Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland v Fiji: Discussion Post

Scotland vs Fiji - graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog
Scotland vs Fiji - graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog

This worked pretty well last week as a hub for post-match discussion of the game while we formulate our thoughts.

Please put your post-game discussion points on this post.

Please keep it on topic for the discussion of the actual Fiji game itself and not immediately posting your team for next week.

How did Scotland play? Did the selections work? Where it all go wrong/right? Did the returning exiles make a big difference? Let us know your thoughts.

243 Responses

  1. Poor first half … average 2nd half.
    Shipping far too many basic penalties.

    I have no idea why Hogg gets selected it seems without question. Atrocious defender.. and did nothing of note in attack.. just pranced around with the girls haircut chit chatting. His tackling was soo bad it looked beneficial to get the Fijians over the try line. I’d rather Smith played 15… looks a better all around FB to me.

    Watson is half the player he was. Crosbie should have played.

    Players that came in and I felt improved us…
    R Gray
    Even Kinghorn!

    Play like that and we’ll get a proper rugby spanking next week.
    It’s going to be a wasteful and rough year until GT leaves after the RWC

    1. Sad but true about Hoggie, he seems to prance about more worried about his hair whilst his game has gone. Watson is the real deal , he will return to his best

  2. They had to win with a few players coming into the side against a side who had nothing to lose and can play unstructured rugby and they did enough, but they’ll have to step it up next week.

  3. Redpath felt like a piece of the puzzle. Equally comfortable taking a crash ball and launching a pass. I’d be breaking the bank to get him up to Scotland and wrapping him in cotton wool.

    A word for Murphy Walker – his first three scrums in international rugby were all Scotland penalties. That’s got to be rare.

    1. Walker seems a more astute TH than Fagerson. Needs to bulk up a bit though. A relief to see an up and coming TH.

      1. With the above two posts just wish the blog had a simple thumbs up emoji. Spot on both of you.

  4. We continue to be a team that is less than the sum of it’s parts.
    R Gray made the line out work, but Fiji aren’t the biggest test in that area.
    Hastings didn’t look great in the first half, but was playing with scraps.
    Redpath makes yards that defy his physical appearance and has great distribution as well.
    Darcy is great.
    Sutherland seemed to contribute well when he came on – feared he might have had one injury too many.
    It was 37 minutes before I heard Hamish get a mention.
    And I agree about Hogg’s hair. Easy fix.

      1. You are right, his attempt for the Fiji try in the corner was not ood enough, flapped with his hands rather than drive with the shoulder.
        Meant to say Dempsey looked better than last week.
        Matt Fagerson is a class player, doesn’t deserve the stick for not being Billy Vinupola

      2. I believe Hogg fears injury. By avoiding tackles he avoids injury , thus he has maintained a place . Every time he is unavailable and we play an alternative we seem like a better side. He knows that as well. But then again , we love it, play into it and he has done well. Hats off , he is plausible. We should have humped FiJi today, they were there for the half century, even Vern said it.

  5. Apart from one or two individuals like Graham and Redpath, we look like a poorly coached unmotivated side. Hogg is a downgrade on Smith and should be dropped for the ABs game. What has happened to the Tandy’s blue wall? What impact is AB Zondagh having on our attack? Is Toony back to picking his out of form favourites/Yes men like he did at the last RWC. Next Sunday will be a bloodbath.

    1. Agree ..I’d drop Hogg in a heartbeat.
      We always look a more balanced side when he doesn’t play.

      For all the positive play he has produced in his prime…you could probably make a reel twice the length containing his poor tackling…non tackling…greedy play…dropped passes…poor passes…bad penalties….hell even his poor media statements.
      Scottish rugby icon my ass….overrated.
      I’d play Smith …Hogg had his NZ chance and blew it being greedy going for glory.

      1. He comes at a cost , high maintenance, 14 workers and one queen Bee, it is long overdue , but we need 15 workers in this hive.

  6. Surely it’s time for Watson and Hogg to make way. Toonie can’t keep picking his out of form favourites. A back row of Crosbie, Ritchie and Fagerson/Dempsey is the way to go.

    1. Check the stats on Watson. I think you will find he is a tackler, and we will need that next week and every week.

  7. I sit here desperately not wanting to sound like a broken record but Townsend is treading water towards his P45.

    Watching Ireland v SA group stage exit likely. Probably another 6 nations. Toonie rolling out the we will learn, improving, things to work on. Blah, blah blah

    His childish pouting behaviour towards Russell and inexplicable calls will continue

    It’s just so disappointing. We have some talent. We could do will a change of coach. No chance of this from SRU. So we probably have to suck it up

    1. Read reports that SRU are throwing their name into the hat for Scott Robertson after the RWC. We’ll have to endure this frustrating GT reign till then.
      I doubt Robertson will be interested in Scotland ….NZ might mend their bridges with him…England and Wales will be in for him as well…possibly Australia as well.
      We’ll no doubt get some cheap 3rd rate option…and set us up for more of the same poop with a different shovel.

  8. Just back from the game. I’m pretty sure unless Scotland beat NZ that’s GT out. There is disquiet amongst the squad. Was at the afters and Stuart Hogg having a deep chat with Vern. Oh what could have been.

    1. I doubt Stuart Hogg could have a deep chat with anyone , and definitely not a man of cotters deep knowledge . I agree. Cotter will always be the coach that could have taken scottish rugby to a place where the public would have got behind the game at long one cares for our incumbent sulk. HUGH Grant he is not.

    2. ….was thinking, when the tv cams were panning the lineup at the anthems, the body language of most of the team seemed poor…distracted…and just a bit weird. It felt like something’s up…which is in contrast to the teams training videos that are released where the squad comes accross as cohesive.
      The difference in vibe between the Ireland team and ours is very noticeable.
      GTs time wont end well…it should be before 6N but wont be…

  9. Some good individual performances but as a team very poor.

    If that game was against a team which is better resourced they wont be getting tired and falling off in the second half.

    Positives: Lineout and Driving Maul.

    Negatives: Everything else.

    Smith for Hogg
    Bennett for Harris
    White/Horne for Price
    Crosbie/Christie/Dempsey for Watson (reshuffle Ritchie if needed)

    I’d replace Skinner and Cummings for Gilchrist & Jonny Gray if they were available.

    Ashman for Turner, Brown on Bench.

    Oh.. and for god sake get Russell in Toony!

  10. A scrappy affair, I think Mr Berry was a bit too whistle happy as usual but we really did give away some soft soft penalties. Plus sides were I thought Ritchie Gray looked effective, more so than Gilchrist anyway. The replacement front row all played well and so did Darcy and Cammy Redpath. Chris Harris was a bit mince, Hastings wasn’t great, not terrible but not the kind of assured performance required to convince Toonie to play a proper 10 at 10 and Hogg was mince. Is he past it now? He has been poor since before the Lions tour. His defence has always been suspect but we could overlook it as he was so lethal in attack but he can’t attack now either. Sadly Mish was completely anonymous too, I pretty much forgot he was playing.

    If we play anything like we have for the last 2 weeks then next weekend will be an absolute bloodbath. The worst thing is that part of me thinks that’s exactly what’s needed.

    1. Hogg still offers a great kicking game but his defending has not improved with age and his running threat has definitely regressed.

      He should probably still be an option for some games but he shouldn’t be an automatic starter these days.

      I also agree that Mish just doesn’t seem to be as prominent as he used to be. I’d put Ritchie on the openside and go with Dempsey at 8 at either Crosbie or Bradbury at 6. We desperately need more go forward from the back row especially if we are playing Redpath at 12.

      I shudder to think what may happen next week. I also shudder to think what might have happened if Australia played against us the way they played against France tonight.

  11. I agree that we are likely not to be his chosen destination

    The only hope we have with Scott Robertson is given his name there might be some ancestral pull.

    Having said that he looks like a guy who loves a challenge

    For me we need change before WC to give this squad a chance

  12. I am more convinced than ever that Toonie just wants a team of compliant ‘Yes men’ even if it means dispensing with our best talent. He wants to live vicariously through Kinghorn and can’t handle a fly half like Russell who will speak up and challenge his tactics. I would take a chance on Blair as caretaker head coach through the 6N and RWC as he couldn’t do any worse than the dross that has been served up for the past year.

    1. Good lord. Blair has had one season as a head coach, where he took Edinburgh to the dizzy heights of 7th in the league. He’s going to be an excellent coach, maybe Scotland one day, but installing him a year before a doomed world cup would be brutal for all concerned.

  13. Is that the best tackle Hogg can muster.First try of theirs , too high, did not commit to the tackle at all, made no use of the line or flag ..gave him a wee hug. Seriously, I am embarrassed that we consider he is the icon of scottish rugby.

  14. Well at least it’s possible Russell may be back Albeit due to poor Hastings misfortune

    I have this nagging feeling He may come back.

    God knows how it will go. We are not that awash with talent that toonie can turn this into such a circus

    1. …or he does a Toonie…and parachutes Fin Smith into the squad. Was talking with him the last week reportedly.

    2. It’s pretty much been a circus, with Toony as Ringmaster, since at least RWC 2019. Moreover, there’s every chance that the All Blacks might make us look like clowns next Sunday.

  15. Is anyone else getting fed up with Hogg’s dancing feet? He wouldn’t even get invited on to Strictly and always seems to run into traffic. The days of him leaving the opposition in his wake are long gone – maybe the manbun is affecting his aerodynamism. Ollie Smith has to start against the All Blacks but sadly he won’t.

    1. I never tire of being fed up with Hogg or trying to point out that he is not what we need in any Scottish Jersey. He never has been what we need. We have a more balanced back line without him. Sadly I think Russell, who I do like and rate, needs to go as well, just to make a fresh start. Build a team of 15 equals. They are legacy’s from a time when we were hard up and they stood out.

  16. Not a great deal to add. As ever, in just two dozen posts this community of Scottish rugby supporters clerarly have a better handle on what is going on than the current coach.

    Townsend out.

  17. Only just watched the game through and a few thoughts:
    – Fiji aren’t mugs and should never be seen as an easy game. We should win yes, but Fiji have a number of class players playing in the Top 14, Eng Prem, URC etc and that quality can shine through when playing 1 on 1, even if they haven’t had the best prep
    – Ashman needs to be first choice hooker IMO. Darts pretty good, some good carries, was a link a lot of the time and has good hands. The scrum also looked more solid with him on. All great attributes
    – DVdM has really improved his all round game. Took high balls, came looking for work, can pass and lots better in defence
    – Gray Snr had a good game, especially in the line out. One more RWC in him yet we hope
    – While not making lots of metres ball in hand, backrow put in a big defensive shift, Mish constantly chopping down runners
    And yet we still don’t look to have a game plan which everyone is buying into and we just don’t seem to be able to keep discipline and dominate in contact. I do think GT is struggling and some is definitely down to him but I don’t think the coaching set up works as a collective. Ironic that Fiji made so many dominant tackles when coached by another Richie Gray, who stuck with Vern rather than Scotland. Attack doesn’t look so good either. Maybe they should halve Dodgson’s pay and look to secure better supporting coaches – Shaun Edwards please! And if SRU has leaked stories about getting another head coach after RWC, that’s just unbelievable incompetence. Why would GT now try if he already knows he’s likely to be released? Not a big shock but to hear that your employer has documented that they have no confidence in you is a huge torpedo. Either get rid now or get behind him until results are known and then take action. Unless of course this is all the ultimate sledging gambit designed to undermine Scottish confidence still further. AB game could be a turkey shoot

    1. Townsend will need to put in a good world cup or he will be released to go nowhere. Let’s be honest, he should have been out after the last one, so he really has milked the ride, at our expense.

    2. I think it is obvious GT will be released after the RWC, I doubt he’ll even have much desire to stay on for another cycle.

      The stories haven’t been released by the SRU but by kiwi journalists in the NZ herald because the point of them is to pressure NZRFU to offer their head coach job to Scott Robertson rather than NH suitors, who they name as England, Wales and Scotland.

  18. I thought Hastings did have a decent game. I am impressed with White, I prefer him to Ally Price truth be told. Chris Harris is the one I always swither over, to me he fills a jersey, but I thought the stability at 10, 12 and 13 was good and I suspect I overlook the things Harris does out there. Mark Bennett has really done nothing wrong. If Finn Russell were to return I would Swap out Harris and play Bennett. Our wingers are the best.

  19. One of the many lessons from RWC2019 was the importance of keeping the squad fresh by selecting on form. We carried so many players not really up to it at that tournament who’d fallen out of the starting team by the end.

    I think at the moment we’re carrying a few senior players struggling for form. Price, Watson, Turner are all a bit off their game. Turner looks to be injured but I’d like Townsend to place faith in his squad and start the NZ game with those who are showing their best rugby now.

    Price’s tactical kicking was a bit wayward against Fiji and I thought White brought much more clarity. Watson was the most anonymous part of a backrow that was outmuscled by the huge Fijian unit – there’s an argument for starting Dempsey alongside Ritchie and Fagerson. I’d like to see Crosbie given a go but as he is absent from the squad, perhaps Baylis deserves a run from the bench. Ashman was probably our best player on Saturday.

    It was a poor performance by us but I think Fiji are much better than some people give them credit for. We’re still failing to execute at pivotal moments – we could have killed that game off much earlier on a number of occasions.

    1. I’m still haunted by the selection against Ireland in the opening game in 2019. Barclay blowing hard after ten minutes and Duncan Taylor running through treacle with more in form options were overlooked. It’ll be a scandal if Townsend does the exact same thing again next year.
      I’m convinced we are destined for a 5th place finish in the 6N and another RWC group exit next year.

      1. Saint, haunted is how I felt pertaining to that game too.
        I remember thinking it looked like the game v Ireland was a surprise to GT and his management team.
        The game panned out as if no preparatory coaching work had been done.
        Don’t start me on the Japan game

    2. Fiji are a good side, the individuals are talented and natural ball players. Dare I say it, Cotter got the best out of them. On paper we should have taken 50 from them as we did last time against arguably a better Fiji side with well known big names in it. Maybe it is the Cotter factor.

      1. Fiji were pretty much like Fiji always are. Amazingly talented, indisciplined and largely rubbish at set piece.

        Can’t see Cotter has had any impact on their performances yet to be honest.

      2. How do you explain the score .we took a lot more from Fiji last time we met. Have they improved, are we not ourselves. I am a Cotter fan and have no positive words for Townsend. So I will always promote Cotter, but you have not convinced me Cotter has nothing to do with it. The last side had giants if Fiji in it such as nakarawa and randandra (excuse spelling) this one is not as strong IMO but got a better score. Cotter, COtter, COtter. No question Fiji lost but compared to last visits , the score was kinder, they will be happy, we are not.

      3. Cassandra – Scotland actually lost to Fiji in 2017 in Suva, immediately following our victory in Sydney. You can’t pick two matches four years apart to compare and conclude anything sensible really.

      4. FF: You are letting commonsense stand in the way. Stop it, stop it now. We both know Fiji will be happier with Saturday’s result than Scotland and we both know Cotter is a great coach and we let him go to the highest if not one of the highest paid rugby coach jobs on record. Didnt work out , so what, failure is not final, take the gazillions. He didn’t get that job for nothing. My opinion is that Cotter did make a difference , yours is it did not. Whether he did or he didny, your right, but you have not changed my simple mind, I would be surprised if one of that pair got the same as the other from his team. Cotter all day long.

  20. Very poor display in 1st half, penalties galore and Price giving Fiji what they like – the ball. Cant see the point of box kicks, all it did was gave the Fijians the chance to run the ball back at Scotland. Again a small mobile backrow which doesnt get you front foot ball (Dempsey made a big difference when he came on).
    As I said last week a team that looks like like it’s poorly coached.
    White is a better option than Price.
    Harris just gets in the way IMO.
    Richie Gray MOM IMO, dominant in the line out, excellent in the loose.
    Crosbie Dempsey Bennett to start next week. If Hastings out…….very interesting who plays 10

    1. I get the Harris feels, but next time he plays, please do just keep an eye on him when we don’t have the ball. He’s always moving , always filling gaps in the line, always barking at others, organising them.

      The first Fiji try, he’s BELLOWING trying to get people over to the danger. They don’t make it, and he’s got four people in his channel. Duhan bites in to help, which sets the Fijian winger away. Harris then absolutely rages at Duhan. Basically saying – those four guys were my man! And most of the time, he beats those odds.

      He’s a mediocre attacker, but given the firepower we do have in that backline, devoting one position to defence feels fair.

      1. Angerine: We need more posts like this, many including me do not see the value, just not my area of expertise. Is there no one else out there that has worked out there is a lot if space at the back and moving and shouting is important to keep the opposition flustered. I take it he has given up BELLOWING at some, no point, ears of cloth.

    2. It is good to hear people talking up Richie Gray. Commenters have been screaming to get him in as far back as the 2019 RWC. We are never likely to get a man of that height and experience for a long time. He could play for many years yet and I suspect could see action in the RWC.

    1. Ireland are arguably the best team in the world. Only really France can dispute that at the moment.

      We are…not.

      1. I’m not sold on Ireland being the world’s top rugby side. We’ll see at the RWC.
        My money would be on SA or NZ.
        Ireland got away with SA doing a Toonie and played without a recognized kicker when they needed one. Otherwise that was an SA win on Irelands turf.
        NZ showing signs they’ll peak at the right time.
        We are nowhere near anything…. Just a circus of selections.

  21. Things to be taken from these last 2 games.
    The referee dictates what sort of game we are going to get. This is becoming really frustrating. We hear all the time of referees meeting the teams and telling them what they are going to be ‘hot’ on and it is never the same thing twice. The offside penalties yesterday were picky in the extreme and the yellow for the Fijian arm to the face was a let off, it must be hard as a player to understand what they can and can’t get away with so the high penalty count for me is no surprise.
    GT is no doubt a student of the game but undeniably is failing to get the best out of our current crop of good players , sometimes this is just a fact of being too long in the chair, time to move on Gregor.
    Fiji have some excellent players , a few ‘world’ class, and now have a quality management team. They had a full week of prep in France. We are kidding ourselves if we thought this would be a 50 point fest. In general they are bigger physical specimens, if you can contain them for 60 minutes the victory will come. We failed in many ways to contain them but we were in touching distance by 60 and pulled away, we shouldn’t really expect anything more. I thought the forwards in general performed well against their heavy team and wouldn’t really tinker for next weekend. Dempsey looked hungry when he came on too.
    Hogg v Smith, Smith doesn’t offer the same broken field threat nor can he hit a 60 metre clearance kick but his positional strength and defence are better so take your choice. The ABs will fear Hogg in open field but will capitalise on his other frailties. You know you have to score tries to beat them does Smith score many tries? It is strange that after 12 years of professional rugby Hogg still can’t tackle properly. Darcy and Russel should take him aside and show how it’s done.
    R. gray surprised me, he looked a shadow of his former self last season at Glasgow but lasted the 80 yesterday and showed up well at the lineout and in the loose.
    Redpath gets the nod for me and dare I say we will need Harris next week and possibly even a recall for Sam Johnston.
    Ben White payed well but so did price. I don’t think we lose anything when one is exchanged for the other. White a bit more urgency….
    The fly half debate will continue, I honestly don’t think Russel will get parachuted in, he could unlock the All Blacks for sure, he can tackle and his kicking percentages are top. However, He is not up to speed with the autumn plays (is anybody).
    Hastings didn’t exactly nail it yesterday and neither did Kinghorn. Thomson has yet to get on the park and I don’t think next week will be any different.

    1. Hogg doesn’t offer much of a threat in broken play these days, alas. Smith, when fully fit, is probably now a bigger threat in attack as well as being the better defender.

      Where Hogg still scores over Smith is his ability to hammer the ball 60+metres with his boot. That’s a valuable weapon to have but doesn’t compensate for Hogg’s weakness as a tackler.

      The other option at FB is Kinghorn. He’s quick, got a big boot (if a bit wayward at times), and is a reasonably competent tackler. And although I’m no fan of him as a 10, the time he’s spent there might actually be of benefit to him as a FB.

      1. Totally agree. Smith is the future and is good enough NOW. Hogg is the past and fading. Think RWC

  22. Incidentally I thought Hogg didn’t do much wrong, wasn’t at his best but none of the backs were

    1. But when he is not at his best we only see the shortfalls. Without his magic touch , he is less than average and at this stage in his career, not much point in retaining him as the magic touch is dwindling. He is a liability.

  23. One observation I have is: Hogg, great player struggled with captaincy; Ritchie, great player seems to have lost his edge with captaincy. Is it possible that our captains struggle due to the messaging coming from the coach?

    Why are our captains unable to raise themselves and the team in the manner of AWJ or POM?

    1. yes my feeling this season is Jamie Ritchie after that very long injury break hasn’t been able to recapture his form.Allied To Hamish watson having-sad to say-been on a downward spiral since the Lions tour tbh that means we don’t now compensate for our smaller back row. Really need to be looking at least one of Dempsey or Crosbie starting next week-with the other on the bench.

      1. I wonder how many of these players really have their heart in playing for Townsend. Watson for one was scr*wed out of an opportunity on the Lions tour and then inexplicably dropped for the SA Scotland game.

    2. I though McInally was the best pedigree for captain in a long while. He led by example in the England draw as I recall, really did nothing wrong. No other 6 nations side has recovered so many points in the second half, you have to credit leadership and a belligerent Russell.Time moved on and for whatever reason, he fell. If he ever writes a book, I for one will read it. Sorry lads ,I think you all overrated Jamie Richie as captain material. However I would also say it is a bit early to be making a judgement. He has time to grow. I suspect my early gut feeling will prevail. He is another caretaker.

    3. No disagree, neither of them had the natural presence of AWJ or POM. They are men who stand out in a crowd, born leaders. Both Hogg and Richie lack maturity to be quite honest.

  24. ‘The all blacks will fear Hogg in broken play’ They will take one look at him , shake their heads and get down to business, the business of beating a team , clearly lacking in self esteem.

    1. I have no idea what people mean when they suggest opposition will fear Hogg.
      Especially the argument about his ‘broken play’.
      He looks utterly useless at test level for well over a year and beyond.
      His little skipity skip and run into 1st line of defense is just pathetic.
      I just dont get the idolizing of him at all.
      NZ like most teams see that he can’t tackle at all, has poor positional sense and spills the ball under pressure.
      He’ll be targeted ..not feared.

      1. Hogg was a magnificent player, however he needs to show this form again soon. He seems to have lost bulk, this is obviously on purpose (to improve his rugby).
        This Fiji wasn’t one to judge Hogg on as the whole team struggled throughout.
        Hogg has thr chance in next 2 weeks to prove he is top class.

      2. I’m not judging Hogg on the Fiji match alone…..I’m judging him on the last 4 or so years.

      3. Aye sir, I do fear that the magnificent Hogg is now “gone”, interestingly even in his magnificent days I reckon Scotland played better rugby with Maitland at 15.
        Real pity Josh McKay not SQ

    1. The only thing that I don’t like about the Super 6 is that 6 is at least a couple of teams too few. If two (or better yet, four) teams could be added to the roster without diluting the quality of rugby then it’d be about as good a stepping-stone to full-time professional rugby as we could reasonably wish for.

      1. Even with 6 we have a a huge difference between top and bottom. Six is right , if your favorite never made it, get over it and get behind one of them.

      2. You are within a commute of 5 out of 6 within an hour. Because you live in Glasgow , does not make the commute to the local team and shorter. I am a hateful character by the way , so do not expect me to agree, I am blunt and to the point. Glasgow blew it’s chances , made a bad approach, thought it was bigger and better, got taught a lesson by the SRU. Train to Edinburgh , Ayr or Stirling in 45 mins , what’s keeping you ! You could support Watsonians, reigning champs .

    2. Actually, Tam, ‘my’ team not only made the cut for the Super 6 but has consistently vied for honours since the series began. So there’s really nothing for me to ‘get over’, as you put it.

      The number of teams in a league has no bearing on the gap between top and bottom – as many a football supporter would tell you.

      You think that six teams is the ideal number for the SRU’s semi-professional series. I think it’s too few. No big deal either way.

      1. Polite reply and point well made. I respect a man like you. Get behind what you have, very few games are settled till the end , even the final was won on extra time. Dont ruin it by diluting the talent IMO.

  25. Think and say what you will about Russel but Tom English on the BBC website today has posted a fine article on the debacle.
    It’s a bit damning on Townsend but no more than what most think is the case anyway.
    Without him in the mix Tom is predicting a 50 point drubbing next week.
    Who am I to argue.

  26. A real shoulder shrug of a game, nothing to see pointing us in an upward direction and no real standout. Glad to see Hogg getting a yellow for his man bun

    1. An awful lot of Hogg-bashing going on here. There are lots of things that can be true in relation to him:

      – He is one of our best-ever players, was world class for several years, and is a legend.
      – He was the first real talent that helped spark us out of the doldrums of having anyone who was ANY good in the 2000’s – mid-2010’s;
      – He has not been playing well for the last year or so, but was still instrumental in big wins v England (MoM 2021 win at Twickenham) and has scored tries in the last couple of 6 nations still, even though off form.
      – He has lost some of his searing pace, natural with age, and this is why he is no longer the force he was – otherwise he is still a good player with great kicking skills.
      – True, he can’t tackle very well!
      – This does not mean he deserves to get blasted every 5 mins
      – He was a decent captain, albeit I do think it worked against his own performances and was a burden that he didn’t need, given his propensity for mental focus at times.
      – His hair is ridiculous. Agreed. Get rid.
      – Saying that Ollie Smith should be a shoo-in for the AB’s is not really recognising that OS is super green and Hogg is still an experienced and classy option.

      All of this is to say he should be given a bit more respect on here. He’s always wanted to play for scotland, hasn’t caused the issues some others have, and was a proud captain. If he’s starting to lose his form, so be it, but let him fade out gracefully!

      Sorry Thin Russek – I’m jumping on your comment, which I’m sure was light hearted, but it’s a response to the collective responses on here and elsewhere.

      1. Good post! Anyone who thinks Ollie Smith should be selected ahead of Hogg at this point needs a reality check.

  27. By omitting Russell, Townsend is giving a big two fingers up to the ticket paying public. He is putting himself first over those who turn out year after year to now watch pretty turgid stuff. I’m not sure who comes in but I know who needs to go out.

    1. Quality 10s are soo hard to come by…Ireland are clinging for dear life to a 37yr old..why? Because they dont have one as good coming through.

      Russell isnt perfect but he is the best & most experienced we have….we are a year away from the RWC and here we are trying to develop a 2nd choice winger/FB into a 1st choice 10…and persisting with too many out of form players based on their historical play/status. Ignoring inform players playing for their clubs. Giving some players a debut…them playing well…and then never seeing them again.

      There is no evidence of a structured plan to any of this.

      What a mess!

  28. All this is,once again, making Scottish rugby a laughing stock to outside observers.The French rugby public must think we are beyond crazy not to select a player of Russell’s talents.Our first game against the AB’s in five years and the paying supporters deserve to see the best players who are fit and available for a contest like that.

  29. Apart from the obvious i started pondering my team v NZ, can’t put put a team in (Rory would go mental) however Bennett/Tuipulotu Russell White Demspsey Crosbie J Gray would all start.

    1. Part of me would like to see a wildcard at 13 in Kyle Steyn.

      Very Strong in attack and Defence, respected, versatile, showed up very well there against Bennetton with them conceding 0 points. Was impressive when originally in the position a few years ago when Glasgow pushed Leinster within a whisker of the Final.

      Not for the AB’s but perhaps Argentina of the bench.

      For the Abs i’d like to see Bennett, nothing has changed in my mind that Harris cant give ball to the back 3, his defence is not so much better than Bennetts that his selection is justified in my mind.

      1. What about the Harris miss pass that put VDM in for his try?

        Your statement he can’t give ball to the back 3 is clearly wrong.

      2. That was a nice piece of skill sure, but it is few and far between, give me some more examples and i’ll take back my statement.

        There are far better attacking players, Harris is not international standard in this aspect.

  30. The thing that I believe is completely lacking in the current set-up and the team on the pitch specifically is that there is now a complete lack of passion and commitment to a traditional Scottish rugby “way”. The best games that I have watched either in person or on TV have an excitement about them a mental and physical state that the players and public in the stadium are part of building and maintaining – one feeds the other tbh. Perhaps covid is to blame but right now I do not see the passion in the players playing a Scottish way to fell out bigger and most times better opponents. It feels like this has been sucked out of the individual players by a coaching set up that is completely unsure of what it is trying to do ie do they have clarity on how they want Scotland to play as I can’t see it – there isn’t a clear business plan or supporting strategy. Can you imagine being a squad member or a work colleague who sees a really talented colleague disagrees with the boss and has a really good point but is then jettisoned with a complete lack of honesty – is the current squad in need of it’s own honesty moment with the coaches ie what are you trying to do with the rugby and why does our best player not for inside this or at least deserve to be treated fairly and with dignity in the media. Is Scottish rugby w re say for its own “me 2” moment.

    We need the passion back and I am afraid that nothing GT has done in last 2-3 years convinces me that he will be able to build that passion with a group of players that in all likelihood don’t trust their boss!!!?

    1. The Me Too movement was about women showing incredible bravery in standing up to sexual assault. To use it about Finn Russell not getting to play international rugby is effing gross imo.

  31. Argentina have just beaten England at Twickenham. Boffelli scoring 25 points.

    Not looking to that game based on recent performances.


    1. Yes…
      Funny that….Argentina play with a proper kicker and behold win a big match away from home.
      SA lost that match with Ireland because they had no one on the pitch to kick a penalty accurately.
      We lost to Australia same reason.
      Tier1 rugby is very tight….not selecting a proper kicker is just stupidity.

  32. What’s to be said? It’s all been said before. We’re the 4th best of the home nations. Sure bring in Russell for the sake of sanity, but that level of performance from the team won’t trouble New Zealand or Argentina. Scotland haven’t played well in the last 18 months. Looks like the next 12 won’t be any better. Shuffle the team however you like, it’s not made a single difference who plays. We’re not making opportunities to score and we give away stupid penalties like it’s Christmas.

  33. I’d like to see Scotland go back to the all out attacking rugby of earlier Townsend years, regardless of the results it suits our current crop of players better than whatever we are doing just now. And at least if we lose we get our moneys worth with the entertainment.

    I’d even argue our current crop of players suit that play style over the players of 2018/19.

    For the style specifically
    Horne/white —> Laidlaw
    Russell/Hastings/Kinghorn the same.
    Redpath/Hutchinson (Offers at least the same as Horne/Taylor)
    Jones/Bennett/Tuipolotu (Get rid of Harris, i think this is partly what crippled our all out attacking style at the RWC)
    Van Der Merwe, Graham —-> Seymour/Maitland. Both good players but those are world class attacking talents.

    Pack is more combative on paper compare to 2019 offers more go forward and quick ball. Schoeman, Sutherland, Kebble—> Dell, Reid.
    Ashman = McInally, Brown
    Fagerson —> Nel
    Skinner —> J.Gray.
    Fagerson/Dempsey/Bradbury all over excellent ball carrying option. Darge/Crosbie have bright futures also.

    Can’t try and play Ireland/South Africa at their own game.

    1. It is a fair challenge, our shift from attack to defence has probably gone too far and we’re too predictable now in both departments. I do think we’re missing Russell here.

      For most of the first half yesterday I was trying to work out what the hell we’re trying to do. The main plan seems to be kick the ball away and hope they drop it. Kicking looks like the main reason Price is starting although Horne and White both look better attacking options at the moment.

    2. Hmm, its a hard one. I think we all loved the mad 2017/18 all out attack years but we all realised, especially after the 2019 RWC that you need to be able to defend too. We went and learned how to do that and had an incredible defence for a couple of years but it came at the expense of good attack, although we still scored now and again, it wasn’t completely back to the Dan Parks era. Now we just seem to have regressed 10 years and are back to that time. The stupid penalities, the cluelessness, the handling errors, they are all very reminiscent of that dark era. Its more annoying now though because we know that broadly the same group of players are able to play well, the poor play and results are self inflicted because of poor decision making and coaching.

      I think there are a couple of retired players in there that deserve more credit than they get for that purple patch we had, Pete Horne, Alex Dunbar and Tommy Seymour. I agree that individually on paper the options we have now should be more than a match for them, but those guys played well together and gelled as a team both for Glasgow and Scotland. Seymour was a class poacher but you can only be a poacher if the guys inside have done the good work to put you in that position and that’s what happened (he also scored some amazing tries of his own making, not having a go at him). We now have a backline who as talented as they may be, look like they can barely pass to each other and don’t have a clue what to do with the ball.

      1. Big agree on the three guys you mention, particularly Dunbar who I think is one of our most underrated players ever. Never sat well with me how it ended for him.

        I think you’re misremembering just how dark the dark times were, though. We scored 11 tries in this year’s six nations, which is more than we managed in any of the first 15 six nations tournaments.

        In fact, we’ve only scored more tries than 2022 three times in the 6N: 2017 when we shipped 60 to England, 2019 when we only won one game, and 2021, which I’d argue was our best ever chance of winning the thing. (God, that Wales game still haunts me).

        Last 6N felt dreadful mainly because Ireland and France took a big step forward. Ask England and Wales fans and they feel the same way.

        I do completely agree with your summation of our problems – too many pens, too many mistakes – however. I just think that suggesting we’re back in 2011 is overdoing it.

  34. Not sure why a few on here still seem to be on Matt Fagerson’s back. For me he’s been our most consistent back row forward in the last couple of seasons. Its good we’ve an alternative with Dempsey but they both play much the same way and Dempsey is only 1kg heavier. Billy Vunipola is 20kg heavier but I dont think his international stats are any better over the last couple of years.

    I’m more concerned about the form of some of our lions in the squad who collectively seem to have gone backwards since that last tour. Good to see Sutherland back without injury and in reasonable form. Also very pleased for R. Gray who seems to be enjoying his rugby.

  35. Blimey – having read some of the posts on here I had to go and check the result as I thought we’d lost.
    We beat a team that is only 3 places below us in the world rankings and full of top-class players who had two weeks together in camp (for a change). We outscored them 4 tries to 2 and nilled them in the second half.
    OK it wasn’t great – discipline in the first half was atrocious – after the first offside surely Ritchie should have got the team together to berate them? Or maybe after the second, or third time?
    Our ball-carriers struggled to get over the gain line, but when they did we opened them up like a tin of sardines. Mish seems to be struggling to get back to his pinball best, but somebody has to be putting the tackles in and in Jonny Gray’s absence it seems Hamish is it.
    However, calls for wholesale changes are ridiculous. Most posters on here berate Toonie for his Tombola and then want a completely different team to take to the park week on week.
    Hogg is poor (by his standards) but we’ll need his experience this week. Harris is obviously our defensive lynchpin and has done nothing wrong to be dropped (especially after that pass to DVDM). Price will start – it’s always easier for a replacement scrumhalf to look better than the starter when he’s against tired legs and gaps are opening up.
    Personally I’d have the squad stay almost the same, but the starters maybe changing round a bit.
    Ashman, Gray, Dempsey, Kinghorn all starting instead of Turner, Gilchrist, Watson, Hastings.
    And for god’s sake let’s get Russell in the squad.

  36. Bit bleak at the moment all round isn’t it.

    One positive thought I’m clinging onto is that in 2017 we had a bit of a shocker against Samoa (people on this blog were predicting a 50-point massacre by New Zealand) and then came back brilliantly the next two weeks…

    Echo the praises for Redpath and Ashman. Two classy young players. Murphy Walker as well.

    I also think Price and Watson should be benched for next game. Both have been amongst our best players the last couple of years but are badly out of form. They both seem to be exhausted and don’t look they’re enjoying their rugby. White and Dempsey to start for me.

    Richie Gray surprised me. Thought he’s been a bit of a shadow of himself for Glasgow but powered through and clearly offers tons at the lineout.

    Not gonna add much to the Russell discourse. I obviously think he should be there and starting but here we are.

    Graham and VDM managed to touch the ball a bit more but still think we’re not using them enough/correctly. Hogg handed the ball to Graham a couple of times to carry in contact which just seems bizarre.

    Not sure what to expect for next week really. At least England lost…

    1. Reading some of the match reports today I noticed concerns about the Welsh physicality against the AB’s in particular felt it was a mistake to play two sixes-Tipuric and Reffell.Given they are probably both bigger tha Jamie Ritchie (and obviously Watson) maybe we should take the hint and either Dempsey or Crosbie (alonside Ritchie and Fagerson) with the other on the bench. Not quite sure how otherwise we can beef up the pack given Sam Skinner is out for the series.

      1. I think most comments were about the Welsh front five not coping with the physicality, not their backrow. Also 25 missed tackles (about 1 in 6).
        Scotland has missed only 18 tackles in the last two tests (at around 1 in 15).
        Obviously our pack has to front up, but hopefully if we keep the ABs honest with our tackling we won’t be on the end of a 50-point drubbing.

      2. Watson is a similar size to both. Ritchie is two inches taller than Tipuric (the taller of the 2) and at least a stone heavier than either.

        I’d have Crosbie in for Watson too though.

    2. I think we must seeing different Richie Gray’s at scotstoun. As you say his line work is huge – his presence seems to force the other team to do it differently and often badly. Having a guy who can win the line out battle for you on his own is massive. Okay there are always whispers about his scrummaging – I don’t know. But on Saturday I saw him do for Scotland exactly what he has been doing for Scotland. Just hope Townsend saw it too.

      1. His lineout dominance for Glasgow has never been in doubt. He tops stats for that regularly.

        I meant more about how passive he has seemed in the loose and the general ineffectiveness of his carrying. Predominantly when compared to how dynamic he was when breaking through as a youngster.

        Pleasantly surprised by his performance on Saturday and he’s definitely earnt another start.

      2. I heard an interesting interview with Kobe Bryant where he was talking about the really tall lads are always a bit passive (with the exception of Shaq, obvs) – maybe a hangover from awkwardness in their youth.

        Our lineout is a real weapon when we get it right, and Gray is a hell of an asset there. I think his reviews were probably a bit coloured by how terrible we thought he was going to be in the loose – I didn’t think he was amazing, just better than I expected. But I agree he’s earned another shot. In Skinner’s absence, I’d be reuniting the Gray bros.

  37. Finn Russell joins Scotland squad.

    That’ll be disappointing to all those fans who wanted to see Russell refuse and spark a player revolt against the coach, or Townsend not call him up and prove them right about the more lurid descriptions his personality flaws and antagonism with Russell.

    Of course now we have Russell to presumably join the bench, we are guaranteed to beat the ABs.

    1. FF: You are way too sensible. Off course Finn will join the squad, a crack at the All Blacks , why not. Crazy, if you are planning a players revolt , you need to be inside the tent, not on the outside trying to you know what in ! You do it from inside. You should know that, come on. That is a tactical win for Russell.

      1. If either player and/or coach are still taking a self righteous stand on events that isnt any improvement on the situation.

        GT I suspect will bench Russell and start with Kinghorn. He’ll play Russell when we are well beaten anyway.

        I think GT would have called up Fin Smith instead….but didn’t because he wouldn’t commit yet.

    1. Ireland won’t improve – they’ve done a typical Ireland and peaked a year early. Suspect they’ll still have more than enough to get to the quarters at our expense, but no further though

      1. I think so too. Ireland were smothered by SA on their own patch….and won virtue of SA not having a recognized kicker on the park.

        Ireland think they are streetsmart and aggressive….but imo….SA are better than they are at that. A powerful team with the ability to finish.

        It doesn’t fill with joy to say that….Scotland are way off the pace of both of them.

      2. Agree – SA were the better team by some distance I thought. They made a season’s worth of stupid mistakes in the 2nd half gifting Ireland field position time after time.

  38. Really RuggersB, you’d drop Hogg? That comes as a huge surprise considering everything you post is an attack on him. I don’t like to be personal, but there’s something a bit unhinged about the number of comments you make about Hogg – particularly when the comments focus on things way outside of his performance on the field.

    Not that I think he had a good game against Fiji, he was well off the pace. Now, that could be a decline overall – or it could be the fact that he’s played barely any rugby so far this season. He’s more than earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt (not forever though) having been our most gifted player in generations.

    But we need to see that old attacking zip, backing himself against opponents one-on-one and certainly far less of the aimless stepping. He’s always been a very average defender, but world class attacking instincts made up for it – can they do so now is open to debate? The hands and boot are still there at least, and will probably be called upon against NZ.

    1. Really?…I made a tongue in cheek comment about his haircut and that was your focus of my comments.
      I dont rate his current play like some others do. IMO he wasn’t a good captain he has never displayed the temperament or maturity for that. His tackling is poor not average. His positional sense is poor. He is a greedy player. He lacks composure and makes poor decisions at critical junctures.

      When he was, I dunno, 25ish…he was a very good attacking player..and had some exceptional moments. I’m being critical of the now and recent times…not how he played once upon a time and I feel he is now selected on merits that are long passed.

      It’s not an attack on him…I’m sure he’s a nice fella…im just another punter watching rugby and posting what frustrates and excites about the team the rest of us on here.

    2. Professional rugby players are accountable for things they do off the pitch. Like out for a drink against team orders. I have no issue with Ruggers comments, he is free to make them as much as the next guy.

      Stuart Hogg has been a bit protected , he is one of those men who brings his whole self to the role and that means we get the good and the bad, and to be honest, the role of a Full Back , is not open field attacking , it is a role for a well balanced professional that can hold the defense and maintain cover in attack , where appropriate provide the overlap ,in my opinion. Every team I have played in has a Hogg, you wont drop him, but there are times when he costs you. I have to say , I do not think he alone is gifted, I think we have overlooked a few gifted players. He cannot do it all himself it is a team game.That balance is now becoming more challenging for Hogg. We need to address future and make hard choices, his omnipresence has left us with a resilience challenge at Full back. No top 10 nation should be in that position IMO.

      It would however do no harm if we were a bit kinder.

      1. In the spirit of being kind to a player I am often critical of, I would start Kinghorn at 15.

        I don’t think either he or Hogg are the best of defenders. Not much to choose between them in that regard.

        Hogg has a better kicking game but Kinghorn is a more dangerous runner.

        Do we need another kicker if Russell and Redpath are both playing? I don’t think so and, anyway, I think we need to keep the ball in hand from deep or we’ll get murdered by those All Black backs running back at us.

      2. Naughty: Kinghorn at 15, Russell at 10 and Hogg on the bench as cover. Oh Yes. Like it Garry, that is really nice and kind enough to give Hogg a game as well.

  39. Good aspects from me:
    – Redpath: offers good lines, slips tackles and is a canny distributor. Glad to see him back in a Scotland jersey. Hope Hutchinson can be given a similar opportunity soon.
    – Ashman: as complete a performance as you could hope for from a replacement hooker. Already looking like our best option in my opinion – good in the loose, and had the set piece firing.
    – Gray (Senior): good in the line-out, a few rampaging/lolloping runs in the loose. Had earned a recall and now looks set to keep his starting place. A good story there
    – Duhan and Darcy: got far more touches of the ball and showed how dangerous they can be given space to run. Service was much improved on the previous week

    The bad:
    Discipline: tightened up in the second half, but give away that many penalties in a first half against better opposition and we’d be well up against it.
    Hogg: looked well off the pace and has work to do to guarantee he starts against the ABs (he probably will, but we need to see more of him in attack).
    The back row: it’s been a long time since I’ve seen our back row misfire so badly. Mish isn’t up to the level we know he can play at, Ritchie had one of his poorer games and Fagerson was just a bit meh (despite being one of our most consistent performers of late)

    The average:
    Fly halves: thought Hastings was doing okay until his injury, and took his try well. Kinghorn came on and did pretty well to see the game out.
    Gilchrist and Harris: leadership much valued but performances haven’t sparkled

  40. Hogg still attracts defenders and his ability to clear the lines means no debate for me. Smith has huge potential, but needs to sort out his kicking from hand – he’s sclaffed a few at Scotstoun as well.

    I’m looking forward to GT dropping the final piece of his masterplan to completely outfox NZ and play Russell and Kinghorn at 10/12.

    1. Oh boy!… yep lets persist with Hogg if he hasn’t dropped it already he can kick it 60+ somewhere…..great!
      Attract defenders??….he attracts attackers because he can’t defend.
      Smith much better imo.

      NZ will play a development side against us because they dont rate us…England match is their biggest match of the series.

      I’d take a successful 6N for once….over a friendly match win against a backup All Black team.

  41. Steady RuggersB, I like Ollie Smith, brave, strong but he’s probably the 3rd best 15 at Glasgow (after McKay and Jones)
    Russell has to start v NZ nothing else makes any sense.

  42. Russell gets on as a sub, then ignores the team orders for pre-determined rubbish, saving the winning conversion aimed into Toonies box, leaves with a salute, never to be seen again near a Townsend team. Townsend resigns.

    1. And they all lived happily ever after? Townsend is too stubborn to resign. He’ll wait until he gets sacked or is told his contract isn’t getting renewed. If the third Lions test v SA is anything to go by, I would probably have more faith in Russell’s tactics.

  43. After reading some of the posts here I decided Scotland was a basket case and I’d better find a new team to support. Thought about Wales, nah they got hammered by the All Blacks. Dare I say it, Engaland, nope, couldn’t go there, plus they got beat by the Pumas. Ireland, possibly, but then I remembered the recent victory on 5th Feb 2022 at Murrayfield, and it brought a smile to my face, I’ll stick with Scotland. Poor Hogg, it’s not his fault he is still rated as an exceptional player by many, what can he say to Toonie if he is selected to play, sorry can’t make it, washing ma hair.

  44. Good news, someone in the Scotland camp has wised up and called our best player of the last 22 years to come to murrayfield and give us a chance against new zealand and hopefully argentina.
    All Townsend has to do now is belt up and put his playbook in the skip and let Russell do his thing.

      1. Personally I think it was Simon Taylor but everyone has their opinion. Russell is probably in the mix but I think Neil H meant to say best fly half of the last 22 years, which is fair and probably true.

  45. So can’t play 60mins v any top team with a kicker with 67% accuracy (& 3rd choice Edinburgh kicker).
    Need to create space for Russell (91% accuracy) and Redpath so need big aggressive front foot achieving laddies in the back row. Richie Gray is our best LO operator. Need a threat at 13 to keep opposition honest
    So……..Hogg Graham Bennett Redpath VDM Russell White Dempsey Crosbie Ritchie R Gray J Gray Fagerson Ashman Schoeman
    Kinghorn Tuipulotu Horne Fagerson GG Nel Turner Bhatti

  46. Russel at 10, with Bennet and Redpath in the centres , Graham and VDM on the wings with Kinghorn at 15 would offer quite an attacking threat with ball in hand.
    Unfortunately, good as our forwards are , they have yet to provide good front foot ball this autumn and I think we will spend 60% of the game on Saturday defending.
    So in the interests of wanting to try and keep the drubbing below 50 points I think it will be Harris and Tuipulotu in the centres. Russel can tackle anything coming down the 10 channel but I am convinced Toony will continue with the BK experiment which is strange because Russel for me is the more assured defender in that position. Let’s face it he’s only getting on late second half when the ship has sailed.
    Hogg for sure will be at 15.

    1. I wouldn’t have any concerns about Redpath’s defence and Toonie has spoken about his ability over the ball. It’s fun to pick teams with the best attacking players but realistically we aren’t going to beat NZ by running from our own half and will have to keep them to below around 20pts to have a hope of winning. So, Hogg should retain his place just for the quality of his kicking game,
      Harris for his defence. I would start White as Price is off form and it has shown in his game management and kicking in particular. So I’d line up White, Russell, DVDM, Redpath, Harris, Graham, Hogg.

      But the game will be won, or more likely lost up front. We don’t have any meaningful reinforcements in the front five, except starting Ashman, but our backrow was poor against Fiji. I’d move Ritchie to 7 and start Fagerson at 6 to make space for Dempsey and bring Crosbie onto the bench.

      1. Snap FF. Yes got selection spot on though I very much doubt he’ll drop Watson notwithstanding his form has been dipping for at least the past twelve months.

      2. Unless NZ butcher the 23 they selected against Wales or they just dont turn up with a 6 day turnaround against England in their sights …in our current form this could be a humiliating match.

        I would select Smith ahead of Hogg based on the 2 series matches thus far…but I doubt that will happen. If we play Hogg we have to play Harris. He is an excellent defensive organizer.. and yes he is much better than Bennet at that.

        If GT wants to truly give this a go v NZ….he has to play Russell. No other 10 we have can get that back line working better than him.

        Price is another fav of GT…and he isnt terrible…but I think both White and Horne are playing better rugby.

        I’d play Cummings and Skinner as my 1st choice 2nd row…but of course they aren’t available…so R Gray and Gilchrist to start and reluctantly J Gray as the bench option…

        Fagerson at 6…Ritchie at 7 …Dempsey at 8…
        Crosbie off the bench or starting.
        I have no place for Watson…he hasn’t played well for over a year…and has been anonymous.

        Ashman …hands down best hooker we have.

        Walker another shot off the bench. He looks impressive for a rookie.

      3. Other than hooker, the front row picks itself. Where is McInally when you need him the most?

        Then play both Grays (let’s say yes to lineouts), and – take it to the ABs – Fagerson, Ritchie and Dempsey. Mish as an impact sub.

        Price with Russell outside him is a different proposition, both with genuine Lions test pedigree on the same tour yet not together!

        The romantic in me is going full Vern Cotter and choosing Bennett, outside Redpath, but the rationalist says Harris.

        And there is no chance of anything beyond, VDM, Graham and Hogg.

        Easy? No of course not, GT will play Kinghorn. Maybe at Hooker. God knows what else.

    2. Gaffer, IMO the best way to put pressure on a team is to put them 10 points behind.
      Need to use our strengths – Russell VDM Graham – so need to get front foot ball by using our most aggressive ball carriers from the outset.
      Then when the ball goes through the backs hands need a threat at 13.
      Is Harris’s much vaunted defence really that much better than Bennett or Tuipulotu?

      1. Interesting FF, I’ve watched all of Edinburgh’s games this season and Mark Bennett has been excellent when he’s played, indeed in last 2 seasons i can’t see anything wrong with his defence at all and he’s certainly a much better attacker than Harris (who is a very solid citizen)

      2. Completely agree with John Martin. Bennett is a better all round player and there is nothing wrong with his defense IMO.

      3. I didn’t say there was anything wrong with Bennet’s defence but Harris is one of the best defenders in Europe. Bennett is decent but nothing noteworthy. His strengths are related to his attacking ability – the question is what is more valuable to the team?

        I think we’ll have a lot of backs to the wall defending to do against the ABs and Harris is the man to do that. Any idea that they score three we score four kind of thing is absolute nonsense against the ABs. We simply have to limit them to a reasonable score line to have any chance at all.

      4. “Harris is one of the best defenders in Europe” really ! come on much too bold a claim, is that an opinion or a fact? It reads like a fact but it is not, is it. It is not like you to be so heavy handed . I agree with your well written rational for Harris . We do need to keep them out and Harris has the pedigree for that, well thought out, I just don’t agree with the out of character pomp. No need for it.

        PS I am one of the best ‘commenters’ in the universe you know.

      5. What we need Is when our backs get the ball we make the very best of every possession. Bennett is a better option to carry out that task.
        I’ve never been a Harris fan, solid but I still think he ,more often than not, gets in the way

      6. Just choked on my cuppa there ‘ Europe’ : ‘Harris’ yep I can just see them sitting in bars in the south of France going ‘allo allo , MAIS NAW it eeez Arris , e is ze, finest Tackler in all of the Continent Pierre, and he was invented by ze amazing Tooneee’

      7. There’s a Squidge rugby video where he breaks down Harris’s defence in our win in Paris. Highly recommend seeking it out before passing judgement on the man.

        Since the last world cup we’ve won 60% of the games Harris has played, and 33% of the games where he hasn’t.

      8. Angerine: Is there a Squidge Rugby video to compare Bennett and Harris? I think the point is Bennett brings Attacking flair with little if any detriment. I think these are opinions , not saying you dont have a point and a well made one at that , but the challenge is on can Bennett deliver the same and more.

  47. On a completely separate topic, HUGE congratulations to Hollie Davidson on her appointment to referee the Women’s World Cup Final. A major achievement and well deserved.

  48. Just read Russell’s comments on GT’s communication with him (or lack of) since the 6 nations. GT’s terrible man management skills alone justify his P45. Nevermind the poor World Cup in Japan, the poor results over the last 12+ months, the poor performances over that period, the repeated failure of his side to show discipline on the field. How he is still the coach i do not know. GT out!

    1. Just read that too…. sadly it seems the communication is terrible between them. Only they’ll know who could be dealing with things better.
      I can’t see Russell starting this weekend…he doesn’t even seem sure he’ll get a chance at all. I still think Finn Smith would have been selected ahead of Russell if he committed …Kinghorn it is then.

      1. He had to ask about the plays and there was a few texts. That is it.The man takes the job seriously : clearly not. We are deluded ones.

        I think you are right, no boot kinghorn, starts.

    2. it’s really unbelievable. I’m sure both Toony and John Dalziel have said (or heavily implied) that Toony had been “in touch” with Russell, and gave the impression that he let Russell know about him not being in the squad etc. Doesn’t sound like that is true at all? What is going on here? Pathetic situation and it’s on Toony as the Manager to make it work, even if he doesn’t like it.

      Having said that – not sure what the purpose of Finn doing an interview just as he’s going into camp to say all of this would be…I mean timing much?!

      It’s as bad as we feared. I’m almost amazed that he’s been called up.

      I have to say also, that Hogg’s demeanour, and everyone else’s demeanour, doesn’t look like much of a happy squad at the moment for whatever reason – BK looks like he’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders (and is doing a good job in the circumstances of being thrust into this position as a pawn in Toony’s power play).

      Total. Mess.

      1. scotsman – try google. Doesnt say much really. Finn being briefed by text , doesnt sound like he is more than a tackle bag.

      2. Well its a story for the journalist’s to jump on…they couldn’t wait to get some dirt from Finn.

        That said, what he said seems a complete contradiction of what GT said to the media about the communication situation. I could imagine that’s dug the hole a bit deeper between them.

        The photos of the team training said it all on their faces.. and actually on the last match day also…it looks a very tense and difficult environment now.

        Terrible vibe to prep for such a big match.

        Something has to give soon….

  49. Lol I think I’ll just drop this comment in and then run for cover.

    In these circumstances I’d start Kinghorn and bring Russell off the bench.

    Schoeman, Ashman, Fagerson, R.Gray, J. Gray, M. Fagerson, Ritchie, Dempsey, White, Kinghorn, DVDM, Redpath, Harris, Graham, Hogg.
    Turner, Sutherland, Walker, Gilchrist, Christie, Price, Russell, Tuipulotu.

    1. What are the ‘circumstances’? Dont get it , All Blacks on Sunday , Nothing to lose, is the way I see it. Shot to nothing. 😊

      Where did Russell post Toony call with him. Did he just say ‘I was only joking , I know you have no plans this weekend , fancy a bounce game’.

      Oh and Neil post’s the teams around here. It is a tradition, he is thick skinned, can take a right good counter argument, it is his gig. In bars all over the UK you just mention the blog and your drinking buddy says just one word:


  50. It seems to me GT has put himself into a sink or swim situation…and against pretty much the toughest team to do that.

    If the team gets roasted he’s got a tough game against Argentina next…lose that?…crikey…we could come last in the 6N…with confidence at a real low.

    1. Agreed RuggersB. Toonie has painted himself into a corner because of his ridiculous “form and consistency” reason for omitting Russell. If he’d just said it’s because we need two home-based fly-halves for the Australia game and so there was only one spot for players outside Scotland, and he felt Hasting’s form for Gloucester gave him the nod. That way “parachuting” Finn in to start against NZ would have been less controversial.

      As it is Kinghorn has to start as I cannot see Townsend swallowing his pride and admitting he got his initial selection wrong.

  51. For AB game, surely (??!?) GT has learnt we need a recognised goal-kicker on the pitch. From those with any chance of selection, it’s basically Finn, Hornito or Thompson. Thompson is very unlikely to be in 23 and Horne probably 3rd choice scrummy behind Price and White. Which would then mean Russell has to start, with Kinghorn either at 15 or on the bench, latter far more likely. Starting Kinghorn at 10 would mean picking the less experienced, less natural 10 as well as shooting ourselves in the foot again regards kicking. And of all teams to be in that position against! SURELY Toonie can’t be THAT bloody minded??
    With Finn’s partner expecting on 23rd, I can’t see Finn playing the Argentina game so might finally be a chance for Thompson off the bench unless Hastings makes a remarkable recovery, though given the Pumas current form, don’t want a full on Toonie Tombola. All seems an unnecessary mess, just when we should be building a consistent team in the run up to 6N & RWC. But then Toonie more or less knows he’s out after RWC barring a miracle, so why would he worry too much.

    1. Because he needs a job ! Maybe>. But right now he is obsessed by Kinghorn who let him down with the boot when we lost to the US Eagles and yes, last week to Australia. For goodness sake Toony , do the right thing.

    2. The problem with Kinghorn now is its quite a while since he has played much rugby at 15. Toonie’s power game is destroying the mans career.

      1. 1.8 : Maybe I say it is extending his career longevity at Edinburgh or wherever next. He may well have been toast by now as we have a few classy guys coming through . Toony likes a utility player (Horne at Glasgow) he tried it with Harris initially. Over the whole, I think it will get him a few extra years as a pro.

  52. IMO GT took over a team very much on the up when he took over from Cotter.
    Yes the 2 guys stats are similar but it “felt” better, progress was tangible under Cotter.
    GTs team shows little progress, losing 3 / 4 is now a real possibility, after the summer and the 6N.
    I reckon secting a square peg Kinghorn into a round hole (stand off) due to GTs mule headedness is the last straw. Kinghorn is a good player but seems like he is GT inspired experiment foisted upon Edinburgh and Scotland

    1. Didn’t feel much better when we were losing 61-21 at Twickenham in Cotter’s best 6N in charge.

      He was good for Scotland but his beatification is a bit ridiculous.

      1. That was a sore one for sure but well made up for with the 2 thrilling wins at home re Wales and Ireland

      2. We did have a ton of injuries during that match which partly affected that score if i remember right?

      3. FF: I wholeheartedly disagree with you. It is disappointing to read comments sullying a man who did nothing but good for Scottish Rugby.

        Whenever Cotter is ‘beautified’ we always get a miserable comment about one game !

        Well it is not just the scots who ‘beautified’ him, that loss never stopped him being offered a massive , humungous, unprecedented package to go! Did it?

      4. I kind of agree with FF. People love to glorify Cotter’s time in charge.

        Like, I like Vern but realistically we only had 3 significant wins with him in charge (France ’16, Ireland ’17, Wales ’17) and they all came at home. A couple of wins against the pumas as well but we’ve been on about the same level as them for years.

        We definitely made progress under him but we were just as inconsistent. There was the Twickenham debacle (literally his second last game in charge), the awful performance vs England the previous year, the 0/5 ’15 6 nations (including losing to italy at home), even the Samoa game at the world cup was an absolute mess that we easily could’ve lost…

        People can say it was young team but Glasgow won the championship with most of those players while he was in (with Toonie).

        Townsend is by no means perfect but to say Vern would somehow be infinitely better is pretty idiotic.

      5. Tryhard: Stop it now. We lost plenty of home games before Cotter arrived so to win a few and get over white line fever ( remember that ) was a change. You need to compare like for like.

        I did not see the French offering Toony a ‘ridiculous’ package to join them ! they offered a ‘ridiculous’ amount of money to Vern Cotter. Didnt they ,!

        The PRO12 winner Toony , supplier of the Raw materials to Cotter. That is an interesting argument. So the Wins in Cotters Tenure (including the RWC Run) were due to Toony’s players and the losses , like England, Italy and Samoa were Cotters Fault. Right .Make your mind up.

        The PRO12 was won by a combination of Scottish and overseas players ( 2 of whom were simply amazing performers) and the fact was Gregor Townsend coached them. Who knows, maybe this is the year it will all come right again.

      6. You can call me (and others) ‘Idiotic’ all day long , it will make no difference, I have been called worse and you have not convinced me to change my argument.

      7. @TENC

        Way to miss the point.

        I said I liked Vern and think he was good but people big up the impact and success he had, whilst sweeping over the failings of the team at that time.

        He had a bunch of very talented young players who were high on confidence and winning together at club level, and picked them for Scotland where naturally they performed pretty well. He didn’t work any miracles; we played a similar brand of rugby to what they were playing at Glasgow and acheived a couple of impressive one-off results. He was good for Scotland on the whole but ulimately never managed to build anything resembling consistency. Kinda similar to Townsend (who’s one-off results were probably more impressive).

        I’m also not really a Toonie fan either ftr.

        I’m not going to touch the rambling about a French offer because neither you or I have any idea who was offered what at any point.

      8. @tryhard

        Why wont you talk about the Montpellier deal ?

        It is a matter of Public Record. The times on 26th September 2016 quoted :

        “Vern Cotter will become the highest-paid coach in rugby union when he leaves Scotland to take charge of Montpellier next summer.

        Cotter has signed a three-year deal with the Top 14 club worth more than €3 million (about £2.5 million), according to sources in France”

        Fact is Cotter was sourced from Scotland for the biggest pay in Rugby Union (in 2016). Says it all IMO.

        I didn’t miss your point at all.

      9. Didn’t think I would have to spell it out but:

        1. How do you know it wasn’t offered to Townsend (or many others) first?

        2. Don’t see how Vern landing a lucrative club job is any kind of rebuttal to the point I was making about the Scotland team. He was already a very well-regarded club coach from his time at Clermont

      10. You don’t need to spell it out. How do you know townsend was offered it? Can you prove it ? No uou cannot. So let me spell that out to you.

        Cotter made the most if what he got, handed it to townsend who by your argument was just as inconsistent.

        I say Cotter did more with less experienced players .

      11. Cotters actual record at Montpellier was nothing to write home about. They came second in his first season in charge (with the most expensively assembled squad in the league), then knocked out in the play offs, then he was moved upstairs and replaced as coach then the following season released early from his contract.

        His next gig was Fiji, not exactly a role for a top tier coach.

      12. FF: I thought you might come out to have a kick at the tyres. I expected you would shuffle onto rubbishing our former coaches time at Montpellier to somehow justify your criticism of his time at the SRU. As I recall, you never wanted him to go. I have a good memory!

        Just to reiterate, Montpellier gave VC a record fee to join them. A ridiculous sum, they clearly think more of his alleged mediocre ‘inconsistent’ tenure than you and ‘beautified’ him even more than his fans in Caledonia of which you no longer seem to be one. Hardly the endorsement of a failure.

        The facts, of his tenure at Montpellier, do not look great, it does not appear to have worked out, however, to be consistent with the usual modus of mixing facts with opinions and perceived reasons, perhaps there were reasons beyond his control as to why it never worked out. I am just saying. Maybe not, who cares, it is irrelevant.

        Montpellier offered (at the same time as we offered GT a job) a ‘record breaking ‘ fee for a ‘world class’ coach and if it never worked out. It was ‘idiotic’ of them not to make it work.

        As for what happened thereafter, let’s get perspective. Cotter has a job and is making the best of it. I expected Fiji to lose by a cricket score. While we are expressing concern about how we lift our standards above the ones Cotter handed over to be developed.

      13. TENC: I am still a fan of Cotter I just think there is a total absence of realism with a section of fans about what he actually achieved with Scotland. He did a good job but the burnishing of his credentials appears mainly to be because of some fans intractable animosity to Townsend and the SRU. Cotter was very in demand when Scotland recruited him, he is much less so now. TBF I suspect the same will be said of Townsend when he finally leave, but I am not ‘Team Cotter’ or ‘Team Townsend’ I just think we should look at their records in the round rather than indulge in the soap opera nonsense.

        By the way the word is ‘beatified’ and it means turned into a Saint.

      14. FF: Cotter took on a mess, couldn’t get over the line , some talented but immature players. I respect everything he did and that, in isolation , should not be attacked, which is what you have (inadvertently) done.

        Cotter is not a Saint (beautified or otherwise) , however he did a good job with what he got handed. He stopped the 6N decline and had a good RWC. What else did we expect from such a low point and short stay.

        I am in the camp of those who think:
        1) Cotter should have been given longer and
        2)that Townsend was unsuitable as the man to develop the side.

        Both points are water under the bridge however point 2 is proving to be correct IMO and it is that which causes animosity among fans. Would you agree ?

        What happened to Cotter since , is not justification for bashing what he did in his tenure. What Townsend did before the Scotland job is no justification for prolongation of his tenure.

        Reality is that Townsend has inherited these immature players and they are now , mature, they play for successful sides (largely). Consistency is not an unrealistic expectation.

        We should have expected 6N mid table ( which is what we have ) but the RWC was a disaster and the long term consequences are that we are likely to always be in with 2 other tier 1 sides. (double disaster).

        Let’s deal with that , however do not try and ‘level up’ Townsend by Pulling Cotter down.

        The big talking point, must be what do we want from the next coach. Cotter got us scoring again, a functional side, Toony has expanded the player pool, so what now ?

      15. TENC: Well argued sir, no stone left unturned. I get where you are coming from. Can you represent me in my divorce case.

        When you put it like that, shows a journey , sadly the RWC will never be ours, we are 6 nations animals now , Toony did extract us from that distraction for ever, but what next ? Good question. Unless we can answer that , we will always be unhappy with the status quo .

  53. I’m off today and now back from a gorgeous Northumberland sunrise…….. I note that French Top 14 player of the season is now Scottish qualified (loads Scottish “stuff” in just wiki page inc scotland u16) – Zach Mercer

    1. Sadly, Mercer isn’t Scottish qualified. He was born in England and doesn’t have a family connection. He lived here for years but because he was capped by England, he has to have Scottish blood to take advantage of this 3-year thing.

  54. This situation is so shambolic it’s just possible that it’s all happening by design and Gregor and the players are all in on it with intention of confusing and perplexing everyone.

    Then again, maybe not…..

  55. Some very crazy rumours through the grapevine.

    6-2 Split

    Van Der Merwe starting in Back row (presumably 8) to accommodate Kinghorn and Russell, but also to negate Savea.

    Ritchie captaining from 2nd row.

    Fagerson carrying an Injury so 50/50, if not then Walker will be making his first start.

    1. Funny thing is ..that is crazy and plausible in the same breath.

      VDM could play back row…Ive always thought that…and in some matches he uses those channels/situations for his play anyway. Ritchie plays 2nd row backup option often … who plays 7?….not Watson?…he is soo out of form.

      Does that mean Kinghorn at wing Russell 10…or Kinghorn 10 Russell 12? We need a good kicker…would be madness to not play Russell.

      Walker for Fagerson ..would be quite the start for the lad. Looks very promising though.

      I’m sure GT selection will look like its pulled out of a hat…as often happens. Would at least throw a spanner into NZs pre game analytics.

      1. If these changes come to pass , I for one will be disgusted. Scotland a top tier nation. do not need to play so many players out of position. We have sufficient depth in every position albeit we are light at 10 and 15.

      2. i can believe 6-2 split I think it’s a good way to get out best players into the 23 and i think Scotland should use it more.
        Walker starting, i could easily be convinced to swap round all 4 props from the team i posted.

        the rest of these rumours just sound like a team practising for me yellow or red card scenarios to me. or a one off strike/defense move.

    2. I’ve always wondered about VDM at 8. Seems a bit mad to try it against NZ, especially now we have Dempsey. Still would be interesting and get him into the game more! Could be Clownsend working overtime to keep BK in on the wing.

      Cannot believe Redpath is out, unless he’s shifting Harris to 12 and pulling in Bennett outside him.

      I fear it’s KH at 10 and Russell or Tuipolutu at 12.

      1. Turns out The Mole was wrong on every single prediction. Instead of being a Scotland camp insider, they may actually just be a burrowing garden mammal.

  56. I do wonder if there is more to Mish’s lack of form than meets the eye. Clearly he looks off form but based on his tackle stats I wonder if Toonie is telling him to jackal less and tackle more. I suspect it could well be a bit of both. With resident tackle bot J Gray back in the side I am hoping that we see Mish given license to jackal and pinball a bit more.

    I would still like to see back row of Crosbie. Ritchie and Dempsey (we know what Magerson can do) before these AI’s are finished and if Toonie doesn’t give it a try against Argentina it will be a missed opportunity IMO.

    1. Opportunities to try something sensible don’t seem to be Toonie’s strong point. Hutchinson at 12 to see if in-form playmaker there improves attacking options – nope, shove him at 15. How about taking a match-fit centre to RWC – nope, select someone just off the rehab table with practically zero minutes of game time. Select in-form 10 who’s…..don’t need to go there again.
      I’ve tried to avoid Toonie bashing in the past but it’s becoming a soap opera now, coaching team needs a reset regardless of who’s at fault. What about “Saving Fly-half Russell” with a liberal sprinkling of FUBAR

    2. Ive always liked Watson as a player ..when he was in his prime.

      That said , I’m weary of GT selecting players that are not in good form. There are far too many players selected on past skills and performance.

      Crosbie /Bayliss/ Dempsey are some players that deserve a stretch at a back row that hasn’t looked a great unit for a long time.

  57. Oh well, Redpath on the bench for Bath so he’s certainly not in the Scotland team.

    But worried the Kinghorn at 12 rumours could be true…sigh

    1. We have two good playmaking 12s available for selection. One doesn’t get included in the squad and the other gets sent back to Bath.

      Does Toony think we’re playing St. Winifred’s School second XV?

      1. Just don’t understand the thought process at all.

        1. Our most dangerous players are our wingers in open space.
        > Cool, should probably look to get the ball wide quickly then.

        2. We have a 13 who is important in defence but not known for distribution.
        > Ok, need to make sure we have quick passers inside him then to give him as much time as possible.

        3. We’re going with a 10 who has recently converted from fullback and who’s distribution was never his strongest suit to begin with.
        > Riiiiiight, really not ideal but given he plays with a converted 10 at inside centre at club level, we should go with him or someone who plays like him?

        4. Sione Tuipulotu at 12. Other options are a fly-half who hasn’t started there in 4 years and joined the squad this week or Stafford McDowall on debut.
        > ???

      2. one. hundred. percent.

        All of this. I mean just….why??? We’ve waited 2 years for Cam Redpath to get back to full fitness and hopefully partner again with Russell (they were awesome against England at Twickers – REMEMBER TOONY?)

        so he drops Russell. Then calls Russell back and mistifyingly drops Redpath. I mean WTF?

        I think he’s just doing it to wind us all up.

        He and Eddie Jones – both ridiculous tinkermen who couldn’t pick a team to save their lives, and their increasingly erratic results, and the increasingly (but almost indentical to each other) disaffection of the fans running in parallel.

    2. I’ve really had it with Toonie now, his ego is getting in the way of us playing as a team. Cam had a good game and having him there is IMHO crucial to getting the best out of Finn as the defence have to target someone else. It’s almost as though GT is trying to cripple Finn to justify him playing BK at 10.

      1. Just wait. The team selection is going to be a lot crazier than just ANOTHER new centre combination.

        Duhan at 8 😶

      2. Why dont we just wait and see the selection. Everyone , not just the scots, find this Russell Toony cat fight amusing.

    3. Very surprising Redpath is out …although not because GT is selecting the side.
      Not a great time to expose Kinghorn to 12, a brand new position, if that’s the case.

      At a time when we have not achieved consistently good performance levels… this really the time to play a side selected from a hat??

      There is no in between on this…..sink or swim.

    4. Yeah…I can at least see the logic, even if its not the team I would select…IF Kinghorn is 10 and Russell is 12..because Russell has played 12 many times in his career and has the skill set…and crucially can accurately kick the ball. But Kinghorn at 12??? Nope. We have better options …Redpath and Hutchinson play that position at a high level for their clubs.

      Sigh!…could go either way I guess…but if it doesn’t work out it’ll be a proper shambles and humiliating defeat.

      1. Yeah I think Kinghorn at 12 is too mad even for Toonie.

        10. Kinghorn 12. Russell 13. Harris *could* work. Like, theoretically on paper, it suits all of there strengths and of all the options left available to us, it’s probably the best.

        Just seems utter madness to be going for it less than a year from the world cup rather than trying to build combinations and a settled team.

        Oh, and against the All Blacks as well….

      2. Russell needs some strike runners in the midfield, playing him at 12 with Harris at 13 makes no sense… unless Clownsend is inventing a new style, playing four wingers (at 8, 10, 12 and 14 – inside and outside wingers lol) and Russell is stepping up as first receiver for key plays from 12. Actually the man is genius 🙃

  58. Mental experiments with multiple players out of their natural position is simply daft

    Whoever plays 12 will be a square peg hammered into a round hole.

    I sometimes wonder if GT thins way too much.

  59. If the speculation is true …could just imagine all these players playing in unfamiliar positions reverting to the areas of the park where they are used to playing…..utter chaos with open channels the size of the Caspian Sea.

  60. I think a poor set of results in the autumn tests (think we may well lose 3 out of 4) is ok if there were obvious signs of progress, but we seem to be in a complete selection mess (only 2 nailed on places are the wingers!) So a poor autumn series, a limp 6 nations and then early exit in the world cup to look forward to!

    That would surely prompt a change at the top, but prospects for next 12 months or so are looking grim

  61. OMG, can we just select players in the positions where they’ve regularly played well enough to make the squad in the first place. A resurgent NZ doesn’t seem a sensible place to blood new players and try out new combinations if we want to build team confidence, cohesion and success.

    Do you think Redpath suggested some alternative tactics to Toony or expressed a love of playing with Russell that’s seen him put on a train heading south?

    1. Hmm….maybe Redpath suggested a real ‘out there’ tactic that the best in form players are played in their actual club positions, from which they were selected, and for more than one match.
      Preposterous young man , I say! Now off to Bath you must go!

      Anyhoo…will be interesting what materializes.

  62. With Redpath back at Bath, I can only see Tuipulotu being picked at 12 which is neither a new experiment or a proven solution. I just find a BK/Russell combination at 10/12 or vice versa too much of a curve-ball but then, this is Toonie selecting. Are we just going to give everyone a go at whatever position they’ve always fancied having a crack at like some novelty club Christmas game?? Hutchinson, Redpath or Johnson at 12 IMO but Toonie’s managed to contrive that it will be none of them (accepting Johnson injured). Tuipulotu can do a job off the bench possibly but not totally convinced he’s quite earned a spot this season. I haven’t played for a few decades, was in the front row and with appalling passing skills, maybe I’ll get a call up😀

  63. So the best we can hope for is a 13 playing at 12 and a solid 13 at 13. It’s more likely he plays Russell at 10 with the 12 and 13 I mention. Russell more likely to struggle and GT “proven right”.

    1. I suspect that Kinghorn will start at 10 with Russell either at 12 or on the bench.

      Frankly, those who’ve missed out on the 23 might be the lucky ones.

  64. I suspect that Toony was kidnapped during Lions tour by SA Police, interned & cloned on Robben Island. His clone has been briefed to ruin Scots team prior to RWC 2023 by ignoring, picking out of position & discarding players in order to destroy confidence & morale – there’s no other credible explanation that I can see.

  65. Clearly with VDM at 8 and Ritchie at 2nd row….Jonny Gray will be ideal for the wing…marvelous tackle stats that boy has!…deceptively quick one on one against the traffic cones in training…its those long striding legs with a barrel chest for an engine….amazed the Exeter coach can’t see the potential.

  66. When is he announcing the team? I want to be sure all my devices are fully charged to cope with the deluge of comments.

  67. Wonder if this will get past moderation, it is less than 24. hours from the announcement!
    The only vaguely sensible selection I can see given injuries and whose left in camp is:
    Schoeman, Ashman, Fagerson
    R Gray, J Gray
    Ritchie, Dempsey, Crosbie
    Price, Russell
    VdM, Tuipulotu, Harris, Graham, Hogg
    Sutherland, Cherry (not sure if both Cherry and Turner carrying knocks?), Walker, Gilchrist, Fagerson, Watson, White, Kinghorn
    TBF, not a bad squad APART FROM 12 and some unavailable through injury – Skinner, Cummings Darge principally.
    The pack is going to have to be super aggressive, physical & quick for us to stand any chance of respectability. I’m losing faith in the coaching set up so fast that I just can’t see tactics and game plan being anywhere near sufficient to actually think of a win.
    On the back of the adage that forwards win a game, would like to see McCallum, Rae, Craig (though not really seen him on many team sheets for Gloucester recently?), Hunter-Hill, Henderson being consider for/included in next squad. Hunter-Hill seems to have peed on his own parade somehow in terms of endearing himself to the powers that be (possibly wisely and prophetically) and yet he keeps getting picked for that right bunch of no-hopers called Saracens. It seems to me that there’s too much politics and not enough rational thought going into team management at the moment.

    1. GT’s strategy. Throw FR in against NZ and withdraw a good centre partnership that would be needed. Get humped. Blame FR and say “I told you so’!

      1. Call me hopelessly naive, but I suspect Toonie’s selection, however mad it may be (and I am braces for madness), is based on what he thinks is needed to win the NZ game rather than set some elaborate trap to get one over Russell in some personal vendetta. This whole soap opera really has encouraged fans to indulge in some fairly silly fantasies about what’s going on behind the scenes.

  68. Hearing it from various sources now, Russel straight in at 10 for Sunday.
    Couldn’t make it up.
    Of course he should always have been in consideration for this match but surely not like this?
    If the forwards manage to win front foot ball then he will do what he does best but they haven’t managed to do that so far against weaker opposition.
    He would have had more effect too in my opinion with Redpath inside. As it is he will be working with Tuipulotu and Harris……

  69. Correct Gaffer, what’s the point of playing 2 centres who cannot distribute when you want our back 3 on the ball ASAP.
    I’d hope not but it almost smacks of petulance from GT, almost self defeating (how else can you explain Redpath being sent back to Bath to sit on the bench and Bennett likely being in the stands)

    1. Hmmm. Let’s think about this one.

      Our forwards don’t have enough oomph to seriously trouble the ABs, so…we hamstring our back division, the wingers in particular, by taking the field with two centres who aren’t noted for their distribution skills.

      Yeah, that’ll work…

      1. Yep….so all NZ have to do is shut down the 10 channel…and we have no one to distribute.

        Great plan GT! If the forwards dont come out on top …yikes!

  70. I dont like that selection at all. Several players completely out of form. Center partnership 2x 13s are ineffectual… Russell having a 12 like Redpath was/is crucial. That back row just isnt good enough at this time. 1st impression was it looks an aging team. Just not excited by that.

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