Team Line-ups for Tonight

Glasgow Warriors (to face Dragons tonight):

Bernardo Stortoni, Rob Dewey, Peter Murchie, Graeme Morrison (capt), Colin Shaw, Dan Parks, Mark McMillan, Justin Va’a, Dougie Hall, Ed Kalman, Tim Barker, Dan Turner, Calum Forrester, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie.
Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Kevin Tkachuk, Alastair Kellock, Kelly Brown, Colin Gregor, Peter Horne, Hefin O’Hare.

Edinburgh (to face Ulster tonight):

Chris Paterson; Mark Robertson, Ben Cairns, John Houston, Tim Visser; Phil Godman, Greig Laidlaw; Kyle Traynor, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Craig Hamilton, Scott MacLeod, Alan MacDonald, Roddy Grant, Allister Hogg (capt).
Replacements: Andrew Kelly, Allan Jacobsen, Steve Turnbull, Scott Newlands, Mike Blair, Steve Jones, Nick De Luca.

Neither of these games are on TV, BBC Wales having opted for the delights of Leinster vs Ospreys. But we still get the highlights show on Sunday, huzzah! Edinburgh’s test looks the sterner of the two with Ulster welcoming back Stephen Ferris into their team and already operating at somewhere near full strength. The Dragons are a good test for Glasgow though, to see if they can kick on and put last season’s worrying inconsistency behind them.

Oh and here is the squad for the “Gael Force”, the third team that will take part in the new British and Irish Cup that will prove a stern test for this lot, along with existing sides Ayr and Heriots. No word on what will happen to those players like Grant Anderson or young stand-off Rory Hutton who could potentially appear for both.

National Academy players: Grant Anderson (Ayr), Alex Blair (Edinburgh Accies), Chris Bloomfield (Currie), Fraser Brown (Watsonians), Tom Brown (Edinburgh Accies), Tom Bury (Boroughmuir), Nick Campbell (Glasgow Hawks), David Denton (Edinburgh Accies), Struan Dewar (Heriot’s), Michael Doneghan (Stewarts-Melville), Alex Dunbar (Selkirk), Chris Fusaro (Heriot’s), Grant Gilchrist (Heriot’s), Finlay Gillies (Heriot’s), Robert Harley (West of Scotland), Robin Hislop (Boroughmuir), Stuart Hogg (Heriot’s), Rory Hutton (Heriot’s), Peter Jericevich (Glasgow Hawks), James Johnstone (Currie), Nicky Little (Hawick), Ashleah McCulloch (Watsonians), Stuart McInally (Watsonians), Lewis Niven (Edinburgh Accies), Neale Patrick (Boroughmuir), Neil Rodger (Haddington), Joe Stafford (Glasgow Hawks), Steven Wilson (Edinburgh Accies)

Scottish Teams Top Table

http://www.magnersleague.com/matchcentre/table.php

You might not see the likes again! It was also good to see Sean Lamont having a decent game against Glasgow, no doubt Andy Robinson would have been watching. Worrying to see Moray Low and Thom Evans leave injured but hopefully neither is too serious. As for Edinburgh annihiliating Connacht, that was brilliant and glad to be able to watch some highlights on the telly too! Sorry for the brevity but I had a busy weekend of partying with Aussies who have taken steps to explain AFL to me. Without much success.

Also if you are interested in some rugby in Edinburgh check out the comments in the previous post, Queensferry RFC are looking for players…

Oh and I just noticed the Argies are being let into the Tri Nations which was in danger of becoming overblown – hopefully this will turn it into a more rounded competition though it may be hard with the timezones…

Weekend Round Up

So this weekend we had both Edinburgh and Glasgow beating top clubs (if not their top teams) and the arrival of a new TV programme. Marvellous!

First up were Edinburgh who took Cardiff to the cleaners in the first half through some solid forward play from the relatively under-rated talents of Hoggy, Roddy Grant and Alan MacDonald in a bizarro South African style double open-side back row that seemed to go nicely. Edinburgh had fairly comprehensive control of the match save for a ridiculous non-try that put Cardiff back in the match. Turns out the touch judge may have been Welsh (hence why he was looking at the ball grounding, not Czekaj’s foot in touch) so a diatribe against Irish referees may have to wait till Al manages to climb the steps at SRBlog Towers once again… Cardiff came fairly storming back in the second half, but a couple of duff Mossy kicks kept them in a game they barely should have got a bonus point from save for an excellent Alfie try (highlights here on the BBC). Next up they face Connaught, and if they can control the pace of the game again they should be looking for five points. The offloading ALL the time may have to be curbed a bit though…it looks nice but Cardiff soon worked out where to stand to intercept them!
High points: Mossy try from a cross field kick, Roddy Grant, Mark Robertson, Greg Laidlaw’s impressive diving/sliding catch, hanging on for the victory.
Low points: Fitzgibbon not going upstairs for a “try” that even Jonathan Davies said wasn’t legit.

Glasgow of course won also, but that one wasn’t on the telly so we had to wait till STV’s new Sunday night highlight’s show arrived to catch some of the action. Fronted by Andy Nicol and Scott Hastings, the show gave us a decent amount of action and possibly a bit too much chat. Nice to have a round-up of the weekend club results too. Some of the editing of the footage was a bit wonky – penalty offences don’t necessarily count as “highlights” but it was good to see something on our TVs at last! Ditch the chat about the wider game – we can get that on the Rugby Club and let’s keep the focus Scottish and have a few minutes more action, though the Lions chat was interesting. Maybe switch Scott and Andy round, Hastings is a better presenter and Nicol pundit. Much improved on STV’s last effort though.

Up at Firhill, Glasgow were putting Munster into tricky situations thanks it seems to their youthful front row and some placekicking from Parks. Reports were of Graeme Morrison’s barnstorming runs, but on the TV highlights I only saw one of these that led to Jackson’s try and sadly his injury also. Damn shame that, I think we were all looking forward to seeing what Jackson could do this season so here’s to a speedy recovery. I had never heard of Jon Welsh before last week but I suspect we will hear a lot of him this season, Parks apparently said it was the best scrum platform he had ever played behind. Cusiter seemed to show up everywhere too so he’s looking like the excellent signing we all thought he’d be. Anyone actually at the game see how Peter Murchie went in the centre? Glasgow host Sean Lamont’s Scarlets next weekend which I think is on S4C.

Speaking of which, Lamont scored the opening try and looked strong in defence in the Scarlets’ victory over Leinster. Northampton Saints had only Scott Gray on the bench – with (unbanned and uninjured) Best, Wilson and Dowson in the back row I think he might not have quite as many chances to catch Andy Robinson’s eye as he did Hadden’s last season. On the losing end of that game, Worcester’s Alex Grove had few chances to shine but did not badly. Gloucester’s new Scottish coach Bryan Redpath got off to a good start as well, fielding last season’s fringe man Scott Lawson as his starting hooker who repayed him with a solid performance. Rory Lawson and the big Stroker were reliable as usual. No word on the French contingent – anyone with ESPN want to join in?

Onwards and upwards, Scottish Rugby folk!

New Scotland Rugby Away Strip

It seems a new Scotland away kit has quietly sneaked out

New Scotland Alternative Strip (link fixed now thanks Giorgia)

It’s pretty similar to the old one apart from a) they got rid of the stupid patchy bits that made it look grey and the piping and b) they took the Murray logo off that horrible roundel. Although the Murray logo is still pretty rubbish (and too big, does their designer not know about whitespace?) it is much better than it was.

A new home kit is due to be announced in time for the autumn. Could it be back to basics all round – if so can we have white shorts back too please?

Don’t forget to watch the new highlights show tonight at 5.30pm on STV!

STV Will Indeed Show Magners League

Yes indeed the news you have all been waiting for has arrived. Everyone can watch the 1872 cup games live on terrestrial TV, plus highlights from Edinburgh and Glasgow’s Magners games this season. Huzzah, perhaps STV has pulled out of all the national ITV dramas to bankroll this. Whatever, as I never watch anything on STV anyway now that Ultimate Force is no longer, suits me fine!

Enough from me, here’s the press release – it seems they may have poached Andy Nicol from BBC and Scott Hastings from Sky but I reckon they will more than likely pop up in their old stomping grounds as usual, there are only so many Scottish pundits to go round…

SRU Release

SUNDAYS, 5.30PM. Starts on the 6th. Better get writing those witty links now, Andy.

EDIT: I wanted to see what was jerked from the schedules, but the Radio Times already has it listed! I have updated the TV page now too. Also anyone out there got ESPN keeping an eye on the Top 14? Get in touch we’d love an update…

Glasgow team to face Champs

Sean Lineen announced his first Glasgow Warriors squad of the season, fresh from a narrow pre-season victory over Kelly Brook’s boyfriend and the rest of the Wasps. They take on champs Munster who may play more of their big guns early on in the season (rather than save them for Europe) now that a top four place is all that is required…  Pity we won’t get to see Max Evans match up against De Villiers till later in the season though… No, I’ve never heard of young prop Jon Welsh either but I think Scottish rugby may have finally woken up to the reality that young talent needs to be brought “on stream” earlier than was previous to keep the level of depth and competition for places strong. Chuck ’em in at the deep end – it seems to have worked for Ruaridh Jackson last season. I’m particularly excited to see what impact Chris Cusiter can bring to a Glasgow backline with a fair amount of potential with newcomer Peter Murchie, Rob Dewey and Thom Evans (especially with the likes of Jackson, Colin Shaw, Peter Horne, Max Evans and Colin Gregor challenging  too). After many of us thought he had disappeared without contract, Dan Parks continues his career resurrection, holding off Jackson’s challenge at 10 for now. Consistency is the watchword for this season – if they can find that, Glasgow can do better than many expect.

Glasgow team to face Munster:
Bernardo Stortoni, Rob Dewey, Peter Murchie, Graeme Morrison, Thom Evans, Dan Parks, Chris Cusiter, Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall, Moray Low, Tim Barker, Alastair Kellock (captain), Kelly Brown, John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie

Substitutes: Pat MacArthur, Kevin Tkachuk, Dan Turner, Richie Vernon, Mark McMillan, Ruaridh Jackson, Colin Shaw

It’s not on TV this one, but you can catch Nathan Hines’s new team Leinster in action against Sean Lamont’s new team the Scarlets on Saturday evening on S4C (Lamont starts, Hines is rested).

UPDATE: you can now see highlights on Sunday, 5.30pm, STV though!

Dutch Rugby’s Finest To Start for Edinburgh

A new look Edinburgh team under new coach Rob Moffat will seek a return to winning ways in Cardiff on Friday. Some of the changes are enforced by injury – Edinburgh still have a long list of injured including Jim Hamilton, Dave Callam and Ross Rennie – while others like Lions Ross Ford and Mike Blair are rested. While the bench looks a little youthful/undercooked, look for sevens man Roddy Grant to lay down a marker, while Scott Macleod will look to continue his road to redemption in the second row. We also have Holland’s sole pro rugby player and new signing from Newcastle Falcons Tim Visser hoping to pin down a wing spot. And let’s not forget the return of Chunk!

Given performances in the pre-season it’s difficult to tell if the players will be able to live up to last seasons results but I reckon Cardiff may be too strong for them, especially as they will be smarting after home defeat to Edinburgh at the end of last season. Hope Moffat’s boys can prove me wrong though.

Edinburgh team to face Cardiff Blues: Chris Paterson, Mark Robertson, Ben Cairns, John Houston, Tim Visser, Phil Godman, Greig Laidlaw, Allan Jacobsen, Andrew Kelly, Geoff Cross, Craig Hamilton, Scott MacLeod, Alan MacDonald, Roddy Grant, Allister Hogg (captain)

Substitutes: Sean Crombie, Kyle Traynor, Steve Turnbull, Fraser McKenzie, Ross Samson, David Blair, Nick De Luca.

The game will be shown live on BBC2 Wales – see our Scottish Rugby on TV page for details of how to view this (basically have Sky or live in Wales).

STV to Screen Scottish Magners Games?

As usual, I trot back on to the pitch with a whimper rather than a bang.

I had planned a grandiose piece to open the new season about how this was the summer that rugby found its soul (on the marvellous but ultimately non-victorious Lions tour) then lost it again (gouging) and again (armbands) and again (fake blood), and how this was to be an important season for us all where rugby should step up to the plate and try and reclaim some of its honour. About the new hopes we have for Scotland under Andy Robinson, about whether Edinburgh and Glasgow can continue to / compete and how the Magners League will fare with playoffs at the sharp end of the season. I was going to call it “What I Learnt on My Summer Holidays” and everything – all without using anything “-gate”. But as usual, time is my enemy and some news more worthy of your attention has appeared. Like some sort of tubby West Ham fan taking off his pie-stained t-shirt and jumping a barricade in order to do a one-man conga round a pitch similarly crowded with idiots, it has hurdled into the lead position for “first new post in ages”. Such tidbits will keep appearing in the press and online, demanding an airing on this platform, until the polemic once so clear in my mind to kick off the season has faded to nought but a distant memory, beaten into submission by harrowing viewings of Scotland’s rugby finest trying to cross a line less than four inches wide.

So I guess: we are back. Welcome to the new rugby season.

Lewis Stuart in The Times is reporting that there may be an announcement this week that STV will show some form of  footage of the missing gaps in the Magners League schedule available to view on TV, namely the Edinburgh and Glasgow matches not BBC Wales/S4C. The report reckons it could be limited to just a highlights package, however that is better than nothing. Look for updates to our Scottish Rugby on TV page as soon as I hear. Hopefully this will be well supported enough that they may be encouraged to show the odd live game – for example the 1872 cup matches. but look what happened with STV’s last foray into rugby. Now that STV have opted out of airing almost all of ITV’s dramas there should be plenty of room in the schedule. What else have they got to show?

The Times also reports that Max Evans and Mike Blair are rushing back to fitness. The article is not online yet so you’ll just have to trust me or rush out and buy a copy.

Edinburgh utility back Calum Macrae has signed with Mike Ruddock’s Worcester Warriors. I would have thought he might have stuck around to try and fight incomer Steven Jones for Mossy’s 15 shirt but perhaps he felt it time for pastures new.

And the SRU have introduced a new “Any Game” voucher which can be bought in advance at £5 off full ticket price – putting the price back to an almost reasonable £15 – that allow you access to (almost) any of your chosen pro-team’s Magners and Heineken Cup matches. Buy them in bulk in advance and turn up to whichever game you want. It sounds like a good plan especially if the weather suddenly turns nasty at 5pm on a Friday, you can save your ticket for the next game rather than going and getting wet sitting by yourself in the West Stand. Details on the SRU website.

Also, I know I said we should never play New Zealand again, ever. Except in the RWC final in 2011. But they have looked pretty inept of late, with their back line firing as well as, well, ours. Tri Nations: pretty dull so far.

Comeback Kings

Scottish Rugby Blog will return soon as the season is almost upon us and exciting things are afoot (well, Chunk is coming back). Anyone interested in writing for us during the new season? See the About Us section (link above) to find out what areas we are looking to cover.

News Round Up

Bit of a news digest this week, hope you are enjoying the off season!

Andy Robinson has announced his 44 man Scotland training squad for later in the month including all four Lions, several fresh faced youngsters like Ruaridh Jackson, Alex Grove and Richie Gray, and missing Simon Taylor who has requested not to be involved at this stage. All very mysterious. Nick De Luca has been named, but I think he is carrying an injury so presumably won’t be doing any physical training. Good to see the Rory Lamont Helicopter back and challenging for the full back shirt…

Scotland squad for three-day training camp at St Andrews – Monday 17-Wednesday 19 August:

Backs – Mike Blair, Ben Cairns (both Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Thom Evans, Max Evans (both Glasgow Warriors), Phil Godman (Edinburgh), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors), John Houston (Edinburgh), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Lamont (Toulon), Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Paterson (Edinburgh), Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais), Jim Thompson (Edinburgh), Nikki Walker (Ospreys), Simon Webster (Edinburgh)

Forwards – John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie, Kelly Brown (all Glasgow Warriors), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Gray (Northampton Saints), Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), Craig Hamilton, Jim Hamilton (both Edinburgh), Nathan Hines (Leinster), Allister Hogg, Allan Jacobsen (both Edinburgh), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Alan MacDonald, Scott MacLeod (both Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), Kyle Traynor (Edinburgh), Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors), Jason White (Clermont Auvergne).

Speaking of Clermont, Glasgow take them on in the Challenge Auvergne mini-tournament tomorrow night, having won their previous game 20-11. Lineen seems to be rotating the squad and blooding plenty of the new signings, but Rob Dewey seems to be in the thick of the action whether at wing or centre.

Glasgow Warriors team to play Clermont Auvergne at the Challenge Auvergne in Issoire, France, on Friday 7 August (kick-off 8pm local time)

Bernardo Stortoni, Rob Dewey, Peter Murchie, Peter Horne, Colin Shaw, Ruaridh Jackson, Mark McMillan, Justin Va’a, Dougie Hall, Hamish Mitchell, Richie Gray, Dan Turner, Calum Forrester, Chris Fusaro (Heriot’s)*, Johnnie Beattie

Not present will be scrum half Sam Pinder, who has announced he is leaving Glasgow for a coaching position in Hong Kong. With Cusiter coming in as clear number one scrum half it was always going to be tricky given McMillan and Gregor are probably ahead of Pinder in the pecking order too…

UPDATE: Glasgow lost 12-0 to a Clermont side featuring Jason White, with the only serious news being that young Richie Gray mentioned above dislocated his elbow and will be out for a few months.

BBC Takes Aim At Murdoch’s Crown Jewels

The BBC have just published their list of the proposed protected “free to air” sporting events, seen as invaluable in promoting sport in Britain and being accessible to the widest possible audience. Broadcast rights to several of these lie in the clutches of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Sports or elsewhere.

The BBC’s proposed list for protected free-to-air Rugby events (* denotes additions):

A1: UK conversation events (Live)

No rugby, it being stuff like the Olympics and Football World Cup

A2 List: Resonance in the Nations (Live in relevant nation)

Welsh rugby union Six nations and autumn internationals (Wales)*

A3 List: Pinnacle sports events (Live)

Rugby union World Cup final

B List: Events of UK importance (Highlights)

Rugby union World Cup
Six Nations rugby tournament (extended to all games*)
British and Irish Lions tour*

Why do only Wales get to have their Six Nations games protected as the highest priority? Removing Scotland’s games to ESPN Sports Extra 2 (highlights only, at half past midnight) will hardly help the cause of the game here. S4C seem to have enough cash to throw about on such things that Wales would probably get coverage anyway. I am pretty sure the Beeb recognises the Six Nations for the ratings winner it is and would fight to keep it, but still.

While the idea of the Lions being viewable to a largely ambivalent community outside the immediate rugby one fills me with joy, the idea of listening to Brian Moore commentating on it does not.

Full list of all events here.

Tom Smith Returns

Ahh, there’s the “why didn’t I think of that” coaching appointment I was bemoaning the lack of in my last post. Rob Moffat has announced recently retired Northampton Saints, Scotland and Lions legend Tom Smith as his forwards coach. Having seen the improvements in Saints front row play in recent years and in particular the advances in Euan Murray’s game since being taken under Smith’s wing, I feel this can only be a good choice for Edinburgh, who have a stable of up and coming props as well as current internationalists like Geoff Cross and the inimitable Chunk. Unbeknown to most of us he has been working away in recent years to achieve his coaching qualifications, helping the Saints young forwards along the way.

SRU Release | BBC Report

Just the right sort of appointment!

Moffat To Take Over Edinburgh

Edinburgh have promoted backs coach Rob Moffat to the position of Head Coach, filling the vacancy left by Andy Robinson’s move to the national position.

BBC Report

Moffat seems to have done a pretty decent job with the Edinburgh backs, but is probably a journeyman appointment rather than the “oh, wow/really?” appointment of Robinson a couple of years ago. We of course wish him all the best in the job and hope he can take Edinburgh to greater heights or at the very least preserve their level of performance.

Other candidates known to have been up for the job were former Scotland front row merchants George Graham and Peter Wright, and I suppose it is a possibility that Wright may wish to make a move into the pro game as a forwards coach. Graham already has a head coaching job in Italy so I would think it unlikely he’d be interested in the lesser job. Moffat’s backroom appointments will be made in due course.