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Reasons to be cheerful as Scots down Springboks

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John Beattie | 15:42 UK time, Sunday, 21 November 2010

Does Scottish rugby at last have strength in depth?

I live opposite a pitch and, as I write, the mini rugby boys and girls have an extra swagger because their national team beat world champions South Africa for the second time in 41 years and have now won four out of the last five matches.

Andy Robinson talks of inspiring a nation and that's what his team did.

What was it down to? Well, a few things added together to make it work: a change in tactics first of all, for sure.

The forwards ran off Rory Lawson as a preferred option, instead of Dan Parks, which was their station against the All Blacks a week ago, and were quicker to breach the gain line.

Scotland achieved a more basic go-forward game and it worked.

The set-piece was as good as it has been too. Euan Murray provides a scrummaging presence at tight-head and with Nathan Hines at six it was a heavy Scottish pack at no time troubled in the scrums.

South African line-outs were similarly dealt with and the forwards coped with the Springbok rolling maul for the most part.

Scotland players applaud the Murrayfield crowd after their 21-17 win over South Africa

Scotland battled gamely to subdue and overcome South Africa at Murrayfield

Add to that a belligerent Parks acting like the happiest man in the world, smashing kicks downfield and gleefully sending the ball high in the air.

Plus, if I am honest, I think there was a different mind-set. The timidity of the approach to the All Blacks was replaced with fire in attack and defence.

All in all it was very satisfying, and it's hard to write this article without stating the obvious all the time.

So here goes...

I think the recent successes, which include beating Australia and South Africa at home, Ireland away, and Argentina away twice, are down to the happy collision of a couple of previously unrelated forces.

There is a good group of players around just now, few of whom are in the team on an uncontested basis. Richie Gray is a force of nature, but has Al Kellock as a team-mate and rival and Jim Hamilton, who played against Argentina, breathing down his neck. Add to that list Hines and Scott McLeod and you get the picture.

The same goes for the back division. Joe Ansboro had a superb debut, but Max Evans sat in the stand nursing a "stinger" and a grudge to get back into the team.

Rory Lamont didn't play, neither did scrum-halves Mike Blair and Chris Cusiter, nor Simon Danielli.

Geoff Cross sat in the West stand, Moray Low only got on toward the end of the game, Richie Vernon wasn't in the starting line-up and, if history is anything to go by, young Scottish mothers apparently give birth to more back-row players than anything else as waiting in the wings are Roddy Grant, Ross Rennie, Robert Harley, Stuart McInally, Fraser Mackenzie and Johnnie Beattie, who were all either not selected or injured.

And they will be desperate to be in a team winning games like this.

The man who has bumped into that is Andy Robinson, whom I suspect might just be staking a claim to be the next British and Irish Lions coach if this keeps happening.

Robinson is, plain and simple, a very good rugby coach.

Samoa will be tough to beat in Aberdeen next Saturday, but as I watch the happy little mini-rugby children I too am happy.

It's time to savour some good moments in Scottish rugby.


  • Comment number 1.

    We're playing a pretty simple game plan and it is working, use our aggressive pack and force turnovers then let Parks hammer it into the corners.

    We still need to find someone in the backs who can bring players in around him, I feel we have good solid runners but know one who can create space. If we want to compete with the very best sides in the world week in week out we need to score tries.

    But very happy with the win.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's exactly what we needed after the New Zealand game. To think I sacraficed my ticket to go paintballing... Regret that one. Having watched a replay I must say it's not the most exciting thing to watch. With regards to the backs, apologies if this is too negative, How long will it take these guys that play attractive, attacking rugby at club level, to pull it off on the international stage... A new backs coach maybe? Gregor Townsend wasn't exactly a flair player was he?

    All in all it has that morale boosting feeling to it though, I'm delighted that we are getting these kind of results and a lot of credit should go to Andy Robinson. He's bringing back a lot of Scottish pride!

  • Comment number 3.

    A fine result John, and without your son, one of the best players we have. John Barclay got man of the match, but for me Chunk had a blinder. Apart from his knock on when we could have scored, I thought he was really good today. Let's be honest, only Ewan Murray seems to get praise in the front row. I am a very happy man at the moment and I am looking forward to work, as I have a South African who works for me, whho has been crowing about how the Springboks wouls wipe the floor with us. I am going to be very calm and understated in victory, but boy, he will be very quiet for the next few days!

  • Comment number 4.

    I agree with your analysis John about running off of Lawson - playing off Parks last week was a major problem as he sits too deep and as a consequence we rarely got over the gain line - which meant our forwards had to run back 5m before they could clear out! This week we got some forward momentum and got over the gain line more often than not and hence were able to protect our ball and play a bit faster. We also avoided the lateral passing game of last week and took the ball up at speed far more often.

    Thought that Jacobsen was our star player - he made his opposite number look like a big lump. I bet their tight head has never had to scrum so low in his life and has gone away with half of the Murrayfield pitch up his nose! Just shows that technique and power beats raw size! Chunk was also immense in the loose and won us quite a few penalties which ultimately won us the game!

    It still annoys me though how often our players take the ball standing still - we need to get more pace and momentum into our game and get players to take the ball and hit the gain line at pace.

    Parks, apart from his kicking, is still a liability and means we have to play a very limited game plan! Sure he won the game for us with his kicking but I still think we need to find another no 10 if we want to move up another gear. It is difficult for the backs to play an exciting running game when Parks is playing. The SA never bothered to defend against him running the ball they all drifted and doubled up on Morrison or our wingers coming in at an angle. The sooner we find a stand off who can pose a threat in hand the better - Jackson might be the answer!

    I agree we have a really good crop of young players coming through and that we can begin to see depth to the squad. The difficulty is finding game time for them all to develop!

  • Comment number 5.

    I observe that booing opposition kickers has reared its ugly head yet again at Murrayfield.

    A win is always tarnished if supporters boo the opposition kickers.

    Scottish Rugby supporters used to be knowledgeable of the game and respectful. Not anymore it seems.

  • Comment number 6.

    Terrific result for Scotland.Not pretty but who cares. Really looking forwards to see what the boys can do against Samoa next weekend. On a negative note,did anyone see the nasty minded tackle off the ball by bakkies Botha on Scot Macleod ?. He went into it to hurt MacLeod and he did. No wonder he couldn't breathe. Clearing out is one thing but that was malicious.Remember the shoulder charge on Adam Jones on the last Lion's tour ?.

  • Comment number 7.

    Watching from France I still can't get over the fact we won - in spite of those first 15 minutes.
    Was it a kiwi-hangover we were suffering from? Had we been playing against Sonny Bill & co again then we would have been 20 points down rather than 6. Maybe a Telfer pep-talk beforehand would help ? (couldn't hurt)
    Luckily, as the french commentators pointed out for the remainder of the match, Jacobsen was there to spark us into life. (Couldn't agree more with you dpedin.)

    Whilst we've got an embarassment of riches to choose from in terms of back-rowers (also in the wings let's not forget Strokosch, Hogg (injured ?), A.McDonald) the cupboard is painfully bare at 12. Wha wouldn't we give for a Keith Robertson, John Leslie or Sean Lineen (speaking of which how many New-Zealand born inside centres do England need at the same time?)

    Hope for more of the same against Samoa.

  • Comment number 8.

    Last Saturday ruined my weekend and hope that a corner was turned in Scottish rugby but yesterday has shown this is no flash in the pan. Regardless of weather and form of opposition you need to win at test level and beating the one of the top 3 is always a scalp worth celebrating. They do it to the Northern Hemisphere all the time even with poor performances.

    The Welsh would give anything for a 3-0 win against the top 3. They may play more attractive rugby than Scotland but have shown better mental strength and grit along with a stronger defence. I worry for them against All Blacks next week. Scotland must beat Samoa by 10 minimum next week to hit the 6Ns with confidence and optimism.

    p.s. Beattie at 8 is my preference but Vernon showed signs of being an international class back row. A plethora of 6,7 & 8's but for only more option at 10.

  • Comment number 9.

    Apologies for typos.

  • Comment number 10.

    I had a good feeling that South Africa would still be susceptible even after the NZ defeat.

    Samoa to come, and they have run many teams close, then the Six Nations and the World Cup.

    Momentum, cool heads and a short injury list is going to be key.

    Exciting times.

  • Comment number 11.

    @Bob - After such an encouraging performance from Scotland, how can you see fit to complain about something as trivial as booing by the crowd? Surely the actions of the players on the pitch means this pales into insignificance? Personally, I have no problem with booing oppostion kickers - it is now part of the game (and if you recall Mr Beattie's article from 14 March, he agrees). I feel at this time that Scotland deserve full credit for such a gutsy, promising performance.

  • Comment number 12.

    I agree that we are heading in the right direction, though I remain concerned about the lack of tries. We may grind out a few wins in the 6 nations, but we have no hope of progressing past the group stages of the world cup unless we can convert possession into 5 (or 7) points.

    On a personal note, it was great to greet the numerous South Africans at a BBQ party I attended on sunday, with "did you see the rugby?" for once they couldnt gloat about how theyre awesome pack steam-rollered the opposition... thats lads.

  • Comment number 13.

    Couldn't agree with the general sentiments more. Looking through some of the other blogs, it seems that a lot of the southern hemisphere supporters regard us as the least threatening of the home nations. I'm sure this is largely due to the low threat we pose when it comes to getting down over the line, rather than our recent record on the field. As we are all too aware, we have suffered from a lack of space making/finding players in the backs at international level for some time now. Our back row seems a much more threatening prospect in this sense. Then again if you listen to the Welsh fans, they are crying out for the grit, passion and closing out determination that Scotland are playing with under AR (AB game aside). What would we give for some of that back line Welsh creativity and flair?
    Whilst I think the way we're playing just now will give us a chance against most of the top ten sides when the lads are at the top of their game, I think there are some teams in there (ABs, maybe France) who will not fear us (and may continue to notch up serious score lines if they get momentum) until we can counter with a real try scoring threat.
    I wonder how much this just comes down to the general low profile of rugby in Scotland and just too few players throwing a ball around from a very young age. Time to over come those social and regional boundaries and get many more people in the game. We're so bad at football, we're obviously meant to be a rugby nation!
    Anyway, I'm delighted with AR and the boys. They do give me good reason to pump up the eternal Scottish optimism with every coming game.

  • Comment number 14.

    Good write up John. I refuse to get carried away, and there were reasons why the Boks tour was coming off the rails (drug tests, Habana going home injured) but it was a mighty effort on the back of three away wins we have reasons to be positive.

    The Six nations might be a little bizarre as a phoney war ahead of the World Cup, but that might give us a good barometer of further progress, with away games in Paris and London, we will have to step up again - but the Triple Crown looks a distinct possibility, and it would be due reward for the way the lads bounced back from last week, and have built something special over the last twelve months.

    Exciting times for Scottish rugby!

  • Comment number 15.

    Bob. Booing the kicker is a minor irritation which has grown up over the last 50 years.The informed respectability leads large parts of the crowd to watch in silence. Whats the point of buying a ticket an sitting in silence. Indeed it goes so far that I have been shushed for shouting too loud.

  • Comment number 16.

    Well John, we were right to remain positive about this squad's potential even after the NZ match. I feel far too many rugby writers (particularly in the East coast) were too quick to call for changes and lay into the players forgetting that they had not played in 5 months.

    Very pleased with our win over the World Champs but our lack of creativity and try scoring out wide is still a problem. As I'm sure you're aware, your Boy has scored the same number of tries as the combined Scottish backline under Robinson.

    Parks will take us to the World Cup but either Jackson or Weir should start at Pittodrie along with Rennie, Thompson and one or two other younger players as the 6 Nations is not a time to blood them.

  • Comment number 17.

    Great article Johnny... spot on.

    I would agree with some of the other Guys here, that having Parks nailing kicks and pushing territory is a bit one dimensional.. but its working, it beat the Aussies, the bocks and Argentinians. It kept the welsh at bay for 90% of that game and beat the Irish, as well as scraping a draw against the English.

    Scottish rugby is in a great place, a place we haven't been in since the 1990's. We are winning regularly and there is a lot of pride back in Murrayfeild.

    We do need a more talismatic 10. Someone who is an attacking threat with the ball in hand, and Parks does offer that, just against big hitting, hard running teams, that is not the option. We play the team in front of us, and match our tactics with their strengths and weaknesses.
    The development squads at Glasgow and Edinburgh are working wonders, young guys are learning the requirements of being a professional at a younger age, and playing for Scotland is a proud thing to do, and that pride is infectious.
    I'm not going to get carried away and jinx things, however, if we can build upon the win and narrow defeat from last years 6 nations, play a solid game against the Irish and Welsh at Murrayfeild, not get complacent against the Italians and use our big game mentality against the big hitting French and English, we are in with our best chance yet of grabbing some silverware in next years 6 nations.

  • Comment number 18.

    A gutsy win in bad conditions ,an excellent forwards display that unnerved the Boks ,although not at their best.The main weakness for Scotland is the lack of a creative midfield and lack of ablility to pounce on a loose ball and set something up as the ABs and France do.Samoa is a good test ,they gave England a good run for their money and should not be underestimated. Andy Robinson deserves a lot of credit but it's the players on the field that are accountable.

  • Comment number 19.

    That this was a grand result is probably an understatement!

    And listened to the Sky Rugby programme the night before and Barnes/Morris/Greenwood talked very objectively about Scotland not being far of being a very good team.

    And Does playing off Lawson mean we've a Plan B? Or was that a Plan A?

    Can we have both for all future games?

    Can Blair or Cusiter work the same was as Lawson did?

    And in Vernon and Beattie we've got two No 8's who when allowed to run will cause problems to all the other teams come the 6 Nations.

    This weekend's game V Samoa will require the same approach, intensity and physicality

    (Fao JB -Strokosch also to come back too)

  • Comment number 20.

    Before I make my comments below, which will dampen the euphoria, there is no more committed supporter of Scottish Rugby than myself (I actually very modestly sponsor the Exiles) but this win needs to be put into perspective.

    First: if SA had kicked all of their points they would have won;
    Second: SA on the day were a very poor side unable to alter a very predictable game plan;
    Third: they were at the wrong end of two very poor refereeing decisions;
    Fourth: as some blogs above have highlighted, we are unable to break the gain line from the backs with any certainty; it is depressing to constantly view our players taking the ball standing still and seemingly concerned to take the ball into contact with any real intent; Walker is a good example who does not 'punch his weight';
    Fifth: the Samoans are a very good side who have only been together for about 2 weeks; their performance against England was very impressive and had All-Blackesque qualities about it; I have no doubt that they will be a dark horse for the World Cup; they equalled England on the try count;
    Until our players are exposed to a higher intensity of rugby week-in, week-out, it will always take time for them to acclimatise to Test Rugby;

    On the plus side:

    1. We now have a coach worthy of the position; hopefully we can keep him!
    2. There are players to cover some of the important positions (John how can you omit to mention McDonald and Strok!);
    3. We are a hard side to beat normally;

    The game next Saturday at Pittodrie will be probably the most intense of the three this Autumn and the Samoans will have had a further week to train together. What a shame that the IRB could not provide teams like Samoa with real support, not just lip service. The pulling on of the Samoan jersey is such an honour for them that you can only hold them in the fullest of admiration.

  • Comment number 21.


    Rory Lawson surely has proved finally that he is No.1

    Scott Macleod was outstanding while he was on: lineout performed under his command and he tackled fervently. However, balance was restored to the side when he went off and Hines moved back into 2nd row. Richie Gray also showed up really well. I'd like to see him take the ball at speed and in a bit of space - I wouldn't like to try and stop him... (too old now). Both Macleod and Gray are very athletic, whereas Hamilton is a big lump - we need the athleticism.

    Totally agree about comments on Chunk. He is on form.

    I would like to see a really attacking centre partnership now. It is time for an Evans/Ansbro, Evans/Grove, Grove/Ansbro pairing. They can all tackle as well as Morrison, but offer far more in attack.

    Better stop before I get carried away...

  • Comment number 22.

    Alan Rhead,
    Agree with all your comments......but.....a year ago with same players on both sides, same weather, same ref etc. we would have lost this game. The team now does seem to have a confidence that against any other team, bar one, we can compete and beat them. That attitude hasn't been in the Scottish psyche for a long time...a la Hastings brothers, Gary Armstrong etc. ABs we were like rabbits caught in the game will be a telling indicator but I would have like to have played Australia again as as measure of how far the team has come.

    Agreed re the back line but we have a year to get that right before the World Cup. Let's keep the forwards moving, well forward, and use the 6 Nations to sort the backs out. We need to peak at the World Cup and it seems to me that our coach is doing that just fine.

    BTW - I thought Ansbro looked interesting and unafraid to try and attack his opposing number.

  • Comment number 23.

    Does Grove had to be sure of a place in the Edinburgh team before he sets Scotland on fire. Even with de Luca injured he is struggling to keep a place and last time I watched there wasn't much to choose between him and King.

  • Comment number 24.

    Delighted though I am with this result and I agree it was just what was needed after the previous week, there is still an issue with scrums.

    Of course the conditions didn't help but the BBC helpfully now puts a clock on the time taken by scrums. On Saturday it was just short of 15 minutes or very nearly 20% of total game time spent resetting scrums.

    I suspect the paying public will start to feel hard done by if their £40 plus ticket is spent looking at less and less playing time. In Scotland we are already struggling to attract supporters of both professional sides and taking forever to set scrums is not going to help.

    I fully appreciate the safety concerns about setting the scrum correctly but surely there must be a better way than we are currently witnessing.

  • Comment number 25.

    I was at Murrayfield for the ABs and watched the Boks on TV and it seemed to me there were 3 reasons for the wonderful turnround:

    1. The Boks are not the ABs. Brilliant result to beat them, reigning world champs and current world No.2 etc but the ABs were different class, as they showed in that purple patch against Ireland. As a neutral it was just beautiful to watch. We're nowhere near that - yet! But if we can keep improving and find a cutting edge in the backs, who knows.

    2. Chunk was amazing. He held his own at scrumtime but then put himself about in best gallus style, really getting up the noses of the Boks - excellent game, which set the lead for others to follow, especially after that first dire 15 minutes.

    3. Hugo Southwell - never thought I'd find myself saying this! Against the ABs his counterattackiing was slow, telegraphed and as he didn't even commit the man coming to close him down, he passed on to a teammate who had to face 3 defenders - absolutely dire. This Saturday, he was running at pace, breaking the gain line, not releasing till he'd committed the defender and mixing it up with occasional kicks, just to keep them honest. Complete transformation!

    Well played boys - as an "Anglo" I get plenty stick when it goes wrong, or even worse, the patronising "well at least you tried" - but this week I can walk a foot taller (which makes me the same size as big Richie!). Cheers!

  • Comment number 26.

    In all honesty while the scoreline and effort has me brimming with pride, it certainly is not pretty.

    We defend like a pack of wolves and hard yards are the only ones we make. But we pretty much do these things whilst clinging to the hope that a game of rugby doesn't break out in the meantime. I hate the hassles with the scrums now, but on Saturday found myself wanting us to be standing around listening to the ref for as long as possible. I was happy to watch a bit of ping-pong kicking, knowing it would waste 90 seconds and it'd likely finish with a SA lineout halfway inside their own half. We are becoming almost anti-rugby in the way that our football team was branded anti-football a few seasons ago.
    We rarely break the gain line properly with the backs, and virtually never with a successful backs move. Parks is always sitting deep and is impotent with ball in hand, Morrison is one-dimensional. Outside of that the Evans' and Lamonts promise so much but in actual delivery of attacking impetus are lacking - they often look like getting away for a score but rarely do. Nicky Walker and Simon Danielli at international level often handle the occasion poorly.
    Naming players doesn't automatically give us strength in depth. You could reel off the names of 40 Welsh backrows, it doesn't give Wales massive depth at the position. What matters is if the players are of the requisite quality, and the truth is that being outclassed at the breakdown and in defence and even in workrate by NZ was not completely wiped clean by essentially surviving at the breakdown this week. As much as Barclay did very well, Juan Smith showed what real top talent looks like. Towards the end of the game when he was wrongly penalised at a ruck, he had won the ball having come from 2 yards further away than the Scottish player (Vernon I think) who was in the vicinity as the player went to ground. The South Africans on the day lacked cohesion, direction and impetus and that is why they lost, not because our players were better.
    Wales might be pining for a result like the one Scotland just achieved, and we deserve credit for having the composure and strength (both physical and mental) to pull off a result once we get in a great position with 10 minutes to play. But in return we're crying out for a player like James Hook. Just one back that plays dynamic rugby, can create space for those around him and is also top in defence. Until we get that, we need to continue to concede less than 18 points, because we're never going to be a team that threatens to score repeated tries.

    What we can and should do however (led by the SRU) is capatalise upon this perhaps falsely-held optimism. Get the game expanding domestically - hopefully Edinburgh and Glasgow crowds might be boosted by the general good-feeling amongst rugby fans, and hope that the clubs gain recruitment from it, especially at the under-age levels.
    Everyone loves a winner, even if it's ugly, and while I don't think we're all that great a team right now this can be the platform to become that better team over the next few years.

  • Comment number 27.

    Another typical Scottish mugging. Similar to last year's Aus win, although not quite as bad.

    Scotland are unbelievably limited, which is fine for one off wins like this and against poor opposition, but certainly nothing more.

    Eight games in their last 12 now without a try. Says it all.

    Rain, defence, goal-kicker, Scotland's only hope for a win these days.

  • Comment number 28.


    What was the weather like in Ireland and Argentina?, do kicked points not count?, the fabled Woodward England side went Scrum or lineout, maul, wilkinsons boot for years, were you turning milk sour then?

  • Comment number 29.

    Firstly well done to the whole Scotland set up for the result on Saturday, I roared myself hoarse!

    Second I have to eat a bite of humble pie as Southwell had as good a game as I've seen him play, although I do wish he'd run at defenders "like a bull at a gate" and not seem to pause at the contact.

    However we do lack pace and attack in the backs, although the move with Walker off the tail of the lineout was great, and our backs always look as if they'd rather not have the ball in hand and running forward is a job for the forwards.

    For samoa I'd give Jackson a start as he does seem to like to run at the opposition and retire the one dimensional Morrison and hope Evans and the new laddie Ansbro can become the next big Scottish thing.

    MOTM Chunk was robbed!!! Scrummaged like a demon and in the loose was a pocket rocket what was Brian Moore thinking.

  • Comment number 30.

    Up to 6th in the IRB rankings, you only climb by winning, we are there on merit. Ok, its not the most attractive rugby we are playing, but a win is a win. Something our Welsh cousins desperately seek at the moment.

    Until we get an attacking No.10 we won't score try's. Parks plays one way, that's his game. Morrison is one dimensional. A more attacking 10 and 12 and it would release Evan, the Lamonts etc.

    We were outplayed and out classed by the No 1 team in the world. A team that had a 100% record in the tri nations.

    We have a good team, and results count. Simple and end off!

  • Comment number 31.


    England's 18 tries in the 2003 six nations, plus dozens more over the years before that makes your point totally wrong. England tightened things up at the world cup, but that shouldn't excuse the years of potent attacking play that came before it. And in any case, it was a different game 7 years ago.

    Now, with the game rewarding attack minded sides and plenty of tries being scored, Scotland have managed to not score a try in 8 out of their last 12 games. Or is it 9, I'm not sure. That's frankly, pathetic.

    Well done on beating a poor Argentina team, and your 10's boot + rain earning you a mugging once again. I'd back Samoa to beat you next week, just as Italy did in Rome.

  • Comment number 32.

    Donald Peddie. I am not suggesting that the crowd sit in silence for the whole game. Far from it. What I am stating is that the crowd is silent during penalty kicks and conversions. This is part of the spirit of the game and is a tradition that all supporters should observe.

    Whenever I talk to people who come to their first Rugby match at my club, their main observation is at how wonderful it is that the supporters are silent during the kicks. This has always been part of Rugby and should remain so. Booing kickers is not a minor irritation; it is an attack on the spirit of Rugby.

  • Comment number 33.


    I agree with you that England scored their fair share of tries and won the WC through being ruthless in every aspect, and therefore do not reflect the current Scotland set up. However, I don't think there's a need to be so down on the team. AR is in a tricky position where he needs to find be a transition from building confidence through grinding out non-too-pretty gritty wins to playing a more attractive style of rugby. Most folk seems to agree that this will only be achieved through a fundamental switch at 10 and 12. That will mean a fairly major change in tactics away from a forwards driven game scoring from the boot of points machine Dan Parks. It'll be a big challenge for the team to step up to that away from the comfort zone of a boot-driven game, and the timing of that must be playing heavily on ARs mind with a WC just around the corner.
    Credit where credit's due for instilling the belief and getting the wins. Nobody's going to try and argue that the style the Scot's are playing now is attractive, but I'm sure every supporter of Scottish rugby is aching for a move in that direction.

  • Comment number 34.

    Have to agree with many of the sentiments above. Firstly it IS important to get the win, at least form that the team can get more positive about what they are doing. What we shouldn't do is fall into the game that Hadden used to play and end up promising the earth but not delivering it. With AR I don't think this will happen, he knows what he is doing.

    While I don't enjoy sticking the knife into Parks (he has played a big part in the last few wins) , it is a key part of why we are not getting over the line enough. Look what a difference Wales were when Jones replaced Biggar. Ok Biggar is still new but the difference in the backline was massive, suddenly there were oppurtunities appearing where before they were closed out quickly.

    As said above it would be good to get some new talent on the starting line at 10 on Saturday. It would be good to have the option of a more attacking 10 in the 6N that could at least play the last 20min or so, it could make a massive difference. It is our weakest link at the moment, both Wales and Ireland have hugely influential options at 10 that can make or break a game.

    I liked Ansbro on Saturday, depsite taking a couple of big hits he got a couple of runs in and looks like he could be a good weopon in future games. Morrison has done well to date, perhaps now with the option of an Evans/Ansbro centre pairing it might be time to make him fight for the position?

    Personally I think Walker has been a bit harshly criticised, he was quicker, more mobile and had more prescense about the park than a lot of the other wingers we have had recently. We need players who can keep making themselves known on the field and get in amongst the opposition - basically like Bowe does for Ireland.

    Looking forward to good game on Saturday, we need to get as much momentum as possible to get the wins in the 6N that escaped us last year.

  • Comment number 35.

    Why do we always over scrutinise and ultimately end up putting down Scotland when we get into an all too rare habit of doing pretty well? Our game plan is never going to be to shift it wide and use our backs to any great effect for large periods of the game. Steve, I think you're moving so far away from the point of this debate here, Scottish quality and strength in depth is relative to the way we have been playing and putting them down by saying there is a lack of tries is neither here nor there. When there is talk of strength in depth, the areas being looked at are those we are doing well in, namely the pack's ability at scrum time and the number of good, and in the case of John Barclay especially, great back rowers we have. Ally to this a number of decent scrum halves and a kicking machine currently in Dan Parks and you're looking at a team playing to their strengths and doing well. The back, whilst not exciting, are solid in defence and we use all these things to set up a game plan from which seems to be working so far.

  • Comment number 36.

    "Now, with the game rewarding attack minded sides and plenty of tries being scored, Scotland have managed to not score a try in 8 out of their last 12 games. Or is it 9, I'm not sure. That's frankly, pathetic."
    Steve, I agree - it is pretty poor, and I think that you'll find the vast majority of us who support Scotland aren't overly happy about the lack of tries either. That said, a win's a win - we'll take what we can get and enjoy the fact that we are now the highest ranked of the celtic nations. If we can get a 10 and 12 that can release our outside backs then perhaps we could be good enough to challenge all the teams in the top eight when the weather isn't quite so bad. None of us think that we are world beaters.

    "Well done on beating a poor Argentina team,"
    Really? There was me thinking that it was the same Argentinian team that beat France 41-13 the following week.

    "and your 10's boot + rain earning you a mugging once again."
    I'd like to think that the defensive efforts of the whole team and the way our pack fronted up may well have had something to do with it as well.

    "I'd back Samoa to beat you next week, just as Italy did in Rome."
    I think that Samoa could beat us on Saturday. If we don't play to the best of our ability then we will lose. Given the lack of resources, both player-wise and financially, that Scotland has and the fact that rugby is very much a minority sport up here I think that being in the top 8 is punching well above our weight.

    I think one of the most frustrating things for me is the lack of support that any of our players get when they make a break. What are the back three doing when this happens? Why is it that when an AB, Aussie or English player makes a break they have players on each shoulder whereas our players are completely isolated and the move dies. We've still got a long way to go but at least we are moving in the right direction.

  • Comment number 37.

    Think the match at Pittodrie tomorrow will not be a useful barometer. We have about 7/8 inches of snow and it is currently minus 2. Samoans will not like this and suspect playing rugby will be very difficult even with the undersoil heating on the pitch. Expect a scrappy affair I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 38.

    Aren't we an amazing bunch us Scots? We take a tonking off the ABs and we register 69 hits on JBs blog, all the whingeing and moaning about how rubbish we are... We beat the world champions and we manage 37 blogs... Positive stuff!

    Anyway, enough of that - well done the team! It really looks like we have some strength in depth again, but more importantly, we have a coach who is knitting it all together and instilling belief... I was lucky enough to attend a function recently where Will Greenwood spoke - he claimed Sir Clive Woodward was a great team manager at creating a winning environment for a team, but he was an average coach... who was the coach in that winning period then???

    The team is undoubtedly on an upward curve, yes there will be blips along the way, but the general direction is up. Agreed, we need to score more tries, but that will only come with confidence... DBSilver talks about the lack of support from the back 3 when a break is made, but I think this is only natural... it's not that long ago that Scotland were backs to the wall the whole time and it will take time to develop the confidence that a) we can make the breaks and b) when we try to make that break, we will break the gain line and not be stripped of the ball and facing a counter attack.

    As for Dan Parks, you can love him or loathe him, but at present he is the best we have and let's crack on with it. Remember the games last year before he came back?

    It would be great to beat Samoa tomorrow and carry on this great run, but I would actually trade a win for some tries, because in the long term I think it will be for the greater good... A win and tries would be even better! Ultimately everyone (except NZ) is building to next October... I think NZ have peaked too soon again!

  • Comment number 39.

    PS JB, where have you been all week? Why no banter???

  • Comment number 40.

    With the World Cup in mind.....It is simply not good enough to rely on penalties/drop goals to progress from a group situation!
    A dull, weather affected match against SA, a thrashing by the All Blacks, but suddenly the talk is of "progress".
    How can we jocks be happy with a side that refuses to cross the try line-I'm baffled.
    Perhaps, like the Scottish soccer team, we will try to defend our way to a knock-out stage?

  • Comment number 41.

    This weeks's predictions:

    New Zealand to beat Wales (because they're better)
    South Africa to beat England (because they're hurting)
    Scotland to beat Samoa (because we're building)
    Fiji to beat Italy (because they've got confidence)
    France to beat Australia (because it's in Paris - SACRE BLEU!)
    Argentina to beat Ireland (because Ireland are on the slide)


  • Comment number 42.

    Tries would be lovely but maths would suggest that if we can get points when we visit the opposition's half and deny them points when they have the ball we will do ok.
    If we can come home from world cup with a draw against england, and wins against Boks, Aussies, Argentines and Irish we will be bitterly disappointed with defeat against ABs but might cope

  • Comment number 43.

    Donald Peddie

    You CANNOT progress in any competition without attacking at some stage. My maths is poor, but 5 possibly 7 points is always better than 3.

  • Comment number 44.


    Your missing donalds point. Keeping the score board ticking over at 3 points is denying them being in our half of the pitch. Think about it; no kicker really does kick from beyond half way. So if we are scoring 7 penalties means we keep them in their half and gaining 21 points. He also makes the point that we defend our arses off to refrain the opposition from scoring which, mathematically is kind of correct. In order to get there you got to attack at any stage.


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