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Scotlands’ injury list mounts ahead of 2023 Six Nations

Gregor Townsend
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend - - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Who exactly is going to be fit for the 2023 Six Nations? With the current injury list, Scotland rugby head coach Gregor Townsend faces a few selection headaches, and precious few of the good or interesting kind.

Here’s a brief sample of who is out injured as Townsend looks towards the start of the tournament in February and the opening Calcutta Cup game against England.

Which Forwards are Injured?

Hamish Watson and Stuart McInally were on Edinburgh’s current injured list as of Friday, while Glasgow list Scott Cummings (foot), Rory Darge (ankle), Allan Dell (calf), Zander Fagerson (hamstring), Oli Kebble (shoulder), Murphy Walker (neck), Ryan Wilson (knee). In the exiles, lock Alex Craig (Gloucester) is also out with a shoulder injury.

Some of those, like Wilson, are these days less likely to be in the selectors’ thoughts but certainly even some of the fringe props may have come into consideration as backups – or backups to the backups.

With Zander out there is a real worry over who will play tighthead (Walker and the converted Kebble might have been candidates). Murray McCallum is on a short-term trial for Montauban in French D2 but Javan Sebastian is fit, as is…Simon Berghan?

In the middle of the front row, aside from McInally all the other usual squad hookers seem to be fit although Fraser Brown may have picked up a knock in Glasgow’s impressive win over the Stormers at the weekend.

It seems likely Richie Gray may be able to continue his control of at least one second-row spot come the Six Nations, with either his brother or Grant Gilchrist (rested from Edinburgh duty this weekend) his likely partner. Sam Skinner is also back fit after an injury but only very recently, and while Scott Cummings is apparently also hoping to be ready he will be even shorter of game time.

The scenario where we have seen two or even three opensides turn out for Scotland all at once will be a distant memory. Those injuries to Darge and Watson may allow game time for some of the more abrasive 6/8s who so far haven’t had much of a look in at test level since Darge and Ritchie arrived on the scene, like Andy Christie or Luke Crosbie. There could also be recalls for Josh Bayliss or Nick Haining while there was at least news this week that Mish might be in full training again. A first-choice back row of Fagerson/Ritchie/Dempsey still looks likely.

Which Backs are Injured?

Edinburgh bear the brunt of this one, with several key men missing for club and likely country: Darcy Graham, Damien Hoyland, Duhan van der Merwe are all out as of this weekend.

With Stuart Hogg battling sickness and the lingering effects of both knee and heel problems in recent weeks, might we need an all new back three to replace the unit that demolished Argentina last time out?

From the above, it is likely that former skipper Hogg will still be a presence in the squad come hell or high water with a 100th Scotland cap on the horizon, but with a heel injury causing him to miss Exeter’s European trip to, um, South Africa next weekend, it is something that Townsend will at least need to consider. The question will be, is Blair Kinghorn the backup fullback or is he not?

On either side of Hogg the need for developing wing depth behind the undoubted first choices may increase the likelihood of call-ups for short on experience players like Rufus Maclean or using Blair Kinghorn there. London Irish speedster Kyle Rowe is still recovering from an ACL tear sustained 11 minutes into his first cap against Argentina in the summer. Townsend often springs a surprise in the, er, spring, so if you are a Scottish qualified winger playing down south, expect a call. Sean Maitland or Byron McGuigan, anyone?

One area of good news is the centre where almost all the centres – even Duncan Taylor at Saracens – are fit. Expect those who have also seen time in the back three (Kyle Steyn, Rory Hutchinson, Huw Jones) or both centre positions (Jones, Hutchinson, Sione Tuipulotu) to become especially useful to Townsend with Glasgow skipper Steyn also offering leadership skills. Jones and Tuipulotu are in rich form right now and it looks likely the starting centres will be some mixture of them + Chris Harris.

At standoff, Adam Hastings requires shoulder surgery at Gloucester and Ross Thompson is still on Glasgows’s injured list which means we’ll still be counting on Finn Russell – who by now must be officially 5th choice or so – to start in the 10 shirt. The recent news of Ben Healy siding with Scotland increases his chances for a call up much sooner rather than later to plug injury gaps.

Partnering the chosen fly-half, a group of Ali Price, George Horne and Ben White seems likely with potentially any one of them given the nod on match day. Former Ireland cap John Cooney has talked of throwing his lot in with Scotland, Jack Dempsey style, but would he be anything more than an admittedly very good stop gap through to the World Cup if one of the above three got injured?

Possible Squad

Last year the initial Scotland Six Nations squad consisted of 17 Backs and 22 forwards, so with that in mind (and bearing in mind some players may come back to fitness before the start of the tournament):

Jamie Bhatti, Pierre Schoeman, Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Javan Sebastian, Simon Berghan
Ewan Ashman, Fraser Brown, George Turner, Dave Cherry
Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Richie Gray, Sam Skinner, Jamie Hodgson
Magnus Bradbury, Andy Christie, Jack Dempsey, Matt Fagerson, Jamie Ritchie, Luke Crosbie, Josh Bayliss

Sean Maitland, Ollie Smith, Blair Kinghorn, Kyle Steyn, Rufus McLean
Rory Hutchinson, Cam Redpath, Sione Tuipulotu, Chris Harris, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Mark Bennett
Finn Russell, Ben Healy
Ali Price, George Horne, Ben White

It is still going to be possible to field a team close to full strength, but it is as usual the bench where selection will get interesting. The race to match fitness of Cummings, Hogg and Watson will be of most interest if we hope to have a team fit to challenge for the higher spots on the table.

With attack coach AB Zondagh leaving for France (with immediate effect) and rumours in France that Toony himself may have applied for the post of French attack coach after the Rugby World Cup, it’s all adding up to a rather unsettling pre-tournament mood.

UPDATE: looks like Byron hopes to represent Namibia at the RWC!

UPDATE (17/1): Murphy Walker is confirmed to be out for a couple of months with his neck injury.

88 Responses

  1. Quite dire – worst injury situation in a long while.

    Crosbie has been good over the past few weeks, as has Dempsey (although arguably the quietest of the Glasgow back row) so don’t have an issue with either of them coming in with Ritchie and Fagerson.
    3 is a big big issue, though. Berghan was alright off the bench last weekend but hasn’t played much. I would probably go with him due to lack of options with Nel on the bench.

    In the backs, it’s bleak as well. Doesn’t help that Kinghorn was very poor on the wing on Saturday. With the options listed and their relative experience, 15. Jones 14. Steyn 13. Harris 12. Tuipulotu 11. Maitland looks like the best of the options there with Kinghorn and Redpath on the bench. Maitland is at least a good solid option that can act as a second fullback with Jones there.

    Doesn’t inspire massive confidence though and I’ll be watching Finn Russell playing through my fingers across the two European weekends.

  2. Schoeman, Bhatti, Sutherland
    Brown, Turner, Ashman
    Berghan, Nel, Rae
    R Gray, J Gray, Gilchrist, Skinner, McDonald, Hunter Hill
    Ritchie, Christie, Fagerson, Dempsey, Crosbie, Bradbury, Boyle

    Price, Horne, White
    Russell, Healy, Kinghorn
    Tuipolotu, Redpath, Jones, Bennett, Harris
    Van Der Merwe, Steyn, Maitland, McLean, Hogg, Smith

    With a lot of people to come back, i’d look to swap some of the weaker performing players out halfway through, partly to bring energy into the camp but also to push competition.

    Halfway point incomings.

    McInally
    Fagerson, Walker
    Darge, Watson, Bayliss
    Cooney, Vellacott
    Smith
    Johnson, Hutchinson
    Graham, Rowe

    1. I think Murray Walker is expected to be fit for the start of the championship. Kiran McDonald is injured though.

      1. Yeah I think there will be a few come back into the reckoning but without solid intel I went on what was available at the start of the week. We may well lose a couple over the next two weekends although hopefully not.

    2. Good squad, but I’d swap Boyle for Bayliss as he provides more off the bench. We are in a good place with both Christie and Bayliss getting game time in different positions though.

      Elephant in the room remains 9 though, with Horne keeping Price out of the starting 15 at Glasgow but few starting minutes for Scotland. Think White has a better shot with Price coming off the bench.

      The centre combo will be key, do we go for attack first (Tuipolotu/Jones) then bring Harris off the bench to defend a lead or do we go to contain a revitalised England side with Harris/Tuipolotu starting and Jones off the bench – all of this of course depends on the Tuipolotu/Jones pairing performing like last week?

      Wouldn’t be too worried about Smith/Maitland starting against England though.

      1. 30 games since the last WC, for the #13 shirt:
        Harris has started 22 of them.
        Bennett started 4.
        Jones started 3.
        Tuipulotu started 1.

        Harris was also in the #23 shirt every time Jones started.

        (He’s also played in the #23 shirt more than any other player across the whole Townsend era [2017-present]… 11 times.)

    3. My (no doubt not GT’s) starting XV based on who is fit:

      Schoeman, Turner, Rae, R.Gray, J.Gray, Fagerson, Ritchie, Dempsey; Price, Russell, Steyn, Tuipolutu, Jones, Maitland, Smith.

      Bench of Sutherland, Ashman, Nel, Skinner, Bayliss, Horne, Kinghorn, any back 3 player.

      Tempted to start Nel and get 30 mins out of him before bringing on Rae the way Italy use their props.

      1. Not a bad XV by any means, though I’d exclude Price from the 23 (Horne starts, White on the bench) and would favour Skinner over Jonny Gray.

        The replacement backs are a mite trickier. With Jones and Tuipulotu starting, we need cover at 12 rather than 13. So it’d be Redpath or Hutchinson on the bench rather than Harris.

      2. I have tried to keep mostly the same team that pushed the All Blacks close and dusted off Argentina, familiarity could be an advantage against a new, unknown England system.

        Stuart Hogg – Huw Jones – Chris Harris – Sione Tuipolotu – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Jack Dempsey – Jamie Ritchie – Matt Fagerson – Richie Gray – Grant Gilchrist – Simon Berghan – George Turner – Pierre Schoeman

        Kyle Steyn – Blair Kinghorn – Ben White – Andy Christie – Sam Skinner – Willem Nel – Rory Sutherland – Ewan Ashman

        Gone for something which Toony has been known to do in the past and select a player out of position, Huw Jones to 14 (with Steyn on the bench should it go horribly wrong).

        He has shown to be able to play 13 and 15 very well, what skills is he lacking to slot in for a game or 2 until Darcy is back? Other than experience.

        Berghan has done pretty well coming off the bench against Schoeman and Kitshoff the past month, solid against Bath also, not a long term option but he has been playing well recently and has lots of experience with Scotland.

  3. Does anyone know who is in charge of Scotland’s attack? Will Toonie be rolling his sleeves up? I didn’t realise that AB Zondagh had left his role “for family reasons”.

    1. I’d imagine Toony will take that on as he did with the Lions. It was cited as “family reasons and to pursue opportunities” in the official tweets after the French press had announced he was going to Lyon next season so I’d lean more towards the “opportunities” side of things. It is a lovely city, who can blame him.

      1. Hmm, GT was attack coach before under Andy Robinson and don’t recall that as an era of free-flowing attacking play. Yes, we have a much better pool to choose from but is a little concerning

      2. Warks Scot – Toonie did the attack coaching himself until quite recently, I think it was after the 2019 world cup. The Andy Robinson era was indeed turgid from an attack perspective but he was also attack coach in 2017 – 18 where we probably had one of the best attacks in world rugby, shame we couldn’t defend…

  4. Interesting to see extent of injuries and that (ultimately) we will be able to field a strong 23.
    Darge the biggest miss IMO.
    9 is a wee issue and that is likely why GT has been speaking to Cooney.
    For me it’s the centre partnership that is most intriguing- If Harris retains his place at 13 its clearly GT being excessively stubborn / refusing to even contemplate he may be wrong.
    As for attack coach might be worth inviting Pete Horne to the camp.

    1. I can understand why you might want the defensive part of Harris in the mix, but do you need it at the beginning? My understanding is that Harris has also played wing and both centre positions for Gloucester so unsure on why he couldn’t work from the bench to organise the defence later on in the game as we have had issue with controlling games near the end.

      The optics of bringing in Cooney would be really bad, a great player but is he really that better than Horne/White/Vellacott?

      1. If people think Harris blunts Scotland’s attack from 13, how could he be a realistic option on the wing???

        He’s too slow for a test winger, he isn’t really elusive or an accomplished finisher and you don’t even benefit from his greatest asset – his ability to cover the 13 channel like a boss and organise the defence.

        Can you even remember a game he started in the wing? Can you remember a game he started at 12?

        I mean as a 12 he isn’t really a bosher, he has no kicking game to speak of and has mediocre passing.

        As far as I can see he has a very good point of difference at 13, but he’d be nowhere near selection at 12 or wing.

      2. Oh and is Cooney better than Horne, Vellacott or White? Yes, yes and yes.

        Should he be selected…urgh, probably not. Maybe if he was four years younger.

    2. “If Harris retains his place at 13 its clearly GT being excessively stubborn / refusing to even contemplate he may be wrong.”

      Understand why people don’t want him in but realistically we’re less likely than ever to not have Harris starting at 13.
      So many of the first team are out with injuries so there’s a need for some form of consistency and he’s been playing well for Gloucester recently. Plus Townsend has selected him for every big game available this world cup cycle and isn’t about to drop him the 6N before the WC without just cause.

      Also doesn’t help that the only other 13 to have had game time (Bennett) is out of form and will be lucky to make the squad.

      1. Tuipulotu plays 13, presumably most fans would prefer either

        12. Jones 13. Tuipulotu (as Glasgow lined up)
        Or
        12. Redpath 13. Tuipulotu

        Personally I think Harris has put in some cracking performances for Scotland (France in Paris 2021 springs to mind) but he hasn’t been very impressive more recently and was quite poor against Argentina.

        When we have such good alternatives I don’t think his place should be safe. Townsend’s biggest mistake in Japan was taking players he trusted and had relied on but we’re on a downward slide by the time of the tournament.

      2. I agree and would like to see either of those options at some point, my point was more that I don’t think we will.

        Harris is clearly one of the first names on the sheet for Toonie and he isn’t going to be dropped with so many other first choices absent.

        For what it’s worth, I think Harris is very valuable in defence and when you’ve got attacking threats like VDM, Graham and Hogg you can afford to have someone like him who isn’t a natural attacker and he provides a nice balance. Take them away and replace with Maitland, Steyn and Smith and I think we 100% need a Jones or Tuipulotu in that channel.

      3. I’m in two minds. Tuipolotu and Jones appear to be in very good form, I’m always of the opinion you should pick on form rather than reputation. The trouble with the 6N is the games are nearly always tight and cagey affairs, the weather is quite often crap and the short of it is you need to have a good defence, 6N games are won with defence and clinically taking your opportunities when they present yourselves, you don’t win by playing Harlem Globetrotters, we tried that and it didn’t work, although it was great fun to watch.

        Chris Harris has proven himself to be invaluable in defence, its just a shame that lately he has shown himself to be a liability in attack rather than just ineffective. I don’t know what the answer is but Harris will be the starting 13 so its more of a case of who is at 12 and on the bench. I am and have always been a fan of the Pete Horne / Cam Redpath mould of 12 but Tuipolotu has been doing his damnest to prove the doubters wrong recently at Glasgow, as ever club and internation level are two different things and for me he still needs to prove he is an international 12. So does Cam Redpath to be fair, or should he be called Duncan Taylor II? He needs game time and to stay injury free as he is the future.

      4. Rory : Huw Jones scored and assisted in everything against the Stormers last week. I don’t think form means anything, it is all about ‘Chalk Talk’. Is that not the problem, he tries to win the game in the classroom but the game is won on grass, on the day, sometimes in split second decisions by men, not robots. Just my opinion for what it is worth.

    3. Horne isn’t Glasgow’s attack coach. He’s breakdown coach. Nigel
      Carolan is the attack coach.

  5. Honestly.Gregor Townsend Finn Russell 4th choice fly half .SACK him now FFS he’s all Talk listening to his crap for years.Hes protecting his Wages
    Give player coaching to Mr Russell

    1. Few would disagree but in these very pages you will read comments (not posts or blogs) about how he is our most successful coach ever. So why does it not feel like it?

      1. Because the “successes” are masked by all the victories against 2/3 tier teams. When you isolate the results against first tier teams that provides a proper comparison with many of his earlier predecessors and its not very clever. Ironically the one team Townsend has had pretty good success against is England.

    1. Agreed, because that has certainly happened whenever Smith or further back Maitland have taken his place in the past huh?

      1. Agreed.I was fairly certain though that Tam Tm’s comment was in fact meant to be ironic (?) in which case he actually agrees with you.
        Look I’ve always been a huge supporter of Hogg but on current form I’d probably opt for Smith before Hogg,injured or not.

      2. It will actually be very cathartic to accept that a Scottish side can take the field without Hogg. You watch , we are in for a great 6 nations.

  6. I just can’t imagine that Townsend will drop Harris in favour of a Sione/Jones combo at centre, particularly for a 6N opener at Twickenham. Italy at Murrayfield maybe but not England away. Tandy will be in his ear pushing Harris’ case as he is essential to his defensive set up.

  7. Hogg, if fit, is a certain starter. He is magnificent, hopefully, we can have a couple of seasons of more mature versions of Hogg and Russell. I’m also hoping Hogg is practising his 50-22s, this is a very underused tactic that can be employed to keep the ball away from Peter o’Mahoney and Eben Etzebeth
    Smith is a very promising player and will have his day just not just yet.

    1. I am seriously not bothered if Hogg makes it or not. The side need to develop without his ‘magnificence’ . If they realise there is no trump card , they will raise the game and grow in stature and confidence. The gap will not be as noticeable as you think. He will be at his wits end if not involved but one man does not define a nation. I don’t expect to win away from home and I suspect there will be too much pressure on a win against Wales , putting the advantage with Wales, so I fancy we play a team of newbies against them anyway.

      Hogg should take a rest. Get ready for the world cup. That is where I want all his experience, magnificence , leadership, press interviews to come to bear. Get us out of the trap we fell into 4 years ago.

      1. I hear you but he is too good a player to not have on the park. I thought he played pretty well in the Autumn, being shorn of the captaincy seemed to help him and certainly against Argentina he looked to have lost the “I’ll do it myself” attitude that has always been his achilles heel.

        Wales have been our bogey team for a while now, I know we beat them in the weird covid game but we should have beaten them regularly the last few years as they are utter dross. I fear big WG coming back will re-ignite them. Same with England who have also been mince the last few years despite EJs outrageous win ratio. I’m not sure Steve Borthwick is the right man for that England job, it would be a bit harsh to call him Martin Johnson II as I don’t think he is a horrible human being but I can see him having that kind of tenure, time will tell.

  8. Sounds like writing off the 6N to concentrate on the RWC, a tournament we have almost no chance of making a significant impression in.

    I couldn’t care less about the World Cup at this point, we desperately need to win a 6N championship and should enter every tournament with that desire and intent. We pick the best team to go on the pitch to face each 6N test. Everything else is noise.

    1. The point of the blog is setting out the volume of injuries we have to experienced and trusted players . My interpretation ( others will vary ) is that we will not have our best team available for the 6N, what is more , from experience, the injury’s mount in the 6N. It is going to be a revolving door of players coming back and being injured. It has underwhelming written all over it.

      We arent going to win either tournament, but the 6N will be the usual frustrating weird team selections, should have, could have but didny performances all undermined by the injury crisis.

      We have a better chance of getting them back for the RWC , where we will need our best performances to get out of the group.

      1. The point is no one cares about anyone’s injury lists just results. The 6N should be our priority every year until we can call ourselves champions. No 6N is preparation for anything else, it is our peak to summit.

    2. This. This. A million times this.

      I couldnt give a rats arse about our eventual knockout phase of the WC. Not gonna win it and not gonna get close so dont worry about it. It should be 6N every year we concentrate on.

      1. Grumbo : Are you a RWC referee ! You have the right attitude for it. They seem to be aware never going to win it .

  9. Fin Smith

    I have to admit to having very little knowledge of him but should he be 3rd 10 (after Russell and Healy) in the 6N squad (if only to ensure he’s fully Scottish qualified)

      1. I’ve read lots of boards with English fans and not many think Smith will be capped – most think he isn’t ready and England have plenty of options.

        You’d imagine with a new coaching team with almost no time to bed in new systems they’re unlikely to pick a novice 10 who has only spent a little time with the squad as an apprentice.

        Regardless, if Smith is going to opt for Scotland as a 20 year old, he won’t change his mind to get capped by England if they have an injury crisis at 10. Smith will be making a long term decision.

      2. Who cares if they do cap him?….There isn’t any hard evidence yet the lad Smith will be any better than what options we already have.

        It’s more concerning that news/rumours of GT already applying for other jobs before we even start the 2 biggest comps on our rugby calendar. Terrible timing…and how will that will impact the squad attitudes.

      3. Warks i think it is smart from Townsend if he is looking at things from a selfish point of view.

        Who will want him after he leads us to a group stage exit, 4th place Six Nations (if he does well) and fully destroyed his relationship with Russell?

  10. As it currently stands Farrell is not banned from any of the 6N and is free to play in the Culcutta Cup (though there is a possibilty that he might miss that one game if Saracens match v Bristol next weekend is not counted-all depends on his release from the as yet unannounced England squad.)

  11. I didn’t watch the game and appreciate it’s not just one player’s job but the Gloucester result earlier is hardly a ringing endorsement of the team’s defensive abilities. Thankfully, the current injury blight hasn’t really hit our midfield options so no excuse for not picking on form. Redpath, Tuipulotu & Jones have got to be front runners, Harris, Bennett (but hopefully has a couple of decent games again) and ideally Hutchinson as other secondary options. Sam Johnson is going to have to play seriously well to get into 6N squad only just coming back from injury. But then he has been a GT favourite so maybe leapfrogs the queue.

    1. I only caught a glimpse of Gloucester – Leinster but did see Harris kick a ball out on the full not realising he was not inside his 22.
      Leinster had Gloucester bent over and gaping at that point though so there would of been a lot of pressure.

      1. In fact he was well inside his 22. The initial Leinster kick was touched by a Gloucs player in an attempted charge-down so the ref decided it was “carried back”. Can’t blame Harris for not hearing the ref call “touched in flight” because no-one heard such a call. It would have been an excellent kick otherwise.
        Harris was easily Gloucs best player from my point of view.

      2. Malky , this is not directed at you personally, a sort of open question , but I placed it here as you are, like many, are someone who moderately favours Chris Harris, I think , based on the comment.

        Me, I read the blog and accept the general opinion that he is needed to organize a defense. However I will never quite accept that 100%.

        it makes me wonder, do other Unions have a Harris? : I would reiterate, do we see any other union getting excited about Harris joining Scotland. Is Harris a Special Purpose Animal and why are the others not capable of playing a consistent game ? We seem to have no shortage of attackers, Hogg , DVM, Darcy, Jones and Tuipulota. They appear competent , Darcy exceptionally competent in defense. Then we have Finn who seems to be entirely spontaneous and reads the game faster that a computer. I have grown to like Harris and he seems consistent , But when I see Bennett , Jones , Tuipulotu and even Steyn cutting lose, I actually feel this must be a huge issue for Townsend as well. What is the answer ?

    2. I don’t think you can take too much from that game. Harris is good at what he does. We will probably not recongnise his value till we drop him. But, I cannot see any other union getting all excited about him. He could have played for England you know. Silence, Pause for effect :

      I dont think I need to say much more .

      Oh well maybe I better say it ‘Can you see England getting all bothered because they missed the opportunity that is Chris Harris’. Probably not IMO.

  12. Townsend being heavily linked with the HC vacancy at Leicester post RWC. Danny Wilson has just gone there to assist which may indicate that the rumour has legs.

    1. Danny Wilson s going to Quins next season as lineout and contact coach so wont be at Leicester.

      1. Brilliant : Line out and contact coach. We have a coach for everything. It makes me chuckle, I am just waiting for someone to post we have kit man and mascots coach.

  13. Sorry, hope this is not too rude but don’t know who else to ask. I’ve waited all day to watch Perpignan vs Glasgow Warriors but can’t find it anywhere. I subscribe to all the sports channels including Viaplay, Amazon Prime etc. I read all your comments and agree with most of what you say. I’d love to watch this match at 8 pm. Help!

    1. I used a website called wheresthematch which shows which channels each match is on. According to that website Perpignon v Glasgow is only available online on epcrugby dot com

  14. Rees you get it on EPRC streaming. This is my third watch. You sign up and pay per game. 5 Euros.

    1. I used to use that also… until they charged me again in the summer for an Edinburgh match that took place in April. I wouldn’t trust them with my card info after that.

      Plus there are many websites you can watch it for free on…. But ya will have to figure oot that yersel so I don’t break any rules etc

  15. Outstanding away wins this weekend from our two clubs. Was very worried about Edinburgh going in 21-14 down at half time. Nilling the home side in the second half was pretty impressive though.

    Genuinely open question. Have the RFU pulled a fast one with this Owen Farrell ban thing meaning he could well be available for the Calcutta Cup? On reflection, perhaps that’s not an open question. Whatever, he hasn’t got a good record playing us in recent years so maybe if the RFU have stitched it up, it won’t be to England’s advantage.

    1. Define “fast one”? He was banned for 4 matches, reduced to 3 for “tackling school” and including the match vs Bristol when he would normally be in camp. The RFU “released” him from the squad for that one so it could count against his ban. But normally there’d be no way in hell he was playing in that game. Seems a little “fast” to me…

      From The Times: “Farrell, 31, will be available for the Scotland game after the RFU exploited a loophole in the disciplinary system to allow him to complete a three-match ban, for a high tackle on Gloucester flanker Jack Clement, before the Six Nations begins. The union released him for Saracens’ Gallagher Premiership match against Bristol Bears on January 28, a match he is therefore suspended from.”

      1. The starting point was for 6 weeks, reduced to 4 because or his exemplary attitude at the hearing (sic). Given his previous record I am surprised they had the flexibility (or the gall) to do that.
        The RFU releasing him to play against Bristol so that match could be his third to not play in, is just absurd.

  16. Loose and error strewn 1st half where Edinburgh allowed Castres to stay in the game. 7 or 8 unforced errors neutralised any attacking intent Edinburgh had.
    Forwards carried hard and ultimately that may have been the reason for more space in the 2nd half.
    Vellacott made such a difference. Alas it looks like Shiel won’t make the grade.
    Mata played his best game for months Schoeman was superb, Ritchie was an absolute pest at the breakdown.
    BK kicked 6/6 but I thought his play in the loose was poor.
    Hutchison played like a young Alex Dunbar throughout and scored a powerful try.
    Ultimately a 5 pointer in France a tremendous outcome

  17. Yes good wins, although not all the French teams seem fully committed to European comp this year, so guess there is a bit of a caveat in these results

    1. Probably but Edinburgh need a kick start and Glasgow’s run continues. We should celebrate our wins. Nothing worse than that rot Edinburgh have been in and the one at Glasgow last season. That really gives you the droop.

  18. Well it is not going to be Gatland or Jones. Dave Rennie free , Does anyone want him back ? Not me. The Aussies ,clearly such a tolerant bunch. What is the latest rumors , anyone got a tap into EH12? Are we really going to see off out greatest coach ever (well he is on paper according to some commenters). Really !!!

    1. Unless Gatland totally balls up the RWC, it appears that Scotland will be the only Tier 1 test side seeking a coach post-RWC. Japan will also be in the market but whilst they offer huge financial incentives they don’t have an annual shop window to play in for ambitious coaches.

      This puts Scotland in a tremendous position to recruit Toonie’s successor. I hope they are ambitious at targeting someone who can raise Scotland above the plateau we seem to have hit.

      It is likely that Scott Robertson will be hired by NZRFU, in which case possibly Jamie Joseph will be available? Whoever it is, this is a great chance for us to grab our top target so we need to take it.

      1. Thanks for the insight. We have changed everything and everyone but the coach. We have so many options now in every position , one thing Tonnie has done for us. It feels like we are in a better place , however the rugby world has always been a few paces ahead of us. I think that word ‘Plateau’ is just about right. Someone out there is about to inherit a very good position. I wonder what his goals will be. Win a 6N feels just too ambitious, a 2nd is occasionally do-able but a consistent third feels like an achievable Target IMO.

    1. Yes, bit of a blow.

      Largely irrelevant until after Russell retires but when that happens we still have a big world-class FH hole to fill (not saying Fin Smith is world class, just that we have taken the quality of Russell for granted for most of the last decade and we have a gaping lack of depth in the most important position on the pitch).

  19. From a distance we do not look good do we ? Let’s be honest. We dropped Russell and had to grovel him back, dropped him to play a utility back at 10 as an experiment, guess what , it never worked and the whole squad feel insecure as a hidden cost. That said FF’s argument is a sound one, where are you likely to establish game time, as a backup to the newly emerging and untouchable Marcus Smith or Behind Finn who is going to either age himself to the bench or Toony finally manages him out forever as his last act of cleansing. But you really have to question what we look like , We just keep capping them and dropping them. (Vallacott, Jones, Hutchinson etc.)

  20. With Finn Smith opting for England and |with Hastings and Ross Thompson out for a few months whom will take the third stand off slot (after Russell and Kinghorn) in our 6N squad tomorrow? Difficult to see past Ben Healy. Only other possible options are Savala , VDW and Duncan Weir. With Kinghorn playing on the wing in his last three matches we really do need a fit Russell!

    1. I mean it’s definitely going to be Ben Healy. According to Munster fans he is pretty fearless – he’ll have to be to be making his 6N bow with an unfamiliar squad whilst getting bit-parts for Munster for the last few months.

    2. Russell Healy as 1st and 2nd choices.
      BK – (if it were me) he’d not even be in the squad.

  21. A quote from the Manchester Evening News: Steve Borthwick ‘ will be grateful for a relatively simple start to the tournament, with home fixtures against Scotland and Italy before tougher tests.’

    Which presumptuous comment I hope is like a red rag to 15 bulls…

    Last two times Scotland have played England at Twickenham in the 6n, Scotland have gone home with the Calcutta Cup. Not quite that simple then….

    1. I take it the Mancy EN cannot type the word ‘overconfident’.

      Just let that spin and spin and we can go round ‘ASONE’ to force feed the editor into eating his newspaper (words) when we hump them.

      Thanks for sharing, I do a fair bit of humping when I am south of the border, where is my coat.

    2. To be fair – they do have the easier start to the 6N. Two games at home to begin with. And they don’t play the two teams at #1 and #2 in the world rankings till the end. The key word in the quote is RELATIVELY – they would prefer playing us at home rather than France, or Wales/Ireland away.
      Admittedly we have performed exceptionally against them over the last couple of visits to Twickenham but they will still be favourites.
      Their opening matches are the equivalent of us starting at home against Wales and Italy, which we would be confident about.

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