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Ireland v Scotland: Six Nations 2022, Match Preview pt I

Ireland v Scotland
Graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog

KO 4.45 at Aviva Stadium
Saturday 19th March 2021

Live on ITV1

The tail end of the Six Nations has been relatively kind to Scotland, particularly in recent times. It has been six years since the dark blues lost their final fixture of the championship – although unfortunately that previous defeat came when they last finished up in Dublin…

Scotland’s wins by round in the Six Nations:

  • Round 1 – 5
  • Round 2 – 4
  • Round 3 – 10
  • Round 4 – 6
  • Round 5 – 11

(2021 results taken in the order they occurred rather than the original sequence of rounds before the France away fixture was delayed.)

Ireland Scouting Report

The Irish Metamorphosis

It might seem counterintuitive that changing from a Kiwi head coach to an English one with a history in rugby league would see Ireland transition from an essentially no risk gameplan to a much more open style but that is what the switch from Joe Schmidt to Andy Farrell has brought.

Under Schmidt, Ireland were almost impossible to lever off the ball. They would use the power and efficiency of their forwards to incrementally overwhelm the defence while starving their opponents of possession. Farrell still makes use of a potent pack but he has empowered the players and opened up their playing style.

The impact on how many tackles their opponents need to make is pretty stark. In Schmidt’s last three Six Nations:

  • 2017 – Scotland attempted 274 tackles against Ireland with 68% of them by forwards.
  • 2018 – 256 tackles with 70% by forwards.
  • 2019 – 228 tackles with 80% by forwards.

Since Farrell has taken over:

  • 2020 – 194 tackles with 59% by forwards.
  • 2021 – 160 tackles with 66% by forwards.

In Schmidt’s last year as head coach, Ireland forced their various opponents to attempt an average of 227 tackles per game during the Six Nations. So far in the 2022 tournament that number is down to 176. There’s a continued progression in Farrell’s methods as well with tackles by opposition backs up 11% from his first Six Nations in 2020 while tackles by opposition forwards are down 8%.

Joe Schmidt’s Ireland really did appear to be Scotland’s kryptonite. That incredible focused physicality pretty much blew the dark blues away every time bar one remarkable performance in 2017 (which took those 274 tackles to get over the line). Against Andy Farrell’s edition, the Scots came within a score in both 2020 and 2021 (although, admittedly, that’s either side of getting dismantled again in the Autumn Nations Cup).

Ireland’s attack has really been opened up by the changes made. They are the top try scorers in this season’s tournament, bagging bonus points in 3 of their 4 games and scoring 3 tries away to France. They have made the second most offloads of any of the Six Nations’ sides – 34 in 4 games. This is an area that was anathema to the Schmidt era sides, such as when they averaged just 3 offloads per game in 2019.

The increase in adventure has brought some consequences though. During the current tournament, no side has conceded more turnovers (67); made more handling errors (65); or committed more knock ons (15) than the Irish. There has been a (no doubt carefully calculated) trade off in shifting the balance of risk and reward. Given they have only lost 1 of their last 12 matches, including a convincing win over the All Blacks, it’s a balance they seem to be getting right.

So what does all this mean for Scotland? In the negative column, the Irish are playing a much more complete game and have thrown off some of the shackles of the previous risk averse approach. The Scottish backline defence – so solid in 2020 and 2021 but just showing a few cracks this year – will get more of a workout than they have for a long time versus Ireland.

On the positive side Scotland will feel there should be more opportunities to steal possession at the breakdown or play off the home side’s mistakes, attacking an unstructured defence. Ireland’s scrambling cover is relentless though so any work on turnover ball is going to need to be decisive and done at high speed if the dark blues are to take advantage of any errors.

Miscellany

  • Ireland have made the most metres (3,726), the most carries (568) and the most passes (862) in the 2022 Six Nations.
  • They are the only side to make more than 1.5 passes per carry (1.51) with the other title contenders, France, having the lowest return for this stat with 1.18 passes per carry.
  • The Irish tally of 84 defenders beaten is the second best in the tournament – behind 107 by Scotland.
  • France and Ireland are the only sides who have yet to receive a card of any colour. Both of the red cards and 2 of the 5 yellow cards in this season’s championship have been issued to Ireland’s opponents.

Previous results

This will be the 12th time the two sides have met in Dublin for a Six Nations’ match. The head to head looks like this from Scotland’s perspective:

L L L L L W L L L L L

Most recent meeting in Dublin:

Ireland 19 – 12 Scotland

Significant stat
61% territory in the second half for Scotland. With just a 4 point deficit at half-time the Scots turned in their best performance in Dublin for a decade but couldn’t find a way to convert their possession and field position into tries. Stuart Hogg’s drop over the line was a big moment but it wasn’t the only chance missed.

Scotland’s forwards were in the faces of their opponents from the off but still lost 8 rucks (while only winning a single one back from their hosts) and too many opportunities foundered at the breakdown including more than one turnover in the shadow of the Irish posts.

The Scottish Rugby Blog match report from that game is here.

Officials

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referee 1: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant Referee 2: Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)

Scotland’s past record with Mr Barnes is, well, not great. Prior to their most recent encounter – the France game at the end of last season’s Six Nations – they had ‘lost’ the penalty count 11 times in 14 matches across the span of a decade with the English official in charge.

Against the French the dark blues did manage to even out the pens (15 apiece for a fairly extraordinary total of 30 in the game) but copped a red and a yellow card to one sin binning for their hosts.

It’s been a challenging few weeks discipline-wise, although last Saturday’s game against Italy saw the Scots deliver just their second single-digit penalty count in their last twelve games. The Scots really need to find a way to make this a trend and also improve their outcomes with Mr Barnes.

Scotland’s last 5 games with Mr Barnes as referee:

  • 2019 – beat France (H)
    Pens: 16 (For 7 – 9 Against)
    Cards: none
  • 2019 – lost to Ireland (N)
    Pens: 14 (For 8 – 6 Against)
    Cards: Ireland 1 YC
  • 2019 – beat Russia (N)
    Pens: 7 (For 3 – 4 Against)
    Cards: none
  • 2020 – lost to France (H)
    Pens: 25 (For 9 – 16 Against)
    Cards: none
  • 2021 – lost to France (H)
    Pens: 30 (For 15 – 15 Against)
    Cards: France 1 YC; Scotland 1 YC (Hogg) & 1 RC (Russell)

The Teams

Ireland: Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Cian Healy, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson, Caelan Doris, Josh Van der Flier, Jack Conan.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Kieran Treadwell, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Robbie Henshaw.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (capt), Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Kyle Steyn, Blair Kinghorn, Ali Price; Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Zander Fagerson, Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Rory Darge, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson.
Replacements: Fraser Brown, Allan Dell, WP Nel, Sam Skinner, Josh Bayliss, Ben White, Finn Russell, Mark Bennett.

Part II of the preview, including the head to heads, will follow later in the week, after the team announcements.

78 Responses

  1. Likely result is probably a BP win for Ireland given the different directions each sides form has taken, but this report has encouraged me. Schmidt’s approach was seemingly tailor-made to obliterate us but came undone when facing a pack that couldn’t be pushed around, so maybe now we have a punchers chance they’re moving away from that template.

    I hope Toonie picks conservatively and gives a settled side a chance to redeem themselves. From the available fit players I don’t see too many opportunities to strengthen our side, perhaps Gray or Cummings coming in at lock but that’s about it. Not sure if the two sevens approach really worked against Italy, but we definitely need a way to disrupt their possession and the Watson/Darge partnership gets through a power of work.

    1. If we lose to Ireland then we will win the five nations wooden spoon. Is that what the SRU see as satisfactory?

  2. I would expect Ireland to push Scotland around a fair bit and win by 15-18 .

    Probably unpopular to say with some on here but there is a pretty strong body of evidence to suggest Ireland just have better Rugby players, generally better players tend to win, reality is it is only really the most optimistic of Scotland fans who will genuinely expect much different than a comfortable Ireland win.

    1. Unfortunately it is the manner in which we win or lose that seems to get attention in here. It is not strictly come dancing , the judges marks don’t count. As long as we avoid yellow cards, it will be a good game, however I think Ireland will want to run it around at home, so may be a higher score.

  3. Blair Kinghorn at 10, not at all sure that is a wise move tbh. Let’s hope he proves doubters wrong but I just can’t see his game management as being good enough to give us a decent chance at a win.

    Also, is he really a test standard kicker???

    1. I would have accepted Hasting at 10, but goodness. This feels as if Toonie is proving a point.

    2. BK certainly has an eye for the gap…unfortunately it’s normally the gap between his centres when he’s trying to pass them the ball.

  4. GT obviously not impressed with Finn either but I’ll be watching from behind the sofa with Kinghorn starting at 10 – that really scares me. Otherwise, decent enough team with what we have available,though shame Vellacott isn’t being given another chance. Can still see us being monstered up front and then there’s the 10 channel which I’m sure will be heavily targeted. Presumably a bit less kicking and more running, even though that seems a less effective tactic these days. Very nervous….

  5. Kinghorn = Interception try guaranteed, I’d of started Hastings, he’s a very good game manager. Townsend lives or dies by the Kinghorn selection.

    1. It does feel a bit like he’s pressed the crazy button. I mean we can still win this game and achieve our highest ever 6N finish, this selection seems a bit like he is putting everything on red and rolling the dice one last time.

  6. It is possible multiple things can be true TBH.

    Finn has in reality, a 10 minute spell against England aside been complete garbage.
    Hastings did nothing to win over minds v Italy, and his form hasn’t been as hot as some make out.

    Once those options are of the table, the cupboard is pretty empty.

    1. What has Kinghorn done to give us confidence that he is ready for this move ? Is that not the point to discuss !

      1. Shown strong club form, surely a massive part of the premise of International selection is to reward club form…. you do watch the pro teams yeah?

      2. Ask any Gloucester fan what they think Adam Hastings has done for them in filling Cipriani’s boots. He definitely has increased his stock.

        I don’t think Kinghorn is doing anything special at Edinburgh TBH. It is a massive step up given his limited experience.

      3. OK your logic is, ask any fan of any club how a player has been performing and that is validation.

        have a read of Edinburgh fans view on Kinghorn at 10,

        http://www.edinburghgunners.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7713

        Gloucester, Hastings you say?

        http://www.rugb.co.uk/forum/search.php?keywords=hastings

        Casual, lazy, not at a high level – generally what he can regress into.

        your own logic has sold you short here, your stock is in the gutter.

        International Rugby is a huge step up, yes, that is an excellent point, I am aghast not one had ever considered that!

      4. Your comments about Gloucester fans and Hastings are miles out lazy, not playing well comments can be found quite quickly on their forums.

        Why don’t you ask Edinburgh fans about Kinghorns performances though…..

      5. I can assure you, from personal experience, Gloucester fans are as fickle as ours, you should try an afternoon in the sheds if you want to learn how to hold a point. however it is clear you have not been watching their games. Hastings is key and they are having a good season. What is more he is playing with Harris week in week out , which is always helpful given his Scotland role.

      6. So the fans you just said to use as validation are also fans you are now calling fickle, you are all over the place here, try another name.

      7. You must be talking to all the wrong fans, which is no surprise, I go to Kingsholm with personal friends , give it a try sometime.

      8. I mean it’s comments on their supporters forum and you also literally said ask ANY Gloucester fan, rather than the fickle ones you stand with, that is a very niche group to ask TBH

        I prefer attending Edinburgh games in all honesty, I mean I am Scottish and Gloucester is literally miles away from me.

        You OK hun.

      9. All ok here James I am completely indefatigable.

        What on earth are you are talking about: That page from shedweb is pretty complementary towards Hastings, quote: ‘overall he’s brought a calmness to the team, he’s got great skills, kicks well from hand in open play and his place kicking …’ But even Toony says it: “His last two games for Gloucester have been at a high level.”10th March Shedweb

        You don’t need to leave Edinburgh to watch Hastings, just get a telly !

        I suspect you could be here a while , there is a few fickle Edinburgh fans don’t agree with your synopsis on Kinghorn.

        Bad luck: You were not to know I go back to Glaws a lot or that I am a friendly open minded sort.

      10. It’s Boono now, what name you coming up with next!

        Your *cough* attendance *cough**wink wink* at Gloucester games is neither here nor there in all honesty, the links demonstrates there are fans who could be asked who aren’t entirely sold on his displays, that was problem with saying, ask ANY fan you see.

      11. Broono, what Glaws games specifically have you watched this season? Can you talk us through how Adam played in them?

        :)

      12. Mark Bennett has been outstanding this year, back to his best and he only got cameo against Italy, even although our back line has been pretty sterile this campaign. So it is absolutely not about rewarding Pro Team form. It seems to be about playing players that agree with Townsends alleged philosophy ahead of playing a team that has any semblance of a cat in hells chance of beating Ireland.

      13. Re Bennett, And the half against France – National appearances based on domestic performance.

    2. Yes multiple things can be true at once. Like –

      (1) Finn has been v poor.
      (2) Kinghorn has generally played well at 10 for Edinburgh.
      (3) Kinghorn has virtually no test level experience at 10 and lacks game management skills or place kicking skills to give us anything more than a Hail Mary chance against Ireland. He’d be better stepping up to 10 on the summer tour to Argentina.

      I hope he proves me wrong but I really can’t see it.

      1. Kinghorn in reality has been excellent for Edinburgh at 10, and it’s not a thing I expected to say when that change was made.

        The way players generally gain experience is by playing games rather than sitting on sidelines watching them.

        All recent history to me would suggest Scottish sides generally have a hail mary chance in genuinely competitive and really meaningful games against Irish sides with or without the inclusion of Blair Kinghorn if being honest, one of the better performances v Ireland in recent years came without the usual 10.

      2. I have no idea what a hail Mary’s chance is however I would think Scotland do have a slim chance if they get the tactics right. However I suspect the Bk decision will be unpopular. Besides a few cards can change the shape of a game and you need all your experience for that.

      3. BH? never heard of him T.BH.

        You need experience, remind me who was Scotland’s best player against France?

      4. I have to say, as an Edinburgh season ticket holder, I have no idea where this idea about Kinghorn having been excellent comes from.

        He has never once got the most out of the platform the pack has provided. He has been very fortunate to have Vellacott and Bennett in sparkling form, both of which have been far more important factors in Edinburgh’s creativity this season.

        He has undoubtedly thrown the odd excellent wide pass but he has thrown blind passes to nobody and interceptions at least as often. And, frankly, his kicking from hand has been very poor.

        Once he has demonstrated sustained form at 10 for a couple of seasons for his club he would be as entitled as anybody to a shot as starting 10 for Scotland. But, at present, I don’t think he is even on that trajectory.

        Our national team selection seems to revolve around one man’s belief that Kinghorn can be developed into a world class 10. Maybe he can, but he is nowhere close at the moment.

      5. Yes, James, I did and I am generally very supportive of him being used as a 10 there given our current options.

        But there is a world of difference between enjoying a club performance at home against an inferior team and the prospect of going away to meet a team we have beaten only once in something like 15 matches.

      6. I agree with that re the world of difference but on that logic, a case could have been made to not start Darge and that has worked out well.

        I think it is incredibly harsh analysis of Kinghorns performances to say he has never once got the best out of the platform offered though, would also say he has played as much decent stuff with Velacott off the park as on.

        In a 6N where “names” have generally failed to deliver and a player appearing in his first tournament has been a stand out, personally I am not that bothered about the idea we lean on this supposed “experience” a lot in this group offer, a lot of them are well versed in the failure of getting beat off Irish sides for their country and club teams and have featured in a fair few of those 15 matches, it isn’t like that are an entirely trusted group to be changed who have shown they regularly beat them or even compete with them that often to begin with.

    3. Hastings was on for 4 mins…Kinghorn hasn’t shown that he is comfortable at 10 at this level yet. Huge gamble but even more so not bringing Maitland back on the wing….

  7. Selecting Fraser Brown feels like another unnecessary risk. I cannot recall the last game where Brown got through without being hooked for a minor injury

  8. Finn has been poor, now I’m not changing my mind re BK but he has been superb for Edinburgh recently. Couldn’t travel to Italy or may well have started in Rome. It means we will be running as BK isn’t a kicker, I’d assume Hogg will be on kicking duty.

  9. Finny five guys on the bench. Well, well, well…

    Punishment for the pissup after thr Italy game?

    Punishment for rocking up so out of shape?

    Or arms too skinny?

  10. Totally fair Russell dropped from 15.. though I’d have dropped him from the 23. Utter garbage from him this 6N. Kinghorn has been improving at 10 for ‘burgh…deserves a shot as much as anyone else.

    Not impressed by how GT handles new caps at all. Gives them time scraps and a cap then dumps them out the 23. In 5 mins Vellacott looked more imposing a 9….and our rugby as a team picked up fluidity.
    Steyn was poor v Italy surprised he’s in the 23 never mind 15.

    Darge and Watson together didn’t really work….Darge is an out and out 7.. and imo better than Watson … Bayliss should have started at 6 or 8 imo. Line out will be targeted.

    Bench front row looks substandard.

    1. Agree with everything apart from dropping
      Steyn, yes he was poor but he is an
      Excellent player and that display was
      Out of character. Vellacott, Hastings must be shaking their respective heads at their “treatment” at this 6N.
      Finally the only other time BK started at 10 for Scotland was the last time we played well (I know it was Tonga)

  11. I’ve tried being pragmatic since the team announcement but the Kinghorn selection is a lose lose to me.

    I can’t see a circumstance where he won’t come out with his confidence blasted. Either we get absolutely hammered by Ireland, and he gets pelters by the fans or we (somehow) sneak a win and the credit goes to Finn who’s likely going to be playing 10 when the game closes.

    Why roll the dice in the last game of the tournament? Yes we can’t win the thing but this is the last time we’ll play Ireland away before the World Cup. Why take this massive risk?!

    I also thought Vellacott was very sharp in the 4 minutes he played against Italy. What was the point in including him in the squad if that’s all the time he was going to get?

    As mentioned above, Brown is a massive step back. Ashman looks very good and should have had minutes this tournament.

    Skinner has been getting better as the tournament progresses so no surprise he’s dropped for someone who’s played about 10 minutes in the past year.

    Toony out

    Rant over

    1. Agree with this. It is total instability. How can any player flourish in such a selection environment? 5 mins game time for a first cap and you are dumped. Hastings used and let go. Players chosen in the autumn and then forgotten for the next bright new shiny thing. The selection all through townend’s tenure has been so erratic.

      I could just about see the logic of keeping GT after the last RWC as hopefully he learned his trade on the job. I could see the logic of him trying new faces in the first two years of a RWC cycle. But now – we are 18 months out from the tournament and we don’t seem to have a clue about what our best starting line up is.

      Contrast us with Ireland – they know their players and the players know each other. We are up against it anyway – but why make it easier for the opposition?

    2. Agree. Skinner has looked better and better the more test minutes he gets….and hey ho..now GT drops him..for his tackle stat lock who has , like you say played about 10 mins of rugby and a poor 10 mins at that. ..and who gets a nose bleed if he breaks the gain line.

      Fraser Brown the penalty machine to come off the bench once we remove penalty machine Zander just so we are consistent…and bring on erratic Sulky pants Finn for his touch finder fails .. brain fart intercepts …missed field goals…and cute wee sarcastic snigger… pensioner Nel…and Dell who is a club bench player…yep they’ll save us.

      After all we are only playing one of the worlds form sides on their own patch with a settled side ..whom it feels like we last won against sometime around world war 2.

      Probably either a slugfest and Ireland win…or an absolute mullering and Ireland put up a cricket score. Anything other than a win for us is not going to impress. Otherwise it’s just same as usual….

  12. This whole situation is bizarre in the extreme straight out of putins playbook . I think BK is a good player But there is a step up and a step up. Ireland away!

    It appears toonie has lost the heed It smacks of desperation. I know he is with them all the time in training etc. but this is tombola in the extreme

    But good luck to Bk go well. Have a stormer He has it in him I am sure.

    But I am left with the feeling huge rifts Here. Obviously all not well betweenTownsend and FInn. I don’t honestly know about blame etc But am I alone in thinking Townsend won’t be in charge at the World Cup ?

    Finally what must Hastings be thinking! Wtf

  13. Toony will still be in charge for the world cup, and this is him trying something new, given how poor Russell has been this tournament. Personally I’d have Jones back in the squad to mix it up. We’re getting fairly settled front 5, wings, loose forwards, our biggest issue is unpredictable Finn (reminds me of Michalak- genius to turd in a quarter), and we lack x factor in the centres. Imo those are our only unsettled areas. Looking forward to it.

  14. Couldn’t agree more with Andy and Ian. These selections smack of desperation and the head coach losing the dressing room. What has Stuart Mcinally done wrong to be jettisoned and replaced by someone just returning to fitness and a proven penalty machine. What has Hastings done wrong to be given the hokey kokey, I’m surprised he hasn’t chucked it and delivered the Maitland line of ‘I’m not coming along to hold tackle bags”, Skinner has been one of the more consistent performers this season and has a bit of dog about him yet gets demoted in favour of someone with none. Russel has been POOPY all tourney, so no surprises there but Kinghorn has been proven to be shaky at this level even at 15, 10 is a risk too far. If we are going to take a risk I’d rather have seen Ross Thomson given a run out. Ireland to have the necessary bonus point by half time.

    1. I’ve thought Townsend had lost the dressing room before then the team came out firing and produced a performance.

      He’s one of the hardest coaches to 2nd guess out there.

      Who knows?

  15. My first thought about the team selection is the Irish thinking WTF as they’ve probably been planning all week how to shut down Russell. Given they need to change their plans for Kinghorn they will probably keep it easy and just truck their big boys over the top of him to test his defence and to pull Johnson and Watson in to protecting him. I wouldnt be at all surprised to see him get crocked in the first quarter and a fired up Russell coming on.

    Having said that maybe Russell and Toony have had another bust up and his attitude if he comes on could range from I’ll show you to stuff you!!!

  16. Who said ‘I never make the same mistake twice, I try and do it 5 or 6 times, just to be sure. ‘

    1. Kinghorn at 10. Wow just watch the Irish steaming up the 10 channel. He’s a big feartie in the tackle. Him and Hogg are the worst tacklers in Scotland. Town sends last chance he’s clutching at straws Ireland by 25 points. They will monster us at scrum time and breakdown. Fagerson at tight head is a joke. All those caps and he is still a project.

  17. I am travelling on Saturday. I won’t be putting the foot down, only one winner. Have stated this for the last couple of years that Townsend needs to go.

  18. Understand the Russell bit but just dont get Kinghorn being better than Hastings as fly-half. Also Vellacott gets his 4 minutes and is completely out of it.

    Just seems a bit random to me

  19. Time for Kinghorn to step up to the mark then. I would have dropped Hogg rather than Russell but that was never going to happen, Russell hasn’t been great and essentially I think he needs a boot in the baws, somethings not right with him.
    Sensible to have him on the bench if it all goes horribly wrong and we can’t land a single kick, whos kicking anyway, Hogg?

    Didn’t think much of Kyle Steyn last weekend either, but who else is there? I have always been slightly unconvinced by Sam Skinner but he seems to have gotten better with each game, seems slightly odd to go and drop him for a questionably fit Jonny Gray.

  20. I think when this season is over it would be worth looking at some of the strange decisions. Commenters have mentioned Vellacott and Hastings, Bennett has been unfortunate, Ben White and Sam Johnston dropped from the 23 and recalled. Toony might say he wants to give players game time, but what is this building towards ?

    I think the Kinghorn decision is a huge gamble, by all means drop Russell, but I feel this has shades of when he brought Harris in, he persisted till he found him a place. I think this was his plan all along, he just needed to break Russell.

    Finn Russell plays well in a tough league , however he has some class around him and dare I say it, looks at his best with Zebbo at 15.The FR in Navy, is not the same man, why ?

    1. The Finn Russell in navy is often playing behind a pack that is going backwards. The Finn Russell in navy has a less creative centre pairing next to him. The Finn Russell in navy is asked to follow a system whereas at Racing he has license to play as he sees it on the pitch.

      I’m starting to think that Toonie doesn’t actually want a settled team. He wants to keep opposition coaches guessing on team selection and tactics. He seems to want to have different options and ways of playing depending on who the opposition is.

      1. Good observation, my interpretation is that Toony wants to outsmart everyone and win the game off the field. It must be very stressfull for the players.

  21. It’s been a season of strange decisions, but this takes the biscuit. No issue with Kinghorn being seen as a stand off going forward, but away in Ireland in the 6 Nations is not the place to blood him. Would have been better to wait for tests later in the year. Also, no massive issue with dropping Finn – his form has been pretty shaky, admittedly behind a pack that has too often been going backwards. Although, I thought continuity of keeping Russell, Johnson and Harris trio together might have been beneficial.

    The way players have been called up and discarded just feels strange. Not sure what it does for confidence or continuity. Any credence to the idea that Toonie has given up on the 6 Nations and thinks this is the best moment to experiment than when we’re going full throttle for the World Cup next year?

    1. You may have a point on the RWC. It is going to take a lot to get us out of the Group. I can recall Cotters side beating Ireland however correct me if wrong , has Toony? It is one scalp he has yet to secure.

      One other thing I just noticed, in world rankings we are 7th and Wales in 8th. Ideally we do not want to be trading places.

      1. Yep, Townsend has lost six out of six against Ireland. And two out of two against South Africa. It’s a hellish draw.

        Interestingly his record against the big two in the other pools is 50/50 or better. (W4 L4 against Wales and Australia, W4 L3 against France and New Zealand, W3 L2 D1 against England and Japan). But in the pool we were drawn in, he’s W0 L8.

  22. I’ll give credit to Townsend for surprising me in the past but the jiggling of personnel on the bench especially scrum half and centre this season is difficult to understand.
    Nothing to say about Kinghorn except it’s a gamble that will either work or not. He’s definitely talented but 10’s not where he’s spent most of his pro career and even small inadequacies will be found out by a team like Ireland.

    We shall see.

  23. For all of the chopping and changing and injuries. Scotland could be playing the following backline with tried and tested international players:
    Price, Russell/Hastings, Maitland, Taylor/Johnson/Harris, Bennett/Jones, Graham.
    It’s a simple game when you let talent pick itself and don’t fall out with your players.

    Centres are interchangeable enough. Russell doesn’t have his best games with Pete Horne outside him, he needs a running threat at inside centre and a bit of sparkle or fluency at outside centre.

    All of Maitland (quality), Taylor (fit again) and Jones (quality and playing enough) should be in the mix.

    Similar story in the forwards:
    Schoeman, McInally/Turner, Fagerson
    Gray, Gray/Skinner/Cummings
    Darge, Fagerson, Watson

  24. I like Finn, but he doesn’t take the sport anywhere near as serious as he needs to for the level he plays at.

    There is a reason this group constantly trip up, and it’s not just the coach, a few of them should look in the mirror.

    It is clear a few in this group don’t take it as serious as most of the core group of the Welsh or Irish do

  25. And the hits just keep on coming. BBC reporting that six Scotland players have been disciplined for breaching team protocols and leaving the team hotel to go to a bar in Edinburgh after flying back from Rome last weekend. Hogg, Russell, Price, Johnson, Sione & Graham.

    1. It is funny only Russell has paid the price. Hogg should be leading by example on and off the pitch.

  26. So six of the team broke protocol and went on the out drinking after the Italy game. This really leaves a bad taste in my mouth, these so called professionals have once more failed to deliver on their promise and rather than knuckle down and improve they give a big two finger to the Scottish Public. It’s simply not on, I almost feel like I want Scotland thumped tomorrow as a result of this utter slap in the face.

    1. Was Finn not sent back to France for breaching similar protocols? I suppose the concerning thing is that it was captain Hogg leading from the front. Maybe his disciplining should have involved being stripped of the captaincy tomorrow and giving it to Gilchrist instead.

  27. I read this slightly differently. Its not just some Glasgow alumni in there Graham has joined the party. Which make it look like its the backs leading the attack going to clear the air and come up with an alternative game plan.

    It really points to a massive breakdown in relationships in the camp. These guys are too senior and experienced to risk their careers for a beer so there must be something else going on.

    Frustratingly if it all goes pear shaped on Saturday Toony has a ready made excuse. It also gives Toony a good excuse not to take these player on the summer tour and to take the captaincy away from Hogg.

    1. Ain’t that the truth. Another opportunity to try new players and distract everyone from the real problem. He has changed everyone out , players and coaches. There is just one thing left to change.

  28. How unprofessional!!
    Something has to give after this. Hogg should have been stripped of captaincy….he is crap at it anyway.
    Is Russell becoming toxic to the squad? He has played poorly this 6N ..I don’t understand why he has not been sent home early. This stuff splits a squad. GTs handling of the players is also becoming alarming.

    1. The problem is that they gave him it because of ambition. The other problem is that he is not a leader.

  29. Townsend has clearly lost the dressing room. Enough already! These guys are our best.

    1. This warms my heart. Delighted that Hogg and Russell were out together, the more serious issue would be a schism between our best players. That, not this, would be a difficult fix…

  30. Well my only hope is that is that and Townsend goes. This is a team without leadership and drive. He must go.

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