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Awesome All Blacks shatter Scotland's dreams

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John Beattie | 12:53 UK time, Sunday, 14 November 2010

One hundred and five years since we beat the All Blacks? It's a record that's stuck in a groove.

And I wonder if we'll ever beat the All Blacks as I thought that was as good a Scottish rugby team as we can pick just now.

And we didn't come close. Perhaps the All Blacks having been together for two months made a difference.

The first thing you have to say is that the All Blacks were very, very good.

They dominated most aspects of the game, they kept the ball when they went forward, they went forward with venom - I do marvel at Richie McCaw's aerobic ability - they had the power to break tackles and they played a very, very simple game.

Of all the All Blacks teams I've seen, this one appears to be complete, or at least as near to complete as a team can be; Sonny Bill Williams is extraordinary.

From Scotland's point of view, well, they found it difficult against better players.
There were pugnacious displays from John Barclay and Allan Jacobsen, and how good was it to see a Laidlaw on the pitch? Most know they came off second best.

And perhaps that's the honest thing to say, the All Blacks were better players.

But what about other differences between them and us?

First up is game plan: Albie Mathewson, the All Black scrum half, joined us at half time on BBC Radio Scotland and explained that New Zealand figured that the Scottish pack was a big one.

Therefore, the task was to play a one pass game going the same way to tie in the players until there were mis-matches out wide.

Andy Ellis and the All Blacks blew Scotland away at a shell-shocked Murrayfield: Photo: Getty

And when the ball went wide players like Hosea Gear, Isaia Toeava, and Mils Muliaina just had too much speed and ability for Scottish defenders to cope with and they ended up with overlaps.

Scotland put most of the game through Dan Parks and there was a valiant attempt to get the ball wide and outside the last defender, but, again, the All Blacks had too much pace to let that happen.

The second most obvious difference was in sheer abrasion. When the All Blacks carried the ball and went into breakdown situations and scrums not only did they do it very, very powerfully but also they had superb technique.

Whether they were wrapping up men in contact, or driving their own men forward, New Zealand rugby players were technically better than ours.

But now there will be a backlash. Scottish players will be smarting and South Africa will feel the force as I suspect that Andy Robinson, who has an avuncular public image but who is completely different with his players and has a ruthless streak, will get some rather simple messages across this week.

This group of Scottish players can do better than this. And I wonder if the game against South Africa can provide a lift as having watched the South Africans I think they have a similar way of playing.

Can Scotland beat South Africa? That is the question.


  • Comment number 1.

    If Scotland can come close to beating South Africa in 2008 when things looked very bleak I think we can definitely beat them on Saturday, the players need to put this defeat out of their heads however. Look at the display against Italy after losing a great match against Wales. The players perhaps let it sit too heavily in their minds that time so I hope they don't do the same against RSA or it will simply be another nightmare.
    A few changes may help, but again if you change too much it will drain any confidence remaining.
    Over the last few weeks I've noticed counter-attack being so important, putting the opposition on the back foot by turning over in rucks, mauls, scrums and lineouts is so important and England and New Zealand were both very good at it this Saturday, and for England it's what won them the game. Scotland sometimes rush too much. I'm not a big fan of NZ but a lot of what they do is just wait for the opposition to make a mistake and be ready to capitalise on it. If we are confidence in our defence then we should be able to do that! What happened to the defence which we saw against Australia last year? Anyway I'm rambling again, oh dear.

  • Comment number 2.

    That may be the question John. Unfortunately the answer is 'no'

  • Comment number 3.

    A harsh reality check.

    The All Blacks played with cohesion and confidence while Scotland seemed to barely be able to string a few passes together. Why can't the SRU give them half a chance and play a lesser team as a warm up?? It was painfully obvious our guys were way short of the sharpness and pace to compete with the world's best at international level. I can only hope this doesn't undo all the progress that has been made over the last 12 months as I feel it would be unfair - Scotland can play a lot better than that...

    My only few positives from the game were:
    1. Our front row held up pretty well until Murray and Ford went off
    2. Max Evans showed a bit of zip in an otherwise pedestrian three quarter line
    3. Jackson and (even) Hines seemed to add some tempo with the little time he had on the pitch

    Fingers crossed for next week. This is where Mr Robinson will really earn his pay.

  • Comment number 4.

    Make no mistake there definately is a gap between how the All Blacks are playing the game at the moment and everyone else.

    In the last three years in your part of the woods they have conceeded one try, one in ten matches. They have the best defence in the world which is evident. They also have the best coaching staff in the world having been together for the better part of a decade these coaches have an intimate knowledge of their players and the other teams they are facing.

    They have the most experienced all blacks to ever put on the jersey (Richie Mcaw and Mils Muliaina) both on 93 caps and possibly the greatest all black player/captain that there ever has been in Mcaw.

    They have lost once in their last 17 matches and that loss no doubt just spurred them on to pick up their game and do everything better. Rugby is just a different beast over here. When they lost in Hong Kong against the Ausi's the knives were definately out for them. The public has high expectations but they also have high expectations of themselves. Losing is just unthinkable to these guys.

    The Springboks look lethargic when they play but they are one of the best if not the best brutally physical sides in the world. To have any hope of beating S.A you have to take them on up front and smash them and after you have done that counter attack hard and fast.

    It worked for the AB'S all tri-nations. Beat them at their own game and you will beat them. Physicality and grit isn't as hard to emulate as natural skill and ability is.

  • Comment number 5.

    Welcome back John. Missed your blog. Presume you've been biking, travelling and sunning yourself somewhere hot.

    The All Blacks are a very good team. Suspect their players, man on man, are two to three notches better all round that the Scottish players. I still think that the NH teams do not play with the same abrasive qualities, week in, week out in the same way that SH teams do. Did read on another blog that the SH teams play each other a lot, lot more that we do in the North and that probably has something to do with it. Scotland did play with those qualities against Argentina and Ireland because I think those games meant a lot more to them. Scotland did have some good players on the park and it does seem that Jackson is good enough to mix it with the big boys. We need to get him playing there against good teams and develop him for the world cup.

    Yes I'm disappointed but suspect the All Blacks are the best team in the world at the moment. It would have been nice to score at least one try mind you.

    I just hope we catch England on a off day in Six Nations....

  • Comment number 6.

    The reason Australia lost to England was because they arn't good enough across the board. They want to be world champions? well they need to start getting better at a few things. Their counter attack is simply brilliant, so is their work at the breakdown (they have Pocock to thank for that).

    But their set peice is a shambles.Their scrum and lineout are abysmal and they are so busy thinking about their counter attack half the time that they forget to defend. Don't get me wrong they can be very good at defence and very physical but it seems they save all this until they play the All Blacks and South Africa.

    Their goal kicking is also woeful, drew Mitchell missed 12 points from the boot I think it was? that really is unforgivable. Beale can't kick, Giteau can't kick and now you can add Mitchell to that list. Their kicking for territory also needs to improve.

  • Comment number 7.

    A frankly shambolic result performed by an extremely incompetant looking Scottish side. There were only moments in the game in which we looked capable, and its difficult to tell whether this was because we finally got our act together, or if it was because NZ became so relaxed they let us run into them knowing we'd do them no harm.

    I didn't expect Scotland to win this time. That peculiar optimism that everyone had on "maybe this time" didn't work for me, but I didn't expect us to look so poor as we did on the field yesterday. One of the biggest concerns I had was that the team didn't gel together in the slightest. Mike Blair's captaincy was, on a whole, poor, and his replacement of Laidlaw seemed to shake things up slightly, but by that time the damage was done. A couple of good runs and tactics were wasted by poor decisions, missed passes and general fumbling. At times we looked like we'd learnt nothing from Argentina, where we worked as one team towards a victory.

    Upping our game isn't the problem. When I look at Wales or England, or even the All Blacks yesterday, our problem is that we're not organised and we're not competitive enough. We need to get out there and destroy, simple as that. If we'd organised and got in the faces of the All Blacks they'd have been thrown and nervous. We've done it before, but we've never managed to get it right with NZ. We get scared of the big bad beast, and we need to stop that.

    South Africa should hopefully wake us back up again. SA looked extremely weak against a powerful Wales, winning only by the skin of their teeth.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm not sure how you continue to support Scotland without a 'peculiar optimism'.
    Even now, having sat high up in the North West Stand with my head in my hands on Saturday evening I can see reasons for optimism against Boks.

  • Comment number 9.

    Like everyone, I was gutted by Saturday's outcome. However I harp back to one of my initial points in last week's blog. This was our first Test since the two match summer tour to Argentina. By comparison this was the 3rd consecutive Saturday the Blacks had faced a top world class side. And those two matches against England & Australia the two previous weekends were on the back of 6 Tri Nations Tests between July & mid September, as well as three encounters they hosted in June against Ireland & Wales.

    There was a very snide and cynical missive which arrived in last week's Blog on Saturday night. It was extremely cutting, and was from a New Zealander who wrongly & unjustifiably slated & sledged us for being ungracious in defeat, and not showing The AB's enough respect, as well as levelling one or two other factually incorrect acusations against us. I just wonder however, if we gave them too much respect, and were too overly intiimdated. We all knew going into Saturday that The AB's were a great side, and it is no accident they hold the No 1 Ranking. We were woeful on Saturday, and had a very bad day at the office. We needed to play our very best, and hope NZ had an off day. As we all witnessed, the reverse was what occurred. At the end of the day though, we are a better side than attributed by a 46 point margin of defeat. I dearly hope we start realising that.

  • Comment number 10.

    There was a great question asked on the rugby programme on BBC Radio Scotland on friday night about wether the players who were publcly talking up our chances of beating the All Blacks on saturday actually belived what they were saying or were just saying the words they reckoned people wanted to hear. The jury in the studio was a bit divided on this but I reckon the result and the performance tells us the truth of it.
    I think it would be a good idea in the run up for next saturdays game if the only public interviews came from either the coach or the captain and the rest of the players concentrated on getting their minds focused on what they need to do to show that they are not as easy meat as they were on saturday and get back to the team they loked to be capable of becoming after the results at end of last 6 Nations and 2 Tests against Argentina

  • Comment number 11.

    It's very difficult for any of the NH sides to come out cold against any of the Tri-Nations after they've just played 6 or 7 internationals together and have been together in camp for 3 months. It would make much more sense for all 4 of us to warm up against Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Argentina etc. before we take on the big boys. As Scotland have shown with their summer performances and a good showing in the previous 6N, when you're in the middle of a cycle with regular games, improvement has been tangible.

  • Comment number 12.

    Whoever scheduled this as our opening game needs shot, our first game in 5 months and its against an AB machine thats been together solidly for 2 months, we can micro-manage the game but the answer is a simple one, they were batter than us from 1 to 15!
    Againt the Boks we can get something, the players need to believe, get our set piece going, sort the breakdown and support and we will be very competitive.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi John,
    Last week I predicted that the ABs would put a 50 thru us and am sorry to say that I was only 1 point off being bang on. The reason, well we just weren't good enough to beat a team that had recovered from its travels, which I think made them play down to England, and 1-22 were better in every department.

    What can we do?

    Well lets not lose heart, an ambitious 1st game back after a 5 month lay off against the best team in the world was only ever going to go one way, and we blooded some good new talent on the day ie. Gray, Jackson, Vernon etc. I think we should look forward from it not be overly critical as these players now know what it's like to be on the end of a whipping and I'll bet they won't want that feeling again. Every match needs to be a learning experience some good experiences and some bad, hope that they keep their heads up and stick it to the 'Boks.

  • Comment number 14.

    Something noticed about the All Black forwards - when they are in a ruck or maul and have exited either, they quickly run back behind the play to become available in defence or attack. I have noticed that Northern Hemisphere players tend to walk or jog slowly at best. I guess it takes a better athlete to be able to add this dimension, but in defence they can allow the opposition to win their own ball fully confident that they will still have the numbers to repel and in attack they are always a full compliment near the ball.

  • Comment number 15.

    14 I guess that'll be the AB forwards who don't take the opportunity to have a wee wander up for a chat with the opposite scrum half.

  • Comment number 16.

    The rot started when Parks failed to find touch from a penalty. That type of mistake should not happen. Is his time up?
    Perhaps England should continue to play in Black! One team in that colour does pretty well!

  • Comment number 17.

    It was sad to see Scotland being beaten so comprehensively. They were outclassed but were also not helped by some poor refereeing at the scrum. New Zealand repeatedly dropped the scrum within their own 22 and ref Pearson should have yellow carded at least one of the front row players - he certainly would have done if New Zealand had deliberately and repeatedly gone offside at the ruck.

  • Comment number 18.

    You show grace in defeat John. As an adopted Scot I couldnt bear to watch and left early. It all got a bit much when the crowd got cheering a daft mexican wave effort. It was a foregone conclusion at the 30 minute mark. The question was, was it going to a 50 point or an 80 point loss.

    I was disappointed I had left the TV coverage of England Vs Australia - that was a cracking game and England looked pretty good.

    Can Scotland beat The Boks. I'd like to think so. They have so much negative about them at the moment without even factoring in todays drug dismissals. Scotland has got some class about the team and sometimes a bloody nose can lead to a good solid effort the following week. I hope so.

  • Comment number 19.

    Scotland's backs are basically to a man, pathetic. The worst backline in the world's top 10 nations.

    A shame for Scotland it wasn't NZ wearing their change strip. We all know how Scotland players try ten times harder when playing teams in white, which of course is the reason they will never be a top side.

  • Comment number 20.

    I try and remain positive.

    From my position in the East Stand we didn't look particularly good in attack. The long miss passes in the centre just seemed to give the AB's defence even more time to drift across and cover everything. However, I did watch a bit back on TV last night (couldn't watch all of it - had just watched all the England game so had to give way to X Factor - no comments please) and it looked a bit better second time round.

    I think I agree with W Main (No 7) about Blair and his Captaincy. Laidlaw seemed sharper. The AB's, though, and England now, use their scrum half far more effectively. He is adding width immediately by running into space, rather than the old way of passing from the base of the ruck etc.

    You have to applaud the AB's though, and thank them for stopping at 49.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think the players were believing the hype after Ireland/Argentina games. That man Parks failed to find touch with a penalty early doors and this sparked a counter attack which led shortly to a try and immediately the NZ team smelt blood. Parks is frustrating and inconsistent at this level and needs to focus 100% NOT 80%.

    We need to own up. The all blacks are faster, stronger , and more skillful but we can tackle...but alas we could not even do that on Sat.

  • Comment number 22.

    This is a bigger but I promise you it will save Scottish rugby.

    Let me give you the secrets of why New Zealand are consistently the best or second best team in the world and what we can learn from them.

    The Abs beat Scotland with brain and not just brawn. Scotland can match them man for man with brawn (i.e. speed, power pace etc), but the ABs rugby brain is what makes the difference. Scotland’s problem is in the back play, in both in defense and attack.

    Defense. The ABs use the slide defense. The slide defense makes it’s hard to get on the outside and if the go back on the inside, the inside cover cuts him in half. The Scotland players need to trust the player on the inside that he will make his tackle and resist the temptation to hit the guy coming back inside even if they are the closest man. Scotland try to put two guys on each hit, which is a waste of time as the ABs just off load to the side where the gap is created (ref Sonny Bill Williams). Scotland needs to push harder from the inside earlier on, if you wait for them to pass from the stand off it’s too late as the ball will beat the man every time. Let your back row take the stand off. The openside side winger should be flat and in the defensive line. The blind side winger should stay deep and cover half the pitch each with the full back deep on the open side taking the other half of the pitch. In simple terms: start in tight and flat, go on man out (allow the back row to take the scrumhalf / stand off), slide early (the queue is from the scrumhalf’s pass and not the stand offs pass), resist the temptation to tackle the man cutting back in (yes even if you are closest, trust the man on the inside), everyone pushes them towards the touch line and hey presto, defense is easy. This is what the ABs do and it is very, very hard to beat, as Scotland’s midfield can vouch for. Scotland try the blitz defense as you get the occasional big bosh, that can look impressive, but in reality it is very easy to beat as the gaps open up on the outside and often through the middle.

    Attack. First phase: should be a backs move. The aim should be to score from it and not only used to set up for the forwards!! At first phase you have all their forwards tied in and the pitch is open. You also have all you backs players where we want them.

    After first phase, as I mentioned last week, the communication from the supporting players is the secret to breaking the line and being there in support. Look at the picture at the top of this blog. The ABs have a man either side both talking to and supporting the ball carrier. They are short on the shoulder so if the guy get tackle he can pop the ball either side and someone will be there. If he doesn’t break the tackle the supporting player is short and through the gap, where the line is half broken. It was the short off load that did the damage (ref Sonny Bill Williams) This also breaks the line as the supporting players have also to be watched by the defense as they are so tight, thus creating a gap. Once the break has been made, the support is there short, on either side telling him left and right, so the ball carrier can keep his eyes forward. Hosea Gear scored his try because he keep the ball in two hands, as he had a man on the outside he just held Rory Lamont (who was clueless and who he should take) by not committing until the gap opened up. The guy on the outside (a second row incidentally) didn’t even touch the ball, although without him being there Gear would not have got through. Gear knew he was their as the support was constantly taking, staying out wide and not cutting in. (Watch it back and see). This communication cannot be heard from the stand, studios or living rooms, but it makes a 46 points of a difference and from a team who never really left second gear.

    How do you implement these skills? If you are a coach reading this, I recommend that you play nothing but rugby league for training. This will develop your players to off load out of the tackle and force the supporting players to communicate and run the short supporting line. In defense, it will force your players to quickly and regularly form an affective sliding defense as they will have to reset quickly and keep their heads up as the ball is recycled almost instantly. Also practice 2 on 1’s over and over and over again. Don’t use cuts, just draw and pass until you start dreaming about it. Then do 3 on 2’s with the ball carrier in the middle and the supporting players talking to him either side. This should be done at 1,000,000mph, and as long as the supporting players are short and saying left or right, it becomes, very very easy as the attacker can look only at the gap as the defense is held, if the gap closes he pops left or right and allows the steam train next to him take it.

    PS. If you use the terms “better decision making”, “more accurate” and “more skillful” or “wanting it more” they are meaningless terms and you may as well say “we need to get gooder, bigger and faster!”

  • Comment number 23.

    "One hundred and five years since we beat the All Blacks?"

    Can you remind me of the score that day, John? I thought we had lost.

  • Comment number 24.

    Watching it in the pub. Scotland would take set piece ball and then it would take 5+ Phases to get back to the gainline. The All Blacks had ferocious line speed but Parks was sitting too deep and instead of giving flat ball on the gainline, the backs got the ball 10metres behind it with an All Black in their face. Then the pack had to retreat 10m come around and through the gate to try and ruck over their team mates with about 2ft of forward momentum and were being met by McCaw, Read, Messam, Whitelock who had just taken a 10m run up at the ruck. They fought tooth and nail for the ball and if they weren't turned over they lost yards. The forwards (if they weren't turned over) then tried to blast holes and after 5 phases we were back where we started from the set piece.

    If we are to compete against South Africa we need to play smart rugby. Use Parks as a pivot and send Gray, Brown, Barclay around the fringes from different angles to blast through the gainline then move the ball wide. If Parks is going to sit that deep he needs to try little chips to turn the on rushing defence. Relying on Max Evan's footwork from 2nd phase ball will not cut it against the top 3 nations.

  • Comment number 25.

    mmmnh Rugby League doesnt develop off loading in the tackle skills. Converts from either code have statistically been very rare successes when they move across. Successes like Alan Tait and Jason Robinsom have the ability to see what is on far quicker than most ordinary players. They are just exceptional athletes.

    If I was appointed Andy Robinson's advisor tomorrow I would be saying...

    It is all about getting over the gain line at speed and winning every collision. Use defense as attack. Dont give away daft penalties.

    My advice to the SRU going forward is player development contracts. Use the diaspora, get young talented guys and bring them on through the grades. Only get quality foreigners who can pass on some old head tricks. Leave the pension seeking guys at home. Scotland has some great individuals. It is just a country with a small playing population. A base of private school boys and Borderers wont make a team to compete against England in the decades ahead.

    My advice to Scotland fans is keep on supporting the team and leave the Mexican waves for when you are in Mexico.

  • Comment number 26.

    Ref: Richardo.

    Rugby league does develop off loading in the tackle as unlike rugby union, where the ball can be recycled indefinitely, rugby league has a limited number of plays therefore the ball has to be kept alive and off the ground. I would love to see these “stats” you were talking about. I prefer to analyse what happens on the pitch, rather than your “stats”. It is no surprise that the players that lit up Saturday’s games, were Sonny Bill Williams, Chris Ashton and Shontayne Harpe, who are all, yeah you guessed it, league converts. It is nonsense to say they have the ability to see what is on far quicker than most ordinary players. They simply read the game better because they control it from behind as they call the shots (please refer to my comment above for full details).

    You said: It is all about getting over the gain line, I would say it’s all about getting over the try line surely.

    To say: at speed and winning every collision. You may as well say we need to get faster and bigger.

    To say: use defense as attack, demonstrates no understanding of any technique.

    And to say: Dont give away daft penalties, why not just “and say score more tries while you are at it”.

    If you were Andy Robinson advisor (and thank goodness you are not) you would be too interested in keeping the paying Scotland fans sitting on their hands and selecting guys on their background rather than their ability. To exclude the base of private school boys and Borderers, as you put it, you would exclude the likes of Alan Tait, Gregor Townsend, Gavin Hastings, John Barcley, Jim Telfer and numerous other Scotland greats from your team.

    As I mentioned, we have become too reliant on brawn rather than brain, as your comment has demonstrated. Thank you.

  • Comment number 27.

    Most of the comments of 'rusty', etc made on this blog are clearly correct but I would like to single out a few:-
    Basic defence was poor; both Lamonts were found wanting on too many occasions;
    Too often we are losing the ball in contact; Morrison particularly guilty of this; simple cause is how the ball is held (taught at school!!);
    Walker, the Lamonmts and Morrison all slowed down as the contact approached, they lost any momentum and frequently lost the ball; are these players uncomfortable with contact?
    Against Australia their commitment to the cause was magnificent so 'rusty' might well be the first cause against the AB's; the modern phrase of 'intensity' is appropriate; Scotland just were not up for it;
    I hark back to my original hobby horse - until Scottish players can be regularly subjected to a Super 14 type of environment they will continue to struggle to come up to the required intensity levels. Touring Argentina, albeit a short tour, provided the levels to which I refer.

  • Comment number 28.

    The simple fact is that Sco made it far too easy for NZ, and made them look far better than they actually are.

    Don’t get me wrong, NZ are the best team in the world right now, but I think if we played anything like what we did on Sat against teams like Fiji or Canada, we would still have been beat!

    The reality is that Sco are now a division 3 side playing against first division teams, and we will never beat the AB. We may beat Ireland or Wales the occasional odd time, maybe even Eng for some bizarre reason, but we must now know that our place in the world order of rugby is somewhat diminishing by the year. Andy Robinson must know that the good work he has done so far has all but gone – it will be interesting to see how long he wants to remain at the helm of a sinking ship.

  • Comment number 29.

    RICHY 17 - I don't think we are a division three side, I suspect that Andy Robinson will be poached at some time as you say.

    Alan Rhead - your comments are interesting - I think the players are embarrassed by what happened, and I think the obvious solution is a British League - or two European conferences, but then that has been kicked into touch a few times.

    Mhmm and Richardo - helps Sonny Bill Williams that he is so big and powerful, but no doubt All Blacks were better at most things

    Chris - hope it was a nice pub. From where I was it was similar, but Scotland were trying to get wide and that is why they sat deep. All Blacks played wide as well from start of second half, but early on they played hit up stuff - which Scotland never employed.

    South africa will play the same way as the All Blacks on Saturday - have to go


  • Comment number 30.

    JB. I said size isn’t everything. Morrison is the same size Williams and Morrison was made to look like a chump. As I said lets start using our brain and not just rely on our brawn, which so far has got us no where.

    Look at image 15 of the autumn internationals.

    Look how McCaw is talking to the ball carrier. Look how this allows the ball carrier (Gear) to look forward. Look how there are two Scottish guys are on the ground due to over committing to a two man tackle. (This is due to the outside Scottish defender stepping in for the big hit, when he should have trusted his inside cover). Look at the short line Gear has taken. Look at the short supporting line McCaw is taking. McCaw is keeping up with Gear as McCaw is controlling the play with his supportive chat and pre-empted running line.

    Now in contrast, the next image of Parks in the opening shot of the highlights video.

    Parks is looking backwards to find his support, as they are not talking to him or pre-empting a berak. This means Parks can’t see the gaps in front. This tells Carter that Parks has no intention of running. Carter then slides onto the centres, giving the Abs constantly an extra defender. This puts more pressure on the attacking centres (Morrison / Evans), which is because Parks in brave enough and Morrison isn’t smart enough. Evans is left taking hospital pass, after hospital pass, and relying on his natural athleticism to beat the black wall of defender and ultimately seriously hurting himself. It is no surprise the Scotland plays are coming of second best physically because they don’t use their brain or any moves to open up the defence.

    Today’s lesson is the same as yesterdays i.e. the player in support call the shots and not the ball carrier. The ball carrier has to have the reactions to be able to fallow what the support is telling him. Conrad Smith will have spoken to Sonny Bill Williams throughout the entire game and controlled what he did, Williams controlled Carter, Carter controlled Cowan, and Cowan controlled the forwards.

    Morrison needs to go after this international campaign. I would play any combination of Jackson, Weir, Blair in the 10, and 12 positions.

  • Comment number 31.

    "They were outclassed but were also not helped by some poor refereeing at the scrum. New Zealand repeatedly dropped the scrum within their own 22"

    Oh come on; please note how the AB scrum stayed up on their own put ins whilst on Scottish feeds the scrum seemed unstable.

    Stuart I'm sorry that a kiwi came on here gloating. Relations between NZ and Scottish rugby have always been strong and long may it continue. We also both equally enjoy beating the English.

    I think Scotland were unlucky in one respect; All Black continuity was better than we have seen in a long time and they made a couple a key changes to the side which improved balance from the previous weeks. Against England the cohesion lasted for 20 minutes before the ABs made untold mistakes and I think let England get back into the game and their game against Oz the week before was also error prone.

    Lets not forget that Scotland recently won twice in Argentina; no mean feat.

  • Comment number 32.

    All impartial viewers new that against NZ it would be a case of by how much rather than if, Scotland would loose.

    I look at Scotland and i see ambition, endeavor and pride - what i don't see though is the talent and certainly don't see pace. to a man NZ were just 25% better in every department and that is not something Scotland can easily overcome. Morrison is solid and capable, but simply isn't a world class centre and while Scotland continue to pick Southwell a smile erupts across the face of every non scottish rugby fan. Southwell holds the record for making my families 'worst' Six nations side more often than any other player.

    That said - it is not hopeless, in Barclay, Murray, Evans and Blair they have good players, a spine of a team - but they need more. SA are as disorganised and out of sorts as i have seen them in recent years, the power, talent and pace gap is much smaller and i think a Scottish team with the bit between their teeth and the windy wet day on their side could pull off an upset.

  • Comment number 33.

    Why are people complaining that Scotland suffered because they haven't played any games recently and that the All Blacks have played tests the last few months? It doesn't matter people! When NH teams come down in June with tests under their belt, they still lose to the All Blacks! Stop making excuses for your teams poor performance. The All Blacks win because they and their fans expect nothing less. This is the attitude NH teams need. A Killer Instinct!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    Why are people complaining that Scotland suffered because they haven't played any games recently and that the All Blacks have played tests the last few months?

    Because this is the excuse that was tripped out by the English last weekend and sadly some Scots have jumped on the bandwagon. The All Blacks actually picked a better ballanced side this weekend. Although England played better against the AB's than Scotland I can't help but think that if the AB's had played the full 80 minutes without half of the unforced errors that they had against England, then it could quite easily have been 35+ against England.
    Scotland just do not know how to score tries... it's obvious that the Parks, Morris and Evans is not working at test level. Rusty or not we should be scoring tries and its a crime that we don't.
    Last point, just as the AB's never got the rub of the green scrum time against England the same can be said against Scotland. Not convinced that they deserved to be penalised as much as they were.
    Scotland really need to prove that test wins against Ireland and Argentina were not lucky wins and beat SA and back that up with a sizeable win over Samoa in Aberdeen.

  • Comment number 35.


    i had to register so i could congratulate you on your observations.

    truer words have not been spoken


  • Comment number 36.

    mhmm. Some interesting comments there. I too noticed our blitz defence which frequently mean that the wide man (for Scotland) was beyond the ball carrier (for NZ) and so when an offload was made they were out of the game. It struck me as odd since over the last year or so we've seen a slide defence work for us much better.

    The other player I watched with much interest was Dan Parks. Last year (I'm thinking of the Wales game in particular) he played flat and that really seemed to hold defences and give our wider players more of a chance. And as has been pointed out, he was very very deep against NZ and so was ignored by the NZ back row and Carter. In fact, the very type of style that has led to him being chastised perviously. I don't think he had a bad game as such although I was amazed he didn't put in more diagonal kicks or gruber kicks. That strikes me as a great way to to sow the seeds of confusion in a slide defence. I'm not sure I'd drop him at this stage but I do have to say that Jackson has been playing well this season and when he came on he looked good. His nice offload move certainly made the NZ back row take notice of him.

    Overall I was disappointed by the performance but not surprised. It was out first game of the season and the ABs are at the end of their season and so are more match ready. I think we need to see a much better performance on Saturday, otherwise the confidence that came from last season will ebb away.

  • Comment number 37.

    Few Questions for the real “Rugby thinkers”

    1, would we have got beat by as much if SB Williams had not been playing so imperiously? For what was his official 1st start it was blisteringly impressive?

    2, if the games had been reversed, how would England have coped?

    3, Scotland players seemed to be “shell shocked” and unlike the national football team, which is capable of damage limitation, the Rugby equivalent appeared to have had no such Plan B?

    4, if no plan B how do you make them aware of when to “shut up shop”?

    5, If they had a Plan B and could not execute it where did it go wrong?

  • Comment number 38.

    mhmm talking a lot of sense - JB can you make sure, using your significant influence, that AR reads this too.

    My son was on an SRU under 16 training weekend last year and the coaches were stressing the communication on the field all the time. Pop left, pop right, short left, long right - all these phrases were drummed in to let the ball carrier know his options. Maybe we have to wait for the under 16's to come through the ranks?

    It certainly strikes you that when the AB's scored the first three people over the line were AB's.

    Also surprised as keithcspencer says, that the slide defence that worked was changed. And, after seeing the blitz fail, couldn't we re-organise back to a slide defence?

  • Comment number 39.


    Thank you very much for taking the time to do so and say. Hopefully it filters through to the Scotland management and we can put an end to the horrible set up after set up “phase play” style that is ruining Scottish rugby.


    Thank you also for saying. The blitz defence worked for a season or two a few years ago, but is outdated very easily dismantled by the inside player (usually stand off) simply holds the ball and runs diagonal at the gaps that opens up due to the outside defenders rushing up. He then offloads to the outside supporting player running in for a short pop. The supporting players can go beyond his defender as the defender has rushed up and played himself out of the game. As you said the blitz leaves huge gaps outside after the initial tackle, this is why the Abs tries on Sat were easy run ins after the line was breached. As you say Parks is not flat enough due to the guys outside him not calling the shots (and of course he is petrified of ever being hit), therefore he goes for the miracle pass of kick, some times this works for him, although sadly most of the time it doesn’t.

    Short Term Solution:

    It might be a step too far too soon for Jackson, Weir, Blair in Scotland 10, 12 positions. Therefore play Patterson and 10 for the time being, as he will run at the defences and open space for the centres. Look at the line he took recently for Edinburgh in the 10 position and score a fantastic try by running an excellent angle. He is not just a kicker people! You may tell I hate kicking games, so I am not advocating kicking. If not Patterson, at least Jackson with Patterson in the squad.

    Longer Term Solution:

    As I said Jackson, Weir, Blair for Scotland 10, 12 positions. for Glasgow.Start playing Jackson at 12 (ala Carter, Giteu younger years at 12) and Weir at 10

    We can sort Scottish Rugby, and relatively quickly, if we in:

    1. Defence – use the slide.

    2. Attack First Phase - Use a try scoring move on the first phase (even if the try isn’t scored, the defence should be opened up, the gain line breach, our players get less injured as they have the element of surprise, they will also run with conviction for the gap and not just look to set up, thus creating ‘go forward’ the forwards)

    3. Attack After First Phase –Supporting players calling the shots and running pre-emptive short supporting lines and clearly saying left or right to the ball carrier that allows him to keep his eyes on the gap.

    Now if only someone could now sort my writing skills!

  • Comment number 40.

    JB said, “ABs played a very, very simple game”. = 7 tries…
    Which game plan to apply from the opposite side in this case???
    Is the conclusion?
    NZ players are N°1 in Pace, Physicality, Skilful, Decision making, etc...

    France had a bad experience November2009 V NZ

    12 – 39 France no try NZ five tries

    It was so "depressing" to see the Scots like rabbits (less fast though) with car lights in their eyes, and I was feeling for them, because it is so frustrating when there is not even a rebellion for 5 mns in the ABs 22...

    I'm still supporting Scotland next Saturday!

  • Comment number 41.

    Scotland were risible. I am heartily fed up of pre-match optimism from the coach, and tv pundits constantly talking about "The steps forward made this year".

    The one thing that this current crop of technically bereft players like to do is to take some steps forward, but then like to follow up by going into timid reverse.

    No guts, no skill and awful, truly awful shirts!!

  • Comment number 42.

  • Comment number 43.


    Thank you and I whole heartedly agree. With everything you said. Interesting the part about “It certainly strikes you that when the AB's scored the first three people over the line were AB's.” The reason for this is the support doesn’t give up until they reach the try line and also as KOP said earlier it about the self belief that they don’t stop until the get to the try line, and not just settle for the mediocrity of the gain line.


    You’re right, rusty is not an excused. There is rusty and then there is totally seized up. Scotland was the latter.


    1, “would we have got beat by as much if SB Williams had not been playing so imperiously? For what was his official 1st start it was blisteringly impressive?”

    SB Williams was good, but not a one man band, he added some nice touches the pundits were wowed at. He was part of a good team and without the support (as I bang on about) he would have no-one telling him to off load the ball and where to.

    2, if the games had been reversed, how would England have coped?

    Reverses what? England did reverse there fortunes within the space of a week and so can we. If you follow what I say.

    3, Scotland players seemed to be “shell shocked” and unlike the national football team, which is capable of damage limitation, the Rugby equivalent appeared to have had no such Plan B?

    You can’t compare football to rugby. Football you can hold a ball, be patient and strike when the time is right. Rugby requires unrelenting intensity

    4, “if no plan B how do you make them aware of when to “shut up shop”?”

    In rugby, one of the beauties of it, is you can’t shut up shop and hide. Generally the best teams win and unlike football you rarely get giant killing.

    5, “If they had a Plan B and could not execute it where did it go wrong?”

    I think we need a plan A first. Where did it go wrong? Read the stuff I have written before and you’ll see.

  • Comment number 44.

    Andy Robinson's public image "avuncular" ????
    Not down in Bath. He was always a miserable wotsit with a smile never seen.

  • Comment number 45.

    Just saw the team for Saturday, glad to see Jackson and Gray still in and Paterson on the bench, but can't understand how Parks kept his place. He looked and played like a player carrying an injury and had a bit of a shocker.

    Jackson played well and with some confidence in his play, so let him keep the 10 spot, as 10 is almost as much about confidence as anything, and if he chokes then Mossy can slot in.

    Glad Evans is fit too as he is the best we'v got in the back line, but how does Southwell keep his place as like a previous commentator said he is always in my worst nightmare team.

  • Comment number 46.

    Why were Scotland far less aggressive in contact than New Zealand on Saturday? Are New Zealanders naturally more aggressive as a race than us, or are they coached to be more aggressive on the rugby pitch from an earlier age than we seem to condone?

  • Comment number 47.

    I enjoyed the tactical analysis particularly by mhmm but there is one problem. The All Blacks don't have holes in their defence.

  • Comment number 48.

    John, you say that the obvious solution to our woes is a British league, why so?

    The biggest players in a British league will be PRL and they do not want a British league, neither do the RFU as it complicates things for them.

    The Welsh regions managed to bludgeon their way into the English rugby cup competition to help make up the numbers but they are tolerated rather than welcomed.

    What value would Edinburgh and/or Glasgow bring to this table? They have, at best, average performances over the years, low crowd numbers and very little business/marketing acumen.

    Adding 6 teams to the current Aviva Premiership means that you have 18 teams in the league and that means you have to split it into at least 2 divisions. Where exactly would you see the 2 Scottish teams fitting in? Probably rock bottom of the second division.

    Lastly, with a British league what happens to the Irish provinces and the 2 Italian pro teams? You could argue that we don't care but you are consigning 2 top (ish) countries to the third division of world rugby.

    Your other solution won't work for Scottish teams either. 2 European conferences - 12 teams from England, 14 from France, 4 from Wales, 4 from Ireland and 2 each from Italy and Scotland - a total of 38 teams. Even if the 2 conferences are equal the Scottish and Italian teams will never be able to compete at that level, just look at the ERC competition. What is the point of going along on a cold, wet, windy night to Firhill or Murrayfield just to see your team get hammered? No matter how you dress it up the warmth of a pub, restaurant, or any indoor venue is going to beat that.

  • Comment number 49.


    You say that you don' think we are are a 3rd division side. On what grounds do you defend that position? All I see is a side devoid of tactical nous, ability and worst of all, passion.
    I have supported my nation's rugby team all my life, and it pains me to watch this bunch. A couple of wins in 10 years is not grounds for optimism is it-or am I missing something?
    I don't know the stats, but it would be very interesting to see how many tries Scotland have scored per match in the last 5 seasons compared to other nations.
    This is a side that CANNOT cross the gain or try line, can't tackle, has got no pace in the backs, and as result is destined to fail (as usual).
    What hurt me most about last Saturday was that the side didn't even get muddy, or even seemed interested!

    Third division? More like Fifth.

  • Comment number 50.


    Thanks. Every team has holes in their defense; it’s just that some have more than others.

    The All Blacks defense not impenetrable, as Australia demonstrated 19 days ago. You are right in the sense that their defense is very good though, that’s why we must look at them to see what they do and learn from it. (Please see my technical analysis above for this quick ‘how to’).

    If you have the game recorded, pause it at each time the line is breached and see what the players around off the ball. And look how they don’t rush up in defense, they simple slide as a line. It can sometimes be hard to see this on TV as the cameras go in a bit to close and all you see is the guy with the ball.

    One last thing. Don’t be overwhelmed by the All Blacks, they are good, very good and pleasure to watch, but they are only human beings; and they are beatable but you have to play them at their own game as a Australia did. (Australia are coached by a Kiwi).

    NB. England’s Martin Johnson also learnt his trade playing in and for New Zealand at U21 Level and he knows a thing or two.

  • Comment number 51.

    We have all done a fair amount of analysis here, most of it very accurate, but it also got me thinking about the modern game compared to a few (quite a few) years ago when I was learning. Yes, it is much faster, defence and attack positioning has changed, but, the things I remember being taught are cropping up in the analysis. Support the player with the ball - it was drummed into me - and into my Father and Grandfather.

    Aggresion in contact - my Father enjoyed telling the story of being told off by a school referee for tackling too hard. He also liked to tell the one about being told to go off the pitch and rub his leg better - he had broken it, but, I'm straying off the subject here.

    Go up in a line in defence - ok, you marked your opposite man in my day, rather than drift, but you had to go up in a line. The over keen outside centre rushing up just left a gaping hole for the inside centre to run through.

    So, there is nothing really new here. Support, run hard and fast, defend in a line, take the ball at speed - these are the basics and have been for a long, long time.

  • Comment number 52.


    Thanks. Every team has holes in their defense; it’s just that some have more than others.

    The All Blacks defense not impenetrable, as Australia demonstrated 19 days ago. You are right in the sense that their defense is very good though, that’s why we must look at them to see what they do and learn from it. (Please see my technical analysis above for this quick ‘how to’).

    If you have the game recorded, pause it at each time the line is breached and see what the players around off the ball. And look how they don’t rush up in defense, they simple slide as a line. It can sometimes be hard to see this on TV as the cameras go in a bit to close and all you see is the guy with the ball.

    One last thing. Don’t be overwhelmed by the All Blacks, they are good, very good and pleasure to watch, but they are only human beings; and they are beatable but you have to play them at their own game as a Australia did. (Australia are coached by a Kiwi).

    NB. England’s Martin Johnson also learnt his trade playing in and for New Zealand at U21 Level and he knows a thing or two.

    JB and Philip

    Let’s sort out what happens on the pitch and stop looking for excuses within the league structure. Get the ball play right and the league will look after itself.


    Aggression is only a small, element of defense. It’s got more to with the keeping the shape and communication of team that makes it look easy. It nurture rather than nature. The New Zealanders learn these skills by playing games with ball in hand rather than thinking ‘might is right’ and working on ‘phase play’, that Scotland tends to do.

    Lets get out the gym and start playing some games once in a while people.

  • Comment number 53.


    Very well said. And I thoroughly enjoyed your told to “rub his leg better” story.

    You hit the nail in the head. The fundamentals of the game haven’t changed, especially within the backs, but there are too many coaches who try to reinvent the wheel and blame everything else, in order to excuse their own inadequacies.

    Defending players maybe bigger, stronger, fitter and faster than ever before, but so are the attacking players. Therefore the brain is what makes a difference at the top level, especially within the backs. We of course need big ball carriers up front (which Scotland has).

    These skills you describe are essentially the “basics”. New Zealand can look other worldly at times because the basics so well. Scotland, on the other hand, play basic rugby but don’t do the “basics”.

  • Comment number 54.

    I've not read all the comments, so apologies if this has been covered, but don't you feel part of the problem was the Scottish backs inability to hit the line at pace due to most passes being at or behind them. While the All Blacks were far superior in every aspect, surely not having to check their runs would have helped our backs break (or in many cases reach) the gain line.

    We also had players looking for contact rather than trusting their pace and going for the gaps.

    Add to this the first-up tackling (including Dan Parks pointing at Read when he tapped and ran) that was woeful, and it's not hard to see where a lot of the problems were.

    The good news is that these are areas which can be, or should be if the players are as good as they think they are, easily rectified.

  • Comment number 55.

    mhmm, I was only responding to John's point about a British league being the end to all of our worries.

    I have no idea who mhmm is but s/he makes a lot of very good points about what the team should be doing during the game. The players involved are supposed to be the best that we have and it is at club level that all these points should/must be implemented - it is no good trying to teach them to the team for the first time in the week before a major international match.

  • Comment number 56.

    Fao mhmm

    Thanks for the responses and when JB next away, happy for you to fill in- Joshing!

    “Reverses what? England did reverse their fortunes within the space of a week and so can we. If you follow what I say.”

    Meant if SBW had stated against England rather than being a sub? He did have an integral part in 4 tries?

    "You can’t compare football to rugby. Football you can hold a ball, be patient and strike when the time is right. Rugby requires unrelenting intensity."

    So you don’t get 8 man Rugby where a pack holds the ball and dominates?

    And if no Plan A, what then transpired surely was then inevitable? And did we take NZ too lightly?

  • Comment number 57.

    kelman chambers

    Agreed. The problem is due to the backs. As you said they do have to check their runs as they are not clearly and accurately communicating to the ball carrier in front. They have to check their runs as they continually receive long flat hospital passes from Parks or directly from the base of the ruck. There is also a dearth of backs moves from first phase, that would open up a few gaps rather than running at the man. Every. Single. Time. Also yeah, this stuff has been covered in the comments above. But very good points.


    Completely agreed.


    The scary thing is that SBW is the Abs second choice. When he came on against England, England won that half. He was made to look very good due to some seriously poor Scottish defence.

    You can’t win international rugby playing 8 man rugby. This can work at clubs, but at top international level you can’t get away playing ‘give it to the big boy option’.

    You do need a Plan A and a Plan B. New Zealand have only a very, very god plan A, but no real Plan B. Hence the reason they often fall down during the World Cup. England have a Plan A and Plan B. At half time against the Abs they changed to their Plan B and also used it against Australia. Scotland’s problem is that they need an affective Plan A, before they can think about a Plan B.

  • Comment number 58.

    J.B. - Well no shortage of assistance being offered to Andy Robinson on your site this week! Certainly lots of interesting ideas being put forward by some seemingly knowledgeable & keen Rugby minds.

    Ref my Comment No 9 in regards to the scheduling & match fitness issue, I note Porridge Times made the point that it was just a poor excuse on our part, and that the situation is reversed when NH teams visit NZ in June /early July, but that we still end up losing!! I must respectfully put you right on this one Porridge;- in June AB players have only just finished their Super 14 season, are in the middle of their Air New Zealand Cup, and are anything but "not" match fit. As Aussies know only too well, when playing on New Zealand soil, it doesn't matter whether the opposition is wearing a Super 14 or All Black jersey, they are always formidable & extremely difficult to beat on their home ground.

    MH Double M & Richardo raised some excellent thoughts on our limited playing base. We are not alone in this predicament though...another country in the same boat is Australia,and don't they know a thing or two about winning matches on the big stage)!!!In OZ there are only three states where Union is played extensively;- New South Wales, Queensland, & A.C.T., although the latter state is tiny, & is effectively just the City of Canberra. In any event, one could argue that even within those three states, the sport's following is extremely limited when compared to the more massive following that Rugby League generates. One of the reason's for this is that Union is essentially a Private School Sport down there, whereas League has it's roots in the State School system. However both codes seem to be able to produce a winning mentality, and world class winning national sides. So moving forward what should we do;-try & complement the base we have by recruiting from League, and possibly one or two from overseas who have at least one Scottish grandparent? Would love to know what other readers think on this.

    I should also point out to MH Double M & Richardo that there are numerous other League players that have made a successful conversion to Union than the 4 or 5 they have correctly alluded to. In particular the recently retired Mat Rogers (a dual International in both codes), as well as the New Zealand born Brad Thorn (a regular All Black starter who played at Murrayfieldl on Saturday). Thorn is as also a Dual International, although interestingly enough in his case he respresented Australia in League, and New Zealand in Union!

    Good suggestion from MH Double to utiise League as part of training. I fully agree, and suggest this be done both on the paddock as well as in the tactical and video analysis in the classroom. Certainly the offloading skills one sees in League is impressive, and no doubt honed by the limited 6 phases of possession each side as at one time. In the last 5 - 7 years, I've seen far more exciting open running games of Rugby in League than I have in Union.

    Finally to TP;- congratulations to your boys on a well derserved win last Saturday at Murrayfield. As painful as it is to for me to say, they gave us a good old fashion lesson on how to play an exciting game of open & attacking winning Rugby. I only hope we've learned somthing from the lesson, and can transplant that into our play in two days time.

  • Comment number 59.

    I think that the Scot's were just expecting far too much of themselves. They showed good form in the 6 nations, and beat Argentina, but that's completely different to the All Blacks, especially when they are out to lay down a marker after Hong Kong and trying to prove they are favourites for the RWC. All this rubbish about, it's a hard first game should be ignored, England didn't embarass themselves that way; and the SRU expect the players to be ready, they're professionals that's what they do. The game plan was was wrong for a set of average players, and I don't see them achieving a positive result against RSA either. Robinson will have to think long and hard, otherwise this autumn could be a torrid one for the Scottish National side.

  • Comment number 60.

    To Porridge : Ref my last entry (comment 58). My apologies.... having now properly read your comment, I now realise it was No 33 (KOP) whom you were responding to, who made the point about the NH Teams who tour NZ in June.

    I do agree with you about the unforced errors that NZ commited in the England match, and how if not commited the scoreline could well have been different. I do however wish that fixture was at the end of this Autumn Series, and not the beginning, for I do think we would have seen a cracking game of Rugby. As another reader correctly pointed out, Martin Johnson knows the NZ system and All Black machine extremely well, having played a good bit of his Junior Rugby down there. He's even married to a New Zealander! If any coaches up here pssesses insight into how to do beat The AB's at their own game, it's him!

  • Comment number 61.

    I am a first-time contributer from New Zealand. I don't have anything to add, but would rather comment on some of YOUR comments....

    1. Time in Camp. It has been implied that the ABs have been in camp for "months" vs. a 'rusty' Scotland. To clarify, the current AB squad was announced on the 18th of October and assembled on the 19th, exactly one month ago. They had one week training in NZ and then were on a plane to Hong Kong. Many of the ABs had not played a game since the Tri Nations finished. The majority had only played one or two games in the provincial competition in the intervening period.

    2. There has been a comment along the lines of "what if Sonny Bill Williams (SBW) was not in such great form? Would have the damage been as great?" Answer: Ma'a Nonu would have played. Regularly rated by other players as the hardest man to tackle in world rugby. A fast, aggresive, skilful and creative wrecking-machine. SBW is a work in progress, Nonu is close to a finsihed product (finally!!). Either way, they will both create opportunities, break the line, tackle hard & often and bruise opposition defenders. The result would have been the same.

    3. Slide Defence vs. Blitz Defence. I find it hard to believe that this forum is still thinking 'either/or'. Most international teams and the top 9 or 10 Super 14 teams employ both during a game, according to a variety of factors. To compete, Scotland needs to be able to swith between the two at will. They need a 1st five or captain that can make that decision quickly and the team to implement it as a XV. Watch Super 14, teams will swith defensive modes 6 or 7 times a game, sometimes the decision comes down form the coaching box, sometimes from the players. Catch up on that issue and Scotland will have a lot more opportunities to score from opposition errors. (More on that later)

    Slide Defence. Many have touched on the mantra "trust your inside man". This is bang on. It is fundamental to sliding defence. Cutting in, or getting drawn in, to make a tackle is the worst mistake a player can make in a sliding defence. Scottish players were guilty of this and it created opportunities for offloads and gaps further out wide. "Trusting your inside man" is drummed in to Super 14 players and more so at AB level. Any player will tell you, that the higher you ascend in the ranks of rugby, the easier it is to trust your fellow defenders. Unfortunatly for opposition teams, this ethos has been pushed down as far as U16 level in NZ. My advice for Scotland vs. SA, would be to blitz in the SA half and slide in their own half. At least that is simple!!

    4. Communication from supporting players on the break. Yep, that is a given. NZ children grow up playing touch rugby and league in their backyards. It is ingrained. You want to score tries? Let the ball carrier know where you are.
    But that is only part of a far broader offensive doctrine. From 2004-ish, when Super 14 teams started to perfect defensive sytems, the Canterbury Crusaders under (now Wallaby) Coach Robbie Deans, made ther realisation that the bulk of tries must be scored from counter-attack (opposition errors). Consequently, the ability to exploit broken defences with speed, creativity, linking teamwork and error-free ball handling was developed to an extraodinary degree. This has flown upwards to the ABs, who have access to some fitter and more skilfull players. Now we see a consistent AB game plan of absorbing opposition pressure with a water-tight defence (1-2 tries conceded in approx 10 autumn internationals over the last 2 years) and ruthlessly exploiting opposition errors on counter attack. That is why you always here McCaw and other Super 14 captains talk about "opportunities". With defensive systems so tight you only get a handful each game, whoever makes the most of them, wins the game.

    The result is, when the ABs come up here in Autumn, they encounter (as they did against Scotland) teams that are physically and systemically less capable of defense than a lot of the Super 14 teams they play. Whether, they play conservatively to ensure the win (eg England) or open up and have some fun (eg Scotland), the result is the same.

    My point is, Scotland, DON'T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELVES!!!! It is not your fault. Your players play with passion, commitment and pride. EVERYONE admires that. And occasionally you will get a great win (eg Australia last year). But at the moment, you are just a little bit behind the current international standard of modern rugby.

  • Comment number 62.

    newtonsa, just a comment on your rant about defence, and holding the super XV up as a shining example, even though it probably has he worst defensive systems in the world, definitely when compared to european rugby.

  • Comment number 63.

    When in doubt always let the Scots beat themselves up.

    You do realise that a fully fit Scottish back is a formidable force? Last season it was probably the best balanced pack in the 6N, this year English pack has stepped up a gear, Wales have found a better second row but the back row is dreadful, Ireland have managed something I thought was impossible - this year's front row is worse than last year, and France still have problems at second row.

    Scotland's problem is, as it has been for some years, in the backs. The Scottish backline against the AB averaged 1 try every 90 mins of rugby. That is worse than hopeless. My view has always been that the reason for this is the FH/IC combination which lacks pace, creativity and passing skills. Sadly I am struggling to think of a better combination - could someone please take John Rutherford's zimmerframe away and ask him to lace up the boots again

  • Comment number 64.


    when the sru wakes up and plays summer rugby and invest in coaching the backs at a young age, only then will we start to see some exciting capable attacking runners coming through.

    Until then we will be picking at scraps.

    if you go to most comprehinsive school teams in scotland, the coaches will be coaching the forwards and the backs will be told to go and run through a few moves by themselves, wheres the education in that? Even at club level this happens.

    Ive seen first hand the difference a good coach makes to a club from coaching the youngsters at grass routes to their emergence in the senior team. Resulting in a team climbing the National tables.

    Look at the money premier league football teams throw at coaching and facilities for young players with their acadamys. Arsenal and Wenger spring to mind.

    First you need to attract the numbers, this is where the summer rugby comes in. And then you need to have a clear structure fed down from top class coaches, yet to be employed by the SRU, about how to educate the youngsters in the running/attacking game.

    Our back play has been sub standard for years. But the SRU cronnies cant or wont see it or deal with it.

    Bottom line is get them young and give them everything.

    Its no surprise that Oz have the climate, some of the best sports facilities in the world and have one of the youngest most exciting back lines around.

    Its frustrating and infuriating.


  • Comment number 65.

    Right, the night before the SA game, looking forward to it and wonder how we will go


  • Comment number 66.


    Is that it?

  • Comment number 67.

    Christian (#62),

    What is your comment? That Super Rugby "probably has he worst defensive systems in the world, definitely when compared to european rugby"
    Is that your comment?! Or did you leave something out?

    Anyway, I will bite, even though I am not sure if you are serious....

    Even a brief investigation into the statistics, using the most basic measures of defensive performance suggest you are way off the mark. The average Super 14 player, in any given game:
    1.executes more tackles
    2.more assists
    3. and CRUCIALLY commits fewer missed tackles

    There are numerous other metrics to disprove your assertion. But on a forum that is still debating whether to use slide OR blitz defense (unbelievable), I think I would be wasting my breath.

    So I will keep it simple.....

    In the last two NH tours the All Blacks (entirely made up of Super 14 players) has had ZERO, thats right ZERO, tries scored against them in 8 test matches vs. NH teams. That is at least 640 minutes, over 10 hours of no tries scored against them. And you honestly contend, that the SH has poor defence. Really!?!?

    By comparison the Scots, with players drawn entirely from European competitions, let in 7 tries in ONE GAME, last weekend. The superior defensive grounding the have got in European competition obviously didn't translate into the test arena!!
    And before you say 'that was just a poor Scotland team' - in the last two years England, Wales and France have all let in 29+ points vs. the ABs as well.

    Mate, I think you just threw that comment in there to wind me up. If so, fair play. If not, comment based on statistics and factual analysis will serve Scottish Rugby far better.

  • Comment number 68.

    John, Can the Scottish club/school system as it stands ever produce a player like George North of Wales, capable of representing his country at 18 years of age? He may be a unique exmple, but Welsh Rugby seems to have a track record in recent years of fast tracking young talent into regional and national teams that Scotland cannot match. So what are they doing at junior level to achieve this that Scotland should copy?

  • Comment number 69.

    GRRRRRREATTTT performance by the boys today!!! Night & day from what we witnessed one week ago. Passion, pride, character, and last but not least self belief are amongst the qualities I saw Scotland playing with this afternoon.

    And not bad from our No 10;- a fellow who some on this site have (very unfairly in my opinion) suggested is passed his 'sell by date'.


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