Killer B Leaves the Hive

Glasgow have confirmed rumours Kelly Brown is to leave them for Saracens at the end of the season, splitting up the infamous Killer Bs back row. However fellow “B” John Barclay has renewed his contract, which should keep Glasgow and Scotland fans happy – I imagine there was much interest in him. Brown has been in a rich vein of form for the Warriors recently but with a number of youngsters like Richie Vernon, James Eddie, Calum Forester et al pushing through for back row places – and in considering International level you have to factor in Edinburgh’s burgeoning back row talent too – Brown’s move allows them to develop in the limited spots we have up here, while still he’s playing top level rugby and trying to force his way back into the international team. Still, unless Mike the Blade moves to Worcester I won’t be able to make Blair vs Brown jokes anymore, which will be a relief to you.

In other good news, Gougy McGouge aka Stade Prop David Attoub has been handed a 70 week ban on top of Dupuy’s 23 week ban both for gouging Stephen Ferris. Good enough for him, I say.

Prem 1 Round-up and Club International News

There were only 3 games on in premier 1 this weekend (16th) as the weather continues to ravage the club rugby calendar. Only Raeburn Place and Inverleith were playable and Dundee had to move from their home at Mayfield to Dalnacraig across the road.

Stewart’s Melville 33 – 44 West of Scotland
at Inverleith

Stewart’s Melville: R Borthwick; M Doneghan, H Lingard, C Marshall, A Cox; S Ker, R Patterson; R Merrilees, S Blackwood, C Phillips, B Leathes, S Brewster, B Tweedie, L Calder, P Hendry. Subs used: J Charles, C Mackintosh, J Kynoch, L Steele, E Clark.
West of Scotland: B Wright; A Park, R Dalgleish, J Kerr, G Dempsey; C Davis, M McConnell; E McLaren, G Bulloch, C Johnston, M Jenkinson, R McAlpine, J Walker, D Young, G Fisken. Subs used: I Keith, S Malone.

Scorers: Stewart’s Melville: Tries – Marshall, Borthwick, Steele. Cons – Ker (3). Pens – Ker (4). West of Scotland: Tries – Walker, McConnell (3), Jenkinson, Fisken, Dalgleish, McLaren. Cons – Davis (2).
SRB Man of the Match
: M McConnell

Edinburgh Accies 12 – 29 Boroughmuir
at Raeburn Place

Edinburgh Accies: G Douglas; M Coupar, I Berthinussen, S Wilson, C Dickie; R Bonner, D Duffus; S Patience, M Strachan, L Niven, E Stuart, G Campbell, R Snape, D Teague, T Drennan. Subs used: D McLeod, M Stevens, J Pecqueur.
Boroughmuir: S Ruddick; E Mills, M Clapperton, G Blackhall, R Cairns; G Cottrell, C Cusiter; N Fraser, S McMurchy, B Ross, N Patrick, G Scott, M Stalley, L Brinck, J Doubleday. Subs used: F Lait, P Cronin, E Matheson, S McGhee, D Murray.

Scorers: Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Teague, Strachan. Con: Douglas. Boroughmuir: Tries: Clapperton 2, Mills, Lait. Pen: Blackhall. Cons: Blackhall 3
SRB Man of the Match: M Clapperton

Dundee HSFP 13 – 8 Heriot’s
at Dalnacraig

Dundee HSFP: A Horton, M Smith, H Duthie, L Graham, A Hay, B Jones, A Dymock, N Dymock, J Clark, A Brown, C Cumming, R Hawkins, R Gray, G Ryan, S McKee
Heriot’s: J Alston, A Douglas, M Nimmo, R Mill, C Goudie, G Rutherford, G Wilson, M Welch, K Bryce, W Blacklock, M Reid, P O’Connor, P Eccles, C Fusaro, J Syme

Scorers: Dundee: Tries: McKee Con: Jones. Pen: Jones (2). Heriot’s: Tries: Douglas. Pen: Wilson
SRB Man of the Match: S McKee

Scotland Clubs 19-0 Scotland U-20s

Meanwhile, the remainder of club players deemed good enough were made available to the Club International coaches for a match against Scotland U-20s at Dunbar. By all accounts it was a game that the U-20s were bullied in but with many players due to come back for their home nations games they are likely prove more competitive.

Scotland Clubs XV: F Harkness (Selkirk); C Anderson (Melrose), J Murray (Melrose), J King (Melrose), F Thomson (Melrose); S Wight (Melrose), R Snedden (Currie); G Reid (Ayr), S Burnett (Heriot’s), A Hamilton (Currie), D Kelly (Ayr), R McKay (Glasgow Hawks), J Dalziel (Melrose), P Burke (Ayr), R Weston (Currie). Subs used: J Cox (Currie), S Sutherland (Ayr), A Dunlop (Ayr), G Wood (Watsonians), J Hunter (Glasgow Hawks), S Hendrie (Selkirk), A McMahon (Currie), A Reekie (Currie).
Scotland U20: T Brown (Edinburgh Acads); R Drummond (Edinburgh Acads), O Grove (Worcester), M Scott (Currie), D Fyfe (Currie); R Aitken (Howe of Fife), A Black (Leeds Carnegie); C Owensen (Heriot’s), A Walker (Currie), J Low (GHA), R Harley (West of Scotland), A Hall (Newcastle Falcons), C Thomson (Loughborough University), C Stidston-Nott (London Scottish), S McInally (Watsonians). Subs used: L Pettie (Melrose), G Hunter (Glasgow Hawks), L Gibson (Melrose), C Taylor (Glasgow Hawks), M Fedo (Watsonians), A Kirkland (Glasgow Hawks), R Sutherland (Stewart’s-Melville), K Grossman (Glasgow Hawks), D Gilmour (Stirling County).

Scorers: Scotland Clubs: Tries: Burke, Anderson, Harkness. Cons: Wight (2).
SRB Man of the Match: R McKay (Glasgow Hawks)

Blowing in the Wind

Ulster 21-13 Edinburgh

Edinburgh failed to deal with the conditions and a determined Ulster pack in a first half when they had the wind behind, leaving them unable to take the win they could probably have claimed with a solid performance into the wind in the second half. David Young had settled down in defence from his earlier over-exuberant Edinburgh appearances but still found his way into the sin-bin early on. Ulster couldn’t really kick the penalties such was the wind (Humphries did attempt one ridiculous banana job that came close), but they excelled in holding on to the ball and depriving Edinburgh of possession. Mossy kicked the few chances they got – for kicking at goal the wind was no real help either – and they went in at half time with a lead. When they finally got possession in the second half they proved particularly adept at holding on to it for more than 20 phases without ever really moving forward despite crash ball runners like Ford and Hamilton. Perhaps aware of his troubles on the pitch and the resultant slaggings off it, Phil Godman was particularly targeted by Ulster with a few big hits and the backline mostly failed to get the ball wide to Visser and Thompson. When they eventually did, a try came for Thompson very similar to last week’s one but Ulster finished the game as they had started, controlling possession and watching Edinburgh huff and puff but go nowhere.

It may be a lack of depth at Edinburgh, but some of the willy-nilly sub-hurling from about 50 minutes onwards is worryingly Hadden-esque – some of the replacements were not quite up to standard and putting them on the park just because you can (especially when removing the likes of Laidlaw) seemed like a backwards step especially when the result is still within reach.

As with the 1872 Cup games, this Heineken Cup campaign has proved to be largely a triumph of content over style. Glasgow and Ulster have the content, and Edinburgh can’t seem to get their style going.

Scotland 6N squad announcement expected on Wednesday!

Bring in the reinforcements!

Panic seems to have hit Martin Johnson. Shontayne Hape?! Well we’re used to this in Scotland.   Every time Scotland sees a decline in talent in certain positions there seems to be a desperate snatch for anyone Scots qualified, by the SRU. While some might question Andy Robinson’s desire to put in a long term plan for Scottish youth there is almost something admirable in his declaration of interest in the long-term progress of Ayr’s Frazier Climo: a man not eligible for Scotland until 2012. Then there is Dan Parks.

The much derided stand-off has been written off more times than his motor (allegedly), but he keeps coming back for more. As Phil Godman struggled to kick himself out of his shadow and was constantly caught with the ball in his hands during the 1872 cup matches against Glasgow, his opposite man, Parks, had put the ball wherever he wanted and ran the game with metronomic rhythm.

While this may have delighted Glasgow fans you could hear the rest of Scotland groaning. Perhaps not because Parks was back in the frame for a Scotland call up but because the transitional period is set to continue at 10, for us. Parks has, at pro level, the ability to control a game but with rumours he is only interested in reaching a 50th cap and his attentions soon turning to Cardiff’s fortunes the future seems unsure.

This creates an interesting situation. Many believe that Kiwi Climo will slide into Parks’ vacated position at Glasgow while calls to sign up Hutton are increasing in Edinburgh. Every outcome suggests a few more unsure years for the fans regarding the Scottish fly-half berth. While it is obvious that the SRU have no problems bringing in a ‘foreign’ player for the two pro teams it creates a fascinating precedent. Do we really want another situation where a Matt Mustchin is called up for a Scotland tour because no young Scottish players are deemed good enough? Do we want another like Boroughmuir’s Fergus Pringle playing on tour for Scotland ‘A’, maybe the most developmental stage of Scottish international rugby, while talented, if not a little inexperienced, kids stay at home like a few seasons ago?

This situation possibly says more about the state of the pro set-up in Scotland, but it is also true that the infiltration of ‘foreign’ players is evident in all aspects of the Scottish game. Almost every premier club in Scotland has at least one player who is not Scottish qualified. Some teams have more than three every game. What this means is that a disparity occurs. If we are being honest, players like Hutton, Jackson, David Blair and even Climo are too good to play amateur rugby every week but what is coming up behind them is not encouraging. What’s more, most clubs are more interested in league positions, cups and getting one over their rivals. Some cynics can say there is not as much concern about strengthening Scotland as a nation as much as there is an internalized drive to make ‘my club’ stronger. There could be some substance to this. Of course there is the by-product of younger players learning from experienced foreigners. This helps, but it becomes much harder when the best Scottish talents are whisked away by the SRU, or worse, head down south to earn their stripes because there are no places north of Hadrian’s dyke.

The age old shocker of a question arises: what the hell do we do?!

Finally, I’ve known a few overseas players who have landed on their feet in this country. What would I do in their situation if I was asked to play for Scotland? Alex Tait is thinking about it. Even if I had a silver fern tattooed on my arse would I take the cap/pay rise/accolades? Maybe. On Tuesday Paul Tito said “If Wales were in massive dire, dire need I’d probably have a think about it [playing for them].” Doesn’t sound like a definite NO, does it?

What would you do?

Edinburgh team for Ulster…Blair to Warriors? And a new blogger!

Ha, gotcha. No, Worcester are the Warriors I was talking about. I refer to an interesting article which on reflection is mostly about nothing (something of a Scotsman specialism sometimes) over at the Scotsman speculating as to the employment future of Mike Blair, which I missed this week. Although arguably not missing him at scrum half specifically, are Edinburgh missing Mike’s cutting edge as he recovers from his ankle injury?

Edinburgh to face Ulster at Ravenhill: C Paterson (capt), J Thompson, B Cairns, J Houston, T Visser, P Godman, G Laidlaw, A Jacobsen, R Ford, D Young, S MacLeod, J Hamilton, S Newlands, A MacDonald, R Grant
Replacements: A Kelly, K Traynor, G Cross, C Hamilton, D Callam, R Samson, N De Luca, M Robertson. Simon “Malkovich” Webster is the spare man for Edinburgh in his quest on the comeback trail.

Sky Sports, k.o 8pm tonight (Friday)

News on the blog front: in addition to myself and Al – who has been busier playing rugby than writing about it recently (that and his laptop broke) – we now have a new blogger on the team who is going to do some bits and bobs for the site, concentrating mainly on the club game in Scotland. Confusingly enough, his name is also Alan (distinguishing nickname TBA) so I hope you will all make him feel welcome when his pieces appear over the next few weeks.

UPDATE: Stade bring the crazy (again): Hugoooooooo set for scrum half vs Bath – does this help Edinburgh’s chances of the result they need? (Thanks to Dougal for the tip – may your balls ever be oval)

Low Budgie Action

They never get any better, do they? Budgie is Colin Gregor’s nickname (wee and chirpie?) apparently. And here is the Glasgow team to face bogey team the Dragons in a largely meaningless (and thus not on TV which is a shame given the team selection) Heineken Cup match at the weekend. Good chance for Jackson though.

Glasgow: Bernardo Stortoni, DTH van der Merwe, Max Evans, Rob Dewey, Thom Evans, Ruaridh Jackson, Colin Gregor (c), Jon Welsh, Fergus Thomson, Ed Kalman, Richie Gray, Dan Turner, Calum Forrester, Kelly Brown, Johnnie Beattie.

Substitutes: Pat MacArthur, Kevin Tkachuk, Justin Va’a, Tim Barker, James Eddie, Mark McMillan, Dan Parks, Peter Murchie

News on the Edinburgh team as I get it but their match is at least on TV this weekend (Friday night also).

Little Bits

I’ve been asked to be scrum.com’s Fanzone Scottish pundit for the upcoming Six Nations again, so there might be some fun stuff to read over there in the ensuing weeks. Cheers to the folks at scrum.com for that.

Also I’ve added an Amazon AStore to the site – see the shop link in the navigation bar above – so if you fancy buying anything from Amazon.co.uk at any point, if you could do it through that it would really help us out it won’t cost you anything extra and you might find an interesting present or two for the rugby mad in there. Thanks!

Tait vs Tait?

Nothing to do with Alan Tait mind, but instead an interesting article from the Scotsman that Alex Tait, Newcastle full-back and younger brother of the oft-shuffled around never-settled-in-one-position Matthew Tait (can we use the word Mossified to describe such a process, or possibly Fodenification?) is considering pinning his colours to the Scottish mast (assuming he could find a boat with a mast, of course. Try Dundee – have they not got an old one there?).

Read the article here

It’s an interesting prospect, but does he have more chance of caps with us than with England? We have Mossy, Lamont R and Hugo as the current front runners, with the likes of Jim Thompson coming up hard on the rails and folk like Ben Cairns or Colin Gregor as wacky back-up plans. England meanwhile have Armitage, Foden, Morgan and Tait’s own brother Matthew not to mention the likes of Cipriani (if Johnno can get over his beef) or Monye/Cueto (and other wingers who aren’t really fullbacks).

I suppose it should really all come down to who he really wants to play for, but it would be interesting to see brothers on the opposite side of a Calcutta Cup/RWC2011 match, wouldn’t it?

Edinburgh Beat Those Winter Blues

Edinburgh 21 – 12 Cardiff Blues

Edinburgh finally woke up as a team for the first time in a month or two to provide the sort of display the hardy faithful at Murrayfield were growing accustomed to at the start of the season. Gone is the 1872 Cup and most likely the chance of Heineken Cup glory but the capital team still have a chance for an end of season playoff spot, which after second last season should really be a minimum expectation. This win puts them in third for now, but Leinster now have 2 games in hand (one against Connacht) while the rest of the league have one due to all the postponements this weekend.

The try drought was eased by a couple of cocky darting breaks from the impressive Rory Hutton who brought a spark to Edinburgh’s attack that allowed indecision to creep in to the Cardiff defence and be capitalised on by the support runners. I thought he looked pretty decent in defence too – Cardiff didn’t send Jamie Roberts at him nearly as much as they should have – with a couple of good tactical kicks. Although his passing was a little haphazard there is no substitute for the will to attack!

Overall Edinburgh dominated in attack and defence for large chunks of the game until discipline threatened to let Cardiff back in late on. Roddy Grant made an interesting looking number 8 but was the usual hive of industry and would surely have been Seren Y Gem but for a late sin-binning, so they gave it to Ross Rennie instead who was at least playing in his proper position. Jim Hamilton looked twice the player he was last week (he made Ford’s lineouts look a lot better for starters) and both Ford and Chunk made their usual excellent contributions in the loose, including a scything Mike Blade-style break from the base of the ruck from the prop that could only be described as epic.

Pro Teams for the Weekend (Weather Permitting)

Assuming the games go ahead as the freezing weather continues (a couple of Magners games have already been called off), here are the teams to take the field in Dublin and Edinburgh respectively.

Glasgow Warriors to face Leinster: Bernardo Stortoni, DTH van der Merwe, Max Evans, Graeme Morrison, Thom Evans, Dan Parks, Chris Cusiter, Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Alastair Kellock (capt), Richie Gray, Kelly Brown, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie.
Replacements:
Fergus Thomson, Kevin Tkachuk, Dan Turner, James Eddie, Colin Gregor, Ruaridh Jackson, Rob Dewey.
(Probably on BBC Radio Scotland, Friday night).

Edinburgh team to face Cardiff: Chris Paterson (capt), Jim Thompson, Ben Cairns, John Houston, Tim Visser, Rory Hutton, Greig Laidlaw, Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, David Young, Jim Hamilton, Scott MacLeod, Alan MacDonald, Ross Rennie, Roddy Grant.
Replacements:
Andrew Kelly, Kyle Traynor, Craig Hamilton, Scott Newlands, Ross Samson, Nick De Luca, Mark Robertson.
(Live coverage on S4c, Saturday from 6pm-ish)

Can’t say I’m not a little intrigued to see what Hutton can do, given what is a massive opportunity for him… but I wouldn’t expect miracles straight off the bat. Highlights of both games are also on STV as usual on Sunday. Given the lack of games this weekend they will presumably pad by talking about either the upcoming 6 Nations or perhaps porridge: ie the new Scott’s limited edition packets that are to feature Ross(y), Mossy and Thom. Hopefully this will help boost the sport at breakfast tables everywhere, especially during the current wintry spell. Speaking of, um, spelling, can someone tell me when they changed the spelling of porridge?

UPDATE: The Leinster vs Glasgow game has been called off due to late weather complications: more info on the BBC. Glasgow want to sue people given the cost of getting to Dublin has already been undertaken by the team after advice that the game would go ahed… Most of the weekend’s scheduled GP matches are also off, with just a few top flight rugby fixtures still hoping to go ahead including Munster, Leicester and Edinburgh.

O2 Rugby Competion

News has reached my ears of yet another rugby competition from O2 (sponsors of England) and once again you can have the chance to win some, um, England goodies. Anyway if you are on the O2 priority list (whatever that is) and have an English wife/girlfriend/cousin who would probably quite like a trip to Rome, you can click here to play the O2 Rugby Game. Where is Murray group offering us the chance to win a trip to Dublin? At least STV do have a competition somewhere (unknown) to win tickets to the France game. Guess you’ll just have to watch the highlights show and write down the address though, buggered if I can find it.

Break A Leg

Some quick news snippets: poor Jason White has broken his leg in New Year training with Clermont, and as a result the injury will keep him out of the coming Six Nations campaign (only about a month away now!). Although the big Stroker had mostly usurped him from the starting 6 shirt, big Jason’s versatility and impact play would have probably seen him on the bench at least so it will be a blow to Andy Robinson’s squad selection tactics. All the best for the recovery, Jason.

Simon Danielli is now joint first in the SRBlog Scottish Wings 2010 try scoring table having also scored 2 this year, against Munster yesterday. If our exiled back three players keep this up it will give us Evans apologists a major headache come amateur selection time. Hugooooo is playing for Stade today too, seemingly now a fixture at full back for the original pinkos.

Meanwhile it seems to be Not World Class Phil week in the press, but who can blame them after he’s played pretty craply for the last few months – could this be what coasting with no clear competition for your shirt at club or international level can do to a man? In that case Phil: Dan Parks for Scotland captain! Pull your socks up mate!