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Parks in as Godman carries the can for France failure

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John Beattie | 12:20 UK time, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

What do you think of the changes to the Scotland side to face Wales? Let's discuss, as Phil Godman carries the can after being dropped by Andy Robinson following the defeat by France on sunday.

And his replacement, Dan Parks? What a story. The once discarded man who is moving to Wales next season, to play for Cardiff, plays against them on Saturday.

Parks will try to build on his Glasgow form and play closer to the gain line, there will be runners off 10 and I foresee mayhem in the middle of the pitch, but Parks will play flat. Parks is a confidence player and, if it does well for him, he can win this game.

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I think you can see what Scotland are trying to do with the changes for Wales. Sean Lamont brings bulk to the centre in this era of ever-decreasing space on the pitch and he and Graeme Morrison must surely be Scotland's biggest-ever pairing there. Mind you, they need to shackle Jamie Roberts.

Rory Lamont must have shrugged off his ankle injury and he brings more power to the backs.

Euan Murray is the immovable rock, but I feel Moray Low, who has been left out of the 22, is a bright talent. Murray will anchor the scrum, though, and Jacobsen will come on for Alasdair Dickinson.

The Welsh attack system is the Wasps/Warren Gatland/Shaun Edwards/British Lions attack system that sounds easy to defend, but its sheer simplicity means it's easy to use in attack - and hard to defend. Basically, Wales try to get to within five metres of the touchline in a maximum of three phases from their set-pieces.

When there, they stretch you because they come back to the open and drop a couple of forwards on the fourth defender to tie in a defence, try to recycle that quickly, and then attack as wide as they can.

If they can't get wide, some forwards truck round the corner to the far five-metre line. Repeat to other side - i.e. drop some forwards off on the fourth defender and attack wide, allowing both wingers to go to the open side etc, etc. I love this system.

In defence, their system is a bit more akin to the blitz system used by France, so in some ways Scotland's attacking play has the same hurdles to face as on Sunday and we haven't scored a try since the Fiji game. Therefore, Scotland's 10 has to be flatter and take the game forward.

I don't have inside information here as I haven't quizzed my son about this - it's a rule we have - but I think Scotland will play it more simply, with runners off 10 changing their angles and there will be more attempts to get over the gain line.

The Welsh, though, are wounded animals in rugby country after the defeat by England and it's a fantastic contrast in styles. Can't wait. Seriously, what do you think?

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I wonder about the wisdom of playing a winger in the centre against a top class back division. Its not as simple as just standing biffing boys as they run at you. Playing a defensive pattern and communicating as a centre is very different to that of a winger. Is Sean Lamont smart enough?

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh dear- another year of hopeful thoughts for the 6N rudely dashed by reality. Scotland were poor on Sunday. The scrum was a shambles and a less generous ref than Nigel Owen could easily have been trotting behind the posts arm aloft to award France a penalty try on a couple of occasions. The lineout was shaky as well. When Scotland did get possession they went sideways all the time- for years the moan has been that Scotland don't have any pace in the backs; now that they have a genuine speedster or two it's apparent that the real issues lie much closer to the breakdown.

    And that's the rub. Godman had a stinker and is well out of form at the mooment. If Patterson was ever the answer that day is long gone. Nevertheless picking Parks is a declaration of bankruptcy- an admission that Scotland are again in the business of hoping to squeak past Italy in the wooden spoon decider while playing damage limitation in the other games. I know Parks has had a great season for Glasgow- he has been having them for years. Sadly he seems to be one of those players- like Mark Ramprakash in cricket- for whom the final step up to international level is a step too far. I simply cannot believe he'll suddenly get the back line moving now- especially with a converted winger playing out of position in the 13 shirt (if you have to pick Parks, you might as well go with Max Evans too since at least they're used to playing with each other). Wales will know exactly what to expect- either a kick they can run back or an immediate pass to the man outside him.

    What are the alternatives? No very palatable ones, I fear. The view seems to be that young Jackson isn't the finished article (at least he should start getting a bit of game time when Parks goes south next season) and with only two pro sides options are desperately limited. I'd have been tempted to give Hugo Southwell a go sicne he's been playing there for the A side- I've no illusions about the problems of playing a makeshift number 10 (think of Masi's nighmarish season a couple of years ago when Nick Mallett tried to turn him into Italy's number 10) but at least he'd be an unknown quantity for the opposition.

  • Comment number 3.

    I am surprised that there are two back rowers but no no 2nd Row cover on the bench - did this not cause us a problem last year? - and feel sorry for Max Evans and Richie Gray. I also think moving Sean Lamont is a mistake: he has been a great success on the wing so why change it?

    I am happy to see Parks in because however brave Godman is it is just not working. I would have liked to see Ross Rennie replace Barclay for a couple of tests simply because the latter does not offer enough in attack. Still, we have a chance and I'm looking forward to the game!

  • Comment number 4.

    Sean Lamont has been playing at outside centre for llanelli scarlets this season. He could offer the midfield line break we've been missing since Tait & Leslie and provide the robust defence we need against Roberts & Hook.

    I do hope Parks doesn't revert to lying deep and kicking to the corners. With some quick set-piece and breakdown ball (courtesy of Murray's recall), some good distribution from Parks, a break from midfield and support from the back 3 we might at last see some Scottish tries.

  • Comment number 5.

    I am more hopeful with this selection than last weeks. Sean Lamont has been playing at centre for the Scarlets this season so I don't think this should be a problem. I might have chosen Max Evans or Alex grove ahead of Morrison though, but maybe the bulk of Morrison is a good defensive option against jamie Roberts.

    I am pleased to see Parks in ahead of Godman, he is used to playing the welsh teams in ML and usually does well against them. I agree it may be worth trying Hugo Southwell at 10 at some stage though.

  • Comment number 6.

    InsideArm and Booshy - I think Richie Gray is covering second row and will probably come on for more time on Saturday, as Aidan says Sean Lamont has been playing centre this season for Scarlets.

    The big question is what role Parks will be asked to play. Will he by lying flat, will he be kicking for position, and will he be first line defender when in defence or back at fullback with Paterson up in the 10 jersey.

    Forthview, I think they must have been tempted to give Hugo Southwell a run.

    JB

  • Comment number 7.

    Had forgotten that when playing for Glasgow, Parks and Stortoni often switch position on opposition set piece possession. My guess is that Parks will occupy the fly-half berth throughout the game - we've got the same back row and two big centres to offer defensive support.

    As much of a backwards step as it seems, I think a Parks recall was in order. We need an established experienced fly-half at the Millenium Stadium. Too much for Jackson at this stage in his career and too much for part-time fly-halfs like Southwell and Paterson. Want to see Jackson brought on soon though.

  • Comment number 8.

    Firstly we need to get some parity at the scrum. Hopefully the return of Murray after his self imposed exile will go a long way to help. The Welsh scrum does not have the power of the French but I still cannot understand keeping Chunk on the bench - we must start with our strongest srummaging unit. Whilst I do not wish to defend the scrummaging on sunday, which was dire, I do wonder if Low was not harshly treated on some occasions by the referee - as the French loosehead did a favorite trick of the French of driving upwards and not forwards - this whilst very effective is also ileagal these days. I also think our scrummage and lineout could improve when Big Jim is fit and returns.

    If as I hope we get more possesion I think our backs can be more effective than in recent years - I thoght there was some penetration especially by Lamont and with the return of Rory I expect more of the same.

    By the way John - good work by the young lad (his best game in a Scotland shirt) and dare I say he at last looked like a bit of a chip off the old block. I am not convinced by his back row colleauges especially Barclay however. To much ball is turned over or stripped in the tackle - I would like to see Strokosh in to give more bite to the back row.

  • Comment number 9.

    If it's any comfort, the Welsh sections of the boards are now going ballistic about Gatland's selections- in particular his retention of Williams at hooker (if there was a worse shambles that Scotland's scrum in ther first round of 6N matches it must have been the Wales line out) and Cooper at scrum half. I suppose one could make a case for Parks on the basis that he hoofs the ball into touch deep in Welsh territory and Scotland go for all out attack on the Welsh throw. It might work.....

    Looking at the Scotland team again, I'm amazed Dickinson is still starting. I can see the case for him as an impact player to come on in the last half hour or so when the game opens up and a mobile prop forward can do some damage in the loose but he's a bit lightweight as a starter as well as being no great shakes as a scrummager and got hideously shown up on Sunday. It's probably as well that Jenkins isn't starting for Wales.

    The Murray selection is bound to cause some debate. Personally I'd rather not be beholden to a player who (for what ever reasons) picks and chooses the games he plays (what happens if a a key World Cup game falls on a Sunday?) and I wish Low had played a blinder on Sunday to make the selection decision easy but that's not where we are. There's a principled position that would say we don't pick Murray however good he is because he won't commit 100% to the side even if that means a whitewash in the 6N (which I confess is my view). The SRU have chosen to see things differently, which is their prerogative. I hope Murray has a good game on Saturday, though- if he has a poor one, I suspect the knives will be out

  • Comment number 10.

    scottishtiger - i'll second that - brilliant performance by Johnnie Beattie. Just edges it over Sean Lamont I reckon for our best player on the day.

    I think the back row as it stands is a good unit. Strockosch on as an impact sub could be an option - to step it up a gear in the latter stages and counter the physicality of Powell.

  • Comment number 11.

    Scottishtiger - parity at the scrum is what the game is all about, you are right.

    Forthview, I think many thought Jacobsen would start but Dickinson has pitch round impact as well. The Murray thing I am ok about as some things are more important than sport. I agree about the Welsh lineout which was under pressure.

    Aidan, thanks for the kind words, he is a sensible lad trying hard at the moment and I have to keep neutral when it comes to him. So I can't mention him. Other than to say thanks of course.

    Wales at home are hard to beat. I am driving down on Thursday.

    Off to prepare for tonight's coaching at West

    JB

  • Comment number 12.

    Parks as most people say is a confidence player, so what must his state of mind / confidence be like after not even making the bench for the first game? The poor las must not know if he's coming or going. Like the above comments I hope he does well. While I understand the advantages of playing flat I worry that if the ball is slow we will see our ball being intercepted in the pass.

    Perhaps one way of releasing our fast runners would be for Parks to kick through or over the Welsh line giving Lamont and Evans ball to run onto, much like Parks did in the Edinburgh v Glasgow game.

    While I think it's right that Murray is back for the scrum I'm disappointed for Low that he's not on the bench. I hope this does not dent his confidence, but he uses it to become an even better player.

    And for what it's worth, my son (aged 11) thinks we'll loose because we don't have Grove at centre.

    My big worry is that we get done at the ruck. I was at the Glasgow game earlier this season when they went in up against the Ospreys at half time only to be given a master class in playing the ref and counter-rucking in the second half. John I remember you and Peter interviewing Jones (I think) after the game and him talking about the 'golden yard.' The question is, have our boys learned this lesson, will they ruck for the 'golden yard'?

  • Comment number 13.

    John - thanks for your thanks. I get a big kick out of Scottish rugby and the 6 Nations and the least we can all do in return is give praise where it's due. A separate issue to the main topic but I often wonder if this is what we as a support need to be doing more of: bigging-up our players.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm concerned that Gethin Jenkins is back. He is an awesome tackler and disrupts the breakdown better than any one. Given the number of turn overs Scotland suffered against France, I'd be very wary of this.

    Our defense was far too narrow and deep at times. As soon as the French had quick ball out wide, the Scottish defenders were a disorganized mess. This can be seen on both French tries. I think the Welsh will try to expose this. The Welsh backline are all very good at offloading after the tackle also, and Scotland will have to either improve the support defense, or employ a high impact blitz defense with width.

    For me, Godman just doesn't cut it at 6 nations level. If there's a gap he doesn't have the pace to go through it. Parks is definitely a better choice. He's directed the Glasgow back line beautifully this season, and has stronger 6 nations experience. The sooner we introduce Jackson to this level of intensity the better. I predict great things from him.

  • Comment number 15.

    Where to start? Parks for Godman is a no brainer. Godman failed on Sunday and Parks is the only real cover we have at that position for a game of this importance away from home. I don't expect him to win the game (I don't expect Scotland to win either), but I do expect the territory stats to be more even.

    Sean Lamont into the centre - fair enough but why drop Evans? Morrison must be the most one dimensional three-quarter in the 6N, Evans at least looks for gaps rather than the steamroller option.

    Murray - first name on the teamsheet (so long as it's not Sunday - I don't think it's fair to criticise his religious beliefs btw).

    I think we have to accept our limitations, understand that AR is still in his first season, and hope that some of the Jackson/Gray/Low potential is realised over the course of the next couple of years so that we are competitive when it counts - 2011.

  • Comment number 16.

    Wales are an opportunity. Their set-piece play is weaker than France, Ireland or England, and we need to exploit that. Two gaps in the armour may be Powell at six, who I believe doesn't quite convince in defence going across the park, and Hook's outside shoulder if we run Sean Lamont at it. England exposed Wales' midfield defence even when the Welsh had 15.

    Still, we must be underdogs given the quality in the Welsh backline.

  • Comment number 17.

    Towards the end of the autumn internationals I noticed that Phil Godman is an easy player to read in that he almost always carries the ball to the opposition and offloads it before he hits contact and after saturdays performance deserves to be dropped.

    As to Sean Lamonts move to centre surely he should have been left on the wing where he put in a brilliant shift against France. Its not like scotland have that much of a lack of quality centres, after all one of the most impressive things to come out of the autumn internationals was the performances of Alex Grove and Ben Cairns.

    Also I don't know if its just me but I think perhaps Chris Paterson could have been omitted. On saterday there was a lot of poor decision making in particular running sideways and offloading to static players rather than releasing ball carriers.

  • Comment number 18.

    Didn't like the selection initially as it looked like damage limitation and I'm not a big fan of Mr Parks. My real hope is that he doesn't get found out in defence which is one of his major weakness, especially with Roberts at 12.

    Having said that though, if the pack can perform at the set-piece and provide a good platform for Parks then we can hopefully play the game in the right areas. The Welsh set piece didn't look great against England and we'd hope that the pack can put pressure on and try disrupt them.

    With the ball I imagine that through the middle is the order of the day, even though Godman is better at creating space than Parks, with that backline we'll hopefully try and power our way over the gain line. With Morrison and the Lamont brothers we've got a good bit of power to not only match Roberts but actually do damage with our ball.

    Would have preferred Lamont at fullback but with Paterson there we can hopefully try and keep the Welsh back in their half. He has a better boot than Lamont and with Jones, Byrne and Hook a kicking option at the back will be good.

    Plus if the games gets loose near the end or it isn't working then, bringing on Godman and Evans can change the way we play.

    Is there any news on Strokosch, Rennie or Vernon?

  • Comment number 19.

    "Also I don't know if its just me but I think perhaps Chris Paterson could have been omitted. Bruce"

    THANK GOODNESS! I was beginning to think it was only me who does not think Chris Paterson is God. He is good at kicking for goal but I'm pretty sure the position of fullback requires more than that. Personally, I don't think he adds anything else to the team. Hopefully he'll be given his 100 caps and that'll be the last we hear of him. Not holding my breath, though.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think Low has been left to carry the can just as much as Godman, at least Godman is retained in the squad.

    Starting with Jacobsen and with Low on the bench seemed the sensible option to me, injury to Murray would have left a recognised tighthead to come on and if anything happened to Jacobsen I think Murray or Low would do a better job than Dickinson at tighthead again.

    I'd like to see a centre pairing of Lamont and Max Evans to be honest, I think Lamont while being a winger if you look at the yards he made most of it was in midfield and he was continually popping up in midfield defensively. Shift him in to the 12 spot and put an out and out winger in the place he vacated (Robertson, Danieli, Evans).

    Parks had to come in at stand off, he's the form player after all. Our lineout worked well at the weekend and Parks can put us in positions to disrupt the Welsh lineout.

    Also, a lot of people are talking about Parks defensive frailty but look at Godman this weekend just past. When Basteraux scored the second try Godman had the opportunity to try and stop him but he wasn't interested. As a side thought, had Lamont been at 12 I guarantee he'd have made the tackle that a cantering Morrison didn't really want either.

  • Comment number 21.

    Oh and thank you very much by the way John, as if it wasn't bad enough listening to my girlfriend and her pals drone on about that good looking Lamont chap apparently now I also have your son to contend with too

    "Who's that, Johnnie Beattie - ooooooooooo he's pretty tasty"

    Best get down to the gym

  • Comment number 22.

    Congratulations to Dan Parks on a thoroughly deserved selection...that poor boy has had to put up with a heck of lot over the last few years (the booing of a Scotland player at Murrayfield...I thought I'd never bear witness). I personally hope he goes out on Saturday and has the game of his life.

    The question I'd like to ask of Robinson's selection is why the inclusion of three stand offs in the 22 - given we have been bemoaning the lack of quality at 10 it seems incredulous to include all three at the expense of say Southwell or Danielli. I can't see Godman making any great impact should he be called on.

    Poor Rory Lawson - Blair was simply not at the races in the A international last Friday and must feel very aggreived.

    I also thought Max Evans was far more effective than Morrison, and made some nice half breaks against the French. But we appear to have any number of o/s centres.

    As for poor Alex Grove...Scotland's man of the Autumn series, where did it all gone wrong?

    JB, loving the blogs - good healthy chat with knowledgeable fans.

  • Comment number 23.

    Chris, Dan Parks has been badly treated at times, and it is partly because he is the Aussie among us and I think partly because we can see that despite the bravado he has a fragile side to him and that sometimes makes people feel powerful. Is that a fair assessment? He has the chance to play a basic game, and I hope he plays it steady. don't know why there are so many stand offs in the squad - I suppose because the quotient of big men is filled already. Blair needs game time and I think Max Evans loses out because it will be a one pass game and get at them.

    Abzrugby - I know, and from this ugly stock too. Do you know what I think about Low? I think that if we have two such good tightheads then he should be groomed for loosehead. I think Moray Low is fantastic, as valuable as anyone at his club Glasgow and he is worth his place somewhere.

    GS09, you can't take away from Paterson the fact that he is winning his hundredth cap, amazing for a player who isn't as huge as some of the modern player. Teams are a blend, and I was always a terrible selector.

    reallybored - Strokosh, Vernon and Rennie - I saw Richie V in the gym he has lost a bit of weight but will be back in a week or two - he's a great player, I think the other two aren't far away either, and Roddy Grant is a good back row man too.

    Everyone else - am just back from coaching, sub zero, rock hard pitch, but good session. Bronchitis lifting gently

    I remember sharing a room with the great Welsh prop Graham Price. I asked him to teach me some welsh. "Dim Parkio." he said, which means no parking.

    JB

  • Comment number 24.

    John, really enjoying your blog, and your interaction with readers. The coverage of Scottish Rugby on Radio Scotland with yourself, Wrighty, Parker, Bulloch and the legend that is Bill Armstrong is excellent.

    Wonder if you could blog sometime about the enjoyment you get in staying involved at the coal face coaching at West of Scotland. I think that's a major difference with Radio Scotland coverage and some of the national BBC coverage - you guys all love the game and are still involved; some of the national BBC guys love themselves more.

    You've had some involvement at West with adding finishing touches to some of the up and coming talent in Scotland just now - Richie Gray, Richie Vernon, Jon Welsh have all played for you. How much input does a club coach get in developing these guys? Do you work with them on specific development points or feed back to the pro coaches? You're also nurturing some bright hopes for the future...Murray McConnell and Robert McAlpine to name just two...you're obviously unafraid to throw young talent in to your teams - is that to help the bigger picture of Scottish rugby or are they genuinely good enough to play at that level?

  • Comment number 25.

    John:

    I have been in your company several times and I know you well enough to know that you are, at heart, a fair and modest chap; one who wouldn't overtly sing the praises of your off-spring.

    So, let me do it for you! I thought Johnnie Beattie had his best game in a Scotland shirt to date (mindful that he scored a try in his first International) and, on Sunday, one of a small handful of stand-out players. I hope he will only go on to get better and better and follow his father into a Lion’s jersey.

    After the game I said to a friend that Scotland had problems, however, if their best (and most consistent) mid-field line breaks came from their Number 8 and their winger. How do we get across the gain-line from the centre positions?

  • Comment number 26.

    Moody Blue - the honest truth is that I don't have the detailed knowledge of the high performance blokes at the SRU who really provide the guidance for these lads. In terms of Richie Gray, Richie Vernon and John Welsh they were already players who were going to make it big and at West we had them with us for a few games and Thursday nights which are team runs. We did feed back to the pro team coaches, and it's the same for Murray McConnell and Robert McAlpine, my feedback is always that they can make it if they are nurtured and trained properly. These very young lads start off not believing themselves, in my experience. It is very difficult for a seventeen year old to think they can make it. But within five games or so they realise that a seventeen year old on a full time weights programme can mix it with most people. Blokes like Robert Harley were always fantastic. We play them because I believe in using Scottish players if possible and they are good enough and worth a risk, but they have choices to make in that they might have to become full time players.

    Isn't the radio fun though? Still being involved gives you a wee insight into things as what happens at Glasgow and Edinburgh gets fed down to us a the clubs. It's a small family.

    Saltireblue - interesting that in the glasgow/Edinburgh/Andy Robinson rugby formula much of the way to get across the gain line comes from runners off ten. if a back division has a standard spacing then having an extra runner behind ten or just inside or outside ten means you should be able to put that runner through a gap at the last second as defenders mark ten, twelve, thirteen etc. Hence back row men making breaks when you try to play "through" the opposition. Thanks about young Johnnie, he knows that sometimes games go well and sometimes they don't.

    JB

  • Comment number 27.

    Great blog again John. I always think that Parks gets treated unfairly by the Scottish fans and management. He is by no means the best 10 in the 6 nations but has been very consistent for Glasgow for a number of seasons. He seems to get the blame for Scotland's lack of flair but the truth is that they have not had the players to play an expansive game for some years (although i would say that the current backline does look the most dynamic group for some time). Scotland's strengths are in the goal kicking of Paterson and their defence. Parks has the tools (experience and a long boot) to play to these strengths and hopefully bring Scotland more than one victory in this year's tournament. Not very exciting but its a results business.

  • Comment number 28.

    First of all, a few reponses here: Paterson has been a great player for Scotland, imagine the last 10 years without him! Did no-one else notice after he was moved to 10 we conceded no points and he brought Lamont and Evans into the game, two of our best runners. Euan Murray deserves to be back, I'm disappointed he won't play on a sunday but we should respect his beliefs.

    Being a back myself I'm not going to involved myself so much in the forwards debate, I'm unqualified to do so! I will say, it was great to see Beattie play so well, you say he's an honest hard worker, so I'm pleased he's getting the rewards. Also looking forward to see Richie Vernon return from injury, on his recent form it would be good to accommodate both him and Beattie into the back row!

    The 10 problem, as I suggested earlier Paterson did well there but is not the solution, I couldn't help but think what if Parks was on the pitch, there was a lot of space behind the French backs, I think he could of exploited it better, that may also have released Thom Evans who knows how to finish.

    I would love to see Grove at 12, he was for me the find of the autumn tests, brilliant tackler and as someone suggested earlier don't know what he's done wrong to be dropped! Sean Lamont at 13 will be interesting, I saw a television interview with him at Scarlets and he suggested he didn't enjoy the position as much. I hope he can use his power and reading of the defence for more line breaks, we'll need those around him to offer better support though.

    It should be a good game this weekend, if we can get the basics right and not fall behind and drop the heads we can cause them problems. Fingers crossed a win and some tries!

  • Comment number 29.

    Not too sure about shunting Low in as a permanent loosehead John, we have quality coming through in the form of Kyle Traynor and I'd be tempted to say that Chunk and Dickinson both do a pretty decent job. Problem is neither of them are any use on the tighthead side, if we were naming a 23 man side there would be a place for Chunk, Dickinson, Low and Murray.

    I think Roddy Grant can count himself very unlucky, if he was on the bench then there would be a fair bit of flexibility in the back row combinations.

    On the subject of Paterson, I have been a critic of him and now I realise it's not really been his fault - if a coach builds a game plan around his boot that's not really CP's fault, it's a pretty boring tactic though and I hated us grinding up through the forwards to win a penalty for Paterson to knock over under Hadden. However, having gone to some Edinburgh games Paterson has real pace and is a serious counter attacking threat, he didn't show too much of this on Sunday but it's there.

    John, what did you think of my suggestion of Sean Lamont at 12 with Max Evans outside him? Just feel Sean is a more elusive runner than Graeme and despite having limited distribution I'd pick him to make some good yards before releasing players outside him

  • Comment number 30.

    Dan Parks' selection makes obvious sense. He's there on merit and deserves another chance. I wish him all the best for the game on Saturday, as should every other genuine Scotland supporter.

    Nobody is immune from criticism. Yet the Paterson detractors beggar belief. What planet have you been on for the past decade? Chris Paterson is arguably the best back to have ever worn a Scotland jersey. And there's still plenty of gas left in his tank.

    Initially the starting line up from 10-15 took some getting used to. I can see the strategy and balance behind it now. It's a bit risky and controversial in places, but fundamentally sound and brave. Fortune favours the brave, so they say.

    Great to see Euan Murray back in the team. Hopefully he'll really steady up the scrum and give the attacking players in the team a decent platform to have a go from.

    I agree with JB that some things in life are more important than sport. Murray is a big boy now and must have expected a realistic amount of flack for his beliefs. I just hope the matter doesn't drag on and on to banana skin central for the Scottish rugby team's best interests. He's a professional, isn't he? That means his job is to play rugby. I don't necessarily like working on Sundays, but often do. What if the emergency services decided to go all religious on us all of a sudden? Would Murray call 999 and have other people working for him on a Sunday, irrespective of what their own religious beliefs might be? Robinson must be seething with that predicament. It's a dreadful headache for any national coach and team to have to deal with.

    With an improved Scottish line out and scrum this weekend I believe we have a sporting chance of winning this one. On paper it's got the makings of a fascinating and highly entertaining game.

  • Comment number 31.

    It's great having the Lamont brothers back. Max Evans didn't have a great game on Saturday. Sitting in the stands I couldn't believe the overlap the French had several times. The back line look naive and inexperienced. I thought Hugo Southwell made an immediate difference to the game. Godman wasn't so much bad as invisible (his shirt was still white when he went off). I think it is time to admit he can't cut it on the international stage. Graham Morrison, as obangobango siad above is very one-dimensional. He is playing an impact game that once worked for Alan Tait but those days are past. Sean Lamont is more effective in that role and lays-off the ball better. On saturday one of the few highlights of the game were watching Sean Lamont run down the wing with ball in hand. Whilst the scrum was poor I think the loose forwards till well in open play; lots of good rucking and harrying. It's not time to write off the Six Nations yet; I took it as a good sign that the French team did a lap of honour after the match.

  • Comment number 32.

    abzrugby - I watch Graeme Morrison most weeks for Glasgow and he can be a stand out player. I think he got a dead leg on Saturday, but I would keep him in as he can be very good and I always think you pick your best players and see how they can be accommodated. At the moment I see the sense in keeping Morrison at centre and have Sean Lamont alongside him which brings Rory onto the wing.

    Ian Brown. Like you I haven't written off the Six Nations yet, but Saturday will be tough - we need a good scrum because that phase has an impact on everything.

    To go back to the Euan Murray thing again, Moray Low is still, in his own way, one of our best attacking players as he loves trucking the ball up so that will be missed and it was someone who said to me yesterday that Moray Low is where Euan Murray was five years ago.

    It was frosty at training last night, just took a stud and no more.

    JB

  • Comment number 33.

    Please tell me, why Graeme Morrison? He is just a plodding donkey who offers nothing in attack. His defence is OK but not so good that he should be in the team at the cost of attack. Grove or De Luca offer much more and defence is just as good as Morrison.

    I predict Alun Wyn Jones to be MOM after last week and Roberts to make Morrison look like a donkey.

  • Comment number 34.

    I think you're shooting from the hip here John.

    The one thing history has proved is that the international game is just too fast for Dan parks. As good a kicker as he is he will not inspire runners off him. We will end up kicking deep and the welsh backline will simply get too much ball.

    I think Godman suffered from the french doing their homework (flying up at 13 and cutting out the wide ball) and having no runners to support on a different game plan, while i rate morrison he was anonymous as was max evans. As good as Chris paterson has been for scotland in the past it is time to recognise that you can't shoe horn a player into the team because he is a great goalkicker and there is a slim chance he will provide a moment of genius. He doesn't attack the line anymore and his counter attacking skills are not what they were. Rory Lamont offers far more from fullback. We need far more from 12,13 and 15 this week in attack if playing parks is to make any difference what so ever.

    Also where do you think they will play parks in defence? at 10 - powell, roberts and Ryan Jones will run at him all day and make the gain line. At 15 he will be really tested by the high ball, when biarittz did this against glasgow it turned the game and cost glasgow 2 scores whgen parks flapped at high balls.

    Our pack also need to turn up at the breakdown and scrum this week, we were bullied last week.

  • Comment number 35.

    Essentially I feel we were beaten-up on Sunday, our front row was in complete disarray! Murray Low may well be a decent break-away forward and good in loose play, but as a tight-head scrummager - v. poor. I think another problem is that Ross Ford is far too big as a hooker, hes more like a flanker or no. 8, its allowing teams to get right under us and push the scrum up, resorting in the front row to drive downwards, and hence teams can catch you out. I also feel he misses his man in the lineout time after time. You can’t win games by having an oversized weak front row and having an abject hooker who can’t throw the ball into a lineout!

    Second row also seems to be a weak point; Kellock compared to his French counterpart looked like a beanpole and didn’t seem to have the grunt required in the scrum for holding down the front row. He also seemed to be lost in his lineout jumping and squandered a few easy takes.

    Barclay just doesn’t seem to be of international class. I look at all the other back row players in the tournament and they all seem to be quicker stronger and more skilful than he is. MacDonald is a far better option in this position and performs week in week out for Edinburgh.

    The real talking point is Godman, who looked every inch the schoolboy novice that he is. For Robinson to bring in Dan Parks is a true reflection of how weak the game is in Scotland, especially at the fly-half position. Although he has played a blinder for Glasgow this season, Im sure Im not the only person who thinks that he is definitely not of international standard. However, who else is there?? Until Jackson of Glasgow is developed further and stays injury free, we may be waiting a lot longer for a decent no.10 to come into the fray.

    All in all, I think we will finish 2nd bottom again, however Italy away will be a horrible match to watch. Its still not great being a Scottish fan.

    p.s. John your son was definitely the best Scottish player, by a streak.

  • Comment number 36.

    First time contributor.

    To put my view in context; I'm ever the optimist. Every time the 6 Nations comes around, I'm convinced it's our year. Perhaps it's a little naieve but I watch Edinburgh and Glasgow, and read about our club players from abroad - we've got the talent!... I genuinely think we can perform this year.

    Here's why:

    ITALY VS IRELAND - both teams looked average at best and pretty dull.

    ENGLAND VS WALES - neither team looked particularly dangerous or inspired. It was pretty evenly matched before Jones' sin binning.

    SCOTLAND VS FRANCE - yes, France won but if we made some great breaks and considering our disability in the scrum, the final scoreline didn't look too bad.

    Reasons to be optimistic:

    Given the biege look to all the other teams, I think the teams to watch will be Scotland and France. With Euan Marray back in the mix and the damp squib, Phil Godman sent away to rethink, replaced by the on from Dan Parks, I reckon we've got a good chance in Crdiff. Lamont and Morisson paired up - with Evans on the bench as a solid impact replacement - it'll be a fast paced back line.

    Given our size of population (and registered player base), we punch well above our weight.

    I predict a France/Scotland top of the table finish!

  • Comment number 37.

    We have good young 10's Jackson, Hutton, Blair but these guys don't get game time for there clubs as Godman and Parks are the first choices. We need to blood these guys otherwise they will be wasted. Its not like other internationals don't start young. Wilkinison 19, Townsend 20, Dan Carter 21.

    Its unlikely we will do well in this years 6N so why not get these players on for the last minutes and give them a crack. Afterall World Cup is not that far away!

  • Comment number 38.

    I haven't watched the game on i player and was squinting down from the gods at Murrayfield on Saturday so please correct me if I am unjustified in my observation but I thought that you beat a rush defence with deft chipping over the rushing players? did anyone give this a serious or competent attempt?

  • Comment number 39.

    I’m always amazed when Scotland don’t play 10-man rugby.
    To me, it’s the key to them doing well – Hadden and now Robinson are being naïve (I’m being nice here) if they think they can play rugby in their own half and expect to win, as they did for so much of Sunday’s game.
    My tactics? Kick it to the opposition 22 on every occasion, work hard to pressurise and play it from there.
    I actually thought they’d beat the French on Sunday if they’d employed these tactics! C’mon, let’s face it, France were not really up to much apart from their blitz defence and the scrum.
    But look how many line breaks the Scots made, unfortunately from too far out.
    Lamont in particular was brilliant and cut the French and Fall to pieces on how many occasions?
    Parks is the man for this kind of game plan, but as a Welshman I hope he fails on Sat.
    See you in the Old Arcade!

  • Comment number 40.

    I don't think it is fair to say that Parks gets treated unfairly because he is Australian... there are several nationalised players in the squad, and many more over the years that do/did not get the criticism that Parks gets. I think Dan Parks is rightly criticised when he isn't playing well, which has been all too often in dark blue. I think he is an easy target because he plays at stand off, it is one of the most important position in the game, and somehow he is approaching 50 caps without having played well enough in the eyes of many for a large proportion of those. Further frustration probably arises in that, we have been unable to nurture a replacement of a high enough quality. A fairer assessment is perhaps that he frustrates because he is nationalised AND not good enough (most of the time)! He is in the team on Saturday on merit though, nobody can say otherwise and I wish him well.

  • Comment number 41.

    Have to say i disagree with all the neagtive comments about moray low. Moray is our best scrummager after Euan Murray. He has been the linchpin of the glasgow pack for several seasons and has been in great scrummaging form this year , with messrs welsh and hall. He is also a good ball carrier which other than Hines and beattie , we dont have too many of. In addition he is still a young man and props dont hit their peak until late 20s early 30s.

    The problem on sunday was on the loose head side ,and i was surprised not to see Jacobsen or even welsh start this week. Dickinson would be a good impact prop ,off the bench.

    John ,

    i agree grooming for loosehead should be looked at for Low.Have you seen anything of Fergus Thomson recently? Is he getting back to 100% fitness , he looked a great prospect prior to injury and would surely push Ford if he returns to form.



    The problem on sunday was on the loose head side ,and i was surprised not to see Jacobsen or even welsh start this week. Dickinson would be a good impact prop ,off the bench.

  • Comment number 42.

    Really enjoy the blog, However it is obvious that some have never been in a front row in their lives. The negative comments aimed at Moray Low are harsh. Ask yourself why does a prop who preformed well in all three AI's suddenly be at fault for all things come scrum time. The French done their homework and I personally thought Moray Low was treated unfairly by a ref who certainly has not been in a front row. Low was according to Owens at fault for all things at the scrum. On the radio linked to the ref, the linesman Chris White was clearly heard to say "Your wrong it is the french coming across him". I have watched the game again on Sky+ and Low was certainly targeted by the ref as being at fault. I played in the front row for twenty years and it was easy to pop a prop no matter the size. It usually ended with punches being exchanged. The refs/laws to my mind have got it all wrong a prop who stands up is doing so because the opposition have got underneath him and are forcing him up. If the prop being forced up trys to counter this tactic he is forcing the scrum down and clever opposition then collapse and the prop is then pinged for a penalty.
    How do we change this - Simple Hips and shoulders remain level and shoulders especially looseheads MUST remain square to the opposition.

    Scotland to cruise past Wales in preparation for England.

  • Comment number 43.

    Loving the blog and there is nothing like the 6N to get us rugby tragics fired up.
    Lets be honest with Murray, he is pretty much the only true world class player we have at the moment so even if he needs to pop off at half time for a bit of worship he has to be in the team. Sadly with the backs we have at the moment we don't just need parity in the forwards but we need to comprehensively win that battle.
    I will openly admit I am less than a fan of Dan Parks (he is up there with Matt Dunning, in my "how did they get a cap for their country" list) but I think he is only one of the issues with the backline. Disappointed to see Evans dropped as while I think he is far from the finished article he does have gas and it would let Sean Lamont stay on the wing where he proved to be a genuine threat (also would be up against Welsh wingers that are possibly the weak link in their defensive structure).
    All said and done I'll still be up in the wee small hours in sunny Melbourne cheering on the boys.

  • Comment number 44.

    John, I was out with my boss today and he was telling me something about you being a much better rugby player than a bridge builder - something about a bridge you were involved in building from either bank which didn't quite meet in the middle! I wasn't listening properly as I was driving & slightly lost (but pretending not to be) at the time, so may have got the wrong end of the stick. Care to enlighten us at all?

  • Comment number 45.

    Persius, oops, it was the Edinburgh city bypass, a big wall I was setting out, and it was built two feet in the wrong place. Luckily for me I kept my job.

    Maltwhisky, the French popped the scrum as they were smaller, and I think Moray Low has been unlucky

    Warriorwarcry Fergus must be getting back to fitness, he played for us at West and he has had some game time for Glasgow I rate him.

    Oh, and I think with Jim Hamiton coming in there will be more of a smash up game, though it's hard to guess whether Dan Parks kicks or runs. Difficult, difficult, difficult

    Off to bed soon as tomorrow we drive down to Cardiff....

    JB

  • Comment number 46.

    Haven't had time to read everyone's comments, but must stick up for Chris Paterson. Has been a magnificent servant for Scottish rugby and given many of us (certainly me anyway) alot of thrills and entertainment over the years. A role model professional and a beacon of light in some poorer Scottish teams. He may not be quite the player he was, but has a great rugby brain and loads of experience so brings more to the team than just his individual contributions. OK. he is in the twilight of his career and is gradually being eased out, but can still play a role and will never let you down.

    I think Murray Low is a promising lad and prop is a position where experience is invaluable so don't write him off, because of one stuffing.
    He may have been rested for now, but I'm sure that the selectors will not have forgotten him and will give him loads of encouragement and advice on how he can improve. I'll bet we'll see him performing with honour in a Scotland shirt in the not too distant future.

  • Comment number 47.

    Forgive a Welsh intrusion here but I've watched Parks quite a bit against Welsh opposition this year and he has at times kicked us to death. He knows how to play the Welsh and for me he is a very worrying selection. Lamont has done well in the centre for Scarlets and I'm sure he is capable of holding his own. Given the shambles of the Welsh line out , this game is going to be messy but tight. Remember you also have a 16th man-COOPER

  • Comment number 48.

    There seems to be a lot of love for Dan Parks and I sincerely hope he plays a blinder. In my opinion, Parks has been truly awful in the Scotland shirt. How many good games has Parks played for Scotland? How many times have we seen Parks playing well for Glasgow and then underperform for Scotland? How many chances do we give him? He will be getting his 48 or 49th chance on Saturday. Enough is enough. I hope he proves me wrong.

    I say give Ruaridh Jackson a chance.

  • Comment number 49.

    Kindaguy - one thing about Dan Parks, he fairly splits opinion as does big Jim Hamilton who has come in for Nathan Hines. Parks almost won the game in Argentina a couple of summers ago when he got the interception and he is the Magners league top points scorer and invaluable for Glasgow. He's probably more relaxed now as he must have thought his international career was possibly over and that was compounded by a move to Wales.

    Just in the Beeb early ready to drive down to Wales.

    JB

  • Comment number 50.

    Don't think going to Cardiff is going to hurt Parks, he's still playing ML. Has'nt done Bowe or Lamont any harm.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hope Jim Hamilton plays well. But Hines will be missed not doubt.

    I hope Parks will do the job on Sat. Fingers crossed. Are BBC cutting the travel budget? Not letting you fly?

  • Comment number 52.

    To Littlehambone

    I think it would be fair to say Lamont is an execellent player and Bowe is a world class player. But I don't think you can put Parks in the same bracket.

  • Comment number 53.

    Everything in professional rugby these days seems to have a plan. A plan to defend, a plan to attack, a plan at the rucks, a plan at the tackle, lineout etc. There seems to be no way to break defences down unless you are called the All Blacks. Think the Scottish team selections will help create a bit of FUD in Welsh ranks.

    F - fear - Scotland pack need to get into the faces of the opposition - no more mr nice guys.
    U - uncertainty - how will Parks and Lamont play? Parks can spice it up a bit and if he does play flat then Wales will have no idea what's gonna happen next - mind you neither will Park's team mates. Kick over the top, pass, kick long, kick high, grubber, make a break.....they have GOT to mix it up or Welsh defence will just clobber them.
    D - doubt - if we get the Welsh team wondering what on earth is going to happen next either at 10 or 12 then that will start opening space up else where for other players - ie Paterson and Cusiter.

    Think the greatest exponent, team wise, of this is France if and when they choose to play that way. Greatest exponent, player wise in NH, is probably Shane Williams. Mind you ALL the great number 10s had that ability. Question is does Dan Parks?

  • Comment number 54.

    John - your right about Parks splitting opinion. I don't think this really has anything to do with him being nationalised. Parks splits opinion because one minute he show's a bit of genius (think the kicks which lead to tries against Edinburgh) and then the next minute he makes a poor decision which puts his team under extreme pressure (think the kicks which went backward at the home game against Gloucester). He also frustrates as he'll kick when we should be going for a try. That said I think he's the right choice for Saturday.

    Richy17 - your comments on Low and Barclay are harsh. I'd have liked to have seen Low on the bench, and think Barclay starting with McDonald on the bench is right.

    Final comment.. perhaps with the exception of Mr Beattie Snr, oh that any of us were half as good as these guys are.

  • Comment number 55.

    Booshy,

    Sean Lamont has played 13 all season for the Scarlets & has probably been our best player (certainly the most consistent). He has made countless break in big European games & his defence is rock solid. I was also a bit apprehensive when they moved him to 13 as I thought he was just playing ther because of his size. But, he has certainly shown a good rugby brain in attack & defence & his physical attributes seem to really suit the position. It now seems strange that he didn't move to 13 earlier in his career?!!!

  • Comment number 56.

    Hey Theosportsfan,

    If I'd have been a bit quicker, a bit stronger, a lot fitter, and had much more skill I could've played for Scotland!

    Sorry to see Hines out. He will be missed.

    Fell a bit sorry for Godman, a good player on his day who is right out of form at the moment. I am no fan of Parks in a Scotland shirt but he deserves his place on Saturday. I really hope he has the game of his life. Should be a bit easier for him playing away from home with no chance of being booed by so called Scotland fans at Murrayfield.

    I'm away to pack no underwear in my Cardiff bag. I'm hopeful, but if we lose I'll be depressed.............. for about 10mins!!!!

    COME ON SCOTLAND!

  • Comment number 57.

    Hope you had a pleasant drive down to Wales JB.
    I was sitting high up in the west stand at Murrayfield on Sunday with a good "birds eye" view of the pitch and would like to make a couple of points:
    When a ruck was set up following a good Scottish line break Harinordoquy often went directly to 3rd or 4th defender in the line. He trusted his mates to halt any drive up the middle and his sole job was to rush the Scottish mid field attack, more often than not from an offside position if he thought a try was on the cards. It was a clear tactic, I think the ref spotted it once and gave a penalty. In reverse situations all that happened to our defense was it got sucked in with too many guys defending the fringes. Was this a regression of our normally good defense or just an indication of the power of the French sucking our defenders in?
    On 2 occasions nobody in the French team covered back enough for the French fullback when he was involved in halting a line break, incidentally his kick defense positioning through out the match was top drawer. When we recycled there was acres of space in behind just waiting for a chip or grubber past the French rush defense. I'm not a huge fan of Dan Parks but he may have been able to exploit that with a cheeky chip or grubber and hopefully he can mix it up more against a similar Welsh defense. Why Godman did not is beyond me, he tried it once when it wasn't on and Trin Duc almost scored from the charge down. I'm no expert but do you think Godman needs to work on his reading of the game?


  • Comment number 58.

    I think Parks is the right man for the job but he should be backed up by Jackson on the bench.

    Sean in at centre makes sense and I'm pleased to see Rory out on the wing - I've never seen an international player spin his wy out of quite so many tackles as he does!

    Euan back in the scrum will really help solidify the Scotland forwards and the team's mindset.

    Overall, I'm pretty confident about Saturday's match and hopeful it'll be Scotland's kick start to an exciting championship!

    My only concern's Hamilton in for Hines - I hope he's up to the challenge. At least Richie's on standby.

    Oh, and the 'roof on/ roof off' argument for the Millenium Stadium: quite right, Andy Robinson! It's a massive advantage to have a home game with all the fans shouting within a closed tin can! No one else does it. Gatland's feeling the pressure and if the boot was on the other foot, you can bet your Nelly he'd be asking for the same.

    Ah, mind games.

    Predictions:

    France will win against Ireland, Scotland win against Wales and England will beat Italy (although, I have a feeling Italy will give them a run for their money!).

  • Comment number 59.

    My tuppence-worth on our players most mentioned above:

    MURRAY: great player, undoubtedly world-class on his day, will make a difference, should be entitled to his religious beliefs and actions with no consequence to selection outwith Sundays

    LOW: potentially a great player, had a tough day last Sunday but not all his fault and does not a bad player make, unlucky to lose his place in the squad but probably a greater need for backup loosehead

    BARCLAY: retains his place largely on the back of his mobility and maintaining the back row / half back unit of Glasgow I feel, too often turned over against French, needs a big performance - of which he IS capable

    PARKS: worthy of his recall, hope he's given the license from coaches to do more than play a territorial kicking game, needs to show that he can orchestrate some multiple phase defence-splitting back moves

    MORRISON: very lucky to keep his place, needs to vary-it-up hitting up HARD / telling offloads, seen too much of him dancing inertly into contact. One bad performance and I'd have Grove in his place.

    PATERSON: Persius you're spot on. Chris Paterson has been a top performer and loyal servant for Scottish rugby, well worthy of his 100th cap and on merit is worthy of more. The crowd cheers loudest at the call of HIS name. He deserves every bit of it.

    BRING IT ON!!!!!!!!!!!




  • Comment number 60.

    Has nobody realised that with the roof open Scotland will play a simple game of kicking to the corners or pick and go pick and go, regardless of who is outside Parks. If the ball goes past him then you can expect a crash ball at best. Sorry but there just seems to be no creativity within the Scotland team, which I find hard to work out because in the Magners league their teams aren't all that bad!

  • Comment number 61.

    Just arrived, long but lovely drive spoiled by Birmingham. Really dry down here, not sure if opening a roof will make a difference.

    Interviewed Jonathan Davies for reporting scotland tomorrow and he thinks Scotland can win, or maybe he's just saying that.

    Dave - I hope big Jim Hamilton has a big game too

    Notbystrengthbyguile - They were operating a blitz defence, and as Glasgow had done against Edinburgh they flew up on Godman and the next man out. Parks as you say does give the extra option of a chip or a kick for territory. I think Scotland expected Scotland to play a different game plan and defended accordingly.

    Kindaguy, my lips have to be sealed and if ever my wages were released you would not be protesting at the parliament.

    JB

  • Comment number 62.

    Ah, the roof, I see Andy Robinson's comments and I don't think it's down to conditions, more the noise that the Welsh might be more used to. Interesting little stand off (just like Jonathan Davies was..)

    JB

  • Comment number 63.

    Well, to be fair, with the noise the French made last weekend you can't blame the man! Although I still think it suspect. Does no one else want to see a flowing game of rugby?

  • Comment number 64.

    Rugby is supposed to be an outdoor game for heaven's sake. The only justification for closing the roof is to preven the pitch becoming waterlogged & unplayable. It should never be closed during play. Why should the conditions always favour the girly backs and back row show ponies - what about us poor old one paced front five donkeys?!

  • Comment number 65.

    I dont think it will make much difference whether the roof is open or closed, both teams will want to run the ball. Its funny to read that my Scottish cousins are just as optimistic as us Druids about Saturdays game, i do however feel that if we can get JR and Hookie firing we are going to cause you problems.

    I do predict a big cheer for Chris Paterson from both sets of fans, 100 caps is some achievement for any country.........if he was English he could look forward to an MBE for this achievement

  • Comment number 66.

    When the competition between the two candidates for 10 seems to be who can prove they are least worthy of selection, you know you can't be happy with whoever you do select. Parks is the only answer at the moment and I'm afraid I'm not quite sure what Godman is doing on the bench. It is the bench that is my greatest concern, as I'm beginning to wonder if Hadden's ghost has not yet been laid to rest. What's Blair doing there? Why no Low? Why is Godman there? Why is Paterson not there?

    Lawson played well enough to be considered a serious rival for Cusiter and, from what I've read, Blair didn't show up well in the A game on Friday. He's not fit to return and I'm afraid I don't think he's good enough even if he was. I've never seen any evidence from him to support all the hype. He may be good in short bursts, but he makes too many major mistakes, is far too slow clearing the ball from the ruck and he was a poor captain.

    As Sean Lamont plays centre for his club, it's not a problem switching him to centre, but Morrison remains a concern. I remain to be convinced there is such a substantial difference between inside and outside centre that the two can't interchange and would rather Lamont played at 12 with Evans alongside. Having to play Morrison to cover for Parks' defensive allergy is unacceptable at international level, but that's probably why he kept his place.

    Paterson should be on the bench, as Parks can take care of the place kicks and Paterson's flexibility on cover would be more useful. Rory Lamont could then play at 15, leaving the specialist wings in place and allowing Alex Grove a proper run in a position he has shown great promise in.

    One of Hadden's major failings was poor selection and I'm concerned Andy Robinson might have the same failing.

  • Comment number 67.

    Welsh perspective on Paterson:

    You might want to look at the last five or six results against Wales, and then take Paterson's points off the Scottish total.

    2009: Scotland 5 - 26 Wales
    2008: Wales 30 - 0 Scotland
    2007: Scotland 0 - 9 Wales
    2006: Wales 28 - 5 Scotland
    2005: Scotland 10 - 46 Wales
    2004: Wales 23 - 5 Scotland

    In other words, in the last six meetings, Scotsmen other than Chris Paterson have amassed 25 points against Wales. There's not another player I'd be more happy to see drop out of Saturday's squad!

  • Comment number 68.

  • Comment number 69.

    It's good to hear some Welsh lads chipping in here.

    In some ways Sourdust has the perfect riposte for the few eccentric Paterson detractors. A Scotland XV without Paterson is too horrible a thought for me to contemplate this year. And has been every year for the past decade. He's a true blue rugby pro with a very potent contribution.

    The SRU have entrusted Robinson to get the best out of the Scottish rugby team. The Robinson style (like all others) needs some experimental time to fully get in to its stride.

    Regarding the roof open/roof closed matter, I can't help but think of a defiant and immovable Johnno at Croke Park not so long ago. There's a bit of gamesmanship and strategy going on and it all adds to the intrigue of the fixture.

    I have long been an admirer of the open and attacking Welsh style. I don't expect Scotland to win 6 Nations and World Cups. Yet(!) But I do want to feel I've spent my time, money and support on an entertaining team worthy of some genuine pride and satisfaction.

    We need to risk a bit more adventure and regain the knack of scoring a few tries each game. Let's hope that all begins again tomorrow.

  • Comment number 70.

    Other than this year's Magners League, Scottish rugby hasn't particularly inspired or satisfied me since we fielded a second string XV against the All Blacks in the 2007 World Cup. And then followed it up with letting a victory against the Argentinians slip through our blunt and stilted grasp.

    We need a vital spark to kick start a new era. Today's game against Wales is as good a place to start as any.

  • Comment number 71.

    Captainmidnight and others

    Am in the Beeb in Cardiff early as we are doing a radio programme from here. I don't think this will be a complicated game, Dan Parks will kick if Scotland lie deep in their own half but apart from that there are big backs all over the pitch and the ball will be run. Scrum and who ends up bossing the forward battle are both key elements.

    Cardiff, as always, has put on a show

    Great to be alive and really looking forward to the game

    JB

  • Comment number 72.

    Absolutely exsperating, but so much to be proud of & take heart from. Wales must be much more concerned than Scotland about this performance.

  • Comment number 73.

    John, absolute stormer from your son. He has every chance of following his Dad & becoming a Lion - (long way off I know) - but you must be a real proud Dad.

    But as an old hooker i am really concerned about what is happening at he scrum. We must MUST find a way of restoring its value to the game - there was not a single scrum that did not go down today - and th ref didn't have a clue. I'm not sure i did either!

  • Comment number 74.

    Godman shouldn't carry the can for this one. Having watched the replay of his alleged interference on Byrne, I think it was unintentional and he should never have been penalised, never mind yellow carded. Godman committed fully to try and charge down the chip, arms fully extended, while Byrne was still several yards away and Byrne clipped the still airborne, helpless Godman as he passed, and then tripped. I may have blue tinted glasses on but that's how I saw it.
    With all that said, I agree with an earlier comment that Godman just isn't good enough to take Scotland to the next level. Parks was worth his place today, but we must find a world class 10, and soon, if we are going to compete with the best. Let's hope it's Jackson. Maybe now that the 6 Nations is a bit of a lost cause for Scotland, we should get him on for some experience at this level.

  • Comment number 75.

    JB, have you any news on our injured players please? Especially Thom Evans. Goodness me, the last ten minutes of that game seemed like a bad day at the Alamo. 13 men on the pitch and talk about the walking wounded. We played superb rugby for the first 70 minutes. Lots to take heart from. But the last 5-10 minutes were dire. And very confusing.

    Keen to hear your thoughts and news, JB.

  • Comment number 76.

    I hadn't realised the potential sevrity of Thom Evan's injury. Sadly all else seems irrelavant now. Just hoping and praying he is OK and thoughts prayers and best wishes are with him and his family. Can't imagine what it was like for his rother to continue playing after seeing him taken off on a stretcher.

  • Comment number 77.

    Can't imagine what it was like for his brother to continue playing after seeing him taken off on a stretcher.

  • Comment number 78.

    JB - From a Welsh perspective your son was a right pain in the **** yesterday! He had a great game as did Scotland other forwards. I am surprised that it took so long for a yellow card though with the chaps in blue constantly offside, falling on the wrong side of the contact and then being so slow to get out of the way (A leaf out of NZ's book i think?). We need so desperately for rucking to be allowed again, most i think will agree this will make for a quicker and more entertaining game. Again Wales only played for 20mins, it was a poor show but it will give confidence.

    On behalf of all my fellow Welshmen lets hope Thom Evans makes a speedy recovery

  • Comment number 79.

    Take the positives....we played the best rugby I've seen a Scotland team play for ages - first 65-70mins we were in complete control and looking dangerous. Scrum still needs some work but pretty much everything else worked pretty well - we were doing the basics and doing them error-free. Great stuff. The last 10 mins is best forgotten and best not to finger point. Use the pain remember what it feels like and come back stronger.
    Well done Mossy on your 100th cap - hope you're up and about soon too.
    As for Thom Evans - my thoughts are with you - you were outstanding as ever and a nation is wishing you well.

  • Comment number 80.

    Bert69 - nice to hear from you. Think Wales have alot to think about after Saturday - although Mike Phillips or even Dayne Peel back at scrum half would make a big difference.
    I think maybe the back row needs freshening up as well.
    With the talent you have around you should still be a major force in World rugby though.
    Mind you - you were lucky against England - imagine what a cricket score it could have been if they had had selected a more visionary and incisive young fly half - instead of a steady eddie reliable goalkicker that is past his best!?

    Please the prognosis on Thom Evans is good so we feel in the mood to have a bit of a leg pull on a lazy Sunday morning.

  • Comment number 81.

    bert69
    I lost count of the number of times I saw the Welsh offside or taking their time coming back from the Scottish side of a breakdown, and blocking the scrumhalf options.

    And then Byrne decided to dive to win. Disgusting. Very angry with the Welsh today and that includes Grandpa.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    ScotsSevensNutjob - Not too sure about the dive, im going to have to watch that again i think. Go easy on Grandpa, after all, its just payback from all the times you have robbed us in Kissball in the past. lol. Parks reminded me of a young Johnny Wilkinson yesterday (escuse me while i wash my mouth out!) he played a blinder and did not deserve to be on the loosing team. Think i may start a 'Facebook' cause up..... IRB, BRING BACK RUCKING

  • Comment number 84.

    Just saw JB's interview with Dr. Robson.

    Well, my thoughts are with Thom Evans, Chris Paterson and Rory Lamont.

    Seems like our backs' strength in depth is really going to be tested for the remainder of the tournament.

    In some ways Blair's contribution seemed to sum matters up. A slightly rusty scrum half came off the bench to play on both wings and finished the game at fly half. Utter chaos.

  • Comment number 85.

    Just spotted the Rory Lamont injury as well. Jings he's had nae luck in his international outings. Take it easy and I wish you a speedy recovery.

  • Comment number 86.

    Injuries, injuries, injuries

 

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