BBC BLOGS - John Beattie
« Previous | Main | Next »

Little given away in first round of phoney war

Post categories:

John Beattie | 17:54 UK time, Sunday, 7 August 2011

Right, what did you think of the weekend?

The first games in the phoney war are finished here in the northern hemisphere, and New Zealand beat Australia. And do you know what? Nobody has been that convincing. After my assertion last week that the All Blacks are invincible they looked beatable against the Wallabies.

Magic. I wish I was going to New Zealand. Does anyone have a camper van free? Ah, sadly for me, it will be watching on TV.

Let's leave the southern hemisphere teams aside - other than to marvel at Digby Ioane who can, they say, bench press 190kgs - and concentrate on the two games played in Britain.

The All Blacks, sorry England, looked pretty good and I am a real fan of Welsh rugby and their simple system. Both Wales and England look as though they are going to frighten some teams. This could be George North's tournament.

What about Ireland? Well, the game against Scotland was their first outing of five - they were under-cooked in 2007. Rob Kearney had a point to prove as did Andrew Trimble at full-back and right wing, respectively.

Denis Leamy was outstanding in the eight jersey, and, although you could argue that, with the exception of the half-backs, this was the Irish second XV, they contained Scotland.

Richie Gray was an impressive performer for Scotland against Ireland

Richie Gray was an impressive performer for Scotland against Ireland

And so to Scotland. It took a last minute set-piece move straight from the training ground to cross the try-line. Joe Ansbro came in off his right foot after Nick De Luca's pass.

For the rest of the game, if I am honest, the team looked to be training in public and deliberately hiding some moves. Much of what happened came from runners lining up from Ruaridh Jackson's distribution in the 10 jersey, Graeme Morrison again looked powerful and Richie Gray is an absolute certainty.

But Andy Robinson's head-scratching might have been made even more fervent after the game and only the easier run out against Italy will tell part two of the story.

Given parental involvement, I've got to stay clear of talking of individual player chances to a certain extent.

But the big story of the day, at Murrayfield, was the delayed kick-off. Thousands of fans turned up late to buy tickets or to pick up pre-ordered tickets.

Now, I don't know all the details, but it's a good story when people want to come to the game and buy on the day.

It's a bad story, however, when the capacity necessary in terms of systems and people isn't there to make it an easy process.

The bigger picture? Well, having watched the Tri-Nations and these warm-up games, it looks as though the southern hemisphere teams are more advanced at this stage.

The New Zealanders are playing to an extraordinary tempo, the Aussies can call on Rocky Elsom, the Welsh players are looking powerful and will stick to their system, England look big with Matt Stevens doing well at tighthead prop, Ireland have still to show their hand, and Scotland, well, Scotland have to settle on their squad and get across that try line.

Boy, oh boy, bring on the World Cup. It doesn't have to be a big camper van, but does anyone fancy buying one and we'll drive all the way there?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    John what do you mean by the All Blacks looked beatable

    going in to the last 5 minutes against the 2nd to ranked team in the world they were 23 points up.

    And they are leaving several top players out of games particularly Crusaders in order to peak at the world cup.

    The biggest margin between any two teams in the IRB 93 team rankings is between New Zealand and Australia.

    I wish Scotland looked that beatable!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    Well I'm going to be more optimistic about that Scottish performance and victory.

    We won, we played well (largely), some players in key positions excelled, and we outscored our opponents in tries - how often can us Scottish rugby fans say that!?

    Richie Gray cemented his reputation as a star, Chris Paterson showed (again, and again) that he still adds terrific value, Cross was strong at 3, Lawson was good, Ansbro and Morrison combined well, and Lamont continued to show he's a danger wherever he plays on the pitch.

    Jackson had an up and down match, but continues to develop and show great potential.

    There were, are, area's for improvement, but the scrum appears to have got it's act a bit more together, and we should still tighten the line out.

    Shame for Nikki Walker's injury, but for me he's not an automatic pick, so I hope one of the young guys gets an opportunity against Italy. We don't use width enough I feel.

    Overall, we won, we scored a try, and there was evidence that there's 20-30% more intensity and execution still to come.

    It's a positive start.

    3-4 tries and an injury free win against Italy and we're set for a believable run at the world cup.

    Proud of you Scotland. Keep it up.

  • Comment number 3.

    John, Ive got a campervan with my girlfriend for the trip, tag along, it'l be like a zany roadtrip movie. its a cozy fit but im up for it. Il provide the campervan, you can provide the insightful analysis, and cook me breakfast!
    The biggest thing to come out of the game for Scotland is the confidence it will give them. Scoring a try from their own half in the closing minutes when they needed to. Its a long time since thats happened, and it was was desperately needed the last time these teams met. That's when you start winning by narrow margins instead of losing by them. Its a good start, the journey begins here. And ends in the campervan in New Zealand!

  • Comment number 4.

    The only thing either side can take from the Scotland Ireland encounter is that things can only get better as what was on show plumbed the depths. Slow of thought and pace with yes the odd refreshing moment - Lamont. As for England it is hard to read too much into this, particularly in the tight as Wales weren't up to it. But once again a game lacking innovation and surprise. All to predictable.

    John, perhaps the ABs looked beatable but they were 17 nil up in no time and frankly Oz didn't look likely winners at any stage in spite of have a big chunk in possession stakes. Some times that's purely down to the way the pill bounces although it might be a matter of concern to the ABs.

    Can get you a ticket I suspect but not a camper van I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 5.

    I have to agree with Parlane. A Cornishman currently living in New Zealand i have to say from what i have seen the kiwi's look a formidable force at this stage of the preparation phase. They have made Australia and SA look average whilst being able to rest key S15 players and rotate a number of others. I hope i am made to eat my words but cant see past Nz on current viewings.

    However, having gone to the NZ v Australia game at Eden Park on saturday one thing the kiwi's dont have is a stadium worthy of hosting a RWC final.

  • Comment number 6.

    Don't knock Scotland too much. After all, they were the only side of the day that at least attempted to score tries. Ireland take note, you don't win games by defending, just occasionally you have to move forward. it was a warm up match, final tweeks have still to be made, I am sure that Andy Robinson has a pretty good idea of his first team but was not able to play some of them in Saturday's match.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi John,
    I agree that the All Blacks look beatable - but only by Australia playing at their best.
    Watching Scotland v Ireland I was both impressed and depressed. The scrummaging looks much better than for some time and it looks as though we now have a Tight Head who is solid in the scrum and offers plenty around the park. The fitness was good, too. But there were two aspects that depressed me.
    The first was Rory Lawson. I admire him greatly for his guts, defence and the way he has come through to be Scotland's first choice scrum half. But he does not offer enough of a break to take the pressure off other attackers. More contentiously, I was disappointed by his service. The majority of his passes, particularly in the second half, went head high to Jackson so cutting his options. We hear a great deal about our riches at scrum half but it seems a long time since I watched a Scottish scrum half deliver both a running threat and a consistently good passing service. Jackson needs better service before we will know whether he is our best fly half.

    However,my biggest disappointment is that we always seem to attack as individuals. Only Sean Lamont ever seems to be running hard on the shoulder of the ball carrier. Everyone else watches the ball carrier get tackled and then comes up. This made the 101 charges we made on Saturday all too easy for the Irish to stop. Surely this must be very easy to fix, especially given the fitness of our players. I can only imagine that players are being coached to play that way, and that is disappointing.

  • Comment number 8.

    JB - You must have been watching a different Tri Nations clash than the one I tuned into!! For me the AB's were clearly the better side at Eden Park that night, and were deserved winners. My prediction last week was AB's would win by 10;- I was wrong, they won by 16. In the pre game show, Justin Harrison & Sean Fitzpatrick were discussing how evenly matched the two sides were, & how tight a clash it was going to be. If only that was the case.... it wasn't! I suggest to you we revisit the debate after the final whistle at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on August 27. In the meantime the Bledisloe Cup is safe on NZ soil until 2012, and I remain firm in my conviction NZ are presently unbeatable at home, and as a consequence are the team most likely to be hoisting the WC come October 23.

    As for our game at Murrayfield , I was tuned in & enjoyed your commentary. If that was a 'training run', they are going to have to put in an awful lot more training if we are going to clinch 2nd place in our pool, or possibly go even better. It was a very ordinary performance by both teams, although we did show good guts & determination, and the try was top drawer stuff;- well constructed & put together by numerous players. If only we could start to do that several times in the course of 80 minutes. Onwards & upwards!

  • Comment number 9.

    I think both games at the weekend were "training in public" and hence don't think we can read too much into the results. All the teams were predictable as should be expected with key moves being hidden. Scotland did seem to be able to press, hold the ball whilst in possession and go through the phases. What Scotland still lack is that cutting edge to score tries. Think they should have scored more that one with the possession they had. I just hope they have some plays up their sleeves come opening game.

    Bring it on I say.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think Scotland looked a damn sight better than they did during the 6N. They seem to have found a centre partnership that can trouble defences. Ireland will have realised their strength in depth is not as deep as they first thought.
    England, well that was a bit of a strange one for me. Wilkinson thought he was playing in a RWC semi final or HC quarter final. With Wales enter into the spirit of a pre-season friendly, working on patterns and set-moves. Old Johnny was back to his usual robotic self, dropping goals, opting to go for goal instead of touch and generally just kicking the leather off the ball. Bit of advice Martin, regardless who you decide to pick at centre, if you go with Wilko at 10 then they`ll end up chasing kicks all day.

  • Comment number 11.

    John my boy - what did you make of the mess that was the breakdown at the Scotland/Ireland match?

    Irish hands all over the place, Barnes doing nothing and we weren't smart enough to play the referee to get quicker ball. That was the most worrying part of the game by far.

    We need Cusiter back or to give Laidlaw with his bullet pass a chance. If we want to play the offloading game, we need loosies with smarts and a 9 who doesn't count to five before moving every ball. And preferably, to keep Dan Parks on the bench.

    You can't say it, of course, but I will - we need the Bs to have a full game against Italy - they remain the platinum standard for us.

  • Comment number 12.

    I wasn't too-concerned, it was a first public rehearsal, or as you said John, training in public. But, at least we won - most often, when we don't put out our full first XV, we lose.
    We were too-loose at the breakdown, I think, big boys though they are, our locks pack too-high on the props and don't have a straight back, which failings will be punished by better scrummaging opponents, and can someone please teach Sean Lamont to look for support runners.

    Oh, and finally - will somebody at the BBC please tell that match commentator to stop saying: "So-and-so goes round the corner", drove me round the bend on Saturday that did.

  • Comment number 13.

    No. 9 - good points made by *11 GeorgeCarlin.

    Lawon's service is appalling. Dreadfully slow. If we watch other teams that score tries it is so clear that sucking in the defence and spreading the ball before they have a chance to reorganise is effective. Standing behind a ruck, counting the opposition on either side of the pitch is not on Rory! He must be a nice chap to get the armband and all, but we need somebody that can get the ball moving more quickly. Also, why did we not have a back up in the case of the scrum half being tied into the ruck? This is surely a simple one to solve.

    The team should be very proud of the scrum, their effort and well done Nick De Luca, who has come in for a lot of flack. Morrison makes a huge difference and big Jim Hamilton looks like a good option to partner Gray at lock.

  • Comment number 14.

    John, could you please refrain from talking non-stop throughout the game. I think you forget that it is not radio and we can see the action! Some timely pearls of wisdom would be nice rather than commentary on every single piece of play. ~ that goes for Mr Nicol too.

    You're young though and still learning!

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi there John, you are a BIG hero of mine but like all your colleagues back then and now, you are all BIG..... I don't know how many times you said it, and yes you are being accurate.... but all the players are BIG these days....

  • Comment number 16.

    Jonny D - Oh dear, Big mistake?

    Silver Spider, thanks for this, I think I do about three commentaries a year so each one is sit down, stick the seat belt on, and press play. Had a bit of a sore throat so I should have talked less as well. You are right, I am very, very young.

    Matt - apologies, it was me, I know, I think I said it way too much. And lots else besides.

    George - I think Ireland were good, they were just trying to drive beyond the ball and were good at it

    Stuart - I thought the All Blacks had a little look in the eye when the Aussies scored and I just thought - wow, these guys are beatable

    Off to flog myself after your comments as to the commentary lads

    I might take a wee walk round the corner and go for a big walk

    Or play the guitar upstairs, amp up to eleven, and crank it up

  • Comment number 17.

    You are expecting an easy run-out against Italy, JB. Are they putting out a second team, too..?

  • Comment number 18.

    As expected it was a tight game at Murrayfield. Both teams had there fair share of chances though I did wonder if Scotland were able to finish off. I think there was a good air about the team. Some were firing on all cyclinders others seemed a bit short of match fitness/ tempo. The backline are looking better - Morrison, Ansbro (good try but would rather he didn't deliberately take out the opposition) Lamont, Paterson. Al Kellock certainly seem to enjoy himself and took a clear lead in the last 5 - 10 mins. Richie Gray having as go as ever. It was a balance between experience and youthful enthusiasm. Not sure we have much choice at 10 Jackson v Parks both blow hot and cold. One downside - missing bits of the match as people get up and down out of their seats for more refreshments or to use the facilities!

  • Comment number 19.

    Sorry guys but I have to disagree with some of the comments so far! Big Jim Hamilton is a big guy but needs to learn to carry the ball in both hands and learn how to off load! On a number of occasions he could have off loaded but just ran with the ball tucked up in his oxter! Rennie looked good as did Denton when he came on! Stockers looked very one dimensional and I would go with Denton on this showing! Beattie junior needs to recapture his confidence quickly - last year he would have scored a try if he could himself one on one as he did in the second half! Lawson had a poor game and Jackson was even worse! Should have given Laidlaw a run at stand off in the second half - he looked much better when he came on! He passed quicker and got the team moving faster.

    I thought the big difference for Scotland was when De Luca came on - he only received one pass and he managed to step inside and make the break then did not panic when having to pass! Before the the Morrison/Ansbro combo looked too one dimensional! De Luca has to be on the park for his step and the lines he takes in attack! The rest of the backs did ok without looking threatening - biggest problem is support running!

    All in all - a good training session that told us very little!

  • Comment number 20.

    I am surprised that no-one has mentioned the blocking that went on during the move that led to the try (i think it was Jack Cuthbert) that created the hole that De Luca went through - Good to see Scotland getting away with street wise tactics that ireland have been masters of in the past.

    Sean Lamont - what odds will we get on him actually giving a pass to a team mate?

  • Comment number 21.

    #20
    I think the blocking was done by Morrison.
    It was so depressing to see the score board 2mns before the end.
    A win, it is EXCELLENT for the confidence.
    I was so happy for Ansbro, he deserved to score the try and did well, his step was at the right tempo, even if there was space, not so easy to cross the try-line...
    However,
    Lawson is too predictable and slow, a shame Laidlaw did not have enough game time to impress.
    Scotland is still missing a sharp, strong and fast ball carrier...
    I think D.Weir is the future N°10 for Scotland.

  • Comment number 22.

    John,

    Deliberate blocking to win a close game at International level whats your thoughts on cheating in rugby in order to win

  • Comment number 23.

    Beatable? Are you serious John boy? You mean to tell me that after the most clinical display of international rugby by the number 1 side against the number 2 side compared to the predictable NH games on show last weekend; that these men in black look beatable? I maybe biased but after serious analysis of the quality of games in the NH compared to what the All Blacks showed and I remind you; still improving and "not the finished article by far.." according to the best coaching team on the planet.

  • Comment number 24.

    NZ always look good at this stage. Let's just wait until the end of the Tri-Nations, after they lose one to Australia and start getting the heeby jeebies, then the NZ press and public get on their back.... This RWC is theirs to lose - but they know it, they've been there before and done exactly that.

    Their set piece looks a bit shaky, Read doesn't like pressure and all they need is Carter or McCaw to be injured and everything changes shape. And remember - there are plenty of players and coaches at the RWC who have won a world cup and know how to do it. None of them are involved with NZ.

  • Comment number 25.

    New Zealand could put out 4 teams and they'd be the 4 in the semis at the world cup. Only Australia on their day can match them and even then only from open play; their set piece isn't up to standard yet but i would have Genia over Weepu, the back 3 of O'Connor, Ioane and Beale over that of New Zealand and dare i say it, i'd also have Pocock over McCaw, with Quade Cooper only just behind the incredible Dan Carter. Having said that Kaino, Read, Williams, Sonny Bill, Nonu, Conrad Smith, Hosea Gear, the list is long and impressive....
    I thought the Scotland game wasn't as dull as people are making it out to have been, only poor finishing, decision making, and Rory Lawson stopped Scotland having 2 or 3 tries in the first half. The Irish counter-rucking was good too. Rather than it looking like Scotland were training, I thought it looked like Ireland were doing some kind of defensive exercise for much of the game.
    Wales and England both looked in good shape at the weekend too, and I wouldn't be too surprised to see Wales take victory in the return match as they surprised me with their display.

  • Comment number 26.

    I dont think Scotland have much to cheer about after their display against Irelands 2nd XV team. After 77 minutes they were losing (before being gifted a soft try) to a side that will never ever be fielded in a serious game..not even 30% of them will be on the 1 team again. This was simply a test match for the guys on the cut of making the 30 man squad.

    Scotland had a strong team out and were losing for 77 minutes...If they play like this England and Argentina will easily beat them hense sending them home in the group stages.

    We wont know what Ireland are like until they play England as that will be a good indication.

    The All Blacks and Wales looked ring rusty and really it was anyones game. They both showed good potential tho but they would want to considering the strenght of team they sent out.

    Im looking forward to seeing what France will show up on Saturday.

  • Comment number 27.

    Cannot believe the brickbats for JB's commentary.
    About a thousand times better than Nasal Congestion Cotter.

    Perhaps those squirting the vitriol would all like a go instead?
    Oh wait - you need to have 25 caps playing for your country first.

  • Comment number 28.

    Can Scotland beat Argentina to get out of the group stages?

    I think they can. It will be a very even match but they might pip it!
    Then the New Zealand All Blacks in the next round,.....ouch.

  • Comment number 29.

    It would have been a better result for Scotland had the referee dealt with the frankly blatant killing of the ball by Ireland. Once again an Irish team managed to get away with murder without any proper regulation of what they were doing. Had the referee done his job, Scotland would have probably scored far more tries or penalties.

  • Comment number 30.

    W Main - I think Ireland were good tactically, they drive beyond the ball well

    James Mathew, boy I love your optimism

    George you are kind, my critics are right to say what they think they pay the license fee and the Beeb pay me. Andrew Cotter is a friend of mine and he's really good

    Rainbow flashy boots, you have a good point about the number of teams the All Blacks have, the trouble for the All Blacks is that despite all of that inherent advantage they have failed at every world cup since, and with the exception of, 1987

    AB fan, they aren't the finished article. Hey, I'm expressing my opinion and I just thought they had their "doubting" moments, but they are a great side

  • Comment number 31.

    #rainbowflashyboots
    "Only Australia on their day can match" (All Blacks).
    Sorry to be so arrogant, but France can on their day, especially for a WC game...
    I think the All Blacks are terrific, however I HOPE that Rugby game is still unpredictable...

  • Comment number 32.

    I'm rather annoyed about the timings of a few of the games. Scotland's first against Romania is at 2 am, which is just about the worst time possible. A couple of hours before, and I'd stay up to watch, a couple later, and I'd have got up, but 2 is just right in the middle. Surely they could have organised that one better?

  • Comment number 33.

    Just 2 things. 1st - NZ are huge favourites to win the cup, especially at home where they lose very rarely. 2nd - anything can happen though, just one loss required, remember.

    Of course, NZ aren't invincibles but it will take a helluva lot to beat them and only selected few teams have any chance even to think about it. But they themselves have to be brilliant that day and force NZ be below par. If NZ are allowed to play an excellent game, others do not have a prayer, hey, NZ have to be just decent and that alone will be too much for most of the other teams.

    IMHO, the only real danger may come from the likes of Australia, SA, France and England. Maybe (just scant maybe) Ireland and Wales. Others (including Argentina without Hernandez and Scotland, sorry) just do not have a chance.

    You do not get zero in the column "games won" vs NZ in a hundred years for nothing.

  • Comment number 34.

    "there are plenty of players and coaches at the RWC who have won a world cup and know how to do it."

    It would be nice to know who those "plenty" are.

    I can recall only one coach with WC medal there - Martin Johnson and he did not win it as a coach. And selected few players - Jonny, Tindall and Moody in England and bunch of Dads Army from South Africa.

  • Comment number 35.

    One of the things which really annoys me about commentators is the pronounciation of names.

    Please ask Keith Wood how to pronounce Tomás O'Leary's first name. It does not have a flat "a" in the second syllable. The accent on the "a" - "á" - changes it to an "aww" sound. It really isn't hard.

    ps - it's not only the Beeb that get this wrong - Sky commentators haven't a clue either and I doubt ITV will get it right during the Wordl Cup

  • Comment number 36.

    good banter, john. you really engage the commentariat in a real way more than any other bbc blog i can think of. i think you press the right buttons and so do they!

  • Comment number 37.

    Scotland were awful. Ireland's second string team were just marginally worse. It was a dire game. And Scotland parading around doing a lap of honour, so pleased with themselves, acting like they'd won a world cup was both sadly predictable and pathetic.

    Scotland will take absolutely nothing from this match.

  • Comment number 38.

    There are two Scotland teams I love to see.

    The first is the one I saw on Saturday, players running, passing, keeping possession, kicking for touch, chasing tries, pushing and backing themselves all over the park and generally trying to play like the class of '99.

    It was positive rugby and a breath of fresh air after years of watching Parks kicking everything away and us not knowing how to score tries because we don't get enough chances to do so.

    The other team is the blood and thunder, hell or high water, ferociously aggressive team that we've seen in a few Calcutta Cup and Autumn Tests over the last few years. The players fly into tackles, with a fury that would stun even the All Blacks and they put their bodies on the line to play rugby in a way that makes me glad to be alive and proud to be Scottish.

    Yes, on Saturday we were playing the Irish Wolfhounds squad with a few Test players recovering from serious injuries. I can't do justice to how weak that squad was compared to the full Test team, except to say that their Test team just didn't show up. And we only won by 4 points.

    But to see the direction Robinson wants the team to take is encouraging. The probem is that we only have one more fixture to get there.

    Italy will be far tougher than the Irish Wolfhounds.

    We need both Scotland teams to show up to have any chance in New Zealand at all.

    Luckily we know we have players who can do it and we are relatively injury free.

    Scotland need to mercilessly thrash Romania and Georgia to within an inch of their lives. In an odd way, those games are the most important of our campaign.

    If we don't have the momentum and ferocity to go with positive results then our other results will be a foregone conclusion.

  • Comment number 39.

    Just a Welshman here responding to what you said about George north- if he stays injury free yes sir! He's scored five tries in six games and still a teen, including two against the world champs and two against the previous wc winneres and the wc finalists...

  • Comment number 40.

    So-the administrators/system at Murrayfield couldn't cope with the crowd!!!!!

    28,000!!!!!!!

    No wonder we are a shambles.

  • Comment number 41.

    @ #34: "I can recall only one coach with WC medal there - Martin Johnson and he did not win it as a coach. And selected few players - Jonny, Tindall and Moody in England and bunch of Dads Army from South Africa."

    Johnson may not have won it as a coach, but his experience as a player on that occasion will benefit his coaching and mindset. So, 4 RWC winners in one side and a fair few more in the SA squad (Dad's Army? Steyn, Habana, Juan Smith, Burger - don't think so). Plus, Andy Robinson was coaching England at RWC 2003 and John Kirwan (Japan head coach) won the 1987 RWC as a player.

    So ok, fair enough, let's go for World Cup finalists then - oh look, same issue with NZ. For me, they are the best side in the world by a country mile. But they were in 1995, 1999 and 2007 as well.

  • Comment number 42.

    i was at Murayfield and would like to clarify the reason for the 15 minute KO delay.

    first of all, it was nothing to do with people buying tickets on the day - all of the turnstiles were empty long before the appointed hour.

    the real problem was that the SRU failed completely to cater for the several thousand people who had bought tickets online. in their wisdom, the SRU had one ticket collection desk manned by 4/5 people. i arrived 40 minutes before KO and was dismayed to see a queue that stretched half way around Murrayfield. the worst part about it is that the SRU knew EXACTLY how many people were going to show up and they still didn't take anything close to adequate measures.

    the entire cock-up was entirely of the SRU's making, and shows yet again they really don't care about rugby supporters in Scotland.

  • Comment number 43.

    I was at the game last Saturday.

    I lost my voice.

    Again.

    I agree, John; the game was a toe in the water for both teams and Scotland won the paddling contest. It was experimental, hard-hitting training and a contest for confidence.

    Scotland dominated but particulalry in possession. With increased game time and confidence, we'll see the boys convert their hard fought possession into points. And on that point, I believe Scotland - of all the home nations - are the most able at winning and retaining the ball (which is half the battle) but have been (until recently) least capable of reaping the benefits of their work.

    That's beginning to change.

    Robinson's giving Scotland a steely mentality and a ruthlessness we've not seen before. Scotland are on a course of steady, marked and encouraging improvement.

    As for the discussions surrounding more or less warm-up games; each country to their own but I think Scotland have it dead on. Ireland and Italy, and then Romania and Georgia in the group stages building up to Argentina and then England. It's all a rather appetising progression in intensity (that's not to take anything away from the very physical Georgians or [not to sound patronising] improving Romanians).

    Robinson (Townsend and the rest of the backroom staff), I salute you and I think it's somthing of a coup that Scotland held on to such a great Coach. That said, the relationship between Robinson and Scotland is symbiotic and each benifits from the other.

    PREDICTIONS:

    Scotland will top their group at the World Cup, and will make the semi-finals. Beyond that, my tea-leaves have weakened, chicken entrails have dried and my crystal ball has been stolen by a mob.

    COME ON SCOTLAND!!!

  • Comment number 44.

    @ fatprop

    Fair point about Robinson and Kirwan but hey, they are coaching SCOTLAND and JAPAN. Both teams do not have a whimper of hope, so their coaches wisdom will not help.

    About Dads Army. The Boks leaders are Smit and Matfield - both past over the hill and singing their swansongs. Smith is unlucky helluva great player who, I am sure, will not play due his constant injuries. Unfortunately and I hope to be proven wrong, he is the true warrior. As for youngsters - Steyn may feature only thanks to his metronomic kicking, otherwise he offers zero. FDP is readable like a book with his bombs behind the scrum, it worked well in 2009 3N and has been exposed ever since, hey, even Paddies and Frogs delt with his shenannigans with ease.

    And if we recall what this team is lead by a Helium and his 2 henchmen collectively called as Three Stooges, well....

  • Comment number 45.

    i dont know weather this artuicle is meant a little tounge in cheek or not but here goes

    nz looked beatable? did u actually watch the game? notice the scoreline? realise who they were playing against? from the article written i guess not

    england and wales looked good? which bits? the image that sticks in my mind from that game is when shane williams ran into his own man and was laid out on his backside

    every wc we know nz are big favs but this time they have home advantage which i think will put them over, the NH teams look like they do most times, hard working, alot of heart but devoid of any flair and excitement

  • Comment number 46.

    @42
    Okay, I wasn’t at Murayfield (sic) last week but I will be there for the Scotland v Italy match (tickets bought on-line in advance of the Edinburgh 7s). However, I would think that the main reason for the 15 minute delay was because the SRU (possibly through discussion with L&B police) decided to delay kick off so that those fans who were waiting to get into the stadium would see the whole game, as well as avoid a potential crowd control issue. So to say that the SRU don’t really care about rugby supporters is a little harsh. Watching international rugby at Murrayfield has, as far as I am aware, one of the lowest ticket prices amongst the 6 Nations and they offer a competitively priced ticket for the 2012 6 Nations.

    In my opinion, the causes are numerous but the 2 listed below will probably have contributed to the situation:
    1. People who bought tickets on-line, opted to collect on the day, and then turned up to the stadium at the last minute expecting the queue to have disappeared so they could just go straight to the collection point and then wander at leisure to their seat.
    Unfortunately, the current security requirements required at large, organised, gatherings means that it takes some time to carry out the required checks on 20,000+ people, so I would say that 40 minutes before kick off is perilously close to being last minute in my opinion as security checks etc inevitably cause delays. So had the SRU staffed their collection point with more staff I would suggest that there would have still been queues at the turnstiles

    2. People who bought tickets on-line, opted to collect on the day, and then stood in a queue, only getting out the required documents (proof of purchase, order number etc) when they got to the collection window. Inevitably, some of these individuals will have stood & patted down all their pockets before producing the required information with a flourish and laughed it off (I have seen this happen at concerts, airports etc so speak from experience).
    This causes delays, only a few seconds per customer, but when a few hundred people do this, it turns into delays of minutes. Much like those people who stand in airport check in lines and only start looking for their passport when they get to the front of the queue or only empty their pockets, take off jackets, remove laptops etc when at the very front of the security queue.

    How can we, the fans, help? I see 2 ways in which we can do this:
    1. Order tickets early%2

  • Comment number 47.

    Apologies, gremlins interrupted my post.

    @42
    Okay, I wasn’t at Murayfield (sic) last week but I will be there for the Scotland v Italy match (tickets bought on-line in advance of the Edinburgh 7s). However, I would think that the main reason for the 15 minute delay was because the SRU (possibly through discussion with L&B police) decided to delay kick off so that those fans who were waiting to get into the stadium would see the whole game, as well as avoid a potential crowd control issue. So to say that the SRU don’t really care about rugby supporters is a little harsh. Watching international rugby at Murrayfield has, as far as I am aware, one of the lowest ticket prices amongst the 6 Nations and they offer a competitively priced ticket for the 2012 6 Nations.

    In my opinion, the causes are numerous but the 2 listed below will probably have contributed to the situation:
    1. People who bought tickets on-line, opted to collect on the day, and then turned up to the stadium at the last minute expecting the queue to have disappeared so they could just go straight to the collection point and then wander at leisure to their seat.
    Unfortunately, the current security requirements required at large, organised, gatherings means that it takes some time to carry out the required checks on 20,000+ people, so I would say that 40 minutes before kick off is perilously close to being last minute in my opinion as security checks etc inevitably cause delays. So had the SRU staffed their collection point with more staff I would suggest that there would have still been queues at the turnstiles

    2. People who bought tickets on-line, opted to collect on the day, and then stood in a queue, only getting out the required documents (proof of purchase, order number etc) when they got to the collection window. Inevitably, some of these individuals will have stood & patted down all their pockets before producing the required information with a flourish and laughed it off (I have seen this happen at concerts, airports etc so speak from experience).
    This causes delays, only a few seconds per customer, but when a few hundred people do this, it turns into delays of minutes. Much like those people who stand in airport check in lines and only start looking for their passport when they get to the front of the queue or only empty their pockets, take off jackets, remove laptops etc when at the very front of the security queue.

    How can we, the fans, help? I see 2 ways in which%2

  • Comment number 48.

    this is a continuation from Post 47:
    1. Arrive in sufficient time to collect tickets. I would argue that to ensure collection from a box office would mean that arriving at least 1 hour before kick off should be sufficient. Having relevant documents to hand (i.e. knowing which pocket they are in) would also speed up the process for all.
    2. Order tickets well in advance of the match and have them delivered to your house (at no additional cost I might add).

    As I said at the beginning, I think it is a bit harsh to blame the SRU 100% for what happened at the Ireland match when we, as rugby supporters, can do our bit to help the SRU to help us.

    But this is all in the past now and we have the second 'public training session' to look forward to on the 20th when we host our Italian friends. Let's hope that we can build on the Ireland performance and the team can leave for NZ with confidence being high.

  • Comment number 49.

    Your artical is really interesting. I also think its harsh to blame SRU for the Irealand match. Also quite intrestingly I came across an ebay artical that sells the original rugby ball and thought that all for all of us it is an excellent buy espeacially with the New Zealand world cup coming up. I wanted to share with you all what I found as it really was an excellent cabinet peice. http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=300585727926&ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT thats the ebay page if anyone else is as enthusiastic as I am about Rugby.

  • Comment number 50.

    41.At 12:45 11th Aug 2011, fatprop wrote:

    So ok, fair enough, let's go for World Cup finalists then - oh look, same issue with NZ. For me, they are the best side in the world by a country mile. But they were in 1995, 1999 and 2007 as well.

    Fatprop, a simple question for you, how long have you really been following rugby?
    Only amongst English supporters post-2003 is there continual repitition of the myth ABs favourites going into the RWC tournaments in 1995 and 1999. The facts prove that anyone repeating the myth is either myopic or ignorant of history.

    Some facts for you...
    For most of the time in the years 1992-94 the ABs were a shambles with Laurie Mains as coach. They were unconvincing in 1992 at home in a 3 match series against an invitation World XV (winning the series 2-1), but lost a tour series 1-2 to Australia in Australia the same year. In 1993 they scrapped a series win against the Lions (2-1), and beat Australia at Carisbrook, but lost to England at Twickenham (other than one dash for the corner in the second half they had no idea of how to score a try). In 1994, they lost to Australia in Sydney and lost a series 2-0 to France in NZ. By the end of 1994, the media and fans in NZ were calling for Mains scalp at the AGM of the NZRU - he survived to manage/xcoach the ABs at the RWC in 1995.

    The 1995 AB team was a new look team, with most AB fans uncertain whether we would do any good. In the end we got to the final. England though, thought they were going to win the RWC after winning in SA in 1994 - as for the semi-final all England had to do was turn up and the ABs would be beaten. The above is hardly grounds to call the ABs favourites in 1995.

    The story of the 1999 ABs is different, but the reality is they were not favourites to win that year either. Yes, they had Lomu, but what else? At the end of 1997, most of the remaining ABs from 1987 and 1991 retired, the new look team in 1998 got beaten by both SA and Australia in the 3N. In 1999, they scrapped to the 3N title beating SA twice and Australia in NZ, but six weeks before the RWC they got hammered by Australia (the winning margin of this game remains Australia's biggest winning margin over an AB side) in Sydney. This was a fore taste of what was to come for the next 3 years.

    So appreciating the above, it shows anyone suggesting the ABs were favourites in 1995 or 1999, has a complete lack of knowledge of rugby history to pedal the myth that ABs%

  • Comment number 51.

    So ok, fair enough, let's go for World Cup finalists then - oh look, same issue with NZ. For me, they are the best side in the world by a country mile. But they were in 1995, 1999 and 2007 as well.

    So appreciating the above, it shows anyone suggesting the ABs were favourites in 1995 or 1999, has a complete lack of knowledge of rugby history to pedal the myth that ABs%

    you made some good points though

  • Comment number 52.

    John
    what is your opinion on cheating to win

  • Comment number 53.

    Please can I ask for your support to the following Formula 1 Government Petition
    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57
    Please spread the word. Really do need and appreciate your support.
    Thank you.

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.