Tag: Thom Evans

Thom Evans Officially Retires

Although this was to a large part announced last year by club and country, the man himself has finally called time on his rugby career having been assured that a comeback would be medically not very clever. I’m gutted for Thom that he won’t be able to stage the comeback it sounds like he wanted to, and we wish him all the best for whatever he chooses to do next.

SRU Article

We’ll miss his zip on the wing next Saturday, that’s for sure.

Full Backs are back

Two of Scotland’s long lost wounded full backs, Rory Lamont and Chris Paterson, are returning to Scotland duty for Andy Robinson’s summer training camp in St Andrews. They come back into a Scotland side finally finding its winning hat and find their favourite shirt (well, Rory’s at any rate) filled by a vastly improved incumbent (Hugo Southwell) and a young tyro pushing for honours (Jim Thompson).

Quick Roundup

Thom Evans has returned to Scotland. Apparently he was even up and moving about last week. What a trooper.

Moray Low is out for the rest of the 6N as he requires knee surgery. Get well soon Moray!

Here’s the Scotland A team for the weekend too:

Scotland A: Colin Gregor (Glasgow Warriors), Mark Robertson (Edinburgh), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors), John Houston (Edinburgh), Simon Webster (Edinburgh), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh, capt), Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors), Andrew Kelly (Edinburgh), Kyle Traynor (Edinburgh), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Scott MacLeod (Edinburgh), James Eddie (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Gray (Northampton Saints), Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors).
Replacements: Fergus Thomson (Glasgow Warriors), Ed Kalman (Glasgow Warriors), Craig Hamilton (Edinburgh), Roddy Grant (Edinburgh), Mark McMillan (Glasgow Warriors), David Blair (Edinburgh), Peter Murchie (Glasgow Warriors).

Good to see Colin Gregor at full back. Not sure about the rumours of Jim Thompson moving west, I’d like to see him stay and compete with Mossy for the Edinburgh 15 shirt – he’s sure to get a chance as soon as the league resumes anyway and it would be a shame to nail down a place then move. I’d also like to see Gregor given more of a shot at 15, yes he is wee but so is Ben Foden and Peter Horne has looked good at 15 on the few occasions I have seen him too.

Also good luck to the boys playing in the British and Irish Cup this weekend. I’ve got some stuff on this weekend so I’m not even sure if I’ll see the Italy game (gulp), but one of the other guys will chip in with their thoughts I am sure. Thanks for all your feedback on the blog (2 articles down from here), keep it coming!

Scotland Squad News

Head coach Andy Robinson has today announced a 36-strong squad as Scotland and Scotland A begin their preparations for next weekend’s matches against their Italian counterparts.

The squad will gather at Murrayfield on Sunday (21 February) ahead of both Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations Championship match against Italy at the Stadio Flaminio, Rome, on Saturday 27 February; and Scotland A’s match against Italy A in Biella on Friday 26 February.

Additional players will be called in for Scotland A duty next week but the enlarged squad will train together on Monday and Tuesday.

Both lock Nathan Hines (Leinster) and flanker Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester) who missed last weekend’s game in Cardiff through injury, are expected to be fit to take an active part in training.

Squad: Backs – Mike Blair, Ben Cairns (both Edinburgh), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors), Simon Danielli (Ulster), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors), Phil Godman (Edinburgh), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), Graeme Morrison, Dan Parks (both Glasgow Warriors), Mark Robertson (Edinburgh), Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais), Nikki Walker (Ospreys)

Forwards – John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie, Kelly Brown (all Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Ross Ford, Roddy Grant (both Edinburgh), Scott Gray (Northampton Saints), Richie Gray, Dougie Hall (both Glasgow Warriors), Jim Hamilton (Edinburgh), Nathan Hines (Leinster), Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), Scott MacLeod, Alan MacDonald (both Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Alasdair Strokosch (Gloucester), Jon Welsh (Glasgow Warriors).

Unavailable to train through injury: Jim Thompson (Edinburgh).

Invited to attend squad training: Simon Webster (Edinburgh).

Scotland’s cap centurion Chris Paterson is returning home from Cardiff today as medics are satisfied that he has recovered sufficiently from the kidney damage he sustained in Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations Championship match against Wales last week.

Meanwhile, Scotland wing Thom Evans has undergone a second operation on his neck at University Hospital in Cardiff and surgeons are pleased with his progress.

Scotland coach Andy Robinson visited both players in Cardiff yesterday. He said: “It was uplifting to speak to both players and hear first-hand that they’re both feeling better. Once again, on behalf of the Scotland team, I want to thank our own medical team, the Welsh Rugby Union medical personnel at the Millennium Stadium and all the staff at the University Hospital in Cardiff for the quite magnificent care they have delivered.”

Scotland team doctor James Robson said today: “Mossy (Chris Paterson) was discharged from hospital in Cardiff on Tuesday night. He has rested for a couple of days further in Cardiff and is now well enough to travel home with his wife Claire, which is excellent news.

“Thom, after discussion with his family and the surgeons who performed his initial operation, elected to undergo a second procedure to enhance his recovery.

“This surgery has now taken place. Thom is in good spirits and the surgeons are delighted with his progress.

“Thom has asked me to pass on his heart-felt thanks to the thousands of people who have expressed their support.

“At this stage I would expect that, if Thom’s recovery continues in the same vein, he will be able to return home next week.”

Good Luck Thom

So near and yet not actually that far. Shane Williams had a great five minutes. Dan Parks had a great game. George Clancy: not so much.

5.7 (e) If time expires and the ball is not dead, or an awarded scrum or lineout has not been completed the referee allows play to continue until the next time that the ball becomes dead. If time expires and a mark, free kick or penalty kick is then awarded the referee allows play to continue.

Still, all of that is of little consequence in the great scheme of things. Full reaction will of course take place through the week, but for now all of us at Scottish Rugby Blog send our best wishes to Thom Evans for a swift and complete recovery from his injury (the exact nature of which is unclear), and our thoughts go out to Max and the rest of the family too.

UPDATE: just in case you wanted to see the full interview with Andy Robinson post match you can find it here. Much angrier than the short version they broadcast!

UPDATE: Update on Thom Evans injury condition, it seems he has undergone neck surgery but is able to move his arms and legs which is good news I should think.

UPDATE: Another update on Thom Evans, Chris Paterson and Rory Lamont injuries (from Dr James Robson), all of which it seems will keep them out of the remainder of the Six Nations but thankfully all will have full recoveries, it is hoped.

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.

Scotland Team vs Argentina

I’m very happy with this team just announced and hot off the virtual press. I think MacDonald is probably worth a first cap, he gives the back row a bit more of an attacking edge and Barclay must be shafted after the work he put in last weekend and probably deserves a rest. I am glad Grove has been kept in, and including Cairns and Evans only adds to the sense that this Scotland team is designed to be very attack minded against what has so far (with the exception of Fernandez-Lobbe) been an under-performing Argentina team.

Scotland Team to face Argentina: Rory Lamont, Sean Lamont, Ben Cairns, Alex Grove, Thom Evans, Phil Godman, Chris Cusiter (c), Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Moray Low, Nathan Hines, Alastair Kellock, Alasdair Strokosch, Johnnie Beattie, Alan MacDonald
Replacements: Dougie Hall, Kyle Traynor, Jason White, Richie Vernon, Rory Lawson, Chris Paterson, Nick De Luca

Also for those of you worrying that our game on Saturday clashes with the undeniable box office appeal of Ireland vs South Africa never fear it seems that for once BBC Scotland has come to the rescue:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00p5x9l

I’m pretty sure it will be on the red button for those of you without access to BBC Scotland. You’ll just have to tell me if the commentary is as biased as BBC Wales’ efforts, for your fearless SRBlog correspondents will be at the game sporting fearful moustaches (sponsorship most welcome at: http://uk.movember.com/mospace/247612) hoping for enough tries (15 point margin required) to get a good rankings leap out of the Autumn Internationals.

Comfortable if Not Clinical

Scotland 23-10 Fiji

But having said that, it was more clinical than we are used to, wasn’t it? How many times have we seen the scrum-half break (usually Mike Blair) with no-one on his shoulder and the move fizzles out? This time when Cus went through the gap, pack-attack-captain Beattie was on his shoulder and lo and behold, try! While on other days a better (Aussie?) defence might have stopped that one, or the pass for Morrison’s try would have been given as forward, Scotland don’t usually get the breaks in International rugby so we’ll take them against a team that were ranked higher than us. So far, so good – a win’s a win and all that. The game and the Scotland team went a little to sleep in the second half though, and there were still signs of the odd silly error or turnover of old. The defence was up to the Fijians attempts to counter on the day, but opposition will be much stiffer next week and I think the intensity and concentration levels will need to go up a bit (hopefully the crowd levels will go up a bit too – it’s extremely poor not having some sort of ticket buying facility on the day. It’s not rocket science SRU, it means you can make more money!).

Even if Andy Robinson is a fan of big wings, there is a pretty good argument for bringing Thom Evans in for Danielli, given that pace, confidence and ball skills seemed to serve the Irish backs well against Australia yesterday (easily game of the weekend that one) and Evans has these in spades. Alex Grove made a solid debut in the 13 shirt, where he tackled well and made very few mistakes that I saw, along with a couple of nice passes that hinted at what he might offer in attack if the ball got to him more. To replace him or not if Cairns is fit possibly becomes Robinson’s biggest decision this week. On the other side, the Wallabies have ball skills up the yahoo but there is still a fair amount of inexperience in their backline so (Matt Giteau aside) it’s almost an even contest in terms of experience if Scotland can find any sort of platform with which to take them on. The improved Wallaby front row could make the scrum an even contest (or worse) but with Moray Low and Kyle Traynor on form and Euan Murray still to come back at least we’re starting to get some depth on both sides of our props department. The line-out went well despite the second rows being generally quiet but as always with Scottish hookers it could be a different story if their throwing in is challenged by the opposition (or the ref). Looking at the level of effort Ireland needed just to get a draw against Australia, it looks like quite a hill to climb for Scotland and Robinson. If we can get close enough to be in it with a few minutes left there’s a chance, but where is the Scottish Brian O’Driscoll who can create a bit of last-minute magic just when you need it most?

Oh, the lunchtime news tells me they’re going to fire the Scotland football coach (where of course it counts as news news, not sport news – which will also be all football). Maybe they should hire an Englishman? It’s working for us so far.

Who’s Carrying the Ball?

Edinburgh got a well deserved if unspectacular win at home to Munster on Friday while Glasgow laboured in the second half but eventually secured the expected four-try bonus point against Connacht, putting the Scottish teams at third and fourth in the league table. Sean Lineen has been asserting everywhere he can that Thom Evans is “back”, and with two tries (including a strong tackle-busting effort off his favourite inside ball move) who can argue?

Next weekend before a break going into the Autumn Internationals and Andy Robinson’s all important first match with Fiji, Edinburgh will try to do what Glasgow have so far failed to ie beat the Dragons (Sun 5pm S4C), while Glasgow go to Swansea to face the star-studded Ospreys (Fri 7pm BBCw) I just hope Thom Evans and Nikki Walker don’t knock so many bells out of each other that they can’t play for Scotland. It gives me  a week to think of the team I’d pick as well. I’m still not sure about the back row though. Having watched “Gloucester Scottish” play pretty much like an actual Scottish team (inept) at the weekend, two of the better players were actually Stroker and Scott Lawson (who can at least throw straight and was industrious about the park). Lots of good hits and work at the breakdown but Stroker is not really a big ball carrier though and neither is Barclay, which puts a lot of pressure on your Number 8… Big Nathan and the backs can’t do all the go-forward… On a side note, I fear an anti-Scottish backlash at Kingsholm if Redpath can’t turn the results around soon. Which would be a shame as moves south have been the making of Strokosch and Rory Lawson, and Redpath at least at assistant coaching level.

Next week’s matches could be key, especially if Max Evans continues his rapid return from injury. With Robbo’s assertion that Morrison is inked in at 12 that leaves Cairns, De Luca and Grove along with Evans if form merits it (looks good so far) competing for the 13 shirt and probably a bench spot. My current thinking would be Cairns – who stepped the normally rock solid De Villiers on Friday, although I wouldn’t pick him just for that – with Evans or De Luca on the bench but who knows what next week will show?

Quelle différence?

Stade Francais 31-7 Edinburgh
Glasgow 18-22 Biarritz

Ugh. Edinburgh flatter to deceive (get hammered) and Glasgow come close but fail to squeeze out the result they definitely deserved. So far, so Scottish teams in the Heineken Cup. I thought there were a few positives to be taken from the weekends defeats though.

Johnnie Beattie finally took it to the next level with a great performance level that if maintained could and should see him challenge Hoggy and Simon Taylor for the Scotland No 8 shirt. Won’t matter to Jonathan Davies who can’t tell the difference.

Thom Evans is rediscovering form with every game and was a palpable threat whenever he had the ball. He just lacks the opportunities in the right spaces without his brother inside him, but Dave McCall is also getting up to speed with each game and building on his solid defence. In the Glasgow backline, Colin Gregor continues to be a hive of activity with a wee bit of flair and Rob Dewey looked a little more at home at centre than his recent home on the wing. Still, they weren’t quite able to put it together in the midfield when needed in order to win the game.

Dan Parks is at least doing what he does very well – kick the ball around Firhill on a bit of invisble string. But he still made two silly choices when the run – and scoring opportunity – was clearly on. With the Glasgow backs’ handling skills and pace, such negligence borders on the criminal. Parks can run the backline very well but it seems his instinct is still to kick. What price Ruaridh Jackson or even Colin Gregor marshalling the onslaught on Biarritz’s try line that often went unrewarded?

Glasgow’s front row is developing into a powerful scrummaging unit, and the props are both under 24 so well off propping “peak”. Still (as with Edinburgh) the lineout was fairly abysmal and led to the slightly iffy try that in the end decided the match. With Ford and Hall both having dreadful days at the lineout, who does Robbo turn to for the Scotland No 2 shirt? (Although some of the “not straight” decisions were a mile straighter than the ones allowed regularly in the scrum. However, the Feeding At  The Scrum and Lineout Equality Group (aka FATSLEG) is yet to be convened and start its world-conquering grass-roots petition, so that will have to wait – watch this space!). Glasgow are definitely gettting there, and so to Edinburgh…

Mossy looks in good form, his work on sprinting has paid off and he seems to have developed a yard of pace to go with his eye for a wee gap – he should be back at 15 on merit. Cairns looks good but rarely saw the ball. If Houston is injured, I still reckon Cairns should be playing 12 and De Luca 13. Regardless, there was some slack midfield tackling that gave Stade an unassailable lead far too early on, and Scottish teams always struggle trying to force the game.

Umm, that’s about it for Edinburgh. Okay so they won the second half 7-3 with a well taken try but by then Stade’s foot was so far off the gas that they resembled someone dropping a bucket of paint over a traffic jam (slowly) rather than the confident riot of colour and pace from the first half. Roddy Grant looks fully at home in the 15s game, and is it just me or were Edinburgh much better when Hogg was captain? Perhaps it was just poorer opposition early on in the season. Far too many handling errors, no lineout control and lack of quick ball for/from Blair basically put the dampeners on Edinburgh’s match. At least it is a game out of the way that they would not perhaps realistically have targeted as a “Win” in their battle to escape the pool, but one wonders if it will prove a damaging blow to the confidence of a team that we felt had moved forward so much under Andy Robinson.

UPDATE: Rob Dewey seems to have broken his ankle, keeping him out well past the Autumn Internationals. DTH Van Der Merwe has also broken a bone in his hand.

Singing In The Rain

Well done to Edinburgh for a good result away from home facing down an admittedly poor Cardiff team and coping with the usual performance from G. Clancy esq. Did I say Edinburgh? Oh, I meant Glasgow. Telling the difference between the Scottish pro teams must be getting hard for poor old BBC Wales, who made several references to John Beattie, Firhill, and playing Biarritz next week during the coverage of Edinburgh’s pisspoor display against the Ospreys. Granted, Beattie (junior, I can only imagine) and Ally Hogg may share a hairdresser and Edinburgh have “Aberdeen” on their shirts to confuse matters further, but it’s pretty commentary standards (never mind the bias).  This gave me something to get excited about and shout at the telly for (not really the TV’s fault I suppose), given I was long past the point of shouting at Edinburgh’s general ineptitude.

Roddy Grant looked sharper at the breakdown than pretty much the whole team put together, and Ospreys turned Edinburgh over almost at will. A few chances went begging but inability to (or lack of desire to) keep ball proved pretty foolish against an international class (and in many places Lions/world class) backline who promptly cut them to shreds. Good to see Nikki Walker looking sharp though. Godman kicked perfectly from tee so Mossy was not missed in that regard, but as one of the chaps pointed out on the BBC boards, his marshalling of the defensive line was sorely absent. Stand in full back and new signing Steve Jones didn’t cover himself in glory, shall we say, but he should not be the scapegoat.

Meanwhile new Glasgow full back Peter Horne got one kick of the ball on Saturday and sclaffed it into touch, but as it was to end the match I can’t really complain. Still, it’s a good sign for a youngster that he looked thoroughly disappointed in himself even for something that had no bearing on the game. The match had long since been won by the combined work of Colin Gregor and Thom Evans behind a sturdy pack effort and this time Glasgow did not surrender their half time lead. Huzzahs all round for pseudo-Highlander Moray Low’s boot up field that eventually led to Johnnie Beattie’s try (see Jonathan, he was playing for Glasgow). With Cusiter undoubtedly the best 9 Glasgow have, perhaps they should find somewhere else to bring Gregor’s skills into play on a more regular basis – 10 or 15 perhaps?

Big Nathan looks like he would have had fun during the Leinster 30-0 demolition of Munster that brought several tries, a bit of controversy and no doubt plenty of niggle. A much better range of highlights from STV this week too – they are learning a game of rugby is not just the penalty offences that lead to points and I reckon it’s getting better.

Next weekend – Heineken Cup!

Monty Steps In to Sevens Squad

After punching above their weight in reaching the semi final of the IRB World Sevens at Twickers last week, the Scotland Sevens squad move on to Murrayfield this week hoping for a repeat of the good performance on home turf. Having watched Scotland throw away a winnable match against Kenya I went out thinking “oh well, same old same old” only to return and find they had beaten Fiji and humped the USA setting up a quarter against Portugal. They won through that (just) to face a semi with Auld Enemies England. The game was probably there for the winning at points, had Thom Evans not been ruled out, but in the end England were too strong – they went on to win the competition.

So with Thom Evans out with a foot problem, for this weekend’s squad coach Stephen Gemmell has called in new Scarlets man Sean Lamont, who represents a different sort of winger but who will hopefully be more than up to the challenge. Ally “played every game this season and still volunteering for Sevens” Hogg and Roddy “Ginger Warrior” Grant give them a good shout at the breakdown (such as it is in Sevens) so hopefully we can see some good results at Murrayfield. First group game up is a chance for revenge against England. Tickets for both days still available, naturally. And for those of you outwith spitting distance of Edinburgh, full coverage is on Sky apart from when the Lions are on.

In other Murrayfield news, Edinburgh have signed Scotland A, ex Borders and Newcastle full back and sometime fly-half Steve Jones to swell their ranks with the departure of Hugo to France. Robbo has also signed Dutch wing Tim Visser from the Falcons, his first non-Scottish signing of the season.

Meanwhile reports of team spirit being forged in South Africa seem positive, with Donnacha O’C saying it already feels like a club side. Let’s hope they don’t play like one. Big Nathan has been put in charge of rooming arrangements – good move putting Ross Ford with Paul O Connell. When is Nathan going to be roomed with O’Gara? And Warren Gatland has announced his intention not to publically slag anyone off (the Irish?) this time out. First game up on Saturday against the Royal XV, team announcement on Thursday around 2. Anyone getting excited yet?

PS If there are any Scottish fans going out to SA on tour, please get in touch (details on About Us page) – we’d love for you to do some reporting either out there or when you get back.

UPDATE: It is actually possible to watch all the Sevens on Saturday, Sky is just channel hopping it. So you can still record Scotland’s glory.