It turns out that this is our 101st Post. Furthermore, the Scottish Rugby Blog was 1 year old on the 7th November. A pity we couldn’t celebrate with a victory at the weekend, but hey. October was our second biggest month ever for visitors, so thanks for reading, everyone, and thank you to all the other bloggers, sites and advertisers that have been in touch over the last year. Here’s to the future of the blog, and Scottish Rugby.
Zinzan Brooke has stated on the BBC website that he hopes that the All Blacks “…beat the hell out of Scotland…“. Fair enough, he’s a patriotic Kiwi and you’d want him to back his team. His reason for this rather over the top, and schoolboy-esque, outburst: because those dastardly Scots didn’t play a full strength side at last year’s World Cup pool game and that hurt NZ form. Now 2 things spring to my mind:
1) As a child Zinzan had a dog, Tuffy, who he loved dearly. They did everything together, long walks through the stunning New Zealand countryside, warm, cosy nights in front of the log fire and off to watch the local sheep-shearing competition at the weekends. Alas, Tuffy’s wonderful time with his dear master Zinzan was to end all too early! One day, whilst running down the road to meet young Master Brooke a milk float came round the corner and not hearing the oncoming vehicle (electric engine…damn them!) poor Tuffy was mortally wounded. As Zinzan help his dear Tuffy in his arms the driver of the milk float jumped out to see if the dog was ok… and to Zinzan’s horror the driver was wearing a kilt!!! From that day on he vowed to hate Scottish rugby and all it stands for!
2) Zinzan Brooke is a bitter man, yet another sign that some (and only a minority) in the New Zealand rugby fraternity will blame anybody else rather than their own team for underperforming at World Cup after World Cup after World Cup. Maybe if the likes of Zinzan Brooke spent more time analysing the frailty in the All Black mentality when it comes to Webb Ellis then maybe he’d have less time, and cause, to start pointing the finger of blame at other rugby playing nations!
In summary, and to bastardise an old Stephen Fry comment:
Question – “Please provide a definition of Countryside”
Answer – “Killing Zinzan Brooke”
Off on holiday from tomorrow so going to miss the game but I hope Scotland can put up a good show on Saturday and those of you who attend enjoy the game!
Maybe Frank Hadden should put Zinzan’s words up on the dressing room wall! :-)
Over and out.
Glasgow 9-15 Toulose
In the first half this was there for the taking, but by the time the second half got into its stride so did Toulose, With a couple of moments of typical clinical brilliance from Jauzion and Skrela forcing Glasgow to chase the result, and they actually came very close on a couple of occasions. In a country where wings are now either of the “bulky and powerful” or “dancing feet and turning ball over” variety, Thom Evans is starting to look like the real deal in terms of offering genuine pace to beat people with. The Sky commentators kept blabbing on about his 100m time – reputed to be sub 11 seconds – but in fairness on most of the occasions the ball got to him he displayed it to good effect, and was unlucky not to have added to his tally of tries this season. Even David Strettle said he wouldn’t fancy chasing him down. In addition John Barclay showed that after Mike Blair, he should probably be the second name on the team-sheet with a ferocious display of tackling on the pitch – he almost managed to stop Kelleher scoring a try while simultaneously (accidentally) kicking him in the head – and refreshing candour in the press afterwards. Mention should also go to the officials, who once again let a couple of blatant forward passes go.
Stade Francais 37 – 15 Llanelli Scarlets
It’s not often you see a lock kicking, or coming in at first receiver twice in ten minutes, but Simon Taylor showed up well at 5 during another frightening display of skill from Hernandez and Parisse. With Scotland locks Hines and Macleod currently injured, might Taylor find a place there for Scotland in the Autumn?
Ospreys 15 – 9 Perpignan
A grubby little game now beset by accusations of gouging, so the less said the better. Cusiter was given little to work with in terms of go-forward from his pack but still lacked in attack, preferring simply to distribute (this may be the USAP way). He’s obviously practicing for having Dan Carter outside him, but still.
Castres 6 -13 Edinburgh
To be honest this one should have been out of site with a 4-try bonus point by half time, with Mossy and De Luca butchering a couple of chances as Edinburgh – led by Cairns in the midfield – cut Castres apart seemingly at will. The second half saw Castres come back into it and Edinburgh were forced to defend solidly for large periods, never able to regain the sort of posession that had allowed them to dominate the first half. Godman did reasonably well to keep the backs moving with some brilliant passes moving his players on to the ball at pace, and Robertson showed guts and zip on the wing. Webster had a pretty quiet game though, and may be lucky to get in the Scotland team given some of the form other wingers are in (Lamont, Evans). Hoggy showed up well too and should be in with a shout for New Zealand depending on what Hadden decides to do with Simon Taylor. This was the Edinburgh team we remember from last season, and the team that sold all those season tickets for this year. Welcome back, we hope you stick around.
Other games: MIA Bruce Douglas, it turns out, has been at Montpellier all this time. The French team were the latest on the end of a 5 point hiding from resurgent Northampton Saints. Tom Smith still proved he is the man with a last ditch try saving chase – steaming in ahead of Sean Lamont to get there and clear to touch. Rob Dewey got a whole 12 minutes on the pitch in Ulster’s 42-21 kicking from ‘Quins. Rory Lamont displayed power and control as well as some great full-back kicking skills in Sale’s loss to Munster. Still, it was a great game so we can’t complain too much. The Gloucester boys were unlucky not to come away with something in Cardiff in another great game. Al Strokosch showed up well, but I’m not sure if 7 is the best use of his talents – or if it provides the best supply of ball for Gloucester…
So no sooner has season stopped than it’s up and running again. A thankfully drama-free summer for Scottish Rugby and the focus (albeit a very limited focus from the nations media) has at least been on developments on the pitch and not in the boardroom. Not that there has been much going on. The big name transfers that have been ongoing in the rest of rugby seem to have largely passed by Scottish rugby, with incoming players not being prepared to play for the packet of sweets and a ‘See You Jimmy’ wig being offered by Edinburgh and Glasgow. Regardless, the Scottish teams have attempted to build on the previous promising seasons and here are my quick thoughts on both:
EDINBURGH – Probably made the biggest signing of the summer by rescuing Chris Paterson from his miserable spell in England (well, it is England so you can kind of understand him being miserable!). The addition of Jim Hamilton will also add considerable bulk to the forwards (all 19+ stones) so Robinson will no doubt be hopeful that he now has a side ready to kick on. Last season turned into a sterling effort as Robinson’s impact started to show through in the later half of the season and Edinburgh will be realistically looking to claim their first ever Magners League championship. They are certainly equipped with some exciting youngsters with a year’s experience under their belts and if they can get a strong start to the season, then come the end of it I think they’ll be there or thereabouts.
As for Europe there is a real opportunity that they could at last qualify from the group stage. All 4 teams will fancy their chances but Wasps, Leinster and Castres will not be looking forward to a trip to Murrayfield. Edinburgh are outsiders to qualify but a strong home record coupled with a slice of luck away from home could well see them become the first Scottish side to reach the later stages of Europe’s premier competition.
Magners League – chance of the title but more likely a top 3 finish – 3rd
Heineken Cup – Mmmmmm, not sure….ach, early season optimism, 2nd in group.
Glasgow – a fairly quiet summer over in the West Coast. The arrival of Mark McMillan from Wasps could be a major signing for our Weegie brethren who will hope that he can fill the scrum-half position which has been a troublesome area for some time. If he can form a relationship with Dan ‘Parko’ Parks then Glasgow may then have attacking verve to trouble opposition defences. Lineen had a decent season with Glasgow last year and, like Edinburgh, I’m sure he’ll be looking to kick on again and push harder for success in the League. I don’t think they have the same depth as Edinburgh but Glasgow will certainly be pushing the top teams hard, and with some luck could still be in with a shout come the last run of games.
With regards to Europe I suspect 3rd in the group will be as good as it gets. Toulouse and Bath will be hot favourites for top slot with the Dragons and Glasgow fighting it out for best of the rest. I’m sure Glasgow will run both Toulouse and Bath close at home – indeed a sneaky win against either is possible – but away from home they might struggle, difficult to see them getting anything from trips to France or the West Country. Still, they won’t be whipping boys and if you keep it close enough who knows what can happen.
Magners League – outside bet for Championship glory, likely to push the top teams though so I’m going to say an improvement on last year and predict 4th.
Heineken Cup – Strong displays but not enough cutting edge will see Glasgow come 4th in my opinion.
So, there we go. Told you it was ill informed. Let us know what you think…enjoy the new season!
Okay so it’s the (ssshhhhh) Guiness Premiership we’re talking here, not our “beloved” Magners League. But you could just about field a team of exiled Scots here, or at least people who have vaguely Scottish names – Luke McAlister I’m looking at you.
I’ve even set up a Scottish Rugby Blog mini-league so if anyone wants to join in that, the name of the league is “ScottishRugbyBlog.co.uk” and the password is “optimism”. Tell all your friends. No prizes for mini-league victory other than those already offered by the sponsors, and our undying respect. Unless Al wins, in which case no prizes full stop and shame on the rest of us. I’ll be playing anyway, so if it’s by myself well that’s nothing new. But there’s plenty of room in the sandpit so why not give it a bash, you’ve got till the 6th September to get stuck in.
Word of warning – best set up your team in Internet Explorer if you can, their fancy interface only lets you pick one back if you try it in Firefox, which would be about as useful as picking Dan Parks. If he were available. Tsk.
Bit of rhyme for you there, folks.
So, what we all knew would happen, did. Martin Johnson is to be appointed in some sort of honcho role (“team manager”) by the RFU this week. Brian Ashton will be let go as England coach, and offered some token development posts that he will almost certainly reject. Despite virtually no coaching or management experience whatsoever, expect Johnson to be hailed as the new messiah/Jonny of English rugby. The whole thing does raise a few interesting points, though.
If the SRU were to follow suit – by sacking the friendly schoolteacher-type coach who is failing to fire up the players, and getting in someone with a bit of fire in their belly but not much in the way of practical experience – who have we got as potential candidates?
Gregor Townsend -Does 1 day a week coaching. Has played all over at club, international and Lions level. Probably too nice for the job. Too much coaching experience, too.
David Sole – Scotland’s most recent figure that compares favourably with Johnson. Inspirational (slow walking) leader, Grand Slam winner and Lions winner over Australia. Lots of management experience, just not in rugby. Perhaps a bit further removed from the game than more recent retirees.
Scott Hastings – Probably too involved in media and corporate careers. Another “been there and done it” figure, like his brother Gavin. What about a brotherly coaching double-act?
Any other (less than serious) thoughts – Kenny Logan? David Campese perhaps?
I’ve been “tagged” by TotalFlanker in some kind of bizarre blog-led game of tag. At the risk of baring my sensitive soul to the world, I shall enter into the spirit of teamship (© Andy Robinson) and complete the tasks assigned. The rules are:
- The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
- Each player answers the questions about themselves.
- At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
So, here goes…
What I was doing 10 years ago:
Playing in a rock band, squeezing my way into honours at university and starting to discover film was almost as exciting as music, if a little less cool. Watching the occasional Six Nations game if someone gave me a ticket (thanks Dad).
Five things on my To Do List today:
Finish this post
Edit some photos of chemical cleaning products
Watch Sale vs Brive on telly tonight and hope there are some Scots to watch, wondering why Ben Foden plays at full-back instead of Rory Lamont, and possibly hoping that Ben Cohen drops a pass two metres out from the line
Pick up my guitar again
Have a few beers
Snacks I enjoy:
Cheese and biscuits
Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Make a quality film and pay everyone
Pay off the SRU’s debt and take it over. I would also install Al as the Scotland shirt sponsor so he could have his face on the team jersey. This is his idea, and I would have stolen it so I will probably have to use some money to pay him off too
Give mum a heap of money to make the house ecologically friendly
Give my brother funding to build his own secret underground volcano lair
Three of my bad habits:
Not finishing things
Not talking to girls
Not finishing things with girls that I haven’t talked to enough, or mostly not starting them
Five places I have lived:
Stirling (for a week)
Maths was never my strong point.
Five jobs I’ve had:
Assistant Director. Unpaid.
Rock and Roll Frontman. Unpaid.
Rugby Blogger. Unpaid. Spotting a trend?
Hot love on the Hot Love Highway. Or something a little less, you know. Web Designer and Filmmaker?
Five Bloggers I want to know more about:
Al my co-conspirator
Giorgia the Mossy Fan
Okay so I’ve changed my mind, mostly because TF tagged all the other rugby bloggers. Post your answers in the comments section, whoever you are, so we can find out a bit about our readers. Then it’s less of a chain letter, and more of a get-to know you session. Until then, enjoy the weekend’s Heineken Cup action!
Yesterday sources deep inside the British and Irish Lions camp announced a surprise front runner for the post of Lions coach in the upcoming 2009 test series against South Africa, namely visionary Scotland head coach Frank Hadden. It is believed that his preferred deputies are Brian Ashton to coach the backs, and Ulster Coach Matt Williams as forwards coach. Said team manager Gerald Davies, “we think Frank would give the Lions the direction and tactical nous needed to take on the current World Champions in their own back yard, and look forward to watching him talk about put together a great team.”
In other news, it is reported on Skynet that Leicester Fly-half Andy Goode is actually responsible for the destruction of mankind through his work on chess-playing super-computers. Little Terminator humour for you there, folks.
Found a wee highlights package of the A Team game vs Ireland A in Perth last weekend. Good stuff, and shows all the tries!
Oh, and I also updated the nicknames page with a few more tidbits.
Unless you lose. Not that we endorse wanton gambling or anything, but James at the Rugby Blog has been in touch to say that they’re running an offer in conjunction with Betfair offering you good deals on Six Nations betting. So if you think that Marcus Di Rollo will win the most Man of the Match awards or you think Chunk will be the leading try-scorer of the Six Nations, why not follow this link and put your money where your mouth is? There are prizes and everything.
Also I should probably mention the sterling performances put in by our pro-teams last weekend. When Biarritz fluked a result against Glasgow I felt almost as gutted as when the Argies knocked us out of RWC ’07 – only at least the Argies deserved to beat us. So that’s the performance we asked for in my last post – even Sean Lineen thought they had won in the interview he gave afterwards on the radio. John Barclay also made me reconsider my choice at 7 in the fantasy XV I posted a while back. Meanwhile Edinburgh made Leinster look like, well, Ireland, and got the win that we asked for too. Robinson seems to have put a bit of steel in the Edinburgh team, and I like it. All I need now is some snow and it’s a merry Christmas.
In other unexpected news (“cruelly” ignored on the Rugby Club yesterday) Frank Hadden got a new contract for 12 months or more, presumably any extension depending on what’s happening with the SRU this time next year rather than if he’s been any good or not. Brian Ashton got a similar deal from the RFU, which was a less certain outcome – though probably the right one. Give them both a chance at a complete World Cup cycle – all the 6 Nations are going through upheaval of one sort or another, hell Scotland are practically the most settled team, and injuries have taken care of a couple of players who were treading water perhaps forcing Hadden into a more adventurous selection policy. So Hadden, Ashton – I wonder if Betfair will give you the odds on who lasts the longest?
Just out of interest, I compiled a team of the players in the training squad who are not compatible with a Fortress Scotland type policy. Though it has a glut of 6s and not much else in the back row, in most other areas it looks ok:
A Dickinson (Gloucester), S Lawson (Sale), E Murray (Northampton), N Hines (Perpignan), S Murray (Montauban), A Strokosch (Gloucester), S Taylor (Stade Francais), J White (Sale)
C Cusiter (Perpignan), C Paterson (Gloucester),R Dewey (Ulster), M Di Rollo (Toulouse), S Lamont (Northampton), N Walker (Ospreys), R Lamont (Sale)
BENCH / NOT USED
R Lawson (Gloucester), G Ross (Saracens), S Danielli (Ulster), J Hamilton (Leicester), S MacLeod (Llanelli)
Also I’d like you all to welcome my good buddy Al, who will contribute the occasional piece as the season goes on. The idea for this blog was germinated between ourselves on a walk through the streets of Paris after Scotland’s defeat to Argentina. And finally there’s a guide to the silly nicknames we use for players, not all of which are in popular circulation. So for your ease of reading you can find this at the top.
Don’t forget Edinburgh & Glasgow are both on the telly (Sky Sports on Friday night and Sunday) this weekend, some chat will be forthcoming afterwards!
Hello, you friendly people. Welcome to our Scottish Rugby Blog, where we will hold forth on all matters relating to rugby, especially the areas affecting those of us doomed to watch it in Scotland… Feel free to join in with comments, and let us know if there are any areas you feel we could be addressing.