Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Rugby World Cup Pool B: Ireland v Scotland Discussion Post

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


2023 Rugby World CupSat 7th Oct 2023Stade de France, Saint-DenisKick-off: 8:00 pm (UK)36-14


Referee: Nic Berry (RA)| TV: ITV1/STV

Let’s face it everyone is in the pub so the match report will be up as soon as we write it. In the mean time you can discuss the game here.

97 Responses

  1. Team for Six Nations

    Blair Kinghorn – Darcy Graham – Sione Tuipolotu – Cameron Redpath – Kyle Steyn – Finn Russell – George Horne – Jack Dempsey – Luke Crosbie – Magnus Bradbury – Richie Gray – Scott Cummings – Zander Fagerson – Johnny Matthews – Pierre Schoeman

    Duhan Van Der Merwe – Ben Healy – Ben White – Jamie Ritchie – Grant Gilchrist – Javan Sebastian – Nathan McBeth – Ewan Ashman

    Forget this WC, think about the long-run. Multiple mistakes by the team and match-officials right from the off. Tactics wrong.

      1. But it is not all wrong , is it ? or is it , the team we picked was as strong as we can muster and the replacements are just as good IMO, it is not team selection.

        We never lost because we selected the wrong team. We just played a better team.

        Looking at the Irish Defense line , it is rugby League style . Both Ireland and France have ex league players in the coaching staff. I hate the thought but league and Union are closer than ever. We never managed to jackal, they cleared us out immediately. But they have been building for years , we are only just starting.

    1. that is a very average-looking team unfortunately. With the exception of George Horne, I don’t see any of your changes being better than who played yesterday.

    2. Thats just shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic….Unless there is significant leadership, coaching change and systems change we’ll be finishing around 4th or 5th in the 6N…pick whatever team you like.

  2. The coach cant keep putting defeats down to player inaccuracy. Who is responsible for the players delivering an 80 minute performance? We can compete with France. Why not Ireland? They aren’t far apart in terms of quality.

  3. As much as I hate Ireland, you have to give it to them, they blew us away and we didn’t have an answer for them. They certainly got a rub of the green with the decisions but I don’t think they were really up to their usual antics, they didn’t have to. I don’t think selection has anything to do with it. Our defence was far too slow and too passive. Our defensive line seems to take a couple of steps forward then stop and wait for them to come to us, it’s no much wonder they are getting front foot ball all the time, their ball carriers smashed through our defence time and again.

    Compared to our attack on their defence, they were up in our faces instantly. I don’t think our attack was particularly bad, you could see what they were trying to do but Ireland just snuffed it out every time.

    Hindsight of course but the kick to the corner early on was a poor decision.

    We always knew it was a tall order, our crapness 4 years ago is the reason we were in this group of death situation in the first place so it’s our own fault. It grinds my gears when you see utter dross like Wales and England cruising through to the quarters despite being rank rotten for a couple of years now.

    I think it has to be France now. I can’t see the All Blacks beating Ireland and I think Ireland would beat South Africa again. Allez les blues.

    1. Not sure our attack was all that good. We seemed to run on a diagonal most of the time and pass to the winger when he was marked 2 on 1. And if we made a line break we allowed the player to get isolated and turned over. When Ireland made a line break there were two or three players smashing through in support. We just couldn’t match their pace or physicality.

    2. What do you have against the Irish; why not have some Celtic solidarity??

      Great if a Northern Hemisphere team wins this, even better surely if it’s an Anglopnone nation, surely??

      1. And his pal O’Mahoney. They are insufferable and so are their fans. Even England have never had this level of cockiness, they also have a sprinkling of the weird South African everyones against us siege mentality. Watching either of those teams get beat would make my year.

    3. How can Gregory Townsend leave Hamish Watson out of his 23 for the Ireland game after his brilliant display against Tonga. It must have been a real boost for Ireland to see Watsons exclusion from the team sheet. Townsend must be the only person that thought he did not deserve at least a place on the bench.
      It makes me wonder if all is well in the Scottish camp.

      1. Because an admittedly good performance against Tonga doesn’t mean much, totally different kettle of fish. Ireland are masters of the breakdown and that’s why the beat us. If there was a mistake in selection then it was picking Dempsey, who is a very good ball carrier but not, by his own admission, great at the breakdown, instead of Fagerson to start.

      2. Probably left out because his upright running style would just be chop tackled by Irelands defense…and he would have fared no better at breakdown and in all likelyhood worse.
        Unless you watched him play against Romania with ‘The Mish’ tinted glasses ..and not Tonga as you suggested as he wasn’t in the 23… would have seen that he was good for about 15 mins until even Romania’s defense sussed his play out ..then he faded and looked like had just run a marathon after 40mins. Done at test level…move on.

  4. Well beaten by a much better team. The score line flattered us tbh. Surely kicking points and keeping it close early on is a safer option when our driving maul (if we could win our own LO) is such low percentage rugby. Ireland were totally happy to defend. Is it just me, the TMO has been terrible during this WC?

    1. Happy to defend because in attack we were going backwards. We play too predictable against Ireland

    2. No, Mike, you are true re TMO. Rory Best showed on STV half-time that first try was illegit. Fourth try shown patently held up. Whole TMO and bunker system has proved as unreliable as football VAR. It’s like Craig Joubert got himself a new job.

      1. Definitely! The slip to touch the line, never looked at? Nic Berry not utilising TMO, except when it suited? Two of the tries should not have been given. Why did none of the Scots chase the ball after a kick? It was like they stood and watched. When Ireland kick they run like crazy after it. They need to do drop goals! Not seen scotland once try for about 15 years. It could have made a huge difference . Scotland were lacklustre, compared to the Tonga game. Yes Ireland are at the top of their game but there was a huge lack of magic from us. It was sad to watch at times, between the bad referee decisions( I’ll decide) Berry, to lack of passion by Scot’s

    3. Ireland are world class but Scotland were playing against 17 men last night. The ref and TMO were shocking and this needs calling out. The players and coach are getting a lot of stick today but the poor performance was not helped by hapless officiating which always meant Scotland were on the back foot. I don’t recall a game in recent memory where the ref let so many blatant infringements (by Ireland) go unchecked. If I had paid to be in Paris to watch that last night I would be demanding my money back from WRC. It’s no shame to get beaten by a quality team like Ireland but when you pay a lot of money to attend something like that last night then the least you expect is a fair contest from the referee and TMO. Scotland were denied that last night and the players and coach are getting a hammering today for the performance. For the sake of the integrity of the game the SRU needs to call it out.

      1. All the TMO failings are a disgrace. Throughout the whole tournament. What’s the point of it if it’s not used. I question the Scotland v Ireland game, yes, Ireland’s defense was stellar, but would they have scored some of those trys if TMO got involved?! People at home could see the issues, but not the officials whose job it is pick up on them. My husband said, ‘that’s sport’, but I refuse to accept such weak excuses. Especially now we have TMO. As a Scotland supporter, people may think of me as a sore loser, but I’m really not. I would call out any wrongs done to any team. It’s all about fairness. Anyhoos, good luck to Ireland and the other teams for the quarter finals! Whoo hoo!!

  5. completely outplayed by a much better team – we had no answers in attack or defence . It was a thoroughly depressing watch

  6. Hi all. Irish fan here. Commiserations on your loss – Scotland possibly got the worst draw of any team in the competition and had you been in pool C or D, I’m sure Scotland would have made a semi final. Me and a few friends are heading to Paris next weekend for the 1/4 final and I know it’s a long shot but if anyone is looking to sell tickets, I would be be very interested in buying. We are genuine rugby fans and the reselling websites have made it impossible to get tickets. Many thanks in advance!

  7. We never gave up and scored the best try of the night.
    However I thought our defence was poor – rwo tries i think from first phase ball is not to standard.
    We were not good attack tonight. Going wide when we haven’t sucked the defence in just didn’t work.
    I still think we need to be bigger harder more dynamic up front to create space for our talented backline. Can you imagine Finn behind the French, Irish or SA pack
    In attack,

    1. Couldn’t agree more on the pack. Totally out muscled by Ireland. Skinner and Crosbie needed to start last night. Might not have changed the result but would have given Scotland a bit of grunt against a team that in recent years continues to bully us. We have other big men – Kebble, Mcbeth, Alex Craig (what happened to him after his cameo taking it to the big French pack in Paris in 2021?) and Bradbury to name a few – but they don’t fit Toonie’s style of play. Richard Cockerill (no slouch!) saw something in a young Marcus Bradbury to make him captain at the same time as calling out Grant Gilchrist for being overrated. Bradbury has since fallen out of favour (but curiously is good enough to play at the top level in England) and Gilchrist continues to get selected and continues to underwhelm in the physical stakes against big packs! Peter o Mahoney was allowed to roam around the park last night like Rambo and was full of it in belittling Scotland in his interview after the game. He won’t be allowed to do that by the NZ pack next week …

  8. I am wondering whether the much maligned Harris might have made a difference tonight – dont think he would have allowed some of those tries and might have enabled us to stay in the game

    1. Totally right, alythman. Jones ineffective first 55. Which is when he should have come on for tougher Harris to turn defence to attack. Wrong selection. Ditto Smith should have been first 15 instead of powder puff Kingsmill. If I – who knows nuffin – can see that in advance, how come not Toonie?

      1. What are you talking about? Kinghorn played for a couple and minutes, and Smith was pretty shockingly off the pace the whole game.

  9. The SRU is not fit for purpose. As with our representative pundits, we are always there to ‘make up the numbers’.

    Spineless losers who don’t represent the country. The players conduct themselves well, as do the fans. Both groups deserve better than a coach who is massively out of his depth and a wider organisation that only cares about lining it’s pocket and getting a pat on the back.

    Keep dothing your cap SRU. You’re spineless losers from top to bottom. No wonder rugby hasn’t captured the imagination of the wider population when you do nothing to grow the game and everything to keep it to yourselves.

    The players deserve more. The fans definitely deserve more.

    Get rid of Gregor Townsend and put Scottish Rugby first for once.

    1. Are you… an ACTUAL rugby fan? Don’t you realise that Scotland’s ranking has NEVER been higher than it is now?

      Not Scotland’s (or Townsend’s!) fault that it was placed in a group with the top 2 placed teams.

      1. It’s delusional nonsense how obsessed some have been by the groups

        Do you propose in some other world Scotland simply never met either SA, NZ or Ireland at any stage?

  10. Well beaten and we handicapped ourselves with poor decisions. We snubbed the points and fluffed the plays. That was a schoolboy howler, I will refrain from saying more.

    It was a strange call to put Horne on the wing , I would have preferred Price. The game was lost anyway, why play safe, it was obvious we were going to play 7’s style rugby second half, nowt to lose, we just never organised well for that either.

    Nic Berry didnt have a great game. I will refrain from saying more on that as well.

    1. Nick Berry did a fine job of breaking Scottish spirit.
      He should not be allowed into a rugby stadium…

  11. The fact our attack floundered again and again was no surprise, the Irish have a quality defence.
    It was the porosity of our defence that was so shocking. We had the most successful defence in the 6N 2021 and now we are nowhere. Tandy was taken on the lions tour on the strength of it. What has happened since? No one likes Harris anymore but with the Huwipulotu form having fallen off a cliff perhaps we should have been more pragmatic and tried to contain/frustrate the Irish for 50 minutes with Harris and Redpath. Watson and Crosbie in the back row and Steyn on a wing. Before bringing on the speed merchants.
    Overall the performance couldn’t have been worse, time for Toony to go and build a team which is hard to break down than one which is exiting to watch but loses the tight games.
    It doesn’t matter who is playing if the score is 7 or less with 10 minutes to go everyone experiences ‘squeaky bum’ time and the team which holds their nerve win.
    We need to be that team.

  12. 1 Blame (ie congratulate) Ireland for their all-round coached competence at every level in every area of the park. The quarters and beyond is where the real games begin. Scotland remain utterly miniature behind four giants. Despite Ireland and NZ having equivalent populations. Our fifth ranking seems way over-generous now.

    2 Blame Russell/Ritchie for dumb bravado against the world No1 in not taking 3 easy points twice after shock Irish 5-point opener. Or blame coaching instruction to go early for corners despite our appalling line-out record. Or are the field team supposed to read Toonie’s eyes instead of a Rassie flashlight?

    3 Blame the officials. Even Rory Best in the STV interval called out the illegitimacy of the first Irish try. And replays showed their fourth was clearly held up on the line, yet no TMO question asked. Keegan’s touchline catch? Replay showed his yellow boots sliding over line before he cleared. Small matters? Huge impact on game mentality. Ghosts of Joubert.

    4 Blame Ollie Smith for Obdurate Stupidity in tripping Sexton and castrating our defence and attack for 10 vital mins. Blame DVDM for being AWOL defensively. Out of position as usual defending his Dan Dare looks. Devastating against rubbish, rubbish against great.

    5 Blame ourselves for hoping that at 31-0 we could still come back à la Twickenham. Instead of realising we weren’t playing the constitutional crud that is England (I’m frankly more pissed off that Samoa somehow got swiped today, but loved that arrogant bully Farrell couldn’t count to 60 seconds).

    Inevitable end to fruitless optimism given the pool? But this is our heritage, this is Scotia’s historical profile and not just on the field of dreams. This is what predictably makes us what we are. (And please don’t remind me again about Jim Baxter’s keepy-uppy at Wembley, 1967.)

      1. Mostly agree. Think the kicking for corner to set a marker early works … if you hadn’t already lost the chance to do that by conceding a 65 second try. But not sure how you can blame VDM when tries 1,2, 5 and 6 were scored on the opposite wing off primarily early phase ball.

    1. You nailed it.
      Especially the officials.
      The psychological impact of “unfair” decisions on players is immense – they lose heart.

      1. Well then they shouldn’t. It happens to every team. How much do you want to mollycoddle them!?

    2. Agree. Some need to leave their Ego in the dressing room.
      If they spent more of the build-up concentrating on what’s ahead of them instead of flashing their designer gear, expensive locations and venues and posting all over social media as if they are on their jollies, they might do better.
      Their build-up chat is embarrassing.
      They don’t even have the grace to be humble after the game – parading about, posing for pictures with family like they’ve won the final. Feel sorry for the fans who spent their hard-earned money to go support them.

  13. Unfortunately for us the Irish have a way of playing, its not exciting rugby it’s brutal but it’s effective. Perhaps not the Rugby we want to see but they are also
    streetwise, they suss out the ref and his game managment and exploit that and know how to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses. They play on the line.
    So it comes down to coaching? Play an expansive exciting game with no plan B and be niave, or be coached to win? The Irish team or fans won’t be bothered how they get to the final! The gulf between us is massive.

    1. What a bitter mean spirited view of the quality of the rugby played by Ireland. They have just sliced Scotland apart many times in that match and totally humiliated them with inventive attacking rugby. Of course it will all be okay for Scotland when they get the referees they want. Lots of contributors seem to think the refereeing is the only thing that prevented Scotland winning.
      Scotland were soundly beaten by a better side.
      The development and organisation of Irish rugby has been light years ahead of Scotland for the last ten years and Ireland have beaten Scotland nine times in a row. It can’t always be the referee’s fault can it? The truth is Scotland were not good enough to win.

      1. Too harsh. We just happen to have a decent bunch of players just now, we are punching above our weight, we have the least registered players in the 6N and 5th in the world. However this referee did miss things and his TMO did not help. When you lose confidence in the referee , it is even harder.

        We have had our fair share of this over the years to be perfectly honest, we should not need to coach our players how to deal with bad decisions. Or should we !

    2. Play the rugby that fits best to your possibilities/capacities. Scotland did not do that against SAF/Ire. The result is where we were now. In the middle of no man’s land.

  14. If we don’t change the coaching regime now and freshen it all up ..I really don’t know what results we need to experience for a change to happen. We need to prepare for the next cycle like all other top nations will.

    We had a good selection of players to compete with Ireland …imo we are simply not as well coached as they are. I dont know what the tactics really were…it was as if nothing has been learned about how to play against physical high line defenses. GTs record against them is abysmal.
    Our defense coaching needs a shake up it’s just too passive to compete and win some matches against the top sides. The lineout?…do we even practice it?
    Anyway…..just an awful performance…I was expecting us to at least compete, have good tactics in place and a plan B….I don’t know how this squad recover in time for the 6N ..confidence must be shot.

    GTs international stock must be shot to hell.

    Ireland fully deserved their win. They are efficient, well organized and now oozing confidence. That said , I’ll be going for France and NZ who just play better to watch rugby imo.

    1. “A good selection of players to complete with Ireland”

      Why are you deluding yourself to type that, it’s such nonsense

      The next cycle? Have you bothered to look at the U21 6N

      We are Aberdeen attempting to pretend we can compete with Celtic

      Ireland play excellent Rugby, it’s bizarre some try and pretend a side executing that level of technical excellence at such a high level is some how boring

  15. Ireland are a lot better at Rugby than Scotland

    It’s been strange reading people delude themselves into thinking anything other than the last month, year, 10 years?

  16. Decided to sleep before offering my ramblings.
    …Horrible pool. SA and Ireland worst possible stylistically match ups
    …Somewhat similar to 2019 RWC where we seemed not to have an effective Plan B when a Plan B was required. Ended up losing all the games that mattered in successive RWCs
    …lack of a kicking option (apart from Finn) troubled me, when our attack works its great, when it doesn’t it we keep trying it regardless
    …the missed foot in touch early on and the blocking for the 1st Irish try were pretty blatant and doesn’t show the TMO in a good light.
    …. whilst, I do think GT is a better coach now and he was in a he was in 2019, the big games in successive RWCs have been lost in similar disappointing circumstances is he ‘really’ improving this team??
    …. Finally were Ireland and SA that good or have they simply been well coached In how to nullify Scotlands style

    1. Agreed on plan B and other teams being coached how to beat us. Other coaches know how we’re going to play and know how to disrupt and stop our attacks and when it happens we’re clueless on how to mix things up. Very disappointing.

  17. Scotland got absolutely blown away by Ireland. Again.

    Ireland are better but the question should be ‘why’? It’s the same answer, I’m afraid, after 30 years of professionalism. The game is the preserve of pockets of Scottish society and the rest don’t bother with it, including some large urban populations. Until this is resolved and the clubs and SRU get on the same page with developing the game from grass roots to professional to international (see Ireland) we will be mediocre at best.

    Where a city’s schools final is the pinnacle of rugby achievement, with a culture built around Corinthian values, we’ll never compete in Europe or globally. The schools cup should be massive but it should be a stepping stone not the end.

    If ‘trying hard’ and ‘the boys did their best’ is acceptable to those that run the game and are involved in it then this is a high water mark as other countries become more professional. Unless these sort of attitudes changes and rugby changes it’s brand in Scotland to engage with the whole population we are in terminal decline.

  18. Yes other teams like England and Wales got a favourable draw but we didn’t deserve to go through to the QF on last night’s showing. Maybe another group exit is what is needed to give the coaches and players a reality check. We’re not as good as we thought we were. We seem to have a reputation for being overhyped and talking ourselves up. What was Blair Kinghorn thinking telling the media ‘we’ll end Ireland’s winning run on Saturday”. John Barclay needs to stop saying things like “We can be a match for any side in the world”. Our players and pundits need media training. We’re just giving Irish media outlets and fans forums material to disrespect and laugh at us repeatedly.

  19. Some clear mistakes all round.
    First and foremost we should have been sent out to win the game. To be in the mix come the end of the match, and not to worry about the permutations for the QF until much later. We were chasing tries after the first few minutes when there was no need. Take the pens. Scoreboard pressure is a thing!
    2) not kicking enough. We were better in the second half when we kicked more but we needed to kick more in that first half. At times we looked like Italy, with phase after phase gng nowhere and refusing to kick for territory. That Irish pack needed to be turned around a lot more often
    3) lack of line speed. Very slow off the line in comparison- it felt like we were quite passive in defence and lacking intensity.
    4) Mouthing off before games. Why is Kinghorn in the papers saying we’re gng to do this or that. Haven’t we learned from the past? Ireland have basically stuck that on the changing room wall as POM post match interview implied
    5) ref was shocking. Ireland by far the better team on the night but a lot of the momentum was given to them by poor officiating. First try was a clear obstruction, there was the foot in touch somehow missed, Porter off his feet before the second try, Porter scrumming lying down, players taken out off the ball etc. Players were clearly frustrated with that and themselves as you could see with the Ollie Smith episode which was just daft (we missed Kinghorn – really needed the second playmaker and his rangy running. Smith, like so many others was off the pace). Do we need more cynical coaching of the dark arts?

    1. Agree with your points. It was very reminiscent of the Twickenham 2019 debacle, throwing the ball around and chasing the game in the first half and achieving nothing before shipping more soft tries. When we started kicking more in the second half we looked better, Ollie Smiths moment of madness put paid to the idea of any comeback.

      Ireland certainly got the decisions, the “foot isn’t clearly in touch” is laughable, I think the ref was telling a downright lie when he said they had looked at it, if they had looked at it Stevie Wonder could have seen his foot was in touch. It almost annoys me more though that Ireland didn’t have to resort to their usual cheating, their defence line wasn’t blatantly offside and they weren’t nearly as bad as they can be at lying around all over rucks.

      It was our own defensive system that was at fault, unbelievably pedestrian, we were running two steps forward then stopping and waiting for them to run into us, or through us more accurately. That was letting their ball carriers get a full head of steam up and the clearance was hard behind them to blast us off the ball. Simple stuff really, we were letting them generate quick ball and it wasn’t them illegally stopping us from competing for a change. Compare they were instantly in our faces in attack so we were sitting deep, Finn was trying his best, the full bag of tricks was out but we couldn’t get front foot ball to create holes. That was mainly due to awesome Irish defence but we were leaving runners isolated which made it all too easy for them to slow it down and get a turnover.

      It’s most frustrating because we know exactly how Ireland, and South Africa play, the same way they have for years, and we still don’t have an answer for it and we have been saying that for years.

      At the end of the day we got a crap draw which was our own doing by being crap around the time the draw was done. There was no injustice or failures to turn up like there have been at previous WCs we just got soundly beaten by better teams. Focus now needs to be on the 6N. I fear that as rotten as Wales and England are, they can turn things round quickly whereas we seem to struggle with the same issues for years.

      1. We were 7th in the world at the time of the draw. Unfortunately World Rugby decided to use the rankings at January 2020, instead of December 2020 due to COVID. So there was an injustice because we wouldn’t have been in the same pool as Ireland as they were 5th in December 2020!

    2. I would like to know exactly what happened to Kinghorn, how did he get the HIA, didnt see any footage…thought the TMO was quiet for Scotland in the 2nd half especially.

    3. Best Post I’ve seen reasoned and fair…

      We need to learn how far to go with the dark arts know the line and cheat like hell…it’s what the winning teams do…they win by playing on the edge of everything….I watched an Irish try against Tonga hung on to a player behind the ruck created the gap to punch a hole try a few phases later.

      Completely illegal impossible to highlight everything, so get away with it. We are disadvantaged by playing either clean or really obvious cheating…neither works.

      Refs always make errors every team has gripes (we had a huge list in this one) we’d have no list had we won…but just like injuries you have to play so well that ref calls don’t count…that is a mentality thing. Ireland have mastered that when the injuries came against us in March…they got excited about it and embraced it…we decided that an obvious trip on Sat when we had ball and field position was the correct mentality…it wasn’t.

  20. I do think it’s time for a change of head coach. I don’t mean that in an angry, rash way. Gregor is a good coach and he has an exciting and good to watch brand of Rugby. But that’s just it! This is his brand. Yes he changed the brand after the last world cup and went super defensive for a season or two and had some short term success with it. But that petered out and he has spoken of trying to marry the defensive side with the attacking side and it looked this year in patches like he was getting closer too it. But we only produced it against some very poor England and Wales teams and have failed to do it against the best teams. Georgia, South Africa, Tonga and Ireland, when we played our “first string team” seems to me to have got increasingly predictable and effectively returned us to where we were in 2019. Either Gregor’s brand doesn’t work or he is unable communicate it to the players. The effect is the same. This is clearly the gameplan that Gregor believes in, it doesn’t make sense for him to try to coach any other style. But he’s had his shot, and over and over again he’s fallen short. Yes he’s got the best win ratio but he’s also had by far the best squad to work with. It’s time for something new. Try to temp an ambitious coach looking to move into international rugby, Rob Baxter, Ronan O’Gara, McFarland, Alex Sanderson, Dave Rennie?

    1. Its good to read some calm reasoned opinion. However I disagree that Townsend is a good international coach. After 7 years in the job he has learnt nothing it appears in relation to how to compete against teams who play powerful pragmatic rugby or a rush defense. Who would have thought that Ireland would throw to O’Mahony at the lineout, target our 13 channel, put highballs up to Darcy, run wrap arounds at every phase of attack. Yet we looked as if we had never seen these tactics before and had nothing to combat it. His selections and tactics never change irrespective of the opposition and not surprisingly we end up with the same result. You cannot compete against these teams in the first 50 minutes with a lightweight ball playing back row. He should have gone after the last world cup debacle but here we are 4 years later back in the same position with Townsend delivering the same delusional after match platitudes. FFS Gregor unearth some integrity and resign.

      1. I agree. Much as I love to see Scotland play swashbuckling rugby, it is ineffective against a well-honed rush defence. That being so, it would be reasonable to expect that Toony and his coaching staff would have devised a style of play and tactical system to counteract it. Alas, they have not done so. Toony’s had two bites at the RWC cherry and came up well short both times. He should have went after RWC 2019; he must go now.

        On another point, Nic Berry and the TMO should both be getting their jotters for a series of dreadful decisions. Their ineptitude (and that’s putting it mildly) went a long way to ensuring that the Test was over before the first half was done. That Ireland would have won anyway does nothing to excuse the officials’ performance.

  21. Good points sir, I didn’t say GT was a good international coach, he’s better than he was in 2019 but he was poor in 2019.
    Again against an aggressive well coached defence we really struggled to gain ground, Crosbie should’ve been given more gametime in preparation for the big boys, he adds physicality and a bit of dog to the back row.
    I’d have been trying Healy at FB too, he’s got an excellent boot
    I’m not sure if GT /Scotland has really prospered because/partially because of of a peak Hogg and now a peak Russell rather than GTs coaching acumen

    1. We feel a bit like Ireland under Eddie O’Sullivan, great group of players not fulfilling their potential. I think it is fair to say GT has done well for Scotland but now a change is needed to push the team on.

  22. Sad display by Scotland. When the chips are down we fail but that is the national story of cringe. Of course we fail if told repeatedly we are poor and useless unable to stand on our own as Ireland do and have done. Keep singing the song and send nobody home to think again.

  23. Absolutely spineless, stale, so tired of the same old story – we might play good rugby but in the broader picture NOTHING has changed in three years, except our most talented generation has grown older and been wasted (and the kids below them can’t win for love no money).

    Mark Dodson needs to get to f***, and take Gregor Townsend with him. It is the same old psychological failings, time and time again, it isn’t that we ‘talk the talk’ but feeling the need to front up stops us from playing our natural game – and Townsend himself exemplifies those failings, he can’t keep the team on their game, he falls into absolutely the same trap. He has to go. Enough is enough.

    It’s rare you get the chance to make up for exactly what you did last time. Scotland fell apart in exactly the same way, it was a perfect re-run of Yokohama. Enough now, get GT out of here, get MD out of here, get Ruth Davidson gone. Stop relying on sedate Edinburgh private schools to produce the requisite hard bastards required for professional rugby success.

  24. Also, honestly, the type of psychological scars that get inflicted on our boys time and again – by losing in THIS type of circumstance, having been set up for glorious failure by a sporting structure riddled with holes and coaching failings – aren’t healthy to deal with. The lads looked absolutely haunted in 2019, they looked absolutely haunted last night, for some of them one will be partly because of the other.

    In all his years as coach Townsend has never once coached a stable line-out. He’s setting these lads up for failure.

  25. Am 66 now. In 2019 I did opine that GT was needing binned. But no

    Oh so pathetic and oh so predictable. GT is hopeless but the players did him or themselves no favours.
    As for the corrupt WRU and bias from officials Nuffield said.
    Beat it Gregor

  26. I think it’s fair enough to lose against the best in the world, especially if we had left it all on the field after giving our best performance of the tournament. But to simply not turn up and surrender so meekly is absolutely unforgivable. I know people will be out for Townsend’s blood, and maybe rightly so, but the sheer number of individual errors was horrendous. Struggling to think of anyone – maybe Finn – that emerges with any credit from that farce. Yes, Ireland are brilliant, but we offered nothing to that game.

  27. So frustrating to watch Scotland last night. Didn’t think we would win, but at least thought we would go out with a fight. The single most frustrating thing is that we learned absolutely nothing since the previous world cup, and basically played with the same incredibly naive game plan.

    The players looked shocked that it wasn’t working, but Ireland played in exactly the same way as they played four years ago, including the exact same defensive plan… they didn’t commit anyone to the rucks outside the 22, allowing Scotland quick ruck ball, which they used to go side to side, and huff and puff with may be a bit of go forward. This had the effect of Ireland being able to spread out across the pitch full on rugby league style leaving no gaps and allowing them to cover all the zones. Then as soon as we got onto the 22 they went full boar into the breakdown, smashing us every time. Our inability to think on the hoof, problem solve and play what was in front of us was telling. The opposite of Ireland, who are clearly trained to think, rather than play rote rugby.

    This was a game plan, mindset and training issue for me. The players looked low on energy a bit as well, suggesting they were maybe over trained. I like Gregor, but we need a new coach.

  28. Heading home from Paris I have the following conclusions.
    1.) Our fan base is pathetic. We were outnumbered 30 to 1 at least. It was a sea of green and Ireland fans brought a level of energy that definitely helps. Sure it’s not decisive but it felt like a home match for Ireland. I know we Scots don’t particularly like to sing, but we need to improve. Crikey you’d think we’d travelled to Japan given how few we were. It’s France ya cheap xxxxxrs!
    2.) Pre match analysis of Ireland was poor. Our attack made very little impression, and they had clearly done their homework on us. We were schooled. This is on the coaches, some change needed, urgently.
    3.) We have good individual talent, and lots of talk of team spirit etc. But once plan A doesn’t work we don’t have the leadership on the pitch to adapt, so we just kept throwing the same attack with the same result. Again, coaching, and heads up rugby.
    4.) We need to not lose hope. That doesn’t mean false bravado and talking ourselves up. We need to fix the problems in defence, the lineout (ffs!) and try some other combinations, such as Redpath/Tuipolotu. Or Repath DVdm, with Steyne and Graham on wings. No idea if Dvdm has experience there, but North made the transition….. could imo be an interesting experiment.
    Ach well, bring on the six nations. I’m for Fiji now.

    1. Our leader was off the pitch. I question if he should have been on it ! Do we have a captain among them. Gilco maybe. A lot of overreaction and old hat in here today. The days for moaning about Toony are gone. I did enjoy seeing our lads having a chat with BVC, says a lot , but on the whole , Toony has finally settled to the job. We now have to put up, he is not that bad , is he !

    2. There were probably many reasons for our fans being overwhelmingly outnumbered by Ireland fans on Saturday night and I don’t intend to try to list them. All I’d say is that I hope your comment about a ‘pathetic fan base’ isn’t aimed at the few thousand of us who spent hard-earned to be not just in SdF but in all the other group game venues.

      1. There is always one. reminds me of the pathetic posts about ‘real scottish fans’. Well done all those real scottish fans that made it to the SdF. You are pilgrims.

        Now for all you tuneless fans that play and do all sorts of things that are taken for granted in the name of developing Scottish Rugby. Think on ! You were not at the SdF were you now !!!

      2. Course not. The issue the way I see it is other nations (Ireland in this case) have mobilised, massively. Probably comes from a belief that they were always going to exit pool, that this is their World Cup, and maybe our lack of numbers reflects a lack of confidence, or maybe not, maybe we just don’t have as much cash as our Irish cousins. I don’t know. But it has been a feature of games, that our presence has not been so felt, which is a shame, especially for those of us that do risk divorce to make them. Numbers aside though, I’ve noticed for years that we tend to sing when we’re winning and go pretty quiet and grumpy when things are going bad. If we’re going to analyse player performance, coaches, SRU, why not also our role as fans? We can be the extra man on the pitch.

    3. If we were going to shuffle the deck chairs and experiment with DVDM …Id play him at 6 or 8.
      Redpath and McDowell deserve a 6 N chance if they stay healthy and in form. Kyle Rowe should come into thought if he gets a run of form. G Horne needs to start. Sebastian should be backing up Fagerson for the 6N.
      Alex Craig and Hunter Hill …if they get the game time at their respective clubs. P Harrison at hooker needs to be developed in the squad.
      There are a bunch of players who played v Ireland that we need to move on from and give others a chance….imo
      Hopefully a fair few retire from tests….I have little faith that GT will make the right changes.

  29. Tough to take, but:
    Ireland won on merit.
    Scotland played poorly and did not take early points on offer.
    Poor Officiating made the score worse: Referee, touch judges and what is the point of the TMO?

  30. I’d love Ireland to win the rwc. It would be an awesome achievement for a country with strong historic, cultural and family ties to our own who’ve been building a legacy for 2 decades now. Can’t believe people are griping about this.

    As for us, we’ve been papering over a dodgy breakdown with some awesome back play for several seasons and yesterday it came unstuck.

    Maybe there was an element of Ireland taking the foot off the pedal but I think it’s relevant that we won the 2nd half even though we went a man down for 10 minutes.

    We brought players like Crosbie on and I think they made a difference. The 1st thing Crosbie did was force a turnover.
    How many turnovers did you see before Crosbie came on v after?
    Ritchie and Darge are great players but they are both opensides and Darge is also very young. Yesterday Ritchie went off and Darge was simply blown away.

    I think the experiment with twin opensides has reached its limit now and the selection and technical focus for the coaching team going into the 6N should probably be the breakdown.

    1. Great post! Only comment would be to add “underpowered set piece” as well as “dodgy breakdown”

    2. ..and why did we replace Ritchie with Fagerson when Crosbie would have continued the breakdown threat and offered a lineout option when it was struggling?…Im not saying that in hindsight I was surprised by that at the time. Poor call imo.

    3. Ireland won and were a better side , we needed to be much much better than we have ever been to beat them and we were actually pretty poor and made honking decisions.

      I think you will find that the New Zealand All Black has stronger ‘historic and cultral ties’ to Scotland than Ireland and they have won the RWC three times and cuffed us mercilessly on every single game we have ever played.

      They were invited to immigrate to New Zealand and even named citys after scottish towns. Dunedin (Dùn Èideann) being the gallic name for Edinburgh.

  31. I’ve read through all these comments as a form of self-therapy and wish to introduce some additional thoughts of my own. All this talk of tactical naivety, not switching to “Plan B”, adapting etc – I don’t agree. We are so outgunned in the tight 5 and lack enough gainline ball carriers to compete any other way. Ireland beat us up. If we played two phases and kicked, they would have taken our set piece apart and won the kicking battle (DVM and Graham don’t want the ball in the air). If we’d played more direct, they’d have battered us on the advantage line and dominated the breakdown. In my view, we could have played this game 100 times, practiced and executed 100 different things, switched up selection each time and we wouldn’t have won. Maybe once or twice with an early Ireland red card. If anyone can actually tell me how we could have won this game through tactical changes, I’d be fascinated to read it. We needed every single bounce of the ball to go our way and a huge dash of luck to win that one.

    Also (and this is just my view) anyone calling for Townsend’s head – who do you honestly think could do a better job? The conveyor belt is not exactly promising, player depth is threadbare and we have only one or two world class players (Finn and maybe DVM on his day). We’ve done well to get the ranking we have with the player pool and infrastructure in place (SRU I’m looking at you), and that misplaced optimism makes the pain of this display even harder. I didn’t think we could win last night, I just wanted us to go out with a bang and express ourselves. The fact that we didn’t is hugely disappointing.

    P.S. I do agree that our best chance was to stay in the fight as long as possible. Take points, keep the scoreboard close, and try and make something happen late on. That was a mistake, but I don’t think ultimately would have yielded a different outcome.

    1. The problem is we were absolutely slaughtered, we didn’t even put up a fight. We played better against South Africa where our tight 5 did alright for a good 40 minutes. We’ve done well against monstrous French teams. Ireland have our number big time, and we didn’t try anything different at all. I’d hoped that Gregor might have come up with something different, at least had a trick or two up his sleeve. It was such a naive approach yesterday.

    2. Don’t agree on the tight 5. Scrum had parity. But Ireland didn’t commit to breakdown, so our old elastic band from side to side never encountered space. Time’s like that you need a different play…. which we saw with Dempsey break. I think we looked formulaic most of the time, predictable. Rugby isn’t just about fronting up, however important that is, it’s about coaching to force space. Vdm and Graham got hospital passes one after another. When good players can’t make progress it’s a coaching problem. I’m not btw calling for Toonie to go necessarily, but I sense the Ireland coaches take a very analytical and data heavy approach to game plans. We need to improve in this area, as it wasn’t clear what we were targeting. It looked very similar to other game plans against weaker sides.

    3. …nobody knows for sure what outcomes are yielded from choices made.
      However, do you really think that 20 years ago Ireland’s RU said ‘stuff it lets just accept that our players aren’t quite good enough to beat top sides and achieve noteworthy success’
      Nope…..they made positive changes throughout and gradually piece by piece the coaching standards improved …player quality improved…performances improved..and for a few years now results have improved to the point of them winning and challenging for the top honors in the game. They don’t have the largest player pool either. Its taken time to build their systems…its sink or swim for us too…something has to give for us to go any further.

  32. People who say Its lack of player talent…is it?
    Look at the difference Gatland has made to Wales in a short space time. They don’t have many players who would walk individually into the top sides…but he definitely has got them well organized and fighting for the good of the team.
    GT has had a long time to show he can do similar..and simply hasn’t done that when it matters.
    Coaching is extremely important and I think the SA and Ireland matches re-highlighted that. Our defense systems and attack systems are worked out by the top sides.
    …but Im sure we’ll stay with the safe spot we are in…no real success…and no real failure…all we have achieved is the mid point.
    Time for change imo. It was after last RWC too…and here we are….deja vu.
    The refereeing throughout this RWC has been horribly inconsistent and unsurprisingly favored the World Rugby Org’s favorites.

    1. It certainly isn’t lack of player talent.

      While most would agree that the majority of Ireland players on Saturday are better than their Scotland counterparts, not all of them are. And, in many cases, the differences are marginal.

      The biggest difference is that they play far, far better AS A TEAM. Whether that means their individual talents are deployed more appropriately or they simply work together better.

      There is no way, for example, that I would say Aki is a better player than Sione but there is no doubt that Ireland used Aki’s talents more effectively than Scotland used Sione’s. You could argue that case for all 23 players probably.

      These are coaching issues not player ability issues.

      And, yes, the officiating has been an unmitigated disaster from the opening day. The institutional bias in world rugby is clear for all to see but Scotland is a soft touch, politically powerless to defend our interests and, even if we weren’t, our officials seem more interested in jumping on the gravy train anyway.

  33. Some very sensible observations above, which I’d summarise thusly.

    – It doesn’t matter if we swashbuckle tier two teams like Romania, we’ll never beat a top four team without long-term investment in re-structuring the Scottish game, roots up. Our Under-20 team since June 2022 have played 8 and won 1 (by one point against Wales), inc losing handsomely to Georgia and Italy and being crushed by, guess who, Ireland. This isn’t feeding standout players through to the senior squad. And only 16/40 of our current squad will be under 30 at next RWC in Australia. See imminent retirees at

    – Townsend has only the one wide-wide fast game plan, and results against top teams prove it doesn’t work. He’s so wedded to it that the selection vs Ireland was patently ludicrous on paper, and so it proved on the pitch. We needed Harris, Mish, Horne and Steyn to start. The failure to kick three simple penalties was symptomatic. GT’s press conf platitudes also bespeak his own embedded fixity of mind. His system has tried and failed. Replace. Look how Gatland has turned Wales into something in a couple of months. Better coaches exist.

    – Ireland have those two issues sorted. They’re generationally structured at all levels, coached via close analysis of opposition tactics (or in Scotland’s case tactic) and can respond flexibly to events during a match. Our lack of variety at the Stade was pitiful to watch and plain brainless.

    – All our captains need to learn how to manage referees systematically. March-back Ritchie is unskilled, and Russell surprisingly acquiescent. First try obstruction, Keenan’s held up (no replay showed clear grounding, quite the opposite), his foot slipped onto touchline earlier denying us 50:22, and none of these went upstairs. Mistakes will happen, and those incidents don’t reverse Ireland’s majestic superiority, but Nic Berry was either shockingly one-sided or blind. Called a knock-on near the end when a Scottish forward lost the ball backwards. Is the rugby spirit so decorous we must just let these things go at the time?

    – Who’s going to do what now about any of this in the four months before 6N?

  34. Nice dummy by Kinghorn..but it didn’t fool me.
    Best he admits this ain’t his game and retire-for his own sake.

  35. The remedies for our woes lie in two areas. Both are systemic issues, so let’s leave the appalling officiating, naive team selection and on-field errors of Saturday aside.

    1 Scotland will never beat a higher ranked team until the whole SRU approach is restructured and investment committed to the kind of development that exists in Ireland from the roots up. Consider these stats. Since June 2022, our Under-20 team have played 8 and lost 7 games, including big margins vs Georgia and Italy. Their sole win was a 1 point victory at home against Wales. Nothing bubbling there to feed into the senior squad. This is compounded when you do the arithmetic and discover that only 16 out of the 40 in the current senior squad will be under 30 by next RWC in 2027. See the list here:

    2 Many comments above reignite the debate over GT. His stats outperform any other Scotland coach, I understand, including wins over some historically well-ranked teams like England. But the data is dismal when you bring higher ranked teams into the focus. Forget warm-ups and friendlies. They’re just exercises in selection options. The truth is that our recent failures result from a determination to play a fast wide game, even when it’s obvious it isn’t working during a match. And that results from a fixity of mindset that is GT’s own. As others have said above, it’s a coaching problem. How did we miraculously come back from 31-0 at Twickenham happen? By Russell tearing up the coach’s pre-determined plan at half-time. Our coaches seem reluctant to clinically analyse how the opposition will play (such as SA and Ireland’s rush defence) and train in strategies to outsmart them beyond picking and going right then left like a metronome. Our players seem shackled by pre-determined tactics and incapable of reacting in real time on the field when those tactics fail. Again, this is a coaching issue.

    I don’t believe much will change once they all come home. What’s worse, for me, is that what’s lacking in the whole managerial approach is urgency and passion. GT’s press conf performances are a masterclass of meaningless platitudes and clichés. Why is that a worry? Because what comes out of the mouth describes what’s in the head.

  36. The remedies for our woes lie in two areas. Both are systemic issues, so let’s leave the appalling officiating, naive team selection and on-field errors of Saturday aside.

    First, Scotland will never beat a higher ranked team until the whole SRU approach is restructured and investment committed to the kind of development that exists in Ireland from the roots up. Consider these stats. Since June 2022, our Under-20 team have played 8 and lost 7 games, including big margins vs Georgia and Italy. Their sole win was a 1 point victory at home against Wales. Nothing bubbling there to feed into the senior squad. This is compounded when you do the arithmetic and discover that only 16 out of the 40 in the current senior squad will be under 30 by next RWC in 2027.

    Second, many comments above reignite the debate over GT. His stats outperform any other Scotland coach, I understand, including wins over some historically well-ranked teams like England. But the data is dismal when you bring higher ranked teams into the focus. Forget warm-ups and friendlies. They’re just exercises in selection options. The truth is that our recent failures result from a determination to play a fast wide game, even when it’s obvious it isn’t working during a match. And that results from a fixity of mindset that is GT’s own. As others have said above, it’s a coaching problem. How did we miraculously come back from 31-0 at Twickenham happen? By Russell tearing up the coach’s pre-determined plan at half-time. Our coaches seem reluctant to clinically analyse how the opposition will play (such as SA and Ireland’s rush defence) and train in strategies to outsmart them beyond picking and going right then left like a metronome. Our players seem shackled by pre-determined tactics and incapable of reacting in real time on the field when those tactics fail. Again, this is a coaching issue.

    I don’t believe much will change once they all come home. What’s worse, for me, is that what’s lacking in the whole managerial approach is urgency and passion. GT’s press conf performances are a masterclass of meaningless platitudes and clichés. Why is that a worry? Because what comes out of the mouth describes what’s in the head.

    1. Excellent post Sir.

      I think GT has to find away to bring back the blue wall that Tandy orchestrated after he joined the coaching team. Harris’ defensive leadership was key to that but we all know his attacking limitations. Is it worth trying Redpath and Sione together? Sione is more than capable of playing 13. Jones runs excellent lines and has a great understanding with Sione but Redpath is too talented to leave out IMO.

      Saturday was reminiscent of the Twickenham horror show albeit not as bad. Ringrose running through our midfield just like Jamie Joseph did that day and we even had a scrum half playing on the wing then too.

      Should Healy be tried at FB given his boot? Kinghorn has searing pace and looks good against lower ranked opposition but he goes missing in too many big games for me. He’s just not a warrior who leaves everything out on the field. He also needs to work on his PR skills as claiming that we’d end Ireland’s winning run pre match was a massive own goal and just gave the Irish the excuse to mock us even more for ‘talking ourselves up’ again.

    2. Totally agree with your first point. Ireland has enormous advantages over us in terms of structure – Leinster is a dream for any sports business (very little competition in a big city) rich FPs have bought the IRFU an academy system, and they’ve ingratiated themselves to the highest levels of World Rugby (while Dodson’s been throwing around lawsuits and generally peeing them off).

      These are problems that the SRU is paid to sort, though, and it isn’t happening. I was shocked when Jim Mallinder spoke of the BBC Scottish Rugby Podcast, blamed everyone but the SRU for the shocking decline in our U20 results, and then saying “well, look at how well Rory Darge is getting on!” Absolutely ludicrous negation of responsibility.

      On the second one, no-one will ever know how we would have done with a different manager. It doesn’t feel like it because of the strides the top four have made in the past couple of years (look what France and NZ did to the third team in their group!), but we have seen steady progress in his time as manager. There is still a major mental block in the team, which he has never managed to overcome.

      But fixing problem 2 won’t change anything until we fix problem 1.

    3. Forgive the repeated posts! Some kind of gremlin inside this site last night meant original wasn’t working. Bit like at the Stade…

  37. Okay, so it took a lot of work but I may have found a small silver lining in amongst the misery. You’ll have seen the stats about Jonny Sexton never losing to Scottish teams. But this is about to go from a strength to a weakness for the old Cote d’Ivoire. On Saturday, Scotland outscored Ireland when Sexton went off. That got me thinking, so I went back through the stats and in the past 2 world cup cycles, where Irish dominance has be so complete over Scotland, we’ve never been outscored in any period of play where Sexton hasn’t been on the pitch*. We’ve won the only full game he didn’t play (27-22 in 2017), and on every other occasion, after he’s gone off, it’s either been no other scoring or Scotland, to a greater or lesser extent, get back into it.

    Total score in Sexton-free minutes in 6N and world cups over the last 2 World Cup cycles – Scotland 56 Ireland 37.

    I know this is the worst kind of straw clutching, and Jack Crowley looks a real player, a big step up from Carberry and (ugh) Jackson. But it does show the enormous influence of Sexton on that team. Interesting to see the affect on Ireland. when they can’t rely on him any more.

    1. Sexton has played for Ireland when they have lost to Scotland, he came on as a replacement for O’Gara in 2010. Scotland won 20-23. It was a late Dan Parks penalty.

  38. Well said sir.

    Alas if you rake back in this forum (or SRB) I said something very similar 4 years ago

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