Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


2023 Six Nations Squad Announced

The Scottish Rugby Team - © Autumn Nations Series/Inpho Photography
The Scotland squad line up - © photo courtesy Autumn Nations Series/Inpho Photography

Gregor Townsend today announced the group of players who will take on the challenge of rugby’s greatest tournament, which will commence on February 4th provided the snow goes away. This will be Townsend’s sixth tilt at the title, and there is heavy speculation that it could be his last as Scotland head coach with rumours linking him to posts in France and England after the Rugby World Cup.

He goes in to the 2023 edition with a big list of injuries meaning a good few of his star names will either be absent or coming into the squad short on game time and/or form (Zander Fagerson, Stuart Hogg, Duhan Van der Merwe, Darcy Graham if he recovers).

Now is the time to find out if class is indeed permanent.

As usual there are some surprises in the squad but it is not unexpected that he would try to work around these issues.

Most of the eyebrow-raisers came in the backs, where the return of Sean Maitland was partly predictable given Graham’s injury and the lack of wing experience.

But did anyone see former England XVs and Sevens Cap (but the man with the most Scottish name ever) Ruaridh McConnochie being restored to the bosom of the homeland? McConnochie, who won two caps for England in 2019 and qualifies through his father, is now eligible to be selected due to World Rugby’s new rules that saw Jack Dempsey join up in the autumn.

The restoration of Stafford McDowall and Huw Jones sees Mark Bennett and Sam Johnson (himself only just back from injury) miss out in the centre, as does Rory Hutchinson.

Leicester Tigers second-row Cameron Henderson was selected for the ultimately cancelled 2021 summer squad for matches with England A, Romania and Georgia but will look to grab that first cap this time around.

If there is a worry it is the number of missing tightheads, with our first two choices of Zander and WP Nel included but surely with question marks over their current fitness one way or the other?

Otherwise Scotland should be able to field close to a first-choice XV at least.

Netflix camera teams were also in attendance at the press-conference as part of a new documentary series – think Living with Lions for the streaming generation, or “All or Nothing” but with some drama – whereby they presumably film all six camps then edit Scotland out at the last minute to focus on the whoever wins the tournament.

Who will that be? Interesting weeks lie ahead.

Scotland squad for the 2023 Guinness Six Nations

Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks) 6 caps
Josh Bayliss (Bath Rugby) 3 caps
Simon Berghan (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 25 caps
Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 57 caps
Dave Cherry (Edinburgh Rugby) 8 caps
Andy Christie (Saracens) 4 caps
Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps
Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 54 caps
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) 59 caps
Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) 72 caps
Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 69 caps
Cameron Henderson (Leicester Tigers) uncapped
WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 50 caps
Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – CAPTAIN – 36 caps
Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 16 caps
Javan Sebastian (Scarlets) 3 caps
Sam Skinner (Edinburgh Rugby) 23 caps
Rory Sutherland (Ulster Rugby) 22 caps
George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 29 caps
Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby) 54 caps

Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 39 caps
Ben Healy (Munster Rugby) uncapped
Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 96 caps
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 18 caps
Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 38 caps
Sean Maitland (Saracens) 53 caps
Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath Rugby) uncapped
Stafford McDowall (Glasgow Warriors) uncapped
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) 58 caps
Cameron Redpath (Bath Rugby) 4 caps
Finn Russell (Racing 92) 65 caps
Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors) 2 caps
Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps
Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 23 caps
Ben White (London Irish) 9 caps

126 Responses

  1. A couple of surprises in the squad, though Henderson has been mentioned as a possible before; McConnachie was probably off everyone’s radar. Disappointed that given the TH issues Darcy Rae not called up but arguably Sebastian has the more recent international experience. No Bennett, no Hutchinson or Johnson but not sure their omission counts as a surprise.

    1. Strong set of centres – wonder who makes the XV. Love it to be Tui and Jones OR Redpath and Harris. Both combinations have balance.

  2. An earlier post complaining about McConnachie but partly a case of needs must.Graham,Hoyland and Kyle Rowe all injured and Rufus Maclean has played about two games this season.We simply have no more professional wingers (thus the recall of Maitland) until we look at the likes of Cole Forbes or Jack Blain who have both again had little exposure this season. A lot of the pro spots up here are occupied by (excellent) overseas players such as Goosen,Cancilliere and ,on occasion,Boffelli

  3. genuinely intrigued, albeit somewhat apprehensive, re how we fare this year. Think Ireland and France will be the top two, but the scraps up for grabs. Difficult to predict how England and Wales will fare under new management, and Italy are much more competitive this year.
    So guess 3 wins will be relative success, 2 wins not great but ok, less than that will be a failure. All these possible (dont think 4 wins or 5 is somehow!)

    1. 3 wins is equivalent to a Grand Slam for us this year. France and Ireland are #1 and #2 in the world. Rightly so and it’ll be a huge upset if we get a result against either. Be surprised if we get more than two wins, and disappointed if we get less.
      That being said, if we can retain the Calcutta Cup then momentum will be with us and who knows?

  4. I would have expected Tom Jordan. Nnnnope. Not so much worries about our backs. The forwards however… Especially at tighthead

      1. I would not take anything David Barnes posts too seriously North, often rushes to get something out and then get the facts wrong, along with numerous spelling mistakes.

      2. I cannot remember my source but my understanding was that in Oct 22 Jordan became “domestic” as regards URC fixtures (3 year qualification) and so not counted in the quota of international players allowed in a match 23. He needs 5 years to be Scots qualified for international caps.

  5. As ever, not sure what to make of the squad. Not a great deal of surprise other than mconnachie and let’s face it, he will be nothing other than a short term solution.
    I have no aspirations for us doing well at the World Cup, we are in the group of death so This 6 nations represents Toonys last real shot at silverware. He should be focused on it but unfortunately (if the press are to be believed ) he is touting himself around in search of a new paymaster. With AB Zondagh moving on recently, i think we will have missed a trick.
    First game up is the most important to set our aspirations and provide momentum so we need Zander to be fit, if we can match them in the scrum, we have more than enough in the locks , back row and backs to beat England comfortably.
    It’s no exaggeration to say the campaign will hinge on the scrum (no pun intended), but Borthwick has recalled Cole for that reason. A win against Wales ( always our bogey team) with Gatland pulling the strings will depend on us bringing momentum.

  6. While WP Nel’s age is a concern, I think it may be a little over emphasised. Both Dan Coles and Ken Owens are within a year of him, and I think he’ll do okay. Hopefully Zander makes the speediest recovery possible. Ideally, he starts the first game, but we’ll certainly need him for two longs shifts when we get to facing Ireland and France at least.

  7. Here we go again. That old adage its the hope that kills. Disappointed for Hutchison thought he deserved a place. However as Warks. Scot pointed out the same could be said for Bennett and Johnson. Big fan of Huw Jones. Happy to see him back. With Two pro- teams not doing to bad in Europe who knows?

    As always first couple of games really important in 5 game tournament. England away could go either way. I think we will beat Wales , however never understimate Gatland. Ireland? Not confident, probably bullied up front, then beaten. Italy improving. France look great. But who knows? Not me. Just hoping for good performances

    Not a Toonie fan. Dispiriting to think of same old six-nations campaign. Hope he can prove me wrong

  8. I’ve been looking back through the archives (by which I mean Wikipedia) and this is the most experienced Scotland squad that I can find on record. More caps per player than any 6Nations squad (back to 2007 where Wiki stops counting) or any RWC squad. Nearly 28 caps per man, with 11 players on 50 or more. Pretty remarkable given the number of new faces.

    I feel like we could easily be embarking on one of the worst ever years in the professional era. Key injuries, a black hole at tighthead, a squad that still looks one beer away from combustion, a motivated England at Twickenham first up, France and Ireland accelerating away from us, a rapidly improving Italy, Wales living rent-free in our heads. And then on to the world cup, with the almost comically terrible draw, where we’ve got almost as much chance of finishing fourth as second.

    And yet. If it all comes together, if Toonie and Finn decide to bury the hatchet for one last hurrah, if new managers elsewhere take time to bed in, if others are focussed on the World Cup, if we can somehow find a way past the Irish machine at Murrayfield and put some doubts in their head for Saint-Denis… it could be a year we tell our grandchildren about.

    That’s why you can’t look away from sport I suppose. No question about it, I’m ready to hurt again.

    1. Brilliant. I’m wallowing in your first scenario, and having to really try and convince myself that the 2nd scenario is even remotely possible. But great articulation.

  9. Team for England

    Stuart Hogg – Sean Maitland – Chris Harris – Sione Tuipolotu – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Jack Dempsey – Jamie Ritchie – Matt Fagerson – Grant Gilchrist – Richie Gray – Zander Fagerson – Fraser Brown – Pierre Schoeman

    Huw Jones – Blair Kinghorn – Ben White – Hamish Watson – Sam Skinner – WP Nel – George Turner – Rory Sutherland

    (This is what i think Townsend will go if fit, not my personal choices)

    Glad to hear Fagerson is expected to be fit for the opener, he always has the upperhand on Genge around scrumtime.

    Gilchrist/R Gray worked very well in the autumn, expecting it will be used again to neutralise Englands strengths at lineout and driving maul.

    1. Neil I agree with your prediction of Gregor’s team.

      Rushing guys back from Injury is a concern. Risk of crocking themselves and not being match fit. With potential instability within the coaching squad, Gregor’s selection style, lack of depth at prop and other teams strengths (England especially energised by new motivated coaching staff) I’m not very confident going into this 6 Nations. But since it’s the hope that kills I’m comfortable with this and hopefully proven wrong. Still 100% behind the team
      as always.

    2. I would play VDM on the right wing..where he can defend himself.He has a brutal hand-off but it’s redundant on the left.
      Him cutting inside, crabbing across the field, steamrollering (falling over) opponents is down to that.
      All players have a favoured ball-carrying arm, his is in the right and he’s defenceless because of it…a running duck.
      A few folk have compared him with Lomu, I wouldn’t but I can see why. He played left but he also carried in the left… BIG difference.
      Can’t just knock GT for playing VDM out of position (yup, him too) as all coaches seem blind to this.
      My only concern is how many reds he’ll pick up along the way due to opponents eating his fore-arm.

    3. Imagine that’ll be very close to the match day 23, maybe Smith in place of Maitland, though quite a risk throwing Smith into the Twickenham cauldron and starting locks could be any of those 3. Gilchrist is a Toonie regular and imo, has improved a lot this season so probably will start ahead of Skinner. Don’t think it helped Skinner’s cause by playing out of his proper position at the weekend. Yes, he can cover 6 if really needed but just looks a little slow to play in the back row and some of his tackling was a bit suspect when playing there.
      Only just seen Glasgow’s game and at times, the back line was just fizzing, some really fast and accurate handling (ball in front of the body, not the head which makes things so much easier). Nails Dempsey on as a starter so gets rid of the notion that Fagerson, Watson and Ritchie is the go-to back row. McDowall also had a great game and has a good boot too so can see why he’s in the squad on his recent form. Smith looked dangerous too so maybe pips Maitland to the other wing position. We’ve got the raw ingredients, just hope the head chef hasn’t been on the sauce.

      1. Whilst agree that’ll be GT’s choice Neil I’d go with

        Stuart Hogg – Sean Maitland – Chris Harris – Sione Tuipolotu – Duhan van der Merwe – Finn Russell – Ben White – Jack Dempsey – Jamie Ritchie – Matt Fagerson – Sam Skinner – Richie Gray – Zander Fagerson – George Turner – Pierre Schoeman

        Huw Jones – Blair Kinghorn –Ali Price – Josh Bayliss – Grant Gilchrist – WP Nel – Ewan Ashman – Rory Sutherland

        Just think that Ali isn’t starting that much and Bayliss offers more cover off the bench.

  10. Don’t think Z.Fagerson will play v England, Nel is fine for 50mins, Berghan and Sebastian decent too.
    I would still have Huw Jones on bench but Redpath at 12 Tuipulotu at 13.
    Skinner to start, Crosbie to be involved (either starting or on bench).
    Healy must be on bench, if anything happens to Russell NEED a reliable kicker

    1. Did you watch Harris against Leinster? He cut out so many attacks he really is incredible to watch as a lead defender…I think you miss him when he’s not there…tough on attack options but I would agree if Toonie says he’s undroppable now

      1. yet they still lost by 40 points no? You can’t say someone had a great defensive game as part of a team that lost that many, surely. If he can’t stop us losing by 40 points to a great team, then we should change tack to players who make the other team defend.

  11. If we get parity in the forwards and do the basics adequately I reckon England are there for the taking.

    1. I think England will be very good. Latterly, Jones was trying to be too smart and reinvent rugby and his team looked confused. Borthwick will take them back to basics, turn their set piece back into a weapon and allow the team to play with more freedom. Big challenge.

  12. FF – I agree with you, England will most definitely go back to the basics, however I reckon Scotland have better backs and parity in the forwards is key, R.Grays resurgence means our line out should be more secure. Glasgow and Edinburgh have done well V English teams (this weekends fixtures fascinating)

    1. Glad you are more optimistic than me. A win would be a terrific result.

      I do think we have the players to beat them, though will miss Darcy badly, but it’s at Twickenham so…

      1. Agree and seems the right thing that SRU has a zero tolerance of such offences. But then if completely expelled, what else does he do? Find another club that tolerates such players or try his luck in another career where such a conviction is likely to make it very hard to get a job? Interesting moral dilemma. Hope the victim is receiving appropriate support and McLean is suitably punished and learns a lesson and changes his attitude.

      2. There will be a full debate on this week’s pod I think so if you could hold off on comments on the matter till that is posted as that will be the best place for it.

      3. Hopefully not Rory, i think it should be briefly mentioned (and rightfully say its wrong etc) and moved on from until we know all the facts, there is still a lot of ongoing legal proceedings and it would be wrong to talk about at length until that concludes.

        I’d much rather listen to thoughts about the rugby selections etc, first double win away to France in 28 years, so many positive things to discuss.

      4. Comments are off on the podcast episode Rory – is this deliberate? You’ve told us that’s the best place for chat on this issue, but that doesn’t look possible right now?

      5. I did say that, you’re right. I’ll check with the Pod team as they may have disabled them for a reason. You can comment here in the meantime should you wish.

  13. I have no idea what the result could be in the first one but is that not hugely positive? We have rarely if ever in 40 years had any more than a faint passing of a miracle hope until 2019 down there.

    We are effectively uneaten at Twickenham for 6 years at present.

    And until 2018 we hadn’t beat England for 10 years at all.

    We’re now 1 loss in 5 meetings and 3 wins…and we’re their bogey team. No one has such a dominance against England so we have the edge mentally too.

  14. I have no idea what the result could be in the first match of the six nations but is that not hugely positive? We have rarely if ever in 40 years had any more than a faint passing of a miracle hope until 2019 down there.

    We are effectively unbeaten at Twickenham for 6 years at present.

    And until 2018 we hadn’t beaten England for 10 years at all.

    We’re now 1 loss in 5 meetings and 3 wins…and we’re their bogey team. No one has such a dominance against England so we have the edge mentally too.

    1. The mental aspect is interesting.

      Given England have picked a reasonably young squad there’s a good chunk of them that have never actually beaten Scotland. By a quick count, 13/36 have beaten us before with a few only being once in storm ciara in 2020 (Sinckler, Earl, Ludlam, Genge). Henry Slade has 50 caps and has never beaten us and Manu Tuilagi’s only win came in the 2011 world cup (!!).

      When Eddie Jones came in, he was taking over a team that had had a bad world cup but were generally used to winning and had come in the top 2 of pretty much every six nations. With the current squad this isn’t the case. Like I said, will be interesting..

      1. Now that is an interesting comment. Let’s squish them like a caterpillar on my cabbages ha ha.

  15. I hated Townsend when he was a ponce of a player, and my heart sank so low when he got the coaches job. Gregor Townsend is a pig of a man and I don’t just mean looks wise . No Bennett and no Bradbury? Do we really need to wait for another sh–e world cup?

  16. Write to Mike Blair , he seems approachable, you have a point. Dont waste a second writing to Toony, he will drop him before listening to anyone.

  17. Glasgow have been poor (by their own recent standards), lacking energy in defence and are just making their tackles instead of battering them into submission.

    Thats the worst 40 minutes i’ve seen from Ali Price since the Wales game years back. Perhaps if he stopped wasting time on his youtube channel and showing off his rabbit he would not be behind Horne and Dobie at Glasgow, should be nowhere near the Scotland squad, needs a rocket up the arse.

    Matt Fagerson been good.

    1. Very cold night, nothing went well, probably too cold, not a night to be anywhere but inside, but they have a home semi and in the spring , they will shine.

      Glasgow remain unbeated. Only one problem, they will come back from the 6N Toony Tarnished.

      It was a tough kick IMO and I am not going to criticize. Duncan Weir had the guts to go for it, he is plucky.

      Ali Price aka ‘Ali sub-average’. Should have been hooked much earlier. Lets get the name going , see if we can shame him.

      Ref : Were did they get that him , were they up fast and legal ? Some great lines from Glasgow , they should have got more. That dropped ball over the line, from that point on , It was their night, we did well to wrestle the draw.

      1. Atrocious, spiteful and personal comment and @Neil
        Double Cringe

        Family/Friends/Players read these posts. Re read before posting please.

  18. What an infuriating referee. Useless for both teams and did not allow the game to flow, was that his first game? Not seen him before.

  19. Not seen the whole game but looks like Berghan had a torrid time including a yellow for collapsing the scrum, which doesn’t bode well for 6N. I do wonder if he just doesn’t/can’t get low enough in the scrum and therefore always susceptible to hinging. Not sure why Rae was overlooked for the squad, Berghan has never looked convincing to me. Scrum coach will have to be very busy for the next fortnight.

  20. Disappointed that our form side couldn’t beat one of the English Premiership’s struggling sides at home. Ospreys getting a great win away to Leicester suggests Wales under Gatland could be much more competitive. If it’s the hope that kills you then maybe it’s best not to have much.

    Why was an out of form Ali Price given the starting jersey? Was this orders from Toonie in the hope that he’d play his way into form ahead of the 6N? I would have Horne & White making the test 23 but it won’t happen.

    1. It was a dreadful night for Rugby, freezing , mind-numbing. I would take nothing from it. We need much faster ball from the loose to play our game.

  21. watched Edinburgh game – should have won by about 20 points. Jesus Scottish teams are poor from a yard out, especially with a man advantage. Dont think this ill will ever be cured
    Edinburgh have blown it in terms of home advantage. Suppose we can say that we beat Saracens though, who are a good side

    1. Only Saracens 2nd loss this season, huge improvement in performance considering where we have been at the past weeks, very happy.

      Lots to get better at but we have good players to return.

  22. First I haven’t yet seen the Edinburgh game but i’ve read the reports and it just seems I should be writing that you can’t make that number of errors at this level and expect to win. and yet we did win! So to beat a team like Saracens and yet have so many areas that can obviously and easily be improved is pretty exciting. Also i’m happy with Leicester away. i think Leicester and Saracens are quite similar and this is a style Edinburgh can cope with. Now to watch the game and completely change my view.

  23. Ponderings from the Edinburgh game,
    hamstrung by key absentees – the pace power and effectiveness not playing was key to not securing home advantage.
    Really Tremendous effort by the boys but it almost felt like a defeat at the end.
    Crosbie, Immelman, Schoeman, Skinner were excellent, the 3 SQ boys should start a week on Saturday in London.
    I like Haining big strong in their face ball carrier

    1. I did tickle me too see Haining replicate Saracens way of celebrating, barging into people and laughing in their faces, he certainly got under Vunipola and Itojes skin.

  24. Surely Crosbie has to start against England? Though perming any three from four (Fagerson,Dempseyand Ritchie as well) for the back row 23 should work fine.
    All four on form but Crosbie is in such a rich vein of form that he could be a terrific weapon with his aggressive ball carrying (and jackalling expertise).Extra lineout option as well.

    1. Who would you swap him for though?

      I’d have him on the bench to start with over Christie (which is still a step-up), he has very little international experience and its a different system. Dempsey – Ritchie – Fagerson has proven to work in the past.

      1. That’s a difficult one! (oh and I thought Christie himself played pretty well in a poor Sarries showing last night). I’d go,Ritchie,Fagerson and Crosbie with Dempsey on the bench though despite the way I see it I’m sure Townsend will start with Dempsey.Lets just call it a good problem to have!

    2. Obviously we have injury worries with Fagerson in a race against time to be fit, but England have their own injury worries. If Jamie George doesn’t pass his RTPP they will be missing their first three hookers as LCD and now George McGuigan are out injured. Looks likely that Courtney Lawes will remain out, so whilst England should never put out a poor backrow that is a lot of aggression and experience to be missing.

      Given how limited their time together will be and these unfortunate injuries we’ve gotta have hope we can take them on up front. If we deny them a platform we could have a good chance for a historic result (have we ever won back to back gKes at Twickenham?).

      Aggressive pack with set piece front of mind please.

      1. So what is the team ? is Hogg fit, any injury’s over the weekend. Harris in or out, Price in or out, Who is the backup 9 ? Hard to say, Vellacott looks hard done by as well, Kinghorn ! , Even second row , I would not be surprised if Toony ignored Richie Gray either. What is Maitland doing in the squad if he does not go straight into the team. So many questions . However reading this FF comment, England are in flux and our problems are basically choosing the best team from so many great players IMO.

      2. My team
        Hogg Maitland Tuipulotu Redpath VDM Russell White
        Dempsey Crosbie Ritchie
        R.Gray Skinner Nel Cherry Schoeman
        Reps – Jones, Healy, Horne
        Fagerson, Gilchrist, Sebastian, Brown, Sutherland

      3. Nice : Thanks for sharing that young sir.

        I would not complain if that side took the pitch, Harris out, White, Maitland injected, Redpath needs a few games to be established, Sebastian as a replacement I can live with it, he is much closer to ideal height for a prop than Berghan. No kinghorn , with Maitland and Jones I suppose you have FB replacements, no wing replacement ? I cannot see Toony going for Jones, I think he will stick with Kinghorn as a backup. I think Healy can kick so he could be replacement kicker ?

        Excellent choices, I hope it works out , I could see that side doing a great job for us.

        The big question is will Toony go the full monty and eliminate Harris from the 23 ? He does nothing bad really, just lacks the creativity. But our backs are all flamboyant, someone has to be anchor man.

        I hope he avoids reading this blog and if he does, stay positive and do what you do, it got you a lions jersey .

        Much as I am neutral about Toony , I can see this 6N being our best. The irony of it .

        We are just oooozing talent and still have Darcy to return.

      4. I’d go similar to John:

        Schoeman, Turner, Nel, Skinner, R Gray, Ritchie, Crosbie, Fagerson
        White, Russell, VDM, Tuipulotu, Harris, Maitland, Hogg

        Brown, Sutherland, Berghan, J Gray, Dempsey, Horne, Kinghorn, Jones

        Not a huge fan of shipping Hogg and VDM straight in but the drop off to their replacements is too big. Would also get Zander in as soon as he is fit.

        I’m a fan of Price but his form isn’t good enough. Needs to get his confidence back and Twickenham isn’t the place to do that.

        Toss up between Sebastian/Berghan and Healy/Kinghorn on the bench but went with experience in both cases. Also J Gray as don’t think Gilco offers much from the bench.

        Have become a massive convert to Tuipulotu over the last couple of months.

      5. TryHard: Tuipolotu is a wrecking ball. It is difficult to leave him out. The hard decision is Ali Price out of the 23 and I think Toony will bottle it. Personally I think George Horne on current form is a try in the bag and I would play him from the bench to go crazy when the play is less structured in the last quarter. We need to be in front or touching distance for that to be effective. Another great selection. This must be the year. Ireland and France may be a step too far the others are beatable home or away. Lets hope we get France on a bad day.

    1. I’m leaning towards 6. Crosbie 7. Ritchie 8. Fagerson with Dempsey on the bench.

      I like Fagerson’s work rate a lot. He is very good defensively, but his carrying has picked up a lot too. Dempsey maybe slightly more suited the impact sub role, Fagerson more of an all rounder?

      Watson needs some good performances under his belt to force his way back in, Darge probably needs a longer time to re establish his game at Glasgow before going back into the beat pit.

  25. Dempseys got that bit of something, his footwork and nose for a space are excellent.
    Saracens and Bath have played Edinburgh and Glasgow, scottish teams have done fine.
    I’m thinking 9 is our biggest issues for the 6N, Price has been average, Horne is a superb rugby player but is he too loose? White for me

  26. A bit off-topic here.

    But i am curious why there is hardly ever a single woman, trans of ethic minority on the pod over the 5 years it has ran?

    I see all this stuff over years rightfully standing up on issues such as Trans-rights, BLM, Gay rights (Falou) and domestic abuse, (which brought this to mind), yet it seems very topical for a month or 2 and then forgotten.

    Anderson, Hay, Mcginty, Mason and Black, all white men, whats going on? You guys are all great but why is there no diversity (other than a token appearance)?

    1. Simple numbers Anonymous.
      Only 1 in 20 people in Scotland are from an ethnic minority, and fewer than 1 in 50 identify as LGBT+. Combine that with the (relatively) low numbers of rugby fans, never mind those that read this blog, and there is a chance that there are zero takers for the opportunity to speak on the podcast.
      As for women – there is an excellent piece by Eleanor on the 2022 season and I’m sure she will be invited onto the podcast for the womens 6N, if not before. Of course, she may decline.
      That is the point – it is voluntary – the guys are giving up their time (and opinions) for free. I’m sure they’d welcome more voices on the podcast but people have to put themselves forward. It certainly isn’t up to the guys to represent anyone or everyone.

  27. When Edinburgh beat Leicester in the round of 16, we get the joy of playing the winner of Leinster/Ulster Away (so Leinster) in the QF’s, what joy.

    If we had gotten the extra point against Saracens, we would of played Ospreys at home

    Then the winner of La Rochelle – Gloucester (La Rochelle then) away in the QF.

    Either way not an easy QF.

  28. IMO Kinghorn off form and not good enough at 10 anyway. You need someone reliable to come on at 10, Healy looks a confident young man and kicking 91%.
    IMO Scotland will have to make the very most from any attacking opportunities that come our way Harris not a good attacking player.

  29. I reckon our squad is 1 of the most experienced with excellent cover for each position. Ben Healy could be the most important inclusion. We score great tries lately but have lost so many games by a single score, having missed more penalties & conversions in the game than the opposition. We need a new “Paterson, Laidlaw, Hastings, Irvine or Parks” & Healy could mean guaranteed points in the modern game with so many penalties awarded, thanks to stronger refereeing

  30. There is so much analysis & coaching in the game designed to lock down or nulify the top players. A late change can make a huge difference. Remember the great game Eng v Scot when Russell played at 10 & Hogg at 12. It’s rare you get 2 such talented & maverick play makers adjacent on the pitch & virtually impossible to coach or plan how to stop them both. Given its success I don’t know why it hasn’t been repeated yet. More flare & excitement please & less playing by text book!

    1. The big success was when Hogg was injured in warm up and Maitland played Full Back immaculately. We play better as a team when we do not depend on super players pulling the game out from oblivion.

      I may be wrong but I think Gregor wants to win the game in the classroom.

      To quote the great philosopher Mike Tyson ‘ Everyone has a plan till they get a punch in the mouth’.

      One last thing , I am not sure our captain is quite there. Yes he leads by example which is a step up, but I am not sure about his cool headedness. Please prove me wrong.

  31. team for England game.
    Schoeman, Turner, Nel, R.Gray, Gilchrist (c), Ritchie, Dempsey, Crosbie, Price, Russell, Steyne, Tuipulotu, Harris, Duhan, Hogg.
    Cherry, Bhatti, Z.Fagerson, Skinner, M.Fagerson, Watson, White, Healy.

    1. Hogg, Steyn, Harris, Tuipolotu, Van Der Merwe, Russell, White, Dempsey, Ritchie, Fagerson, R Gray, Gilchrist, Fagerson, Brown, Schoeman

      Redpath, Kinghorn, Price, Crosbie, Skinner, Nel, Ashman, Sutherland

      ALSO – why was my previous comment on the recent law change by Scottish Rugby censored when posted? It provided a balanced argument both ways and was not offensive IMO, banning debate on matters like this for a specific agenda is so unhealthy and narrow minded

      1. Rory i posted a comment regarding the news on the recent law changes to trans. For some reason as soon i posted, it would not appear.

        I don’t know if swear words are banned and automatically do not appear, but there was nothing of the kind in the post, which leads me to believe key words relating to the subject of the recent change may be prevented from posting until approved.

        I tried to post the comment this morning

      2. It probably was that. This is not the post for it though and I believe that Cammy has restricted comments on the Podcast discussion for this reason, apologies there isn’t a place for you to discuss it currently however I’m sure Reddit, Twitter or TheOffsideLine will have more than enough opportunities for debate on the matter.

    2. Interesting you’ve picked Gilcho as captain when Ritchie has been named skipper.
      Don’t think either Zander or Pinball are match fit so may be reckless to pick them over fitter/inform players.
      I’d go with
      Schoeman, Cherry, Berghan
      R Gray, J Gray
      Fagerson, Ritchie (c), Dempsey
      Price, Russell
      DVDM, Tuipulotu, Harris, Steyn
      Turner, Sutherland, Nel, Gilchrist, Skinner, Crosbie, Horne, Jones
      Bit brave going for a 6-2 split but think if we get parity or supremacy up front we have them. Horne can cover wing as well as 9, Jones can cover 12/13/15 and Hogg can play 10 if Russell is injured (or carded LOL).

      1. Hi Merlot, is this referring to my team selection? it was actually a typo. i started with Ritchie on the bench and m Fag playing then changed my mind. if Ritchie was playing he’d be my captain. I don’t really agree with criticism of his captaincy. he’s a dark arts player and i like that.
        I quite like the idea of having the best ball carriers (M Fag) to start and bringing Watson and Ritchie on later in the game when cleaners are slower and there are more jackal opportunities but in the end i put JR to start because he’s captain.

    3. What I’d be happy with:

      Schoeman, Cherry, Z. Fagerson, R.Gray, Skinner, M. Fagerson, Ritchie, Dempsey, White, Russell, Steyn, Tuipulotu, Harris, van der Merwe, Hogg.

      Subs: Ashman, Bhatti, Nel, Gilchrist, Crosbie, Price, Kinghorn, Redpath

      What I think Toonie will pick:

      Schoeman, Turner, Z. Fagerson, R.Gray, Gilchrist, M. Fagerson, Ritchie, Dempsey, Price, Russell, Steyn, Tuipulotu, Harris, van der Merwe, Hogg.

      Subs: Bhatti, Cherry, Nel, Skinner, Crosbie, White, Kinghorn, Redpath

      Price and Turner are out of form, Hogg and Zander are touch and go, and the Huwipolotu pairing hasn’t hit form yet. The interesting thing to me is how much depth we have in the back row at the moment, with Bayliss and Christie being very unlucky to miss out.

  32. Looks like the biggest talking point across people’s teams is the back row (maybe centres but this feels like it’s been covered enough). Interested to hear people’s thoughts on why they’ve gone for each combo.

    My pick: Ritchie, Crosbie, Fagerson with Dempsey on the bench.

    Ritchie is captain so will be starting anyway but personally think him missing was one of the biggest factors in our patchy form last year. One of those players that we notice so much more when they’re not there. Even when he’s quiet, is good for a couple of turnovers close to our line and some general bastardry at the ruck.
    Crosbie has been arguably Edinburgh’s best player over the last couple of months. Physicality and breakdown threat make him a nice Watson replacement and match with Ritchie.
    Fagerson is one of Scotland’s most consistent performers imo. Rarely dips and is always a committed hard worker. Carrying is underrated as well as he’s accounted for a smaller frame by using more footwork and targeting gaps (unlike someone like Bradbury who’s more head-down).

    Dempsey could be a starter but is one of the more reliable bench presences and his injection of energy could be a big factor on 60 mins. Haven’t seen the best of him for Scotland yet but feel this 6N could be a turning point.

    1. At this moment I would start with 6. Fagerson, 7. Crosbie, 8. Dempsey but the fact that Ritchie is captain means that he will start (probably instead of Crosbie) despite him not playing to quite the same level as the other three lately.

      If Ritchie can improve just a wee bit then that back row would be as good and possibly slightly better balanced than my pick.

  33. My team selection from the squad……
    Schoeman, Brown, Fagerson, Gilchrist, Gray, Ritchie, Watson, Fagerson,
    Horne, Healy, Jones, Harris, Maitland, vd Merwe, Kinghorn.
    Reserves Ashman, Sutherland, Berghan, Skinner, Price, Russell, Redpath, Hogg.
    If fit & available D Graham & M Bennett would have made my team.

  34. My guess at Gregor’s team selection
    Sutherland, Brown, Fagerson, Gilchrist, J Gray, Ritchie, Watson, Fagerson,
    Price, Russell, Tuipulotu, Harris, Maitland, vd Merwe, Hogg.
    Reserves Schoeman, Berghan, Ashman, Dempsey, Horne, Healy, Maitland, Kinghorn

    1. The backs could be spot on but I’m sure even Toonie would put Schoeman above Sutherland & would leave out Pinball at this stage. Not sure if a 4-4 split on the bench would work but would be interesting 🤔

      1. Oops fancy “Gregor” picking anyone twice….. I reckon he must have gone on a pub crawl looking for Russell & Hogg playing hookey & had a few jars on the way????!!!!
        Plausible. (Sorry GT its tough at the top)

    2. Sutherland has not played a decent game since before the Lions tour. I can understand the nostalgia and his story is one of guts. Why would you suggest he starts above Shuey. I wish he would get a haircut but other than that , he is doing a good job in there. Neither one of them is spectacular , so not something to get all heat up about.

      1. He has had some pretty good performances for Ulster when not injured. Was getting a lot of turnover ball.

      2. Shoe is doing much the same with Turnover at Edinburgh and his carrying stats better , scrum stability better IMO. he likes a go and dunts a few out of the way to get to the line. Sutherland will hate England more, he lived next to them for most of his life. Pierre just sees it as another game and so he should IMO. I loath the hatred for England, just do it for 80 minutes a year, on the day, where it counts, when it counts and save the nation 364 days of whining about our neighbors please.

  35. Just to cheer up those who think we have no chance……
    The best Scottish “team” I have ever seen, just not all on the pitch at the same time!!
    1 Ian Mclauchlan, 2 Ross Ford, 3 Euan Murray, 4 Doddie Weir, 5 Richie Gray, 6 Martin Leslie, 7 John Barclay, 8 Jim Telfer, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 10 Dan Parks, 11 Chris paterson, 12 Huw Jones, 13 Jim Renwick, 14 Sean Lamont, 15 Stuart Hogg
    And to make my day and open up a new thread of debate, I would have commentary by Bill McLaren & Brian Moore as without them I have to switch the commentary off so I can enjoy the game……..

    1. There are many things awry with this selection of a best ever team, not least the flagrant omission of Hugo Southwell and Nick Grigg.

      1. You could add Marcus Di Rollo, Nick De Luca to that “impressive” backs lineup. And haven’t even started on the likes of David Sole, Dean, Milne, F Calder, Jeffrey etc. I don’t think a panel of experts would agree on THE best side but so blatant omissions from Mark’s selection. All good fun though…

    2. Mark: The best Scrum half we have ever had is Gary Armstrong. Just watch England Scotland 1999 , or any of his performances really , I left Twickenham that day feeling I had witnessed a great and have never changed my mind since.

      I think you may have overlooked the mighty Broon fae Troon. 3 lions Tours : 71,74 and 77. Even Jim Telfer did not manage that.

      Mclaughlan, Agree 100% : though we have had some worthy of wearing his number ,namely : Tom Smith.

      Hogg: It is nice to be nice . I can understand Gavin Hastings is not everyone’s cuppa tea but 17 tries in 68 appearances is on a par pro rata with Hogg who is an ‘attacking fullback’ apparently, Hasting was just a good all rounder, that must have lumbered his way over the line in unspectacular style to become so immemorable. But he was a Lions Tour captain ? I cannot see anyone since in a Scottish shirt who could shoulder that responsibility. Hogg definitely is memorable , he shone when there was nothing to help him where as Hastings was surrounded by better players.

      1. Great to see so much positive feedback from so many knowledgeable fans. I nearly didn’t put a team out there when I saw some of the negative personal attacks & juvenile comments on members of our current team. Get behind the team & enjoy a great tournament, just incase it ever does descend to touch rugby!!!!

  36. Another barmy idea? A 6 Nations touring side to take on the Southern Hemisphere!
    Squad has to include players from all 6 countries…..
    eg Schoeman, Sheehan, Baille, Beirne, Willemse, vd Flier, Conan, Doris,
    Dupont, Smith, Fickou, Ringrose, Lowe, Jaminet, Hogg
    rsvs Genge, George, Skinner, Watson, Price, Biggar, Harris, Ioane.
    Can you pick a better squad?

    1. Genge, Sheehan, Furlong, Willemse, Beard, Beirne, Van Der Flier, Aldritt, Dupont, Russell, Van Der Merwe, Henshaw, Ringrose, Graham, Capuozzo

      I would not have any Welsh or Englishmen in the squad on form tbh. But since we have to pick 1…

      1. Brilliant team and on current form I can’t disagree but form & fortune often change quickly……

  37. Interesting to see Murray McCallum starting for Edinburgh tomorrow. I spotted him amongst the spectators on the telly in last week’s European game. Has he been re-signed after the Worcester Warriors debacle or is he on loan from his French club, given front row injuries at Embra/Scotland?

  38. Well my next team was going to be the all time greatest 15, then a current greatest 15 but I can’t even make my mind up on the greatest Lions ever, can you help…….
    1 Syd Millar Ire or Ian Mclauchlan Sco, 2 Bryn Meredith Wls or Keith Wood Ire, 3 Graham Price Wls or Fran Cotton Eng, 4 Gordon Brown Sco or Martin Johnson Eng, 5 Willie J McBride Ire or Alun Wyn Jones Wls, 6 Bill McKay Ire or Finlay Calder Sco, 7 Fergus Slattery Ire or ?? 8 Mervyn Davies Wls or ?? 9 Gareth Edwards Wls or ?? 10 Phil Bennett Wls or Barry John Wls, 11 Tony O’Reilly Ire or ?? 12 Mike Gibson Ire or Randolph Aston Eng, 13 Dave Hewett Ire or Brian O’Driscoll Ire or Carl Aarvold Eng, 14 JJ Williams Wls or Gerald Davies Wls or Jim Unwin Eng, 15 Andy Irvine Sco or Gavin Hastings Sco or JPR Williams Wls or Andrew Stoddart Eng or Bob Hiller Eng…….so many greats, mostly gone but not forgoten by anyone who saw them play…….choosing the best team is never easy but this lots try count is truly amazing

    1. There is no question about number 9. There is still no better, met him recently in fact, still full of life and able to pass fast and accurately. Gareth Edwards .

      1. Yes I have to agree, I couldn’t think of any other 9 in the same class. All of the candidates for the team had great skills but the best ones were all entertainers who loved the game win or lose. Mind you in the days of Edwards & Bennett they had the benefits of a fantastic team around them…….. and I am not even Welsh!

  39. Pretty offensive comment sir.Terrific match and great defence by Sharks to hold them out at the end.

    1. Not really with some of the mistakes. Players passing to person next to them and receiving player doesn’t even try to catch it …. professional rugby players !

  40. All Price was off quickly enough to get a game next week! So should he ? will he, did he do enough !

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