Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Six Nations 2022: Italy 22-33 Scotland

Italy v Scotland
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

Italy were scoring points at a rate of one a minute – at least for the first three minutes – after an early penalty for offside showed that Scotland were continuing their trend of ill-discipline into this round four match in the sunshine of Rome.

In truth neither side looked particularly confident, with several early penalties given away by Scotland at the breakdown, often being over-exuberant in their efforts to protect isolated ball carriers from being turned over.

When Scotland did finally make their mark on the game, it was a beauty. George Turner made up for his earlier penalty with a bullocking run down the right hand touchline before feeding it inside to Price. Darcy Graham recovered the ball as it spilled backwards and Finn Russell arced a pass towards the opposite touchline. It looked like Kyle Steyn might have to work to keep it in play but Sam Johnson plucked it out of the air and dove over.

It looked like Russell had undone all attempts to seize the momentum with an intercepted pass that saw Italy attacking Scotland’s line, but Price read Callum Braley’s pass perfectly and picked it off to send the Italian defence into disarray. At full tilt having made it to around half way, he threw a perfectly weighted pass at full tilt – of the sort that Chris Harris needed a few weeks ago – to Kyle Steyn. The winger found his space closed down by three Italian defenders so he chipped it back towards the middle, into acres of space.

All Chris Harris really had to do was get near the ball to score, which he did.

It felt like a big momentum swing, but Italy were not to be undone just yet and the excellent Braley was rewarded with an Italian try that brought the scores within two points.

Stung, the Scots stormed their way deep into the Italian half with the red scrum caps of Turner and Gilchrist carrying hard. A quick tap from a penalty after another big run by Ali Price – who finally found his break – looked like it might bear fruit until referee Luke Pearce whistled up play after Brex the Italian centre looked like he came out badly from a tackle and was sent for an HIA.

Scotland had a series of scrums and ran a simple set piece move to take a third try and a second for Harris, largely created by the running lines of the excellent Sam Johnson.

Half-Time: Italy 10-19 Scotland

The highlight of the opening five minutes of the second half were a couple of lovely scampering breaks by the skipper Stuart Hogg but as has been his misfortune recently, mainly they ended in tackles or turnovers.

In the end it was a couple of moments of brilliance from that other misfiring genius Finn Russell that secured the bonus point. First a superb offload round the back of the tackle to Sam Skinner to keep the ball alive, then minutes later another half break and a pop pass into a gap to put Darcy Graham in behind the defence. He had some work to do but his feet were too quick to be denied and Russell slotted the conversion with half an hour to play.

It went a bit quiet after that for ten minutes, but on the hour mark Ali Price showed that the resurgence of he and Hogg was completed, with the ball looking a little static after a quick throw by Graham until the scrum-half stopped crabbing and set off through a gap like a hair before stepping inside and throwing another pinpoint pass (with a hint of lateral about it) to the skipper who sprinted over for the fifth try. To add insult to Italy’s injured pride, Russell then slotted the touchline conversion.

A try by the baby-faced winger Capuozzo on his debut gave Italy rare second half points in the tournament and joy for the home fans, and spurred their team on to a strong spell where they defended everything Scotland threw at them and worked back into Scotland’s half for a series of five metre lineouts.

Kyle Steyn, who offers a measure of stability in a back three that is usually more comfortable in attack than defence, bundled his man into touch and Scotland broke back up the field.

With five minutes to play, Hastings and Vellacott upped the tempo significantly off the bench and while there were too many small errors to add further points, Italy finished the stronger with a second try for Capuozzo that deservedly took the gloss off Scotland’s win; credit for that should go to the home side.

While Italy might now fancy their chances against Wales, Scotland face the daunting prospect of a visit to Dublin to finish the tournament…

Referee: Luke Pearce

Player of the Match: Johnson, Turner, Graham, Darge and Steyn were all good but it was Ali Price. By a mile.

175 Responses

  1. That Scotland Performance against any other six nations side would of resulted in a loss.

  2. I think “meh” can just about sum that up. Scrappy, inconsistent, error strewn, but we won in spite of our best efforts to lose.

    Fair play to Italy they didn’t roll over and got rewarded with two tries towards the end that we should never have allowed them.

    We never really looked in danger of losing the match but it’s not the comprehensive thumping of a poor Italy (they played ok today but that’s because we let them) that was the minimum expectation.

    Thought Matt Fagerson had a good game, we’ve missed him.

  3. Scotland need to go through the phases before introducing the razzmatazz. Some good individual performances and tries but still don’t look like a good team. I thought Finn and Hogg played poorly in their positions and failed to link the forwards with the backs. Poor kicking and passing. We need more from these positions. Compare to Williams and Biggar for Wales yesterday.

  4. yes mediocre from Scotland – at least we won! Just so many errors and poor decisions still

    1. If we won that way against Any other 5 nations side then your comment would be heart warming, but it wasn’t !

    1. It’s not such that comments are negative they shine the light on the truth. Sadly we haven’t taken a step forward this year. Potential just hasn’t been met or taken.

      1. You have just commented ‘Even with a bonus point loss next week we could finish third!!’

        That would be one above where we finished last year ? Why would that not be ‘taking a step forward this year’?

        I am finding that very funny , two posts one page, completely contradictory opinions.

    2. Tam Tok, I think it’s because Italy showed more structure, and improvement than Scotland. Despite the Scotland win Italy had a better game plan , unfortunately we survived off their mistakes. Scotland looked pretty much clueless otherwise.

  5. Hmm, it was a win, but without the length of the park score and if Italy had been given a penalty try in the last 10 minutes after we tackled a maul that moving rapidly towards the try line, it might not have been.

    Don’t know what, but something needs fixing.

    1. I mean we were rubbish, but nowhere near losing that match as much as some ‘fans’ wished it to happen.

    2. If Scotland didn’t score points they scored and Italy scored points they didn’t, Italy might have won, excellent point that aye

      1. And Bob would be your Auntie no your uncle. Eh ! So what , stick to the plot IMO.

    1. Let’s try winning first, but coming second with a bonus point is not a bad back up plan.Come on Scotland.

      1. Yes Tam Tok coming third would be great. However,coming third in the way in which we have played and managed each game this championship is not a step forward. We haven’t built on the foundations that were achieved from last season.contradiction?

      2. We were 4th last season, so 3rd is an improvement?

        The table is fact, Wales won the 2021 6N playing ugly in my opinion, but history says, they won.

        What foundations last year ? We were 4th in 2021 , as we were in 2020. In fact we were 4th in 2017 with Cotter.

        If we finish 4th or 5th , I think you can say we have ‘not moved forward’ but to suggest we are not moving forward and in the next breath suggest we could finish 3rd!

      3. Don’t just look at the results tamtok… look at the performances and the stats! Massive failings even defensively compared to last year.

      4. The table never lies, lets see where we end up , we might be third per Tam’s hope . Now that would be novel , playing at our worst but turning out 3rd.

      5. Absolutely agree with Tam. Finishing third on paper is an improvement but we have been far less cohesive or convincing than the last few seasons. The table clearly does lie ! Last year we were a few score swings away from a championship. This season we are well off the pace. It matters not. No way in hell we get a bonus point next week.

      1. If we beat Ireland and England lose to France, we will finish third;

        Or if we beat Ireland with a
        BP and England beat France with no BP;

        Or if we get a BP against Ireland and England lose to France with no BP, AND Wales fail to get a BP vs Italy.

  6. Watched Dan biggar last night and Johnny sexton today, not their biggest fans especially Biggar with his feigning injury and constant whining, but what you get is passion and giving all for the cause . That and consistency of performance.Are you watching Finn .

  7. Agree totally with Rory,Ali price was tremendous.Becoming a Lion has been the making of him

  8. We should have emptied the bench after Hogg’s try and pressed hard for more scores. Too many thought the job was done and went to sleep. It was only when Vellacott came on (with FOUR minutes left!!!) that it looked like we thought we were still in a game.

    Twenty minutes to go and Italy need four scores to win. If you can’t trust your bench to at least see out that position, never mind add some gloss, then you either don’t trust those players or you don’t trust yourself (or possibly both).

    We could have had some badly needed momentum going into Dublin but we let it all slip away into a huge anticlimax.

    I defended him to the hilt through the RWC and beyond but I’m now done with Townsend. It seems he has no emotional intelligence and it is holding this team’s development back big time.

    And, BTW, I thought Harris’ pass to Hogg against France was every bit as good as Price’s pass to Steyn today. Difference was it was the right pass to make today and it wasn’t forced by a stupid call from a captain who can’t trust his teammates to make the right decision on their own.

    1. The team desperately needed more fresh legs half way threw the second half.

      Townsend is making odd calls and it’s so frustrating. Sometimes feel he’s holding back from making the right call by being overly cautious. What’s he try to do protect his reputation?

  9. Two really bad teams vying with each other. Clownsend has wasted a potentially good group of players seeming to focus on overhyped prima donnas. Russell must hold the world record for the most aimless kicks in a game.

  10. Play like that next week and we’ll be handed a big can of whoop-ass. Still way too many basic errors from not being able to count at line out time to several passes to ghost players. Some entertaining tries but they almost seemed to be the exception rather than the rule based on the territory and possession we had. Game management seems to have taken a step backwards after last season and seems to coincide with Finn looking very out of sorts. Wondering whether Hastings should start and perhaps a more weighty back row next week but worried we’re going to end up 5th.

    1. We look a poor disciplined side mixed in with some good attacking play ..but lack the leadership and management to change a match that isn’t going our way.

      1. I think my biggest disappointment of this year is that our attacking play has not been good. There doesn’t seem to be any plan, it’s throw the ball about a bit, make no progress and either get frustrated and try a Hail Mary or kick it away. There is no patience, no desire to work through the phases and wait for the gaps to appear, everything is forced and it is exemplified by Hogg and Russell who, Russell’s performance against England aside, have been very poor this tournament. We started off with excitement about the 50:22 law playing into their hands but both of their kicking games have been rank rotten. We are back to every time a player makes a break they get isolated and turned over. A lot of our tries today came directly from Italian mistakes and not through our own genius play. When every other team has managed to carve Italy open with ease you have to ask questions.

  11. to avoid 5th we would need a point v Ireland which would seem unlikely. Only other ways are for England to be battered v France or Wales to fail to take 5 points v Italy

    1. So we have a good chance of being no worse than last year. That would do for me.

  12. I think Schoeman was fantastic today. He was non-stop. Putting himself about with so much commitment. Often doing the work of a flanker. He also has skill and although charging around he’s calculated and doesn’t give much away. Surprised that I haven’t heard others praising as I thought he was mighty impressive beast.

    I thought Hamish Watson was relatively quiet again. Good but not his stand out performances like last year. He puts so much into a match I wonder if a season then Lions tour has exhausted him for just now.

    1. Loving Schoeman think he’s my favourite player this tournament with Darge and Fagerson. Turner and Darcy been pretty damn good too.

      Alright all this chat about third. It’s laughable. Beating this Ireland away who are on for the championship is zero chance. Never ever ever ever ever ever going to happen. Hell we wouldn’t beat Leinster. Happy to be wrong, but I’m not.

  13. Similar feeling to the above posters – average performance but difficult to tell if we took the foot off the gas. Bizarre decision from Townsend to not use half of the bench til 4 minutes remaining – the game was wrapped up and a perfect chance to see the likes of BV.

    Not sure the Darge/Watson experiment worked. Our line out was poor with only two options. I’d be tempted to start Baylis at 6 next week and have Watson as a super sub.

    Watching 14 man England go toe to toe with Ireland makes me think it was a miracle we beat them and it’ll take a miracle to take anything from the Ireland game.

      1. Because our line out struggled and we weren’t exactly dominant at the breakdown. With a shorter 8 (despite being brilliant around the park) I think we really need a jumping 6 which is why richie works so well there. Would change Watson for Bradbury/Baylis and have Watson as an impact sub.

        I doubt we’ll see any changes in the backs but really would’ve liked to have seen some more creativity from the centres.

  14. All we did was convince Italy that they are well on their way to turning is over again, very soon. Me , I am fed up with the same old faces, Hogg, Russell, Gilchrist, Nel, McInally and Gray are the only ones left over from Cotters Legacy. Maybe it is time to do a complete clean sweep.

    1. Think you need a reality check. It’s Scotland, It’s POOPY being Scottish! We’re the lowest of the low. The scum of the rugby world ! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat. Considering that we’re not bad and Hogg ran some beautiful lines.

      Having said that I’d love to see more youth get game time. Young at lock. Vellocott at SH. Thomson at SO. Lack of depth at Prop is a concern.

      1. Broono is clearly a bit of an all or nothing guy but we are not competing for anything next week, not really ! Why not make a change or two? Bennett played well against France, Hastings should be on for longer. Vellacott could be just the man to upset Murray in the last 10 minutes, and Hamish is not winning the turnovers we normally see, maybe time for the bulk of Bradbury or Skinner in the Back row.

  15. I totally agree with you Garry, Townsend is a pr-ck , he is the waste of players international carriers but Chris Harris has something on him!

    1. Yeah starting British Lion Harris only made a couple of line breaks and scored only two tries .Needs to do better

      1. Not actually sure how to take that performance, Russell kicking aimlessly straight down the middle (must be coached), kicking away turnover ball, giving away so many penalties, missing multiple tackles, conceding tries against a spirited but limited team. However some lovely attacking play and good tries. Hogg played well when he stopped kicking it, seemed to be isolated on occasion.
        As noted above why did the bench not come on after the Hogg try?
        I thought Scotland were meant to play attacking attractive rugby.
        Good on Harris for his tries, he has his critics (including me) still not in the squad for me.
        Price, Skinner played well.
        It may well be all is not well in the dressing room

  16. We are going to get absolutely mullered v Ireland…and back home after 4 matches at the RWC….that’s essentially what I’ve taken from this 6N.
    Hogg looks like has half the pace he had at his peak several years ago and doesn’t break the the line anymore. Ditto Watson. Russell needs to go on a diet and refind some form.
    GT needs to go to at least give us a chance at the RWC…I don’t know what this credit in the bank is that he has that some mention…an awful RWC ..some ok 6Ns and yet another missed opportunity to actually challenge for one.
    The penalties we concede are just ridiculous.

    1. That’s quite funny, I thought that about Hogg too but when he got going for his try he was fairly shifting and I thought, the pace is still there when he wants it to be.

      1. My problem with Hogg is not running , it is tackling. On their 1st try ( about 21 minutes in) he went in high and got buffered away, the sure way was to go in at waist level and clamp him into touch or the corner flag. Easy game in the stand I suppose.

      2. Hogg should mix it up to kicking, passing and taking it on…. I think it’s too predictable what he is going to do. Its readable. First try was when the pass was unexpected…he needs to do that a bit more.

    2. You’ve just realised that we’re probably looking at 4-and-home at the world cup? That wasn’t clear to you, say, ten seconds after the draw was made?

      It’s a proper brutal, worst-case-scenario draw, containing the only two teams in the world who’ve been consistently comfortable against us. No pool should have South Africa and Ireland in it – they’re clearly both top four teams. Props to World Rugby and their continued decision to organise the draws mind-meltingly early.

      If you wanted to pick the absolute worst moment to get rid of Townsend, this is it. Too late for a new coach to properly implement their game plan, too early for the better selection of coaches we’d get in the post-world-cup merry-go-round. Thank goodness it’s never gonna happen.

      Totally agree with you on the penalties though. Some of them in this tournament have been blatant, and still more frustatingly, completely unnecessary. Nothing good was going to come if they got away with it, nothing bad was going to happen if they didn’t do it.

  17. After the Ireland game i would be giving Sutherland, Russell, Hogg, Watson, Z Fagerson, Price, Harris, Van Der Merwe, Gray a sabbatical from international rugby until the 2023 Six Nations.

    They either looked tired and/or are so dominant in there position we have no depth with experience.

    Build a team for the Summer/Autumn internationals and bring back our star players (which they have proven over the years until now) fresh for the world cup year.

    Regardless, watch what happens when we play Ireland, we will be utterly destroyed and the likes of Russell/Hogg will be out on their feet. The conditions and player-management is so much better compared to ours.

  18. yes for me the 6 nations and world cup are the key tournaments – summer tours and autumn tests are opportunities to experiment a bit. If some players are a bit jaded/ out of form, then by all means rest them – some are pale shadows of their best at moment anyway

  19. Some excellent tries scored.
    Needed it to replenish confidence.

    Tough game next week but they’ll be full of it.

    1. Much better assessment that most of the sky is falling crowd on here. We let standards slip in the last 20 minutes, and it’s hard to understand why we wouldn’t have been testing some of our subs at that stage. Other than that, we did pretty much what all the other teams have done against Italy.

      I think too many of us expect our biggest names to be putting in 10/10 performances every week and not forgetting to make entertaining clips for their showreel at the same time. It’s not realistic that it’s going to work like that.

      Ireland are a team that tend to beat us (narrowly) as to be honest they have experience of winning, and a greater depth of player pool to choose from. Let’s not over hype them though. There’s no evidence to suggest that they’re going to blooter us. They made hard work of beating 14 man England just there, and weren’t really all that impressive at home to 13 Italians either.

      1. Ireland and England had a high intensity match today. We on the other hand had a relaxed win and a test. Plenty of bumps on the road, as always.

        I don’t expect Ireland or England to be at their best next week. This is test match rugby, it can turn on a card, as we witnessed today.

      2. It’s strange to read some of the comments.
        True, there was a lot of scrappy play and we took our foot off with the game won but the tries were world class.

        The team’s probably a bit low on confidence.

  20. How does one get enthusiastic for any game involving Italy. They try hard and no one can doubt their commitment. They were playing players from the second tier of Italian club rugby and they aren’t getting better. We aren’t getting better either, flat tracks bully’s putting a load of points on no marks, big deal. So Watson has made 9735 tackles without missing one, and? And what else does he give us? A few good players, a couple with fantastic potential and the rest like the coach treading water. Hogg does his Captain Fantastic act against these teams, big deal. FR is as dull as his personality with every trick having a success rate of about one in fifty. We aren’t catching up on the likes of France and Ireland, we aren’t expanding our playing base, the pro-teams are achieving nothing. We are now and always will be between the 7 -10th best team in world with the occasional venture into the top 6. Our hopes at the next WC are non existent and GT a should have been out the door after the debacle in Japan. Remember he boasted we would be the fastest and fittest team in the tournament, much to other coaches amusement, Scots shouting their mouths off again and not delivering.

    1. Would that be Watson who’s known as “Pinball” because he’s so hard to tackle and a great ball carrier? I grant you he’s not been at his sublime best but to dismiss him in these terms is a bit over the top.

      1. He’s not a great ball carrier it’s an utter fallacy, when did he last break tackles and offload in attack? Try dealing in reality and what he does now.

      2. He’s broken seven tackles this Six Nations. That puts him top of the list of forwards in any team (apart from some kid called Darge).

        Offloads have never been a huge part of his game. But he’s still had two this tournament.

        Reality is not on your side here.

  21. I’ve just been back and watched through the game. Not perfect but solid enough, with one weakness picked out by, I assume Italian analysis, and that is all three tries were scored via a missed rip or soft shoulder from Steyn on the wing.

    I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’d fancy that if I’ve seen that this morning, if it wasn’t notice by the Irish before it will have been seen now. It might mean changing the drift defence near the line on his wing, not ideal to change the system in that way. Or maybe we need to look at another 11 for the Irish game?

    Is it that Steyn is naturally at 14 rather than an 11? Not that I’m suggesting switching wings with Darcy, but trying to understand why he was often back to front.

    Not unreasonable to think he just needs time to get used to test match rugby, as not everyone can step into like Darge has this year. Hopefully over the summer/autumn he can get the space to find his feet.

    1. Reckon Kinghorn likely to start on wing in place of Steyn in Dublin. Steyn was good under the high ball but otherwise solid without doing enough to grab his chance I thought.

      1. Agree with that. I was excited to see Steyn in action but he failed to fire really.

      2. Rather see McLean at this level again – why not, it’s a shot to nothing with no expectations.

  22. A few random thoughts:

    1. Zander has too many brain farts. Getting penalised for joining the lineout late was just plain daft.
    2. We missed VDM’s power and pace. Steyn did well to collect Price’s pass and chip through for Harris to score but I think he struggled otherwise. I’d be worried about starting Steyn next week but not sure what the alternative is. Could do with Maitland but that’s a non-starter.
    3. I just don’t feel confident when we go through the phases. Almost feels like we’re going to get turned over, concede a penalty or cough the ball up when taking into contact.
    4. Price was superb. Turner and Matt Fagerson also played well.
    5. I fear for the same back row competing against O’Mahony, Doris & van der Flier. Not sure Darge and Mish at 6 & 7 is the best combo next week, especially given how Ireland destroyed us at the lineout last year. Bayliss, as others have mentioned, could be a good addition.
    6. Ireland’s scrum looked a bit suspect yesterday so perhaps a chink of hope. Genge surprisingly gave Furlong a torrid time. Hopefully Schoeman can do the same next week.

  23. We didn’t play well but we won a banana skin match. Fair play.

    An interesting thing I think is that pretty much all of the Lions test starters are either out injured or not playing to their usual level this year. With the remarkable exception of Itoje and maybe lawes.

    I do not think that finn, hoggy, mish etc have become bad players overnight, and even dan Carter had strings of matches where he didn’t play that well.

    The guys need some rest, but the ones calling for their heads need to remember that these are some of the best players Scotland have ever produced, getting rid of them for one bad championship would be foolish.

    At the same time, I have no idea why toonie didn’t swap out a bunch after hoggs try yesterday, Hastings clearly would have done well with some game time, and price was knackered.

  24. Ponderings – Steyn struggled but he wasn’t the only one, we just seem not to like the way we’ve been told to play. The kicking of possession was almost inexplicable, watch how Edinburgh play, ball in hand, running rugby. Are the coaches skewed towards defence ? Russell looked in a fog mostly, a few flashes but he clearly doesn’t like playing like Duncan Weir. The unforced errors is indicative of a team not entirely comfortable/confident. Haining, Bennett, Maitland, J.Gray need considered for Dublin

  25. A few comments.

    Sam Johnson has been missed. Does alot of work unseen.

    Vellacot looked rapid. Needed more time but could be exciting going forward.

    Ali Price can pass shows he should be being the decision maker if possible in a break

    Kyle Steyn found wanting in defence. Needs a bit more time to develop.

    We need an emergency call for Sean Maitlsnd. He’ll be crucial against Ireland on the wing.

    If it had been a 90 min game we may not have held them off.

    However when was the last time we had a match won in Italy by 60? Ever? Lots of concern but it could have been a lot worse. We were clinical today with our chances.

    Having Italy earlier in comp may have been the boost we needed.

    We really should be 3 from 4 now having played very averagely which is not Scotland like at all.

  26. Vellacott did look very sharp when he came on and it’s baffling why he and Hastings weren’t brought on earlier.
    I know it won’t happen under Toonie but I think Price would be a far more effective captain being closer to the play. His decision making also seems very sound.
    I really hope Toonie doesn’t do more midfield Tombola next week. Just keep Johnson and Harris at 12 & 13.

  27. I’d rest all The Lions for the summer tests…… so something like
    O.Smith D.Graham M.Bennett S.Johnson K.Steyn A.Hastings B.Vellacott
    M.Bradbury R.Darge J.Ritchie S.Cummings S.Skinner O.Kebble G.Turner P.Schoeman
    Subs Kinghorn Tuipulotu McLean Thompson Rowe Forbes Hutchinson Dobie, Shiel
    Crosbie Boyle Sykes Hodgson Haining Berghan Bhatti Ashman McInally

  28. If ever there was a game where you could bring your (back) subs on with 20 mins to go it was this one.Inexpicable by Townsend!
    Not only a chance for a proper look at Vellacott but with another away game next Saturday what a chance to rest Price,russell and harris and avoid the risk of injury to the. To bring on the three back replacements at something like 85.45 minutes was just ridiculous.
    And we paid the penalty for this as a number of the backs looked very tired (eg Price and Steyn).
    Should have had all the subs on as soon as Hogg put us four scores ahead just after the 60 minute mark.

    1. I agree Ardent. Makes no sense that these subs didn’t come on after the Hogg try. A really negative message to those warming the bench when they are very capable players which would have given the team a lift. Vellocott produced much quicker back which is vital to play front foot rugby.

      1. Totally agree. Really good point about the potential for injury. Would have been a great opportunity to see what the subs could do. Vellacott made the most of the time he did have though.

  29. I am very much a glass half full guy. However I am very worried about next week. Ireland love playing us as well. Don’t get me wrong I would love to beat them. Their pundits, ex players , coaches etc are so annoying!

    The problem is they are all the more annoying cause they hit the nail on the head more often then not I think we are regressing under toonie now Iam afraid. Cmon Scotland prove this doubter wrong

  30. I really hope Finn finds his mojo next weekend. At Racing he pretty much has license to run the attack as he sees fit (I’m sure I can recall their attack coach saying as much). I do wonder if he struggles to adapt and follow coaches’ instructions when he’s with Scotland because he’s used to doing what he likes with Racing.

    1. That’s a very interesting point. Systems arent really his thing. Which is great and I’m all for that. But systems with the way the coaches for Scotland wish to run to secure game time objectives is what is needed. We saw that last year which is possibly why game management was a great deal stricter. Toonie himself said after the French game that the players need to go with systems and believe in them. Though he is totally right I could only think of Williams when the players revolt began! Not that I believe that will happen (just yet). Think back to the 37 all game down south mind!!

      1. Tam tm: Is the the 38 – 38 draw at Twickenham in 2019, when Team orders were to kick and England came back every time and scored in the first half . The side came out and played it their way in the second to get a draw? Townsend denied there was a rift at Half time and considered the execution was better in the second half. Russell told the BBC there was an argument ? -Is that what you are telling us to ‘mind’.

      2. Aye 38 -38 Toony tunes! The kicking strategy. There’s been a number of times that many have stated that Scotland lose confidence and we’ve seen it for many many years where we kick away ball unnecessary. Instead of being patient and going through phases. Though you can recall going to Cardiff for example, going left to right phase after phase and not going anywhere and having no choice but to kick ball up field. Though tell me different didn’t we manage this last year more and doing this successfully with focused game management. Remember those long touch finders by Hogg which turned games to our advantage. Not just aimless kicks up field.

      3. We kicked aimlessly as we were getting pushed back in attack by the flat Welsh defense. We do that to other sides ourselves now, with Harris on board. Which is why he got picked yesterday and not Bennett or any other of our competent 13’s. As I recall you couldn’t wait to see Bennett starting to release the back three yesterday, but he never got picked and Harris got his usual start at 13 .

      4. Aye, that’s the one – the game at Twickenham in 2019 where Scotland kicked the ball more times in the second half than they did in the first.

      5. Fraser Brown almost seemed at pains/tired of having to explain the upside of the kicking game and how it opens up attack when speaking about it on the Rugby Podcast.

        It sounded like he was fed up having to tell others why it happens.

    2. Plus he is behind a massively dominant forward pack at Racing that gives him the platform. We just don’t have that unfortunately.

  31. Ireland need a win , any win and France to lose in order for Ireland to win the championship. It seems to me they are second anyway, even if they lose to us. With such a tough match this week, will they be 100% ready ? Ok it is gray and optimistic, but if hit them hard early on and make them chase the win. They need to manage the pressure in the knowledge that 14 man England took them to the last quarter before they won the game. Is there any other dreamers out there ?

    1. I reckon Ireland have a good chance, I wouldn’t put it past England to beat France, if it was at Twickenham I would have almost bet on it. Ireland made heavy work of putting away 14 man England, that was down as much to England’s refusal to give in as it was Ireland’s failure to exert themselves. As mince as England have been they always have a chance in any game such is the talent at their disposal, it is just not being used properly by the Eddie Jones. It wouldn’t be the first time France have capitulated at the last hurdle. Ireland have a sizeable points advantage so all they need is 4 more points than France. I would dearly love us to be the people who spoil Ireland’s party though, the thought of a weeping Peter O’Mahony and Johnny Sexton makes me more than slightly aroused.

  32. Something’s gone a bit awry for Ireland since their emphatic defeat of NZ and blowing away of Wales in 6N Round one. They’re still a very good side but it was puzzling to watch them have to work so hard to beat a 14 man England over 78 minutes.

    Even allowing for claimed refereeing inconsistencies at scrum time and missing one or two first choices in the pack, they were bested in the scrums – unusual for the Ireland team of recent years.

    The apparent weakness there, and the fact we’ve scrummaged pretty well so far (especially against France) gives me some hope of getting an edge there on Saturday. I know that points scored, not scrums won, determines the winner, but it could be an area of advantage for us.

    Aside from that specific area of play, I recall we went to Croke Park in 2010 as complete outsiders and pulled it off. It could happen again. Not saying it will, but it could, and I’m hoping our squad have belief that they can get that first win in Dublin for 12 years.

  33. it’s been a long time since we have played well v the Irish, so you never know – we may be due a decent performance!

  34. Given that third is the best we can hope for, and we don’t need to win to get it, I think the game plan is simple: make sure we get a bonus point, either LBP or TBP will do.

    So it’s either keep it tight, or go for a shootout.

    The first seems more achieveable; the latter we can chase if the game gets away on us.

    And we can just hope that Wales stutter a bit and that England don’t suddenly find form in Paris.

    1. Paralysis by analysis. Just go out and win the game. Unfortunately that’s unlikely to happens as Townsend has gone from an all out attack to an all out defence strategy and left the players floundering in no mans land

      1. I feel that sums up Townsend this championship. Chopping and changing personnel, tactics and identity as a horses for courses approach, that has just weakened our strengths and undermines confidence win our systems.

        We have a punchers chance, both sides now missing numbers in pack, but we need a performance with more focus and cohesion than we’ve seen so far.

  35. It’s the hope the kills you, away wins v France and England our best representation for the Lions for decades, genuine world class players…..then this…….
    The “moment” for me in the Italy game was Russell leisurely leathering turnover ball into the stand, In the past Russell would’ve been at least trying to start a backs move.

    1. We can’t afford to carry players who don’t give 100%. Especially players in key positions. Makes it even more frustrating that Hastings only got 4 mins of play. I sense Russell is frustrated by either a lack of progress, the level/method of coach or what’s being ask of him/team doesn’t sit well with him. Either way something needs to improve and only those involved can do that.

  36. The general theme with Italy now is,

    Some who follow Scotland speak about fear and worry going into the game, Scotland, they might get beat, they just might beat, what this is based on I have no idea in all honesty given Scotland v Italy games of recent years.

    The game takes place, Scotland easily dispatch Italy, and really have done for years, they should Italy are poor.

    After the game, those who spoke of concerns about the result then speak of what if scenarios and how things should have been different, if they can’t moan about the result by f*ck they will moan about the performance.

    Scotland pretty easily dealt with Italy, got a BP win, it was as routine a other 5 v Italy 6N game as most 6n games TBH, throw in that Italy generally empty themselves in this game more than they do most

    As with most Italy games in the 6N, it is generally pretty meaningless, over and dusted by the end of the game stuff, most move on pretty quickly from it TBH, a lot of comments on here are a parody

  37. The most disappointing sight for me was the Italian try at the end. Hastings, finally introduced and totally fresh, meandering around the breakdown at a snail’s pace (same way Russell was rightly criticised a couple of weeks ago) and then completely missing a simple tackle on the 77kg boy-child who scored. Grip? Grit? Utter laziness. Where is the pride in the jersey?

    Where also in our small rugby circle is the leaked intel on how individual players actually feel about operating under Townsend? Everything was moving in the right direction with Vern Cotter before GT apparently had to be snapped up. Seemed a dubious decision then, seems dubious in practice now. In every organisation, a change of leadership revivifies the collective energy. You’ll never maximise performance if commitment to the leader and their systems is low.

    1. Yeah, where is it?

      It’s only all the posters on sites like this making up stories about how they think people might be feeling (without any real evidence) that makes it a thing. Somebody suggests something one time, and then half of this board quote it ad nauseum for years to come as they float further down the rabbit hole.

      By the way and for the record, Vern Cotter’s Six Nations performance when Townsend got the job was 2 wins in 2 years.

      1. He inherited a Scott Johnson team though. You could clearly see and continuous upwards trend with Cotters team.

        World-cup Quarterfinals
        Cotter (1) If not for Joubert we would have been in semis.
        Townsend (0)

      2. SlowWalk90 – Your last paragraph re 2 wins in BVCs last 2 6Nations didn’t “sit” right with me.
        According to Wiki it’s 5 wins in last 2 6Nations before GT (including the thrilling home wins over Walws and Ireland).
        I agree there is no tangible proof re “feeling better under VC that GT” but I felt it too

      3. Can’t believe people are still harping on about Cotter. Seriously, let it go.

        If people insist on quoting stats let’s not be selective: 5 wins in 3 years including a wooden spoon. For sure, Cotter improved things form the dirge before him but Townsend’s W/L record is superior and we have more victories against the top sides. Arguably, it is much harder to improve a team from rubbish to competitive, than from competitive to title challengers. In cotters best season we copped a 40pt loss in Twickenham.

        RWC run in 2015 was great fun but we didn’t beat anyone not ranked below us (USA, Japan, Samoa). It was hard to lose to Japan in 2019 but they were a much improved side playing at a home RWC.

        So in truth both Cotter and Townsend have mixed records, have achieved some good things mixed in with some failures. Let’s about as much as can be said without spouting partisan nonsense.

      4. Agree re Cotter, hardly done much since departing either TBH

        I would expect if Townsend left the Scotland job tomorrow he would be more in demand than Cotter.

      5. Just to be clear on the 2 wins in 2 years, Townsend was appointed to the job almost a year before his Glasgow contract finished up and he moved over.

        VC did very well (that England game aside) in his final Six Nations – finishing 4th with a record similar to Townsend lately. However, the SRU decision was made based upon his performance before that. I agree that he made things better, but let’s not make out that he’s the spurned messiah.

      6. FF: It is a bit overbearing. ‘Draw a line under it ‘, under what ? exactly.

        People harp on about Cotter as they never understood the change. I do think that mystery would help us move on in terms of what we can realistically expect 5 years on.

        You are right , you cannot compare them. Personally I would rather have given Cotter the length of time we have given Townsend before he was ousted. If your argument is we are no better or no worse off with Townsend , why has he got almost twice as long to prove it ? If we replaced Cotter for more of the same, It is un-realistic to expect fans will not question the rationale!

        FF: Do you think Townsend has been a success ? I get the impression you do not think he has been a failure, which is just sitting on the fence?

        James: Do you really think Townsend is in demand ? has he been made any offers ?

      7. He’s the coach of his home national team who’s had multiple long term deals, I would expect most teams have the sense to know not to approach him which is why I said IF he left, and yes I expect he would have multiple offers in England and France, that’s not really a shock statement at all. To think he wouldn’t is an incredibly misplaced statement based on coaching recruitment in England in particular.

      8. James: So he hasn’t: speculation based on reasonable assumptions. Thank you for clearing that one up. But what makes you think Cotter hasn’t done that much, he has had several quality posts , so why would Townsend be better placed than Cotter who has already proved he is employable.

      9. I covered the offers thing…. He’s the coach of his home nation and under contract, most jobs would be a step back to him just now, Bath for instance could offer him a deal but at the moment what is the point.

        Cotter is now coaching Fiji, says all it has to TBH, his stock fell massively in his time at Montpellier, it was a mess by the time he left, they were complete junk in Europe

        Townsend spent a summer coaching the Lions, the idea he wouldn’t find a DOR in the Premiership is genuinely hilarious

      10. James: Vern Cotter has gone on to enjoy several experiences since leaving Scotland. What makes you say ‘his stock fell massively’? That is unfair and unjustified. I would say Cotter has actually increased his stock. Toony as a coach of a 6N side is a very attractive prospect to other Unions or clubs, but in every tangible parameter (6N/ RWC) has not made a leap in results. What is more, had Vern stayed long enough who is to say if he would have been with the lions. But we are not going back.

        I think when Cotter was replaced with Townsend it was a long term decision, it had to be ? The kind of people that we want to see in that role, will want longer than we gave Vern IMO. I have no doubt Toony is committed to the role and will learn from his mistakes (Who doesn’t). What is clear is that he was not brought in to move us on quickly IMO.

      11. Broono: Cotter’s stock obviously has fallen. His tenure at Montpellier was an unmitigated disaster and he is now coaching Fiji, rather than a tier 1 nation. Doesn’t mean he is not an excellent coach but he is no longer the hot property he was when leaving Clermont.

        It’ll be interesting to see what he can do with Fiji, they’ve a tough group but it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility they could cause a big upset. They need a decent amount of time with the squad to drill their pack properly but they have plenty of talent obviously.

      12. That was a rather lame rebuke. ‘Stock’ is your expression, so you explain it. There is no such thing as ‘Stock’. One thing on every CV is : experience. That is what an employer looks for. Cotter has had lots of that while Toony is still trying new tricks to get no further than Cotter in his short time in the Scotland role.

      13. James: Yes I have and there is no need to thank me, it was a pleasure to present an alternative viewpoint.

      14. Stock , what a load of nonsense. Can you imagine interviewing Vern and asking Vern, what is your stock like Dave ? I think James means reputation but confuses it with something in soup.

        What I find funny is that no one mentioned stock when Dave Rennie was an average Head Coach at Glasgow and went on to be the Head Coach for Australia.

        Clearly stock has nothing to do with attractiveness to the big jobs.

  38. There is a sort of history with Finn and GT, the “fall-out” and the subsequent banishing of Finn from the squad, the ignoring of GTs tactics in the 38-38 game . Add to this Finns Dads experience this may not be 100% conducive to a good working relationship.

  39. I think Ireland are the new Wales in that people tend to get carded against them. So a key point for next weekend needs to be watching the penalty count and keeping everyone on the pitch.

    Ireland, guided by POC coaching, dismantled our lineout last year. We need to do better this year and mix it up much more or we’ve no chance. Also think Bradbury will come back in to bolster the lineout options. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gray come back in to freshen things up as well.

    Finally I’m concerned that our defence has been worked out. It was one of my fears from the Lions tour that Tandy working with the best players from the other nations would mean they would work us out, what we are trying to do and develop plans for it.

    Its not helped by our tackle stats which seem to be getting worse each game. Stats can be a funny thing but how can we go from 8/132 missed tackles against England to 13/174 against Wales to 19/87 against France to 29/186 against Italy? Its like the longer the guys spend with the national coaches the more they forget basic skills. Either that or they’re no longer bought in to what the coaches want them to do defensively.

    1. The players will feel like the fans (frustrated) at not having played well for ages and really struggling to do what we all like doing, scoring tries and playing exciting rugby.
      Defense seems to be the new priority and this obviously doesn’t sit well with some

  40. So it feels like teams are starting to suss the Steve Tandy defence. The fact it’s taken the best coaches in the world two years shows how good it is. Up to him to evolve again now.

    Last two games we’ve conceded by teams getting their playmaker into the 13 channel, and going long from there. Harris is brillaint at shooting up and world class at drifting to the next player, but the miss pass is committing him and isolating our winger. Darcy managed those situations pretty well this week, but Steyn looked a little lost.

    You can also see the areas that Townsend wanted Hastings to improve on. Love him as a player, but he was an absolute human turnstile in defence.

    Still, five tries (worth remembering that on six occasions in the 6 Nations, that’s more than we’ve managed in the whole tournament), including some absolute bangers. Darcy great again, Fagerson too (we’ve talked a lot about the mental toughness of key players, so it was great to see that he wasn’t cowed by his mistakes and produced a really effective performance after a tough start).

    1. I think Tandy’s been brilliant since the world cup but an evolution is needed soon. Maybe the summer is the time to work on a new plan. Its great to score 5 tries but we let in 2 in the second half when Italy havent scored against anyone else in the second half.

      Its a good point you make about Steyn. I had the feeling that Steyn’s inclusion was a last minute decision while they waited on Duhan’s hearing result and therefore he wasnt fully up to speed with Harris and the defensive plan. Unless Maitland unexpectedly returns they should keep going with Steyn and sort out his channel with Harris for next weekend.

      1. I think we are in a similar place with Steyn as Harris in Wales. He has all the potential and can become excellent but it’s too soon and too high stakes to put him in against Ireland.

        Get Maitland back and we’ll compete Saturday.

    2. This is a great point.
      If you don’t freshen up you get worked out.

      You see it all the time in other elite sports and rugby is no different. The premier league is a good example. Teams have to incrementally reinvent themselves season by season or go into demise. Incredible managers like Mourinho and Wenger who revolutionised the game but then are incapable of moving on gradually become feather dusters.

      I think we had become a little stale and reliant on old patterns and particularly defense.

      I think one thing which can be said about Townsend the coach is that (like Townsend the player) he is innovative and prepared to change.

      He is also smart so I’m sure he will know the issue and be working on little changes of tactics, set piece and maybe personnel that can freshen things up.

  41. The BBC is asking today if we’ve regressed?

    Compared to 2021 there seems to have been a hefty regression when contrasting performances.

    We were better vs England in ’21 (pundits agreed we were the better team – in ’22 consensus was we got a bit lucky)
    Vs Wales we were seriously on top most of the time Xander was on the pitch, this year an arm wrestle we never dominated
    Vs France, hung on and won in ’21 – this year spanked by a superior team
    Vs Italy far less convincing than last year’s hammering

    Sadly I think we are going backwards

    1. The points in that BBC article are pretty sound IMO. It does feel like we’re not quite as cohesive as we were. Missing Jonny Gray and an in-form Watson?

      1. Yep thought it was a well written article. Would be interesting to see the nature of the increase in tries we are leaking, however. It feels like there have been more from scramble defence/loose play often driven by poor kicks/kick chases which maybe explains why there are more missed tackles per man. They haven’t become worse tacklers overnight so it’s maybe the way we are playing encourages teams to run at us in open play (perhaps due to the 50:22 rule?) making tackling harder.
        Whatever the answer is I think it’s more down to systems changing rather than personnel/individual form

      2. There seems to be endless inform players for Scotland. Perhaps it’s easy to point the finger at players but they may only be following orders and it’s making them look bad?

  42. A massive issue, probably the wrong word, but problem in the narrative driver with Rugby is just how little interest there is in it in the grand scheme of things, such little interest drives a hell of a lot of wild media narrative, evidenced by how the Irish TV stations speak about the sport, the hype around Marcus Smith, Tom English at his worst, which means the 6N has, generally massive hyperbolic statements attached to it each week, let alone tournament.

    The reality of the 6N is, a side can have a change in results without either massive progress or regression TBH.

    Scotland generally punch well above their weight to compete with and beat England and France as often as they have in recent years, when both are being coached correctly, they should be beating Scotland more often than not, Scotland’s record against both in recent years is generally excellent. This year I would argue the outlier was as much to do with France now reaching a stage they are close to being a fully operational Death Star, as they should be often, Scotland are often taking advantage of Frances inadequacy when they beat them, France can reach a level Scotland never will IMO, that is not do with regression in Scotland. A massive driver in the change in results was France really starting to find themselves.

    Scotland won a tactical kicking battle last year against England, better than them, yes but also took advantage of England’s chronic selection of players who were clearly miles off being at their best, that wasn’t the the case this year. This year they did tactically outwit a, more in shape England side

    Scotland and Wales generally are reaching a stage the game are decided by fine margins now, as history shows, in general, in the 6 Nations it it difficult to win away, the general, arrogance almost around the idea of Scotland going to Wales and winning was always quite misplaced IMO, which lead to a slightly overboard reaction to the failure to win there. The Wales team also do drag teams into games that are, generally an error strewn mess, evidenced by Friday night, that display to me didn’t suggest a France team that had regressed. A game France would have likely lost had Wales kicked sticks late with the idea of winning another penalty, very few teams win easy in Wales, let alone win at all.

    Italy game is really just the Italy game IMO. I would apply that to almost every nation playing them every year now, sides secure a BP win (in general) and get on with it. I don’t think the other 5 take much from that game anymore as the gap is that wide it is difficult to carry it over to other games in terms of general asks and demands from them as an opposition v the rest.

    I don’t doubt the 6N hasn’t went as well as some hoped, but as with most things 6N, and Scotland, things are never are bad as some make out, never as great as some make out.

    It is a very fine line tournament, swings on such things as a pass or card going one way or another. I am still pretty comfortable with where Scotland are personally but then, I don’t asses them as a side who are ever favorite to win it, so it doesn’t shock me as much as it seems to some when they don’t.

    1. +1 agreed.

      The media narrative is just unhelpful. Things like ‘they have to win this game’ or ‘this loss is a catastrophe that ruins everything’ are just silly when we all know that matches can come down to a single bounce of the ball or ankle tap (wales last year) or crucial moment.

      You can only judge over longer periods, and it seems that about the biggest conclusion we can draw is that all the six nations teams are improving relative to the southern hemisphere big 3 and that Ireland and France seem to be a bit ahead at the minute.

  43. I think this six nations illustrates how sensitive game plans can be to individual players strengths.

    Our defensive system depends a lot on Harris out wide, and Gray and Ritchie close to the ruck. Their replacements are great players, but the system as a whole is just not quite as effective. Small margins at this level are the difference between tight wins and losses.

    Our lineout options without Ritchie are more restricted, this leads to us using more complex calls with more movement and risk which when they go wrong leads to things like the Fagerson mistake or just slightly poorer ball, with knock-on impacts on the space and timing for the next move.

    I also think Cummings is a slightly more athletic carrier wider off the ruck, without him we either have less go forward, or need more carrying from our inside centre, which means maybe Tuipolotu. But we have looked our best with a distributor next to Finn (Horne and for one game Redpath), if we don’t get the go forward from our carriers and don’t have an extra distributor Finn can end up going back to Hogg or out wide too early / often. If we go out the back to Hogg (ie behind the centres or carriers) too early its predictable and he gets shut down. If we can do it when we have good go forward on the second, third, fourth phase he will usually make good ground or put someone into space.

    Its just all so subtle and fine margins making a game-plan work or not.

    I also think that a few key players are not on absolutely top form, potentially impacted by the long season with the Lions tour included.

    Final point, I think hindsight has shown that the ‘Bam squad’ didn’t work. We would probably have been better trying to get and hold a lead. In the six nations in particular, away wins are hard. The reality is that Wales, Scotland and England look to be fairly similar overall with Ireland and France a fair step ahead. We have shown that we can be competitive with them all at home (mostly) but I wouldn’t be confident of beating any of them away.

  44. A decent but unspectacular result. The team is inconsistent and seems to be lacking a bit of form. Toonie could help by making as few changes as possible. Given them a run of games. But it is nice to fairly routinely beat Italy hacking had the displeasure of watching us muck that up in years gone by.

    I also wonder how much of what we’re seeing is around the new attack/skills coach bedding in (or not bedding in at all). This is his first real tournament so you do wonder if that’s had an impact on us.

    I feel positive for Ireland because there is zero expectation. The last few games against Ireland we’ve heard about how we were ready to step up and beat a vulnerable Ireland. And we know how that’s gone. But right now we’re being given no chance. None. So why not.

  45. Cummings and Brown called up to the squad. Could we see Skinner and Skinny arms in the second row together or will Gilchrist retain his place.

    1. Gilchrist and Cummings would surely be too thin armed to play together…

      Why wasn’t Alex Craig called in? Lad is stacked.

      1. Probably because he was injured for a fair while, only made one or two appearances since his return. Plus Davidson seems to be getting picked ahead of him

  46. My team for Ireland

    Stuart Hogg – Darcy Graham – Chris Harris – Rory Hutchinson – Blair Kinghorn – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Matt Fagerson – Rory Darge – Magnus Bradbury – Grant Gilchrist – Scott Cummings – Zander Fagerson – George Turner – Pierre Schoeman

    Kyle Rowe – Sam Johnson – Ben Vellacott – Hamish Watson – Sam Skinner – Willem Nel – Fraser Brown – Allan Dell (assuming rest injured).

    It’s a bit risky playing Hutchinson and Kinghorn, it may weaken the defence but it gives us a lot more kicking options (which is all we seem to do anyway) and perhaps some form of attack?!

    1. No bad. I’m surprised that Hutchinson hasn’t been given a go at 12 – with Redpath seemingly permacrocked, Hutchinson feels like the closest facsimile we currently have.

      Kinghorn has improved his wing defence a lot, I think he’s underrated in that area.

  47. Toonie has been coach 4 years now and I still don’t know what plan or style we are trying to play to. Russell is a luxury we can’t afford. I’m sorry but he doesn’t look fit. We still have forwards that the minute they hit contact they fall to the ground. Contrast that with Irish forwards who drive through contact. Zander arrived on the scene and was hailed as a great new prospect. He has not pushed on and improved. Still making the same mistakes. It’s frustrating being a Scottish fan. Saturdays performance, whilst a win, was lacklustre. To lose 2 tries late on was frustrating. You have to ask is that a sign of a lack of fitness throughout the squad. I hope on Saturday I am proved wrong and that Scotland win.

    1. Actually Townsend has been coach almost 5 years. We are still bouncing around like a rowing boat with one oar. The reality is in the tournaments that matter 6N and WC we are incapable of any sustained progress. Now it’s either one of two things Townsend is simply not fit for purpose or the players collectively are not good enough.I know where my sentiments lie. What I find astonishing is that many on here still think Townsend can turn this around. I’d love to know what evidence they have for this optimism

      1. Can you explain where it needs to be turned around to and what that looks like? i.e 6 Nations finishes, World Cup etc


      2. I think Townsend probably has taken Scotland as far as he can. He has done a reasonable job but ultimately come up short. However, I don’t see how he’ll get sufficient improvement out of this squad to get to the RWC QF or challenge for a 6N title.

        The issue is though, if he were sacked at the end of the championship which coach is available that would do a better job at least through to the other side of the World Cup?

        Scotland are in a difficult position, with limited financial and playing resources. We’re unlikely to be able to afford to pay Townsend’s severance package and buy out a coach under contract even if we could identify a willing world class candidate. So it probably means Townsend will survive until the end of the RWC, which even with a new coach we’re most likely on a hiding to nothing anyway.

        Maybe Eddie Jones really will be fired if England finish 5th again. I reckon he’d give us as good a chance as anyone to have a crack in 2023.

      3. Hey TT,

        Well based on the comments around here, I guess I’m on the more pro-Townsend side of fans. You’re absolutely entitled to your opinion, and I know we all want the best possible things for Scotland. But you seem to be saying “if we just changed the manager, we’d win Six Nations and challenge for World Cups”, while simultaneously accusing ME of being optimistic!

        In every way you could possibly measure a sporting nation – registered players, pro players, pro clubs – Scotland are the smallest nation of the Six, including Italy.

        That has been exacerbated by the fact that it took the SRU literally 20 years to realise that professionalism wasn’t a passing fad, to the point where Zander Fagerson is probably the oldest player in the Scotland setup to have gone through a genuine academy pathway. England, Ireland and even Wales are now four rugby generations deep in that regard.

        This preparation has allowed the other teams to develop culture. And when we play well and lose, when Wales seem to play above themselves, when Ireland grind out a victory, it’s culture that has beaten us.

        Against that backdrop, Gregor Townsend has ended up with a positive record in three out of his four Six Nations. That hasn’t happened since the early nineties. Scotland’s record in the past two years has been literally identical to Ireland’s – consider for a minute the gulf in money, in resources, in club success, in (let’s be real here) talent. Are Irish fans calling for Farrell’s head?

        I know this is hard to hear because we see these young talents coming through, players of genuine quality. But they’re still young, and they’re trying to build a culture as they go. O’Driscoll, O’Connell et al had to do that for Ireland, and even that utterly exceptional group needed time (BOD was 30 before he won anything for Ireland).

        So with all that in mind, yeah, I don’t think Townsend is doing a bad job, and his results are better than you would expect. You might think that someone else could do even better – I can’t disprove that. But even if you do think that, this would be the worst possible time to sack him – no international coach is going to leave their role this close to a World Cup, and even if they did, they wouldn’t have time to embed their gameplan.

        So you can either carp for the next eighteen months, and seemingly try to suck any positivity out of Scottish Rugby culture, and then wonder why our young players aren’t responding.

        Or you can be patient, you can revel in the victories we do get, and you can support the team that we’re all so desperate to see succeed.

      4. James why don’t you explain what success looks like. Just a hint : Loosing to Tier 2 Nations is not considered a success.

      5. I’m not that convinced it looks entirely different to recent years.

        I’m not seeing what it is that makes people think this group can be coached that far beyond what they generally achieve v what they come up against

      6. James: Eh ? Explain that in simple English please . This lot are over coached. Good club players with ‘stock’ turn out with no confidence in a Scottish Jersey. Not one of last years Lions has played well since , not just Scottish players: Their stock has gone way down hill. What is the common denominator.

        I think it is funny that nobody has ever mentioned they did not rate our players before now.

    2. I do rate the Scotland players, they have decent stock, the sides they come up against in the 6N are generally better than them ( one clear exception) and have greater depth and resource, shocked this comes as any kind of breaking news to someone who often watches the sport

      Your reply reads like someone who rocks up two months a year to watch the sport, further validated by the touching upon the club game, which generally shows Scotland would finish 4th/5th rather than be a regular favourite.

      It’s quite odd to get as uppity about the word stock BTW, it’s not that controversial. I’d suggest not following The Thistle Pod if use of that words not your thing “Broono” on to the next personality…

  48. We ain’t beating Ireland or SA in that RWC group and so we may as well keep Townsend for now and use another RWC group exit as the vehicle for him to step down. There will likely be a HC merry go round after the RWC and and so more candidates to choose from plus we won’t have wasted money in paying off Toonie now and buying out someone else’s contract. Dodson probably needs to start sounding people out if we have a poor 6N next year.
    It really wouldn’t surprise me if Toonie went on to do well in a DoR role in England or France. I think that’s his level. I wouldn’t touch Eddie Jones with a bargepole given England’s results since the RWC final and the wealth of resources he has at his disposal. England should be competing with Ireland and France. They have clearly regressed a fair bit and it strikes me that Jones is yesterday’s man.

    1. Before Jones was appointed many commenters pointed out he was great at turning around struggling sixes but his methods wore thin and results nosedived in long term. Jones would be a classic fixer if we did need a coach for 18months to have a tilt at the RWC. Probably not a long green term option as maybe England are finding out (as Australia did in the past).

  49. Other than throwing the keys to Murrayfield at Gatland (unlikely) or Robertson (unlikely) there isn’t another coach that genuinely excites me or one that I would marry to the current squad which would make me bet much more than £20 on Scotland winning the 6 Nations, and even with the two mentioned it would require a hell of a lot of good fortune.

    That is not to say I am in a never remove Townsend group, I just think some people might find they constantly chase a pot of gold they might not find when it comes to the National team and what they feel they should achieve, I am not entirely convinced there is actually that much more to max out of this current group v the sides Scotland so often come up against in the 6N, I would expect that might worsen slightly if/when England wake from their Jones slumber, if for instance England do ever recruit Gatland, the 6N would become quite a closed shop between 2 and a half teams at the current rate, all of which could happen even with a coached as well as you could wish Scotland

    1. Personally I’d go for Shaun Edwards if he can be tempted to leave France after the RWC. I know he hasn’t been a HC before but everything he touches seems to turn to gold. I’m pretty sure that France’s uptick in performances and results is largely down to him. Gatland’s record as HC dipped after he and Edwards parted ways. He seems to be an incredible motivator and usually gets the most out of the players he works with. Andy Farrell was similar – a defence coach who Ireland felt could make the step up to HC and he has so far. Whether we could tempt Edwards is another matter.

      1. Shaun Edwards would be an outstanding coup, Gatland too but I can’t see the Scotland job appearing to him, or Rassie who seems to get the best out of whatever group of players he leads.

        Fact so though that among that list, we’d probably be all their second choices to the plum England job, if they could be persuaded at all. Dodson will need all his wheeling and dealing to land a proper big fish.

  50. Angerine thanks for your war and peace response.. Townsend has had almost 5 years to make his mark on this team. A team which when he took over had shown some sustained progress under the stewardship of the previous incumbent. The journey has been a bumpy one . Some good results on the way but when it really matters we have always come up short. I won’t go into the continual issues around selection, unfathomable tactics, players seemingly unhappy that has dogged townsends tenure. Ultimately we are going nowhere. So if you are happy to wallow in the mediocrity of failure, especially against the targets I have no doubt have been set internally,then that is your prerogative . I’m not and will voice my displeasure, or carp, as I see fit.

  51. Agree Tasmanian Tiger, the reason we take the time to post, to watch the games and to “feel” is because we are passionate about Scottish rugby and speak out when we see/feel something is wrong. I’d have sacked GT after the debacle of the last world cup, however after an initial spike we are back to our old tricks and thrilling/ exasperating in equal measure (more exasperation recently). Maybe GT been lucky that his tenure coincided with a peak Russell and Hogg. Maybe succesfully coaching Scorland (reasoning by Angerine above) is at worst impossible at best bloody awkward. Finally when you’re best players seem unhappy/struggling there’s something afoot

  52. I think the word everyone is avoiding is ‘Plodding’. I would question where we realistically want to be in the 6N. What is not in question is what is a reasonable expectation in the RWC. A WR Top 8 nation, exiting from the RWC in the first round, was not good enough.

    There is no getting away from it, that exit was an embarrassment. As a consequence, we will need to have made significant improvements , if we are to progress beyond the first round in the next RWC. Time is running out !

    1. If we progress to the QF in 2023 it’ll be an outstanding achievement given the group we are in. Even Tonga will be a banana skin given they’ll be stacked with ex-ABs by the time the RWC rolls around. Frankly our result at the RWC is a bit of an irrelevance but how we fare in 6Ns until then is more important – unless we win on Saturday this year has definitely been a step back and it’s fair to ask if that is a blip or if we’ve reached our level under the current regime.

      1. We are not too far apart in that opinion FF. The RWC exit will reverberate for 8 years as a minimum, but if we can show improvement in the 6N that would be representative of what I believe is the capability of the individuals in this team. If we finish 4th , we can probably tolerate more of the same for a bit longer. There is no apparent quick wins IMO.

  53. FF: Big fish, you are not being realistic .What big fish wants a short term deal with a side that showed no loyalty to a guy who took a Wooden Spoon Contender to 4th in the 6N and as we all know , we were very unfortunate not to progress to the Semifinals of the RWC in 2015.

  54. The Irish forwards are something else. Someone earlier said ours go into contact and fall over The Irish players will make yards. Zander disappoints me. He get isolated and brain farts all the time at the minute! If we constantly kick like we did on Saturday I think we will be in for a long day. I just hope we play Just go for it. Cmon Scotland

    1. Personally, have never rated Zander as an International player. Not anywhere near good enough and not smart enough

  55. so stick or twist is the question – in all likelihood we will end up 5th with 2 wins – miles behind France and Ireland, worse than the 3 wins we have achieved recently, but probably same as England and Wales.
    So do we accept that 6N title is a pipedream, reaching a quarter final in WC is dependent on getting lucky against Ireland or SA, or can we find a way of getting better than that, and do we need change of leadership to achieve that.

    Think I am asking rhetorically, as dont know the answer!!

  56. Toonie aside, I think it’s important to remember how World Rugby stitched us up with the RWC draw. I’m not making excuses but this does need calling out and probably stems from WR’s dislike of Scotland as a result of the typhoon debacle in Japan. They knew exactly what they were doing by locking in the seedings way too early while Japan were in the top 8 and we were 9th. If we had Wales or Japan’s draw then we’d be far more optimistic about progressing to the QFs. We need to prioritise getting into the top 8 ahead of the next draw otherwise we’ll be in the RWC wilderness for years to come.

    1. I am not saying we let them, or it is right , but when we did exit the RWC early, WR had a perfect opportunity . The game is growing in terms of players in Japan and that means money. In terms of growth it is stagnant in Scotland, maybe even the UK. You and I may not like this, but the score board and table has no opinion, it is pure fact. We lost and we could go over the obvious points of contention time and time again, but we lost and the circumstances are well documented.

      1. Our exit from the last RWC was fair and square and there are no complaints about that. It’s the manner of how the draw was engineered for 2023 that leaves a bitter taste. It is sport after all and decisions shouldn’t be taken fairly and squarely to give participants a fair go and not to benefit certain countries just because they were the last hosts and because the growth potential is bigger. The draw for next year’s football world cup in Qatar hasn’t even been made yet and there’s no reason why WR need to make the draw so early when seedings are way out of date.

  57. Eejits saying if we don’t beat Ireland (the number 2 team in the world away from home) we’re going backwards and we should fire Townsend and replace him with Shaun Edwards who’s never been head coach and recently upgraded from coaching perennial 6N champs Wales to coaching the best team in the world (as if he’d be interested in Scotland).

    You’re dreaming. It’s delusional bordering on grandiosity.

    What might help us do better is a bit of cohesion.
    Look at Wales. They are an incredibly tough team but that reflects their character built on a massive sense of pride and purpose that draws on the entire country.

    Same cannot be said of Scots who whinge and moan and blame others (eg refs) and worse still blames each other (players, coaches) cos we haven’t won a championship, as if we have some kind of right to win one.
    The same people who post that Ireland are gonna give us a thumping will, literally in the next line, opine that we are going backwards and should fire everyone if we get thumped!
    And you wonder why the team is beaten before it takes the field?

    Borders on mental derangement!

    1. I think people are saying we’ve gone backwards if we finish fifth with only 2 wins, just at the moment the coach and squad has talked about reaching a point to challenge for titles. Not just that but our actual performances have been worse than recent previous seasons. I don’t think that is controversial at all tbh, I’m sure even the squad would feel that. Obviously that assessment changes if we get a historic away win in Dublin.

      Discussion around coach isn’t delusional although it is speculative. Edwards has said he wants to be a head coach but no one has offered him the top job, anywhere. So yes, if we threw money at him and gave him the opportunity to achieve his career ambitions perhaps he would be tempted. England are already drawing up a shortlist and he’s not on it and he reportedly hates the RFU (Rassie and Gatland are currently leading contenders). Edwards will never be made coach of France, let alone straight after the RWC. So why not?

      Did anyone seriously expect Dodson to land Dave Rennie for Glasgow, who at the time was probably the most sought after domestic coach in the world? Or Cotter for that matter?

      1. What I cannot stand is people who say ‘we’re gonna get gubbed’ in one line then ‘unless we win it’s a disaster’ in the next.

        It’s deranged.

        Decide what you want (presumably to win) then support the team and try to build thrm up to do it.

        And the chances of getting Shaun Edwards whose stock is sky high and who currently has a dream job coaching a team which is loaded up with talent and about to win their 1st 6N in 12 years are so tiny they’re not even worth fantasising about.

        It would be like West Ham convincing Sir Alex Ferguson to come out of retirement.

        Besidea which we have 2 Lions coaches. They’re good enough.

  58. Two small moments towards the end of the match stood out to me big time.

    The first was when Hastings came on n went past Russel who seemed to be giving him info, Adam clearly just ignores him and throws up a flippant thumbs up n Finn then seems to start moaning to price about it. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, I’m no lip reader but he didn’t seem happy.

    The second was when Hogg threw the pass just behind Steyn in the dying minutes and it went to touch. At 5his point i think it was the 3rd in a row loose or careless pass Hogg made trying to force things. The telling moment however was picked up on a mic, Steyn looking down at Hogg who was just sat down by now, shouting up at Steyn “oh come on!!!” Seems to me that he was blaming Kyle but he had clearly made his mind up to try to force it and over play, evidenced by the two previous passes to nobody. I wonder if he’s an absolute pain in the 4rse to be around now that he is Mr big baws captain man.

    Like i said perhaps I’m reading too much into it but as many have previously alluded to, something isn’t right in that camp.

You might also like these:

Craig is joined by Rory and Iain to look at the latest news including Scotland's win over Canada and the upcoming test against the USA.
Gregor Townsend has picked the strongest XV possible from his touring squad for the visit to Washington DC to play the USA, writes Rory.
Gregor Townsend has named his team to face Canada in the first match of the Skyscanner Americas Tour with 10 players given the opportunity to make their Scotland debut.
Craig is joined by Iain, Jonny and Rory to discuss Glasgow's momentous win in the final of the 2024 URC

Scottish Rugby News and Opinion