Andrew Cotter

Loving the Lamonts (20)

St Etienne - It's official. St Etienne loves Scotland! And the ladies love the Lamont brothers!

Today was Scotland's first full day in this little corner of the Rhones-Alpes region and the dignitaries of St Etienne appeared with their best smiles and hand-shakes at the first press conference which was held in the rather grand Hotel de Ville (Town Hall, according to O-Grade French).

Frank Hadden and key players spoke glowingly about the town, the coach even mentioning that he wore a green St Etienne scarf to Hampden for their European Cup final meeting with Bayern Munich in 1976. Why? Nobody asked.

Then from nowhere sprang close to a dozen women who seemed hell-bent on having their photos taken with both of the Lamont brothers. This may have something to do with Sean's appearance in the Stade Francais Calendar which is far too racy to describe in this family blog.

I was more concerned with Jason White's legs - and in a purely platonic way, because it seems that the man mountain is operating on slightly less formidable limbs than pre-knee injury. He confirmed that this was, indeed, the case and admitted that he hasn't quite been able to get his right leg back to full size, adding that he does still feel the fatigue in the last quarter of a game.

He looked fine in training, though, as did most of the Scotland squad at an open session which was attended by a couple of hundred assorted locals, early-arriving Scotland fans and possibly various spies from Portugal, Romania, New Zealand and Italy. A couple of the children looked suspicious to me.

I say most of the squad were fine. The one who wasn't was Andy Henderson, who spent the session working in isolation, still struggling with a dead leg and instead wandered about with some of those muscle-stimulating pads attached to his thigh - I last saw such a gadget being worn by Una Stubbs in a television advertisment, promising to "flatten my stomach in four weeks!" Or perhaps it was Lorraine Chase. I forget.

I also digress. Scotland's training facilities are excellent and belong to A.S.S.E. (stop sniggering at the back) - also known as St Etienne football club. And while other teams may be luxuriating in opulent hotels, the Scottish squad is staying in the accommodation on-site which more resembles student halls of residence.

But anyway, a question to get us going on this blog; deprived of the man now known (very possibly by me alone) as "Hat-trick Henderson" after the Ireland game, what would be Scotland's ideal centre partnership against Portugal?

It did look as if Marcus di Rollo was starting to fall out of favour, but it may be that he returns outside Rob Dewey. For those fans of Simon Webster as a centre, I can report that he spent more of the session in his usual position on the wing.

It may also be that Hadden chooses to field weaker teams against Portugal and New Zealand, alternating with full-strength sides for the intervening games against Romania and the cruch against Italy.

Let me know your thoughts, have a look at the latest photos on and perhaps someone could tell me if it was Una stubbs or Lorraine Chase in that ad.

Andrew Cotter is a BBC Sport commentator specialising in rugby union and golf. He is covering Scotland at the World Cup for Radio 5live and you can see the station's full broadcast schedule here.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 09:07 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • dougal fergusson wrote:

Loving the blog, great update from inside the Scotland camp. I am mailing from Argentina, where I work as a teacher, so it's great to read something that isn´t about Felipe or Agustin.

In an attempt to drum up some (local, Scottish) interest in the RWC, my primary school class have been set research homework. This morning they completed their 'Poster Profiles' of ´The Best 24 players in the World´. We were on 'Player 16' before they noticed the correlation. Blair, Brown, Callam, Cusiter...

Still, there´s a little corner of Argentina that is forever Scotland.

  • 2.
  • At 10:33 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Bill Geake wrote:

Anita Harris. Don't ask how I know.

  • 3.
  • At 01:47 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • GMD wrote:

A great read!

I'd be super-disappointed if Scotland DID field an under-strength side at Murrayfield against the All Blacks. OK, so whilst the chances of a Scotland win aren't great, consider the occasion: 68,000 bravehearts packing out the national stadium - that's gotta be about as good as it gets! I think Hadden should respect the occasion and field a 1st XV against the ABs.

  • 4.
  • At 03:23 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Kip wrote:

The possibility (mmm not as confident as probability) of Scotland meeting France in the QFs is intriging.

Other than 2003 (a pants performance against France in that QF), these RWC meetings between the two teams have been close, albeit in the pool games.

Recall Matt Duncan's dying minute try in the corner in 1987. N'Tamak's dying minute try in the corner in 1995. Both instances we went on to face the ABs in the QFs.

For this RWC, a victory for Scotland against France would mean a possible SF encounter with England, again! And on current form, the possibilities of then proceeding to the Finals with the ABs or the Boks are very tantalising.

Ah yes... possibilities... it all hinges in one game...

Beat ABs in the pools and this will all change!!

Oh, did I miss out the game against Italy...?

Can't wait for the show to start, thank god it lasts for about 6 weeks, ousting Asian coverage of poofball, sorry football, to its rightful position of second fiddle to rugby.

  • 5.
  • At 03:41 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Colin J wrote:

Can't agree more with you GMD. Not least for the fact that I and a few friends are travelling back from Saigon Vietnam for the match (including a couple of Kiwis), and we all want to see the Scots push hard! I'd not be too chuffed, having forked out 130 Euros a ticket, to see a second string side getting 'Blacked' out. I also think there is enough depth in this current squad to see off the Italians in the event of any injuries. Anyhow...being a pessimist - what would happen to Hadden if we kept our best for Italy, and then got beaten by them...not a thought to entertain!

Get out there with the confidence we have shown recently, and you never know...a packed Murrayfield has picked up Scotland before...

  • 6.
  • At 08:49 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew Cotter wrote:

Anita Harris! That's it - who could forget her in 'Carry on Doctor'? Thanks.

  • 7.
  • At 09:19 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • alec waterlow wrote:

Come on Southwell

Kip - Scotland certainly should get a quarters place, but to beat France in their own World Cup? Dream on. We'll finish in our customary spot of being knocked out in the quarters. I agree that Scotland should not field a second string team against NZ.
Still think Chris Paterson's best position is full back. But Rory Lamont does look pretty good in that position now.

  • 9.
  • At 09:52 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Dartfordians Maca wrote:

Must say I'm loving the blog coverage (gush over). I would argue that Scotland need to have their best team fit for Italy. New Zealand will win the match so it would be a good opportunity to use a couple of the fringe players and see how they handle the pressure. I'm not advocating a full second string but there is no point putting first all the first choice players at risk for a match that, I am sad to say, is a foregone conclusion. That said whoever takes the field against the All Blacks will play with passion and pride.

  • 10.
  • At 10:47 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Mandi wrote:

I love the Lamonts too! Well OK, only Sean, so thank heavens for those new shirts Scotland and Ireland will be wearing, you know the really tight ones? So tight for technical reasons (yeah right!)...can't wait to see Sean...swoooooooon....who said rugby wasn't worth watching, Ladies?

  • 11.
  • At 10:52 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • brian wrote:

Interesting to see that Italy are putting out what looks like a full strength side for their game against the ABs- I seem to recall that in similar circumstances four years ago John Kirwan (always a man for "interesting" selections, admittedly) put out a very odd looking side against NZ and focused all his efforts on Italy's game with Wales.

My feeling is that Hadden should field his best side for Murrayfield, with the proviso that any automatic starters against Italy who might be carrying a slight knock should sit the AB game out. After all, the "injury to key players" issue arises with equal force for the other games (imagine Chris Paterson getting put out the tournament by a clumsy tackle from a Portuguese player who's that split second too slow when CP jinks on him.....) but you can't wrap your best men in cotton wool all the time.

It's entirely possible that the Scotland/Italy game will be a very tight, nervy affair. Both sides are forward dominated without much creativity behind the scrum and I don't suppose there will be many tries(I assume Hadden will have worked out by now that Italy have a very good blitz defence and that interceptions are one of their more reliable sources of tries...). It could easily come down to a kicking duel, which ought to favour Scotland (I haven't much sense of how good Bortolussi, who seems to be taking the Italian kicks at the moment, may be) and I don't think one could entirely exclude the possibility of a draw- in which case points difference would probably come into play. If Scotland were eliminated under those circumstances because FH had put out a second string side which shipped seventy points against NZ then he wouldn't look very clever.

  • 12.
  • At 11:08 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

I think it will leave me with a rather hollow feeling if we get a shoeing from the All Blacks with a second string team and crash out against France. It'll feel like we've only played one really competitive game - against Italy. I'm all for giving it a go against the All Blacks.

As to the centres, must be di Rollo and Dewey again, I would think. MDR needs match time. Be interested to see how Dewey goes - I think he's been far less effective at outside centre...

  • 13.
  • At 12:49 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Rory wrote:

Can someone tell me where I can get these pads, they sound wonderful!!!

  • 14.
  • At 12:55 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • jock kirwan wrote:

Come on guys - we absolutely have to get to the quarters. We have to have our best team fit to play Italy. Surely we've all seen enough heroic failures against the AB to know what's what?

  • 15.
  • At 01:00 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Mason wrote:

If you are looking for a name for Andy Henderson try Muffel - it was his nickname at school. He was quite small back then but was very agile and a difficult person to catch. He has developed into a top class centre over the last few years and would be missed in the Italy came.

However, Scotland should be strong favourites against Italy. The 6 nations match was a very poor show which, despite the 3 try head start all gifts, Scotland should have one had they chosen their penalties better.

  • 16.
  • At 01:28 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Frambo wrote:

Wee bit worried to hear about Jason not being back to his pre-injury strength, although I suppose it is to be expected after such a long layoff. On their day, I reckon our back row can look pretty formidable and it looks as if the whole squad looks have bulked up, seemingly due to the addition of Mark Bitcon to the coaching staff. We could do with everybody staying fit (unlikely), beating Italy (likely) and take our chances in the quarters.

Looking forward to the whole competition, especially Eng v SA and Ire v Arg in the group stages.

  • 17.
  • At 01:31 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew Cotter wrote:

Andy Henderson's nickname is most certainly still 'Muffles' and they were shouting it to him on the sidelines yesterday. I think 'Hat-trick Henderson' is only the kind of nickname that exists in Roy of the Rovers. Anyway, I fancy someone else might get a hat-trick against Portugal on Sunday. 'Hat-trick Di Rollo' anyone? Hmmmmmm......
Anyway, I am now off to the town hall in St Etienne again for the team announcement at 3pm UK time.

  • 18.
  • At 01:42 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Alistair wrote:

Jock Kirwan 15 - bad attitude, look at Australia at the last world cup, the summer before they got slaughtered by NZ at home yet beat them a few months later after spending time playing the same side game after game in the world cup. I'm not saying we'll beat NZ but the best we can do is let our first team build momentum from game to game just like what the Australians did and if we do perform better against NZ then Italy did then we'll have a good psycho advantage over the Azzurri and our top players will be battle hardened

  • 19.
  • At 10:37 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Kip wrote:

BartonAlan, "Kip - Scotland certainly should get a quarters place, but to beat France in their own World Cup? Dream on."


Great opening game... Anything is possible with belief and passion which is what the Pumas showed. We should put our best team for both games against the ABs and against Italy.

As the opener showed, you never know who will show up on the day... an underperforming AB and a confident Italy... It would be nuts not put out you best team for both matches to improve your chances of going to the QFs. A second string team against the ABs with a view of saving all the best for the match against Italy is a school boy/amature club outlookm progress to the QFs all resting on the last game... not exactly a strategic risk reducing measure.

Why must Scotland just look at being a runner up in the pool to go through, what if we lost to Italy, but would have beaten the ABs with a full squad? What would be our excuse then? Competitive sports means competing, why else bulk up, talking it up and then not compete.

  • 20.
  • At 02:55 PM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • hmcain wrote:

In over 100 years of playing test rugby against New Zealand we have never beaten them, never!

Therefore play a defensive game against the AB's with a relatively strong team but don't risk the pivotal men ie Ford, The Back Row, Blair, Patterson & The Lamonts poss Webster as well.

Also there is no particular advantage of coming top of our group we will play France, Ireland or the Pumas regardless...Provided we qualify for the Quarters.

Personally, I rather lose to New Zealend in the Pool when it's not important and then Beat them in Paris in the Final (seems Paris is quite good to the scots these days)

No I haven't been drinking, it is possible, albeit not particularly likely.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites