Ireland 26-5 Scotland

This was not the championship decider any of us hoped for, if we’re being honest. Even had Scotland been going into this fixture with an unlikely chance of glory, the Aviva is a graveyard of Scottish dreams.

We probably still wouldn’t have been confident even without a stuttering tournament that started brightly but ended with the prospect of another off-field disciplinary episode magnifying poor performance.

It was a breathless start in the Dublin sunshine, with Darcy Graham and Ali Price picking up where they left off against Italy, the Scots playing with frenetic pace and no shortage of width.

You could say that the bullocking runs of Pierre Schoemann and chums were troubling Ireland, although nothing within threatening distance of the try line.

Somehow the visitors were achieving quick ball too which was even more of a minor miracle. Away in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day weekend, you’ll take any small slices of the famous Irish luck going spare.

It was the eighth minute before a penalty was conceded by either side. Plot twist: it was not Scotland, but they opted not to kick for points, in favour of blowing the lineout and letting the pressure off Ireland who hadn’t really been in the game to that point.

A superb 50:22 kick by Johnny Sexton gave the vaunted Irish pack a chance for a five metre lineout but Scotland managed to hold up Josh Van Der Flier over the line. At the next time of asking, Lowe tapped a penalty and Scotland were not back ten, giving away another penalty, and another.

With Scottish discipline rapidly dissolving, Sexton spurned the kick at goal and Dan Sheehan barrelled over from the maul, making their decision seem a lot wiser.

As the first quarter turned into the second quarter Ireland were now looking well in control and the error-strewn Scotland performance of the sort that has been a regular occurrence in this tournament was well underway. Ali Price had started brightly but had gone off the boil and Graham was taking out players of all sides during the kick chase.

Ireland’s second try came after half an hour minutes, Cian Healy battering over from short range and Scotland looked simply powerless to find a way into this game.

They did work their way within metres of the line with some huge effort and Pierre Schoemann – who was probably having the game of his life in a Scotland shirt – tunnelled over the line. The TMO wanted referee Wayne Barnes to chalk the try off for a double movement but Barnes stuck to his guns during a fairly pointless intervention.

Kinghorn sclaffed the conversion to make it far less of a momentum swing than they would have wanted, then Tadgh Furlong clamped over the ball at the restart and Ireland’s rolling maul was back in the corner once again. It looked like a typical shotgun-to-foot moment but Grant Gilchrist did superb work to turn the ball over.

At the scrum, Scotland compounded their one bright patch to earn a penalty and take it in to half time without further damage.

It was small, but it was at least a glimmer of hope.

Half-time Ireland 14-5 Scotland

Cut to five minutes into the second half: Scotland regather their breath, hands on knees. They’ve been defending their goal line, again, after a fierce barrage of Irish attacks has been repulsed. They’ve started brightly and won a penalty; they kick it up the park.

Jonny Gray is pulled down at the lineout, winning another penalty. Stuart Hogg hoofs it into the Irish 22 and the Scots attack again. It’s all looking better. Useful even.

Then deep passing forces Scotland back out of the 22, Pierre Schoeman elbows Iain Henderson in the tackle on the charge, and while the TMO is deciding whether or not to intervene, captain Stuart Hogg – who to that point hadn’t been awful – butchers a clear cut try going for the corner instead of passing inside where he had multiple supporting players.

Wayne Barnes let Schoemann off (it was not as bad as the handoff that Duhan was banned for) which made the captain’s error all the more painful.

Any attempts to build momentum were being savagely thrown away.

If we as fans have learned that against Ireland you need to take every single chance you get, you’d think the Scotland players who have had careers for at least as long as we’ve been watching would have figured that out by now?

Just before the hour mark, the replacement-filled Scotland scrum finally crumpled and Ireland, once again, went for the corner. Once again, they were generous with a mistake that let Scotland off, but once again Scotland were not clinical. Ireland were back in the Scotland 22 minutes later, Van Der Flier making it 21-5 on penalty advantage.

Butchered try aside, Hogg was actually having a pretty good game, with a huge touch finder giving the Scots a great platform. Then quiet Chris Harris dropped it in the tackle – maybe he should have gone to the pub after all.

Like Hogg, Kinghorn was not to blame for Scottish inabilities – the visitors were both good and awful to a man, doing one good thing then one awful thing moments later. You could see on their faces that they knew it too.

In particular the pack had not been blown away by Ireland as perhaps we feared, at least not outside of their own try line where they seemed unable to stop Ireland scoring. Rory Darge, Hamish Watson and Grant Gilchrist all made the best of things when they could.

Still, it was cruelly inevitable that even as a focused looking Finn Russell finally gave Scotland some spark on the gain line and Scotland attacked from the lineout, the pack would undo all the good efforts by failing to pick and go from metres out. Ireland, as usual, did what they needed to, as they always do.

Scotland were not blown away by the home side, if you want a straw to clutch at.

But with three scores needed, Scotland couldn’t even get one at the time of asking. Instead, Ben White was binned for a deliberate knock on and Conor Murray took a bonus point try moments later.

Which summed up Scotland’s tournament: unable to cope with what’s in front of them.

Referee: Wayne Barnes

SRBlog Player of the Match: nobody had a spotless game, and for every good point there was something dumb, brainless or dangerous. Still, Pierre Schoemann was probably the pick of the team. Honourable mention to dual opensides Rory Darge and Hamish Watson who seemed to click together and were a constant nuisance on Irish ball and could give some real headaches for selection once (the badly missed) Jamie Ritchie is fit again.

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113 comments on “Ireland 26-5 Scotland

  1. Fraser on

    Russell more threatening with one touch than Kinghorn for the whole game.
    Throwing a wide pass every time isn’t exactly challenging for the defence.
    Kinghorn is not an international class 10.

    Otherwise, didn’t get beaten nearly as badly as I thought we would against a very strong Irish side – couple of missed chances and errors away from a close-ish game.

  2. Saint4805 on

    Hogg should take lessons from young Capuozzo of Italy. Both were in the exact same position and one selflessly passed it inside to his team mate to get 7 points while the other went for glory and got hauled into touch. Hogg even had three players inside him to choose from.

    • Referendum on

      Came on right now to say the exact same thing….it’s not really acceptable at all….it’s like amateur football going for glory from a tight angle rather than cutting it back forva teammate to tap it home….

      He has 2 caps and knows this….hogg has how many and he’s never realised this or anyone brave enough to tell him. Mistakes happen honest ones but not making the team decision should never be the mistake made. It’s selfish plain and simple and a Captain should be aware of this.

      Fagerson (maybe not today) but is also a brainless selfish player. In from the side at maul time not even subtle. Balls not out but go offside . Gives between 3 to 5 brainless pens every game. It makes momentum almost impossible. It’s not acceptable….

      These are the things holding us back not going out for a wee drink after a match.

      Be a team player in these ways and then we win more and we’ll make errors but they’ll be honest ones and team ones. Not lazy selfish or brainless.

  3. JohnMc on

    We saved our most careless and error-strewn performance for the very last Test. Losses of composure and basic technique at key points in games have all too often featured in the matches against Wales, France and now Ireland. Frustrating to watch, and so disappointing after such a promising start in the Calcutta Cup.
    Hogg’s failure to find any one of the three players inside him was unforgivable. A chance to get five maybe seven points back was utterly and selfishly stuffed up.

  4. John Martin on

    Simply to many errors.
    Like the France game Hogg involved in a horrendous potential seminal error. No idea why the 3 on 1 was executed it was inexplicable.
    As I have said many times Harris is a solid citizen but no where near good enough to be an international 13.
    Ireland defence soaked everything up.
    No idea what was going on with a Kinghorn Bennett Russell 10 12 13.
    Tremendous spirit showed by the boys.
    No much to say

  5. Andyc on

    I feel unfortunately we are going backwards. I think it’s time up for Townsend that was exceptionally disappointing. The players gave their all. Just deflating. Ireland are the template

    • Johnny B on

      In living memory Ireland were rank awful, way worse than we are now and probably not much better than Italy.

      Their success hasn’t come out of nowhere. Becoming a wealthy country since the mid 90s has doubtless helped but they built existing school cup rugby formats into formidable talent factories and their provincial sides are the only official full time professional sport teams on the Island.

      Not easy to emulate that and one thing for sure is that it can’t happen in the face of the bitter infighting which has beset Scottish rugby and still does to some extent.

  6. Johnny B on

    I give the team credit for not giving up but they’ve got to go through the phases. The one time we did it we scored a try!

    All Ireland do is carry aggressively, go through 20 phases and wait for chances and mistakes. Maybe we should learn something from that cos we seemed to lose it after 5 phases and kick the ball away or try to force play, all of which played into their hands.

    Couple of things sapped momentum too – the missed conversion and Hogg failing to put Johnson in for a sitter could’ve swung things and made it closer at the end.

    So-so tournament. It’s difficult to see us winning it anytime soon unless other teams are off form or we find a lot more consistency. I’m sure some of this can be coached.

      • Referendum on

        Johnny B irrelevant he must make the team decision not the glory decision….he made the chance for us against new Zealand but also cost us cos once the break was made recycle and we’re in with a more than 50 50 chance. He went were Barrett led him and he was vulnerable to the miracle ball and that was that.

        He must make the team decision and learn what it is when in training so he does it on instinct in the heat of battle…he doesn’t and believes he’s superman….someone needs to tell him this….it’s costing this team and if he’s the team captain he says he is he’ll change…

  7. Saint4805 on

    The Hogg brain fart is just infuriating. You don’t see Sexton or other captains making such poor decisions. The inside pass was more likely to give an easier conversion so why go for the corner and have a harder conversion. Toonie should just make Ritchie captain for the summer tests.
    Special mention to Schoeman who was excellent. He has taken to test rugby like a duck to water and is a real find for us.

    • Johnny B on

      Symptomatic of a general lack of composure which saw us kick tons of decent ball away or force play imho.

      They tried. They didn’t give up, but all Ireland had to do was tackle us 5 times on the gainline and wait for us to kick it back to them.

    • Tam tm on

      Hogg will surely get a summers break. Ritchie captain as long as he is fit to return by the tests in Argentina. It’s as though the advances we had made last year just never happened….

      • SAS on

        If Townsend stays on as Scotland coach after that six nations disaster, then the police need to investigate the SRU for corruption. Townsend’s taking money from our funds is criminal. He’s a joke!

      • Tam Tok on

        We are consistently 4th. We have not kicked on , but we have not fallen back either. It always feels like we could have done better.

      • FF on

        There was definitely a regression in terms of performance this year. It’s hard to put a finger on why but we clearly have a lot of ground to make up to be on touching distance of France or Ireland. To my mind that is really in the forwards, how to we live with the intense physicality of those two teams, how do we disrupt their possession effectively, how do we speed up our own ruckball?

        I don’t think there are any easy answers as partly it is personnel. We still want for heavy duty ball carriers but also stoppers who can put in dominant hits on the gainline. We have some superb forwards but perhaps not the right mix of attributes.

    • Michael Anderson on

      I would have taken off Hogg immediately after that. His decision to go for it was selfish and stupid.

      • TENC on

        Hogg’s lack of judgement has cost us this season. But if we notice it, what do the team think. We have all played with a guy like Hogg, you are scared to leave him out, but as time goes on , left unchecked, the misjudgment is reinforced as ok and it does get to team morale.

  8. Scot welsh on

    With 18 months to world Cup major changes needed. We can’t do any worse as we will get hammered by both Ireland and s Africa. Townshend has to go as he has absolutely no idea. Also need to get rid of hogg, harries, Johnson who I rate as a club player but not an international, steyn unless played as a 13 as not an international winger, price, Russell, brown and the Edinburgh hoover, dell, nel, gilghrist, gray, and play either dirge or pinball, not both. Have followed scotland through the bad and the bad, but now is just absolute crap. Seen out team defeated before, sometimes very badly but watching this lot is absolutely depressing. Give some new players a chance as it cannot be any worse than this lot who frankly just are not good enough, which I can live with, but lack of intensity desire and pride just is not acceptable. Hope they enjoy the pint in the pub.

    • FF on

      I mean this season was disappointing but absolutely nowhere near as depressing as watching Scotland under Matt William or Scott Johnson (though I did enjoy his Irish mugging), or watching a wooden spoon season.

      I do think Townsend has run out of ideas and now has quite muddled thinking, but some responses are a bit over the top. Ireland and France have pulled away from the pack this season and are setting the standard in the Nh.

  9. PunkyPar on

    I have been watching Scotland home and away since first going to the schoolboy enclosures at Murrayfield in 1973. Most talented crop of players for a generation, poorly coached and poorly led, on and off the field. Bizarre squad and team selection, players picked up and dropped at a whim, no obvious game plan which plays to the strength of the players. Indiscipline, impetuousness, indecision, lack of killer instinct, no sheer bloody mindedness, no passion, chances squandered and more bloody heartbreak for long suffering fans. Something is amiss, something stinks…I hate to single out anyone….but…taxi for Townsend….?

    • PabloEscobar on

      Totally agree with everything you said. I don’t know how many chances we butchered today where momentum was lost. Toonie must go. I won’t be going to Murrayfield until he’s gone.

      • Peter G on

        Townsend has the wrong attitude with the players. He treats the players like children and they react accordingly. In doing so he starved the players and more particularly the fans of what and who they want to see and support. He must go

    • Michael Anderson on

      I listened to the Townsend interview on Radio Scotland and he sounded like a man about to get in a taxi. Here is hoping. A new coach and captain is essential, but I fear SRU will wait until after the world cup.

  10. Gaffer on

    It may have taken the full 80 and not the 40 for Ireland to get the bonus point but the outcome was as predicted. We flattered to deceive today that we were competitive but the scoreboard doesn’t lie and sure as night follows day, the bonus point win was inevitable.
    The difference is obvious when the teams get into the opposition 22. Not quite men against boys stuff but you just know when sexton kicks for the corner 7 points will be coming. Their forwards are drilled and patient. Contrast with Scotland, if the kick to the corner is successful ( this is never a given) you just know there is a 40/60 chance our forwards will fail to gather, knock on or fail to make the hard yards leading to the ball being chucked to the backs out of frustration who then get rumbled by the defence.
    On the plus side the back combo of Darge and Watson worked better than last outing, Kinghorn wasn’t a complete disaster at 10 , Schoeman was my M.O.M . Gray , whilst failing to ‘dominate’ contact made all his tackles again, many of them slowing Irish momentum and Ali Price continues to play at a high standard.
    Too many silly penalties yet again slowed momentum, Steyn not good enough. Z Fag regressing.
    Can’t see any reasons for belief that this result and score won’t be replicated at the World Cup though without a coaching change.

    • 1.8T on

      I had forgotten Kinghorn was playing by half time which probably says it all. The tactics were all wrong and have been for the entire tournament. Its been too frenetic, we never seem to want to keep the ball in hand and string phases together, when we do we actually look alright, sometimes. Usually its a couple of phases then kick, and the kick isn’t usually very good. A few years ago it was all attack and clever moves but no poor defence. The last couple of years we have shored the defence up but the whole thing has gone out the window this year, the attack play is poor and the defence is too. There is no pragmatism, its all panic panic panic and that causes the handling errors. I thought we had moved past that, sadly not.

      Hogg needs a break, some terrible decision making this tournament and the seeming need to do it all himself is not a good trait, trust your team mates.

      Thought Wayne Barnes had a pretty good game, Schoeman is a lucky boy, I agree with Barnes interpretation but I think many refs would at least have binned him for that. Couple of the pings for not being back 10 were a bit harsh. TMO was a different story, idiot.

      • TEE CEE on

        What about the fact that Henderson was upright in the tackle, the TMO never mentioned that ,a yellow card at least for the Irishman

      • James on

        Agreed, if Shoo hadn’t had his arms up it would have been a head on head collision and red for Henderson.

  11. ScotSou on

    Side note on the victory, but was really irritated at the Irish media having control of the replays. Multiple showing of Shoooooes bump off Hendersons high tackle, yet high tackle by Hansen 5m from the Irish line was shown once. Numerous inconsistencies from Barnes too – pinged us constantly for not being 10m from a quick tap, we got nothing when it happened to us.

    Wouldn’t have changed the result, but man, we struggle to win with a ref on our side, let alone against us.

    • PunkyPar on

      Actually thought Barnes had a reasonable game…it was the TMO who seemed hell-bent on undermining a couple of Barnes initial decisions in favour of Ireland

      • FF on

        Yep, less experienced ref would have buckled but Barnes gave them opportunity to climb down then insisted they did. Shows how much of a farce the TMO system really is nowadays without a solid ref.

      • Andrew on

        The one that got me was Ben White being tackled 3 or 4 metres after the tap penalty when Gibson Park was 8 metres in and we had been penalised. But his conversations with the TMO were class. Stopped short of telling him to shut up, but must have been tempted.

      • Bass Rock on

        I am pleased to read we are supportive of Wayne Barnes. I thought he was excellent and managed a poor TMO very well.

  12. Tam tm on

    If you get the chance to see the last two Irish tries neither of them were grounded from what I saw….

  13. Paulie on

    Does anyone want Townsend to continue as Head Coach? Also Hogg as Captain? Changes long overdue and needed, oh for a Cotter type – influence, structure, better discipline, players believing and working on said game plan – progression – seems a long time ago, not all lost with this group of players, but has to start soon and with Head Coach replacement.

    • RuggersB on

      If we don’t make changes now .. it’ll be like attempting to drive the Swiss alps in winter on bald tires.

    • Angerine on

      Wow, the Cotter revisionism is really strong. Cotter was fine. I would have given him through to the 2019 RWC as well. But remember losing 40-10 to Ireland at home? How about the 61-21 game?

      After Scotland he had a pretty mediocre stint at Montpellier, and is now coaching a tier 2 nation. He isn’t the saviour he’s being made out to be.

  14. Johnny B on

    Yeah this may be a talented Scotland squad but yuh know, other teams have upped their games too.
    Here’s the yardstick :- Back in our glory days of the 1980s and 90s a 5N team beating NZ, South Africa or even Australia would’ve been a huge deal. Ireland (like us) had never beaten the All Blacks and before a one off victory in 1999 Wales had never beaten the Springboks.
    England and France could beat those sides in the same way the Scotland team of today could – ie not very often if they got lucky.

    Now Ireland or France would be at least evens against any of those sides, until recently the Springboks couldn’t steal a win v Wales and England have dominated their encounters with all those sides except the all blacks (whom theyve still beaten on more than 1 occasion including a clobbering at the last RWC) for at least 20 years.

    Unlike the 5N of the 80s and 90s the 6N has genuinely top class teams.

    Some of you don’t have realistic expectations.

    A team like Ireland are, across the board, just a bit better than us. Not much, but the difference is still appreciable and enough to mean they win most of our encounters.

    Not turning up to Murrayfield, demanding Stuart Hogg’s head or that Townsend is sacked won’t help close the gap.

    The players tried. I think they killed themselves by kicking the ball away too cheaply then errors kicked in, but they didn’t give up.
    Yeah Hogg missed a sitter but other than that didn’t play badly.

    These guys play under so much expectation and pressure it can’t help.

    Why not just realise what they’re up against and that in that context they don’t actually do too badly?
    You never know, one season with the ridiculous pressure off and the fans behind them they might give us a surprise?

    • Tasmanian tiger on

      Actually reading your drivel leads me to believe you are the one who needs a dose of realism. The fact we were beaten by Ireland or France is not the issue they are both fine teams. It’s everything that leads up to the defeat that is avoidable. Woeful selections unfathomable tactics constant re running of the same old movie errors missed chances penalty after penalty . This is professional sport. There are expectations and repercussions if these exoectatiobs are not met. This is not under 10s rugby where every one plays well even if they don’t. Changes need to be made. Whether they will in the siege mentality world of the SRU is questionable.

    • James on

      I agree with you that the other teams have moved on. All teams are always going to be looking to develop and progress.

      However, as other commentators have noted, we always seem to play at less than the sum of our parts. You could say that the expectation is the reason for that and it hampers the team, but look at Wales. They constantly play far better when they pull on the red jersey and the expectation in the south of wales is huge but seems to motivate the team.

      This suggests something isn’t right in our setup at the moment. Some people are calling out individuals and shouting for wholesale change which is probably/possibly an over reaction. But something needs to be done to stop a very talented Scotland squad failing to play to their potential. I don’t think we need/want revolution here, but we do want to see progress from the team to ensure we’re at least keeping up with the rest of the top teams. This year we appear to have gone backwards which is why there is so much disappointment and anger at recent performances (and yes, commentators on online forums will always overreact!

      • TimToo on

        And maybe it’s not such a talented bunch of players and maybe we are kidding ourselves that they are.

  15. Keith on

    Unbelievably some folk are trying to put a pretty bow on this pig of a tournament. See you later Gregor

  16. alythman on

    yes an end to a disappointing 6N – at least we werent 5th! Glad Italy won a match, especially as it wasnt against us!

    At end of the day we remain miles away from seriously challenging for the 6N

    France have taken years to get their act together but think they are now there

    • RuggersB on

      Yep Scotland has had years and more years…but we still look nowhere near challenging for either the 6N or getting out of our RWC group.

      There just is no progress there. In fact if things don’t change with coaching and player selection / development we may well be bottom of the 6N next year.

      …and how were the players disciplined?? They gave a stand up apology to teammates? Woopty!
      Should all have been dropped from the squad imo …told they’ll only be selected again if their play and attitude merits it… because throughout this entire 6N they just haven’t done enough.

      GT doesn’t seem to know wtf he is doing. Poor tactics ..poor selections ….poor discipline on and off the field.

      • Johnny B on

        Out of interest, how much would we have lost by today of we’d dropped the Sunday piss up crew?
        And how much would you have complained about it?

      • RuggersB on

        Who knows? Maybe more …maybe less…. Maybe less selfish players might have created a more effective team unit. A loss is a loss. Playing players who have disrespected their fans , teammates and coaches ..it shows a lack of character and standards ..and well that does nothing good for team morale and confidence levels.
        I would have thought the same as I think now. I didn’t expect a win anyway….largely because we simply have played poorly all 6N. Some are being selected by reputation and have done nothing to back that up.
        There was a real opportunity to show everyone that unprofessional behavior is not tolerated …and we couldn’t even do that properly.

      • Johnny B on

        So you’d have been happy with a 50 point gubbing as long as players who got drunk were dropped?

        I’m sceptical and not convinced you would see us becoming an immediate 6N contender if we’d done that.

        I dunno, it’s difficult! Scotland as a country has devalued sport generally for quite a few years and even decades now. It’s seen as a bourgeois societal poison by quite a few people in our country and that especially applies to a middle class sport like rugby.

        There aren’t quick fixes for that other than those many of us don’t like such as getting in players with Scottish grannies or on residency.

        Longer term more people need to play the game.

        Considering what is ranged against them – at home as well as abroad – our side doesn’t do too badly.

      • RuggersB on

        Where did I say I would be ‘happy with a 50 point grubbing’ ? Nowhere.
        Are you psychic? Do you know that if the players involved were disciplined and dropped we would have lost the match by a larger margin? No ..you do not. Do you know that the overall team performance would have been less effective? Nope …

        I’ve no idea what you are rambling about…
        and , to me, your comments usually sound like the person content with the gubbing. It’s like you are saying the Scottish rugby community should have no aspirations beyond recent levels.

    • RuggersB on

      Yes France fully deserved their success. The best team. Closely followed by Ireland.

      The rest…meh..much of a muchness…and with an awful lot to do before the RWC.

  17. Youarewelcome on

    These comments are largely myopic. You can criticise the coach (one of the more astute rugby brains in the game), the captain (one of the finest players Scotland has ever produced who gives his all every game) or any of the other players but you miss the point. Scotland is a poorly finded rugby nation with too small a player base. The game relies largely on a few Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perthshire private schools. Sadly the days of The Borders conveyor belt has waned which I blame on their inability to support the Reivers due to their inability to see beyond their towns/clubs. Scotland relies upon picking up talent with Scottish heritage abroad or the odd South African import. Scotland has a limited talent pool which must be developed. It’s not Townsend, Hogg, Russell et al’s fault, it goes above that. The task is beyond Dodson, who is an over-paid incompetent. It is he who must go. He needs to be replaced by a solid, Scottish businessman who understands how to get the best value from the CVC money. Grass roots must be developed, the player pool extended and the number of professional teams increased. There is chat that France and Ireland have pulled ahead of the 6N group while England, Wales and Scotland are on par and Italy are far behind. Each country faces a different position. Both France and Ireland are very well funded and increasingly cohesively organised to ensure the national team excels. England faces a club vs country dilemma and a coach who, with an abundance of talent can’t decide on who his starting team is or how to play the game. Wales are transitioning from a turgid, effective but boring style with too many ageing players and too few coming through to replace them. Italy is improving (fabulous win today and U20’s doing well) and will get better. Scotland needs to keep improving to keep pace. Our playing pool is small, with limited depth. Other countries are far better financed and resourced. My eldest son is in an academy set up in England. Full sports scholarships to the best private schools abound, as well as the best talent from the top local club set-ups which, by the U17 stage have attracted the best local talent. Scotland needs better financing and organisation. It’s Dobson et al who need to go. Changing a coach and switching captains will achieve nothing. If we aspire to compete at the highest level, we need a complete change at the top to ensure the CVC money is wisely spent and Scottish rugby doesn’t doesn’t regress.

    • The voice of reason on

      You make a lot of good points however if you go back a few reports there is nothing but condemnation of the decision to play Kinghorn at 10?

      So did it work ? Is this the first time his selections have been remarkable ? Has it ever worked?

      The answer is no, no and no. So , why would we not change out the coach? He has not made the best with what he has.

    • SlowWalk90 on

      Great post. If anyone has to go it shouldn’t be Townsend (who’s not really to blame when players like Hogg implode at key points in the game) or Hogg (who is guilty of errors but the squad would be weakened without him). Dobson on the other hand drains necessary resources from Scottish Rugby at a ridiculous rate, and has little to show for what he’s done for the grassroots of the game. He did manage to ensure that we we’re unfairly put into the 3rd pot for world cup seeding by being an insufferable pr**k (apparently), but that’s about all we’ve got for his salary lately.

      I also disagree massively with the decision to start BK at 10 today. Terrible decision on multiple levels. However, I’m just not convinced that we’re going to be able to replace Townsend with a better coach at this point. Should we renew his contract? If the level of performance from this tournament continues, neither party would probably want to, but we’d be crazy to throw the dice at this stage unless there was a great viable replacement ready to step in.

    • RuggersB on

      I agree , I am also not convinced Dodson is really the guy SRU needs to run the show. There is a clear need for an additional pro side in Scotland …and he just isn’t doing enough to make that develop and happen. Are the funds really going to the right areas?

      Regarding GT , who you reference as such a highly regarded rugby coach. Well, so is Eddie Jones…who you go onto say is making poor selection and coaching decisions and it’s contributing to Englands stagnation or lack of success. Many people on here post their feelings Scotland aren’t progressing for the very same reasons. Just because someone has the experience , knowledge base and respect in the rugby community…does not always the right coach make. Saying Hogg is one the best rugby players in Scottish history .. we’ll maybe he is ..but it’s subjective..and so some don’t see him that way..it isn’t a fact. For eg when I think of our best FB in my time I think of G Hastings …we all have differing views on that ..the best player ..the best team etc and nobody is right or wrong.

      I also agree that we are a more limited Rugby Nation due to participation numbers and infrastructure financing. So that said, we can’t just base our judgements on results. The performances are well short of expectations…I don’t think the expectations are too high….we just don’t look disciplined, organized and players often look confused and indecisive….those are very coachable areas. We have some very talented players that seem underutilized and in some cases mismanaged. We are not progressing …we had a truly awful RWC …and we look no further along to having a side that knows it best players and has a firm playing identity that all buy into.

      • Tom Simpson on

        What is clear is that Townsend does not have a credible game plan – or at least one that the players are capable of playing to – or actually wanting to. Do any of the players actually want to play for him. He inspires no confidence or even respect. Nor does he deserve any. His treatment of Russell, maybe a maverick, is quite vindictive and shameful. Add to that Hastings, Vellacott, Hutchinson, etc.

      • Toony Tunes on

        According to the Offside Line, at the start of this 6N, Toonie has used 94 different players in his 49 Tests. Of those 94, 16 have only featured as replacements. That means 78 different players have started a Test under Townsend – with 21 of those only starting once.

        Centres: Townsend has selected 24 different centre combinations so far – including 16 that only lasted one Test. Who knows where we are now.

    • Mrbojangles on

      So changing a coach changes nothing, utter drivel. That statement doesn’t stand scrutiny on any level. It maybe makes no guarantee of improvement but quite clearly the astute rugby brain of GT is making no progress, in fact the gap between the very good, the good and us is getting bigger. The recent wins against England have masked our shortcomings and the utter debacle of the WC should have seen the astute one looking for a new job. Or we accept that very very occasionally we produce a world class player, an actual player rated in the top 2 in his position globally over several seasons, we produce some very good international players who have a couple of decent seasons but on the whole we are around the 8-10th best team in world rugby, occasionally entering the top 6. We accept that we don’t produce enough very good front 5 forwards and never seem to have a core of say 8 on the go. We seldom do or have dominated teams up front, matching them and not taking a backwards step is not the same. We produce some very good back rows, same for nines but the rest……. The playing pool will never be big and the game relies on private schools, the majority of whose pupils give the game up at Uni, the great small local clubs and the supporters who come to Murrayfield 5 times a year for a day out it many of whom don’t pay the slightest attention the rest of the time. That’s the way of it. Protestations such as how we will be the fastest and fittest team at the last WC , we weren’t even close, and the drivel that the likes of Laidlaw perfected and Hogg seems to revel in just makes us a laughing stock. I suppose we are the daft ones, the middle aged men still believing we will beat NZ this next time……

    • Neil on

      “Scotland relies upon picking up talent with Scottish heritage abroad or the odd South African import”

      Jamie Gibson Park = Import
      Bundi Aki = Import
      James Lowe = Import
      Mack Hansen = Irish Heritage picked up

      I could name you a bunch for the Welsh/French/English/New Zealand/Australia/Japan etc etc.

      Ireland have the unique position of having very little if any professional sports teams with a following outside of Rugby, they don’t have to compete with Football.

      The Dodson stuff is nonsense, he has just introduced the super-6 a clear pathway for grassroots players who did not make it first go a second chance.. massively increased the potential player pool for pro players while also introducing a popular competition for viewers. And guess what.. it’s only going to grow and get better.

  18. Warks Scot on

    France and Ireland way ahead of the rest and no shame in losing to either; hard to unpick much from the “also-rans”, it was quite a scrappy tournament for the other 4 teams. However, our execution of even basic stuff is so frustrating. So many players getting isolated, losing out at the breakdown on too many occasions (think it was ZF who got to a breakdown but simply forgot to protect the tackled player), too many knock-ons, missed passes and just general looking a bit lost when in possession. For all the pelters coming Russell’s, Hogg’s, Harris’s, Steyn’s way, I really think the problem lies up front. We just can’t dominate and get a solid platform for the backs to get good quality ball. We missed Ritchie but forwards coaching seems to have regressed. Can we tempt a certain Ritchie Gray the elder back? Get it right up front, sort out the breakdown so we can build up the phases and our back line can do some damage. If GT can sort that or at least recruit someone who can, then I don’t mind him staying – though a different story if he really has already lost the dressing room.

  19. RuggersB on

    For me … I think the major difference between Ireland and Scotland is that Ireland look like they know exactly what the game plan is and how to execute. In defense and attack. They look like they are fully aware of the failings and tendencies of the others. They look prepared and ready to go. They don’t deviate from the plan when they lose momentum. They know what they can and cannot do.

    The skills are about the same ….The coaching seems far superior to me.

  20. Rob on

    Personally, I think Hogg should do the honourable thing and step down as Captain. Breaking the rules as he did is not excusable.

    • Saint4805 on

      Agreed. Can you imagine AWJ or Sexton initiating a boozy night out on the town? It just smacks of unprofessional and ill disciplined. Treating 6N camps like a stag doo. Throw in his lack of being a team player on the field, the dropped balls at crucial moments etc. Not exactly the sort of captain other players would look up to. In the absence of suitable alternatives Toonie will likely stay until the RWC (No way Dodson will make a change now) but Hogg needs to step down as captain ASAP. Just give it to Ritchie for the AI’s so that he gets experience before next year’s 6N and RWC.

      • FF on

        I don’t know but some Wales fans are furious that AWJ treated his 150th cap like a testimonial with his family in the players tunnel. No wonder their performance lacked focus as attention wasn’t on job at hand. Is that professional? I don’t think so

      • Tom Simpson on

        Probably not but probably because they have a sympathetuc management who know when to give players a bit of slack.
        Unlike Mother Teresa Townsend. He precipitated all of this with his shameful treatment of Russell two seasons ago.

  21. Busy Little Bee on

    I agree with Hoggy, we played really well but the result isn’t what we’re about and we’re bitterly disappointed. We done really well, apart from the result. We’ll dust wurself doon and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead, make a nation proud.

  22. CharlieC on

    To have a chance of winning the championship, Scotland would need:

    – Most of the team playing very well, particularly key players at the top of their game
    – Few injuries
    – A good team spirit and a never-say-die doggedness about them
    – Strong leadership on and off field
    – Good discipline
    – Sensible team selections
    – A fair amount of luck with referees and bouncing balls etc.

    Arguably, none of the above happened and I think Scotland actually did well to come 4th in the championship. Despite some bright patches, Hogg, Russell, and Price were all pretty poor overall and showed little in the way of leadership. A few more of the top players weren’t at their best (Watson, Grey) and with the inevitable injuries and bans it wasn’t long before the supposed strength in depth of the squad was really tested. Some of the squad were solid enough and others had a good championship (Schoeman, Darge, Matt Fagerson, Graham), but at the end of the day, Scotland were let down by poor execution, lack of discipline, lack of leadership, some bizarre team selections, and an apparent lack of game plan.

  23. 1.8T on

    Now I’ve calmed down I can look at the tournament overall with a bit of perspective. France and Ireland were far ahead of all the other teams and deservedly were first and second. England, Wales and ourselves all seemed to have the same issue, no clear game plan and poor execution. The poor execution I blame on the not having a clear game plan, how can you well execute something that is unclear and fundamentally flawed?

    We have a small pool of players as we always have, we have a few world class players, probably as many as we have ever had. However, most if not all of them, basically our Lions contingent, had poor or indifferent tournaments. Russel had a good game against England and Price had a good game against Italy but other than that none of them showed the brilliance that they have demonstrated previously. Hogg, while he didn’t personally play that badly, is right back to his trying to do everything himself worst. Ok, players occasionally butcher gimmies and drop the ball with the line beckoning, it happens, but its the reason that it happens that is my issue with Hogg. The mans wound up tighter than a spring. He can’t deal with the weight of expectation and doesn’t trust his team mates to do their jobs, that is not the properties you want in your captain. I’m not calling for his head, he is as he always has been a brilliantly talented player and should be one of the first names on the sheet, he plays with a passion unmatched by few but he needs to dial it back a few clicks, the captaincy doesn’t suit him. A rest and being relieved of the captains armband is what he needs.

    For the rest of them the question is why? Finn Russell didn’t look happy the whole tournament, I wonder if there is something going on in the background there again. I think he probably is quite a challenging character to manage but such is his greatness, if the game plan needs to be “whatever Finn thinks” then it should be, to a certain extent anyway.

    We missed key leaders in the forwards such as Ritchie and Gray for most of the tournament and it showed.

    The loss to Wales remains my biggest disappointment, should have won that game. The France and Ireland games we got beaten fair and square by better teams on the day. The annoying thing about them is we lost them for the same reasons, the same tactics that didn’t work against France were employed against Ireland, and they didn’t work there either. The only time in either game where we had the upper hand was for brief periods in the first half where we upped the physicality and kept the ball in hand. The kicking game is all wrong, I know rugby is a game of territory but you also cannot play the game if you don’t have the ball. Hoofing it into their half is fine if you follow it up with pressure that forces them to make mistakes and gift better territory but we were the ones that inevitably made the mistake and gifted territory and possession right back to them. The amount of penalties given away in every game was ridiculous, you can’t possibly hope to build pressure if you cant go more than a couple of phases without giving them the ball back and 40m at the same time. In recent years we have gotten used to the feeling that we will always score at least a couple of tries a game and if we get good possession in their 22 we will probably come away with points of some kind. Not now, we have regressed 5 – 10 years and the white line fever is back.

    However, all that said, I’m not going to call for Toonies head, not yet anyway. I’m disappointed that the tactics were so flawed but sacking someone means they don’t get the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them. He did it after the WC where it became very clear that an all attack and no defence strategy wasn’t going to work, he fixed that and in the 2020 and 2021 seasons we had quite a simple game plan with a tough defence but still had the attacking nous to go and win games. We need to take a step back, calm down, stop making mistakes and just do the basics well and play rugby. The frenetic, high pressure, all or nothing game plan isn’t working, teams don’t even have to do anything special, just sit back and wait for us to implode, march us back 40m then repeat.

    I’ll finish with how delighted I was with the Italy win. Hopefully that will shut the usual suspects up about their position in the tournament now that they beat the reigning champions away. That try at the end was a thing of absolute beauty, and a touch of class from Josh Adams at the end too #rugbyvalues.

    • DesT on

      I’d agree totally, we need to reflect and look at mistakes in attack that cost us at least momentum against both France and Ireland if not the chance to kick on and win. Wales was just poor tactics IMHO.

      Hogg isn’t the right person for captain either, but the question is who – Ritchie would be my choice.

      We conceded the highest penalties in the tournament, but I’d like to see a breakdown of when the penalties were conceded in attack or defence. My gut is that it was more the former which shows there are improvements to be made if true to get the attack flowing more.

      Toonies biggest issue is not wishing to be proven wrong IMO, evidenced by pushing Blair when Adam was a better choice for the bench (especially if you’re putting Bennett on the bench too).

      I’d love to see the Lions contingent being given a complete rest, with the two Bens being given the chance to stake their claim for the reserve SH spot and Adam/Blair/Ross being given the same chance for reserve FH.

      We do actually have strength in depth, so giving that depth a chance against tough opposition would seem to be the best option in the longer term.

      I think we have to give Toonie the chance to fix this, as we are not far off realising our potential.

  24. Big Al on

    At the end of the campaign there’s a few things to sort out. When you look back at yesterdays stats most are pretty close but we lost the penalty count 15/10. Discipline has been a real problem for us this campaign and needs fixed. Interestingly it was different people being penalised this week but collectively the team needs to keep the head under pressure, listen to the referee and avoid the stupid stuff.

    The attack coaching hasnt worked all championship so Ive no idea what AB Zondagh is doing and there needs to be a better plan there. I dont think the hokey cokey with the centres is helping.

    Similarly the defensive systems of Tandy need a refresh. Having said that the defense was better against Ireland. Mish with another 22 tackles and no misses.

    Too many balls being passed to ground, dropped or ripped. You shouldn’t need a skill coach at international level but we obviously do and Mike Blair moving to Edinburgh has had an impact on the international squad that we are starting to see.

    The forwards have played well in patches and seem more physical this year but we’ve been hampered by injuries, notably Richie. We also seem to have lost the ability to reliably build phases. Scrum has held its own and the lineout has been productive enough although we probably should have competed more.

    Apart from the England game we lost the last quarter of all the games which suggests either we are not as fit as the competition or our bench choices are not as good so there is more work to do there.

    Finally I think the Lions players will get the summer off to recharge their batteries and there will be opportunities for others to stake a claim. I also think we will have a new captain . I dont think Hogg’s been a bad captain but he needs to concentrate on his game and rebuild his form.

  25. Grant on

    Ok , a dissapointing 6N , we should have beaten wales , beyond that against the 2 class sides we were found wanting .

    Question for the forum – if the Lions tour was This summer , who would be on it ?

    Mish , Darcy, the Schoo, probably Darge as the proverbial bolter.The possibility of Duhan fitness permitting and Ally Price might sneak it , and even that might be considered generous.

    Any takers ?

  26. Garry on

    All the stuff about small player numbers and under-developed pathways are fair enough but, despite this, we have what the coach himself calls the best and deepest international squad of the professional era. So these points, although important in the long term, are not relevant to the current problem which is why Scotland seldom gets the best out of these current players.

    There are three blindingly obvious issues that need to be addressed that are not even tactical in nature:
    1. Hogg needs stripped of the captaincy
    2. Russell is clearly not happy with the squad setup
    3. The obsession with playing Kinghorn at 10 needs to stop (at least for Scotland)

    I have a hunch that the three issues above are actually inter-related to some extent but, whether that is right or wrong, the point is that the coach has to change or be changed to address them.

    I don’t particularly rate Kinghorn as a 10 (yet) but I am happy to see Edinburgh try to develop him there because our other options aren’t any better anyway. But if that is what is to be done, he cannot be picked for Scotland there until he is obviously ready, nor can he be picked to play any other position because that means he will never fully focus on becoming the best 10 he can be.

    The current fudging is not fair to the lad himself and it is not fair to others who, in my opinion at least, are clearly superior to him at 10 at the moment but don’t seem to get the preferential treatment afforded him.

    Does Townsend have the courage to admit these problems to himself and address them? I wasn’t holding my breath even before this week’s revelations.

    • RuggersB on

      I find GTs management of players alarming for a national head coach.

      There are too many instances and examples of mismanagement to run through during his tenure as HC.

      Just in this 6N however… players getting 5 mins here and there … capped ..committed to a national side …perform well then dumped out the 15, 23 or entire squad. It’s ridiculous.

      Kinghorn thrown into play a very good team, who we have a poor recent record against, on their own patch requiring a high scoring victory to compete for a title. On top of that we had other natural 10s available. He had one impressive match at 10 at club level prior. Kinghorn doesn’t deserve the criticism … GT is the one that made the call. Going into a 6N with 1 natural experienced 10 ….just stupidity.

  27. Saint4805 on

    It’s well known that Finn spends hours studying opposition teams and trying to figure out ways to play against them. I would guess that the issue with Finn is likely to be one of three things:

    1. He feels like he’s not being listened to by the coaches and is frustrated that his input is being disregarded when coming up with a system or gameplan.
    2. He’s too used to doing what he likes at Racing in terms of orchestrating their attack and struggles to accept that he doesn’t have the same license or free reign with Scotland.
    3. There are behind the scenes issues or some kind of personality clash between him and GT which none of us are really privy to.

    I agree with others who suggest that he may well be a difficult character to manage. Despite all the smiling we see on the pitch I suspect he’s prone to big mood swings and has the ego you often find with a fly half.

    • RuggersB on

       Russell needs to put his big boy pants on ..and show respect for his teammates and country and focus on playing the best he can for the team.

      On the the other hand …I don’t think GT knows wtf he is doing anymore.

      • Saint4805 on

        Yeah. It may well be a simple case of both thinking that they know best and both being too stubborn to try and reach a consensus. At the end of the day it is down to the players to follow coaches instructions whether they agree or not. The HC is ultimately responsible for the results.

      • RuggersB on

        Yeah , it’s like they both need counseling. There is an obvious lack of balance and clash of personality. Something has to give….we are on the the run in to the RWC …and we are all over the place.
        On top of this it’s like Hogg is siding with Russell …at least to me it comes across like that…being involved in the same Discipline issue.. Hogg is supposed to be captain. He ain’t and never has been captain material.

        It won’t end well imo.

      • greengumbo on

        Absolutely agree. I am a huge fan of Finn and defend him to the hilt on here but the Wales, France and Italy games he has not been on it and he really does need to add to his obvious on field talent with a bit less of the nonsense off field. Think how much sharper he would be with a bit less boozing it up and five guys. I’m sure this is exaggerated in the press and he does like to play up to that attitude… but it’s a stick to beat him…..especially when performances drop a little.

        He was superb against England in the first game, lest we forget. I wonder how the judgement would be if the games had come in different order. More and more I think its the SRU and Townsend that are the issue here.

        First time i’ve felt we were going backwards a bit in this championship.

  28. WeeAl on

    It’s not as bad as people are making out. A lot of good individual performances. Biggest issue is a lack of leadership – Hogg was never Captain material, Ritchie captain, and Cummings and Price vc’s. Schoeman might be a leader too…..Russell will come good and backs are actually good enough to take on any team. Forwards need to be fitter, more disciplined, bigger and stronger. We have plenty of attacking promise just lacking that dominant edge in the forwards. Toony also needs to address the lack of respect he gets and figure out how bring hearts and minds with him. ach well at least we’re not Welsh.

    • Tam tm on

      In response to Saint4805. You are right to many parts that the head coach is responsible for results. However we would be in a better situation if we hadn’t had coughed up so many penalties or hadnt have given away possession so many times. That comes down to player responsibility. Keeping cool heads at times of pressure is where its at. We looked to have turned a corner so well compared to previous seasons last year. Back to basics and self control. Its all in the head and inner spirit which will see us back in contention of being the team we need to be.

      • Saint4805 on

        That’s fair. The point I was making was that if there is a clash of ideas between Russell and Townsend then it’s Russell who has to concede and do what the HC asks given that the HC is the one in charge and the one who will ultimately pay the price if the results aren’t good enough.

      • RuggersB on

        Yes… it’s disrespectful otherwise.

        Finn isn’t even the captain ….it isn’t his place to dictate tactics.

        It’s like the constant power struggle here in the US …in NFL between QBs and head coaches. Pretty much always …eventually something has to give..and one will be gone.

      • John Martin on

        If Finn called the attack in the 2nd half of the 38-38 game and calls the plays for Racing then what’s the harm in giving him a lash at it…… cant any worse than the AI 2021 and the 6N 2022

      • Angerine on

        People keep saying it can’t be any worse. We won two games and finished fourth. To say it couldn’t be any worse feels mathematically unsound.

  29. alythman on

    Still undecided over the Townsend issue, but do think a change of captain will help, and Hogg’s poor judgement when breaking discipinary rules seems a window of opportunity to make the change. That person will hopefully get more out of Russell, who does seem to play better in a tough league than he does for Scotland.
    Price might be a decent choice

    • RuggersB on

      I think Hogg has already been told he won’t be captain moving forward…they just kept him captain to rap up the 6N as a comp.
      Read somewhere that he said “I’ll not miss that!” at the end of his presser….
      I’d say Ritchie probably should be next up. Shows a lot of good natural leadership qualities and despite many thinking he wasn’t playing that great…crikey was he missed in the backrow. Price? Unlikely …was part of the booze group. Would look contradictory to remove it from Hogg and give to him.

      • Tam tm on

        Gone are the days just now of the captains who took no nonsense and his fellow players followed by their example. Are we simply living in a different social world? Darge potentially has the essence of a captain we haven’t seen possibly since the 90’s.

      • Ivor B on

        That is a powerful prediction. Where did that come from ! It is early days for me. I always though McInally had a bit of leadership but that fizzled out very quickly. But 2 cap Darge, early days IMO. I would agree in the 90’s we had Lions captains , so that is a lot to live up to. I cannot fault your enthusiasm.

      • Angerine on

        Rugby captaincy isn’t just about leadership. Your most important job is chatting to the ref. You get good at that by doing it week in week out, and you don’t get to do that if you don’t captain your club.

        Ritchie is a great choice going forward but needs to have a season or so captaining Embra. Give him the role next season.

        Until then, the only regular starter for Scotland that captains his club side is Gilchrist.

  30. Tam tm on

    It’s the god damn hope man!!possibly desperate wishes.Darge one day Ritchie I suppose is the first choice just now. It will be an interesting team dynamic of change who ever becomes captain ‘potentially’

    • Ian on

      He placed the ball leaning far over to the right – guy beside me said “missing right” before he started his run up. Not his fault. He doesn’t kick for the club and so he has little experience as a goal kicker. I think it should have been Hogg as BK had more enough to think about on saturday without adding confidence sapping kicking duties to the list. No idea what the thought process was in this decision or even if there was one at all.

  31. Angerine on

    A couple of stats that after the game feel completely incongruous:

    – No team made more line breaks against Ireland in the tournament than Scotland
    – No team made more turnovers against Ireland in the tournament than Scotland.

    The weird thing about that game is that our game plan kind of worked. We found holes in the Irish defence, particularly in the first half, and we turned them over a fair bit. In a game where we continually lost the collisions, that is about as good as it gets.

    The reason we lost was the total lack of composure at key moments. Gilchrist drops it in the 22, Price knocks on as we have Ireland totally wrong footed, the forwards seal off on the Irish line as Barnes is screaming at them not to, Turner overthrows one lineout all day and it’s when we turn down a kickable pen to go to the corner. Hogg wasn’t the only one to butcher a chance, although his was the most painful for obvious reasons.

    People above have mockingly talked about Townsend and Russell needing counselling. But it’s weird that in sport we talk about mental strength, psychological toughness. In every other walk of life, these days, it’s called mental health.

    Three names have loomed over Scottish rugby for a decade now. Every good thing that has happened, every time we’ve been on our feet for 10 years – the Warriors in 2015, shredding England in 2018, putting 50 on Australia, giving New Zealand last-minute palpatations, the 38 unanswered points, winning in Wales and France and England for the first time in many of our lives – those three have been there. Hogg, Russell, Townsend.

    All three have been there for the good, and the bad. I’m obviously not diagnosing anyone, but all three seem to have a mental block which affects their decisions at times. I genuinely feel like carrying Scottish rugby forward for a decade has taken its psychological toll on all three.

    So chuck them out and start over, right? Well, their results this world cup cycle are still above what a realistic fan would expect from the country with the smallest player pool and one of the worst unions (the U20s tournament is once again a stark reminder of our relative resources).

    I wish it was a simple as sack X and drop Y. There’s something in the heart of all of us, something that was there before Townsend and will be there after. You know how teams talk about “silencing the home crowd”? Have you ever known a home crowd that’s easier to silence than Murrayfield? Second half against France it was genuinely eerie.

    We’re all guilty of waiting around for the next crappy thing to happen, of panicking in the last 10 of a close game, of desperation when it isn’t warranted. Is it any wonder it transmits to our players?

    Wales have punched above their weight, and it’s partly because they’re the most psychologically safe nation of all. That bubbled over to complacency against Italy, but their players always seem to feel like they’re better players than they are.

    We fans are the constant. We’ll be there long after Hogg and Russell have hung up their boots. We can set the tone. From most of the comments on here, it feels like we’re choosing panic, desperation and scapegoating, and then we wonder why the player seem to panic and despair in big games. But we can break the cycle.

    • Alanyst on

      Good comments…a mental transition will take time.

      Ireland, after their woeful 90s had Heineken Cup success with Ulster and Munster that launched noughties Ireland. Even with O’Driscoll, O’Gara, O’Connell etc…it still took nine years to win the 6N. They haven’t looked back.

      We fans (most of us) Townsend, and the current crop of senior players, perhaps experienced too much of the bad times. We can have a strong desire to win, but we can’t harness 100% of our inner drive because we don’t really know what it takes nor how it feels…

      Our most recent phase of relative success springs from a buoyant mood following Glasgow Pro12 win in 2015…but with nothing much won since, the magic has waned, and the doubts have crept in.

      We have a new generation who need to be supported to grow and experience winning something to believe in themselves…I don’t think it helps just to chuck the kids in the deep end – they need to be learning to win in a secure environment.

      A change in coaching and captain is maybe needed to give a more pragmatic focus…next year focus should be to break the 6N hoodoo…the championship might be a bridge too far but we have the talent for a solid Triple Crown attempt. World Cup is gone, forget it, and work towards 2027

      But especially we need our young guys at Glasgow and/or Edinburgh to experience winning something…or at least reach a final or two.

  32. WD on

    Scotland are in that in between stage much like you see when teams gain promotion – they are better than the teams below them but still a way away from the teams above.
    While we like to compare ourselves to Wales they have 10 years more experience of mixing it with the big boys and have been able to put together runs of wins. I can’t think of a time since 99 Scotland have won 2 in a row against top opposition and that harms each new squad because their is no winning culture. Townsend is the only person in the group with a history of winning for Scotland!
    I don’t think anything is gained by Townsend going- as I don’t know who they would replace him with and it papers over the cracks- but a shake up to the coaching team is needed, evolution not revolution! A lineout coach is a must, get a ref into camp at all times, find someone to scare the players and drive standards a Scottish equivalent to Paul o Connel, which means Townsend won’t have to deal with discipline…might have to look outside of Scottish rugby for that one

    • FF on

      It was 2000 that Ireland transitioned from muck to an emerging force, winning 3 games and finishing 3rd. They didn’t win the championship until 2009 despite enjoying their first golden generation of the professional era.

      Scotland made the breakthrough from wooden spoon competitors in 2016 at the earliest, considering how competitive the championship is it isn’t really all that surprising we are still struggling to make the breakthrough to proper title contenders.

      That isn’t an excuse for fatalism or selling ourselves short but we should be realistic about how big this challenge is. Personally I find some of the critical of individuals excessive, they really are doing their best under immense pressure and they are just flawed people like the rest of us.

  33. Shooooooooooooooooooooooooooo on

    Hogg’s press conference after the game was embarrassing for him, can’t speak about making a Nation proud and also then dismiss what the Nation think, it spoke of a really attitude and reflected badly on him.

    You could put Gatland in charge of this group and it wouldn’t make a great deal of difference IMO, the players are every bit as culpable in inconsistent displays as the coaches IMO.

    A small part of me thinks things under another coach could actually be even worse.

  34. King of Fife on

    Lots of anger out there today after a, largely predictable, result. We have had a poor campaign, we look to have gone backwards and Townsend is looking ever more erratic in charge.

    Judging by the comments, it looks as though we’re all for giving Finn and Hogg the hung, drawn and quartered treatment. Excellent stuff. I can’t wait to see the world class replacements we have lined up…. Oh yeah, we’re not exactly replete with world class players to replace two of the best players in the world in their respective positions. I think there’s a lot of myopic bellyaching going on at the moment.

    Yes, a dropped player and a butchered overlap happened in a week where the boys – stupidly – went for a beer. But Price, Hogg and Graham were among our best performers on Saturday – and Finn came on to add urgency – so they can’t have been too drained by a couple of lagers. Some folks really need to get a grip.

    The big lesson from me this tournament – far less than Hogg and Russell being an utter disgrace, not fit to represent the country / wear the jersey etc. etc. etc. (yawn), is the lack of speed and dynamism in our pack. France especially, but also Ireland, look light years away in contesting at the breakdown. First there, winning the collisions, clearing out and providing quick ball.

    Contrast that with our singles and pairs ambling to the contest. At best, in defence, we’re good at slowing things down. But we’re not giving the backs good, quick ball. Without that, the stakes are high for every attack that goes wide and there’s huge pressure on the backs to be clinical. For what its worth, I think Hogg’s inexplicable butchered try – or Harris’ daft loss in contact – owed more to that pressure than anything else. It’s not selfishness, it’s not lack of skill from tried and tested British Lions – its making bad decisions / failing to execute when the pressure is on. If we created more opportunities, each one wouldn’t feel like gold dust.

    I’m more convinced than ever that the only problem this team has is the coach. Chopping and changing for every match, bizarre selections and no seeming commitment to any kind of game plan. Is it any wonder we look far better in broken, unstructured play?

    Discipline is another matter entirely. Not sure why, but it looks like we haven’t learned how to play the game the way its being refereed this year. Responsibility for that either rests on brain dead players or the coaching staff. I have a growing suspicion its the latter.

    • Shooooooooooooooooooooooooooo on

      Scotland won in Australia without Hogg, they done it with Greig Tonks at FB,

      They ruined Australia at Murrayfield without Hogg, Maitland played FB

      They beat France at home in the 6N without Finn, put in as competent a display as they have v Ireland, won in Wales when Finn had left the park early.

      There is actually evidence to show Scotland manage perfectly well, and really no worse without either on the park, the world still spins without them.

      They aren’t actually the be all end all they seemingly have led themselves to think and don’t have the World Class attitude that seems to come with their talent.

      Exeter have felt the need to drop Hogg on more than one occasion and as great as Racing are, they punch well below weight v their rivals because they look like a shower of p*ss heids and party boys, i.e images grabbing your Number 10’s body fat generally don’t lead to Champions Cup wins.

      It is actually possible they just don’t excel the TEAM to the level it needs to be, Hogg has been as much a handbrake as he has a benefit in recent years

      Ireland away x 2
      England at home in the rain
      France this year asking for a pass that is never on.

      He has tripped over himself in key moments more than once, Scotland minus Finn, and with Hastings was nowhere near the drop so many predicted it would be.

      World Class isn’t solely about talent, it needs the attitude to go with it, it would actually be more beneficial to build a greater body of evidence to show players aren’t as bullet proof as some lead others to think they are, then players might kick on even further and perform to the levels some speak about more often than not makes it way to the park.

      • Big Al on

        Good arguments but for me it falls down when we talk about the alternatives to Russell at 10. Why was Hastings dropped like a hot potato and leapfrogged by Kinghorn. I havent heard any of the fans on there think that was the right choice by our coach. I’ve nothing against Kinghorn but he’s not ready and if you want to try him out do it on the summer tour. Why is there a split between Hastings and Townsend? Did he do a Russell and start to challenge the coaching?

    • Ardent on

      Well said King of Fife-a rational response at last after all the outrage. If anything I think the dressingdown spurned Hogg on to a much better game.If you watch it back carefully he actually had an excellent and faultless game -ok barring the ,admittedly selfis,failure to pass inside to Johnson before being tackled. One mistake ,unfortunately a big one, and of course not the day to day it after the revelations the previous evening.
      So ,yes I agree the hype (as always) totally over the top and a wee bit of perspective needed. I main be in a very tiny minority but I felt I saw a few suggestions in that game that might just be able to ask a few questions of Ireland in the RWC in 18 months time if we can’t just cut out the silly (and unpressured) penalties which are killing our game at present.

      • King of Fife on

        Thanks Ardent. I’m just not one to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

        Not sure I saw too many positives myself, aside from Watson looking improved and the combo with Darge showing some promise, but I do think we have a lot of very talented players – and yes – with the necessary top level mentality. You don’t get to the top of world rugby without one.

        2 dropped balls, one night on the beers and one butchered try seems to be enough for some folks to want one of the best Scotland players in history to get dropped. For what? Little more than petty-mindedness.

        Where we wanted to be at the end of this 6N is building strongly towards a world cup. Where we are is with more questions than answers. Oh, and who knows, next year the questions might be about Price, Schoeman or Graham, that have largely had great campaigns.

        Better discipline, better managing of the contact area and better game management. Focus on those three things and we’ll be back to being a match for anyone.

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