Glasgow have announced the signing of World Cup winning All-Black hooker Corey Flynn so to celebrate here’s a thread to discuss that and other matters of the weekend.
A few months back, before this whole sordid World Cup thing started, I was at the Scotland team hotel to do some interviews alongside the rugby writers corps. After all of the official stuff, I tried to get as much free coffee as I could, being a student who cannot afford a Starbucks or a packet of Custard Creams myself.
Like an overheard conversation, we all have some nagging doubts in our mind about how Edinburgh and Glasgow are going to progress next season.
We had two wins, a draw and a loss from various national teams. Sounds alright, doesn’t it? However, the public’s opinion of Scottish rugby is shaped entirely by the fortunes of the national side. Every other result is a bonus (or a continued indicator of the fallow years to come; although thankfully this doesn’t seem to be the case!). So let’s put each result in context…
The Scottish Women’s team overcame their French counterparts 10-8 at Lasswade on Saturday giving them the perfect start to their 6N campaign. I cannot testify to knowing too much about women’s rugby, but as a result against regular opponents this looks pretty good and show that a minority, in an already minor sport, can still thrive.
Something I can testify to (allegedly) knowing about is the fortunes of the Scottish Club International side. The team fought hard to win 13-9 in an intense, if not end to end globetrotter-style, match. Much like the Women’s match conditions didn’t favour an exciting, mercurial contest but the endeavour was there. Even 2000 folk braved the dreich Border’s weather to watch. Also, the crowd still got treated to a physical display and some hard running from the likes of Kelly and Weston as well as some great defence from Clapperton and co. What this did show was that Amateur rugby here is improving all the time and more than compares with the French opposition (although comparing myself to my opposite man on Friday night was more like comparing myself to my own father- he looked like he was in his 40’s!).
The under-20s drew 8-all with their French foils. While not the perfect score, it was better than losing! Also, the performances of highly rated youngsters like Maltman and McInally shows the potential we have here. We also have yet another Blair at 10, and lord knows we’re all hoping he proves to be a genius! Rory was at the game, so he will be better placed to tell you if they are likely to win against Wales down there, but the future may seem bright in some areas of that team.
And then there was Sunday. I, for one, am weary of over analysing, but when the shortcomings are that obvious it is rude not to point them out. We all know what they are. 1) The backline are standing so deep during second phase it is surprising they can even see Chris Cusiter. 2) While Johnnie Beattie played outstandingly well in the loose yesterday, it was verging on the cruel the longer he left the ball in the back of the scrum. 3) If a team stands in attack in two banks, most standing in a flat line and some standing in a small group deeper and wider, then we become bamboozled. Twice Bastreaud was in the second group ready to receive passes direct from the flatter group and he scored. Once Clerc, brilliantly tap tackled by Kelly Brown and held up by Evans, broke from a similar situation. 4) Next time (i.e. against Wales) please give the ball to someone quick enough to make an inside break when facing a blitz defence. 5) Jonathan Davies is more annoying than a postal gold advert.
The good thing is, though, that it was still only 9 points we lost by. Look after the ball without forcing the play and we might be alright…maybe?!
So what did you make of the day? What would you do if you were Robbo? And what is going to unlock an equally depressed Welsh team?!
Club International coach Ally Donaldson has named his starting XV and subs bench for Friday nights game against France at Netherdale (7.30 ko).
Glasgow Hawks lock, Rory McKay, Dundee prop Alan Brown and Melrose pair James King (centre) and Fraser Thomson (wing) have all earned their place in the starting XV for the first time. New caps also include Gregor Wood (Watsonians), Alastair Hamilton, Andrew MacMahon (both Currie), Paul Burke and Jamie Hunter (both Ayr) on the bench.
The coaching staff are eagerly looking forward to this game and are hoping to go one better after losing by a point in last years reverse fixture. Club International team manager, Ian Rankin said: “The days of French teams supposedly not traveling well is long gone. This French team will play with the classic French style – huge powerful forwards and lightning quick backs.
“But in this starting XV we have 11 players that faced the French last season, with another two poised to play from the bench who all know what they have to face.
“It’ll be a tough assignment but hopefully we can get a big Netherdale crowd out to back the team. I’ve heard the game is of big interest in the Borders but there are a lot of clubs represented by this team.
“There’s a real connection between the clubs and their players with the clubs taking a lot of pride and pleasure in being represented in the match. I think that’ll be measurable this Friday night.”
Scottish Club International Team to face France: Harkness (Selkirk); Thomson (Melrose), Clapperton (Boroughmuir), King (Melrose), Anderson (Melrose); Wight (Melrose), Snedden (Currie); Dymock (Heriot’s), Burnett (Heriot’s), Brown (Dundee), Kelly (Ayr), McKay (Glasgow Hawks), Dalziel (Melrose) CAPTAIN, Cairns (Currie), Weston (Currie).
Replacements: Wood (Watsonians), Reid (Ayr), Hamilton (Currie), Sutherland (Ayr), Burke (Ayr), Hunter (Ayr), MacMahon (Currie).
Entry is free on the night. Why not head down to Gala and support the Club International lads?
The Scotland Club International 22-man squad has been announced for their game against France on the 5th of Feb. at Netherdale, Gala. Having lost narrowly 13-12 in the reverse fixture last season the team are hoping to do one better. Being only the second time these teams have met anything can happen and the Scottish Club team have never lost on home soil. With a 7.30 KO, entry will be FREE on the night.
Scotland Club International squad to play France: Fraser Harkness (Selkirk), Fraser Thomson (Melrose), Malcolm Clapperton (Boroughmuir), Jamie Hunter (Ayr), James King (Melrose), Callum Anderson (Melrose), Andrew MacMahon (Currie), Scott Wight (Melrose), Richard Snedden (Currie), Alan Dymock (Heriots), Gregor Wood (Watsonians), Gordon Reid (Ayr), Scott Burnett (Heriots), Alastair Hamilton (Currie), Alan Brown (Dundee), Damien Kelly (Ayr), Scott Sutherland (Ayr), Rory McKay (Hawks), John Dalziel CAPTAIN (Melrose), Mark Cairns (Currie), Paul Burke (Ayr), Ross Weston (Currie)
The starting XV will be named next week…
Friday 19 March – Ireland v Scotland club international (Donnybrook, kick-off 7pm)
With six games left in the season and it looking increasingly like the title race is one being run by two horses one could be excused for looking beyond league proceedings. Stew Mel, I’m sure, would love to forget about league duties! Even the Cup looks to have become less of factor in premier clubs thinking. My brother and I could argue for hours about this. Sure it is still a huge event and obviously it is a massive honour to end your season on the big pitch at Murrayfield, but with fewer teams (Premier 1,2 and 3 only) competing for the Cup it can take less effort over a season to get there. If you win one game you’re into the quarter finals. So what is the result of this?
Suddenly more eyes are turning towards the British and Irish Cup. This season has been given more significance for certain amateurs because they have had an opportunity to measure themselves against professional players. Having played in a couple of games in the B&I Cup with Heriot’s I have enjoyed it but in some facets of the game, not all, it is difficult to compete with full time professionals. Playing against Coventry, a team that at the time of our game was complaining of over training with two sessions a day, four days a week, we competed in terms of skill, creativity and endeavour. Where we fell down was that we simply weren’t as big as our opposition, or as ‘collision-drilled’. This is to say that we weren’t able to stop the constant pounding of a massive English rucking game. This, it seems, will continue to afflict any amateur team facing a mature pro counterpart.
While both club teams have been competitive, Ayr winning against Rotherham and Heriot’s running Nottingham close, it is evident that Scottish club players are capable of out playing full time opposition. However, it is no great shock that Scotland’s player base has the depth of a teaspoon. If rumours are to be believed then the SRU fully intends to increase Scottish participation in the B&I Cup to four teams. How could teams, by definition, of less quality than the top two teams in Prem 1 be as competitive? There just aren’t enough players in our country. In order to compete with Welsh, Irish and, in particular, English teams we definitely don’t have enough monsters. So what should we do to contend on four fronts in the B&I Cup?
If you are a fan of club rugby most of you will be effing and blinding at your screen (much as if you were watching yet another rolling maul from Munster in the HC). The majority, it appears, want a return of the district teams. And why not?! If you want better players in certain positions for one team, pick from the best nearby. If the current league finishes the way it is now then the top four will comprise of a representative from the North (Dundee), the South (Melrose), the East (Currie) and the West (Ayr), anyway, showing how combative each region already is.
If the Scotland Club International has shown us anything it’s that amateur players relish the opportunity to play as near as they can get to their dream level: with a thistle on their chest. A lucky few have also propelled themselves into the professional ranks via the Club International. The same could happen through the districts. Surely the ultimate aim of teams like the Club International is to provide Scotland with more potential internationalists. If there is, say, a quality young player at West of Scotland who is never seen by Sean Lineen but could make the step up to pro rugby then they may never get the chance to prove themselves, more than once, at a higher level while Ayr and Ayr alone represent the West in the B&I Cup. Let players prove themselves. Sure there will be inter club politics but there always is anyway. There may be grumblings from the National Academy but just let Academy guys and unused pros play for the region of the club they are drafted to.
What harm can bringing back the districts do? If I was certain to finish mid-table with my club and no prospects of a Club International cap I would be crying out for a chance to play district rugby. Hell, if I was getting relegated I’d still want a district call!
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
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
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)