Cameron Black continues his regular series with a look at this weekends opponents, Wales
New revelations pour in today about the English World Cup fiasco. Personal revelations. The kind that cannot be ignored because they were taken confidentially and meant for in-house evaluation.
A series of reviews were carried out by the RFU, the RPA (Rugby Players Association) and the combined Premiership rugby clubs and were presented to the Professional Game Board (PGB) last week. As of yesterday some of the findings were leaked
Carl Lewis once said, “Life is about timing.”
He may have slickly been suggesting that everything had fallen into place for him, but in sporting terms he was certainly correct. If you get there in the right time you get Gold. If you show your hand too early you lose the pot. If you slow your pace too much you are behind the fans, and they are gone.
Let me set the scene for you: Scotland play 2 EMC Tests with 6 back-three options. They play one game against Ireland with S. Lamont, Paterson and Walker. Then they play against Italy with R. Lamont, Evans and Danielli. Then they take out Walker and send the rest off to New Zealand.
My question for you is: What should Scotland’s back-three be?
Uh-huh. Mmmm. Ok. Right. I see.
Well forget all that, I’m now going to ask a few ex-internationals instead because –no offence!- I’m pretty sure we would all love to hear what Scotland and Lions greats Ken Scotland and Andy Irvine have to say instead!
The revelations of the last few days that the SRU don’t want to tour the big southern hemisphere nations because it will stifle our developing players has, understandably, been met with disdain from some quarters. Robbo says “as far as our overseas tours are concerned I do not believe it would be beneficial for us to play a series of three Tests against the individual SANZAR countries at the end of our season. What I believe works for us, from a performance perspective, is a mix between SANZAR and Tier 2 unions as that gives us the opportunity to develop players which is part and parcel of touring”. Meanwhile, a great number of Scottish fans will be saying, “WOW! Look at him spin!”
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?!