Just when I thought I had figured out the Axis of Anticipated that is Robinson and Townsend they go and mix things up! Here is the Scotland team to face the Italians at Murrayfield on Saturday, 5pm:
15 Rory Lamont (Toulon) 24 caps
14 Max Evans (Castres) 19 caps
13 Nick De Luca (Edinburgh) 25 caps
12 Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors) 29 caps
11 Simon Danielli (Ulster) 27 caps
10 Dan Parks (Cardiff Blues) 61 caps
9 Mike Blair (Edinburgh) VICE-CAPTAIN 71 caps
1 Alasdair Dickinson (Sale Sharks) 20 caps
2 Scott Lawson (Gloucester) 27 caps
3 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors) 14 caps
4 Nathan Hines (Clermont Ferrand) 72 caps
5 Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) CAPTAIN 33 caps
6 Kelly Brown (Saracens) 45 caps
8 Richie Vernon (Sale Sharks) 11 caps
7 John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps
16 Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors) 35 caps
17 Euan Murray (Newcastle Falcons) 38 caps
18 Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps
19 Ross Rennie (Edinburgh) 7 caps
20 Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors) 52 caps
21 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) 7 caps
22 Nikki Walker (Ospreys) 23 caps
Despite the Scottish cessation of activity at the weekend there was still plenty of rugby being played. We saw Australia show how antiquated South Africa’s rugby may have become in just a few short years. We saw Wales expose England’s lack of skills throughout an entire XV. We saw the French recline and accept gifts from Ireland.
Watching these games will be invaluable to Scotland because they framed some obtrusive issues that many in sport -particularly in England- have danced around. These issues give us cause, not only to look at our future opponents, but to assess ourselves as well.
I don’t think I would like to play cards with Andy Robinson.
Sure, when we see the glass box on TV, filled with what looks like all the shiny-headed men in Scottish rugby, it always appears like Robinson is losing the plot. Probably about a breakdown.
At the moment I am beset on all sides with the reality, the spin coming out of Murrayfield and probably some early onset moaning from supposed experts. I have purposely not read any newspapers this morning, but I have watched the game again, re-read some stuff that went out live during the game and have endeavoured to see most of the official comments. So let’s look at the coverage of Scotland 10-6 Ireland.
With the EMC tests looming and the daily press releases telling us how our players are “harder, faster, stronger” than ever before whilst the players assure us the group has never been so tight-knit, I must ask: how will the warm up games pan out?
When you read a national newspaper everyone is obsessed with numbers. People want a player rated out of 10, a statistical breakdown of offloads out of the tackle and the number of pints sold at a ground.
Despite being sober and despite the improved nature of our performance we have still lost 3 in a row and look set for a showdown with the Twickenham steamroller, so forgive me for wanting to hide behind statistics and numbers today.
Monday morning: a time to take stock.
If the answers to your bleary Monday morning questions are ‘Yes’ then congratulations: you are either a Russian Billionaire, a skilful Serb or a delusional Egyptian. You are most likely not a Scotsman.
Do not despair, though!
(now with update)
I’m gonna blow my own trumpet…last week, like a new-age Mystic Meg, I predicted Scotland would usurp Ireland and Argentina in the World Rankings. I just had no idea we would do it so soon!
On the 21st of November 2009 Scotland recorded a magnificent result. A win against Australia thought to be nigh on impossible in the days leading up to the fixture. It was some day. Yet while this day was special for everyone lucky enough to see such a spectacle it held extra significance for one young man.