stats compare favourably against most nations probably due to the quality of our defence coaches whilst Townsend’s focus on high risk attack means the opposition just wait for mistakes to happen and then capitalise.
    Can’t help feeling that it is going to be a tough 6N .

    Reply
  19. Gaffer on

    Lots of doom and gloom on here and I’m afraid I can’t bring any happiness.
    We have a group of forwards who have been able to achieve parity and occasionally dominate the opposition, when they do we win. (Like others, I think , like other we lack a lock who dominates the line out and we still have no stand out 8)
    We have a group of backs and when they are firing no one can stop them scoring tries , no matter whether it is our first or second choice in their position .
    When we do a player comparison against the opposition (any opposition) there is rarely more than 50% of opposition players who get the nod/would get into our team.
    Our defence has improved leaps and bounds under Tandy too.
    Consistency is our problem , especially in the forwards. Russell being the one back who lacks consistency too.
    The other problem is we often seem to be on the wrong side of the referee and this has been our downfall. We lost countless penalties against SA and japan which sucked the life out of our attack and defence.
    Unfortunately apart from these observations i have no answers to the problems.
    Despite ending last seasons 6N thinking we could do it next year, I have to agree, we are staring a mid table dog fight with wales again.

    Reply
  20. Not science on

    still don’t know what this team is about, if it has a plan or character

    we have the most flair 10 in the world

    but we pick no centre to run off him (we had no midfield in the WC and have doubled down on that)

    and are more focussed on picking players for the defensive system

    but persist with an attacking game plan (and small winger and attacking fullback / extra pivot)

    but cannot get the set piece right or pick height in the lineout

    everyone looks confused – do Russell and Hogg even know let alone like each other?

    as for the forwards – putting line out problems aside – there’s no fight still. where is an 8? we’ve basically got four sixes playing every game and why cannot our hookers throw for toffee

    sorely sorely lacking composure through the spine – need Maitland and Redpath and some more players who will make the game look easy

    there have been two main pluses this series – both South African (Schoeman and Duhan).

    There’s no fluency from top to bottom and maybe it is one piece missing or maybe it is the coach’s mindset.

    Guess we will find out, but when push came to shove the last WC was a disaster

    No embarrassment losing to SA, everyone looked like they needed more rugby, maybe maybe on the verge of something or maybe playing sh*t and scraping wins at home

    Hope a Calcutta Cup can fire things up. But not if handicapped by Toonie tombola

    Reply
    • Rob on

      Based on your comments, Jones was that centre who worked on same wavelength as Finn. Just not looked at! Watched Ireland game and their forwards are working as a unit and hard. We need to rectify things immediately

      Reply
    • Big Al on

      I think Johnson and Russell are a pretty good combination. Johnson’s being asked to run a lot of dummy lines in set plays but when he does carry the ball he usually takes defenders with him. He’s also got decent hands for passing. He can certainly run off Russell. Maybe not the fastest but fast enough. Remember the try near the death at Twickenham. But I just dont think that’s our coached shape at the moment. From an attacking point of view would be good to see more of Hogg or the wingers running off Russell or coming in more at first receiver if our two centres are focussed on defence. It would then make sense to play Steyn direct like Duhan unlike the dancing Graham. I think we are missing Maitland though because when we used to attack with Hogg hitting the line earlier he would stay back and cover a huge area of the back field in case we lost the ball.

      As for the forwards, we need a lineout coach to sort that out. I also think we need better sports psychologists, our guys are big enough, hard enough and have the skills but don’t seem to collectively bring the right focus and mindset consistently in games.

      Reply
      • RuggersB on

        Maitland gave us balance…Graham does not and he’ll just get targeted more and more as the opposition evaluate our play structure. Graham is a luxury player you play against Russia…not against the big boys.
        I agree we under utilize DVDM…that guy is just getting better and better. He could play back row or centre no problem …he is beginning to look wasted on the wing. If we are going to play a defense centric midfield..I agree..as you say..we really need to use DVDM and Steyn in greater roles.

  21. FF on

    Lots of speculation about 6N in this thread. Ireland may be coming to the boil but will travel to Twickenham and Paris. IMO they won’t win both.

    England meanwhile are also heading to Paris, in the final week no less. On that basis alone I think France start as massive favourites.

    We have an epic opportunity to spoil the party as neither England nor France have found Murrayfield particularly welcoming recently. If by some miracle we win both and beat Wales and Italy away we face Ireland in Dublin – a virtual suicide mission.

    Can’t see we have any hope of a 6N championship, France look strong favourites given fixtures but I’m excited already.

    Reply
  22. Tonk on

    A couple of tactics I didn’t get, was the slow looping miss pass or cross field kick to static wingers, by the time they received it they got pummeled, unless that is to spread the defence? And against Oz we did a couple of tricks at the line out but not against anyone else?

    Reply
  23. Toony Tunes on

    We won, not a lot more you can say. These southern Hemisphere sides did not get to travel in lockdown and we still managed to play . Which might explain the boks and the AB’s losses. It does not explain Japan being in the game up the the last few minutes.

    Reply
  24. Neil on

    A team i would like to see in Six Nations

    Stuart Hogg – Kyle Steyn – Chris Harris – Rory Hutchison – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Josh Bayliss – Hamish Watson – Magnus Bradbury – Sam Skinner – Richie Gray – Zander Fagerson – George Turner – Rory Sutherland

    Huw Jones – Adam Hastings – Ben Vellacott – Jamie Ritchie – Scott Cummings – Oli Kebble – Stuart McInally – Pierre Schoeman

    Some player who are not near Townsends squad but that i think offer a point of difference we are lacking.

    Reply
    • FF on

      I can’t see Bradbury playing for Scotland again unless his form demands it. People bring up his name as it seems like it’s buggins turn.

      A name I’ve seen bandied about on other forums is Marshall Sykes, as someone who can bring a bit more aggression. Ultimately we need a tougher, more aggressive pack but it’s not obvious there are good candidates waiting for their chance.

      Also, I like Darge and think if he takes to test rugby like he has to Glasgow so far, he could
      be bringing pressure on Watson by the World Cup and would make a great like for like replacement or stand in for group games.

      Reply
  25. Ardent on

    Neil-reckon you,’re just about spot on with that selection though I,d have Redpath edging the stylish Hutchison. Pace,power,cutting edge and a bit more streetwise than current selections.
    Pity it will never happen!

    Reply
  26. Rob on

    Cam Redpath will play instead of Hutchinson who hasn’t really kicked on since he first came on the scene.

    Jamie Ritchie is never going to be dropped, vice captain, line out option, complements Watson well. And certainly not for Bradbury who can’t even hold a regular back row position at Edinburgh, been playing in the 2nd row of late! Richie Gray is interesting, but he turned Townsend down for this Autumn and doesn’t seem like he has the mentality for international rugby left. Also no Jonny Gray?? (who gets picked over Skinner at club level) – though wish JG would improve his carrying. Cummings is young, proven, dynamic and improving, can’t see him getting dropped.

    Would agree on Steyn though. I like George Horne but he really hasn’t kicked on (lack of minutes? Too many 9s at Glasgow) and Velacott has been playing very well.

    I think WP Nel will be on the bench as scrum cover for Zander (who can play 60+mins easy if scrums aren’t an issue).

    I think Maitland will also be thereabouts for high ball ability and general cover. Huw Jones doesn’t even get game time for his club, so can’t expect him to play for Scotland until he does.

    Reply
    • DesT on

      I agree with a lot of this, and the real issue is that we have a lot of good players who are making really bad moves when leaving Scotland and warming benches.

      SHC is a decent SH, but was advised badly, and Horne struggles to get a game. I’d really like to understand why Vellacott wasn’t brought into the squad for the autumns. Price really has kicked on since the lions, but he needs competition.

      Equally, I think that Cam Redpath could provide the spark we need to counter the defensive nous of Harris (who is a good direct runner too).

      I have no issue with Graham playing on the wing, and Ashman/Bayliss have been great finds.

      It’s a bit of doom and gloom despite getting 3/4 wins, but we have key players coming back from injury. Yes the other 6n teams have kicked on too, but I reckon we are subtle tweaks away from competing.

      Reply
      • Rob on

        Darcy Graham on Saturday was defensively poor. Too narrow and being pushed aside when tackling. Good attacking option but weak defensively.

    • John on

      Interesting.

      We may not have too much choice re extra physicality in the forwards. I personally think a fit and firing Crosbie is a very interesting option (the big issue with this is who is going to make way for Crosbie??)

      Reply
    • RuggersB on

      GT has just the other day talked about the range of players he will be looking at for the 6N….so alot could change in terms of the squad selected for that.
      Bringing back Nel kinda lost me though…how old is he now? 35? ..and he looked half the player the last time he played for Scotland.
      Maitland was mentioned …along with Toolis, Gray, Craig, Redpath…GT reckons he’ll be back early Jan…and I think he is GTs choice 12 and is itching to select him again.

      Reply
  27. Not science on

    There’s always going to be injuries. There will never be the mythical full strength team. Right now we are missing a first choice lock and possibly a centre, but had everyone else first choice. Come 6 nations who knows could be missing tight head, 7, fly half and fullback. Think this Autumn was a pretty typical if not better than normal strength squad. Injuries not really relevant.

    Reply
    • Nomad86 on

      Not sure id say we had our first choice loosehead going into the series, however an argument could easily be made that the shoe has claimed it as his own now.

      Reply
  28. 1.8T on

    Bit of an odd autumn, not really like one I have experienced before. Usually its the great performances, oh so close against SH teams, but ultimately glorious defeat. This time it was good on paper, 3/4 would have been accepted at the start, but the performances were, to be honest, rubbish. You can either view that as a good thing that we churned out wins despite not being very good, Wales, England and Ireland are masters at it, or you can view it that we were very lucky not to get a hiding off someone. Our dear neighbors in the 6N won’t be as forgiving.

    The tactics to me seem off and we are clearly doing something at the breakdown that refs don’t like and we don’t seem to be learning. Across all of the games there hasn’t been much effort to go through phases, its get the ball and immediately go for the miracle pass or kick. Doing that now and again works, but if you do it all the time it becomes easy to defend against. Our high ball has been pretty bad as have lineouts and we have an awful habit of players getting isolated and turned over.

    I’m sorry but Stuart Hogg cannot be the captain. He’s a big figure and leader in the squad for sure, but the captain needs to be a forward. The way the game is going, unfortunately, you need someone chirping in the refs ear all the time, you can’t do that from fullback. Part of me wonders if the reason we seem to be getting a rough ride from refs is because of not having someone there constantly arguing our case

    Reply
  29. Merlot on

    Firstly, and most importantly, how many of us would have taken 3 wins out of 4 before the Autumn started? Most of us, I am guessing.
    Scoring 4 tries to 1 against a side that knows how to beat us is a good result in anyone’s book. Our defence in the first quarter was exceptional.
    Admittedly our discipline needs sorting – we especially need to change the way we play to suit the referee. I’m not sure how many penalties we gave away for not rolling away but after the first couple we should surely amend our tackling so as not to fall on the wrong side.
    Equally, we need to sort out the lineout. All Autumn we have struggled to win more than 75% of our own ball. Not good enough and needs to be focussed on in training.
    However, we’re winning more than we’re losing, scoring more tries than the opposition, have a settled backline and have finally got leaders throughout the side. Reasons to be cheerful? Yes indeed. At least until the Calcutta Cup, anyway.

    Reply
  30. pytelium on

    Ireland are ageing team?….5 0f the team who started versus NZ were 25 or under..all of the forwards were 29 or under..Doris is 23,Kelleher is 23

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      Yep Ireland are building to have a serious pop at winning the world cup….we are the ones who might be playing players past their prime…and we seem unlikely, at his stage, to have a serious pop at getting out of the group.

      Reply
      • RuggersB on

        Thompson…had his chances ..and just never looked better than average at his best.
        Gary Graham ..got less opportunity than Thompson..but equally did nothing to suggest he was a difference maker.

        Bayliss came in and looks a far better player than either of them.

  31. Garry on

    Good to see we’re not getting carried away with 3 out of 4 wins.

    I’m not sure I saw much of a game plan in any of the three Tier 1 matches and some of our Lions don’t look fully up to speed this season yet (notably Russell and Watson who were good in patches but nothing like often enough).

    I’m a big fan of Johnson and Graham as players but I’m not sure we can play the way we really want to with Johnson at 12 and I agree with the comments above about Graham whose physical stature is being exposed too often now.

    As for Kinghorn, I have no idea what the coaches see that makes them think he is an international class player. They arse about with him at 10 for Edinburgh all season then put him on the bench to cover the back 3 for Scotland. The truth is he has not kicked on from his early international promise and looks like a journeyman Edinburgh squad player now. His missed tackle against Japan was comedy genius.

    I was listening to Peter Wright the other day and he was suggesting that the Scotland forwards are generally not exposed to international-like intensity often enough. I think that is fair comment but what is the answer?

    There were a few positives. We are scoring far more often than our share of possession and territory suggests we should. Price, Harris and Duhan are getting better and better. Ashman looks like a find and Bayliss did enough to merit a chance to nail down 8.

    Gloomy about 6Ns just now but will no doubt feel better come February!

    Reply
    • Rory Baldwin on

      To answer Wrighty’s question, could we pick an all Guinness Prem pack, but would that be intensity at the expense of some talented names? Eg Sutherland, Kerr, a TH, J Gray, Craig/Hunter-Hill, Graham/Skinner, Richardson, Bayliss?

      Reply
      • Garry on

        That’s not a bad looking pack (at least 7 out of 8) but there is no way that Watson, Ritchie, Cummings and Zander don’t play if they are fit.

        Long term we have to ‘encourage’ those boys to move on. They are not going to improve as players much more by staying in Scotland.

        Fundamental problem is that the SRU still haven’t come to terms with how to balance the needs of the national team and the pro teams.

    • Grumpy on

      We are doing fine and we are keeping up with the Joneses. Vern built a team that took us to 5th in the world which was never sustainable, Toony took us out the Top 8 brought us back in with teams of random picks and a brand of rugby called superfast. Yes we burned out a few in the process, but that is professional sport. No idea where it is going , but I do not think we are slipping back, which is actually positive. We are really not a big union compared to the others in the top 8.

      Reply
    • RuggersB on

      Wright suggesting the forwards’ are not exposed to international-like intensity often enough’..doesnt stack up.
      Are Irelands or Wales?..even SA players these days? They are exposed to the exact same rugby leagues as our players, playing for the most part against the same teams.

      I think that our core forwards have been substandard for such a long time that upcoming forwards have little to learn from and so the cycle repeats partly because of that….playing in different top leagues are a good opportunity to play with better quality forwards and learn new mental and physical approaches. We need to move experienced players on so they can continue to improve…and allow the next wave ..and so on and so on.

      Reply
      • RuggersB on

        Alex Craig ..I think..is a good example. Injured at the mo I think…but to me, he is progressing well and looks and plays like a proper forward. I’d like to see him at the very least a replacement ..I can see him and Cummings being more effective. Hodgson has good dig about him..but needs to hit the gym. Gray always seems to be too ‘nice’ a forward…falls to the ground like a submissive dog sometimes.

  32. KingofFife on

    For me, there are real positives and negatives from the AIs.

    Positives:
    – Won 3/4, including against Aus. That’s a decent record, in spite of not playing well
    – Blooded a lot of new/young players. Schoeman, Steyn, Bayliss, McLean and Ashman will all make valuable contributions in the years ahead
    – Hogg looked back to his potent attacking best – don’t agree with those saying his captaincy lacks
    – Price and Harris continue their meteoric post-Lions rise
    – Defence is still miserly
    – Tough competition on the wing and more options in the front row
    – Good players to come back. Cummings, J Gray (missed his workrate and unorthodox body position in breakdown), Maitland, Brown etc. – Lots of options

    Negatives:
    – Discipline, dicipline, discipline. Not reading the ref.
    – Pack pushed around and way off the standard of the Boks
    – Some post-Lions lag in Watson and – particularly – Russell. Decision-making woeful at times and the ‘oh Finn’ moments outweighed the ‘oh my God Finn’ ones. Moratorium on the chips over the midfield defence until earned please
    – Graham is lightening in attack, brave as they come, but a bit short of test class in defence
    – None of the new boys commanded a 6N place
    – Too rushed in attack. Forced the game in first phase, didn’t seem capable of building and earning the right to go wide. Looked bitty, lacking fluidity or clear game-plan at times.
    – Untimely injury to Darge
    – Others look to have upped their game a notch further than we have

    Reply
    • Merlot on

      Good summary KOF.
      However, I disagree that “None of the new boys commanded a 6N place”. I think we’ll see those you named (Schoeman, Steyn, Bayliss, McLean and Ashman) all play in the 6N. If you mean they haven’t yet made the shirt their own that is only because that is impossible to do over 4 matches, and none of them played all 4. IMO they all outperformed the incumbent to some extent.
      Schoeman played better than Bhatti. Sutherland to come back but what is he going to be like?
      Steyn is a different to Graham – more of an all-round winger in the mould of Maitland. McLean is more like Darcy and matched him for performance.
      Bayliss is quicker than Fagerson but less experienced – will certainly put pressure on Matt.
      Ashman performed better than any of our hookers have. OK only from the bench but probably just because of experience – better to blood them from the bench.
      I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least two of those start against England.

      Reply
      • King of Fife on

        Yep, that’s a completely fair critique.

        I just meant nobody has claimed the shirt with a spectacular performance.

        Appreciate that’s difficult to do over a short series, so maybe a shade harsh on my part!

        The guys you suggest have certainly impressed at this level and wouldn’t be surprised if any or many start in the 6N

      • Neil on

        Graham made more meters than anyone else across all teams through the whole Autumn Tests apparently. Imagine what he could be like with a creative midfield functioning.

  33. pytelium on

    Too many one dimensional players..concentration should be on the skillset of each player. It should be pointed clearly by the coaches to each which
    part of their skillset is weak ..they should be sent to develop that part of their skill set which is poor. If they don’t improve this part they should be demoted.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      I think this already happens…going by previous media interviews with GT.
      Players like Bradbury, Scott & Hutchinson come to mind…amongst many others Im sure.

      Reply
  34. FF on

    World rugby has approved birthright eligibility change, to be implemented from January. Quite surprising as even it’s advocates thought it would be defeated.

    Tonga will be in our RWC group and likely to field many ex-ABs and Australian players. Already lined up are Laumape, Piatau, Fekitoa, Timani and possibly even Folau.

    It’s fair to say our group of death just got a whole lot more uncomfortable.

    Reply
    • FF on

      Wonder if Jack Dempsey will be included in 6N squad? His last cap for Australia was 2017.

      Sadly Zach Mercer isn’t eligible as he qualified under residency not birthright.

      Reply
    • RuggersB on

      I cant decide if this makes world rugby more competitive across the board or turn international rugby into a joke.

      I’d think it can be used for both the top tier and lower tier advantage… where either uses the other for player development. The player can then say ‘ nah I’m gonna take a 3 yr break!’..and then comes back for the team he actually wanted to represent.

      I wonder how Scotland can/will use this to their advantage since they are a lower tier 1 nations?

      Reply
      • FF on

        Personally I don’t like it and it is a ‘quick fix’ so World Rugby can look like they are benefitting tier 2 sides, but really it helps Tonga and Samoa a lot and that’s about it. Probably sticks in the craw of teams like Georgia and Uruguay.

        Scotland will probably have to take advantage but it just helps dilute national identity in the test game even further IMO

      • Alanyst on

        Overall I do like it.

        As a dual citizen myself and with tri-citizen kids, it represents modern life – nationality is a more fluid concept now, and that should be respected.

        Structurally it stops unions “selling the dream”, then a few caps and you’re theirs for good (or nobody’s as it often turns out).

        A downside of eat your cake and have it too is that young players may hedge their bets for longer…benefiting the bigger unions.

        Of course it benefits small nations with a big diaspora to a sizeable extent…

        I don’t think it will help Scotland overly, as anyone playing well enough to make a difference at the level we aspire to is presumably being selected by their first nation. We might gain some older depth players…but we might also lose access to youth.

        Mercer’s experience for example might have tempted guys like Redpath, Bayliss and Ashwood to opt for a more prolonged Scotland career over a shorter England one. Now they can have first one and if that doesn’t work out, then the other.

      • RuggersB on

        Yeah Im dual citizen also…and of course the world is a different place and Ive lived a globalized life path also. I guess what concerns me though is’nt especially this new law which when broken down is not as radical as first impressions of it…and I like that players can’t get locked into a nation and then the nation just uses them for squad padding. It’s more what other laws mutate from it and how it effects the traditions of international rugby. It does also have potential to be misused.
        It’ll be interesting how it affects the likes of Aus and NZ who often pull in talent from the Pac Islands etc.
        I don’t think it benefits Scotland much if any..probably will make SRU more cautious about who they invest in, develop and cap tho
        .

    • 1.8T on

      Some interesting discussion on this. I can’t decide what I think. There must be a lot of players who are sold a dream and are effectively shafted given a couple of caps then forgotten about and them going back to their “own” country is great.

      The other side is it dilutes the perhaps old fashioned and romantic notion of playing for your country, why would you ever want to play for another country kind of thing. I realise a lot of guys in rugby and in general in the modern more global world, that more and more guys become eligible to play for more than one country but I still feel that there needs to be an element of nailing your colours to the mast, making your decision and that’s it.

      I also feel a lot of the issue is players wanting to play international rugby (and why wouldn’t you, its the pinnacle) and go to a “lesser” nation knowing they would never be picked for e.g. an England or an All Blacks. The converse is also true, the real talent from a “lesser” nation are tempted to go for a big team that they are eligible or will become eligible for so they aren’t just going to be on a losing team all the time. In essence international rugby is becoming more like a club game and I’m not sure I like that.

      Think I have talked myself into not being for the change but I still don’t know. I think the principal is fine but just know that it will be abused for player and teams selfish interests.

      Reply
      • Rory Baldwin on

        The problem as I see it is that it’s not going to stop countries with a high multicultural conveyor belt (England, ABs, even Scotland) from picking or using that prime talent at their peak. It just means that if they do only get a handful of caps the player can revert to another nation later in their careers. It will allow the likes of Tonga, Samoa, more access to players that they may not have currently as they are tied, but is it going to be players in their prime? The endgame surely is to get players only wanting to, and being freely able to, play for “their” country (and what constitutes that is a whole other can of worms) when at their playing peak and without financial constraints. Not sure this solves it.

      • FF on

        No it doesn’t. It is a quick fix and tbf it is something Samoa and Tonga have been asking for years. Fiji…not really because they have a much better youth system so their team is generally made up of players from Fiji.

        It’s notable that the teams being posted as possible World Cup sides have some pretty big-hitting names but the average ages will be eye-watering. Piatau and Folau but have been world class players but how good will they be ages 34? I’ve no idea.

      • Tryhard on

        I’m onboard with getting the PI teams more access to players but this seems like the wrong way to go about it.

        The main issue I see from this is that players like Piatau, Laumape etc ‘s worth is based largely on the fact that they don’t play international rugby – Piatau can’t command £1m if he’s not available for every game.

        Are they going to take a paycut so that they can go on tour with Tonga each year and get smashed by NZ and England?
        No, I think in their mind they will only be playing in the RWC, thus taking some young Tongan’s place who has been playing for at least some part of previous 3 and a half years. Surely this will lead to more stunted development and poor squad morale?

        I’m not sure I’d be that keen if some washed-up All Black came rocking up to the squad after getting rich in France for the past 3 years and took the place of a mate just before the world cup for what they see as a victory lap with their second choice.

        Maybe thats cynical but doesn’t sit quite right with me.

      • RuggersB on

        I’m all for the fairness and equality of representation ..but this rule doesn’t seem to achieve that in any significant way. If they reduced the 3 years gap to 1 or 2 years..it would probably have greater impact..but that would then open a can of worms I think.
        It has felt for some time that international rugby with every new rule introduction gets further and further away from the traditions of the sport that drew its fan base in the 1st place.
        I dont want rugby to eventually become some kind of franchised sport like NFL & others whereby the team’s fundamental identity is fluid and dictated by economics and logistics. The soul and spirit of rugby would be lost. Its an exaggerated scenario at this time….but it sure feels to me like the path is being opened.
        Also can’t believe they have said it took years of prep to get this ruling constructed and proposed…crikey seems so basic they could have put it together over a few pints down the pub.

      • FF on

        Reducing the stand down period to 1 year would just mean anyone that performed well for a tier 2 side would get packed by bigger nations. Putting a 3 year brake in means on both sides, it would be a risky proposition.

        Otherwise, do we really want to see Tonga smash the RWC, surge into the QFs, then lose half their team to the Wallabies the following year?

        I do think that this eligibility regulation is less damaging to the traditional notion of test rugby than the residency qualification route (which has thankfully been tightened) or grandparent qualification, which in some cases might be quite a meaningful connection and in others is literally unknown by a player until adulthood when they’ve looked into it.

  35. Neil on

    Players eligible from 2022

    Samoa: Lima Sopoaga, Steven Luatua, Victor Vito, Josh Ioane, Charles Faumuina, Christian Lealiafano, Julian Savea, Jeffrey To’omaga-Allen, Caleb Timu, Jordan Taufua, Denny Solomona

    Tonga: Charles Piutau, Vaea Fifita, Ngani Laumape, Israel Folau, Augustine Pulu, George Moala, Sekope Kepu, Adam Coleman

    Fiji: Nathan Hughes, Taqale Naiyarovoro, Seta Tamanivalu, Isi Naisarani, Sefa Naivalu, Semesa Rokoduguni

    Reply
    • FF on

      Don’t see any of those Fijians breaking into their starting 15 which explains why Fiji have been lukewarm about this change. I guess it’ll give them more competition as they continue to be shut out of the RC.

      What would be instructive is the age of some of these players. Tonga in our group will be a much bigger danger but we’ll be facing none of these players anywhere near their best.

      Also you missed out fekitoa for Tonga.

      Reply
    • RuggersB on

      He is a really good player…and Im not sure why Australia aren’t selecting him…on the evidence of their match v Scotland they should be.
      I think tho that he should be a fair bit down the list of options…a last resort 8 really.
      We should be giving Darge, Crosbie, Bradbury etc every chance to step up. Players that have been developed through our age grade systems. If nobody from that reaches the needed level of performance then, we look at ‘scottish qualified’ ..failing that then I guess thats when we consider the 3yr national switch ruling.

      Reply
      • TENC on

        Ruggers :No offence but we never agree in the blog whither we should be selecting the man on form or the development player for the navy jersey. I strongly disagree with you and I am in very good company, neither does Blair or Wilson. Dempsey will do for Glasgow what Mata does for Edinburgh. Glasgow need an 8, unlike Mata, Dempsey can qualify. When all the true scots can take the places of the 8’s at club level , I might be listening to you, but don’t bet on it. Until then, I disagree and ask you take your opinions to Blair and Wilson. If neither one of them is willing to put their career on scottish born 8, what does that tell you ?
        The clubs are blocking Scottish born players, oh , well, different matter ruggers , much as I enjoy international rugby, I like my pro sides more. So I don’t agree with you and neither does Blair or Wilson.

      • RuggersB on

        Its a blog…it is ok that you disagree with me..if we had the same opinions it would be a real yawn.
        Im sure we both, as fans, want the best for scottish rugby…and in general best is achieved by listening to all arguments and not trying to belittle the others to make themselves feel like a majority ruling.
        Im sure Blair & Wilson have their very own opinions…and only they can speak for themselves..they are the experts and the authority…not fans. If either Blair or Wilson read anything on here and took it with anything other than a pinch of salt Id be amazed. Id guess they have plenty other better stuff to be doing.
        This site is about fans opinions though …otherwise it has no relevance either.

      • TENC on

        I will take it you really mean ‘good point your logical, well thought out points, make for a well rounded blog’.

        There you are implying Blair is not picking the right players and now saying what a super coach he is. Fan blogs are just brilliant, Like a weather barometer, change by the day.

      • Beggers B on

        Ruggers: People don’t need your permission to disagree or agree. I think they know all of that stuff and more.

  36. Bass Rock on

    Glasgow: They really know how to give it away. A complete howler. What a bunch of losers. This is a side that have forgotten how to win. They have a cheek to offer season tickets.

    Reply
    • PabloK on

      Just watched Glasgow butcher an opportunity to steal a win in Italy. Absolutely disgusted in the way we played and then to give away three penalties in the dying seconds of the game. The senior players and the coaches need a certain part of their anatomy kicked.

      Reply
      • Campbell B on

        I can not find the words. They should have their wages docked. I have rarely seen such a disgraceful performance. I am furious , I feel it is time for a protest , suggestions ?

      • Miserable on

        I think these guys would rather have been christmas shopping with their wives,they certainly know how to give out black Friday discounts. there is no words for them.

      • RuggersB on

        Glasgow looked poor today.
        Only Dempsey & Darge came out of that with pass marks imo.
        Edinburgh, on the other hand, looked really good. Alot of folks hailed Cockerill ..but Blair has got them going up a level. They look far more dynamic in both forwards & backs.
        Crosbie was outstanding @7… he is pushing Watson if he keeps this up. It was also pleasing to see Bradbury looking like he was on the road back to his potential. Basham has been raved about for Wales…but you couldn’t even tell he was playing because of Crosbie & Bradbury. Both of those guys were going backwards under Cockerill.
        Would much rather see them playing to their potential for Scotland than using obscure laws to cast the net.
        Hodgson is getting better and better too. Hodgson, Crosbie and Sykes look like they have taken alot on board from test exposure.
        Kinghorn has alot of improvements to make if he wants to be a serious 10. Vellacott looks an overall better 9 than Horne..should be in the squad if he is committed to Scotland.

      • Ian on

        Yes – it is sort of defeat that ends eras. Would have felt better if Benetton had won the game sooner as they deserved. But those last minutes ask some really serious questions about the coaches and the players. So….many stupid compound errors all through second half. We got everything we deserved.

  37. Ardent on

    To be fair to Basham he took a heavyknock and went off with concussion after two minutes-so no wonder you couldn’t tell he was playing! But I agree Crosbie and Bradbury both looked terrific in attack and defence.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      ..Ha…yeah that’ll be why I didn’t see Basham. Don’t think it would have mattered anyhow …Crosbie would have won that battle today.

      Reply
  38. Sam Laycock on

    yeah just watched the edinburgh game, Great for Crosbie to get MOM and Haining looking in good nick too. But i thought Bradbury was exceptional. I’ve criticised him a lot but when he plays like he did today he shows just why people expect a lot from him. it was his best performance since 2019 calcutta cup and if he can keep playing like this consistently he is the the answer to 8 for Scotland. he reminds me of Louis Picamoles when he plays like this.

    Reply
    • TENC on

      ‘Louis Picamoles’ there is only 1 of them and he is not a scotsman. He had a good game , not in the same league as Picamoles at all. Good win for Edinburgh.

      Reply
  39. Broono on

    Ironically, and it is hard to compare but in my opinion but I though the distribution improved in both games when Dobie and Pyrgos came on. Pyrgos is clearly not the future , but interesting to see how he got a better line going and he is a guy none of us rate.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      I agree…I was surprised by Pyrgos. His passing was quick and crisp and got the line moving.
      Is he another player benefiting from Blair? Blair is beginning to look like a far better coach than has gone before.

      Reply
      • TENC on

        But if Blair stopped picking Mata and played a number 8 that could be picked for Scotland like Crosbie and Bradbury , he would be much better, in your eyes. Ok but where would that leave Edinburgh fans , as the mighty Mata would be overpaid and underused. Come on ruggers.

      • Broono on

        Eh: Oh well that is a point , I suppose , not the obvious one , how insightful you are . I was just saying Pyrgos was quick ,clean, distributed well and it was noticeable. You could have interpreted it that Vellacott still has a long way to go if he is to command the hinge of Edinburgh let alone Scotland . If he continues to do it all himself that is last thing Scottish rugby need. We dont need more of them thank you.

        It could be argued that he came on in the phase of the game where fatigue sets in and he got a nice easy ride home. I am one that thinks old dogs cannot learn new tricks, Pyrgos game was just noticeable different from Vellacott and on the other side of the M8 , George Horne has never had a distribution game, his agility and speed has been excellent and he is not quite back to his best as yet. Dobbie is a classical (Premiership) 9, who will be made an offer from the Premiership and would benefit if he accepted it.

      • Andrew on

        Early days, but good to see Blair’s career as a head coach going well. Not surprised as he was an intelligent player. Who else is on the up in Scottish rugby on the coaching side? Which recent ex players should be making the transition? Heard that Kelly Brown and John Hardie have roles. Could some put a depth chart together?

  40. alythman on

    Glasgow in particular have been mediocre for a number of years. If Edinburgh are improving, we need to see how they fare against the Irish teams – that is the real measure, as we normally get diddly squat against them

    Reply
    • FF on

      I guess that number would be two and a half years, as Glasgow were in the Pro14 final and narrowly lost out to Leinster. It’s been quite a drift under Wilson, I think he needed a chance to rebuild but he needs a big upturn in fortunes to convince people he’s the right man for the job.

      Reply
    • Bass Rock on

      It is unlikely Wilson is the man for the job, however Saturday’s meltdown was all on the pitch and 100% the players responsibility. They were on their line and just needed to wind the clock down. It was pretty dire , Edinburgh have been just as bad in the pre Cockers era.

      Different subject : Adamson had a good game in Wales. He should not be compromised with refing a Scottish team but he did so fairly IMO. Good game , man on the up I would say.

      Reply
      • RuggersB on

        It seemed Glasgow needed someone to lead in those moments they needed to retain possession kill momentum and see it out. Instead they just looked less and less organized.

        Adamson: Yes, I thought so too. I feel he made prompt decisions , explained himself well to all the players, was pretty efficient with any call reviews and generally allowed the game to flow. Good to see.

  41. FF on

    Mark Palmer reporting Redpath hoping to be back training in early January and targeting 6N return.

    Perhaps too much expectation after that remarkable debut, but Redpath-Harris feels like a better balance than Johnson-Harris. A proper second distributor at 12 will hopefully mean out back three get unleashed far more effectively than at present, where it all rests on Finn.

    Reply
    • 1.8T on

      Its been said before and I’ll say again, the best we have played in recent years was with Russell at 10 and Pete Horne at 12. I like Johnson but Redpath is more akin to a Horne kind of player. IMO Horne and Jones have been our best 12 -13 combo in recent years.

      Reply
  42. Ardent on

    And not forgetting James Lang who’s settled in very well at Edinburgh and looking like a possible option at 12 more akin to Redpath than Johnson. Starting to show much more what he can do than was evident in his 5/6 earlier caps.

    Reply
  43. Not science on

    If arguing a BEST combination in recent years I think it was Dunbar and Bennett.

    It should have been Dunbar/Taylor and Jones.

    Instead that was not properly tried, it’s become Redpath (based on one game) and Harris.

    While Johnson ALWAYS does a good job.

    All that said, Harlequins v Northampton (last round) was 26 v 25 – both Jones and Hutchinson starting. As far as the highlights go – Jones made two of the Quins tries with clean breaks and teammates went to him at final whistle. Tomorrow is Leicester v Harlequins (top of table v defending champions) so could see both Matt Scott and Jones on display. So there are other centres out there playing at the highest level, including Jones.

    Injuries may play a big part in the actual combination, but wouldn’t be scoffing at any of these names now – they have all shown enough to be legit contenders, fluctuating form and injuries means none are nailed on.

    Reply
    • TENC on

      The only ‘Nailed On’ player is Stuart Hogg and that is the way we like it! Forbes moves to wing and Edinburgh bring in an Argentinian 15. Exciting for the pro sides and great for us to see others and how they fill the jersey. Eventually Hogg will be back in Scotland, this feels like the time to develop a strategy to cope with the inevitable. There will be a gap , sooner or later.

      Reply
      • Ardent on

        Interesting.If Hogg was injured who would play at FB? Probably past the Maitland stage.The natural successor was Kinghorn but he’s now a stand off/wing. With Boffelli,Mackay and Immelmann all doing well at our two pro clubs no Scot is developing there at all at 15. So it would likely be one of Kinghorn,Huw Jones or Hastings ( I don’t consider Graham suitable for a 6N game there). So as you say some succession planning needs to be made as Hoggy won’t be there forever.

      • Toony Tunes on

        Maitland was a very good stand in. It is time to crack eggs to make an omelette. Scottish rugby cannot afford only 1 full back and one style of play. Why is Kinghorn playing 10 ? Is he being told to do that , is he opting for it, is he fed up being dead man’s shoes, surely not , it is worse at 10? Mind you I am surprised Russell has lasted as long. Kinghorn was not our Full back either and Huw Jones is out of position at 15 , I never want to see him being in the shadow of Hogg again. I do not think Hogg would want that either, Huw Jones is the kind of guy who can turn a game in a few moments.

  44. Grumpy on

    Glasgow full back looks excellent, a great runner, a great tackler and Dempsey was the direct running 8 we have been waiting for.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      Dempsey looks a fantastic player…no idea why he hasn’t made the Australia side for a while..they could use him.
      McKay I thought did ok …Im sure will play better.
      Thompson looks class..which is great for Scotland…very composed and accurate for a young 10.

      Reply
  45. TENC on

    Ruggers : What >Keep watching and look harder, McKay had a solid first game. Made a few decent runs and felled them like trees. Allowed the centres and wings to thrive.

    Reply
    • RuggersB on

      Tenc: ‘Solid’ or ‘OK’ ..sounds like the same view of his performance. I dont need to look any harder thanks…as you say ..he made ‘a few decent runs’ therefore why should I say it was better than OK?
      I think he can do better once he adjusts and settles into the style of play of both the team and the URC.

      Reply
      • Buddy on

        Ruggers : He also said he felled them like trees, which he did and you ignored. He looked ‘solid’ at the back and that is an innovation for Glasgow. Is that OK ? Personally I think he is a full back, that is what he does, he is not back three or any other fluffy words we use for slotting in our favourites. Did not see him kick mind, so a long way to go but a good start.

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