Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Six Nations 2024: Wales v Scotland Discussion Post

Graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog
Graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog


2024 Guinness Six NationsSat 3rd Feb 2024Principality Stadium, CardiffKick-off: 4:45 pm (UK)26-27


Referee: Ben O'Keefe (NZR)| TV: BBC Sport / S4C

Scotland go down to Cardiff seeking a rare victory in the Welsh capital against a raw side picked by returning coach Warren Gatland. How did Scotland play? Did the selections work? Where it all go wrong/right? How did Toony vs Gatland play out? Let us know your thoughts.

Give us your thoughts on the game.

Please put your post-game discussion points on this post – bearing in mind our Comment Policy.

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

73 Responses

  1. No killer instinct, too much casual bollocks in the 2nd half….this feels like a loss, a frankly dismal performance, lack of accuracy and lack of ruthlessness. Complacent and indisciplined….So we get the 22 year Cardiff monkey off our back but I cant see players or coaches being cock a hoop with this….

  2. The team selection left many of us miffed and a little bit meh… in terms of some of the individuals who got their chance today who were under scrutiny, most if not all, failed.

    How is Ritchie in that side? Dempsey clearly should have started in the back row, Christie is on fire and didn’t make the 23 & Bradbury is on fire and didn’t make the squad!!

    Rowe – huge fail second half. We cannot go up against France with Row FB.

    Turner/Ashman – turner is so good in defence & Carries well. What does Ashman do!? Jonny Matthews, clearly, should have been in this squad. Clearly.

    Toonie will wax lyrical about his favourites and spout his crap about reflecting and learning blah blah.

    Ben White, Finn, Sione & DVDM are why we won that game today. Kyle Steyn gets an honourable mention too.

    We did win but that’s the only real positive. I guess it’s all that matters really but it’s hard to see it as that right now…

  3. GT has to use his bench earlier, once again his reluctance to go to the bench almost cost us.

  4. Jeez but they don’t make it easy to watch! I don’t like focusing on the ref but some of the calls in the second half seemed harsh.

    I think there were a few reasons for the play in the second half:
    – we got complacent
    – Wales subs had a massive impact
    – the ref decisions meant we were scared to compete as everything we did got penalised which gave the Welsh room to play
    – the crowd lifted them and cowed us
    – Toonie was slow to use our bench to effect change

    Great to hold on for the win, I’d written this off as yet another Welsh disaster!

    1. . Agree with your thoughts, but for me id add that the back row was poor all game. I watch it back again and really, they didnt do much against such poor opposition even in the first half. Richie shouldn’t be anywhere near the team as he has such a limited run of games recently. Matt looked un-usually tired Luke was better than the others with carries but again not brilliant. Id be tempted to change all three for the French game. Andy Christie and Magnus B have been very good for club recently and im sure Watson would love a chance to show hes not over the hill yet.

  5. Wales were so offside in Scotland’s last attack. He just penalised Scotland 14 times in a row including some very marginal calls and two yellows and then give nothing ?!?!?

    1. Absolutely. You wonder what happened to change the ref’s view of the game so drastically. If we looked at a ruck it was a penalty yet they seemed to be able to flop all over the place, lie on the wrong side and get in the way of the scrum half with impunity.

  6. just a relief to scrape home – we dominated for 45 minutes and then lost the plot although Wales did raise their game. Cant concede penalty after penalty and expect a good outcome.

    Real mixed bag today

  7. Every nation is up for the first game. Great to get the away win, in Cardiff, shame it wasn’t a bonus try at the end. Two back to back yellows is going to impact, and a sudden shift from the ref made it tricky. When fifteen were on the pitch, clearly the better side. Forwards seem a little under-powered, need a Dempsey and more. Useful reminder on discipline and playing the ref before the France game.

  8. What do you make of Russell’s interview when said about individuals committing the fouls they need to look at themselves because putting the rest of us under extra pressure…it’s true but surprisingly blunt

    1. At last – truth rather than media training. Some very dumb decisions nearly cost us. Players need to take accountability. The top nations would. We will always be second rate when we talk a first rate game rather than delivering a first rate performance

    2. Yep, good to hear some actual accurate criticism rather than blah. What that rubbish 6N Netflix docu shows is just how mealy-mouthed coaches and captains are in dressing rooms and interviews when they should be breathing fire. Crowley in particular sounded like he stuffed daisies into his miserable gub for breakfast every day.

      When you’re falling apart at the seams as we were in the second half today, trash play from individuals should be eviscerated under the posts by the captain. Unsure if Finn has that choleric measure.

    3. I think it is interesting.

      Would that instruction have been ignored if it had come from Telfer or Cotter I wonder?

      Reading between the lines, I think a large proportion of that squad has little to no respect for Townsend. Had we managed to lose that game from 27 – 0 up that surely would have been the end of him.

      I think the difference between a team being better than the sum of their parts and dropping short of the sum of their parts is about how much the players want to play for the coach. Scotland has been falling short for the vast majority of Townsend’s time in charge – it is surely not a coincidence?

      FWIW, I don’t think Scotland played particularly well all game. Wales were just so, so poor in that first 30 minutes. Then, when they got some possession towards the end of the first half, they made howler after howler to gift possession back. I know my chat group were fairly wary at half time because we knew a decent team would have pegged Scotland back a good bit before hitting the sheds.

      A few moments of Finn and Duhan doing what they do is really all we have to shout about.

      Not that any were particularly difficult but worth noting that on the day we needed 100% from the tee from Finn, we got it.

    4. About time we had some honest opinion rather than bland corporate platitudes. He’s bang on. The forwards (and typically headless chicken Horne) screwed up at the end when a walk in was on to the left and they all ignored Finn screaming for the ball. Matt Fagerson and Ritchie were awful yesterday. Th replacement front row weren’t much coo either.

  9. Some very harsh decisions from the ref. The first yellow was pretty clear, but the second was the culmination of some very harsh reffing of the breakdown building up the penalty count. That said, it’s up to us to adapt. We needed to stop competing at the breakdown far more quickly, and this was due to a lack of leadership in the forwards. We sorely lack a totemic figure in the pack.

  10. This may be extreme but I’d happily not have Ritchie in the squad for the rest of the 6N

    1. Yes. This was Ritchie’s chance and he fluffed his lines. He’ll be back but right now there are other more effective options.

    2. Yeah I feel for Ritchie, I don’t think he’s playing badly, but he seems to be in the head of every international ref in a really bad way. he can’t even look at a ruck right now without being penalised. perhaps just taking him, and Turner away for a time can give Scotland a reset with officials.

  11. Toonie’s reign in microcosm. A very good team that’s mentally fragile. When the crowd got involved, we couldn’t handle it. Eight points ahead, the body language was distraught.

    That fragility is in all of us, borne of disaster after disaster. Be honest, did you still have a nervous feeling at 27-0? I know I did.

    But we won. The script was written, groundhog day was on us, but we made it through, and won in Cardiff for the first time since the Lord of the Rings movies came out.

    Like I say , toonie in microcosm. A win that feels like a loss.

    1. I’m sticking to my view that we should have replaced him after the World Cup. He’s not done badly but the team needs change to keep developing and improving. Ireland have improved each coach change from O’Sullivan, Schmit and Farrell. Of course there is a risk that you go backwards like Wales did after Gatland but that comes down to getting the right person (easier said than done I accept).

      1. I don’t see him getting another contract, unless the team does something spectacular. Feels like they wanted a bit of stability when everyone else was in a rebuilding mode. And lest we forget, something spectacular is still on. Two home games now, against teams that hardly set things alight in week 1.

        When I say win that feels like a loss, there is a compliment in there. Before Toonie, we had losses that felt like losses.

  12. I took 3 positives out of game! First win in Cardiff in too long. Second the last few minutes we didn’t fold and we managed to wrestle momentum back off Wales to hang on at the end. Finally Russell’s honesty in the interview at the end. He’s right to call out the brain farts over discipline. I suspect the debrief and video analysis on Monday will be at full volume.

  13. With the backs Scotland had today, why why why did Finn continually kick the the possession away? Especially when O’Keefe was hunting Scots! When the pass went out Wales couldn’t cope! The first YC okay, but the second? I find it hard to believe when Wales were under the cosh they conceded hardly any penalties. O’Keefe almost seemed to go looking for penalties.
    That said, Scots should’ve had that game wrapped up in the first half with the bonus point. Instead they were just … lackadaisical. No intensity. No ruthlessness to kill the game dead. And as others have said, some players were poor.
    Left feeling like we’d actually lost this game. Let’s hope it’s only up from here.

    1. It was pretty key to play territory and he’s been doing that all season successfully at Bath. The way that some players kept running into trouble, dread to think if hadn’t played and won the kicking battle. Have to play in the right areas of the pitch against a team like Wales. All the top top teams do this – and it’s a nice development for Scotland. Finn’s game management in this respect was excellent, acknowledging that now and again there may be an error, to any player whether Barrett, Sexton, Pollard or Russell such as a charge down. Also makes it more effective when Finn decides to have a run at the last second.

      1. I agree with you generally about tactical kicking but my focus was really on the 2nd half (I realise on rereading my post that wasn’t clear – Finn was masterly in the first half) when Wales were on the rampage. Scotland needed to keep possession, because every time Wales had it, the Scots were in trouble. Keep it and run the clock down. No, hoofed it and the Welsh were straight back, armed with the ref. There was little to no tactical kicking as the Scots had little to no control of events, especially when they were down to 14 players.

    2. I thought the initial kicking was quite a good tactic: Wales had been programmed to rush up in defence to cut out any passing/creativity in our midfield and Finn caused them to start second guessing that by chipping over the defence. No point passing if the player gets man and ball each time.

  14. You do not get points for style in this tournamnet. We go into next week , at home , against a very inconsistent France, with a win. That is the way I see it.

  15. What typified Scotland to me today was the last play of the game. On the Welsh try line and just trying to barge over when there was a huge overlap in the backs. Ball go out to them …. no way! Also, no real move set up from the rucks by the forwards, just bash bash bash and forwards just grouped around the ruck blocking any quick pass out. Now, if that was Ireland …… Feel that Scotland lack some rugby brains that is sorely needed

    1. They were also trying to run the clock down. Possibly better to hold the ball and run the clock out than risking a pass and a turnover with a 1 point lead.

    2. Seemed a bit strange they were rushing that last move as I’m pretty sure they were playing advantage (the ref had given a penalty)?

    1. I think Gatland spent more time in the Ref’s changing room rather than the Welsh one… It seemed an abrupt change in refereeing focus after half time.

  16. Ramblings,
    Ashman needs to be turned into a prop, his throwing in is abysmal. Turner not to be trusted either. Ireland hooker didn’t lose a throw in the whole world cup or yesterday – that’s the level.
    Dempsey Darge Christie Bradbury not playing yesterday- I don’t think we’ve ever had such bad row depth (I really rate Muncaster too)
    Dempsey will start v France.
    Finn was tremendous in 1st half but was he ignored during last play of the game.
    Tuipulotu also had great 1st half, I’d like him at 13 next week.
    I’ll get my hard hat on when I tell you the thought I had yesterday

    1. Finn was tremendous in 1st half but was he ignored during last play of the game.

      I believe he was especially when the backs had an over lap of 2 at one point

    2. I’d have Dempsey, Darge, Christie, Bradbury and Bayliss all in ahead of Ritchie and Fagerson moving forward. They just aren’t test standard at the moment.

      Mathews in 23 ahead of Ashman…possibly ahead of Turner in the 15 also.
      Redpath 12 Tui 13 …between Jones/Hutchinson/Rowe at 15.

      I’d rather see what Cummings, Skinner and Glen Young can do than penalty machine Gilchrist. Shame Henderson got such a bad injury pre-comp.

  17. Concerning the injury to Richie Gray means his tournament is over. Skinner came on and could have been binned twice for high tackles.

    Toonie already touting his replacement as the yellow/red card waiting to happen Grant Gilchrist who supplies as little grunt and go forward ball as any international 2nd row in world rugby at present.

    On grunt and go forward ball, with our back row non existent yesterday barring the now injured Crosbie, with Darge out of next weekend already how about we meet French grunt and power with a back row of Bradbury, Dempsey & Christie with Fagerson on the bench.

    With the injuries to Gray & Crosbie, call ups will be needed… a back row to come in for Crosbie – surely the very very obvious one is Bradbury; playing well, playing regularly, has attributes we need and don’t have…. But no our coach will be cleverer than that and unearth some 31 year old questionably qualified English journeyman who’s name you need to Wikipedia to learn he’s spent the last 5 years playing for Ampthill and Cornish pirates..

    1. Hear bloody hear. Bradbury is an absolute machine and GT ignores him because he doesn’t have the motivational skills to get the best out of him. Sane goes for several others in that squad. Oh for a youthful Jim Telfer….

  18. First 45 was sublime. A perfect game really. Finns tactical kicking was superb. Backs rampant, forwards bullying opposition at will.

    At 27 down Wales had nothing to lose and just went for it. After the yellow they had a massive advantage in that stadium and at the principality that has a multiplicative effect with the crowd. We’ve seen momentum shifts like this loads of times and been on the good side of it on recent times Vs France and England. Wales have done it to heaps of teams.

    The ref also decided to basically ping us for everything and then the panic set in. Not an excuse but a factor.

    We can’t lose site of the fact that with full complement of players we totally bossed Wales in Cardiff. Wales in Cardiff lads ! Finally !

    Finn interview at the end was excellent.

    No idea what happens next but we are set up now. 1 down 4 to go.

    1. I disagree we were not sublime in the first half the Welsh were awful. Finns kicking was excellent and our tries were down to creative play by the backs. The forwards were at best on a par with a poor Welsh team. In the second half the forwards capitulated due to a combination of ill discipline . poor selections again from GT in key positions , woeful management of subs and a Welsh resurgence especially in the backrow where they completely dominated both at the breakdown and in the loose.

      These issues will never change until we get new leadership.

    2. I thought we were no more than decent in the first 30 minutes. We scored a couple of good tries but Wales were gifting us field position and were, possibly, the worst Tier 1 international side I have ever seen.

      Scotland were diabolical in the last 10 minutes of the 1st half. If it wasn’t for the Welsh lineout misfires and poor handling, we’d have gone in to the sheds less than a score ahead. I’m afraid we could see the 2nd half coming a mile off (and thank goodness for that try from nothing before Wales had got back into the game properly).

      And we hear from Finn that players were not listening to the coach’s instructions. I know it won’t happen but Townsend should just go or at least get someone like Richie Gray in, who can coach the forwards properly and who they will all respect.

  19. First game I have watched where I can’t remember one penalty given for side entry or sealing off.

    1. Side entry no longer seems to be an offense: Itoji will do it repeatedly for the rest of the tournament. As for sealing-off, that is Ireland’s default position.

  20. A win is a win. We need to not best ourselves up, how many times have other teams beaten us when we were the ‘better’ side. Second half obviously a mess, but sometimes the penalty count just snowballs in the refs mind. Ref seemed to be deeply against us, and hence our forwards backed off and gave Wales an extra few yards. Need to drill aggression with accuracy, and more talk to the ref. Sexton would have used every opportunity to point out Welsh infringement. Fin or someone needs to learn this skill. Championship is still on!

  21. We were flattered in the first half, played well and did exactly what was needed to put the Welsh under pressure but it was Welsh ineptitude rather than Scottish excellence that put us 27-0 up. In the first half we comprehensively won the kicking and lineout battle and if you do that you’ve gone a long way to winning an international rugby game.

    It was like watching Twickenham 2019 again, England fell to pieces in the second half and then did just enough at the end to hold it together, we did exactly the same yesterday.

    George Turner’s coat was on a shoogly peg for a while, he was mouthing off at the ref during a few of the scrums and you could tell O’Keeffe had it in for him, the yellow card was a stonewaller though so can’t complain, I’m surprised it wasn’t a penalty try to be honest. 14 or whatever it was penalties in a row is absolutely shocking and I’ve never heard anything like it before. I don’t know if O’Keeffe had a change in heart about how he was policing the breakdown or what happened but it just seemed like we couldn’t make a tackle without giving away a penalty. I also think we were lucky with the calls, I think he got Crosbie and Skinners high shots exactly right but we have all seen those given as yellow or even red cards before.

    I’ll have to watch it again to see if I can pinpoint exactly where it went wrong, our tactics in the first half were spot on and were clearly working so I don’t know if Wales changed what they were doing after half time and we failed to adapt to that or if it was just individual lack of discipline as Finn alluded to in his interview. I thought that was very refreshing too, a captain sticking the boot in and calling out deficiencies rather than reeling off from the standard phrase book, will be interesting to see how that goes down in the camp.

    Disappointing we couldn’t nick the try at the end for a bonus point win that would have been thoroughly undeserved. Wales having two points, essentially a draw from a game they lost, might make a difference at the end. Won’t make a difference at the top though, it’s Irelands to lose again. The other 5 teams will be interesting though, France didn’t look great and I can’t decide whether it was a case of Italy being reasonable or England being rubbish, Italy were certainly in it at the end of the game which is historically where they struggle, either way the contest between the other 5 teams for second could be very interesting.

    1. Their first try could not have been a penalty try: the foul play did not stop the try being scored in a more advantageous position (Law 8.3). I think Nigel Owens pointed this out in commentary.

  22. Just a quick message to you Scott’s congratulations on the win, went up to Edinburgh last year and had a great weekend. I thought it was a tough first half for wales given the amount of players we had out or left international rugby in the last 12 months. AWJ, Biggar, North, Jac Morgan, Lake, Tips, Anscombe, Webb, Halfpenny, Liam, LRZ, Faletau… the list goes on but to throw away a 27 point advantage against a team who are a bunch of kids is really saying something.
    I really thought before we lost that last line out we are going to win this, I know it’s a long way to go and away from home this young team might not get them same momentum swing they had yesterday but it felt more like a Scottish loss than a Welsh one.

    1. You see it differently from me. Yr Alban won , no question and Cymru are traumatised that we failed to beat a team that played much of the game with 14 men and gave away so many penalties. This is professional Rygbi and we breath the game. See you next year.
      Cymru am byth

      1. Best of luck for the rest of the tournament guys. I’ve got no doubt that Wales will have a formidable team again in a couple of years, but it’s a clear sign of how far they’ve fallen that they’ve lost a decades-old record to the Scots in Cardiff and some fans are talking about it feeling like a win.

        You have to give it to their fans, though – I’ve never seen a game where the crowd had such an impact.

      1. Two syllables man and ends with an s..gets ya every time.As for the rugby,that starts with an s.

  23. To get national pride into perspective rugby is just a game of throwing a bag of wind about .
    The battle of Mount Tumbledown was a real battle when we turned up to save the Welsh guards most of them boy had messed their pants and were crying like babies. That’s a real life story .

  24. anyway a win is a win despite being unconvincing and revealing our weaknesses. All depends on what happens next

  25. Well that was one hell of a match. Some thoughts Rugby for me is the team sport where the influence from officials is most telling and I think sometimes decisions appear arbitrary? , thought O keefe lost it a bit in the second 40 and just couldn’t see Wales do anything wrong at all !!

    However he could have pinged Redpath at the end. Just wish we hadn’t butchered that last opportunity I think a 6-8 point win would have put some polish on this win

    But we won and didn’t capitulate at the end. Townsend has to go soon. Its ridiculous he is still there. For me it is a bit stale and these players and squad could show more under say a Crowley?

    If we can win next week then we can move on with confidence to a transitional England at home.

  26. Well that was one hell of a match. Some thoughts Rugby for me is the team sport where the influence from officials is most telling and I think sometimes decisions appear arbitrary? , thought O keefe lost it a bit in the second 40 and just couldn’t see Wales do anything wrong at all !!

    However he could have pinged Redpath at the end. Just wish we hadn’t butchered that last opportunity I think a 6-8 point win would have put some polish on it

    But we won and didn’t capitulate at the end. Townsend has to go soon. Its ridiculous he is still there. For me it is a bit stale and these players and squad could show more under say a Crowley?

    If we can win next week then we can move on with confidence to a transitional England at home. Probably stuff that has been all said before so forgive me if repetitive

  27. Team for France

    Hutchinson – Steyn – Jones – Tuipolotu – Van Der Merwe – Russell – White – Dempsey – Crosbie – Christie – Gilchrist – Cummings – Fagerson – Turner – Schoeman

    Rowe – Redpath – Horne – Darge – Skinner – Nel – Hepburn – Matthews

    1. If only. Although I would drop Turner for Matthews after his utter stupidity in getting yellow carded.

    2. Hutchinson Steyn Tuipulotu Redpath VDM Russell
      Dempsey Darge Crosbie Young GG Fagerson Matthews Schoeman

      REPS – Healy, Jones, Horne, Christie, Cummings, Nel, Turner , Hepburn

      1. Well spotted Neil – White.

        To bat a comment back to you and your selection – I don’t think its wise not to have a 10 alternative in the 23

  28. We’re pretty f***** without bigger Gray. Who are tallest options available? Dempsey has to play and need an in-form 7 and 6.

    I’d have Jones at fullback and Redpath at 12. Jones showed, again, that he can fairly tackle.

    The lineouts have to function. It’s easily the most important bit for the coming weekend. Can’t be another South Africa, another Wales second half, another 2015.

    What gives me hope though is playing Scotland’s game at Murrayfield.

  29. Our second row options really are quite poor, it’s hard to imagine a less dynamic pairing than Cummings & Gilchrist. Unfortunately Cameron Henderson is out injured for the season & the cupboard is quite bare, maybe time to start playing Glen Young with an eye to the next World Cup but I’ve no idea what his current form is like. The back row didn’t exactly excel on Saturday, I would start Dempsey & Christie.

  30. team for france,
    Schoeman, Ashman, Fagerson, Gilchrist, Cummings, Fagerson, Darge, Dempsey, White, Russell, DVDM, Tuipulotu, Jones, Steyn, Rowe.
    Hepburn, Matthews, Millar Mills, Skinner, Christie, Horne, Healy, Redpath.

  31. I do apologize for my last outburst its totally inappropriate and bad taste. And ask that it is removed.

  32. I’m truly astonished by how erudite the comments on this blog are! Most of them demonstrate a really deep knowledge of Rugby Union, my favourite sport (uh, huh, Microsoft is underlining my correct -ou- spelling).
    ….One thing I’ve noticed in the media commentaries on this game is their few, if any, have acknowledged that Scotland’s being penalised with two successive yellow cards meant they were a man down for 20 minutes of the game, and as many have said above, O’Keefe’s refereeing of the breakdown became so one-sided that the Scots became afraid to compete — — and winning the breakdown is so intrinsic to the style of game we aspire to.

    1. Counting the time after Turner’s YC expired and he was waiting to come on, it was about 23 minutes with 14 men. Scotland went back to 15 for about 90 seconds before the second card, but that wasn’t long enough to stop the Welsh momentum. All but 5 of Wales’s points came when they had a numerical advantage, and as soon as it was 15 v 15 again, Scotland recovered and closed out the game.

      Yes, Turner’s card was stupid and needless. But Tuipulotu’s seemed ridiculously fussy, and how likely is it that any international side should concede 17 successive penalties without the other side conceding even one?

      1. I’ve looked back and for the life of me I cannot see what Tui does wrong. He’s coming forward in the line with everyone else, on the edge of being offside, but not affecting play in any serious way. You penalise that, rugby matches are going to be unremittingly tedious and Ireland will end up with four players on the pitch.

        Ben O’Keefe is a good ref, but nobody was immune from the momentum shift. It was frustrating, though – 15 v 15, they looked like creating nothing. We didn’t need to play on the edge to beat them.

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