Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Guinness Six Nations: Wales 20-17 Scotland

Wales vs Scotland

For Scotland, it was a worryingly familiar result, this. Gregor Townsend’s men travelled to Wales with some expectation surrounding them. For a change, the Scotland team man for man on paper looked like they had the edge.

No one told Dan Biggar though, as the 100 test-cap skipper steered his team through choppy waters before slotting the winning drop goal just minutes after his Scottish counterpart Finn Russell had attempted a similar move half-heartedly when it wasn’t really on.

Scotland had a late penalty that gave them possession for the dying minutes. Despite looking reasonably comfortable through a few phases, Jonathan Davies (also on 100 test appearances) turnover stole away any chance of robbing the Welsh of the win they deserved.

It had started a lot more brightly, at least for an opening couple of minutes where Matt Fagerson found easy holes in the Welsh defence. It looked like Scotland might run away with it, if they could keep the ball.

Scotland looked the more comfortable in both defence and attack, but found themselves 6-0 down in short order. The cauldron of the Principality Stadium does not take long to douse Scottish dreams with cold reality.

As last week against England, there were glimpses of the Scotland we know exists and clamour to see and there were flashes again today but they were far too few.

A line break by Chris Harris (of all people) and strong carries by the impressive Sione Tuipulotu gave Finn Russell the space to spin it wide to Darcy Graham who backed himself to dot it down in the corner.

As the game restarted, Russell fluffed a touch finder but Scotland profited anyway with a kickable penalty, Wales caught offside at the clearance kick. It was like that, with Hogg and Graham also riding their luck in a couple of incidents (deliberate knock on, dump tackle) that while probably well refereed by Nic Berry, we’ve all seen given as penalties or worse in recent years.

After half an hour, Matt Fagerson went off injured and Scotland were on a warning for ill-discipline in the Welsh 22. Tomas Francis flopped over from the maul to tie the scores going in to half time, with the conversion missed.

Scotland gave the illusion of comfort in possession, but patiently Wales waited for the visitors to cough it up.

Half-time: Wales 14-14 Scotland

The picture in the second half was considerably different. Wales came out with a much clearer approach. Unfortunately for the neutral that mean more kicking and Scotland’s playmakers in that regard in Russell and Hogg came off second best in most areas – witness the late drop goal attempts by respective standoffs. Has Finn ever made one?

Scotland looked for a few minutes like they might try injecting pace into the game through the bullocking runs of Tuipulotu, and it might have worked. But like a drowning man appearing briefly to wave for assistance, they soon disappeared once again under the surface of a red wave and reverted to losing the arm wrestle Wales had dragged them into.

Every time the pack injected a bit of go forward – and the fact was, when it worked it looked like it really would bring dividends if they continued that way – one of the backs knocked it on, or lost support and was pinged for holding on.

By the time Rory Darge got on for his first cap it was a very cagey affair going into the final quarter of the game. Both Liam Williams and Dan Biggar hobbled for large portions of the second half and yet somehow still managed to be more effective than Russell and Hogg. Biggar managed to get a penalty off the posts which Scotland then obligingly knocked on to give the hosts advantage, Alex Cuthbert touched down in the corner but was ruled in touch.

The TMO went back to look at a knock on by Finn that was ruled deliberate. Perhaps a little unfair but given how Hogg got away with his, there could be few complaints. The Scots were given hope when Biggar took his drop goal as the prize rather than spreading it wide for the try. It was still only a three point game.

Restored to fifteen men further hope bloomed in Scottish hearts with a last penalty for a high tackle on Sam Skinner – this, like others before it, could have seen a card but didn’t – and one last possession. Wales were able to corral them in an area either side of the haf way line and by the time Davies snaffled the ball it was no less than Wales deserved.

Scotland will need to have a long hard look at themselves after this one – the poor decision making came from the leaders in the team and while the referee or the conditions both played a part, brief spells showed Scotland should have had enough to come away from this with a win. Yet again, fans are left asking why they didn’t – or if they couldn’t?

Referee: Nic Berry (ARU)

SRBlog Player of the Match: Darcy Graham was the only player to stay on the pitch the whole way through and emerge in any credit. Matt Fagerson and Tuipulotu were good but the wee winger was the best Scot on the pitch by a mile.

167 Responses

  1. Team that wanted to win did,team that expected to win didn’t.Simple as.!
    3 times Scotland watched a Welsh high kick re-gathered by the Welsh with no one challenging.If Russell plays badly then there is no plan B.
    Yes,ref was poor but not the reason we lost

  2. Not going to blame Russell. Everyone has off days and we dont have a realistic plan B. I thought he looked off at the start. Like he’d just had an argument with Toony about the tactics. In the anthems he just didnt look settled whereas in the England game he looked more like he fancied his 4th MOTM in that encounter. Fully expect him to bounce back for the France game.

    I’d be a bit more critical of the leadership on the pitch. Hogg’s been a very good captain but i think in the last quarter we really needed all the senior guys to read the riot act, encourage everyone to play as a team and not as individuals, to protect the ball and avoid penalties.

    1. Big Al, Finn had his phone with him during the warm up and kept looking at it. Felt then thar his attitude wasn’t right

    2. Wasn’t blaming Russell totally but when it was obvious early on with his all round play and body language, that he was way off the pace ,we had no one to take over due to the short sighted decision not to have a backup specialist No10 .Thats on Toony

    3. Yeah I thought the same when he came out the tunnel for the second half. He had a face like thunder like he had just had a yelling match with someone.

  3. I’m sorry, I’ve watched people laud Russell to the extreme, he was exceptionally poor today and not for the 1st time.
    He plays how Scotland play, 2 or 3 good games – out of 5.

    1. Nonsense, he just wasn’t at his best and made a few mistakes. He rarely has a bad game for Scotland these days and when he does it’s usually because he isn’t given any platform to play off.

    2. I think Russell had a poor game because of external factors. Very slow ball, forwards not making much headway. His style of play doesn’t suit conservative or back foot play either tactically or because we don’t have the upper hand.

      He may have had his hands tied in game management as well.

  4. There’s more to fix than Russell and if we look beyond him he’s not to blame for the lineout woes, maul defence, inability of the bam squad to make an impact in the scrum, lack of dominant hits, balls ripped, turnovers, players not rolling away, needless penalties, injury to our best ball carrier, lack of team cohesion and the opposition wanting it more.

    1. This is the same as my view (sorry, that’s probably a poisoned endorsement).

      Wales came out with a point to prove and completely managed the contact area. We just looked all at sea in eithering committing too many men or committing too few. We didn’t win the collisions and, for the second game in a row, failed to adjust to the ref’s interpretation of the laws.

      The backs, when they did get the ball, were error-prone and lacked imagination. Although not entirely his fault, Russell had an awful game. As did Duhan. Hogg was totally anonymous as an attacking threat but Tuipolotu made the best out out the few scraps he received.

      Don’t always agree with Tom English but he is on the money this time . “Pathetic” and “predictable” just about cover it. Oh, and well done to Wales. A pretty woeful squad but they more than deserved the win

  5. Today is exactly why Redpath has to start , he takes pressure off Finn to produce everything. Playing 2 big centres simply ensures Finn has to be the THE Playmaker. Darcy Graham is brilliant but is 2 stone (at least) too light Steyn has to start.
    Haining makes the hard nuggety yards.

    Still 1/2 wins is no too bad

    1. What does Graham have to do? He has been our best player over the last 2 games and made some massive tackles today as well as breaking multiple tackles.
      I can’t believe we are still getting the too small nonsense…

      1. Aye he looked two stone too light when he powered through LRZ to a try that he had no right to score under that cover. Not to mention dumping a couple of forwards on their arse and into touch.

    2. Aye he looked two stone too light when he powered through LRZ to a try that he had no right to score under that cover. Not to mention dumping a couple of forwards on their arse and into touch.

    3. Also, Graham was by far the better of the two wingers, so IMO it would be big Duhan (who’s a bit out of form) to make space.

      1. Eh : Duhan got nothing to work with today. Think that comment is a bit premature. Good to see Hogg getting a few tackles in today. Mind you there was still a few light touches to work on.

    4. Absolutely ridiculous comment given the stone-cold evidence of the last two games featuring Darcy Graham. Brilliance in creating a try last week; brilliance in finishing a try this week – and one of our most aggressive and effective tacklers across both games.

  6. Not for the first time Scotland failed to impose themselves on the opposition and I get the impression that is part of the game plan – if so that is an abysmally poor strategy. In addition several key players were far too casual in their execution. Speed of thought and action wins rugby matches but with only two or three exceptions Scotland were ponderous and predictable. With that attitude Italy will be favourites.

  7. You can count on one hand the number of players today who came out of that car crash with any credit. The game plan was always gonna be awful once it became clear that Russell wasn’t playing well as it is totally reliant on him playing well. As ever, a Gregor Townsend coached team had no plan B to switch to and no on on the pitch to even attempt to stop the inevitable slide to defeat. Hogg kicking aimlessly when running it back would have been better then getting caught in possession multiple times. It’s a sign of a team without on pitch leaders when restarts aren’t taken or are left to bounce. No one saying “I’ll deal with this”. I suspect they are afraid of straying from GTs rigid system and get frozen like a rabbit in the headlights when it all goes to hell. As for Hogg, there’s a reason that Rennie and Baxter and gatland have all dropped him.

    1. I have a sneaky feeling we will beat France at home (giving Ireland the championship) – might be deranged but we will see.

      1. It is wide open , but I can see us doing exactly that, beating France, however England have both Wales and Ireland at home, I cannot see them losing both, so will it be Ireland ! As for Scotland, back to a few old enemies today, missing touch on penalties and the odd out on the full. Schoolboy howlers, that is not championship winning patterns of behaviour.

  8. Maybe its just me but there was a tip tackle on Russell at 47.02 in the game with his legs in the air and head hitting the ground. He’s actually hit so hard that he flips right over and its masked a bit by Watson hitting the ruck.

    Its at 2:13:40 in iplayer if you can bare to watch it again.

    1. Good luck getting a replay in Cardiff!

      Meanwhile the panto-villain Darcy Graham’s perfectly fair tackle is shown 9 times to 60000 boos…It’s so blatant, it’s almost funny.

    2. Yes, I do believe you are right. It’s very fast but it does look like the flip him on his head. I don’t think the refereeing team were great for either side. I have no idea what was going on at the breakdown. It was all very random and we never adjusted

  9. Losing to a bang average welsh team isn’t great. I think the plaudits about defence winning the game last week seems to gone to the teams head. We will not be winning very often if we keep shipping penalties (admittedly we got on the wrong side this ref again). Can’t blame the ref when it’s every time we play. We only get away with it if our opposition give away more penalties than us.

  10. Best coach and players in the world last week to Townsend/Russell/Hogg out this week.
    We are all disappointed but maybe a bit of balance.

    1. Don’t agree Fraser, last week most of us realized that we stole a win by being streetwise and hoped that we would build on that.Unfortunately The win was built on sand

      1. No we have to use today as an education. We built a foundation so strong from last season. We need to build on from that and never let others to choose to dicrate. That’s our choice. No one else’s.

  11. 6 Nations titles=
    England 7, Wales 6 , France 5, Ireland 4
    Scotland 0 Italy 0
    We have been ‘also rans’ for 22 years, regularly battling it out for the spoon with Italy.
    Changes of coach, changes of tactics, plundering the 4 corners of the globe for anyone remotely Scottish qualified, Development of academies at Glasgow and Edinburgh , the Oriam national development centre of excellence for bringing through talent, players sold to top clubs in France and England for experiential development , the SRU have tried everything and yet I have seen little to change the overall picture this season.
    Something has to change, or Perhaps time to drop into a lower tier competition to give us the experience of winning something.
    But then again perhaps we’d drop too many passes/kick out on the full/ get a rush of blood with the line beckoning at that level too.

    1. Things have improved considerably.
      A big difference could be made if young players were involved in a more intense competition akin to the Irish Schools cups but we’re miles ahead of where we were.

    2. There clearly has been an enormous step change between 2009-2015 (the dark years) and 2016-now. We’ve steadily improved but the brutal truth is the 6N is an extraordinarily competitive tournament and we have more limited playing resources than our rivals. I don’t know what the solution is in terms of becoming competitive enough to actually win a title, but I do fear things are about to get much worse in the medium term.

      Once Russell and Hogg retire it isn’t clear who is ready to step up either as a world-class 10 or just as leaders of the same stature.

      We have limited playing resources but waste far too much of what we do have (the Scottish system is a graveyard for aspiring props for example), our u20s are poor and have been eclipsed by Italy and in 3-4 years we will probably be struggling to stay ahead of the Italians as they close the gap with the rest of the championship. Meanwhile the sleeping giant of French rugby is waking.

      We desperately need a long term plan for Scottish rugby but i fear we have become too occupied by the pro-teams (who’ve improved massively from the noughties) at the expense of player development.

    3. We’ve only been 5th once since 2016, so I think it’s fair to say we’ve shaken the Wooden Spoon Contender Perennials for now. At that time, I think most of us were fairly relieved to move to mid-table regulars! The problem is getting beyond that with hhe resources we have. 2021 was the golden opportunity that slipped by. Beat Wales then, as we should have, and we probably would have had the tournament. Ireland are so formidable now and a French beast is emerging. We have a handful of players that are considered (outside of Scotland) as World class, but they are peaking now and it may be a long wait for a similar cast

      1. That was nothing to do with resources this was poor play and execution from players and management that should have managed to continue to dominate enough like the 1st quarter to get 10 point ahead then keep ahead as a poor opposition began to unravel…

        They looked like they made ground with ease with ball in hand for 1st 20 mins. Can’t believe we didn’t finish it off.

        Awful stuff and yet we’ll likely beat France. Team who wins champ will be team with four wins. France will be one and either Scotland or England or Ireland the other and it’ll be close. All sorts of permutations are there still but this was a once on a lifetime chance and we blew it.

  12. My heart sank every time I heard penalty advantage. Which was a lot.
    I don’t really get why the intensity seemed to be so lacking from Scotland. It really seemed to slip away from them.
    I noticed Ben white trying to gee everyone up.
    You never see or hear everything that goes on but I’d have loved to see a more senior player step up and give everyone a rocket up their backside. That was winnable even playing pretty poorly.
    The change in tune about Finn is ridiculous though (twitter). He’s been bigged up all week and has an off game and he’s terrible! Everyone was pretty pish (except Darcy).
    I’m fully expecting a tombola next and I’m here for it.

  13. All a bit dreich around here but Wales were always going to fight like crazy at the principality. If they’d lost their championship would’ve been over and there was no way they would let that happen without a massive fight.
    People underestimate them but it’s their sport and S Wales is a goldfish bowl. Definitely England and probably even Ireland or France would’ve struggled there today in those circumstances.

    We lost by 3 points to the champions. Even shorn of players they’re still tough and guaranteed to up their game.

    Move on. There can’t be any room for negativity. The team is good enough to win their remaining fixtures. Will need some luck and some Wales style dog but it can be done.

    Then who knows?

    1. This wasn’t really the champions though – most of the core of leaders and champtionship-winning players was decimated by injury – they had a mix of some grizzled oldies but plenty of either 2nd/3rd choice players and youngsters. We had almost full squad, all the momentum, surely the motivation (?) and should have taken them to the cleaners. But we shrank from the challenge and allowed them to impose their game. It was an atrocious performance, well below our best – if Wales had risen to the occasion and beaten us with us also matching/bettering our performance from last week, then fair enough you’d say well done. But we beat ourselves, they didn’t have to do much. And given the circumstances and momentum, THAT is the most crucial issue from today’s game – and all the other games like it in the past few years. today was a bigger game than last week for that reason and we choked.

      Maybe winning away from home in empty stadiums isn’t as valuable as we thought it was……only potential explanation is that it was our first away fixture in a couple of years with a crowd and so perhaps there’s an excuse for re-adjustment – maybe France will need to do the same at Murrayfield in the next round. But given the players we have, the least we expect is that we play to something like our potential with the right attitude and grit.

  14. Wales were pumped last week and sneaked a never say die 3 point victory over a fancied opponent today.

    There you go. That’s the attitude we need.

  15. Dragged into a slugfest again today, and lost one again. Great start, and ten minutes into the second half I thought we were in control and would go on to win it.
    Concession of so many penalties killed us, as well as cheap cough-ups of possession. Need to watch it again to see whether we were reffed harshly at the breakdown, but real time impression was that the Wales back row was better than ours today. Ritchie is a major loss for us this 6N.

    1. They were pretty hot and smart at the breakdown, identifying our strike runners (Hoggy in particular) as opportunities to isolate and turnover.

      1. It wasn’t even that. We just let them play. Just like with the english. We had it all in our hand. And 0k we let them in a little but that should have been that. It’s reflective of the old ways of not taking the game by the scruff and deciding to dictate the game and control. We’ve seen it last season and confidently closing games out. OK we did that last week too. But my god when will we learn to stand up and not be bullied.

    2. Drawn into a slugfest again …. why? What is missing or attitude issue that keeps resulting in this?

  16. I’m getting utterly fed up of losing to Wales. If we don’t beat France in two weeks then we are looking at 2 wins at best which would represent a very poor 6N.

  17. We were completely disjointed for the whole match. Players didn’t have close to the same fire in belly as last week. Wonder if they weren’t happy with the game plan and a negative approach? Only those involved will know.

    We seriously lacked in good support play. Players way behind runners and single hits in attach weren’t making the gain line. It was pedestrian and lacked ambition.

    Really would like to know the game plan cause on the pitch today the players looked lost.

    Wales offered very little other than great desire so on 50/50 Wales tended to come out with the ball.

  18. We should have won, no doubt, but think we’ve got to (again) look at it as a learning experience and make sure we don’t repeat these mistakes.

    We haven’t become a bad side overnight and are still capable of beating any of these teams. We got it wrong but if we beat France, we’re still in a great position to win the 6N.

    The gambles made in selection didn’t work. Skinner didn’t provide the breakdown prescence Ritchie does and we didn’t utilise him to dominate the lineout. Haven’t watched it back but we didn’t seem to compete or even attempt to disrupt their ball. Nel didn’t dominate the scrum and didn’t provide the work rate Fagerson does. He belongs on the bench now to see off against tiring or replacement opponents. Tuipulotu was solid but didn’t provide enough of a distribution threat to help elevate our attack. Just not the right fit in the midfield with Harris.

    These are all fixable though.

    We clearly need a mobile pack that is going to beat other teams around the park and provide us with clean and effective ball for our backs to play with. Two genuine flankers will help provide this and one of Darge, Crosbie, Bayliss or (maybe) Christie need to start alongside Watson.

    Russell can’t do the playmaking for our backs entirely by himself. It’s too easy for defences to read and Finn starts getting flustered / frustrated when all the pressure is on him. Hogg does a bit in this area but not enough and Redpath has to start to provide another focus point. Our wingers are brilliant when they get involved but it’s not happening often enough and this needs re-thought.

    The scrum and lineout aren’t ever going to be weapons (it seems) so let’s pick the players that are functional there but provide greater impetus elsewhere. Schoeman was great but Fagerson needs to start alongside him.

    Our defence has come on so much and genuinely provides a brilliant platform for us to win games. A few tweaks to our attack and game management and we will see improvements that will help close out games like this in the future.

  19. Having endured the last 20 years of Scottish rugby I was neither surprised nor terribly upset by that performance/result. What I do find extremely disappointing is that we still have a coach who consistently fails to get the best out of the talent available to him.

  20. kind of business as usual…
    noting a couple of comments above…. you can’t really describe Wales as second tier when you look at their Six Nations record, as per Gaffer’s post:
    6 Nations titles=
    England 7, Wales 6 , France 5, Ireland 4
    Scotland 0 Italy 0

    …or their record against Scotland recently? They were poor against Ireland (but Ireland were very good)

    Every time we come to Cardiff believing we are going to roll over them, we tend to get a rude awakening.

    We could have won today… but, we didn’t. Darcy Gray has looked great in both games this year, who else? Finn was the typical, “moments of brilliance followed up by the predictable moment of rubbish?” also, watched the first two games and had to check that Hamish was actually playing ? esp. in the England game ?

    Good to bask in the joy of beating England, but not kidding myself that this is our year. Can’t see a win for Scotland against France or Ireland now.

    1. Ireland were at home so not a surprise wales got battered. Home advantage does have a big effect it seems. Though Scotland seem to not be able to deal with that either. Redpath is just getting back into playing so needs to be eased in. He should maybe start or get 30 mins against italy then maybe play against ireland.

      1. Yes you have a point re Redpath. Toony does this all the time. Took Duncan Taylor to the RWC immediately after a one year injury lay off and overlooked so many other, fit and on form players. Yes fellow fans, do we remember that ! Duncan Taylor . Did Sam Johnson really deserve to drop out of the 23 ?

      2. I would imagine the squad aren’t surprised to find that player x is out and player y is in. I’d imagine Townsend explains to the players why they are in or out. I doubt one player in or out of the 15 would make a massive difference. Would White, Kinghorn and Redpath have shaken it up? Possibly, it would be a different setup.

    2. Harsh on Hamish – thought he was our best player yesterday, alongside Darcy. Made most carries (14) and metres (69) of all forwards yesterday. Beat more defenders than anyone on the pitch and made most tackles (19) of everyone (without missing again!). Also great turnover in front of the posts to get us ahead early on.

  21. One other point this myth about how our wonderful defence is carrying us to win more games is no more than that a myth. Yes we are losing fewer tries but we are coughing up a significant number of penalties which gives the opposition points and momentum. Additionally this improved defence comes at the cost of relinquishing flair creativity and pace which kills our go forward and results in fewer line breaks and tries.

    1. I find myself agreeing totally with Tasmanian Tiger, with regard not being particularly surprised or upset and the lack of creativity from or centres somewhat hamstringing our attacking intent.
      Against a determined and physical defence we really struggle, what we have improved is that we are harder to beat, however have we (on the whole) traded flair for being harder to beat? Harris unquestionably a solid physical centre but I yearn to see Bennett or Huw Jones in the 13 jersey. France game is crucial win and we can win 3 games which will be a decent 6N, 2 will have to be seen as a failure.

  22. On the back of a win we change the team and lose momentum. Johnson out the 23. Hastings out the squad. If that is what we see on the outside, what is going on inside.

    1. We’ll be lucky if we end up with the wooden spoon, Townsend is the a looser. He wouldn’t get the job as coach for any other international team on the planet. Our number 13 who can’t make a clear line break and offer space for his supporting team mates also wouldn’t get picked for any other top international team on the planet. When Townsend goes we will improve.

      1. He’s just not getting the balance right between attack and defence. We were leaking tries before Tandy arrived and now we’ve gone too far the other way and are fixated with defence at the expense of attack. Redpath and Harris should be earmarked as the RWC pairing and need a run of games together. Toonie needs to stop the midfield Tombola.

      2. Cringe: What do you think would be ‘improvement’ ? This reads like you are happy to live for one game a year , beating England !

    2. The one constant about team selection is that there will be more Tombola to come ahead of the France game. Wouldn’t be surprised if Toonie throws Haining in at 6 or 8 if Magerson doesn’t make it. The ill discipline/penalty count is killing us and has to be addressed as a priority.
      I’m a bit worried about the game in Rome. Italy looked much improved in Paris this week and we’ll do well to get any sort of win unless they implode.

  23. Harris is a good defender and a British Lion, so he must have something, however IMO Scotland need a game changer in the centre, so can’t have Johnson Harris or Tuipulotu Harris, need Steyn Bennett or Jones in the mix, they will keep the opposition honest and have shown they can do it at international level.
    My rant last night re Darcy Graham came after several Thai beers, Graham has the heart of a Lion and would always be in my 23

    1. Is Steyn a winger or a centre ? Toony seams to avoid talented specialists in favour of talented generalists. My opinion is you might get away with that at Club level.

  24. Some interesting comments around the game. Sam Warburton saying that if Wales can retain the ball then after some 10 phases Scotland will cough up a penalty (they did almost every time) and the time in the tackle comment by john barclay, not getting out the way. So maybe our statistically great defence has been figured out. If so the coaches and players need to adapt. Also Wales don’t lose many at home so was it a surprise? On paper that looked a team that could beat Wales but we didn’t adapt to the conditions or the referee who just pinged us all day. When we had possession and were attacking we didn’t protect the ruck quickly enough and got turned over easy. Is that the players not following the system or the system not working?

      1. I would agree, I am sure if you asked the players they would say it was on field mistakes or decisions that went against them, but there seems to be a question about the psychological state of the players taking the field. I’m always reminded of Paul O’Connell’s view that just because Ireland is a small nation doesn’t mean they can’t beat anybody. Wales arrived fully primed into a stadium where they were further boosted by the crowd. I always feel that if Scotland need to react to a bad result, they give it a go, but probably aren’t all in. However we shouldn’t forget that Ireland battered Wales in the Aviva and Ireland then came a cropper in Paris. England lost at Murrayfield but had all the ball but did nothing really. Perhaps the takeaway is that home advantage counts massively more in rugby.

  25. What a maddening performance! At the start of the 6N, with our defence fixed in most areas, I feared for our lineout and our back three under the high ball. But both have improved massively – huge credit to whichever coach is responsible. But then we throw it away in other areas. Stuart Hogg looked far less threatening ball in hand than usual, and kicked one touch finger straight out. But I can forgive him – everyone has a bad game occasionally. But Russell had a shocker. A kick off going straight out, penalty not finding touch, a pass to no one, always taking the fancy option even when the pack is going backwards – never mind the yellow card. In the cauldron of the Millennium stadium, continually losing ground and the ball must have effected the morale of the forwards and go a long way to explaining how the Welsh got more and more on top. Russell should have been subbed early, and it is crazy not to have Hastings on the bench. (In fairness to Russell, he tackled hard and did some good things, particularly the pass for the try. But the bad outweighed the good).
    I thought swapping front rows so early was crazy. Schoeman, in particular, and McInally, too, were playing well. Plus, they had had nothing to do in the first few minutes of the second half, as it was just aerial ping pong. Schoeman didn’t need a break, as events proved. The weakness of pre-determining substitutions is that you take off players even if they are playing well.
    There is so much to mull over! Is Harris so indispensable in defence that we can’t have a more attack minded centre pairing? Has Ali Price had all his running threat trained out of him? Did Turner have to trade-in his charging runs in favour of lineout throwing accuracy? What did Cummings do wrong and will we see him again? Are Edinburgh’s top news performers (Darge, Vellacott, Bradbury), not trusted with starts because the league and cup they play in is regarded as too soft?

    1. So you seem to be genuinely asking questions, you deserve genuine answers.

      Is Harris so indispensable in defence that we can’t have a more attack minded centre pairing?


      Has Ali Price had all his running threat trained out of him?

      No, he’s just added significantly to his game.

      Did Turner have to trade-in his charging runs in favour of lineout throwing accuracy?

      I don’t know what this means. Turner developed a reputation as a strong runner, and teams have started to suss him out. It has nothing to do with his throwing, which is an unalloyed benefit.

      What did Cummings do wrong and will we see him again?

      Don’t think he did anything wrong. Isn’t it amazing that we’re at the point now where we have too many good players for the International 23? And we’ll absolutely see him again – he’s 25 years old. A lot of high quality locks (Beirne, Willemse, Rowlands), were uncapped at his age. Townsend will have given him work-ons, and he already seems to be reacting to it.

      Are Edinburgh’s top news performers (Darge, Vellacott, Bradbury), not trusted with starts because the league and cup they play in is regarded as too soft?

      Darge plays for Glasgow. 6 Edinburgh players started against Wales. You’ve genuinely lost me here.

  26. Perspectives:

    6N away wins not exactly common, Italy aside. Ireland lost to France by 6, England lost to us by 3 etc…

    2 massive strokes of luck went Welsh way (LW 50:22 & Biggar’s crossbar effort)

    Home teams with crowds are skewing the penalty counts…

    Not our day: different day, different result.

    I think our 6N history makes us overreact to what is, in the end, a normal 6N game. We can expect to win as many of these as we lose

    1. Agree. It’s fine margins. That said this again feels like another in the long list of those games that got away Let’s see how the France game goes

      1. Yes it is. And I agree there is plenty to work on, lots of errors, but it is not a disaster, or a major retrogression, just a loss.

  27. A part of me dies inside when I see people still mention Huw Jones, it’s cringing people can be so far removed from the reality of his form for a nearly 3 year period

    It’s a big massive neon sign pointing at people saying “listen to nothing I say about Rugby ever”

    1. Cringe: Would that be the same Huw Jones that is playing for the English Premiership Champions ?

      1. The one he will be exiting shortly yeah? That one, the one he doesn’t feature heavily for in games of meaning and was signed as a squad filler at a time when the Premierships salary cap is on its arse

        The one who will soon likely return to Glasgow.

        That same one yes

      2. I thought you might be talking about the same Huw Jones. I always think facts are stronger that ill conceived blusterous opinions. However here is an opinion, Huw Jones is no where near the player he was when he joined Glasgow, but the facts say he plays for Premiership Champions. Another opinion, If I were him , I would stay well clear of this Scotland side.

        We just dropped a centre from the 23 who did not have a great game against England , but didn’t have a bad one either. It doesn’t feel right to me.

        Keep up the cringing.

      3. The facts are, he isn’t going too for much longer, swing and a miss here, neon sign is flashing strong

      4. When it happens, he will leave the team who won a title before his arrival with next to no impact on them in his time there, that Huw Jones, it’s not 2018 anymore, he’s not relevant or wanted it seems, which is why it’s likely Glasgow following a last minute short term Quinns deal

      5. Cringe : Would he be leaving the same Harlequins that are sitting 4th in the Premiership , 2 ahead of Exeter, the same Exeter that took 52 points from Glasgow on the 15th of January ? The same Glasgow he left on a last minute deal . It feels to me like he left them to be part of something bigger and all of your argument is based on your opinion that he is ‘not relevant or wanted’ at Harlequins and will be shown the door. Let’s hear it , where did you get that from ? IMO he is doing just fine in a side that are likely to get a play off spot.

        Well of course he will leave sometime, they all move around. Other Scotland cast off’s went on to win the European Cup ( SHC ) .

        Try not to ‘let a part of you die’ when you hear people talking about the ‘Neon Light’ Currie Cup winner Huw Jones.

    2. He’s leaving them and it’s been decided after less than a season of him being there, using him being there as some form of validation is hilarious TBH

      1. It has been decided has it ? Contract terminated ? Where has that been made public? Yes it is hilarious .

  28. On a side note, what happens to all the promising South African players who adopt Scotland as their international team of representation , establish themselves as good players (or better than what we ‘home grow’) and then move south in search of better pay. every one of them seem to dip in form and disappear off the radar.
    Davie Denton, Josh Strauss, Cornell du Preez, Huw Jones…
    Even now, big Duhan was winger of the northern hemisphere season 20-21 after a year at Worcester, he is definitely not the same player.
    WP Nel, who has remained in Scotland has managed to maintain his international credentials, perhaps the SRU need to do whatever they can to ensure Pierre Schoeman remains at Edinburgh.

    1. Gaffer : Is that the same Huw Jones who was born in Edinburgh, qualified to play for England and Wales, educated at one of the most renowned Rugby playing school’s, Millfield in Somerset chose to play for Scotland and went right down hill when coaches Rennie and Townsend ( strong opinionated ex centres) coached him.

  29. Keep in mind that this weekend is supposed to be a 6N ‘rest weekend’ which means all our exiles will return to their clubs and no doubt play 80 mins while the nations whose players have dual contracts can enjoy a rest. Fingers crossed no more injuries!

  30. There are still a few big games for Scotland yet, this championship is open now, any of the others can beat each other and we still have a big game left in us.

  31. Team for France..

    Stuart Hogg – Darcy Graham – Chris Harris – Cameron Redpath – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Matt Fagerson – Magnus Bradbury – Hamish Watson – Grant Gilchrist – Sam Skinner – Zander Fagerson – George Turner – Pierre Schoeman

    Blair Kinghorn – Ben Vellacott – Nick Haining – Rory Darge – Scott Cummings – Willem Nel – Stuart McInally – Jamie Bhatti

    1. nice selection Neil. Though I guess your no fan of Gray! Plus is Jamie Bhatti fit? I’d like to see Vellacott get some time against the French too. Lets see…..

    2. Agree with most of this tbh. Jonny Gray hasn’t offered much over the last couple of games and should probably be out. Most likely due to lack of gametime for Exeter so far this season.

      Has there been any update on Matt Fagerson? If he’s fit, he starts at 8. If not, Bradbury.

      Bayliss at 6 if he’s recovered. Christie otherwise.

      Bench looks good apart from Haining and Bhatti. Would go with any of the other back rows over Haining and Sutherland still over Bhatti.

      1. If Sutherland is fit he makes the bench.. i have a suspicion he may be out however the way he was holding his elbow.

        On Fagerson: Gregor said in Post-Match interview on rugbypass it just looked like an uncomfortable knock and will likely be available.

        Haining has been in good form.. just so have the other backrows for Edinburgh, he raises his game for Scotland and shows a bit of fire at least. If Bayliss were fit i’d swap. Haining outplayed Christie with him, when Edinburgh played Saracens, i think there is a bit of overhype at the moment.

        Gray is not a luxury Scotland can afford in my opinion, we don’t have aggressive enough ball carriers to compensate for an out & out tackler.

        In the backline we can afford to stick Harris as we have (normally) world class attacking potential elsewhere. But for Gray? Nope.

      2. Fair re Sutherland and good to hear on Fagerson, cheers.

        Yeah agree on Gray. When he’s on form he can provide ballast but isn’t at the moment and should probably be dropped.

        I don’t know much about Christie tbf but think genuine flankers are pretty key to our game and from what I’ve heard he fits that more than Bradbury. Haining is good but is not a flanker (see SA game) and isn’t really needed if we have Fagerson and Mag available.

        Backline you’ve picked looks like our best form possible and pretty sure that’s what Toonie will go for. Harris is obviously crucial defensively but can actually hit nice lines as well, just needs someone to put him into them. Redpath hopefully the missing piece of the puzzle here.

      3. Neil: Sutherland has been off the boil since the Lions tour and I if we are being ruthless, question does he merit a place. Kebble IMO has been hard done by to be missing the 6N. On Sutherland , his recovery from Injury is the stuff films are made of but I think we need to be ruthless.

      1. No reason, Vellacott has been playing very well and would like to see him get the same opportunity White has is all. I’ve been impressed with White.

        If White was selected i would not complain.

    3. Surely we’d be better off with Hastings rather than Kinghorn in the 23?

      Vellacott is a worthy candidate but White has done nothing to merit exclusion from the matchday squad.

    4. Not too far short of my preferred selection. Think the backs are spot-on – hopefully Redpath can offer more creativity and relieve the pressure on Finn.

      The forwards are more of a conundrum. Gray hasn’t really been at it as a ball carrier so dropping him seems fair enough. But Gilchrist was pinged a few times (if I remember correctly) and couldn’t keep hold of the ball in contact. Skinner always feels a better fit in the second row, so that seems right. Replacing Ritchie is the big issue. Bradbury was pretty anonymous again. Like I say, not overflowing with in-form choices.

  32. So mainly I just feel sad for Hoggy and Finn, the two players who have given me the most excitement and joy from watching rugby, miss this opportunity. They both seemed to revert to the worst versions of themselves, Finn making mistakes and kidding on he doesn’t care, Hoggy making mistakes and letting them visibly weighing him down.

    Lots of positives too, though:
    M Fagerson is growing game on game. Best player, arguably on either side, before he went off.
    You’d have to be made of stone not to be utterly buzzing for Darcy Graham, after the hideous year he had last year. He’s making another step up. Is there a more joyful sight in rugby than a little guy smashing past a bigger fella?
    Cam Redpath looked good when he came on. Smooth hands, strong runner. Perfect foil for Harris, huge piece of the puzzle if he can stay fit.
    It wasn’t a given that Schoeman was going to be able to step up to this level. There are very promising signs in that regard.

    1. I agree. Hogg and Russell are two of our greatest players in their positions and have done so much to help us emerge from the darkness of the 2000-2015 eta, and I really want them to have some International silverware to show for it. But…I am just doubting it will happen with this group of players, because the 6N now is so competitive. Both make mistakes because they are human and I hate to see the criticism they get subjected to on the back of a gutting loss. But supporting Scotland now is like night and day compared to supporting Scotland in our nadir.

      My view is we have got just about all the improvements we can get by concentrating resources at the elite end. We need a much more concerted effort from the SRU to invest in broadening the base, engaging new schools and communities in the sport, driving the competitiveness of our youth rugby, academies and super 6, and hopefully that will translate into even higher standards of the test team. We have to take a longer term view.

      1. I’m in full agreement. We need to engage schools outside of the traditional base. We are nominally a nation of 5.5m people, but our rugby base will cover a quarter of this at best.

      2. Been saying it for years. Our playing base dropped well over 100% since the comprehensive schools stopped playing. That was a direct response to a pay dispute between 1984 and 1986.

        In response the clubs escalated mini rugby but that only reached those who were dispatched to a rugby club by parents, carving out large numbers of neutrals from appreciating the game.

        As a consequence many potential players were omitted from being ‘sheep-dipped’ in rugby and it could be argued their children wont be sending their kids to play rugby either. Why would they if they had no appreciation for the game. Rugby returned to being one for the elite schools and traditional rugby families.

        You can argue all you like, but this is the turning point in Scottish rugby. It is no accident our last Grand slam was 1990 , the influence of the comprehensives was increasingly lost since 1986 and by 1996, virtually gone. Thereafter followed 20 years of the most dreary rugby and we still have nightmares recalling it.

        I think the recovery is plan is good, we have a few standout players, we have a lot of academy players and exciting imports. But the maximum will be when we win back in the schools.

  33. Quite impressive performance from Hutchison in defeat for Northampton. Like roses him involved again I think he offers a lot. Also Hastings? Don’t get it at all.

    1. I hate the roses myself.

      Surprised that nobody has mentioned the amount of knock ons that Gilchrist provided on Saturday. It seemed like he dropped it more often than he caught it.

  34. Quite impressive performance from Hutchison in defeat for Northampton. Like to see him involved again I think he offers a lot. Also Hastings? Don’t get it at all.

  35. Scotland are not progressing as a team. ONE OFF WINS BUT NO CONSISITENCY. lets not forget the last WC was an utter disaster, an embarrassment and Townsend should have been fired then. Are we catching Ireland or France? We have some very good individuals but no strength in depth when injuries occur. Thank god for SA front rowers. Who ever decided Z Fagerson should be paid to play rugby never mind go on a Lions tour needs sectioned. He cant scrummage and offers nothing but penalties for the opposition in the loose. Someone mentioned Russell as a leader, in what way does he show leadership qualities? If he could do the basics right 95% of the time then add the the magic that would be nice. As for Hogg he’s always got something to say after a defeat or telling people what this team will do, its as insuperable as Liadlaw was. Try winning a championship or even three games. As for the standard of the United league, lord help me, it is third rate.

    1. The standard of the United league and its predecessors is so poor a Scottish team has only ever won it once!! Its Ireland 13 wales 6 Scotland 1.
      As for the Heineken Cup its England 10 France9 Ireland 7

  36. This team hasn’t become a bad team overnight.

    Letting a game slip away at the Principality is no embarrassment. The team was rattled, the weather sh*te and it was decided by fine margins – if someone had snaffled the ball off the post we are probably talking about a different result.

    Slightly worryingly GT has not once in any game ever got the balance right in the backs (for Scotland or the Lions) – with the notable exception of the Redpath game. That’s not to say he’s not a game way from the right combination.

    In some ways the Wales loss makes very little difference overall – if we want to win the tournament/grand slam it was always a matter of doing the business against France at home and Ireland away. That remains the goal and the shot at redemption – achieve that and this game could not be more irrelevant.

    Win one of those games and it’s still back on track and building to the WC.

    1. I tend to agree with those points. I’m still gutted about last Saturday but us Scotland fans aren’t alone. Followers of England, Wales and Ireland have also suffered setbacks and disappointments in the first two rounds. Understandable when any five of the six teams are capable of beating each other when everything goes well for them.

      France do worry me, though. Not a great recent record at Murrayfield but they have a really powerful pack, some brilliant individuals and it looks like Edwards has got the defending where he wants it this year.

      No doubt game plans to beat France will be worked out. I’d expect all of them to include a necessary big step-up in physicality in the tight and loose.

      1. I’m worried about France too. But then again, then again, we do have their number at Murrayfield.

        I seriously hope Redpath is fit. I think without reinventing the defence he is key, for all the reasons everyone says, as he is for Bath really.

        I still think this team has its best to come – Redpath and Dempsey are game changers to the whole balance of the side.

        Similarly I don’t know why Maitland is not not performing the Kinghorn role – he just seems to get better and better with age.

        I’d like to see Gray and Cumming back in the second row. Darge starting at 6 in Ritchie’s absence.

        Quite like the two scrummaging front rows – maybe, whisper it, Sutherland in third place after Kebble.

  37. Might have been mentioned earlier, but it really did look like something negative happened at half time. The body language of a few players when they came out for the second half was weird, heads were down, boys looked almost disinterested and both Finn and Hoggy looked flustered and ready to take a swing at someone….have we seen another masterstroke (not) of man management from Toonie?

  38. Vaguely recall something Jonny Wilkinson said after he stopped playing.That his ‘9’ just kept on giving him the ball no matter what and that half the time he didn’t know what to do with it.It got him ‘down’.
    Then,another’9’ came in and he started enjoying his rugby again. Why? This ‘9’ did a lot more than just shovel,was a pain to the opposition and took the pressure off Wilkinson.(and onward to a World Cup).
    I think you know where I’m going.

    1. I think Russell needs a Redpath level 12 to compensate for his failings. The analytics patterns get more accurate over time and so opposition have probably accumulated all the info they need on him… top teams seem to just wait till his plays breakdown or force it to breakdown by suffocating his play areas…Ireland do that pretty well. Redpath looks a class player and I think one would open space for the other. I think GT would have selected Redpath consistently had he been fit. Will be surprising to me if he doesn’t start v France. Would be interesting to see what difference vellacott would make also as he is such an attacking lively 9. Though Ben White looks pretty good too. I’m far more concerned about our forward pack than our backs tho. The needed balance just hasn’t been achieved yet.

      1. I maintain, and will continue to maintain that Russell plays best with a ball playing 12 beside him, his best games that I can remember had Pete Horne at 12.

        I don’t think Tuipolotu was the reason we lost that game, for what it’s worth I thought he had.m a reasonable game, but having essentially a second fly half at 12 would be beneficial I think.

  39. A failure of selection and performance. I just don’t believe that the constant changing of the 23 works at all. Selection is inconsistent and so the performances follow that pattern. Skinner is a great bench player but that back row was always going to struggle at the breakdown and I simply could not understand why we declined to compete at the line out when surely that’s why the went with Skinner. Starting the back-up front row was odd too. While we’re focusing on Finn’s poor game, I think we really lost that up front. We had no quick ball, failed to get of the game line consistently and got smashed at the breakdown (even if Berry was a little odd). The core of the team keeps being changed and I think we need to grow a consistent 23 without all the mucking about. I’d revert to the England pack but with Darge at 7. If we lack power, I’d want to slow France at the breakdown. And Redpath at 12 or back to Johnson. Players need to take accountability but I’d really ask for some consistency of selection (injuries permitting) rather than the constant changing of the team, especially after a win.

  40. What is the problem with Cummings ? Which areas of his game are in question ? More importantly what does his replacements bring that he does not ? It strikes me a stable scrum has been dismantled and we have tried changing the front row , is it time to ask hard questions ?

  41. Lot of good points here. I think without an attacking threat at both 9 and at least one of the centre positions it is too easy to work out the ball will be going Finn -> back three almost without exception, which makes it easier to shut Finn’s space down and then come the errors as he forces things. Scotland even look a bit better on the occasions Hoggy comes in at first receiver a few times, space opens up more as the defence have more possibilities to contend with on the following phases. Thought Tuipulotu had a pretty good game but agree with the suggestions for more of a ball player at 12 given Harris is the lynchpin in the defensive system.

    1. While i’m not saying we are overrating Harris’s defensive abilities, could a Bennett or Tuipolotu for example come in and change our attack at 13 whilst maintaining a strong defence?

      Our attack strategy feels sadly limited compared to 2017/18 when Jones was there. Surely there is a player who can combine both defence and attack without excelling in either.

      We should have the most deadly backline bar New Zealand perhaps with the individuals we have at our disposal, why not utilise it more?

      1. I think against France, especially, we need to be at our best defensively. Otherwise they’ll just run right through/around/over us. We may score a couple of good tries but losing something like 5 tries to 2 is, for me, worse than losing by 3 points in a tight fixture.
        That is why we should stick with Harris and Gray. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
        We lost this by not looking after the ball in attack (DVDM was stripped twice – nobody is shouting for him to be dropped) or kicking badly (cannot remember Finn having such a bad game with the boot), and giving away penalties almost straight after, thereby losing possession, momentum and then territory within seconds of each other.
        Losing to Wales was a travesty, but given how badly we played it’s a miracle we only lost by 3 points and could still have snatched it. Unfortunately we now need to beat a formidable France otherwise some on this blog will be bleating for months, if not years.

      2. I’m in same boat regarding questioning whether a Bennett or Tui type works better at 13. However I find it more frustrating that we still don’t know that answer after a bunch of autumn friendlies …and we have to question things still mid way through a 6N. We should know by now … and we should slot in the best available per type.
        We also don’t seem to be sure what the best foward pack balance is …there has been ample time to understand the squad dynamics and works best for our systems and style of play as a nation.

      3. If we are at the point where the defence cannot function without Harris then we are over reliant on him – he’s not a 10 and there should be able deputies.

    2. Precisely Rory, this is where Vellacott has been superb for Edinburgh as it keeps the opposition guessing, and a breaking 9 keeps the whole defensive line honest. Furthermore Bennett or Steyn or Tuipulotu would add an attacking edge, Harris is fine but a defensive 13 doesn’t auger well for an attacking game. Quick front foot ball is manna from heaven for a backline like we have

  42. BBC reporting that Sutherland to miss the rest of the 6N because of rib and shoulder injuries. Hopefully he makes a speedy recovery. Looks like Schoeman will be first choice with presumably Kebble on the bench for the France game.

      1. Or Jamie Bhatti, who was in the squad ahead of both and has been playing a lot for Glasgow this season.

        Wouldn’t be surprised to see Kebble called up and straight onto the bench though.

  43. Just how much influence does Hoggy have on Townsend?
    Is he deciding tactics?Can he hire n fire?Is the seat behind the bus driver his?Who’s team are we watching?

  44. Missed the game due to kid’s birthday party and still can’t bring myself to watch, though will rectify that at some point, will just stop immediately before Biggar’s DG.
    This might not be quite the right forum but a huge shout out for Ellis Genge. Not for his passing ability, though that was impressive, but for his great sportsmanship and compassion for a fellow player in medical distress. That’s what sport should be about; giving it all for your team but maintaining a strong respect for everyone in the game. A fantastic example for all to follow.

    1. Is this the second shout out for him in two weeks? Or was it someone else applauding at the end of the Scotland game too? Either way nice to see

  45. On Saturday, i as left with the feeling that Russel had a poor game and made mistakes which led to us losing a game which beforehand we felt confident of winning. However, I Watched the game again in the cold light of day this morning and my opinion has changed.
    Russel had an ok game , sure a simple touch was missed , the intercept was a poor decision but he was given no time all game with the speed of the Welsh closing him down and without him the Darcy Graham try would never have happened.
    Biggar on the other hand is being lauded again, despite offering no threat was able to deep and comfortably kick everything from hand.
    It’s always a battle at the millenium and irrespective of who is wearing the red jersey, they are always difficult to beat there.
    The battle was lost by the forwards, whilst not bullied, they did not get the better of their opponents in any facet of their play be that scrum,line out or ruck and maul. The Wales forwards wanted it more , no doubt buoyed by roared the partisan home crowd but it’s a real concern given the reputation of both our front rows and the experience in the back rows. Matt Fagerson was our pick against England and was the only one making inroads on Saturday until his injury, let’s hope he is back for the French game. Who have we got that can step up. Johnnie Gray as we know is a tackle bot but offers little go forward impetus, at Exeter he has others to do that for him. Gilchrist lasted the 80 but was not dynamic. Ditto Skinner. Darge, the new messiah didn’t do a lot(I know it’s early). Mish was solid but we had no pinball runs from him.
    I think it will be close against the French but we will get mullered from the oirish.

    1. Often your only left to read between the lines with this team..if that,but Darcy’s try spoke.That was an easy 2 on 1 but Russel didn’t want to play it.
      Now I don’t want to leave you trying to read between my lines so I’ll tell what that said ..F off Hoggy ..loud and clear.

      1. Interesting-we did wonder at the time why Finn didn’t make the easier pass to Hogg who would have had a much easier run in than Darcy.Conspirancy- surely not….?

      2. Interesting. So much so I have just rewatched the try a few times. Firstly, yes, on reflection the pass to Hogg is obvious. However, this is Russell we’re talking about, the ‘easy’ or ‘obvious’ option is never a sure thing. That said, as the players rush in to celebrate there is a slightly weird interaction between the two.
        All easy to identify when suggested though! Could be nothing whatsoever…

      3. I don’t think a pass to Hoggy would have been the correct decision, Liam Williams was tracking back across fast. Hoggy would have probably beaten him but I think the long pass to Darcy was the better one, depending on how LRZ tackled Darcy still had the option of passing back inside to Hogg.

        Probably nothing in it but I have always found the Hogg / Russell relationship a bit strained, no room for two roosters in the hen house. Was it not rumored that Finns temporary exile was due in part to Hogg being selected as captain?

      4. If you are going to play Russell he needs to play his own game, his way. Townsend knows that, he was like that himself , just not as good IMO.

        Hogg was initially capped at at a time where there was very little around him. Those days are past now.

    2. Agree with most of this.

      We picked a pack to attempt to bully theirs and couldn’t. This was a major failing in retrospect, we’re better sticking to our game.

      Gray was subpar (is he injured? had no impact), Gilchrist better but error-strewn (ffs how many knock ons) and Skinner was industrious but never dominant.

      Disagree on Darge, though. He only had about 10 mins and put himself about well. Really needs a full game at some point.

      Said it earlier in the thread but a lot of our issues seem very fixable and just require a bit of ruthless management / coaching to get them sorted.

      1. As I said earlier on here or TOSL I like Crosbie as one of of back rows, his physicality and attitude is something we lack. Where we fit Crosbie in is another thing altogether, Matt Fagerson has looked good, Ritchie is undroppable when fit, Darge Watson Haining and soon Dempsey……. Dempsey Ritchie Crosbie would be an interesting back row

  46. the centre dilemma is an interesting one – the way I see it Harris is clearly a briliant organiser of the defence but doesnt offer much in attack. His skills ae probably critical for next match and Ireland game, but less so when we play others – probably a more penetrative player was required v Wales, for example. Ultimately we want someone who can do both – not sure who that is, tbh

  47. I’m surprised there has been so much focus on the backs, finn and hogg particularly in the latest podcast. For me the issue is the forwards. On paper our pack is easily as good as others in the tournament, better than Wales’. but our set piece has been poor and in the first two games we’ve generated very little front foot ball and have struggled to recycle our rucks quickly. we’ve lost Fagerson and Ritchie, prbably our top two performers in the pack. I think Johnny Gray has been a bit annonymous. I think i would let skinner and Gilchrist start against france bring Cummings oto the bench. and start Darge, Bradbury and Watson in the BR. I’m a bit worried about zanders scrummaging it’s been on the slide since the last 6N but i think he needs to start as he is one who gets through a lot of clearout work which was missed vs wales alongside turner and schoeman. I think Dell was just in the squad to be a wyn jones practise dummy and will likely see keeble or bhatti (if fit) return.

  48. Seeing more speculation that SA will join 6N and world league type discussions are going on again, this time led by 6N and SANZAAR rather than World Rugby.

    Lots of potential grim outcomes. Relegation is introduced to 6N but no Italy means we are always facing sword of Damocles dangling above our head.

    Or no relegation, in which case Italy are booted out permanently. WTF

    Not sure how in practice that happens considering they are an equal stakeholder in 6N but it seems CVC are driving the upheaval of global competitions,
    which might suit them but personally I love the 6N, despite the heartache, and don’t really want to see it radically changed.

    Also our prospects of ever winning a title will be pushed even further out of reach!

    1. I think we should go back to the 4 nations… but with a 2-tier system.


      4 nations A

      – South Africa
      – England
      – Ireland
      – France

      4 Nations B

      – Scotland
      – Wales
      – Italy
      – 1 other (Georgia/USA etc)

      Involve a promotion relegation game. And a 1 off game between the others to have equal matches to what we currently have.

      Worst case scenario is Scotland are in the B tier, with a chance of promotion. Get to play 2 of our current six nations rivals in B tier the 1 off game vs another current six nations team/or South Africa.

      Games would be even more meaningful, would give opportunity to other nations, Italy would be far more competitive to the slaughterings they have had for the past 5 years.

      Bottom of Tier B could have a home-Away game in summer against a European/African team not in the competition.

      The current system of six nations is selfish, the rich get richer and the gap between everyone else gets larger.

      1. Absolute bonkers, Neil. No more Calcutta Cup? No more biennial trips to Paris and Dublin? Your proposal means that the top four nations will get richer and richer and the others (including us) will suffer and perish.
        The main problem currently is Italy failing to win any matches and nearly always finishing bottom. Also Georgia always being the Rugby Europe Champions.

        Personally I’d just have a play-off between the bottom placed 6N team and the top Rugby Europe team, but every two years rather than every year and based on the two years results, to even out the home/away anomalies.
        To ensure the challenger is competitive, the 6N team gets home advantage in the playoff. That is, if Georgia really is better than Italy they should be able to beat them in Rome.

        The other proposal to include South Africa is rubbish. We have tours and world cups to play the Boks. Never mind how that would kill off the Lions playing them again.

      2. Merlot: Who says Italy have not won any matches ! They just have not won any yet this 6N is not. Never say never. If Toony decides to experiment, anything can happen.

      3. Why not home and away games played over the summer tour/ autumn test periods, with promotion/relegation, or the status quo decided on aggregate?

      4. TENC – Italy have not won a 6N match since 2015 (when they beat us with a penalty try in the last minute). Since then the average score has been 40-13 against them.
        They have only won 12 games since they joined the six nations in 2000, or about one game every 2 years.
        I’m not saying they don’t deserve to be in the competition, just that Georgia deserve a chance – and Italy deserve the chance to prove they are the “best of the rest”.

        Matto – I thought of home and away with the aggregate score deciding, but if Georgia (or Romania, Spain or Portugal) cannot compete away (whether in Rome or Edinburgh or anywhere else) then they haven’t proven they are better. It would also provide an extra bit of income to the hosts should they lose, mitigating the lost 6N revenue over the following two years.

        All that being said let’s beat France and Italy and we’ll at least have a chance of the championship going into the final weekend, for once.

    2. To me,the forwards look fearful,not of their opponents but themselves-literally scared to put a foot wrong.
      Perfection is the enemy of good.
      Give them their heads..and a leader to follow.

  49. Let’s get our biggest possible pack out:


    973kg. Ideally I’d have had R.Gray in for Gilchrist as well yo get up up to 981kg.

  50. News from Toonieland:

    Cam Redpath, Rory Sutherland, Jonny Gray and Scott Cummings are all injured and won’t be featuring against France. In addition, Javan Sebastian has been stood down from the squad.

    James Lang, Ollie Smith, Oliver Kebble, Simon Berghan, Kiran McDonald, and Marshall Sykes have been added to the squad.

    There is, however, still no place for Adam Hastings, a decision that may well come back to bite Toonie on the posterior.

    On the other hand, his decision to add Ollie Smith to the squad is to be commended. Smith’s an excellent young player who has the potential to step into Hoggy’s shoes one day. He won’t feature in the matchday 23 but the experience of being involved with the squad will benefit him greatly.

    1. Redpath injured is a big blow….Hope he makes it back for the final 2.

      Gray and Sutherland were both in poor form anyway.

      I’d guess GT will start Johnson at 12 …Skinner and Gilchrist at locks… Kebble on the bench possibly with Ashman and Berghan. Bayliss starting or on the bench as he plays 6,7,8. Darge will likely drop out. Haining or Bradbury I’d guess would replace Ritchie. Tho neither have really impressed me at test level.
      This selecting of Kinghorn ahead of Hastings is just ridiculous…Hastings a far better player at test level. Kinghorn is a liability…truly head scratching call.
      I don’t fancy us to win this one… we really should have lost the match in Paris last year… France inexplicably tossed the match.

      It’ll be a close fought match though not necessarily reflected in the points.

  51. Think we might see Sione and Harris again. Love to see Bennett back at this level, as if the Olympic Sevens never happened! McLean too. Don’t see how either happens.

  52. Suspect Kebble may come straight onto the bench and Bayliss straight in to start at 6.

    After the win at twickenham, I was excitedly saying Cam Redpath could get to 100 caps. Now I wonder if he’ll make it past 10. Truly awful luck and hope it doesn’t get him down and he bouces back.

    Tuipulotu will probably continue in his absence. He’s an underrated ball-player so lets see if he gets to showcase more than just his crashball abilities.

    Hodgson to the bench? He and Sykes are both solid but compared some of the freakish athletes available to France, it’s a worry.

    Echo RuggersB’s thoughts on Hastings / Kinghorn. Really bizarre as Hastings is a far better 10 (at the moment at least) and very capable fullback cover. I kind of like the idea of Kinghorn covering the whole backline but in practice I just can’t see it working.

    Oh well, roll on Saturday, I guess

  53. Get out there and defend til the end Scotland, don’t win a bonus point and hopefully we’ll win the six nations . No one else can defend as good as us, so we have nothing to fear .

    1. Not sure whether there is sarcasm in there or not, SAS. But defence wins you matches in the six nations. If we don’t stop the French on the gain line they will run over, through and round us time and again. Obviously we’d all like to see some attacking flair but we need the ball for that and that means defence and discipline – get a turnover or just frustrate them into kicking the ball to us.

      Not sure what your point is about bonus points – they have never made a difference in who wins the 6N.

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